She Who Shall Remain Nameless

Remember Gleda Balls, one of my first bosses? Well, here’s another gem. This one made my life so miserable, I’m afraid to mention her by name. Though, if I were to pick one for her, Voldemort would be quite suitable. The best thing she did for me was to teach me how to recognize the signs when things are not working out. Signs that I’m sharing with you, so that you know, if any of these happen to you, it may be time to move on. Here’s a sampling:

  • Every night, you come home from the office and cry.
  • Sometimes you also bang your head against the wall.

When I first saw the 1988 film, "Working Girl," I thought Sigourney Weaver did a stellar job of capturing my boss. (Melanie Griffith is on the left).

  • You wish every day was Friday. In fact, you hate Mondays so much you start hating Sundays too, knowing they often lead to Mondays. You’re on the fence about Saturdays.
  • You’re well into your pregnancy and your boss says, “I don’t care how tired you are, you still have to be here by 8:30, not 8:35.”
  • Having children who may pull you away from the office for doctor appointments, school plays, etc., is frowned upon. You know this because only two others in your department have children and one has hired a full-time nanny, so that she rarely has to go home and see her child, and the other, the boss, has sent her child away to boarding school.
  • She asks you to cover for her on those mornings when she doesn’t get in until 10. This means you have to turn on her office light in the morning, pretend you’re having a conversation with her, and say she just went to the restroom, if asked.
  • You have a mild heart attack, are rushed to the hospital but are expected to show up for work the following day.
  • Inside information about your company is anonymously leaked to the press (not by you, as you’re too low in the corporate ladder to know anything) and the boss orders everyone into the boardroom for a scolding, and no one’s allowed to leave until someone confesses.
  • Your boss doesn’t know how to use her computer and orders you to do some of your work on hers so that management, which is monitoring everyone’s computer, thinks she’s doing her share.
  • You come up with an idea and your boss takes the credit. No one’s the wiser, and you watch as she gets recognized for it at a staff meeting.

All of these things happened to me, except for one. It was a colleague who suffered the heart attack.

I spent three years, five months and two days working for this boss, and yes, I did look for other jobs, but when I finally resigned, I left on the best of terms. My boss was so terrifying, there was no way I wanted to leave on her bad side. No burning bridges, if I could help it.

And when I left, I moved so far away I thought I would never see her again. Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Fast forward four years. I have a new job, as does she: VP for a national company, in charge of communications, which includes coordinating the A/V for their annual conference. She rings me up, all sweetness and smiles and, when I answer the phone, I am immediately drawn into her snare.

She wants to “team up” for old time’s sake. Will pay me handsomely to help her with the conference, and do a little writing for her, like I used to. Just a few days and all I have to do is name my price.

Name my price? The spider has me in its web.

She even flies out Frankie Sands, the A/V guy and his crew, whom we used to work with back in the day. The three of us are together again, she says, adding, one last hurrah!  Though, she hints that if I play my cards right, there may be future gigs, repeating the words, “Name your price.” I’m taken in, thinking everyone deserves a second chance.

Oh. There’s one more thing she forgot to mention. Just a tiny matter, she says, with a sigh, her crimson lips mouthing a yawn. We’re sitting in a restaurant in the hotel lobby, and her long, manicured nails are drumming persistently against the mahogany bar.

She leans in, conspiratorially, and, looking me in the eye, she whispers, “Don’t tell a soul about this arrangement.”

And by soul she means the CEO, her boss. She explains how she hasn’t yet told him about our business deal, but she will soon, any moment. In the meantime, mum’s the word.

“Don’t worry,” she assures me. “It’ll be fine.”

A few days go by and the conference is over. Frankie Sands and I do our best work ever. “Have you told your boss?” I ask as she heads for the airport.

“Not yet,” she replies, but she’s so grateful to me. She kisses me on the cheek, reminding me to send her my invoice. And then she gets in a cab and is gone.

The flim-flam man. The con. For, that’s the last time I see her. Every call and email goes unanswered. Weeks go by. Months, and I finally give up. I fell for the biggest con of them all.

Then, one day, I get a call from Frankie Sands. Turns out, what she did to me, she did to him. She screwed us both. Shame on us.

But unlike me, Frankie and his company are at risk of losing money in the six figures. He tells me he’s suing her and her company and wants to know how much I’m owed because Frankie, God bless him, has a plan.

He rolls the funds owed to me into his suit and he wins. Every cent owed. Soon, he sends me a check, and I am overcome with gratitude. He didn’t have to do it; he didn’t have to help me, but he did. And, if Frankie is reading this, Frankie, you’re a true mensch.

And to Voldemort, my old boss: Good riddance. As The Who once said, we “won’t get fooled again.”

58 thoughts on “She Who Shall Remain Nameless

  1. Wow, your old boss sounds like the kind of woman parodied in movies and TV shows! So scary that she’s real, and so awesome that you won the lawsuit! I’m guessing the lawyer who beat Voldemort is from law firm of Harry Potter and Associates! Thanks for sharing a great story and best of luck to you! I saw your blog through She Writes! Feel free to visit my site,
    All the best,

    • Hi Lisa, Thanks for coming back and reminding me what a nice blog you have. I loved reading about your adventures with a bat. And yes, my old boss has been parodied quite a bit. Love your line about Harry Potter and Associates. Good team of lawyers to have on your side, that’s for sure! 😉

  2. You weren’t kidding, Voldemort was much worse than Gleda. I receive questions from readers from time to time on how to deal with bad bosses. Volde is the worse than all of them. She is definitely the master of “master manipulators.” Too bad you got caught in her clutches. I think most of us would have done the same thing if we had been in your shoes. It sounded like such a good opportunity and who would think a former boss and colleague would scam is like that. The older I get the more I believe in Karma, people like Volde always get what they deserve in the end.

    • If I knew then what I know now, I don’t think I would have been so easily misled. But, for all the crazies I put up with, I did learn a couple of things from this boss–things that have helped me today. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. I love reading your stories. You bring me right into the moment of dread.I love women but at the same time they scare me to death (not all but you know the handfull that are like this one). I worked for a CEO once who didn’t like me because ‘I had too much loyalty’ from my team. She game me the option of resiging for she would fire me. So reading this story brought back all those old nightmares, but in a good way – a good story teller as the right to do this .. Maybe her and Gelda are suffering now for past deeds. I do beleive krama comes back around to bite us in the butt… Good writing.

    • Brenda, don’t you know that when you have loyalty from your team, it makes others jealous? Which is why, no doubt, your CEO reacted that way. I believe in karma too. One day (and maybe it’s happened already) it’s going to get my Voldemort! I just wish I was able to see it happen. 😉

    • Yep, and the worst kind. When first you meet her, she comes off like honey. All sweetness and smiles. It’s not until later that you see the sharp nails, and it’s grizzly what she can do with them. Thanks for stopping by, Claire!

  4. What an awful and scheming woman. Too kind of you to give this one a second chance. She’s probably operating the same way somewhere else. Sadly, this is how some people make their way to to the top. So heartless.

    • Totsy, I wish I hadn’t been so gullible, so taken by the promise of money that I fell for her again, thinking there’d be no harm in working with her for just a few days. Well, it won’t happen again, that’s for sure!

  5. Unbelievable that someone like that is allowed to interact with, let alone manage people! I am amazed that you stayed with her those three years. Sounds like she did get her comeuppance at last!

  6. That story gives me the chills. Thankfully my bosses haven’t reached those terrifying lows but I did have to wear a heart monitor six weeks into one job. I was in infant/toddler teacher!

    By the fourth week I was sitting in the parking lot waiting for one minute of the hour so as not to subject myself to them a second longer than I needed to. I noticed the heart palpitation the fifth week. I was so upset with the environment and conditions I was having anxiety attacks.

    Luckily, I had an outlet I could reach out to, a conscious and an intervention was put in motion. I still got out of there as soon as I could nine month later.

    • Wow, Lynne, that must have been so stressful! How horrible! Well, if anything, it feels good to commiserate, doesn’t it? It’s nice to know we weren’t alone in our misery. 😉 Even better to know it’s all in the past.

  7. Monica, fantastic post! I think all of us have been at the mercy of a bad boss at one point or another in our lives. I think of my bad boss experience and my pressure sky rockets! I still remember crying every night before going to bed at the thought of having to walk into the jaws of hell the next morning. I’m glad you got your money and bless Frankie’s heart for being so considerate and accommodating. Women like Gleda Balls Part 2 should not be allowed to get away with it! Shame on them! I think the name Voldemort suits them perfectly! 🙂

    • I still look over my shoulder, especially when I’m near the vicinity of where I worked way back when. It’s funny how someone like that still can have the capacity to push your buttons. I’m just glad it’s all in the past. Life would certainly be a lot easier without the Gleda Balls of the world! 😉

  8. Voldemort, maybe . . . but in a judicious world she’d be thrown into the arena of ‘The Hunger Games.’ Speaking of which, I really did appreciate your thoughts on my post. And I agree with My Inner Chick’s comment re: a book — my boss was a bitch. 😉

    • Deborah, that would be awesome! I would love to see that happen. And thank you–and Kim–for thinking I should turn this into a book. I may yet, indeed.

      Regarding your post, I meant every word. I’d love to see it turned into a curriculum, even for an adult ed class. Where I live, anyone can submit an idea for an adult ed classes in our high school district. Pilot the curriculum there; then see where it goes. Or, maybe at your synagogue! I bet you’d get lots of sign ups. Let me know!

  9. Ugh, they just give me the heeby jeebies. Someone close to me just had a boss like this and it was an experience unlike any other. She had to quit, the boss remained and no one wanted to do anything about it. Love this post Monica.

    • MM, a lot of times bosses like mine can ride on their toxic wings for years. They stay on and it’s the staff that leave. Management seems to look past the extreme turnover as if there’s something wrong with each employee who leaves and not the boss. Well, they’re not doing themselves any favors by letting bad blood coast.

      • Perfectly able staff leaving, is the thing that bugs me the most about toxic bosses. Monica. It’s like those tenured teachers who are stay on and on whether they are good or not. I love our teachers and I am the first to say they need to be paid more and rewarded more, but there are some that need to retire…I have had my fair share of toxic friends who have drained me, I somehow end up being the bad guy anyway 😦

      • I know what you mean. There are folks, for one reason or another, are handed their job for life and the problem with that is they become comfortable and stop trying. They’re content with just being adequate or even less than adequate. Sigh.

  10. I’m afraid I had a laugh at your expense! Good writing here! I work in HR and I swear I have never been a boss like that nor have I had a boss like that. Poor you. Hand down, karma and people like Frankie are better than corporate policies any day!!
    Coincidentally, I was thinking of the movie Working Girl just yesterday when I posted my piece on NYC. Melanie Griffith and I had the same hairstyle 🙂

    • Astra, truth of the matter is she taught me what kind of boss I did NOT want to be. I wasn’t going to fall into her routine. I learned early what I did want to be, how I would treat my staff, and now, I couldn’t be happier. I have the best team of employees and we all work so well together. So, in a backhanded way, I have her to thank. 😉

  11. Oh, yes, we’ve all had a boss like this once in our lives. We’ve probably all gotten mad at someone in our lives and called them delusional, but this boss was the first person I’ve ever met who I believe would have been clinically diagnosed as delusional. She was a miserable woman and tried to make everyone around her miserable, too. After she would commit an irrational or hateful act, which was basically every day, she would act (and I think truly believe it) like it never happened and when there were repercussions, and there ALWAYS were, she would blame someone else and then go on a campaign to turn the entire staff against this person. Aren’t we glad these people are out of our lives!

    • Susan, I am so glad it’s all in the past. And, if she ever did come out here again, there’s no way she’d contact me; and there’s no way I’d take her call if she did. As far as I’m concerned, she’s ancient history!

  12. I had a horrible boss once. She was rude and abusive most of the time. Then she would buy gifts for everyone in an attempt to make up for her bad behavior. After I quit, I got sucked back in on a contract job like you did. No surprise, the pattern repeated. That’s one lesson I won’t forget.

    • Wow, Shary, it happened to you, too? It’s funny, but enough years had passed and the old feelings I’d had for her had mellowed. When she offered me money to help her with the conference, I figured what’s the harm. She actually seemed nice, on her best behavior. Since I’d never been paid by her before, there was no way for me to tell that she had an ulterior motive all along and had no intention of paying me. I wanted to trust, I wanted to believe but in the end, she showed her true colors.

  13. I, too, was screwed by a Voldemort. Director of the writing program where I taught took my idea and claimed it as her own. Pretty bad when you stoop to steeling pedagogy then get rid of the person it’s stolen from!
    But thank God you got paid. Good for Frankie!

    • Frankie was my savior. I had run out of options and she wasn’t returning any of my calls, emails etc. It’s like I’d fallen off the face of the earth and not getting through. It’s funny, because he and I didn’t have much of a relationship. We didn’t talk much because he was always so busy doing his job. So he was all business. But he had a hunch and he reached out to me. In the end, he proved to be my angel. Never asked for anything from me and I never learned the details on how he got the money.

  14. You’ve captured this perfectly! I had one of these (only it was a man). He had me write press releases, then signed his name to them. He also stole the bodies of letters I wrote, then re-sent them to others under his signature. No amount of money could force me back into that hell-hole! Thank Heaven for self-employment! Bless Frankie for trying to make things right for you — nice to have an advocate, isn’t it?

  15. Gotta laugh! I can relate – I had two of these. I, too, learned what *not* to do from them.

    In my opinion, both had self-esteem and lack-of-competency issues and tried to counter those with large doses of pushiness and general meanness. I don’t say this to provide an excuse for their behavior. Ultimately, both got what was coming to them.

    Great post! Monica, you ought to write that book…

      • Yes, I sure do. Loud and pushy often equals low self esteem. I’ve seen it numerous times. The two I worked for deflated like balloons once the competent minions left.

  16. ~~~Monica,
    You must write a book called: My Boss Was A BITCH…or something like that …. because this is your forte ❤ """She says, with a sigh, her crimson lips mouthing a yawn.""" NICE.

    Ooooh, WORKING GIRL! My fave. bit of dialogue is when Melanie G. says: "Do you think he's going to ask you to marry you?"
    And Signorney W. says: "That is not an option. My biological clock is ticking. I told him I'm open to it. I cleared the month of May. And, After all…I am Me."


    Great Post. Xxx Many Kisses.

    • Kim, my dear, you are so sweet! A book? Yes, I think I can write a tome on the best of her shenanigans. Working Girl was one of my faves and I feel like I need to see it again, for I didn’t remember that quote and it’s a doozy!

  17. She sounds like my old boss but mine was worse. Mine made me physically ill with migraine headaches and chronic acute depression, so much so I had to take medical leave. And my desk was right outside her office. She was the biggest flirt with the upper management bosses and the biggest bitch on wheels. I had to leave and find a job 100 miles away. I still had some contact with her except now she worked for me. She still scared the life out of me. If I never see her again it will be too soon.

    • Marie, Isn’t funny how these people can still scare us? I know if I ran into my old boss, I’d be terrified and probably run for cover under the nearest table. It’s a reflex reaction I guess. A shell shock you never get over.

  18. I had to eat crow every day. All the signs were there all the time. I am so glad I had a series of little baby heart attacks in 2006 . I had my 30 + years and said “I’m outta here”. I think just surviving at work each day for a few more years would have driven me to go postal or had a deadly stroke.

    • Baby heart attacks? Carl, I’m so glad you’re alright now and left your horrible workplace. You bring so much joy–and smiles–to your readers’ lives, which I’m sure adds to your happiness now. Good riddance to all that, I say!

  19. I have worked for people like this, they are control freaks and make themselves look good by getting others to do all the work.

    The best thing I ever did was go self employed with my own company, I love what I do and I look forward to every day. There is just me!!!

    If I get somebody on the phone or by email who reminds me of many of the people I worked for and hated over the years I just refuse the work.

    When I am asked why I just reply “Because I can” I gives me great satisfaction.

    • Robert, After a boss like this one, I could see the appeal in becoming self-employed. The funny thing is, when I got my next job, and everyone was so nice, including my boss, I was giddy with joy. I wanted to fall to my knees and kiss the ground of my new office. In fact, I got all teary-eyed realizing there are good people in the world who don’t want to cut you to ribbons. I never thought I’d experience that again!

    • Joe, I’m with you. They make fascinating characters in stories, but in real life? It’s an experience I’ll never forget. It’s been 20 years or so, since I left that job, but I still get a knot in my stomach thinking about it.

  20. Wow, what a piece of work!!! She really does sound like the boss in Working Girl. Toxic bosses or even co-workers can really do a number on our heads. Thanks for sharing this, you had me completely captivated.

  21. A lesson learned, but how sad. Why are people so manipulative? I’ve met them too, sadly, I still see some of them. However, I made the break and now work in a totally different field so don’t meet up under similar circumstances. I hope this acts as a warning to other readers, because life is ultimately too short. Find a job you love – then it doesn’t feel like work any day of the week…..

    Thanks for sharing

    • These are the people who get ahead on the backs of others. They take shortcuts. I’ve known people like this on and off throughout my life. Only somehow it seems worse when they’re your boss.

      Thank you so much for stopping by. I loved visiting your blog yesterday and learning all about the further adventures of Thing One and Thing Two! 🙂

  22. I can relate to this Post!!!!!! ALL of the points are identical. I would only replace the heart attack by panic attack!!!
    I could also add few more points, but I stopped letting all that bother me. I do my work, I do it well, and I am paid at the end of the month. Who cares if my boss is happy or not? I used to care a lot, but now I only care about the opinion of the people who are important in my life.

    • Panic attack! My, Nikky, I’ve been fortunate to escape having a panic attack, and it’s a miracle that I did when you consider Ms. Voldemort. When she laughed, she cackled fire!

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