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Monday is Boss’s Day.

This day of appreciation was first registered with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 1958 by a secretary working for a State Farm agent.

According to Wikipedia, Patricia Bays Haroski of Deerfield wanted to recognize her hard-working boss, and chose Oct. 16 as the date because it was her boss’ birthday

The day’s sentiment didn’t really gain in popularity until years later. Hallmark Cards began offering Boss's Day cards in 1979. Years ago, I worked part time in a Hallmark shop and thought the bosses were just swell. (The owners were my parents.)

Throughout my career, I’ve had some terrific bosses. I am grateful I’ve never worked for someone who asked me to do anything illegal or who misbehaved. During college, I worked for an office manager who affectionately called me her “little space cadet.” (I was 18 years old and, you know, the label was accurate.)

Really good bosses take the time to guide their charges in a straightforward yet compassionate way. When I was a young reporter, my first editor was a woman named Betty Harris. In those days, it was rare for a female to lead a newsroom, yet she did so with authority, grace and competence. Her lessons in leadership influence me to this day.

We’ve all had bosses who changed our lives for the better. And, sorry to say, there are some bosses who cause people to scratch their heads in wonder.

Friends shared some of the “bad boss” horror stories. Painful as the examples are, they are good reminders to be courteous to colleagues at work. (And they make great water cooler legends.)

  • “When I was working in the music industry, we had a weekly sales meeting with our boss every Friday morning. He would sit at the front of a room of about 30 people. Without fail, about 10 minutes into the meeting, he would produce a paper clip, uncurl it and slowly and methodically use it to clean the wax out of his ears. In front of all of us. Then he’d carefully inspect the end of the clip. This happened every Friday for two years."
  • “I had a boss once who micromanaged me so much she actually followed me to the bathroom to monitor my activity.”
  • “I worked for a woman who called me from her car while she was in the parking lot outside our door. She asked me to come out and unbuckle her seat belt because she just had a manicure and didn’t want to mess up her nails. And I did it.”
  • “We worked for a guy for more than five years who knew nothing about us. He did not know the names of any of our spouses or kids. We were sitting in a staff meeting and he asked a co-worker how his mother was doing. She had died two months earlier. We wanted to crawl under the table.”
  • “There was the manager I had for a total of three days — two days before going on an undisclosed leave for several months and the day he returned before getting terminated. (This was weirdly one of my most efficient and productive work periods.)”
  • “I once had a manager who nearly cost me a new apartment. When the rental agency called to check my references, my manager decided it would be hilarious to put the call on speaker and tell the leasing agent that I had been fired for throwing a chair through a window and smashing company property. He had to rapidly back-pedal after the leasing agent declared he would not rent to me.”

These stories should be a lesson to bosses and employees everywhere: Remember to respect one another. And for heaven’s sake, keep the paper clips out of your ear.

Contact Susan Hazlett at or write to her in care of The Pantagraph, 301 W. Washington St., Bloomington, IL 61702-2907.


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