I think everyone has had a terrible job before. The worst jobs or clients I’ve had have been the most interesting to look back on and see how they have shaped my approach to FIRE, business and life in general. I’ve had terrible people I’ve worked with and terrible jobs but these 2 are the ones that stand out in what shaped me and my approaches to business and management.
UPS Management – What a total shit show of a place to work. If you work in management at UPS up until YESTERDAY (11/10/2020) you are not allowed to have a beard. It’s this strange management structure that hasn’t fundamentally changed from the 1950s. These strange structures makes the general work environment insanely toxic. Supervisors (that is what I was) are the lowest levels of management and there is a never ending chain of management above them that only care about numbers. The higher up the person is that decided to get angry about a number that day and yell at the guy below them the worse that shit was gonna be. God help you if a VP started the chain; you might lose your job if you don’t make it better quickly. Notice how I’m just saying number? That number could be production, overtime, hours per shift, skilled hours, delayed pieces, it’s all just some number that a nerd (like me) made up. Shit rolls downhill and I’m certain that phrase originated with someone who worked at UPS. Impossible standards and working insane hours to meet those standards created a terrible place to spend time. Despite all this wasted time, energy, expense, hours and human enjoyment this company makes billions every year.
Crazy publisher man – While UPS has its flaws I have heard it has gotten better since I’ve been gone which is going on 13 years now. All my best terrible job stories come from just one place. My first job as an accountant in the private sector was for a company that published OSHA books and sold them over the internet. Really he copy and pasted text from OSHA websites, did some formatting, made them into giant books at his own printer and sold them to companies to put on a shelf and gather dust. I thought he was a genius. He was making over $5 million in PROFIT every year with less than 20 employees. I was so excited to be this guys ONLY accountant. Fuck yeah, let’s do this, I thought. Unfortunately, that guy turned out to be the most bat shit and evil human I’ve ever encountered. Inches from an employee’s face screaming and spitting at max volume…weekly at least. I think I lasted like 3 or months before I got my first one and told myself I would not stay. I did as little as possible each day and job hunted hoping to get fired. He fired someone about every 10 days of his 18 person staff so it couldn’t be that hard. When he finally did fire me for not coming in for 2 days I said cool and got my stuff. When I filed for unemployment he had his staff attorney create some crazy story and deny my unemployment. It was something with a signature on a check he said was my signing his name? It’s been a lot of years and the story they made up was never fully told to me by them or the unemployment office. I was denied and from talking to other coworkers learned that he did that every single time. He would fire someone and then intentionally lie to ruin their lives just a little harder. Big time asshole and yet each week there was a new hire unknowingly walking into hell. Even crazier is that he still was making north of $5 million a year.
As I’ve gotten older and done decently well in business I think back to that job as the worst and best job I’ve ever had. It’s certainly the one I learned the most at. I learned that business is easy and some ideas are so good that you make money in spite of yourself. Ever since I worked for this crazy bastard I’ve asked myself and my friends the question “What would this guy’s empire have been like if he were just a decent human being.” He was doing everything with entry level people that he trained himself and then scream opposite instructions at two weeks later. He hired a full-time attorney as part of his staff mostly to fight his crazy legal battles and deny unemployment to people he fired. There is more, a lot more to tell on this guy but at the end of the day he was making millions.
Ever since then I’ve approached my business life with the goal of not becoming these people. Once I got more into FIRE I felt sad for that crazy man. At the income that business made when he wasn’t there would pay for the most luxurious life a person could imagine. Instead he toils in there wrecking up the place and holding himself back way past the point of him even needing the money.
I learned that you work as hard as you can, treat people decent, spend some but invest more and when you have enough you get the fuck out.