My worst boss

Everyone’s had one. They either hover around you, like mosquitoes looking for stagnant water, forcing you to concentrate more on them than your work, or they do nothing at all, holding the entire responsibility of your business’ success over your head while they take the credit.

I’ve had a few. I worked for one in a bowling alley in Marshall – my first college job. I dealt with someone who was a little too needy, a little too confused, at an Erberts and Gerbert’s sub shop in St. Cloud. I acted as a clerk while a married couple (who also doubled as my bosses) became more and more suspicious of every employee at the craft and hobby store and eventually separated from each other.

But there’s one who was the worst.

This is the story of Chad Madison. The worst boss I’ve ever had.

In Sioux Falls, where I was still spending my college summers, I had quit my cushy job at Best Buy in order to take an even cushier job at Software Etc., a video game store at the Empire Mall, South Dakota’s biggest mall. By the next year I was pretty sure I’d just stay in St. Cloud instead of moving back home every summer, so I asked for a transfer to the St. Cloud FuncoLand, a company that had just been purchased by the Babbages/Software Etc. conglomerate.

After a few weeks of employment at FuncoLand, which was a dingy, dirty waste of retail space, I had made some great friends. Surprisingly, we were a pretty successful store. We were a smart group of employees and we knew our video games. We made sure that when customers made the effort to come in, usually with the knowledge that they were paying an extra five dollars for an “expert” opinion, that we weren’t disappointing them. We all had great chemistry – Mitch (the assistant manager,) John (a key holder, like myself), and later Doug. Nothing could break us. We were co-workers, but we were also comrades.

For some reason, the beginning of the end seemed very fuzzy to me, I guess in part because I never realized how close to the end we were.

I had been at the St. Cloud store for about four months when our current manager, John Bigelow, announced to us that he was resigning from his position and taking a more lucrative offer at Toys R Us. “Biggs” was not the personable manager, but he knew how to take care of his store. He had been relatively successful in training new managers in the company’s Manager In Training (MIT) program and was proud of his job and his store. He was a lifetime retail manager; his mind flooded with supervisory notes and techniques, and he was looking forward to a new challenge.

Still, he was dull, and a pain in the butt, so we eagerly awaited our new manager. This manager had gone through the MIT program with “Biggs” and was moving to St. Cloud to take over. His name was Chad. And we were all trouble.

This was lovingly handwritten on May 9th, 2005