I have written several posts about some of the good bosses I have been fortunate to have. Unfortunately, the ones who I did not write about are more in number. I have also had several bosses who were beyond thrifty – they tended to be cheap in a comical and sad sort of way.
The first one I will call Carl, not his real name. Carl had a well-earned reputation of not being one who grabbed the check at a restaurant. His colleagues would use an age old term called “Short arms” or “Alligator arms” to define his bent to avoid reaching for the check. There are other examples, but one that is indicative. When I joined the company, I asked one of my colleagues why he had a water service in his office (those large replaceable jugs). Others were able to enter his office to get water. He said he paid for this because Carl was too cheap to buy water for the office.
The second boss I will call Jim. Jim was thrifty with the company money, but had no problem using it for his benefit. The best example is Jim’s hosting the annual holiday party. He would order twice the amount of liquor, beer and wine to restock his liquor cabinet. On a more daily basis, he would order wine at lunch and ask the wait person to “not skimp and fill it to the brim.” My guess is he would expense lunch with the staff.
The third one I will call Brett. Brett loved using vendor (insurance brokers, consultants, et al) money to pay for events – golf outings, dinners, sporting events, lunches, etc. The most embarrassing situation occurred when a vendor was going to fly him to an event they were sponsoring. Brett said yes, but then asked “What if I drove?” meaning would you reimburse me for the difference. It was truly a crawl under the table moment.
The fourth boss I will call Leroy. Leroy was big on doing little things at the company expense. Mailing personal correspondence on the metered mail system used for company mail is a good example. But, my favorite story is his expensing a speeding ticket he got as he was late for a meeting and driving way too fast.
Finally, I have shared the story before where my grandmother, who worked in retail, spoke up when the CEO of the company was touring their store with her boss, the store manager. The CEO asked to borrow her pen and then put it in his pocket and started to walk away. My grandmother said Mr. Brown that is my pen. My boss is too cheap to provide us pens to make orders, so I have to bring in my own pen. Think about that. Before the age of computers, orders had to be written down, so to do her job she had to provide her own pen.
These stories are sad and comical as well as illustrative. It should be noted that none of the spendthrifts would be confused with being a good boss, at least in my view. To me, it is important more to respect your boss than actually like him or her. When you see bosses like the above, there is not much respect that is elicited by their actions.