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Op-Ed

Give thanks for this

November 23, 2022

This Thanksgiving, we should all be grateful that we don’t work for Elon Musk.

Robert Kahn

By Robert Kahn

Deputy editor emeritus, Courthouse News

I’ve worked for some bad bosses, but none bad as Elon Musk. 

He be giving lessons on how bad a boss can be, and how much harm just one guy can do, in, O, so many ways.

I say this not just because I can’t stand the sonofabitch; it’s because he is the worst boss I ever heard about, and probably ever will.

I learned a few lessons in my 50 years in the labor pool. I’ll try to be specific enough to get to the point, but not so specific that it looks like I’m shooting spitballs at phantoms, from a distant desk.

The first lesson is that one bad boss in the wrong place can screw up an otherwise good workplace.

Long time since, I worked at a place where the shift boss had been a drill instructor in the Marines. Nothing wrong with that; he certainly had discipline and a work ethic. But he was needlessly mean.

He probably was better at our common tasks than any of us were — but it wasn’t enough for him to show us the way; he had to demean us, and our skills, while doing it. That turned what could have been a decent workplace — and still was a competent one — into a place where we hid at our work stations, in self-defense.

Had he just been another grunt on the line, we could have ignored him. But making him a boss made it miserable for everyone.

The second lesson is aimed at top bosses — the people who hire other bosses:

Never hire an unhappy person to be a boss. 

Or a slick one either. 

Hire guys or gals who are happy whether they’re being a boss or not. And don’t feel they have to be slick.

Trust me on this.

Another time, another place, I worked for a boss who was — how shall I say it? — not exactly stupid; she just didn’t know how to speak honestly to people. She was evasive with every word she spoke, because she had finally realized that she didn’t know what she was talking about. Godnose how she got hired. 

All my other bad bosses were men, most of them bullies, in the ways they had figured out they could be.

In her defense, I let her drive me away, though I’d put up with her shenanigans before. I just gave up. I let myself get so frustrated that I quit to take another job, far away, without checking out the new job as well as I should have.

You can see what’s coming.

The lesson from that ill-considered move is this: Don’t just jump; plan your escape. Think it can’t get any worse? Think again.

I’ve also worked for some good bosses. One was the publisher of the first daily newspaper I worked for. Doug Hardie gave me almost enough rope to hang myself at The Brownsville Herald — right up to no real line — and he let me suffer for it. As I deserved.

Man, one time at a bar in Brownsville … 

Anyway, I got over that. 

Doug knew what he was doing; he tried to hire people who knew what they were doing, and then left us alone to do it the best we could.

Add up all the bad things above, multiply by 52, subtract Doug, and you’ll see how Elon Musk became the worst boss in the history of the world — certain politicians excepted.

Long story short: Mr. thinks-he-knows-it all buys a company for $44 billion of what he calls his own money; then whines about it; he threatens to sue the people he says he no longer wants to buy it from; then eats his words and buys it; and on taking possession fires half of “his” staff: 3,700 people out of work with no notice.

Then he sends a short, insulting email to whoever’s left, and another 1,200 people quit.

Then he tries to hire back some of the people he fired, or who quit, and he throws his stupid “verification” plan onto the ’Net in soothing blue for the low-low price of $7.99 a month, and becomes the laughingstock of the world, while driving “his company” into the dirt.

He does all of this under glare of flashbulbs, beating his fat, puny breasts while proclaiming himself a genius, denigrating again 5,000 people he just threw out of work, then saying, in public, that they probably weren’t any good at their jobs anyway.

That’s what I’d call a perfect score for a bad boss

Inside the batcave of his repulsive skull, and also out it, Elon Musk is a reprehensible person: among the worst of the human species.

None of the false triumphs he claims, none of his haystacks of Ben Franklins, will ever quell the damage he already has inflicted upon other people, most of all the people he believes owe him his living for being their lousy boss, and for letting other people run over other people’s kids with their Musk-driving cars.

Wealthiest man on Earth or not, the best thing this two-legged arachnid could do for the world would be to leave the rest of us alone.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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