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I know some people just can't help engaging with these "people".

Back in the day, I worked in a small manufacturing company as an inventory control manager. We had a plant manager who literally got the job because the person holding the job died suddenly. That fell into the old cliche of "Who died and made you boss?" Anyway, this person was dumber than the proverbial box of rocks. His secretary had to turn on and log in to his computer for him every day so he could look up the prior days sales. He had a loud booming Brooklyn voice which provided cover for him not knowing his way around most of the plants operations.

We were a business that had several machines that ran 24 hours a day for the five days. Built into the equation was one of the machines being down by design for around three of the 15 shifts each week. Usually two of them were the first and last shift of the week to allow for normal maintenence on the machine. The other down shift was done as needed or used for production if more was needed. One time the machine was scheduled down late in the week during the day shift. The plant manager saw that and screamed that it cost $400 an hour in lost production. The operations manager assured him this was a normal situation. It didn't matter. He insisted that they start up the machine mid shift. They ran it until the plant manager went home.

These type of things happened fairly regularly. Dilbert's pointy haired boss had nothing on this guy at all. We had an IT manager who knew her stuff and was very direct in her NJ communication style. When yet another of these episodes occurred, she stormed out of a meeting saying that "I cannot have a war of wits with someone who is totally unarmed". The rest of us held back our chuckles. I don't believe he ever caught on to what she meant.

Another day, he was running a meeting and after standing up to make a point, he went to sit down in one of the chairs. He somehow caught his pants pocket on the arm of the chair and proceeded to tear a huge hole down the right side of his pants. A couple of weeks later we saw him walking through the plant. Most of us observed that he had a similar hole down the left side of his pants. The operations manager later told us the exact same thing happened while he was meeting with him in his office.

Later on in my tenure, we merged with a sister company in the midwest. Some time later, the ones in charge there came to our plant for a special meeting. Our plant manager thought they were coming to put him in charge of both plants. Instead they fired him. He didn't know what hit him.

Let me put a ribbon around this amusing story and relate it back to our chronic troll problem. My coworkers back in the day dealt with our plant manager because they HAD to. Sadly too many people find themselves in similar situations. It is a main reason why the concept of striving for financial independence (FI-a key part of the CampFIre name) was created. The closer one gets to it, the less buffoons like the boss can harm your mental well being. Our trolls share a lot of traits with the boss. I can't say they are all absolutely clueless. There is probably a large dose of willful ignorance at play here. A major tell is their unwillingness or inability to concede a point that is there for all to see. When something factual is presented to them that is contrary to their world view, they simply change the subject and scream louder, just like the boss did.

Another characteristic of these trolls is that they are uniformly humorless bores. They don't discuss any other subjects that most normal people would touch on in the course of everyday conversation. Such things tend to work to develop some common ground that can then make the areas of disagreement more palatable. If you share a love of certain foods, vacation locales, pets, adult beverages, team sports, music, film, etc, a policy disagreement should not by itself be able to derail a friendship built slowly and well over time. One trick ponies to not possess any of that.

I guess I could have saved a lot of space by saying what many have said before me: Do not Feed the Trolls!

BG (I have to say the sight of the boss's twice ripped pants is something that remains my strongest memory of my 7 years working at that place)
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