It's time for equal time. Readers of this column always have the last word, and this month many of your letters were about a column describing Bosses from Hell.
A Brooklyn, N.Y., reader spoke for many of you when she wrote: "You didn't talk about sexual harassment -- surely the worst kind of abuse an employee can suffer from a Boss from Hell.
"I was degraded and humiliated by constant sexual harassment from my boss -- innuendos, propositions, being pawed and rubbed against, being actually threatened with the loss of my job if I didn't give in and have sex with him," she wrote.
"I lost the pleasure I'd always taken in my job. I lost my good reputation because people just assumed we were having sex. By the end of three years, I lost my self-confidence, ability to work effectively, ability to sleep at night, ability to look at myself in the mirror without flinching.
"I quit that job -- even though I hadn't found another one and had two small children to support -- because I really believed that if I didn't leave, I'd eventually lose my sanity, too. Twenty years later, I'm still bitter because this man will never have to pay for the terrible damage he caused in my life."
"What about Bosses from Hell who think their secretaries are built-in baby sitters, errand-runners, tutors for their children and even dog walkers?" wrote an Orlando, Fla., reader. "Yes, my boss actually asks me to 'swing by' his apartment on my lunch hour and walk his horrible little dog!
"He also 'asks' me to run his shirts to the laundry, Christmas shop for his wife and three rotten kids and provide him with an alibi when his wife calls and he's out at the company condo
cheating on her."
From Omaha, Neb., a beleaguered secretary wrote: "I've worked for every one of the rotten bosses you described so accurately, but you left out one: the Boss from Hell who Plays Favorites. Take my boss -- please!
"Who's 'in favor' -- and who is not -- changes from month to month in my boss's kingdom. It's a lot like Queen Victoria's court: If you're 'in favor' you can do no wrong, and if you're not, you can do no right.
"The worst part, aside from the constant anxiety under which her wretched subjects live, is that we're all so desperate for her favor, we act like kids with a bad case of sibling rivalry -- plotting and scheming and betraying each other in order to gain her favor."
And a sharp reminder about how helpless we often are in the face of a Boss from Hell came from Bloomington, Ill. "Your attitude seems to be, 'If you're being verbally abused by your boss, just find another job and leave,' " she wrote.
"Are you living in the good old U.S. of A., my dear, in this recession? Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a job nowadays?"
A Sacramento, Calif., reader thought bosses who are guilty of neglect also deserve the title of Boss from Hell.
"You didn't mention absentee bosses who won't answer your questions or take the time to explain anything to you because they're too busy, busy, busy -- and too important -- to waste their time on silly you -- until it's time to assign blame, of course, when all they can think about is you," she wrote.
Finally, a faithful reader in Baltimore neatly summed up Bosses from Hell when she wrote: "People are all of a piece, Niki. Bosses from Hell aren't terrible people at work and pussycats in their personal lives. They're rotten people -- everywhere.
"So I comfort myself in dealing with my own Boss from Hell by remembering that rotten people usually get what's coming to them -- eventually -- and reminding myself that I'm a relatively lucky woman, as well. At least I don't have to live with this jerk!"
Universal Press Syndicate