The following three part series is a potted history of my BOSS existence over the years. Seven base types are described that have been observed (in detail) over the years. It has been a roughly 50:50 experience of being the Boss and having a Boss. Some Bosses do stand out from the Pack. Some for the right reasons and others?


“Roads are busy“, I remind myself. Entry to the timber and hardware store is in a relative blind spot left hand side of almost jammed two traffic lanes, with all vaguely merging into one lane, or is that two? Is tricky, but am used to it. Very early indicator shown and a gradual slowdown to ensure am not hit in the back end. Turn left into the Timber and Hardware Outlet, compacted gravel and clay carpark slightly shiny from the recent rain.

Park. Straight in through the glassed heavy timber framed double doors to desk with person on other side to take the order. “Hi Boss, I need these.” I pass over the shopping list. This one quietly nods and grunts, no fuss keyboard action. 10 seconds later, invoice spits out, one yellow copy for the boys in the yard. Two bags 3/4″ gravel, 1 bag cement, 1 Litre Matt Black external paint, a roll of Drop-sheet. I pay, while nodding and stating “Thanks Boss”, get up, hop in the car for the short drive to the supply yard area.

Have been visiting the Yard for a few years now. Roughly 6-8 men, Forklift, Front end Loader and small truck fleet compliment what they look after. We sort of know each other, pretty friendly nods. My Bahasa Malaysia “sikit” (a little) and their English about same. Closest comes over to drivers side window, “Yes Boss, what you need?”. Yellow slip passed across the door divide.

He heads off to round up my bits, while I maneuver the car to make it easier to load these heavy bag weights. “Ok Boss”, one of the Boys gives a Thumb up to the Drivers Side Mirror. I stop, flick the Rear Hatch lever, get out and watch them load the bags. Job done, Rear Hatch is closed. I nod, “Terima Kasi” (thank you), “Sama sama” comes back from the yard workers.

Carefully I work me way back out onto the now even busier road and head home to continue the backyard landscape job. It was not a quick journey. What normally took 10-15 stretched to 30 minutes.

In that awfully slow car tango home, mind diverts to everyone calling everyone else “Boss” at some time. I called the Hardware Office guy “Boss”. In those minutes of life he is my Boss as only he can give me what I need. My landscape job fate is in his hands. “Boss” fits. The Boys in the Yard calling me ‘Boss”? That fits as they are supplying me. I own the Goods, therefore am “Boss”. Speaking life in Malaysia is wound in Boss word.

There is always a context to call someone Boss. Floor sweeper and Rubbish bin emptier is still “Boss”. Is good, no harm done, so to speak. A measure of respect happens from both directions of the employment ladder. I like this use of “Boss” in Malaysia. It is accidental Socialism at it’s best.

There is still the other side of “Boss” in more traditional terms Boss. You know, those that own or Run whatever enterprise you are working in. The Real Boss. Here in Kuala Lumpur there are some seriously Bully Bosses that run with fear as their best management tool. In some ways it feels that I have been time warped to the early 1980’s in Aus. Have met the exact opposite Bosses here too. Humble, friendly, open and kind they are. Big contrasts.

Nothing like the launching point of a Professional Career to start off with the following Boss.

1. Sadistic Boss (sex – male)

Gains particular pleasure in the public humiliation of staff. Happy to be belligerent for no reason and tends to have a sarcasm draped smile while doing so. Loves hearing own voice ranting on during staff meetings. Is always prone to displaying as many Framed Certifications and Qualifications on his Office wall as possible. Is quite intimidating for newbies. Will accept full grovelling as a communication method and only answer if called Sir.

My earliest Boss immediately after graduating as a Landscape Architect. What a way to start. Didn’t seem to matter how well thought out my arguments or proposals were, he would be so dismissive. It was as if he couldn’t be bothered lowering himself to talk to the fresh faced grad who seriously needed Boss help after being loaded up with major projects not long after starting.

Staff meetings, he would have something derogatory or condescending to state to each of us about whatever we were presenting. “Useless” was a favourite word. His pet occupation was publicly humiliating outside workforce staff over the Organisation wide two radio network for all to hear.

He was so belligerent. Things finally came to a head in an across the office floor shouting match with me doing most of the shouting, culminating in what he could do with my Job and that I was resigning!

Surprised that he came out from behind the desk towards me, not angry, bit of a smirk almost bordering on a smile. He started laughing and put out his hand to shake mine. I was caught off guard and didn’t really know what to do, most likely a bit slack jawed.

“About bloody time someone stood up to me around here, am so sick of everyone being wimps! That is a great submission and will support fully when presented at Committee”.

He turned round back to his office chuckling. I ended up working with this mad human for a tick over two years. Never a bad or crass word said to me after that. Always gave great support. The other staff? He was still at it, bullying and intimidating and all for the fun of it waiting in forlorn hope that someone would get stuck into him.

Heck of a way to manage staff. Maybe his version of “Tough Love”? Could be. Truly an amazing learning curve to kick off the career. Sink or Swim ……? At least I kept my Head above water. Not sure about the rest though. It certainly toughened me up though.

Boss Rating 5:10 No one deserves to be treated as a sadists punching bag just for their perverse pleasure, no one. The only reason I marked 5 instead of zero, is knowledge gained over those critical early career few years, especially the art of concise report writing, specifications, contract documentation, committee presentations, PR and crisis management. Great base office skills that set me up for the rest of the career.

Coming up: Standard Boss and more.

2 thoughts on “BOSS

  1. Great to read this after our recent conversations and my query re the affectionately respectful term ‘boss’ that I overheard being used from your ‘boss’ to the security guard 😁


    Liked by 1 person

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