With no end in sight to an unemployment crisis, the nation's zeitgeist turns to "Horrible Bosses."
Three pals team up to knock off their abusive workplace overlords in a Warner Brothers flick that took in $28.1 million over the weekend, second only to violent robots from space in Paramount's far-more-expensive production, "Transformers: Dark of the Moon."
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Killing the psychopath who controls your employment, now that's entertainment.
Millions of jobless Americans can only dream of having a boss to inspire their murderous fantasies. The nation is suffering the longest bout of extreme joblessness most of us have seen.
Last week's report that the economy produced only 18,000 new jobs in June worried even the most cheerleading of economists--you know, the ones who keep promising job creation will pick up with the recovery.
And amid the endless gloom, millions of Americans maintain the luxury of loathing their bosses.
Nearly half of workers surveyed by OfficeTeam, a Menlo Park, Calif., staffing service, complained of having worked for "unreasonable bosses." Of those, 59% stayed in their jobs--even the 24% who said they "suffered through the torment."
Then there's Working America, a group affiliated with the AFL-CIO, that is now collecting workplace horror stories in another one of its "Bad Boss" contests. Go to its website, rag about your boss, and you could win a fabulous vacation and $1,000 in spending money.
First, you have to top "Bad Barista" from California, a semi-finalist who suffered heart symptoms on the job: "In the ambulance, my boss called me several times, threatening to fire me because I was unable to do my job."
If the contest proves anything, it's that you don't have to buy a movie ticket to see a dark comedy about horrible bosses. A few other submissions:
* "My boss came in hung over .. threw up all over the sales floor and told me to get the mop and clean it! I did it. .. We ended up having to throw out the mop and bucket because it smelled up the entire store!" -- Ed from Michigan.
* "My boss .. mentioned that there are certain shoes that men wear to look under women's dresses." -- Joyce.
* "I worked for the same boss for four years at a local bar. .. I was sometimes told I couldn't go to the bathroom. .. I would even have medical problems occur as a result .. to which my boss would say "want a hanky?'" -- "Freebird," Indiana.
* "All the employees were Sandy, Candy, Mandy, Tandy, Shandy. He had a list of rhyming names to call his employees. Didn't matter what your name was, once he assigned a name, that was what you answered to." -- "Willnotworkforacorporationanymore," Michigan.
* "When I first saw Sarah Palin, I thought, OMG!! It's my boss!! Aaaaaaghhhhh!!!!" -- "Magicmary," New Mexico.
* "Look up "idiot" in the dictionary and there's his picture. .. I quickly realized I was there to make him look competent." -- "Safety Goddess," Pennsylvania.
The movies and the Internet provide great escapes. Now, back to reality.
If your boss pukes, mop it up with a smile. If your boss comes to work with shiny shoes, wear pants. If there's no time for bathroom breaks, buy a catheter or learn to hold it. And so what if your boss is an idiot, calls you a name that rhymes with "Andy," or looks like Sarah Palin?
It's your job to make your horrible boss look good. Because what's most horrible these days is the unemployment line, the foreclosure pool, the bankruptcy court--or, perhaps, a life sentence for murder.
(Al's Emporium, written by Dow Jones Newswires columnist Al Lewis, offers commentary and analysis on a wide range of business subjects through an unconventional perspective. Contact Al at firstname.lastname@example.org or tellittoal.com)