I’ve been promising for a while to tell the story of the worst job I ever had, working for a man so evil, he stole from homeless people.
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The meanest person I ever met was a man who ran a homeless shelter.
I was fresh out of college and off to save the world. My church found me a position where I could get social work experience in exchange for room, board and a tiny stipend. I naively assumed that anyone running a homeless shelter must be, if not a saint, at least a decent human being. The boss, who I call Ken Killjoy in the never-to-be-published novel version, was more like the love child (hate child?) of the bosses from Dilbert and The Devil Wears Prada.
Ken had verbal abuse and humiliation down to a science. No issue was too small for him to belittle, insult or lie about. Occasionally he’d have screaming rages at staff; more often it was armchair-analyst condescension. It wasn’t so much that he criticized; he pathologized everything I said and did. For instance, when he found out I was bisexual, he was constantly concerned about how I seemed “uncomfortable with my sexuality” — as proven by my “flaunting” it, even though he was the one constantly bringing it up.
He would tell me to do something, then deny it so emphatically that I’d start to doubt my own eyes and ears. His favorite phrase was “manipulating the conversation,” which meant anyone telling him he was wrong about anything. It took me a while to realize it really wasn’t me; he was using the same gaslighting techniques on everyone else as well. To this day, when I see the word “manipulate,” I hear it in my head in his sneering voice.
He could seem charming with outsiders. He would brag about all the shelters he’d founded, but strangely, the number would change every time. He claimed to be the founder of our shelter, although longtime employees said that wasn’t true. He wanted employees to call him “Dr. Killjoy,” although there were no diplomas hanging in his office.
Weird things kept happening. He arranged a housing grant with shelter funds (something we did occasionally), for someone who was supposedly a former shelter resident. After Ken left with the check, I discovered that there was no record of the client’s name among former residents. I asked Ken about this, and he yelled at me to stop manipulating the conversation.
He harassed one employee into quitting, and afterward that person had trouble finding a job. That person had a friend call Ken, pretending to be a prospective employer checking references. Ken lied that the ex-employee been fired for failing a drug test.
Another employee stood up to his abusive behavior, and got fired. That person went to the Board of Directors with suspicions about some of his financial dealings. They started asking questions of the staff. I told them about the housing grant, and others mentioned things that they’d seen that seemed off.
The Board’s investigation found that Ken had been embezzling thousands of dollars. His resignation letter blamed everyone but himself.
I now have a good job, as social work jobs go. I’m able to tolerate stressful environments because I’ve never had a job as bad as that one.
Years later, I wondered what had become of him. Thanks to the wonders of Google, I found out that Ken is now Reverend Killjoy. The church website touts his wonderful “work with the homeless.” The church’s mission centers on forgiveness and redemption, so I suppose there’s no point in trying to warn anyone there about a twenty-year-old sin.
Let’s just hope they keep him away from the collection plate.
On to Top Comments!
Excellent comment about taxation in a diary about Donald Trump. I cannot think of one word to add or change. (Note from Tara: comment is by Neuroscientist2.)
From your humble (if antisocial) diarist:
In Laura Clawson’s diary, Republicans outraged millions of workers will get added pay under new Obama overtime rule, drshatterhand observes that Republicans would find a way to complain if President Obama cured cancer. Russycle shows how it’s done.
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