The worst boss I ever had: a story you won’t believe

Mat Ryer

It was the year 2000 and it was my first job. I was a web developer for a small agency in my home town, Mansfield (near Nottingham in England) and I loved it.

I was doing my hobby every day and getting paid for it. There were four of us in the office, the boss and two colleagues who were great blokes; they taught me so much and I am still in touch with them today.

I was earning minimum wage, which for my age at the time was about £3.70 an hour, or about £600 a month. I was still living at home (obviously) and used to commute to the office on the bus.

One day, my boss told me that he was impressed with my work and wanted to give me a pay rise. He said that if I could work hard over the next month (come in early, go home late, go above and beyond) then he’d be able to authorise an 11% pay rise for me, which was “a massive pay rise” according to him.

I was totally up for it.

I told my girlfriend that I wouldn’t see her much over the next month, because I was going to be working a lot. She understood and was supportive, and even excited for me. I didn’t tell my dad, because I wanted to surprise him once I’d got the pay rise.

Over the next thirty days I was the first one in and the last one out. I worked weekends, and even did extra jobs that weren’t my responsibility to help anywhere I could. I could tell my boss was impressed, he kept smiling when he saw me going that extra mile.

The day before payday, my dad had picked me up from work— I asked him to because I wanted to tell him the good news — and before I said anything he said, “Oh, by the way, congratulations on the pay rise!”

I was shocked. How did he know? How on earth did he know?

“How do you know?” I asked.

“It was in the newspaper this morning,” came his reply.

A reconstruction of what my face might have looked like when I realised what had happened (with less head hair for dramatic effect)

I can’t remember what was going through my mind at this point, but I certainly didn’t rule out a front-page splash with the headline “Employee of the Month” and a great big picture of me doing a great job on it.

“What do you mean it was in the newspaper?”

“Minimum wage has gone up 11% this month.”

I asked my dad to take me home and immediately wrote an email explaining why I would never be returning and I haven’t seen that guy since.


Mat Ryer

Written by

Mat Ryer

Founder at — Gopher, developer, speaker, author — BitBar app — Author of Go Programming Blueprints

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