The Boss

The Boss was THE Boss. No one dared challenge company policy, which demanded staff only used triangular paperclips, not the usual ones with rounded ends. Despite our degrees, our role wasn’t to question why. Actually, we weren’t there to question anything.

That came much later, when I found a photo of him and his wife in the paper. She’d fled with the kids, charging him with domestic violence. His former secretary, I remembered how her office was chaos, and his was anal.

Sure, opposites attract. Yet, somehow I knew, that using the wrong type of paperclip, must’ve caused their demise.


This has been another contribution to  Friday Fictioneers  hosted by Rochelle Wisoff Fields. Photo prompt Copyright Claire Sheldon.

I would love to hear your comments on the whole opposites attract thing too. Most people I know, marry their opposite and yet it is also fraught with tension. 

xx Rowena

42 thoughts on “The Boss

  1. wmqcolby

    Whoa! Solid story there. interesting take on the characters themselves using paperclips. A good story element. In TV we call it a “gimmick,” but I didn’t want it to sound cheap if I used that word.

    Great story! Fun read! 🙂

  2. Moon

    I love your story , Rowena . Must be tough to work with an authoritarian boss like that . I thank God, i haven’t come across anyone in my professional or domestic domain.My experience tells me that its a lot easier to live in harmony with a spouse who shares a wider common ground.

  3. James

    Betting a new regime is about to take over. If THE Boss has been arrested, I’m pretty sure the Board of Directors will sack him. Maybe it’s round paperclips for everyone after this.

  4. Rowena Post author

    Isn’t it crazy how things can get in an office?!! A quick Google search has showed he’s still in the job. Hard to believe as I left there about 25 years ago and trust me, I was running and never looked back. However, it’s hard for someone to leave their kingdom and the royal throne, whatever it might be.

  5. Rowena Post author

    At least, it didn’t end in murder like another response to the prompt. I think it might have been coming though…

  6. Rowena Post author

    Thanks very much, Miles. I’ll be sticking to plastic hangers too from now on…as well as using my stapler!

  7. Rowena Post author

    Yes, I wasn’t surprised either. Yet, so many others are equally opposite. Humph…something about the divorce rate perhaps.

  8. Rowena Post author

    Yes, I agree. My husband and I have quite a lot of common ground while I’m very extroverted and he is somewhat introverted. Neither of us is neat.

  9. Rowena Post author

    The thing about this story is that the paperclip thing was real. In hindsight, I can see this boss was very highly strung and I was definitely a fish out of water there. I was in marketing and largely doing statistical analysis. It was not my thing, but i was good at telling people what they wanted to hear in interviews and should’ve asked more questions.

  10. Rowena Post author

    Unfortunately, I didn’t make that up. 18 long months in that job, trying to get some stability in my CV. I had an office without a window and virtually no people contact. If ever you could describe an environment which could kill your soul, this was it. His paperclipn fetish was just the icing on top of a toxic cake.

  11. michael1148humphris

    This boss should have come with a health warning: As for couples who are opposites; I would always recommend that they keep a place of retreat for each of them, for time out sessions.

  12. Rowena Post author

    That idea of a retreat is a great idea and very wise. Ideally, they could each have their own bat cave where they could fully express themselves. It would be quite interesting to visit each of them after a few years and see how they’d developed. What would they each hang on the walls? What colours would they choose?
    BTW I want one of these for myself!
    xx Rowena

  13. pennygadd51

    Neat use of the prompt! Those paperclips do catch the eye, don’t they? I felt surprised at first when you said it was a true story, but on reflection, yes, I’ve known some people who were control freaks to that extent.

  14. Rowena Post author

    Definitely. I was in a stationery shop called kiki K today and bought some circular paperclips. I thought one of those would be perfect for the divorce papers xx Rowena

  15. Rowena Post author

    I have a short story competition coming up and am thinking of doing something with this.
    Had a bit of a chuckle today when I went into a stationery shop kiki K and they sell circular paperclips. I thought of putting one of those on the divorce papers.
    I could see him giving up the house to keep news of the paperclip fetish out of the papers.

  16. Rowena Post author

    I hope not, Keith. I do know a few people with peg issues, which is a close equivalent. I have problems the opposite direction. I have too many ideas running simultaneously and that is reflected in my surrounding environment.

  17. Rowena Post author

    That such good wisdom.
    By the way, I’ve spent the night removing knots from my daughter’s hair tonight in preparation for dance exams tomorrow. I am going to be keeping a much closer eye on that hair from now on!!

  18. granonine

    What a job! One of my granddaughters has long, naturally curly hair. It’s beautiful, and she’s learning to deal with the tangles on her own, but it’s been a daily process for my daughter!

  19. subroto

    Such individuals bring to mind the lines from The Charge of the Light Brigade.
    Someone had blunder’d:
    Theirs not to make reply,
    Theirs not to reason why,
    Theirs but to do and die:

    OK maybe bit of stretch from the Crimean War but sometimes being in an office is like being in a war 🙂

  20. Rowena Post author

    Thanks for sharing those lines with me and adding so much to the comments. I agree the office can be a war zone and some of the stuff which goes on can get pretty weird. So many different personalities thrown into a pressure cooker with the outcome totally unpredictable (BTW I’ve been watching a lot of Masterchef lately.)
    xx Rowena

  21. Yinglan

    What a strict and terrible boss! I don’t think anyone would ever work for this type of person. I certainly wouldn’t. Nice take on the prompt.

  22. Rowena Post author

    Thanks very much, Yinglan. I got stuck there for way too long and laugh about it in hindsight. Need to be a lot more circumspect in job interviews and not fall for their pitch.

  23. Yinglan

    That’s what I did, the CEO (the one who interviewed me) told me he want someone for the long-term and crave stability but he didn’t tell me about the crazy people that’d be working here. He aimed at my desire for stability and long-term work and I fell for it.

  24. Rowena Post author

    I agree with your Mum. My husband and I are opposities and while there are times our differences drive me crazy, we make a great team most of the time. It’s just that sometimes when we’re under stress, the differences can suddenly inflate and the gap can almost become insurmountable at times. I guess that’s married life for many.
    xx Rowena

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