Readers discuss bosses, laid-off wives


It's time for you, the readers of this column, to have the very last word -- time for equal time. This month, many of your letters concerned columns about verbally abusive bosses, and how many families react when a working wife and mother is laid off from her job.

From Green Bay, Wis., an office manager wrote: "Hurrah for your column about what is -- and is not -- acceptable behavior from a boss toward his or her employees.

"My sister in New Orleans mailed me a copy of it, and it arrived on the very day that my boss -- who feels he has the right to make me his figurative punching bag whenever he's feeling peeved, irritable or out of sorts -- had stepped way over the line, even for him.

"He'd been after me all day, criticizing every move I made, making snide remarks about my clothing and general appearance, barking orders, roaring when he couldn't find things, etc.

"Your words helped me to remember that no one has the right to abuse me like that. So when I came to work the next morning, I left your article and a note saying just that -- no more -- on his desk.

"He basically didn't speak to me all morning, and I got really scared that I'd gone too far. But when I came back from lunch, there was a note saying, 'You're right. Sorry.' Just that -- no more. But, oh, how very sweet was this victory."

Your reaction was decidedly mixed after a column concerning the assumptions that some women run into when they've been laid off from their jobs -- that they are (or should be) relieved and happy to be back home again full time, for example.

Wrote an irate reader from Richmond, Va.: "I can only ask: Where are these children while their fathers and mothers are working full time? Is it possible that they are disadvantaged in a way that two paychecks cannot compensate?"

But a reader in Orlando, Fla., wrote: "I found your article on the vast difference between the functions of laid-off men vs. laid-off women to be very accurate.

"If a man is laid off, his friends and families rally 'round and say 'The market was bad' and 'The company just wasn't sound.' But if a woman is laid off, there's a perception that it's probably because she wasn't really serious about her job, or should have worked harder at it."

A Louisville, Ky., reader echoed many of you, on the other hand, when she wrote: "I would love to have a husband like the one you wrote about who was so glad that his wife had been laid off because now she could stay home and take care of their children, and he could take care of her.

"If this man ever gets tired of this unappreciative woman, he can knock at the door of this unmarried woman any time. I'd adore having someone take care of me!"

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