Humor in Uniform

September 17, 2007, 5:46 PM UTC

A reader from Kathleen, Georgia, writes…

When I was in the military and stationed in Illinois, my immediate boss was a PITA.  He had nervous ticks, including a ball-point pen he used to click all the time, and he smoked incessantly.  He used to come up to the work site at 3AM intoxicated and harass the night shift.  One night he told the night shift there was a fire in the graphics room, and upon being told there was no fire, he insisted that we follow the fire checklist.  He got quite belligerant and one of the workers from another section eventually had to lead him out of the vault.  He eventually got “fired”, which in the military means he was transferred to another office where he couldn’t do much damage.

I’ve had other bosses that were a little off as well.  One went crazy in the middle of Desert Storm and ended up living in his chemical defense gear for 4 days in a closet.  He was already a little bit of an obsessive anal-retentive type, and when the missiles started falling he couldn’t handle not being in control.  Ironically, the guy had a habit of telling everyone he had a BS in Psychology and giving impromptu personality analysis.  Classic!

What do you think? What role does stress play in the morphing of simply obnoxious bosses into truly crazy ones? When even metaphorical missiles, not even real ones, begin to fly, how many executives can keep cool and sane?