update: when your boss is a raging alcoholic

Remember the letter-writer whose friend’s boss was a raging alcoholic — coming back from lunch drunk, driving home drunk, and generally being a menace to society and the workplace? Here’s the update.

So the situation has a somewhat happy ending. The boss in question eventually got fired! It took a long time for this to happen, though. Basically the boss continued to go MIA for long periods of time, and came back completely drunk. My friend actually had to do most of the boss’ duties, which was kind of ridiculous since he was the lowest person on the totem pole, and probably shouldn’t have had to do the work of an executive for the fraction of the pay. Lots of drunken hijinx went on, and the boss continued to drive drunk. Eventually, out of the blue, he was fired. No one saw it coming, and we’re not sure what the final straw was (since this was going on for what we think could be YEARS). My friend actually got a new job shortly after this, and is quite happy there.

A lot of your readers were very much on the side of “he should quit right away!”, but in the end he had to stick it out until he found a new job. We live in a very expensive city, so just bailing wasn’t an option. A lot of others suggested calling the cops. We did try an anonymous tip, but nothing came of it (I guess since we live in a major city, it’s hard to really catch them in the act). Anyway, thanks again for your/readers advice! It was such a bizarre situation, and believe me, my original letter didn’t even capture all the cray that was going on there.

{ 29 comments… read them below }

  1. Nina*

    I’m really happy that your friend got out of that situation, and very relieved that the boss was fired. At the very least, your friend got some job experience that may be useful later, despite the crappy way he had to get it.

    I would love to know what the last straw was, since this went on for way too long. I hope that former boss gets some help before he kills someone, or injures himself any further.

    Congrats to your friend! :)

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        My guess is the right client finally complained loudly enough to the right person.

  2. Steve G*

    Why did he get a new job if his problem – the alchy boss – wasn’t there anymore?

    1. Christine*

      -There were other issues at play in the workplace that made it an undesirable place to work – a company that takes YEARS to get rid of someone routinely coming into work drunk probably has other issues. Lots of them.
      -The job hunting process made him realize that there were better opportunities out there or that he wanted a different opportunity, regardless of the work problem.
      -He was in the hiring process for another job before the firing.

      Fixing the situation that drove him to look for other work in the first place doesn’t mean he’s going to stop looking for other work. Companies that retain employees don’t let situations develop that cause employees to make a satisfaction-motivated hunt for other work in the first place.

    2. neverjaunty*

      According to the original post:

      ” The boss’s boss has turned a blind eye to it, so he has gotten away with this behavior for quite some time now. Finally, HR is involved in this in the sense that they are drinking buddy’s with the boss, so there is no point in even going to HR about it.”

      So, yeah, a company with MAJOR problems beyond one guy having a drinking problem.

    3. OP*

      In the end the job just had a lot more opportunities to move up and more things to get experience in. He did really love his workplace though, so it wasn’t an easy decision.

  3. Not So NewReader*

    No doubt in my mind that it got pretty wild before it ended, OP.

    I am glad that everything calmed down and your friend found a new job.

    Your type of story drives me nuts- there are so many people out there that break their backs to do a good job and this guy remained employed. Really, the only response to that is to just leave the company. Find a place where management has a spine. Pass along good wishes to your friend, please.

    1. Nina*

      There are so many people out there that break their backs to do a good job and this guy remained employed.

      I find that depressing as well. This just emphasizes the negative aspect of “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. ” I’m thinking he has a lot of friends in his industry, a lot of money, or both.

      1. CoffeeLover*

        Depressing but true. They have to catch him actively driving drunk. Side story, I once saw on of my neighbours driving home in the morning. Not only did he drive over the sidewalk on his way to his garage, but he also manage to park the car halfway on his lawn. Couldn’t do anything since I couldn’t prove he actually drove the car drunk.

        1. GrumpyBoss*

          And that’s the way it should be. People are unbelievably petty. I lived in next to a state sheriff once who would tell me stories of getting calls of suspicious drunk driving from people who were looking for revenge for someone who cut them off on the highway all the way to a neighbor feud.

          What kind of police state would we live in where a simple accusation is all it took for action? It sucks in cases like this when someone really is driving drunk and put lives at risk.

          1. NoPantsFridays*

            I agree with you here. Also, some people are just bad drivers. I don’t drink at all, never mind behind the wheel, and I’m sure I appear to be drunk sometimes with the stupid shit I do. I think I should take one of those driving refresher courses.

  4. PJP*

    Clearly he must have had quite a serious alcohol problem and wasn’t just wantonly choosing to behave this way. Yes it is right that he was fired and should have been sooner, but we don’t have to be so derisive and gleeful and that his life has fallen apart. A sad and difficult situation for all involved and I hope he gets the help he needs and one day makes a recovery.

    1. A Bug!*

      It’s a good thing you’re here to put words in our mouths so you can lecture us on how ungracious we are.

      Why did you have to spoil a perfectly reasonable, kind sentiment with such groundless snark?

    2. Christine*

      I have just reread every single one of the 13 comments currently in the thread and see absolutely nothing derisive or gleeful. Either I’m misinterpreting something, or you’re reading a tone that isn’t there.

    3. OP*

      I don’t feel too badly about the boss leaving, he has a wife with a good job and a house and all that. The drinking problem part is sad though, but at least he doesn’t have to worry about becoming homeless.

  5. PJP*

    I apologise unreservedly if that was perceived as a lecture or ‘snark’, I just think compassion for *all* involved in this horrible situation is best, not just for his sake but also for staff; as AAM says about poor performers for example, it is less frustrating as well as kinder to think of them as miscast, rather than just purely a nuisance, likewise here maybe it will be less difficult from employees suffering too to conceive of him as a man that had fallen victim to a horrible health condition, not as a deliberately selfish and criminally dangerous person.

    I wonder also how things work with lack of references, work history etc. when someone goes through something like this; whether it is considered a health problem therefore be regarded as any other that sadly stop someone from working. I hope so because I believe recovery is possible. Good luck to all involved .

    1. Zillah*

      Someone can be suffering from a health condition and be a deliberately selfish and criminally dangerous person. It’s not an either/or thing.

      Based on the information we’ve been given, it seems very likely that the boss was an alcoholic. However, addiction doesn’t excuse bad behavior, any more than any other illness does.

  6. PJP*

    P.s I suppose the glee I was referring to was the ‘happen ending – he got fired!’ rather than ‘sad but inevitable conclusion for all involved – he got fired’. But then of course it is the culmination of months of frustration so perhaps is understandable. Unreserved contrition to all once again for my misunderstanding.

    1. Christine*

      “Happy ending” might not be the best descriptor, but it wasn’t the inevitable ending, there were plenty of alternatives and most of them worse. The boss could have been killed in an accident or killed someone. Or he could have been allowed to remain without dealing with his problem and continued to cause problems and hurt morale. If he is unable/unwilling to get help, then the best possible outcome for everyone involved is to get him out of the workplace.

      I completely agree with you that compassion is the best approach. It’s not always easy to find that place when the problem affects your livelihood, though. :)

    2. Sarahnova*

      “Happy ending”, in this case, is that the employees in this company were no longer having to deal with this situation, which was making their lives measurably more difficult, and this guy finally suffered some consequences for his alcoholism at work. Alcoholics are harmed, not helped, by an inability to address the impact of their actions; that’s why AA and addiction counsellors talk about “enabling”.

      This guy may not be happy about losing his job, but if he is ever to get sober, this is a good thing for him.

  7. Letter Writer*

    YAY! Updates! Are you looking for updates? I have one but was waiting until you announced you were looking for them.

  8. Cake*

    I wish I had gotten advice #2 regarding the contradictory advice. I received some contradictory advice from my manager and supervisor a couple of months ago through online chat. While each of them voiced their own suggestion through our group online chat, they did not seem to talk about the issue further after they express each other’s opinions. A few weeks later, I ask both of them the same question again through online chat, and my supervisor gave the same suggestion he/she gave before, but my manager did not say anything. Right now, I am currently doing the assignment the way my supervisor intends. My manager does not look at the assignment that often. So I am wondering what should I do at this point?

  9. MR*

    When behavior like this happens and goes unchecked for a long period of time, then results in said person getting fired, it’s usually because a client (i.e. someone that writes checks to the company to keep the operations going), complains about said behavior to someone who has the power to do something about this.

    It usually only takes the mention of losing a client over something preventable, for action to take place. The manager in this situation likely said/did something to the client that caused them to contact the CEO, and the manager was gone.

    Of course, that this type of behavior being tolerated for so long is a whole different issue, and speaks volumes about how this company is being run, but it is good that the friend found employment elsewhere.

  10. Desperate Admination*

    Well this story starts with an employee and a group of employees who have hung in there about as far as they can go but now it has come to the point that something needs to be done but what. The owner of this business is sa drunk and has been for several years now and has taken the business down to nearly nothing. We were once a thriving business and now are trying to hung on because the boss is drunk and is out representing us this way and became angry and disruptive and has o regards for anyone in fact becomes paranoid. I wish there was a way to protect ourselves from this let down but so far no. He has embarassed all of us in front of important people etc. what can I do …?

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