ROCHESTER, NY—Citing such examples as his understated eye rolls or how he often delivers a faint, judgment-filled “hmm” after an employee passionately presents an idea, workers at Blain Insurance, Ltd. told reporters Tuesday that general manager Carl Douglas, 44, has a special, subtle knack for making members of his staff feel like utter dog shit.
Calling his unique, minimalist approach to destroying their self-esteem “impressive,” employees said their boss is just as adept at insulting a single worker with a few well-placed sarcastic remarks as he is at humiliating his entire staff at once.
“He’s got this really light touch about it,” said mortgage underwriter Kevin McElroy, 29, who praised his manager’s delicate, finely honed talent for demeaning others. “Carl never lays it on thick, but somehow he always says the exact thing he needs to say to make you feel completely worthless.”
“Sometimes you’re not even aware at first that he’s humiliating you in front of everyone,” McElory added. “But then you’re eating lunch and you think, oh yeah, that remark during our morning meeting about the spelling mistake in my email wasn’t friendly ribbing at all. It was designed to make me look like an incompetent fool in front of my colleagues. He’s kind of a quiet genius when it comes to shitting on people who can’t fight back because they’re afraid of getting fired.”
Coworkers reported that Douglas goes about shaming his employees gracefully and is often content to quietly bide his time and wait for the perfect moment to deploy a casual put-down and remind his staff they’re redundant, obsolete, and that their professional fates are ultimately in the hands of a boss who just treated them like fucking children.
Douglas’ rare ability reportedly resides in the very smallest details: the way he sometimes pretends not to know an employee’s name as a joke or how he continuously calls them a nickname as a crafty reminder that he’s in charge and can call his workers whatever he wants.
Employees said that while such quirks may seem slight and unrelated at first, closer observation reveals how they all work together, in a kind of perfect harmony, to help shatter the self-confidence of each and every one of Douglas’ subordinates.
“He does this one thing that’s really brilliant where I’ll suggest something, and then he’ll ask these probing questions about my idea—not because he wants genuine answers or because he’s actually curious, but because he wants me to see the flaws in my suggestion with a humiliating exchange wherein I stumble during my responses,” senior claims adjuster Joanna Maddon told reporters. “See, he already has an opinion about my idea, and could just say he agrees or disagrees, but Carl’s genius is that he employs this elegant tactic to make me feel like what I suggested was not only wrong, but the dumbest fucking thing anyone has ever said.”
Douglas’ coworkers confirmed that his nuanced approach to embarrassing them often incorporates gestures and facial expressions so fleeting, and so finely tuned, that they are scarcely noticeable if you aren’t paying close attention, but are nonetheless completely devastating for whomever he’s degrading.
“Yesterday I passed him in the hallway and he asked me, ‘Still work here?’ Three words. That’s all it took,” said sales agent Tim Kalpakis, who mentioned that every time he begins a conversation with Douglas, he comes out of it feeling worse about himself than before. “Sometimes he’ll look at what I’m working on and just quietly say ‘huh,’ almost to himself. That’s enough to make me feel awful for the rest of the week. The economy of phrasing is masterful. Truly masterful.”
In addition to making nuanced jokes at his employees’ expense about grammar mistakes in a document they turned in, sources confirmed that even when their manager compliments someone, it’s actually a delicate ploy to psychologically torment those who aren’t being complimented.
“When I spoke up in a meeting last week, all he did was look at me, nod his head, and take this ever-so-slight pause before saying, ‘Anyone else have an idea?’” said claims adjuster Michael Rupp, 34, noting that he feels like absolute shit all the time thanks to Carl. “See, with that brief pause, he really wanted everyone in the room to know that he thought my suggestion was worthless, and that I am, by extension, also worthless. It’s amazing how that’s all the time Carl needs in order to utterly negate your entire existence.”
Even more remarkable than his talent for belittling others, sources said, is the fact that Douglas is constantly finding new ways to subtly tell each person at Blain Insurance that he doesn’t respect them as workers or, really, as people. Employees confirmed that just yesterday he started saying, “Okay, are we good here?” in a subtly insincere way that really means, “You are wasting my time and I need to leave to go do more important things now.”
“It all comes so naturally to him—his virtuosic talent for making you feel completely disposable is like second nature,” Rupp said. “I guess that’s why he’s the boss.”