The Boss Lady

Boss Lady's Arrival and Survival PlanBoss Lady’s Arrival and Survival Plan

Submitter: Thank goodness I found this already on a weeding truck. It is hilarious! Practical advice includes never lighting your boss’s cigarette. I’m laughing at this book, but crying that it was ever necessary for women to need such a thing.

Holly: Even 1986 seems a little late for that advice.  I’m confused by the title, though.  Is this advice for the new boss lady or her subordinates?


don't say bullshit


  1. This stuff seems soooo out of date for 1986. Why would the reader be asking his boss if she needed change for the ladies room? I would be weirded out if even my husband was assuming I needed to use the tampon dispenser in a public restroom and offered me a quarter. Or is it for a bathroom attendant? I’m so confused.

  2. I’m kind of horrified by the asking-any-lady-if-she-needs-change-on-the-way-to-the-toilet advice. Would subordinate Joe be implying “it’s that time of the month” for his boss?

  3. Ah, that money is for the pay-toilet or tipping the restroom attendant. They have almost died out in the US, but paying to use public restrooms is fairly common in Europe. Some shops and dining establishments also have ladies (and gents) who keep track of open stalls, provide towels, keep the TP stocked et cetera. You are supposed to tip them, generally an Euro or so, or pay them your bathroom fee if there is not a machine at the restroom entrance or on the stall door.

  4. Cabs don’t stop for women? I’m certain I’ve been hailing cabs since before this book came out and have never had a problem getting one to stop.

  5. I think I am going to light some false eyelashes on fire just so I can say I know what a Korean bordello burning down smells like. You never know when that bit of knowledge might come in handy. I plan to do this at home so I won’t commit a nuisance on the rug after refusing a man’s quarter or singles.

  6. What a horrifying book! If it didn’t have a date, I would have said 1966. Here is the review from a 1986 issue of Library Journal: “This is a follow-up to the author’s Boss Lady ( LJ 6/1/78). In an informal, conversational manner, Foxworth dispenses advice for the present Boss Lady, the would-be Boss Lady, and those who work for a Boss Lady. These people constitute three distinct audiences, which gives the book an unfocused, let’s-touch-all-the-bases feel, and diminishes its effectiveness. While some of the advice is worthwhile, much of it smacks of game-playing (don’t top your boss’s jokes; compliment her when invited to dinner “because she expects it”; don’t become more successful than she in your trade association). Not an essential purchase.”

  7. When I entered the white-collar workforce in 1988, there was still a lot of obvious sexism in my field, with that, “There, there, little girl” attitude. And there was still smoking in the workplace. Things have improved since then.

    But the advice not to call something your boss says “bullsh**?” I don’t think that’s gender-specific–not if you like your job!

  8. Kudos to Laura for making me laugh out loud and nearly commit a nuisance on the rug.

  9. “Korean bordellos on fire” ??? This has got to be satire…please tell me this is satire

  10. Is the “Korean bordello on fire” a reference to something I’m not getting? Was the author in the war over there?

  11. Apparently, the author of this book did the Korean War and dropped some napalm upon a whorehouse…

  12. Ahh Laura you beat me to it. Actually I really want to meet the author now just because anybody who has epiphanies like, “Hey this smells like a Korean bordello burning” must be fun at parties.

  13. Good lord! The writing! “Korean bordello?” and “There may be a feminist or so around who…???” Were there no editors in 1986?

  14. This is clearly not something needed in a public library collection, but I do love this sort of outdated etiquette stuff. The part about the waiter giving the male subordinate the check, and how he’s supposed to give it to the Boss Lady when she asks for it, reminds me of some etiquette manuals from the 40’s that I have. They all talk about how if a woman asks a man out on a date (which they acknowledged was becoming an accepted practice) she was supposed to use all of these dodges to make it look like she wasn’t actually paying. Like if you ask him to a concert, make up a story about how you happened to have two free tickets, even if you actually bought them. And if you take a man, or even a group that includes a man, out to a restaurant, go earlier in the day and pay in advance, so that he doesn’t actually *see* you pay, because if the waiter brings the check, the man is supposed to pay it. (I’m a little vague on what the actual reason was that everyone was supposed to pretend that the woman wasn’t paying–whether it was supposed to be emasculating for him, or suggest that she was a prostitute, or both, or something else. But it was a big issue; the books devote pages and pages to different scenarios and how to make it look like you (the woman) are not paying for stuff in the presence of a man.)

    I would have put this earlier than the 80’s, too, but I can see how men who came up in a culture where witnessing a woman paying for something was somehow indecent would have needed this advice to adapt to the new workplace culture. Definitely not needed anymore, and as the review Mary Ann cited above indicates, perhaps a bit too specialized for a general collection, since I imagine the 80’s editions of my 40’s etiquette manuals also cover this sort of thing, but I can understand why somebody wrote and published it.

  15. To be fair, this book was probably aimed at older middle-management types who had learned the ropes in exclusively male-dominated environments. And the mid-eighties was probably the time when female bosses (not supervisors, but bosses) first started to pop up in the more traditional businesses and industries. It’s hard for most people in their fifties and sixties to suddenly be confronted with a whole new set of mores. A lot of these men genuinely needed advice on how to deal with the new situation. Whether this particular book does a good job of advising is another question.

  16. But… I don’t understand! Everyone know that girlies don’t know how to order in restaurants!

  17. Wow….just….wow….

    I have to say, that line about the false eyelashes is now seared into my memory forever….

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