This made me remember a situation I was in, a few years ago. This was right before I moved out to the West Coast. I was working for a Gallery, a place that had just started up with an interesting idea: this guy got contracts with Costco and Sam's Club, so that people could bring in photographs to their photo processing departments; these pix would then be scanned and sent to us; where we'd clean them up, make them all prettified, colour- and detail-wise; blow them up to 16x20 or 20x24; print them out on heavy canvas, laminate, seal, stretch, and frame them; the customers ended up with a nice, large, framed, gorgeous version of their most cherished photographs. $75, give or take...not bad, really.
My job? Man, talk about cream dream. My job was simply to come in to work and get paid $15/hour to play with PhotoShop, basically. The job taught me a lot about photo restoration and photo work, and how to fix problems and make them look like they had not been manipulated, you dig? I loved this job, and the money was good. Standard of living in Memphis is lower than out here, so the money went a long way. Plus, I was single at the time (well, sort of single, velvetacidgrrl and I were making plans), so I was set. I even went and put down the cash on a new apartment. Livin' well, baby.
A word about the boss. This guy was not an idiot. He was connected to some seriously rich family in the city, and not Old Money, either. They'd worked their way up, and they knew how to play the game. His office was massive (as in larger than my fucking living room) with all kinds of stuff around it, expensive stuff...he even had a full drum kit up there, which he said was his way of letting off steam. He had cash, and he set the business up well. But, for all that, he was kind of an idiot when it came to this job. He knew what he was doing, don't get me wrong, but he seemed to be one of those PhotoShop people that likes to depend on filters and actions, and has less real skill of his own. This ain't so bad, if you're just foolin' around, but not so good if you are a professional. Still, as long as he left the art to us (there were five artists, total), things were smooth.
First off, he tried to make us arrange our desktop and PS toolbars a certain way, because that is how HE had them. That drove me apeshit, since *I* was the one using my machine, and thus, I would put them where it was comfortable and intuitive for ME (make this a step worse, he was left-handed, so his idea of 'correct' was backwards from the rest of us). He would come around to our work, and make changes...which might not be so bad, if they didn't suck. He'd oversaturate colours, etc., so that the finished piece didn't look like the photo, it was too bright, too vibrant, and looked 'off' and over-manipulated. He'd tell us that this is how he wanted these done, in the same breath with telling us how they should look good and natural. I really think he might have been mildly colour-blind, or something.
So, one Monday, we're all in the office, doing our thing, and he calls us all in to the front foyer. There, he has 8 of our canvases, all work we've done in the past week. These should have been shipped out, but apparently, he kept them all back and spent the weekend REDOING THEM ALL. So, we're staring down 16 canvases, one set, the ones we did, and the other set, the ones HE did. It's really obvious which ones are his, too...they all look wrong. He gives us some spiel and then asks our opinions.
Don't ask me my opinion, unless you are prepared to receive it. I was polite about it, but I told him (and got agreement from my fellow artists) that his canvases looked goofy, and that clients wouldn't like them, since they didn't look like the pix they'd sent us. He just kinda looked at us, grudgingly accepted that, and we went back to work. We were subjected to his (mediocre) drumming for most of the afternoon.
A week later, I walked into the office, like normal. I was usually the first to arrive, so no one else was in yet. Boss's brother (who worked there, too) came up to me, hands me a folded check, and tells me that this is my pay up through yesterday, and that my contract is up and I will no longer be needed. I just stare at him for a second, ask him why I'm being fired, and if the boss is in. In the end, I sat on the steps up to Boss's office, waiting for him to be off the phone...and made damn sure the others coming in knew what was up. I finally got up to talk to him.
He gave me some cock-and-bull story at first about not needing 5 artists. He gave that one up when I pointed out to him I was the best one he had, and he knew it, and he agreed before he remembered he was firing me. In the end, he tried to tell me that I was not mature enough for the position, and that I'd make someone a great employee some day, but I had to grow up first. Pardon me all to Hell, but when did you become my father, DrumMaster Dick? I told him he was making a mistake, and I left.
The next day, I was on the road to the West Coast...so, in the end, it was a good thing. But, damn, did that shit ever piss me off. Nice postscript to this story, though: I kept up e-mail with one of the other artists there, after I left. Apparently, his actions were not well-received. Considering the way he just dropped me, no warning, the other artists got a "I could be next" feeling out of it, and opinions of him went in the shitter. With their lead artist gone (and that was no secret, I trained them all in techniques above their skill levels), work quality dropped, and that made morale drop. In the end, they all quit, and the business folded. Last I'd heard, he'd lost a shitload of money on that and other schemes. Meanwhile, I'm a freelance artist, and happy, and doing OK.
Living well really is the best revenge.