Nobody should feel bad for Jeff Sessions. The man was a booster of Donald Trump from the beginning — the first sitting senator to endorse him for president — and since becoming U.S. Attorney General, he’s done whatever he can to roll back civil rights for the most vulnerable communities while letting police seize their property for no reason. His justice policies are so retrograde that the Russia stuff pales in comparison.
All of which makes it extremely funny to see him in a tough spot with his boss right now:
Trump is reportedly furious at Sessions for, among other things, recusing himself in the Russia investigation. By trolling him on Twitter — or so the thinking goes — Trump will force his man out, creating the opportunity to appoint someone else who will terminate both Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein and special counsel Robert Mueller, the guy currently digging into Trump’s family and business transactions for signs of Russian influence.
Though he’s also insulting his employee because that’s what he normally does.
So what does Sessions do now? He gave up what would’ve been a lifetime seat representing Alabama in the Senate to be repeatedly humiliated on the national stage. On its face, that’s a pretty unusual career problem. But what if we framed it like any other office drama? The internet is full of job advice, especially when it comes to struggles with a domineering manager — surely you’ve dealt with one yourself.
With that in mind, I set out to find the crowdsourced solution to Sessions’ dilemma.
First, I hit up WikiHow, because their illustrations make the articles super-easy to follow. The site had helpful guides on “How to Deal With a Bad Boss,” “How to Defend Yourself Against a Bad Boss,” “How to Handle a Bullying Boss” and “How to Deal With an Abusive Boss With SOB Syndrome.”
Here are some especially relevant tips for Sessions:
This was a good start, but I had a hunch we could do better. That’s when I found a wonderfully informative blog called Ask a Manager, where staff consultant Alison Green answers readers’ queries about work situations. Most recently she addressed whether you should bring a bag lunch on your first day at a new job — you can, but you don’t have to! — but back in 2008, she replied to someone fed up with a “crazy, shouting, crying, bullying boss.” The 69-year-old manager was “highly insecure,” given to manipulative, “confrontational (and totally irrational) conversations.” They also reportedly cried a lot, took everything personally and “shared too much personal information.”
Green didn’t see a ton of options for the employee here, however. “My first piece of advice is probably the hardest to swallow, and it’s this: It’s her company; she’s the owner,” she wrote. “This means that she’s entitled to be as crappy of a boss as she wants (and it sounds like she’s a pretty crappy one).” Unfortunately, Green concluded, the letter-writer may have to get used to it and “play along until you can put the real solution into action, which is to leave. Sometimes simply accepting it and realizing that you won’t get anywhere by struggling against it can actually make situations like this more tolerable. But it’s an unhealthy environment to be in for a long time, which is why ultimately, you probably should plan to find a boss who doesn’t cry and bully people.”
This was sound wisdom, if somewhat bleak. I wondered if I’d get different opinions by relating Sessions’ specific circumstance to experts willing to weigh in on his prospects. I tabbed over to Quora, where I tried to pose my concern in the most straightforward way possible:
Soon enough I had two answers — but they were limited to the admittedly narrow scope of the question. Still, they weren’t without value for someone facing this challenge.
I realized, at this point, that to get Jeff Sessions the advice he truly, desperately needs, I was going to have to bring out the big guns. I had to tap the finest talent on the web.
That’s right: It was time to ask Reddit.
On both r/jobs and r/careerguidance, I laid out Sessions’ situation, sparing no detail:
Then there was “unhappypatient,” who thought I could get my old job back—and maybe bring down my boss in the meantime.
But my favorite response came from “yadoya,” who wrote: “Stay there until you retire. That seems like the reasonable thing to do.”
You know what? I think Sessions just might.