tell us your “straw that broke the camel’s back” moment with your job

On last week’s post about the manager who told an employee to write a sentence 500 times as “punishment” for a mistake, a bunch of people asked about “straw that broke the camel’s back” moments — the time something so bad happened in your job that you knew you had to get out.

Of course, in a healthy environment, this isn’t how it works. In a normal environment, you decide to move on when you need new challenges, want to advance in ways that aren’t likely in your organization, or see a path somewhere else that’s better suited to you.

But in a dysfunctional environment, people’s reasons for leaving tend to be more about their manager or the company itself. That’s when you get people leaving because their manger insists on a doctor’s note to move their desk, or makes them give each other group feedback while standing in a line, or tries to stop them from using the bathroom.

So: Tell us about your “straw that broke the camel’s back” moment when you knew you had to seriously look for another job.

{ 1,202 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Christy

    When, after several years of refusing to allow details (temporary assignments) for her employees, my director took a detail in another office. Within weeks I had found my own detail (now allowed, natch) and I left within a year.

    Reply
    1. annonymouse

      Ah, yes.
      At my last job:
      * I ended up taking over the operations manager role at a fraction (5/8) the pay
      * Had my boss steal credit for an event I (clearly) singlehandedly ran
      * Was micromanaged to a ridiculous degree.
      * My boss would check my work on the database and my work emails remotely while they were on holiday
      * I was regularly blamed for his or other staffs oversights
      * actually got injured at work in the course of my duties and was not put on light duties or given workers compensation

      But the final straw? When he announced that he would retire once his son (13 years my junior – I’m 31 now) graduated from university. His son would take over his current role and he would still oversee everything and control all aspects of the business remotely. I was to train the son, get him to understand everything but still work as an office manager and not a branch manager.

      Combine that with the 3 hours commuting every day plus the excruciating pain I was in because of my injury and I walked away.

      Reply
  2. Daisy

    My husband was working at a tech start up with money issues. He would really push to be paid when we really needed money and it would still take a few weeks sometimes. He hadn’t been paid in about 5 weeks and he was told when he asked to be paid “that he wasn’t being a team player”. By asking to be paid.

    He got a lawyer shortly after and they settled for what he was owed + a little more.

    Reply
    1. weasel007

      The same thing happened to me. There was a constant bait and switch on when we would get paid. One day we were told we would get paid twice the next week, the scheduled pay check and a missed paycheck from a few months before (they had missed 8 in all). When pay day came, there was nada, and then they said “sorry, can’t pay anything this week”. I lost it. I called the CEO (we were pretty flat) and said this was unacceptable. He yelled at me through the phone and everyone heard it. I wasn’t a team player either, and was told to borrow money from my parents. Funny thing, turns out he was fired for using the corporate card as a personal card and for having TWO nanny’s on the payroll while we were all not getting paid. Karma does come around. I quit several weeks later.

      Reply
      1. Nonniemoose

        Oh my gosh that sounds like a nightmare. Does anyone have advice for how to weed out employers like that in a job interview?

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        1. College Career Counselor

          Ask a couple of open-ended questions of everyone you meet–what’s the organizational culture like? What’s the most challenging aspect, etc.? It’s not guaranteed to uncover that behavior, but in a deeply dysfunctional place, sometimes you’ll be surprised at what people tell you about the working conditions when asked.

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        2. frothandfrippery

          Sooo…I’ve got a brilliant friend who works in the retail planning industry…which is full of crazy people. She tests potential employers and asks a question in an interview, and then follows up later by asking the same question in a similar way but basically repeats herself–just to see how the manager treats her. Do they ignore the repeated question? Do they answer it without hesitation? Or in once case, she had an interviewer tell her rather condescendingly that he ‘had already answered that question.’ There was her red flag! Anyone who is that impatient will be an awful person to work for.

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    2. Cucumberzucchini

      That was my “final straw” too. Not getting paid. I was only staying because of the good, steady paycheck. Then one day they just were out of money. I got the same “you’re the only one who has a problem” speech that I knew they were telling everyone privately (because we all talked).

      But I was the only one that was aggressive about it and was the first to be paid back. I did get a lawyer and eventually got every dime of my back pay.

      Reply
      1. I'm a Little Teapot

        Also my final straw once. Non-paying boss also told me to get a roommate (he’d paid me a little over $250 in 3 MONTHS, so that’s not gonna cut it) and said he was doing me a favor because I wasn’t smart enough or hardworking enough to get a job anywhere else. He also told me all the other companies out there were big and evil or words to that effect and that he was a nice ethical guy “making a living, not a killing” (his favorite phrase). I wish I remember what my parting words to him were, but they were pretty blunt (if less blunt than what I really wanted to say, which would have involved ranting and obscenities). One month later…I’d found another job that actually paid regularly.

        Reply
    3. Cube Farmer

      This happened to my ex-husband. He was asked by his boss if boss needed to teach him how to manage his money better so he was not so dependent on his pay check. He was also threatened with termination if he continued to complain.

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      1. Samantha

        “Not be so dependent on his paycheck” – WOW. I’d love to know how that works. Receive a gigantic, surprise inheritance? Win the lottery?

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        1. OfficePrincess

          Rob a bank. If you don’t get caught you can cover your bills. If you do get caught, your food and housing budget drops to $0.

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      2. brownblack

        “That’s funny. I was just wondering if you needed me to teach you how to go f$%# yourself. You seem to be in great need of that.”

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      3. Annonymouse

        Maybe someone should teach you how to run a business so you’re not so dependant on people working for free which is illegal.

        I’d say it without thinking and get fired – no regrets.

        Reply
  3. Muriel Heslop

    As a HS special ed teacher, it was the day that my department charir told me, “you need to spend less time teaching and more time on your paperwork.” Later that day, she missed an ARD meeting because she was throwing up her lunch in the bathroom.

    Miss the kids; don’t miss the bureaucracy.

    Reply
      1. Muriel Heslop

        Sadly, it’s not the job anymore, in a lot of places. Special ed paperwork = funding so it’s often a lot more important to the administrators than the teaching is.

        Reply
    1. Career Counselorette

      Oh my God, this is the WORST part of working in a social services capacity. You don’t WANT to spend that much time on data entry and paperwork, but there’s so damn much of it that needs to be done.

      Reply
    2. Z

      I wished, oh how I wished, that it had been the final straw for my teacher friend when she was told that being assaulted by a student was part of her job.

      But sadly, she’s still there.

      (She was assaulted by a student, to the point where she was badly bruised. She wanted to speak to the police and her union rep. Administrator told her she should just deal with it, it was part of the job. She still spoke with the police and her union rep. Said administrator was not pleased.)

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      1. Muriel Heslop

        That is the WORST! I was told that it could happen to me and I had to take a restraint class. I knew I would quit if that happened, though.

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        1. Z

          A restraint class? Is that something specific to Special Ed? Unfortunately, my teacher friend teaches regular old high school English. It wasn’t a special needs student who hit her — unless you count complete disregard for authority/others/their future a special need.

          Actually, I think I would qualify that as a handicap.

          Reply
          1. KSM

            I think in this case it might refer to how to safely restrain special-needs students so that neither you nor the student is hurt.

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    3. AGirlCalledFriday

      Oh man, as a teacher I’ve had a few:

      1. My pay was docked by a grand to pay for some fancy faucet because someone when into the bathroom in my class and left the water on (staff and other students used that bathroom as it was the only one in that small building).
      2. The principal would yell at me in front of the class because a piece of paper was on the floor, or because I had sat down in a chair…then she started a conversation to fire me because I was using my phone to receive status updates on my grandfather who was in a car accident WITH her permission, so I immediately quit.
      3. I was working 13-15 hour days trying to learn new curricula, read books, do paperwork, and all kinds of other stuff above and beyond actual teaching which was required of me, and I had – if I was lucky – maybe 10 min the entire day to eat and go to the bathroom, and then the Vice Principal didn’t like that I had not implemented a program the way he would have done it (note – he was rumored to be a terrible teacher), lied to the principal about things I said (Telling the principal I said the kids were bad, when I had just said that they were unruly, and then trying to make the case that it was the same thing), and then told me that I should devote even MORE time to work. I noped it right outta there!

      Reply
  4. AcidMeFlux

    The day my insane boss came thumping into the office one morning and announced “I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and last night, while I couldn’t sleep, I decided to do it. From today on, this (holds up the file where we put things that no one can figure out what to do with) that has been called FILE-GENERAL, will now be called GENERAL-FILE”. I just looked at her for about 30 seconds and said “F+++++++++++K YOU” got my jacket, and split.

    Reply
    1. Charby

      “File General” sounds like someone’s office nickname, similar to “Excel wizard” or “Network guru”. It seems weird to make such a big deal about changing the name though, and the idea that she lay awake at night pondering this crucial task is just mindboggling.

      Reply
      1. Charlotte Collins

        I have a feeling that AcidMeFlux could tell a lot of stories about this boss’ inefficiency and lack of skill, but this was just the last straw. (Especially since it sounds like if anything was going to be done with that file, it should have to do with resolving the contents, not renaming it.)

        Reply
        1. Jazzy Red

          I had a boss who was crazy like that, too. Important business issues would fall by the wayside while he contemplated what style and color of ring binders we needed to use (they all had to match – we couldn’t recycle from other projects).

          Yeah, sometimes the last straw sounds pretty minor, but piled on top of all the seventy-eleven thousand other insane things, it’s just too much!

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      2. TheLazyB (UK)

        Have you never lain in bed at night entirely unable to get inconsequential work tasks out of your head?! Just me and Insane Boss?! Oh dear…..

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        1. Elizabeth the Ginger

          Oh, I definitely have – but I wouldn’t come in and tell my subordinates about it the next day like some Big Thing!

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        2. Claire

          A few months ago, I laid awake at night worrying the our slide pack which had just gone to print had inconsistent bullet points. It was a pretty major meeting, but it certainly wasn’t going to hinge on something so pedantic.

          Reply
    2. Three Thousand

      I can see myself doing this, and acting like a complete douchebag about it as well, but only to my SO, who has learned to tolerate such outbursts by utterly ignoring them. Certainly not to anyone who might reasonably think they were expected to do anything about it.

      Reply
    3. The Department of Terrestrial Magnetism

      These things do happen, though. I was once party to a discussion that went on for several days that concerned the naming of a set of 12 things. Should we name them

      XYZ, XYZ1, XYZ2, … XYZ11? Or
      XYZ1, XYZ2, XYZ3, … XYZ12? Or
      XYZ01, XYZ02, XYZ03, … XYZ12? Or
      XYZ00, XYZ01, XYZ02, … XYZ11? Or …

      The thing is, as dumb as it sounds, it actually wasn’t a dumb question, and there were arguments both subtle and profound to justify the various schemes. In the end, we decided on … actually, I forget what we decided.

      Reply
      1. Stone Satellite

        Whether debating the name (or naming scheme) makes sense depends entirely on the objects being named. In software development there are some names that matter a lot and you’ll be stuck with them forever … it’s worth a few days of discussion to make sure you get it right. Other times, it’s not worth more than 30 seconds of consideration to make sure your code is readable/searchable.

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  5. Me2

    Working as a temp on a very intense job, we were all working long hours, limiting breaks and lunches to get the job done. There were about six of us total, and I was the only temp, but just as eager as the regular employees to finish the job on time. We were all proud of the effort we were putting into the work and one day the supervisor walked up to us with a handful of $50 bills torn in half and said “I’m going to dangle this carrot, if you finish in time you will each get the other half.” I’m not a puppy, I’m not a toddler, I’m an adult who was already giving it my all. I gathered my belongings and on the way out the door told the supervisor’s boss (I’m guessing it was his idea to begin with) that I didn’t need to be bribed to do a good job.

    Reply
        1. Oscar Madisoy

          I think you can do whatever you want to currency, as long as the intent is not to defraud. In the case of coins, you see these machines where you can make stretched-out pennies with souvenir designs. That’s making the coins unspendable as coins, but since there’s no intent to (for example) make people think they’re not pennies but nickels, it’s perfectly legit.

          Reply
      1. danr

        Not as long as the correct halves were put back together, since there are serial numbers on each half. I could just see them not realizing that and there being a bunch of mis-matched bills in circulation.

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        1. Allison

          Not in the US you can’t, if you destroy money you’re effectively taking it out of circulation. The government can destroy old bills, but they need to be replaced with new ones first.

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          1. MommaTRex

            I’m probably confusing possible technical law with the actual enforcement of said law. No one is coming after you for tearing up your own $50.

            Reply
        2. sunny-dee

          Nope. It’s not technically yours — the physical currency is technically government property that is given in surety of Something (used to be gold) in the treasury. Defacing or destroying money is illegal.

          If anyone cared, which they don’t.

          Reply
          1. Moksha Maginifique

            Right. This is why we can’t smelt down old 100% copper pennies and then sell the metal at current copper prices.

            Reply
    1. Cucumberzucchini

      I would have taken a lighter to the half I was given just so they couldn’t have put it back together on my way out. Maybe. It’s at least nice to think about.

      Reply
          1. Elizabeth the Ginger

            My friend learned this when his son was a toddler – the little boy had been playing quietly in the kitchen, then proudly came into the other room to his parents and announced, “Look! I cut out all the policemen!” He had decided that George Washington’s hair was a policeman’s hat, and had carefully cut the portraits out of several dollar bills he found on the table.

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            1. Mabel

              Our puppy chewed up one $20 bill, and – thank goodness – we discovered the remaining bills next to him before he could get at the rest of them!

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              1. Carpe Librarium

                I used to work in insurance claims; one person called with the following recipe: private sale of jet ski for ~$1,000 cash + 3-year-old + home office shredder = *not* profit.

                Thankfully they didn’t need to worry about insurace, we advised them that as long as you have all the pieces you can take them to the bank and they’ll replace them with fresh notes and send the damaged ones to the treasury.

                Reply
    2. fposte

      The only other time I’ve heard of this practice, it was recommended as a way to pay a prostitute. Not exactly something that recommends it as a management practice.

      Reply
      1. Three Thousand

        Yeah, it’s a huge signal of contempt, disrespect, and flaunting of power. The guy probably heard about it somewhere and got all excited to try it out on someone.

        Reply
  6. NYC Redhead

    Not really a “straw that broke the camel’s back moment,” but I realized I needed to leave a job as I was walking into work in the morning with tears in my eyes- no day gets better from that. This was a job in which my manager would have to vacuum the office before we could start working (OCD much?) and took a nap on the floor in our shared office in the afternoon.

    Reply
      1. OfficePrincess

        Same, except for some stupid reason I stuck it out until I was having chest pain on the drive in and panic attacks at my desk.

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        1. NicoleK

          Same here. Panic attacks, chest pains, anxiety, stress. I seriously thought about asking my boss to let me go. I nearly had a nervous breakdown this summer.

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          1. MaryMary

            Anxiety that was bad enough to make me seriously think about going to a doctor and asking for meds…which made me realize the medication-free way to relieve my anxiety would be to find a new job.

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            1. K.

              Ditto. I was getting referrals for therapists that specialized in anxiety. I had never had more than garden variety “it’s the day of/before a big event, I’m nervous” anxiety before I worked there.

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            2. embertine

              I didn’t even realise that’s what it was after seven years of being ground down by crappy management… until I got made redundant and it was as if a giant 4-tonne bag of nasty had been taken off my shoulders. Worries about paying the bills? Nothing compared to the struggle of working for those sh*tlords.

              Reply
        2. That Marketing Chick

          Ditto. Chest pain, eye twitch, panic attacks and increase in migraines. The kicker? I actually loved what I did – but a few of the people I had to deal with (including the new CEO who I’m surprised didn’t make us call him “Your Highness”) made it unbearable. So thankful I finally got out of there!

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          1. Boop

            I had this exact same problem! Certain co-workers, new boss, and internal clients made work awful for a while. The actual job duties were fine, even enjoyable, but the environment went very toxic for a while. Things improved, although still have the occasional issue with co-workers and internal clients. As long as it’s not all the time I can manage, but if it becomes an every problem again I’ll need to start looking.

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          2. Pixie stix

            Ummm. I’m about there, but the eye twitching… was it like one eye, or did it sometimes involve like, that whole side of your face from your eye to your cheekbone twitching? Because I have been having that last more and more often, and I am thinking that it has more to do with the fact that I’ve been here for five years and am treated like garbage (ONE thank you in five years. ONE. And never have they ever said my name correctly. NEVER. In five years.).

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        3. Annonymouse

          Ah, the pain of working.
          I would be fine until I got close to the office / off my bus.

          Then the headaches/migraines started.
          And the nausea. And chest pain.

          Taking 2 nuerofen every morning just to start the day not a good sign. Also I started getting grey hair – I was 28.

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      2. cwes

        Mine wasn’t crying so much as the rising feeling of nausea that developed every morning as my subway got closer and closer to my stop. I’ve never been happier or more relieved than when I finally was able to put in my notice!!

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        1. Lee

          This first started for me as I’d been walking up the stairwell to my office. And then it started happening when I came within sight of the door to that stairwell. And then, finally, I began to feel sick just thinking about how I was nearing the corner around which was the door to the stairwell up to my office.

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        1. Kelly L.

          This didn’t happen to me with a job, but it did tell me I needed to leave a relationship: when I started fantasizing about falling down the stairs/off a walkway. Not fatally, just breaking my leg or something so I could go to the hospital and be left alone for a few weeks.

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          1. Meg Murry

            Yes, when you start wishing for “nothing fatal, but just something that would keep me in the hospital for a few weeks” is when you know without a doubt it’s time to go.

            Before that – if you start feeling dread on Saturday night, because tomorrow is Sunday, and that means you won’t get any sleep Sunday night worrying about Monday, also not a bad sign.

            Honestly, any time going to work sucks more than “gah, it’s morning and no one likes getting out of bed in the morning”, it’s time to at least start thinking about a vacation, if not moving on.

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            1. popesuburban

              I found myself fantasizing that I had mono again and I wasn’t just that run-down from my current job, because then I could rest for two weeks. Maybe go to the hospital for a night. Evey Saturday is tinged with regret because tomorrow is Sunday, and every morning is a struggle to get out of bed. I’ve been trying to leave for months, but I’ve only had one bite, so I just keep doing it because there’s no other choice.

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          2. Dynamic Beige

            I didn’t want to fall down or break anything… I used to drive home and wonder what would happen if I just kept on driving. How long would it take until I was missed? How far could I get? I would think about how to change my licence plate number to avoid detection or if it would be better to head for the border instead.

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            1. Persephone Mulberry

              I’ve done this as an intellectual exercise, not necessarily related to work or anything. It’s usually triggered by the realization that I’ve left my cell phone at home.

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            2. OfficePrincess

              I had those thoughts too, but on the way to work. “I could just miss my exit, I’ve got a good amount of gas…”

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            3. Stephanie

              Yeah, sometimes I’ll run out and get coffee during my shift. I’ll be driving like “Man… the interstate is RIGHT THERE. I bet I’d be halfway home by the time they noticed I wasn’t back…”

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              1. dbryan

                My moment came when I was riding the bus in to work. There were prisoners picking up trash along the highway. I thought, “That wouldn’t be so terrible…”

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            4. JL

              My train in the evening was on the same quay as an international train going to Dream Romantic City. I’ve thought more than once at he end of a bad day to see if there were seats free on that train.

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              1. Boop

                Lol – my Dream Romantic City is on the other side of the globe, but I have occasionally just thought about heading to the airport after work…

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            5. Jazzy Red

              It’s so reassuring to hear that other people have had this fantasy. Mine was to just keep driving west until the land ran out. However, my car wouldn’t have made it through the next state.

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        2. Stephanie

          Yeah, I fantasized about getting hit by the Metro and getting maimed. I was at a job that worked on a quota system basically and we had our billables targets reduced if we had sick leave or medical leave. I was like “Man. Think of all that write-off time I’d get.”

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        3. Rachel

          This is kind of how I feel about being on a year working abroad as part of my degree, part of me keeps thinking oh if something like a car accident happens and I get a bit hurt but not too badly, i’ll be able to go home.

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        4. Abradee

          I experienced similar fantasies of getting in an accident or escaping Gone Girl style in a past horrible job–my so-called “dream job.” One time a coworker of mine ended up in the hospital for a week due to a pretty serious virus. My reaction? Jealously. I thought, “lucky her. Why can’t I get a grave illness so I can get away from this hellhole for awhile?” Seriously, the thought of being in the hospital was preferable to being at work. Unhealthy mindset due to an unhealthy job.

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          1. Pearl

            My mum told me I needed a new job when she found me throwing my guts up from stomach flu and saying, “It’s fine, this is so much more fun than being at work!”

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        5. Butterfly

          When my doctor strongly advised me to get a different job and offered to keep me out of work for an extended period time on medical leave to so. After 3 very, very, very long years of working at this place with an impossible manager and an even worse HR department, unfortunately the pharmacists and clerks know me by face because of the many prescriptions I pick up on a regular basis for high blood pressure, ulcers, anxiety depression and migraines. I wasn’t on any medication before taking this job.

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          1. Stone Satellite

            What an awesome doctor! I have this sneaking suspicion it would be some kind of ethical or maybe even legal violation, though … (IANAL, obviously)

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            1. AnonaMoose

              My psych also told me to quit, that it wasn’t worth it. I don’t think it’s a legal issue for a doctor to tell you to alter your life according to your symptoms, which is precisely what these MDs did for us. It’s not like they were spreading libel, more like ‘you do not react well to this particular environment. You should find a new environment.’. I could be wrong though.

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            2. AnonaMoose

              Wait, I just reread the part about keeping her out of work to find another job on the pretense that it’s medically related. I think that would be health insurance fraud, not sure of actual criminal behavior, though.

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              1. Blue Anne

                Really? Geez. In the UK if a doctor thinks your work is having a big an impact on your physical/emotional health they can sign you off work, usually for a couple of weeks but more if necessary. The idea of that being possibly fraud in any country is a bit shocking.

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          2. AnonaMoose

            OMG this is my exact story from ExJob. I had the BEST psychiatrist who just continued my FMLA until I felt comfortable to go back. I….uh…never did. Best decision ever.

            Still on the meds though. I think that job actually chemically altered my brain permanently. I have anxiety attacks, GAD, chronic insomnia and several health issues now, when before I used to run in races and had a very active social life. Bad jobs can really kill you if you’re not careful. My friend who is still there (in my same role) just had a heart attack. Still refuses to quit. *headdesk*

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        6. abby

          This happened to me a few times with old, old job. Also, I used to travel a lot and would cry all night before leaving on a trip. About the time the movie Cast Away came out, I watched it and was jealous.

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      3. LizNYC

        Me too. When I realized that my 9 a.m. Sunday stomachaches were from dread of going in the next day. And that every day on the car ride home, I had to rant about my workplace, otherwise I’d explode.

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      4. brownblack

        I only cried once during my worst job, and it was the culmination of . . . a lot. I didn’t last too much longer after that.

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        1. AnonaMoose

          Oooo giiirrrrrl, that is the worst. And having to pretend you’re peeing so people wouldn’t worry about the sobbing in the next stall. Flushing every so often, etc. Ugh, hated it.

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    1. Tiffy the Fed... Contractor

      Yep. I dreaded going to work every. single. day. It took me awhile, but I finally realized I didn’t have to be there, and that if I didn’t do anything to escape the misery, I could only blame myself.

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      1. cuppa

        I had a previous job where I dreaded Monday morning as I was leaving the parking lot on Friday afternoon. Knew I had to get out of there.

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    2. AcidMeFlux

      Oh, that too….(at a dfferent job) the evening I came home and my now-ex live in boyfriend (who was finishing college, so we were desperate for $) said, “Hi, honey, how was your day” and I was about to give the usual “yeah, okay” when out of nowhere I suddenly started sobbing hysterically and collapsed on the sofa. To his credit, he said, the hell with this, you give notice tomorrow morning, we can eat rice and beans till you get a better job, but you can’t suffer like that. Ugh. (FYI employer was a major Manhattan cultural institution, one of those places that people kill to get into. Hotbed of flesh-eating yuppies and preppies. Moral of the story, stay on your own side of class warfare.)

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      1. On the Tenure Track

        oh flashbacks.
        The corporate culture was sarcasm and screaming. I was an assistant and was supposed to intuitively know everything- who to go to for X, when to do Y without ever being trained. I was anxious all of the time. Crying at night. My supervisor would scream my name across a hall to my tiny windowless office. I cringed every time I heard her voice. Started looking for a new job 4 months in. Hired for a new job after 5.

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          1. Museum survivor

            As someone who has worked in three NYC museums and one in Chicago, I can tell you two of the NYC museums were horrible, horrible horrible. Screaming, dysfunctional cesspools of manipulative, petty people. (Neither was the Guggenheim.) Working at one of them caused me to have chronic head and stomach aches, a rash, and lose about 20 – 30 pounds from stress. (The latter being one of the only positives — I looked amazing, but was a nervous wreck!) I cried at my desk nearly every day the last few months I was there.

            My colleagues got ulcers, chronic headaches, the shingles, and anxiety attacks. The department of 12 (except the person who was the problem – the director) turned over three times in as many years. That was more than five years ago and the director is still there while countless great employees left because of her.

            The straw was when the director claimed my position was responsible for managing a program my co-worker had been running for the previous 2 years and wasn’t in my job description, and began playing mind games with me, making me think I was going insane. It took about three years to recover and even now, I have occasional flashbacks. Like when my current supervisor asks me to come to his office unexpectedly – I have to remind myself his is not irrational or going to ambush me like the miserable person I worked for at that place.

            Conversely, the museum in Chicago was one of the best places I’ve worked.

            Reply
            1. Jazzy Red

              I recently found a picture of myself taken when I was in my mid-20’s, and I WAS THIN! I didn’t even know that I was ever thin. But, it was during the lowest period in my life when I was super stressed and living on coffee and cigarettes (OK, and beer). Getting laid off from the job was a life saving event.

              Reply
            2. Lyn

              We have a 2nd in command here where I work who has caused about 20-30 fantastic people to quit in the three years she’s been here. And she’s still here. So sad.

              Reply
        1. Oryx

          I work in a small field so I know several people personally who have gotten “dream” jobs I interviewed for. With every single one, I’ve heard stories that make me breath a sigh of relief for not being hired.

          Reply
        2. Pennalynn Lott

          My “dream” job was at Microsoft. It is also the job that gave me heart palpitations, night sweats and difficulty breathing. I was let go in a round of layoffs in 2010, and I still haven’t fully recovered. (From the trauma of the job, not the layoff. The layoff was a huge blessing, since all my physical ailments up and disappeared within a week of being let go).

          Reply
          1. Windchime

            So funny you should say that. As a programmer, I always used to think that Microsoft was the pinnacle. The place that the cream of the crop went to work. I know better now; I have met a lot of people who have worked there and it sounds like a horrible, horrible place where they just burn through people. Good for you for getting out.

            Reply
          2. catsAreCool

            Microsoft gave a presentation at my college showing that people had sleeping bags under their desks. They said that people enjoyed their work so much, they slept there sometimes. If they hadn’t shown that, I might have tried to get a job there. So glad I didn’t! Glad you’re feeling better.

            Reply
          3. Bon

            I worked at Microsoft. 18 months in my boss’ personality changed. He did a total 180. A job I loved and was great at just left me crying on the phone to my parents every night.

            “When I was 20, I worked every hour God sent and asked for more. Kids these days just don’t want to work, they complain about everything. It’s all about mortgages, and cars, and savings. You want a social life instead of working four extra hours in the evening and keeping a UK and US standard working time.”

            There was no one to turn to there. I was in every morning at 7:30 and wasn’t out the door until 8 some evenings. It was 10pm by the time I got home and then back on a bus at 6am the next morning. I hated it by the end of it.

            Reply
          1. BeenThere

            Yay, this is always good to hear! I’m doing a bunch of interveiwing at various big tech copmanies some with very mixed reputations. I’m really nervous that I won;t be able to figure out which teams are the bad ones.

            Reply
      2. the gold digger

        (FYI employer was a major Manhattan cultural institution, one of those places that people kill to get into. Hotbed of flesh-eating yuppies and preppies. Moral of the story, stay on your own side of class warfare.)

        You cannot write that and then just stop.

        Reply
        1. AcidMeFlux

          Well, yeah, I can because frankly almost all of those dream job culture palaces end up swallowing whole and spitting out the tiny bones of the hopeful young, and it’s just about always the same damn story. Hmm. Mine? A year of a boss who used to make my younger counterpart take dictation (yes it was long ago) then make her cry by taking the letters she had transcribed and typed and rip them up “…because I can!”. A boss who once told me to – direct quote -“call all the boutiques on Madison Avenue because my wife lost her glasses shopping yesterday so find out where they are.”.(FWIW said wife had a PA and an au pair; our office was a publicly funded non profit). Where my more well off coworkers snickered at my wardrobe, my residence in a less cool neighborhood, and couldn’t quite get the concept that when payday rolled around I had to get my check cashed NOW so I could eat and afford subway fare. A million things more, every day. Like I said, the other side of the class war.

          Reply
    3. Elizabeth West

      Me too–when I got put on a PIP and then stopped caring. At that point, I made a major effort to improve, just in case, but I started looking. Oddly enough, I felt better once I quit giving a sh*t.

      Reply
    4. Ros

      Same, except that I was 7 months pregnant and needed to stick it out another month and a half in order to get maternity leave.

      Spoiler: I accepted another job shortly before the end of my maternity leave and never walked back into that building.

      Reply
      1. Minister of Snark

        My worst boss told me right before I was getting ready to leave for maternity leave at 8.5 months pregnant that “maybe we’d made a mistake” hiring me and when I got back from maternity leave, he would have to reconsider whether I would continue to be employed. Yeaaaaaaah, instead, how about I just spend the next 8 weeks looking for another job instead?

        Jerk.

        Reply
          1. Minister of Snark

            Considering his gripe was about my performance and not my pregnancy, probably not. (Never take a job from someone who refuses to give you objectives and tells you to just “anticipate his needs.” That’s the lesson I learned.) Getting angry at him for pulling this bull**** while I was arguably at my most vulnerable gave me the push I needed to quit and get another job.

            Reply
          2. Green

            Only if the reason they were doubting her was because she was pregnant. You can fire pregnant employees, just not for being pregnant.

            Reply
    5. GS

      Oh God, this. I knew it was time when, on the drive in, I told myself I could just close my eyes and hit the gas and run off the road and I wouldn’t have to go in. It was a dark time, but thankfully I left shortly after.

      Reply
      1. Menacia

        I drive over a bridge and through a tunnel to and from my job…have thought about the possibilities but then come to my senses. No JOB is worth the consequences of what might happen, and if I ever get to that point, I would rather, like another poster wrote, quit my job and eat beans and rice until I get back on my feet. There are ALWAYS options, and while it’s hard to think of them when we’re in the moment, it’s a good thing to write down and refer back to from time to time. :)

        Reply
      2. MinB

        Yep. To me it was fantasizing about running into trees. That, and then coming into work and having my incompetent ED who objectively works less than everyone else complain to me about how hard her job is. Ok, sure, I’m having a mental breakdown because of you but your job is hard. Sure.

        Reply
    6. Anony-Moose

      Oh gosh, yes. At one job I started having panic attacks every morning. The breaking point was when I overslept and realized I’d be about 20 minutes late to work (at a job where that’s pretty much fine). Except I started hyperventilating and throwing up. My boyfriend (who had only been dating me for like…2 months at the time) was like “yep. start job searching.”

      Reply
    7. Nom d' Pixel

      Not crying for me, but waking up with the alarm and having the first thought be “I don’t want to go to work”. That is a horrible way to start the day.

      Reply
        1. Quru

          Strangely enough, the only way I managed to stop hitting the snooze button over and over again was putting my Nintendo 3DS next to my bed, Animal Crossing already open. And that’s despite me liking my job, but, you know: soft and warm.

          Reply
    8. Maxwell Edison

      I knew things had come to a pretty pass when I found myself planning to take my anti-anxiety meds each Thursday morning so I could get through my weekly one-on-one with my manager.

      Reply
      1. Middle Name Jane

        Been there, done that. I used to take my meds half an hour before any scheduled meetings with my manager (alone or with the rest of the team). Now I’m on an extended release formula I take every day, so I’m usually okay.

        Reply
      2. Heather

        THIS! Every time I crossed paths with my boss, she would give me an assignment with an impossible deadline. I could be at lunch, or in the middle of a conversation with someone else, it didn’t matter. Plus she had this weird habit of always sitting next to me in meetings, or standing next to me in group settings. I started moving around the room on purpose, but she would follow…then give me an assignment! She would also email/call/text after hours, and reprimanded me for not staying late or coming in on weekends to help my coworkers with their workloads (without overtime pay). I knew it was time to go when I started vomiting and having anxiety attacks while crying in the bathroom.

        Reply
    9. AnotherAnon

      Similar story here – my belly would start hurting around 2-3 PM every day and wouldn’t feel better until after I got home at 6 PM or so.

      Reply
    10. Nashira

      This is the position I’m in. Both the subject of the work and some of the staff trigger my PTSD, and I spend a couple days a week feeling suicidal from it. I’m job hunting but don’t feel like I can quit this job unless I start making serious plans of an attempt – I got fired from my only previous job, and I don’t want to have to explain why I would have quit this one.

      Reply
    11. Ad Astra

      Yep, crying because I didn’t want to go to work was my wake-up call to dust off the resume and get serious about leaving.

      Reply
    12. HKM

      THIS. So much this. At my old job I had to sit in my car outside and compose myself before going in.
      I would say “we are HUMANS with WILLPOWER but we still come to this building every day to be verbally abused? Whats WRONG WITH US?”

      Reply
    13. jarofbluefire

      Oh yep, all this sounds familiar: the constant dread, stomach cramps, nosebleeds, headaches, constantly on the edge of tears, sleeplessness….

      But the weird thing that pushed it over, in terms of physical symptoms? A months-long-recurring facial tic. That my doctor said was most definitely from the stress and warned me could become *permanent*.

      It stopped the day I gave notice. I just couldn’t bear the idea of being permanently scarred by a job that was, at best, just an excuse for bureaucratic nonsense.

      Reply
    14. Pennalynn Lott

      For me it was eye-twitches in the parking lot at one job; then – decades later – heart palpitations, night sweats, and difficulty breathing at another job.

      Reply
    15. crying

      Me too. I would cry all the way on the drive to work, cry in the car in the parking lot, cry on the walk up to the door, run out of the building crying, cry randomly on a Sunday morning while getting groceries – when I resigned, I stopped crying.

      Reply
    16. Lena

      Similar – when I had a knife against my wrists because it was better than going into the office.

      I’m still with the same company, but I’ve moved to a different department and my life is indescribably better. I actually look forward to coming into work!

      Incidentally, the manager who got me to that point has just been reorganised out of the company. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

      Reply
    17. Jen M.

      I used to go home from my old job and cry in my bedroom, sometimes for hours. Only reason I stayed as long as I did at that pile of trash company was I knew that I would be let go with severance…eventually.

      Life is much better for me now.

      Reply
  7. Holly

    We had a team of three – two writers and one graphic designer who only knew a little bit of coding – tasked with creating a very big, brand new website for the company. In three months. With no budget. We were stressed out, exhausted, frazzled – I mean, every single thing we did was under intense scrutiny, we were redoing pages constantly, I had to help our designer code just because he was also being used for other projects….it was hard.

    The deadline was Christmas. The day before Christmas Eve, we were all at the office until 10 PM trying to get the website launched. There were hosting issues that popped up but the IT guy was at the airport and refusing to talk to us (he picked up the phone, said something snotty and hung up.) It was hell. Sometime around 8, the owner called my boss into her office and screamed at her for the website being too slow (the hosting issues) and basically called her incompetent, said she was severely overpaid, etc. My boss was in tears.

    That night I knew that nothing we ever, ever did was good enough for the owner. We were proud of that website and of all the work we had done together as a team, but none of it mattered. When we got back from holiday break my boss and I met privately and started a job hunt together.

    Reply
    1. aliascelli

      I was a motel housekeeper in high school and they were constantly firing people (hot tip: the people were not the problem). One day the manager called the housekeeping line and started berating the first person to pick up – who happened to be one of the best people left. Three of us walked off. It remains the only time I’ve done it.

      Reply
  8. Cube Diva

    I was essentially working for two people at OldJob- the Assistant Director and the Development Director of a tiny nonprofit. I was really struggling to do everything the job required, because it was essentially 2 1/2 full time jobs. However, the day the Assistant Director told me that my “enthusiasm would hurt me professionally in the long run,” I knew I had to start looking for something else. My enthusiasm was the ONLY thing keeping me going day after day. Goodness.

    Reply
      1. Katie the Fed

        I had a boss like that. He told my problem was I cared too much and I had to let the system fail. Now as a manager I understand what he meant – that sometimes the only want to let the higher-ups know that things are unsustainable is to let tasks slip, but he worded it really badly.

        Reply
        1. Red

          Same. This comment made me realize that most of my job has become about planning ways to misdirect and manipulate people into following half-written rules instead of issues like accuracy, timeliness, and completeness. No wonder I’m so burned out. I’m really done.

          Reply
          1. popesuburban

            Oh. Wow. Yes, this is what I do. And I do get more done than any of the six people who held this position in the last three years (I became the longest-lasting when I hit seven months; I’d been here a year as of May), but it’s at the cost of my energy. Ye gods, it’s just so much *work* pulling strings and telling lies. I joke that I would win the Game of Thrones, because that’s how we work around here, but man, Westeros is every bit as lousy to live in as I suspected. Doing nothing but fighting, dealing with setbacks, tracking people, and taking flack sucks the life right out of me.

            Reply
              1. popesuburban

                It’s a specialty, high-end construction company. The other inside staff is great, but we are battling a department of technicians who are active liars when they’re not simply withholding information, and management who doesn’t see a problem with this, no matter how many times we prove that it’s happening. We communicate very well in the office, but routinely get thrown under the bus by the people in the field. I’ve learned to get results, but it takes a *lot* of work, and we all still get yelled at a lot.

                Reply
        2. Margo Victory

          I also had a boss that worded things poorly like that. I’m pretty sure he thought he was helping me keep from burning out. But what he said was, “I’m going to give you some advice as a friend now, not as your boss: you need to get a boyfriend.”

          Reply
    1. Charby

      I can imagine that AD dressing down other employees too.

      “You’re a little too detail-oriented for the working world. Look at this email you sent out yesterday — not a single typo! Loosen up!”

      “Showing up early for meetings is a sign of weakness; you need to start strolling in 15-30 minutes after it’s started and demanding to be filled in on what happened before.”

      Reply
      1. Cube Diva

        Ironically, the Development Director was… um… “misdirected” with her attention to typos. The straw that broke HER back with my employment there was a small typo on our website’s header. That I had fixed overnight before she even got to work. But I emailed her about anyway, letting her know what I had done.

        Reply
      2. Pickles

        My mother has stories about her office manager telling her to loosen up – don’t call the doctor “Dr Smith” but “Bob” instead, say “hi” instead of “good morning,” etc. I can’t imagine those doctors’ reactions had she listened and called them by first names – having met the ones in question, most had the stereotypical specialists’ inflated egos.

        Reply
      3. sarah

        This comment is pretty old, but I found this thread and had to pipe in: my boss told me last week I’m too type A to fit in on his team, I should stop thinking so much. I’m in the wrong job, working for the wrong boss. The next day I started job searching.

        Reply
      1. Cube Diva

        Yes I was! The Assistant Director was also a middle-aged woman, but it definitely could have been based on my age and gender.

        Reply
      2. Sarah211

        I had feedback like this one time from an older woman. We had a staff meeting, and everyone without errors the past month got praised. I wasn’t aware of any errors but my name was not called. I asked for feedback, very nicely, saying I’d like to know so I can fix it (I had never received feedback ever, after 1.5 years). She scheduled a meeting with me and included my direct supervisor, where she chastised me for not knowing how to prioritize, asking questions (?), and generally not being complacent. My supervisor’s jaw was dropped too, so I knew it wasn’t just me. My supervisor thankfully tried to stand up for me, but then she was chastised too for allowing me to behave the way I do. I got another job offer within a couple of weeks, and giving notice made me feel so good! My body physically felt better, my mood improved ten times over, I slept wonderfully that night.

        Reply
        1. Red

          Gosh, this gave me flashbacks to working at Major Bank’s expense reimbursement audit group. Quotas, error meetings, call-outs for 0 error months… Brr.

          Reply
  9. Annoying Girl

    The day that my Vice President wrote ME up because the Chief Executive Officer got drunk and sloppy at a company event with clients. I was written up because I should have been watching him better.

    Reply
    1. T3k

      Wooow, if you could have gotten away with it, I’d have made some snide comment like “I didn’t realize my job description meant babysitting the CEO.”

      Reply
      1. Jazzy Red

        I was in a meeting one time, and we were talking about how hard it was to get people to send their information in on time for the reports to be put together (because they were always “too busy to do stuff like that”). We had a department calendar, and the deadlines are in everyone’s individual calendars, and it was extremely frustrating. One of the managers suggested that I call everyone 1 or 2 days before the deadline and keep following up until we got the information we need, and I said “I don’t babysit children any more”. This wasn’t the last straw but it sure was a big, poke-you-in-the-butt constant pain, and that attitude certainly contributed to the last straw.

        Reply
      2. blakmac

        I would have done it whether I’d have gotten away with it or not.

        A recent exchange with my boss’ boss…

        him: “You knew what the job consisted of before you took it.”

        me: “Yeah. But I didn’t know the company was breaking the law at the time.”

        Waiting to see how this all pans out.

        Reply
    2. Mallory Janis Ian

      Ha. I was once told by the dean that my primary job, related to an upcoming meeting of my former department’s professional advisory board, was to make sure my department head didn’t get on a plane and leave for any other meetings during that time (department head owns a successful private practice, so he would often fly out on private business at short notice and not be available for departmental meetings).

      So, the opening breakfast of the new event starts, and I call my boss to make sure he’s running on time for it, and he says, “What do you mean, ‘Professional Advisory Board?’ I’m in L.A.” I thought, “Holy Sh!t! I had one job, and now he’s in L.A. and all the board members are going to be mad, and the dean’s going to be mad . . . ” I get to the breakfast, and my boss is there, schmoozing with all the PAB members. When he sees me, he points at me and gives me the “Ha! Gotcha!” wink and a cocky smirk, the jackass.

      Reply
    3. Minister of Snark

      WHAAAAAAAT?!

      One would assume an adult who have been tasked with running a company would know how much alcohol to consume responsibly.

      Reply
    4. Dovahkiin

      OH MY ZORP. This could have been me at one of my first start-up jobs. One of the founders got sloppy drunk and extremely boorish – he started calling the junior employees by our um, identifiers (me: lesbian. graphic designer: haircut, webmaster: glasses). He passed out in a (stolen) golf cart and me and our poor graphic designer had to drag him to an abandoned conference room so he could sleep it off.

      The co-founder gave us a long, straight-faced lecture the next day on how we should have been watching him better because “everyone knows he likes to party.”

      3 of us straight-faced quit over the next month.

      Reply
  10. (paranoid) Anon for this

    When my boss printed out an email I had already been CC’d on and handed it to me. I was working in a library where people had been in their director level positions for 20+ years, using the techniques and technology they had learned 20+ years ago, and the director of the library was phoning it in. When I had that email in my hands, I realized this whole system was never going to change and that I should get out asap.

    Reply
      1. HR Recruiter

        One day I was freaking out because the internet was down and so I didn’t have access to something I needed asap. My boss walked over to a pile of 20 years worth of electronic reports he had printed and handed me what I needed. He gloated that as the old timer he saved the day. I said yeah but you’ve been killing trees for 20 years and this is the first time it was handy.

        Reply
    1. LawPancake

      Ugh, yes! My (thankfully) retired former boss would print out literally every single email he got. So I stopped sending him emails… I don’t think he noticed.

      Reply
      1. Sadiemae

        My former boss (a man in his mid-seventies) refused to read or write any of his own emails. (And this was only four or five years ago – not when email was brand-new. He said he didn’t “do” email.) He made me print them all out and give them to him. About 50-60 emails per day. Then he would write his reply or the action that needed to be taken on the printouts and return them to me. If it was a reply, I had to type the reply email, save it as a draft, print it and show him the printout so he could make sure I had it right before I sent it.

        He also made me call people to make sure they’d received important (or even semi-important) emails. Maybe 4-5 phone calls every day just saying, “Mr. Smith would like to know if you received his email about the Blair case…” People thought I was crazy. It was so embarrassing! I told him I could easily mark emails “return receipt” so I’d be notified they’d been received and opened, but he just blinked at me and said, “Just call. People like it when you call. It’s the personal touch.” Sigh.

        Reply
    2. AnonymousFoDish

      Today I explained to a friend that I’m working for a company that was founded in the 40s, acts like it’s the 50s-70s, and only just over a year ago realized they needed to update to the 90s. Old technology, old sexism, old racism, rolled into an academia/STEM hybrid run by engineers.

      Reply
    3. JotoJo

      OMG. I work at a nonprofit that offers classes that in the past two years has updated their systems (meaning finally made a website to attract clients). There’s this woman here who has been working for 38 years and she always criticizes the internet and the website in front of clients and yells about how the old way of paper and pencil was so much easier and faster. The crazy part is that the paper functions of her job that she idolizes over, is always incorrect and she loses the information. If she would have just written an email, those mistakes would have never happened.

      Reply
  11. Katie the Fed

    I had been deployed to Iraq for over a year (as a civilian – we deploy too!)

    I was exhausted and worn out. I had a new boss back home.

    I emailed the new boss and told him I’d like to take 3 weeks of leave upon my return and take some vacation, visit family, etc.

    He responded that the office had “put up” with me being gone for long enough and I needed to return as soon as possible.

    I got a new job quickly and he was stuck with filling my vacated position. AND I took my 3 weeks of leave.

    Reply
      1. Katie the Fed

        It did! I think they actually might have lost the position because of budget cuts.

        If he had worded it like “oh, I totally understand how exhausted you must be. We could really use you back to help on Project Y” I might have been willing to work with it. But he was just an ass.

        Reply
    1. LBK

      Holy hell. It would have been so hard not to write a snarky email back. “I’m sorry it’s been so difficult for you while I’ve been living in a war zone. I can only imagine how challenging it was to have to send me an email instead of being able to talk to me face-to-face – I’ve obviously been having a wonderful time being halfway around the world from my friends and family and everything that means home to me, so I’ll be happy to wrap up this luxury vacation and get right back to doing real work for you.” Accompanied by a collage of Liz Lemon rolling her eyes.

      Reply
    1. Sadsack

      I had the same feeling at my prior company, which was also my motivation for leaving. Just too many issues to explain why I felt that way, but I’ll sum it up by saying it was the feeling of being undervalued and working for a complete asshole.

      Reply
  12. Meg

    1. I worked 24 days straight, had one day off, then finished the rest of the month without another day off. My birthday was the following month, and I had already put in the time off request, still had to work on my birthday and then got yelled at for wanting to take time off (this was in the middle of summer and I had no coverage except for my boss who barely showed up the month of 24 days straight).

    2. I was promoted into a position with a higher pay scale and never (to this day) received the difference in compensation for the 1700 hours I put into the new position. When I only have coverage for 30 minute lunch breaks and have to cut 2 and a half hours at the end of the week because I was scheduled full-time with an hour for lunch, got yelled at for having 2.5 hours of overtime each week because I can’t get coverage for a lunch break, let alone 2.5 hours at the end of the week. I was actually put on administrative leave because I was racking up hours on hours of back pay because they still hadn’t sorted out my pay difference.

    Reply
    1. Malissa

      I almost forgot about my 29th birthday. I had to work to get payroll out that day because nobody would cover it for me, including my boss who knew how to do it. She then loitered around my desk all day talking with the other people in the office about how nice their 29th birthday’s were and how they did some absolutely fabulous things that day.
      The coworker across from me complimented me on the restraint I showed by not throwing my birthday pie in her face.

      Reply
  13. Malissa

    At a retail job long ago I was a cashier. The came up with the brilliant idea that the cashiers shouldn’t have water bottles at their registers, because the floor people couldn’t carry one with them. The registers were in an area where it got up to 85 degrees and we’d often have to wait an hour before we could even go to the bathroom after we told the supervisor we needed it. The floor people were free to move around as they pleased. They tried to talk me out of quitting. I told them if they reversed the policy I would stay. Didn’t happen.

    Reply
    1. OfficePrincess

      We had that same policy too. After I passed out behind the register from an ongoing medical issue that was exacerbated by heat and dehydration, we were allowed water and fans appeared the next day. But because I needed the money and employment in that area was over 10%, I didn’t quit.

      Reply
      1. Bye Academia

        It’s amazing how that works. I threw up during my first shift at my old retail job because we weren’t allowed water and I got too dehydrated. All of a sudden that wasn’t a rule anymore.

        I didn’t quit, though, because they did reverse the policy.

        Reply
    2. Jennifer

      They did that when I worked at a grocery store in high school. Totally changed the policy afyer I had been there for 4 months.
      I have hypoglycemia, so I keep a juice drink near me constantly. I even brought in a doctors note, and made sure I never took it out when I had a customer, only when I had a gap between. Still had a manager write me up for having it.
      Walked out right then and never looked back.
      (This same store would wait until Saturday 5pm, sometimes as late as 8pm) to post the next weeks schedule – which started Sunday morning – the next day- at 5am. Also, All students were required to be 100%available during spring break, despite my being scheduled for a week long intensive study class for AP exams, with documentation from the school system)

      Reply
    3. Not the Droid You are Looking For

      I’ve never understood rules like this. As a customer, I could not imagine being offended at the sight of a customer drinking water!

      Reply
      1. Charby

        I think a lot of it is more about the image that management wants to portray. I honestly can’t remember anything about the last ten cashiers I’ve interacted with — not their hair color, whether or not they had earrings, what color their shirts were, whether or not they had a bottle water, whether they had five pieces of flair or only three, etc. etc. I don’t think most customers notice those details as much as they might notice the general overall impression of the store, which is what management is probably trying to regulate.

        I agree though, a “no water” policy seems silly. I don’t even really understand why a retail store needs to be kept at 85 degrees; it seems like that is just inflicting misery for its own sake.

        Reply
        1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

          It just seems like a such a weird line…like it’s unprofessional for humans to hydrate themselves :p

          Reply
          1. OfficePrincess

            Obviously, it’s not a good idea to chug it down while you’ve got a customer, but if someone walks into the store and sees a cashier or other employee taking a sip and has a problem with it, the customer is the one with a problem, not the employee.

            Reply
        2. YawningDodo

          Late reply is half a week late, but I recently went on a vacation to Disney World and I did notice that many of the workers (especially outdoor workers) wore water bottles on their belts. Seeing it made me think *better* of the place, because it would have been incredibly inhumane for them not to have access to water.

          Reply
      2. Renee

        I am guessing you didn’t spend much time on the other side of the counter. It’s actually worse now than when I was doing it, from the stories I hear from the kids. There are a few people who have odd notions that “the help” are beneath them, and don’t deserve nice things like breaks, fluids, politeness, or dignity. One of my girls came home with a take off being chastised by a customer for trying to make small talk, and literally was told that the help should serve, and not speak. I’ve heard other similar stories. This is also often why management doesn’t allow cashiers to have seats; apparently some people feel this implies that they are lazy. It’s actually rather disturbing.

        Reply
        1. esra

          No one who would deny a cashier a stool has ever been a cashier. That is one of my most hated conventions about retail work.

          Reply
          1. pony tailed wonder

            This is why I like shopping at Aldi. All the cashiers have stools. It makes it seem as if sensible people are in charge there.

            Reply
            1. Stone Satellite

              Agree. “Why make people pointlessly stand on their feet for 8 hours?” is such a logical question, it’s very confusing to me that no other retail store has caught on to this. My father worked in retail for decades, not as a cashier but in a position where he could easily have done it seated, but his boss wouldn’t allow it, and he has some pretty bad damage to his knees and feet from all those years of pointless standing.

              Reply
            2. Someone

              I just have to chime in here. ALDI is German, and as a German I’m amazed that cashiers would be denied chairs. When I’m grocery shopping I see cashiers sitting in chairs all the time, and it never occurred to me that this might be considered “lazy”. I judge their efforts by how quickly they can check people out.
              Chairs and water bottles for cashiers are the standard here, and I’m very happy about that!

              Reply
      3. esra

        Same here, but like so many posters, my high school cashier job had the same stupid rule applied. Half of us quit a week after it went into effect.

        Reply
    4. Evil

      We had the same policy at my job. Finally someone got the union involved and now we’re allowed to have them as long as they’re not placed near the registers where they could spill.

      Reply
    5. JL

      When I worked as a cashier, the excuse for ‘no bottles’ was actually that customers would think it looks unprofessional.

      I’ve yet to find a single person who finds water unprofessional.

      Reply
  14. Bekx

    I’d say that my first clue was in my interview when I was terrified of the owner. She was aggressive, demeaning, and dismissive but I was fresh out of college and it was a job in my field.

    But the part that really broke the camel’s back was when I was 22 and at my very first conference as a vendor. Owner’s son (who had a manager title but I couldn’t tell you what he actually did other than sales) told me (the graphic designer) to go to this conference because he wanted a pretty girl at the booth.

    He proceeded to ask me all kinds of questions about my sex life, my ex boyfriend, my dating experiences. He told me ALL about how his wife didn’t want to have 3-somes so they broke up for awhile and he dated all these other women. He and his wife are back together, and he told me allllll sorts of details about their adventures.

    I knew this was grossly inappropriate but I was trapped in a car or booth with him and no matter how much I tried, he would not let up on this. I was so uncomfortable telling him to stop, since he is basically my boss. I tried saying things like “No, I don’t know” or “I’m not comfortable sharing that” but I felt so much pressure having it be just him and I.

    There was no HR department, and his mother was not someone you could approach without getting screamed at. There were a lot of bad things that happened at that job, but that conference made me feel so disgusted and violated that I avoided him long after that conference ended. I was, and am, so glad to be out of there.

    Reply
    1. MommaTRex

      Reminds me of a boss who said he didn’t like watching sports for the same reason he didn’t like porn: he’d rather be doing it than watching it. I was grossed out. My eyes were on the door.

      Reply
      1. Pennalynn Lott

        I had a business meeting with the Fire Chief of a local city a year or so ago. Somehow Game of Thrones came up and suddenly he’s talking about how much he loves himself some naked, young Kahleesi. And how he hopes HBO never stops showing her tiny firm. . . “chest”, because that’s the best part of the show (all while cupping his hands in front of him, as though he’s feeling her up). He said it to me, a woman, with two of the women from his staff in the room with us. Not that it’s OK to say in a room full of men, but how gross do you have to be to say that crap to women???

        Reply
  15. UniStudent

    I had a part time retail job during the year, and got a second full time job during the summer break from uni. I told my retail manager this and asked to keep the retail job, which they said would be ok if I still had reasonable flexibility. I gave the manager my full time job schedule (shift work), so they would know when I was available to work in the shop.

    After about a month of working both jobs, I got scheduled for a morning shift in the shop one day, despite the fact that I was on 12 hour nightshifts the night before and afterwards (which my manager knew about). I was exhausted by the time I finished, when my manager had a massive go at me about my lack of flexibility.

    Never went back to that job.

    Reply
    1. Charlotte Collins

      Similar thing for me. I worked at very big, well-known retailer. I got a job there over the summer, then had to go to PT when school started (I was an instructor). They could not get my hours right. The schedule was always posted late, and I constantly had to let my supervisors know that I was scheduled for times I couldn’t work (I was available evenings and weekends, as well as some late afternoons, so it wasn’t like I had really limited time). The day that they posted an announcement that no time off would be granted from mid-October until January, I started planning when to give my notice. But once they had posted a schedule (late) for times I absolutely could not work for the third time in a row, I just called in and told them I wouldn’t be able to give my two weeks’ notice, as I couldn’t be sure they’d ever be able to schedule me a time that I’d be able to work.

      I ran into someone from there a few months later and found out that everyone who had been hired around the same time as me had been laid off the first week of January. So, not a decision I ever regretted.

      Reply
      1. Jennifer

        I’d swear reading this that you worked at the same (different from story above store I worked at. Very large retailer (lines around the store for black friday) and my only *unavailable time in college was Tuesday and Thursday I had to be off by 330 for class by 415. They would still schedule me until 5, both days, constantly. And when I tried to get it corrected, I was told it was my responsibility to get the shifts covered. Even though I had given my availability when I applied and again when I was offered and hired.
        (But wouldn’t schedule me on busy days when people were needed and I had availability like Saturday opening shifts-sigh) shortest jib ever – 5 weeks.

        Reply
        1. Happy Lurker

          Oh, how I do not miss those student retail jobs!! Reading all these stories is bringing back so many memories I had buried long ago.

          Reply
        2. TheSockMonkey

          Similar experience in retail-told them in the interview what my other non-negotiable committments were, asked them if it was ok to not work those times because otherwise I would need to look elsewhere, and they constantly scheduled me for those times. I lasted 2 weeks.

          Reply
          1. popesuburban

            I had a job in college that pulled this with me. I brought in my class schedule and my finals schedule when I interviewed, just to make sure there would be no conflict. I started right after Thanksgiving, doing gift wrapping and helping reset the store, and it was going okay. The day of my last final, during a massive blizzard that would shut the state down for nearly a week and necessitate the National Guard’s help, they stacked three or four progressively-snottier messages on my phone telling me to come in right now or else. The last one said “Don’t bother coming in,” so I didn’t. It blows my mind that they would ignore a schedule I went out of my way to give them and ask me to come in and wrap gifts when no one was shopping (at least, not for toys; a few brave souls might have braved the storm for groceries or pharmaceuticals, but not for a new Lego). Like…this is a part-time job while I’m in school, and also it is not worth driving through a howling blizzard.

            Reply
            1. Kate Heightmeyer

              My roommate worked for our university’s dining services. Despite giving them her class schedule every semester, they often scheduled her to work DURING class. I’m pretty sure she had at least one instance where she just didn’t go to work. She was still working there when I graduated and had even been promoted to manager.

              Reply
              1. mm1970

                when I was in university, for awhile I worked the register at the pizza place.

                I worked every Sunday, from 4 till 9.

                But whomever they had scheduled from 2 to 4 (we opened at 3) was a local in the city and never showed up. So my manager (a grad student) called me in at 2 pm. Every. Single. Day. I mean, I went, because it was still 4-something an hour. Until right before finals. I was in the computer lab. And he called me at the computer lab (there were 6 of them, he had to be really desperate). This was long before cell phones.

                That day I said “nope, I’ll be there at 4 pm”.

                Reply
                1. CurrentStudent

                  This gets me every time! With every job I’ve had so far, I’ve always mentioned explicitly in my interviews that I’m a student and would like to work at this job primarily to support my studies, and in no interview have they taken issue with that. I’m a good employee, and I’ve gotten the impression that they’d rather have me with the time I’m able to commit than not at all.

                  Somehow, though, it always comes up that I should skip class or sacrifice every last inch of my ‘free’ time (see: study and assignment time) to work, even though the whole point of the job is to support my studies. It’s even happened at my on-campus job, which is run and staffed entirely by students. The amount of times I’ve been scheduled to work for all or part of my afternoon genetics class is staggering, and school’s only been in session for 3 weeks.

                  I totally understand that the job or business is your first priority, and it’s expected that work should be one of mine, and it is – for the time that I have committed to it. When you hire me after I give my availability and I say that I’m a student, there is an expectation on my part that you respect that. Selling overpriced lattes to people who don’t see me as a human being is not a career choice, it’s survival.

  16. This is not me

    When my then three year old daughter described my office as ‘Where Mommy lives’. I realized I was gone every morning when she got up, picked them up for school then went back to the office when my husband got home so I wasn’t around when she went to bed either. Saturdays and Sundays I ‘only’ worked 8 hours, so I’d see her a little more. It was quite a wake up call. I gave notice the next week and was quite amused when my boss kept scheduling me for things. “This Is Not Me will have this done by Monday the 18th.” “My last day is the 1st.”

    Reply
    1. Ad Astra

      In journalism school, one of my classmates had a mom who was a successful TV news anchor in another city. She told me that when she was a little kid, she and her brother would kiss the TV and say “night night mommy” before their dad put them to bed. I didn’t know that classmate well, but the way she talked about her mom never being around made me wonder why she chose to go into the same field.

      Reply
        1. brownblack

          Those jobs pay very well when you’re at the level of anchoring the 5pm and 11pm news in a major media market like Atlanta or Boston. If you’re in the other 75% of TV news personalities, or if you work in any part of the business other than reading news on the air (producer, camera, etc), you make $25K a year with long hours and terrible benefits. If you’re a journalist you may have to drive yourself to your locations while carrying and setting up your own camera.

          I’m not speaking about you specifically, but a LOT of people have really skewed ideas of what it’s like to work for local news outfits.

          Reply
          1. LD

            I can vouch for that. TV production was one of my first jobs and starting pay was really close to minimum wage. It was fun, but I couldn’t afford to move out of my parent’s home. Not to mention having to be at work at 5 a.m. to work the morning shows, and having that same schedule even on holidays….TV news doesn’t stop because your family is having Thanksgiving dinner.

            Reply
    2. Anlyn

      That’s a lot what growing up with my father was like. He worked the afternoon shift at the Air Force base as a civilian, but put in a lot of overtime. There would be weeks when I barely ever saw him, because I would be in bed when he got home and in school when he got up. I was 12 before he finally decided to stop working weekends; I think he realized he missed most of my brother growing up and didn’t want to miss the rest of mine.

      Problem with that is I was already entrenched in the “me, mom, and brother” dynamic, and felt like he was an interloper. Thankfully, we had a pretty good relationship as adults until he passed away.

      Reply
      1. Minister of Snark

        My dad was a workaholic young executive when I was growing up, going through an MBA program in addition to working and then golfing on weekends to make connections with clients. I have VERY VERY few memories involving him as a kid. I don’t remember him being at birthdays or my plays or sports. Mom was there for every bit of it for all three of us kids.

        When I was about 10, my uncle died and Dad returned home to help his dad run the family business, which gave him more time with us. We were genuinely confused as to why this strange man was suddenly insisting on parenting us. And Dad honestly didn’t understand why we were falling all over ourselves to spend this suddenly time with him. It was an awkwardness that continued until our late teens. And kind of does to this day.

        Reply
    3. Another unnamed

      When I was small (around 5?) I was being unbearable on a Sunday afternoon, as sometimes happens. My father said “Don’t talk to your mother like that”, or similar; my reply was reportedly “You can’t tell me off, you don’t live here any more”.

      Fortunately he was able to cut down on the hours without changing jobs, but… yeah.

      Reply
  17. So very anon

    In my current job I decided it was time to leave after I discovered one of the owners was committing blatant tax fraud after he and another owner asked me to audit the account where I would find it.

    Reply
  18. Elle the new fed

    Mine was at FirstJob after university. I worked with a woman who had been increasingly…. difficult. She lied to her superiors, mismanaged our clients and gave me falsified expense reports (thousands of dollars worth) to submit for her. I told my supervisor everything that was happening, but nothing changed until she ran off one of our biggest clients. When our department director called me in to discuss what she’d be told happened, I snapped and told her EVERYTHING this woman had been doing.

    Surprisingly, I left on good terms with the organization. That woman got fired eventually.

    Reply
  19. AndersonDarling

    My husband worked at an auto parts company that had a micromanaging manager. The manager would re-write procedures weekly, to a point that no one knew what they were doing day to day. Then the manager decided that everyone had to tuck in their shirts at work, including the guys wearing work shirts (think gas station button up front kind of shirts). That was it, he quit over a tucked shirt.

    Reply
  20. Sascha

    My moment was when my former director told my team in a staff meeting that we weren’t allowed to leave right at 5pm because it made her feel bad to see us “rushing out the door” to get home, like we preferred to be at home instead of at work. She instituted a rule that we couldn’t leave right at 5 – instead, we had to linger a few minutes. What made this even more frustrating is that she would often take long lunches and leave early.

    Reply
    1. alter_ego

      I can not imagine the level of insecurity it would take for me to feel bad that people preferred to be at home rather than working for me. and I’m an IMMENSELY insecure person.

      Reply
      1. Lizzy May

        Like Michael Scott isn’t that insecure on a daily basis. And he’s a mess. That’s crazy. I get being a constant clock watcher isn’t ideal but when my day is done I’m going home. I’m pretty sure I don’t get paid to be my boss’s friend.

        Reply
      2. Charby

        It’s not just insecure, it’s inhuman. Most people have lives outside of work, even if it’s just sacking out on the couch to watch TLC documentaries all evening. The fact that they want to go home doesn’t even really suggest that they are unhappy at work. Using that logic only people who are frustrated or unhappy at work should ever go home; the rest of us who like our jobs should just bring sleeping bags and toothbrushes.

        Reply
        1. Sweaty

          This is basically the attitude at my company, except it’s not so much staying late, but working from home in the evenings and on weekends. “What do you mean you don’t work until midnight, and at least 8 hours a day on the weekends?! You don’t have passion! You don’t care about the work!” etc etc.

          Reply
      1. Sascha

        She actually said “you act like you’d rather be at home.” Our response was gaping mouths. She had all sorts of little rules like that she created, and told us people “would kill…they would KILL…to work here.” She thought we were too ungrateful and didn’t love our jobs sufficiently because we complained about stuff sometimes.

        Reply
    2. over educated and underemployed

      Yesterday my boss dismissed us from a meeting at 4:50 pm with “you don’t have to go home…” (implied ending “but you can’t stay here, ” i.e. leave his office), and one of my coworkers almost yelled “wait, why can’t we go home?” (And then we all watched the clock until 5:10.)

      Reply
    3. Ad Astra

      Was this one of those industries where you’re supposed to be “passionate” about the work? When I worked in news, admitting that you’d rather be home with your spouse/family/dog/television was simply Not Done. If I was scheduled 7-4, there was no way I’d feel comfortable leaving before 4:15.

      Reply
      1. Sascha

        It was a private 4-year university, and many of the people that worked there had definitely drunk the Kool-aid. The attitude on campus was that you should be so lucky to be working at this AMAZING SCHOOL for little pay, bad benefits, and long hours. So while my director was insecure and egocentric, she fit in well with the culture, and that’s why she thrived (and I didn’t).

        Reply
    4. Jennifer

      Hahah, we practically have an avalanche running out the door here. They make it clear that we ain’t getting paid after 5, so…

      Reply
    5. DeskDuck

      I used to work for a place where we practically had a bell at the end of the day. Before we left we had to switch the phones over to the night message – so we had an alarm clock that was set to go off at 5:00 to indicate it was time to switch the phones over (No idea why – it was set up before my time. Probably someone set the night phones on early so there had to be a Policy. There was a Policy about everything that had ever gone wrong) so we would all get ready to go and stand around and stare at the clock until it went off like a bunch of high school kids waiting for the bell to ring. As soon as it went off all that was left was a cloud of dust. The owners were obsessive and stingy about our hours – so we ended up being obsessive and stingy right back.

      Reply
  21. Knitting Cat Lady

    I was a grad student for about a year.

    My supervisor was an abusive asshole.

    She insulted me and belittled me and threatened me.

    I also had to constantly chase her down for renewing my contract.

    I was payed for 20 hours a week. I was expected to work at least 60 hours a week, mon – fri, which brought me above the legal limit in Germany (10 h). And still I was asked ‘You’re leaving already?’ when I left after 11 hours at work.

    One day in a meeting I couldn’t do some relativistic calculations of the top of my head. I never memorized formulas, that’s what formula books are for. I looked the formula up and did the calculation she wanted.

    She called me stupid, incompetent, useless… you name it, she used it.
    In front of everyone in our group.
    She finished off by telling me if I ever messed up like that again, I should just kill myself because I was completely worthless.

    Again, we had an audience for that.

    I didn’t say anything.

    Then I went back to the undergrad experiment I was running. On the way there I called my mum at work and broke down crying.

    I found a new job, with decent people as bosses and colleagues, within five months.

    I handed in my notice at HR and then called her to tell her, as she was out of the country.

    She was floored. I had made so much progress and we were getting on so well with each other!

    Um, yeah. I had completely checked out and disengaged!

    Oh, how I hated that woman!

    Reply
    1. Manders

      Ugh, grad students have it rough. My partner is a PhD candidate, and the conditions he puts up with would have made me quit long ago. I’m so glad you found a better job.

      Reply
    2. Bye Academia

      I feel this so hard. Hence my username.

      If my degree weren’t dependent on me continuing to work in my lab, I would have quit a year ago.

      Reply
    3. Anon grad student

      I’m at a university where a graduate student recently committed suicide, so I’ve developed a heightened awareness of the stress and dysfunction that comes along with a lot of graduate programs. This kind of behavior from a research supervisor is beyond horrifying.

      Reply
        1. Jennifer

          I just read the ombudsman’s report for my school and they’re now including grad student abuse in their totals of things people come to them about. (That they can’t actually do anything about.)

          Reply
    4. OneTimePoster

      Yeah that’s grad school for you. I worked 80 h (on site, plus more at home), 3.5 years, the last 18 months of which I only took Christmas of (no weekends, no holiday, no nothing). My boss was an abusive asshole who was constantly gone, but had people in the lab reporting to him when we would come in and leave. Then he didn’t understand that I could not write my thesis in our 10 people office located next to the kitchen and my place next to the door.

      Getting vacation approved in the years prior to that was hard, because he would constantly manipulate all of of into feeling like we didn’t put in enough work.

      I stopped sleeping about 1.5 years into my doctorate. I got maybe 3 h a night 3 nights a week, if I was lucky. With all the accompanying joys of sleep deprivation. I had anxiety, panic attacks, crying fits. I was unemployed with the day I submitted my thesis (still hadn’t defended by that time). I was a mess. I still have anxiety attacks when I just think of seeing him or receiving emails from him.

      I got a PhD out of it and now I’ve been unemployed for almost a year, because finding an entry level position outside a lab is hard, since we’re being taught very few translatable skills and I’m qualified for nothing. I cannot go back into a lab, I’d break down.

      (All of this was in Germany, too, and my boss cared very little about the legal limits.)

      Reply
        1. OneTimePoster

          Thanks. The only reason I stuck with it was that by the time it got this bad I knew I would never start another PhD out of fear and anxiety. This job broke me, I’m easily cowed, usually, but these few years was just too much. It wasn’t so much about the money (which of course would have been nice to have more, but that’s the trade off), it was more about the blatant disregard for anyone’s emotional and mental health .

          Reply
    5. BRR

      I had a graduate assistantship in music performance while getting a different degree. My teacher was an asshole. He was terrible at playing and teaching, I only took this because it was tuition and a stipend. You could play really well and miss one note and he would say as you walked out the door, “Oh by the way, don’t forget to practice next time.”

      Reply
    6. Sigrid

      That sounds a lot like my graduate school experience. I stuck it out and got my PhD, but it was absolute hell, and if it had been a real job, I would have quit within a year. The power differential in academia is obscene.

      Reply
  22. Quiet one

    Incoming boss changed me from salary to hourly and micromanged time sheets. I had to travel internationally for work and as an hourly employee got paid for travel time. I very carefully arranged my flights to reduce the overtime that would be paid. On my last day away (Sunday in the usa, monday overseas) he berated me for not stopping into the overseas office – which I wasn’t doing because 1) the job was complete and 2) it would trigger a bunch of overtime due to my upcoming travel that night.

    Reply
  23. Hush42

    I once worked for a company whose owner would walk around the office screaming at his employees whenever something went wrong. He frequently told people that without him everyone would be starving on the street because no one would have a job (i.e. that no one else would be willing to hire any of his employees). It was an overall bad environment but the straw the broke the camel’s back was the day that, as I was on my way to work in the snow I lost control of my car and slid off the road. Once I got back on the road I turned around and wen’t home as I worked 40 minutes from my house and I was less than 15 minutes from my house so I wasn’t going to try to get to work again in that weather. I called my boss once I got home and told her what had happened and that I would try to come in later if the weather cleared up. She first told me that she thought another of their employees lived somewhere near me so she would confirm the weather with that employee (basically telling me that she didn’t actually believe me) and then told me I should try to come in right away despite the weather because “You’re doing so well and I wouldn’t want you to lose your job”. She never once asked if I was okay or if there was damage to my vehicle just implied that if I didn’t brave the weather, despite have just been in an accident due to said weather, that I might be fired. I didn’t go in at all that day, they let me keep my job but I quit at the end of that week.

    To be clear- I’m not the kind of person who refuses to drive in snow. I live in the snow belt and the past winter, despite it being one of our harshest in the past few years, I only missed one day of work due to the snow. I will drive if it’s snowing but not if the weather is so bad it dangerous to be out. Thankfully I now have a very understanding boss who was perfectly happy to let me stay home the one day in February when I walked outside and realized that there was so much snow on the ground that you couldn’t tell where the road was because it was all just white.

    Reply
    1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

      It wasn’t my straw that broke the camel moment, but my “strike two” was a situation where I had to drive home in a white-out, crying and convinced I wasn’t going to make it home.

      I was working for a major university and even though all the schools, city/county offices were closed, most business were shut down, and a TOW BAN in effect (where State Patrol does not permit any roadside service company to perform tows or winch outs, due to the dangerous weather conditions) we were still expected to come into work, or use our meager PTO to take a “vacation day.”

      I made it in, but finally at the 2 p.m. the weather was so bad that the highway department was actively asking people not to drive on certain roads that my boss said, “policy be damned” and sent us home. As I drove home, not able to see any distance in front of me, I questioned if any job was worth it.

      Reply
      1. Hush42

        The job I held before my current position was as a 911 operator. For obvious reasons we weren’t allowed to not come in regardless of the weather. Unfortunately for me I lived 45 minutes (I live in the middle of nowhere I’ve never had a commute less than 30 minutes) from the 911 center so I had a long commute. Unfortunately I was assigned the 4 pm to 2 am shift starting in January. The county that I worked for and had to drive halfway across to get to and from work had a policy that they would only plow the roads from 4 am to 12 am. Which meant that I was diving home at 2 am every day, two hours after the roads had last been plowed and two hours before they would be plowed again. I worked at 911 but the most stressful part of my day was driving home.

        After working the position that I described above and then at 911 I was floored when I started my new job and my boss was totally supportive of my being late or not coming in when the weather was super bad.

        Reply
        1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

          I worked at 911 but the most stressful part of my day was driving home.

          That is such a powerful statement.

          I think that day was so stressful for me because my other jobs had always followed the “if schools closed, we’re closed rules” and even when one tightened the rules (our local school district was doing a lot of preemptive closures), the minute a tow-ban went into effect or if there were an DOT road warnings, the offices were closed.

          Reply
        2. KAZ2Y5

          I’m kind of surprised that they didn’t have some rooms that people could sleep in just for times like that. Of course, I work in a hospital and fully expect to spend the night on conditions like that.

          Reply
    2. naprujuj

      One Friday or Saturday evening we were having an ice storm and my office building lost power. We had a sad UPS that, once it used up its batteries and once the electricity was restored, would not power anything until someone pushed a button (lame). Anyway, I got a call from my boss about it and I told her I’d head in the morning to push the button (assuming power would be restored by then). She asked why I couldn’t go in in now and wait for the power to come back on. I said, “You want me to drive in an ice storm to our building, climb six flights in the dark, and sit in a dark office until the power is restored?”. She more thoughtless than anything although there was another time where I brushed a live wire which shocked me and took down a rack of computers and all she wanted to know was how soon I could have them back up.

      Reply
  24. Imperatrice

    There were several straws, but one of the big ones was that a coworker started complaining to my boss (and her boss) that my office mate and I were leaving a plug-in fan on overnight in our office to keep air circulating during the warm spring/summer. My manager obviously didn’t think the complaints were warranted (she would tell us of the complaints in a “Sorry to have to do this” way, with rolled eyes) but still made it a disciplinary issue and gave us informal warnings over it, including emails with her boss cc’ed on it.

    After I resigned, I left the fan on every night until I left.

    Reply
    1. Imperatrice

      And after I resigned, our director never once acknowledged the fact that I was leaving – I had to point out in strategy meetings that I would be gone in two weeks. Like “This is not me”, they continued as if I wasn’t leaving.

      And the directors started indirectly asking others if they knew why I was leaving, which only fueled the rumor mill. It was a good reminder as to why I had decided to leave in the first place.

      Reply
      1. AMT

        Wow. Was there any particular reason your coworker reported the fan thing, or was s/he just trying to get you into trouble? Either way, that sounds toxic!

        Reply
        1. Imperatrice

          As far as I know she never gave a compelling reason why she felt it was necessary to make managers aware of it. I’m not sure if she was actively trying to get people in trouble, but she was (presumably still is) the type who gets involved in everyone’s business and thinks that everyone reports to her. I’m not sure she liked me much – but I’m not sure she likes anyone much.

          Reply
    2. Minister of Snark

      HAHA! I love the mental picture of you walking out, in slow motion, your hair ruffled by the breeze of dozens of fans.

      Reply
    3. Bagworm

      We’re not allowed to have fans at my current workplace because they are a safety hazard (?) and we have no control over the temperature. I tend to run warm but got so sick from overheating that I threw up. Now I where a little cooling towel around my neck when it’s too hot. Not very professional but I’m not going to make myself sick over not having a fan.

      Reply
      1. Imperatrice

        I could understand safety concerns, if there was a compelling one. But this was in a regular office building, a standard fan (not like a massive one or anything). It was a pretty large corporation – the cost of one fan being left on overnight would be nothing compared to running the server room.

        I hope your company sees the light!

        Reply
        1. Bagworm

          Thanks. Unfortunately, it’s the government so I doubt it’s changing anytime soon. I definitely agree that you should have been allowed to leave your little fan on overnight.

          Reply
      2. Bridget

        Ha, I’m the opposite! Our office is always freezing so I have a blanket on the back of my chair that I put around my shoulders when I get cold (which is pretty much always). Everyone tells me it looks like a cape because it’s deep purple on one side and white and fluffy on the other side. Also not super professional, but it’s so cozy and helps me concentrate on doing work instead of feeling like a popsicle.

        Reply
  25. knitchic79

    That would be the time when our sister center was closing and we were told not to inform any of the parents until the closing center’s director had gotten an “approved for transfer” list to us. Approved meaning: full pay only not parents subsidized by the government (at the time spots for subsidized kiddos werected tough to find.) We were flat told to lie to parents. When I pointed out that this could put families in dire circumstances, loosing a job cuz you lost your childcare and then your home when you couldn’t pay for that, I was warned that this was the way it was. When I further fought for the sides of not lying and for giving parents ample notice of the situation I was told that I was not going to be demoted as soon as the centers merged. Yeah, nope…I turned in my notice the next day. My boss, who followed me out, said our regional was in full freak out mode when she called her.

    Reply
    1. manybellsdown

      I also left a preschool job because of being told to lie. And commit a crime.

      A mother dropped her son off one morning and asked if she could stay in our class for a bit. “Sure!”, I said “Parents are always welcome to obser-”

      “Good, because there’s a cop in the parking lot and I lost my license with my last DUI.”

      So I went to my director and told her that this parent did not have a valid license due to DUIs and that we could not let her take her child from the premises in a car knowing that. And she looked at me and said “Well, I didn’t hear her say that, and maybe you didn’t either.”

      I stayed until my current class graduated and then I was gone.

      Reply
    2. Melissa

      I left a preschool job when we had an emergency that required an evacuation. The kids had their lunches brought to the building we evacuated to… the teachers git the leftover box of bagels someone happened to grab. After my kids were all picked up, (staff had to call, the director and owner refused to call parents to pick their kids up or tell them what was going on) I had to get back in the school to get my belongings and clean my classroom. My director and the owner were sitting in the owners office eating pizza they had had delivered. The teachers had split a box of day old Einstein brothers bagels. I have never felt so much rage.

      Reply
  26. PoisonIvy

    I asked for a Monday off so I could go shopping for some items I’d need for a work event taking place the following weekend. My boss hesitated and said, “That’s not the best time because PartyAnimal Coworker is often a mess after a bank holiday.” We worked in media, and PA was a journalist. I often wound up doing his job (Newsdesk) when he didn’t show up until late afternoon.

    I said, “So if I spend all weekend drinking and doing class A drugs, can I have Monday off to nurse my hangover too?” Probably not the most polite response, but I hadn’t taken a holiday all year, and I wasn’t being given time off in lieu for working the weekend.

    Boss agreed, to his credit and I got the day off. But it did show me that my employers were never really going to deal head on with PartyAnimal as long as I continued to cover him. I went freelance a few months later after having been at the company for five years. Still very friendly with my ex-employers and every so often they laugh about that day saying I had an excellent point.

    Reply
    1. neverjaunty

      Ugh. What IS it with bosses who load up work on the responsible people so they never have to do anything about the irresponsible people? And then they’re shocked when the responsible people quit?

      Reply
      1. College Career Counselor

        Because it’s more work FOR THEM to fire an incompetent jackass than it is to assign his duties to someone who will get the job done. Add a side order of “conflict-avoidance” for some bosses, and you’ve got a Management Crappy Meal.

        Reply
      2. Charby

        Short-term thinking. It takes effort to get rid of those guys. You might have to fill out a form or send out an email or have an awkward conversation and that’s, like, not fun at all. It’s much easier to just kind of work around someone dysfunctional than to either help them shape up or send them away.

        Reply
  27. Manders

    When my team lead threatened to write me up for accidentally using Arial 10 instead of Calibri 11 in an email. The program I was copying the text from used Arial 10; I hadn’t noticed the difference because those fonts look virtually identical in those sizes.

    This was in a call center, not something that was related in any way to graphic design. It made me realize that even though my call numbers were great, my team lead would always be looking for something to nitpick to prove I was a bad employee. I put in my two weeks, freelanced for a while, and ended up with a much better job.

    Reply
      1. Manders

        Strangely enough, the straw that’s threatening to break my back here is even pettier: I’ve shared a desk with two coworkers in a row now with chronic respiratory problems. I know they couldn’t help the constant sniffling and coughing, but the degree to which it’s annoying me made me realize that I’m not really enjoying what I do here anymore, and that’s being channeled into intense irritation about minor issues.

        (I’m mildly misophonic but I have an easier time tuning out annoying noises when I’m engaged in my work)

        Reply
    1. Sweaty

      Wow! Not like it was Wingdings! Those fonts are both totally readable. Actually, now that I think of it, our team is about evenly split between those exact fonts and sizes (either Arial 10 or Calibri 11- I think Arial tends to run big). Oh, there is one guy who has a tiny font, but he’s a director so we don’t communicate directly with him much.

      Reply
  28. AnonyMiss

    There was the boss who told me that he doesn’t recognize any such thing as “calling out sick” and taking an unpaid day. If you’re on the schedule, you’re on the schedule, no other opinion about it. On some level, I got his thinking, because we had a skeleton crew… on the other hand, I was making minimum wage, working part-time, with no benefits whatsoever. So one day I woke up with a high fever, took a big swig of Nyquil, and called in. Naturally, boss doesn’t answer his cell, so I leave a message. He calls me back in 15 seconds, saying he doesn’t care how sick I am, I have to go in. I explain that I already took medication, I won’t be able to drive, much less function for 8 hours, and I probably shouldn’t be preparing food. (!!!) He hung up on me. I didn’t go in. I think in her only sane act, our pseudo-HR person dissuaded him from writing me up.

    I signed up for college two days later, and quit in a month, when classes started.

    Reply
  29. Camille

    When, as an hourly employee, I was told I needed to keep my work phone on me at all times and check my email and missed calls on my days off, just in case I was needed. This was also accompanied by long phone with my boss about various assignments, while I was off the clock.

    Reply
    1. Minister of Snark

      My last job, I fully realized there was someone in the office who had it worse than me. Whoever was serving as assistant to my boss’s boss. I loved my boss, but her boss was a full-on narcissist. His secretary had been there for almost three months and one Sunday he called her at home and started screaming at her. She asked what he was talking about and he started howling about how SHE had failed to send his wife flowers on her birthday and now his wife was mad at him. She had NO CLUE she was supposed to do this. It wasn’t on her list of tasks and the birthday wasn’t on her work calender. The boss didn’t even mention it to her.

      She said, “How was I supposed to know I was responsible for ordering flowers for someone who doesn’t even work in our office?”

      He screamed that she should have just known and that he held her responsible and they would talk more about this Monday. She thought MAYBE he was putting on a big show for the wife at home, throwing her under the bus, so the wife wouldn’t get mad at him. But no, he walked in Monday morning, still fuming at her, telling her how incompetent she was to not just know when his wife’s birthday was.

      He tossed a hand-written list of dates she was expected to send his wife, mother and daughter flowers, (using the company expense card, mind you), including birthdays, Mother’s Day, anniversaries and Valentine’s Day. He snarled, “Here, I LAID IT ALL OUT FOR YOU, since you seem to need to be told every little thing I need you to do.”

      She handed the list back to him and said, “None of these dates are in the next two weeks, so I would need it.” And she quit right there.

      The good news was that when she quit, she was able to find a job very easily. Narc Boss was very much like Miranda Priestly in Devil Wears Prada. This guy was well known around our small town as a total jackass. When people see that on your resume, they say, “Wow, you lasted three months with that guy? You must be tough as hell!” And since her boss isn’t crazy, she’s doing very well.

      Reply
    2. I'm Not Phyllis

      I had this at one point too. I did it for a while (a mistake, in hind sight) but then I just flat-out refused to use my personal phone for work until they started to pay for it. And eventually they did!

      Reply
  30. OriginalYup

    When I realized I was never ever going to be promoted, and I was being lapped by newer hires.

    I was hired into a newly created job and when I asked in the interviews and early days about future scope for the role, my boss was all “the sky’s the limit!”

    Four years in, I’d delivered superhuman results on two separate enormous projects, hit every single benchmark for my regular work, and developed a bunch of new stuff. Yet every year, my review was “Meets+”. (Instead of Exceeds.) Every time I asked “What can I do to work towards a more senior position? What do you need me to demonstrate or accomplish?” they made vague noises about professional development. Every time I said, “Here are all of my achievements this year, I’d like to discuss growth,” they’d say “These are good, but not the most important things for the business.”

    I finally realized they just didn’t give a sh*t about my work as long as I did quietly and predictably. So I left. :-D

    Reply
    1. FormerHigherEdManager

      Mine is very similar. As a new staffer, I successfully lead projects I had zero prior experience with (database conversion), covered for my boss when she was out on maternity leave, was then promoted her job, increased our numbers by huge percentages, and then … got a new manager. I was told I was not meeting expectations. I asked my manager what those expectations were. He said I should come back to him and tell him what the expectations were. I thought I was going insane. At that moment I knew it didn’t matter what I did. I got an employment lawyer and a 2-week prescription for Xanax and negotiated a severance without even having another job lined up. Happily, that wasn’t the kiss of death for my career and I’m now in my dream job.

      Reply
    2. SparkleBarbie

      I’m in that boat now. I finally got the reclassification (I refuse to call it a promotion!) that I’ve been begging for, and when the director notified me, I didn’t feel excited, or happy, or vindicated. I’ve got an interview for a similar position at a much bigger and better paying company set up for next week.

      Reply
      1. AnonAnalyst

        This is my current situation. I’ve also tried to get promoted or at least get more responsibility at my company for some time; I’ve been told 5 times over the past year that I was getting promoted/put in a lead position for specific projects, and each time someone else ended up taking it over before the work even started. The last time, I actually got all the way to the first meeting with the client prepared to lead it, where I learned (along with the client) that the person I was with was actually going to be the lead.

        That was the last straw for me at this company. I actually was so frustrated that, for several days, I would end up in tears after coming home from work. And honestly, I was just furious with myself that I kept buying that THIS was actually going to be my chance. That experience just made it black and white that a) there’s no future for me here and b) it’s no longer a good position for me since it has made me go home and cry, on several occasions. I’m being told now that I’ll get the lead on something else and I seriously could not care less, because it clearly will never happen.

        Reply
    3. Dynamic Beige

      Sort of along these lines… I turned 30 and it was a moment when I looked back on my life at the company and couldn’t see a reason to stay any longer. I had already been passed over for promotion and there was no path to gaining the experience or skills or anything to be promoted. Literally none. No documentation, no formal agenda. The previous “promotion” had been an effective demotion for everyone who didn’t get to add Senior in front of their title. I’m not going to say it was all based on who was best friends with the manager, but it was close. So I made a plan to collect the year-end bonus (which wasn’t much, but the year was more than half over) and take the summer off. Like you, they didn’t care so long as I did all the grunt work no one else wanted to do.

      But then two things happened that confirmed that I had made the right decision. The first one was the meeting about how the Seniors were going to be put in charge of managing us. Instead of the year end review with Manager, we would be doing that with whichever Senior was assigned to us. Uh… HELL, NO! You’re going to promote a former colleague into being responsible for my compensation negotiation, knowing what my salary is, etc.? Yeah, when pigs fly am I going to let that happen.

      The second was when I volunteered for what was probably the worst project we had — our own AGM. I had all these ideas of what I wanted to do and it was going to be awesome. In a way, I saw it as a going away present to the company. That may sound big-headed or whatever but no one wanted that job, it was truly awful and I had some ideas for things that hadn’t been done before and were never going to get the chance with client projects because they were too “out there”. It was “tradition” that the newest project managers hired did that job so that they could get some experience without bungling a client job. I showed them the things I had done and they were laughing at it all, because it was *exactly* what they had had in mind. Uh… you’re project managers, where did you get the idea that you get to decide on the graphics? That’s not how this works. Long story short, they wound up taking over the entire thing and designing exactly what they wanted to see, which was based on a popular movie at the time and, frankly, a hideous idea. I had frequently made jokes before that time about how I was working as fast as I could, it wasn’t like there was a port on the back of my head where I could connect to the computer directly (CEO heard me say that once and was all “Ooo… that would be great!” with wide, hopeful eyes that just gave me shivers). I’m sure you can guess what movie it was that was released around that time that was very, very popular? Yeah, great message for a place that was essentially a digital sweatshop for a lot of the people who were there, let’s turn you into some sort of quasi-machine that interfaces with computers directly! Anyway, totally unprofessional but when I heard that these two new people, who hadn’t been with the company for 6 months, had taken the whole project away, I cried. Loud and long and hard. Right at my desk and didn’t care that my office mate saw. Everything I had ever gone through at that company — and there was a lot, I had never cried, I wasn’t going to give them that satisfaction. But that day, I broke. I felt it happen. And I was glad that I was leaving. For the next few weeks, I was completely detached. I handed in my resignation, it was accepted with no outcry like with other people no pleasepleaseplease stay, we’ll give you more money and a title! I got in a dig about something my manager had done to me at that meeting. It was a low blow, but enh, I seriously didn’t care any more. I did the right thing getting out, I should have done it sooner. The company imploded two years later.

      Reply
      1. The Department of Terrestrial Magnetism

        I’m sorry – what’s an AGM?

        > I’m sure you can guess what movie it was that was released around that time

        Ummm …. Brainstorm in 1983?

        But seriously – the one that drives me crazy is Minority Report. Everyone was splooging all over that vertical multi-touch thing that Tom Cruise was using.

        I don’t know what specific movie interface you’re describing that they wanted, but the Zion Traffic Control Space in the 2nd Matrix movie was sorta neat in its own subtle way. I mean, it was a vertical multi-touch thing like in Minority Report (ie, it would suck in real life) but the interesting thing is that it existed in a virtual environment – if you watch carefully, there are a few shots of the people jacked-in, sitting in those dentist chair thingies.

        Reply
        1. Dynamic Beige

          AGM = Annual General Meeting Like NSM = National Sales Meeting Sorry, I didn’t realise that this was lingo!

          It was the Matrix. Because those people just get jacked into a computer and their brains do all the work while they lie there kind of asleep. I actually didn’t go to the meeting, I was completely out of f**ks to give. I knew I was going to hand in my notice and so I just didn’t bother, there was no point hearing about what was going to happen next year. No one noticed I wasn’t there, or they didn’t bring it up if they did.

          Reply
    4. Amalyia

      I am currently in the same position. I’ve been at my current company for almost six years and I have been told over and over again that they want me to learn a position and to move into it, but while I have done the things they have asked of me in order to transition they always tell me that there is no moving me at this time or they come up with more things that I was supposed to learn, but was never mentioned to me at the time. This has gone on for 4 1/2 to 5 years and I am now looking for new employment. The final straw for me was my manager told me she would like me to learn how to do something very important for our department and then turned around a few days later and said that she wasn’t sure if she wanted anyone else to do it. This kind of flip flopping has been happening for years now and I just can’t take it anymore. I have taken on so much work for very little compensation in an effort to prove myself, but I know it has done me no good. I have a few jobs that I am looking at and I hope to find new employment soon

      Reply
  31. No name today

    At my last job, when I was *on vacation* sitting in an IHOP in Dodge City, I got an email from my manager. He was bugging me about fraud that he was trying to get me to commit on his behalf. I printed the email, handed it over to HR when I got back, and decided it was time to GET OUT.

    Reply
  32. JiraMaster

    Looking back, I think it was when my boss sat me down and told me that he was giving me a huge title bump (think “associate” to “director”)…but he couldn’t afford to give me a raise and there wouldn’t be any change in my job responsibilities.

    Reply
  33. Addiez

    This was after I quit – but certainly made me feel better. Through my time at the bottom of the totem pole, I was routinely disregarded by the head of our department. Like when my team hit our goal, she emailed to say congratulations to my boss but not me. When I quit, I went in her office to tell her and she said “I can’t believe you would do this to us after all we’ve done for you.” My boss had done a lot for me – but this woman was the reason I left. She did not one thing for me! Such a skewed view of reality.

    Reply
  34. Anon_coward_today

    I had been charged with developing a project. It took me over two years and $25,000 to deploy it. The day of the deploy, when it went public to much fanfare, my boss asked me to take it down. The only reason he could give me was that he didn’t like the font (which was easily changeable).

    Reply
  35. Lizabeth

    When I realized that the principal of the firm where I worked was a really, really, really good salesman. I got a call from a previous place I had interviewed at 9 months prior and jumped ship (after proper notice). This camel’s back was confirmed when the marketing director came to me in tears because she was told by said principal that I was leaving because she was “such a bitch”. I had said no such thing, in fact, told said principal to his face that I was leaving because of him!

    Reply
    1. Dude

      I quit an extra curricular in high school because the supervising teacher had sucked all the fun out of it, and found out from team mates that she was bad mouthing me from the front of her class room, telling team mates I quit because of them and calling me washed up and taking credit for my earlier successes.

      Reply
  36. Anonie456

    This isn’t interesting at all, but I realized it was time to leave my current job when my department head clearly started showing that she didn’t like me anymore, for lack of better words. It’s small things like saying “Hi” to everyone else in the office but me, or when she does speak to me it’s very dry . She used to be really warm and kind to me (and everyone really), so that’s what makes this behavior stick out more. She also used to provide me with regular feedback on the reports I create , but now she’s relaying everything to my direct supervisor. I suspect this change in behavior is because I expressed frustration that she told me that a project I was working on was fantastic behind closed doors, but once I presented the final project to the team, she essentially ripped everything apart in front of everyone. Oh well.

    Reply
    1. Eric

      Wow, that’s exactly how I knew it was time to get out of my last job, too. I had only been there for two months, and my boss stopped coming into my office and sitting down to chat about things, etc. I think the “last straw” for me was, one Friday, she literally went around to every person in the department and said “have a good weekend” EXCEPT to me. I mean, whatever, but man.

      Reply
  37. YOLO

    When the assistant on my team emailed me all “concerned” that a team meeting invite was coming from my calendar, because it might confuse the 7 member team into thinking that I was the one calling the meeting – and I don’t have the authority to call meetings. Given that I support the 3 senior-most people on the team – who told me to handle the meeting this way – and I sit by all of the senior team members (all of whom are very comfortable speaking up if they see something they don’t like), the only person who would be “confused” by this was this woman.

    That she could take the time out of her schedule to nit-pick an internal meeting invite while simultaneously claiming she was too busy to provide the info I needed on another project (one which I’d offered to do for her multiple times earlier) – and there were zero consequences from our manager – was the final straw. Stuff like this has happened the entire time I’ve been here, but I just gave up at that point. It’s made me realize the futility of trying to excel on a team where mediocrity and gaming the system by junior staff is rewarded. My attempting to do a great job means that I am held to a higher standard, while she can arrive late, leave early, be non-responsive to emails and calls, and generally slack off (she also has time to look up real-estate at work…but not get that info for me!). It’s a management issue that I just can’t take any more, but it’s also made me realize that I want to be surrounded by people whose work-ethic I respect.

    Reply
  38. Swarley

    Four or five months into my first post-college job, I came into work and was severely scolded by my manager and the director of a department for which I was responsible for staffing, for a task I had not done. The only problem was that no one told me I was responsible for said task, nor was it something I could have figured out on my own. This job had little to zero training, information was hoarded, and I was constantly dinged for not having X and Y completed when I was never informed that I was responsible for X and Y, even after I had asked on multiple occasions for information and training. I left after seven months to a large raise and a manager that turned into an incredible mentor for the next three years.

    Reply
  39. anonanonanon

    When I was written up for three ridiculous reasons:
    1. For not being a “team player” because I didn’t participate in the “baby parades” that happened constantly at work – where people would bring in their newborns or babies and everyone would huddle in a group and coo over the babies;
    2. I was also not a team player for not buying presents for the many baby or wedding showers we’d have at work (I have no problem contributing $5 or $10, but it was expected that if someone on your team was getting married or pregnant, you had to buy them a present);
    3. We had a “brown bag lunch meeting” that was supposed to be sharing new procedures or tips for work projects, but one person turned it into, “let’s share about buying houses/raising kids/planning weddings” which turned into a pile-on hounding me about why I didn’t have kids/when I would have kids, which turned into me finally snapping that even if I wanted kids, I can’t have them anyway. Which then turned into a bunch of coworkers giving unsolicited advice about how to deal with infertility (which is infuriating coming from people who don’t have fertility problems). When I told my coworkers and boss I was upset by this, I was told that my coworkers meant well (leaving printed out articles on how to “fix” infertility and making comments about how it explained “my lack of interest in babies” was not well meaning). That was the third time I was written up for not having “empathy” to deal with “coworkers who cared”.

    Also when two vacations were denied even though they had been approved months in advance. One was an out of state wedding where I was part of the wedding party, but my boss tried to make me cancel my vacation because a coworker and her husband planned a last minute vacation. The second was a vacation day I had approved months in advance for my thesis defense. My boss told me I couldn’t have the day anymore because a coworker wanted to take the day off to go see her son’s elementary school play.

    Basically, when I realized I was being punished for being single and without children (and not wanting children), I knew I needed to get out. The strangest part was that it was just my semi-large department that was this marriage-baby hivemind cult. The rest of the company didn’t seem to have this problem. We weren’t even in an industry that had anything to do with babies, marriage, etc. either. I’m all for people who want to get married or have children, but I am cool with being ostracized or punished because I don’t want those things. Especially at work where I was just trying to do my job.

    Reply
    1. anonanonanon

      I should add that I had some very lovely coworkers who were married and had children who were awesome and normal, but the bulk of this BS I dealt with came from my boss and a handful of her friends who were very cliquey and very disturbed by women who didn’t have husbands or children because they thought it meant something was “wrong” with them.

      Reply
      1. Jane, the world's worst employee

        Are you me???? I was in the same position at my former job. My (very intrusive) co-workers would ask me every single day when I was getting married. I told them several times (very politely) that I would be sure and let them know if my situation changed.

        One day, a coworker who really annoyed me asked me again. I replied very sternly, “Do NOT ever ask me again if I am getting married – I’m serious. We are not discussing this anymore.” I replied loudly enough that my other coworkers could hear as well. No one ever asked me about it again.

        I love marriage and kids and all of that, but personally, I don’t think it belongs in the workplace.

        Reply
        1. anonanonanon

          Yeah, agreed. I had a different coworker at that company who was over-the-top about marriage. She learned one guy was proposing to his girlfriend and was at his desk the moment she came in the next day to ask how the proposal went (nevermind that they barely even knew each other). There was another coworker who was engaged and then her fiance left her, and marriage-crazy!coworker needed to know ALL THE DETAILS. I and another coworker had to tell her to lay-off because the poor girl was distraught enough without some rando asking her about the details of her broken engagement. She used to wonder what “someone’s story” was if they weren’t married or have kids.

          I have no issue with people who are excited about marriage, but I don’t like when they think because they’re happily married, everyone who isn’t must be miserable. Plus, not everyone wants to discuss details with a random coworker.

          Reply
          1. Charby

            The way I see it, anyone who is close enough to you at work to ask you about your marital status, kids, etc. would already have that information. The fact that they don’t know if you’re married or when you’re getting married is itself proof that they shouldn’t ask you…

            Reply
      1. anonanonanon

        Oh, I did. I gave them such a rant, but turns out HR had heard the problems before and said there wasn’t much they could do about it. I guess people who had left the department before I joined had the same complaints, which was unfortunate because I had some good coworkers and good former bosses in that company, but that one marriage-baby crazy boss put a sour stink on the entire experience for me.

        Reply
        1. LBK

          IANAL but I actually think that could’ve been an illegal hostile work environment and their actions could have qualified as harassment. Sex-related discrimination explicitly covers discrimination based on pregnancy, which you might be able to flip to discrimination about not being/getting pregnant as well. There could also be a gender roles-related argument, which isn’t iron clad either but has worked in cases of discrimination based on sexual orientation – ie that a woman who’s attracted to women receives scrutiny that a man wouldn’t receive for being attracted to women because of gendered expectations about female sexuality. A good lawyer might be able to make a similar argument that you received treatment a man wouldn’t have received regarding being childless due to your manager’s sexist expectations for how women should act.

          (Not that it matters at this point, I’m sure, but I do enjoy finding times the EEOC may actually help people in bad situations.)

          Reply
      1. neverjaunty

        Right? I mean, how insecure about your husband and children do you have to be to freak out if somebody else doesn’t want the same thing?

        Reply
    2. Jennifer

      Omg I’m so sick of this! I don’t have it this bad, and I still am. I work around a *lot* of guys (primarily male field) and when I started, I was 23 and married about a year.
      Stupid coworkers/bosses:”Got any kids?”
      Me:”nope. Neither of us want kids.”
      Sc/b:”you’ll change your mind. Give it a couple years, that clock’ll start ticking so loud you won’t hear nothing else.
      (Repeat daily-weekly)
      I’m sorry I didn’t realize you knew me,my husband, my marriage, and my body better than me. My bad .

      Reply
      1. anonanonanon

        I’ve just started saying, “Why do you ask?” when people ask me if I have/want kids. It usually makes them uncomfortable or makes them realize how invasive and nosey the question is, especially if they don’t really know me. But whenever, someone does the “you’ll change your mind”, I either just tell them, “I can’t have kids!” or, if they’re really annoying, I say something like, “Yes, because after speaking with me for ten minutes you obviously know me well enough to make that assumption”. That usually shuts them up.

        I’ve just forgone being polite about it. In my experience, the “change your mind” speech usually comes from coworkers, extended family, strangers, acquaintances who just assume everyone wants kids and all women have that ticking clock. It’s annoying and I really wish people would stop with that mentality.

        Reply
        1. Rachel

          I don’t want children either and when people (who have children) tell me I’ll change my mind I like to smile internally and think “maybe, but you can’t”. I usually just say maybe though

          Reply
      2. Collarbone High

        When people are this rude, I have no qualms about saying, “But the cancer that took my uterus won’t!” If that makes people uncomfortable, maybe they’ll think twice about asking people about their reproductive choices.

        Reply
        1. Anie

          HA! I’m going to start saying this.

          (Of course, I laugh under the assumption that you’re joking. If you actually had cancer, I’ve very sorry you had to deal with that.)

          Reply
    3. Anon nony non

      I work in at a public university, Monday through Friday. I only work evenings and weekends under very exceptional circumstances. I knew that we had issues with weekend coverage last year, so this year I made sure I had other commitments that would prevent me from coming in on very short notice. The weekend I worked last year wasn’t appreciated by my boss or my coworker. One of the student supervisors called in while she was in the ER last weekend. My boss came in, first calling the other student supervisor, who declined. Her reasoning – it was her kid’s first birthday party. She then calls me, who is on the other side of the state at a beer festival with my cousin and his girlfriend. I told her that I couldn’t make it in because I was out of town. She then asked if I could leave then and come in as soon as I got back. I told her that I wasn’t in any state to be driving and where I was at. She was a bit irritated and I got the feeling that she thought my reason was too irresponsible. My cousin and his girlfriend couldn’t believe how rude she was and that it was more irresponsible for me to decline for mine and everyone else’s safety on the roads. The cousin and his girlfriend have been together a long time and are not children people. The girlfriend had been in other jobs were she had to cover for coworkers who felt their kids’ soccer/ballet/football etc entitled them to leaving early and time off at others’ expense. Her response – the kid won’t know if mom had to leave his first birthday party early because he won’t remember that as an adult.

      Reply
      1. MashaKasha

        I have two children. Ages 19 (20 next month) and 22.

        I can confirm that the kid will not remember his first birthday party. Hell, I can’t remember if either of my kids had a first birthday party. I think one of them did, or was it both? Not sure.

        They should’ve told the mom to calm down and make it up to the kid by taking him to a good brewery for his 21st. Now THIS he will remember.

        Reply
      2. anonanonanon

        Seriously. Like I said above, I have no problem switching a meeting time if someone needs to pick-up kids or covering for them when their kids are sick, but I’m not canceling my plans or staying late just because they need to go off and see their kid’s events. Especially if it means I don’t get the same perks for my life events. (Also, parents don’t need to be at EVERY game/practice/etc. My parents had to miss loads of my events as a kid and I turned out fine. I was happier that I got to be doing the even and if they could make it to at least some of the events, it was cool. I wasn’t going to fall apart if they weren’t at every game or recital.)

        But yea, your example is pretty ridiculous on your manager’s part. It’s telling that she wanted you to drive to work even after you said you weren’t in any state to be driving.

        Reply
        1. Anon nony non

          My other hourly coworker ended up coming in. He understands how our boss is and asked if I had any extra samples in her honor. He also thought that it was rather petty that the student supervisor couldn’t come in because of the baby’s birthday party. He has kids and is not a fan of how some parents make too much of an effort for their kids’ birthdays. It’s a bit surreal to him how much parents can spend on kids’ parties once they are in school.

          Both my parents worked and didn’t make it to every activity or event that my sister and I were involved in. They were more involved than most, especially given that I was rather talented in one activity in high school. My team won the state tournament my senior year. By then, more parents were coming even though it wasn’t the most exciting spectator activity, but because we were beating larger schools and schools from the Chicago area. It would have been nice to have them not come to everything because of how parents can be, especially parents who saw that activity as an extension of their kids’ coursework.

          Reply
          1. Mabel

            I don’ t know… I don’t think it’s OK for a manager to tell someone that she should come in to work when she’s in the middle of her child’s 1st birthday party. I’m not sure why some of us think that she should have come in. The boss was there, and she should have covered – sometimes that’s what you have to do when someone is sick and no one else is available on short notice. FYI: I’m single and don’t have kids, and I’m not in favor of single/non-parent people having to pick up the slack for colleagues who want to go to their kids’ events unless there’s reciprocity. I just don’t understand why commenters seem to think the student supervisor should have come in on short notice. (I’m not familiar with these job titles, so maybe that’s why I’m not getting it.)

            Reply
            1. MashaKasha

              I’m not familiar either, but it sounds like student supervisor 1 and student supervisor 2 were taking turns working Saturdays. On student supervisor 1’s day, she was in the ER and couldn’t come in, so they called #2, who was her backup for that weekend.

              It sucks that there are only two people on rotation, if that’s really the case, but if that’s correct, I would’ve scheduled the party for a Sunday then. (assuming none of them had to be at work on Sunday.) I was on call 6.5 years and hardly ever scheduled anything during my on-call weeks. Definitely not anything that I couldn’t walk out of on a moment’s notice (didn’t go to the movies or plays, didn’t travel etc) But in our case, it was an entire week 24×7 Monday to Monday, not just a Sat., and we had three people on rotation, not two. So, while both Sat and Sun were out during your on-call week, it was relatively safe to schedule a party during an off-call weekend, knowing that, even if the person on call ends up in the ER, the other person could cover for them while I’m unavailable.

              It’s pretty complicated and is pretty much the reason why I left that job. (That, and getting calls in the middle of the night got really exhausting.)

              Reply
      3. ChelseaNH

        If she was throwing a party for her kid’s first birthday, it’s quite possible she had guests and didn’t feel right about running out on them.

        Reply
      4. TootsNYC

        True, but the mom will remember. And all the relatives will remind her for years.

        However, it won’t be the world’s worst thing. I missed my son’s first Christmas, and it was fine.

        Reply
    4. Chocolate lover

      Ridiculous and asinine aren’t sufficient to describe that situation, but they’re the closest I can think of!

      I’ve opted out of having children, so working some place like that, we’re they’re constantly throwing things in your face and butting in, would drive me insane. Don’t get me wrong, I went over and smiled at a coworker’s new baby this morning, and I like hearing the occasional story about their kids. But not all the time, and not if they started questioning my choices and/or giving me advice.

      Reply
    5. AW

      That was the third time I was written up for not having “empathy”…

      And that’s when I shot him, Your Honor.

      My head just about exploded reading that. You get harassed about your infertility and YOU’RE the one who lacks empathy?!?!

      Reply
  40. Nonnymousie

    When the Big Boss chose the one day I’d taken out of the office in months and that my immediate supervisor was dealing with a very sick child to demand a whole pile of complicated information from us on why we were behind on our revenue targets. I should note that this came after weeks of us trying to get her to turn materials around to make sure they still fit with her constantly changing expectations and follow up with prospects who insisted on speaking with her, only to be told she would get right to it and we didn’t need to worry, or to get blown off because of her personal commitments – which were, of course, sacrosanct.

    Reply
  41. J

    A client overheard my manager tell another co-worker my husband and I should not have children because we were not financially secure enough (so give me a raise!). I was 5 months pregnant. Left shortly after the baby was born.

    Reply
  42. Lucky

    This story goes way back, but I love it because it was the first time that I really asserted myself as an adult. I had been waiting tables in a restaurant for a few years and, during the summer before my junior year of college, I had trained and worked as a bartender. Time came to go back to school and I put in my notice. Then, the day after my last day, the bar manager fell sick and asked if I would cover her shifts over the weekend.

    As those of you here who’ve worked in restaurants know, restaurant management attracts some real glassbowls. This place had a real power-mad glassbowl manager, Bud. It took me years to realize what a predator he was – sexually harassing the women, racially harassing the Latino, Black and Filipino staff, and generally stirring up discord between the front of the house and the back of the house. He was awful.

    I show up for the happy hour shift and find that both the bar manager and the dinner shift bartender are out sick. So, it’s me and a new hire, who I’m supposed to train (when I’ve been bartending for all of three months) and we are slammed. This is in the late 80s, so I’m making *blended* margaritas, sex on the beaches, long island iced teas — all very time-intensive — while the new hire opens beers and pulls bottles of wine. As the dinner service ramps up, I send the new hire upstairs to the wine cage with a list to restock, since we are almost out of wine, and call a busser over to bring me more ice.

    Now, I had started here as a busser, and always pulled buckets of ice for the bartenders. I had been asking the bussers for ice all summer. I tipped out the bussers for doing this. It was totally a thing. But Bud decided that this night, he was going to take a stand for the bus staff. The busser told me that he wasn’t allowed to bring me ice. I call another busser over, same question, same response. “Sorry Lucky, but Bud says we’re not allowed to bring you ice tonight.”

    Finally I see Bud and call him over and ask him what was up. He replies that the bartenders are relying too much on the bus staff and I need to take care of it on my own. I try to explain that I’m covering two shifts, since the new hire is completely untrained and has been up in the wine cave for half an hour, and he just gives me his good-old-boy grin and says “not my problem.”

    So, while he watched, I walked over the tip jar, dump it in my apron pockets, grabbed my hand bag and left, stuffing a bunch of bills into the nearest busser’s hand on my way out. I like to imagine that there was applause as I walked out the door, though that may have been in my head.

    Reply
  43. TaraT

    When I was told by my boss that there was really no place for my position within the company and that I should just ride out my pregnancy with our *great* (read incredibly shitty) benefits and then look for another job. There were many other things leading up to this point, but this was within two weeks of him being promoted despite his absolute inexperience in fundraising and total lack of understanding of his job. I’m now very happily in a new position with three weeks until my due date and actual good benefits.

    Reply
  44. Samantha

    The day my boss took me into a separate room and started screaming into my face while tears streamed down my cheeks: “I AM GOING TO HAVE TO BREAK YOU DOWN AND THEN BUILD YOU BACK UP!”

    It was sales, not the Army. He was also at least six inches shorter than me (I was maybe 5’6″ wearing heels) so he had to like look straight up while yelling. If I had known then what I know now, I would have burst out laughing and quit on the spot, but alas, it took another few months for me to move on. I’ve been at Next Job seven years and there have been occasional pain points, I would never tolerate anyone screaming at me ever again. In what universe is that appropriate?

    Reply
    1. Lizabeth

      What is it with the guys that short????? I’ve only known one guy that was shorter than me that was totally secure about himself. The rest (in the work place) take the opportunity to dump their crap, insecurities, etc. all over women taller than them.

      Reply
      1. NurseB

        Actually my husband is 5’2″ and would NEVER behave like this person was described. Please try not to stereotype short men. It is discouraged not to discriminate or stereotype very overweight people, I see no reason why this should be any different.

        Reply
      2. short man

        Wow, what a generalization. I am 5′ and don’t behave that way, and we read regularly on AAM about guys (and women too), supposedly average height, who also behave like as*holes. And people often feel free to make fun when I can’t reach something or pretend to talk over me as if they can’t see me when I standing next to them. No, not funny.

        Reply
        1. Charby

          I think the main difference is when a taller person acts that way, it’s because they’re a jerk; if a shorter person acts that way, it’s because they’re short. Kind of weird when you think about it — even Napoleon himself wasn’t all that short, so it’s probably one of those stereotypes that come out of nowhere that we internalize without really thinking about it.

          Reply
      3. James M

        I think any short person can have a propensity to comment on others’ heights. Just the other day, as I joined the queue to get coffee, a person much shorter than myself said “Wow! You’re a big fella ain’t’cha? How tall are you? You gotta be at least 7 feet.” My pre-caffeinated brain halfheartedly attempted to shuffle words into something witty, but quickly gave up so I replied with “Uh,… close enough.” I’m 6’1″ btw.

        Reply
        1. The Department of Terrestrial Magnetism

          i can’t remember where I read it, but – tall woman at a party, getting really tired of people commenting on her height. Some guy turns around, looks up at her, and says “how’s the weather up there?” That’s all she can take. “It’s raining,” she says, and spits on him.

          I don’t know if it’s a true story, but my family is generally tall – I’m 6’2″, my sister is 6′ tall. She tells me that being a tall woman can be a lonely existence.

          Reply
      4. AMG

        Perhaps you should enter a race, ethnicity, religion, or marital status there in place of ‘short man’ and see if the sentence still makes sense. Apology accepted, by the way.

        Reply
    2. Kelly L.

      People thinking they’re the Army when they are not the Army is such a huge red flag. Sorry you had to deal with this jerk. :(

      Reply
  45. NicoleK

    Me: New coworker isn’t working on anything that I need her to do
    Boss: It’s reasonable for you to have expectations for her…..
    That’s when I knew that my conflict avoidant boss wasn’t going to do anything about it and I needed to leave.
    Weeks later….nothing has changed.

    Reply
  46. Not me

    I think the straw that broke the camel’s back was when the other person in my position was let go. And then that person’s work was given to someone who has been here since before I was born, who was effectively already doing two full-time jobs. She left within six months. As far as I know, she hasn’t been replaced, and I don’t know who’s filling in for her.

    I’m still here, but ugh. Ugh.

    Reply
  47. Wee Wee Leaks

    When our executive director decided to hire someone above myself and my supervisor, and the job description was well below what either I or my supervisor have accomplished in our careers…

    Reply
  48. City Planner

    There was a lot of tension in my workplace between my department director (who was also my direct supervisor) and another department director that I worked with quite a bit on projects, which eventually escalated into outright conflict between the two of them. The conflict spilled over into a meeting with an outside vendor where the two of them sniped at each other, which was very uncomfortable, and my boss started dragging me into it. Eventually, the other director stopped speaking to me entirely (I literally would say hi to him in the halls and he wouldn’t respond), even though we’d had a good relationship to start. I kept expecting my boss to be fired – and he did, too, because he cleared out his office of any personal affects – because the other department director was the clear favorite with the CEO, but nothing ever happened. Ultimately, my boss went to the CEO to complain, and I ended up being sucked into a meeting with my boss, the CEO, and the board chair in which I was asked to give details about the problems with the other director — and I *knew* that anything I said was going to be reported verbatim to the other director. That meeting, and feeling like I was trapped in a web of toxic relationships that no one above me had any backbone to address, pushed me to start looking and I was out of that organization in about 6 months.

    Reply
      1. Dynamic Beige

        At my first job, I was expected to wash all the dishes every week. We had no bathroom or kitchen in the office, so I would take them home. And then my ancient dishwasher broke. So I had to wash everything by hand which, in case you can’t guess, I hate with the intensity of a thousand fiery suns. I accidentally broke the glass coffee pot because I was doing the dishes angrily and wasn’t paying attention. I was horrified. It took me a week to find a replacement, during which time everyone went without coffee. I don’t think I told them that I broke it, I was too embarrassed. BTW, did I mention I don’t drink coffee?

        Reply
      1. mm1970

        ha ha me too! I don’t know who the offenders were. At one point we had 150 people, half in my building. And we were open 24/7. There were at least a couple of people who would leave their dishes in the sink. I’d put up signs (that apparently were not PC enough). I’d send out emails.

        Eventually, I just threw dirty stuff in the trash. If it was a very nice plate or mug or something, I’d wash it but put it in my desk drawer. A few people got upset that we were running out of plates, etc. (note that what we used was whatever employees brought in from home or from the thrift store). So they’d bring in more and complain. I simply said (me and a guy also did it) – tell whomever is leaving their stuff dirty to wash their damn dishes.

        We’ve had three layoffs now. I’m pretty sure whomever it was (the few people anyway) got hit on round 2.

        At my previous job, we had a problem with people leaving food to mold in the fridge. So I put up signs there. I’d go through the fridge every week (I brought my lunch every day), and had a system – if it hadn’t moved and wasn’t labeled, after 3 days I moved it down to the bottom shelf (but near the front), and Friday afternoon it got tossed.

        My best friend told me that the day before I returned from maternity leave, a few people said “OMG mm1970 is coming back tomorrow, we have to check the fridge!” (It actually wasn’t too bad.) Usually there was one woman who would bring a sandwich and fruit, but never ate the fruit. I found moldy peeled oranges a lot.

        Reply
    1. Rebecca

      So when I first got to this job, we had real dishes and silverware in the break room. Cleaning the break room was rotated between departments, each department ended up covering the break room once every 6 weeks or so.

      In general, people treated the break room the way they would treat their own kitchen at home: put dishes in the dishwasher, ran it if it was full, wiped up their spills, etc. So “cleaning” the break room really just consisted of making sure it looked presentable in the morning and again in the afternoon. Of course there was the occasional disgusting dish left in the sink or whatever. One day I walked in (during my department’s week) and my coworker was just throwing dishes in the trash! They had apparently been left in the sink with dried food on them and she was like, “I do not get paid enough to scrub other people’s dishes!” I could not stop laughing.

      Now the dishes and silverware are gone and the dishwashers have been locked up.

      Reply
  49. Hermione

    During and shortly after college, I worked at a law firm in the family law department. While I had started as a student assistant, after four years I was doing the work of an administrative assistant/back-up paralegal in my department (without the pay raise). The main assistant had (obnoxiously, characteristically) timed her vacation for ten work days coinciding with two different trials and the due date for a state supreme court appellate brief (vital to our case being considered for appeal).

    After working 45 hours the week prior, I had put in three 14-16 hour days during her second week away preparing our attorneys for court, pulling together and editing (and re-editing 2-3 times) the exhibit books and other documents needed. I’d also been assisting with formatting, printing and binding of the 13-14 copies of the appellate briefs and had delivered them to our associate attorney roughly a half-day earlier than expected. He’d dropped them off to the clerk to be docketed, given me the copies that needed to be mailed and/or filed, then gotten back to work for the trial. An hour passes, and I notice that he hadn’t signed our copies. I bring them into him to sign, and ask offhandedly if he had also forgotten to sign the docs he’d just dropped off to the court as well?

    Turns out? He had forgotten to sign them. He LOSES it on me, unleashing a tirade of shouting about how he can’t prevent every problem and why I was so stupid that I (expletive) didn’t think to (expletive) ask him if he’d signed them before he (expletive) went to court and to (expletive) call the court and find out if he could (expletive) sign them if he made it down there before the end of the day.

    I scampered off, called the clerk’s office, who laughed at me and said “sure, he can come down, no big deal” and quietly popped my head into his office to tell him that he could go sign them. He grunted, grabbed his coat and walked out of the office.

    That was the minute I started job searching.

    Reply
  50. boop

    EVERY DAY!

    The big one, I can’t say since I might dox myself. But since the Big One, I haven’t had the option of leaving (even retail won’t interview me), and watching every one of my coworkers quit to better pastures and then give me that heartbreaking look of pity really hurts. What also hurts, is that none of them have been adequately replaced so I’ve been doing the work of 3 people at times which, btw, isn’t office work. So yeah. Every damn day.

    The cashier job, though… that moment was after some weeks of crying in the parking lot every morning (as someone else mentioned above). I’d decided that I’d rather lay in the street, and that I didn’t need money in order to do that, so I quit without a job lined up and eventually ended up with this new nightmare one.
    I’m back at jumping-off-a-bridge territory, but now I have a spouse to support, so quitting hasn’t been an option. SIGH

    Reply
  51. Stranger than fiction

    Can’t think of any for myself but have a doozy about my significant other. He was working a very toxic job where he was working for an irate tyrant of a boss; 80 hour work weeks because boss had given him a second full time job on top of his own; boss refused to collaborate or give any direction then would scream when work didn’t turn out the way he wanted; boss gave a coworker credit for one of his projects in front of the entire company, etc
    The straw: one day in a department meeting, boss interrupted my SO in the middle of his presentation and said about the different team members “so youre Jewish, you’re Muslim, I’m Hindu, what are you?” And my SO said “I don’t discuss those things at work” and boss said “oh so you’re an atheist?” He resigned the next morning and had a long chat with HR.

    Reply
    1. Stranger than fiction

      Forgot the best (worst) part – a week before, boss had yelled at him that he needed to respond to customer “red alerts” quicker and when he asked how much quicker boss said within 7 minutes! 24/7! Even if he’s in a meeting with another customer!??

      Reply
  52. Briar

    I worked in a restaurant once where the owner told me things weren’t working out. I thought she was firing me so I asked if she’d like two more weeks of work or is today my last day. she said two weeks and looked confused but that was the end of the discussion. the next day, a coworker pulled me aside and explained that I was supposed to beg to keep my job! I said I’d already started looking for a new one, no thanks. my last day, the owner said she was sorry I was leaving!

    Reply
  53. LS

    When my clearly misogynistic, rude boss told my 23 year old female coworker her first day back after her father suddenly dying 5 days previous, that “she needed to get her head in the game” when she didn’t have sales meetings set up.

    That was the day I mentally checked out of that job and focused desperately on my job search. It was such a bad workplace that I had only been there 5 months at that point – and I still think (years later) I should have just quit after 3.

    Reply
    1. Lou

      Oh man that happened to me when my auntie died boss decided to review my contract just before the funeral because I’d not been performing to her satisfaction that week.

      Reply
  54. Paloma Pigeon

    When I was given a verbal warning and put on a PIP for an issue at our largest event that was a result of my manager’s error.

    Reply
  55. MT

    The day my boss told me to take an invoice, scan it in my computer, alter the total and submit it to our insurance as a claim so “we could make some money off of having items stolen off site”
    It took a year until I was able to get out of that office, but I knew from that day on, when your boss asks you to commit insurance fraud, but he doesn’t think it’s insurance fraud, it’s just him getting what he’s due, it’s time to document, document, document and be prepared to run.
    There were other similar things like this, this was not a one time deal.
    But I’m free and never ever working anywhere like that ever again.

    Reply
  56. Bella

    I had to let an employee know that he could not abbreviate city names on his logbooks over a text message and he texted me back a bunch of explicit insults. I told him to come into the shop for a meeting with myself (HR) and the General Manager. The employee the ripped up the written warning and the General Manager took his side and said that getting him in trouble for that was petty. I had to remind them both that the meeting for the names he called me, not for the log infraction.
    I didn’t quit though.

    Reply
  57. MashaKasha

    My third job in the US in as many years. After moving here and being out of work for 4 years prior, I had to start over at entry level, and so had to keep changing jobs to quickly move up to something that would match my skills, degree, and experience. I found this job through a newspaper ad. It was the late 90s and they were a dotcom startup.

    When they gave me an offer, I initially turned it down. The pay was lower than I wanted and I wasn’t crazy about their utter lack of benefits and their downtown location, which would’ve required me to spend a couple hours a day sitting in traffic, and pay crazy $$ for the parking. My future boss was on the phone with me for a half hour, trying to talk me into accepting the offer. I agreed after he threw an additional 5K in. But his main selling point was “we’re cutting-edge here, after a year with us, you’ll be a seasoned web developer and won’t have trouble finding good work anywhere.”

    On my first morning, in a staff meeting, they make me stand up and tell everyone, “This is Masha. She doesn’t know it yet, but she’s going to ” (a town 65 miles from my home and 40 miles from the office.)

    Come to find out, the company owner was friends with a guy who ran a small consulting company – just him and a developer. His only client was a manufacturing company in (far-away town), where the developer maintained their aging Windows app. The developer had suddenly quit, he needed a replacement asap, and I was it. My new employer had contracted me out to this guy. On my usual day, I’d come in to the downtown office, pay for parking, work from there for a bit, drive to far-away town, work and attend meetings there, come back, pay for parking again, stay late, pay a special event parking fee because we were next to two large sports arenas and on a day of a big game or concert (which was almost every day) you had to pay extra for every 15 minutes your car was parked there after five PM.

    I was initially told that this assignment would be temporary, and would only take 50% of my time. They even gave me some web work to do. Then three months down the road, my boss says “I’m sorry. (consulting dude)’s shit comes first. It’s going to be 100% of your time, and you’ll be doing it indefinitely.” I sent resumes out on the same day and was out of there within a month.

    In the meantime, I’d paid several hundred dollars in parking fees and paid for a root canal out of my pocket (no benefits, remember.)

    Reply
    1. James M

      …the developer maintained their aging Windows app. The developer had suddenly quit…

      This is one of the most common Big Red Flags in software.

      Reply
      1. MashaKasha

        Right, which is why it never came up in either of my interviews, or when they called to make an offer. They did drop hints like “would you be opposed to occasionally working with a Windows app?”, “would you be okay with occasionally driving to a client’s site?”, but never came out and said what they were hiring me for.

        Reply
  58. Mimmy

    Mine is probably tame by comparison, and I’ve mentioned this job several times: 15 years ago, I had a job at a wholesale factory. The job was sold to me as involving data entry and some phone work. Lo and behold, I get there, and I’m the RECEPTIONIST!! I knew I did not want this job the minute they hired me, but I took it. Long story.

    Anyway, it was okay the first day or two, but it quickly unraveled from there. The woman who was training me was extremely moody – one minute she’s all nurturing, the next minute, she’s all annoyed at something. One time, I came back to my desk to see her SCREAMING at someone on the phone (I think it was whoever she ordered lunch from) right in front of a visitor who was looking for a job. Also, the director’s personality was extremely intense. I think he got into it with either my trainer or the billing person, I forget who.

    I don’t remember what broke the camel’s back, but I think it might’ve been yet another argument between me and my trainer. But I just couldn’t take the intense personalities, the boring work, the abusive callers, and the hordes of people who’d come in looking for work. I just decided to call out the next day. Mercifully, they let me go that day.

    Very toxic, traumatic job :(

    Reply
    1. Mimmy

      The sad part is, I started this job on my FIRST WEDDING ANNIVERSARY. My husband was also starting what turned out to be a toxic job that very same day.

      It’ll be 15 years next Friday. Wow.

      Reply
  59. Kelly L.

    A few of mine, from different jobs:

    -When someone called me to try to get me to come in as a sub, and I found myself about to cry (food service).

    -Not getting the day of my mom’s wedding off when I’d requested it and been promised it, and knowing none of my co-workers would sub for me, because they never ever did (retail).

    -Realizing I needed to move cities to take my long-distance relationship to the next level (this was a happy one, though bittersweet to leave there) (office).

    -Getting called back by a job I’d written off, which would pay a lot more than the one I was at, and then getting the offer (library).

    Reply
    1. Anx

      I feel you on those requested days off. It is so frustrating. And other people sometimes don’t understand that you really CAN’T take the day off.

      Reply
  60. Rebecca

    When my PHB told me that I could expect no further increases in compensation, ever, because I make enough money, and others don’t make as much as I do and they need to make more. I’ve been looking for a new job ever since. At the current rate of no raises and increased health insurance costs, I estimate by the time I’m eligible to retire (in 15 years) I’ll owe the company money for the privilege of working here. In the same breath, she told me I need to make sure to stay on top of process improvement and think about how I could help other people.

    So, while my physical body is in the chair, pushing the buttons, in my mind this job is no longer my circus or my monkeys. It’s just an inconvenience that I have to put up with M-F in order to fund my life. And not coincidentally, I’m all out of good ideas. Go figure.

    Reply
  61. Margot, Terror of the School Bus

    The supervisor/junior management team at the specialty cosmetics/bath products shop where I worked contacted our District Manager after our Store Manager, who was was supposed to be dividing her time between our store and two new locations, hadn’t been at our store in more than a month. DM did nothing, and when we contacted the other stores SM was supposed to be working with, they hadn’t seen her in weeks, either.

    About two weeks after that SM called her favorite shift lead at my store to tell her that she wouldn’t be able to write the schedule this week. According to Store Manager, her husband had served her with divorce papers over the weekend and she was calling from a mental institution’s front desk, where her mother was having her committed.

    Reply
  62. Semi-nonymous

    Being asked to sign a retroactive ethics statement saying that I and the company had acted ethically in the past year, when in fact, it had not. From fudging data to flat out lying to the customer to being asked to remove hazardous chemicals from an MSDS for a product that in fact did contain those chemicals, to being asked to create backdated false calibration records, to unethical billing practices (telling a customer you will credit them for a shipment they received of unusable material, and then constantly “forgetting” to issue the credit, among other things) – this company was awash in ethical issues. Most of which I refused to participate in, or did so only when order to in writing by my bosses, but it was bad. Really bad. A handful of the things were borderline (oops, we forgot to calibrate the equipment on day 30, but we did it on day 32 and backdated it rahter than fill out 27,000 pages of corrective action paperwork – not great practice, but not the very worst either), but a lot of it was downright give you and ulcer, make you cry awful.

    Apparently the ethics statement was part of a Sarbanes-Oxley related law/policy passed in the country of the parent company, but it was ridiculous. Luckily, a group of us got together and collectively refused to sign. It was bad enough that we were forced to sign things that were untrue (see backdated records above), but signing that we were operating ethically was the straw that broke the camels back for most of us. The management finally allowed us to tack on a “signing statement” of all the things we had seen, so that we could sign the statement, but it was bad for a while there.

    We all started looking for jobs at that point, but it was mid-recession in a very depressed area, and there wasn’t much out there. The final, final straw for me that kicked it into “I don’t care where I go but I can’t stay here” was when corporate (non-US) HQ flat out ordered us to violate US TSCA laws “because it’s a stupid law”. While I agreed in principal that the law and the chemical we were talking about was stupid and wasn’t going to cause anyone any harm (it was a variant of a known chemical, and was being used in other products, but not in the way we were going to for TSCA registration purposes), I wasn’t willing to do it, and luckily my boss and her boss backed me up.

    And thank god I got out of there, because the person that made the call to violate the law was then transferred to the US not 6 months after I left, and would have been head of my division. I’m pretty sure I would have had a target on my back once he got there, because apparently he got called on the carpet in front of the whole division about the whole TSCA thing and was embarrassed. Apparently it wasn’t embarrassing enough not to promote him a year later though!

    I heard through the grapevine that they got caught in a lie 2 years later by their biggest customer, and rather than fess up and deal with it, they blamed it on my former boss, who had left a year after I did, and told the customer that they had fired her (they hadn’t).

    I am so glad to be out of that industry!

    Reply
  63. Bye Bye Bye

    As the Office Manager I was tasked by the President of our org to do things to boost morale (we cycle through really low morale and times of high morale), organize fun little parties etc. Ice cream Sundae Day was coming up and I thought that would be a great opportunity to bring people together, we have a staff with a sweet tooth. I e-mailed our CFO to clear it with her (expense wise) and she replied “OK but I thought you were too busy.” (I would have gotten the ice cream and supplies on my way into work on my own time)

    Prior to that: We were strongly encouraged to speak up if we were overwhelmed and the week prior I had said something to the effect that I had a lot of projects with a near deadline so I just needed some time without anything new to clear up what I had going on, my boss even said it was good I spoke up. Not sure if that was the best strategy looking back because it pissed off the CFO but I am in my 20s so still learning…

    Fortunately I did get out of there! But that moment was really eye opening of what I should put up with, how I wanted to be treated, also not feeling like morale was my responsibility and obviously there were other things that added to my recognizing I needed to get out. But that was the moment and it was one of the 2 times I have ever cried at work I think I was so overwhelmed and her response felt like an attack.

    Reply
  64. The Optimizer

    It’s been a long time since I had one of those moments, but here it is:
    I worked in a small insurance office with about 35 people. The majority owner was a tyrant who dictated the weirdest dress code I’ve ever seen (boots are not to be worn with skirts and socks must be pulled up all the way are just two examples) and expressed blatant nepotism and favoritism (1/3 of the staff were her family, 1/3 were friends and the other 1/3 were nothing to her).
    We were very busy and I did my job well but wasn’t allowed to do overtime because she said so. Friends and family were allowed as much as they wanted and were able to to do overtime on the account that was otherwise 100% assigned to me. I then had to spend time cleaning up their messes, which made me more behind and led to more overtime for them.
    My entire claims department, at the request of my good manager, once even dressed in black and sat in silence for the company holiday party that we were required to attend or take a vacation day. We were also pretty much required to contribute for a Christmas gift for her, which she made it very obvious that she disliked, and did she reciprocate.

    The worst part was that she smoked and since she made all the rules and the office was located in an unincorporated part of the city, for the majority of the two years I worked there people could smoke at their desks (I called the city and OSHA and was told nothing could be done).

    I tired to reason with her partner, who was a very nice man, but since he only owned 49% of the company, he had no power to change anything. She then brought in a new partner which made equal shares for everyone. My roommate also happened to have been his assistant at his former company, so I knew him pretty well and filled him in on many of the issues I saw with the company. He did make some changes, such as only allowing smoking in the company break room, but that made the break room unusable for me. I would dash in to grab my lunch from the fridge and would emerge reeking of smoke. I had to eat lunch in my car because I wasn’t allowed to eat at my desk.

    The smoking situation was not going to change, and that was pretty much it for me. I told them that things needed to change on various fronts (the OT issue, smoking, more money, etc) and if it didn’t, I was out (she literally laughed at me when i said this). I gave them two months to meet my very reasonable requests, started looking for a new job and turned in my resignation when they didn’t make any of the changes. They then begged me to stay, offered to top the salary of the new job I got and give me everything I had been asking for . I told them at this point that it wasn’t about the money and never was so NO. I ended up working with the daughter of someone I had worked with there and they hunted me down at my new job and asked me to come back more than once, which I took great pleasure in laughing at.

    Reply
    1. BeenThere

      Smoking! Indoors!!!! Surely that has to be illegal? Of all the times I’ve read something on AAM this would be the thing that I would think was illegal. Then again gonig to casino’s in the US surprised me as well.

      Reply
  65. Kristin

    After over a year of working 7 days a week as a social media manager (I had to check and respond multiple times a day, so it was hours of work with no real weekend) I knew I had to get out when the following happened:

    1. I was soundly chastised for taking just over two hours to reply to a message on a Saturday night, and told I “must not care” since I had not responded in time.
    2. They said they would take away work from home Fridays after I confessed I was stressed and called in sick/work from home on a Thursday. Their solution to my stress which I was trying to be honest and forthright about (never having a break from relentless, high-pressure, highly visible work will do that!) led to them taking away the one small relief I had.

    Reply
    1. pop tart

      I would be really surprised to find out that we did not work for the same company! I worked for a place that did that kind of stuff all the time, they were the WORST. I called in sick with strep throat once (my boyfriend said it was “the sickest he had ever seen a person who was not hospitalized”), had a doctors note and everything and my boss called and texted me repeatedly asking me to have my boyfriend just bring me to work if I couldn’t drive. That is NOT how that works!!

      Reply
      1. Not So Sunny

        “my boss called and texted me repeatedly asking me to have my boyfriend just bring me to work if I couldn’t drive. ”

        Now I’ve heard everything.

        Reply
        1. pop tart

          RIGHT? It was shortly after that I ended up walking out, I posted an extremely abbreviated version of the story below but it was bananas and super toxic. Every day I had to send an email to the owner of what I did every single minute of the work day (how many emails replied to, how many applications reviewed, etc), AND we used Basecamp so she would check exactly what I had been doing. I have never seen such micro managing.

          Reply
  66. TryingToSleep

    I was once working two jobs. My primary job consisted of many overnight shifts, and I was able to get those scheduled regularly. My other job was purely supplementary, supposed to be part-time, and a bit of a nightmare.

    There were always scheduling issues, such as getting scheduled for 40 hours instead of 20, getting scheduled to start immediately after my other job’s shift ended, and getting scheduled for days I said I was unavailable (specifically Tuesdays and Thursdays).

    Eventually, it seemed I communicated my schedule needs well enough (which I was also clear on during the hiring process), because my schedule was perfect for the following week.

    On Monday, I worked my primary job overnight (to Tuesday morning), went to sleep around 8:00 AM. Around 9:00 AM I was woken up by somebody pounding on my door over and over again. I was in a groggy panic, because the pounding was obviously urgent and I had no reason for anyone to be at my door. I was expecting an emergency.

    Instead, it was my manager. They’d come to my home because they were unable to locate the client (disabled adult) and thought they might be at my place (what?) because I was scheduled. I reminded them that I didn’t work on Tuesdays, that we’d had multiple meetings about that in the last two weeks, and that when I’d checked the schedule on Friday I was clearly not scheduled for the day (I had my schedule for the week written down to verify).

    Not only was this the last scheduling issue I could handle, but it was the last time I could stand to see the client treated that way. They needed 24-hour supervision, which the company knew (and knowingly couldn’t adequately provide), so there never should have been a situation where a staff member left the client alone without a replacement already on site. (I felt truly sorry for the client. They were not prepared for living on their own, but it was being done by their family due to some life insurance payout requirement. We didn’t have enough staffing to supervise him properly, let alone teach him the life skills he needed to acquire independence.) And, oh yeah, they showed up at my home to wake my up for a shift I wasn’t scheduled for. I quit on the spot.

    However, my (former) manager contacted me the following week letting me know if I wanted hours again then all I had to do was call into the front desk and let them know. They acted like the whole incident didn’t happen, and didn’t actually terminate my employment for another 6-8 weeks. At that point I received a letter that said because I hadn’t been scheduled for so long I was being released.

    Reply
  67. Kirsten

    There were three main things (outside of the many, many other things) that gradually escalated my hatred of the place:
    1. On my second day of the job, where I had been hired to start a music therapy program, they played a video in orientation that completely bashed music therapy and lumped it into the same category as trendy “therapies” with no training or research to back them up.
    2. When my micromanaging boss refused to let me continue going to the psychology team meetings (which was how I was supposed to get referrals for my services), even though it was the only functional team at the place and outside of that meeting she literally would not allow me to do what I had been hired to do.
    3. When my boss informed me by email that she had scheduled me to work on the 4th of July without checking with me to know that a friend had been planning for months to visit that weekend (and despite no one else with my title having to work that day, or have the boss make their schedules) and then promptly left on vacation so there was no way for me to talk about it with her.
    It was a horrible place and gave me actual nightmares for months after. They had 9 turnovers within a couple of years in a department of 12, so there were a lot of us who were pretty happy to get out of there.

    Reply
  68. Workfromhome

    In my early 20s I was a rep for a food company. Part of my job was to go into stores check the stock, confirm damaged product and take orders. I had driven over 3 hours to get to a group of stores and walked into the first one only to be told “You’ll have to leave..your company has not paid us the credit were due for damaged product in 3 months you are not allowed in here>” Went to the next store SAME THING.

    When I called the bosses (family owned husband and wife) they suggested that I open an account under my name and write checks to the store if it happens and that they would then reimburse me. When I wrote a latter telling them that I was not willing to be personally liable for company expenses and that I could not perform my job duties if I can’t go into the store that told me I wasn’t a team player ,didn’t want the company to succeed..maybe I wasn’t a good fit anymore.

    I ending up leaving without another job lined up I was so concerned about my reputation being assocatied with them.

    Funny thing is that karma came into play (and yes this a true story). The bosses eventually defaulted on a bunch of government loans for expansions that never came about. The company went bankrupt. A year later I was in a new job and walked into a convenience store and when the clerk rang in my purchase who was behind the counter..my old BOSS!. They ended up having to move and were living upstairs from the store and he was working as a cashier (not owner of the store. cashier)

    It doesn’t happen nearly quickly or often enough but sometimes people get taught the lessons they need.

    Reply
  69. AR

    When I was unable to get a hold of a client, the boss (a CPA) told me to forge the client’s signature on an IRS form so he could complete the transfer of the business from Sole Proprietor to LLC. I didn’t sign it of course and he later forgot about it. I found a job shortly thereafter.

    Reply
  70. Sara

    I was working for a woman who was slightly unstable to say the least. A coworker and I were chatting before a meeting started and he said something about how someone had dinged his car in the parking lot and didn’t leave a note. I said, “Ugh, I’m so sorry, I hate people.”

    For the record — I do not hate people. I’m very good-natured, I have been well-liked at all of my workplaces and have even been honored by the city I live in for volunteer work I do with low-income kids.

    My unstable manager called me into her office after the meeting, saying she had heard me say, “I hate people” and that she’s now worried I may be a terrorist or the next version of the Boston bombers. She then made me promise to her that I would not commit an act of terrorism. I was so confused, so she made me repeat it back to her, “I will not commit an act of terrorism.”

    I put my resume together that night.

    Reply
    1. Sara

      Oh! I forgot to add. When I mentioned to her that no one would ever expect me to commit an act of terrorism, and listed off my many non-terrorist achievements, including the youth group I lead, she said, “That’s why I’m so concerned. I don’t want these poor kids to be lead by a terrorist.”

      Reply
      1. CollegeAdmin

        …listed off my many non-terrorist achievements…

        I feel like I shouldn’t be but I’m laughing hysterically at this.

        Reply
      2. MegEB

        I feel bad laughing at this but it’s so ridiculous and absurd that I can’t help it. The part where she makes you repeat “I will not commit an act of terrorism” like you were in grade school is the weirdest part IMO.

        Reply
    2. Allison

      What the hell? That’s such an overreaction! “I hate people” is a super common thing to say when someone does something crappy. A guy working at Dunkin’ Donuts said it to me when we realized some jerk had taken my grilled cheese, and I thought nothing of it!

      Reply
      1. Creag an Tuire

        This sounds like a bad episode of Batman.

        “Mild-mannered Allison Sandwich was going about her business when some jerk took her grilled cheese. ‘I HATE ALL PEOPLE’, she cried, and from thenceforth became the terrorist mastermind known as THE GRILLMISTRESS. (Holy Cholesterol, Batman!)”

        Reply
      1. LQ

        Makes me wonder if the opposite is true. You just get someone to say it and there it goes.

        I say I hate people all the time, my boss and my boss’s boss say it about me all the time. (Though my director says he knows I secretly don’t actually hate all people because I do work in an place that is designed to help them.)

        Reply
  71. alter_ego

    I quit a job after two days because when I mentioned to the store manager, who didn’t interview me, that I couldn’t wear the clothes from that store (it was underwear, no one would know what brand I was wearing) because it didn’t fit, a fact that I had mentioned in my interview, in case it was a deal breaker, she lost it. In effect, she asked me why they’d hired someone as fat as me. “A body type like *yours*” was used multiple times. When I told her the next day that I was quitting, she was SHOCKED. “Everyone here loves me! They’re all so nice to me! They threw me a baby shower! How can you say that you didn’t appreciate the way that I spoke to you! It was the truth!” Thank goodness I didn’t actually need the job at the time, so it was really easy to walk away.

    Reply
    1. "Jayne"

      I don’t know why people use “it’s the truth” as a way of justifying saying something bad about someone or being rude. Just because it’s true doesn’t mean it’s okay to say.

      Reply
  72. justcourt

    Almost 6 years ago, I started a job in an entry-level position at a large health care organization. Going into this job, I knew that one of my co-workers had a lot of issues with other employees, but I had no idea just how awful she was.

    It started off with little things. She randomly refused to answer questions and made comments under her breath about having to train me. Then she started flat out ignoring me. For example, after about a month on the job, a patient had a question that I couldn’t answer, so I asked my co-worker. She walked right past me without acknowledging me right in front of the patient.

    A few weeks later she confronted me about my “attitude.” And by confronted me, I mean she backed me into a corner (literally) and went on a screaming tired. I was crying by the time a nurse stepped in and rescued me.

    Then there was the music. This woman only listed to one CD. She had multiple copies that she listened to at home, in her car, and at work. She had a small CD player under her desk where she played the CD on a loop all day, every day. She actually wore down a copy from playing it so much (I didn’t even know that could happen). It was so awful hearing the same music everyday, all day for nine months. It’s hard to explain it to people who haven’t experienced it, but it was like torture. I would have dreams about the songs. Towards the end if I was having a hard time tuning the music out, I would get tears in my eyes. I know from people who still work in the department, she is still listening to that CD and has been for over 10 years.

    What finally pushed me over the edge was her habit of putting trash on my desk. When I started the job there was a small trashcan right behind my chair and right underneath the fax machine. Faxes fell into the can all the time, and I would constantly knock the trash can over and have to clean up trash from the ground. I finally moved the trash can a few feet away, and apparently that was very upsetting to my co-worker. She was so upset that she started walking out of her way to put trash on my desk even though the trash can I moved was closer and her own trash can was closer than both my desk and my trashcan. It took me about a month to work up the courage to confront her about the trash (she routinely flew off the handles at co-workers, our boss, and patients), and when I did she lost it. She started yelling at me about how the trash was my responsibility because I moved the trashcan. And that’s when I started looking for another job.

    Reply
        1. CollegeAdmin

          I’m actually a huge Nickelback fan (I know, I know) so I’m giving you huge props for that. 10/10, would laugh again :)

          Reply
      1. Lucky

        I’m betting on the Titanic soundtrack, though I’d like to imagine it was the Chipmunks Christmas album, just because that would be hilarious.

        Reply
    1. MashaKasha

      I need to know what the CD was.

      I also kind of need to know why she’s still working there and there’s been no disciplinary action ever taken. But mainly the CD.

      Reply
      1. MashaKasha

        Also, I get it about it being like torture. An ex tried to pull it on me once on a road trip. It was his all-time favorite band. After the CD circled around three times and started on round four, I said “can we see what’s on the radio? I’m afraid I’m all (band name)’d out.” He was NOT happy. But neither was I by that time.

        Reply
            1. Jo March

              I had a friend who filled a whole CD with MMMMBop, and would drive around in his red Mustang, blasting it. He was a football player type, so it was extra awesome.

              Reply
        1. ElsieD

          I once listened to 1 CD for over 50 repeats while on a road trip. It was on an iPod, so it’s not like it was the only thing to listen to. I just really liked the CD.

          (I still really like it and listen to it. Constantly, for 10 years, though? That would probably wear on me.)

          Reply
        2. That a song, was as merry

          I worked at a seasonal Christmas store, and we were required to play the CDs that we were selling. Well, by around the 20th of December we had run out of all but a rather insipid version of The Nutcracker Suite–which was played over and over and over….and we were on at least 12 hour shifts. It took me *years* to stop cringing every time it came on the radio at Christmastime.

          Reply
      2. justcourt

        It was a Paul Overstreet CD. He makes country music. If I hear his name mentioned even now I feel a jolt in my stomach.

        She’s still there because of office politics. Neither HR nor my boss would do anything about her. I know my boss wanted her gone, but he didn’t have a backbone and the organization wouldn’t back him. HR was probably sick of her shenanigans, and I know they were sick of processing new employees for the dept, but she she had protection from one of the doctors.

        Reply
        1. MashaKasha

          I just checked him out on Spotify because I had no idea who he was. You have my deepest sympathy. I’d have maybe lasted through one day, then I’d have had to strangle someone.

          Reply
          1. MashaKasha

            I listened to two or three songs yesterday (well, to ~60 seconds of each, to be honest.) Something about a wife and something about giving thanks. Which one was the one hit?

            I get the obscure part – very hipstery of the coworker. She liked Paul Overstreet before he was popular. Also after he stopped being popular.

            Reply
      3. The Strand

        This sounds exactly like my dad. My parents separated for the first time in the late 1960s, some time after he had purchased the album “Days of Future Passed” by the Moody Blues. Twenty years later my mother would still talk about him playing Side 1 over and over and over again. She would fly into a rage if she randomly heard a few dirge-like bars of “Nights in White Satin”.

        Reply
      1. justcourt

        I wasn’t going to share this because it’s pretty bad, but she had multiple copies at the office (I guess she wanted to avoid wearing out another CD during the workday). I found one once in a cabinet (I think she loaned it to someone from outside the department), and in a moment of panic/anxiety/insanity, I put it in the shredder collection box waiting to be picked up and industrially shredded.

        Reply
    2. I'm a Little Teapot

      In my last apartment, I had a neighbor who listened to the same slow jazz piece with heavy wall-shaking bass over and over and over at all hours including 4 am. It was not just the same album but the same song. Then suddenly he blasted Metallica for two weeks straight, and I was so happy because it wasn’t.that.song.

      Reply
      1. AGirlCalledFriday

        Oh no…I had a boyfriend who used to listen to the same CD over and over again for weeks because he was reading a book series and HAD to have the same music playing over and over in the background (one was Metallica). These series could be a few books or like 20. It drove me nuts, but I bet it was worse for any neighbors of ours!

        Reply
    3. Brienne of Teapots

      Re: the CD. I’ve been there. For my nightmare coworker it was the original Broadway cast album of “The Producers.” I occasionally asked if she’d put something else on and was told, “the person who worked here before you had no problem with this music.” I’d sometimes get in earlier and put on my own music and every single time she’d pitch a fit about how terrible it was, no matter what it was.

      It’s been nearly 15 years. I’ve never seen the musical, but I’m pretty sure I could still sing every word of every song.

      Reply
      1. Dynamic Beige

        ABBA. It was always ABBA. Coworker would put the CD in, start playing it, sit down, check her calendar and be all “Oh, I have a meeting” and run out leaving the CD playing. She would come back “I never got to listen to this!” put it in, play it, check her calendar/go for lunch… I never was an ABBA fan before but I loathe them now. I would get up and stop it as soon as she left.

        I don’t care what you listen to, just do it with headphones or earbuds or whatever. Don’t blast your taste all over the place.

        Reply
        1. MashaKasha

          I had a boss who did this. We were in an open office and his desk was next to mine. He’d go to a meeting and leave the same damn CD playing for all of us to enjoy. He was from Canada and it was a Canadian band, something something deep sea? Ah, Great Big Sea, thank you Google. Rob, if you’re reading this, none of us cared for Great Big Sea.

          Reply
          1. Dynamic Beige

            Could have been worse… could have been Nickelback! Or Avril Lavigne, or Justin Bieber, or Bachman Turner Overdrive or…

            Reply
    4. Athena C

      That was actually the straw that broke my back and finally got me to buy a house. The people who moved in right under my old apartment played the same Mariachi CD all. The. Time. At the loudest volume they could (so loud their doors, and my floors would shake). No one would do anything, and it always skipped at the same damn spot. It drove me insane.

      Reply
    5. Ad Astra

      I worked at a movie theater the summer before “Rent” was released. In the lobby, the TVs played previews for coming attractions, which typically involved dialog that we in the concessions area couldn’t hear well enough to notice most of the time. But the Rent trailer was just “Seasons of Love” in its entirety. I heard that song about 525,600 times before I quit for other reasons. I still get twitchy when I hear the opening bars of it.

      Reply
      1. Dee

        Ha!! I was also working in a movie theater at the same time, and suffered from the same affliction.

        Almost as bad was the music they played before the ads in each theater—every month or so we’d get in a new mix of 6 songs by no-name “emerging artists” that someone was trying to launch into the mainstream, which we had to hear every time we were cleaning. I’m sure I’ve never heard any of those songs since, but they were really pretty life-ruining.

        Reply
  73. Allison

    When asking my manager for assistance on a project of his he had delegated to me, he told me I wasn’t qualified to do my job. He then went to a bar for lunch and never came back, which I was stuck answering “where’s manager?” and fielding all the project related questions. This was after he had told me they were thinking of promoting me, but wouldn’t give me a raise because everyone needs something to work for.

    Reply
  74. Never Again

    When the CEO lambasted our department assistant for being the only one in the office. Our small team travelled all the time to international project sites, and the office had also instituted a flexible Friday summer policy where if we worked 9 hours a day we would get every other Friday off. One Friday, several were on travel and myself and another had taken our flexible Fridays. Our program assistant, a superstar who went well above and beyond, was the only one in the office and the CEO lit into her when he found the rest of the department empty, demanding she know where everyone was, and be able to explain why he should continue to pay people who aren’t in the office. She was distraught and I then had to prove to him that the rest of the staff were in fact working. Since he had approved all their travel in the first place, and we tended to work people 12-14 hours a day while in the field in difficult countries, it was even more insulting.

    Reply
  75. TheLazyB (UK)

    When my boss emailed me, telling me off for…. doing exactly what he had instructed me to do, and calling me unprofessional. Which was bad enough, but half an hour later I discovered he’d bcc’d in all the rest of our team. I cried. Took me ages to get another job as I had no self confidence left after that :(

    Reply
      1. TheLazyB (UK)

        Oh but if you bcc you get a dual layer of reaction, first the upset that your boss would do that at all, then the shock that actually everyone else knows too,then the shame and the wondering if everyone else also agrees. It’s not as much fun getting all that in one lump of horror.

        Reply
    1. LeighTX

      I had a boss cc the entire company on an email lambasting me for spending too much on a company lunch . . . when he had picked the restaurant and chosen the menu. That was my camel’s back moment.

      The amount I’d spent that day was about $30 more than what was normally spent on company lunches, BTW.

      Reply
      1. MashaKasha

        He probably got into hot water for spending major $$$ on that lunch and stupidly decided to get out of trouble by making it look like it was all your fault. That would tell me he’d probably throw a subordinate under the bus in a more serious situation, too. So I would’ve left, too.

        Reply
  76. Drea

    Working at a non-profit, I expressed to my boss that working 70 hour weeks was starting to take a toll on me and she said that if I wanted a vacation I needed to go crazy and be hospitalized, because that was the only way she would ever approve the time off.

    Reply
    1. Creag an Tuire

      I’d be tempted to reply: “Fair enough, then. WHARRGARBL! KRUYKA!” :: knocks everything off boss’s desk ::

      Reply
  77. Ros

    When I was told I wasn’t getting a raise because “your manager likes to send emails on Saturday nights after her kids go to bed, and she complains that you don’t answer them fast enough.”

    … I was 24 and single. Lady: if you sent me an email at 11pm on Friday night, you’d get an answer by noon on Sunday. At 11pm on Saturday, I was either in bed or at the pub, and neither location was good for business. (Also, I was already putting in 80+ hour weeks, so, F U.) I got a new job within a month.

    Reply
  78. some1

    I’ve talked about this before – at first professional job, my supervisor left and new sup was promoted from a different dept and a first-time manager. New sup had already been friends with one of my teammates since forever, and she quickly became New Sup’s pet. They went to lunch together on the regular (no other teammates invited), teammate was made Team Lead for no discernable reason, teammate got every task that she didn’t want to do taken off her plate, and first choice of vacation (New sup had this idea that no more than 2 team members could be out the same day without the world crashing down, which was just not true.)

    All of that was annoying and unfair, until the day I got pulled in to a surprise meeting with New Sup and Teammate. Teammate basically had a laundry list of things that I had apparently not done, done wrong, etc., going back to when I started before New Sup even started with us. Maybe one or two legitimate issues, the rest were things like, “Wakeen said you gave him a dirty look in the file room.” or “Two weeks ago you were 5 minuites late coming back from lunch.” If that wasn’t bad enough, every time I spoke, Teammate would mimic what I said right back to me in a whiny voice in every response (you know, like 5-yr-olds do; this woman was 45 if she was a day). New sup sat there and let it happen. I should point out that this was a Union job and Teammate was in no position whatsoever to discipline me over ANYTHING even if any of this had been legitimate.

    I started job searching that night. Got a job within 2 months

    Reply
  79. Anon for Today

    After 1.5 years at my first job post grad school, I just realized one day that nothing would change. We’d always be underfunded and under-resourced and disorganized, and the organization would continue to leave us in a building that was flat-out dangerous and falling apart. the project leads would never be able to get it together enough to actually execute the incredibly ambitious plans they had (if we’d even gotten the staffing complement, which we wouldn’t have due to lack of funding). I also realized that my boss was ultimately not willing to advocate for herself, her staff, or the program as a whole to get the things we needed to have to be successful.

    And then, to add insult to injury, I had been performing work well beyond my title and pay grade for over a year, only to be told that “union rules” meant that I wasn’t eligible for promotion. Whether that was the truth or whether it was an excuse, I don’t know, but that was the catalyst.

    Within a month I’d had three interviews and three offers and left for a 30% salary increase to a much more interesting, challenging and stable job.

    Reply
  80. Episkey

    There were many incidents. I was a small business with an owner and about 6 other employees, including me.

    One that sticks out, though, was that my cat died very suddenly & unexpectedly one day — she was only 6 years old, and it was a shock. My husband & I had been at the emergency vet clinic for a couple of hours and then had to drive to Madison, WI to bring her to the clinic at the university vet school. Madison was about 2.5 hours from us, so we didn’t get home until around 11 pm that night, exhausted and devastated.

    I still went into work the next day. After a couple of hours, the owner of the business buzzed me on the phone and told me that my “voice didn’t sound cheerful” when I was answering the phone and I needed to step it up. No shit I wasn’t all rainbows & ice cream that day, asshole, my cat just died. I was like, “Done.”

    Reply
    1. Jenniy

      My supervisor didn’t want to let me go to the on site clinic after I hit my head on a piece of machinery. He tried to convince me that it was the heat that caused the whole thing, and if I sat in his a/c office for a while I’d feel all better and not need to go get checked out (it was summer and out shop was not air conditioned but that had nothing to do with hitting my head or fear of a concussion )
      Then he insisted on writing on my clinic sheet that my dog and lizard had both died that week, so he thought I was depressed
      Even the clinic person couldn’t figure out what that had to do with anything.

      Reply
  81. KimmieSue

    Almost 15 years ago, I was recruiting for a start-up. We’d hired about 250 people in two years and were looking to expand the senior leadership team. We started to have discussions and negotiations with some external head hunters to help.

    After a meeting with one in particular, my boss (HR DIRECTOR) told me that I had been too soft on the terms with the headhunter. This was dumb as the terms were industry standard and similar to what others had quoted. He then told me that he needed me to be the “bit%# recruiter” that he knew I could be. I sat there, jaw completely opened, stunned. Then I stood up, told him that no one ever talked to me like that and that I effing quit. I grabbed my purse, photos off my desk and I left.

    Next day, the CEO asked me to meet him off site for coffee. He asked for my version of why I left the day before. I told him. Turns out that his executive assistant had witnessed some of the exchange that I had and what she saw and heard didn’t add up to the story the HR Director was feedback about my departure. I think he was saying that I just couldn’t handle the pressure of the start-up environment. I explained to CEO what really happened. He refused to accept my resignation but gave me the rest of the week off (think it was 2-3 days). Promised me that I’d report to him directly and not have to interface with the HR Dir (I knew that would likely not be possible).

    Came back the following Monday. HR Director fired and gone. I got to help recruit the replacement (who I ended up loving to work for) and I stayed for another three years. Mostly very happy years.

    Reply
  82. Carrington Barr

    A co-worker was bullied to the point where he was so in fear of losing his job that he did something unsafe.
    He died as a result, and he endangered several other co-workers in the process.

    No action whatsoever was ever taken against the manager and director responsible for the bullying. The week after his funeral, my entire department started our job search.

    Reply
  83. losing my marbles

    I was working for a small publishing company—a deeply dysfunctional company. They were a terrible employer: the company wouldn’t pay professional people with subject matter or publishing industry expertise, quantity was always more important than quantity, troublesome mistakes were not being caught or corrected if they were even noticed, and on and on. Our authors were always complaining about parts of the process—including but certainly not limited to the ugly book covers, which were always a standard template with different stock photos and different colored type randomly selected by our “graphic designer”.

    In reviewing recently published books for a task, I noticed that one of our (nonfiction) releases on studies about aging and memory had marbles on the cover. As in, the graphic designer thought it was funny/cute that the subject was old people “losing their marbles.” I’m not sure that the authors, who were international, caught the idiom behind the choice. They didn’t complain about it to me, anyway. But it made me angry—at the carelessness and unprofessionalism and also the lack of checks that made such a mistake possible. I brought it up to another staff member who let me know that it actually had been noticed previously (but not before publication), that it was “hugely controversial”, but that nothing was going to be done about it. The company refused to spend more time on a cover or any money on a reprinting, which I thought would be the professional thing to do.

    I had already had my foot out the door for awhile—working part time for another business who’d offered me increasing hours. So, I asked them when I could start full time.

    Reply
    1. Q

      I am not defending them but maybe they did it on purpose, hoping someone would raise a stink and they would get a lot of free publicity and get their name out there.

      Reply
      1. losing my marbles

        Nope, there was nothing strategic about this, other than not investing in fixing this problem (or even the workflow that would lead to it).

        Reply
  84. Cupcake

    After a challenging year that included multiple layoffs in my department, a global merger and taking on the work of 3 people, I had my annual performance review. The company used “360 Reviews” to get comments from a wide variety of people to get a good sense of your work and to minimize bias from your boss or peers. I received fantastic comments from everyone and I had been looking forward to the meeting.

    My manager, who came from the “other side” of the merged company, sat me down to say that “nobody ever scores higher than a 3 out of 5” on their overall assessment, despite the fact that I had previously received 4/5 in other years (pre-merger). Despite the glowing praise and her even telling me I had gone “above and beyond” my score remained at 3 and my annual raise was…..0.05%. Not even 1%!!

    I explained why I disagreed with this assessment and said that if my score wasn’t going to change, then I should at least get a higher raise due to exceeding my performance goals, saving the department some money (with visible proof) and to compensate for “all the extra work you took on during the merger” (her words). She said, “You really shouldn’t complain. You do still have a job, you know.”

    BOOM! That was the f-you moment that made me say, outta here!

    Reply
    1. KimmieSue

      I worked for a company that did that!!!! As a manager, we were actually mandated that we couldn’t only use the top ranking for 20% of the team. Regardless of their actual performance!

      Reply
  85. Minister of Snark

    I had been submitting reports to directly to my boss for six months. Detailed, in-depth, comprehensive reports. For six freaking months. Boss happened to read another source’s report, which was basically summarizing my work, and then sent me a three-page long rant email about how this was the first time he’d heard about this issue, why was he just now hearing about it? Why had I let this slip past me? Why was I so lazy and unprofessional? Didn’t I care about my job? Was I really content just collecting a paycheck for doing nothing?

    I had put up with the low pay, the dismissive-to-the-point-of-being-abusive treatment from the management, and other indignities, but being accused of being lazy when the truth was my boss couldn’t be bothered to read his employees’ work, that was the thing that made me go home and start looking for a new job.

    Reply
    1. LeighTX

      Did you respond by printing out your previous reports, highlighting and flagging all the sentences you’d written about that issue, and leaving it on his desk?

      Reply
      1. Minister of Snark

        Ack! Yes, I can’t believe I forgot that part. My response was to send him an email with links to every report I’d done over the last six months, dated, which said, “As you can see, I have submitted reports on this subject on these occasions over the last six months.” and then I went to my direct supervisor and submitted my resignation, explaining exactly why I was leaving. My supervisor was very upset, because I was not the first person to leave for these reasons, and I was a solid employee.

        My boss, author of the email, saw me in the hallway in my last couple of days and said I would be back within a year. (Due to the limited number of local employers in my field.) I said, we’ll see. (Ten years later and nope.)

        Reply
    2. Q

      I feel you. I used to do a specific report everyday and email it to my supervisor. He went on a two week vacation and I stopped sending it since it was time sensitive and wouldn’t matter to him when he was out of the office. I continued to do and act on the report but after he came back I decided I wasn’t going to start emailing him again and instead wait and see how long it took him to notice. Six months! It took him six months to notice he wasn’t getting a report that he was supposed to be reviewing everyday!

      Reply
      1. Victoria

        At one point I was filling out six reports a day, raking up 90-120 minutes per day. Most of these reports were duplicate information, just sorted in a different way.

        One day I got irritated enough that I just put “IF ANYONE IS READING THIS REPORT PLEASE CONTACT VICTORIA” in several of the reports in 26 point font, and then stopped doing the reports.

        That was several years ago.

        No one contacted me.

        Reply
    3. Kethryvis

      i had a similar situation; CEO asked me for a report showing monthly numbers for my department, to be sent to him no later than the 15th of each month. The first month, i completed the report and sent it on the 15th. A week later, he asked me for all those numbers plus an additional set, asking why he hadn’t received the report. I redid the report, sent it, explaining i’d sent it before, but i’d recreated it to add the additional numbers.

      Month two, i create the report and send it, again around the 15th of the month. A week later, another email comes, asking again for all those numbers AND again another set, asking why he hadn’t received it. I scowled, again recreated the report with the new numbers, stated i’d sent the original on X date, and here it was again.

      Month three, i send the report a week and a half early. Sure enough, around the 20th i get an angry email demanding these numbers and that “i shouldn’t have to ask for them every month when i’ve already asked you to send them by the 15th.” I forwarded him the original email WITH report, stating i’d already sent it. At least this time he didn’t ask for yet another addition to the report.

      Month four… same deal. Again. i finally say “I’ve been sending this on or before the 15th as requested every month. However, it seems to be being missed. What can i do to ensure that you’re getting what you need when you need it?” He finally admitted that he would take my numbers and copy/paste them into a whole other sheet, and having two sheets open was just too much, and could i just paste the numbers directly into the email?

      Fine. Once i started doing that, suddenly he stopped saying he wasn’t getting my numbers.

      Sympathies. It is so frustrating when you’re doing all the work asked for and more, and no one notices.

      Reply
  86. TheExchequer

    I have two stories!

    Temp Job #1 (and the origin of my pseudonym here): They bounced one check, so they overnighted me a replacement. I ended up having three checks bounced all at once. Yeah, that was fun. Though, actually, I was very new to the workplace, so my last straw ended up being when I took the check to the issuing bank and they couldn’t cash the check because there were no funds in the account. (You can find the story on AAM here: http://www.askamanager.org/2012/11/what-to-do-when-your-paycheck-bounces.html and the update is here: http://www.askamanager.org/2012/12/update-from-the-reader-whose-paychecks-were-bouncing.html)

    The job I had last: The epitome of “There ain’t no crazy like small family business crazy.” My boss was late with my commission check. Then late with my paycheck. Then continually late with my commission check. He constantly berated me, telling me that “everyone but you is allowed to make mistakes.” (Could not make that up if I tried). And as my boss and the owner of the company, he would have closed door meetings with his wife that almost always turned into screaming matches. They put in writing that they would not pay for overtime. (Let’s just say California takes a dim view of that sort of thing). When my commission check was late for the third time, my boss told me he was too overwhelmed to pay me on time, but still added duties to my role without getting me on board. I started looking for another job at that point, but the absolute last straw was when he then pulled in my highly underperforming coworker in an open door meeting and let my coworker off the hook for urgent emails that went unresponded to for a week while berating me for a minor typo kind of error and not being perfect. It was so bad, a different coworker (who knew I needed the job to support myself) later asked me why I hadn’t just quit on the spot. (Said boss later went on to try and ask me for $700 on my last day because of an error a client made. Um, yeah. No. I love my new job, I love my new job, I love my new job).

    Reply
    1. BookCocoon

      I worked for a friend’s mother for a summer, who was flipping houses. She gave me a paycheck that bounced right before I went on vacation for a week. I expected while I was gone she would figure out the mistake and send me an apology, but she didn’t, so when I returned I e-mailed her to let her know it had bounced and asked if we could get it sorted out before we scheduled my next assignment (I was painting the houses). She wrote back lambasting me for being so rude as to imply that she would not correct the error and pay me what I was due, and implying that I was never going to get another job if I was that rude. I didn’t know what to do so I wrote back and apologized, and asked when I could pick up a replacement check. I drove the 45 minutes each way to her house to pick up the replacement check. That check also bounced. At that point I was done working for her. Eventually her daughter, my friend, wrote me a personal check for the amount, apologized for her mom being crazy, and said she would recoup the funds from her mom later. It was several years before I spoke to that friend’s mother again.

      Reply
      1. TheExchequer

        Yeah, that particular phrase seems to have stuck to a lot of people. Like gum to a shoe or something.

        I’m glad I got out too!

        Reply
  87. xarcady

    My very first job after college, at a very small family-owned business. This didn’t happen to me, but to a co-worker. Her father died. The only time off from work that she took was the day of the funeral. The afternoon of that day, the owner was yelling to her over the phone about how she should be back at work–the funeral was in the morning, why the Heck wasn’t she back at work Now!?! And he yelled at her in person when she showed up the following morning.

    New as I was to the workplace, I knew that was toxic.

    Many jobs later. After 8 years of sterling performance reviews, I went in for my annual review and was presented with the choices of: going on a PIP which I was told I would never pass, taking a much lower-ranking position in the company, or quitting. When I asked why, 5 examples were trotted out, all of them issues I had tried very, very hard to correct with the owner of the company (another small, family-owned business), but had been overridden on by the owner every single time.

    “You never got Employee X up to speed.” “Well, I did tell you that we needed to let him go during his probationary period because he could not do X, had no knowledge of Y and got worse at Z as his training progressed.” Things like that, where the owner had conveniently forgotten that I had, indeed, tried very, very hard to fix the problem, but the owner herself had prevented me.

    I was given two days to decide what to do. When I told the owner I was quitting, she stared blankly at me for a moment and then turned to the HR rep in the room and said, “I wasn’t expecting that. What do we do now?”

    Turns out that everyone they made a manager in that company lasted less than 3 years before quitting, because the owner simply could not let her managers manage by themselves, but kept over-ridding big and small decisions.

    Reply
    1. Manders

      It’s horrifying how many of these stories are about employees taking a very small amount of time off for bereavement or not “bouncing back” from bereavement within a few days.

      Reply
    2. Chriama

      Question: what do you think the owner was expecting? That you’d be demoted, take a lower salary but continue to do the same level of work as before? Or did he just want you to beg for your job as some kind of ego boost?

      Reply
      1. xarcady

        She clearly thought I’d take the demotion and lower pay. She claimed she wanted to work with me, to find a job that “better suited my skills.” My department was turning out twice as much work with the same number of people as before I became manager, my staff was much better trained than before, and I streamlined several processes that saved the company a hefty sum of money. I thought my skills were being used quite nicely, actually.

        Every time someone quit their job at that company, she was shocked. It was a pleasant place to work, as long as you were in the lower ranks. The higher up the ladder you advanced, the more she tried to micro-manage you. She was very invested in the company, and had a difficult time releasing any control over larger issues.

        Reply
          1. Arielle

            When I left my last job I was replaced by two people, each of whom were individually making more than I had been. This after three years of my boss telling me that he couldn’t afford to give me a raise.

            Reply
        1. Minister of Snark

          The company i mentioned above (the “Why are you so lazy?” email) was a small family owned business and they were always genuinely confused as to why anyone would want to quit. If you were indeed, a family member, it was a great place to work. You could get away with all sorts of shenanigans without consequences. But if you a non-family member, you were held accountable for your actions, the family members’ actions, the economy, the weather patterns caused by El Nino, the Red Sox batting line up, and whatever else they could pin on you. All the while telling us how worthless we were as employees and how they could replace us in a second, but no one else would ever hire us, anyway.

          But resignations were always met with “But why would you ever want to leave this family?”

          If that was how my family operated, I would put myself up for adoption.

          Reply
  88. Anon for this

    I think I’ve told this story before.

    At my last job, we were on an incredibly tight deadline for one of our software products. Every week we had demos of our progress, and new tasks to complete by the end of the week.

    One week we had a ton of work we were expected to complete – so much that I was still well behind on Friday, as was one of my coworkers. So after I went home, I got online and worked until around 2 AM. I woke up Saturday and worked all day until the same time. I woke up Sunday and worked until around 4 PM when I said “you know what, that’s it, I need at least *some* break time before I have to go back to work tomorrow”.

    I went in the next day to find an email from my boss saying “if anything breaks or isn’t complete for the demo this afternoon, someone’s getting fired”.

    My coworker and I were less than impressed, he raised a big stink about it during our morning meeting, he got pulled into a number of meetings with higher-ups, and the afternoon’s demo was eventually called off. The two of us (and several others) all made our way out of the company within a couple of months.

    Reply
  89. Adam

    My current primary area is customer service/admin. My director and her assistant began discussing lists of things to transfer over to me to ease their load. All of these things would fall under editing and publishing. I wasn’t opposed to it, but both my manager and I agreed this was a huge change to my job and things like my job title and pay should be discussed as part of it. My director didn’t think so.

    It’s not that bad of a situation, but it did hammer home that after five years at this place no matter what I do it’s not going to lead to anything better than what I started with.

    Reply
  90. unagi

    Three months of backbreaking work against the clock. My reward? $1.29 “chocolate”-flavor truffle on my desk. The men got bonuses, of course.

    Reply
    1. Stephanie

      Ugh, reminds me of when I would get an extra dollar for opening up a credit account at a retail gig. They were so patronizing about it. “If you open up a Teapots R Us account, we’ll give you a dollar! CASH!” On occasion, it was a candy bar.

      Also, I’m with Katie that that’s sexist and probably illegal.

      Reply
      1. Former Cable Rep

        Ours was $2 for each account, and we were “encouraged” to sign up for the card ourselves. Then the policy changed and we were written up if we didn’t get a certain number of credit accounts opened every month. The carrot was tiny, and the stick was liberally applied.

        Reply
    2. Artemesia

      Well, as Miss Manners noted decades ago the habit of giving women cookies and men money is an old one — that ought to end, but often doesn’t.

      Reply
    3. Lano

      Ugh – I’m so sorry to hear stories like this. I experienced a similar situation after dedicating over a year (and around $8,000 out of my own pocket) to earning a very difficult and well-respected industry designation/certification while working full time. The male at my firm who earned the same designation as me had his fees reimbursed after passing the exam while I (a female) was presented with a cake! I’m currently interviewing to get out of here asap!

      Reply
  91. SP

    I worked in the equine industry for several years, and part of my job entailed evaluating horses for a therapeutic horseback riding program. Once, a horse bucked me off during its evaluation; I landed hard and broke my arm.

    I was out for a couple of weeks because I had surgery to repair the fracture. When I returned to work, my boss accused me of purposely injuring myself. She also ignored explicit instructions from my doctor regarding my limitations while the arm healed (e.g. no riding, no lifting more than 5 pounds) and dismissed my concerns while insinuating I was simply trying to shirk my duties.

    I resigned a few months later; I was happier unemployed than working for someone who blatantly disregarded my well-being!

    Reply
      1. SP

        It was a very cool and rewarding job, but the low pay combined with an abusive boss and loooooong hours led me to quit! I now work doing web management and marketing for a tack store, so I am still very involved with horses in general (only now with plenty of time to ride my own)!

        Reply
  92. LadyTL

    I was working in fast food and was the cashier. They had the register in this little alcove with no real air circulation. I have severe perfume allergies and brought up some coworkers were applying perfume on at the register and it was making it hard for me to breathe. My manager’s solution was to put raw bleach on the floor. I was supposed to stand in the bleach fumes and perfume for another 6 hours. I clocked out for the day right then and there.

    Reply
  93. Famouscait

    I was the general manager of a small ballet company. The artistic director and founder was a brilliant artist but terrible business woman. The company was broke, so she secretly took a new job that would require her to move half-way across the country. She wanted to keep this a secret (until when?!), so when it was time to release the new calendar of classes and rehearsals for the season, she only used “her” initials to designate her classes. She told me (secretly, of course) that this was because the temporary director she had hired – who would actually be teaching at these times – luckily had the same initials as she did. I don’t know if she was ever planning to tell her dancers and parents of the change in leadership or just let the new director walk in on the first day because I quit shortly after that secret conversation.

    Reply
    1. Jenny Islander

      I may have witnessed a similar last-straw moment back in junior high, come to think of it. I was in the brainy kids’ homeroom. From the moment we walked in and sat down, the teacher was looking at us funny. The bell rang; he leaned back in his chair and asked us what we wanted to cover in the coming year. “Harder math!” said Lynette. “I like making stuff balance and building tiny buildings,” I said. As the responses piled up, his expression got stranger and stranger. Then he asked us what class this was!

      And then he explained why. Apparently that year the school district had decided that teachers for brainy kids and teachers for emotionally disturbed kids should be put into the same line item and furthermore there was only enough money to hire one person…who naturally would be expected to teach all of the kids covered under that line item. Guess what his specialty was.

      He did his best to nourish and stimulate our young minds and so forth, and as far as I know he did a good job in the classroom for the emotionally disturbed kids too, but he didn’t come back the next year.

      Reply
      1. Jenny Islander

        FTA that he had not understood until the first day of class that “you know, we put your job on the same line item as the Extended Learning Program” meant that the Extended Learning Program was something completely outside his field and he was expected to teach it anyway.

        Reply
  94. anon anon.

    when i tried to quit oldjob my terrible, miro-managing boss wouldn’t let me (he gave me my letter back to me!) and spent the 6 weeks of my notice trying increasingly hard to keep me on even though the funding rules wouldn’t allow me to work the job anyway. he had offered to turn my position into a union position and give me benefits and more hours, which would be paid from the units own budget. my straw that broke the camels back moment was when i accidentally found our operating budget on our shared drive while i was looking for another file and learned that a) i had been lied to about our events budget: i had been told we had no money and my boss basically forced a man who had retired for family & health reasons to unretire to cater our lunch to save $300 by pestering him incessantly (and he wanted to try to get the same dude to do our event the next year, when he’d been retired for a year at that point!), and b) that the budget for my position wouldn’t cover the wage and hours he had promised me at all! when i did the math i would have gone from making $17 an hour to $6.25 (which isn’t even minimum wage here).

    i could handle him stealing all of my work as his own and taking all of the credit, but there’s no way i would get paid less than legally allowed for it. i reaffirmed my desire to quit, and on my last day my boss spent my entire exit interview trying to convince me to stay. it was very odd.

    in the end i think i came out on top – less than a year later that boss was fired mysteriously and left the organization in disgrace (you basically can only get fired or theft, inappropriate conduct with students, or badmouthing the org in public) , while i have a job in a totally different dept with the org, with way more responsibility and influence and a higher pay grade than my old bosses position was. in the 3 months i’ve been there i’ve been upgraded from a cubicle to an actual office, offered to find a way to pay me more cash, and i even get to hire my own worker! all in all i think leaving worked out for the best.

    Reply
  95. Katie the Fed

    the common theme here is that if you treat people with a shred of dignity and respect, they’re less likely to up and quit on you with no notice.

    Reply
  96. K-rock

    The bathroom backed up (again) and this time flooded the entire first floor, where I worked. This happened over a weekend where we weren’t staffed, so no one knew until Monday morning and it had had time to soak through everything.

    They grudgingly allowed us a day working at home while a reclamation/cleanup company mopped up the initial blast. When I came back the next day, I had to listen to huge fans whirring and squish around on the wet carpet. The place smelled like a wet dog, and yet they still expected us all to dress in nice shoes and businesswear, despite the fact that we spent all day in the back office where no customers ever came. It was already a dead-end underpaid admin job where they micromanged everyone, so the flood (and the unbending reaction to it) was the last straw. I quit that day.

    Reply
  97. Erika

    On my first day as an admin at a law firm, the woman training me took off for a few minutes to handle something. I was sitting quietly at the desk, waiting for her to come back, and one of the partners came up and asked me to fax something. The fax machine was unlike anything I’d seen before – an absolute behemoth – and you had to punch in case codes for billing. I had been instructed not to touch it by myself.

    When I told the partner – very politely – that it was my first day and it would be a few minutes until the other admin could show me how to do it, she told me that it had to be done immediately because it was already late and that it wasn’t her fault that I was a “f-ing idiot.”

    I left right after that; worked there for a grand total of about forty minutes.

    Reply
  98. squids

    When the department head announced that they would be hiring an unpaid intern to do the work that I had proposed, wanted to do, was capable of doing, and had time for, but was told I couldn’t do because my job was officially rated as less skilled.

    (I’d just earned a professional degree, which was not officially needed for the job, but which I’m pretty sure they needed someone with in that office. I understand the reluctance to change job descriptions, but they also made the mistake of hiring three people in the same month who had higher qualifications than necessary, and we all left within 6 months for better suited positions.)

    Reply
  99. Ann O'Nemity

    In high school I worked as a host in a steakhouse. My boss was the manager of the front of the house, but all he did was drink at the bar and chat up the patrons. When I had to take a week off for foot surgery, I had to beg and bribe co-workers to cover my shifts because my boss straight up refused to leave me off the schedule that week, even though I’d known about the surgery for weeks. A few hours after surgery, my boss called to tell me that I needed to come in asap because the person who was supposed to cover for me was sick. When I told my boss that I was heavily medicated and not able to stand, he totally flipped out. After listening to him scream for awhile and telling me to get my lazy ass out of bed, I just hung up.

    Reply
  100. Wilton Businessman

    I was employee #2 at a small software development consultancy. In the beginning it was fast and loose and we would each normally BILL 55-60 hours a week (which meant a 65+ hour week). But we loved it. Employee #3 was just as fast and loose and together the three of us brought the company from essentially and built a product that setup the company to this day. We would do anything to make the company successful and killed ourselves doing it.

    Three years into it (two weeks before bonuses were handed out), owner comes to us (about 5 employees at the time) and says “I want everybody to sign these Non-Compete/Employment Agreements in order to get your bonus.” I read it and not only was it a 2 year non-compete, but laid out maximums for bonuses (which was about 1/3 of what I was getting), laid out a set Vacation schedule (which was non-existent as long as you got your work done), and instituted a 1 month notice period. At the end of the week I told him “no thanks” and was out within a month or two.

    Reply
  101. Smartcookie

    After years of budget cuts, layoffs, chaotic reorganizations, etc. I attended a mandatory 2 day training session….with no agenda. The CIO kicked off the session by saying that the organization was held back by employees internal issues and interpersonal challenges, and that this training was to help break down our own fears about being high performing (the only plausible explanation for an underperforming company is head case employees, apparently). The “training” was basically group therapy- and included practicing affirmations, meditating, documenting a self esteem staircase, and my personal favorite, examining childhood traumas to understand how they influenced us as adults. It was a weeks long effort to have these trainers go through the class with hundreds of employees. The first day I told the trainers that I wasn’t interested in exploring my daddy issues at work, and reached out to a recruiter over lunch. I was gone a few months later.

    Reply
    1. AndersonDarling

      “fears about being high performing”
      That is the best load I have ever heard! I can’t wait to use that and make people bust out laughing!

      Reply
  102. AnonyMustBeJobSearching

    I had been casually looking for awhile, because there were already red flags. But there was a definite nail in the coffin moment.

    It’s a small office, and when things get slow, admins are expected to start calling customers. Not quite cold calling, but very similar. Things were slow. Management was blaming the sales reps for the slowness. Finally, they said they wanted us to start calls, and explicitly stated that we would get commission from any sales we made. This was stated in a weekly team meeting, written in their copy of the minutes, and I had written it down personally, as well.

    By this time, I knew their track record, and I didn’t have faith that they would follow through with said promise. A more senior employee more “in the know” encouraged me to record my results, though, which convinced me that maybe they were serious this time. I ended up bringing in $2k of orders for the month, and I put my name on those accounts. Not much, but not bad for someone who doesn’t have training or interest in sales.

    We were never asked for any report, but I thought maybe management looked up accounts under our names in the system. I got my paycheck, and no extra money or mention of commission was made. I sent my results log to management and inquired what was going on. They said since paychecks had already been made, it was too late to apply it to the current month, but check back next month.

    The next month, I submitted the papers again to upper management, and I made sure I did it before payday. They told me they would have to discuss it and get back to me. At the end of the day, they finally brought me in to tell me that they could not give me commission because the company wasn’t making $X/day, which is what they would have to make to pay us commission. I reviewed my notes from the original meeting and no such parameters had been mentioned in the meeting; it was just “make the sales, get commission.”

    After that moment, I knew I was done. For a company to specifically make an announcement like that, and then pretend it never happened when someone holds them to their word was reprehensible to me. And still is, because I’m still there, still job searching.

    Reply
    1. AVP

      REALLY curious to know if the regular sales team are getting commissions or not. If not, I would imagine that’s why sales aren’t as high as owners would like!

      Reply
      1. AnonyMustBeJobSearching

        They’ve always gotten commission, though non-exempt gets a lower percentage. I got screwed either way, I just don’t know by how much. They didn’t include a percentage or other details in the meeting, which should have tipped me off that they were full of shite and it wasn’t worth the effort. But even 10% of my sales would have paid for a good grocery run or a few tanks of gas.

        Reply
  103. TotesMaGoats

    Prior to going on mat leave (by about 5 months) was promoted in title, pay and responsibilities to oversee about 8 locations. Told I was the only person that could handle this. Total trust and faith in me. Yada yada. Everything went smoothly into mat leave. Came back from mat leave and having a catch up with my boss. Bigger boss has decided that you won’t have oversight of 2 locations anymore. But don’t worry, you still keep title and pay. Just less work. Yay. He actually apologized to me because big boss had no rationale for it and it was wrong. That was the straw. It got worse in that more responsibilities kept slipping away. Things I’d done for years with no reason for it. Just that big boss had something stuck in her craw.

    About 3 months before I finally get things rolling to get out, I get the 2 missing locations back. But not with the public apology I was promised. I walked out without looking back.

    Reply
  104. MashaKasha

    I’ve got a couple more.
    – I was a secretary at a small private school. One of the jobs I took to hold us over when I was out of work following my son’s birth. At the end of each quarter I had to type up the students’ report cards. They were in essay format. Each teacher wrote them by hand in a notebook and turned them in on the day before last day of classes. There’d be a notebook for say math, a notebook for history, one for language arts etc. I had to type them up in a text file, sorted by student name instead of by subject, print five copies on a super old matrix printer, so they could be handed out to each student the next morning. Second time I did it, my boss said “drop it off at my apartment when you’re done. I’ll be sleeping so just stuff them in my mailbox”. I had to walk across our small town at three AM to put the damn things in his mailbox. The next morning, I told my husband I was quitting that job and it wasn’t up for discussion.

    – I was on call 24×7 and had to plan all my activities around the on call schedule. A group of 20 friends wanted to go on a camping trip together and all 20 agreed to plan it during my off-call week. A friend from another social group died unexpectedly the Friday before camping weekend. Funeral was on Saturday. I felt I couldn’t bow out of the camping trip that 20 people had planned around my work schedule. So I had to go camping, leave the campsite on Sat afternoon, drive back to town for the wake, miss the funeral, and drive back before the campground locked its gates for the night. That was when I decided I couldn’t handle being on call and needed to get out of there.

    Reply
  105. HRChick

    I worked in project management for a government contractor. When I came onboard, I was replacing a young woman who, it had been determined, was unable to keep up with the demands the position. She was being moved to another position that was admin assisting, which is what her background was in and what she had been determined to be able to handle. Even training me, she was horrible and did not understand half the stuff that I ended up having to teach myself.
    Fast forward a year and a half. My manger tells me the young woman’s government manager wanted her to get more money and so they’re promoting her – to the position above mine. She’s going to be a higher rank than me and get more money than me because her government manager likes her. But that’s not it – the young woman’s resume was very weak. She only had experience in being an admin. He wanted me to REWRITE her resume to make it look like she was eligible for the new position. According to her own resume, she wasn’t even qualified for the position she was in, much less a project management position above mine.
    I refused. My manager ended up doing it, after failing to pressure me into doing it because of my background in HR. He changed all her job titles to some kind of management and added a few things. “Beefed it up” he said. “Lied” I said.
    That was just one of the issues in this Good Old Boys club, but it’s the one that inspired me to job hunt more seriously. I’m very happy in my current job.

    Reply
    1. HRChick

      I forgot the best bit – looking at the young woman’s new job description, I realized I had long ago exceeded the current position I was in, so I asked my boss for a promotion. I pointed out all the things in the rank above mine that I was doing (which was all of it). But he said no. Not any research, let me ask HR. Just no.

      So, the woman who wasn’t even doing the job could get the promotion but the person actually doing the job could not lol

      Reply
  106. Jerzy

    At a previous job in a legislative office (of a different political affiliation from me, though who knows if that played a part) I was a bit of a whipping boy for the rest of the staff. This was likely because the elected official we all worked for was such a harsh mistress, the place was filled with anxiety and anger most of the time.

    Early one morning (around 1 a.m.) I received a rabid text from the Senator that was rambling about how she didn’t have the documents she needed for the following day. She had just arrived home from what was probably her 4th vacation that year, and sent a blast text in the middle of the night to everyone in the office expressing her outrage.

    The thing is, there was one person who had been given that task, and he had failed to do it. He was also the Chief of Staff, so it’s not as if it was anyone else’s responsibility to make sure he did it.

    When I told the Senator that this was CoS’s responsibility, and, frankly, that I thought it was inappropriate for her send a blast email in the middle of the night to her entire staff, she told me that it’s all of our jobs to make sure she has what she needs, which I guess meant that there were no personal responsibilities??? Did this mean that someone else would get yelled at if I didn’t send out press releases on time? Doubt it. She didn’t want to admit she was wrong and from there on out decided we were no longer friends (can’t understand why she thought that in the first place), and began treating me like some sort of traitor.

    After one year of working there I had started looking for a new gig. This happened about 1 1/2-2 years in. After that, I ramped up my search an got a job offer within about 6 months.

    Reply
    1. Alternative

      Am I understanding this correctly? You were a junior staff member for an United States Senator (!!), and you told her that you “thought it was inappropriate for her send a blast email in the middle of the night to her entire staff.”

      Are you serious?

      Her Chief of Staff failed to do something, so she emailed her staff about it – and you feel this is her fault? And then you, a low ranking employee, called her to task for asking about it? I get the impression that you are bitter that she no longer treated you as a “friend,” or ever treated you like one to begin with. It IS all of your jobs to get your boss what they need. And sending an email requesting it is not unusual or inappropriate at all. Frankly, your telling of this situation makes you seem quite unprofessional, and insubordinate.

      Reply
      1. Yet Another JD

        Being a Senator does not make one infallible. Yes, the situation could have been handled in a different way/ more professionally, but frankly, the boss was wrong.

        Reply
      2. Kat A.

        I agree with Alternative 100%.

        Also, one of the benefits of email is that it can be sent at any time without necessarily waking up an entire staff. It’s not like she called everyone in the office in the middle of the night. I’m often up working late and may send emails at 3am. (Likewise, all my coworkers and managers at every job I’ve held since the 1990s have all done the same.) And if a junior employee told me that was inappropriate, I would think that employee didn’t understand workplace norms.

        Now in this situation, where a senator needs things ready on time, sending emails as soon as possible no matter what the clock says is even more understandable.

        Reply
  107. Bwmn

    For a few months on every Friday I’d be anxiously talking to my mom about how I was terrified that on Monday I’d end up getting fired. Then one Friday, I’m walking home from work with the miserable realization that I’d never get fired.

    Once the idea that ‘not getting fired’ was somehow a punishment, the light bulb finally went off that it was really time to leave.

    Reply
  108. pop tart

    The owner of the company screamed at me “YOU ARE TOO F***ING STUPID TO WORK FOR ME” at me when I failed to read his mind. He honestly said to me, “I understand that you were told to do one thing but you should have known that I didn’t mean that and I mean this instead.” Haha. No. No I shouldn’t have.

    Reply
    1. pop tart

      I should add that it was an EXTREMELY toxic work place and the owner was a known sociopath – everyone who worked there and left has a story similar to mine. I was on a business trip at the time so the next day I went in and quit and had the most satisfying conversation with the co-owner that left them speechless and dumbfounded. The best part was that I was super calm and collected the entire time while they scrambled to try to keep me around and screamed profanities at me on a conference call while everyone else in the entire office heard their meltdown. I have a sleep app on my phone and my best night of sleep for the past three and a half years was the night after I quit that job!!!!!

      Reply
    2. LeighTX

      The same boss I mentioned in a thread above once told me in a review that I needed to do a better job of knowing what he was thinking. I wasn’t the only one he said that to; and no, we weren’t part of the Psychic Friends network!

      Reply
      1. pop tart

        I had to be like, this is where you said, in writing, this was the outcome of the job. If that is not the desired outcome, you need to communicate with me what that is. I did not create the company, I do not run the company, I cannot go back in time and do those things with you, so you need to use you words like an adult human for best outcome (subtext: you dick).

        Reply
        1. LeighTX

          LOL! In my case, I was waiting on a job offer (that came the very next day) and so I just smiled and nodded during that review. I so badly wanted to ask, “Can you guess what I’M thinking?” (hint: you’re a dick)

          Reply
  109. kac

    I had a great job, and then my boss left, and my great job slowly turned into a terrible job.

    My new boss worked in the UK, while I was based in the US, so he rarely actually saw me in action. He generally thought I was young and charming, but not a hard-worker or a person of substance. He thought I was full of bullshit, but had everyone else snowed. (I know this because he told his boss/the director, who worked in the US, and with whom I was very close.) My boss’s opinion of me was not changed by the fact that I was the strongest performer on my team (sales, so measurable), was regularly the last person to leave the office, and leading new initiatives.

    All of this came to a head when I sent what felt like 18th email over a series of months to my boss, attempting to finalize the workflow and commission structure for a new initiative he wanted me to roll out. He called me up and started yelling at me–in my cubicle, in front of all my colleagues–for being so insistent about this issue. This was not the first time this happened, either. I legit had to use the phrase, “I am not comfortable being spoken to like this.”

    Needless to say that I got off the phone and realized I needed to get the hell out of there. I called HR, he had to apologize to me, and I had a new job within six weeks. My current boss is the best boss I’ve ever had–incredibly supportive of me and regularly challenging me on the areas for improvement.

    Man, bad bosses, though. Just recounting that story got my blood boiling.

    Reply
  110. Becky B

    When I realized that in my extremely small department, one person was chatting online on a dating app all day when she wasn’t blatantly sleeping at her desk, two others went out on many, many daily smoke breaks, and another spent her time lingering around the HR department “to pick up interesting gossip.”

    What did my supervisor do? Allow them to pass all the piling-up work to me and the remaining coworker who was also actually working. She would also make sure the sleeping coworker was allowed to stay sleeping, and would anxiously baby her.

    An opportunity came up in another department on another floor of our company. I applied, and really hated that we were forced to check the “Let your supervisor know you are applying” box when I sent it through. Sure enough, once she found out, she stood out in the hallway outside our idiotic cube-quad and exclaimed loudly, “WHY DO YOU HATE ME?” At that point, I hadn’t told any of the others that I was applying. They sure knew now!

    Yes, there was a lot more dysfunction going on than just my anecdotes here. But I rocked the interview and didn’t let the desperation show, and got the flock out.

    Reply
    1. Becky B

      Forgot to add, I did try to raise the issue of the workload imbalance several different times. One net result was the sleeping coworker became extremely “hurt and upset” and tried to file a complaint against me to HR. My supervisor ended up bringing us two into a meeting room with her to have us make up. !!

      Just recounting all this makes me thoroughly glad that I took the skills and experience I gained and moved on.

      Reply
      1. YOLO

        I just don’t understand management like this. They drive away the good workers and then what happens to the work? The slackers aren’t going to – even if they were able to – suddenly start doing it.

        Reply
        1. Becky B

          It was a puzzlement to me, too, and then when the giant sweep of layoffs came, they kept all the “strategists” and got rid of most of the doers, leaving the remaining doers to double or triple up on the work. Yeesh.

          Reply
      2. Alli525

        Man if someone had tried to file a complaint against me to HR because I complained that s/he was sleeping, there would be a world of endless pain in for that coworker. I would take on vacuuming duties, play music, “accidentally” leave my foghorn ringtone on (and leave it at my desk and call it a few times from outside the building), loud watercooler conversations, humming…

        Reply
  111. Jane, the world's worst employee

    In a long ago job, I worked for a nonprofit. My boss was a complete micromanager and a liar. Our department was very much understaffed, and boss and myself were doing the jobs of about six employees. She would promise work to clients without consulting the staff members’ schedules to see if it was even feasible. Sometimes, when she knew that the work wouldn’t get done, she would hire freelancers and pay them – out of her own pocket, all because she didn’t have the guts to tell the clients that their requests were unreasonable and we didn’t have the resources available.

    I knew it was the beginning of the end when she called me into her office to take the fall for her on a project. Long story short, she got a call from a client to design some sort of brochure and instead of going through our creative process, she decided to create it all on her own. (Note: she had no graphic design abilities.) Her boss found out about and called her into his office. My boss told Big Boss that I did it. I told my boss in no uncertain terms I would *not* be taking the fall for her. Her response, “Why do you have to be so ethical? Can’t you just take the blame for this one?”

    Reply
    1. fposte

      I can’t imagine what I would say in response to that question–it would take me forever even to close my dropped jaw. What on earth did you say?

      Reply
      1. Jane, the world's worst employee

        I pretty much said, “Yeah, I’m not comfortable taking the blame for this…especially since I had nothing to do with it. This really goes against my belief system.” Shockingly, she didn’t take this comment too well and started plotting to get rid of me (and was successful) from that day forward. Luckily, I started job hunting early on and got a new (and much better paying job) a few weeks after I was let go.

        Reply
    2. kac

      Whaaaattt??! That’s not even about “ethics.” That’s just basic self preservation!!

      Glad it’s a long-ago job.

      Reading all these posts is making me want to give my current, excellent boss a hug.

      Reply
      1. SL #2

        My excellent boss is currently on a short-term medical leave and would probably be in pain if I gave her a hug, but the thought is definitely there.

        Reply
  112. Devil's Avocado

    I work for a non-profit that I would classify as a very healthy work environment. I started thinking it might be time for me to move on within a year or so, but then I had one of these moments.

    Mine was seeing management make a decision regarding a client that was unethical, inequitable, and didn’t follow any defined process. They basically allowed themselves to be blackmailed – the client said “If you don’t give us this money, we’re going to badmouth you to the entire community.” So management gave them the money in a way that was totally against board policy. I then watched management tie themselves in knots to explain the decision to the board, and to present it in a way that was only half true (I attend the board meetings.) The kicker was that in the process, the two people responsible totally convinced themselves they were doing the right thing, and our ED has said to me multiple times that he would make the same decision again if he had to. Even now, months later, I’m so disgusted by this.

    I’ve been actively job hunting and am really hoping to find something soon. This incident has caused me to question the entire nature of our programming. (Sorry if this comes across sounding bitter – had a board meeting this morning where this came up again, and it made me so angry to listen to all of the justifications and half truths.)

    Reply
  113. T3k

    Where I currently am, I started looking almost immediately after I started full time when I asked about benefits (long story short, took the job out of panic due to being laid off abruptly from the last one so didn’t even think to ask about benefits beforehand). Was told they don’t offer any, then the next day my boss goes “I’ve been thinking about you asking about benefits. You can have the holidays off.” -__- Pile on to that:
    -boss and a coworker get into almost weekly yelling arguments (she says they’re just talking loudly, but anyone can tell you, they’re yelling… including one customer that happened to come in and they didn’t see him)
    -dealing with an incompetent coworker who doesn’t show up until late afternoon and then proceeds to flood me with work, when I’ve been sitting there bored for some 6 hours and now have 2 hours left of the day to do it all. Boss says she’ll get rid of this coworker, but it’s been 5 months now.
    -insects, everywhere. I mean, it’s one thing to have that occasional fly in the office, but I’m talking about small mosquitos that keep re-appearing after I’ve killed 4-5 of them. 2 months ago, I was getting 2-3 new bites on my arms every week from them. There’s also house centipedes in the office (killed 3 of them so far in a 2 week span) and the boss is all “it’s no big deal.”

    Reply
  114. AggrAV8ed Tech

    The day my boss freaked out because I wasn’t in the office…because I was in the hospital witnessing my daughter being born. (And yes, I had requested the day off months in advance because we had scheduled the C-section and it was approved.)

    I didn’t even take any time off when my son was born 3 years earlier because, thankfully, he was born on a Saturday.

    Reply
  115. HappyWriter

    When I had been busting my butt for 8 months to elevate a company’s communications from 2 poorly written and designed newsletters (think a basic Publisher template with clip art) into a full suite of digital and written materials–website news stories, press releases, a professionally designed digital magazine that was winning awards left and right–only to be told that “Yes! We’re going to add another position to the department to share the new workload. And the new position will pay more. And eventually that person will supervise your role. But No, we don’t think you’re ready for that level yet.”
    And so is the story of how I became a full-time freelancer. And that company still depends on me to write their award-winning magazine. For at least double what they were paying me as an employee.

    Reply
    1. Broken Hearted Over Work

      I think that’s my only option – freelancing. I’m in the same business: communications. I’m also thinking that my best clients might actually be the companies that caused me so much pain when I worked for them. I’d love to hear how you made the transition into freelancing and got your first jobs!

      Reply
  116. These are the droids

    first post-school job – when I got a talking to for wearing inappropriate shoes. I had only been told no open toe without hose, so I found some shoes that were closed to but open on the side and were intended to be worn with bare feet. Turns out women weren’t supposed to show any bare skin other than arms and above, hose was required to cover anything that could be construed as naked flesh. In the trucking industry (office/admin area of it, but still)

    Second post-school job – there was a lot of toxicity going on, but when our CEO broke a bone bad enough that they were away for 3 months. It was the best time for me and my coworkers, we were way more productive, way happier, way more efficient without the CEO around.

    Reply
  117. Shiarah

    In my first programming job, I was the junior-most programmer on a small team of 7. Everyone else was at least two title levels above me. One of the senior programmers was lead deployment coordinator, and I was his official backup, though everyone on the team had the tools and knowledge to deploy code if needed.

    One particular week, the senior deployment lead was scheduled to be out on Friday for his daughter’s wedding. Then my grandmother passed away–and her out-of-town funeral was also scheduled for Friday. I requested my one day of bereavement leave allowed for grandparents per company policy, but because I was the “backup deployment coordinator,” the director balked. He did eventually grant the day of leave, reluctantly–IF I took my laptop and work phone with me. To my grandma’s funeral. JUST IN CASE an issue came up and they needed something to be deployed. Never mind that there were no regular deployments on Fridays, and the other 5 senior programmers in the office could have easily handled any “emergencies” that came up.

    I took the stupid phone and laptop, but pushed back just enough to make it clear that they would be turned off and left elsewhere during the funeral services. I also mentally checked out of that job right then, and left a few months later for a MUCH less dysfunctional job.

    Reply
  118. Ama

    My boss called me in after the meeting where the senior staff was finally going to finalize the job description for the development staff we badly needed (after having me manage our nascent donor database — with no development background whatsoever — during the eight months it took them to get to the final job description meeting), and said they’d decided to just hire a couple of student workers for me to manage — which, under our university restrictions for student workers, limited me to 20 hours of help a week during the semester.

    Reply
  119. ali

    I was told one year (during the economic collapse) by my boss that there would be no raises or promotions and that I was lucky to have a job, especially because “you’re not even a very good graphic designer” (I was a print designer/web developer at the time). There were three people in my department – me, an event planner, and our manager. I came in to work about a week later and they were both celebrating and I asked why. The manager had gotten a promotion (with a big raise) and the event planner had gotten a raise. Then I was given my parking pass for the month, and it was demoted to the lot 5 blocks away (in a bad neighborhood in the middle of winter).

    I couldn’t take my boss both not thinking I’m good at what I do (I am really good, and she saw my portfolio before she hired me) and flat-out lying to me about why I wasn’t getting a raise.

    Reply
  120. Dorth Vader

    I was a director at an after school program that was run through a corporate third party. I was the highest ranking person on-site with a regional director above me and other staff above her. I was 22, right out of college and there were red flags all around during the interview process and first six weeks. Flags included the fact that my boss’ boss left very suddenly one day about 4-5 weeks in, about 3 months after she’d been hired.
    The last straw was when I made a decision for my site based on school rules and my own observations of my kids. I banned Rainbow Looms after several arguments between kids (plus they couldn’t use them at school anyway, so why bring them?). One of the women working under me ran into my boss after this decision and complained to her about it. The boss reversed my decision and verbally eviscerated me for it. A few days later I quit without notice by email on a Saturday night.
    Obviously I was not the most professional person in that situation! But now I know better than to take any job I’m not 95%+ comfortable with.

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  121. Jamie

    One of my co-workers confided in me that our human resources executive was referring to the office in which I pumped breast milk as “f-ing disgusting”.

    Reply
  122. Tom

    Worked for a small business, managed by the owners. The owners were planning to move, so they were starting to train me on how to run the place, including representing our business to leaders in the community. A few weeks into training, I asked if there was going to be a raise in pay to match the increasing responsibilities. One of the owners scheduled a meeting with me, during which they chewed me out for not being grateful enough for the job, and pointed out the many awesome perks of working there, such as having breaks and bringing my personal belongings into work with me. They took back all the additional responsibilities and assigned them to other workers. I actually enjoyed working there more after the owners moved away, but only stuck it out as long as I needed the paycheck for.

    Reply
  123. Amber Rose

    After the owner died, I took over his daughter’s work so she could focus on running the company. Suddenly I had over 50 long term projects to manage and no time to be trained on anything. I was yelled at for every mistake I made, or if I asked questions, or if I tried to get time lines figured out. On top of that I was still expected to do all my previous work, setting up new projects, answering phone calls and scheduling the field crews.

    After a year of this I was actually getting pretty decent at it despite bad burnout. But then, due to the long term nature of the projects (anywhere from 6 months to 30 years) a bunch of mistakes I’d made in those first couple weeks were discovered, and my boss said, “you’re demoted to office assistant. You’re not allowed to do anything unless I tell you to. Throw out all your business cards.”

    To my credit I did not act on my first instinct, which was to tell her “good f—ing luck” and walk out on the spot. I went back to my desk, drafted a terse resignation letter, and arranged my last day in roughly 2 weeks.

    What gets me, what really gets me, is that she was surprised that I quit. Downright floored.

    Reply
    1. Alice

      I’m surprised by how many terrible bosses are surprised when people quit. It’s like they expect you to have Stockholm Syndrome or something.

      Reply
  124. Brett

    When they suspended merit raises for ten years shortly before I got my first review? Nope.
    When they implemented a new 12-month post-employment restriction by ordinance? Nope.
    When they quietly added the phrase “In the past and perhaps in the future, performance reviews and potential annual wage increases were linked…” to the performance review manual? No.
    When they passed me over for pay grade review because I’m the only person in my title? Not even then.

    When they extended the pay freeze again through 2020 and announced it in the minutes of an internal meeting instead of informing employees directly? Somehow that finally made it click that I needed to go through all the bureaucracy of getting out of here.
    Yeah, that was finally the straw that broke the camel’s back.

    Reply
  125. Nicole

    When my boss forgot to tell me she changed my schedule. I was sound asleep when she called to tell me I was late. I said I wasn’t supposed to be in until later, I was looking at the schedule right now. She stated to yell that I must not know how to read. I went straight into work, with the copy of the schedule, and she said oh yeah, I changed that, maybe you do know how to read. I was out of there within a month.

    Reply
  126. BookCocoon

    I worked at a small firm where operations were driven by the president’s ego. He would micromanage me and tell me how to do my work, except he didn’t actually understand my work so whenever he met with a client he would bring me in to do the talking so he didn’t sound like a total idiot. My direct supervisor was such a control freak that she refused to give me any work to do, no matter how much I asked, unless it was a project that had become so f-ed up that no one else knew what to do with it. Oh, also, I was brought in to manage a program that had been going for the past 10 years or so, but no one mentioned that it was run entirely by donations and that the outgoing manager had failed to seek out any funds because she was leaving, so I was supposed to raise about $60,000 in my first month, and all of the past local sponsors backed out.

    I only lasted a few months total, but the final straw for me was when we were sending out a survey via postcard and the incentive was going to be iTunes gift cards, so I found Apple’s approved language for using iTunes gift cards in a contest involving third parties, and put that on the postcard. Then the president decided he wanted to give away iPads instead. I showed him the information from Apple’s site where it explicitly said you could not give away iPads as an incentive to third parties, as well as sent him several articles from companies who had been targeted for trying to do just that. Rather than agreeing that we couldn’t do iPads, he said we should remove all the language from Apple on the postcard so it would look like we’d never even looked at Apple’s site and didn’t know any better. That was the proof I needed that this guy did not care about acting ethically as long as he got his way.

    Reply
  127. Dr. Ruthless

    Summers and holidays when I was in college, I worked retail. The summer between finishing undergrad and starting my PhD program, I was back. (I’m smart, goshdarnit–that’s what I’m trying to say).

    I was cleaning up my station (the cash wrap) at the end of the night, and I had to put the anti-theft sensors back in the back room. Sensors come in two parts–the pokey part and the flat part, and are stored separately for obvious reasons. I put the pokey parts back in the bins with their compatriots, and I went to put the flat parts in their bin, but it was totally, 100% full. To-the-brim full. So I set them down (in a shopping bag) on the floor right next to the bin. A manager saw me do this and hurried over, whereupon we had this exchange:

    Her: “Where do those go?”
    Me: “Well, they’d go in this bin, but as you can see, it’s totally full, so I put them next to the bin.”
    Her: “Did you ask the stockers where they should go?”
    Me: “Um, no, I just put them where they always go when there’s not room”
    Her: “We work ~with~ the back stock team, not ~against~ them. Hey {stocker}, where do we put the anti-theft devices?”
    Stocker: “Um, they’d usually go in that bin, but it’s full, so just leave them in a bag next to it, and I’ll use them first.”
    Her: “Ok, now we know. Now we know.”

    The patronizing language, the passive-aggressive “we” language, coupled with the complete lack of being like, “huh, I guess I effed up with this one. Sorry for being weird!” meant that I’d turned in my resignation within a week. (This was, truly, the straw that broke the camel’s back. It was also deemed once that we weren’t allowed to talk AT ALL during the post-store-closing cleanup, plus a lecture about colors).

    Reply
  128. AnotherHRPro

    One day I was working with an executive on a presentation and he picked up the laptop I was using and threw it across the room. I had a new job within the month.

    Reply
  129. Tlake

    The day I asked my manager for help covering my phones for the day, in order to be able to finish some tax reports and filings before a deadline, only to be called to the owner’s office and lectured about why I wasn’t doing my job and how my manager wasn’t there to be my assistant when he went to complain to her. This was on the same day I got pulled from my lunch break mid- sandwich bite in order to fix his mistakes on a customer’s travel itinerary that had them headed to the wrong country, with hotels booked on the wrong days and city, and I should also mention the names on their planes tickets were also mis-spelled. I gave notice that day and never looked back.

    Reply
  130. JenVan

    Lady lawyer boss wanted me to work on July 4th (not common in that area of law), with no A/C in building, in TEXAS. Couple days later, she got “loud” with me and THAT was it. She was running for a public office and didn’t have a lot of (read: ANY) financial backing. She ended up using a client’s trust money for her campaign, and since we never seemed to do any real work to bring in money, she was unable to pay it back for a while. Client kept calling asking when she could get her money, I asked boss and she snapped at me. Two days later I gave my three weeks’ notice. An enormous weight was lifted of my chest. I ended up working 70+ hours per week those last three weeks, but every single day I went in with a smile knowing I was going to be done soon!

    Reply
    1. neverjaunty

      She ended up using a client’s trust money for her campaign

      Holy snot.

      For the non-lawyers out there, it’s a running joke (and not entirely incorrect) that if you’re a lawyer, you can commit murder and maybe still keep your license, but if you touch a penny of your client trust fund incorrectly, sayonara.

      Reply
      1. JenVan

        Very true. The reason she still even had that portion of client’s settlement money is a story for another time. She mixed all of her IOLTA and operating money together. I shudder thinking about it …

        Lady went through associates like mad. I stuck it out for almost a year, but between:

        the political campaign;
        setting up various dog rescues;
        representing clients who had less than zero chance of succeeding so she could get on television; and
        knowingly practicing without an active license

        it was time for me to go. She paid me only a portion of my salary one time, and ONLY one time. I said if that ever happened again I couldn’t come to work the next day.

        I ended up quitting without something else lined up. As a new-ish lawyer in a not so great market, I should have been terrified, but I wasn’t. I felt like a punishment was being lifted. BF and I took a trip to Mexico shortly after that to decompress, then returned and found a new job within a few months. I was super lucky.

        Reply
  131. JMegan

    I was working in an owner-operated coffee shop, and I had been there for just a couple of months when they hired a new manager to “clean things up a bit.” And he did indeed clean up! During the eight-ish weeks that we were there together, eleven people quit or were fired – including myself, the person who quit a few hours after I did, and the owner’s wife. It was a bloodbath.

    There were lots of issues, of course, but the final straw for me was a scheduling issue. When I first started in February, I said to the manager at the time that I needed to have the May long weekend off to go to a wedding out of town. He said that should be fine, but to check in with him again closer to the date. In the meantime, he left and the new manager arrived, and I had the same conversation with him. Then I reminded him again when it actually came time to schedule that weekend. He said he couldn’t give me Friday-Saturday-Sunday, but he could give me Saturday-Sunday-Monday instead, which was fine.

    Then when I got to work the next day and saw the posted schedule, I saw that not only had he not given me the extra day that he had promised, but he had also scheduled me for three “clopen” shifts for that week, where I was closing one day and opening the next. I was furious. It’s a little thing on its own, but in the context of all the other crap that he had pulled (including telling me I needed to be “prettier” when I was at work), it really was the last straw.

    Reply
  132. Lia

    Sales rep job that decided instead of making our own schedules, corporate would — and no longer reimburse for travel time. I hit all of my accounts in a pattern I’d designed to save them a ton of money on mileage, which had won me praise from superiors — we had to see accounts on certain timetable (like every 2 weeks, monthly, quarterly, etc, but they had previously never cared if it was a Monday or a Thursday). So, my travel time was going to conservatively quadruple, cost them a ton in mileage and hotel reimbursements, and none of it would be compensated for me. I noped out 2 weeks later and actually never worked a day of the “revised” schedule.

    Another job when I spent an entire, rare, family vacation hunched over my laptop to get an “urgent” project done that was assigned to me 15 minutes before I left for the trip, only to find out my boss lied to me about the due date (even though I was going to be back well before it was actually due, and had never missed a deadline), and didn’t even look at it for a month after I returned from the trip.

    Reply