can I keep my company truck when I leave to stick it to my company?

A reader writes:

You will probably think that I am a total jerk for contemplating doing this, but just hear me out. First off, I do appreciate being gainfully employed but I absolutely HATE the company I work for. We were purchased by a gigantic multi-billion dollar company over a year ago, and ever they have been piling more and more work on us as more divisions have been acquired. Everyone who works for our company is completely exhausted and people are quitting in droves.

I am thinking about finding another job, and when I leave I want to stick it them the best I can. What I would like to do is not turn in my company pick-up and see how much money they have to spend to get it back from me. Since the truck was issued to me, they cannot just report it stolen, can they? I am assuming that it will end up being a civil matter and they will have to take me to court in order to legally take back ownership of the truck.

It’s a bad idea.

I get that you want to stick it to them, but this will actually hurt you a lot more than it hurts them. Even if they have to spend money to get the truck back, they’re a multi-billion dollar company. It’s going to be a blip on their radar, financially. For you, though, it will ruin the reference you might have otherwise gotten from them, and it will ruin your reputation with colleagues, who won’t risk being associated with someone who did something that shady, even after they too leave the company. Even people who agree with you that your company sucks aren’t going to condone doing this and are going to see it as horrible judgment and lack of integrity on your part. You’ll squander any good will and camaraderie that you currently have.

And that can easily come back to bite you. Imagine that you’re interviewing for a job you really want some day in the future, and one of  your current coworkers is now employed there and knows that you’re the guy who did something this sketchy and petty. It would torpedo your chances. Why would you do that to the future you?

Also, right now you have the moral high ground and can leave with your integrity intact. Take something that isn’t yours — when you know it’s wrong — and you lose that and become a crappy person. Again, why would you do that to yourself?

Bad companies mess with your head. Don’t let this one mess with you any more than it already has.

{ 264 comments… read them below }

    1. KayDay*

      I know we are supposed to not go to town with +1 s, but this comment really deserves another +1.

    2. Observer*

      That’s a lot of effort – but it actually might have an effect, and it’s legally protected.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I am sorry that I cannot give specifics.

      But after talking around trying to help a friend, I found out that people that try to start a union usually end up fired. Not legal, I know. But the reason it happens is because by then the employee is too exhausted to fight it.

      There’s more than I can say here. My thought is if I start thinking that it would good to unionize, then it is best to just look for a new job.

      1. Mike C.*

        No, I fully understand the risk that is entailed here, but with some jobs you need something just to keep going. The environment is so bad and you don’t have any other place to go and you’re basically hopeless.

        If you work closely with a good union, you can minimize these risks, and document everything in case the worst does happen. In the meantime you have some way to try and improve your current working conditions until either something good happens or you have a new job.

        But simply giving up is not a good answer. There are still plenty of really bad places to work for out there, and “just find a new job” can take months in some places.

      2. fposte*

        People stealing trucks don’t end up too well either, though, so of the two I’d rather try for the union.

        1. Kelly O*

          This, seriously.

          If it’s either getting in hot water for forming a union or auto theft, I am going to pick union. Every time.

      3. Observer*

        You may be right, although there are some protections even for people who can’t afford a lawyer. But, regardless, you won’t get arrested for trying to start a union. And it’s easier to find a job after being fired for trying to start a union than after developing a criminal record.

    4. Mike C.*

      One thing I want to stress here is that the purpose of forming the union is to collectively bargain for better working conditions and compensation, not to gut the company. I think folks understood the spirit in which I made my original comment, but this is the internet and I want to make sure I’m being absolutely clear.

  1. Cat*

    Also, there’s a high chance they’ll consider it an unpaid debt, turn it over to a collection agency, and it’ll just mess up your credit.

    1. Michelle*

      First off, you never want to corrupt your own personal values and morals to “get back at the man”. Secondly, I’m sorry to say, but the company will probably report it stolen which will end up being a black mark on your record and a huge hassle for you. At my large company, when an individual with a company provided vehicle does not return it we report it stolen to the local authorities. Frankly we have to for insurance purposes.

  2. SallyT*

    Grand theft auto, anyone?
    You could be arrested for stealing! This will backfire in unknown ways for years.

    1. Juli G.*

      Exactly my thought. This may not be an easy conviction but it would be a pretty easy charge.

      I think Allison summed it up well – a multimillion dollar company has lawyers hanging out, waiting to handle this. It’s a lot of money for you to spend and a lot to risk for something that will likely end up as a 5 minute blip on senior management’s radar.

      1. MJH*

        It would be super ironic if they didn’t even notice. I mean, free truck for this guy, but they’d have no idea that you’re screwing them. THEY DON’T EVEN CARE.

    2. EG*

      Most companies ask for a signed form before they issue a company vehicle. Or somewhere in the employee handbook or other company policies it probably addresses company property. Yes, you should turn in the truck and keys in good shape. You may feel wronged by the company but it’s never in your best interest to act this way. Things like this tend to come back to bite you.

      1. some1*

        Another good point I forgot to mention. You probably did sign something that says you would turn over the car if you quit or get fired.

    3. attornaut*

      I like the, “Well they issued it to me so it’s obviously not a crime!” What do you think embezzlement is?

      OP will go to jail and his company will not suffer at all.

      1. Bea W*

        Back in the day, I was a driver for a company. I kept the van at my house and was allowed to use it off the clock as a perk of my job. Some employees did not even own personal vehicles specifically because of this perk. That van was assigned to me on paper, but it was not my van. My name was not on title or the lease or the registration. All of those things were in the name of the company. It would have absolutely been criminal theft to not return it.

        Unless the OP has the title or the bank note/lease agreement and registration in his name only, it’s not legally considered his property, and the only one who will get a stickin’ to, will be the OP, in jail, unemployed, and no truck to show for it.

        1. Pennalynn Lott*

          I was just coming here to say pretty much the same thing. Companies “assign” all kinds of things to employees that employees don’t ever actually own: desks, chairs, phones, laptops, etc. Having something assigned to you does not give you legal ownership; it just says, “You get to use this item as while you are employed with us.”

          So, no, it wouldn’t be just a civil matter. Last time I checked, auto theft was a criminal charge.

          Here is what LegalMatch has to say on it:

          What Is Grand Theft Auto?
          Grant theft auto is the theft of a vehicle. If you steal a car with the intent to keep the vehicle permanently, you have committed grand theft auto. ”

          What Are the Likely Consequences of Grand Theft Auto?
          Grand theft auto can either be a misdemeanor or a felony. Most states set a certain amount of money as the cut-off line between the two. For example, selling more than $400 worth of the vehicle in California is considered a felony. Whether you are guilty of a misdemeanor or felony, any of the following consequences are likely:

          *Parole or probation
          *Community service
          *Paying restitution and other fines”

  3. John*

    And if you don’t want to take Alison’s advice, realize this: the quicker you move on and release your anger toward this bad employer, the better for you. By engaging in this drama, you are tethering yourself to them for longer than you have to.

    I say this as someone who had to go after an employer in court for non-payment. Of course, I had to do it. But I’ll tell you, the case didn’t go to trial until a couple years later and every time I had to go through my case with counsel or give a deposition, it brought back the terrible experience. And — you’ll love this! — I lost, despite having a signed termination agreement from my employer that acknowledged she owed me. My lesson: even if it costs you, cut the cord and move on. It’s best for your mental health.

    1. Whippers*

      This is something I never thought of and so true. Doing something like this means you will have a much longer association with the company than you ever would otherwise. Why would you want them to have this continued presence in your life?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Excellent points,John and Whippers. And applicable to many things in life, too.
        OP, if they did not mind treating you like crap when you were walking the straight and narrow, watch out for what they will do when you are in that grey area or, worse yet, an illegal area.

    2. Ellie H*

      You reminded me of Mike Birbiglia’s radio piece about being hit by a drunk driver who t-boned him at an intersection (if I remember correctly), the police record mistakenly stated that he was at fault, and then he was supposed to pay for the accident. He spent about a million years trying to fight this on principle (in addition to for the money) and then it got to the point where it was the healthier thing to just give up. It’s somewhat horrifying, but I think it is a good moral fable (I have a tendency to do the same thing but for way smaller amounts – for example I once drove to four different liquor stores, making three separate trips to one of them, in order to find one with working bottle redemption machines – which eventually netted me $9.60). It’s at if anyone is interested.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        That was an AMAZING piece. I kept driving around listening to it when I first heard it because I was so enthralled that I didn’t want to turn off the car radio.

      2. fposte*

        I saw that one on the live video broadcast. “You’re right, but you’re only hurting yourself.”

  4. Lisa*

    Is the title in your name? Then isn’t it yours? Is there an agreement that says you have to return it?

    Issued doesn’t mean title. Whoever is listed on the title is the owner regardless of who paid for it. If they own it and you are just on the insurance – its theirs. You’ll need to make sure you are off the insurance policy too, because you don’t want to deal with issues later on from that.

    1. The IT Manager*

      I agree. I think that they can report it stolen if it was issued to you since you’re not an employee any longer. Do you really want to risk it?

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Yep. OP, you could have it in your front yard with the keys in it and you could still be charged with stealing.

      (Noticed I did not say “convicted”. How that plays out in court is only speculative, but they can definitely press charges.)

    3. NoPantsFridays*

      Yes, even if you lease a car, there is a title/financial/bank company or some similar owner on the title. They can repo the car if you stop paying or otherwise break the terms of the lease, and I imagine the OP’s company could repo the truck the same way. If OP wants to steal the truck, s/he will have to keep it invisible somehow, e.g. drive off into Mexico undetected and never bring the truck back. Can’t repo a car you can’t find. Of course, as Alison and others have said, this is still a bad idea.

      I know a guy who kept his company-issued laptop when he retired, and they never came after him. But that was for a laptop, not a vehicle, and at that, the laptop was about a decade out of date at the time. This guy also had multiple powerful personal computers at home, but just had to take the company’s computer too. haha.

  5. Purr purr purr*

    I almost can’t believe someone asked this. With the huge negative consequences from something like this, it would be like chopping off your nose to spite your face. Why even bother? Just walk away knowing that you never have to work with or deal with them ever again.

    1. GrumpyBoss*

      And this is the reason I’m so cynical and grumpy. I’ve worked for some really hated companies so I may have had more exposure to the “stick it to the man” attitude than what is healthy.

      I no longer surprised by statements like these. So much anger being directed towards people/companies not worthy of the emotion.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I am with you GB. I have seen too much, to go back to a happy place in my head.

        Alison’s last sentence very nicely sums up what is happening here.
        “Bad companies mess with your head.”

        You can’t soar like an eagle if you are surrounded by turkeys. We tend to sink to the level of the people surrounding us. (On one hand OP has burned out coworkers and on the other hand is nasty management.)Best to just reclaim what is left of one’s self and move on.

      2. Puddin*

        ‘Sticking it to the man’ does not work because what you are, in fact doing, is causing a big mess for co-workers. You might like them, or maybe not. But it is the front lines people that will have to deal with the challenges. In reality you are sticking it to the cubicle jockeys who, if your company is as bad as you say, probably do not like working there anymore than you do -and now you just added to their burdens.

    2. JayDee*

      Considering the number of times I have had to advise clients a) not to trash their apartment after they move out even though the landlord is a colossal ass or b) not to steal stuff/destroy stuff that belongs to their ex even though their ex is a colossal ass I am not surprised by this at all.

      1. Stephanie*

        During the height of the housing crash here, I saw an ad looking for people to assist with cleaning out bank-owned foreclosures. The ad had a disclaimer saying “This is not a job for the squeamish. If you have a sensitive temperament, please do not apply for this job.”

      2. Melissa*

        I don’t understand people’s impetus to do this. It’s more work and energy to trash a place than it is to just move on with your life. I mean…you’re moving. Don’t you WANT your security deposit back?

  6. TotesMaGoats*

    As good as it might make you feel, you keeping the truck isn’t going to change how the company operates. They won’t see the light because of this action. Much like how boycotts, unless on a national level, don’t usually impact a company in a tangible way, this isn’t going to do anything to that company…good or bad.

    1. Stephanie*

      Additionally, my impression with successful boycotts is that the company had to be in enough of a financially precarious situation that the scrutiny would actually affect the bottom line. People boycott Walmart all the time and it doesn’t make much difference. Also, I remember the Chcik-Fil-A boycott just brought out supporters in droves.

  7. The Wall of Creativity*

    Coming next Wednesday…

    You will probably think that I am a total jerk for contemplating doing this, but just hear me out. Everyone who works for our company is completely exhausted and people are quitting in droves.

    I am thinking about finding another job, and when I leave I want to stick it them the best I can. What I would like to do is to take home my stapler and see how much money they have to spend to get it back from me. Since the stapler was issued to me, they cannot just report it stolen, can they? I am assuming that it will end up being a civil matter and they will have to take me to court in order to legally take back ownership of the stapler.

    If Alison says it’s OK to take the stapler, then we’re into negotiating where the line is.

    1. Chrissi*

      Honestly, one of my coworkers had a company-purchased red stapler (not joking, and yes, he did it on purpose) and he took it with him. He really loved that stapler (once again, real person, just really liked Office Space).

      1. The Wall of Creativity*

        So there’s a legal precedent for getting away with pinching a stapler but pocketing a truck would be bad form.

        What about taking the office microwave?

        1. Kelly L.*

          Just because he got away with taking it, doesn’t make it right. It just means the company decided it wasn’t worth the cost or effort of giving it back. With a truck, they almost certainly would. Both are bad form, but the practicalities are different from the business’s point of view.

          BTW, is this a proxy argument for the racism/sexism debate yesterday? My apologies if I’m wrong, but this feels like one of the arguments that was brought up there, in some intangible way.

            1. The Wall of Creativity*

              I’ve not seen yesterday’s racism/sexism debate but I can imagine similar issues about where to draw the line. Except that where it comes to racism & sexism I wouldn’t dream of doing the equivalent of pinching a stapler. Believe it or not.

              1. Kelly L.*

                Never mind then. I apologize. I got into an argument with an anon yesterday about a comparison between two situations and thought you might be them.

                1. The Wall of Creativity*

                  No offence taken & no apology necessary.

                  And it wasn’t me posting as Anon. The Wall isn’t one to hide behind anonymity!

        2. Cat*

          It’s about enforcement. They have ever right to go after him for the stapler but they’re not going to bother because it’s more expensive than it’s worth. It’s not a legal line; it’s a judgment call as to what they’re going to bother with.

          1. Andrea*

            When I left a job, I took my signature stamp, my name stamps, and my nameplate. I figured that they weren’t going to use them again, so I might as well have them.

            1. Carpe Librarium*

              I would say that the signature stamp should only ever be in your possession, due to the fraud risk you are exposed to if you turn it over to someone else.

              I actually have two signatures; my formal/legal one, and an informal one for work letters etc.

        3. Anonylicious*

          If I were management of that company, and you managed to fit the truck in your pocket, I would be so impressed I would probably let you keep it.

    2. Dani X*

      In my company they probably wouldn’t even notice the stapler was missing because people descend on newly deserted offices like locusts and take all the really good office equipment. People would either assume the ex employee didn’t have a stapler or someone else took it.

      I do know people who never told their manager their login password for their computer after they turned it in. I figure that is a grey area because the computer needs to be wiped anyway, and the people doing it weren’t eligible for rehire anyway so it wasn’t going to do more harm.

      I also know of someone who peed on his ex-managers door. I wouldn’t recommend that one either.

      1. GrumpyBoss*

        I’ve had the job of recovering data/putting legal holds on separating employees who do this.

        Trust me – it doesn’t even slow us down.

        1. GrumpyBoss*

          To clarify, by “do this” I mean not give a password. God help me if I ever have a job involving pee.

        2. Dani X*

          That is pretty much why I don’t consider it a huge problem. It takes them longer to get at the computer but ultimately it isn’t a showstopper.

        1. Ann Furthermore*

          Years ago I worked in oil & gas. Everyone had to take an industry class when they started working for the company. Most of it was deadly dull, but some of it was pretty interesting.

          The guy teaching the class had worked for Shell for years and years. He told a story of being out on an oil rig in the middle of TX once, and one of the workers dropped a big sledgehammer down into the hole by mistake. Since oil rig drill bits are made of diamonds (low grade diamonds, but still diamonds, so freaking expensive) they manager didn’t want to damage the drill bit by grinding up the sledgehammer. So they spend 2 days fishing for it: attaching all the lengths of pipe together to run down into the hole, fish around, then detaching each one and stacking it as it was brought up to see if the sledgehammer had been recovered.

          Finally, they got it! Yay! The job site manager lit into the employee who had made the mistake in front of everyone. Chewed him a new one, told him he was fired, told him to get the hell out of his sight, all the rest of it. So the conversation went something like:

          “OK, so I’m fired?”
          “YES!! Get the F out of here you stupid SOB!”
          “There’s nothing I can do to change your mind?”
          “NO!! You’re fired and I never want to see you again!!”

          You get the idea. So the employee said, “OK.” Then, he picked up the sledgehammer, dropped it back down the hole, climbed down off the oil rig, got into his car and drove away.

          So. Mindblowingly. Awesome.

          1. Anonsie*

            I knew where this was going and it was still just outstandingly satisfying when I got there.

            1. Ann Furthermore*

              I know, it really is just made of awesome, isn’t it? What I didn’t include was that the guy who dropped the sledgehammer was evidently mortified when it first happened, and apologized all over the place. If he’d been a jerk, then the manager firing him that way would have been more justified. But since he owned up to his mistake, and did everything he could to help fix it, the manager behaving that way was just really out of line and uncalled for. So the guy really did get the best revenge imaginable.

          2. Aunt Vixen*

            I read this out loud to my co-workers. I got to “OK, so I’m fired?” and one girl went “Oh. Oh, no.” It was fun to watch her eyes get bigger when she saw how the story ended before I got there. :-)

            1. Ann Furthermore*

              I have gotten so much mileage out of that story over the years. It is, by far, the best revenge story I’ve ever heard.

        2. The Wall of Creativity*

          Good idea but I have no stories to share. And even if I made one up, people would assume I was the perpetrator and cane me mercilessly.

    3. GrumpyBoss*

      Not that either should be condoned, but you are comparing petty theft to grand theft.

      1. Diet Coke Addict*

        Indeed. The cost of recovering a truck (filing an insurance claim, hiring a repo man, getting the police involved) is commensurate with the cost of the truck–which may be in the $50,000 range. However, the cost of recovering a stapler that probably cost $25 doesn’t make it worth the activities to recover it. What is the cost of each? What are the benefits?

        1. GrumpyBoss*

          Also, what is the risk? A misdemeanor vs a felony.

          This is one of the silliest ethical debates I’ve seen in some time.

          1. The Wall of Creativity*

            I think I’ll go for a stapler, the mains lead for my laptop and as much of the food in the office fridge I can fit in my pockets. It doesn’t feel right to push it any further.

            And maybe a pot plant from reception on my way out of the building.

            1. Kelly L.*

              You’re missing the point. You made up your own hypothetical, nobody condoned it but you, and now you’re annoyed at us for…something. I’m a little lost.

                1. Pennalynn Lott*

                  Nah, no trolling. No annoyance. Wall is just being silly today. I’ve found it pretty amusing.

              1. The Wall of Creativity*

                Sorry. Just having a boring morning and needing an outlet for my zany sense of humour.

              1. The Wall of Creativity*

                Sorry to disappoint you Alison, but where I come from, pot plants = plants in pots.

              2. GrumpyBoss*

                True story: I once had a coworker grow it in reception. To my knowledge, he was never caught.

                1. Arbynka*

                  There is this story back from behind the iron curtain, about some guys growing pot right in front of international hotel in town center and policemen actually guarding it so no one would vandalize that pretty greenery.

                2. Not So NewReader*

                  Yeah, not surprising. We had some growing in one of the classrooms in high school.
                  Yes, you can get 1000 people to look the other way.

              3. Arbynka*

                Perhaps Wall ment plant in pot. Potted plant. If not, I am bit curious as to what business this might be :)

        2. NoPantsFridays*

          Also, in addition to what you and the others have said, a stapler doesn’t have a title or other proof of ownership. How would you prove the stapler doesn’t belong to the employee? How do you as the employer prove you bought it? With a car, it’s much easier (title).

          Also, $25 for a stapler?! Must be a good one. :)

          1. Milton Waddams*

            They switched from the Swingline to the Boston stapler, but I kept my Swingline stapler because it didn’t bind up as much, and I kept the staples for the Swingline stapler…

    4. Hermione*

      There was also that time that a disgruntled Ph.D. student who wasn’t going to pass the arguments for his dissertation decided that the most forgiving, healthy way to deal with this problem would be to LIGHT HIS ADVISOR’S DOOR ON FIRE.

      Incredibly, no charges were filed, nobody was hurt, and half the department didn’t even know what happened, as they replaced the door, painted and vented out the area before Monday morning rolled around.

      Academia, man. (Hogwarts is a tougher crowd post-Voldemort.)

        1. Hermione*

          Understatement of the century, Chloe. He is apparently a full-time researcher at another university now. It’s terrifying to think that people you work with could be the sorts of people who would do those things.

          1. Ruffingit*

            Given some of the people I’ve worked with over the years, it would not surprise me at all to find that some were criminals, abusive, serious drug addicts, etc. I’ve been with some tough crowds in the working world.

      1. Arbynka*

        Wow. Yes, no charges seem pretty incredible. I would think setting a place on fire is kinda a big deal.

        1. Student*

          Last time someone set my workplace on fire, I couldn’t even get the safety people to take notice. People just don’t care if it isn’t “their” problem.

          I brought my boss’s deputy (boss was out of town) to see it, while the guy was lighting my work area on fire. You know what boss’s deputy did about it? He said, “Oohh, neat!” and took a picture and left me to deal with it. I swear I have never wondered about my sanity more than that moment – could everyone else really think that lighting the office area on fire was a reasonable activity? Was I suffering some elaborate delusion or dream? Nope, I was right – lighting the office area on fire is a terrible idea that damages all sorts of stuff. When some important stuff inevitably got seriously damaged, I had to do the clean-up. I really wish I was joking.

    5. NK*

      I don’t think Alison would say it’s OK to take the stapler either. Just a hunch.

      Believe me, I get your frustration, but Alison’s advice is spot on. And the fact that there isn’t a single person here who has said this is a good idea (especially given that this is a generally wise group and full of people with their share of awful employer experiences) is very, very good reason to find some other outlet for your frustration. Your feelings may be entirely justified, but this isn’t the way to deal with them.

    6. Darcy Pennell*

      My last day at my job is tomorrow, and yesterday someone chided me for bringing back a monitor the company had lent me for days when I WFH:

      “Wow, that’s so *honest* of you.”
      “Umm… it’s company property.”
      “It’s just a monitor! They’re a dime a dozen!”

      It was an old monitor when they gave it to me; I’m sure they won’t use it again. Still wouldn’t have felt right about keeping it. Apparently different people draw the line in different places.

      1. Nina*

        Smart move returning it, though. The company may have the monitor’s serial number on file for reasons just like this, and the company would expect you to reimburse them if it wasn’t returned.

      2. Aunt Vixen*

        I had a laptop for occasional WFH purposes at my last-day-is-today job. When I picked it up, it was in a quite nice airline-compliant laptop bag (the kind that splits right down the middle), and I also got an external keyboard and a docking station. I told the IT guy I didn’t need those, because I’d just be using it as a laptop, but he said tough luck, they were mine anyway.

        So when I brought back the laptop, I brought in all the peripherals as well, of course. Different IT guy who took the delivery when I returned it said Oh, I didn’t know you also had all these other things, the only thing assigned to you in the record is the laptop. I was like, aw, man, you mean I could have kept that really sweet carrying case? Him: nobody would ever have known. Me: … yeah, but I’d have known. Sigh.

      3. Windchime*

        I had a giant old laptop that belonged to the company at OldJob. I tried to return it on my last day, but it was so old and outdated they wouldn’t take it! They told me to keep it, so (foolishly), I did. I know have a giant old laptop that weighs about 10 lbs, has to always be plugged in and gets hotter than heck.

    7. fposte*

      There’s a reason the slippery slope is a logical fallacy. However, as with others here, I think you’re trying to go somewhere and I’m not sure where–maybe that should all have been a moral discussion and there’s always a bright line, and you feel this didn’t acknowledge it enough?

      You shouldn’t take the stapler, either, because it’s not yours. However, it’s not as likely to ruin your life as taking a truck is, and the discussion here is including the practical as well as the moral.

    8. BritCred*

      Yep. We are negotiating the line. But we are also negotiating based on the effect on the company. 1 Stapler has little effect where as a company vehicle has a lot.

      Plus as others have said the likelyhood of getting someone taking legal action against you for office supplies is very small. Anything more than a petty cash level expense? Especially a company vehicle – that is significant and worth the company pursuing.

  8. UKJo*

    Aww, OP, I do sympathise with you but Alison is spot on. Bad employers can mess with your head and really make you want to lash out. The best thing to do is find a kickass new job and join the droves leaving – this will stick it to them much better when it leaves them with no trained staff and client desertion.

  9. Elizabeth West*

    Um….forgive me, but….

    Are you MAD???? NO.

    You keep what is essentially company property and you’re in for a world of legal problems. And depending on the size of your industry/where you live, you could render yourself unemployable.

    Turn in the truck, leave the company like a grown-up, and let it go. I realize you hate them, but trust me–once you’re out of there, the relief will be so overwhelming that you won’t want to have any more to do with them ever.

  10. Ali*

    What is going on here this week? Didn’t think it could get any crazier after Monday’s underwear letter…

  11. OriginalYup*

    Stick it to them by finding a better job, and moving on with class. And if you really want to stick it to them, help your current coworkers also get better jobs at your new place.

      1. Big Tom*

        I agree with this in theory and definitely in practice, but just to be fair to the OP I understand how they’re feeling. When you’re treated badly by a company or individual you want them to know it and feel bad about it.

        The important thing to remember is that whether you handle it badly (such as stealing a truck) or well (such as moving on and getting over it) they’re likely not going to get the message either way. So do what’s best for you and know that, unfortunately, you just don’t have the ability to stop jerks being jerks.

        1. Arbynka*

          Excatly. I understand the frustration but you are be hurting yourself way way more than you will be able to hurt them, if this even hurts them much at all.

    1. Mints*

      I know this is supposed to be clsssy, but poaching all the good employees is actually pretty good revenge imo. Helping everyone escape (assuming a small department, I guess, since I’m thinking of smaller places thinking) can feel really satisfying

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I have done some of this- helping coworkers find something different. It’s subtle and you get a friend for life. Surprisingly, sometimes new employers do not flinch when you explain and they will consider a friend’s application.

  12. Seal*

    I’ve always found that the best way to “stick it” to an employer is to be consistently excellent at your job, rise above any and all BS they may fling at you, then leave for a better job. Once you’re gone your former coworkers will question the employer’s integrity for letting their best employee get away rather than your integrity for any shenanigans you pull in a vain attempt to “stick it” to them.

    1. Lia*


      This is what I did.

      End result? I got a better (and better-paying job), and my leaving started an avalanche of long-term people leaving in droves. They are down by more than half of the staff now.

      Living well is the best revenge.

    2. A Teacher*

      and when you leave and someone asks you about working there, be polite but honest. My former employer was awful and still is according to the friends that still work there, I’ve had friends ask if they should apply to work for this company and I just give the honest account of my experience and my co-workers’ experience with them. No need to lie. They’ve formed a reputation as the company where people come to work to get experience and then move on. I think former employees’ experiences and willingness to be open about our experiences has helped form that reputation. I know a few excellent people that would have been assets to that company but didn’t apply based on talking to me and a few others they knew from the company.

    3. LBK*

      Agreed. The best way to get back at a crappy employer is to become invaluable to them and then leave (especially since many crappy employers have no contingency plans for critical employees leaving).

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Crappy places can sharpen you as an employee. Like it or not there it is. Let the bad workplace sharpen you in what ever manner possible.
        When you are gone, you will take your skill set with you. The next place will think they won the lottery when they find you.

  13. Katie the Fed*

    I’m really wondering what you thought Alison’s advice would be? Did you just want to get talked out of this?

    1. GrumpyBoss*

      I wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that this letter originated from a company PC or even a company email address. Good judgment doesn’t seem to be his strong suit.

    2. KerryOwl*

      I think she probably did just want to get talked out it. It’s just a way of venting. Is that so terrible?

        1. Mimmy*

          I hope so too. The OP sounds to me like an otherwise rational person at their wits end about a horrible job.

      1. LBK*

        Yeah, I don’t think that’s a bad thing at all. Sometimes you need an outside perspective that you trust to tell you “Yes, you’re right, this idea is batshit insane.” Especially while experiencing bad employer PTSD, which can completely warp your sense of reality.

        1. Nina*

          This, 100%. When you feel trapped and desperate, you don’t always think rationally. Especially when your livelihood depends on the place that is currently making you miserable. Someone telling you to slow down and think things through before you make a mistake can make all the difference in the world.

          1. Clerica*

            It’s particularly true if you just got done with another bad situation at work. Someone yelled in your face, or a promotion went to an idiot, or they announced they’re cutting hours. You’re going to feel sick two days later after two sleeps, never mind the sheer panic in the couple hours after the latest trigger.

            Cracked did an article on how everyone thinks they’d be totally calm and rational in a stressful situation:


            …and all the ways your brain will screw you over when the panic hits. I like the “internet sages” label.

      2. Mike C.*

        Yeah. Working at a terrible job does funny things to you, and you start having thoughts like these. The overwork and lack of rest doesn’t help anything either.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I agree, that OP wanted to be talked down from doing.

      But it kind of skates by the point, what do you do if you are so enraged with an employer that you can only think about ways to retaliate?
      I think that is the real question.

      This is going to sound awful, but the first thing I tell myself is “I let ME down. I stayed too long.”
      Really, all we can do is change what we are doing on an individual level.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, really nice point. And if you’re still planning your actions based on how they affect this company, you’re more influenced by them than ever, just at the moment you want to leave them behind. Counterproductive to say the least.

  14. BRR*

    I get that you’re mad at your employer but not returning the truck will hurt you far more than it will stick it to the company. They’d be having the last laugh. In addition to references and reputation there is the legal matter. You’d end up losing, it’s going to cost you at the very least your own time in showing up to whatever legal preceding if you represent yourself (which going against professional lawyers might not be the smartest move so then you have lawyer costs), you might have to pay their legal costs, they could also charge you with theft of company property etc. Then it will also show up in court records and could appear in future background searches (depending on what type of search they do).

    As I said, I get that you’re mad at the company (and it sounds like they’re earned it). Unfortunately in an employee employer situation there is an inherit imbalance of power since they company is paying out a lot of money. Same goes for when people are applying for a position and try to regain some of that power. It is just inherit because at the end of the day they’ll be paying you a lot of money. The only way to counter that is if you’re so uniquely skilled that you cannot be replaced. Unfortunately most people do not fall into this category and this is especially true with the current labor market.

  15. Newbie*

    I agree with John – “the quicker you move on and release your anger toward this bad employer, the better for you.”

    I was in a job where I was extremely miserable and desperately trying to get out – and it showed in my interviews. I never got so much as a second interview. At the time I was so frustrated, but looking back – I know why nobody wanted to hire me. It took some time, but I ended up leaving that job, getting some training and moving to a different field of business. I sent out 3 resumes. I went on a single interview – and got the job.

    The job I left? I’m told it’s only gotten worse since I left, and I still have friends there, because I left like a grown up. I left the drama and the misery behind. It’s a gift to yourself.

    1. Mallorie, the recruiter*

      I see this happen a lot. And it’s hard to see it happening to yourself in the moment. It can really be hard to get out of a bad situation once you’ve crossed that line to “emotionally distraught” – which can be sad, angry, frustrated, etc. I’m not surprised it was coming through in your job interviews – but good for you for finding a way to get out of it. That is not an easy task.

      1. Newbie*

        Oh, I definitely couldn’t see it at the time. I can only imagine what you’ve seen in your line of work. For me, it was just one more thing that sucked on top of everything else at that job. Ugh.

        The only good thing was that it prompted me to move to a different department, which helped for a while. I also got serious about money – saving more than 30% of my net pay so I could (eventually) quit the job without having another one lined up and go back to school. It took almost 2 years before I could hand over my letter of resignation, but I have no regrets.

        Even better? I needed only half the money I had saved because I was in a much better frame of mind and found a new job just weeks after finishing school. :)

  16. Bend & Snap*

    I can’t imagine voluntarily signing up for the cost and reputation hits this would bring about, not to mention the hassle factor. It’s like sending yourself to collections because you want creditors to call you and beg you for their money.

  17. This is me*

    I can appreciate how frustrated you are, but you need to see beyond all of this. There is no logical way that this will turn out well for you. I highly doubt they would ever just concede to letting you keep the truck; think of the precedent that it would set for other employees. Like Alison said, they are a multi-billion dollar company and it would be nothing for them to fight you in court. You, on the other hand will probably end up losing money, the truck, your good reputation, and make your job search a nightmare.

    Good luck with everything. I hope it turns out for the best.

  18. Observer*

    They most definitely CAN report it as stolen, unless they made the deed / title over to you. If you don’t have a copy of a piece of official paper that says the truck belongs to you, it does not belong to you, and taking it is theft and can be reported to the police as such.

    Do you have any idea how hard it is for someone with a criminal conviction to get a job? Even if you manage, by some miracle, to avoid that, keep in mind that civil proceedings ARE public records – and more and more of them are becoming searchable on the web. What do you think is going to happen when / if someone googles you, or someone does a background check and finds that you were forced to pay for the theft of a truck that belonged to your company?

    And, if they do haul you into civil court, you could wind up having to not just pay for the truck, but additional expenses.

    This is all on top of what Alison pointed out.

    1. Observer*

      Oh, and if you really need to stick it to them, then as the others say, find a better job and help as many of your coworkers as possible to find better jobs. And, give them a lousy rating on Glassdoor.

    2. JMegan*

      Also, keep in mind that your plan to steal the truck is now posted on the internet, for anyone in the world to see, forever.

      It’s anonymous, of course. But if I were the company’s lawyer going after an ex-employee for a stolen truck, I would be googling for something exactly like this. Do you want to take the chance that they would subpoena your IP address from Alison’s records, then compare the location and date of “your” actual stolen truck, to the location and date of an anonymous letter writer who asked about stealing a truck?

      I don’t know how likely that is, or how aggressively they would go after you. But it’s not impossible. One way or another, they will find you, and the truck, and I guarantee what happens next will be way more uncomfortable for you than for the company.

  19. Nina*

    I feel for you, OP. When you’re in a place that makes you miserable, I know it’s tempting to “stick it to them” but it really will hurt you later on. Getting out of there and into a better working environment will be revenge enough. Plus, they will come after you for the car, so you will be tied up in legal hassle even after you’ve left the place. Just don’t do it.

  20. brightstar*

    It’s easy to let anger and frustration tempt you into making bad decisions, and the temporary glee in “sticking it to the man” will eventually fade and make things more difficult for you in the future. While I understand the desire to leave in a whirl of profanity and burning your desk, so to speak, in the future it will only make job searching more difficult and this particular action could lead to a lot of unpleasant legal matters.

  21. some1*

    Also, Allison is correct that this won’t stick it to them the way you think. The absolute worst-case scenario on their end is writing it off.

    Multi billion dollar companies usually get bigger, not smaller. You have no idea what business(es) they might acquire. Don’t get on the Do Not Re-Hire list on purpose.

    1. Frances*

      Yup. I have had a disgruntled supervisor attempt to “stick it to” our bosses (we were also incredibly overworked) by quitting without notice, wiping her computer, and destroying a bunch of paper files. The brunt of the extra work caused by those actions fell almost entirely on her direct reports — she ruined her reputation professionally and did nothing to her bosses but mildly inconvenience them.

      1. some1*

        At my old work, same morning as a huge round of layoffs, an employee trashed the ladies room. (& yes, whatever is the grossest scenario you’re thinking is what happened). How does that help? In what office does the person who makes layoff decisions also have janitorial duties?

        1. fposte*

          I think once you’ve decided to smear bodily excretions on the walls you’ve pretty much abandoned logic.

        2. BritCred*

          At one work place we took away the radios for health and safety reasons. The factory workers were clearly briefed on the reasons and given all chances to ask further questions about it.

          Next morning? Someone had literally trashed the factory bathrooms. Not in the gross way. In the “smashed units” way!

          People don’t think. They just want to “hurt” the bosses. Stupid thing is that that expense meant that by the time it came round to bonuses and payrises we had less to spend….

      2. BritCred*

        Similar to this – decades ago when computers used 5.25 floppys a solicitors secretary quit and and wrecked all the data discs with a pin before doing so…

        Would have got away with it but got caught when she was bragging about it down the pub and the wrong person overheard…consequences were NOT pretty!

        (My mother swears that story is true – could be a myth though!)

  22. AndersonDarling*

    I get being mad and wanting to take revenge. But I’m wondering what would happen if he took the truck and the company never noticed. He’d be stuck with a truck with no title. What then? You can’t drive it after the plates expire.

    The best thing he can do is leave with all the other employees and leave the company struggling.

    (although I might clog the executive toilet on my last day)

    1. The Wall of Creativity*

      Or lift the seats of the bogs, cover them with clingfilm and put the seats back down. Now we’re talking!

      1. Headachey*

        So you recommend sticking it to the cleaning staff (who are most likely not directly employed) and making them clean it up? Right.

      2. Laufey*

        And how does giving the janitorial staff (who are probably underpaid, overworked, and also looking for a way out) a headache help anyone?

        1. Laufey*

          Since we’re advising an OP that wants to steal a truck, I thought it best to err on the side of caution.

  23. Hiring Mgr*

    OP, you are on the right track but to really get back at the company you need to drive the truck up a mountain cliff, and just as it’s about to go over the edge, jump out of the door to safety. This way you will ruin the truck but cannot be accused of stealing since the truck will be destroyed.

    Just make sure not to wear loose clothing so you don’t accidentally get it stuck in the door, which could cause difficulty.

    1. The Wall of Creativity*

      Or lift the seats of the bogs, cover them with clingfilm and put the seats back down. Now we’re talking!

      1. Lily in NYC*

        This prank sounds so much cooler with the words bog and clingfilm instead of toilet and saran wrap!

    2. Elysian*

      This is a really good point. Integrity aside, what will you do with a stolen truck and no title? You can’t register it or insure it. You can take it to a chop shop, I guess, but if you’re into that kind of thing I don’t know how anyone on this blog could convince you not to steal the truck.

        1. Anonsie*

          I always thought it meant that whatever you did for revenge was always going to be awful. Cold like… Cold-hearted? That doesn’t make sense now that I’m explaining it.

        2. Rayner*

          It means, you should wait for the ‘dish’ to go cold – i.e. wait for your desire for revenge to cool before trying to serve it, or enact the deed.

          1. Bea W*

            I totally thought it meant “Revenge is something best served in the most unappealing way possible.”

  24. Lily in NYC*

    Wow, my revenge ideas are so tame compared to this. I dream about things like putting shrimp in the radiator or hiding one of those annoying chirpy-noise makers from thinkgeek in someone’s office so it will drive them crazy. Not grand theft auto. And I wouldn’t ever do any of these things – they are called revenge fantasies for a reason. Because they should remain fantasies.

    1. louise*

      Mine are tame too. After I was fired by a serial-firer, I wanted to send flowers (maybe dying ones) with an unsigned note, “Congratulations on another housecleaning.” And put stinky shampoo in their fountain out front. The mental image I had of bubbles going everywhere still brings me joy….

    2. Lurker*

      I always wanted to have a bunch of faux 24-hour business fliers printed with my terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad ex-manager’s cell phone number and circulate them so ex-manager would be hounded by wrong numbers at all hours of day and night.

      Other revenge ideas I considered:
      -signing ex-manager up for all sorts of shady website mailing lists using their work email address (done from a public access computer so as to lessen i.p. tracking)
      -signing them up for shady mailing lists using work address (even signing them up for Victoria’s Secret sent to work could be awkward)
      -submit their phone number to one of those prank phone call sites on the web
      -submit CraigsList ad in the adult section using their work email or phone number

      I never went through with any of them but even though it’s been over 5 years since I left I still think about how great it would be sometimes…

      1. Mints*

        Haha these are appropriate, mostly. Spam and wrong numbers are essentially harmless, but easily annoyed managers would rage

        1. Lurker*

          The only thing that really kept/keeps me from doing it is that I try to keep my karma plate clean. I believe karma will catch up with ex-manager eventually. And really, anything I could do couldn’t hold a candle to how miserable they already are on the inside.

      2. Vancouver Reader*

        Just shady mailing lists? I think I’d sign them up for a bunch of porn sites and have the local Jehovah’s Witness and Mormons chapters call on them every weekend. “5am on Saturday is the best time to come for a talk. He may seem a little reluctant at first, but just keep at it, he just doesn’t know he wants to be converted yet.”

        1. Lurker*

          Oh, yeah, porn sites would definitely be on the list. They work at a government organization so any of that type of stuff would very likely be flagged by IT.

          I like the Jehovah Witness/Mormon idea! I don’t know whether they still live in the same place though.

        2. Anon for my Post*

          Let’s just say I’ve signed up a person not a former boss or coworker though for a group that would be thoroughly annoying to them and repeatedly contact them.

          Do I regret it? No way.

    3. OriginalYup*

      I had a quitting fantasy at one terrible job where I dramatically fling open my boss’s door, jump up on her desk and joyfully shout, “You are no longer the boss of me! I quit! I QUIT! KISS IT, YOU F’ING LUNATIC!” while flinging stacks of papers in the air, then sweeping through the lobby in a glorious haze of cheering coworkers while a suddenly-materialized group of backup singers/dancers perform Jackson Five’s ‘One More Chance’ as I burned rubber out of the parking lot. Just thinking about it made me happy for months while my boss screamed at me in one-on-ones.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        A friend of mine used to blast the Hallelujah Chorus every Friday on his way out of the parking lot.

      2. smilingswan*

        This reminds me of one of my favorite scenes in all of the Harry Potter books/movies: when Fred and George quit school amidst fireworks, riding off on brooms while cackling gleefully!

      3. Yogi Josephina*

        At Old Job, I had two toxic managers. Toxic Manager 1 was the Big Head Honcho and Toxic Manager Two was her direct report who managed me. Well, “managed.” In any case, the office was an incredibly awful, abusive, toxic environment that sent me into this spiraling depression for like, two years. It was so, SO bad. My manager was a pompous, self-important jackass with a very solid reputation for being an insufferable bully. She would talk over you, use master manipulation techniques to shut you down and silence you anytime you tried to defend yourself against anything, and otherwise was just an insufferable woman.

        Anyway, towards the end when things got REALLY sour between us, she essentially set up this whole scheme where she’d give me a project I did not have even a fraction of the support I needed to do, so that when I inevitably failed at it she’d have an excuse to manage me out. Suffice it to say, that’s what happened, and she put me on a PIP. As part of the PIP, I had to email her every single day first thing in the morning, with a list of what I had on my plate to do that day and how long it was going to take me to do it, and then at the end of the day I had to email her again and tell her everything I got down and how long it actually took.

        I quit two days later (for the reasons mentioned in that podcast above; I was very, very much in the right, but I was the only one getting hurt, so…). I desperately needed my vacation payout so I needed to fulfill my (monthlong!!!) notice period, so I couldn’t do what I was so, SO tempted to do, which was come in that morning and send off my daily email:

        “Dear (Boss),

        Today, I have the following projects planned:

        1.) Clean out my desk. (Approx. 1 hour)
        2.) Save all important emails and delete emails I don’t need or want in my inbox (Approx. 2 hours)
        3.) Quit. (Approx. 1 minute)


        I then had this epic fantasy where I’d send that email, then turn off my computer, tape this image to the screen:

        And then walk out with gusto and a smile on my face. But alas, I needed the hefty sum of funds in my vacation account to pay for my yoga teacher training the next month, so that wasn’t an option.

        Sigh. That would’ve been so great, though.

    4. Anon Accountant*

      I dream of hiding an obnoxious alarm clock set to go off at various times of the day and hoping it’d be weeks before they’d find my hiding spot for it.

      My ultimate dream is to walk in and say “I’ve accepted another position and can give the firm 2 weeks notice” right before/at beginning of tax season. Then politely turning down any counteroffers they make. :)

      Or receiving a great job offer, my boss flipping out berating me for “betrayal” of job searching (he berates staff for silly stuff like this) and asking him if he’d prefer today be my last day. He says “Yes! Get your stuff and go”. Then I hand in my passwords list and building key. Then when he frantically contacts me afterwards to ask questions I’ll have started a new job and won’t be able to help him out that much.

    5. no name for this*

      I seriously considered putting a curse on a former boss.

      Then I realized that would take at least a few minutes of my time and a dollar or two for the candles. So I took myself shopping, instead.

    6. Aunt Vixen*

      Okay, shrimp in the radiator never occurred to me and it sounds like art. [filing for future if necessary]

  25. H. Rawr*

    They can and will report it stolen. You don’t want a criminal record in addition to ruining a potential reference from them. If you want to stick it to them, this isn’t the way to do it. It’ll be much worse for you than it will be for them.

  26. Celeste*

    I can totally understand not wanting to work there, and wanting to leave to get a better deal someplace else.

    What I can NOT understand, is wanting to “stick it to them”. You are saying you want to hurt somebody. I don’t know if you have always treated people this way. I hope you are just really angry at your employer’s changes. But. You need to stop and think about what you are letting yourself turn into. Why are you giving some employer that kind of power over you?

    Walk away before you have to pay a lawyer over what you’re thinking about getting into here. You really have everything to lose.

  27. PucksMuse*

    Yeah, if you want to develop a professional reputation of being a thundering looney, this is an excellent plan.

    People might remember the guy who went crazy on his way out the door, they might gossip about him for years. But it’s better to be the guy who was classy during his exit. That’s the guy people want to hire.

  28. Sunflower*

    This reminds me of revenge seeking exes. When you’re broken up, it’s instinct to try to stick it to them since they hurt you so badly and you want them to realize what harm their actions have caused. And then when you follow through with the revenge plan, the good feeling lasts for about 20 seconds and it’s not nearly as sweet as you thought it would be. The other person is just kind of sitting there confused, thinking you’re nuts and they write the incident off as some crazy thing someone did once and kind of forget about it. Not long after, you’ll start to realize what a mistake it was and how stupid you feel. You’ll know why people kept saying ‘the best revenge is living a happy full life’ and you’ll wish you listened to them.

    OP, the best way you’ll stick it to them is to get a new job, do a great job and hopefully the customers will come as well. You’re going to damage your rep way more than ‘hurt’ this company who will probably forget you existed the moment you walk out the door anyway.

    1. some1*

      Totally. I’ve seen so many friends try to get back at exes by making them jealous. You can’t be jealous over someone you don’t want anymore!

      1. chewbecca*

        For some reason, this reminded me of the scene in Wayne’s World where Stacy tries to make Wayne jealous by making out with one of his friends in front of him. Then she falls through a giant glass pane in the roof.

        “Hey, Wayne! Hey!”

    2. fposte*

      Yeah, it just makes the ex-partner/employer think how lucky they are to be rid of you.

    3. Anon for this because...well*

      Although I have heard that putting cocktail shrimp in those hollowed-out curtain rods is an excellent, if longer-term, method for “getting back” at exes and, I would assume, bosses.

      Not that I have done this, mind you. But a friend.

  29. Anon Accountant*

    The best thing you can do is find a new job, quit this one, and enjoy a new job. Keep in mind that coworkers and managers could in the future be employed at another company you’re employed at. You don’t want to ruin your reputation just to show them because you aren’t going to “stick the company” with anything and you’ll shoot yourself in the foot. You really don’t want to wind up with a criminal record over this.

    It’d be a better option to focus on doing your best to find a new job. Are the other companies your coworkers have been hired at still hiring? Are they happy there?

  30. Whippers*

    Oh, god. So much cognitive dissonance going on in my head right now. I can empathise with the frustration and pent up anger that causes someone to want revenge at an employer. But this is so illogical and self-defeating I don’t know how the OP can contemplate it as a good idea.

  31. Red Librarian*

    Hmmmmm. I don’t think you’ve entirely thought this all the way through, OP. You seem to be under the impression that it would merely be a matter of paying money to get it back, but assuming the title is not in your name, all they would really have to do is call the cops and have you arrested for stealing.

    Seriously. Bad, bad, BAD idea on so many levels.

  32. Sabrina*

    Further, you wouldn’t be “sticking it to the company” you’d be sticking it to other employees who have no control over policy or how the company is run. You’re creating extra work and annoyance to people who don’t deserve it.

  33. Faith*

    I used to work as a paralegal for an attorney who did civil enforcement (collections). I’m not sure exactly what the procedure would be for recovering stolen/improperly retained property, but I am sure of two things: 1) there is almost certainly a procedure and 2) said procedure will be relatively painless and low-cost for your company, and a HUGE disruption to you, which could cost you time, money, your credit score, and your future employability. This is a scenario where hanging on to the truck is not only NOT sticking it to them (considering they’ll shrug and just hand it over to the no-doubt extremely capable attorneys they are most assuredly able to afford and then will completely cease to think about it) and ONLY hurting yourself.

    My dad worked for a really really horrible company that recently got sold and who completely screwed over their employees. Believe me, if there was anything I or my dad could do to genuinely screw them over, I’d be all for it. So I understand where you are coming from. But never, ever, ever get yourself involved in a legal matter unless you have absolutely no choice. Seriously.

  34. Lurker*

    I always wanted to have a bunch of faux 24-hour business fliers printed with my terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad ex-manager’s cell phone number and circulate them so ex-manager would be hounded by wrong numbers at all hours of day and night.

    Other revenge ideas I considered:
    -signing ex-manager up for all sorts of shady website mailing lists using their work email address (done from a public access computer so as to lessen i.p. tracking)
    -signing them up for shady mailing lists using work address (even signing them up for Victoria’s Secret sent to work could be awkward)
    -submit their phone number to one of those prank phone call sites on the web
    -submit CraigsList ad in the adult section using their work email or phone number

    I never went through with any of them but even though it’s been over 5 years since I left I still think about how great it would be sometimes…

    1. Kelly L.*

      I worked at Taco Bell years ago during their “It’s late. Eat more.” promotion. The bags were printed with that. And I worked the late night shift dealing with all the drunks ( we were right by the college campus).

      The quitting revenge idea I dreamed up, though I’d never have had the budget to actually do it, was to print out a bunch of bags that instead said “It’s late. Go Home.” and serve the food in them on my last day, and see if anyone noticed.

      1. GrumpyBoss*

        I worked at Taco Bell too, but much longer ago than you did :)

        I never did have a quitting revenge fantasy, but we once got a box of hot sauce incorrectly labeled as mild. I saved my mislabeled sauce for the most ahole-y customers.

        I think everyone should work fast food, if even for a month. It gives you a lot of tolerance for service people, and teaches you not to be a jerk.

        1. Kelly L.*

          We had some ornamental peppers planted in the landscaping, and some of my co-workers figured out they were edible and non-toxic, though extremely hot. So they picked some and ground them up into a sauce. They called it “a-hole sauce” and always said they’d use it in the food of particularly awful customers. I don’t know if any of them ever did–but they certainly put it in their own food, as the guys who invented “a-hole sauce” figured out they actually liked it. :D

    2. Lily in NYC*

      I signed my old boss for the International Male catalogue (if you haven’t seen it, it’s full of hilariously hideous outfits for men who think they are Zorro or maybe Fabio. I bet the Seinfeld puffy shirt came from there). But we were in the middle of a prank war and I didn’t do it for revenge. Those damn catalogues still come constantly and he’s been gone for a year. Joke’s on me.

      1. Mints*

        I just googled International Male, and thank your for that. Omg, gold. I think it’s partly gay porn for homophobes, and partly terrible clothes.

  35. A Jane*

    Honestly, who hasn’t played through scenarios like this when they’re fed up at their job? Just make sure they stay as fantasies and translate that energy to finding a new job.

  36. weasel007*

    Oh dear lord, who has time to think up this stuff? I’m too darn busy to think about stealing from my company!

  37. Anon.*

    Just move on. The big multi-$$ company probably paid millions, if not billions of dollars for the company, and are now trying show a profit to shareholders and recoup their costs ASAP. They may even want loyal, hard-working people to get fed up and quit, so they can hire cheaper people, contractors/temp workers, etc. Sadly, it’s the same old stuff, different day, different company.

    If they’re burning people out they’ll get people leaving, disgruntled employees, and if they keep it up high turnover. If it involves servicing customers, customers will be likely unhappy. Is that the makings of a profitable company? Probably not. I wouldn’t be surprised if the company, or parts of it, are sold to yet another big conglomerate.

  38. Ed*

    I’ve been acquired (and laid off as a result), merged (and laid off as a result) and now work at a company that does quite a bit of acquiring (though very little laying off) so I have experienced all sides. Honestly, I get really sick of the whining and complaining from everyone involved. If you want to be mad at anyone, be made at the former owners who sold you knowing these changes would happen. They’re probably sitting on an island sipping fruity drinks not giving any of you a second thought while you all talk about how wonderful they were. The new owners can do whatever they want with you and it’s has nothing to do with being “fair”. You have every right to leave (and I always encourage those who don’t like change to do so ASAP after being acquired) but there is no reason to “stick it to them” because they didn’t do anything to you.

    “What I would like to do is not turn in my company pick-up and see how much money they have to spend to get it back from me”

    This sounds like a gigantic hassle for you and a very minor inconvenience for them. Your manager will most likely just issue a new truck to your replacement and then turn this over to legal to deal with. They may even be able to turn it over to the fleet leasing company to handle so it won’t affect your company at all. I can assure you it will not become some nightmare issue for your manager where she curses your name every day.

    I occasionally run into former co-workers who were also laid off and it amazes me that their blood still instantly boils when they talk about our former company. Stop playing the victim, let it go and move on already.

    1. De Minimis*

      People generally don’t move on until they’ve gotten to a better place, found another job, etc. Hard to let it go when you’re still dealing with the fallout.

  39. Bea W*

    Anytime I get that worked up about something that I start thinking revenge, that is a sign to me that the person/thing is worth any more of my energy. I’d rather expend that energy on something worthy of that limited resource than wasting it all on something I think is a piece of crap.

  40. Interviewer*

    Not sure if the OP is even reading all of these responses, but just in case:

    My husband worked for a Fortune 10 company that at one time had company cars for its salesforce and offices nationwide. My husband got rid of his own personal vehicle, used the fleet gas card, and enjoyed extreme savings during nearly 6 years of employment. When they laid off half of his division, including him, his boss got the awkward job of driving him in his company car to our home, dropping him off, and driving away with the company car.

    There were exactly zero scenarios under which my husband would have gotten to keep that car and stick it to The Man. Every single management person in that office was charged with helping get those company vehicles back to Fleet Services during any firing or layoff, and the job was 100% handled. If he had quit his job and not shown up, his boss would have been at our house within an hour to grab keys and the car. He had my husband’s cell phone number and mine, so he would have tracked us down in short order. No way to avoid him.

    The vehicles were technically leased by his employer, so I think the actual owner was an auto finance company, so I would bet in extreme cases, Fleet Departments might turn the whole issue over to their team to handle. Finance companies have full-time repo men on payroll, I hear.

    Additionally, I have a super-good friend who is a regional manager for a large car rental company. Every so often a car isn’t returned on time and the credit card is declined for additional rental days. He will call every phone number the renter gave, including ones he finds online, personally visit addresses on the driver’s license and rental agreement, even search social media, etc. The company requires him to go by every means necessary using his time before involving police, and it’s a giant pain in the ass for him. Corporate hardly notices except for possibly a report about a car missing from inventory. Within a certain timeframe, if he’s not successful, they’ll file a stolen car report with the police. And then he gets more heck about it from Corporate because he wasn’t able to do it himself.

    I say all of this to tell you – unless you directly worked for one of them, your company’s C-suite will never notice what you personally are doing, not for one second, not even the costs involved. Your direct boss, however, will likely have his life turned into a 24-7 nightmare until that car comes back. If you ever liked him/her, or need a reference for another job, I would encourage you to rethink your grand plan for revenge.

    Good luck.

    1. Not So NewReader*


      I have seen the company send two people. One to drive to the home and the other to drive the employee’s work vehicle back.

      There is no doubt in my mind that if the vehicle is not surrendered immediately, the police will be called.

      1. De Minimis*

        I quit a job in fast food once without notice [I was bad to do that when I was 20 years old] and was told to turn my key in that night or they’d call the police to arrest me in my dorm room…companies don’t mess around when it comes to stuff like this.

  41. Stephanie*

    OP, I would also say that your act of retaliation will probably go unnoticed by the higher-ups who approved the acquisition. Instead, after your manager turns it over to legal, it will be dealt with by some other junior person in legal or a repo shop who also had no say in the company dealings.

  42. anon*

    Take your vacation days, drive across the country using the truck, and quit when you get back with an extra 20k miles on it.

  43. Not So NewReader*

    I have heard expressions of anger and upset that were far worse than this.

    Bottomline: Employers need to be responsible in the manner they treat their employees. It’s ethics. Employers who are willing to treat their employees like garbage probably have other problems going on, bigger fish to fry such as money laundering, embezzlement, smuggling and other illegal activities. See, something has to happen that causes the employer to think it is okay to mess up their employees, something triggered that behavior and corporate-wide attitude.

    OP, it just best to move away from these people before the stuff hits the fan and you get covered with it, too.

  44. Q*

    In addition to Mike C’s highly recommended and excellent suggestion you can do other things.

    If they are doing things that would cause them bad publicity help your local media break a story or two on it.

    Are employees missclassified? (except when they shouldn’t be, this is common even at giant multinationals)

    OSHA violations, etc?

    If there are real problems report them. Having a government audit will be WAY more of a pain for them than writing off the cost of calling the police to report you having stolen their vehicle. They will have next to nothing in costs because this is a criminal matter.

    I would also caution you against damaging the truck, because chances are extremely good you’ve already agreed to pay those and that will go over just fine in court with again very little work from them and huge fees from you. It isn’t worth it.

    Investigative reporters, governmental agencies, regulatory bodies, and yes unions. These are your tools.

  45. poopsie*

    Why waste precious time in revenge when you can choose to do something else to better your own life or even better someone else’s?

  46. AnonyMOOSE*

    This screams of a fake question to try and get on AMA… because who in their right mind would do this?

    1. Clerica*

      I could see faking something like a Reader’s Digest funny anecdote because there’s money involved and your name gets published, but this is anonymous and doesn’t involve compensation, so where’s the incentive?

  47. Student*

    If the company is even a little bit sanely managed, they won’t even need to take you to court or collections to get the vehicle back.

    They will ask the car dealer to make up another key for a car they have the title to (they may even have a spare sitting around already, in case the key gets lost). They will drive someone over to your house, unlock the truck using the new key, and drive it away. Then they will have the lock changed promptly.

    And they will note something extremely unpleasant in your file in case anyone calls for references. And they may drag you to court anyway, just for the heck of it. Do you have enough money sitting around to pay a lawyer to defend you?

    1. Sarahnova*

      Good point. The company undoubtedly has half a dozen procedures and safeguards against this scenario. And the law on their side.

  48. nep*

    Reckon it’s been said in a thousand ways already — only now reading this one and haven’t read all the 200+ comments. Just a big amen to Alison’s response and counsel. Aside from inviting a host of problems for yourself, you’d be allowing the company and negativity to dominate if you were to go through with anything like this. Rise above, stay above, move on.

  49. Tinker*

    Maybe my brain is a little odd (okay, I know my brain is a little odd), but I can think of few things that would irk me more than having a multi-thousand-pound albatross sitting in my driveway that I did not own and that people might be going so far as to be CALLING me on the DAMN PHONE over. To say nothing of the potential involvement of the courts (bleh), police (double bleh), collection agencies (GRAAAAAAGH), et cetera. So I’m wondering if the OP has a different view of such things or if that’s another aspect that hasn’t exactly been thoroughly thought through.

    General rule: Do not steal things that are bigger than a breadbox, lest you find yourself having to find a place in which to put it.

    1. Anonylicious*

      I know, right? Ethics and legality aside, it would just be such a hassle. There is no upside to doing this.

    2. Kai*

      This is such a great point. If the company never did anything about the truck, the sense of revenge would come to nothing. And if they did come after you, it’d be such a headache.

    3. Ruffingit*

      I think some people actually do not understand that this is theft and likely would be treated as the crime that it is. The OP clearly doesn’t get that since he says Since the truck was issued to me, they cannot just report it stolen, can they? I am assuming that it will end up being a civil matter…

      Yeah. No. Don’t assume it will be a civil matter and that they can’t report it stolen. This is a car that is their company property. Issuing it to you as part of your job doesn’t mean you get to keep it forever and trying to do so will cause more headaches than it is worth. The OP is clearly thinking this is a simple civil matter and they’re going to have to pay to get it back and won’t it be fun to make them spend that money. It is so not that simple. And even if it was, why would you want to bother with that anyway? Going to court to deal with this would be ridiculous and they are going to win and you’re going to look like a moron and a thief for doing this. No thank you. It’s hard enough to find a job these days, go on ahead and attach thief of major company property to your reputation and then try to find something worthwhile. Good luck with that.

      1. De Minimis*

        Also, I can tell the OP has no idea what’s it’s like to be sued. You don’t need the stress and hassle of it. “A civil matter” is nothing to take lightly.

        1. Ruffingit*

          YES! Having been through it myself, I can definitely say that. The hassle of going through the process is awful and so not worth the pain in my view unless you have no other choice.

  50. Len*

    I’m astounded that nobody has suggested driving the car to a shady part of town, or parking in a no-parking zone.

    1. Cake Wad*

      You’re astounded that no one has suggested being an ass? Generally, people on the site are against being an ass.

    2. Sarahnova*

      Probably because that’s also kind of dumb, and the OP has likely signed papers which make him responsible for anything dumb he does with/to the truck.

  51. Briefly Anony*

    I think after 200+ comments, the OP should realize by now it is not the greatest idea ever to hold his company car hostage or keep it for his own use after leaving.

    However, I think there’s more here than just some in-the-moment angry revengeful question.

    The OP is obviously quite disgruntled with the job to the point where he wants to do something over the top. Instead of addressing the car, let’s address ways he can cope until he leaves the company. I know right now I’m completely fed up where I work. It’s dragging me down. I’m being mistreated. Coworkers are being allowed to take time off left and right, but I ask for a day or two only to be told no or “we’ll see.” It would give me the greatest pleasure to yell at them and tell them where to go! But I know better, but it still eats at me. The OP is probably thinking the same thing. So I ask what are the coping skills needed to be able not to do something irrational? How do you take the high morale ground when you have not been treated as such? And after that, how can you recover from an experience like that? I know for me, with my second job, I’m bringing over a certain mistrust of my new coworkers despite never giving me a reason to mistrust them, but it comes from the other job I loathe.

    1. Ruffingit*

      Therapy can help. Seriously. A weekly session for just a few weeks with someone who listens and gives you relevant feedback. Also, find things outside of work that make life better – hot baths, glass of wine with friends once a week, whatever. When the inside work life sucks, the outside work life needs to be as good as it can be. And job hunt like your life depends on it because it actually does in a lot of ways. Just knowing you’re making the effort to get out can be very helpful.

  52. Ruffingit*

    At the end of the day, this is not even about the truck, it’s about the ability to let go and move on. I’ve been screwed by employers, I get the rage, the desire for revenge…I do. I really get it. But, the best thing I ever did was be totally above board and professional. If they are total asses, what does YOU being a total ass right back really accomplish? Nothing and in this case, it’s going to hurt a whole lot because they have the means to go after you and rip you to shreds legally if you do anything other than return their property. And it is their property. They may be jerks, but that doesn’t give you the right to steal from them.

    Move on. Seriously, just move on. The greatest reward here is that you will no longer work for them and you can find something that is a better fit for you. Doing something stupid like keeping the truck will cause you to be stuck with the general awfulness of this for a long time and to be stuck in jail too most likely. How much more of your heart, soul, time and money do you want to give these people? Let it go.

  53. Cassie*

    I can kind of understand where the OP is coming from. When I left a part-time/volunteer position, I still had the key to the building and didn’t even remember about turning it in. When they emailed me to demand that I bring it back within one week, I was tempted to tell them I was unable to swing by but if they could be so kind to send me a pre-paid postage label, I would gladly drop it off in the mail for them. Or that they could go pound sand.

    It’s not that I had any reason to keep the key (I wasn’t planning on ever going back) but I didn’t want to to drive over there and seeing people I didn’t want to see. I did end up stopping by, handing the key to the receptionist and asked that she give it to the person(s) in charge, and hightailed it out of there before anyone else saw me. I probably would have preferred getting some kind of written acknowledgement that I had turned in the key (just in case) but I figure the receptionist is trustworthy enough.

  54. BritCred*

    If you DO want to stick it to your company and don’t want legal repercussions? Report to the relevant authorities any breaches that they are knowingly continuing to commit. Such as wage violations, safety issues and stuff like that.

    But REAL ones. Not made up ones.

  55. R0se*

    If you’re really having a hard time talking yourself out of this, I would keep in mind that the person who winds up dealing with this mess will likely be some admin somewhere, maybe one who hates the company as much as you do. You could very well wind up hurting yourself, without ever punishing the people you want to punish. Not worth something that will most likely tarnish your reputation.

    I think working with crazy people is making you want to do crazy things. Many, many of us know this feeling. Don’t succumb!

  56. Frank*

    Last summer I posted this question, while in a very bad transition stage at my company, and of course at the time I was extremely disgruntled. I had a boss I despised and I was at my wits end!! Actually I had sent this directly to Alison in an email and didn’t even know it had been posted for the world to see until she asked me to follow up with an update this week! OK I now realize that I could have gotten into a LOT of trouble if I kept the truck!! What eventually happened was that my dick-face boss transferred to another division and my new boss is completely tolerable. Everyone I worked with quit their jobs so, in turn, my stock went through the roof!! I now have a brand new truck on order and things have really stabilized for me. Sorry I wasn’t there with a play by play but thanks to everyone for all of your wise commentary on this subject.

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