great moments in unprofessionalism

There was a great (and sometimes hilarious) discussion on last week’s open thread about unprofessional things people had done in their pasts that at the time they didn’t realize were unprofessional.

I enjoyed some of the comments so much that I’m sharing them here.

  • Oh lord. During my first few months at my first job out of grad school, I created a folder on the shared drive that said “Do Not Open – Private,” and then each subsequent sub folder had a similar title (e.g. “why did you click on that?” and “I told you not to continue”). After about 15 layers of folders, there was a picture of Rick Astley (of rick roll fame) that said “Never gonna trust you again.”I still….do…not…have….any…idea…what I was thinking. It was an organization of about 150 people, and everyone had access to it. About a week after I posted it, my boss called me into his office and just started laughing hysterically. That was almost 10 years ago, and he still talks about why that made me the best hire ever. I cringe hard when I think of it.
  • I was never going to win any awards for professionalism, but I am truly grateful that I’ve worked at places that seem to enjoy my somewhat strange sense of humor (or at least tolerate it). Let’s see…I gave a presentation wearing a snuggie, I hung a portrait of Nicholas Cage next to all of the other former company presidents, wrote ridiculous fake memos…all within my interning time / first 2 years as a professional. It seems like such a crazy departure from the professional I’ve become that I can’t believe I was so oblivious to realities of a workplace.
  • One time I wore a legitimate bathing suit cover-up (it was really cute and if made with the right material, would have been an adorable dress) with a white slip underneath thinking that made it okay. It wasn’t until I went out after work and my friend kept asking if I was wearing a bathing suit cover-up that I realized I most definitely should not do that again.
  • At my first internship, I would leave about 5 minutes early. So if I was scheduled to work until 4pm, I’d usually wrap up all my work by 3:50 and be out the door at 3:55. Looking back I cringe and people probably thought I was an ass who should have stayed until 4pm. I was naive.
  • Back in my late teens/early 20s, I had a series of short stays at various retail jobs and repeatedly no-showed on my last scheduled day. I was all, “what are they going to do, fire me?” and didn’t even think about the bridge I just burnt.In this same period, I also no call/no showed two days in a row and was surprised when I called to check my shifts for the next week and found out I was fired.

What about the rest of you? Confess your sins of unprofessionalism here.

{ 1,103 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager Post author

    Also: Stories shared here may be shared in a future column (anonymously, of course!). If you do not want yours shared in such fashion, please feel free to note that!

  2. Lonny

    Yikes! Where should I begin? How about food evangelizing at work when I started a new diet?! I will never do that again. Yeah I did that… *hangs head in shame

  3. AVP

    I had a really boring (but well paid!) journalism internship in college, reporting to the managing director of a business magazine. I was terrified of him, but he rarely dealt with me directly so that was fine. Until one day he comes up behind me, looks at my screen, and….I was buying a bikini for spring break on the internet. Thank god he didn’t comment and instead just went straight into what he was there about in the first place.

    I also sent in a story once with a ton of abbreviations and shorthand on it – I had just assumed that, as an intern, someone would totally go over what I had done and rewrite most of it. It turned out they basically wanted to run it as is, which was amazing, but the editor had to come to me and be like, “this doesn’t make sense at all, can you fix everything in this, thanks?”

    1. AVP

      oh god, one of the stories on the open thread reminded me of another one…this was at one of my earlier contract jobs after college. The manager was putting together an offsite meeting to go over new ideas, and each person who was attending had to submit their ideas for discussion typed on a plain white piece of paper. My job was to collate all the pages, make copies, and put them in binders for the meeting people to look at.

      It DID NOT occur to me that everyone would want their pages in the same order. I can’t explain it. It wasn’t in the directions from the manager, I guess? I remember thinking as I was doing it, “Oh, if they’re going to go through these all together, they should probably be in the same order, but she didn’t say to do that and it would take awhile to fix that, so I’m just not gonna do it.” I am blushing right now. No one ever mentioned it, but I’m sure the beginning of that meeting was a mess.

      1. Grand Bargain

        That’s really funny. Picturing all the people in that meeting trying to find the right page. *snicker*

        1. Dynamic Beige

          Been there. “So as you can see on page 4, point 7 — we like that the teapots should be brown…” “Um… my page 4, it’s just a paragraph of text with no bullet points. What does your page look like?” Massive shuffling commences.

          Which is another pet peeve of mine: put the page numbers on the document. I don’t care if it’s only 3 pages, put the numbers on it. Pages get dropped or shuffled or split into piles and it’s easier to put Humpty back together again if you’ve got numbers.

          1. LBK

            This just happened to me this week – got a call from one of the higher ups in the sales department trying to reference a page of a booklet I’d sent him and he said “These aren’t even numbered!” Awkward. In my defense I just took over making the booklet and previous iterations never had them so I didn’t add them, but you can bet I will going forward!

    1. Renegade Rose

      Seriously. Although, I’m having a really crappy day so this is nice distraction.

    2. lesanon

      Working in a warehouse, I decided to torture a coworker who embarrassed easily. We worked at night and it was just us. So one night I came in wearing a fake mustache and kept asking him if he liked my mustache and detailing how masculine it made me feel. i asked him if it made him want to make out with me. His reaction was to basically run away whenever he saw me.

      1. Anon369

        Please tell me if you’re a guy or girl. Whichever it is, the story gets that much better.

        1. lesanon

          I’m a girl!

          The best part was when I asked him if he wanted to make out his response was: “NOT WHEN YOU’RE WEARING THAT MUSTACHE! ” And then he ran off.

      2. TheLazyB

        I have had a crappy day and I can’t stop myself giggling over this. I kind of want to print it to whip out when I’m having a bad day!

  4. Sam

    My first retail job in college, I definitely called out “sick” several times for hangovers or sheer laziness. At the time I thought nothing of it but I cringe horribly ten years later. I still refuse to step foot in that store over embarrassment.

    To my manager: I’m so sorry I was a selfish ass.

    1. Loupalooza

      TBH that is better than coming in hungover (I work in retail full time at the moment). I’ve done that twice because I have to find my cover otherwise. And last time I came in hungover my manager threatened my job security so …

    2. Karowen

      I did this once in my internship-turned-part-time position. It was the only time I had ever called out sick, and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t legally have been able to drive in to work that day, but…That was pretty awful.

      1. maggie

        Ugh. HATE those ‘im still sort of drunk 12 hours later’ hangovers. They’re the worst because you feel like you ‘got away with it’ and then 3 hours later…..you feel like absolute death. SO glad I don’t drink like that anymore.

        1. NotMyRealName

          My department consisted of me and one other person. Somehow I was persuaded to go out to dinner and drinking with her for fun (as a friend). I rarely drink more than wine and at that, rarely more than once a month. Four or five shots later of something called “Birthday Cake,” as we entertain ourselves for a bit, we drunk-dial another coworker, who smartly doesn’t answer and leave a slurred voice message about whatever we thought was too important to wait until Monday. The damaging part was my boss found out and came to believe that we were regular friends outside of work.

        2. Person of Interest

          I once went to work with that “I’m still kind of drunk” hangover. A concerned coworker asked me if I was feeling alright because I looked kind of sick. She was a friend, so I admitted to her that I was just really hungover. She laughed for like a minute and then proceeded to talk really loudly to me for the rest of the day.

        3. Blue Anne

          Yeeeaaaah. I had one of those once on a day when I was actually on a client site with one colleague. I was pushing through it, but then mycolleague gave me a little chocolate, which I stupidly ate, and my system couldn’t handle it. I walked quickly to the bathroom and threw up.

          Jesus was that stupid. Luckily it was a pretty isolated bathroom and no one saw/heard me. About an hour later I told my colleague I was feeling really ill and she very graciously drove me to a bus stop which would get me straight home. I think I really dodged a bullet by having that experience on that day… just one other colleague, isolated site, and the colleague happens to be someone who is a heavy drinker on nights out and has come in hungover herself at least once. But man, I am never doing that again. I should just quit drinking really.

    3. Cordelia Naismith

      At least you called in! I know people who no-called no-showed if they had a hangover…and were surprised to learn they were fired when they did eventually come in a few days later.

    4. James M.

      When I was working retail, this was relatively common occurrence, and I got to hear my manager complain about it because I often got called to cover shifts. I told my manager that if it were me, I would just call in “hung over”.

    5. Stephanie

      Oh, I was asked to cover someone’s shift because she said she knew she’d be hungover from a party the night before. Luckily, this was a culture where no one cared about admitting that.

    6. Hangs Head in Shame

      I was thinking to myself that nothing really stood out (I’m 10 years out of college at this point), but now that you mention it…

      My first year out of college I taught at a small private school. I had gone to a notorious party college, and so my fellow teachers used to joke about it with me. We all went out one night on a Thursday night for one of the coach’s birthday. We started out with drinks with dinner. I had two appletinis the size of my head. Then we went to a bar and started doing shots. I am a small person. I am not a heavy drinker. Yet I felt drunkenly determined to hold my liquor. Somehow I made it home that night, spent the night and next morning puking my guts up.

      Instead of calling in sick, I tried to go to work, thinking I’d be okay. If by “okay” you mean “keep running out of the classroom to go throw up”, then I was okay. I ended up having to get an emergency substitute and leave in the middle of the day. Mortifying.

      1. Sam

        Haha I also worked at a bar right after college, and we had a group of teachers in one night for a fellow employees birthday. Up until you said you “made it home that night”, I was wondering if you were the teacher who puked up appletinis all over the floor in front of her colleagues :)

      2. Hangs Head in Shame

        JUST REMEMEBERED a wonderful other story from the year I was a teacher. The school had a big fundraiser at the country club each year. My fiancé couldn’t come from out of state to go to it with me, so one of the other teachers invited her best friend from high school and his husband, and we each went with one of them.

        This school was in an extremely conservative small town that would not have been particularly supportive if they’d have known that these men were together, and we got a lot of funny looks anyway. Well, my date (who I had never met before that night and who half the school thought WAS my fiancé) proceeded to get quite intoxicated and got into a bidding war with one of the parents over a quilt that the kindergarten class had made. After the auction was over, he started drunkenly dancing with a bunch of the moms to the point where some of the dads were getting mad. Good. Times.

          1. Hangs Head in Shame

            The parent won it, but not until my date bid it up to like $2,000. And the parent had wanted to buy it for the Kindergarten teacher, who had been teaching at the school for years and was retiring at the end of the year.

      3. M

        I’ll own up to coming to school hungover (on what was mercifully a teachers-only work day at the end of the year) and going into the closet at the back of my classroom to puke in a trash can.

        1. blackcat

          I remember being on the receiving end of a teacher-hangover day.

          I was in the 9th grade and it was the day after Halloween. Our teacher was wearing sunglasses and gave us some work to do at our seats. We asked her if she was okay, since she seemed so sick. She said “I’m not sick, I’m just really hung over.” and then, even from behind her sunglasses, she made the most epic “OH DEAR GOD I SAID THAT OUT LOUD” face ever. We all felt so bad for her, we didn’t tell anyone.

          1. M

            Wow. Even in the early days, when I apparently thought it was okay to be hungover on a no-kids day, I would never, ever have considered coming in hungover when students were present. (I hope this redeems Younger Me slightly.)

    7. Mike B.

      At my first full-time permanent office job, I actually admitted to being hungover when calling out one day. My boss and I did not have the warmest relationship, so I don’t know what I was thinking.

      I did all sorts of ridiculously unprofessional stuff at that job, not knowing any better. I was still quite surprised when I was fired from it…and am mortified now that I think about all of it, and realize it was well deserved. (Though it was unkind of them not to put me on a PIP or give me an explicit warning that my job was in jeopardy.)

    8. Lindsay J

      I missed an offsite meeting because I was hung over.

      The entire culture there was unprofessional. It was Fat Tuesday and my manager’s parting words to me were – “So, I’m going to be in your neck of the woods tonight, and if you see me out passed out in a gutter or something… well, you didn’t see me tonight, at all.”

      So I went out. Got wasted. A friend drove me home. I forgot to set an alarm. I went to sleep.

      I wake up the next morning at 8AM. I was supposed to meet my manager and my coworker at my job at 8AM so we could travel to nearby city for the offsite meeting. I lived about 45 minutes away from my job.

      I called them in a panic and was told that yeah, they had just pulled out of the parking lot, and no, I couldn’t drive up to where the meeting was to meet them there.

      I was worried I was going to get written up or fired, but nothing ever came of it.

      Found out later my manager had not gone home to sleep at all. He drank until last call, then went to the office and fell asleep at his desk.

      1. AllieJ0516

        I just remembered a really funny (for the most part) story about drinking with coworkers. I was in tech sales, and a sales engineer (call him Dave) from one the companies whose product we sold decided to take our whole sales team (about 5-6 of us) out drinking one Thursday night. Being young and dumb, I insisted that I could hold my liquor ounce for ounce, and every shot that was ordered, I participated in (at least 10), in addition to drinking a few hurricanes, and not eating much at all. After that, we all ended up driving to Dave’s townhouse (I think the bar closed). He let us all in, and went upstairs to change his clothes. About 15 minutes later, he hadn’t come back down, so one of my co workers (John) went up and found him passed out face down on his bed. John came back downstairs carrying Dave’s shoe. We all left and went home. (One of my co-workers got a DUI that night).

        Friday mornings, we always met for breakfast at a little diner by the office. I woke up feeling like death, but I made it to breakfast and then to the office. John came around and asking for my business card – everyone who had been at Dave’s that night put one of our business cards in his shoe, and then John boxed it up AND SHIPPED IT TO HIS OFFICE! That was so awesome. He’d been wondering what happened to his shoe. Anyway, I ended up going home about 10:30am that Friday morning. I tried, I really did.

        When I came back on Monday morning, my co-workers had totally booby-trapped my desk – hung signs from the ceiling saying things like wimp and lightweight, they moved around the keys on my computer keyboard, took my telephone cords and hid them, turned all the cards around in my Rolodex (this was the 80s), and lowered my chair as far down as it would go, and I’m sure some other stuff that I can’t remember. I have never been hungover during the week SINCE.

  5. Gail_L

    I’m not sure this counts, as it was unintentional. My first job out of school, I had a tonsillectomy a few months in. My benefits were bad, so I used up all my time off in about a week, then went back to work. We were having a meeting, and I was talking, and I could feel my throat tightening. I thought it was just the surgery. Nope. In the middle of a sentence I burst into tears and started sobbing uncontrollably. I had not idea why, either. I had to go outside and walk around for 20 minutes to calm down. I told them it was just pain from the recovery, even though I wasn’t in pain.

    My mom later told me that it was probably the result of trying to work so soon after surgery, and that recovery uses up a lot more resources than we think. I was probably just exhausted and my body was telling me to go home and get some rest!

    1. JB

      Yikes, you should definitely not have gone back to work a week after that surgery. I realize you probably didn’t have a choice so that’s not a criticism, it’s just a statement that, yeah, I’m amazed you only cried once.

    2. Dasha

      OMG something similar happened to me after I had a procedure done. I had a nuclear meltdown including crying before a meeting and just said I was going home sick. It was so embarrassing but thankfully I was super early and only three coworkers had arrived. Needless to say my boss was not happy with me leaving before doing my presentation.

      I’m going to have to agree with your mom on this one. I probably should have stayed home but I forced myself to go back to work too soon.

      I’m glad you shared your story- I feel much better about my incident lol. :)

      1. JB

        This is making me really grateful for my ENT who was pretty insistent that I take at least 2 weeks off for it. I honestly thought that after the first week I’d at least be able to work from home if not go into the office, and that just did not happen.

        1. Snork Maiden

          I had a tonsillectomy as an adult and they insisted on me taking two weeks off as well, and the warnings about pain et al were not an exaggeration. My bosses were surprised I wanted so much time off for such a “minor procedure” but I came in after a week and a half and they quickly changed their tune.

          1. JB

            I was fortunate that some of my other coworkers had had it done before me, so they already set the expectation for it. I was surprised myself but it turns out that it’s not such a minor procedure for an adult.

    3. jhhj

      After a surgery, I couldn’t stop crying for a few weeks. It’s probably a reaction to the anaesthetic.

      1. Partly Cloudy

        I think it is; I cried when I woke up from having my wisdom teeth out and that’s what the oral surgeon said – that some people react to anesthesia that way. Interestingly, animals sometimes “cry” when they’re coming out of anesthesia as well.

        1. Tiffy the Fed... Contractor

          When I got my wisdom teeth out and was coming out of anesthesia, I couldn’t stop crying. Not like sobbing, the tears just wouldn’t stop falling out of my eyes. As my mom was leading me out of the office I was insistent that I had to say thank you to the nurses, but she wouldn’t let me. To the point where she was dragging me out of the office. I was so upset that I couldn’t tell them thank you!

        2. AshleyH

          Me too! I don’t remember it, but my mom claims I started crying hysterically and screaming at the nurse for making me so ugly (because she attached that Ice pack to my head).

        3. Mabel

          I had oral surgery when I was a teenager, and I was crying when I woke up from the anesthesia. My mom didn’t know that was a “thing” that could happen, so she got upset and said “what did you do to her?!”

        4. Lily in NYC

          I tried to kiss a random old man after I got my wisdom teeth out (I was sitting in the pharmacy waiting area while my sister was picking up my painkillers).

          1. simonthegrey

            I woke up “speaking” in sign language. Now, I’d had a deaf classmate years before in elementary school and had learned some sign language then, but it wasn’t something I used every day by the time I was in college. WTF brain!

            1. Case of the Mondays

              I was once sedated after an allergic reaction. Not full anesthesia but enough benadryl, ativan, and some other substance to knock out a cow. When I woke up, I was speaking in tongues. I had created my own language. The nurses were asking my husband if I was bilingual and he said I spoke decent spanish. They said “this is definitely not spanish.” They tried to figure out what language it was with google translate and it really was just something I had made up in my head. It really intrigues me that we have this untapped part of brain that could do some amazing things with just the right tweaking.

              I should probably add that the drug I had an allergic reaction to is an anti-nausea drug that is also used to treat schizophrenia in a completely different dose. It kind of makes sense then why my brain would go wonky from it too. (I was taking it for nausea at the time of my reaction.)

        5. Al Lo

          When I got my wisdom teeth and was coming out from the laughing gas, I felt the urge to tell the nurses that I was having menstrual cramps — gesturing at my abdomen, trying to get “Cramps!” out from around the cotton and swelling in my mouth. Instead, it kept coming out as “Aamphh!”, and the nurse thought I was going to puke, and so I started shaking my head vehemently, trying to mime cramps vs. throwing up. If I recall, they weren’t even that terrible, but for whatever reason, I thought she needed to know right then.

          1. Treehugger

            After my wisdom teeth were pulled and I came out of the anesthesia I kept insisting that I needed my teeth back so they couldn’t do voodoo on me.

            1. Redheadedgirl

              After I had my wisdom teeth out, I was sitting in the recovery room while the nurse was giving my mom instructions on how to deal with me, and it occurred to me that I’d walked in there with 4 wisdom teeth, and they were mine and I grew them and I wanted them back. So I said “around a mouthful of bloody gauze) “I want my teeth.” The nurse said “we can’t give you your teeth.” And I went “Oh.”

              Then a few minutes later it occurred to me that I’d walked in there with 4 wisdom teeth, and they were mine and I grew them and I wanted them back, and I had a vague feeling I’d had that thought before, but I couldn’t remember if I’d acted on it, which meant I hadn’t, so I asked for my teeth again. This repeated about four times before the nurse said “OSHA says we can’t give you your teeth.” I said that OSHA could do organizationally improbable things with itself, and then my mom yelled at me for being difficult.

              1. Partly Cloudy

                They let me keep mine (against OSHA regulations… this was 1996). I had a friend who trained dogs for search and rescue and they used real tissue to train the dogs to find bodies. They’d sometimes, from plastic surgeons or whoever, get the fat that gets sucked out when people have liposuction, but a nice set of bloody, gummy wisdom teeth work too. So my friend asked me to ask them for my teeth for this reason and they let me take them in a jar. I feel like it was a nice contribution to society.

              2. Serin

                OSHA didn’t stop them from giving my kid her teeth back! This was like a month ago.

                One thing that hadn’t occurred to me about getting back extracted teeth is that you don’t get them back clean. Urgh.

                1. Redheadedgirl

                  I have no idea if OSHA really says they couldn’t give me my teeth, or if that’s just what they said to make me shut up.

        6. Seal

          I woke up sobbing hysterically after having my wisdom teeth pulled while I was college, too. Once I got home, the combination of the anesthesia and pain pills made me projectile vomit all over my parents’ family room. Not fun.

          After a few days I was feeling well enough to go back to my part-time library job, but not 100% in part because I hadn’t been able to eat solid food, let alone keep much down after the procedure. Knowing my situation, my a-hole of a boss put me on a non-urgent project that required shifting large numbers of books in a library without air conditioning during a particularly hot summer. Just because she could. No one was sorry to see her run out of that place on a rail a few months later.

          A few months ago I had a medical procedure that required twilight anesthesia. When I mentioned my wisdom teeth experience from 25 years prior, the anesthesiologist told me that the new drugs they use don’t have such side effects. I was quite relieved to not wake up in hysterics this time around!

          1. ECH

            The first time I was supposed to have my wisdom teeth removed I passed out while they were talking about how to anesthetize me. They rescheduled and gave me Valium the night before the surgery actually took place. (I don’t recall anything strange happening to me after the surgery, though, and my recovery was quick. :) )

        7. Jazzy Red

          I reacted a little differently when I had one of my wisdom teeth extracted – I woke up singing Rod Stewart’s Forever Young. The nurse said “Jazzy Red, are you singing?” “yeeesss…” Then I snorted (because I’m elegant like that).

          Be courageous and be brave, y’all!

        8. Jessica (the celt)

          When I woke up from getting my wisdom teeth removed, I was trying to convey that I felt like Jay Leno. Suddenly, I realized I couldn’t move my arms and legs, so I focused on that for quite some time until I could move one of my legs. I then spent an inordinate amount of time lifting my leg and putting it down, lifting it and putting it down, and so on. My dad was in the recovery room with me, and he was laughing at me the whole time. He finally did understand the Jay Leno thing after a bit, but I have no clue why that was the first thought I had when I woke up. “Hey, my chin feels like I would look like Leno. Huh.”

        9. Former Diet Coke Addict

          My husband had his wisdom teeth out and had horrible, almost violent hiccups for a half an hour, which the nurse said was normal. But he couldn’t remember what was going on, so he’d hiccup, then look at me in panic and ask “Why can’t I stop hiccuping?” and then nod off for a minute or two. For a half an hour, this went on.

        10. E.T.

          I have a wisdom teeth story that makes me wonder why my husband didn’t divorce me then and there. When I was doing commercial real estate, a deal I was putting together required me to meet with a client on the day that my husband’s surgery to take out his wisdom teeth was scheduled. I dropped him off at the specialist and asked if I could leave him there so I could go and meet with the client, and then was annoyed when they said, “No, you do realize he is undergoing surgery, right?” And then got more annoyed when they wouldn’t let me make business calls from their office.

          When he finally was done, he was woozy and groggy, so I let him sleep in the car at the client’s underground parking lot while I went to my meeting upstairs. I estimated the whole thing was supposed to take half an hour, but it went on and on. I finally had to stop, apologize to the client to say I needed a few minutes, woke my husband up, took him upstairs to change his gauze, took him back to the car again, and continued the meeting.

          The client was very impressed I still made time to meet with then even after my husband had surgery just an hour ago, and even told my office so. I closed the deal and earned my commission. My husband, to his credit, never held this against me, but I now cringe every time I think about how I put my job ahead of him.

        11. Azalea

          When I had my wisdom teeth out, I started dreaming under anesthesia about a guy I had a crush on. I started calling out his name when I came out from under it. Said guy’s name was Chris. It was also the name of the assistant. Confused the heck out of her!

          1. mel

            Oh jeez that sounds embarrassing… I’m pretty sure I did something embarrassing too because I remember a lot of laugher and some “Ok, don’t do thats!”

            Don’t wanna know….

        12. Ž

          they told me the anaesthesia would make me cry when having my wisdom teeth out. the anaesthesia didn’t work — i was awake and in pain the entire time and i was crying from the pain. they thought i was just crying from the anaesthesia.

        13. LittleMouse

          My dentist was a special kind of special… he would have you get one side out, then wait 2 weeks so that side would start to heal, then get the other side out.

          The first round was my first ever go with the Nitrus Oxide. At first is was kind of nice; felt warm and fuzzy and drunk. Then he started cutting… without freezing me enough first. Once they’d fully frozen me and calmed me down, they got the teeth out, but while stitching me up, he dropped the thread and it fell across the back of my throat. I was convinced I was choking to death and had a full-on panic attack on the table. I was screaming and crying and couldn’t breathe. They hygenist was stroking my hand, and kept asking the doctor if she should go get my hubby to calm me down. I came out and this poor little kid was staring at me, face white as a sheet. I slept on and off for 48 hours after that.

          Second round they had to cut the tooth in half to get it out. You’d think the smart thing to do at that point would have been to knock me out, but they just upped the gas instead.

          Then I got dry socket. Hubby thought be was being sweet by getting me my favorite ice cream: those cones with the chocolate coating on the ice cream and carmel inside…with the peanuts… I was on painkillers and thought that was an awesome idea.

          I spent 4 hours in the ER so that they could take a piece of peanut out of the socket. When I got home, I swore black and blue that I could still see a piece of peanut in there. I went to a walk in, still insisting it was the damned peanut… it was the exposed bone.

          Last time I went, knowing my reactions to the gas AND the freezing, my dentist thought it would be better to just do the small filling I needed without freezing. WITHOUT FREEZING. I jumped in the chair, causing the drill to cut my upper lip, and then had another panic attack.

          Needless to say, I’m on the market for a new dentist.

      2. hodie-hi

        my two sisters cry when coming out of anesthesia.

        I only had anesthesia once, age 17, for wisdom teeth. I was told I laughed and giggled non-stop coming out of it, and attempted with a mouth full of cotton to tell jokes to everyone who looked in to the room to see what all the hilarity was about. I do have a vague recollection of leaning on my mom walking out of the place with the kind of belly ache you get from laughing way too hard for way too long.

        1. Lalaith

          I haven’t had reactions like that to being knocked out, but I did once have nitrous oxide for some dental procedures (might have been a wisdom tooth but also included a filling while they were at it), and I just thought “drilling my filling” was the height of hilarity.

      3. Job-Hunt Newbie

        When I got mine out, all I remember is trying to take a drink of water (and spilling it all over myself), and then yelling at the nurse that I was an adult when she asked if I needed to be escorted to the bathroom (because I was still woozy and dragging myself down the hall to the bathroom).

        10/10 would do again. Wisdom tooth surgery was so fun.

        1. manybellsdown

          Oh god, I’m supposed to get my wisdom teeth out and now I don’t want to.

          Well, I already didn’t want to, but this thread isn’t helping. ;)

          1. Lamb

            I had two out with some kind of anesthetic and don’t remember a thing (and just came out of it feeling a bit nauseous), and two with just Novocain- it was nothing! They gave me the shots, slit open the gum, there was some tugging and out the tooth came, and on to the second one.
            It doesn’t have to be a big horrible thing (although if someone else could drive you home, that would be great).

          2. LD

            Hi manybellsdown, Some of us do have an easy time with wisdom teeth. I had my first experience with having one wisdom tooth pulled when I was in high school and I drove myself to and from the dentist, who was in another town 30 miles away. Sometimes it’s not a really big deal. The others came out a few years later and my mom took me to and from. I don’t recall much but thinking, “Wow, this is kind of interesting to be able to open my eyes and see the staff working.” And then closing my eyes because keeping them open was too much work! They had given me an awesome painkiller. My mom brought me home and I slept for 24 hours. No pain at all. We got a prescription for pain pills, but I never needed them and I’m pretty much a wimp when it comes to pain. Everyone has such a different experience, but since you are worried, I wanted to let you know that for me it wasn’t painful at all. I hope you have a pain-free experience!

          3. Mouse

            I had all four out at once and insisted on full anesthesia. It was fine. Definitely get someone else to drive you … I couldn’t even stand up in the office, my dad carried me to the car (and then assisted me in walking to the bathroom the rest of the day because I would not have made it on my own). They gave me oxycodone, I slept a lot (like 3 hours sleeping, then 1 hour awake, then 3 hours sleeping, etc.) and ate so much pudding that I hope I never have it again. Straws are the devil, stay far away from straws until you are fully healed.

        2. Pennalynn Lott

          When I had mine out, they walked me to a recovery room (it was like a darkened closet with a little bench-bed thing) for the anesthesia to wear off. I had just put my purse on the floor and laid my head on the little pillow when the nurse came back in and said it was time to go. I got all kinds of miffed, because they’d told me how important resting was and that I could get sick if I didn’t, and the nurse interrupted me and said, “You’ve been in here for almost three hours, should we book you for overnight?” Oh. Oops.

    4. squids

      I went back to work 4 days after a surgery, was still taking painkillers, and fell asleep face down on my desk. I was cut much slack.

      1. Journalist Wife

        I did that once, too! Came back too soon after an appendectomy because I’d blown all my FMLA time earlier in the fiscal year when I’d had maternity leave, so I came back way too soon and on painkillers. My boss and I shared a hallway door where people had to bypass me to get to him, and my meds had made me fall asleep on my keyboard. Luckily, it was around lunchtime so he just closed our shared door to the outside world and turned out my lights so people couldn’t see in and tell I was there. I was mortified because I’d just started working there two months earlier and he found me like that, but he was super nice about it and never mentioned it again, although we did have some good laughs later about a really bizarre phone message I apparently took for him at some point while on meds that was just a Post-It note that said “European mustache” and a phone number to one of our department chairs. Haha. God, I was so lucky to have a good boss.

          1. Journalist Wife

            He was the BEST BOSS EVER! We ended up using European mustache as “code” from that point on at work, whenever someone was trying to make a point that was absurd or nonsense. =)

        1. ArtsNerd

          Now I want to ask about the weirdest phone messages in the next open thread.

          Once I received one that just said: “FBI laser pointers planes. – Christine {phone number.}” When I called the number, it was a main switchboard, not for the FBI, and the poor receptionist had no idea who Christine was.

          I was so excited/disappointed to find out what was actually going on with that.

          1. College Career Counselor

            There is the chance that you had exactly the right number–just the wrong code. ;-)

    5. CanadianDot

      Man, I didn’t even have the excuse of surgery. For a while, I was going through some medication changes, hormonal issues, etc, and every once in a while, I’d have days I’d basically have to write off entirely. I worked in top-level government, and one of those days, I was sitting at my desk, fighting to keep composed. My boss, a Cabinet Minister, came and asked me to make a phone call. I picked up the phone, started dialing, and then started sobbing halfway through. He was… surprised, to say the least. He asked if he’d done something wrong, and here I am, sobbing and trying to convince him that it’s not his fault. Yeah, I went home pretty quickly after that.

      I was pretty fortunate to work somewhere with a very generous sick leave policy.

    6. pucksmuse

      When I was very young, I went back to work far too soon after wisdom tooth removal (all four impacted, it was freaking awful) because I felt pressure from my boss. He didn’t seem to “get” that it would be a painful procedure and I would be in pain/out of it for a couple of days. He said, “I don’t think you’re going to need to take THAT many days off. This is a busy time of year for us afterall.”

      For the record, there was never a “slow” time of year for us.

      So I took the day of the surgery off and the next day. The day after the surgery, I was taking calls from the office and dialing back on the pain meds I needed so I could be coherent enough to answer questions. This was a huge error on my part because it complicated my already not-awesome recovery, kept me from getting the rest I needed and I think contributed to opening up my stitches. I ended up getting dry socket.

      I went back to work two days after surgery, still taking way less pain meds than I should because I needed to be able to drive/function at work. By noon, I was freaking MISERABLE. I got a copy of a document I’d written that morning with a note on it from my boss that said, “What in your X years of experience at this office makes you think that it’s OK to start a paragraph this way?” Cue tears at my desk, accompanied by seething rage. I thought, “Motherfluffer, do you REALIZE how much pain I’m in, sitting here at this desk trying to function instead of being at home where I belong? Because YOU asked me to be here?” And I got up to go tell him off, when some merciful force stopped me and made me realize that it wasn’t my boss’s fault I was sitting at my desk instead of recovering at home. It was mine. I should have been more forceful in my insistence in taking the time I needed, instead of expecting my boss to prioritize what was best for me. Clearly, he was going to do that. So it was my job to do so. It was definitely a moment of “becoming a grown up” for me, instead of looking up to my boss like parent.

      1. Hlyssande

        Your boss was an ass and I honestly think you were right to be mad at him.

        I had all four out at once and managed to get dry sockets too…and strep throat. Luckily I was just in high school and only really had to take a few days off, but it was still so miserable. My mom said I looked like I had mumps. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to have to actually work.

      2. simonthegrey

        I tried to go back to work two days after I got my wisdom teeth out. As in, I said I would, but then called out. I was so sick from the procedure, the anesthesia, and the codeine (which it turns out I have a reaction to) and I vomited blood for days after the surgery was over. I couldn’t keep anything down. It was horrific. By contrast, when my sister got hers out, she was back in class the next day, almost no swelling, little pain. Genetics, man.

    7. Kirsten

      This happened to me too after a tonsillectomy! I had to leave work because I was hysterical. I think it was a combo of not taking enough time off plus the pain killers I had been on for a few days after the surgery.

    8. mel

      Random sobbing at work super sucks.

      I had a much more lighthearted experience going to work two days after having all of my wisdom teeth removed (under general anesthesia because I’m a wuss), and that very first day back was the ONE DAY that the codeine decided to actually work. Walking there, I kept thinking “Whyyyyy does it feel like every car is veering toward me???” and by the time I clocked in I was high as a damn kite.

      My coworkers kept kindly offering to load/unload the convection ovens for me as they thought I was “unfit”, and I just responded “nnaaahh I’m good!” It was kind of the best day at work ever, LOL.

      Rest of the week was miserable though, because the codeine stopped working after that.

  6. Like I'm really going to use my usual name . . .

    We were allowed to have our own wall calendars in our space. It was the 1980’s. I was young. It was Chippendale’s.

    Worst part: my supervisor told me the last week of December I should pick a different type of calendar for the new year. I guess I should be thankful the entire department was women and it couldn’t be seen unless you actually stepped into my cube. But we were all in each other’s cubes all the time . . .

    1. Not My Usual Moniker

      Mine is similar, though no Chippendale’s. My friend Photoshopped the heads of celebrities I liked (think Chris Evans, Ewan McGregor…) onto the bodies of firefighters and gave me my own custom calendar. And I hung it up. At work. In full view of everyone. (It was a GREAT gift, lemme tell you.)

      1. Short and Stout

        Oh dear. My colleague and I made a 2012 Vladimir Putin calendar :(

        Every month featured the terrible despot doing a different activity, quite often topless.

        I don’t know why I thought this was a good idea at the time.

        1. Not My Usual Moniker

          That sounds AMAZING! I would pay for something like that haha

          (Related: When I went to Russia, I bought a set of nesting dolls that I call the “dictators collection.” Included are the Ayatollah, Bin Laden, and Saddam. My mother was horrified I’d spent real money on such a thing. I saw it as a snapshot in time.)

          1. Ellie H.

            That’s the kind of artifact they have in the Checkpoint Charlie museum, definitely the right call getting the souvenir for posterity!

            1. Stephanie

              At my high school, we called the campus officer who checked parking stickers and ID badges of student entering and exiting the parking lot “Checkpoint Charlie.” Having only really basic knowledge of the Cold War at the time, I thought the campus officer’s name was actually Charlie. I was very confused then when I read a profile of him in the paper. (“Why do they keep calling him Apollo? Isn’t his name Charlie?”)

              1. Cath in Canada

                OMG, this just reminded me. There was a fellow grad student back in Scotland who really annoyed everyone by being incredibly condescending all the time. She also had a very small pointy face, so we started rather unkindly calling her “Elfie” behind her back. Except a guy from India thought that was her real name, and used it to her face. GAAAH I feel so bad for both of them.

          2. AnonForThis

            I had a wall of dead terrorists once….totally need to find these nesting dolls.

      1. Like I'm really going to use my usual name . . .

        Nope–this was prior to the infamous SNL skit! In fact, I believe it was one of the first Chippendale calendars. Should have saved it–might be worth something now!

    2. Cath in Canada

      In grad school, the guy whose lab bench was opposite mine had a bunch of postcards of scantily clad women on the wall next to him. It had become a lab tradition that everyone sent a postcard from a conference addressed to him, and the other guys in the group had started always sending this particular kind of postcard. Apparently everyone who’d ever had my spot had had their own way to deal with this, including turning the postcards around so the writing was showing, or cutting dresses out of catalogues and sticking them over the women. My solution was to get all the women in the lab to send their postcards to me, and to choose Chippendale-type postcards. Because apparently two wrongs do make a right. There were a couple of postcards featuring photos of very old women, including some nuns, too.

      (This all sounds much creepier than it was. It was a really, really nice group of people – the best team I’ve ever worked on – and the guy in question is one of my all-time favourite colleagues. It was a very informal environment. We also used to play “lab volleyball” over the top of the high shelves with a ball made of cotton wool wrapped in tin foil, and played assorted harmless pranks on each other. Man I miss those guys).

      1. lala lemur

        This grad student must have become my graduate advisor. His office door was covered with NSFW postcards sent by lab members. It finally stopped when he became department chair.

    3. Ops Analyst

      Oh my god, that reminds me when I was a kid I asked for a chippendales calendar for Christmas. I was probably 10 and my mom got it for me. I opened it in front of my family. I was not embarrassed at the time but looking back on it I wonder what both I and my mother were thinking.

  7. John R

    In conjunction with our receptionist, on April Fool’s day, I sent out a fake memo stating that everyone was being given a $500 bonus and all they had to do was come and sign for it. When they signed, they were handed an envelope with their name and a piece of paper inside that said “April Fool’s!”.

    I knew it was a bad idea when one woman said “Oh My God! This couldn’t happen at a better time. I *REALLY* need this money…things have been going so badly for us”.

    I knew it was a HORRIBLE idea when the Union Shop Steward, who worked in our Department, started asking “Who authorized this? What are we signing? Why wasn’t anyone told about this” and was about to call the General Manager before we calmed her down.

      1. Observer

        Well, there is one very significant difference – unlike yesterday’s manglement, he didn’t think that it was funny to upset people like that, he just didn’t realize it would happen. Still not a good thing to do, but clearly he won’t be doing it again.

        I think we’ve all done things we cannot be proud of. The key is what we do about it and what happens afterward.

        1. John R

          Exactly. This was one of my first jobs and I was used to playing all kinds of pranks in college and having them played on me.

        2. Tomato Frog

          I think an April Fool’s joke that leaves people feeling relieved is WAY more excusable than one that leaves people disappointed, regardless of motivation.

  8. CH

    When I was turning 25, I made such an idiot of myself complaining about how old that felt (“a quarter of a century!”) when everyone in my department was much older–in fact they were about the age I find myself at now. If someone complained like that to me now, I might have to hit them.

    1. John R

      I refer to these people as “bragging complainers”. They’re the ones who say things like:

      “I can’t believe I’m turning 25. I’m soooo old!!!”
      “You have no idea how much stress it is to worry that someone might break into my Mercedes”

      Although my personal favorite was a guy I used to work with who would always say:

      “You all have no idea how tough it is to be so good-looking and have women always hitting on me all the time”.

        1. The Office Admin

          My husband and I precede a lot of what we say with “So today, humblebrag, I did…”
          If we don’t lead with that, the other says, “humblebrag, jeez, full of yourself today?” I worry about other people listening in on our conversations at restaurants, they must think we’re crackers.

      1. AVP

        lol. I know a guy in a technical job who often describes himself to people as, “Well, I’m not good, but I AM slow.” Note: this only works if you are the best at your job, you know it, and the person you’re talking to knows it too.

      2. The Cosmic Avenger

        You should have told the guy “Just start talking to them, that will solve the problem!”

      3. Not Here or There

        Ok, I’m guilty of this, although I don’t think I do it at work (or if I ever have, it’s only been with people my age or younger). It just shocks me sometimes how I feel like I’m still that college kid, until something happens that reminds me that I’m not that college kid anymore. There’s also those times that I will randomly think, when I was 18-19, 31 sounded so old and adult.

      4. Shell

        I do this–even now!

        In my defense, I have craptacular joints, muscle tension like whoa, and get aches and pains that usually people in their late 40s and onwards would get. (I’m 27, by the way.) And I also injure myself in stupid, hilarious, and story-worthy ways.

        So when I joke about feeling old, it actually is self-deprecating in the sense that I have relatives who are 60+ years old whose bodies seem more able than mine.

        1. Retail Lifer

          I’m 39 and I have all of the same aches and pains and ailments a staff member who is in her mid-60’s. Seriously. ALL THE SAME.

        2. misspiggy

          Ah – on the off chance you haven’t already, you should look up Ehlers Danlos Syndrome.

          1. EDS Anon

            I was going to say… Yeah.

            I have an older coworker (30+ years) who makes self-deprecating jokes about her fitness. She’s really so much stronger than me, but I don’t want to guilt trip her about it!

        3. Anonsie

          Ugh, I had EDS and this is me. I go into a quiet rage every time I get up and stretch or I mention my shoulder’s bothering or something and the people I work with start going “OH LOL ANONSIE YOU’RE SO YOUNG, YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW, YOU’RE A BIG HYPOCHONDRIAC WHINER HEE HEE HEE YOU’RE SUCH A BABY TO THINK YOU COULD HURT AT YOUR AGE TEE HEE HEE”

          When really I do often think oh wow, if this is me in my 20’s, what’s going to happen to me later? Am I going to be able to keep working to retirement age?

          1. Connie-Lynne

            I’ve had arthritis since I was 19. All the people who try to tell me on my bad days that I’m “too young to need a cane!”

            1. Sara M

              When I was 28, I had a lump in my breast. It turned out to be nothing… but four separate nurses/techs told me, “What are you doing here? You’re too young for this!”

              I wanted to punch them. Breast cancer can strike young women too, you dumbasses.

      5. TheExchequer

        I had people in an office I worked in (temp job) complain about how small their 2600 square foot house was (it was the person, their spouse, and 1 dog) and another coworker complained about how they weren’t sure if a chip in their diamond ring would keep it from going on the insurance rider. As I was about a paycheck away from being on government assistance, it was all I could do not to smack them.

        1. Magsi

          I had something similar, our CFO was out on maternity leave (a year in Canada) and the cover guy was complaining to me about what he was going to do when his contract was over. I was the benefits person, getting paid about 40k a year, he was making over 200k a year. We both knew that we both knew everyone’s salaries, and he chose the second lowest paid person in the company to complain to.
          Luckily I was smart enough to just walk away.

        2. manybellsdown

          I used to work as a PA to a real estate agent in an incredibly wealthy area. Like, the cheapest home we sold was $750k, and this was 15 years ago. I was a single mom, not getting child support. I remember taking some clients up to a house and the woman saying “oh my god, this master closet is WAY too small!” The closet was bigger than my single-car garage. Then she said the 5-car garage was also too small, and I’m thinking “It’s twice the size of my actual house.”

          Also they didn’t buy the house because there were no bidets in the bathrooms and she said she had to have a bidet for after sex. And then looked at me and said “Right?” I’ve never used a bidet in my life.

        3. HR Generalist

          Once, after tax season, a manager came to me to modify their tax form for the next year. He complained that he had to pay this year, instead of getting a refund, and went on to complain about how much income tax he pays. The amount of tax he pays was actually more than my annual salary. Which, I’d feel bad about, but I know his actual salary and – trust me – he can spare that amount.
          I sat quietly and commiserated with him but was glad when he finally left. Ugh.

      6. AT

        Heheheheh…I’ve been mercifully outside punching range of a few of these recently…

        One, over a group Skype chat, receives a casual comment from a guy in the group who says “oh wow, I’m so jealous of your art” – she replies with “people are /always/ jealous of me, it’s so annoying!”

        And another, some years back in an email discussion group. I’ll call the participants A, B, C and D – a fairly new group who hadn’t known each other long. A is leading the discussion on how to organize a particular collaboration, and B keeps dropping in with comments like “oh, I can’t make that day, I have a meeting with my agent” and “no, I’ve got rehearsals that day” and “oh, I’ve been too busy learning my lines lately, that’s why I haven’t done that”. C is frustrated because she’s in a different timezone and is having enough trouble making the times as it is, but remains polite and tries to make it work. A continues making suggestions. D is mostly quiet, but drops in the odd “oh, that’s OK, B – we all know it’s important to you, I don’t think anyone would want to ruin it for you by making you miss anything for this”. Eventually, B goes “well, it’s not my fault I’ve got talent! It’s not fair – I always have so many people asking for me that I can’t make time for all of them!”. C silently facepalms, A tries to hastily steer the conversation back on track with another suggestion of a schedule, and D says “I know, B, you’re such an amazing actress, I’m so jealous of you!” Now here’s the kicker…wait for it…a few messages later, D sends an e-mail from B’s location. It turned out they were one and the same person. o_O

          1. AT

            Oh, tell me about it! >.< Since then, from what I've heard, she was for a while accepted into a very prestigious martial arts school ("sorry if I'm typing slowly, I nearly cut two fingers off with a dagger today" and "wow, I'm so tired this evening – bo staff fighting on horseback really takes it out of you!"), was getting a second PhD (I don't even know which subject) and is now battling cancer while working 15 hours shifts to support her poverty-stricken family. Or something.

    2. RubyJackson

      One of my favorite replies to people who complain about how old they are is, “Just remember, this is the youngest you will ever be.”

        1. RubyJackson

          Exactly.

          Another one of my favorite age expressions when people complain about birthdays is, “Remember, birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.”

          1. baseballfan

            Yes. And, “Don’t be upset about growing old. Some people are denied the privilege.”

          2. Dynamic Beige

            I like that one!

            But I do kind of understand where the poster is coming from. I’ve done that too, along with forgetting how old I actually am sometimes. When you’re 25, you’ve spent pretty much all your life in school, it’s a hard adjustment to know that this is life, life involves working and this is the way your life is going to be for the next ~40 years, if you’re lucky. To people who complain about being old, I usually point out that getting old is a privilege… because consider the alternative (similar to Leah).

            1. AW

              Huh. I wonder if they asked any kids that didn’t have birthday parties what they thought. I don’t recall ever thinking that it was the party itself that caused aging.

      1. nyxalinth

        I was carping until recently about my 50th birthday coming in June. then I decided that I was going to get myself a cake (why should I wait for someone else to do it? It will still be just as awesome and delicious if I buy it myself) with Grumpy Cat on it saying “Big 5-0? More like Big 5-NO.” or “I turned 50 once. It was awful.” because I love Grumpy Cat and despite the grouchy sentiments, I like the idea of being half a century old.

    3. ThursdaysGeek

      I worked with you! (Or someone like you.) It was pretty amusing during this “I’m going to be 25! I’m so old!” complaining, when another co-worker came up and said he was 50 years older. Yup, he was 75.

      1. CH

        Well I was the baby in my first professional job, so they went pretty easy on me. I still have the black button they gave me that says “Age is a state of mind. Don’t ask me what state I’m in.” One of our secretaries (yes, that’s what we called them in those days) was 66 and swam almost every day and went dancing every Friday night. I still want to grow up to be her.

        1. AdminAnon

          I was the baby of my office for the last 3 years, but we just hired someone who is 3 months younger than me. It’s a weird feeling, but it’s kind of nice!

        2. Nashira

          “Those days” were only about four years ago in Missouri. I had a sinking feeling (which I now recognise as a poor fit red flag semaphore party) when I was introduced as a secretary on my first day, instead of as clerical support.

          I love working not-there so much.

      2. Magsi

        When I was new to the working world I was the youngest by a long shot (obviously). Our Operations Manager was celebrating his birthday, so we did the cake in the conference room and he was talking about when he started in the industry. I got to learn that he started work the year my mom was born. I made a big deal of it, I did realise that it wasn’t something to talk about too much.

        That didn’t stop me from playing my favourite game… What was I doing then?
        It’s a fun game when around people much older. When they tell stories about their past, usually when they were going adults, you ask the year, do some math and say what your age or grade was.

    4. BRR

      I do this as a joke since I’m the youngest and about 8 years younger than the next person on my team. But in ways like when they say something changed in 2009 and I say I wasn’t even born yet.

    5. Omne

      We had a guy years ago that used to gloat to us younger workers about how close he was to retirement and how far away we were from it. I was in my mid 20s and he was in his early 60s. He used to get really obnoxious about it. Finally I said ” Well, you’re that much closer to death too.” Funny enough he never gloated around me after that.

    6. nonegiven

      I said “I can’t believe I have a kid who’s 25.”
      My mom, “How do you think I feel?”

    7. Person of Interest

      I once worked with a mid-twenty-something girl who had the nerve to complain to group, “These size 00 Petite pants are making my butt look saggy!” I’m surprised she wasn’t instantly punched in the face.

  9. Stephanie

    This was an internship. I was working on some graphs in Excel and threw in some placeholder titles with the words “Blah”, “More blah”, and “crap.” So Excel crashed (and of course I hadn’t saved enough). I fixed everything before my meeting, went to open up the file and the recovered file with the graphs labeled “crap” came up in front of the team lead. I was mortified.

    1. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees

      I used to do that in college with titles for papers! The document would have a professional-enough name but I was so bad at thinking up titles I’d just put “Blah.” “Title Goes Here” “This is Stupid” and plan to go back in change them during edits… which of course I almost never remembered to do. I also kept thinking “next time” I’d remember and keep doing it. Ugh.

      1. Stephanie

        Oh, I did that in college once. I was writing an English paper the night before (of course). So when I write, I’ll do “ugly writing” and just work on getting anything on the page and edit it later. On occasion, I’ll add in editorial remarks. One of those paragraphs, I wrote something like “this paragraph is shit…go back and really rework this one later” at the end. Aaaaand I don’t know if I fell asleep or I ran out of time or what, but I turned it in with that still in there (as I discovered when I got the paper back).

        The professor was known for being an irreverent foul-mouth who was sort of lax with deadlines anyway (one student said to him, “I just couldn’t think of anything to write” and the professor shrugged it off like “I’d rather it be late and good than on-time and shit”). He luckily laughed the comment off and let me rewrite the paper for full credit.

      2. JB

        One time I had a note that said “You need to cite a source for this,” and I forgot to add the source or take the note out. My professor wrote a note agreeing that I should have had a source there. It was embarrassing. But at least I still got a good grade on it.

        1. Anon for this... yikes

          Oh, god, I did that for two footnotes on my thesis. (For undegrad, but still.) I was so beyond mortified.

          1. JB

            Based on this comment thread alone, I think we can comfort ourselves that it’s probably not that uncommon.

          1. JB

            I am honestly afraid that somehow something I write now would get have this kind of error in it, but it’s not a rational fear because of the number of eyes that see everything we write at work. But I still worry about it. I refuse to go back and read old stuff for fear I’ll find something like this.

        2. LJL

          As a former writing instructor, I would LOVE to see that in a paper. It’s evidence that the student is revising and actually learning.

        3. Amy

          I did the same with a sentence that went “Charles de Gaule left the country on (X)” and a footnote saying “Find out when he ran away”. My teacher didn’t comment on it and gave me top marks for the paper! But I was mortified worrying that she’d just been too polite to say anything.

          The footnote was for my own use because I didn’t have to cite sources, so it was even more embarrassing/frustrating.

      3. Hermione

        “THIS IS BULLYING YOU KNOW. I’M BEING BULLIED AND I’M NOT EVEN FAT.”

        Excellent username, Xan.

    2. AnotherAlison

      I recently red-lined a technical report and added comments like Cannot send to client like this/Reword-This makes no sense for my coworker Dan. He was supposed to do the rewriting, but we were frustrated with the extent of revision needed, so he just sent it back to Bob, the report’s author to rework it. He left my comments in. (I mean, on one hand, it was fine because it was true, but I would have been nicer about it if I intended to send it to Bob.)

    3. Soanonforthis

      Oh god . This reminds me of one. I was working on a PowerPoint presentation and I was having technical problems with it. So, mature person that I am, I label it on my computer desktop “F…ng piece of sh…”. I also save it on a jump drive with a normal label. 24 hours later, having trouble with the meeting venue’s laptop hooking up to the projector – I know! I’ll just hook up my laptop instead. Laptop boots up, there’s my foully labelled document sitting pretty on my laptop desktop while I frantically try to open the jump drive.

    4. Soupspoon McGee

      When my sister was getting divorced, I helped her make an Excel spreadsheet splitting up their assets, with one tab named Dumpybutt, my private nickname for her ex. She didn’t notice it until after she’d sent it to him and he called angrily. Strangely, he did not yell at me about it because he knew I had no patience for his lying, cheating, lazy ass.

    5. ella

      This is belated, but this whole thread has convinced me that putting “Dear Person I Want To Hire Me” as a placeholder in my cover letter (until I figure out the name of the person I’m sending it to, which is usually one of my last steps) is a poor decision that I should stop doing.

  10. Kayla

    I can’t believe some of the things I wore to job interviews when I was first out of college! The companies were business casual so I didn’t need to be in a suit, but I thought a red lace t-shirt (not see-through, thankfully), thin white skirt with red and blue polka dots, and bright red flats were ok for interviews. That’s ‘dressy casual’, right? Thankfully my first manager was very forgiving and let me make some fashion faux pas, then pulled me aside after my first few months and had me compare and contrast my more professional outfits with my less professional ones. I learned so much from that conversation.

    1. Allison

      Oh man, I made so many poor fashion choices in my early days! Tight clothing, dresses that were too short, a polka dot dress that was clearly a party dress (I thought I could throw a blazer over it to make it more professional, nope!), a dress that had a lacy overlay, big hair bows, ughh I’m cringing. Part of it was just a lack of professional clothing, I didn’t start on my work wardrobe early enough, or didn’t build it fast enough when I did start buying work clothes. My work wardrobe is a little better now, and I’m finding more mature ways to incorporate my quirky, vintage taste in clothing without looking like a little girl. Or a strumpet.

      Honestly, if I’d just discovered H&M a few years earlier . . .

      1. AnotherAlison

        Yeah, I had forgotten about wearing a crushed velvet “going out” shirt to work (at my first engineering job) until I read this thread. I had zero clothes when I started working.

      2. The Toxic Avenger

        Yes, indeed. When I was first starting out (early 90-s) I had no money and no clothes, so I made some really lame fashion choices. Laaaame. And, like other commenters have noted, it’s usually the low-money jobs that require you to dress really nice. In my case, I was a bank teller. Now, I’m in IT project management, and I pull down the cash but I can wear jeans. Where’s the justice in that??

          1. Stephanie

            Friend’s boyfriend works in video games. He said he had a job where they all emailed each other when there was a new Woot! shirt.

            1. manybellsdown

              I don’t even buy him t-shirts anymore, because his drawers are overflowing and he keeps bringing home new ones from the company he’s with now. And we go to conventions as well, and vendors give away free shirts, so dozens and dozens of t-shirts from those …

              I should learn to quilt so I can make a big t-shirt quilt out of the more worn ones.

        1. techandwine

          I’ve only ever worked in the tech field and as a result I own no grown up work clothes. I go to work every day in jeans and a casual top, some days even a nerdy graphic tee. It’s absolutely the norm in every office I’ve worked in. I’m honestly not sure what I’ll do if I ever find a job outside of the tech world.

      3. tesyaa

        Ha, in my first job in the late 80s I was 22 and dressed like I was 62. Forget the suits with midcalf skirts; I had an outfit which was a white turtleneck, navy grandpa sweater, and midcalf lavender skirt which I LOVED and wore to my corporate job.

        1. Cruella DaBoss

          I had two favorite “Casual Friday” outfits that I wore a lot. One was a red “Units” outfit (remember those?) and flats. Easy, no wrinkle jersey. It looked like I wrapped myself in jersey knit, tied it off with a belt and went to work. I think there might have been a bow too. >shudder<

          The other was one of those awful plaid "bubble" onsie- jumpsuit things, with the big white Peter Pan collar. Not . Office. Appropriate. We came across some pictures from around the office the other day and someone asked "Who were you pregnant with in this one?" I had to confess that I wasn't pregnant in any of them.

      4. Anna

        I used to wear a very short white skirt I got at M&S when I worked retail. I wore it several times until I realized that when I was dusting the bottom shelves, that wasn’t the only bottom display I was working on. I learned to crouch.

      5. LD

        Not me, but someone I worked with who was a little younger…came to work in an outfit her boyfriend bought for her: Tuxedo-style black vest, tight black skirt, black fishnet hose, black high heels, and a bow tie like would be work with a tuxedo. That was it, no shirt and no jacket. And she didn’t understand why her manager would tell her that it wasn’t office appropriate because “I look good in it.”

    2. Artemesia

      I interviewed and got my first important professional job in a pair of linen slacks and sweater — definitely business casual. Luckily on the airplane the guy deplaning behind me pointed out that I had a price tag hanging from the neck of the sweater (bless him) so at least I didn’t go into the interview looking like Minnie Pearl. I was such a goober on so many occasions that I am stunned I was offered that or any other job. Lots of luck involved there.

      1. Snork Maiden

        I did the price-tag interview thing! A nice lady on the way home pointed it out to me. Unfortunately…it was on the way home.

        1. Artemesia

          Bummer. I have payed it forward. I am the busybody now who always points that sort of thing out to total strangers because I am so grateful that that guy helped me out. I can’t imagine why I thought those ‘nice’ but casual clothes were appropriate. I had been in grad school and had a toddler so I had not had any decent work clothes for a decade and this was the ‘nice outfit’ I bought to interview in.

          1. Collarbone High

            My parents always bought our clothes at Goodwill (or worse), so I reached adulthood not knowing that the X that holds a skirt vent closed in the store is meant to be removed. To this day I bless the anonymous lady on the subway who kindly said “Excuse me, I think you forgot to cut the threads off your vent.” I played it off like “Ha ha, you’re right, silly me” while thinking “OH, that makes sense, damn, I’ve been wearing skirts wrong all this time.”

            1. Lee

              Ha! Recently reconnected with my old college roommate — I taught her to cut the vent strings! Now we are both like vent string nerds, stopping people everywhere to let them know. I figure people would rather know than not, the trick is to do it nicely.

              1. Spolio

                I learn so many useful things on this website! I always wondered what those x’s were. Cutting all the ones in my closet now…

        2. Jazzy Red

          I had a pink curler in my bangs (one lousy lock of hair would not curl), and I was talking to a girl on the elevator about the job interview I was going to. Thankfully, she mentioned it before I got off and went into the office.

    3. Not My Usual Moniker

      Sounds like you were ready for Fourth of July! :) (I cringe when I think back to my very first “professional” clothes too. I probably looked like I’d raided my mom’s closet.)

    4. JB

      I had something similar but different happen in my mid-20s. My manager pulled me aside to tell me I shouldn’t again where what I was wearing, but I still think he was totally in the wrong. I was wearing boots and a skirt, but the skirt was almost too my knees, and the boots were riding boots, so no heel to speak of. I’m of average height and don’t have particularly long legs, so there really wasn’t any kind of extra skin showing. If I’d worn pumps with the skirt, it would have been fine. I could wear that outfit today to my fairly conservative law job and nobody would bat an eye. But apparently some of the other male managers liked the look and commented on it in some way that prompted my manager to tell me that I shouldn’t wear that outfit so that they wouldn’t talk about me like that. You know, instead of just telling them not to talk about me like that.

      I did once wear something not very appropriate to a retail job while in college. It was a shortish (but not that short) black satin skirt with a slit in the side and thigh highs that had a lace band that I didn’t think anyone could see. But I found out that you could see the lace when the dude I had just sold a pair of underwear to complimented me on them as he was leaving. I did not wear that to work again. I really don’t know what I was thinking because I usually not that oblivious about my work clothes!

      1. Kelly L.

        I accidentally put on pants with a giant hole in the crotch and went to work in them. This wasn’t even “I split them while at work.” The hole was already there. I just legit thought they were different pants. The holey black pants were a little too tight and the intact black pants fit perfectly, but I didn’t even catch on when my pants felt too snug. I instead gave myself a mental lecture about overeating recently. I only noticed when I took my first restroom break of the day. Thank God for serendipitously wearing black undies.

        1. Beebs

          I recently put on black pants that had split in the front right below where the zipper area ends and noticed as I was looking in the mirror. Problem is, I don’t know when they split and how long I had been wearing them like that the previous wear…. hopefully I was wearing a long shirt and/or black underwear. Or they mysteriously split while not in use. One can hope.

          1. JB

            Yeah, that’s the kind of thing that you hope nobody notices or at least that everyone pretends not to notice, but at the same time, you hope nobody let you walk around all day like that.

        2. That Lady

          I used to have a dress that had a zipper all the way down the front, top to bottom. And you know how zippers sometimes spontaneously open from the middle?

          Yeah.

          1. Kelly L.

            Nooooo! That is my nightmare. I think that’s why I shy away from dresses like that.

          2. ADA

            I recently wore a button down shirt dress to work… Realising only too late that the bottom two buttons – directly over my upper thighs and crotch – were MISSING. And it was the windiest day of the year. Nightmare scenario.

        3. Vanishing Girl

          At my first post-college temp job, I was responsible for writing each day’s sales totals on a wall-sized dry erase board that went down to the floor. Naturally, I had to bend over a lot to fill in the stuff on the bottom of the board.

          Since I was broke and young, I wore the same low-rider velvet pants I’d been wearing to college. I did that until my supervisor pulled me aside and told me my buttcrack had been showing whenever I bent down to do that. So embarrassing! It was hard to show up at work the next day.

        4. Lizzie

          Not a work issue, but I once wore a pair of shorts with a huge hole right under the butt pocket while walking around town for several hours with a friend. If any passersby noticed, they didn’t say anything – I’m not sure whether it’d have been better or worse if someone did notice!

      2. Ama

        Uch, yeah if I couldn’t wear boots and a skirt to work I’d have nothing to wear in late fall/early spring.

        I wore a very cute shift dress to my first job a couple of times, thinking it was of course fine because I’d originally bought it for a church function when I was in high school. The second time I wore it my (female) boss very mildly said, “that’s a little short, isn’t it?” I had forgotten that I was almost an inch and a half taller than I was in high school, and because I’d been dressing in a room without a full-length mirror, I didn’t realize just how much more of my thighs were showing than they used to.

        1. JB

          Right? It’s totally an appropriate combo. I hear you on the unintentionally short dress problem. I don’t know how many years it took me to remember that when shopping for a dress for work, don’t just put in on in the dressing room, also *sit down* in it. I had more than a few awkward days at work hoping that I didn’t need to sit down in anybody else’s office.

    5. Dynamic Beige

      My first job was a multi-hat job. Part of that was being the receptionist. I was broke and it wasn’t a super professional office where wearing suits was supposed to be a big deal… so I wore what I had, which was mainly jeans and T-shirts. My coworker (who had been with the company for years) always wore black jeans and sometimes Zubaz pants, he was a character, so I didn’t see that I was out of alignment with anything. Until they gave me my first review and one of the things I was told was that they wanted me to adopt a more professional appearance as I was the face of the company (which was funny because hardly anyone ever came). I was crushed and humiliated. I told the person giving me feedback that after I paid all my bills for the month I only had $5o I could call my own (it was only through being extremely frugal and denying myself a lot of things that I managed to avoid racking up credit card debt and I wanted to keep it that way). There was a small raise, but it wasn’t enough to buy the kinds of clothes they wanted me to wear and also I was expected to run a film processor as required, which was messy and staining. So I never did buy the wardrobe they wanted me to and I left within the year after that review.

      1. JB

        It drives me crazy when people expect their employees to dress nicely but (1) don’t pay them enough to immediately acquire a nicer wardrobe and (2) their job involves tasks that are going to get that employee dirty and possibly stained. If you want me wearing nice clothes and these clothes may get ruined on the regular, you better pay me enough to replace my wardrobe as it happens or to pay for a really good dry cleaner.

        1. Stephanie

          Yeah, my friend had a job where he made like $31k a year and was expected to wear suits daily.

          Current gig at the shipping warehouse, all the supervisors have to wear slacks and tucked-in shirts. It just seems silly since those are all going to get ruined. I know they don’t pay them particularly well, either.

          1. Chinook

            “Current gig at the shipping warehouse, all the supervisors have to wear slacks and tucked-in shirts. It just seems silly since those are all going to get ruined”

            For me it was working at a retailer that insisted on shirts with a collar. Coworkers wore ratty golf shirts but I would get written up for wearing a nice shirt that just happenned to be a pull-over. Minimum wage was not enough for me to pay for a new shirt or two that had both a collar and remained buttoned while moving boxes.

            1. JB

              I am so so lucky that my mom bought me some clothes for my first professional job. We bought them at Ross, and we were lucky that they were having a sale, but even at those prices, I could not have afforded it on my own. I totally get that companies want their employees to look nice but they need to pay their employees for that, and if the employee is working in the warehouse then be more realistic in their expectations.

          2. BananaPants

            My husband’s most recent job as an “account executive” turned out to be a retail sales job on 100% commission, where employees were required to wear a suit and tie daily (the suit had to be black, charcoal, or navy, the shirt had to be white or light blue, the tie had to be conservative and “tasteful”). The average first year employee, assuming they lasted more than the 3 month probationary period, earned somewhere around $26-28K! When he started they offered a “suit bonus” of $500 if you met quota in your first month working there – which almost no one did. Employees had to do light cleaning, haul boxes of inventory, shovel the sidewalk, etc. in those suits.

            We bought him two suits at the start of the job because it was all we could afford. He worked there for 10 months and the suit he wore more often is just in awful shape. I need to convince him to donate it and hang on to the one in better condition for upcoming job interviews – once he lands a new job, the second suit will go in the Goodwill pile!

        2. Kelly L.

          This was a huge peeve of mine when I worked at a pharmacy. I was a cashier, not a pharmacist, but they wanted all the cashiers to wear lab coats so we’d look more…pharmacy-y or something. This led to multiple problems.

          -We had to do a lot of the scut work at the store. A lab coat does not stay looking nice when you’ve been dusting shelves and washing the windows all day.

          -People (understandably) thought we were pharmacists, especially cashiers like me who were older and presumably could have been pharmacists. Except we didn’t have the technical knowledge, and in fact were forbidden from answering any med-related question even if we did know the answer, for liability reasons. So if a customer comes up and asks “Hey, can I take lksfhlwruie with lerwqiu4eryoqi?” and I replied, “Let me go get the pharmacist,” they would usually be annoyed and think I was rather dim.

          1. JB

            Yeah, nothing like wearing a big white coat covering much of your clothing to do things like dusting! Serves no purpose other than to verify that those shelves were in fact quite dusty.

        3. Artemesia

          It isn’t always the niceness of the clothes but the appropriateness of the style. In that situation I would hit a thrift store and try to get things a little more corporate looking than jeans or whatever. (but then I am the woman who wore a casual outfit to the big interview so what do I know.)

        4. HR Generalist

          I worked at a hotel once where we made minimum wage but they told us we were expected to wear makeup, do our hair neatly (ie. no ponytails or hair down), buy dress pants, closed toe black shoes, and buy blouses that were to be pressed and cleaned before every shift. It was mind boggling. Once our new VP said to a coworker, “Your pants are too long – are you going to have them hemmed or bring heels?” and she snipped back, “Neither until you pay me enough to do so.” and then looked absolutely mortified. I loved it.

          1. Lisa

            Just out of curiosity…what exactly were you supposed to do with your hair if it couldn’t be in a ponytail or just down? Which, incidently, are the only two ways I do my hair…. Guess I would’ve had to shave it bald?

      2. Hlyssande

        Wow, that’s a really crappy set of duties. They want you nice and professional for being a receptionist but they also want you to do to the dirty, staining work that would ruin those professional clothes.

      3. Hooptie

        Oh goodness I had forgotten that Zubaz actually existed until I read this!!! Flashback!

    6. Ellie H.

      I wore my bathing suit underneath a t-shirt and shorts to work once. I was 18 so I 100% should have known better. It was a retail job where dress could be quite casual and you could wear jeans and a flannel shirt, or jeans and a (tasteful) t-shirt with something on it, but not, you know, what I was wearing. I am so embarrassed and cringing every time I think about this. At my employee review my manager pointed out that my dress was sometimes very casual and this realization instantly hit me, whereupon I was mortified and super careful about my dress from then on.

      1. Allison

        I still sometimes cringe over the short skirts I wore to work when I worked at a bookstore. They didn’t have much of a dress code, we just had to dress “nicely” with a name tag. So naturally I wore skirts that came down to my mid-thigh, if that, and my super religious co-worker would ask why I was showing too much leg. I still think she could have communicated this to me more effectively, but she was right, I was showing too much leg.

        At some point in my mid-20’s, I started to find myself getting dressed, putting on a skirt or pair of shorts I’ve had for years, and thinking “this is way too short! did it shrink? did my butt get bigger?? or has it really always been this short on me? how do I sit down in this? my butt’s practically hanging out! who let me dress like this??”

        1. Kelly L.

          Well, one thing my stubby legs are good for is that I rarely have an oops too short skirt. :D I’ve definitely worn too much cleavage by accident, though. I’d put on the outfit and check it out from the front, but neglect to check the view directly down, or I’d wear a different bra and render the whole look very, very different.

          1. AdminAnon

            Yes! I have done this so many times. The worst was a dress I had at my first office job right out of college. I wore it all the time. It was a very nice black dress with white polka dots that came down to just past my knee. The cleavage situation always looked fine to me straight on, but I’m all of 5’0″. So we were at an annual event and my boss, who is over 6′, decided to take a staff picture. A month later, the photo was published in our newsletter and the angle from above turned out to be slightly scandalous. I haven’t worn that dress since!

          2. bkanon

            Oh, I know that feeling, forgetting to check the view. I’m very busty and also rather tall for a woman. Once I wore a shirt that was a little low-cut, not too bad. Unremarkable for my retail job. Until I combined it with gothy shoes that had a very, very thick sole, and suddenly I was 6’4″ and my cleavage was direct eye-line for almost every employee and customer to walk past. No one commented, but I didn’t wear them together again!

          3. ArtsNerd

            Ugh, these kinds of shirts plus setting up events where I inevitably had to bend forward for whatever reason = I think all of my old coworkers know what my boobs look like. They were very mature and appropriate about it, though.

          4. infj

            When i came back from maternity leave, i used a breast pump a couple of times a day. One afternoon i realized that i had been walking around with the front of my dress pulled down and my entire bra exposed in the front. For an hour!!! Luckily those nursing bras are matronly and cotton. But still. Mortified. And so mad that no one told me.

          5. afiendishthingy

            I am 5’1 and I shudder to think how many people have been able to see straight down my shirt over the years. I’m not very busty, but people are still seeing more than they should. I’ve gotten a bit smarter recently about wearing a camisole under anything remotely low cut, but that’s pretty much been only in the past year or so and I’m 31. Cringe.

        2. Beebs the Elder

          I think all women have this “I’m not a ‘junior’ anymore” moment. I remember clearly the time I was in my mid-twenties, standing in the middle of Macy’s junior department, and I suddenly realized that I was the oldest one there . . . and everything was so short . . . and it dawned on me that I ought to be moving on over to the women’s department.

      2. Al Lo

        In grade 3, I wore just a bathing suit to perform in the school’s spring concert. To be fair, we were singing “Under the Sea,” and most of the kids were in swimsuits and shorts or other beachy wear. I just decided to not wear the shorts. My mom, in the audience, was mortified.

        On the bright side, the only times I’ve worn a bathing suit to work were as a camp counselor. I think. ;)

        1. Hooptie

          You just made me bust out laughing. This is so not thread-related, but I still giggle over the story my sister tells about when my niece was in kindergarten.

          Dead of winter. My sister got a call from the school that she needed to come get her daughter because they could not get her to put her clothes back on. What?

          So my sister drives to school, and it turns out that Grandma had taken my niece shopping with her and they hit the clearance departments over the weekend. Grandma can never take the grandkids out without buying something.

          My niece had put on her brand new, out of season, clearance rack bikini under her clothes, then after she got to school she went into the bathroom, took off the clothes and came out in the bikini. Wearing her winter boots. And she would NOT change.

          My sister was mortified and could do nothing but take her home. This was very typical for that child (we have many stories in my family!)

          1. Ellie H.

            This sounds exactly like me. When I was 5, my mom put me in some singing class for kids (a few friends’ kids who were also my friends were going and it seemed like a good idea). Apparently I started taking my clothes off and throwing them at my best friend and refused to put them back on. My mom was really mad when she came to pick me up but I didn’t have to go back to the class. I always hated wearing clothes when I was a kid (I still kind of do, thank god for yoga pants).

          2. peanut butter kisses

            I dated someone who had young girls who would immediately change into their bathing suits to watch TV in so they could be like Paris Hilton. They thought she was the most glamorous person to have ever been born.

        2. Dawn King

          My dad let me wear my bathing suit to kindergarten one day (I was in the afternoon class back in the days of half-day kindergarten). When I got home, my mom tore into my dad about letting me wear that. I couldn’t figure out why.

      3. Pennalynn Lott

        I wore khaki shorts (not walking shorts, or bermuda shorts, or culottes, but regular shorts) with a tank top and blazer to my inside sales position at IBM. My boss didn’t send me home, but he made it *very* clear that I was to never wear shorts in the office again.

        Years before that, in my early 20’s, I was the office manager at a consulting company. I started wearing brightly patterned leggings with short midriff tops and equally-short blazers. Yup, got a talking-to about that wardrobe choice, too.

    7. lowercase holly

      oooh yeah. i had an “informational meeting” at a big museum that i really wanted to work at. it wasn’t for a specific position so i didn’t realize it was basically an interview. i did not dress for success that day.

    8. pucksmuse

      My first post college job was for a company I’d interned for over the summer before my senior uear. There was a fresh crop of interns every summer and they started right around the time I did post-graduation. This was not a “workplace casual” office. We wore shirts/ties, dresses, or at the very least, collared shirts and slacks. No jeans. No shorts. No tank tops. No sneakers or flip flops.

      One of the interns showed up on her first day in a too tight polo-type shirt, a distressed denim teeny-tiny miniskirt that wouldn’t have been appropriate at the mall because of its shortness and flip flops. Most of her outfits continued in this vein for weeks. Tank tops with spaghetti straps, short shorts, inappropriately short mini-dresses, etc. No one ever corrected her. Why? Because she was the granddaughter of the owner and the bosses were afraid to say anything to her. Meanwhile, the other interns were held to the company dress code and disciplined if they broke it. Really nice, inconsistent message there, managers.

      Not to mention, I feel like they were doing that girl a disservice, because eventually, she was going to work for a company her family didn’t own and she was in a for a very rude awakening in terms of professional dress.

      1. simonthegrey

        There are definitely ways that could be handled! I think I went to college with that girl.

        Slightly off topic, but I took a mini-semester class to travel to Italy. One of the girls on the program wore strappy tank tops and this too-short flared denim skirt that had either been longer and was cut off, or was bought that way, but the ends were all frayed (like, several inches of fray). Appropriate drinking clothes maybe, not appropriate for the class. This was a Catholic college and the point of the program was church history. We were spending all of our time touring churches to talk about art and history. She wore that denim skirt the day we were scheduled to go to St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome. Well, churches in Rome have a dress code, so guess who did not get to go in and tour the church. What made this absurd was that we were GIVEN a copy of the church dress code and TOLD what would be appropriate to wear before we even left the US. I guess she didn’t believe it.

        1. HR Generalist

          Ever since my grad trip to Italy I always feel scandalous with shoulders bared, even in my private life. I saw women getting turned away from churches at EVERY church we went to, so even my vacation attire was very modest – always with a cardigan, length to the knees, etc.

    9. Elysian

      Oh, I cringe at the things I wore in the past!

      For my first job interview I was 16, and it was at the outlet mall. My mom had never worked – I didn’t know what working women wore. My dad was a blue collar guy and always wore jeans. When I asked him what people wear to a job interview he just said “something nice,” so I basically dressed like I was going to church. It involved some kind of lacy frilly shirt, a flowery skirt that ended mid-calf and just looked too big for me, and a pair of really clunky heels that I think I got from the “comfort” section of Payless on a discount just for the event. Oh how I wish that there was someone in my life that could have told me that looking like Blossom was not OK for a job interview. I might have even worn an Easter-type hat. Ugh. (Notably… did not get the job at the outlet mall.)

      Later, in college I got an internship with the district attorney. I knew that attorneys wore suits, so I went to the mall to get one. I had no idea at all what stores sell women’s suits. I ended up at Charlotte Russe, which I thought has a really sophisticated sounding name, and got a suit there was was ivory, had pinstripes, and was way way too tight. Also, because it was nearly white and not lined, it was kind of see-through. Someone told me one day I reminded them of Tom Wolfe and I had no idea what to make of that (I still don’t, really, but its probably not good.) Needless to say… it was not a good suit for a young wanna-be attorney. To make things worse, there weren’t that many female lawyers in our courthouse, so I never saw anyone else to realize that my suit was horribly off. I wore it all summer for that internship. [A year or two years later I actually realized this suit was a horrible mistake and dyed the suit brown in my dorm bathroom. Honestly, it looked so much better after that, I might still have it… But I don’t wear it anymore!]

      1. AnotherAlison

        Gah, I had a not-quite-as-bad-but-still-embarrassing high school interview outfit. I had a dress-up outfit that I wore to school and church that was khaki-ish striped zoot suit type pants with an oversized black linen-ish blazer (that texture, but not really linen). I had a job interview at a printing company, which was the type of place that jeans would be fine to interview in, and my mom made me wear that instead. I wore it with black patent leather janitor shoes (kind of a doc martens era shoe, but hard to describe). I remember sitting there filling out my application in this completely ridiculous outfit with other people in jeans and polos. (I did get the job, though.) Perhaps why I do not buy trendy clothes now. . .

      2. Ama

        Tom Wolfe always wears white suits (or at least he always does in his book jacket photos, I think), so it wasn’t really that bad!

    10. TCO

      I had an office assistant job in the summer between my junior and senior years of high school. They usually hired a college student as their summer assistant, but a family friend got me the job. I went in for the interview dressed in an appropriate, bland, conservative nice sweater and long skirt. Unfortunately, I accessorized with orange-and-pink terrycloth flip-flops, because I thought it was appropriate and even desirable to “show a bit of my personality” when the rest of my outfit was so conservative. It turns out they were planning to hire me before the interview, so it didn’t hurt me much.

      I can recall several small professional gaffes I made in that job (like the time I overflowed the industrial coffee maker all over the reception-area floor), but I think I did quite well considering I was only 17.

    11. BananaPants

      In college I interviewed for an engineering internship sporting an ankle-length olive green floral skirt, a green twin set, ivory peep-toe pumps that I borrowed from my mother, and a neon orange messenger bag-style purse slung over my shoulder! Female engineers in that field typically wear a conservative suit with pants and a sensible loafer or flats, and maybe a colorful scarf. I never got a call back and I really can’t blame them. It probably wouldn’t have been so awful if not for the purse, but it was the only one I owned at the time.

    12. noooope

      I went to the first day of a professional internship covered in hickies all over my neck. For some reason I wore a scoopneck shirt and a scarf that did not really cover them up. And it was August. I guess I didn’t have many clothing choices at that point…

      I also remember way, way, back when I was in 9th or 10th grade, I went to get coffee with an artist/gallery owner to talk with her about her work. My mom, who has always had really outdated and bizarre ideas about how to look professional, insisted that I couldn’t wear a T-shirt with writing on it or any dark colors to this thing. That was my entire wardrobe, pretty much, so I had to borrow my mom’s clothes, and I ended up in a taupe T-shirt and some kind of weird khaki hiking skort, both of which were way too big for me. It wrecked my confidence because I didn’t feel like myself at all. Of course the artist showed up in a black tank top and cutoff jeans covered in paint- she was not worrying about my outfit! (Don’t let your mom dress you for a job interview. Don’t try to dress your kid, either. It’s better for them to make their own decisions and feel confident, even if they look weird.)

      1. noooope

        Oh, and the artist offered me an unpaid internship as her teaching assistant, which would have been a WONDERFUL opportunity at 15 years old, but I turned her down to work as a bagger at the grocery store for $6.10 an hour. Whoops.

      2. Lindsay J

        My mom insisted on dressing me for my college auditions. It usually consisted of some ugly, inappropriate dress (think dressing your daughter for grandma’s 50th birthday or Easter Sunday) and shoes. Well, they were music auditions and I had to change tunings on the tympani and whatnot so the shoes she had me wear (ugly kitten heels) made it difficult. Plus I just looked ridiculous compared to the other kids that I saw.

        I finally told her I was going to wear what I wanted to for the audition for my final school. And I did. It was also a terrible outfit (black trouser jeans, a shirt with a kimono inspired shirt, and a beret, and I forget what shoes but I’m thinking probably Chuck Taylors- I was “unique and artsy and deep, okay? lol). But at least I felt comfortable in it, and I got in.

    13. Heck no, not putting my name to this

      I wore a tank top and no bra to work. More than once. Enough times to be called into a meeting with the (thank god, female) co-owner and given a company tshirt to wear the rest of the day. I can’t remember if that was the same meeting that she mentioned that they noticed I had been spending a lot of time on websites related to women’s health (*cough*losingyourvirginity*cough*).

      (I started at this company as a cashier in high school and always wore a uniform until they promoted me to a job in a tiny back office doing boring computer stuff like entering people on their mailing list. I rarely saw anyone all day, and never saw customers. I really was a standout employee as a cashier and they really did love me despite my absolutely mortifying missteps and still say hi to my parents when they shop there.)

      1. Anastasia Beaverhausen

        It seems like this was a thing in the 90s? If you look at tv shows from that era (Friends, Will & Grace come to mind) women are always going to work with no bra on! So I’m not surprised people thought it was appropriate at some point.

        1. Heck no, not putting my name to this

          YES! Also, Ally McBeal was the worst (I still can’t convince my boyfriend that nothing the women wore on that show was AT ALL appropriate for an office).

          1. Mouse

            My spouse keeps giving me grief about insisting on wearing a bra to work. “You don’t have big boobs. You don’t have to wear a bra all the time.” That is not the deciding factor!

    14. super anon

      I had a summer contract job as a researcher for the government when I was a student. At the time I was working 80 to 90 hours a week and pulling in 14 to 16 hour days, so suffice it to say I was exhausted. I had one day where I woke up late and realized I was already 10 min late for work. I threw on the first clothes that I saw on my floor and ran into the office, which happened to be a polka dot summer skirt and a red gingham shirt. My boss saw me run in the door and sent me home to change for looking unprofessional, citing that if any of the higher ups came in the entire office would get a reprimand for my terribly uncoordinated attire.

      needless to say i was absolutely mortified as i always tried to dress perfectly, i just feel a waaaay short of the mark that day.

    15. S.M

      My first interview in college I wore timberland boots and over sized jeans and polo shirt. It was for an office assistant position. Luckily the interviewer over looked my wardrobe and hired me anyway.

    16. Anonsie

      Man. I have yet to fix my inappropriate clothes at work problem 100% :/ My weight fluctuates and I move around a lot at work, so I’d wager that at least once a month I realize partway through the day that the pants I thought fit me this morning are too big and keep sliding down or the top I wore that seemed ok in my mirror at home is actually skin-tight and obvious under the fluorescent lights at work or when I move around, the neckline I thought sat in an ok place catches on my camisole and pulls down reeaaally low.

      1. manybellsdown

        I feel you, I still have problems dressing like an adult. I keep buying cute pumps and nice skirts and blouses and then ending up in jobs where a Star Wars t-shirt is acceptable attire. It’s comfortable, but I don’t feel like a grownup!

  11. BRR

    If leaving 5 min early is unprofessional most of my office wouldn’t know. I try and let it go but I’ve noticed how they always seem to round up when it comes to time.

    1. Stephanie

      Yeah, I was about to say, the only time I’ve seen people care about 5 minutes is for hourly pay or if shift coverage is involved.

      1. Anonsie

        Even the hourly folks where I work do it because we have a 5 min window for our clockins/outs (like, if you clock out at 3:55pm, it counts it as 4pm).

        1. Karowen

          This was really hard for me to wrap my mind around when I first started in an office- I worked at a grocery store in high school for years, and if you clocked in within 7 minutes it was rounded to the nearest quarter hour (clocking in at 4:23-4:37=4:30, clocking out 10:23-10:37=10:30). I thought this applied to the office as well. It did not.

          1. Anonsie

            Yep that’s basically what my office does. Funny you should mention it the grocery store, because I had the opposite experience– I worked service jobs where so help you god if you closed up and left 2 minutes before your schedules time you’d get a talking-to, so it was hard to adjust to it being ok to pop out a little early.

  12. LittleT

    The best example I can give is from very early in my career. It was my first proper adult job, after spending 2 solid years of temping and I finally had a full time role.

    There was a popular radio show in my city at the time, hosted by a somewhat raunchy duo (2 mouthy guys, one of whom was quite similar to Howard Stern, but a milder version. I’ll call him “Bobby” for this story).

    So we’re all in the lunch room one day at this small office and “Karen” comes in all breathless, saying, “Oh my god! Did you guys hear what Bobby said on the radio this morning? I can’t believe he said something so inappropriate!”

    Giggles all around the table, because “Bobby” was on of his usual rants, making comments about overweight women and many other sexist comments.

    I rolled my eyes and said, “I can’t STAND that guy. He is SUCH A DICK. Somebody really needs to punch him in the face”.

    A long silence followed at the table and “Karen” was looking at me, mouthing the words, No! No! and pointing to our boss. I didn’t understand what was going on here and I said, “What? That guy is an a-hole. I’m not apologizing for saying that”.

    Turns out, “Bobby” was my new boss’s brother. How was I to know? Although, they did both share the same last name, which was an unusual surname, but hey! I had no idea.

    It will probably come as no surprise that my boss was quite frosty to me for the next 2 years, until my departure.

    1. Tracy Flick

      I’m happy you expressed yourself anyway. Sexist comments shouldn’t fly and saying so in the workplace doesn’t seem like an indictment of you.

      1. Green

        Yeahhhh, but saying that with arguably sexist but at any rate definitely not work appropriate language …?

        1. LittleT

          In my defense, I was a mere 23 years old and not used to self-censoring my language, especially in the workplace.

          Of course, my manager thought her brother was “so awesome” and could no no wrong, so my comment was not taken very well.

          1. Not My Usual Moniker

            Somehow, it being HER brother rather than HIS brother makes this so much worse.

    2. Artemesia

      I sort of specialized in this kind of unexpectedly insensitive remark. (maybe don’t republish this one Alison) During the interview process for my first major professional job, one of the key players and her husband took me out to dinner (I was in town for a two day set of interviews) My husband and I have different names and our children are hyphenated and knowing that my husband had a different name, she asked about how we decided how to name the child. I said that had our last names been reversed we would have named our son his last name/my last name — but since my last name would be a terrible first name, we had gone with the hyphen.

      Want to guess their son’s first name. You got it. Now my last name is a TERRIBLE first name — I had never heard of any kid being named that ever. None of those Tucker, Hunter, Carson etc type last name first names — more like Beasley or Shicklegruber — no way anyone in their right mind would name a kid that. But they did. There was heroic backpedaling involving reference to southern naming traditions — but it just seemed so unfair. I got the job but I know for certain that she voted for someone else.

      But then I do this sort of thing all the time.

      1. Mabel

        This reminds me of when I was waiting for an elevator with one of my managers. We got on the subject of a presentation I was updating. I said something about the original one being awful, and it turns out… he wrote it. When he said, “what was the problem with it?” his tone of voice clued me in, and much backpedaling occurred (“it was fine, but it just needed a little more detail and graphics added…” etc.). I felt bad that I made him feel bad! He didn’t act differently towards me after that, which was VERY professional on his part, and I really appreciated it.

      2. shirley

        I love this. Totally something I would do. I work with kids so I see eye-rolly names all the time. You never know!

      3. C Average

        This story made me laugh out loud. I really want to know the name. My mind is going some really horrible places.

  13. Tiffy the Fed... Contractor

    I don’t know if this is unprofessional as much as it is delusional. I interviewed for a retail position when I went home for the summer and told the interviewer that under no circumstances would I work weekends, the retail prime time.

    1. Stephanie

      I think only worse would have been saying you needed reduced hours during the holiday season.

      1. Blue_eyes

        Guilty. I was a temp holiday worker in the home electronics department of a big box store. I asked for the Sunday before Christmas off (because my best friend’s family, who is practically my family, hosts a big Christmas party that I always help out with). I’m pretty sure the manager managed not to laugh in my face. It was my first retail job and I was in college.

        1. Allison

          I can top that. I’d been working at an ice cream place for 2-3 weeks, and I asked for time off so I could go to a rally to legalize marijuana. I just had to specify, couldn’t even vaguely say I wanted to attend a rally, no no, I had to say it was about weed. He dropped me like a hot potato with a spider on it.

        2. Person of Interest

          Probably my most intentionally unprofessional moment came when I was working a temp sales job at the mall during the holiday season after college. In mid-December I finally secured a full-time job, to start in January. When I told my sales manager that I was quitting, she reminded me that I had agreed when hired to work on 12/24 and 12/26 and she scheduled me, but I decided to just no-show. Not cool, and I feel bad for the folks that had to cover for me.

    2. Oryx

      Oh man, I did that. I’d completely forgotten. Luckily there was one department that was able to make that work and they hired me.

    3. Beancounter in Texas

      I had an applicant with an attractive resume include in their cover letter that they require the job to telecommute only, they only work from 10am to 4pm, and he doesn’t answer questions by phone, email only. Easy elimination.

    4. Lizzy

      Haha! When I worked at warehouse store in college, I think I once told my supervisor that I did not want to work Sundays, which was arguably our busiest day (lots of church goers would come in after sermon). I did not even have a good reason either; I think I just wanted a “me” day to go shopping. Let’s just say I ended up working Sundays anyway.

    5. Julia

      I’m a retail manager and we get applications all the time where applicants give their availability for full time jobs as M-F 9-5. No weekends, nights, or holidays. I discard those out of hand.

      1. C Average

        I am leaving my current role in two weeks, and I am 100% stealing that.

        In my office’s culture, it will be appreciated.

    1. AdAgencyChick

      Me too. Rickrolling at the end of a “private file” rabbit hole? THAT is an office prank I can get behind.

      1. pucksmuse

        I actually thought that was pretty funny. It didn’t hurt anyone. It didn’t display profanity or rude language. Other than wasting time, I don’t see much of an offense.

    2. Sarahnova

      I’m pretty sure I could do this in my current job and be the most popular person in the office all day.

  14. Amber Rose

    I was very young when I decided to call in sick to my job… from the party I was at. Yeah, I was fired pretty soon after. :/

    More recently I made both my boss and trainer crack up by snickering at the word ‘nut’ (referring to a steel nut I found on the floor) and then saying “sorry, I’m actually five.”

    1. C Average

      If appreciating adolescent humor is unprofessional, our entire workforce is guilty.

      Every time I’m in a meeting and someone says the word “dongle,” the whole room erupts. And this happens . . . pretty frequently.

      1. Maude

        A few years ago my company was revisiting job grades. In meetings one of the executives kept saying “band penetration”. I snickered every time.

        1. Cath in Canada

          We use a DNA sequencing technique at work called bisulfite sequencing, which often gets abbreviated to BS. I have email folders called “BS emails” and calendar items called “BS meeting”. I amuse me.

          1. Karowen

            I was working on an upcoming event and had to send out save-the-dates, invites, etc. Abbreviated it as STD in all of my emails about the event. I thought I was hilarious. My boss thought so as well until I put it in my work list which he sends to the CEO each week.

          2. peanut butter kisses

            I work in a library where we use the Library of Congress classification system. All of the books that are in the bible studies section have a BS call number and some of the patrons notice it and have comments on it.

            Other libraries have adopted a system where if it is fiction, they will put an F and then the next line will be the first three letters of the author’s last name. So any fiction author with the last name of say perhaps Young, will get a label on their book with a big F You on it. Teens love it.

          3. buddleia

            So, in a certain province in Canada, people designated to enforce the law and issue tickets are called “provincial offences officers”… which is abbreviated to “POO.” I am not kidding you. (They’re not called “provincial offences officers” in regular everyday-speak, they might be referred to their job title e.g. enforcement officers, investigators, etc.) Officially, within the bureaucracy, that is the proper term. (I’d love to know the history of the term “provincial offences officers” and whether or not people at the time realized what its acronym was, and if they did, whether or not they cared).

            I had to work on an approvals package to designate a certain group of people as POOs. So that is how I kept referring to it. “I have the POO package ready for your sign-off.” “What’s the status of the POO package?” etc. TBH though, the first few times I started using the POO acronym, it was kind of funny. Then its association to #2 kind of wore off and I didn’t really think about it. My manager wasn’t offended that I kept saying “POO” (instead of say, pee-oh-oh?). She says “shit” way more than I do! (Which is practically never.)

            1. TheLazyB

              Apparently the ex-polytechnic in Newcastle upon Tyne was very, very close to renaming itself the Central University of Newcastle upon Tyne before anyone noticed that the acronym would be.

              I thought the tale was apocryphal but online i found pictures of prospectus knock-ups. Amazing.

        2. Soanonforthis

          Very recently, without thinking, when a colleague at a meeting said an IT vendor probably wasn’t used to anyone trying to “dive that deep into their back end” I quipped that they might want to rephrase that. Also, I was the oldest person in the meeting and the only woman. (Please don’t use this one Alison).

      2. Anon for this

        I work at a nuclear power plant, and the control room operators periodically do testing on the control rods that regulate reactor power. One such test is called “anticipatory rod stroking.” I have a lot of trouble keeping a straight face when they say, “We’ll be performing anticipatory rod stroking tonight.” I always look around the room to see if anyone else finds it as funny as I do, but I never see anyone so much as crack a smile!

        1. DMented Kitty

          Okay… there are phrases that I’d just roll my eyes to because it’s too teenagey-giggly and I’m too grown up for that, but this falls into the realm of adult uncontrollable giggling.

          So, is the next phase after “anticipatory rod stroking” “imminent rod stimulation”? :P ** ba-dum tss**

    2. Big Tom

      I was in a meeting years ago discussing a product called “Xerxes,” when one of the younger programmers started snickering. When he realized that no one else was, AND that they were all looking at him, he said, “What? It’s Sex Rex spelled backwards.”

      1. C Average

        I don’t know what it says about me, but THIS made me laugh harder than any of the other magnificent items in this thread.

        1. afiendishthingy

          I have a chest cold and reading this whole comments section has been kind of painful because I start coughing every time I laugh. Worth it for things like “Sex Rex spelled backwards” though!

    3. Lady Bug

      I was on a conference call with my boss and several engineers when I worked in the metal industry, during which they kept talking about using vibratory stress relief to stop the metal from warping. I was struggling not to break into hysterics, but no one else found it funny!

      1. Connie-Lynne

        I went to Vegas with two girlfriends once on a whim. We’ve all worked for adult companies at some point.

        At the same time we were there, the “World of Concrete” convention was in town. We could NOT stop laughing at all the swag bags advertising “concrete vibrators.”

    4. UK Nerd

      The websites I work on sometimes have to be translated into other European languages. We can not stop snickering over the word ‘pagina’.

      1. afiendishthingy

        hahaha it’s not pronounced that way! I speak Spanish and somehow that never occurred to me.

  15. Lily in NYC

    OK, I will confess. I got drunk at our Xmas party (it was a heavy drinking culture so that wasn’t a big deal – everyone was drunk, including the top bosses). My antics: 1. I was dancing and didn’t realize that I was hiking my skirt up so I could have more freedom to move. I hiked it up too high and everyone saw my butt (it’s on video, ugh). 2. Made out with a coworker and was not that subtle about it (we dated for a year afterwards). 3. Dropped a beer at the big boss’ feet and it shattered. 4. I was wearing very high heels and I slipped in the beer puddle and fell ass-first into a glass table that had a bunch of cocktails on it. Glass everywhere (I called the bar the next day and insisted on paying for the damage but they wouldn’t hear of it).
    I came to work mortified the next morning and the boss made me wear a feather boa in our morning meeting because I “won the party”. Thank god they were a bunch of alcoholics there.
    I got promoted a month later, ha. Alison, you freelance a lot for this company!
    I have never gotten even a little tipsy at a work function since.

    1. Laurel Gray

      I am howling over here! Were you the poster that commented about drinking in office settings when I made a comment about Fireball? If so, this story makes all the sense now!

      1. Lily in NYC

        Oh god, now I am even more mortified! Yes, that was me. But at least that wasn’t an official work function, I was just out with some coworkers. I sound like a wino, but I rarely drink (which is probably why I get drunk so easily).

    2. AnonEMoose

      I’m snickering at the feather boa…and I’m glad you weren’t hurt in the fall!

    3. The Toxic Avenger

      Oh MAN! This is awesome! I am laughing so hard right now…I have been there, Lily. Oh yes I have.

    4. LBK

      I was cringing pretty hard at this until the boa part, which frankly sounds awesome. I would wear it with pride and then hang it up in my cube after.

    5. AndersonDarling

      I did the same thing at my first holiday party. I was 20, and unlike every other 20 year old, I was not an experienced drinker, not at all. It only took one drink to get tipsy. I then told my co-workers a joke about laminating testicles.
      I’ve been embarrassed every time I think about it…but now I feel better. I didn’t fall through a table. Heck, my story is actually lame compared with yours. Thank you!

      1. ArtsNerd

        Definitely feeling better about the time my friend and I got wasted with our boss after reading these.

    6. manybellsdown

      It wasn’t my office’s party, but my husband’s – and I’m not sure if that makes it worse or better. They had a Halloween party, and I’m kind of known for my costumes. That year I made … Leia’s Slave Bikini from Return of the Jedi. And that is a very naked costume. So I got pretty intoxicated, and I was dancing, and one of the straps on the bottoms came loose and they started falling off.

      I had attached the underpants to the bottoms so they wouldn’t show. Everything fell off. My spouse wrapped me in his Jedi robe and whisked me out to the parking lot to get our car. No one ever mentioned it.

  16. Macedon

    I convinced my team to bring makeshift togas for work, so we could celebrate the Ides of March during break. I also started the trend of writing all our internal communication e-mails in ( naturally, blood ) red that day.

    HR was mortified.

      1. Macedon

        No, we… were with a well-established industry titan. But we tended to contain our chaos, and social media wasn’t such a big thing, so word of our Roman practices never got out.

        Besides, how many times do you get to dramatically approach an uncooperative printer and wail your sorrow, because, Et tu, Brutus???

        1. Anon in SC

          I used to say if I ever had twins I wanted them to be born on March 15th and name them Julius and Brutus. Then I really had a son on the Ides of March and used neither name.

        2. AnonEMoose

          At a previous job, I was somewhat famous for walking up to the uncooperative laser printer and saying, in a conversational sort of way “You know, 16 stories is a long way down.” I think what really freaked out a few coworkers was that said printer would almost always give me what I wanted!

          1. Chinook

            “At a previous job, I was somewhat famous for walking up to the uncooperative laser printer and saying, in a conversational sort of way “You know, 16 stories is a long way down.” I think what really freaked out a few coworkers was that said printer would almost always give me what I wanted!”

            No, no, no. The secret is to voodooing your printer is to whisper sweet nothings to it and pet it nicely. I have actually convinced some colleagues to do just that (which actually does tone done th swearing loudly).

            Computer programs, though, work best under threat of calling IT. :)

            1. TK

              At my previous job, I heard stories about the days of yore, when there was less funding for the department (this was in government) and there was only one photocopier for the entire building, which was wheeled between floors using the elevator. And this was a job where making many photocopies was actually a rather important core work function, for a variety of reasons.

              Apparently, at some point someone began calling the photocopier “Fred,” and it just stuck. And then everyone would casually refer in conversation to “using Fred,” “moving Fred around,” etc., and it was a totally normal thing that nobody questioned. They would freak out the copy repairman by saying, “Oh, you’re here to work on Fred.” Though this was years in the past when I worked there, it was a pretty amusing story to hear about.

            2. AnonEMoose

              LOL – for some reason, that particular printer responded best to (somewhat) subtle threats. I got a really odd look from my boss the first time she heard me talking to the printer, though!

          2. AnonForThis

            This reminds me of the times I accidentally convinced my coworkers that I practiced voodoo. The doll pinned up in my cubicle was a gift, I swear. And yes, that plural was intentional….

          3. Lee

            I used to walk up to the copier and say “your mother is a toaster oven.”
            Worked every time.

    1. CA Admin

      This is definitely in my top 3. I also really enjoyed thread that spawned Hanukkah Balls and the Racist Costumes thread (both for the crazy, rather than the straight hilarity though).

  17. AshleyH

    Ahh the swimsuit cover up! I once work a nightie with a white slip underneath to a bbq in college thinking it was totally cool.

      1. sam

        many many years ago, I used to sometimes wear a slip as a dress. THis was back in the mid-90s when Hole was still a band and Courtney Love was fashion forward. I generally paired it with crazy tights and steel toed 12-hole doc martens.

        (I say this all, wistfully, as I sit in my lawyerly clothes in my lawyerly office thinking about the fact that the most avant-garde thing about my outfit is that my skirt has pockets).

          1. Stephanie

            The presence of pockets has been the deciding factor for the purchase of many dresses and skirts.

            1. sam

              Seriously – there are much larger issues for women to deal with in the world, but I find the lack of pockets in womens’ clothing to be, frankly, oppressive. I don’t care about the “line” of my clothing. I care about being able to carry my damn phone and ID badge down the hall without lugging a purse.

              1. Chinook

                Re: Skirt with pockets. I so recommend eshakti.com (recommended to by the ladies here). Not only do I now own dresses that fit in all the right places, put they have decent size pockets that don’t ruin the cut of the dress or how it hangs AND they are big enough to put my BB Passport phone in (without changing how the skirt falls).

                1. Chinook

                  Jb – believe it or not, I do actually announce that my dress has pockets whenever anyone mentions how nice it is! Plus, they were commented on when a woman in line for coffee noticed me take an entire wallet out of one.

                  Is it wrong that I also brag about the bra strap keepers in them?

                2. Sam

                  Oh, I have several dresses from eshakti. And yes, I have showed off the pockets to my entire office.

              2. JB

                I once saw a tweet by a woman that said a woman will announce when her dress has pockets. I think that’s kind of true and it’s because we’re so excited. “This dress has pockets! My phone is in it right now!”

                1. Connie-Lynne

                  Yes! Pockets!

                  I recently spoke at a conference, and afterward I was talking to some of the other presenters and one commented in how great my outfit was. I was all “yes! This is my ‘Professional Lady’ outfit, and check out how big the pockets are!”

                  We all spent several minutes admiring the functionality of my clothing; more than one picture got tweeted out. I’m still not sure if that was a professional moment or not!

        1. Stephanie

          I like color in my clothing. A lot. I wore things like purple tights, yellow shoes, or hot pink skirts (uh, not all at once) to work on occasion. We had casual dress at my company, but it was Engineer Casual Dress, which meant a lot of polos, khakis, or Dad jeans. It took me a little while to learn to tone down my clothes.

        2. sam

          also, to bring this comment back around on topic, I generally wore these crazier outfits when i was going to parties/bars/etc. During the day, my wardrobe consisted more generally of many layers of jeans and flannels and sweaters (it was Buffalo during the grunge era – the combination of cold weather and fashion trends combined to make long underwear a daily wardrobe staple). My roommate/best friend, however, tilted more to the goth/punk end of the spectrum, and she favored the mini-skirt/thigh-high/choker look that was also popular at the time.

          We also both worked in the same university dean’s office. On more than one occasion, members of the office staff would hint very strongly to me that I should say something to her about the “appropriateness” of her clothing choices (never outright asking me, just making pointed comments that were extremely obvious). I never did. She was my friend/peer. She was their employee. If they wanted her to dress differently, they could be the actual adults, sack up and tell her themselves instead of passive-aggressively expecting her college-student aged friend to do it for them.

            1. Clever Name

              Yes! I came of age in the 90s. There’s a reason I put on yoga pants the instant I get home.

        3. JB

          I think we must be a similar age because that is what I was doing in the 90s as well. Ah, college. Now as an attorney, I try to slip in some small thing in my wardrobe every day that shows a little flair (not the Office Space kind of flair). I work with very conservative lawyers but they don’t seem to care that much about stuff like my funky tights as long as I don’t wear them to court.

          1. Kelly L.

            At my current job, I’ve gotten the ok for funky color tights but not anything vaguely fishnet. I can live with that.

          2. ArtsNerd

            My sister’s old office distributed a memo banning blue jeans at work. So she stuck to black denim. “They’re lawyers. If they didn’t see that loophole coming a mile away, I don’t know what to tell them.”

            1. Mouse

              Ha! I have that streak too sometimes. Recently I was debating with a coworker, since stealing mail from a mailbox is a federal crime, is it also a federal crime to steal it directly from the mail carrier? (It was work-related, because my company is awesome. And the answer is yes, yes it is.)

          3. Sam

            I wear a lot of big or chunky necklaces. They’re good personality statements without worrying about crossing any lines of appropriateness (I’m in-house counsel at a fairly conservative insurance company these days). They’re also easy to remove if it turns out you suddenly have to be more conservatively dressed than you were expecting.

            Plus, you can buy loads of them for super cheap at places like H&M.

        4. jhhj

          I saw a comic online once saying that the first response any woman will have to a compliment about her skirt/dress is “Thanks! It has pockets!” (if true)

          In my experience this is 100% accurate.

          1. kittyincc

            I have a fantastic vintage dress that I love, except that it has one side pocket. One. No partner on the other side. It makes me kind of crazy. I also probably look like a crazy person when I go to put my hands in my pockets and then just kind of casually slide my hand along my side where the other pocket should be.

    1. Collarbone High

      In kindergarten one of my classmates wore a nightgown to school. I called her out on it and we got into a fight over whether it was a dress or a nightgown.

      How I knew it was a nightgown: I had the same one at home.

      1. Lee

        My daughter and I both add pockets to skirts and dresses ALL. THE. TIME. my daughter does it as a favor for other people too. Side slit pockets, patch pockets, inside the waist band pockets.
        Because POCKETS.
        Best things ever.
        I also for a while wore dress boots or cowboy boots to work and stuck my phone in my boot top, just like the teens do, because you can’t add pockets to knit dresses.
        Side note: for cold weather wear, I highly recommend fleece-lined tights.

        1. Serin

          you can’t add pockets to knit dresses.

          Someone should invent some sort of accessory that would serve the same purpose.

          1. Ž

            “Someone should invent some sort of accessory that would serve the same purpose.”

            I think that’s called a handbag

  18. Leah

    Since I got surgery a few years ago, I don’t have the best sense of smell. So I decided it would be ok to microwave fish, just for 15 seconds.

    Nope. Apparently it smelled like fish for the rest of the day. I felt terrible.

    1. Kayla

      Ugh, the fish smell. At my old job one of the women in the office would microwave fish every afternoon. It was a tiny office so the entire place would reek of fish. We asked her politely to stop but she said she wasn’t going to change her lunch plans for us, so the rest of the office would make a coffee run and then spray air fresheners everywhere.

    2. Oryx

      I love fish but every time I even think of making it I am always reminded that I don’t want to be that person who brings in fish as leftovers and uses the microwave.

    3. lawsuited

      A woman in my office was getting married and started up some serious diet to fit into her wedding dress (I know this because she would tell anyone that stopped moving for 5 seconds) and started microwaving fish at 8:00am, 11:am and 2:00pm every day like clockwork. It was not the greatest.

      1. DrPepper Addict

        Ugh I hate that. My desk used to be exactly next to our breakroom. The worst was when people cooked fish and left a tiny bit of coffee in the coffee pots with the burner on, so that it scorched on the bottom. Delicious.

    4. Ashley K.

      Despite knowing full well that there is a sensible list of foods you should not microwave at work, I brought a leek, onion, and cabbage stew for lunch and thought nothing of it.

      On a separate occasion, I put pizza rolls on for 50 minutes instead of 5 minutes and broke the microwave. There was an impressive cloud of black smoke that somehow didn’t set off the fire alarms.

      I go out for lunch now.

      1. Alter_ego

        I once forgot to put the water in one of those kraft mac and cheese cups that you microwave. I put it in for the appropriate 3.5 minutes, but since there was no water the bottom of the cup melted and all the noodles burned, making the break room smell like actual hell for a hours afterwards.

      2. WLS

        This one is amazing.

        Doesn’t nearly compare, but I once started the coffee maker with no coffee pot underneath… =X

        1. Kimberly

          I decided that the way to make mocha at work was to added a packet of hot chocolate mix to the coffee grounds. Guess what? Powdered hot chocolate clogs coffee filters.

          My first hot mess.

      3. The Office Admin

        I’m literally crying laughing over the pizza rolls and the I got out for lunch now
        SO GOOD.
        Oh, I once got bread sticks at Olive Garden ToGo with my meal, didn’t eat them, put them in the fridge and then popped then in the microwave the next day to re-heat. HOW was I to know that this white paper package was disguising aluminum foil???? And that metal sparks, smokes and damages the mechanical part of a microwave???
        I did this at my parents home and only about 5 years later did I realize how/why the microwave never really worked quite right after that.

        1. Collarbone High

          Oh god, I did this at my first job. I was working a concession stand and a woman asked if I could heat up a sandwich she’d bought at a fast-food place. Had NO idea the wrapper had a foil lining until I heard POP and saw sparks shooting from the microwave. Then the wrapper burst into flames.

          I managed to put out the fire without her noticing and quietly transferred the sandwich to a plate. Luckily it was very early in the morning and she hadn’t had coffee yet. She thanked me for “going the extra mile” to jazz up the presentation of her sandwich.

      4. Soupspoon McGee

        My first week on on the job, I microwaved my paper cup of mocha and set the cup on fire. It did not smell good. They wouldn’t let me microwave unsupervised after that.

        1. Connie-Lynne

          I was forbidden from microwaving donuts in the Sunday School teachers’ lounge after three separate incidents when I was 17 (I was a teacher).

          1. DMented Kitty

            I think I have finally mastered the art of donut microwaving. Moisten a paper towel, put it in together with the donut (next to it is fine), and microwave for 15-20 seconds on High to start (maybe 30 if the microwave is weak) then in 10-second increments if it’s not warm enough. Same goes with muffins. They come out steaming hot like they were straight from the oven (careful with the hot paper towel), and that always perks me up with my morning coffee. :) In fact I just had a 3 day-old blueberry muffin heated up and it was delicious.

            As for heating drinks in a paper cup — I always start with 45 seconds. Luckily I always remember to check for any shiny wrappers before sticking food in the microwave, so no aluminum microwave disasters yet. ** knocks on wood **

          2. Amy

            A relative of mine actually has a two inch diameter scar because they didn’t wait for a microwaved jam doughnut to cool and the molten-lava jam fell on their collarbone. The stickiness meant they couldn’t wipe it off before it scarred them. It’s one of those amusingly-stupid-but-also-horrific scar stories.

    5. A Non

      I used to regularly bring fish & chips back to the office when I worked at a place that was on the waterfront. I wasn’t microwaving anything, and it was fresh fish, not leftovers… but I still wonder if I bothered people.

      1. Rae

        Not sure if it bothered anyone in your office. But many, many people in the huge, open plan office I worked in would get fish and chips on a Friday. I worked in a few companies where this happened. Especially when the company canteen would be serving it, it was practically the done thing. Only part was hard was resisting the smell of chips and vinegar!

    6. BRR

      I have a coworker who eats nothing but Trader Joe’s microwave Indian food meals for lunch. I really want to ask her if she is aware of what she’s doing.

      1. techandwine

        Now I’m wondering if you’re talking about me. I make their butter chicken about every week or so for lunch at work. But, quite a few of us bring in various Trader Joe’s microwave meals (including all the different types of Indian), so I doubt it’s bothering anyone.

      2. afiendishthingy

        Uh oh. Those things are good and I have definitely microwaved a number of those in office microwaves. And thought nothing of it.

      3. DMented Kitty

        I can’t do much around here, we have a lot of employees from India, and they do like their curry.

        I don’t mind as much though, since I like curry, too.

    7. Anonsie

      I can’t smell fish, full stop. Can’t smell it whatsoever.

      I ate fish (not microwaved though) at work every single day at one of my college internships for a year before I read somewhere that people think fish smells bad and you’re not supposed to eat it at work.

      1. Ellie H.

        I can smell fish but I confess I don’t really mind the smell of it microwaved. It’s not IDEAL but it’s nowhere near as distressing to me as it seems to be to most (I love fish, but I don’t think that necessarily means anything). To me you can only smell it in the atmosphere for a few minutes to a few hours afterwards really, and maybe for a few hours or at most a day the smell stays in the microwave, and I don’t perceive it as especially unpleasant. It’s just not a big deal to me! Not sure why. The smell of the paper the fish came in, on the other hand . . . I have to take that out to the trash immediately or I can smell it in my apartment for days or weeks.

    8. Clever Name

      Ah ha ha! A coworker recently told me that he used to cook fish filets at work. Cook them! He was like, “it only takes 6 minutes to cook fish in the microwave!”

      1. Stephanie

        Remember the teenager game Seven Minutes in Heaven? This is the opposite: Six Minutes in Hell.

      2. L Veen

        My husband told me that his mother once tried to cook an entire chicken in the microwave. Just stuck a raw chicken in there and nuked it for half an hour. Even thinking about it now is still enough to make me gag.

    9. Jessilein

      I had a co-worker once who cooked eggs in the microwave for breakfast every morning. The microwave shared a room with five of us, four of whom did NOT appreciate the smell of microwaving eggs. Yuck.

  19. Partly Cloudy

    One day, I had an absolutely terrible headache (not a hangover; it felt more like a migraine) and I knew the owner of the company had a sofa in his office. I went around polling people to see if he was going to be in the office that day, if he was out of town or was it possible that he could pop in unannounced, etc. because I was seriously contemplating just laying on that sofa with the lights off until I felt better. Turns out he wasn’t scheduled to come in, but was also not out of town, so I didn’t risk it. I took a walk around the building, outside, and that helped.

    1. Anony-moose

      My old office-mate did this once when she was about 7 months pregnant. The executive director was out, so she fell asleep on his couch. When he came back the receptionist loudly and slowly greeted him and asked him about his day for long enough that she was able to scurry out. He wouldn’t have been mad, per se but he was one of the most awkward people I know. I almost wish he’d walked in on her, in part because he had terrible work/life habits and never seemed to comprehend that anyone could need more sleep or a day off.

      1. Partly Cloudy

        That’s good teamwork right there.

        Had the boss walked in on me swooning on his couch, I may have gotten fired on the spot, depending on his mood.

    2. Anon 123

      I used to volunteer every day after work, so I would get home late, and I was ALWAYS tired. I realized that I could nap at lunch in a conference room. It went well for quite a while, but it never occurred to me to actually reserve the conference room, so one day a manager with a client in tow opened the door and turned on the light. It woke me up, but I was still quite bleary (and drooly), and before I could even focus my eyes, she shut the door and steered the client to another conference room. I didn’t recognize her, and I don’t think I saw her again in the office (thank goodness!). I’m so glad that this time I was sitting in a chair with my head down on the table. On many other occasions, I would lie on the floor with my wallet under my neck and my legs up on a chair. I can imagine how embarrassing it would have been to have been caught in that position!

    3. Jen RO

      I once hid behind the kitchen cabinets, dat on the floor, and told my coworker I wanted to sit there all day. My head hurt so bad I could barely ralk. I ended up emailing my boss (in another country) and telling him I’m taking the day off.

  20. Kai

    Several years ago, my boss (a man at least 30 years older than me) casually asked “what are you doing this weekend?” and I told him: I have a date, with this new guy I met a few weeks ago, and he’s so wonderful, etc. etc. The following Monday I showed him a picture of me and the new guy (“this is my boyfriend! Isn’t he cute?!”). My boss seemed genuinely interested and not weirded out at all, but I still think about that with embarrassment.

  21. AshleyH

    As far as highjinks go: at my first jobs biannual black tie fundraiser my then-boyfriend and I got hammered- which led to my boyfriend drunkedly confessing to my (very married) boss that I thought he (the boss) was hot. Thankfully my boss was drunk too….

  22. Partly Cloudy

    Oh, and I once told two of my co-workers to F off – not quietly – during a conversation about traffic/road rage/annoying drivers. It happened, and then I immediately marched myself to my boss’s office and confessed, then immediately apologized to both co-workers. It was SO out of character for me to behave like that so everyone was very forgiving. To this day, that memory feels like it happened to someone else. {shudder}

    1. Gandalf the Nude

      We were allowed to swear freely at ex-job. Even to customers, if warranted. It was an industry/culture where “establishing dominance,” for lack of better phrasing, was a determining factor in 1) whether you got a customer’s business 2) whether customer paid you on time or not. Apparently sounding angry or crass made us sound more credible? Relatable? I don’t know. I do know I once told a screaming customer, “Shut the f— up, Percival. You can calm down now, keep talking, and get your order in on time, or I’m hanging up on you, and you’re missing your deadline,” and he laughed, chilled out, and thanked me at the end of the call. I don’t recommend working with customers that yell and curse at you, but if you do, at least be able to yell and curse back.

      1. Partly Cloudy

        That sounds pretty liberating, actually.

        People would drop F-bombs pretty regularly around that office, but not angrily AT each other. Like I did that day. I was going through some personal stuff and their comments about a particular traffic pattern (that was on pretty much everyone’s way to the office) just set me off for some reason. I was mortified; it was like a rude, cantankerous alien took over my mouth.

    2. Jules103

      In college, I worked the service desk in a small department in the university library. Late one night, I was making a “to do” list for myself for the next day. The first item was “call financial aid office re their f*ck up.” Accidentally left the note on the desk. It was not a cursing office, generally. Of course the next day everyone had seen it because they had to try to figure from the handwriting whose note it was.

    3. Erin

      A few years ago, I was in the office and super sick – I’d lost my voice from a combined sinus infection/strep throat deal. So I was sick and pissed off about having to go into work, and I got called into a conference call with a bunch of people to discuss issues a satellite office was having. I was trying to talk and was having to scream/whisper to be heard, and the other office was talking over me AND spouting some bullshit and I totally lost it, banged on the table, and told them to shut the fuck up. And then walked out of the meeting!

      I was surprised I still had a job, to be honest.

  23. Oryx

    This one job was a call center with an open office plan and only our managers had email. This was way back in the day when LiveJournal was the thing and I had an account and I set up a private one where only my work BFF could see it and could comment, so we’d just sit there and snark on co-workers for hours all day through that LJ (usually all in the comment section of a daily post)

    One of us must have left our computers unlocked for the night, with that page up, because I came in one morning and someone (still no idea who) had printed out pretty much the entire history and left it sitting on my chair. I was *mortified.*

    Soon after, management instituted a rule that all non-work related websites needed to be approved. I don’t know where I got the balls to ask, but I did and surprisingly my manager was still okay with me using LJ for my own blog but my friend and I quickly deleted the private one.

  24. Don't make me say my name!

    I instituted Bloody Mary Wednesdays at a firm where I was temping. So unprofessional, but apparently I was totally in sync with the culture because as far as I know they still do it.

    1. Don't make me say my name!

      I also asked my boss at this job if it would be cool if I used his limo. just for a night. you know? if he wasn’t using it or anything. That guys had the patience of a SAINT.

    2. JoAnna

      Actually, at one of the jobs I worked at, we had Beer Fridays. The company put beer in the breakroom on Friday afternoon and everyone off the clock (not on break, but done with their shift) could help themselves to one or two. It was a call center environment and very stressful, so that was their method of easing the stress. I took the bus to/from work so I loved it.

      1. A Non

        I worked at a place that desperately wanted to be a startup. They had beer and wine and socializing time at the start of the monthly all-staff meetings. They also had a lot of people who liked to cook, so there were often snacks or some kind of mixed drinks. Those were the most tolerable and the best attended all-staffs I’ve ever been to. Professional? No. Would I work in that environment again? Oh heck yes.

      2. Beancounter in Texas

        My husband’s former employer did this. Beer was in the fridge, but only allowed after 5pm and usually handed around to everyone at the 5:01pm management meetings.

    3. AcademiaNut

      I worked at place where they had 5pm shots for a period of time (working for a US government agency, no less). People were working insane hours on a time critical technical project, and it was 5pm, go to the designate office do a single shot, and go back to work for the evening.

      1. Now, I didn't share this, right?

        I worked for an important government official in an official government district, and we would send the interns down to the store (in the network of buildings…) to get beer after 5pm. One came back with one six-pack and we loudly taunted that person mercilessly until they went back to get several more.

        About Bloody Mary Wednesday… was that for brunch? or was it after work? Very cool idea.

    4. Connie-Lynne

      We *just* had the conversation on Thursday that maybe instead of danishes, we could get funding for bloody marys when they broadcast our Quarterly all hands.

      We were thinking it might increase attendance. We’re on the west coast so anything coming from our easterly home office always happens at Oh My God in the morning.

  25. Folklorist

    Oh, man…I was SO bad at my first job, I cringe to think about it. Luckily, my former boss had a great sense of humor and we’re still friends, even though I haven’t worked there for a long time. (He always still asks me for crazy Folklorist adventures and seems disappointed when I tell him that I’m an actual functioning professional now.)

    I’ve told this story before in comments, but think it bears repeating:

    I was new to my town in my first job and looking to meet people, so I joined a popular “Adventure Club for Single People” that advertises prominently on the radio. Well, it turned out to be a pretty huge scam, to the point where they wiped out my entire checking account and still kept trying to suck me dry. I was piling up overdrafts and having to take multiple extra jobs because of all of their surprise fees.

    I kept telling them that I had no more money and needed to be let go from my contract, but the only way they would do that was if I died or moved to a place where they didn’t have offices or events. Sooooo, I asked my boss to sign a statement saying that the company was sending me to Beijing for a year to help with the Olympics. Yeah, I was asking my boss to commit fraud on my behalf so I could get out of paying for a dating service. I definitely think that’s as low as I’ve gone, professionally!

      1. Folklorist

        He politely said “No”, then laughed and asked me to let him know how it turned out–like I said, cool guy!

        In the end, I got my dad to sign a fake lease saying I was moving in with him across the country before I moved out of the country. Between all of my “moving” and complete lack of money and my starting to complain on Yelp, etc., they finally let me out of the contract, even though I think they knew it was bogus! I learned important lessons about never signing contracts!

    1. Alli525

      If that company/”adventure club” still exists, you should put them on blast! File with the BBB, tell everyone the name, etc., so no one else falls for that. It sounds truly terrible.

  26. AllieJ0516

    I think my worst offense was 25 or so years ago. I worked for a nice, fair boss who just happened to be an evangelical Christian. I’m Jewish. I never, ever had a problem with it, but one day he came and stood by my desk and made some comment (to everyone that sat in our little quad of cubicles) that I didn’t agree with. I actually came back and said something – I don’t remember what exactly but why the heck did I open my mouth??? – that sort of made him stop in his tracks. I thought at the time “Ha – I won!” I look back now and realize that he was doing the correct thing and just walked away without getting into it with a little 23yo who was primed to make her point. And I am MORTIFIED. While he did bring it up, I should have just let it roll off my back and STFU. I never EVER discuss religion or politics in the office OR in any social situation (or on social media), and change the subject when someone tries to pull me into it. Live and learn!

    But I can’t tell you how much I love the Rick-roll stunt – that is epic in its awesomeness.

    1. AllieJ0516

      Sorry – Should have clarified that it was some religious comment that he made that I tried to debate with my own religious beliefs. Baaaaaaaaaaaad.Idea.

    2. Editor

      I once got very irritable in a discussion of Christmas stories at a newspaper where I worked. They were talking about running 12 days of Christmas-themed stories before the holiday, when I finally got exasperated and pointed out that the 12 days of Christmas begin on Christmas and end on Epiphany. Several blank stares resulted — no one would admit to not knowing this, but clearly several staff members had no clue and most had been raised nominally Christian even if they didn’t practice anymore. Or maybe they couldn’t remember what Epiphany was.

      1. Alli525

        I assume you’re American… I find it so funny that in non-“High Church” circles (Catholic, Episcopalian, etc.), Christmas starts on Black Friday and ends on December 25. That’s how I was raised, but I converted to Catholicism and the shift is so interesting. I would totally have educated everyone in my office on that too – especially since it’s a NEWSPAPER which theoretically exists to educate people.

  27. Althea

    I was in a job where there was definitely a culture of getting drunk at certain work events. I was still young enough to follow the culture instead of thinking for myself. We held a conference that had 500+ attendees from various clients, vendors, investors, etc, and the last night was “everyone goes out drinking” night on the company tab. I got drunk and was hit on and felt up by a client guy (I was encouraging it, but I realized when I was older he was probably a scumbag taking advantage of my drunkenness as well). I eventually told that guy to knock it off, but then realized I was too drunk to drive home, and my coworker had to drive me home instead.

    My coworkers later told me they were pretty worried for a while, considering this was all completely out of character for me – I’m pretty reserved 99% of the time! Have never done the drunken bar thing before or since. And realized later it is totally unprofessional to be drunk at any time, much less with coworkers at a work function, or delve into sexy territory at said function. And I wasn’t even particularly embarrassed about it right afterwards, either.

    1. Green

      (Not for column)
      Yeahhhh, I had one lovely drunken evening (also at an alcohol-fueled work environment, where boozing on the company dime was encouraged and nearly required) as an intern where I (a) tried to pay for everyone’s drinks with my security badge (repeatedly, all night), (b) had to crash at a colleague’s house, (c) borrowed her clothes for the next day (she was 5’10”, I am 5’4″), (d) ripped her dress by stepping all over the hem (it was a work-inappropriate maxi dress), and (e) barfed in the trashcan in my office before calling it a day at 10 a.m. Nobody thought twice about all this, and I got the job. I can’t even.

      1. Lily in NYC

        I am cracking up that you tried to buy drinks with your security badge. More than once! Ha!

        1. KH

          I had a boss that did this once. I politely told him that’s not a credit card. He was so good at holding his liquor that I didn’t know he was drunk until he did this.

      2. Snork Maiden

        Oooh I think you are a candidate for the feather boa mentioned up the page. You definitely won that party.

        1. Green

          I think I would have won the “feather boa” twice. But this place partied pretty heavily on a frequent basis, so there were some big-time feather boa winners that make me look like an amateur feather boa winner. But those aren’t my great moments in unprofessionalism to share. (Yay! My drunken escapades did not end in lawsuits and polices!)

  28. Katie the Fed

    The scene: after-school staff meeting at my high school job. We weren’t open to the public at the time. But yeah, I rolled in wearing a t-shirt and flannel pajama pants. They DID say “casual dress” and we didn’t have to wear our uniforms.

    Still cringing thinking about it.

  29. LovingTheSouth

    I would like to blame this on being young – but I wasn’t that young and should have known better. Many years ago, I had three children under the age of 5 and my husband’s firm gave him an amazing offer in another state — and we so we relocated. I thought this was the perfect time to work from home. I had skills that could be freelanced, and wanted to spend more time with the kids. Plus, I wasn’t looking forward to a job search. I quickly got a large project from a local company and eagerly set about completing it. But — turns out having three kids under 5 isn’t conducive to “working” from home. I certainly spent more time with them, but I didn’t get much work done. Deadline day comes, and the project is nowhere near done. I’m afraid to call the contact, so I don’t. And he doesn’t call me, which is a relief. It gives me some breathing room and I vow to myself that I’ll work day and night to get the work finished. But I don’t. And each day that I don’t get the work done, or call my contact, and he doesn’t call me, makes it easier to think that the deadline wasn’t really that important. But we all know it was. Eventually he calls. We have a very uncomfortable conversation. I hire the high school girl next door to come and watch the kids while I finish the project. The quality of work was still very good — but there was no way that firm was ever going to use me again. Especially not after I made my husband drop off the flash drive with the files on it because I was too embarrassed to face the client – yes I really did that.

    1. Artemesia

      I had my father drop off something in a similar situation where I was overdue getting it in — still cringe — but at least you are not the only goober in the world who has every done that. she says hanging her head in shame literally over 50 years later.

    2. Persephone Mulberry

      (not for reprint)
      I am 35, and I am in the middle of a scenario like that right now. This is for my college class, but we’re working with a real client on a real issue, so there is real impact here. I failed to send one email on time last week, and rather than owning up to it and getting it out ASAP, I freaked out and am currently in an anxiety-fueld shame spiral where I’m afraid to even open my email, forgetabout figuring out how to explain to my team why I fell off the face of the earth for 10 days.

      1. A Non

        *Virtual hugs* Anxiety-shame spirals are the worst. Yank that bandaid off, I have faith in you.

        1. LovingTheSouth

          I obviously know how you feel, but believe me, the relief you’ll feel by owning up will make any uncomfortable blow back well worth it. The paralyzing anxiety you’re feeling now is worse than any reaction of your teammates. I like to remind myself that I’m not a brain surgeon. I make mistakes and people get annoyed – but nobody dies. In the scheme of things, my messing up a sale or not fact checking a research piece well enough will upset some people, and I don’t like to do that. But it’s not the end of the world. Life will go on — and the sooner you get this issue behind you – the sooner you can get out of that spiral and get on with your life. You can do it.

      2. ArtsNerd

        *Hugs* I’ve been there. Your anxietyshame is worse than any blowback on it being late, so it’s only up from here, at least. I’ve found that “So sorry for being out of touch. {Overdue response here with no further explanation.}” usually works well enough.

        1. Zillah

          This is so mindblowingly simple, but I never thought about just saying this before. I need to keep it in mind for next time!

      3. Not So NewReader

        Ugh. I hate that feeling. Well, at some point you will open the email.. promise yourself a reward. I have done stuff like this when I was really tired- so my reward would be to check the email, get a start on whatever needs to be handled and then go have a good nap. I noticed I actually slept better because Monstrous Task hand been started.

      4. Connie-Lynne

        *hugs*

        I did something similar in my mid-20s. I got hit with a massive bout of depression and never did deliver for the client. When we inevitably bumped into each other socially several months later, we were both embarrassed and I was horribly mortified.

        The good news is that we both survived and he was polite but awkward. You can get through this.

    3. KH

      Working from home full time is hard. I basically got laid off from my last job for not being able to appropriately manage the work/life balance.

  30. RubyJackson

    I work at a place that is accessible only by one route, and it suffers from some of the worst traffic in the nation. One day, after a particularly frustrating commute, I was so disgusted with the driver in front of me, I laid on my horn and gave him the finger. My disgust turned to horror when I saw him turn on his blinker to turn into the entrance to our facility. We not only worked at the same place, he was the administrator of our division! I learned then that the closer I get to work, the more I have to control my road rage.

    1. Allison

      I’ve learned this the hard way too! I honked pretty excessively at the person in front of me, only to find they worked at my company. I had no idea who they were, but I made sure to park far away from him, linger in my car, then use a different entrance, and I was still terrified he was going to report me to someone for harassing him. I never got in trouble for that incident, but I’ve also learned not to drive like a jerk when I get close to work.

      Also my horn has a tendency to stick (as in, if I push too hard, it’ll just keep making that noise and I have to pull over and beat the stupid thing until it stops), so that’s even more reason not to use it unless it’s absolutely necessary. I need to get it fixed.

      1. Persephone Mulberry

        OT: for a while my mom had an issue with her car that the horn would sound every time she turned left. It was hilarious (for the first five left turns or so).

        1. P

          I don’t know what strikes me about this image, but I’m sitting here giggling like a madwoman.

        2. UK Nerd

          My dad’s car had a similiar issue, but turning either direction. Fun fact: there’s a lot of roundabouts around here. He got it fixed very fast.

        3. Anon for this 1

          When I was in elementary school, my mom drove a blazer (it was less than 10 years old at the time & they bought it new). This thing was awful; it was multiple shades of brown, with holes in the roof from the roof rack being torn out, it was missing the carpet inside, the antenna was bent into a curly-q, the vinyl seats were moldy, it was missing a side window, and the horn would just randomly start going off…. you know, like she would be coming to pick me up, park, walk to get me & the horn would just start going off… it was so embarrassing.

      2. BRR

        OMG mine did this during the polar vortex last year.

        I have a plan B ready to go of where I can just pass my parking lot and loop around later and hope they don’t recognize me.

    2. AT

      Hahah! Totally sort of did this just a few weeks ago! In the supermarket carpark, just done my grocery shopping, I start the car, put it into reverse, release handbrake…and a large family with a gaggle of kiddies trundle their trollies right behind my car and stop there. I brake, reverse lights still on to make my intentions clear. I wait…dad of kiddies arrives in their big people-mover a few seconds later and they all start unloading their groceries into the car from the trollies…still right behind my car. I honk. I rev. They didn’t bat an eyelid, just yakking and unloading and untangling kiddies from kiddies, now blocking not only me but two other people trying to get past. I lean out of the window and bellow “OY! ‘SCUSE ME!” with a vigorous shooing motion with one hand (I’m not usually that grumpy, but it was scorching hot and I was in a hurry and rrrrrgh). They turn around, and I realize to my horror that they’re clients of mine, who are now shouting at me in Chinese while I disappear, mortified, back into my car and try to pretend I’m invisible. >.<

      1. TheLazyB

        Oh no!! But why on earth didn’t they move? You might have been better tempered about it, but they were in the wrong.

      2. catsAreCool

        Awful! But why were they knowingly blocking someone? I hate it when people do that!

    3. Stone Satellite

      Carpooling. Carpooling has greatly decreased my anger and swearing during my commute, even when I’m the one driving.

  31. Green

    I was assisting with a meeting and was in the “war room” next to the meeting room working on things for the afternoon while two of my peers were in the meeting room, “chatting” on an instant messenger with me about what we needed to get done for the afternoon. It was the 5 top people in my company, some competitors who were also working on the project and a few folks from a huge ($100M+) client. I sent a “chat” message about a half hour later to one of my peers saying that the meeting was RIDICULOUS and going SO SLOW and various other complaints about the meeting. He was projecting on the screen for the meeting. And then I immediately got a message from the other peer saying “DON’T MESSAGE X HE IS PROJECTING!!!!!!” Luckily, apparently only my boss saw it, and peers said she’d laughed, but I just about barfed in the trash can. If the client had been even a little annoyed, I would have been fired.

    1. Mabel

      This is why I set my IM to not show the message content in the pop-up notification! I am often presenting my desktop either live or in a WebEx meeting (I use multiple applications, so it’s just easier to share the desktop rather than multiple applications).

      1. Anlyn

        I change my IM message to In a Meeting, with the header being “I am Sharing my screen”. I figure it’s then on the other person to watch what they’re typing.

        1. Erin

          Mine says “Do you want your thoughts broadcast to everyone in the company? If so, definitely IM me.”

      1. Stone Satellite

        I rarely project in meetings so when I do I exit every other application, especially Lync and Outlook. Suppressing the toasts should really be some kind of automatic thing whenever the computer is sharing.

  32. KT

    In my first job at a non-profit, I thought I was hot stuff and had some serious swagger (I have since humbled myself quote a bit). I was often a bit inappropriate with the staff, including the CEO, COO, and CFO. Thankfully, they thought my snark showed spunk and gumption and didn’t fire me, but it certainly rubbed other members of the staff to see me be so sassy and sarcastic (and just plain obnoxious, to be honest).

    When I left for a new job, I decided to do a “last act of evil” (and yes, I called it that)–I was moving on to SUCH bigger and better things, who cares about burning bridges?! The CEO was a huge Harry Potter fan, so I photoshopped her face onto a photo of a Hippogriff and emailed it to the entire staff. WHY this seemed like a great idea is beyond me.

    I squirm cringe and turn red even thinking about it now! While the CEO was displeased, she has kindly been very gracious since my departure and has been a good mentor (gently guiding me on professionalism) and a solid reference.

      1. afiendishthingy

        Ha! but, um, you should know that in England “spunk” is not just something Mary Tyler Moore has and Lou Grant hates

        1. Connie-Lynne

          It means that here, too. There’s a tool we use at work all the time called “Splunk,” and I’ve had to have some interesting conversations with our non-native English speakers about why they need to be more vigilant about documentation typos with this tool name than others.

          (I say, “in English this word is NSFW slang.”)

  33. That Lady

    I was in my first full-time job out of college. I was doing really well, and my boss and grand-boss took me out to a coffee shop so we could do my performance evaluation, which was glowing. We were all just so happy. As we were driving back together, I noticed a billboard for engagement rings, and I started talking about how I was looking around for those because my boyfriend was going to propose, and we were going to get married, and then we were probably going to move across the country for his job, and blah blah blah stupid naïve girl talking and talking. So basically I told my boss and grand-boss that their stellar newish hire was going to be gone pretty soon. I got so mad when I didn’t get to go to that fancy expensive conference, too (well duh, I was going to leave! Why would they pay for that?) Stupid, stupid!!

    But on the other hand, some more innocent blathering got me a 13% raise, because they thought they were going to lose me to a PhD program (HA!!) and were trying to keep me around. This was before the other blathering incident.

    Six years and a masters degree later, and I’m just now getting paid what I was getting paid back then, in a cheaper city, with only a couple bachelors and little experience. Sigh.

  34. Anonathon

    In my first job post-college, I got asked to take minutes for a Board meeting. (The person who usually handled this task was out.) For some reason, I didn’t realize that this was a serious thing. Because the meeting was really early in the morning, I assumed it would be laid-back? Or something? Yeah, I don’t know what I was thinking, but I showed up in jeans and a hoodie. Needless to say, everyone else was in a suit. *Shudder*

    During my first real job search, I had one in-person interview and decided that that the job was not for me. Totally fine, but I got a second interview offer and … just never called them back. Sigh.

  35. James M.

    So I was young, working in retail to pay for community college. Money was tight, and I did what any self-respecting poor young guy does: eat questionable food items because they’re free. On annual fridge-cleaning day, I *thought* I had scored an edible microwave dinner. I followed the directions on the package, peeled back the covering to the dotted line, and popped it the microwave for the suggested time. I stepped away to take care of something.

    A short minute later, the smoke detector goes off. The microwave dinner had caught fire and filled the room with an acrid, eye-watering smoke! It was worse than burnt microwave popcorn. My coworkers had to dig out fans to help clear the smoke (and keep it out of the store area). Once the smoke cleared, I inspected the ‘smoking gun’. Indeed, there was no foil on the package; the foodstuff had actually been combusting. Moreover, I looked at the expiration date…

    … the previous annual fridge-cleaning had apparently not been as thorough as this year’s.

    (the microwave was treated for minor smoke inhalation and returned to work shortly)

    1. AT

      XD I am stealing that last sentence next time something like this happens in my workplace…

  36. GigglyPuff

    Honestly, Ask a Manager. My first part time professional job out of grad school, I started reading the blog and was completely hooked. And when I started going through the older posts, it would suck up hours of time and I wouldn’t even know it. I would casually start around 10ish but the “Older Posts” at the bottom of the page would suck me in, or “Related Posts” at the end of one, next thing I’d know it’d be after 1 or 2 pm, and I’d freak out wondering if anyone noticed, because I only worked in a half cube with the computer screen facing the room. I think I went through the entire archives in like a couple weeks, and then one day I went to read the new post, and the website wouldn’t load on any of the browsers but wouldn’t give me an error message either. I totally thought the IT dept had noticed, and blocked the website, and started panicking.

    After that I only read it on my phone until I left that job a few months later. :)

    1. That Lady

      Oh, that’s me now. They haven’t caught on yet, but I’m sure it’ll be blocked one of these days.

    2. A Non

      I’m in IT – everywhere I’ve worked, we really don’t care what people are doing on the internet as long as it isn’t illegal and doesn’t suck up the office’s bandwidth. If we were asked to track someone’s internet usage we would, but other otherwise we figured that time wasting was an issue between managers and employees and didn’t involve us. Looking at people’s browsing habits is really not as interesting as you might imagine.

      I’m waiting for a meeting to start, that’s my excuse for being here right now. :-)

      1. GigglyPuff

        Oh yeah, I don’t think they actually blocked it, I think there was actually something wrong with the connection that day. But I didn’t know that until later, so panic ensued.

    3. AT

      My workplace blocked Tumblr in my second week on the job. I’d looked at it once a day on my lunch break, maybe 5-10 minutes at a time, thinking all was peachy because I was giving my brain some downtime watching kittens attack remote control Daleks for increased productivity in the afternoon. That was my first moment of unprofessionalism. The second was asking my manager – trying to sound SO casual and SO hypothetical – “so…does anyone look at, say, the internet history of our office computers? Is it possible for them to block something they don’t like?” Manager replies sternly that yes, the admins look through our browsing history and while news-sites or comics or something are fine only in small amounts, anything inappropriate “like PORN” *glare* will be flagged “and if anyone then tries to get AROUND those blocks” *glare, yes AT, I know you’re a geek* “they can lose their job immediately.” Yeah – Tumblr was flagged as being a website that contained porn. And the manager knew it’d been blocked that week. And the supervisors knew. And everyone thought I’d been looking at porn.

      1. blackcat

        The saddest day of my teaching life is when I sent my students to a NASA website, and the school had blocked it as porn. The software even listed the reason why the website was blocked (some things were blocked as “violent” others as “social media”).

        It took four weeks to get NASA off the school’s porno list. :(

        1. AT

          Oh, that is /tragic/! (Four weeks?! Blimey!) It does remind me though how my school blocked Neopets as porn…likewise, it listed why it was blocked…and informed that fact to every 11 year old Anglican schoolgirl in the class, most of whom had probably never heard the word before!

          1. blackcat

            11th graders totally know what porn is…

            For those four weeks, they kept making jokes about “money shots” of Jupiter and its moons. One actually said, in all seriousness, “Well, I guess a rocket looks a bit like a penis.” I think she was trying to explain why it would have gotten blocked!

            I probably should have stopped the joking more consistently, but I had a hard time if they made a joke so good I couldn’t stop myself from laughing. Which they took as a challenge…

          2. afiendishthingy

            One of the greatest things overheard while working at a middle school – 6th grade boy in the reference section of the library earnestly saying to the other, “WHOA LOOK, the reproductive system! It’s like PORNO!”

            On another occasion, working at a different school, I was looking for materials on teaching sex ed to teens with developmental disabilities and the page I wanted was blocked – not because they thought it was porn – it listed the reason as “sex education.” I know it’s sex education! Why the hell would that be a bad thing? This wasn’t even when I lived in the Bible Belt. Administration at that place was just weird.

        2. lmgtfy

          Oldjob blocked google (when gmail/gchat was newish), but they blocked all google, including scholar…. which we used because oldjob was a research organization. Oh, the early 2000s.

      2. VintageLydia USA

        My Tumblr dashboard is definitely 30% porn (erotica/smut, usually, but still porn…)

    4. MentalEngineer

      My first job was in a call center, and for some reason our workstations had internet access. We were much slower-paced than just about every other call center on the planet, and I was good at handling calls when they did come in, so I had lots of time to spend sitting and staring at my monitor. Once I realized that my coworkers handled downtime by looking at sports scores, shopping on eBay, and texting their parents/SOs/children/dealers, it was obvious that reading Ask a Manager instead of doing those things was not going to be considered a problem. I read 6 years worth of posts in the first 5 or 6 months I was there.

  37. Armchair Analyst

    OK, I had to think about it. But I did quit a job without saying anything. I was there Monday and Tuesday – the job was filing file folders, in 1998 or so, according to an obscure color/number/alphabet system. Maybe insurance or something? It was my summer job from college. I’m pretty convinced that my co-worker was intellectually disabled – she loved the job.
    On Wednesday the entire office skyscraper was closed because the air conditioning didn’t work. We didn’t find out until we got there. So I was already dressed semi-professionally. I drove to other temp agencies, signed up, told them I was available immediately, and got another job by the next day or so and never went back and they sent me a check for the work I did do, which was nice of them.
    I like to think that was my most unprofessional yet generally victimless moment? Probably not.

    1. Not me today

      (Please don’t use this in a column) After I graduated from college, I needed a job, and I didn’t know what kind of work I wanted to do. A relative used his connections to get me a job at a law firm. This was in the ’80s, so most people in the office didn’t have their own computers. We wrote up the next court dates or deadlines for the legal documents that came in to us, and at night, other people input (inputted?) the information into the firm’s database, and it was then automatically put on the attorneys’ calendars. I would regularly fall asleep with my head on my hand and my pencil in the other hand. But that wasn’t the most unprofessional part. I was volunteering for a community organization at the same time, and relatively soon after I started, I asked for a Thursday and Friday off to go to a training weekend in another state. They gave me the days off, but at the end of the weekend, I decided that I wanted to work for the organization and I needed to stay for more training. So on Monday I called my manager and apologized profusely and said that the previous Wednesday would have to be my last day. I ended up working at the law firm for only about a month. My relative was really mad for a while, and I don’t blame him.

  38. Pita Chips

    (Anon name)

    I once sent an IM complaining about my boss…to my boss instead of the coworker I intended to send it to. I ran down the hall to her open office, which she had just stepped out of, and quickly closed the blinking message box. When I got back to my desk, I realized that it would show up in her emails if she ever searched for messages from me (which she does a lot). So I waited until she left for a meeting, grabbed my spare key for her office, let myself in, and deleted all traces of the message from (thankfully unlocked) computer.

    I am still horrified by that, as is my coworker for whom the message was intended – #1 on my most shameful moments ever.

    1. Lily in NYC

      Wow!!! My old office fired someone for doing the same thing (it was just a regular email, not IM). I’m not judging you; I’d have been tempted to do the same thing. What annoyed me is that he got fired for this but not for the time he tried to expense a hooker (we were in journalism and he said she was a source).

      1. Elysian

        For reasons I can’t explain, this is my favorite comment so far. I think its because I was like “Ok… ok… ok…. Expense a hooker?!?” and then you actually tried to explain how that could happen. I’m just kind of dying here.

        1. Lily in NYC

          This happened at the same place where I got drunk at the Xmas party (from way above thread). Gross coworker was a writer and convinced his editor he had to travel for a story. When he turned in his expense report, there was a mysterious $800 charge from a strip club and he tried to play it like one of the dancers there was his source for the story (total BS; he wrote about politics and this was some podunk town in Michigan). He finally admitted he went into a back room for some “hanky panky”. AND DID NOT GET FIRED. I remember being so annoyed by the whole thing. Old-school print journalism is such an old boy’s club.

    2. C Average

      I think my heart rate sped up just reading this. Will she make it? Ohhhh, just made it. I really thought stuff like this only happened on sitcoms.

    3. Rebecca

      I once composed an email to send to a friend on a Friday morning.

      Subject: As R Kelly would say…
      Body: It’s the freaking weekend, baby! What are you going to be doing?

      But I actually sent it to a higher-up with the same first initial. I *really* should have had more coffee that morning. Thankfully, she thought it was funny and even replied back with her weekend plans. I immediately replied back that I’d meant it for a friend, so sorry! But what I really wanted was for the floor to open up and swallow me. I’m so glad she had a sense of humor about it and we continued to have a good working relationship.

    4. CrescentFresh

      I’m so impressed your frantic dash to her computer worked! If that had been in a movie or TV show, you would have been caught in the most awkward way possible. Maybe a work badge on a lanyard around your neck would have caught inside the door as you closed it, trapping your badge and keys inside for your boss to find when she returned.

    5. Clever Name

      I once accidentally included my boss on an email where I complained that he had eaten my frozen meal for lunch. He said something to me about it, and I tried to play it off like it was intentional. Luckily he didn’t say anything about it later, probably because he had eaten my lunch.

      1. catsAreCool

        What kind of person eats someone else’s lunch? Especially when the eater is the boss of the lunch-owner. Reminds me of when that happened to Ross on Friends, and Ross got treated for anger issues.

    6. Zillah

      Not work related, but this reminds me of a time when friend A was really, really pissing me off. So I called friend B to start complaining about friend A.

      I was about knee-deep in the rant before I realized that I’d called friend A instead. Thankfully, I hadn’t actually used his name yet, so I played it off like I was talking about someone else. (Friend B, actually!)

    7. Jen RO

      I did this twice and narrowly missed it once.

      1. I complained to my coworker about my boss… but obviously sent it to the boss. Luckily, I hadn’t written his name, the phrasing was ambiguous, and my boss is in another country so Google Translate added another layer of uncertainty.

      2. I complained about a coworker… to that coworker (the intended recipient was just above in my IM client). I tried to make it seem like I was talking about someone else, but she didn’t buy it.

      3. I got an email from a project manager, once again asking for resources at the last moment. I forwarded the email to a coworker and wanted to add some snark in the email body (“FFS can you believe her nerve?!”), but I ended up IMing my thoughts. When my coworker asked me what I was talking about, I realized that I had replied to the project manager!

  39. Anonymous Coward

    In my first temp job (which ended up being for most of a year but never went permanent), I was a receptionist in an office of about 20. I supported the Big Boss, a couple VPs, the marketing manager, the finance manager, and the IT manager. I sorted the incoming mail and handed it out by walking around the office and either handing it to people or placing it on their empty desks (there were no inboxes). Once I delivered a package to the Big Boss, who asked me in future to open packages and unpack them, and just give her the contents. I didn’t realize that she meant this only for her mail! In the next month I unpackaged and delivered a couple of Amazon items to one worker who used the office address to get personal deliveries, before he came to the front desk and had an awkward talk with me: “You really don’t have to do that.” (Read: OMG WHY ARE YOU DOING THAT?? STOP IT!!) I still cringe when I think of how I looked at him in confusion and explained that I was just following Big Boss’s instructions.

    1. Cookandbottlewasher

      I was on the other end of that. We didn’t realise the new guy in the office – first job, straight out of school – was opening everybody’s post, including private deliveries, because nobody told him otherwise. Which is how I came to find the expensive black lacy bra I had ordered slotted neatly in my pigeonhole in the mailroom.

  40. The Cosmic Avenger

    The worst thing I can come up with: when I was in college, I was a vegetarian for a while and refused to wear or buy leather, so when the chain restaurant that hired to wait tables said that I should wear black shoes, I wore traditional Chinese slippers, like you see everyone wearing in martial arts movies, because they’re just rubber and cloth. (I’m very white.)

    At least I had my long hair tucked up so most people thought it only came down to my collar. Still, when the district manager visited he took one look and told the restaurant manager “Tell him to cut his hair or he’s fired.” So I quit, even though the restaurant manager admitted I was his best waitperson and he really wanted to keep me, but he wasn’t willing to say anything to the district manager.

    (Two stories for the price of one! I think the slipper one is worse, myself. Especially since I still have long hair, but I’d probably cut it for a really good job.)

    1. Kayla

      I don’t know if it’s the “right” decision but I would also probably quit a job that asked me to unreasonably change my appearance. As long as you weren’t breaking any health codes and your appearance wasn’t too crazy I don’t see what the problem is.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger

        Yeah, I’m not so sure that was a second story, but it was kinda related to the main story, so I threw it in there.

        And part of the reason I’d cut my hair now is that my bald spot is becoming a little friendly with my hairline, so I am considering shaving my head. :)

  41. Alice

    Way back at one of my first jobs, I worked at a theatre. The general manager wrote these “monthly memos” about upcoming movie releases, promotions, and any employee birthdays that month. Well, this general manager made a show of never having graduated from high school – he was quite proud of climbing the corporate ladder without an educational foundation. Let me tell you, it showed.

    These monthly memos were so full of embarrassing misspellings, incorrect uses of idioms, and grammatical errors. I took it upon myself to correct these mistakes with a red pen each month. The other employees loved it. And on top of it, I was never caught.

      1. Alice

        Oh my God. I didn’t even read that post yet. I swear, I only did it because he was a horrible manager in so many other ways (he actually got fired from his previous job because of sexual harassment and was fired from that job because of stealing from the company). I would have never done it if he was a respectable manager. And his mistakes were ridiculous! Like spelling “sentence” as “sentess” and writing “should have” as “schould of” – I’m not kidding.

    1. Lindsay J

      I’ve done this before.

      Granted, these weren’t mistakes of ineptitude, these were mistakes because the manager was writing his emails in a frothy rage (pretty much his default state). Had he taken the time to calm down, reread the emails, and remove the insults and profanity from them they wouldn’t have been full of ridiculous mistakes and I would not have felt the need to correct them.

      However, it still wasn’t the right thing to do and it definitely lead to my and the manager’s downfall. Before I worked there people cowered in fear of him. By the time I left nobody could take him seriously.

      1. Alice

        “Before I worked there people cowered in fear of him. By the time I left nobody could take him seriously.”

        I say, job well done :)

  42. JustMe

    At my 1st job out of college I wanted to impress everyone. My friend and colleague had a manager who transferred over to manage my team. My friend gave me some pointers on what my new boss liked/didn’t like, and she also sent me a copy of a weekly status report…the boss’ preferred format. I emailed it to my co-workers and pretty much directed them to use the status report format since the new boss liked it so much. One lady emailed back and said they’d all been at the company for years, and they know how to do status reports. The boss even saw my email ‘request’. I felt really small, but I did it with good intentions. It was a little awkward for a while.

  43. justcourt

    I have had so many unprofessional moments, but this one really stands out.

    My mom was diagnosed with cancer right around the time I got one of my first professional jobs. She had to have surgery when I was on my fifth week, I think. Everything went well during surgery and after she got out of the hospital she stayed with my grandparents to recover.

    Unfortunately, she had a very extreme reaction to the pain killers, and she was basically acting like a disturbed person. There is no other way to put it. She started calling me my work line and swearing at me. I would get her off the phone, and then she would call back. She also threatened to phone my boss, who she knew socially, to fire me. (In case you’re worried that my mother is horrible and abusive, this was absolutely a reaction to the pain medication. She is normally the kindest, most generous and loving woman.)

    Anyway, I think it was a combination of stress over a new job, the cancer diagnosis, the surgery, and my mom’s reaction, but I just lost it. I started crying, and I went into my boss’ office with mascara running down my face and tried to let him know what was going on. My boss, though, was a very quiet ex-vet, and he hated drama of any kind and, apparently, emotion. He was very gracious about everything, but I think he genuinely would have preferred to have been under enemy fire than be confronted by a crying woman.

    Thankfully, I have since learned that I really need to go off and compose myself before having an emotional or difficult work conversation.

    1. Mimmy

      Ooh I think I did that once – my sister had just called me to say that my dad was in the hospital with a serious infection that could require surgery, and I ran to my supervisor crying. I was so scared. I should’ve just gone outside or something.

      (FTR – My dad ended up being absolutely fine, did not need surgery and was home after, I think, just two days.)

    2. Dynamic Beige

      “he genuinely would have preferred to have been under enemy fire than be confronted by a crying woman.”

      I got a job from a married couple. They had been decent to work with before — not OMG amazeballs but OK — but this job was so beyond the pale of things they put me through, I can’t even begin. I did actually try to write it out just now, but it was turning into a novel, so I stopped.

      It is entirely possible to abuse someone without physically touching them or saying one bad word to them and after being put through so much, there was finally a moment where I lost it and shouted at the wife. The pair of them had gotten on my last nerve and jumped up and down on it like it was a trampoline. It was just one word and not even a swear word. I didn’t do it to her face, but through the headset. Being driven beyond the limits of patience and endurance doesn’t make up for the fact that it was completely, totally unprofessional of me. I think at this point Hubby had come back and was going to give me an earful — because how dare I? — then I just lost it and started crying. I am not a cryer. I can count on one hand the number of times work has gotten to me and I started bawling. Hubby just crumpled and ran away.

      I later apologised to Wifey — who did not admit any responsibility for her part in the whole affair (and trust me, if I could tell exactly what happened, no one would believe it). But, I was the one who lost it and so I was the one who was unprofessional because that’s the way it works. I’m glad Hubby ran away because after I did what they wanted, I was able to lie down on the cold, hard marble and just try to calm down and beat myself up for what I had just done. Needless to say, I never worked for them again… but it’s no great loss. I found out later that someone else who does what I do had also worked for them, with similar WTF? results. So I was glad to know it wasn’t just me. Still, I look back and that was not my finest hour.

      1. A Non

        I’ve known people like that. I believe you. If the end result of shouting at her was that you left and didn’t have to suffer their abuse any more, I don’t think that’s such a bad thing. You protected yourself – not in an ideal manner, sure, but it worked. Go you.

        1. Dynamic Beige

          Fortunately, it was a freelance job — and they paid! So it was fine in the end, even though I would bet that from their perspective they had done nothing wrong and learned nothing from that. But when I think back to that time, I just didn’t think I had any power to say what I needed. And, there are some people that you could try and explain something ’til you were blue in the face but they still wouldn’t get it.

      2. afiendishthingy

        I spent a year in my early 20s living in a foreign country. Which was amazing in some ways except that I was struggling with untreated major depression and anxiety the whole time. I had a couple of jobs there and I was such a wreck that I’m beyond glad I haven’t needed to put them on my resume. One of them was with a small family business and my boss had a lovely managerial style characterized by yelling at me when I made mistakes until I cried. He was unprofessional as hell and a huge bully but I was not winning any professionalism prizes either. oof. (I am glad to say I did at least have the balls to stand up to him when he tried to get me to collude with him and pretend we’d never received a big deposit payment from somebody. What an ass. He eventually backed down on that one.)

    3. Hlyssande

      I did that the day my best friend’s grandfather died. As a transplant with no family in the area, her family was basically my family and we’d just seen him the day before for a lunch and visit where he appeared to be fine.

      I was a complete and utter mess when I went to talk to the boss to beg off. I could barely tell him what happened.

    4. Cath in Canada

      I’m smiling at your last sentence because I learned this week that I need to wait to talk to my boss until I’m no longer out of breath from running up four flights of stairs. I was just letting him know that I was really interested in taking on a small new project that had been announced in the team meeting because it matches my existing portfolio really well, but my slight out-of-breathness was coming across as me being bizarrely emotional about such a benign conversation! I saw the puzzled look on his face and explained myself – he was greatly relieved because he thought I was about to burst into tears! Oopsie.

    5. ReadingRachael

      At my first job, a few years ago, a couple of days after a ranty talk with my mom about how I was tired of finding out important news on Facebook, she called me while I was on my way to work to tell me that my grandma’s cancer had come back in a super aggressive fashion, AND that a favorite uncle had passed away in the night from his brain tumor. I sat in the parking lot crying and all I could think was that I couldn’t be late and needed to go inside. I had to walk through the entire building with tears pouring down my face to get to my desk, and about 5 minutes later, all 10 women in the office were in my “room” (I had a desk in the corner of the copy room) giving me hugs and offering candy. And then they sent me home for the day. Now when my mom has bad news for me, she texts me “don’t get on Facebook today till you call me”. I also cried when I was laid off from that job a few months later.

  44. Mitchell

    I had a coworker who would call in the night before, but leave a message saying that its 6am and he woke up feeling sick so he won’t be in. He said he did it because he knew he was going to be partying and he didn’t want to forget to call in.

    It might have worked except that the voicemail had a timestamp.

    1. Kelly L.

      Oooh! Time for one of my favorite college work stories, which I’m sure I’ve told here before. To set the scene, this was the mid-90s and none of these people had a cell phone. Also, if you called one campus phone from another campus phone, the voicemail would start with “From Campus Mailbox xxxx” and then go into your message. I heard this story from my friend “Todd,” who was a manager at the dorm burger place where I worked.

      So one of our co-workers, “Mike,” lived off campus and always had, and so wasn’t really familiar with our phones. He was dating a woman who lived on campus, though. I guess one day he decided he wanted to continue canoodling with her rather than go to work, because college. So he called Todd and told him he couldn’t come in to work because he was stranded in this other city a few hours away.

      Except the voicemail said “From Campus Mailbox xxxx: ‘Hi, it’s Mike, I’m stranded in Other City…'”

      (A few years later, he’d have gotten away with it! Because he’d probably have had a cell.)

  45. Not Here or There

    My parents were pretty good about teaching us how to be professional in the workplace when I was a teenager, so I went into the working world with a fairly good idea of how to behave myself, plus I started working at 15, so by the time I got my first professional job, I’d been pretty well versed in what was and what was not OK (I do have some awesome stories of other people being unprofessional though…).

    However, in my first retail jobs, I did some pretty funny things. I used to work at the customer service counter for a small hardware store. The job was usually really boring and I didn’t have a ton of stuff to do, so I brought a monkey puppet to work. Whenever someone brought a kid into the store, I would use the monkey puppet to make them laugh. Like, when the parents weren’t looking, I would have the monkey peep up from under the counter at the kids. And when the kid starting laughing and the parent turned around, I would hide the puppet. One of the guys that worked there helped me rig the puppet so it could blow air with a little hand pump, and I would make it blow bubbles for the kids. I would also make my co-workers laugh with it. I would hide places for our boss to find; I would also create little tableaux for it.

    1. bkanon

      We had a plastic rat as a store mascot. He had many adventures until he was placed in a cabinet in the cafe.

      The day of the Surprise! health/safety inspection.

      He wasn’t allowed to travel after that.

  46. lawsuited

    I used to use my cubicle as an extension of my vanity at home. I’d usually put foundation and eyeshadow on at home and then finish with mascara , blush and lipstick at the office (WHY?! Why could I not just apply those at home when I was obviously already in the throes of applying make-up?!) Sometimes I would just wait and put on all my make-up at the office. It was ridiculous. I had a full make-up kit in my drawer at work. I had an eyeshadow pallete. I had blending brushes. I had a HAIR STRAIGHTENER. Like, what must people have thought as they passed my desk and saw a hair straightener plugged in? I shudder to think….

    1. KT

      I have full makeup and a straightener at my desk, but I use it for emergencies only–like when my boss asked me to go to a black tie event for work and give an award since the person who was supposed to go got sick.

      Or if I wear my hair down and sudden rain wrecks it. I make sure no one sees my Ulta-supply drawer, but it has saved em a dozen times!

    2. Lizzie

      Actually, two of my coworkers straighten their hair at work. (In their personal workspaces, not in a shared area.) I admit that I’ve thought of doing the same – I start work at 7:50 AM and commute about 75 minutes on public transit, and fully drying + styling my hair before I get on the train is more than I can handle these days.

      1. the gold digger

        I don’t put my eye shadow and mascara on until I am in the parking lot at work because it takes a good hour for the sleep puffiness to leave my face. How dare I eat salt at my age?

    3. Erin

      Ha! My makeup and straightener reside in my office. Whatever, I have a door that closes, and I have to be here by 7. They’re gonna have to pick their battles on that one.

  47. Snarkus Aurelius

    In my defense, this was a very poorly managed organization, but I was too naive to realize it at the time…

    Everything was a mess there, including managing the interns.  Paid staff said the interns should be managing the CEO’s schedule so I took it upon myself to do it with zero training.    

    The CEO was the main reason why that organization was such a cluster.  She would change her mind and/or contradict herself at least a dozen times a day.  She told me that all requests for her presence should be on her schedule because even if she wasn’t going, she still wanted to know about it in case she wanted to drop by.  I took me literally all day to do this because it’s DC, and CEOs get numerous requests all the time like this.

    I thought it would be funny to include my own personal commentary on each scheduling item.  For example, a PETA request had, “Do you think they’ll serve meat at this lunch?  Ha ha.”  An invitation for theater benefit included, “Personally I hate musicals.  Here’s to hoping you don’t have to sit through one.”  An invitation to the French Embassy had a guillotine reference. There were way more because I know I thought I was sooooo funny.

    Turns out the CEO’s wackadoodle approach to things saved me.  The first day she got 12 different Outlook pops for lunch engagements, she freaked.  Her computer wouldn’t stop dinging with all the events I’d put in there for her.  (I ended up mass-deleting all the events.)

    No one ever said anything to me about it because, I’m guessing, there were so many events all over the place that no one say my “witty” commentary.  Even if they had, no one was technically in charge of the interns anyway.

  48. Banditcoot

    My first job out of college was for a twenty person start up company. The owner of the company was really cool and laid back. He hand picked his staff, so he had an eclectic blend of personalities from the uber technical people to the offbeat, creative marketing people, which made it a super fun place to work.

    I had been there for about a year and he had hired a gentlemen, who unbeknownst to him, was a rabid evangelical, as in he saw it was his mission to “save” everyone in the office. The owner did a good job of keeping the employee in check, but sometimes he’d sneak one past the owner. He’d leave religious tracks on our desk, we’d make paper airplanes or origami animals.

    IT upgraded all our servers over one weekend and when we came in the following Monday there was a email outlining the new names and how to access them. This employee chose to name one of the servers NT-CHRIST. In my twenty something glory, I hit reply all and asked who in the heck was the dumb !@# to name the server NT-CHRIST. Fortunately for me, the owner found my response hilarious and had the server named changed. I still see the owner from time to time and he always brings up that cringe worthy email.

    1. Dynamic Beige

      “He’d leave religious tracks on our desk”

      I’m sure this is a typo, but the mental image of little black cross marks, like bird tracks, all over everything amused me for some reason.

    2. A Non

      He should have stuck with the time-honored tradition of naming servers after Matrix characters.

      I once worked at a place that defeated the purpose of giving servers memorable names by having a Ne0, Ne02 and Ne0 spelled with a zero rather than an o. It was special.

      1. Lurker

        At a former place of employment the servers were names from Greek mythology: Mnemosyne, Apollo, etc. I loved it.

        1. Stone Satellite

          We have some internal things named from Greek mythology, and now have discovered that many of us are not very good at spelling names from Greek mythology. :(

  49. Bekx

    Oh God.

    So I’m still young, so these have happened within the last 3 years or so.

    1. New job. They hosted a big fancy party in celebration of some event at a family friendly location. We were allowed to bring family and friends. I proceed to invite my 3 friends to the event. There was drama and one of the friends couldn’t come, and then the other friend got a new dog so she was only there for dinner…so really only one other friend was there. I was the only one who brought a friend. Everyone else brought significant others, children, or no one. It was super awkward and I’m really glad I didn’t end up having 3 of them.

    2. Old job. Was told I would be able to get health insurance after 3 months of working there. 3 months passed but apparently I couldn’t enroll until the end of the year (which meant I would be without insurance for another 2 months). I had already been relying on the kindness of my doctors giving me free samples of the medication that I took. When the office manager told me I’d have to wait two more months, I burst into ugly crying tears. You know how when you try not to sob you release these ugly heavy noises? Yeah. Everyone was staring at me. I was just so stressed out about having to ask my doctors for more sample packs that it just tipped me over the edge.

    3. Also old job. My boss and her husband were in a meeting with me. I was trying to explain something really technical to her and she just wasn’t getting it. Finally her husband just told me to explain it to him. So I did, he got it in one explanation and it was nice and simple. I turned to my boss and said “Wow! That was simple. It’s funny how the conversation went so much more smoothly once I started talking to him about it.” Oh jeez. She was a really mean and awful person, but that was an incredibly mean thing for me to say. She called me out on it, and I was mortified. I meant it as a joke, but that was really offensive.

    And then something that’s probably unprofessional but ended up helping me: In the interview for my current job, my boss and I ended up talking about menstrual pads. I got the job, and we joke about it’s because we felt so comfortable with each other.

      1. Bekx

        We were talking about the community engagement programs we have at the company and she mentioned how she had just done a beach cleanup and….she was really disgusted by the amount of sanitary items she had to clean up.

      2. Laurel Gray

        Administrative role discussing “coverage”

        Analyst role discussing confidentiality “leaks”

        SAHM returning to work discussing “flexibility”

        Junior Management position discussing “fit”

        Yup, I can totally see how this could come up in an interview. -_-

    1. sam

      To be fair to you, #2 is pretty sh!tty behavior on the part of your old job. I’ve worked at plenty of jobs where you have to wait until the first full month of employment (i.e., the first “first” of the month) in order to enroll in a health insurance plan, but to be forced to wait five months to enroll in a plan? is really unfair and not in line with the way at least most health insurers work. Most people can only enroll during the limited open enrollment period, but new employment is almost always an exception to that. I might have had a similar reaction if I had been strung along like that as well. Not just about begging for free medication, but the general lack of coverage for that long.

      1. Bekx

        It was bizarre. Not only did we have to wait a year before we got 1 week of vacation, but when I first started I worked part time 10-5. (Which is why I imagine I didn’t get benefits for 3 months.) Then boss decided she wanted me to work 9:30 – 6:00 (Full time was 9:30 – 6:30, meaning I couldn’t get benefits because I was half an hour short every day.)

    2. Artemesia

      No way you should have had to wait another 2 months for the insurance. When there is a 3 mos wait for it to kick in, it is supposed to kick in at 3 mos. It is not like you just decided to enroll or to change outside the change period. This is a ‘qualifying event’ and you should have been allowed to sign up then. You got hosed.

      1. Zillah

        Agreed. It might not have been professional to burst into tears, but I absolutely would have, too.

  50. Jill

    This was back when e-mail was a new thing and etiquette norms for digital communication weren’t really widespread yet. A Vice President of the company sent out an email to our department saying, “The beatings will continue until morale improves” which I took as an invitation to use email to say something equally witty so I did a reply all and said, “Please don’t eat the cupcake in the lunch room. It’s wanted as evidence in a food poisoning case.”

    A – I worked in a bank. At the least, my reference to a food poisoning case probably caused a lot of confusion.
    B – I was naiive to the fact that a bank VP can get away with inappropriate use of company email, I as a high school intern could not.
    C – I was super ignorant of just how badly that message could have gone if there actually WERE cupcakes in the lunchroom.
    D – I still cringe at how arrogant I was to think that everyone would think I was oh-so witty and clever.

    1. Not Here or There

      I had a coworker whose spouse was a home care nurse, she always brought her lunch in bio-hazard bags

  51. Adam

    This one wasn’t my fault and while I have my suspicions I don’t know for sure who caused it. But I worked at an organization that was sort of a combined trade association/regulatory body for a particular profession, the kind you have to go to graduate school for and pass licensing exams and all that jazz. I worked in their continuing education department and for a while we printed audio CD’s of the live seminars we put on for people to use for continuing education credit.

    Someone purchased one of our CD’s and then called me in a furious state, saying that we had named the audio something extremely inappropriate and she was very disappointed in us as an organization for letting this happen. I looked up the program she was referring to and found that our digital file, that was being burned to every copy of the CD so far, when it popped up in the media player’s track list was entitled:

    “More Ear Drugs and Bag of Weed Jam”

    To this day I’m not ever sure what that actually means…

    1. AT

      If that’s not the veterinary profession, it probably could be – right down to the odd bit of gallows humour and innuendo where there probably shouldn’t be gallows humour and innuendo!

  52. anonima in tejas

    I interviewed for a number of nonprofit summer internships when I was in college. I decided that I would be 100% honest about my politics and self-identity. All the interviews went really well. all asked for a writing sample, and for some reason I decided to use my review of the Vagina Monologues. No call backs, and I had no clue why. I was so freaking clueless.

    1. Like I'm really going to use my usual name . . .

      I would take a well-written review of the Vagina Monologues as a writing sample any day over the poetry I often get when we request writing samples. For a marketing writing position. For technology companies.

  53. RivaK

    My first paying job was at a McDonald’s. They were running a promotion that required us to wear large Chinese hats and decorate the store with “Chinese” paraphernalia. Uneducated young person that I was, I thought it would be funny to answer the drive-thru speaker with “Welcome to the honorable McDonald’s, it is our honor to serve you today.” And I used a bad oriental accent. For nearly a week. It’s a miracle that all I got was a stern talking-to instead of being fired.

    The adult me still cringes at the memory, even though it was 20 years ago.

    1. Persephone Mulberry

      Adult me cringes that McDonalds thought this was a clever marketing gimmick.

  54. jmkenrick

    One of my best friends worked for a small company that did deliveries. They had gotten a new wearhouse and were celebrating by having a party with a foodtrucks, etc

    The Friday before, we all got to meet our new boss who was replacing a guy who retired. He asked us all what our weekend plans were, while we were making small talk. I excitedly mentioned that I was going to a “Wearhouse Party.”

    I got teased a lot for that one.

    (For those in the same boat as me – apparently ‘wearhouse party’ was a popular term in the late 80s/early 90s for a rave…heavily associated with drug use. I was mostly watching Bill Nye in the 90s and definitely missed out on this association.)

    1. Rebecca

      Wait, what does it mean now? Haha, I was a teenager in the late 90’s and it usually meant a rave or something similar.

      1. Spiky Plant

        I was gonna say just this! It’s definitely still a term in use for a rave. Mostly because raves still often take place in warehouses. And rave culture is still alive and well!

        1. jmkenrick

          Rave culture is alive and well, but I think that term is pretty dated. At least, I managed to make it through college and young adulthood without ever once hearing it. I’m in California though, there might be some regional use.

  55. Annalee

    People should feel free to judge me for this, but I think hanging a portrait of Nicholas Cage next to past company presidents is actually a really good example of how to do office pranks right. It’s not mean-spirited, it extremely unlikely to accidentally harm someone, it doesn’t punch down, and it’s unlikely to get in the way of someone who has urgent tasks to handle and really doesn’t have time to mess around.

    So yes, all pranks are pretty much by definition unprofessional. But I think there’s room in most offices for a little levity. As long as people are being respectful and picking their moment, this is the kind of prank that can actually boost morale and team bonding.

    1. Jem

      Thank you! I was just thinking how I would actually really like to work with that person!

    2. Kimmy

      Agreed. I know someone who replaced the name plate next to the door of the “John Doe Memorial Conference Room” with his own name as a good-natured parting shot when he left for another job. It wasn’t noticed for months, but they thought it was hilarious.

    3. Lizzie

      I agree! If I ever work somewhere that (a) displays such portraits, and (b) has a decent sense of humor overall, I think I’d enjoy pulling such a prank.

    4. Alli525

      We have all sorts of kooky artwork in our office (it’s a company in a sea of Very Corporate companies, but our CEO was a big fan of 60s/70s music so it’s mostly framed album covers, that sort of thing). One of my coworkers took a picture of the Three Stooges and taped paper cut-outs of his face and two of our other coworkers, and hung it back on the wall. I’m not sure anyone noticed for the first 6 months.

  56. Not My Usual Moniker

    When I was an intern in high school for a local nonprofit, I somehow graduated from stuffing envelopes to answering the phone when the receptionist wasn’t there. I HATE answering phones (still). I was told to open with the standard greeting, ask for the caller’s name, then page the person they were trying to reach to ask if it was OK to put them through. I’d just answer, find out who they wanted and forwarded it. Every.time. I think they finally took me off that because they thought I couldn’t understand the directions instead of deliberately ignoring them. I still feel guilty about it.

  57. KJ

    I worked at Best Buy one Christmas season during high school. When a customer asked me a question I didn’t know the answer to, I would tell them I didn’t know but would find out….then I’d just go wander the store, like I was shopping.

    One summer I cleaned out filing cabinets for the company my mom worked for and reported to one of her good friends. I had my wisdom teeth out that summer, but returned to work waaayyy too soon. I was full of pain killers, but not driving myself and my was literally opening filing cabinets and throwing old files away. Anyways, one day my boss/mom’s friend found me sleeping in between the filing cabinets, in a chair. Mortified to this day.

    Ah, youth.

    1. Allison

      Better than what I did! I had a nasty habit of telling a customer I didn’t know something, and for some reason it didn’t occur to me to try to find out, and the customer would get pissed. I can recall doing this at least twice: once at the movie theater where a customer asked me when they were bringing the snack cart around, and I knew nothing about the snack cart, and she tore into me, saying she didn’t like my attitude. I ran to get a supervisor after that.

      Then when I worked at a bookstore a guy asked if we had some sort of textbook ordering program. Again, told him I had no idea, and he barked “where’s your manager??” Only months later did I realize my answer should have been “Gee I’m not sure; let me find my manager, he’ll know!”

    2. Stephanie

      I worked retail (I was a floater in a large department store) and sometimes covered women’s shoes. After a while on a shift, you get a good idea of what’s in stock and what isn’t. So someone would ask for the some shoe in blue in a size 8 and I’d say “Oh, we don’t have that” and get “Are you sure? Go check in the back!” I usually just walked into the stockroom, stood there for a minute slightly out of sight of the customer, and came back like “I checked! We don’t have it. Sorry.”

      1. Elsajeni

        I used to do that regardless of whether the customer insisted. “Hmm, I don’t think we have that, but let me check in the back! [Because it’s soooo much quieter back there and customers can’t find me…]”

      2. Pineapple Incident

        You’re definitely not alone. I used to work at CVS, stocked shelves and put the extra in the back myself, and knew for sure which things we would have back there and which ones we wouldn’t. I would have customers ask me to check a second time when I came back out of the stockroom without it, and I would just go in the room and kill a couple minutes staring at my phone, because you can’t find something that ISN’T THERE.

    3. lowercase holly

      ha, i’m always suspicious sales associates are doing this. pretty sure you aren’t alone.

      1. Former Sales Associate

        Once in a while I did, especially if I suspected the customer was going to be a major PITA and/or my shift was almost over. Most of the time, though, I’d walk away to find what the customer asked for… and get accosted half a dozen more times by other customers or my co-workers and get trapped in whatever THEY needed.

  58. Oryx

    Giving notice unprofessionalism:

    Schedule at my old job was Tuesday-Saturday and around my birthday (Nov 12) I usually took off because we had Veteran’s Day off, too, so I could get a nice long weekend. This particular year, the 11th was a Wednesday and I actually had a job interview that day (for the job I have now). It was a 2nd interview and a few hours later they called me to offer me the job, which I accepted.

    Problem was, I wasn’t going to be returning to work until the following Tuesday. I just wanted to get the F out of that job and didn’t want to wait until Tuesday to give notice. I also wanted to limit how many Saturdays I worked and use Thanksgiving to my advantage. So the next morning (Thurs) I call my boss first thing and gave my two weeks notice over the phone (I cringe thinking about it now) and followed up with an email to him and his supervisor. Technically that would make my last day Thanksgiving, which was a holiday + I was already in the middle of a long vacation weekend.

    So my “two weeks” ended up being only 7 actual working days.

  59. Allison

    I interned at a senator’s office in college and for a little while after, until I got my first job. Then they asked me to volunteer for a fundraising event, since they didn’t have an intern working for them and, being state employees, none of the people currently working in the office could touch the money. Anyway, my first mistake was my outfit: a long, fitted pencil skirt that was at least a size too tight, with a white sweater that was a little see-through and you could see a hint of the pink shirt I wore under it. I think I had some sort of headband on too . . . I didn’t dress well in my early days.

    Anyway, after catching up with my former co-workers, and complaining to my former c0-workers about how annoying some of my current co-workers were (not cool, in hindsight), I took my spot at the door. Then the senator came in and greeted me. Did I shake his hand like an respectful adult? No . . . I said hello, and then sort of stared blankly, feeling like I should do something, but shaking his hand seemed too formal for some reason, so I did nothing, and there was definitely an awkward silence. I’m now convinced I have no hope of ever working as a legislative aide in this state, in large part due to that night. Although I vaguely recall them asking me to help out on a few other things, because at one point I had to inform someone I no longer lived in the senator’s district.

  60. Meg Murry

    Not at work but at a job interview:
    I got called for an interview with a dream company. I had only been out of college for 2 years and hadn’t held a true “professional” job since I graduated. The company was located in the downtown area of the nearest large city, and I wasn’t familiar with city driving, or how long it would take me to get there. My mom volunteered to go with me for the drive and to help me navigate in the city, and that she would stay in the car during the interview and then we would go out for lunch. In order not to be late, and in case we got lost, I left really early – which means we arrived more than 45 minutes early. What I didn’t know what that the company had a button you had to push to be buzzed into the parking lot, so I couldn’t just sit there until the time for the interview. The receptionist was really rude to me when I buzzed in “Do you know you are 45 minutes early? Why are you so early? Who is that in the car with you?” and it really flustered me. And then of course my interviewers then asked how my commute was, and stupid me, I repeated “oh, it was ok, my mom drove in with me” like I was an idiot with a helicopter parent, and made me even more flustered. Needless to say, I didn’t get that job – although I did apply there 5 years later and then get hired (and I made no mention of having interviewed there before – I didn’t want them to pull up any files in case they remembered me).

    Now, to be fair, this was pre-GPS being common, and only early MapQuest days, when MapQuest still sometimes told you to get off the highway on overpasses instead of exits. But I still cringe at the idea that taking my mom along was okay.

      1. Oh anon

        Yeah, the receptionist was not cool. You were driving from a distance and to a place you weren’t used to going. I think it was fine for you to arrive that early and have someone drive with you. It’s not like your mom accompanied you into the office or interview. I would have found somewhere nearby to park for a little while, after I found where the interview would be located, which you would have done, had no one been in the office when you buzzed. The receptionist sounds like a cranky pants.

    1. Lindsay J

      My ex-fiance used to drag me to all his interviews. Important ones! Like for the Supreme Court Police and Border Patrol and county and state police jobs. I would stay in the car (or wander around the building for things like the Supreme Court) but I knew it was really unprofessional and told him so. He still wanted me to come so I would but I felt so uncomfortable doing it. And I know it had to torpedo his chances – how could people think he could be a competent officer if he wouldn’t even come to an interview by himself?

    2. Stone Satellite

      Early days? Just this weekend I was driving around an unfamiliar city with close-together one-ways and my phone kept telling me to “turn left” when I was stopped at a one-way where “turn right” was the only acceptable direction. If I had to get somewhere there I’d still try to show up 45 minutes early in case of a near-death GPS experience …

  61. A-Nonnie

    super unprofessional (illegal, statute limitations passed): i went to work drunk :( i was 18 working a summer job at an ice cream shop for someone i’d known since i was 5. i had a later shift. i went to a friend’s house earlier in the day to swim and drink wine that her dad made. i cut myself off a little while before i had to leave for work, but not soon enough. i really should have called in, but it didn’t seem like a possibility at the time. as soon as i got to work, i claimed the job of mopping up so i wouldn’t have to interact with anyone. i’m not sure if anyone could tell i was drunk, or, since they all thought i was the responsible one, they just thought i was being really unsociable.

    1. Collarbone High

      I once got drunk at work on accident. No lie.

      This was my first job, at 16, at a skating rink (the same place I started a microwave fire in a previous story), and on this night, I was working in the box office. You weren’t allowed to leave the box office unattended, so when an off-duty co-worker came in and offered to get me a lemonade from the concession stand, I was grateful.

      About half an hour later I started to get hot and dizzy, and weirdly uncoordinated. Eventually I felt so awful I paged the manager to ask if I could go rest in the break room. He took one look at me and realized I was drunk, for the first time in my life.

      Further investigation revealed the co-worker had added Everclear to my lemonade. In her defense, she had no idea I was a goody two-shoes who’d never had a drink before and that I was such a lightweight. Fortunately the manager thought the whole situation was funny and let me spend the rest of the shift in his office throwing up.

      1. ArtsNerd

        Uh, you were 16. I would have been furious with your coworker, not embarassed that you couldn’t handle everclear!

      2. catsAreCool

        I’d have been pretty upset with the co-worker. Spiking your drink! That’s not OK.

    2. Hlyssande

      Hey, the easy mop job was probably the most responsible thing you could do, all things considered. You knew you weren’t okay for the rest of the stuff but you could do that.

      Ungood judgement on the drinking, good judgement on what you could handle. :D

  62. Althea

    Another one…

    I was interning, and the previous intern was in charge of turning over the intern email account to me. She deleted a bunch of stuff first, though. Only, she wasn’t any good with that sort of thing, and she only moved everything into the trash without emptying the trash. And she didn’t even remember to delete the “sent” emails. I then read everything she tried to delete in a delightful and unprofessional snoopery.

    She had been emailing with another intern about how “creepy” our manager was. How he was always trying to butt in on their lunches. Inviting them into his cube for no reason. Being critical of their clothes (“Why is he even looking at my clothes!!”). They thought about complaining that he was harassing them.

    I was fascinated, and wondered about his behavior. But as time went on, I noticed no issues. No creep vibe. Turns out, from what I could tell, the manager was 100% legit. The team had a strong culture of eating together, and he was trying to get the interns to eat with the team. Inviting into his cube was for periodic check-ins to see if they had enough work and understood how to do it. He was critical of their clothes because, despite casual dress code, the interns were taking it too far and doing things like wearing flip-flops. He was honestly a really awesome manager and would take time to explain to me why he made certain decisions or how to improve what I was doing.

    I learned a lot about how much perspective matters from my snooping, though. 10/10 would do again.

    1. cardiganed librarian

      I’ve got a worse one. When he forgot to log out of his email on the shared computer, I just plain old snooped in the private email of a co-worker who had been hired into a position I would have liked to have been offered (full-time hours when I was working part-time). Turns out his father was friends of the big director, and our manager had presumably been told to hire him. That gave me some insight into how things functioned there, and I felt even less regret when I quit a few weeks later. Still shouldn’t have read his email, though.

    2. Meg Murry

      I’ve snooped through files on the shared drive, since people put files there that were personal, even though they knew they were all visible to everyone. Maybe not professional, but neither is filing personal items on the corporate shared drive.
      I once found the offer letter one of my co-workers got from a competitor after he had left (including the salary amount), and his resignation letter. I’m not proud of it, but it gave me ammo if I needed it to negotiate my next raise – although I didn’t actually use it, since my next raise was more than fair (probably to keep me from following him to the competitor, they were actively poaching from my company at the time).

  63. INTP

    When I as an intern, the HR people responsible for orienting us and organizing events and all that jazz constantly bragged about how much the company values its perks like yoga classes, Spanish classes, all of the onsite “work life balance” stuff that they use to make sure you never have a reason to go home. At the time, I didn’t know that those HR people were basically responsible for marketing the company as a workplace – I wasn’t technical but it was a tech company and those love to coddle their engineering interns. So I would freely sign up for those classes or skip off to a lecture or presentation without asking my bosses if it was okay. I would just tell them I was going to be at an event today from 2-3 or from now on I’m going to have 2 hour lunches on Mondays and Wednesdays for Spanish class or hey, I’m going to yoga this afternoon. I thought this was GOOD because look, I was showing interest in all of these things that the company really values! I’m such a great fit for the culture! (I did get rehired there for 4 internships but I didn’t get a FT job – they weren’t exactly handing out functional entry-level jobs in 2010.)

    1. INTP

      Also, this is why I love that AAM recommends that people openly and bluntly coach interns instead of just faulting them for not having an innate sense of professionalism. Their unprofessional behavior is likely from innocent ignorance and possibly even from the influence of someone within the company, i.e. the internship coordinators, and not being savvy enough to figure out real expectations versus when they’re being marketed at.

  64. Sabrina

    I was sitting in an all-employee town hall type meeting. Luckily it wasn’t EVERYONE at the company or even our location, it was one of four or five sessions, but still, there was a couple of hundred people there. Anyway, this particular meeting was about company updates and growth, revenue, etc. There was a Power Point showing how our revenue, earnings, and stock price were all up up up! The exec giving the presentation says “OK but what numbers AREN’T going up?” I said “Raises” and apparently I said it a little louder than I had intended because every head in that room whipped around to look at me. I think I turned about 3 shades of red. My coworker was sitting next to me and could barely contain her laughter. Luckily the exec chose to ignore it and moved on. Once he did the gal that was sitting in front of me turned around and whispered, “Don’t worry about it, we’re all thinking the same thing.”

    1. C Average

      This reminds me of the time I was working as an adviser for my alma mater and got sent on a recruiting trip with a bunch of recent-ish graduates. Part of the PowerPoint we presented was a slide noting that college graduates typically earn $28,000 per year more than non-college graduates. I observed to a colleague, a little too loudly, “Yeah, we’d all just like to get to $28,000 per year!”

      1. Anon for this one

        I worked for my alma mater, too. One day we were called into a big meeting they’d been touting for days for a mystery kickoff event. I’m sitting in the back next to someone else I’d known in school who was working in another department that dealt with alumni.

        The vice president stands up to announce that they’re going to print a new magazine and send it to every alumnus to blah, blah, blah — any questions? I raise my hand and say I’m a volunteer fundraiser with my alumni class and people in the class are always complaining about the waste of paper from multiple mailings and we’ve been getting bad feedback about that, so won’t this magazine just offend young alumni? I get some bs answer and things proceed. I poke the acquaintance next to me and try to get him to speak up, and he just stiffens up and ignores me.

        I get back to the office and get reamed out by my supervisor because the head of the department is furious that during the big celebratory reveal I essentially pointed out the emperor had no clothes (and embarrassed the department head, who apparently should have prepared us all to cheer things on — which he might have done, but I’m not sure I would have picked up on those nuances). They told me that I was never to say anything like that again or I would be fired, and I went home and raged to my spouse about the First Amendment. Sigh. That was years before the Internet, let alone Ask a Manager. Was their threat legal? Heck, yes.

        And yes, the publication did in fact not do what it was supposed to (cost a moderate amount of money to raise heaps more money and supplant the independently published alumni mags that people already received) and was discontinued. Unfortunately I was right and it was a boondoggle, but I had no clue — none at all — that that was not the venue to raise such questions. Growing up in a farming community isn’t good preparation for corporate or academic culture.

  65. Receptionist Without A Cause

    This is sort of a collaborative effort of unprofessionalism, but I think it counts. (Please note this is kind of an average day here so we’ve all got a real good sense of each other’s boundaries.)

    Our IT guy is all over the place and occasionally leaves stuff behind him like a breadcrumb trail; soda cans, candy bars, notebooks, etc. Usually I and the other folks here will call out if we find something but otherwise leave it alone. I work at the front desk and the IT guy uses my (older) computer for stuff that doesn’t work in newer operating systems so his abandoned stuff tends to show up on my desk.

    This particular time he had an open PayDay bar sitting on a napkin while he was doing something. It got to be something of a joke as people walked by and spotted the candy bar to try and claim it was theirs. Someone suggested licking it so he wouldn’t want it back. Then someone else looked right at him and said “Oh yeah, I’ll lick your nuts” with a comedic eye-brow waggle. That set off an explosion of ‘nut’ related jokes, which I mostly sat out until the IT guy was done with what he was using my computer to do. As he started to wander off, I stopped him and pointed to the PayDay bar he’d started to leave behind and said with a perfectly straight face, “Get your nuts off my desk.”

  66. BritCred

    Many “un professional clothes” oversights but the one that got me in to trouble was actually wearing beige trousers and shirt in a law office… I wasn’t comfortable in skirts and really didn’t look much different to anyone else in my eyes at the time.

    And one from a co-worker: Pulled down her top to *prove* that she did indeed get sunburn over the weekend…

      1. C Average

        I’m taking this to mean skin-colored, i.e., at first glance it looked like she wasn’t wearing clothes.

        1. Stephanie

          Back in high school color guard, our uniforms for the marching show one year involved gold bodysuits (yeah, you can imagine how those made a bunch of teenage girls feel). We also had to strip down to these between songs. Those in combination with the stadium lights (because Texas high school football stadiums rival some college stadiums) resulted in all of us looking naked. Watching the film later, it looked a bunch of marching band folks surrounded by naked girls running around tossing flags. Didn’t help that the gold started to fade as the season went on…

    1. Fran

      First job. Had a wicked sunburn (all over, but especially on top). Wore a halter top to work – covered the front but there was NOTHING on the back, and um I really needed a bra.

      1. Alli525

        I got a really nasty 2nd-degree sunburn a couple summers ago, so I just wore really loose clothes to work over one of those “shelf” tank tops that has a “bra” (not really) built in. No one said anything and I still managed to look relatively professional in a business-casual office, but still.

    2. april ludgate

      When I was working retail as a teenager (in a store that was about 80% staffed by teenagers) one girl had a massive crush on a guy I had been friends with for years. One day, I was in a stock room with the two of them and she pulled the top of her underwear out of her pants and made him feel how soft it was. He turned bright red, but felt it anyway and it was massively awkward.

  67. Snowglobe

    When I was in high school, I worked in a small florist shop, and often I was the only employee there. There weren’t many walk in customers, and I often got very very bored (this was long before computers or phones to keep one occupied). One day it was raining outside and there hadn’t been a single customer all afternoon. I was wandering around the store, down to the basement and back trying to find something to do, and noticed the lock on the basement door. For some reason I decided I would teach myself to pick the lock (I had been watching a lot of Remington Steele around that time.) I grabbed some paper clips, went into the stairwell and closed the door. I soon realized that (1) I had locked myself in and (2) it’s a lot harder to pick a lock than it seems on TV. I was there about an hour before I heard the jangling of the bell over the door. I knocked repeatedly on the door until the confused customer finally opened the door to let me out.

  68. Stargazer

    In my early 20s at my first full-time office job, I used to send out these really long, detailed emails to anyone and everyone working on a website project with me. I thought I was doing everyone a favor by being so detailed and providing so much information. Finally, my supervisor told me to “stop sending out those novels!” Since then I’ve read plenty about how short and sweet bullet points are the way to go and I cringe when I think back.

    1. me too

      I’m guilty of this too. I cringe when I find old “novels” I’ve written for others in email searches. I thought it was so helpful at the time, but I must have looked utterly insane.

  69. squids

    In university I worked circulation at one of the campus libraries. I often was put on closing shifts, 9-midnight or so, where there would be just two student workers responsible for the whole place. One guy I regularly had shifts with would show up drunk, or step out back to get high, so basically it’d be just me handling everything. So that was unprofessional of him, but I was tired of it and would stand at the counter complaining about the situation to the patrons. “Oh yeah, it’s just me here tonight, X is upstairs having a nap in one of the study rooms for whatever reason…” Think I hoped it would get back around, so I wouldn’t actually have to address the situation with my supervisor.

    1. Adam

      Slacking off in student library jobs was an art form. If you ever thought you were about to be discovered all you had to do was grab a random book and pretend you’d randomly discovered something incredibly fascinating. This is easy to do in a university library because you frequently DO stumble across the most interesting books just by wandering around and grabbing random titles.

      1. the gold digger

        Slightly related: a co-worker in the EU office was observing how picking worked at a book distribution center in northern Europe. The customer (the DC) was trying to figure out why their productivity was so low.

        My co-worker observed that every time an employee picked a book for shipping, instead of tossing it into the bin and moving onto the next item on the picklist, she would open the book and scan through it and then read the inside jacket and the back cover.

        I would totally be that slow picker! I would probably be fired after about two days. (Except apparently, where this place is, you are not allowed to calculate employee productivity stats and use them for comparison to goals? Anyone in the EU, please jump in if I am wrong.)

        1. Anastasia Beaverhausen

          It wouldn’t be an EU-wide law because most employment law is country-specific. Where I live you can absolutely fire people for not meeting their goals. I can’t think of an EU country where this isn’t possible – I’m wondering if this was more a company thing than a law?

        2. Fleur

          Could be Germany, you might need to get the Worker’s Council to agree performance measures like that. They don’t usually agree…

  70. cuppa

    In my first professional job, I had an afternoon where I really needed to talk to my manager to give her a heads up on something. I don’t remember why I could not e-mail her or leave her a voice mail, but for whatever reason I decided I shouldn’t do that. She wasn’t in her office, so I proceeded to call her every five minutes until she picked up the phone (literally, I watched the clock and called her every five minutes). It never occurred to me until later that she might be in her office and not able to talk but still have her phone ring every five minutes, or that she would return to her office and see 30 missed calls (I don’t remember if we had caller ID at the time or not, but it is a definite posibility). Cringe.

    1. Bekx

      This isn’t work related but when I was little I did this. I called a friend’s house 27 times one Saturday to see if she could come over and play. I left one voice mail, and then just kept calling every so often. My family didn’t have caller ID, but theirs did. The dad finally picked up the phone and yelled at me for calling so much saying that if I called ever again he’d report me to the police. I was 8. :(

    2. GigglyPuff

      I actually ended up doing that to a friend recently. I had just gotten a job and wanted to tell her, and she did freelance stuff, so I didn’t think about trying to contact her in the middle of the day. When she didn’t answer after about 20 mins, I texted something like “pick up the phone b!^@#!!!!” when I eventually talked to her a few mins later, she told me, she’d been in a meeting with a web design client, and of course you can now see what a text message says on your screen when you get it, her’s had been sitting on the table…oops

  71. HQ

    I know this is bad, passive-aggressive, and is something that Angela on The Office would do, but…

    At my old workplace, staff members would bring in desserts and leave them in the staff break room, which was right across from my cubicle. By desserts, I don’t mean the delicious cakes and cookies made especially for us by a caring staff member–I mean leftover unwanted Wal-Mart donuts or “crème cakes” that had been purchased stale, frozen for months, then defrosted and deposited in the break room where it would sit there and molder.

    The practice always irritated me–why would you serve food to other people that you feel is unfit for your own family to eat? If you’re going to bring treats, bring something good! But some people actually ate it, so I didn’t do anything about it.

    Until I received the email from the benefits office that our insurance rates were going up about $75/month, due to the high number of claims. I went into the break room and threw out every last piece of stale crap I could find. And every time that someone brought something in that was obviously store-bought and had an long overdue expiration date, I waited until they left and then I threw that out too. I made sure to leave them on top of the garbage for everyone to see, in the hopes that the other people who liked to bring in stale stuff would get the message.

    I never got caught. It was wrong, but I’d probably do it again.

    1. CupcakesAbound

      This reminds me of a woman I used to work with at my first job – she would often bring in these exact types of goodies (i.e. expired, thawed out) for our staff. I never ate them (i’m a dessert snob and careful how I want to spend my calories) but it used to drive me crazy. I never had the guts to throw any of it away though.

        1. little class act

          Ha! My manager gave me chocolate from Christmas waaaay in deep summer. I was new too so it was all kinds of “um, am I being hazed?”

    2. Receptionist Without A Cause

      I’m guilty of using my coworkers to get rid of baked goods, but usually it’s homemade stuff that I know I can’t finish on my own. Definitely nothing expired.

      1. Receptionist Without A Cause

        …on the other hand, I’m not a great baker. So that could be considered worse.

    3. WolfmansBrother

      Someone here brought in a beautiful plate of homemade peanut butter cookies. They were still fresh from the oven. We were standing around in the breakroom enjoying them when she mentioned in passing that she decided to make the big batch of cookies because she realized the peanut butter had expired!

      1. Stephanie

        How long did she have that peanut butter? I thought that stuff was good for a loooong time, unless it was the natural kind where the oil separates.

  72. Kelly L.

    I posted my serious one in the last thread, so a lighter one:

    A friend and I, some years back, were over at her place one Saturday, and planning to go to a movie. We’d ordered tickets online and wanted to print our confirmation. Except her printer wasn’t working, and I didn’t have one at my place. We’re running through all the places we can think of to print something–library? Kinko’s? Office Depot?–and it dawns on me that I know of a place that’s closer than all of these…”My office!”

    So I let us into my office and go to town printing the tickets. And then one of my bosses came in while my girlfriend and I were busy printing. I was very sheepish, but explained what was going on, and she was fine with it. Whew!

  73. Ann O'Nemity

    In high school, I had a horrible outbound telemarketing job. One day I went to lunch and never came back. Ever.

    1. Kelly L.

      Outbound telemarketing is the one thing I ever just noped out of, too. I technically gave notice, but I worked maybe half my notice and then quit showing up.

      1. Receptionist Without A Cause

        That’s actually really common in call centers. They ask so much of their employees in terms of stress and dignity that I don’t think any of the managers there are terribly surprised when an employee nopes on out the door.

    2. Tax Nerd

      I lasted about 45 minutes at an outbound telemarketing job before putting the phone down, grabbing my stuff, and walking out while saying “I just can’t do this” to no one in particular.

  74. Sadsack

    Was it considered unprofessional to have a large photo of Chris Farley in a pink tutu hanging above my desk?

    1. Sadsack

      By large photo, I mean a page ripped out of Rolling Stone magazine. This was about 20 years ago.

  75. Evil Roomate

    I don’t know if this counts as unprofessional, since it was in school, but here is the worse thing I have ever done in a professional setting.

    In college I had the worse roommate. She would keep me up all hours of the night by leaving the lights on, then come in at noon and demand I “turn off the lights so she could nap.” She also once soaked my coffee pot with perfume/hair spray because she “didn’t like the smell” … the list continues.

    Well just before I was to move out of room to live with someone else, she happened to storm out in one of her rages and left her biology project open ….

    I went into the powerpoint and added a title slide that said “I have hidden the word “cum” three places in this document. Good luck.”

    The really evil thing is I then only hid the word cum in two places not three ….

      1. Evil Roomate

        Ah but you see, the real punishment was that she searched and searched for that 3rd “cum” that she knew was there but just could’t find ….

        1. Dynamic Beige

          You could have put it in white text in a white area… on the Master. Oh, the printouts…

          But your way is awesome… unless she knew about the Find command (which is what I would have done and would have found them all in about a minute)

  76. Loli

    When I first moved into an office, I was teased by my office mates because I kept forgetting to lock my computer when I walked away. They said they would send an email from my computer to the President of the University, “Dear Dr BlahBlah, You are so cute!” One of them brought a picture of the President and put it on the wall to remind me. After a while, we added a couple of more pictures. One day, a new colleague noticed the pictures and we realized we should disguise our ‘not so private’ joke so we hung a poster over it. Over the next year, many other people contributed to our wall, each one bringing a different picture of our President. We must have had about 30 pics. One colleague brought in candles to set the mood for the shrine we had created. It was actually a fun distraction from a very stressful job. I eventually took all the pictures down when each of my office mates moved to other spaces. It would have been hard to explain the shrine; I am glad I never had to.

    1. quix

      For awhile I was a ninja like that when co-workers didn’t lock their machines. A couple favorites:

      To our mutual manager: “I love tacos. I love tacos so much that I wish I was a taco. Some days I fill a blanket with ground beef, jump inside, and pretend I am a taco.”

      Edited the office supply request list about to be sent to our manager with items like “34 pounds of aluminum siding, extra strength athlete’s foot anti-fungal cream, red candles, 15 inch dagger, 1 goat” intermixed among the normal entries.

      Our manager thought it was hilarious, but I stopped after he forwarded the purchase request up the chain to his boss without reading it, and got a weird phone-call back.

    2. little Cindy Lou who

      Oh my first job, if you left your computer unlocked when you stepped away, that was free license for your team to do anything from resetting your IM status to changing your screen saver or home page, etc

  77. 42

    About 20 years ago I worked in health care as a clinician. Our division had a VP that was also pretty friendly with my boss, so he’d sometimes hang around in our staff room waiting for my boss to meet him for whatever.

    One time I walked into our staff room, and the VP was the only one there. He said “Hi 42, how are you today?”, and trying to strike the same casual/friendly tone as he used, and–follow me here–trying to make wordplay on the title “Your Highness”, I replied “I’m good. How’s your VPness today?”

    Take a moment to let it sink in.

    1. Meg Murry

      I didn’t get it at first, then I read it to myself by muttering it under my breath. Actually laughing out loud now!

      1. limenotapple

        I was just as clueless!

        It was the 90s and my first job out of college. I don’t even think all of them were old enough to get one without parental consent.

  78. CupcakesAbound

    Somewhat related to the bathing suit cover-up story…

    In my first professional job (marketing company), we had a more casual dress code. I would often wear old t-shirts from my college, ratty jeans, and flip flops. One day I was talking to a good friend (who worked in an office that required more formal dress) about appropriate work clothing. I told her what I wore that day (a really ratty long-sleeved t-shirt with my college’s name on it that I used to wear to class. Did I mention that sleeves had HOLES in them?) and she was horrified. She actually sent me a gift card to a big department store and said “I know you’re broke but please buy some more professional clothes to wear to work – you will never been treated seriously until you start dressing like a professional. Dress for the job you want, not the one you have.”

    It worked – I got promoted twice during my time at the company.

    1. AVP

      We had a receptionist once wear a giant t-shirt with Notorious BIG’s face on it that went down to her knees. It covered up her shorts, making it look like she was naked underneath the t-shirt. On a normal day that would be inappropriate but recoverable….except we had surprise clients that day, and she greeted them like that, and we heard them laughing about her later.

      1. Cruella DaBoss

        Really, doesn’t everyone agree that “Dressing For An Office Environment” should be offered somewhere in everyone’s core curriculum?

        1. Laurs

          I couldn’t agree more. Somewhere in what we call PSHE over here (personal, social, health ed) there should be a term of how to behave and dress in work – it would stop the baffling practice of hotpants with tights as office wear (I hope)

  79. INTP

    I worked at the Cheesecake factory for about 6 weeks in college. I was a horrible hostess and absolutely miserable. I didn’t need the money, it was a misguided effort at asserting my independence to my parents who had forbidden me from getting a job.

    Because it was so insanely stressful (to me, due to my inability to handle people berating me from every direction – customers, servers, etc), I had a really hard time getting to work on time. But if we tried to clock in late, we’d have to get a manager to punch in a code to make sure we were “caught.” I’d clock in on time and then sneak off to the bathroom to do my makeup before starting. If someone accused me of being late I’d just say “I clocked in on time, you can check.”

    Hostesses also had to do bathroom checks – sweep up the trash on the floor, wipe down the counters and mirrors, make sure the toilet paper was stocked, etc. I hated being out on the floor so much that I would hog all the bathroom checks and run in there every 15 minutes, taking my sweet time. Yes, I’d rather be cleaning a bathroom than dealing with customers and servers.

    Because I was far more concerned about school than work, if I had procrastinated too much and needed to finish a paper or something, I would freely call in sick. When they pressured me to come in anyways, I’d say “I really can’t, I’m throwing up.”

    I wound up having to move out of my apartment unexpectedly early due to when my parents could help me so on my last day I just told a manager, “By the way, this is my last day.” They didn’t argue with me, I don’t think they were sad to lose me.

    In my defense, the managers weren’t much more professional. They did not communicate with each other whatsoever and from what I could tell made the schedule without any regard to the times we had written down as being unavailable (most were college students) so every week you were expected to call and get all your shifts rearranged. You were of course not paid for the time you spent calling 15 coworkers. So eventually I stopped and would just tell some manager that I couldn’t show up for certain shifts. I got a bunch of angry voicemails during a final one time because I had told a manager I wasn’t going to make that shift because I had a final I’d already told them about and he of course had not informed the manager on duty during the shift I missed.

  80. HRC in NJ

    During an interview, I 1) had to leave halfway through in order to feed the parking meter because I was too stupid to park in a paid lot, and 2) when asked what salary I wanted, I named a figure, and said “more is fine, too.” DUH

    1. Case of the Mondays

      (1) that is when you just pray you don’t get a ticket and pay it if you do. At least where I live, a parking ticket isn’t more than $20. Sometimes it is not worth the hassle to find the paid lot. I’m sure there are many cities where a ticket would be cost prohibitive so I recognize my experience is not universal.

      1. Melly

        Ha, in LA parking tickets are $63 and sometimes a lot more. Sigh. But yeah, I’d just risk getting the ticket in that case. I have so many of those parking ticket stories.

  81. Mockingjay

    We were developing a new SharePoint site structure with tabs – one for each team on our program. The program had purchased some add-on on software so we could do some cool customization. Among other things, we color-coded each tab for each team – easy visual reference. Blue, green, etc.

    Showed the changes to the boss; he was skeptical about some of the colors. So I changed his tab to peachy pink. It took him a month to figure out how to change it back.

    By the way, the program supported the Marines.

  82. HeyNonnyNonny

    I had to open the coffee shop…the day after St. Patricks.

    I ended up dashing straight from the couch I had crashed on (nope, didn’t even make it home) to work a few hours late, wearing the same clothes and likely smelling like booze. Thank god only a few early risers noticed!

  83. Episkey

    After a particularly hurtful experience at work with co-workers (I was young and now have learned to not get too invested/feel personally offended), I posted on my Facebook this awesomely mature status: “Work ‘friends’ aren’t real life friends; it’s always good to be reminded of that sometimes.”

    I had many co-workers as FB friends and they all saw this status. I still cringe.

    1. C Average

      Many regulars here will recognize this story.

      I do not click with my manager, and for her first year here she tried relentlessly to foist on me a friendship I increasingly didn’t want. Part of this campaign included sending me a Facebook friend request and asking me regularly why I hadn’t accepted it, so I finally did.

      As time went on, tensions between my manager and me grew. Meanwhile, she became increasingly good friends with my peer, and I was bombarded daily with status updates about their camping trips and nights out and road trips and daily jog together and matchy-matchy Halloween costumes.

      I knew I couldn’t defriend them without it getting noticed, so I decided to create a Facebook group for them so I could hide my statuses from them and hide their activity from my feed. I labeled the group “Friends I don’t actually like,” and they were two of the three people in it.

      PSA: Facebook groups are externally visible.

      So much awkwardness ensued.

      (I’m leaving this job in two weeks and I hope to never see either one of them again in any capacity, but we’ve managed to salvage a surprisingly cordial work relationship over the past year.)

      1. Al Lo

        That’s still one of my favorite stories, C Average. Groups =/= filters. My equivalent was, back in the day of MSN messenger, talking both to and about an ex-boyfriend, and sending the message that was supposed to be about him, to a friend, to him, and then frantically wishing I could delete!

      2. knitcrazybooknut

        This story told me that the group I created for some of my family members (“Suspicious”) was visible to them.

        Your PSA was too late. I did recently change it to “S”, so there’s that.

    2. nonegiven

      A young relative posted that being unfriended on Facebook was like the trash taking itself out.

  84. Sunflower

    I interned in college at a cafe on campus as a student manager. My boss reminded me many times that even though I was the same age as the students, I was their boss and had to act like it.

    Yeah right. I was in the middle of a very tumultuous, anxiety ridden relationship with a guy and decided to use the employees for therapy. I think there were 50 students that worked there and every single one knew every update about the relationship. The guy was a bartender and I used to ask employees to basically spy on him if they were at the bar and report if he was talking to any girls. I also apparently talked a lot about how much I loved going out. So much so that I was the only employee who’s name ended up on a scavenger hunt/quiz at the Christmas party with ‘What bar does Sunflower go to every day’. My boss asked me to stop talking so much and keep the volume down at least 3 times a week(this was a 40 hours/5 days a week internship).

    My boss was the great and used to managing college kids so she didn’t expect much professionalism from us but I sometimes wonder how she is able to give me a good reference.

  85. Sadsack

    Not sure if this is unprofessional or just scatterbrained. Many years ago working in a retail store, I dressed for work in the morning, but then decided to change my sweater at the last minute. Half way through the day, after having helped some customers, I realized that I had on a very open knit sweater, but forgot to put on a cami first because I was rushing by then. I wore a navy blue bra with a gaping-hole knit off-white sweater to work that day. I actually gasped when I realized it and literally ran home to put something else on.

    1. Sadsack

      Ha, I keep remembering stuff. This one was always a nice surprise…it happened on more than one occasion when I was much younger that I would be at work and dig for something in my purse, ending up pulling a bra out of it. If I’d gone out the night before and crashed at a friend’s house, chances were that I’d shove my bra in my purse at night and forget about it the next morning.

      1. Kelly L.

        Never pulled a bra out, but I’ve definitely had a massive tampon tsunami fall out of my bag.

        1. GigglyPuff

          I once said “gynecologist” instead of “dermatologist” when talking about having something removed, no idea if anyone noticed, but do know, nobody commented on it

    2. Kelly L.

      Oh, that reminds me, the strangest thing I ever ended up wearing at work. I’d been wearing a peasant blouse and a tiered skirt (worked with artists at a college). And then at lunch I spilled so.much.pasta on said peasant blouse. College bookstore to the rescue! I ended up wearing a heather-gray school shirt with my tiered skirt for the rest of the day.

      1. Stephanie

        Oh, that was my best friend’s outfit of choice in college: free t-shirt or school hoodie, Anthropologie skirt, and flip-flops. I wasn’t much better (swap out gym shorts or jeans for the Anthrpologie skirts) until senior year. We’ve both gotten way better since then.

  86. spek

    In my 20’s I interviewed and accepted an offer for a new job. When I gave 2-weeks notice to the old employer, they countered with a promotion and a raise, which I accepted. I didn’t have the guts to tell the new employer I wasn’t coming and waited until the day before I was to start at the new company before I called to tell them I was not accepting the job…

  87. Anon for today

    Oh my goodness! These stories reminded me of another one of mine, so I have two.

    When I was in college, I wanted to work part-time, so I signed up with a temp agency. They placed me at a beer importer/distributor. It was a very small office – just the owner and me. Everything went really well at first, but then I injured my foot, and I couldn’t wear a shoe, so instead of wearing a slipper on that foot or finding something else appropriate, I went to work barefoot. I had vacation time planned right after that, and when I came back, the agency said the client didn’t need me anymore. I am still so embarrassed that I thought that was OK.

    My first job was at a law firm during the summers after high school and while I was in college. One weekend I got really sunburned, and I couldn’t wear a bra, so I wore a strapless dress with a cropped, open jacket over it. I thought it was fine (because since the dress was strapless, it meant that it was OK to not wear a bra, right?), but two of my (female) co-workers said that I really needed to wear a bra to work. I appreciate that they told me at the end of the day.

    I’m so glad the people I worked with at that job were so understanding because they could have just laughed at me (or fired me), and they didn’t. They helped me learn what is appropriate, and they were gentle about it.

    1. lowercase holly

      i forgot to put a bra on once because sometimes mornings are tough. i noticed about halfway through the day. hopefully no one else noticed… it was winter to i had on a sweater that i immediately buttoned up to assist with coverage.

      1. Cookandbottlewasher

        I’m on a work trip to a major annual conference for my industry. The morning after the conference dinner, the phone rang with my wake up call at six thirty am, about two and a half hours after I’d gone to bed. The fire alarm bell was ringing too, which seemed a bit over the top. I spent five minutes stumbling around the room hitting switches and muttering “This is ridiculous, how the *&$% do I turn this off?” before it dawned on me that, just perhaps, this might actually *be* a fire alarm. I dragged a coat on over the T-shirt I was sleeping in and went out into the corridor to see if the bell was ringing there, too. The door swung shut behind me and, as a security measure, locked itself.

        I ended up spending half an hour standing in the car park waiting for the fire brigade to respond, surrounded by all the other people at the conference, and hideously aware that I was pretty much naked under the coat. That was bad. Worse, I was barefoot. In Oslo. In March.

  88. Kai

    Oh! I while ago our director asked me for some suggestions for what he could title a presentation he was going to be giving. I was in a silly mood, so I sent him a bunch of titles along the lines of “Project Management Systems: So Easy You’ll Wish You Thought of Them First.” He did not get back to me. I don’t know what exactly I was thinking.

  89. KayDee

    Just yesterday I slept through my alarm and was therefore very late for work. Of course my performance review was scheduled first thing in the morning and it had to be rescheduled. I work in HR. We are supposed to set a good example for these things.

  90. The Toxic Avenger

    When I was in my mid-20’s I worked at a large bank. A bunch of us were sent to California to assist another bank with a big merger. After work, everyone would go out and party like rock stars. One night, I got wrecked. Like, ‘faced. I was sitting across from one of the bank VP-s, and he was telling some off-color joke while I was taking a huge swig of beer. He tells the punch line and I snorted laughter and spit beer all over him. Uh, yeah. We were all so drunk that I don’t think he cared, but holy jeez. The next day, I got an e-mail from my boss in Seattle who said, “I heard that VP was telling inappropriate jokes last night. This makes me very concerned.” I was thinking, “What??? I SPIT BEER ON HIM. Did nobody rat me out for that, or other drunken boorish behavior??” Man.

  91. Kady

    I grew up with adults interrogating me instead of having conversations with me. When I started working, I still had the mindset of me=child, everyone else=adults. So whenever anyone asked me anything I would give short and quick answers. Now I feel terrible for being so abrupt – most people were trying to get to know me better!

  92. Kay

    A few years ago I decided it was a good idea to flirt with coworkers. What could possibly go wrong? So there was a contractor temporarily working at my company. I flirted, he responded, and then I found out he was 48 and a new grandpa (he did not look his age)! I was 28, never been married and childless. I tried to ignore him at this point but he would keep finding me and walking back and forth past me to try and get my attention. The embarrassment hit an all time high when other coworkers started mentioning how this guy was always coming around me. That was the last time I ever flirted with a coworker.

  93. RidingNerdy

    I was in my first professional role but I was still partying like a college kid every night. I was constantly hungover at work, but managed to perform pretty highly. After one night of more-tequila-shots-than-normal, I arrived at work and my (highly religious) office mate commented that I must have had a fun night. I grunted some response and got to work. About an hour later, I blurted out, “I’m going to be sick!” She ran from our office, and I proceeded to be sick in my trashcan.

    Fun times. I cannot even imagine doing that now, almost 15 years later.

  94. Anon369

    As a young teenager, I used to deliver a community newspaper, getting paid pennies per paper, which I had to roll up, bag or rubberband, and deliver to their driveways by Wednesday every week. Many weeks, I’d finally get them all ready and delivered by Sunday night, so the recipients would call the newspaper to ask where they were.

  95. WLS

    Ooooh my gosh. I have shamefully left TWO jobs in terrible, terrible fashion. In both cases I was justified in leaving, but completely and utterly unprofessional in the way that I left. And ruined a reference I really could have used from my Manager from Job #1.

    Job #1 was my first “real” full-time gig out of college while I was in grad school at night, and I had a great manager, great benefits and starting salary at a company that was growing at an astronomical pace. My responsibilities also grew at the same pace, but not my title. I was tasked with reconciling a rather huge mess of a project and got zero respect or cooperation from those above me who I needed to collaborate with in order to do this. While I got zero cooperation, I still got tons of pressure to do the impossible and it became too much with school. I wrote a gracious email to my manager and his boss and put in my two weeks. Two days before my last day, I found out through someone accidentally CC’ing me on an email that after my departure, they planned to just “wipe clean” the whole project and start from a clean slate — the very project that had tortured me so much I was quitting over it!! In my anger I pounded out a resentful final parting email that I truly regret to this day. My cheeks burn just thinking about it. Had I handled it differently and kept in touch, or been mature enough to raise my concerns and issues with the project with my boss’ boss like an adult, my life might be a LOT different today.

    Awful departure #2 was a small nighttime part-time gig while still in grad school — I found out my boss was leaving me alone at night with a convicted sex offender (this is not hearsay, it is a fact, it is public record), who had been walking me to my car in a dark parking garage every night for WEEKS! She was well aware of it, and she was trying to be charitable in giving this man a job, but endangering me in the process without making me aware was absolutely unacceptable. She was not around when I was there since I worked nights, so I wrote her a note explaining why I was quitting and left it for her to find in the morning. She called me to discuss but I was so blindingly angry I never called her back… I don’t regret quitting, but I should have had the decency to wait until the morning and call her and explain why I never planned on stepping foot back on the property.

    1. The Toxic Avenger

      Wow!! I don’t blame you for being super pissed at both of those. I feel for you about #1 – it was your first job out of college after all – and #2 just blows my wheels. I don’t blame you for handling that one the way you did!

    2. Artemesia

      In the second case, you shouldn’t have waited to ‘talk with her’, you should have reported it all the way to the CEO and raised as much hell about it as possible. That is one of the most grotesque stories I have read. This is beyond outrageous.

    3. Stone Satellite

      Quick PSA: Please keep in mind that not all “sex offenders” commit the sorts of crimes that people think of when they hear those words. There are jurisdictions where peeing in a parking lot at night (public indecency) will get you labeled as a sex offender, and of course there are plenty of sex offenders who were 18 having sex with their 17-year-old girl-/boyfriend. Unless you know the actual crime a person committed, “sex offender” is often a pretty worthless label that doesn’t tell you anything useful.

  96. Kimmy

    Gold Medal: I quit a job without giving a notice because I was distraught over a breakup with a coworker (I was a very immature 20-something-yr-old.) That was bad enough, but I refused to face them to pick up my box of personal items and sent my mom in instead. She’s a bit pathetic and decided she couldn’t carry four pounds, so the HR assistant had to carry it out to the car, where of course I was sitting.

    Silver Medal: The office had a Christmas party at a very posh restaurant I could never afford to go to on my own. One year I was seated next to the owner’s assistant, an extremely dignified older woman who essentially called all the shots. Undeterred, I proceeded to wolf down an alarming amount of food (it was divine) and then brought THREE desserts back from the buffet. I will never forget her face when she saw that dessert plate. I ate it all, too.

    Bronze Medal: At one office job, I’d wear sandals in the summer that were cute but not very comfortable. The copier was in the next room and I’d walk around barefoot from my desk to the copier all afternoon. It was a relaxed place, and no one said anything, but looking back, there were some uncomfortable silences when other employees were in the workroom.

    1. TCO

      Ha, I occasionally do the barefoot-in-the-office thing, but usually only at my desk. Last week, however, I walked barefoot down to the printer (a short distance) since it was after 5:30 and the place was quiet. Our executive director was also at the printer, however… but also barefoot. We both found it funny.

      1. little Cindy Lou who

        I’ve walked barefoot into my manager’s office. I joke that it smells better than my stinky commuter sneakers (sadly true; step through enough puddles and those things are *gross*).

      1. Sadsack

        Sorry, but the first one really does take the gold! I am just imagining the horror come over poor Kimmy as her mother and the HR person approach the car…no where to hide. So funny.

    2. Ellie H.

      I might have done this before too (barefoot at work). I hate, hate, hate, HATE closed toed shoes, I have a terrible time regulating my body temperature and no matter how freezing I am, my feet get too hot indoors (except, mysteriously, in the privacy of my own home) and so I take my shoes off whenever possible. I also used to keep ballet slippers (real ballet slippers not “ballet flats”) under my desk and change into them to wear at work in the winter. This was regular office type job. If I had a meeting or something I’d put my real shoes on but among the people just in my office I’d wear the ballet slippers. If there wasn’t some kind of event in the building where there would be a lot of people around, I would wear them to walk downstairs to the bathroom, to walk across the hall to use the sink, etc. This was also only 2 years ago, age 25.

      1. Melly

        I definitely have a few pairs of heels hanging out under my desk so I can wear flats running around

      2. ThursdaysGeek

        I hate to have my feet get too hot too, and often in the summers I have worn moccasins to work. I wear them out, and the place they wear out first is in the soles. So I’ve often gone to work essentially barefoot (with 2 large holes in the bottoms of each), but it looks like I am wearing footwear. Not very professional footwear.

    3. WLS

      I don’t find any shame at all in #2! If others want to deprive themselves of delicious free food that’s fine — I would totally indulge as well.

    4. AT

      *snickers at all*

      And I have a friend who did Silver Medal once at a workplace Christmas dinner – only, quite possibly worse, if it makes you feel any better! Said she ate so much she almost couldn’t move afterwards, and then afterwards, she and a couple of others had put their hands up beforehand to take some chairs back to the office but she just kind of waddled backwards and forwards, half in a food-coma, with her trousers unbuttoned and shirt riding up. I don’t know if alcohol, exaggeration, both or neither were a factor in that tale!

    5. Lee

      Husband used to work in an office which often had lavish receptions, food brought in, parties, etc., with very expensive food. The office manager, who had been there 30+ years, used to keep zipper bags and plastic food containers in her desk, regularly filled them, and put them in her extra purse, which she used to bring the goodies home and feed herself and her family!

      1. WLS

        I work in an office where I regularly order delicious, expensive catering for people high on the totem pole as a part of my job. As soon as meetings are over, I quietly let people know there are leftovers available, beginning as low on the “totem pole” as possible — our hospitality and facilities crew, my fellow admins, etc. We fill Tupperwares and Ziplocks and take them home and feed our families too. We take care of each other and it’s never caused any kind of disturbance. The food would otherwise be thrown away and I try to make it available to those who need it most first. Personally, I wouldn’t otherwise have very many opportunities to eat awesome food like this in my daily life.

        If you find that shameful, you should consider yourself lucky that you can pass up free food without batting an eye. Why do you or your husband care that this women took leftovers home?? Your comment about this Office Manager really rubbed me the wrong way.

    6. Anne Nonymouse

      Re your silver medal: we were invited to dinner by a vendor and I wasn’t sure of the etiquette so I waited until both my boss and his boss accepted. Then I stupudly told my manager that my professional instinct was “um….?” but the part of me not too long of college was thinking “free food and drinks!!! WOO!!!!”. Fortunately my boss said “yeah that’s pretty much all it is…”

      I think as a group we traumatized that vendor with our collective team ability (maybe 10-15 people) to eat and drink a ton. Sooo yum ;)

  97. Best Convention Ever

    Worked with a group of 22 to 26 year old freshly graduated engineers working across 15 different sites. The company decides to hold a small conference for us to talk about whats going on network wide and also a meet and greet. One of they engineers decided to reply all to one of the planned outings to discuss taking bets on a basketball game he was going ot have with one of the managers. Problem was that all of the VP’s were on the email list.

  98. QualityControlFreak

    Okay, so long long ago I told a coworker that if he put his hands on me again, I was going to knock him on his ass. Very unprofessional and would’ve got me escorted out by security. But I probably would have actually done it. Fortunately for both of us he took the hint.

    1. Xarcady

      Oh, heck, one time I broke a guy’s foot at work because he came up behind me and started groping me.

      It was a small 4 person non-profit, and the other three employees were away at a convention. I was in the office alone for a week. The guy, who was with the government agency that handled most of our funding, probably knew that.

      He stopped by the office and asked for something (I forget what, but this was in the days before email, so he needed a printed copy). I went to the file cabinet to get it, he came up behind me, reached around me and grabbed.

      [Tiny bit of background: I have 6 brothers. When they started taking martial arts lessons, I started taking martial arts lessons. For self-protection. From them. I enjoyed it, and have taken lessons on and off ever since. I had one awesome instructor who taught the women in the class various things to do if attacked on the street.]

      So when he grabbed, I reacted. Stomped down on his foot, elbow to his torso, followed by elbow to the back of his head. Followed by a knee where it would do the most good. Accompanied by yelling loud enough to attract the attention of the Port Police in the office upstairs, who came running down and escorted him out of the building.

      I was not the unprofessional one in that encounter, and QualityControlFreak, if you said what you had to say in order to get this guy to stay away from you, I have a hard time considering that unprofessional, as well.

      The guy apparently tried to pass the broken foot off as a skiing accident, but my boss got the whole story from the Port Police (my heroes!) and everybody in that small industry a) knew exactly what the guy had done and b) not to mess with me. Which in an industry dominated by men at that time (think something along the lines of the construction industry), was not such a bad thing.

      1. justcourt

        I think that’s fantastic. He’s the unprofessional one in that story, not you. He should be ashamed.

      2. Dynamic Beige

        This story should be filmed as a PSA on sexual harassment in the workplace — “Don’t do it. You don’t know that your colleague is a black belt and is going to hand you your ass on a plate.”

      3. little Cindy Lou who

        Just gotta second how awesome a good martial arts class can be! My instructor was a correctional officer, tough as nails, and seemed to take a sadistic joy in teaching me how to take down the biggest guy (like 6’7″ and *solid*) in our class with just a few pressure point manipulations. (I felt bad for the test-guy when I’d see him visibly wince because he was actually a big ol’ sweet teddy bear, but he was good natured about it, and it gave me real confidence that I could take someone over a foot taller and twice my weight down)

  99. itsame...Adam

    My companie’s CEO (he hired me) took me to lunch on his 55th birthday. I was 22yrs old (maybe). When we talked about him turning 55 I said something like “man 55, can’t really imagine that. I don’t even want to be still alive at that age.” … Still working for that company though 😊

  100. Mimmy

    I have a tough time keeping my emotions in check sometimes. I can’t point to anything specific, but I have definitely had my share of nuclear meltdowns and anxiety attacks at work. Ugh, always makes me want to just bury my head in the sand because when I’m okay, I can be very professional.

  101. oranges & lemons

    Things I have done at work:
    *Hid a stuffed cookie monster dressed in Renaissance garb around the office for my coworkers to find
    *Made and circulated a poster of Moses coming down from Mount Sinai holding our tech manuals
    *Drank coffee with Baileys (poured by my manager)
    *Windex fights
    *Covered the office with fake spiderwebs
    *Forced a man to cross a room wearing nothing but a pair of skin-tight pink shorts with teddy bears in front of about 20 tourists

    Honourable mention for weirdness, but I did not participate in this:
    *Office skinny dipping

    1. Ellie H.

      This is awesome, awesome, awesome. Where did the skinny dipping take place – I’m envisioning IN the office but it has to be some kind of field trip activity?

      Do you have any pictures of the cookie monster?

        1. oranges & lemons

          Fortunately, it didn’t actually happen at the office. And participation wasn’t mandatory.

    2. Al Lo

      We don’t drink like crazy in my office, but it’s definitely not taboo — even for an organization that works with children and youth. There are definitely a few bottles of Baileys in various offices. Including, at times, homemade Baileys brought in by a parent volunteer. Also, our volunteer council meetings almost always feature wine.

  102. some1

    I was answering phones at a City dept. I had to screen the hell out of the calls before I put them through.

    Just as the phone started ringing one day, my boss’s boss came out to the reception desk. I answered the phone quickly and asked if the caller would hold. He said yes. Boss’s boss proceeded to give me directions on something for 5-6 minutes.

    After he left, I picked up the call and thanked the guy for holding. Caller asked for my coworker, I asked, “Who may I tell him is calling?”

    “Governor [Name of the then-governor]”.

    Oops.

    1. Green

      Couldn’t work phones at one job. Hung up on Congressman while trying to transfer him. THREE TIMES IN A ROW.

      1. Stephanie

        Friend of a friend was a congressional staffer. His job involved digging through the office’s voicemails. He said a surprising number of people (i.e., more than zero) drunk dialed their Congressman and leave messages. Just…there are so many more people I could think to drunk dial than my Congressman. So many.

        1. C Average

          Tangentially related.

          In college, I was in a sorority. We had one main phone at a desk near the entrance to the house (for inbound calls), and then several phone booths upstairs (for outbound calls). (In a house containing 60+ college women and no cell phones, the system worked surprisingly well.)

          One very slow Saturday morning my freshman year, while most of my sisters slept off their hangovers, I was on Phone & Door duty.

          One of my pledge sisters came down to the P&D desk to keep me company and began telling me about this hilarious phone sex line with a really elaborate phone tree: “For a man and a woman, please press one. For a man and a man, please press three . . . ” She somehow convinced me to let her call this line on speakerphone from the P&D desk, and we had the volume cranked all the way up and were laughing so loudly we didn’t hear the doorbell.

          One of the upperclassmen wound up answering the door, and it turns out the person at the door was our state’s U.S. senator and his wife, who was an alumna of our house.

          The best part? The senator in question was Larry Craig, of airport restroom fame.

        2. Lizzie

          My friend’s FB handle is the name he used to give when he got high and called his Representative and/or Senator (I can’t remember which, could have been both).

      2. Video Killed The Radio Star

        I worked part-time at a radio station, and was working one night just babysitting the broadcast board, making sure the new automation software worked.

        The newsroom line rings, and since I’m the only one in the building, I pick up the telephone. “WXYZ newsroom, this is [Me]”

        “Hi [Me], this is [FirstName] [Lastname]”
        *really friendly* “Oh hi!”
        The problem? Even though he gave me his name, my brain interpreted that he said [LastName] first, and a close variation of the [FirstName] second, which was the name of a news reporter for our station, and I thought I was talking to him. As the conversation continued, I realized the voice didn’t sound quite right, and I replayed in my mind who he actually said he was.

        Just the newly elected congressman for our district. Oooops. He was really nice, though, and never let on that perhaps I was too friendly at first.

    2. Xarcady

      I had a work-study job in the office of a city councilor. He got elected to President of the City Council. On the day he won the election, the office was crazy. All the phones were ringing off the hook, press were stopping by, flowers and bottles of champagne were being delivered.

      The Councilor’s secretary had quit the week before and I was the only person available to deal with the rush, and I sure didn’t know how to handle any of it in a professional manner. I was answering the phones and taking messages and trying madly to deal with all the visitors. At one point, I answered the phone and tried to put the caller on hold. I got a huge sigh when I asked if I could put him on hold, and then, “This is Senator Kennedy.”

      Yeah, I got that message loud and clear. The councilor was in his office with a reporter, but I interrupted them anyway.

          1. Xarcady

            I agree, but I was juggling what I personally wanted to do with what I thought my boss would want.

            And he did appreciate being interrupted for the message about the Senator. He told me later that I had done well–the reporter was impressed that he was getting a direct call from the Senator.

            And I’ll say this–the Senator called directly, no getting an assistant to make the call and waiting until the Councilor got on the phone.

            1. the gold digger

              Oh of course – if it’s what your boss wants, that’s what you do.

              And I didn’t even pick up on the fact that he had placed the call himself. I have a few times gotten calls where someone asks, “Will you hold for so and so?” and I think, “But YOU are calling ME!” If it ever happens again, I hope I have the guts to say, “Nope. Won’t hold. Bye.”

              (I am just very anti-politician after spending time around so many of them with my husband’s two runs for office! )

              1. Green

                I’m pretty sure that the majority of recipients of a call from the Senator at a business would like the Senator to have a pleasant interaction calling them and not wait/take a message. If you’re answering the phone, you prioritize the calls as though you were the recipient. Now if your boss is an HVAC repairman who doesn’t particularly care that Senator so-and-so needs his HVAC fixed, then Senator so-and-so can wait like everyone else.

  103. Seal

    During the first year of my first full-time job in a large academic library almost 30 years ago, we had a power outage late one morning that affected a number of buildings on our part of campus. After being notified that the power would be out for several hours, non-essential employees (the part-time student employees) were dismissed for the day while essential employees (the full-time staff) were expected to stick around. Since our conference room had windows, my boss decided our staff meeting would go on as scheduled. I’m sure he did not appreciate listening to fresh-out-of-college essential-employee me complaining about not getting the rest of the day off and having to attend a staff meeting instead.

    Same job, different boss, a few years later. A project I was part of was to be discussed at a unit heads meeting, so I was invited to attend the first part of the meeting to participate in the discussion. Once my section was done, the department head – who didn’t like me and vice versa – make a point of saying I could go. Rather than realizing I had been dismissed, I asked if I could stay. Mind you, this was a regularly scheduled meeting for staff members who were several levels above me; there was no reason for me to stick around. My request must have caught the department head off-guard, because she said fine and continued with the meeting, which turned out to be rather dull and uninteresting. But in retrospect, the tension in the room went up noticeably when I essentially refused to leave a meeting I had no right to attend. I cringe when I think of how tone-deaf I was to such things in my 20s. To this day, guests at our regular department heads meetings make me nervous.

  104. justcourt

    I just thought of some more:

    1. I worked in a restaurant that took Halloween very seriously. We had costume contests for staff with customers voting. One year I decided to dress up as my boss. Luckily, he thought it was funny, but I don’t know what I was thinking.

    2. At a work barbeque some co-workers where talking about Twighlight. Like a big mouth, I chime in about only reading silly novels if they’re at least well written. My boss turns to me and said Twighlight was one of her favorite novels. Oops. So I responded, “Well, at least it’s better than The Da Vinci Code.” My boss’ other favorite novel? The Da Vinci Code.

    3. One of the directors I worked with had a very… interesting sense of humor. When some doctors we worked with had to film a promotional video, she made comments about them needing hair dye and extra make up so they wouldn’t look so old. I thought she was harsh but with a sense of humor. A few weeks later a car hit a fire hydrant and our fire alarms went crazy (that happens when the water pressure goes down). The alarms went off for about 35 minutes and during that time work was not suspended. Afterwards, the director made the rounds explaining what happened and kind of joking around with people. I made what I thought was an innocent joke about how working with a blaring alarm would weed out the week employees. She laughed but didn’t say anything. I didn’t think twice about my joke until a few days later until when my boss called me into her office to let me know the director complained about my “inappropriate” behavior. I still don’t think my behavior was inappropriate, but it was pretty mortifying.

    1. Al Lo

      One year, a co-worker (Tim) decided to dress up as another co-worker (Steve) for Halloween, which is great and was really funny. However, this was right around the AAM comment thread about offensive Halloween costumes, and Tim is white; Steve is black. Tim and I had a huge discussion about what’s appropriate in that scenario, and he pulled it off really well — didn’t reference skin color at all. He dressed in the kind of clothing that Steve wears, wore a wig like Steve’s hair — basically, anything you’d do if dressing up as a specific individual of any ethnicity (the things that my grade 8 classmate did when dressing up as our gym teacher). Our conclusion (as two white people, so maybe we don’t have the broadest perspective) was that if he’d dressed up as Random Black Guy (or even as Steve, but with blackface), that would be offensive; but dressing up as identifiably and specifically Steve by his clothing, mannerisms, and hairstyle was okay.

  105. IT Kat

    My second real ‘professional’ job was while I was in college (more than a decade ago) and was essentially data entry/order entry for a small (< 30 people) start-up teapot accessory distributor (not the real industry ;-D). Most of us were college students, or just out of college. But man, the stories…. (Names changed to protect the innocent and guilty)

    1.) I had a feud with the girl who made the schedule. We were close to the same age, both in college, and both woefully inexperienced in professional behavior. She ended up giving me all the worse time slots (I closed every night and somehow always worked weekends and holidays while she and her friend in the dept miraculously had them off) and I complained to management "Because Jane hates me and always schedules me weekends and holidays". Might have been a grain of truth, but NOT the way to bring it up!

    2.) They were looking for another data-entry person, and I recommended my live-in boyfriend. They hired him… this was a bad idea on SOOO many levels. Separation of work and personal life, what is that? Anything that happened at home would be brought into the office and vice versa. We had cubicles across the aisle from each other and would regularly have arguments while sitting at our respective desks.

    3.) Once, the company server was hacked and was being used to host a porn website by someone in Germany. As I was in school for IT, the financial manager who doubled as IT asked for my help in securing the server after it was cleaned up, as experience. I promptly told the biggest gossip in the company why the server had been running slow the last few weeks. It didn't even occur to me to not share that tidbit.

    4.) Worst thing though was when I would complain to my boyfriend about the job, favoritism that I (thought that I) saw, how they were ripping us off and I was worth a lot more per hour than I was getting, etc. etc. I was venting, but he worked there too and took it upon himself to inform the owner of the company of all my comments. I got called into a meeting with him and the owner where the owner started off with "So I understand you have some concerns about favoritism and other issues…." The meeting ended with me in tears and the BF and I screaming at each other in the owner's office.

    I cringe just thinking of all the stuff I did there, and how I didn't appreciate a lot of what they DID do – like when I threatened to leave over pay, they bumped me up $2/hour (which was like $3.50 more than minimum wage at the time, and a lot more than I could get anywhere else in the area back then!), gave me a glowing reference when I left less than a year later and throughout the years, and so many other things. I sometimes wonder how they're doing….

  106. Vanilla

    I worked at Panera for about a month in college. It wasn’t too bad of a job overall but there was one part of the job I hated with a passion – cleaning the bathrooms. I was a cashier and technically we didn’t have a lot of cleaning duties, but if you were working the night shift you would often have to “help out” slower co-workers. So basically, some co-workers would purposely work slow, avoid parts of their job they didn’t want to do, and wait for the cashiers to finish with their duties so that they could help out.

    Anyway, the first night I was asked to clean the bathroom and spent a few minutes “cleaning” (not really) and came out to clock out. My manager then went into the bathroom and had (no joke) a 20-point checklist. Clearly, I hadn’t actually done anything so he was pretty upset.

    A couple of days later I got a new (and better) job and gave my manager a week’s notice. On my last day of work, I called in because it was Jewish holiday and I said I wanted to attend services, which (surprise) wasn’t true at all – not even the being Jewish part. (Hanging head in share.)

  107. C Average

    The year is 1999. I’ve just flunked out of law school. I’ve had some retail jobs, but very little actual professional experience. I’m working a crappy minimum-wage admin job for a state agency. I don’t own a car.

    I’m asked to arrange a meeting at a location other than the office. It’s in a building a few blocks from my apartment. I have to bring a coffeemaker, some cups, some handouts, and some other miscellaneous stuff. It’s too much to carry.

    I borrow the neighbor’s Radio Flyer wagon, load it up with the meeting stuff, and take it to the location, figuring I’m early enough that no one will see me. It turns out that traditionally people show up for this meeting early so they can mingle before diving into the agenda. EVERYONE is there and sees the poor dumb little twentysomething admin pulling a little red wagon full of meeting materials.

    When I announced a month or two later that I was leaving, they very hastily reassured me that they really didn’t need two weeks’ notice from me. “Really, you can go now.”

    1. BadPlanning

      I don’t know — it seems like a creative solution to a problem to me. Better than dropping the coffeemaker on the walk over…

    2. Connie-Lynne

      I would be impressed with your resourcefulness, but encourage you to expense a cab the next time!

  108. TheExchequer

    So, Alison, you gonna share yours with us? ;)

    I was wearing shoes that really hurt my feet, so I took them off under my desk, thinking no one would notice. In the summer time, yeah, people noticed.

    There was one job I had that my dad helped get (yay, nepotism!) and I was spectacularly ill-suited for it. (Cold calling or e-mailing people will *never* be my strong suit). I used to play solitaire as a means to escape the job duties I didn’t really want to do. Bridge well and truly burned.

    Wearing blouses a little too low or skirts that absolutely must have a slip in an office setting and not realizing it until AFTER I had worn them.

    Can I follow that up with one thing I’m kinda proud of? I refused to participate in my temp job’s discussion about 50 Shades of Grey. I still don’t think it was a workplace appropriate discussion!

    1. AVP

      oh, gosh, I did that skirt thing, like, last year. I had no idea the vintage floor length crepe skirt I was wearing was see through until I stood in front of a door and the light was behind me and I could see everything in the reflection. My apartment had a different lighting set-up in which it looked fine!

    2. Anonymous Coward

      A coworker I didn’t particularly like dropped off a stack of paperbacks on my desk one Monday morning. He said he’d had a garage sale over the weekend and there were books left over, and he thought I might want them. So far, this is great news – I am a voracious reader and had no problem donating anything I didn’t want. So I thank him and start sifting through the pile. Included? The full trilogy of the Sleeping Beauty “erotic novels” by Anne Rice. Straight-up smut. Um, not professional.

  109. PurpleMonkeyDishwasher

    I worked an internship at a communications firm in college, and it was a smaller company, so sometimes things would get slow and the interns/entry-level folks wouldn’t have much to do. Somehow, in the throes of a lengthy period of boredom, we got fixated on using Google Images (relatively new at the time) to find random things, and my “supervisor” (she was entry-level, I was the intern, we were maybe 6 months apart in age) decided I needed to find her pictures of mini-ponies, so I spent an entire afternoon of company time pulling mini-pony pictures from the Internet and sending them to her with captions. Over company email. While I was being paid hourly.

    Not my finest batch of hours, that’s for sure.

  110. april ludgate

    I’ve been sitting here trying to think of a story, and I must have been repressing this one because I was so embarrassed. I was a teenager working at a large retail store and I was supposed to be covering the jewelry counter while someone else covered the layaway counter. Well, the woman who was supposed to be on layaway was no where to be found, so I decided to help a customer who was waiting there, but I didn’t have the keys. I was really frustrated because I was simultaneously being called to the jewelry counter, so I paged the layaway employee like half a dozen times. Over the intercom that the entire store could hear. And my tone was definitely not polite. The hr lady had to talk to me about it, which was a very awkward conversation. Just thinking about it makes me want to crawl into a hole.

  111. DrPepper Addict

    While waiting tables, paying my way through school, a nice family sat in my section. I tried to make conversation with them (yes, I was THAT waiter, ugh) and then asked the lady when her baby was due. She told me she wasn’t pregnant. I thought she was joking, “No, seriously” I asked, “when are you due?” I didn’t get a tip.

      1. Lindsay J

        This reminded me of second-hand cringe I witnessed at work.

        I was working for a speech pathologist’s office.

        A new child came in for an intake – this was a meeting where the child and parents would meet the speech pathologist and gather information about the practice, and the speech pathologist would look over any records the parents brought in and possibly do a quick assessment of the child so she could make professional recommendations.

        There were two women with the child. One was noticeably older than the other.

        The speech pathologist greets them with, “Hello Jimmy. And Mom. And you must be Grandma!”

        The older woman gives an icy glare and corrects her, “Actually, I’m also Jimmy’s Mom.”

        All was forgiven at the end of the session and they did sign on as clients. But ouch. Just never assume.

  112. Oopsie

    I did a one year stint teaching abroad. Dress code was very lax, but I still worked hard to look nice, and very hard to make sure I looked modest. So one day I wore a decent shirt that when I was standing up and lecturing or writing on the whiteboard was absolutely fine. Except that I started the day by checking to see if each 3rd grader had done their homework, and I while I had stretched, reached, twisted, and shimmied when testing the shirt out I had not thought to give it the “lean over” test. Got reprimanded by a third grade girl who got an eyeful.

    I gave them all candy and prayed they wouldn’t tell their parents.

  113. ThursdaysGeek

    I was working at a place when the first of the new Star Wars movies was coming out, and it was hard to get in. We were expecting a shipment of 20-30 computers soon, and would be doing a lot of extra work, so my boss and co-worker decided we should take the afternoon off and do a team building event at the movies. So we told the receptionist we were taking a late lunch and the entire IT department disappeared.

    When we got to the movie, one of the first people we saw was the CEO and his wife, who was legitimately taking the afternoon off to see the same movie. Somehow, he managed to beat us back to the office anyway, so he could tell everyone. And when we got back, our hallway was lined with computer and monitor boxes that someone else had to unload.

  114. Seal

    One more. At my first job I another staff member and I “co-supervised” the part-time student employees. At first it was fine because the other co-supervisor and I were friends and worked well together. She left, and the woman who replaced her was a nightmare. We clashed constantly because she wanted to be friends with our employees and didn’t understand why that was a bad idea; as a result I was always the bad guy. After a few months we found out one of our employees had been cheating on his timecard, which called for immediate dismissal. We agreed to do it first thing the following morning. Except, at the time I had a very active social life and outside activities and tended to function on very little sleep and lots of caffeine. Naturally, I picked the morning we were supposed to fire this guy to oversleep. Although I scrambled mightily, I still got to work a few minutes late. Rather than wait for me, my co-supervisor (who was equally young but 10 times as dumb as I was) decided to forge ahead with telling this guy he was fired in a part of the office that wasn’t private. By the time I got there, things had gotten ugly and there was an audience. Not the best time to make a grand entrance.

  115. CaliCali

    I still cringe when I think about this. I was about 5 years into the workforce at this time, so I can’t even blame this on being a newbie.

    I was on long-term business travel with a large group of coworkers for a project. It was high-stress, lots of hours, we were away from home, etc. A few of us (including my boss) went out to dinner together, as was common since we were all traveling. We got some food and drinks and started venting about our days, especially since that particular day was pretty bad. I, in particular, went on quite loudly about a certain group we were working with, and their STUPID system and their STUPID process and why are they so TERRIBLE and I got swept up in a righteous fury about how their incompetencies, personal and professional, were making our lives 5x harder.

    And then, one of the people in this group suddenly showed up at our table, went “sssh” with the accompanying hand gesture, and then went back to his seat. Three tables away. Where he was eating with another member of the group I’d so loudly derided. They’d heard everything. Did I mention this particular person used to be my boss?

    We all sat, silently mortified, and quietly waited as they finished their dinner, and then we ordered another round of wine once they left. I escaped from it relatively professionally unscathed, but…word definitely got around about it.

  116. Seashell

    I showed up to my internship on my 21st birthday still drunk from the night before and unshowered :( [my birthday fell during my school’s summer break but obviously there is no summer break in real life!!] I was in an office with only 2 other people and I had been there for almost a year. Obviously I wasn’t thinking and instead of firing me, my kind boss gave me the day off paid but told me that the deal was they’d drive me home. Ugh. I have never been so ashamed of myself!! I worked there for another year and cried when I graduated and had to leave.

  117. Jake

    There was an engineer i worked with that had 50 years of experience and was at the same level I was with 2 years of experience. He would be fired at any sane workplace because he spent 8 of his 9 hours a day talking to coworkers about non work related items. His area of responsibility was so small that he was replaced by an intern one summer, and the intern did a better job!

    Anyways, me being 24 at the time and seeing his negative value to the office made it seem like a good idea to prank him Since he was a net negative anyway.

    I started by once a month putting a sticky note under his mouse so it wouldn’t work. After 3 or 4 10 minute delays while he figured out the problem, I upped the ante. While he was out bothering somebody else I taped down the ringer of his phone, so when he picked up the phone, it’d keep ringing. He’d get annoyed but not mad, and he began to suspect me.

    Well, I covered myself because then I went to night shift, and a coworker did a random, unrelated prank on him and severalothers while I was away, which lifted all suspicion from me.

    While on night shift one night I went into his office and switched the m and n keys thinking he wouldn’t even notice.

    Turns out that he was a hunt and peck typer that had no idea how a keyboard is laid out… He ended up mistyping his password 5 times, locking him out of his computer. He had to spend all day on the phone with help desk to fix it. He got so frustrated that he threw the keyboard at the wall and broke it.

    He strongly suspected me and went to the project director (our boss’s boss’s boss) and accused me of “horseplay” which was one of thirteen safety related fireable offenses.

    I never got talked to about it, but after the accusation I learned to keep that kind of stuff out of our office.

      1. Jake

        I had a 1 hour commute each way where I carpooled with a coworker. We had plenty of time to come up with ideas. For every one idea I did we had 10 that we thought crossed the line.

  118. Simplytea

    I was working for a Summer Housing program at a major university, where we hosted a lot of foreigners, as well as really annoying entitled kids (let me tell you, housing was NOT cheap).
    Anyway, one of our dorms was infested due to construction down the street, and a few people came to complain about a variety of different problems. One student, who had already come multiple times for other issues and whom we had already moved twice from rooms that were “not to his liking”, came to complain about a mouse that had just ran over his dining room table. He was like, “What the heck am I supposed to do about this!??!!?!” And my response was, “Well you could catch it, make it your pet, and call it Mickey!”

    I got a stern talking-to for that one.

  119. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

    My first job out of college, took an office job at a very low wage – $4 an hour in 1983 which is about $9 an hour now. And no benefits. I lived with a roommate and struggled to make basic bills. The week rent was due, there was no money for food so I just ate peanut butter the whole week.

    I grew resentful quickly and looked to get over whenever I could. Example, the second the office manager left for the day, I stopped working and fooled around however we used to fool around Before The Internet.

    What really embarrasses me though, is the way I quit. I got a new job that paid nearly 2x and all the sudden I was Norma Rae. (Who, technically, had not been invented yet so I guess I did it first.)

    In addition to other tasteless acts, I positively dressed down the owner of the business, an actually nice, bordering on elderly man who after all, HAD given me my first job when I was pretty much out on the streets. I told him I thought it was shameful that he’d pay somebody so little she had to eat peanut butter to pay the rent. I nearly made him cry and I didn’t care.

    I was there 9 months. He paid me exactly what he agreed to pay me and always on time. I gave him half the effort I agreed to and, honestly, let a crapload of things slide that I should have taken are of and….I exited grandly, yelling at him.

    Cringe. Double cringe. Just cringe.

    1. Loli

      My youth was full of righteous indignation too. I can not believe that I felt the need to voice every unfairness I saw or experienced. It helps me see young people in our office as ‘just trying to find their way’ now. I don’t get as frustrated with them as some of my colleagues do. I just see them as young and inexperienced.

  120. The Other Dawn

    I’ve posted this one before. One of the banks I worked for early in my career sold off a few branches and we were in transition to the new bank. During that transition time we had special Operations meetings with the district operations manager and other banks that were in transition. She was very young, just like me. I was aspiring to move up into a position like hers one day. We went to lunch after one of these Operations meetings and started talking about our careers. She said she really wanted to finish school. I asked, “High school or college?” Duh. She said “college” and acted like I hadn’t totally embarrassed myself. Thank you!

    Another time (and this was only a few years ago…*cringe*), there was a guy who came into our admin office looking to read our CRA Public File (it’s a public file that talks about how the bank serves the community, etc.). Fine. He then asked to see the CRA Officer. So, I went and got our EVP. The CRA Officer used to be the CEO, but had recently been changed to the EVP. We just hadn’t updated the book yet. The guy was upset and made a big scene saying that we were hiding something from him, that we were lying about who the CRA Officer was, etc. He was a total arrogant asshat. EVP explained that he was the CRA Officer and was recently appointed, but the book hadn’t been changed to reflect that. The guy went on, and on, and on, saying he would complain to the banking commissioner (go right ahead!), would buy our bank and fire us all, etc. Finally, I came out of my office to try and get this guy out of the lobby – he had been harassing the office manager until that point because the EVP went back to his office. So I tried to explain the same thing to the guy. No dice. I finally told him he was really annoying me and needed to leave. Well, that didn’t go well. The EVP came out and told me to go back into my office, that he would deal with it. I didn’t get into trouble at all. This is just a demonstration of my abilities to calm someone down. Yeah, I’m so not good at that.

  121. HQ

    I worked part-time at a specialty shoe company for a year as a web developer. The business was owned by one family who were on a nickel-and-dime budget, so many of the people they hired were either new to the work force (like me) or had really screwed up in their previous jobs and were now willing to work for $10/hr and company shares.

    The new marketing director was from the latter group, and on his first day, called me at home to fire me. The next day when I did not come into work, my boss called me and told me that there had been a big mistake and that I was not actually fired–the marketing director had merely misunderstood their conversation about how I would eventually be “phased out” at the end of the year (news to me, but then this place was so dysfunctional I was looking for another job anyway).

    I finally found another job in November, but stopped by in December to pick up my paycheck and “stock shares” (which after a decade, are still worth $0). There was a new receptionist, who thought I still worked there and asked if I was going to the office Christmas party at an expensive seafood restaurant, funded by their new investors/suckers. Why not? I told her to add my husband and I to the guest list.

    We had a great time at the party. My husband put several beers on the company tab and I received a beautiful serving dish from the company-purchased white elephant gift exchange. Even my former boss’s angry glare from across the room could not put a damper on our night.

  122. justcourt

    How could I have forgotten this:

    I had one job that was okay; I just wasn’t particularly challenged by or excited about the work. Every two weeks when my boss would hand out the pay check I would make some comment about the paychec being the only reason to show up. I said it in a joking tone, and my boss seemed to think it was funny, but, oh boy, that’s super unprofessional.

    I love all these, by the way. It’s so good to see other people have done the same crazy things I’ve done.

  123. LisaS

    My first professional job (although not my first job): I was 23 and hadn’t quite learned to STFU when doing so was in my best interest. After 3 months in the position I got sent to a district-wide, paid sales training and – apparently – managed to flirt so openly with the trainer (at his instigation) that my *mother* heard that I was having an affair with him.

    Hey, I just thought I was being friendly back… oy, you know?

  124. hmm

    I still cringe thinking about this. Maybe a year into my first professional job I told my boss one of her baby name ideas was really stupid. I didn’t convey this through a more subtle approach of “oh…” or “thats… nice”, but I probably used the phrase “that’s a stupid name.” Of course that was the name she ended up choosing and apparently it had family significance. Ugh, what a bonehead move.

  125. Us, Too

    I was hosting a meeting with a bunch of bigwigs and an outside vendor. At one point, one of the head honchos was at the white board making a point about how our organization did something differently than most orgs in our industry. He said, “We don’t do that. What we DO DO is…”

    At the instant he said “do do” I glanced at a colleague with whom I worked very closely (work husband, basically) and his mouth twitched. He clearly was thinking “doo doo” instead of “do do” as was I. I tried my best to refrain from laughing, but before I could stop myself, I started giggling uncontrollably. And then I was laughing and it was too late.

    Head honcho turns to me irritated and says in front of everyone “Is there something you’d like to share with us?”

    I said “No, I apologize”.

    But, he wouldn’t let it go. Finally, I choked out “You said ‘doo doo’.”

    There was absolute silence in the room from everyone else as I finally wrangled my laughter under control.

    Now, I would have just left the room as I felt the giggle start, but it honestly never occurred to me then. Awful, just awful.

    1. Beezus

      My boss asked me, in a team meeting, to look up how many suppliers we had. The answer was 72. She responded with, “Huh. I thought we had 69. I wonder why I had the number 69 stuck in my head.” (You have to picture a very tiny, very good-in-an-innocent-way older woman when you picture this in your head.) I accidentally made eye contact with one of my coworkers. Her mouth twitched. We both looked away from each other. I tried to hold my breath to stop a giggle, and made a snorting sound instead. She let out a bonafide giggle, and then we both lost it and erupted in laughter, and it spread to the rest of the team. Boss looked up, confused, and said,”What’s so fu – awwwww, you guys! Get your minds out of the gutter!”

      I was there for 4 years, mostly with the same team. “I wonder why I had the number 69 stuck in my head.” was a recurring inside team joke.

      1. Anon this time

        When I stared my current job it was busy busy season so I was given an easy first task to “translate the abbreviated account names back into proper English so they can then be translated into Spanish”…. my boss hesitated for a second and then rushed to say “our Controller wrote a lot of these so the word ‘ass’ comes up a lot for ‘assumed'”.

        It was a project that a) made me literally lol as I worked, and b) confirmed I was in the right place. I’m also so careful to not abbreviate assumed as ass, and completely sympathize with the Controller on that short cut.

    2. Cath in Canada

      I have a colleague who finds “do do” *incredibly* amusing. She’d always done a good job of not showing it in meetings, but not long after she told me about how funny she finds it, I accidentally made eye contact with her right after a senior manager said “do do”. She was visibly trying not to laugh, which made me want to laugh. And now there are two of us who find “do do” hilarious – her for its own sake, and me because I’m so highly amused at how hard she has to try not to laugh. So we now studiously avoid all eye contact any time the fateful words are uttered.

    3. Cordelia Naismith

      It’s like that episode of Friends where Chandler is preparing for a job interview but keeps giggling at the word “duty.”

  126. I'll take it to my grave

    During my first internship at age 20, I noticed another intern had an *extremely* slight accent, which I recognized as resembling the *very* slight accent of my roommate, who had been born in Mexico. So I asked my fellow intern, all wide-eyed and innocent, “Lucia [name changed], are you Hispanic?” When she confirmed, with a look of blank surprise on her face, I smiled and said, “Yeah, I can hear it just a little bit!” This was all said in the workplace, in front of other people.

    We were in a heavily white upper-middle-class area of the Deep South, where I grew up, and I’d had literally no exposure to anyone Latino in my entire life until I met my roommate — and then this poor girl. I was so pleased with myself for starting to recognize those times when not everyone around me fell into the categories of black or white ethnicity (and once in a blue moon, Asian), which at that time was all most Southerners ever saw.

    The most embarrassing part of all this is: the job was at a left-wing social justice campaign. We weren’t campaigning on issues around race or ethnicity in particular, but the organization definitely prided itself on approaching Our Issue with a mind toward intersectionality and how people of color were differently affected by Our Issue.

    Nowadays when I feel myself getting too complacent about how progressive I am, I remember how progressive I thought myself at that age, yet how tone-deaf I was.

    1. Alice

      Maybe I’m just naive, but I don’t really see the issue here. When I comment on someone’s accent, no one takes offense. Although I guess I should take into account the fact that I live in a really diverse community.

      1. DrPepper Addict

        I agree Alice. I don’t see any issue here either. If I were in another country and someone asked me if I was American because of my accent, I would proudly say “Yes!”

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

          That’s not ethnicity, that’s location.

          I’ll take it to my grave didn’t say, are you from texas. She said, are you Hispanic. Way different.

        2. ReanaZ

          I’m a (white) American who doesn’t live in America, and it’s Really F-ing Annoying to have people commenting on my accent All the Goddamn Time, particularly in a professional environment. As I get to know coworkers, I don’t mind discussing a bit of my history and where I am from and such, but as the first thing you say to me is to nitpick how I pronounce things, publicly call attention to differences about myself, and ask questions about my location and family of origin instead discussing of the professional topic at hand? Really f-ing rude! It gets old right quick.

          And that’s without any remote power differentials, safety issues, and racialised context. If you truly don’t understand why this was an inappropriate thing to say, I suggest you spend some time googling some information about microaggressions.

          (Note: I don’t think what’s happening to me is a microaggression, because it’s missing the context of power/discrimination/history that these comments made to POC about their (perceived) locations of origin are. I just think it’s really rude and annoying.)

      2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

        Asking someone their ethnicity/race out of the blue, not cool. Doing that in front of a bunch of other people, even more not cool.

        Totally different than saying “hey, is that a Boston accent I hear?”

        Not to rub it in, I’ll take it to my grave, because I know I&