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… 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. BRR*

      Were you part of the management from yesterday’s post?

      Sorry I couldn’t help myself.

      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*


          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*


        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?


          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. HQ*

      That’s awesome! I would consider that a proud moment rather than an unprofessional one.

    3. 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 (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*


        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 m