boss pooped in people’s lunch bags and set off small bombs for fun

You think your boss is bad? This one poops in people’s lunch bags.



English apparently would indeed build bombs on company time from lengths of four-inch PVC pipe that he pumped full of acetylene gas … and wired to a battery charger. He would then plant the pipe bomb in an appropriate spot and detonate it when co-workers drove by.

Read the whole amazing thing.

{ 289 comments… read them below }

      1. Amber T*

        I feel like I have a whole lotta things to say… I’m just not quite sure how to string the words together in a coherent sentence…

        I was talking about Michael Scott from The Office with a coworker the other day and what an amazing (sarcasm) boss he was. But let’s be real, Michael Scott’s got nothing on this dude.

      2. Wendy Darling*

        I read it and just sat here with my mouth hanging open for like five seconds. Sweet merciful crap.

        However horrid and bizarre management at Tech Giant could be, at least no one ever SHIT IN MY LUNCH.

    1. Cupcake Girl*

      I’ve heard of crappy bosses, but I never thought I’d be using the term literally!!

  1. Meg Murry*

    OMG WTF?!?!

    This article just made me spew ginger ale all over my keyboard with laughter. Don’t read during while drinking.

    But yup, I’m pretty sure this guy wins worse boss of the year. Actually, I think the GM (boss’s boss) might win:

    The general manager of the association knew about the employee’s behavior and, rather than discipline or terminate him, promoted him.

    And overall worst company of the year – the employee was injured on the job, and they tried to fire him and refuse to pay disability benefits after that? Wow.

    1. Charlotte Collins*

      I agree. At least the guy who did this stuff *might* be suffering under some sort of delusion that this was “normal prank” behavior. (Who raised this man? Should he be in some sort of counseling?) But the GM who promoted him and then tried to justify that decision? Wow…

      1. iota*

        I worked at a place once where there were terrible pranks. Someone once retrieved a urinal cake from a urinal, cut it up into tiny pieces and hid them around people’s desks in not immediately obvious places. But no one ever detonated a bomb!

    2. Bookworm*

      I can’t help thinking those two (the “pranker” and his boss) MUST have been bosom pals, or drinking buddies, or brothers-in-law–SOMETHING beyond boss and employee. It’s just hard to imagine a boss letting a subordinate get away with half of that (literal) crap, much less testifying in court on his behalf, in the contest of any kind of “normal” manager/subordinate relationship.

  2. Chameleon*

    I honestly don’t think English (poop guy) is even the worst boss in the article. The worst boss was Fletcher, the poop guy’s boss, who after finding out about this stuff PROMOTED HIM.

        1. No Longer Passing By*

          That elsewhere being when he had worked at the mines where explosives experts would set off explosives for work-related purposes but non-experts couldn’t because it was dangerous….

      1. Ruffingit*

        Yeah, that is what is amazing to me. To continue defending this as though it’s anywhere near appropriate is just…I just…yeah.

      1. Winston*

        The organization as a whole actually went to court with the argument that the firing was justified. There’s a board of people who read about these events you just read about and decided the problem was with the employee and not the manager.

        1. Observer*

          The people who decided to go to court with this, and lawyers who agreed to defend this.

      1. Poohbear McGriddles*

        What’s jaw-dropping to me is that they were allowed to resign not fired, and it is not apparent that anyone on the board demanded their resignations. I’d imagine fewer and fewer coworkers were responding to English’s invitations to “Brown Bag Lunches”.
        I’m not sure what a Water Master does, but English must have either done it so well nothing else mattered, or else discovered some sort of weird local pervert ring that his boss and maybe a board member or two were part of.

        1. AVP*

          I would love for them to try to claim unemployment or disability benefits and end up back before the same judge.

        2. OriginalYup*

          Maybe the whole place is so dysfunctional that the board spends its meetings flinging poo at each other a la zoo animals or something.

        3. TootsNYC*

          There were a couple of shareholders who thought they ought to have been fired. That’s not board members, though.

      2. Observer*

        They resigned 5 years after the fact! And, not only did the Board know about it, the former board chair is STILL on the board, and defending these men. And, none of the current board members seem disturbed enough to push for him to step down, either.

        This, if you ask me, is the definition on a dysfunctional organization.

        1. No Longer Passing By*

          I was coming to say that! The Board Chair says that we don’t know the full story and that he’s a personal friend of the poop guy!

  3. Ask a Manager* Post author

    I just made a friend read this and he said, “I would do it the other way around. I’d put bombs in the lunch bags and poop as people drove by.”

    1. neverjaunty*

      But English did that too! There’s a whole thing about him pooping near people working and then his manager making excuses about how he didn’t actually, like, poop on anyone.

          1. Snazzy Hat*

            Holy crow I needed that laugh and I had to pause typing this comment because I started crying from laughter. My face hurts.

          1. Amber T*

            If my cat isn’t going to go in the litter where he’s supposed to go, he at least as the decency to poop on the bathroom tile next to his litter.

      1. INTP*

        That was my favorite part! “[Mr. Fletcher] testified that defecating towards another employee in the field is not a fireable offense, but could be if it continued.”

        So I guess the onus is on the pooped-at person to explain to the perpetrator that the poop advances are unwanted and respectfully ask them to stop.

          1. Chairman of the bored*

            I’m hearing this as being said by the snooty (snotty LOL) maitre d at the restaurant in Ferris Bueller.

        1. Artemesia*

          Yeah kind of like sexual harassment. No one could possibly know until told to stop that putting poop in someone else’s lunch is offensive. I mean did Bailey make it clear that he didn’t welcome these advances? Or was he just mad that he wasn’t one of the ones singled out for the catwalk pooping?

          1. CEMgr*


            Or, isn’t it likely that the whole claim of fecal harassment was completely fabricated? (irony off)

            1. Pineapple Incident*

              The term “fecal harassment” should NEVER have to be uttered out loud or put in a sentence. That is apparently how far this company has fallen- shattered all expectations of human decency, leaving people to think positively only in the following situation: “Well at least that f***er English hasn’t pooped on anyone today.”


        2. Wendy Darling*

          If pooping at and blowing up your coworkers are not fireable offenses I kind of wonder what it takes to get fired around there.

          Although apparently we know what it takes, and what it takes is “complaining about being pooped at and blown up”.

        3. Dynamic Beige*

          So I guess the onus is on the pooped-at person to explain to the perpetrator that the poop advances are unwanted and respectfully ask them to stop.Yeah, because an anus is being pointed directly at them by the poopetrator.

          How on earth did no one ever get any of this on video? With all the cameras in phones these days, I cannot believe there aren’t pictures.

      2. Noah*

        That is my favorite part. Apparently it is ok as long as you don’t actually poop on another person, that is where the line is crossed.

    2. Euchre*

      This made me laugh so much, but I don’t know why!

      I can’t get over how ridiculous this who article is, thank you so much for sharing it.

  4. Katie the Fed*

    What’s amazing is the company tried to defend it. You settle a case like that. Jeez.

    1. J.B.*

      Well, to be fair you’d probably also fire the perp instead of promoting him. And now whoever goes against company in bid can just attach the court transcript. Because, legal.

    2. neverjaunty*

      Well, YOU do, because you’re a sensible human being (which means you probably wouldn’t have tolerated this situation in the first place, but let’s set that aside).

      My armchair guess is that this organization automatically opposes anyone seeking workers’ comp or disability benefits. Tweedledum and Tweedlecanteven were work buddies who never thought about or cared that the ‘pranks’ at work were outrageous, and nobody really sat back and said “hey… what exactly are we doing here?” until they were in front of the judge.

      1. Angel*

        Swinging in from the future to say that I’ve done an admirable job of silently snickering with the occasional exhale-rapidly-from-nose chuckle… until I got to “Tweedledum and Tweedlecanteven” and actually laughed out loud. What a great line.

    1. MashaKasha*

      I don’t even know what kind of favors it takes to get a promotion after (while?) doing all these things. And then to have a coworker fired “for unsubordination”, for mildly suggesting that “blowing sh.t up” in a workplace might not be the greatest idea. There’s got to be more to the story. WTH happened between English and his manager that caused his manager to warm up to him so much? Was it blackmail? did the manager have a secret meth lab in his basement and English found out? The mind boggles.

      1. the gold digger*

        The sad thing is that there actually is a legitimate place for blowing sh.t up on the clock. It’s called the army. If that’s what you want to do, then join the army.

        However, I have nothing for pooping at people on the clock. Or even on your own time.

        1. A Non*

          I hear the people who disarm bombs for a living also get to spend time blowing stuff up – gotta dispose of those bombs (and training materials) somehow. They’re pretty much all pyromaniacs. Actually, I’d love to hear some of them tear into this guy for the safety issues, and then also tear into him on the (presumably) sloppy bomb construction.

        2. Dynamic Beige*

          The sad thing is that there actually is a legitimate place for blowing sh.t up on the clock.

          Oh… what is English going to be putting on his résumé? Does “pooping at coworkers” qualify as a special skill or an achievement? Perhaps it can be summed up as “experience in handling waste products.” Does “manufacturing improvised explosive devices” go under Leadership?

          Interviewer: Can you demonstrate an example of how you use your leadership skills?
          English: To keep people on their toes, I like to put explosive devices around the workplace. I find it keeps them on task when they know they could be blown to smithereens any moment.
          Interviewer: O.o
          English: No, it’s not like that, it’s all in good fun!

  5. Chriama*

    I have to think that once the court case came out he sued the employer for… something else. This guy and his supervisor admitted under oath to some insane stuff, and it breaks my heart to think he’d only get the disability benefits (due to him anyways!) and nothing else. If I was an employment lawyer and saw this I’d be calling him with the best contingency deal ever. Please tell me this happened.

      1. Pat*

        I could totally see Saul Goodman taking up this case. He’d probably even come up with some cute name for the poop in the lunchbox, like “Toledo Turdbox”

    1. Alma*

      That’s what I want to know as well – the staggering amount of money resulting from a Civil Suit against the company, the boss who promoted English, English himself, and anyone in a supervisory capa that knew of the poop, the stealing of materials to make bombs used on employees, and English’s doing this on company time. Yeah, I bet the company’s insurance provider was really thrilled about this one.

      1. CEMgr*

        It’s not clear to me that any of the behavior is legally actionable by a fellow employee, except perhaps at a very low level. There is no duty to refrain from being disgusting and offensive, sadly. It could perhaps be harassment or assault, but proving damages would be difficult too. I’d love to be proved wrong by someone responding with legal theories and/or Colorado code references.

        1. Specialk9*

          Really? He put explosives in a ditch, hidden by leaves, to be set off by the blowtorches of the leaf cleanup crew. He gave the guy permanent hearing damage. He wired explosives to the company truck spark plugs. The manager promoted him, and the board defends them both. You don’t think there is a case there?

    2. INTP*

      What I’m choosing to believe is that now that the company has put all of that into legal record, rather than hiring a lawyer smart enough to muzzle the bomb braggart because it was “just a little disability case”, multiple current and previous employees will squeeze them for everything they have in a civil case.

      IANAL and have no idea if that’s legally feasible.

      1. videogamePrincess*

        What if some of them got salmonella from this? There’s got to be something for unnecessarily putting your workers at risk.

        1. Specialk9*

          I’d be worried about someone being bombed to death, or maimed.

          “English testified, though, that “generally” his bombs were milk jugs full of acetylene. He said he tended to hide them in ditches full of brush, knowing that work crews would be using blowtorches to clear the brush away (that’s apparently how they do it) and this would set off the bomb.

          Another fun thing, referred to above, was to hide a jug bomb under the hood of a company truck and wire it up to the spark plugs.

          Bailey claims his hearing was damaged by one. [a bomb]”

          “The supervisor, a Mr. Fletcher, first “disagreed with the use of the word ‘bomb,’” arguing they weren’t big enough to count, but he conceded an employee “could have been injured or killed by such explosions.” ”

          He argued they were ok because he had seen explosions in the work place before. Ok, ok, fine, by demolition experts, which Mr English wasn’t, who were setting controlled explosions, which Mr English wasn’t, for work related purposes, which Mr English wasn’t.

          I’m not sure how someone didn’t die.

      2. No Longer Passing By*

        I’m certain that there must be something actionable. At minimum, wrongful discharge. But if I were plaintiff employment lawyer in that jurisdiction, I would scour the laws to see what would stick because this story is just too crazy especially when it appears that you can establish that it’s a “municipal custom and practice.”

        What were Fletcher (poopetrator’s boss) and English (poopetrator) thinking????

  6. LiveAndLetDie*

    I don’t think I ever expected to read about someone pooping *toward their coworkers,* let alone anything about someone pranking their employees with bombs. This is a whole new level of WTF.

      1. AnonyMiss*

        Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberries!

        (Sorry, couldn’t skip the opportunity.)

    1. INTP*

      And pooping towards coworkers NOT BEING A FIREABLE OFFENSE unless it continues after they’ve been asked to stop. Like pooping at someone is the equivalent to touching someone lightly on the arm, an often-innocent act that someone must explain makes them uncomfortable and politely ask the perpetrator to stop before it constitutes a serious violation.

      1. So Very Anonymous*

        Also I wonder if there’s a distinction between random, untargeted pooping and aimed pooping.
        And if pooping with bad aim is somehow less problematic than successful poop targeting.
        (“Where are you going, Mr. English?” “To the poop-shooting range! Practice makes perfect!”)

    2. chocolate lover*

      Me neither, but wasn’t there also a thread or post once where someone pooped in a potted plant at an office? Yuck.

        1. Alysia*

          My proudest moment in life is the fact that my random workplace story is still brought up on this site. I rarely comment, but knew that the phantom pooper was too good a story to not share, and people still talk about it years later!

  7. RVA Cat*

    How on earth is Mr. English not in prison, much less *promoted*?!

    (Is anyone else picturing Rowan Atkinson’s Johnny English in all these antics btw?)

    1. Charlotte Collins*

      This is a good point. Some of this behavior isn’t just unethical and unprofessional (and completely gross and insane). It’s actually illegal.

      1. RVA Cat*

        I’ll bet if he wasn’t white and presumably Christian he would be charged with terrorism.

          1. RVA Cat*

            Not to mention, he is actually *still alive*. Tamir Rice didn’t even shoot anybody with his BB gun.

            1. Wendy Darling*

              I’m kind of surprised he never managed to poop at/blow up/shoot things at a person who decided to respond with violence. I am not a violent person but if I was going to freak out and beat the stuffing out of somebody, causing an explosion in my vehicle as a “joke” or pooping in my lunch would probably be a good way to make it happen. I mean realistically I would just gape uselessly, but people get in bar fights over significantly less offensive things!

      1. RVA Cat*

        Hey I was saying that as a fan – though honestly it’s more like something Baldrick would do.

      2. Snazzy Hat*

        1) That is so amazingly cool!

        2) Johnny English is much more competent than this Mr English.

    2. Boop*

      That was my first thought – how has someone not called the cops already?! I would do that about two seconds after the BB gun came out (first I would hide).

      This is an early April Fool’s joke, right? RIGHT?

      1. OhNo*

        Seriously! The second I found out that he was purposely causing explosions around unprotected people for “fun”, I’d be calling the cops, the FBI, whatever counter-terrorism agencies I could get the number of, you name it.

        I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to hear that former employees under or around that guy have serious PTSD. I mean, bombs at work for pete’s sake.

        1. Nerdling*

          ATF. There’s actually an E on the end there that gets dropped off because it just gets to be a mouthful, but their full title is the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. People blowing stuff up near you? ATF is the agency to call.

        1. Liane*

          I also forgot to add, where is OSHA? They have *rules* about hilarious stuff like handling of human waste–a biohazard–and how gases, even non-flammable ones are handled.

          1. I'm a Little Teapot*

            Sadly, Congress has long since ensured that OSHA is practically toothless through underfunding, because you can’t enforce actual *safety rules* on almighty Job Creators, that’s not the American way.

            1. Observer*

              OSHA is underfunded, but the do have some teeth. And even an tooth baby could “chew” this one.

  8. Koko*

    This is worse than my worst nightmare. I would be crying all the way to and from work every day.

    1. Ignis Invictus*

      I’d break my land speed record for high tailing it the hell out the door… and merrily into an employment lawyer’s office.

        1. Rebecca in Dallas*

          LOL! I sent the article to my husband and his response was, “I would beat the s**t out of that guy. Like you’d be bailing me out of jail.”

        2. Ignis Invictus*

          Though in all honesty, and humor aside, I’m fortunate enough to have options. Yeah, I’ve worked my butt off for said options, but ya know, many, many others have worked equally as hard, equally as smart, and yet don’t have other options. I’m fortunate enough that breaking my land speed record is actually a viable option, ’cause there was a time in my life when it wasn’t, when I couldn’t just walk. Koko – I get it, I remember being stuck. Oh buddy do I remember being stuck, like shackles created for the sole purpose of making me put up with asinine behavior. One of the weirdest truisms I had to reconcile with what I had previously KNOWN was true: oftentimes “being stuck” is a choice.

        3. Lore*

          I, um, actually saw that happen once. In the theater where I was working at the time. There was an accident with a fire-eating clown and he ran through the wall. It got a lot less funny once we found out what had actually happened and realized someone had been injured and gone to the emergency room, but the moment of walking into the space and seeing nothing but a few wisps of smoke and a man-shaped hole in the sheetrock was truly amazing.

    1. Short-Name-Always-Mispronounced*

      Strong Python reference. Unfortunately that now means I am envisioning Mr English as John Cleese. (Sorry John Cleese…)

    1. INTP*

      On the Good Wife, when they want someone to lie under oath, they instruct them to say “Not to the best of my recollection.” So I’m thinking this was that.

      Why someone would follow that instruction yet gleefully go into detail about their bomb-making and -setting until the judge himself advised him to plead the 5th, I have no idea.

      1. OhNo*

        I can’t help but assume that at some point during the proceedings, he ceased to give a f**k and decided that if he was going to go to jail, then by god he was going to earn it. Either that or he’s just dumber than a post and didn’t realize that making bombs might be, I don’t know, illegal?

        1. Observer*

          I go for dumber than a post.

          Remember, he described these actions as PRANKS intended to make a “fun” workplace.

          Actually, maybe not dumb, perhaps delusional?

  9. Paloma Pigeon*

    So many people are looking for work and what seems to me like a borderline psychotic personality has job security. Pranks are my personal pet peeve – seriously, seriously hate them with every fiber of my being. They are not meant to be funny, they are meant to belittle someone else. Always.

    1. Nobby Nobbs*

      I dunno, I think it’s a little harsh to conflate bombing your coworkers with, say, rickrolling.

    2. Biff*

      I want to assure you that there are pranks that are in fact funny and not meant to belittle anyone.

      They do not involve poop, fake spiders, pipe bombs or projectile weapons. Those are not pranks.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*


        I think I’ve told this before, but here’s the story of the one work prank I ever perpetrated.

        So, this guy and I had adjoining cubes, and we got along really well. We used to stand up and talk a lot, at one point we even removed a panel between our cubes for a few months, but eventually we decided that that was making us lazier, and put it back. We also had an elaborate plan to merge our cubicles and turn them into an in-office vacation spot involving a truckload of sand, sun lamps, and a kiddie pool. We also joked a lot about the “real estate” of our cubes.

        He also loved practical jokes, but he kept them under control, and was really the nicest guy; if someone had gotten upset he probably would have offered to do anything to make it up to them.

        So one day when he was out, I noticed that the “name plates” outside our workspaces were just paper inserts. So of course, I printed out “COSMIC AVENGER (ANNEX)” in the same font and put that in his name plate holder.

        I had to point it out to him two days later. I think he and I were laughing for 3-4 minutes.

        1. Paloma Pigeon*

          But it sounds like you and your awesome-sounding coworker had the same sense of humor and were doing funny stuff TOGETHER. You were not doing stuff TO him.

          As I wrote below, many of the work pranks I observed (and I was working in the sports field, for context) were pretty hazing in nature. One department stealing all the chairs from another, other department retaliates by locking first department out of their offices, etc. The pie fight at a goodbye lunch for a co-worker when one person ended up with a pie shoved in their face was just uncomfortable for the rest of us.

          However, one of my fondest memories of high school was days when the Earth Science teacher and the Chemistry teacher were launching water balloons off the roof of the school to ‘test gravity’. Those guys were hilarious. Note, however, it was about the fact that they had keys to roof and not about throwing water balloons at others that made it funny.

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            But it sounds like you and your awesome-sounding coworker had the same sense of humor and were doing funny stuff TOGETHER. You were not doing stuff TO him.

            Well, I think that was exactly Biff’s point, and why I replied. There are pranks that have absolutely no element of hazing to them. You have observed a lot of hazing, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t pranks or jokes that are marginally at another’s expense that aren’t also funny and considerate.

        2. Minion*

          I was off one day last week and the day I came back, I came in and was getting settled when I realized my mouse was gone. I looked everywhere, then I finally saw the USB cord sticking out from under a door into our server room (which is in the back of my office). I walked back there, opened the door and there, on the floor, was my mouse. Caught in a mousetrap.
          My direct report was responsible and she laughed a good five minutes when I took her mousetrap to her. She had removed the snapping mechanism so that I wouldn’t accidentally get hurt trying to pull the cord out of the trap, which I am thankful for. Call me simple minded but I thought it was hilarious.

          1. Rebecca in Dallas*

            See, that’s funny. It wasn’t making fun of you (or anyone), nobody got hurt, there was no pretend rubber mouse (if anyone was afraid of those) and it sounds like it only took you a minute to find it so it didn’t interfere with you getting your work done.

            We have a coworker who loves his weenie dog, someone once gave him a stuffed weenie dog to keep on his desk at work. So while he was on vacation, we took pictures of the (stuffed) weenie dog doing various things around the office: working on a computer, getting coffee, etc. and posted them to Facebook, tagging our coworker. It was hilarious! Nobody was harmed or made fun of.

        3. Wendy Darling*

          One of my coworkers revealed that he did not like sharks. Not like a phobia, just like “I would never stick my hand in the shark tank, not even the one at the aquarium where you pet the sharks, I think they’re gonna eat me.”

          We bought shark-shaped novelty USB drives for the project we were handing off to him. He arrived on the site after I’d finished my stint and left, and our data was stored on sharks. He was amused.

      2. Master Bean Counter*

        A guy at my old job tried to prank me with a fake spider. I never noticed it. The ex-marine sales guy did when he stopped by my desk. It was the shriek heard around the office and possibly the next county over.

      3. caryatid*

        my favorite work prank was filling a cardboard box with packing peanuts, setting it on a coworker’s desk, and then carefully opening up the bottom so that when they lifted the box off the desk, peanuts everywhere!! :)

      4. JennyFair*

        I had a coworker who kept beloved action figures in his cubicle. I stole The Flash and The Green Lantern, dressed them in Barbie fairy outfits, had another co-worker (whose cubicle looked like an art store had exploded) create a woodsy background, and then I mounted the background and the super-fairy-heroes on his cubicle wall. He was so tickled he asked management for special permission to take a photo :) (photos are prohibited on the floor there).

    3. Allison*

      What about the time I stuck pairs of googly eyes on a bunch of stuff on my coworker’s desk? I was trying to be funny and wasn’t intending to belittle him, but was that actually super mean?

      1. Paloma Pigeon*

        It might be that most of the work pranks I have observed had a hazing quality to them – like throwing pie in people’s faces, locking entire teams out of offices, etc. Not cute.

        1. neverjaunty*

          Also, you need to be 100% sure that the person you’re pranking would find it funny. If I had to clean up a boxful of packing peanuts or pick googly eyes off my stuff, you’d be hearing the ominous fight music from the opposite coast,.

      2. Wendy Darling*

        I think the googly eyes work best when used subtly. The EA at my last job had a set of GIANT googly eyes and she’d move them around the office every week or two. So different objects around the office would have googly eyes. People’s cubes. Furniture. Lamps. You’d be walking around the office minding your own business and suddenly the photocopier is staring at you and it totally did not have eyes yesterday.

        1. Elizabeth S.*

          I like this! One of my coworkers printed out a very official-looking “This copier has been equipped with voice recognition software” sign and detailed directions (speak loudly and clearly, you’ll need to repeat yourself a few times while it is learning, etc.) over the copier. Alas! everyone here is pretty savvy. But it was funny to see it posted there.

          1. Hush42*

            We had a copier that took forever to wake up from sleeping whenever you wanted to print to it or copy on it. We had one older guy who always came in earlier than everyone else and he hated having to wait for the copier to wake up every time he wanted to print something. So he started printing out pictures of different animals and taping them to the copier. One week we came in and there was a picture of a hibernating bear. The next week the bear had been replaced by a sloth. One week it was a tortoise. Every time someone who didn’t work in our area came over to use the copier they would ask in a confused tone why there was a picture of a (insert slow animal here) on the copier. Eventually my boss noticed and asked about it- we got a new, faster, copier after that :)

        2. eplawyer*

          “You’d be walking around the office minding your own business and suddenly the photocopier is staring at you and it totally did not have eyes yesterday.”

          OMG, I am laughing so hard at this I am crying. It’s the way you worded it. I almost can’t type because I can’t see for laughing.

          BTW, setting off bombs and pooping at people — not pranks by any definition of the word. That boss is just nuts if he thinks these are “pranks.” And his boss is even nuttier for going along with that thinking.

        3. GreenTeaPot*

          That is truly funny. Many years ago, the student staffers at my workplace used paper cup handles for goggles and put them everywhere in the admin building.

          It was hilarious. You had to be there, though.

        4. Angel*

          “You’d be walking around the office minding your own business and suddenly the photocopier is staring at you and it totally did not have eyes yesterday.”

          I cannot BREATHE for laughing. Oh man. I really need to do this at work.

      3. Tau*

        My coworkers stuck googly eyes onto my predecessor’s PC to see if he’d notice. Apparently he didn’t, but I certainly did when he left and I started work on his old computer! I loved them and ended up moving them over to my PC when it arrived, so one vote for googly eyes from this corner. :)

    4. Turanga Leela*

      Okay, tell me if this one is mean or not: I was managing a team on an interminable project. Everyone, including me, was working around the clock to get it ready for filing. We finished our work in late March. On April Fools’ Day, I emailed the team saying that I was so sorry, but our director had added three sections to the project, and we were being recalled to get them ready. I said I was attaching the new schedule for the team. Instead, in the attachment, I put a brief, heartfelt note saying that we wouldn’t actually do that to them, and thanking them for their work on a really difficult project.

      I got a lot of positive feedback, plus a few emails from people who didn’t open the attachment before asking me if the company had lost its damn mind.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Yes, that is mean. Pranks should be done on people you know will be OK with it and should be funny/silly (like the googly eyes), not “ha ha, more terrible things are about to happen to you, just joking!”

  10. The Cosmic Avenger*

    The judge on this case sounds awesome. I love how after the total dickwad goes on about how he built bombs and set them to go off near his employees and their vehicles, the judge “advised Mr. English of his Fifth Amendment rights”. DUDE, STFU ALREADY! Where was his lawyer?? And then this:

    The judge concluded, however, that this was more likely a pretext than a “fireable offense,” reasoning that since setting bombs and defecating toward employees apparently weren’t fireable offenses, “insubordination” shouldn’t be, either.

    1. OriginalYup*

      Right? Full points to the judge for being like, yeah, that scenario makes no sense.

      Boss: :: poops in lunchbox while setting building on on fire:: “Hahahahahahahahaha!”
      Employer: “I’d prefer you didn’t do this.”
      Boss: “How dare you sir. HOW DARE YOU.”

    2. fposte*

      Yeah, that’s brilliant. “You’ve driven the standards so low that you can’t claim there are any.”

  11. Student*

    I think the best part for me was the judge belatedly advising him of his 5th amendment rights after listening to him testify to things no sane or normal person would ever admit t under oath at court. What is going through English’s head? To say these things, he literally has to be thinking that the judge will naturally side with him that the other co-worker is “too sensitive” about the whole random explosions, defecation, and potato gun shootings. This guy literally lives in a world where this is normal behavior, and is surrounded by so many people who tolerate it that he thinks everyone will find it as amusing as he apparently does.

    1. Marina*

      That is exactly what stood out to me–that these people are like, “What, everyone puts poop in coworkers’ lunches and sets off pipe bombs! That’s normal workplace behavior!” o.O

      1. Allison*

        “Back in the good ol’ days, people did stuff like that all the time and no one ever said a word about it! Now thanks to the PC police, we can only poop in the bathroom. Ridiculous!”

    2. TootsNYC*

      I can just see the judge sitting there staring at him, with his mouth literally open, frozen, and then thinking, “Holy crap, that’s illegal. Oh, wait–I’m a judge, I should probably stop him from incriminating himself!”

      And I love that the judge said, “I can see that the employee wouldn’t think insubordination would be a firing offense!”

    3. Steve*

      I was once part of a military group who had a habit of somewhat similar pranks. It was a motor pool (vehicle drivers and maintenance) and for instance, they would see a greasy rag hanging from someone’s back pocket and light it on fire. Good times! (not actually good times).

      However, in that case most people were in on it. It wasn’t the boss single-handedly lighting people on fire. Also nobody could be fired.

  12. Tammy*

    I’m glad I had paper towels on my desk. Having to explain to IT why my MacBook was covered in coffee would have been awkward…

    I literally have no words.

  13. Ms. Anne Thrope*

    Not that I would have lasted long enuf in this insane asylum to have this happen but I know exactly what I would do w/ any bag of poop that showed up in my lunch. It’d be going right back where it came from. Literally.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Likewise here, I’d drop the bag off somewhere as I walked out the door to my car never to return.

  14. A Non*

    I’d be more prepared to deal with the poop than with the ACTUAL SHOOTING OF EMPLOYEES. With BB guns and potato guns that were firing golf balls.

    1. Amadeo*

      I would think the ‘prankster’ is lucky he didn’t get a golfball returned to sender and aimed at his face.

  15. Robert*

    I really thought this was a joke. That is until I clicked the link. Coming from a freelance background, though, I can liken it to being unprofessional with you clients and “pooping in their sandbox” by not following up on deadlines, etc. Seriously, though, this is just wrong!

  16. Alma*

    I’m going to have to print out the attachment and keep it in my purse so I can remind myself it can always be worse.

      1. 42*

        Maybe you just haven’t received the letter yet.

        “Dear AAM,

        I have a strange situation with my boss, and I want to make sure I’m not being overly sensitive.”

        1. TootsNYC*

          no, no….

          “My boss is shooting at us with a BB gun, and a potato gun loaded with golf balls. And sometimes he sets off explosives. Is that illegal?”

          1. Not So NewReader*

            “My boss shoots BBs at me and craps in my lunch. Please tell me what I should do to get along better with my boss.”

      2. Wendy Darling*

        This is sufficiently egregious that I think there needs to be a Special Award For Worst Manager ANYWHERE EVER.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Yeah, I agree. I almost think if this happened to me I would actually become a FB user. It is this very type of public shaming that FB works so well for. Unfortunately, the guy probably has a clause in his settlement that he cannot talk about this boss.

      1. Steve*

        There is no settlement. A judge ruled that the employee can collect disability payments. There’s nothing that says he can’t badmouth the former employer. In fact, the boss & company’s behavior are now part of the public record! So there’s not even a libel risk.

  17. Cruella DaBoss*

    Now I don’t feel so bad. I could always be MUCH worse than my people think I am.

  18. AnonasaurusRex*

    This guy is lucky no one DIED. I mean setting off what is basically an IED by the side of a road could cause a massive car accident. People could get set on fire. He’s making chemical bombs and shooting people with golf balls??? Golf balls at high speed have KILLED PEOPLE.

    There are no words.

    1. Kiryn*

      The thing that really stands out to me is that he thought it was fun to hide a bomb inside a COMPANY VEHICLE and rig it to explode when someone started the ignition. Does no one care about damage to company property?

      1. Paloma Pigeon*

        Let’s hope there are not any Post 9/11 Veterans working at that site who have had traumatic experience with an IED. I’m sure they would be super excited to have those experiences triggered at work.

      2. Ann*

        That’s what I don’t understand! (Well, one of the things that I don’t understand.) The company was OK with this guy destroying their trucks?!

    2. Hlyssande*

      I almost lost an eye to a golf ball when I was a kid. This would have literally given me flashbacks. I refuse to set foot on a golf course to this day if there’s any chance someone’s hitting balls around.

  19. Photog*

    I once worked with two men who enjoyed playing pranks on each other. These guys were both about 15 years older than me so I assumed they knew better. But…one of these gentlemen had shoulder surgery. The other one did something to the casters in the rolling office chair. The chair collapsed and threw him out, and his freshly repaired shoulder was all torn up again. This was obviously a really bad deal, but even at a relatively well-run company, the prankster just got a slap on the hand. One of the many reasons I’m not big on pranks in the office.

  20. Interviewer*

    Is it bad that the first thing I thought of was getting my firm to pitch for the association’s L&E & litigation work? I mean, clearly there’s no good defense here, but it sounds like there’s PLENTY of billable work.

    1. I'm a Little Teapot*

      Well, until they drive themselves out of business through a combination of staggering incompetence and mind-boggling malice. I’m wondering how they haven’t gone under already.

      Maybe this’ll be the nail in their coffin. I hope.

      1. Gene*

        An irrigation district is a lot like a sewer or water district; they really can’t go out of business.

  21. I'm a Little Teapot*

    This made me think of the question about recovering from scandals earlier this week. I’m OK with this guy and the boss who promoted him never being hired anywhere again. There are plenty of decent people sleeping on the street.

    Sadly, they sound like well-connected good old boys, so they probably will be.

    Also, I feel bad for anyone who shares their common names.

  22. Adam*


    I have half a mind to go give my manager a hug now. Or at least a compliment.

  23. Not So NewReader*

    I kept waiting for the part in the story where someone said, “Yeah, we screwed up royally. This was way over the top.”

    I did not see this anywhere in the story. Matter of fact, I do not see where the boss and big boss saw a problem at all. Their disconnect is mind-boggling. I would say counseling is in order but this is a civil case not a criminal case, first and foremost. Additionally, it does not seem that these that men would be fixable, I don’t think they would respond to counseling- they beliefs are so ingrained that it is like the beliefs go down to the cellular level in their bodies.

    I do not understand why these men are not facing criminal charges and a long prison sentence. I hope the judge takes what was said in open court to the police.

    1. AVP*

      Even in the update article (someone linked to it above) about how both English and Fletcher eventually resigned, the board member is like, “Well, he is my friend, so, you know, things happen….”

  24. Ella*

    Did this remind anyone else of the school district maintenance manager from Schenectady? This American Life did an episode on him a few years ago. He also set bombs and “played pranks,” but that was more of a reign of terror than…whatever this was. He’s in jail now.

    1. Engineer Girl*

      I thought of that one too. Things like this can only go in if the people in charge are good ole boys too.

    2. Triangle Pose*

      Yes! That episode was fascinating. All about people who have a tiny bit of power and manage to corrupt the ever living life out of it. He was a maintenance manager of all things! Yet people were afraid for their LIVES. Insanity. Insanity all around.

    3. Kristine*

      Yes! I have been driving myself nuts trying to remember why this story seemed to be ringing a familiarity bell in my head.

  25. Jake*

    I know how insane this will sound, but after 5 years in construction, I’ll say this is way more common than you think. The difference between this article and my experience is that the pranksters get punished, though rarely fired, as opposed to promoted.

    1. Marina*

      So… how do companies deal with liability? I mean, I imagine if setting off pipe bombs is totally common, people do occasionally get hurt. Do they just have a really big insurance payout budget? Count on people not suing? Just not care…?

      1. Blurgle*

        Intimidation and bullying, in my experience. Get the 6’9″ guy to stand over the woman injured and glare down at her.

      2. Captain Obvious*

        Count on people not suing. Suing is 100% a cultural thing, and not shared by all cultures. For many people, suing for any reason (even if they have a good chance of winning) is considered disgraceful, the adult equivalent of a temper tantrum. For example, this was recently in the Irish news — a public apology not even for suing but for implying that they might even think about suing:

        This can sometimes be hard to understand for folks who were raised in a lawsuit culture, where not suing seems like the more incomprehensible choice.

    2. aebhel*

      I mean, I know people who put bricks in each other’s toolboxes or lag-bolted a toolbox to the floor, but pipe bombs take it to a whole new level.

  26. Collarbone High*

    Not really the point, but the dry writing in that Lowering the Bar post is HILARIOUS.

    “Nothing livens up the company picnic like a few IEDs.”

    *bookmarks site*

    1. LCL*

      I love Lowering the Bar. I used to have it bookmarked at work but some postings were a bit too off color for my govt job. So now I read it at home.

    2. Turanga Leela*

      It is an amazing website. There’s a numbered series called “Good Reason to Kill” (e.g. “Good Reason to Kill #54: Was Eating All the Salsa”) that is just outstanding.

  27. V2*

    I am picturing the scene from Seinfeld where George is getting fired for sleeping with the cleaning lady on the desk in his office. “Was that wrong? Should I have not done that? I tell you, I gotta plead ignorance on this thing because if anyone had said anything to me at all when I first started here that that sort of thing was frowned upon, you know, ‘cause I’ve worked in a lot of offices and I tell you people do that all the time.”

  28. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    In a 40+ year career, I’ve seen some weird things that warrant some funny dinner table stories – but this one is definitely something I’d never imagine happening in places I’ve worked – even the most unprofessional ones.

    Of course, there are other industries where I’ve seen weirder stuff than this.

  29. Tau*

    He first “disagreed with the use of the word ‘bomb,’” arguing they weren’t big enough to count, but he conceded an employee “could have been injured or killed by such explosions.”

    He testified that explosions also took place in his mining job. However, he acknowledged that in a mine, explosions are for work purposes and are performed by explosives experts.

    I have no words.

  30. Observer*

    What I’m wondering, aside from just being utterly astounded that something like this could ever happen, is what are the customers doing about their water? These guys do water and irrigation canals. not not tourist “keepsakes”. I’d be very, very worried about the safety of anything they touch.

  31. GreenTeaPot*

    I worked for someone I think might have tried this. I did not work for him long enough to find out. But I knew he was the kind of person who would tell horrible lies about his staff. I saw it happen. He also played jokes that were not funny, and meant to make others feel foolish. I left after finding him in a compromising position with a female on the sales staff.

  32. Captain Obvious*

    This is what employers hire for when they use the euphemism “good cultural fit”: will an employee laugh when they find your shit in their lunch.

    So really, this whole thing is HR’s fault — guy should have been filtered out at the “cultural fit” stage. :-) This clearly wasn’t the company for him.

  33. Pershing48*

    This kind of stuff is probably a lot more prevalent than readers here realize, especially in industrial settings where you have mixture of dangerous equipment and unpredictable periods of inactivity. I’ve heard stories from older co-workers about how some plant personal would drop small jars of concentrated sulfuric acid out of window into a bucket of water to blow up the bucket.

    1. Omar*

      Exactly. People on this board are reading this from the eyes of sterile office environments. This one was definitely over the top, but it’s not as big a leap from reality as you’d think for many labour related jobs. I recall hearing stories of guys heating the steel toes of work boots with torches as a prank to see if they could surprise a co-worker. Just another day on the job. I avoided applying for jobs at workplaces I felt might be too rough and tumble for me to deal with. The idea of quitting because I couldn’t handle it wouldn’t have crossed my mind.

      The work in question sounds like they were out on country roads working in and next to farm fields. The water canals are meant to supply water for the farm crops (in Colorado, probably alfalfa and corn, but I’m not from there so I could be wrong). The shareholders were most likely the farm owners in the area. Doing ditch maintenance would be just about as boring work as you can get. In other words, a rough and tumble type of environment with a lot of transient workers. The boss was really the crew foreman who was put in the role because he didn’t quit after the first week. Having a crew foreman who tried to keep some spirit would normally be an asset.

      However, this one went way overboard, and the next levels up didn’t have enough sense to realize it. The shareholders normally would be most concerned that the water flowed in the right direction when the sun was shining so that the irrigation pumps never ran dry. They would never have thought they needed to police the employment standards of this agency. I’d bet the shareholders who finally stepped in with the board first heard about it was when the case hit the courts.

      1. Chinook*

        “People on this board are reading this from the eyes of sterile office environments”

        I w with field guys who do work with dangerous stuff and have a weird sense of humour but site safety is a BIG DEAL and losing stuff up without permission would get you fired. Heck, the contractor who drank from a fire hydrant and then put in a WCB claim when he got sick was not only fired but his company was kicked off site as soon as we heard about it (sure, we laughed about the WTFness of it all but no way would we let them back). Workplace safety I either important or not.

  34. Glad I don't work there*

    At first I thought this was a joke. Perhaps April Fools had come early. I even went to the Snopes website to see if it was a false internet rumor. This is so….. I don’t even have words. How does someone even conceive of these awful “pranks”, much less follow through?

  35. Cheryl Becker*

    No. I’m sorry. I really don’t believe this. I can NOT believe the boss pooped in the lunch bags. I just. . . can’t.

    It may be true. It probably is. But. . no. . I just. . . I just . . . no.

  36. Ben*

    I’m, surprised it didn’t continue to say that Bailey went for an after work drink and then *BAM* woke up two days later without a kidney!

    Many levels of crazy here.

  37. Hannah Rossiter*

    Anywhere else in the world, the two managers would be arrested for engaging in terrorist attacks.

  38. lampshade*

    This American Life did a story about a eerily similar situation somewhere in the mid-Atlantic states. these 2 stories definitely qualify for worst boss/company/lack of leadership award for the year. Wish I could say century but we all know there are more lurking out there………..

  39. KC*

    Was this in the US? Can this boss and his boss get the worst boss and 2nd worst boss ever designation?

Comments are closed.