coworker sent us all a 12-paragraph rant about office supplies

A reader writes:

This morning, I came to work to find an email that had been time-stamped at 12 a.m. from someone in our department who was disgruntled that other people were leaving our office a mess and taking each other’s office supplies. While I agree that this behavior is annoying, the email that followed was the single most unprofessional thing I have ever seen.

It was 12 paragraphs, first of all. 12! TWELVE. I printed it out and it totaled two full pages of printer paper. She cc’ed the entire department berating her fellow instructors (we work at a college), calling them lazy, stating that they don’t care about her or her work, that she is not their mother, that she takes this personally, and saying the words shit, piss, and ass. It was also replete with grammatical errors. I had contact embarrassment from reading it.

What complicates this for me is that I am this person’s friend, or at least I am friendly with her at work. She is not my superior, nor I hers, and she doesn’t have any direct reports either. She defends me in the email, as my office supplies are the most frequently stolen. I feel that I should say something to her, but she takes things so personally and I don’t want to start World War III at work.

Thus, I feel a need to say something to my boss about how appalled and unacceptable I find this, but I am not sure if it is my place to do so. He sent a reply all saying, basically, “Yes, please do not take office supplies….blah blah blah” so I don’t know whether he thinks this is a big deal. Personally, I feel that this behavior is a huge disruption in team morale, and am concerned that this woman works with students with this type of off-the-cuff tantrum-ing.

Here is the letter in its full glory:

II know that we are all very busy individuals, but for the past few months, I have found that when people either borrow or take supplies from the clinic or from myself, you are returning them by leaving them on counters, in my office or randomly in the clinic or not even telling me you took the last of the supplies. If you borrow supplies or equipment, it is your responsibility to put them back EXACTLY where you found them. I find this blatantly disrespectful to do such a thing, we are all adults. These violations have not been just one or two people, it has been MANY INDIVIDUALS, MULTIPLE TIMES, and it is not just one department, but both that have been doing this. AND IT IS NOT STUDENTS lack of cleanliness I am discussing… IT IS FACULTY!!!!!!

I have let people borrow folded clean scrubs from the supply closet, only to find them tossed on a table in clinic for me to find, clean, fold and put back where they came from. I have found bags of toothbrush kits put together stashed away in the storage closet, when they should have been taken out of the bags and placed back where they came from. I even found extra supplies that a teacher borrowed for her class to do a “Field Trip” with her students that she just threw on the table in the supply closet, along with empty boxes that they should have thrown away to begin with.

I have had people come into clinic to borrow the stapler, three/two hole punch and tape dispenser to find them in their office or classroom after being gone for half the day, Not to mention… YOU Didn’t EVEN ASK TO BORROW THEM. Most of you who borrow them are just lazy and aren’t going to your own office to get your own supplies that I made sure you have. Why in the world should the department pay for you to have office supplies if your not even going to use them????

I have had my phone charger borrowed multiple times from clinic to either find someone putting it in my office, or keeping it for several days, and even asking me to come and get it cause they are done with it. I don’t care if you want to borrow it… but for goodness sake…. PUT IT BACK WHERE YOU FOUND IT!!!!!

I am frustrated at the amount of supplies that faculty are taking from each other… If you borrow a stapler from a faculty member… RETURN IT. When looking for lost supplies, I have many times found that it was another faculty member that carelessly borrowed the stapler, tape dispenser or whatever and never returned it to the faculty member that it belongs to. PLEASE REFRAIN FROM TAKING YOUR COWORKERS SUPPLIES. Sometimes it isn’t even that someone borrowed your supplies, but the fact that you left your supplies in a classroom, someone is going to take it and that is your responsibility.

I have found the storage closet looking like a trash depot because people don’t want to put equipment or supplies away that they used for their class. The supply closet is not a dumping ground for whatever you want to put in it, everything has a place and in some cases, not everything can go in there.

Multiple times people have borrowed equipment from Mr. Digby’s office (I, the OP, have changed this name) and have taken days to return them, worse than that… I had to track down equipment that was TAKEN from his office without his permission and he had no clue as to who took the different supplies that were taken…. and YES, I found them. And some of you are even taking these supplies for your home use for several days, only to have used up almost all of the supply associated with that product and then you return it and not tell us we need to buy more. If anyone needs their office supplies it is Mr. Digby… so if you borrow something, ASK HIM… don’t just take it. if you used up the supply then TELL HIM, so he can order more.

I take this personally, I do my best to make sure that if anyone needs anything, to get it to them. If anyone needs help… I do my utmost to help them. I take time out of my day to even ask each individual what they need for the month… But the clinic is not a dumping ground for laziness and I am not your mother. Getting reprimand for a mess someone else left or having to explain why I don’t have the supplies I thought I did because someone decided to take everything without telling me we are in need to buy more is ABSOLUTELY disrespectful, unprofessional and ludicrous. There are no acceptable excuses.

If you find that you cannot return the items in the manner in which you attained them, then don’t borrow them. Its really frustrating when I have to go around and ask EVERYONE in the Dental department if they borrowed certain supplies… think about, how would you like it if I went into your office and started taking supplies off your desk?

This email includes multiple people, I understand that sometimes we are going to set something somewhere and forget about it… or you see me in the hall and know I’m going to the clinic and ask if I can drop it off, not so much a big deal… we get busy and it happens… BUT THAT ISN’T THE ISSUE… this issue is that this is happening multiple times, throughout the week for MONTHS.. and I mean MONTHS. That is way too many times. AND I HAVE HAD IT! We all lead by example, so if your not picking up your stuff, than it makes sense why many of the students are not cleaning up as well. I am not free of committing any of these acts, we ALL make mistakes… but this is too much and I’m tired of cleaning up other peoples mess and I’m tired of asking my students to clean up the mess as well.

Some of you know the majority of my responsibilities… and I’m sure there are some of you that don’t care… which is evident in the above statement. I don’t ask for help often, and some of you do help, but for the most part, I’m sitting in clinic by myself, trying to organize a closet that looks like shit, because a teacher just threw all their supplies they didn’t need anymore all over the table and on the floor.. YES.. ON THE FLOOR. Sometimes I’m taking my office hours time to track down supplies that I just ordered, that are now missing… I can’t even begin to tell you how late I have to stay some days because of the work that I needed to get done during office hours, but was taken from me because of things like tracking down supplies, cleaning the clinic or helping out other faculty. Its frustrating when I have to have students (if they are even free) clean the closet as often as they do because of the mess people leave behind.

I am truly thankful to those few who help me, even when I don’t ask… but it would sure be nice if everyone helped each other out just a little and it would sure be nice if people started respecting the property of the clinic as well as their coworkers. You can take this email and be pissed at me but if you put yourself in my shoes and worked your ass off to make sure everyone has their supplies only to find them missing, borrowed without permission or borrowed and not returned, as well as organizing the supply closet and clinic multiple times because someone decided to throw what they don’t need anymore in the clinic somewhere… you would be angry as well.

So what is the take away from this email: Ask to borrow supplies, put supplies back where you found them, report when there is a diminished amount of supplies and try helping out once in a while.”

Do I let this one go, or do I speak up about this bizarre lack of professionalism?

Oh my.

I mean, I am down with being annoyed by people who are inconsiderate with supplies, I really am.

But I cannot be down with over-use of all caps, a crazed number of exclamation points, or 12 paragraphs to say what could be said in one. Generally speaking, people don’t respond well to long rants being used to communicate a pretty simple message (“be better about putting the supplies where they belong”).

However, I am really, really down with reading other people’s long, crazed, midnight rants sent to staff lists, and I am so grateful that you sent this one to me. The fact that this was sent at midnight makes it all the better, as does imagining the author sending it off in a fit of pique and then collapsing into a deeply restful and satisfying slumber, bolstered by the knowledge that she has finally Made Her Point.

But assuming you wanted some advice, not just to entertain me: I’d let it go. Your boss knows about it, and it’s his to handle. If this were a pattern, I think it would be reasonable to speak up and say, “Hey, can someone talk to Jane about not sending out hostile, angry messages to the staff list?” But a one-time midnight rant? I’d just sit back and enjoy the show.

{ 426 comments… read them below }

  1. Bookworm*


    I think yes, let it go. And try to avoid getting drawn into too much gossip with other coworkers about the letter.

    Since she defends you, it might be worthwhile to have a little one-liner to establish with your coworkers that you had no idea that she was planning to send this letter and you’re not affiliated with it. But beyond that, there’s not much to be done here.

      1. Bookworm*

        I merely meant if asked, since I can’t imagine a letter like this not provoking conversation – and rampant speculation – around an office (at least, it would at mine). In that case, I can certainly understand that OP may want to make it very clear that he is in no way aligned with the letter.

    1. The Bimmer Guy*

      I’d just have a bemused smirk ready for when someone asks me about that letter: “I don’t know *anything* about that.” That should make it pretty clear that you don’t agree with Jane and are as surprised as everyone else is.

    2. TootsNYC*

      I think, because I’m in such sympathy with her, I’d be saying, “Yeah, it was over the top, wasn’t it? But I can see why she’s so frustrated. Especially if she’s getting reprimanded over supplies–I didn’t know that was happening! That’s not cool.”

    3. idi01*

      The OP should not have sent the e-mail in it’s entirety to this site. Someone from her office may recognize it.

  2. Adam*

    You know that gif where Homer Simpson stares in stunned silence and slowly backs away through a hedge? Insert that here.

    1. LawBee*

      it’s a hedge? for some reason, I always thought he was photoshopped onto a big pile of pot.

  3. Spooky*

    This is a small thing, but shouldn’t the title read “12-paragraph” instead of “12-page”? OP says it’s two printed pages.

    Not trying to be critical, just thought you might want to adjust.

      1. Gene*

        The url still says 12 page, that might be more difficult to fix. Does the “You may also like” pull from the post title or the url? Future readers might be disappointed. :-)

    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I read the 12-page thing and thought, “Wow, the coworker apparently has a LOT of feelings about this issue!”

      1. Creag an Tuire*

        If you ever receive a 12-page email, your coworker is the Unibomber, and you should find a new job.

        1. Ruffingit*

          LOL! Thanks for that, it’s awesome. I literally laughed out loud at your comment.

      1. Kate M*

        Also written late at night. Do people’s strong feelings and need to write multiple pages about said feelings only come out around midnight?

  4. Mallory Janis Ian*

    But a one-time midnight rant? I’d just sit back and enjoy the show.

    Yep. That’s what I’d do. One coworker at a job several years ago sent an office-wide voicemail rant detailing exactly how unpleasant it is to find oneself stuck on the toilet with no toilet paper because of inconsiderate coworkers who won’t freackin’ replace the roll when they’re the one to by god empty it. I saved it for a long time and played it back over and over again whenever I needed to laugh.

    1. Kai*

      Yep. This is enormously entertaining. OP, save this email for days when you need a good laugh.

      1. Liz Lemon 2*

        I used to have an email folder for ridiculous and hilarious all-staff emails. One of the best was one that was titled something like “For Women Only,” which *obviously* means everyone will open it. In the email, she was offering two unopened packs of birth control pills because she wasn’t taking them anymore. !!!!!!

    2. Ann Furthermore*

      Wow, this is even better than my best voicemail rant story, which is below. I mean really, how irrational do you have to be to send an office-wide voicemail discussing bodily functions? Dear god.

      Once years ago a co-worker came running over to my desk and said, “OMG. Call this number right now!” So I did. It was the home number of a guy on the sales team (who was a colossal jerk) and the message on the answering machine (yes, it was a LONG time ago) was his wife pretending to be one of their dogs. That made the rounds through the office like wildfire.

      And my sister once called her best friend, who had come home drunk the night before and tried to listen to her messages, but hit the record button instead. So her outgoing message was, “Hey. What’s wrong? Why won’t you play my messages? You f-ing piece of s*it!” BEEP. She immediately called all their mutual friends.

      1. Creag an Tuire*

        To be fair, stranding somebody without toilet paper is a mortal sin. They made a whole 10th circle of Hell for it.

        1. Editor*

          I went back to my former workplace to meet a friend for lunch three years after I had left, and the bathroom posters were still up in each stall: “there is no toilet paper fairy. If you use the last roll of toilet paper, please replace the roll.” The poster included a clip-art fairy a la Disney and had been in place for at least two years before I left.

          The custodial staff put extra rolls on each toilet tank, so it wasn’t even hard to replace a roll.

          1. Tommy*

            Oh well if it’s on the tank that’s not a huge deal at all. I assume the voicemail was left about the extra roll being in some supply closet…

        2. Mallory Janis Ian*

          It is a mortal sin that happened to me earlier this week. And when I asked the person in the next stall for some TP, she handed me, like, three squares. Which is also a mortal sin, now that I think of it.

        3. Elizabeth*

          Which is why I carry a roll of TP in my purse. Yes, I know, weird,but it has come in handy!

          1. Oh, I'll Answer The Phones.*

            The first time my best friend pulled a couple packs of travel kleenex from her purse at a music festival as we stood outside the port-o-pottys, I knew we were destined to be friends forever.

            1. Rebecca in Dallas*

              Yes, I always carry travel packs of kleenex when I know it’s going to be a portapotty situation!

              1. Rachel*

                I live in Japan, where any public toilet may be, without warning, a no-paper facility. Luckily, people hand out their flyers attached to packs of tissues, so I never worry :) I’m always the toilet paper fairy when I travel with friends, though!

                1. SeekingBetter*

                  Unfortunately, there’re no people handing out packs of tissue flyers in China. You have to buy or bring your own tissue to the public toilets there.

    3. Laura*

      An office-wide VOICEMAIL?? Was it sent while the coworker was actively on the toilet? I need to know… for science.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        It wasn’t sent while she was actively on the toilet, but it was sent immediately after she returned to her desk from however she rescued herself. She was in the office after hours while no one else was there, so she was venting via voicemail in the privacy of her own office. Our phone system at the time had a VM-to-all feature that she used in the heat of the moment.

        1. Wendy Darling*

          That seems like a feature that’s never, ever going to be used for a good reason…

    4. Amy G. Golly*

      I used to live in a co-op in college. Quick explanation: a co-op is a shared housing situation where the housemates share not only rent and chores, but food as well. I lived in a house that wasn’t so great about obtaining and distributing the shared food, and one day we got the most epic rant emailed to the house list. I saved it for ages and I’m so irritated I don’t have it anymore! One gem of a line I memorized: “While milk and honey flow in Gale (another co-op), we desperately mix orange power and water to make juice.”

      Good stuff!

  5. NylaW*

    Wow. That’s quite a rant.

    It might be picky, but the fact that it was sent at midnight makes me wonder if she set the email to send “today” which would cause it to go out automatically at midnight. She may not have been up typing at that time at all, but given the general vibe of this… it wouldn’t be surprising either.

    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I like imagining her sitting up in bed and typing it and then collapsing into exhausted sleep as soon as she hits ‘send’.

      My former boss (of a pair of married bosses) once sent me a midnight rant about opening the other boss’s (her husband’s) mail. I had worked for him for six years at a university department before going to their private firm, and he had never opened a piece of his own mail the entire time. He even had me set up a shared mail slot with my name and his on it so that I could take care of his mail for him and only tell him about it if he needed to know anything. I unthinkingly did the same for him when I went to his private firm, and apparently his wife considered it enough of a boundary issue to write me a two-page rant about how he is her husband and she knows more about him than I ever will and how dare I interfere where I don’t belong, etc. etc.

      I wish now that I had kept that email to look at whenever I need to laugh, but when I first got it, I was so mad that I deleted it and then went into the deleted items folder and deleted it again.

      1. Doriana Gray*

        Yeah, I prefer to think of her typing it up at midnight thanks to Alison’s hilarious and evocative image

        The fact that this was sent at midnight makes it all the better, as does imagining the author sending it off in a fit of pique and then collapsing into a deeply restful and satisfying slumber, bolstered by the knowledge that she has finally Made Her Point.

        I saw this in my mind’s eye and just about died, lol. Poor disgruntled coworker.

    2. Gene*

      That makes it even better. It would mean she had time to think about what she had written before it was sent out. Any time between hitting Send Later and midnight, she could have edited or deleted it.

    3. Rebecca in Dallas*

      Haha and I was picturing her writing it with a half-empty bottle of wine next to her!

      A friend’s recent ex-girlfriend sent this long email tirade to him, it was time-stamped sometime after midnight and she was a heavy wine-drinker. He forwarded it to me so we could both laugh hysterically and I have saved it to read again when I need a laugh. The best part was that she had accused him of being an addict (for using drugs occasionally in college… 10 years previous) and all I could picture is her angrily drinking wine while she typed!

  6. some1*

    The saddest part about this is that she probably thinks the office supply thieves are hanging their tales in shame from now on, but in my experience, she a) the thieves don’t care, and b) the people who do put stuff back now are now annoyed &/or nonplussed. She will forever be the woman who sent That Midnight Email at this place until even after she is gone.

    1. Gene*

      “Mr. Lumbergh told me to talk to payroll and then payroll told me to talk to Mr. Lumbergh and I still haven’t received my paycheck and he took my stapler and he never brought it back and then they moved my desk to storage room B and there was garbage on it… “

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Ha, I was reading down and waiting for someone to say this! :)

        I put a picture of Milton on a sticker that said, “MINE!” on my stapler at Exjob to keep people from walking off with it. :)

      2. Audiophile*

        I’ve been debating buying my own red stapler, but I don’t think my office is cool enough to get the reference.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          I have a red stapler, and when starting my new job, I told my co-workers I’d burn the building down if anyone stole it. They said I’d just have to staple my TPS reports with something else if they stole it.

          1. ThursdaysGeek*

            I have a small red stapler, with red staples! I keep it at home, however — I wouldn’t want to lose that.

    2. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

      Unfortunately you are very right. I am in charge for the supply room for a university department. Everything the ranter says is true. I see it all of the time. No one will change because of her rant, that is the sad part.

      1. Sunshine*

        And she has effectively killed any chance of anyone ever taking her seriously about anything.

        1. afiendishthingy*

          Yup – she’s going to be an office joke for good. I mean, everyone here still talks about the time Jane from Teapot Design stormed into Teapot Sales Director Fergus’ office and said “We’ve got a problem. I’m going on vacation next week, and I really need this issue resolved before then. I’ve already talked to Teapot Design Director about it, but I’m just not sure it’s been addressed.” Fergus said, “Of course, of course, what’s wrong?” “The soap. In the ladies’ room. DOES NOT LATHER. I am VERY CONCERNED that my hands are not getting clean! Can you PLEASE have someone replace it??” Fergus says “….Yes. yes of course.”

          …And that was over a year ago, Fergus doesn’t even work here anymore, and it wasn’t even a mass email. Fergus just likes to talk. 12 paragraph all-department rant about office supplies? They’ll be quoting it for years to come.

      2. RKB*

        Back when oil was at its peak, my father’s office had a rash of supply thefts. What did they do? They hired a secretary, gave her a desk, and put her right outside the office supply room. Whenever you needed something, you had to sign it out.

        What was hilarious is that they spent the money on finding and hiring a secretary, who don’t come cheap in the oil industry, giving her benefits, a workspace, a computer, and PTO/vacations… because they didn’t want to replace Post-It Notes.

  7. Lily in NYC*

    Whoa, I can’t help but enjoy this! I have fantasies about putting a giant sign in my cube that says “This is not a supply cabinet” but I am not dumb enough to do so. But I’m still stewing over someone stealing my Game of Thrones letter opener (it’s a replica of Ned Stark’s sword).

  8. AMG*

    Wow, um, that was interesting. I also am into watching other people’s soap operas unfold. I wouldn’t touch this with a 10-foot pole. But I’ll make popcorn and get comfy (just don’t use the microwave in the break room to make that popcorn)!

  9. Jubilance*

    Wow – yeah that email is definitely one that sent after a lot of frustration. How is she now that the email has been sent? Is she mortified that she sent this email in a fit of anger or is she happy she did it?

      1. OP*

        She is very happy that she did it, despite at least three instructors not speaking to her and one other telling her that he can’t believe she swore, to which she responded “Whatever, dude”. I have seen her on three separate occasions asking people “Did you get my email?” I think she’s trying to get further validation that this was okay.

            1. Lynn*

              The sender of the email is my new hero. I had the exact same job and silently stewed for years. How much better to send a crazy email and have the guts to back it up the next day in person.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            Oh, yeah — I like the letter sender more and more. She gave me my laugh for the day; she reminded me of all my old retro emails and voicemails, so I got to laugh again; and then she tells the guy, “Whatever, dude”, and I got to laugh yet again.

          2. afiendishthingy*

            Personally I love that she’s CHECKING with people to see if they got her email. Just still not sure if her point was clear.

            1. Mallory Janis Ian*

              I wonder if the ones she’s checking with are the ones she really, really wants to have seen it.

          1. AnonInSC*

            Wow. Just wow. That in the harsh light of day she thinks this was a good idea is amazing.

            1. Tamsin*

              ikr? And to think I’ve stressed out before with sender’s remorse and second-guessing over what are completely benign simple emails that might (with a great stretch of the imagination) be read one possible negative way.

        1. super anon*

          hang on – she said that to a faculty member? is she staff?!?! i can’t imagine speaking to faculty like that, ever.

          1. SerfinUSA*

            I imagine it all the time, but would only do so if incredibly provoked and ready to walk.

            1. Jadelyn*

              Yeah, that’s the sort of thing you only do once you’ve got a new job. Write it on a cake you bring in for your going-away party or something (wasn’t there a guy who did that, or resigned via cake or something?)

        2. Becky*

          I think it’s pretty funny that someone found the swearing to be the most incredulous part of the email. Like, twelve paragraphs about office supplies, that’s totally okay, but swearing in a 12-paragraph rant about office supplies is the crazy part.

        3. Pete*

          She owns it! Good on her. She may lose this battle (by looking foolish), but I think she’s increased her chances of winning the war.

    1. Creag an Tuire*

      Given the midnight send time, I’m curious if she followed that advice about writing down the rant you’d like to send and then deleting/saving it to a private folder and never sending it, reflexively hit “send”, and is now freaking the quack out.

      1. OhNo*

        I was kind of wondering if she wrote it while tipsy or drunk – that’s the only reason I can think of to send something like this to all your coworkers at midnight.

        1. Windchime*

          We used to have a guy at OldJob who would send long drunken emails and voicemails to the CIO. It was nuts.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            Ha. This reminds me of a story the guys at my old office told me about a predecessor in my role as office manager. The bosses hired the husband of one of the wife’s friends, mainly to help out the friend by giving her husband a job. My boss went on a client visit to Memphis, and the office manager was supposed to drive him back (about a six-hour drive). The office manager stole my boss’s Woodford Reserve bourbon and drank all of it, so instead of having a driver to take him home after his client meeting, my boss had to drive back home with the drunk office manager in the back seat. He fired him the next day.

      2. Kiryn*

        This is why I don’t put recipients on my emails until I’m done and ready to send them. Can’t accidentally send something if the system doesn’t know where it’s going.

        1. BeautifulVoid*

          Same. It also has the benefit of drastically cutting down the number of “Whoops, forgot the attachment!” emails since I check over eeeeverything before putting in the email addresses.

        2. Jessilein*

          Me too! I don’t think I’ve ever actually sent an email I wasn’t ready to send yet, but I’ve heard enough stories about people doing it that I’m extra careful now.

        3. Snazzy Hat*

          I do this religiously when applying for a job. God forbid my e-mail message says “I have attached my cover letter and résumé,” yet doesn’t contain any attachments.

        1. Kate M*

          To Whoever Made the Microwave Mess:

          The microwave is a SHARED kitchen appliance.

          By not cleaning it up, you are basically telling whoever follows that their time is less valuable, as they will have to scrub out your disgusting splatter.


          (So not quite 12 paragraphs, but garnered the same response for Pam.)

          1. Artemesia*

            You’ll note however that the ranters in each of these examples are RIGHT — people who steal office supplies from someone else’s desk because they are too lazy to get their own make life miserable for people lower on the pole or with desks in more easily accessed spaces. People who leave a mess in the microwave are entitled jerks etc etc. The memos are feckless and unprofessional but it is nevertheless a very difficult issue to deal with for those always being stuck with other people’s inconsiderate messes.

            1. Kate M*

              Oh absolutely. I always felt so bad for Pam in that episode. And I definitely feel for the email writer. Like, they’re both right…but the response you get from pointing that out is not usually going to be positive unfortunately. (That being said, I do think the email is a bit over the top. I understand getting to that point, but realistically it should try to be dealt with at the point where you can concisely write one paragraph on it, not when you get to this point.)

              1. Xanadu*

                We had a fairly high up person who hated the microwave messiness. It wasn’t unusual for him to sent out 2-3 long emails per month, shaming the entire floor about how hideous the microwaves were (including one time upset that it was dirty underneath the microwave?)

                It culminated in him moving the microwave into his office to teach us how lucky we were to have a microwave at all.

                I brought in a microwave from home (my old college one) and put it in the kitchen without mentioning it and he blew a gasket. I had to wipe it out one day before using it and he saw me and lost it and started ranting about how gross people were and asked if I was going to send an email to the floor. I told him I had work to do and didn’t really have time to write a two page letter about how difficult it was to take 15 seconds to wipe down the microwave.

                The emails stopped and the microwaves have not turned into hideous nuclear waste dumps, somehow. People just wipe them down if they think they’re gross.

            2. catsAreCool*

              Yeah. I kept thinking that the letter writer needed to start locking up this stuff.

      3. SJ*

        that sort of thing is why putting addresses in the “to” section of the email is always, always, always the very last thing I do, when I’m positive I’m ready to send!

        1. Amy*

          So glad to see that I’m not the only one who does that. I’ve had one too many accidental pre-mature sends.

          1. Zillah*

            I started doing it once I accidentally called Friend A and starting ranting about Friend B. Thankfully, I was interrupted before I actually named Friend B, because Friend B was the person I’d called by mistake.

            Since then, I’ve generally been careful about checking who I’m calling and sending stuff to.

      4. catsAreCool*

        The trick with writing down the rant you’d like to send is to either not write it in an e-mail or if you do, don’t address it to anyone except maybe yourself.

    2. Jillociraptor*

      Great questions. Since OP is friendly with the sender, it might be worthwhile to muster up the empathy to ask what’s happening with the sender. It can kindly convey that this is Very Strange Office Behavior but also that the feelings behind the behavior are valid and worth addressing (just in a more reasonable way).

    3. sam*

      I think I actually got sympathetic catharsis from reading this thing. If there is such a thing.

  10. Lauren*

    I feel deeply for the writer. Truly, I do. Is it possible that people not being able to find stuff be put back on them? If not, I would suggest to her that unless she is exempt that she not put in any overtime to finish up her work. OP, I don’t think you should say anything except maybe express sympathy for her situation.

    1. Green*

      I don’t think I would express sympathy for her situation. In this dynamic, it will be viewed as taking sides, and since OP already defended her in the letter, she’s already overly associated with this craziness. This seems like a good time to use the Carolyn Hax “wow” and move on.

    2. peanut butter kisses*

      I feel for the person who wrote the e-mail and the OP. I think this is what happens when you don’t address a problem before it gets to the BEC stage.

      And if that e-mailer had written here instead of their office, I would have cut the major offenders off from ‘borrowing’ supplies until they agreed to be adults about it.

    3. Dot Warner*

      I agree! Yes, this e-mail was over-the-top and unprofessional and sending it was not a good idea, but it sounds like the writer works with a bunch of overgrown kindergarteners. If I had to put up with that nonsense, I’d probably blow my stack too.

    4. Cafe au Lait*

      I feel for her too. Personal items being taken off your desk and not returned? I have never denied someone my cell power cord when they’ve asked. I am angry when I have to hunt it down, or discover it’s missing from my desk. I don’t have a way of locking my desk or my belongings at night. Case in point: I left a ring on my desk, and forgot about it. I knew it was there, but forgot to take it home. (Small office; not accessible other than my two coworkers or cleaning staff). I came in one day and noticed that it was missing. I’ve been really bummed.

    5. Cristina in England*

      As I got to the end of the actual memo, I really started to feel for this woman who manages the supply closet. She just wants to do her job. The turning point for me was when she mentioned that she herself gets reprimanded for the problems she describes. I mean, she has erred in her execution to be sure, but she just seems frustrated that her coworkers are making her job a lot harder due to simple inconsiderate behaviour.

    6. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

      Ditto. I do feel sorry for the email sender. I work in academia. I know the way staff is treated.

      1. Cambridge doc*


        I am really disappointed to see how harsh the posts are (including the OP). I can put myself in her shoes. Can’t you?

        I’m a medical doctor where my daily stakes are pretty high. But she’s just trying to do her job. And from the sounds of it, everyone around her is making it really unpleasant.

        And honestly, it can make you pretty crazy when grown adults cannot remember things they were supposed to have learned in Kindergarten.

        1. OlympiasEpiriot*

          I agree.

          Supplies aren’t my job, but, hey, they are vital. Napoleon knew that and the Quartermaster’s position is essential. This place obviously needs better procedures and control and someone at the top needs to come down on the department and get them to respect that AND the person(s) responsible for storing/inventory/providing of said supplies.

          A couple days ago, I wanted to write a new verse for The Goops about evangelizing. Here I don’t need to write a new verse, these reminders were even needed back in the 1890’s — although these were FOR CHILDREN since it was assumed adults wouldn’t do this kind of thing.

      2. Xanadu*

        I’m never more thankful for our office than at times like these. We’re academia and there are a lot of problems but our leadership does not value us over the faculty and will back us up when we need to enforce law. Our division chief straight up told me that without admins most of the faculty couldn’t function anyway, and each admin hires 5-8 faculty so if one of them chases off an admin they’re crippling 5 faculty members with their foolishness.

        1. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

          I am confused by your comment. You state “…our leadership does *not* value us over the faculty” but then you say, “will back us up when we need to enforce law.” It sounds like they at least value you the same as faculty.

  11. alter_ego*

    oh man, I am just so happy that the email was included. I was reading the first couple of paragraphs of the question thinking “man, I wish I was going to get to read this email” and then I did! The whole reason I read advice columns is for the vicarious crazy; this made my day.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Oh, I will also add that it wasn’t included originally and I wrote back to the OP to see if he’d share it with me, and then once he did and I saw how magnificent it was, I wrote back to beg to be allowed to share it here. Because there is really nothing better than this kind of thing.

        (Does anyone remember Jezebel’s old Crap Email From a Dude feature? That was the best. A sample – warning, profanity in headline.)

        1. Kyrielle*

          I am SO GLAD the OP was willing to share this email.

          This is totally a “grab the popcorn, enjoy the show” email.

          Although I really feel for the person who sent the email; not the right move, probably has made a strong impression on their coworkers (and not the one intended, necessarily). But…yeah. From the OP’s position, I would just blink and watch it go by.

          Exception: the defending-the-OP part might call for saying something, but doing it in such a way as to distance from the email without offending the rant-writer might be hard.

        2. Bookworm*

          Oh. Wow. That was painful to read.

          And….confusing. I want to understand the connections that are happening inside this person’s head and I cannot.

        3. alter_ego*

          You’re my favorite person, Alison

          And yes, I loved that feature, and Thatz Not Okay

        4. KaloraKid*

          That letter is amazing, terrifying, torturous, and just about everything and anything I could ask for on a Wednesday afternoon.

          1. Katie the Fed*

            Ahhh yes. Who can resist such a compelling argument:

            “Or perhaps you might have given some thought to the fact that I’m a thoroughly decent guy who is utterly devoted to you and would never even think about mistreating you or being abusive or unfaithful.”

        5. Sigrid*

          Oh my GOD that is the greatest email I have ever read in my life and I want to frame it and also I hope Jess cut him completely out of her life after that because wow.

        6. KimmieSue*

          I had never seen Crap Email from a Dude. Priceless! You’ve outdone yourself today. Hilarious.

          1. MsChanandlerBong*

            Me too! When I first found the site, they had some really insightful pieces on feminism, race, etc. Now it’s mostly celebrity gossip.

        7. Joy*

          That email was amazing!

          I was sad to see the 2007 vintage jez commenters blaming “Jess” and assuming she led him on somehow. Yuck.

        8. Liz*

          Now I know of your love of bizarre letters, I’m going to pop into the next open thread with the amazing letter that a former colleague had printed and handed out to individual co-workers whom she felt had transgressed. (She had a severe fragrance allergy, with which we were sympathetic, but her letter went so far as expressing concern about the sperm count of our cologne-wearing male colleagues.)

          1. Sarahnova*

            OMG PLEASE DO THAT.

            There ain’t no crazy letter like a crazy letter that speculates on a business colleague’s sperm count.

      2. bearing*

        Man, if you like vicarious crazy, then WRITING an advice column has to be a good gig.

        Too bad I don’t have any good advice.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      In all seriousness, she probably does need to take a vacation.

      I get like this (ok, not QUITE like this, but my internal monologue comes close) when I’m approaching burnout and really need a break. That’s why I suggested below that OP might want to ask her in a compassionate way if she’s doing ok. Because she might not be.

  12. 2 Cents*

    I know it’s somewhat off-topic, so maybe for Friday’s or Sunday’s open discussion post: best work rant email or VM you’ve ever received

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Ack! Now I really, really regret that I double-deleted the email rant my one boss sent me about how I don’t know jack about her husband (my other boss) that she didn’t know better and sooner.

      2. Kyrielle*

        I don’t have a good one to contribute – but I would love to see this as a post or a thread, yes.

      3. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I’m going to create a file on my computer called “LOL” and just wait for something funny to come in. I’ve never saved all the crazy emails that people have sent over the years, and I could have had some doozies for this project if I’d held on to them. Here’s hoping I get some good ones going forward.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I think I’ll do it as a whole separate post of its own next week so people can just post whatever they have there. I’m very excited…

      4. bearing*

        The only one I ever got was from a family member, so not work related. But I did post it here (on a Sunday thread) last year.

        A whole post about crazypants email rants would be wonderful.

      5. Brett*

        But I no longer have access to old job email. It had several unpunctuated, uncapitalized, and badly misspelled rants from awful co-worker who was mystifyingly put in charge of people.
        Wonder if I could sunshine law request them….

        Could we also include just plain crazy emails? There was one particular email that was not a rant, but was over the top crazy in a way I will never forget.

      6. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        My entire actual job is fielding daily crazy responses from business & consumer clients. I WILL HAVE SO MUCH TO GIVE!

    1. K130*

      Do customer rants count? I have lots of those; my favorite is four pages of handwritten gold. I keep it on my bulletin board for entertainment purposes.

    2. Sibley*

      I was a bcc on a wonderful, juicy one several years (and 2 jobs) ago, which I so wish I’d saved. I was young.

      The person actually got let go as a result of the issues ranted about in the email, but not due to the email itself. And it took another 2-3 years.

    3. Eden*

      I keep an email folder titled “Priceless exchanges” so that I can quickly pull up the email strings that make me laugh! When I’m having a bad day, I’ll go scroll through them to cheer myself up.

    4. Artemesia*

      I have a couple of resignation letters I saved by people who were burning bridges and massively ticked — they always make the person sound pathetic. I can’t post — too private a thing — but I am sure many others have similar. High dudgeon always makes the ranter just seem sad and weak. Same with letters written by family members to errant offspring or DILs or whatever. I come from a family where this sort of thing was done across the generations and never once did this sort of letter lead to a positive outcome.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        High dudgeon always makes the ranter just seem sad and weak.

        So true. Because if there were anything effectual that the writer could do, then they wouldn’t be using the last resort of writing such a letter.

    5. EvilQueenRegina*

      The original email on this post actually reminded me of one I had when I worked at The Real Office. To explain the background, the team at that job had been based at four separate offices and moved into one a few years earlier. Office A had been the main base until everyone moved to B. But for some weird reason, everyone who had been based at building B, C or D still got added to A’s building wide distribution list, and even people who had started there long after the office move and never worked at A at all were automatically added. So we were all getting emails from Sansa the office manager there, with the same kind of grammatical and spelling errors as the above (in fact it wouldn’t shock me to hear this was the same person), about things like dirty mugs etc. that had nothing to do with us as we weren’t even there. Some people kept the emails for the amusement value, others got annoyed, one to the point where he fired something back at Sansa saying “Do I really need to know about that?”

      On this day, there had obviously been a lot of complaints about heating and Sansa sent: “To All Staff PLease note that the Heating has now been turned on for the duration of the Winter So please no more Sob Stories. I just cannot stand the emotion It brings. My handies are wet with the tears I have cried”. Some guy then sent round a reply all threatening to come in wearing his Speedos if she didn’t turn the heating off and telling everyone to wear clothes if they were cold.

  13. Queen Anne of Cleves*

    I am so for sitting back and enjoying the show. Not your circus, not your monkeys.

  14. overeducated and underemployed*

    Oh man, this is ridiculous and inappropriate but I have so much sympathy for the “I am not your mother” sentiment. Cleaning up your coworkers’ or students’ dirty dishes/laundry/trash because they just choose not to care is so frustrating.

  15. Ann Furthermore*

    Holy moly. Yeah, just sit back and get a front row seat for the fireworks that are sure to come. OP, please send an update!

    A coworker and I once got a huge laugh years ago. It was at the beginning of January, after he’d taken some time off. He came back to a voicemail rant from our crazy boss that was so long the voicemail system had cut her off. I heard him spluttering and steaming at his desk, and I asked him what was going on, so he told me what had happened.

    She went on and on in this voicemail, berating him for not getting something done before he left.”I told you the one thing you needed to get me before you left were the revenue numbers, and you didn’t do it! Now I’m sitting here in my office at 10:00 at night unable to finish up the TPS Report (or whatever it was) because YOU didn’t do what YOU said you would before leaving! This level of unprofessionalism is unacceptable! When you return we’re going to have a serious discussion about your priorities and how seriously you take your job here. If this is the way you treat your work obligations then I’m not sure I want you on my team. You need to —” It was 2 minutes of her having a meltdown, and the message ended when the voicemail system cut her off mid-sentence.

    It was 2 minutes of this kind of thing, serious ranting and raving. Then it was followed by another voice mail. “Oh, never mind. I found it.” He was really furious, and I was furious on his behalf, but then we both realized how ridiculous the situation was and laughed and laughed. And she never apologized either.

    1. JMegan*

      The second email “Oh, never mind. I found it.” is GOLD. I’d bet money that the boss was too embarrassed to apologize!

      1. bearing*

        I would have gone in pretending I had not checked my voicemail between the two messages.

    2. Snazzy Hat*

      {walks into crazy boss’ office} So, did you still want to have that discussion about my priorities?

    3. Schnapps*

      My coworkers are wondering why I’m sitting here laughing til I cry. That is TOO FUNNY. Because my manager does that sometimes (she’s better now, but she used to be the absolute WORST about that). At least it taught me to save all the emails, right? :)

    4. TootsNYC*

      I once got mad a someone who, on a night when three of us were working late to finish something, got done with his part and left it on HIS desk, and then went home. And didn’t tell us he was leaving, so we were patiently waiting for the handoff.

      He wasn’t required to stay to the end, but he didn’t pass it off, so no one else could do their part, and he didn’t get in until later in the morning, so we’d have to wait even longer. So I blasted him in a voice-mail message.

      And started to feel bad about it, so when I got in, I went to his desk and deleted his it from his voicemail (we didn’t have passwords if we were accessing it from our desk, and I was sure mine was the only one, and checked to be sure).

      But I *did* go to his boss about it.

    5. coffeeandpearls*

      Ugh. I was a victim of this in one of my college jobs. I was an RA, and my boss needed some paperwork that I turned in before I left for Christmas Break/ out of the country. According to one of my co RAs, my boss FREAKED out that she couldn’t find it (my packet was first in her mailbox), ignored the fact that my co RA said she witnessed me turning it in before she turned hers in, and keyed into my room with another RA (who already hated me- cherry on top). My boss SEARCHED MY BEDROOM with a coworker, all while ranting how irresponsible and disorganized I was. Guess where they found it? In her office mailbox. I wouldn’t have ever known if my co RA hadn’t told me how outraged she was.

      1. The Strand*

        Please tell me you spoke to your Dean about this. That is a huge, huge no-no for residence life staff.

        1. coffeeandpearls*

          I actually was so naive in the workforce that I actually thought that I wasn’t allowed my boss about her behavior and the pattern I had noticed of me being labeled the scape goat on staff. I let this and other incidents where I wasn’t trusted or prematurely blamed bottle up and I very inappropriately exploded! I ranted to a group of RAs that reported me and I ended up almost losing my job! I know better now, but back then I was stressed, emotional and dumb. Happy ending – after a long time working through it- that boss and I are good friends today!

    6. Jubilance*

      Stuff like that burns me up. I once had a manager chew me out about not doing something, when said thing had already been done and he was working off of outdated information. Your coworker is a much better person that me, cause I would have been livid.

      1. Nina*

        Right? I was late to work once because the train I was on basically stopped moving for a hour and a half. Kept calling my boss to let him know where I was and no, we still weren’t moving. I finally get to work and say hello to him. He just gives me a death glare.

        Me: “I called you!”
        Boss: (pauses) “You did?”
        Me: “Yes. Check your phone.”

        He looks at his phone. 5 new voicemails, all from me.

  16. Mike C.*

    I’m in the leave it alone camp.

    Everyone has a bad day, the email is hilarious and if this is the worst that can happen, I’ll take it over 90% of the things I see written about in this blog.

    1. Mike C.*

      And now that I read it a second time, that sort of behavior would really irritate me as well, especially taking my phone charger. I wouldn’t let it get to this point, but maybe once folks are done enjoying the email they should be more considerate of shared resources and the like.

      1. alter_ego*

        Yeah, it’s unfortunate, because it sounds like this employee has some legitimate gripes (the phone charger thing would drive me NUTS), but no one is going to take this method of communication seriously, and a certain type of person is going to take it as a challenge to do the things that annoy her as much as possible to see if they can get her to snap again.

        1. RVA Cat*

          Sadly, this. You know how we talk on here about choosing if this is the hill you want to die on? This email is not only picking that hill, but calling in airstrikes on the hill while you are standing there on it.

  17. Lady Warbucks*

    That. Was. AWESOME!!!! Although, I do feel for her but that “collapse into a deep restful and satisfying slumber, bolstered by the knowledge that she has finally Made Her Point” that Alison describes is what I am feeling after reading that!
    I have nothing to add….she’s the Jerry McGuire of Office Supplies!

    1. Nina*

      Took the words out of my mouth! I kept thinking “So, she’s having her own Jerry Maguire moment, huh?”

  18. LawBee*

    I loved this whole letter. OP, you don’t have to do anything. Just enjoy it for what it is – a midnight rant by someone who has HAD IT UP TO HERE.

  19. Bowserkitty*

    However, I am really, really down with reading other people’s long, crazed, midnight rants sent to staff lists, and I am so grateful that you sent this one to me.

    You and me both, and I’d like to join the inevitable masses of commenters saying “I believe you have my stapler!”

  20. AnotherHRPro*

    Oh OP, you just need to slowly shake your head, grab some popcorn, sit back and wait. I actually wish I was in this office right now. Repeat to yourself, “Not my circus, not my monkeys.” But you can enjoy the show!

    Don’t get hung up on your work friend mentioning you. People know you didn’t write the crazy email. I know this is/was a work friend so you probably feel a little mortified, a little bad and a little guilty. Don’t. Your colleague lost it. It happens from time to time. Just stay out of the fray.

    We totally need an update on this one as this could turn into an email war!! Few things are more entertaining than that at work – ok, passive aggressive notes on the fridge are up there too. :)

    1. Corporate Cynic*

      Oh, I once enjoyed reading the ultimate passive-aggressive fridge note! Props to 2 Cents above for suggesting that we share these rants on Friday or Sunday’s thread – looking forward :)

    2. SusanIvanova*

      Speaking of – there’s a website that would be perfect for this:

  21. A Bug!*

    I share in your enjoyment of reading e-mails like these, Allison, but I also feel a little bit torn, because the writer of the e-mail didn’t choose to send it to you for publication.

    If the writer of the e-mail happens to find this post and reads this comment, I urge you to stop reading the comments on this post and put this post out of your mind. If you are determined to keep reading, then please remember that none of the commenters here know you and their comments about you aren’t actually directed at you, particularly any judgments on your character as opposed to the content of your e-mail. You don’t have to prove anything in here.

    (That said, your e-mail was ridiculous, and if you haven’t already, you should look into picking up some methods of coping with frustration so you don’t get to that point again.)

    1. Andrea*

      YES YES YES!

      I really was surprised to see the actual document here. If the OP’s concern was dealing with the contact embarrassment of a friend from work, this throws gas on that fire. The idea that this is now more traceable back to that person (I know people who work in similar institutions and wondered if it they received it) makes the original situation worse.

      Why are we all gleefully reveling in someone’s obvious embarrassing/borderline behavior?

      1. A Bug!*

        Well, to be fair, I don’t really have a problem with enjoying the letter itself. It is a very silly e-mail. And it’s not that I was expecting a wave of vitriol or mean-spirited laughter directed at the writer or anything, either. But I also know that it can be easy to get carried away as a commenter, and it only takes a handful of critical comments or a drive-by troll to dominate a person’s impression of the overall tone.

        So I just needed to satisfy that concern for the writer in the unlikely event that she does stumble upon this post (or the more-likely event that the writer is told that her e-mail got posted on the Internet).

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah. I agree. We (our society) seem to have a culture of rants, it’s fun until it’s your own issue that everyone is laughing at.

        What I see is a disorganized work environment. And it’s not just the supplies that are disorganized, TPTB have managed to do something to allow this to unfold the way it has. Why can’t the emailer talk to her boss? Why is everyone and their brother allowed access to the supply closet? Are people so overloaded with work that they are no longer able to proper care of company property? What is the policy regarding supplies and does everyone have a copy of it?

        I am going back and forth between feeling embarrassed for the emailer and feeling embarrassed for the bosses. Nothing happens in a vacuum. It would be lovely to think this woman is alone in her meltdown and no one else is having problems, but I find that difficult to believe.

  22. Anon Accountant*

    I’d try to let it go but enjoy watching what drama unfolds. Grab some snacks and watch the show. I wonder if she was in the heat of the moment and is super embarrassed and if this is far out of character for her.

    Did she get someone upset with her 1 time too many and she just lost her cool and is embarrassed by this? Or does she see nothing wrong with her behavior?

  23. Rusty Shackelford*

    Honestly? I think the sender of this email works with a bunch of spoiled brats, and I probably would have blown my lid a long time ago. (But without sending that email.)

    1. PontoonPirate*

      Good grief, yes. I think the email is superficially hilarious, but then I imagine what it took (or what it would take for me) to get to this point (as someone else quoted a few days ago: “Flames! Flames, on the side of my face!”) and I feel so much sympathy for the email writer.

      I mean, don’t send this kind of email, but then again, don’t be that person who takes things and then tosses them casually about as if you’re a honey badger that just don’t care.

    2. TootsNYC*

      I agree! I don’t think the email was at ALL wise, but my sympathy was totally with the writer of the email!

      I actually hope that this does make a little bit of a difference–if only 3 borderline people try to get a little better, it will help.

    3. flappy*

      Me too. That e-mail was super wrong, but it also reminded me why maintaining office supplies is a job duty I will never, ever, ever, EVER take on again if I can possibly help it.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      It could be that her cohorts are spoiled brats or it could be that management is out to lunch. One time someone took something from our office. My boss located the item and spoke to that person directly. It never happened again.
      Granted OP works for a much larger place, but if management is active, then the emailer would not have had any where near this level of difficulty. I think management is snoozing here.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        No one over the age of 5 should need a manager to say “don’t take someone else’s stuff, and if you have permission to borrow it, put it back when you’re done.”

  24. HRChick*

    I know it’s probably wrong for me to say, but as someone who works in a university, I am not all that shocked.

    This type of rant is pretty typical as far as I can tell from my interactions with others who work at universities! That’s not to say it’s a weekly occurrence, but it’s definitely not a unicorn.

    1. Amadeo*

      Yup. I take care of our computer equipment as a go-between between my department and our college IT individual. I just today had to take projector cords out of the laptop bag and put them back in the projector case where they belonged. Fortunately we all have individual offices so there’s no supply stealing shenanigans (although I can’t speak for what goes on among the grad students and their shared offices), but I have had faculty pretend to go temporarily deaf when I tell them we don’t have the money to upgrade software.

    2. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

      HRChick, I am curious about some things. Are these rants usually coming from staff or faculty? Who are they usually directed at? Staff directing it at faculty (as is in this case) or the opposite way around? If it is staff directed at faculty, does it seem somewhat justified (as is in this case)?

  25. Mockingjay*

    A few years ago, I sat outside the door to the software lab. The software testers used to grab pens and pencils, stapler etc. off my desk because it was convenient. (The lab was a controlled space and very small. Every available surface was covered by laptops, so no one could really store anything.)

    I didn’t mind, as long as they brought stuff back. Which didn’t always happen.

    Rather than a midnight rant, I bought bright pink flowered pencils and bright green stapler and tape dispenser. The testers still borrowed my stuff, but they made sure to bring everything back!

    1. MsMaryMary*

      My mom did this when she taught junior high. She’d lend the kids a pen if they needed one, but it was generally hot pink with a feather or streamers at the end.

      1. Windchime*

        One of my kids had a cool teacher in Jr. High who would loan you a pencil, but you had to give him one of your shoes as collateral.

    2. DCGirl*

      I got they guys to stop wiping out my supply of Kleenex by always buying pink (which takes efforts since not all stores carry them any more).

        1. alter_ego*

          My boss was looking to borrow an umbrella recently, and I told him he could use mine, but it was pink (and not even hot pink, like maroony pink). No one else had one with them, so he just got wet instead of using a pink umbrella.

      1. Emmie*

        Menthol kleenex would be effective too. Have you ever wiped your eyes with those?! Sheer pain!

      2. sam*

        This is seriously why I use purple pens at work now. I like those really nice pilot precise extra fine roller ball pens, but they kept “disappearing”. One time I accidentally ordered purple ones in bulk (I legit couldn’t tell the color from the discount website I ordered them from). Miraculously, they stopped disappearing, to the point where it’s been over two years and I’m still working my way through the two boxes I originally bought.

        1. peanut butter kisses*

          I lend out my Planet Fitness ones at my part time job when the people there don’t supply any for us to use. One of the full timers that was supposed to bring the pens made fun once and I told him that he didn’t have to use mine if he brought some for us to use.

          1. Chalupa Batman*

            I’ve started carrying my department’s giveaway pens. They’re pretty good quality (they have a stylus on the end!) and if someone steals one, free advertising.

      3. Rusty Shackelford*

        I’ve seen toolsets advertised “for women” because they have pink handles, which I thought was all kinds of awful until I read a review from a woman who said men didn’t walk off with her tools any more.

          1. Snazzy Hat*

            I have a light purple & black tool bag and tool set. It appears to be brandless, but I’m pretty sure I bought it at Home Depot a few years ago. There is hope.

        1. mander*

          I hate pink, but all my archaeology tools are marked with pink nail polish, and I bought a pink tape measure. Nobody has walked off with my tape since!

    3. K130*

      My husband’s boss never returned the folders that his travel documents (itineraries, tickets, etc.) were in. So my husband bought folders with kittens and puppies.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Me, too. I’d have a stash of pens with hot pink and feather streamers; pink kleenexes; puppy and kitten folders; etc. I love that stuff!

          1. JessaB*

            Yeh my desk would be all Penelope Garcia or Abby Sciuto cause seriously, kitchy stuff is harder to walk away with. Streamers and flowers on pens, purple stapler, bunny shaped tape holder. Seriously.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Mine would be all Cath Kidston if I could afford it (vintage-style flowers, birds, etc.). And I really didn’t think I liked that sort of stuff until I went to the shop, but it turns out I do. :)

    4. Anomanom*

      This is how I survived in the admin office when I was in the military. The care bear pen lasted an entire year without being stolen. A couple of the other women in the office has the flowery/feathery pens. They couldn’t/wouldn’t buy us office supplies (height of the ramp up in Iraq, they were still trying to figure out how to get everyone plates for their bulletproof vests), and we were all tired of subsidizing everyone else and having to constantly track down pens.

    5. TootsNYC*

      Sometimes what that does it just reminds people that it’s not their stapler. It keeps them from lying to themselves out of laziness.

    6. many bells down*

      I managed to be the only person who did not have their scissors stolen from costume design class purely by virtue of being the only lefty. Right-handed people just cannot deal with lefty scissors.

    7. HumbleOnion*

      The library at my undergrad college had a vending machine just for office supplies. So many people over the years had asked to borrow a pen, pencil, notebook, etc that they found a permanent solution.

      1. the gold digger*

        Once or twice, I lent a pen to someone at Customs to fill out the immigration forms. I learned not to do that because strangers never give your pens back. I have since become The Bitch Who Carries Her Own Pen and Who Does Not Lend Pens.

        If you are traveling or doing anything in life and don’t have your own pen, you are kind of too dumb to live.

              1. Snazzy Hat*

                So according to my gasping laughter that turned into loud coughing, I still have bronchitis. Thanks for confirming that.

                Z is just as good. In fact, it’s better; it’s two more than X.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          The first time I flew internationally, I had no idea I’d be required to fill out paperwork on the plane. It wasn’t an issue because I’m the person who always has two pens in her bag, but still. It never came up on any of the “things you need to do before you fly internationally” lists I saw.

      2. JennyFair*

        I still miss the pencil vending machine we had in my grade school. The pencils had tongue twisters on them.

    8. super anon*

      i use an expensive pen. this stops people from asking to borrow it, and if they do want to use it quickly (to sign something, etc), i’m usually watching so i know to ask for it back.

    9. Chalupa Batman*

      When I find a pen I’m protective of and someone asks to use it, I tell them I chew my pens, so I don’t lend them (true). No one has ever-EVER-insisted on using it anyway.

    10. Elizabeth West*

      They do that at my ice rink–the pens have big fake flowers taped to the ends of them. Not only does it keep people from walking off with them, but it makes them easy to find on the desk. :)

  26. Drunk Emailer*

    Ah yes, the drunken midnight emails sent when liquid courage takes hold to really get that seemingly minor thing off your chest in Shakespearean fashion. Best of living in today’s world is that spell and grammar check usually kick in automatically to correct your drunken ramblings into something coherent.

    I learned some time ago to step away from work email after my second one and if I write an email after two, just to pend it and reread it in the morning.

  27. Cynical Lackey*

    I would love to read an update in2 or 3 weeks to see if the supply situation has gotten better or worse since the email went out.

  28. Elizabeth S.*

    We didn’t get more than a page or so out of him, but the administrative manager where I used to work was downright apoplectic because people kept taking paper towels out of the bathroom, right around the corner, to use in the kitchenette when the dispenser ran out.

    They came out of a different budget. THEY CAME OUT OF A DIFFERENT BUDGET!!!!!

    It bothered him. A lot.

    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Ahahaha — the “separate budget” rant! A budget officer at my old department was like that about the copy paper in the Xerox copier versus the copy paper in the other printer. The two machines were on two separate budgets, and woe betide the person who borrowed some paper from one when the other was out.

    2. Noah*

      I remember watching in delighted glory once when two department admins argued over a stack of post-it notes and whose budget they would come out of. Apparently someone from the OCC went over to the stations department closet and “stole” a pad of post-its. There was a good 10 minutes of arguing. It ended when the OCC admin loudly dropped a case (a freaking case) of post-it notes on the stations department admin’s desk. Those of us in safety and security just watched on and enjoyed every minute of it.

    3. Sadsack*

      Wow, now that is really overdoing it. How about adjusting the budget based on actual usage? Are people just supposed to go without towels in the kitchen until the next delivery?

    4. AnonInSC*

      You know, I have more sympathy for the “different budgets” situation. I’ve worked in academia for a public university and it can be a nightmare to buy anything at all.

      Still wouldn’t justify an email like this.

    5. TootsNYC*

      My response would be, “the get more blasted paper towels for the kitchenette!”

      I worked at a company that had a cafeteria. I wanted to buy some milk to drink, and there wasn’t any. The folks there said, “Just use the milk for the coffee.” I said, “But I want to buy it, why should the company subsidize me,” and they said, “Stop bothering us and drink the company-provided milk.”

      There were cartons of milk provided on the floor kitchenettes, so I started just using that milk. There was always plenty, each morning; nobody was running out.

      The guy on the maintenance crew who took care of the kitchenettes had some sort of minor mental issues, and partly because of that he REALLY fixated on this and got very upset with me about pouring out a full glass of milk to drink. “It’s for the coffee!”

    6. Annie Moose*

      At the building I used to work in, it was spare batteries that kept going missing. Our floor’s admin was fine with people on our floor using them (that’s what they were there for!), but enough people from other floors would come by and steal our batteries that she resorted to hiding them in her office and making people come ask her directly. It worked without needing a 12 paragraph rant, I suppose, but I mostly was surprised that many people were using batteries in the first place.

  29. Sherry*

    There has to be a term for this office-induced psychosis, that causes one to lose all perspective. This level of anger might be associated with feelings toward a global atrocity — not missing office supplies. We’ve all been there (even if we haven’t all written an email like that).

    1. afiendishthingy*

      Yeah, I definitely experience some inappropriate rage about all-department emails with subject lines like “Hello” “Urgent” “FYI” “IMPORTANT INFORMATION READ ASAP” and no. other. identifying information. and then please, please, everybody should DEFINITELY reply all with “Thanks for the update!” “Thanks Jo, will keep it in mind!” OR! reply all with a TOTALLY DIFFERENT subject! I gotta create some rules and filters for my outlook.

  30. Emily*

    It would take everything in me to not reply with “TL;DR. BTW, I took your red stapler and used all the staples. Why do we never have enough office supplies?”

    1. AnotherHRPro*

      Best response ever! I think the email writer would scream and run from the building.
      I actually can not stop laughing at this….

    2. A Cita*

      OMG, that sounds exactly like the kind of response I would make. Don’t give me (more) inappropriate ideas.

    3. Tony Award*

      Or if she came up to me and asked me if I got her email. I would have replied with “Cool story bro.”

  31. Lead, Follow or Get Outta the Way!*

    I think what hasn’t been said and what may really be the problem is that it appears the email writer (not the OP) has been reprimanded because of this. I really think this is the crucial part of the message that unfortunately has gotten lost in between the ranting. As entertaining (extra butter popcorn please) as this may be, there is a legitimate concern here. The email writer would have been better off dropping this to 1-2 paragraphs and alerting people that their actions/inactions are causing her to be unjustly reprimanded and putting her job in jeopardy.

    I do agree with Alison that, the best thing is to let it go. But if you are friendly and have the type of relationship with her, you may want to let her know she could have summed up the whole thing with a couple of paragraphs at most, if you think she would have taken this well. Best of luck!

    1. AnotherHRPro*

      If we are going to get serious for a moment and offer the email writer real feedback (not the OP)…
      1) mass department emails are NEVER a good way to solve conflict
      2) yes, you may have real concerns/issues/problems but by choosing this action (crazy mass email) you have lost credibility and no one will hear your message or accept your feedback
      3) do not speak for others, Mr. Digby (i.e., OP) does not need you to stand up for him – he can take care of himself
      4) your real message was they very last line of your message; sadly no one will remember that

    2. Mockingjay*

      Good reminder about the reprimand.

      All joking aside, I wonder if there is some sort of inventory system to track and sign out and in supplies. Does the Rant Writer need to differentiate between consumables and returnables? Can she or the system hold people accountable for improperly cleaned/shelved items or nonreturned items? Maybe Boss would care more if someone ran a spreadsheet on real consumables cost (“how many times have we ordered pens this quarter – six?!?”), manhours spent maintaining inventory, cleaning costs for scrubs. I bet it adds up.

      If there is a system and no one follows it (nor cares) but the Rant Writer is held accountable anyway, I can see why she would go ballistic. (Although I would never send a Reply All rant.)

      1. Aunt Vixen*

        Man, remember when Charlie made CJ sign out a replacement copy of the president’s private schedule? Good times.

        I need a copy of the President’s private schedule.
        Didn’t you get one?
        I need another.
        You gotta sign it out.
        I’m sorry?
        You gotta sign it out and then sign it back in. It can’t be photocopied, and it can’t leave the building.
        [amused] What the hell is this?
        For the third time in two months, a copy of the private schedule wound up in the press room. I’ve got to crack down.
        I’ve got to sign it out?
        And sign it back in.
        I’m the Press Secretary.
        You do a nice job.
        Gimme the damn schedule.
        [handing her a clipboard] Sign it out, and sign it back in.
        [signing] The anal-retentive side of you is not gonna to help you get girls.
        I do okay.


        Listen. You haven’t seen my copy of President’s private schedule, have you?
        [sighs] I’m trying to retrace where I’ve been within the last hour. I was here, I was in the mess, I went back to my desk… [realizes] Excuse me.

        He heads towards C.J.’s office.


        You wouldn’t happen to know where my copy of the private schedule is, would you?
        Did you lose it?
        I don’t believe I did, no.
        Yet you don’t have it.

        Carol appears in the doorway behind him.

        [to C.J.] He’d like you for a moment.
        Thank you.

        C.J. leaves and Charlie follows her.


        Where is it?
        How would I know?
        Where is it?
        I just hope you didn’t leave the building with it.
        Give it up, Tiny.
        [laughing] Think you’re going to want to talk nicer to me than that, because when a reporter finds it, they’re going to come to me, and that thing is stamped D12, and you signed out D12, and rules are rules.
        I never told you it was D12.
        How about that?

        They come to a stop in front of Ed and Larry.

        C.J. [cont.]
        You’ll find it in your filing cabinet under ‘A’ for ‘anal.’

        Ed and Larry exchange a look as Charlie moves off.

        I don’t really want to know what he’s going to find in his filing cabinet,
        do you?


        How you doing?
        You really want to dance with me?
        Wouldn’t it have been a lot easier to respect the rules and regulations?
        What are you doing in here?
        Leo told me to be here.

        Leo walks in.

        What the hell??!

        C.J. and Charlie start talking at once.

        I want a copy of the daily schedule and Marian the librarian over here told me I had to sign it out…
        You sign out a copy and this copy doesn’t leave the building, when C.J. decides she’s above all that…

        More inaudible shouting.

        And he crazy-glued my phone!!!
        All right. I think it’s fine that people blow off a little steam, but now it’s done, and it’s time for one of you to be mature.
        Well God knows C.J.’s a lot more mature than I am.

  32. The Other Dawn*

    This is just so entertaining.

    I really think there needs to be a post honoring the worst communications of all time, submitted by AAM readers from their current/past companies….

  33. Laura (Needs a New Name)*

    This makes me so happy. The LW is great. The original author is great. Everyone is great. I hope she feels better even if right now she is mortified, I hope everybody in the office enjoys reading it and politely doesn’t say anything about the batsh*t craziness to the author, and I hope people are a bit more considerate with their office supplies now. Win-win-win all around!

  34. The Alias Gloria Has Been Living Under, A.A., B.S.*

    I sent an email like this once. It wasn’t that long, it wasn’t at midnight, and someone DID steal the chair at my desk, and replaced it with a broken one. They claimed they didn’t know anyone sat there, since we’d had a big move and everyone uses the Admin’s desk as a dumping ground, which really could have been another rant-y email. I felt bad about sending it, but I got my chair back. It was really nice chair too, I was not giving it up! And I requested that facilities bring them a new chair to replace the broken one they’d ended up with.

  35. A Cita*

    This is awesome. What is it about the witching hour, when an unfortunate confluence of events tend to happen: you start to get pretty hepped up and punch drunk, you lose your sense of inhibition and modicum of self restraint, and you start itching to send some candid emails?

    You know how google labs has the beer goggles plugin that makes you solve a math problem before sending that dunk, late-night email to a booty call? I always said they should have one for high emotion/bad judgement late night emails–maybe triggering at around 2 am–where you get a yes/no question and if you answer with an explanation, you can’t send emails.

  36. MsMaryMary*

    My mom always says that nothing good happens after midnight. The professional corollary is that no good emails are sent after midnight. When the clock hits 11:59, put that email in the draft folder, shut off your computer, and go to bed.

  37. Sami*

    “It’s time to play the music
    It’s time to light the lights
    It’s time to meet the ranter on the Ranter Show tonight!
    Why do we always come here
    I guess we’ll never know
    It’s like a kind of torture
    To have to watch the show”

  38. CeeCee*

    True Story: I once received an email similar to this except it was a 12 page Word doc attached to the email. A manager (at the same level as myself) decided that a Sunday Night at 10pm was the most appropriate time to create a manifesto about everything he thought I did incorrectly about my job (to the point of trivialities and things that he didn’t like that were actually my job — like getting authorizations on his requests from my manager), despite the fact that the only places in which our positions even came close to working together was that it was my job to process his departments payments.

    It was later discovered, after I left and he desperately attempted to take my position, that a lot of his problems with me stemmed from the fact that I was 45 years his junior and at an equal position that held a bit more weight with upper management.

    I can’t tell you how upset that email made me, especially since I was concerned about the ramifications of him pointing out everything he thought was a fault to both my manager and the owner of the company. (He had cc’d him both.) I was even more upset when both the owner and the manager laughed it off, saying it was just “the old man being an old man.” On the bright side, it meant neither of the people above me thought I was doing my job nearly as poorly as disgruntled coworker thought I was.

  39. Khael E. Essi*

    Oh…oh my. I think that if she is that frustrated by her job to send that long of an email, she should be looking for a new place to work. I used to be an admin/office manager who frequently had to clean up messes (had a coworker who would salt the table more than their food…) and find office supplies that had walked off. I just got more and more frustrated. Never to this point! I kept it professional. But I needed OUT and so does this person.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Yeah, when you feel so strongly that you can go on for pages then it’s time to move on. If people are laughing at her or not speaking to her, probably nothing will change.

  40. animaniactoo*

    It’s really funny, but just on Sunday I had an argument where my husband accused me of not dropping something and leaving it alone and saying that I always take things too far, and I have to just grind my point into the dirt.

    Which I replied to by saying that actually, I HAD raised and dropped this particular issue several times and nothing had happened, which is why I was NOW going on about it, because he doesn’t take me seriously until I take it to This Level. (To be fair, this is an established pattern that I pointed out over a year ago and he has in general worked very very hard to be better about).

    He went into his martyr reaction, I scoffed at him and told him I was looking for a *reasonable* solution ty, and we got on each other’s nerves for about 5 minutes and got over it (and he went and made the 2-month-delayed-thing happen the next day).

    I wonder if this over-the-top everybody-and-their-mother rant was the same kind of reaction. If she’s not *known* for doing stuff like this, I’m betting several people will immediately clean up their act and remind each other “You know EllieMaeLou gets really upset about that, you better get it back right away.”

    1. RVA Cat*

      I was just thinking, most of us only reach this Sharknado level of petty irateness at our spouses….

      1. animaniactoo*

        True, in 24 years of career-level jobs (17 at my current) and I have never gone off like this.

        I’ve had a moment or two – but this is that whole other level. lol.

        (and the one time I WAS about to go off like this, I was saved by the co-owner of the company stepping in before I could finish opening my mouth. But I was a) 21 b) seriously sleep-deprived and overworked from the last project and c) being quite unfairly blamed for the mess that the project was in, the last point being the one the co-owner raised. I have always described that moment as “I have no idea what was about to come out of my mouth, but I’m sure I was about to get myself fired.”)

    2. Anna No Mouse*

      Is it possible that we are somehow married to the same person, because this is eerily familiar…

    3. AMG*

      Glad it isn’t just me. ‘I am not yelling. I have a tone. THIS IS YELLING! Now we know the difference.’

    4. Soupspoon McGee*

      Heh. A while back, my partner and I were arguing about something dumb (that he had done–ahem), and my stepson said, “You guys always do this, and Dad, she’s always right.” I smirk. And to me he says, “And you never let it go.” Well that took us both down a peg. Kids.

  41. Deanna*

    I’m surprised the letter writer didn’t send it sooner–if someone borrowed my phone charger once without asking, I would explode all over the office.

  42. Gene*

    You are in an academic environment, and that generally means long-time employees. I can almost guarantee that this will live in office lore long after you and she are retired. We had something like this sent out to the entire City from someone in Facilities more than 15 years ago and it still comes up in a joking manner. As in, “There you go, getting all Hamlet on us.”

    Keep the printout and look back on it when she retires. Maybe even include a copy in her retirement card. (yes, I have an evil streak).

  43. AndersonDarling*

    I just wish she would have taken some time to rethink the email. There really are many powerful examples of rudeness and laziness that would have made a great impact if it was written thoughtfully instead of with weary rage.
    A list of bullet points with a summary of each example, then a paragraph of the consequences of these actions (overtime, missed deadlines, feeling like everyone’s mom)… oh it could have been a grand email!!!

    1. Creag an Tuire*

      Or just something a bit… pithier.

      “I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you’re looking for unlimited office supplies, I can tell you I don’t have that, but what I do have are a very particular set of skills. Skills I have acquired over a very long career in office management. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you return my phone charger now, that will be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you and I will give you a stern talking to.”

      1. Aisling*

        If I had taken the phone charge (which I never have), this would make me give it back! Short, pithy, concise. Awesome.

  44. Zahra*

    This was way too long for an email. I got bored of reading it halfway through, even with the popcorn value.

    If I understand correctly, the gist is:
    – Many people borrow supplies without returning them
    – Many people do not put away supplies when they return them to the supply closet
    – Many people do not tell ranter when supplies are low
    – This has a direct impact on ranter
    – Please return stuff in a timely manner
    – Please put away stuff that you return to the supply closet (if you can’t right then and there, do it as soon as you can)
    – Please let me know if some supplies are running low

    For the last point, some offices I worked at had a sheet posted on the supply cabinet/closet door so people could write whatever was running low. There was a pen attached to the sheet so it was as easy as possible to note the information.

    1. Argh!*

      Option B. Lock the supply cabinet door and put a sign on the front that ranting letter-writer has the key.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, really. Why is the emailer not controlling the supplies with signatures or budgeted dollar amounts or something. I don’t get it.

  45. Katie the Fed*

    I think this is one where you might want to pull Jane aside and say “Jane – are you doing ok? Because that email you sent about the office supplies seemed a little too frustrated for what the situation warranted – what’s going on?”

    1. RVA Cat*

      I’m honestly wondering if office supplies aren’t the real issue at all – esp. with the “I’m not your mother” bit I wonder if it’s really about a culture of disrespect for the ranter admin by the (mostly male) dentists/faculty?

      1. Bend & Snap*

        Someone in my condo building left an anonymous P/A “please do this thing because your mother doesn’t live here” note in the elevator and got ripped to shreds with the follow-up notes. It was amazing.

  46. Anna No Mouse*

    This is a far more agressive version of, “someone keeps taking my stapler,” from Office Space.

    I picture this woman sitting next to a mostly empty bottle of wine, with the red wine Joker smile and raccoon-eye mascara at midnight as she finally gets up the courage to tell these supply savages what she REALLY thinks of them.

    Of course, I once had my office manager scream at my colleagues and myself, threatening to fire the next person to complain about the new lighting that they put in over the weekend, without warning, and without any good way to dampen the extreme brightness that none of us were used to. OP, we should really get these two kids together!

  47. Episkey*

    I’m assuming by “unprofessional” you mean AWESOME.

    Bitch eating crackers mode right here people! :P

  48. SH*

    At my company an email like this would result in many colleagues reaching out to the admin to express concern. Then a manager would give the “Don’t ever do this again or you’re fired” lecture. I don’t see anything wrong with the OP talking about it with other coworkers but anything more seems unnecessary.

  49. Wellywell*

    OP, we’re gonna need a follow up letter with all the juicy details of how this plays out.

    *pops popcorn*

  50. jhhj*

    I have to say I might murder someone who took my phone charger and then, a few DAYS later, says “Oh I am done with your phone charger, feel free to pick it up if you want it back.”

    1. A Non E. Mouse*

      Similar to those that bought fancy or purple pens, I bought a hot pink charger and cables for the iPads we work on (I’m in IT).

      The white cables and bricks always walked off. These have not. Ever.

  51. Temperance*

    A few years ago, my husband worked at a place with some other dudes who were just flat-out disgusting. Long story short, one of his coworkers, fed up with the gross people in the office, sent a long, detailed email about personal hygiene, handwashing, and proper toilet use, with incredibly detailed examples of the gross things that the gross dudes were doing. (This was the men’s bathroom, for reference, and they knew exactly who it was, but said gross guys liked being gross.) It did not keep Frank and Rich, their actual first names because they deserve NO PRIVACY, from destroying the bathroom and making a mess, but it definitely made the very awkward guy who wrote the email into a joke.

    Say nothing.

  52. Megan*

    hahaha that’s hilarious. I got a similarly unprofessional group text recently…but it was from someone at my restaurant side job who’s barely 18, and is pretty naive/clueless. It had emojis and everything. And she included the manager on it. I’ve gotten many laughs out of it, but at least it wasn’t for a professional office job

  53. JoAnna*

    I would be so tempted to reply-all with: “This message brought to you by alcohol.”

  54. Macedon*

    Honestly feel bad for the e-mail sender. Takes a lot of frustration to send a mass e-mail of these proportions, so we’re probably getting a diminutive summary of these various offences – and they’re unlikely to be addressed now because the manner in which OP’s co-worker chose to convey her message will be used as a distraction from her content.

  55. MsNarwhal*

    Can anyone explain to me this trend of using a bajillion ellipses/periods in emails? All of my MIL’s emails have no periods or spaces; just varying lengths of ellipses between sentences. (All lowercase letters too, sigh.) Is this a generational thing? Did this used to get used with typewriters or telegrams or something? The thing that really gets me is that she (and the email writer) need to take the time to either repeatedly tap the period button or hold it down for a few seconds rather than just hitting “period, space” once. I would think if you were in full-on rant mode, that would be valuable time you’d want to save so your typing could keep up with your brain-splosion.

    (Sorry if this is somewhat off-topic, but I am genuinely befuddled by these emails from my MIL and seeing that this sort of typing also exists out in the wild makes me wonder how prevalent it is.)

    1. CoffeeLover*

      I think ellipses are supposed to soften the blow of a sentence. A period is a sharp end to a sentence. An ellipse is a trailing off… I guess multiple exclamation points have the opposite effect!!!

      I don’t think this is a generational thing as I’ve seen this style of writing in people aged 20 and 60.

      1. Rana*

        It actually dates even further than that – I’ve seen it in 19th century letters, for instance. At least we don’t have the dashes and underlines and strike-outs of that era to the same degree.

        I think it all comes down to people trying to write the words as they come out of their head, complete with pauses and hesitations and digressions and interjections. We are not tidy thinkers, most of us, especially when emotional.

        1. MsNarwhal*

          I totally understand using ellipses to show trailing off or an open-ended thought. I use them myself that way, on occasion. My issue is that she writes every sentence with only various lengths of ellipses breaking them up. For example:

          “the dogs got into their food again……..they made a huge mess…so that was a pain to clean up…… they got into the teapot collection…..i caught them before they broke anything………..but it was close!”

          (This is fictional. No dogs or teapots were harmed in the creation of this example, but it is a pretty accurate representation of her correspondence.)

          1. Rana*

            I’d guess that she’s using them to indicate duration of pauses between thoughts, then: sort of a dramatic reading version.

    2. ThursdaysGeek*

      My spouse has a coworker who does this. He says it makes the coworker sound undecided and uncertain, unable to finish a thought.

  56. it will happen*

    The more I read the posts about universities and even sometimes non-profits I am beyond amazed. If this had been sent out at our company, the person that sent it would be let go immediately.

  57. Alli525*

    Boy oh boy, reading that letter – inappropriate as it is – was CATHARTIC for me. My office is basically a frat house, and has been since I started 4 years ago, and I would give just about anything to be able to send an email like that without repercussion. (One of my random office jobs is refilling the handsoap bottles when they run low. People started leaving the bottles on my desk – the bottles that live in rooms where people defecate. That one, I DID send around a sharply worded email, but it was succinct and relatively polite, and it worked, so.)

    1. Doriana Gray*

      People started leaving the bottles on my desk – the bottles that live in rooms where people defecate.

      That’s gross and disrespectful – I’m glad you said something.

  58. LiptonTeaForMe*

    I suspect this will wake up the department for a bit until she has to go off the rails again!

  59. shirley*

    At our touchy-feely non-profit, a woman once sent a very long, snarky email chastising “someone” for stealing her special mason jar with a sippy cup lid from her desk. It went on for several paragraphs and expressed her immense disappointment that someone from our organization, which prides itself on being so caring and helpful, would have such low integrity as to steal her special cup. The tone was so over-the-top lecturey and weird for this particular office culture that you could see everyone’s eyes widening in shock as they read it.

    Two hours later, she sent out an email update letting us know that her special cup had been in her desk drawer all along. No apologies.

    It was amazing.

  60. Amber Rose*

    The angry employee wrote 12 paragraphs. They wrote twelve paragraphs. That’s as many as one dozen.

    And that’s terrible.

    1. Creag an Tuire*

      Be SERIOUS, faculty. Stop joking and think about what you must do. This is a SERIOUS email. This is an important email.

  61. I'm Not Phyllis*

    I might be tempted to egg her on a bit more (“and have you SEEN the state of the break room lately?”) but I wouldn’t want her to actually get into trouble. I agree … let it go and enjoy the show.

    1. Argh!*

      I would be tempted to dump paper clips and rubber bands on her desk when she’s in the bathroom.

      1. Oh, I'll Answer The Phones.*

        And I’ll crack right up when she sticks tacks in your coffee.

        Or, more reasonably, finds out who you are then goes into your desk and removes all paper clips and rubber bands, because you obviously can’t be trusted with them.

        Or, let’s go back to less reasonably, maybe you come in to a normal morning, turn on your computer / phone, sit at your desk surrounded by all your office-supply trophies that you had to do NO work in taking inventory for or restocking, you just complain when they are not magically placed on your desk in precisely the amounts/locations that you need them, and look up to find yourself staring down the barrel of one of my homemade Paperclip & Rubberband slingshots, poised right between your eyes, the trigger just waiting for me to have a bad enough day.

        Seriously, be happy yall got just an email. She has had it! She actually has. You are making her job more difficult for her, not through the course of your normal work-duties, but by INTENTIONALLY seeking her out to be childish and wasteful. No sympathy for you, hope you drink tack-coffee soon.

        Don’t mess with your support staff, people. Thought we all learned this from ‘don’t mess with the waitress’.

  62. Kiwi*

    You can almost guarantee that The Lady of the Supply Closet reads AAM.
    Poor, poor Mr Digby.

    1. Gene*

      Is The Lady of the Supply Closet related to Alton Brown’s Lady of the Refrigerator? I always had a crush on her, just like Alton.

  63. cleo*

    I used to teach and my favorite send-all email rant was sent by an adjunct professor complaining about the person who taught in the same classroom before their class and NEVER EVER erased the markers from the white board. Thinking about it still makes me smile.

    (And let’s not get started on the curriculum committee flame wars, but at least those weren’t sent to the whole school.)

    1. Rana*

      Oh boy, the eraser divide. Some campuses favor “erase previous stuff, then write your own” while others go for “write your own, leave it blank for the next person.”

      It’s awkward when people from the two cultures are assigned a room back-to-back.

  64. OlympiasEpiriot*

    Poor person. There’s probably years of frustration and being ignored behind that.

    1. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

      I am willing to bet on years of frustration and being ignored and treated like a 4th class citizen.

        1. F.*

          Me, too. Been there, done that, though I restrained myself from making a fool of myself the way this poor person did. I truly feel for them. They must be under a lot of stress for it to get this bad. It really is not funny.

          1. Karen*

            I agree. Her email was ill-timed, but the frustration dripped from every syllable. I’m willing to consider that she’s tried to talk to people and just been ignored or fobbed off. And being ignored is a hot-button for me (and I think I’m not alone in that).

  65. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

    Some of you may remember my asking about how staff were treated in last Friday’s open comment. I am very glad to see that it is not just me and not just the department I work in.

    I am also in charge of the supply room for my department. I can fully sympathize and understand the original writer’s frustration. This behavior is very typical of faculty who think that they are above staff. CLARIFICATION: This does not apply to all faculty. Some of them are very wonderful to work with.

    We are in the process of moving and office supplies have been dumped in the supply room by the box full. I don’t understand why someone can’t take 5 minutes to put stuff back where it belongs or just pack it and move it with your belongings.

    While the original email writer did bring it up to level 11 and should have toned it down quite a few notches and should not have sent the email, I fully sympathize with her.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Stupid question, why is everyone going into the supply room? At Old Place we had a supply person. If you wanted something you waited until she came to work and you asked her. She unlocked the closet and gave it to you. Then she wrote down that it went to your department. NO ONE went into the supply closet except for her. If someone asked for more pens, she would know if she had released pens recently to that department. She would ask why you needed so many pens if you were taking too many. People kept track of their supplies because they knew they were going to be asked where the supply went. If you said “I don’t know” you were sent back to your department to find out where the previous packages pens went.

    2. Oh, I'll Answer The Phones.*

      I 100% agree with you.
      The email was too much to expect others to take seriously, but it doesn’t seem to have been a first resort.
      I doubt that she meant the email as much as a chiding lecture, but more as a last-ditch effort to make others aware of what she was going through. It’s not like she could take this out on one person, it sounds like any efforts she had made previously were akin to herding cats, and that she was getting some serious flac from upstairs along the lines of “So what’s the hold-up with herding these cats?”
      Especially when the Cats are so parochial and high and mighty that THEIR jobs MUST be more important than say, pen-herder, that Pen-Herder’s day-to-day tasks WHICH SHE WAS HIRED TO DO SO IT MUST BE IMPORTANT TO SOMEONE and the difficulties that come with them are laughable.

      Wow, my coworker is at the tipping point all of a sudden, regarding something completely understandable because it is literally in her job description to maintain this inventory along with probably a million other “small” tasks; but who cares! She didn’t try to get her point across in a way that was tailored exactly to how I want to hear it, so I can’t take it seriously.

      Ugh, even I understood immediately the cons of being extraordinarily wordy, even when all the words need to be said; however, it is really getting to me to see THAT many people who can’t find it in themselves to give a shit about the person below them. Their job duties are different from yours, but it doesn’t make their job any less important to them. Getting this job done was important to this email-writer/Cat-Pen-Herder, so you all heard about it.

      Grow up, stop making fun, or enjoy figuring out for yourself how much coffee, letter/legal/ledger paper, paper clips and rubber bands, spoons for the kitchen, paper towels, cleaning supplies and OH YEAH TOILET PAPER you need for yourself and an ever-changing number of employees, each with their own preferences. Have fun with all the vin diagrams you’ll have to draw up to keep straight if it’s Kathy in accounting who prefers Angel Soft toilet paper because the other kind gives her lady issues, or if it’s Fergus whose blue pens need to be felt-tipped or if as a back-up he could use Cassidy’s non-felt pens she uses specifically for notorizing. Have fun trying to figure out why the three-hole punch is punching holes in a wavy line, or why the printer error light is flashing, or why the phone doesn’t ‘do this’, or what the best way is to do such and such procedure because support positions are all about doing the crap you don’t feel like doing. Hush up and say thanks once in a while, and notice how much FASTER you get what you asked me for.

    3. Vanishing Girl*

      Yes, this email is taking me back to my days as the admin in charge of office supplies for an academic department! I felt like writing this email so many times when things went missing without notice.

      The kicker in my old job was that my office was actually also where the supplies lived. So faculty had a key to my office so they could get supplies, and I wasn’t told this before accepting the job. I’m so glad to not be there anymore.

  66. gsa*

    Hopefully relevant and entirely true, after repeated requests to return my father’s tools to the toolbox after I used them and not leave them spread all over the basement and the backyard, he locked his toolbox.

    In conclusion if people are taking your stuff and not returning it in the manner you request, lock your $h1t up tight.

    If you are in charge of supplies, run it up the chain of command or live with it because that’s how life is at your organization.

    To say the 12 page/paragraph person is a verifiable whack job is an understatement.

    And I think the OP for my afternoon entertainment.

    1. Nerfherder*

      She clearly states that things were borrowed (and implied that the borrowers did ask), but that these items were never returned, and left in some random place.

      No she’s not a “whack job”. She’s just frustrated with people who have no respect for other people’s belongings.

  67. Sorgatani*

    “Five exclamation marks, the sure sign of an insane mind.”
    ~Terry Pratchett (Reaper Man)

    The first instance of multi-exclamation is 6, and it got worse from there.

  68. No longer new commenter*

    I think the letter-writer is magnificent. What a crew of larcenous slobs she must work with!

  69. Not So NewReader*

    OP, I think you should take the stance of “solid points but poorly delivered”. And a gentler version of this is what you can say to her face. “Well, Jane, I don’t think that two page long emails typed at midnight are an effective way to trigger change. However, I can see a desperate need for policies and procedures to be implemented here. If we have such things in place, maybe those policies and procedures should be emailed to everyone so that everyone is current on what they should be doing. If we do not have those things in place then we need to write something up.” In short, I would steer the conversation to the actual problem rather than talking about how the problem was brought out into the open.
    Your friend waited too long to say she was having a problem. And this type of email is what happens when we wait too long to say there is a difficulty going on here.
    I don’t think calling the emailer crazy, pyscho, drunk or laughing at her helps OP that much. (This is someone OP considers a work friend. ) If anything it kind of makes a case in favor of the emailer. As I read down through the comments I actually felt more empathy for the emailer than I did initially. Maybe the emailer is surrounded by people who truly do not care and are totally dismissive of any of her requests. It seems that may not be so far-fetched to consider.
    I really wish the emailer wrote in because I think I would tell her to find a job somewhere else. It sounds like a totally dysfunctional work environment to me.

    1. MyFakeNameIsLaura*

      It really stinks when you’re reprimanded and made to take sole responsibility for what are clear system wide problems you don’t actually have the power or ability to fix.

      1. F.*

        And to make matters worse, people think it is funny to belittle you and make you job even more difficult. I feel a great deal of empathy for this person and can imagine the stress they must be under to be trying to do their job well (there is probably more to their job than just stocking supplies) and being reprimanded for the callous and ignorant actions of others. This person has probably been trying to get their coworkers to follow the procedures for years to no avail. This really is not funny, and those commenters who think it is should stop and think about how they would feel if someone was essentially sabotaging their job.

    1. Cristina in England*

      I get what you’re saying, but maybe managing the office supplies or supply closet is a significant part of her job! I would love to know this from the OP, if he is reading down this far.

    2. TootsNYC*

      I think that what she cares about isn’t office supplies–it’s being treated with respect, and some basic orderliness in the shared workspace.

  70. Student*

    I think y’all should be ashamed of your (department) behavior and thing hard about whether you are part of the problem or not. I feel the behavior by your department is about 10x more “unprofessional” than this email. The main fault that I find with this email is that it’s unlikely to accomplish the writer’s objectives.

  71. Nerfherder*

    Sure, it’s a rant, but I can certainly sympathise with 12 paragraph e-mail writer’s frustration.
    I have a colleague who borrows things without asking, and never gives it back. Even when he does ask, I have to go to his desk to retrieve the borrowed thing. It make me want to kick him in the face. The other day he wanted to borrow something (can’t remember what). I said I dont’ have one. Then he said “I have one in my drawer, I’ll just use that”. So why the hell did you ask me? You idiot!

    I agree with the frustrated e-mail writer. If you want to borrow something, ask. When you’re done using it, return it.

    1. TootsNYC*

      I would never, ever loan him anything again, even if it was right there in front of him.

      I’d say, “you can bring your papers over here to staple them at my desk, but I don’t loan my office supplies anymore.”

      Ditto chargers, etc., etc. You want to use my three-hole punch? Stand here at my desk and use it.

      My charger? Sure, plug your phone in right here at my desk, and come back to get it in a little bit.

  72. NaoNao*

    I used to work overseas in SE Asia, where the culture in this country was both more reserved in certain ways and more emotionally expressive in other ways than the US (took some getting used to). I had a very talented but volatile co worker who was on his last chance and was preparing to resign before being fired, and he brought me an 8 page confessional style letter that detailed his “relationship” (pretty much all in his head) with our boss and everything she had done wrong to cause him to quit “to look over for correct English”. I strongly advised him not to send it, but the thing was…he wasn’t 100% wrong on many points.
    Needless to say, the breakup letter didn’t get the response he was looking for.

  73. Interviewer*

    I got a midnight-rant at a previous company where I worked about 5 years ago. It was about 18 pages long, and it went to every office, over 400 people. She sent it in batches to the entire firm by picking everyone’s names and pasting them in the To field, since the “everyone” distribution list was moderated. She worked after-hours support, and I think she had been crafting it for quite a while with some downtime on her hands. It was a very long rant about how we don’t do well in client service, and I think something had set her off the night before so she went ahead & pulled the trigger. We all walked in to find it in our inbox that morning. I didn’t understand it all, and gave up by page 4, but there was an announcement from the top brass – no one could print it, forward it, save it, etc. without IT finding out about it. Apparently there must have been some valid points buried in the nonsense, or they just didn’t want the dirty laundry aired outside of the company.

    It was kind of like Jerry McGuire, but without the moment of clarity or pithy sayings from old bosses or memorable one-liners.

  74. JoJo*

    I filled my pencil cup with of pens advertising a local bail bondsman. It’s funny seeing how many people are using them.

  75. Jimbo*

    I sent a rant email once. It was nothing like OP’s but I had reached my breaking point on an issue and unloaded a little. I was 100% in the right on the issue but it’s never wise to send a rant email. Other than being seen as unprofessional, they solve nothing because they are so over the top. And much like Allison’s comment, people love forwarding rant emails and mine was sent around for years. Never. Again. I felt like an idiot and learned a valuable lesson. Most of us have done something we regret when we were emotional about an issue but never put it in writing.

  76. Para Girl*

    I used to work with a woman who had the perfect response to situations like this. When she received a screed such as this, she would reply with “Got your note. Have a nice weekend.” That was it. No more; no less.

  77. The Strand*

    I can’t justify the long length and tone of the letter either, but the behavior described here is unbelievable, especially considering that these are faculty members working in medicine or a related field, where professionalism is so much a matter of “see one, do one, teach one”. What kind of students is this program going to graduate?

    Health professionals dumping supplies and trashing a clinic, where patients are going to be seen? Holy cannoli. Her personal phone charger taken away without anyone asking? Wow.

    She sent the email at midnight because she had to clean up the place, which is what she describes at the end of her rant. I think the suggestion that everything be locked up and kept under lock and key is terrific advice. Make everyone check out any equipment in writing, and bill them if it’s lost or not returned.

    That’s an awful way to behavior, but frankly, these doctors (or nurses or whatever) need to be treated like children, because they’re acting like children.

  78. KC*

    The email might not be very effective, but it sounds like this person had to deal with a lot of inconsiderate people. One excerpts that stood out:

    “I have had my phone charger borrowed multiple times from clinic to either find someone putting it in my office, or keeping it for several days, and even asking me to come and get it cause they are done with it.”

    I am sympathetic to the writer for I have also had to deal with inconsiderate people that just don’t think or care about others when making decisions that affect more than just themselves. It can take a toll after a while…

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