your coworkers are very dramatic

First, I’m happy to announce that you now have the ability to collapse replies to any comment thread, not just top-level comments. Hopefully that will help make long comment threads easier to navigate. Now, onward…

Last week, I asked for stories about weirdly dramatic reactions that you’ve seen people have to changes at work. The comment section was full of fantastic stories, and here are 15 of my favorites.

1. “A couple years ago, I led revamping one of our workflows. The process was old, more than 40 years (!), and our administration was adamant that we had to modernize it. In truth, it was something that wouldn’t affect many people, and most other offices had made the change 20 years ago, but people were mad about the very idea that we would change it. I held a series of meetings with stakeholders, specifically to ascertain what their needs were. Getting this information was like pulling teeth. According to them, their needs were ‘Doing this the way we’ve always done it and never changing!!!’ My personal favorite was one person who arrived at the meeting with a prepared written statement about why the old workflow was necessary, and titled it ‘Hills to Die On.’ Why they thought that would make admin change their minds, I will never understand.”

2. “We just standardized our email signatures yesterday. People flipped out. ‘Why can’t I have this picture of my dog in my signature?’ ‘But I’ve always used pink cursive font — it’s cuter.’ ‘You’re crushing our individuality.’ Another department manager had employees who threatened to quit. I really didn’t think that having a standard email signature was that big of a deal. This is literally the only company that I’ve worked for that didn’t have one (until now).”

3. “At my last company, they used to get cookies once a month from a well-known bakery in my city. People used to stampede down the halls when it was cookie time and grab handfuls or platefuls instead of taking one. Eventually it got to the point that if you got to the cookie location 10 or 15 minutes after they were put down, there were none left. An email was sent out reminding people to take only one cookie so their coworkers could also have some, and that they were welcome to take additional cookies at the end of the day only if there were any leftover.

There was such a protest. Some people were SO INSULTED that they couldn’t take more than one cookie (and honestly, I can understand maybe taking two, but these repeat offenders were talking between 6 – 12 each – legit strutting away with plates piled high). They complained so much about being denied more than one cookie that cookie day ended up stopping permanently. It was honestly bizarre. Grown adults throwing tantrums over being denied more than one cookie (and they were big cookies, too).”

4. “When I worked at in the office of a warehouse, we would get a freezer full of ice cream bars in the summer. It actually had to be addressed that workers MUST STOP taking entire boxes home with them. One coworker took such offense to this that he would made it his mission to eat as much ice cream as possible while on site. I watched him eat seven of them during a thirty minute lunch break. He would proudly boast about how he’d make himself sick on free food just to make sure he got his ‘fair share.'”

5. “In a former department and building (at current employer), there was a little tower window at the top of the building with a light in it. In response to a change so inconsequential I can’t even remember what it was, an overly-dramatic coworker flipped on the light – during the day (gasp!) – in a vengeful attempt to increase employer’s electric bill. This doesn’t seem too over the top until you factor in her giving me a wide eyed, dramatic look before turning on her heel and marching back to her office after the deed was done.”

6. “My former employer moved us into a new, bigger office because we outgrew the one we were in. One person did not like where her cube was located, so she built herself a weird little hovel out of boxes and sheets in a more desirable location (I guess?). I think it got shut down pretty quickly, but it was funny that it happened at all!”

7. “Our break room has a giant whiteboard calendar in it. Last year the company sent us a new one and asked us to start using it at the first of this year. Not really sure why … the other was perfectly usable and there was no differing info on it, but hey, whatever! The new calendar is slightly smaller than the previous one – as in the previous calendar was 36×48 inches and the new one is 32×44 inches.

The woman who updates this calendar was FURIOUS about this change. Oh the campaign this woman has waged to get the old calendar back – she sends emails, complains to every single employee at least once a day, has started tours of our branch in the break room (she points to the board and announces ‘this is the piece of crap calendar they expect us to use’), and holds that fury in her heart. Recently a few big wigs in the company were visiting and she started her tour as usual and then she paused as if expecting them to agree with her. They didn’t, she sighed heavily and moved on with her tour. Before they left she made sure to send them back to the home office with a list outlining why the new calendar sucks. You know they just crumpled that crap up into a ball the second they got into the car.”

8. “My organization opted to implement the new minimum pay for exempt staff even though it did not become law. This amounted to a 15-20% raise for an entire group of employees (all with the same title and responsibilities). The maximum raise anyone receives from their annual review is 5% so this was a significant bump compared to what they would have otherwise received. People were furious! Because this meant they all were being paid the same amount regardless of length of employment. Three people quit over this.”

9. “A staff member in a different department threatened to throw his laptop out of the window if we replaced it (it was 3 years old and due for an upgrade) with the new standard model, which he didn’t like because it weighed a few ounces more.”

10. “At my previous position as the web specialist (and occasional IT deputy for their overworked IT employee) in a university math department, I saw a fun one. There was a specific mathematic software used by more than one department in the university, so the university maintained a server license for it that you could request access to for an install on your office or lab computers if it was needed. Most of the older professors in that department were pretty used to just getting what they wanted whenever I think, and one of them came to me asking to have this software installed on his computer.

Well, in order to keep track of the licenses being used across campus, university-wide IT had a form that needed to be completed and signed specifying the ID number of the user, their office, and so forth and included a clause about maintaining the software properly (don’t bootleg it and take it home, break it, so on and so forth, pretty standard TOS and consisting of just two sentences).

This professor, upon receiving this form, while he did not shout came unglued. He took it to his lawyer (or he said he did) then came back to me and proceeded to launch into a diatribe about how his lawyer told him not to sign it, why couldn’t he just get this software on his computer, he needed it! He shouldn’t have to sign a form for this. It wasn’t his job to do anything laid out by the two sentences on this form, he wasn’t going to sign it and he didn’t know why I had to put so many roadblocks in front of him. I should just do whatever he asked/said he needed to teach and get out of his way. In lots more words than that. I think I listened to him for 15 minutes before I just took the form back from him and walked off.

To this day I do not know if he ever got that software installed on his computer. I never did.”

11. “When I started an office IT job, one of my first assignments was to clean up and update everyone’s computers. The first time I worked with this one coworker’s computer, it was a complete mess. He had some kind of add on for IE that added a little animated Olaf (from the movie Frozen) that would dance around and occasionally have animated snowflakes fall down the screen. Needless to say, it slowed his computer to a crawl, and he was always complaining about how slow his computer was. So, among general scans and cleanup, I removed the add on.

He was LIVID. Went to my boss, to HR, to the head boss, because his animated dancing snowman that messed up his computer was gone. Phrases like ‘she has no right’ and ‘how dare she’ were thrown around. He made a big show of downloading some other hideous animated nav bar add on instead, and kept trying to flaunt it whenever I was nearby.”

12. “I worked for a government department that did lots of project work. We got a new CEO who, after settling in, discovered that he had no visibility of most of the projects, only what limited information was prepared and sent up the line when he enquired about anything specific. After digging around some more he learned that even the shorter, simpler projects frequently ran over time and/or budget, and that in many cases it couldn’t be determined whether it ran over time because there was never even a target delivery date!

So he decided that we would have a project management framework. Projects costing over $50k (in taxpayers’ money, remember) needed to have a plan written up, and provide regular status updates. Neither the plan nor the updates had to be huge documents that take a lot of time to prepare (an update could be one paragraph per fortnight), but they had to exist. There was a central repository where they could be seen by relevant managers and stakeholders, so there shouldn’t be any more suprises about work landing on your lap or suddenly being 18 months late.

The number of staff who lost their shit about having to write down the basic elements of what they were doing … people complained that the CEO was personally insulting their professionalism, and they should just be trusted to do things without any documentation. Some flat-out refused to comply. Some falsified information in their status reports. Some went to elaborate efforts to put a few token documents in the repository but create a locked-down, secret stash of ‘real’ project updates for their eyes only. One person quit and claimed it was because they were driven out by the unreasonable requirement of project plans. Someone else filed a harrassment claim over having their work (but not their name) included in a list of projects that were past their deadline.”

13. “We had this disgusting faux floral arrangement in the lobby. It was given to us by a local flower shop when we moved into the building – in 2002. It was 4 feet tall by 3 feet wide and in a 2 foot tall faux cement planter. It sat on the desk behind reception and had 15 years of dust on it. We went through 2 remodels and a full rebrand, and this thing stayed. My boss hated this thing – every time he walked through the lobby, he commented on how gross it was. ‘What will guests think?’ ‘It looks like my grandmothers house in here!’ ‘That think NEEDS to get out of the lobby!’

Finally, I decided to prank him by moving the monstrosity into his office – I put it smack in the middle of his conference table with a note that said ‘I finally got it out of the lobby!’ He proceeded to prank another coworker, who did another, until it ended up in a storage closet, where it’s been for the past 2 years.

This past winter, we did an office-wide clean-up project. We were encouraged to purge purge purge – and I found those gross, dusty, gigantic flowers tucked in a back storage room, and I knew they had to go. But I figured, hey – they’re pretty big, right? And we’re a nonprofit, so maybe I could get some money for them. So I put them on Craigslist – make a donation to ____ and you get these flowers! No bites. I reposted for 4 weeks. Nothing.

Finally, to make it fun, I posted on our intraweb – ‘I’m going to host an auction with proceeds going to the employee fun fund, and whoever wins gets to throw this thing into the dumpster!’ I thought people would think it was fun. Instead, I was met with blind rage. THOSE FLOWERS ARE AN INSTITUTION! Didn’t I know they had been here for 15 years? How dare I suggest throwing out a piece of our history! Never mind that they had been out of the lobby for 2 years and no one had noticed – oh no, this was anarchy. Why hadn’t I checked hospitals and churches? Why hadn’t I brought them to a homeless shelter? Why hadn’t I tried to clean them and make them into boutonnieres for the staff to wear at the gala? It was hilarious. I suggested to some of these people that perhaps they find a home for the flowers, but no no, this was MY job. And I wasn’t doing it right. Yet every day they sat in the hallway, people stopped into my office to ask, ‘why are the flowers still here?’ ‘why haven’t you found a home for the flowers?’

I will never tell anyone what happened to those flowers, but I eventually refused to speak with anyone about them anymore. They disappeared from the hallway, and I posted on our intraweb ‘the flowers have found a home’ and did not reply to any follow-up comments.”

14. I had a couple coworkers pitch a huge fit when my employer updated the dress code. What did they change?

No pajamas.

Not even kidding. This was at a call center and the dress code was VERY relaxed, but we had people literally coming to work in their PJs or similar nightclothes. The best part was some of the worst offenders went on to harangue management over it, since ‘it was never a problem before’ and ‘we’re not face to face with customers so why does it matter.’ People would show up in defiance in PJs and argue when they were told to go home and change, and the suggestion box got spammed with ‘let us wear PJs’ for weeks. It was honestly shocking to me – the dress code was already so casual that I personally would routinely wear shorts and a plain tee any given day when the weather was warm and was never written up, but pajamas? Seriously. Eventually they stopped wearing PJs Monday through Friday, but would still come in on the weekends like they rolled out of bed and drove to work.

It took several months, and a lot of write-ups, before it finally stopped completely. Granted, this was one of the more ridiculous responses to a change, but there were some similarly loud protests when they outlawed spaghetti tanks, booty shorts, and flip flops. Not even kidding.”

15. “Upon being told that it was now mandatory to wear your badge on a lanyard (no, not a clip, not on your belt, it had to be a lanyard), one woman completely lost it. She stood up (this was a meeting) and ranted about how lanyards were UGLY and they RUINED her outfits and WHY OH WHY was this a rule because EVERYONE hated it (no, the rest of us were fine) and so on. She compared it to ‘papers, please’ and how this was the slippery slope that would lead to robot workers and oh there was so much more but I can’t remember it all.

Over the next few weeks she tried wearing her lanyard inside her blouse (no, the point is that the badge is visible) and claiming she just forgot until she got written up… and SHE QUIT. Well, took early retirement, but still.”

{ 443 comments… read them below }

  1. Katie the Fed*

    3&4 are proof of something I always say – you see humanity at its most primal when free food is involved. ANIMALS! (except orangutans who always share their food – if you give an orangutan a treat, it will break it in half and give you half).

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      We used to practically have a mutiny if the bagels were late on Friday. People would start coming out of their offices at 9:10 looking for bagels. I had one guy who was my very own lookout. Until I read that comment thread, I thought it was all fun and games and no one really cared about not getting a bagel on Friday (I mean, I would plan breakfast around it, but the worst that happened was I would get a yogurt from the cafe if the bagels were late and I had a meeting), but now? Not so sure. MAYBE THE MUTINY WAS REAL.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        We used to have a donut cart that eventually added bagels and fruit. It wasn’t even free. You paid a dollar for a donut & the proceeds went to a charity, but one of the executives who came in thought is was too distracting and a waste of employee’s time (someone had to get the food & push the cart). No more donut cart. I still kinda miss it and that was probably 7 years ago! They quietly phased out a lot of fun things like that, but I think they only get away with it mutiny-free because our actual jobs don’t suck.

      2. K.*

        My best friend used to work at a firm with bagels on Fridays and she felt VERY VERY STRONGLY about it – but that was largely because she loathed working there and the free bagels were one of the few perks she could cling to. A lot of her colleagues felt the same way.

      3. Jessesgirl72*

        In one place, we had bagels on Friday mornings, and it was the same. If they were late getting in, no one would work until they arrived!

        The worst was the donuts though- the donuts were bought with “coffee money” through some legal wrangling that allowed for a department coffee pot run by the people in it, collecting money for their expenses, without violating the exclusive contract with the company who ran the vending in the break rooms. Part of the money went to charity, the rest to Friday donuts. It was a large campus, and people were descending on the area from 3 buildings over! So they instituted a rule that the donuts were only for the department and for people who, you know, bought coffee all week.

        The number of people who took it up the foodchain as far as they could with first management and then HR was amazing, crying “discrimination!”

      4. pope suburban*

        Maybe that’s why they sailed their office building into the sunset in that Monty Python skit. No bagels.

        1. AnonEMoose*

          I loved the part of that skit when they turned the ceiling fan blades into cutlasses.

          People do get very strange about free food, though. I see it a lot with the science fiction convention I volunteer for. We have a hospitality suite where people can go to get a snack, there’s often rice and soup, and, on occasion, stuff like pizza or subs. We’ve actually had people complain (repeatedly) that the fruit’s not organic, or the pizza’s not from their favorite place, or…well, you get the idea.

          1. Turtle Candle*

            I saw a ton of this at my local SF con too! One year we had tea options, and boyyyyy did people want us to know that our tea tastes were just too plebian for them. We had a fairly big chain brand… not No-Name Generic Supermarket Tea or anything, but like, Twinings in bags, or if not Twinings then some other bagged tea of similar quality. I feel like there was black, green, decaf black, decaf green, Earl Grey, peppermint, chamomile, some kind of lemon tea, and some kind of spice-type tea, cinnamon or ginger or something along those lines, and a rooibos blend, plus sugar, zero-calorie sweetener, honey, and both skim and 1% milk. Not a bad spread, I would think, all things considered?

            And people would stand there and LOUDLY announce things like: “UGH, I never drink tea from a BAG, that’s vile. Loose leaf or nothing. It’s an insult to the plant!” Or, “Who drinks supermarket tea?” Or “Why does everyone have rooibos all the time? Honeybush is so much better.” One woman swelled up hugely and said “PEPPERMINT?” with such scorn and indignation that all I could think of was Lady Bracknell. (Apparently she detested peppermint and was on a constant campaign to get everyone to stock spearmint teabags instead.)

            I can be particular about my tea when I’m at home, too! I usually brew from loose leaves, I have my own particular favorite herbal blends, etc. But it was like… um, free tea? Or bring your own bags?
            Or just… don’t have any? And, also, I am pretty sure the conference volunteers have better things to do than clean out several hundred peoples’ worth of soggy tea leaves for the course of three days….

            1. Whats In A Name*

              This is a phenomenon of its own kind. Not only do they flock to the free refreshments, they complain while filling their plate.

            2. Patches*

              I used to order and have delivered breakfast for my team on fridays. We had smoked salmon and eggs, bacon and egg breakfast sandwiches, pancakes and bagels with a variety of toppings, fruit salad, yoghurt, several juices and fresh coffee. Someone complained that this free breakfast didn’t offer enough variety.

            3. AnonEMoose*

              This kind of behavior is why I think the acronym FYFIF was invented. (Stands for “F*** You, Fanboy, It’s Free!”).

              People are going to be people, I understand that, and someone is going to complain about literally anything. But this kind of entitlement just annoys me, partly because it’s so discouraging to the volunteers. Many of us just shrug it off for the most part, but it gets…old. And you just know that the ones complaining the loudest and longest have never lifted, and will never lift, a finger to actually help.

          2. Gilmoure*

            Oh dear, I volunteered for the Con Suite at my local SF convention. It’s the only convention I’ve been to and everyone seems so nice. What have I gotten myself into?!!

          3. B*

            One of the cons I used to go to would stress if people complained too much about the hospitality suite, the alternative was not to have it. I think they managed to keep it going, but another con that didn’t stress that did away with it because of all the whining.

      5. Can't Sit Still*

        Shamefaced admission: I once nearly stabbed our HR director in the hand because she was reaching for MY bagel. It was a sharp knife, too! I was mortified about .05 seconds later and offered to split it with her, but she told me I could have it, since I felt so strongly about it. The office laughed about it for years. (The local bagel shop only made this particular kind of bagels twice a week. They were really, really good. And that one was MINE!)

        1. Lauren*

          My shamefaced admission: I used to work for an American company in Switzerland…every morning there would be some sort of bread delivered–croissants, rolls, chocolate croissants. I used to hit the different stations on croissant day, eating at least two, sometimes three…they were so delicious!

    2. Leatherwings*

      Yes! In our office whenever there’s free food (several times a week), our receptionist sends out an email and in under three minutes there’s a stream of people walking quickly to the kitchen.

      But it takes a couple days to reply to my scheduling email, Sharon? I know you watch your email for free brownies like a hawk!

      1. Cadbury Cream Egg*

        Trick them and put in the subject line something about food but then have the actual e-mail be about scheduling. ;-)

          1. Xarcady*

            TO: All Staff
            Subject: Free Donut

            A free donut to everyone who responds with their availability for the Planning Meeting by the deadline of Friday at noon.

        1. PatPat*

          Someone did this at my office. The subject line was “Free Food in the Kitchen” but the email basically said she was throwing out all the food in the refrigerator at 3 pm so you’d better get your moldy Tupperware out by then.

      2. ann perkins*

        OMG yes. Our offices are spread out across three buildings and if we get an email about free food in another building there is a beeline, but I need an actual work thing from you but no, the free food is more important.

      3. many bells down*

        There’s a restaurant attached to the museum I work at, and sometimes they bring us plates of food. But it’s like, when they over-ordered for an event the evening before, or got an extra shipment of bagels that won’t get used up in time, so we never know when there will be food or what it will be.

        Invariably, there’s only food on the mornings I’ve brought a full breakfast.

        1. sam*

          Our office building has a “tenant appreciation day” every year where they give out bagels and coffee one morning.

          Except they never announce it beforehand, which means I have, like every other normal morning, already eaten breakfast before I came to work. And I am not such a glutton that I will eat a second breakfast when I am not hungry just for the sake of “free!”

          The ‘ice cream social’ that they have in the summer works out much better, since it’s after lunch. And it’s ice cream :)

          1. Anon today...and tomorrow*

            The office park we work in used to have Ice Cream Truck Day. On one hot day every June an ice cream truck, complete with musical bell, would pull up in front of the building and each staff member would get a treat worth up to $3. If you wanted a more expensive item you could pay the difference. It was wonderful! We’d all line up like giddy children and there would be much discussion about “oooh that looks good! I haven’t had a screwball in years!” or “That spongebob squarepants sherbert bar looks yummy!” Then last year they didn’t do it. And it was sad. So sad the branch manager reached out to our home office and explained that our morale had taken a hit by the lack of the truck. Mind you, this was something that the property managers did, not our company. Our company rocks…they provided funds ($40) so that our branch manager was able to buy boxes and boxes of ice cream treats that he placed in the freezer and for weeks we were able to have an ice cream whenever we wanted. It was glorious. The office is already wondering if we’re doing it again this year.

      4. Red 5*

        I work at an office that also has a fair number of college interns.

        I once saw an announcement about free food pop up and then the reply that it was all gone came in as I was switching to outlook to see where the food was.

      5. Sloan Sabbith*

        If we know someone in the office is having a bad day, we’ll walk to their office and alert them before sending out the food announcement so they have first dibs on the food. Otherwise it’s gone before they get there.

        The day the AHCA announcement was made (I have a pre-existing condition, I was not doing well), one of our assistants just brought the entire box of doughnuts by so I didn’t even have to leave my office…

        1. paramilitarykeet*

          Your office sounds so kind and humane! I am jealous.


          A fellow really-serious-pre-existing condition person

      6. WhatTheFoxSays*

        Our office moves extra food leftover from catered meetings to the breakroom for general consumption. One time I was grabbing coffee just as a spread was wheeled in. I grabbed a half sandwich and salad and walked by my manager and co-worker who were having a meeting. I said “they just put food in the kitchen”. My manager cut off mid sentence, jumping from his chair and was half out the door to run to the kitchen for free lunch before he thought to say “sorry, I want to get something before all the good stuff is gone” to my co-worker. It was epic.

    3. Anon For This*

      Yep! The biggest issue we have in our office is related to birthday’s related food. People are upset if there is no food celebrating someone’s birthday or that it’s a type of food they don’t like. The whole thing is ridiculous.

    4. MLiz*

      It’s funny in my old workplace (the one from hell) it was all okay around food.

      Except the boss. My god. We had one instance where one coworker brought a dessert because it was…her last day or her birthday or something special anyway. And when it was “dessert time” there was a tiny piece missing. It was really small. But it was the boss’ favourite dessert. He went ballistic, absolutely ballistic. He yelled at us, who would dare to take some of it before it was free for all (we had 100 people in the building and theoretically everyone had access to our floor), and then wrote an email to the whole organization (around 500 people or more) about who took that tiny piece of dessert and how it was unacceptable and it was…amazing.

      Later my coworker came to me and said, “maybe I should have said I kept it at home?” but I was happy she didn’t, because then he would have yelled at her for…no reason but that she enjoys her own desserts?

      1. Katie the Fed*

        That is AMAZING. I’ll admit that if I bring something to share in the office, I’ll take my piece first before sharing. Why? Because people are animals :)

        1. De Minimis*

          At my last job I used to work in the main administration office, and it was funny how any time there was free food you’d see all these employees materialize from all corners of our facility.

          One of my co-workers used to joke that if we ever had a catastrophic event he was going to hang out with this one janitor, “because that guy can find food anywhere.”

        2. JustaTech*

          I had a coworker who was incredibly brazen about taking the shared food my office mate and I brought in. I guess his wife had him on a no-sweets diet or something, but he would take a quarter of a 9X13 pan as his seconds.
          It wasn’t a huge deal because there weren’t that many people, but we did end up enforcing that he couldn’t take a giant piece until *after* lunch. And then warned everyone else about him.

          1. CDL*

            I had a colleague who would eat dessert right out of the pan, essentially claiming it as her own. My co-worker brought in a special dessert on my last day, and put the leftovers in our break room so others could enjoy it. She found this colleague eating the dessert out of the pan, taking bites with a fork and then sticking it back in for more. She was pretty horrified and told her to just take the rest of the dessert for herself, since she basically contaminated it for everyone else. This woman didn’t get what the big deal was…and I’m glad I don’t work with her anymore…

            1. Karo*

              I had one who did that in front of everyone, while loudly proclaiming that she had mono.

              She, too, was shocked that it was problematic.

            2. JanetM*

              Some years ago at our annual open house, someone picked up a spoon and the bread bowl of spinach dip, walked around eating it, then put the not quite empty bowl back down on the food table. One of our staff members grabbed it and tossed it.

              Also, not work related, but back in the days when Carl’s Jr. had salad bars, I saw someone come in and eat several spoonsful from the bowl of potato salad. (I went to the counter and said what happened; a manager came out and told the person to leave, and also took the bowl out of the bar. I assume, but cannot prove, that he threw it out.)

      2. EddieSherbert*

        Wow, yeah, I love this. And I do the same thing (because obviously I should get to enjoy/taste-test my own dessert!).

      3. Drew*

        I brought breakfast for the office earlier this week and grabbed a pretty full plate to take back to my desk. One of my coworkers half-jokingly asked if I thought it was fair to take so much when other people hadn’t had a chance yet. I was like, well, I bought it, so…yes?

    5. De Minimis*

      At one of my former jobs they used the excuse of the recession to get rid of a lot of the free food, free tea, etc. Someone actually said, “You may not get bagels before a meeting anymore, but at least you still have your job.”

      They eventually laid everyone off anyway.

    6. Alton*

      I had a job for a while that involved giving out free samples in stores, and it could be so annoying sometimes. Granted, that was a little different since it was a marketing thing and I wasn’t giving them food out of the kindness of my heart, but I would routinely have people:

      – Act annoyed that the samples weren’t offered exactly to their liking or that I didn’t have the type they wanted (I once had someone complain because there were no toppings to go with ice cream samples).
      – Complain that samples that needed to cook were taking too long.
      – Grab tons of samples.
      – Get annoyed if I was just giving out coupons for something and didn’t have food.

      Sometimes I really wanted to tell people that I was there to sell stuff, and that while I didn’t care if they were really interested in buying or not, they weren’t entitled to free food whenever and however they wanted it.

    7. DouDou Paille*

      In one huge, multi-floor office I worked in this guy would scan the online meeting room schedule 3x a day to see which catered meetings had just ended, and he’d sneak in and take all the leftover food. (Turns out he was a compulsive overeater)

    8. CC*

      Oh man. My last job involved an office with a large sales team made up primarily of men ages 21-25 and the food stuff was bonkers. If I sent an email about there being leftovers from a meeting, there would be a line of people who had to come from a totally different floor within 45 seconds. I’m pretty positive I timed it.

      And we had Snack Wednesday that I was in charge of and Heaven helped you if it was delayed or moved or whatever. Nothing OVERLY dramatic, but I do remember one time when I was sick on a Wednesday and sent out an email letting everyone know of the delay. I think I had people complain about snack day being moved. Pretty sure no one actually asked if I was feeling better.

      (People would also taken ungodly amounts of food. I believe some once took food BEFORE meeting attendees had a chance to get to it rather than waiting until after the meeting had started. And there were complaints about the types of snacks…I had a budget of roughly 50 cents per person. I’m still impressed I was able to do it and stay within the budget. You know, for the FREE snacks that were being provided.)

      1. CDL*

        I’ve never understood when people complain about free food or gifts. If you don’t like the free snacks being offered, bring in your own!

        1. Ours is the Fury*

          I think it’s different if you are told there will be a free meal, you ask what it is (should I bring in my own food if everything is coated in cheese?) they promise that they will have food for everyone, and then they only bring in a plate of mac & cheese with bacon. I mean, at that point someone might have thought “well, I’ll just eat at work tomorrow,!” and then there isn’t anything remotely appealing to my lactose intolerant bacon hating self. And I think a lot of people take “hey, here’s a heads up/suggestion for snacks” as “so-and-so hates everything we do, it’s free WTF is wrong with her.”

          1. krysb*

            This, exactly. Like, when my company says we’re getting Chili Burrito, I always have to ask if it’s nachos or burritos. Nachos I will eat myself sick on. The pre-made burritos have beans, so I want nothing to do with them. I need to know so I can bring lunch/buy lunch or eat the food provided.

      2. Night Cheese*

        UGH. People taking food before attendees or office guests is one of my biggest work pet peeves.

        This morning, my bosses asked me to bring in breakfast offerings for the guy coming in to do our audit. Usually it’s our office manager’s job, but she’s out for the week so I got stuck with it. I got in and my bosses were literally waiting in front of the door for me and as soon as I set out the food (bagels and fruit), they dug into all of it and made a mess. Like crumbs everywhere, bagels clearly already been dug through, all the good, ~*expensive*~ pieces of fruit picked out. The auditor wasn’t supposed to get here for at least another 20 minutes and instead of waiting, they literally presented this guy, who we should be kind of sucking up to, with “well here’s the stuff we didn’t want”.

        We also have a platter of sandwiches in our kitchen they had me go and get for the auditor not realizing he was leaving and after they went through, ate all of the middle pieces (they’re cut in thirds) and ate all of the more popular subs, they’re going to tell people who are coming in for a meeting in 15 minutes that we bought it for them in case they didn’t have lunch out of the kindness of our hearts. LIKE NO ONE IS GOING TO REALIZE THAT IT’S A BIG-ASS PLATTER THAT’S MISSING ALL OF THE MIDDLE PIECES OF SANDWICHES. -flips tables-

      3. Red 5*

        We actually have to put up signs and send out emails rather regularly saying that food is for meeting attendees only, IF there is anything left over we’ll email, but hands off.

        It doesn’t really help, unless you have somebody babysit the catering, some of it will go missing before the meeting gets there.

    9. Cat*

      I had an animal moment myself when we kept getting Au Bon Pain for catered lunches even though I hate ABP. It felt like such a waste of free food and awakened my most primal rage. (I complained about it to the person who organized the lunches enough that she finally asked the guy who ordered it to switch, which really offended him, but we’ve never had it such).

      1. Night Cheese*

        I feel like everyone has at least one moment. Mine was two days ago when I was a Jerk and dug through the bag of office candy and hoarded all of the pieces of dark chocolate Hershey’s minis. In my kind of, not really defense, I got sick of everyone else doing it and only finding the bleh candy whenever I went to grab something.

        I have like fourteen of those chocolates chilling in my purse now and I’d be lying if I didn’t feel a tiiiiiny bit triumphant whenever I reach for one.

        1. CC*

          Okay, I will cop to something similar. See, I can’t eat gluten, and while I don’t expect my office to cater to that at all, I eat what I can when it seems reasonable.

          I work in a medical office so reps bring us food a lot and Olive Garden is a favorite. OG actually DOES have gluten-free options, but they’ve stopped asking for them for me which is totally fine.

          However…do I perhaps make up for this fact by hoarding the chocolate mints that come with the food? Absolutely. Especially is dessert is also brought in. I mean, I leave mints for sure and generally take them throughout the day to allow others access to them, but taking ten at a time isn’t something I feel particularly bad about.

        2. CM*

          Wait, the dark chocolate ones? As in Special Dark? Nobody ever wants those! I even saw a list once about the order in which the Hershey’s miniatures disappear: 1. Krackel 2. Mr. Goodbar 3. Plain milk chocolate 4. Maybe there’s something good in the fridge? 5. Special Dark

          1. Ours is the Fury*

            Wow, that’s the exact opposite of my reception days. I was always left with a pile of Mr Goodbars and Krackels. I think the only reason their were fewer Krackles was because *I* ate them when people walked up and complained about them.

      2. paul*

        Years and years ago, a coworker brought tons of those jalapenos wrapped in bacon and stuffed with cream cheese to an office party that was very under-attended (some sort of bug was going around and people were out off and on all week).
        We’d all planned on having maybe 25 people there, and only had about 15 show up.

        She brought north of 100 of those little jalapeno bacon cheesy goodness things to the party and they were all gone. And I know I ate more than my share of them and boy did I regret it the rest of the day. But so worth it.

    10. CDL*

      At my old company, we had monthly employee appreciation lunches. They were always catered in from local restaurants and the food was great, but you had to show up right on time, since there was a group of people who would show up with Tupperware containers. They would take a huge helping of food for their lunch and then pack away food “for later”. There were so many people who would show up 10 minutes after the lunch started to find that there was no food left. I was part of the team that organized these lunches and asked these folks to wait until the end of the lunch to take leftovers, and you would’ve thought I’d declared war!

        1. Purple Hair Chick*

          People are really funny about food. We have employee lunches here too. Same thing, if you don’t show up in the first 5 minutes everything is gone. Last time I got there late as I was on a call to a customer. I got a hamburger bun with a piece of cheese (no meat as it was gone) and one celery stick. They want us all to eat together so I had to watch people with two and three hamburgers with giant piles of veggies eat. I think its so rude. I always make sure to only take what I need and make sure others have some.

          1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

            As I’ve gotten older and grumpier, I’ve stopped saying, “please consider your coworkers,” and started telling people “no, don’t take a third sandwhich,” and even, “im sorry, you did not order the vegetarian option, so no, you can’t take the veggie box.”

            Of course, this did get me in trouble as one of my colleagues told my boss that I was being unfair and monitoring people’s food (I heard rumors fat-shaming was listed on the complaint as well).

          2. EA*

            “Hey, since you’ve got 3 burgers on your plate, and I’ve only got a bun, do you mind sharing?”

          3. Turtle Candle*

            Oh wow. When I’m at the office we run out of lunch sometimes too, which is mildly annoying, but there’s no problem with going “oops, I guess they’re out of everything, I’ll walk to Subway today.” If I’d had to sit there and eat a bun with nothing inside it while other people had loaded up their plates it’d be hard for me to not get snarky and passive-aggressive about it. “Mmmm mmm, I sure do love invisible hamburgers!”

          4. Phyllis B*

            On a related subject: at our Wednesday night church services we serve a meal beforehand. (They started it primarily because we have so many children attending who are from poor homes, but anyone is welcome to eat.) Well, there was a woman who lived across the street from the church who would come to eat (but never stay for the service) and take all the left-overs home for her dogs. Well, one week my grand-children and I got there five minutes after they started serving (it was pizza night) and IT WAS ALL GONE!!!!!!!!!!!!! I looked over and this woman had loaded three 5 gallon buckets with pizza. I had to go to a convenience store to buy sandwiches for myself and the grand-children. I was livid. I asked the pastor’s wife to say something to her, but she never would. Luckily she quit coming after a while. Now, before anyone responds, yes, she had limited financial resources, but I felt like she should have waited until everyone got served and then requested the left-overs.

      1. Economist*

        One former colleague would keep food containers (not Tupperware, just containers left from food he would buy like margarine tubs) in his desk for when there was food left over from an event at work. One time he filled his containers with leftover food, put it in the kitchenette fridge, and someone took his free food! He was quite upset that someone would take his free food. Of course, it’s not OK to take someone else’s food, but in this case, it was free food.

      2. Abby*

        I used to have a woman who worked for me who would order two entrees when we ordered in lunch and take one home. Once she and I went to a dinner at a conference with a group of other attendees (most of whom we didn’t know beforehand) and she took home their doggie bags too.

      3. krysb*

        I think my company looks at our employees, then doubles the order. There’s almost always enough for everyone to get double helpings of whatever they bring in.

    11. AMPG*

      I have to say, all the food stories make me appreciate how incredibly civilized people were at my old job. It was definitely considered gauche to run for the kitchen once an email about food went out, and nobody would dream of packing things up to go or taking huge second helpings until closer to the end of the day, when it was clear that everyone had had a real chance to get to the food.

    12. caryatis*

      I have a stash of healthy, filling food in my cabinet. That way, even if the free food disappears or isn’t appetizing, I always get enough to eat. Others can binge on donuts/bagels/cake as much as they want.

    13. Night Cheese*

      My bosses are ridiculously stingy whenever they cater a lunch for their employees or guests. They always pack up the leftovers, (pizza, bloated spaghetti noodles, soggy subs, anything goes) and take it home to feed their kids or eat for dinner that night. Which I guess can be seen as fiscally responsible kind of (?), but I think is pretty gross since it’s food that like 20 people have breathed on, touched, and has been sitting out for like seven hours.

      For the holiday dinner last year, they got pasta stations from Olive Garden and we had a lot of leftovers. I’m talking six bags of breadsticks, whole pans of meatballs, chicken, sausages, noodles, salad, soup, EVERYTHING. It was all packed into the fridge and I guess my coworkers REALLY had their hearts set on eating it the next day too. When we got in the next morning, it was like the pasta party had never happened. Everything was gone. As the (begrudging) interim receptionist I had people come ask me all day where all the food was and lament about how they hadn’t planned on buying or getting lunch on their own today because they were expecting the leftovers to still be in the fridge.

      They still complain about it and even brought it up loudly during a catered lunch we had last week. The leftovers never disappeared this time around.

      1. Ours is the Fury*

        That’s so rude. Plus they are management so they make more. My company has an unwritten policy where no one ever buys lunch for someone up the chain, but the managers do buy lunch for the underlings. And there is no reason why a manager should be bringing leftovers home. That looks terrible! And that food should have been left for staff!

        1. penguin tummy*

          I hate that! A senior colleague at my work (who would be on $400k + a year) takes any and all free food available. I brought a dozen homemade cupcakes in to work before a practical exam and he took 2 and then immediately ran out to the meeting he was supposed to be going to and then told the rest of the people to come and get a free cupcake from me. This same guy also tried to eat a packet of biscuits that had just been given to me by a friend. I try to avoid food around him now.

    14. The OG Anonsie*

      Whenever there was a box of donuts left in the break room at a job I used to have, there was something that bothered me even more than people eating all the free food. There were two or three people who would cut all the donuts into quarters or sometimes even eighths so they could sample a couple different donuts, or to just have a taste of one because they wanted to be “good” about their diets or whatever.

      So two things about this. One is that once the inside dough is exposed on a donut, the little bastard gets really stale. So the donut pieces, unless you got them right after they were cut, would be kind of gross. The other is that, because of this, whole donuts would disappear when the box was first dropped off but but once the donut cutters came through no one wanted the stale pieces later in the day. So inevitably at the end of the day a bunch of cut donuts would be thrown away. It happened over and over, and it was basically just some “I just wanna have a taste” people ruining a full box of donuts for everyone else who wasn’t there in time to catch them before they got all hard.

      I thought this was a weird cultural thing at that company at first, because people at that place were really really weird and moralistic about food all the time. But then one day my then-boyfriend’s coworkers came over for a movie night and brought a box of donuts. They then went to my kitchen, got a knife, and proceeded to cut every donut into quarter pieces or smaller. I had railed about the donut cutting to some other friends there before, who then watched my face intently as I watched the other friends cut all the donuts. They said I was screaming with my eyes.

      1. Ours is the Fury*

        I’ve never eaten a whole donut. It’s not about being good, even though that’s OK, if you don’t want to ruin your diet for an f-ing donut. It’s because donuts are too sweet for the portions. So, yeah, I’m a donut cutter. I’m not even sorry about it because someone else can come along and eat the other part if they would like.

        I would never initially cut all the donuts though.

        1. The OG Anonsie*

          You can cut your own donut, I don’t care how you treat your food. But why would you cut multiple donuts, and for the love of god, ALL the donuts?

          The people who did this the most openly said it was because they wanted to just have one bite of several different kinds of donuts and taste different ones, which was especially infuriating to me because they would eat the equivalent of more than a whole donut so it wasn’t about the portion size. It was because they wanted to try alllll the donuts, even if that meant that at least half the box would get thrown away because they all got stale by the time a lot of the staff could get to them. Strikes me as astoundingly self-centered.

          1. Ours is the Fury*

            Well, I usually cut one donut and leave the rest for whomever else. I guess I could just take the other half/three quarters and immediately toss it, but that seems pointless.

            As I said, I would never preemptively cut all of the donuts, though. That seems pointless.

        2. Snazzy Hat*

          I had a coworker friend who only ate half a donut when donuts were brought in. Luckily she could count on me to take the other half, but she felt weird about leaving it there so she would actually ask me on the way back to her desk (my desk was equidistant between hers and where the donuts were) if I would take it.

    15. Ama*

      Yes. My last job was at a grad school that had a staff kitchen and coffee breaks (with baked goods prepared daily by our staff chef). I was never so glad to leave there so I didn’t have to hear the bitching about “but I don’t *like* this kind of scone” or “we have half and half 2% and soy milk, but we don’t have any almond milk” (the director took care of that last one by declaring that we were providing half and half and soy only and anyone who wanted anything else could buy their own).

      I had to put a sign on the fridge asking people to not sneak baked goods off the plate intended for morning break, and then we had to ban non-essential staff from the kitchens altogether after someone took a cheese plate from a reception out of the fridge and left it out overnight where it was overrun by ants. The kicker? The guy who did it had the nerve to go back in to the kitchen for more cheese, see the plate in the trash, and then email my boss and me complaining about the “waste of food.”

      The baked goods were delicious (our staff chef was extremely talented) but it was not worth the constant griping.

    16. sometimeswhy*

      One of our upper management wanted to treat my group to pizza so I forwarded the menu along to everyone, told them that we’d be ordering one large salad, one cheese pizza, and one meat pizza plus anything else anyone wanted and to get in their orders by a certain time. Two folks with dietary restrictions sent their orders in. A third (whose dietary restrictions I did not know about but who had the same opportunity to order something as everyone else) sat in the corner nibbling on lettuce and complaining about not having any options.

    17. August*

      People can go insaaaanneee. I remember when I was a student working at my university’s catering department, I was tasked with helping the bartender set up at a catered event for new professors. Most of the new professors were adjuncts (so they were all broke academics) and my university, in its infinite wisdom, got an open bar as part of the dinner. The dinner had about 100 attendees, and they went through the bar (which we stocked for 300-350 people) in the first hour of a four hour event. I remember the waitstaff shoving trays at me and telling me to shove through the crowd to collect empty or half-full glasses, because we needed to wash them and get them back out to the bar IMMEDIATELY.

    18. Clarachk*

      Oh, I can’t get over all of the food commentary. I am DYING here. I may as well confess my long-ago cookie conundrum and how I fixed it. As a timid 19-year-old (at the time), I took care of it in the most passive aggressive way I could muster. If you like long “iWaffles”, please read on :O)

      I worked as a receptionist in an office of about twenty-or-so. My manager sat directly behind my desk in a little office and the rest of the staff was behind her. Daily, manager would poke her head out mid-afternoon looking for snacks because she had worked through lunch and was feeling peckish. Other coworkers also had afternoon sweet tooths and would come and ask me for cookies.

      I ALWAYS had cookies and would have two or three with my afternoon coffee… Lorna Doone short breads, Pepperidge Farm ANYTHING and Oreos were often on my desk in plain sight. I didn’t mind sharing (with permission and in fair amounts, of course). However, I quickly got tired of opening my relatively-new package to find only one or two biscuits in a tray that was nearly full the day prior. So, I resorted to tucking the cookies WAY out of site under my desk on a little corner shelf I had under there. One would literally have to stoop down and about crawl under the desk to see the bag.

      One day, I snapped when there was literally HALF a cookie left in a sleeve that was full when I left for the day. Someone had actually gone an a cookie hunt, found the hidden treasure and promptly ate (amost) the whole packet. I was SO MIFFED. But, I couldn’t go around the office accusing people and looking crazy, so I did what I thought was best…..

      I bought a bag of Oreos. I painstakingly opened half of each sleeve, scraped out the creamy filling and replaced it with my boring, all white, toothpaste. I placed said bag back in my not-so-hidden cookie spot under my desk. A few days later, our IT guy (now my husband) asked me WTF was up with the cookies I had at the office. We hung out together outside of work with other friends. I, of course, asked, “Why?” He told me that he was at the office and witnessed the office the office manager crab a huge handful of cookies. She stuffed the first one in her mouth and promptly yelled, “ACK! WTH is WRONG with these effing Oreos?” Right then, she took the rest and put them back in the sleeve and into my hiding spot.

      I never had an issue with cookie theft after that. To this day, (15 years later), my now-husband and ex-coworkers-now-close-friends STILL bring up from time to time how protective I am over my snack cookies and laugh about manager’s outburst. I don’t know how she didn’t find the state of the scraped-and-tooth-pasted cookies suspicious looking and question what she was about to eat. I inspect everything I eat like a five-year-old that is SURE there are secret peas hidden in that bacon cheeseburger.

      1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

        I read this and loved it. Good on you for fighting back! Those people had awful manners – why not bring in your own treats???? Glad that your plan worked and your treats are now safe.

  2. Melody Pond*

    I had just noticed the new collapsing feature in the most recent 5 answers/5 questions post. I’m stoked! I think it will be really helpful. Thanks for doing that, Alison!

    1. MegaMoose, Esq*

      I, too, am a big fan of this change. I will make an extra effort to thread related comments for easier collapsing. Thanks AAM IT person!

    2. Teapot Librarian*

      Change is bad! Change is terrible! This is a hill worth dying on! I’ll never collapse replies!!

      1. Tangerina Warbleworth*

        Or, “But they don’t collapse the way I WANT them toooo!!”

        And now I have a mental picture of Alison glaring and muttering, “Collapse THIS, buttnut.” And I love it. ;)

    3. Hannah*

      This is great! I really hope that the comment police will dial down the intensity now that a thread can just be collapsed. I find it so grating when some commenters take it upon themselves to shut down other commenters.

  3. Robin Sparkles*

    The cookie and the no pajamas* – I am dying of laughter here! Who ARE these people?? I guess I could say that for all of these. Boy will I watch myself when I complain about anything at my job because these are really something.
    Alison – thank for collapsing comments! I love it.

    *still rolling over people having a fit about not being able to wear pajamas to work…I can’t even…

    1. BlueWolf*

      Your comment reminded me of a Portlandia sketch. Basically, the premise is that a patient (Fred Armisen) goes to a doctor who diagnoses him with “Early Onset Grumpiness”.
      Doctor (describing one symptom) says: “You’ll be saying things like, ‘Who are these people?'”
      Patient responds: “Who are those people? That’s the– I mean, that’s a real question.”

      But seriously, who are these people?! They sound like children. Something doesn’t go your way? Just throw a tantrum!

    2. Dinosaur*

      As a former call center worker, I can empathize with the pajama drama queens. It’s still ridiculous and a dumb overreaction but call center work is so awful that you take solace in the little things. I see their reaction as an outpouring of hatred for the job rather than simply throwing a tantrum over pjs.

      1. m*

        Yes, it’s when the jobs suck that you get this kind of silliness. If that’s the only thing a person has control over, then it becomes monumentally important.

        1. AMT*

          I work in an inpatient psych unit and you’re right. Everything is monumentally important when you have no say in how your day goes. At home and you don’t get lunch on time? Whatever, I’ll eat later. In a locked psych ward? Full-on meltdown.

          Nursing homes are similar, which is why I’m a big proponent of enrichment programs like gardening. Even if you have control over nothing else, you can at least be the guy whose job it is to water the tulips.

      2. Anonygoose*

        I was in training at a call centre and the trainer told our class that we weren’t allowed to wear pyjamas. One of the guys in the class started arguing with her about what an unfair policy it was and how crazy they were being for not allowing pyjamas because nobody saw us anyways. Most people in the class were in full agreement with him. This was on Day 2. They didn’t even have a chance to learn how horrible the job was yet! Some people are literally just that out of touch with social and workplace norms.

    3. Risa*

      I swear the pajama ones might be a former employee of mine… I had to ban pajamas at the call center I managed shortly after I came on board. I also had to ban clothing that promoted weapons, drugs and alcohol, and I had to ban inappropriate footwear (our office was in a location that required sensible shoes for safety reasons). Our agents occasionally were customer-facing, so all we asked was that they look clean, and professional, even if still casual. They could still wear jeans, and even t-shirts, as long as they were appropriate.

      I once had an employee kick her slippers at me because I asked her to change desks.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        I worked at a call center in the late ’90s, and we had to wear business casual clothes (but “business casual” was flexible enough that you could wear black jeans). I do not remember anyone complaining. People got dressed and went to work, and expected that you wouldn’t wear pajamas to even a thankless job. This is what confuses me nowadays. People think they get to make the rules. I mean, I’m definitely someone who thinks a lot of rules are dumb, but I just gripe to myself and my husband instead of trying to petition my employer or bitch to my manager.

          1. wish I had a bagel*

            Hey! I’m in Seattle too. In my office, we have people that try to wear yoga pants with heels and a blazer…

            1. General Ginger*

              When I was still aggressively female-presenting, I used to buy most of my work clothes at a couple of specific mall stores. I cannot tell you how many times I was told by sincere-seeming sales people that “nobody can tell these are yoga pants”, “these (very obviously knit) pants look completely professional, nobody will know how comfortable they are, look, they even have pockets”, “as long as you have a nice blazer and office-appropriate shoes, nobody will ever know you’re wearing the comfiest leggings, not pants”. Maybe a lot of folks are falling for that sales pitch?

              1. AnotherAlison*

                I wouldn’t really care if someone wore leggings as long as the outfit is nice and professional looking, and I’m not in Seattle. They shouldn’t be wearing that outfit to a meeting with clients in my line of work, and it probably shouldn’t be worn by a senior manager, but it would be fine for a normal day in the office for most of the staff. (Similarly, our staff men often wear cargos and an untucked polo).

                The problem to me seems to be people hear they can wear leggings & jump to leggings, a tank top, and flip flops.

              2. The OG Anonsie*

                I got a Stitch Fix box the other day and had asked specifically for slim pants and sweaters I could wear to work. They sent me a pair of houndstooth print leggings that had fake zippered pockets on them.

                The note from the stylist definitely acknowledged that I had asked for work clothes and thought they would be perfect for my style. Which they were, just, not for work, girl, come on.

                1. all aboard the anon train*

                  I find a lot of stylists don’t realize what work appropriate attire is. I’ve asked SF for work dresses that were at least knee length and not a lot of skin showing and they’ve sent me some pretty short dresses or ones with cut-outs that would be fine for the weekend or a night out, but not work. They’ve done something similar when I’ve asked for seasonal clothes (thick sweaters for winters in New England and I get flimsy sweaters that work in cooler California weather).

                  I have to roll my eyes when SF or other fashion blogs/mags/stylists put up posts on what to wear to work or what to wear to an interview and they’re all not appropriate for about 90% of workplaces.

                2. The OG Anonsie*

                  Oh yeah, I also asked for sweaters made of nicer/warmer fibers and got three all acrylic ones.

                  In their defense, style-wise, they all matched very closely to the things I actually wear (which means they were actually paying attention to my Pinterest & Instagram that I linked them to) so they weren’t totally off base with what I like.

                  The service I’ve tried that is GREAT for workwear is Mm.LaFleur. And they have no styling fee for your first box, which they really all should do because I’m less likely to give a service a shot if I might lose $25 over it if they turn out to suck.

                3. Turtle Candle*

                  Yep! With some notable exceptions, a lot of “clothes for work!” suggestions and photospreads and whatnot are less like “how would a roughly average young person in a roughly average business casual workplace be likely to dress, plus stylistic flair” and more like “how I would costume a romcom about a zany, clumsy girl at an entry level job who mysteriously appears to have a $1000/month clothing budget as she Finds Love and gives up her job to be a freelance cupcakebakerscreenwriterprofessionalfairy.” It’s why I’m inclined to be be sympathetic when someone new to the workforce totally screws up the dress code–unless you’ve been in an actual business casual office before, you might not know that your teeny tiny lace dress with knee-high bright red boots is probably not quite the thing for many workplaces, because a lot of what’s modeled for young women in film and TV and magazines is skewed.

          2. Red Reader*

            I once worked in a customer facing front desk position in Seattle and according to my manager, our definition of ‘business casual’ consisted of – and I quote – “Cover your tits.”

            1. weaselologist*


              I worked in an office where the dress code included “you may wear t-shirts on reception, but they should not have holes or offensive slogans for example ‘yo mamma is a ho'”.

              Um, thanks to the policy writer for clarifying that! We used to wonder if there was a particular reason that slogan was given as an example.

          3. LQ*

            I had to come into work yesterday because something broke and needed me for just a couple minutes. Work is on my way between where I was an grocery store and long walk. So I was in yoga pants. I said I would come in but everyone had to pretend I was invisible. (And my coworkers hilariously did…look! LQ’s computer came on by magic. And now it’s working. Magic!)

          4. Higher Ed Admin with an Attitude*

            For real. I work at a Jesuit university, and ALLLLL the women students here wearing nothing but effing black yoga pants. But they also go to church on Sunday, and you’re supposed to look nice on Sunday, right? which leads to the concept of CHURCH YOGA PANTS.

            So. Ya got yer class yoga pants, yer church yoga pants, and yer yoga yoga pants. WHAT

            1. Pathfinder Ryder*

              Do church yoga pants look any different from class or yoga yoga pants? I must know!

            2. Marillenbaum*

              I am admittedly having a ball at the thought of my mother being faced with church yoga pants. She once stopped me from wearing flip-flops to church with the words “JESUS is more important than your personal comfort!” (For what it’s worth, she wasn’t opposed to sandals, just flip-flops, which were shower shoes, to her way of thinking)

          5. Honeybee*

            I’m in Seattle too, and I have actually seen some of my coworkers wear yoga pants and workout clothes to work. Also raggedy jeans (and not the artfully distressed ones, but like the “I’ve worn these too much and should throw them away” ones).

            1. many bells down*

              My husband is a game dev so at his office, when his shirt has buttons people ask why he’s so dressed up. He interviewed in jeans and a polo shirt.

              There’s also a guy in his office who is a full-time barefoot enthusiast. He never wears shoes. Ever.

        1. The OG Anonsie*

          I think there are two big contributors to shifting formality in work dress.

          One is that white collar jobs are being filled more and more with people who are not from white collar family backgrounds and have totally different standards for what constitutes nice clothing.

          The other is that as an overall culture, work environments are getting more casual all the time.

          Especially when you put both of those things together, you get this really ambiguous dress code that’s “dress professionally” but no one wears slacks or nice dresses/skirts, so you can’t go all the way business wear without looking over dressed, and finding that “professional but still totally casual” sweet spot is a real bitch even if you are used to seeing people dressed for an office.

          1. Honeybee*

            I’m a white-collar worker from an entirely blue-collar family; I’d grown up never seeing anyone in my family or immediate community circle go to work without a uniform on. So I really had zero clue what white-collar workers wore to work, other than what I saw on TV. I assumed they all wore suits all the time (although I figured that women wore longer skirts than Ally McBeal et al.)

      2. paul*

        you mean I can’t show up in my Jack Daniels t shirt and my fuzzy Smith & Wesson pj pants? :(

        1. MacAilbert*

          Well, that’s one perk of my job. I can’t wear PJs (I can wear jeans, though) or wear drug or weapon paraphernelia, but I can wear all the shirts endorsing alcohol that I want. Granted, I sell alcohol for a living, so talking about it is a whole lot more appropriate than in other workplaces.

      3. krysb*

        If I have to come into the office on the weekend, I totally wear pjs. I’ll be in yoga pants with an oversized Tupac shirt or Bob Ross shirt (because I’m a weird-o). (They’re lucky I put that much effort into it. Last year my boss and I took a vacation and traveled through the northeast together. I’m pretty sure everyone in all of the states we slept in saw me in my Wonder Woman nightgown.)

    4. This Daydreamer*

      I actually get to wear pajamas at work. I have an overnight shift at a DV shelter and can try for a few hours of sleep late at night. I had a fifteen hour shift last night so getting to lie down for a bit was nice, even if I couldn’t get any real sleep. During open office hours I have to be slightly more presentable.

    5. ..Kat..*

      Well, as a hospital nurse, I do brag that I work in pajamas (scrubs) and comfortable shoes =)

      1. ..Kat..*

        Before you envy me too much, keep in mind I deal with bedpans on a regular basis!

  4. K.*

    I missed the woman making herself a cube out of boxes and sheets. Like … what? I’m in my office cracking up picturing this woman dragging in boxes and sheets and making a nest.

    1. GOG11*

      The person before me in one of my areas had built what I call the “fortress of solitude” out of those kind of dividers that you see in libraries so people can’t cheat off of one another or so they can have privacy while studying. She also put tall book cases in front of her desk. When I was hired, one of the first things I did was disassemble the fortress. That office, for some reason, has a ridiculous collection of furniture – like 5 lamps, a broken coat rack, three book cases. One day, while rearranging my desk after taking down the fortress, I turned on one of the lamps for the first time. I was like, “huh, this isn’t very bright. I wonder why she had it?” Then I realized it must have gotten pretty dark under all that furniture. I’m not sure why, but it’s still hilarious to me and it’s been years.

      1. General Ginger*

        Do you work in my office? There are two such fortresses in the cube farm area here, and they are so dark! I don’t know how anyone can do anything in there other than go into nap-time mode immediately.

        1. GOG11*

          This was in a semi-private office (the space is shared with the supply area) rather than a cube farm. The person before me also taped cardboard to the overhead light fixture, so maybe she just hated light? I’d be napping, too!

          1. Beancounter Eric*

            I’ve seen articles which claim the typical office is actually overlit.

            My office (15×15 or so) has four four-tube fixtures – I was able to beg maintenance to disable two of them and I still think it’s too bright.

      2. Collarbone High*

        At one cubicle job, my co-workers kept commenting on how friendly and approachable I was. I found out my predecessor had put a shower curtain rod across the doorway of his cube and hung blackout curtains from it.

    2. Non-Prophet*

      Yes! This is absurd. I just rewatched all of Gilmore Girls and #6 reminds me of the rickety bunker that Paris builds herself when she’s editor of the Yale Daily News.

      1. K-Stew*

        That’s immediately what I thought of, too! Also, how she used a burner/hotplate to heat up soup in the bunker. So dangerous!

        1. Non-Prophet*

          Haha, yes! I’m not sure what’s worse–the newsroom bunker or the apartment “craft station.” I would not want to work for someone like Paris, as brilliant and successful as she is. : )

      1. Lily in NYC*

        I would have to quit if my office had a freezer full of ice cream because I would just stand there shoveling it in my mouth like Homer Simpson and donuts. Ice cream is my Waterloo.

  5. MissJeanLouise*

    Free food really brings out the worst in people. If you give a mouse a cookie…it will want a dozen!

    I’m astounded by some of these. Grown adults acting this way. SMH.

    1. Artemesia*

      I belonged to a non profit professional association the focus of which was things like citizenship development and community building and so forth. At one annual conference at the banquet there was a lovely buffet of small desserts. The organizers planned on 3 per person which was quite plenty. The first people through the line literally stacked their plates with as many as they could leaving the people at the end of the line without dessert. When asked about it they said ‘well why don’t they just put more out’ as if the things were free. Citizenship educators. People who took 20 minutes of every half hour meeting to process feelings. Professional do-gooders. And they ate all the chocolate and I didn’t get any.

      1. DCGirl*

        I used to work for a non-profit organization made up of women’s clubs that did good works in their communities. At the annual conference, staff were not allowed to go through the buffet lines until after the women had gone through. Let me tell, those women could pick a buffet line clean. We used to joke about eating nothing but the parsley garnish they left for dinner. In reality, we all ended up ordering room service once we got back to our rooms and not being able to expense our meals because the organization had allegedly provided us with food.

        At one educational session, the hotel put bowls of popcorn on each table. One of the members walked over and took the bowl of popcorn off the staff table saying that, as staff, we didn’t need to have any.

        1. The OG Anonsie*

          Good lord. Once when I was an intern in a museum I and the other couple of junior collections people had to come in an extra weekend day to do a full-day educational session they were running. The curator was running it, and she told us to bring our own lunches because she/the museum wouldn’t be purchasing enough of the catered lunch (sandwich trays) for any of the interns. Unpaid interns.

          Only they also expected us to eat with everyone. You know how weird it is to go get your brown bag out in front of a bunch of customers eating a catered lunch? They kept asking us about why we wouldn’t eat the catered lunch and offering us some, because there was more than enough. When we declined and ate our own lunches, they were clearly perplexed and thought we were being weird and picky or something. The curator had told us we weren’t allowed to have the leftovers, either, even after all the customers had eaten, which she reiterated when there was inevitably a pile of leftover stuff.

          I later saw her pack up the leftover sandwiches and individual bags of chips and stuff and put them in her car.

      2. paul*

        Somehow that fails to surprise me. We’ve run into similar but not extreme issues ourselves.

        No, we’re not giving everyone an entire damn cheesecake or pan of brownies at this meeting. SHARE DAMNIT

    2. Anon Anon*

      It doesn’t surprise me at all. I work in an industry that sometimes caters meals to employees/participants. When you’ve seen someone use their hands to scoop up coleslaw and someone else take an entire serving bowl of hard boiled eggs then there isn’t much that surprises you when it comes to people and food.

      1. University Admin*

        Ha. That reminds me of a story one of our regular caterers tells other people.

        The first time we used them, they didn’t realize that they couldn’t leave food unattended, and their cart was not big enough to bring up their entire load. They left a pan of hummus on the first floor while they brought the rest of the food upstairs. By the time they returned (not even 5 minutes later), someone had stolen the entire pan. Of TWELVE AND A HALF POUNDS of hummus. They had brought the pita chips and veggies upstairs, so whoever took the hummus didn’t even get anything to eat it on! I always wonder what they did with enough hummus for 100 people.

        1. IANAL (I Argue Nightly About Llamas)*

          this is my dream. 100 servings of hummus to myself.

    3. AndersonDarling*

      Whenever we have training sessions we will have surveys asking what we can do to improve the training. We make it very clear that we want to know about the handouts, pace of the lessons, relevance of the material, and so on. 90% of the responses are about food. “Why didn’t we get hamburgers?” “I wanted a cake.” “I didn’t like the brand of granola bars, I wanted the brand I like.”
      These are grown ___ adults. Professionals in their industry. It makes me sad for humanity.

      1. Anon Anon*


        My favorite is when I’m doing an event in a hotel, and someone complains about the boxed lunch provided (which cost about $75), and then remarks that they would happily pay an extra $5 to have a hot meal and better catering! Which I could do if I wanted to charge them an extra $500 rather than $5.

            1. Spills*

              $75 is actually not the worst I’ve seen. I’ve paid $95 a person for boxed lunches in New York City before!

            2. Non-Prophet*

              I’m planning an event for my organization and we just got responses to our RFP. One of the venues we considered quoted $50 for a boxed lunch. Add in the standard service fee and taxes, and it would have been about $65 pp for a boxed lunch. Granted, we’re tax exempt so we might have been able to have the sales tax portion waived (depends on the city and state, but that’s besides the point). This was at a hotel in Philly…and not even at a five-star hotel. We didn’t go with that venue…we chose a cheaper place where the boxed lunches will be ~$40 pp, which is still so much.

          1. Lily in NYC*

            I don’t know if I’m reading it wrong but I thought is was $75 total (for multiple boxed lunches).

            1. JamieS*

              I think it’s $75 per lunch since Anon Anon said they’d have to charge the person who complained​ $500 for a hot meal. I’m reading the “them” to be singular.

          2. AMPG*

            Hotel catering is insane, since they usually have a clause in their contract that you can’t use an outside vendor for any food.

            Remember the “$16 muffin” kerfuffle in DC a few years ago (about a federal agency that paid $16/person for a continental breakfast for conference attendees)? People were freaking out about misuse of taxpayer money, while those of us who were used to dealing with DC hotels for event planning were all, “Hey – they got a deal somehow!”

            1. Event Planner*

              I had the same reaction. Adding eggs to breakfast in a Las Vegas hotel costs over $20 per person.

          3. Cath in Canada*

            The best conference boxed lunch I’ve ever seen was in Tokyo. There were about 20 different things in it, including a whole mini squid. No-one paid any attention at all to the sponsored talk that ran through the lunch hour; everyone was taking photos of their lunch or waving their squid in someone’s face. It was amazing, and cost ~$40 per person IIRC

        1. geecee*

          Oh, man. Once I found out how much bagels and coffee from hotel catering cost, I completely understood why our admin got SO ANGRY when people who weren’t affiliated with our meeting would wander by and take some.

    4. many bells down*

      I feel like this is a bigger thing when food is an occasional treat. My husband’s office has a fully-stocked kitchen with free candy, snacks, cereal, cup o noodles, and soft drinks. Somehow they never have a problem with one person emptying the entire container of jellybeans or taking home 15 cans of Pepsi. BUT – occasionally they have themed potlucks that you’re only supposed to partake of if you’ve brought a dish yourself. Invariably someone will sneak in without having brought anything and run off with a plate full of cocktail weenies.

      1. lex*

        I think the scarcity has something to do with it. We have a fully stocked fridge, freezer and kitchen here all day every day which I am ultimately in charge of. I cannot remember even a single time where people loaded up a to-go bag and there are about 70 people based out of this office. Yes, I spend like 3K a month on food, but at least there are no instances of savagery.

      2. K.*

        I agree. In college I had a paid internship at a company with a stocked pantry and people were reasonable in their consumption – a soda or bottle of water at lunch here, an individual pack of cookies there. You never saw anyone loading up their pockets.

      3. KTB*

        THIS. I work at an organization where the kitchen is fully stocked, and we occasionally bring in lunches for clients or for special events (celebrations/lunch meetings/all hands). We are totally client-facing, so everyone here understands that the lunch buffets are totally OFF LIMITS until it has been confirmed that the clients have eaten and the rest is up for grabs. Then: vultures. But polite vultures–no one’s walking off with an entire tray of tortilla chips or anything.

        Also, I occasionally stress bake banana bread for the office, and I’ve never heard any feedback aside from “OMG, this banana bread is so good!!” I’m lucky to work with really nice people.

  6. MT*

    Totally agree with #8. So any new hires will make what someone who has been in the role for several years. Thats a moral killer.

    1. Robin Sparkles*

      Or new hires are making what they should have been making in the first place.

        1. Robin Sparkles*

          Which is the root of the problem – everyone should get paid what they are worth. But I think you make a point “proven track record” is different than simply seniority or years of service. That speaks to results and I agree with you that people should get paid what they are worth. But it shouldn’t kill morale if people all get bumped to appropriate pay. The people who are experienced and have that track record should be compensated appropriately.

        2. anonny*

          That’s the part that gets me. When I was a teenager minimum wage was $4/hr. I worked at a grocery store for 2+ years and got up to $5.25, then they changed the minimum at our store to $7. New hires got $7 while it took a few months for the rest of us to be bumped up to match. Months where people with years of experience (many of them full timers/adults who were at the job much longer than I was!) were getting paid less or the same as than 15 and a half year old baggers and carriage pushers. So at the 3 year mark, my salary was adjusted and I finally was making exactly what someone was making on their first day of training. It’s demoralizing.

          In my 30s, my company did something similar and raised the range for my position. I’d been doing the job for 10 years (at 2 companies, one of them for 3 years and one for 7), was senior to nearly everyone on my team and managed direct reports, and had worked my way from $22k to $50k over the span of a decade. When they bumped up the range, it started at $50k. Did I get a raise? Nope. 10 years experience and I was making what my directs were making right out of college, and all of the people I was senior to on my team.

          I almost quit too. I left within a year.

          1. Code Monkey, the SQL*

            Yeah, I can sympathize with that one too.

            One job I worked after college, I busted my butt (retail). I smiled and sold and did all the trainings, and my boss gave me a $0.35/hr raise. Which was awesome! She hired more people, and all was hunky-dory.

            Then the minimum wage went up, right around the time of my review. She told me that everyone was getting a raise – up to the new minimum, . Which, on one hand, cool, more money. On the other hand, it meant that I got a $0.20 raise, while the brand-new people hired behind me, including the slacker girl I had covered for repeatedly, got $0.55 raises. And it became really obvious that the company wasn’t going to reward anyone non-manager any further, so my little point of “you really hustled, thanks!” pride was totally gone.

            I was demoralized, but I stayed in the job. I suppose the loss of my extra effort was probably worth it to the company to not have to keep paying me that extra quarter and a bit per hour.

            1. Jadelyn*

              My org has an internal minimum wage (we’re an economic justice org so it’s very in-keeping with our mission) that we’ve been bumping up by $1/yr for the last few years. The first year we did a bump, it was done along with the annual raises, only people got their annual raises first, then got adjusted to the new minimum if their regular raise didn’t get them there. So basically, people’s merit increases were getting eaten up by the min bump. So the second year, after the generalist and I pointed that out to senior management, we did it in two rounds – everyone below the new min got bumped up automatically at the first of the year, then they got their percentage-based merit increase on top of that new min in February with everyone else. That way we could still preserve merit-based pay distinctions at least a little and nobody had to feel like they didn’t get a merit increase bc the adjustment ate it up.

    2. MegaMoose, Esq*

      I can see some reason to be upset there, but if the options are everyone makes more money or no one does, I would like to think everyone could resign themselves to a raise. Not to mention that I don’t think seniority alone should necessarily determine level of pay.

      1. anonny*

        Not seniority ALONE, but a lot of these situations where everyone gets bumped up to the same starting point don’t take into account excellent long term performers. When it happened to me, I was told, “we’re raising the lower threshold for this position and you already make that. so everyone gets a 20% raise this year but you don’t because you don’t need one, you already make that much because you’ve been doing this for so long.” i worked my way up and got many performance based raises over a decade and wasn’t compensated accordingly when they adjusted everyone else to get my 10 year salary as a starting salary.

        1. MegaMoose, Esq*

          Yeah, I hear that. I do contract work where everyone is always paid at the same rate, even those of us in oversight roles, and I’ve had days where that really chafes (like when I have to go back and fix everything someone else has done, at the same pay-rate as they got to sit around with their head up their butt randomly pecking at their keyboard every few minutes). I guess I’m coming around to see how the kind of situation you describe would really feel like disrespecting all the work you’d done in the past, especially if you don’t get anything at all. Then again, I’m not sure the best way to avoid that if an adjustment really does need to be made, and I’ve got a LOT less sympathy for the seniority-only argument.

      2. Browser*

        The problem is that only the new hires are making more money. The people who have been there for ages and worked their way up through merit raises are getting jack squat.

    3. Faith*

      What I am curious about is whether those people left for higher paying jobs or jobs that paid the same? Because if they were able to get higher pay elsewhere, then why didn’t they do it earlier before these raises were announced ? And if they left for jobs that paid the same, then it looks like they were already getting paid the going market rate.

      1. MT*

        It’s not all about the pay, its about feeling respected and valued. If I had a proven track record for years, and my company turns around and says, you will now make exactly what someone on day 1 of your job will make, I wouldn’t stick around for long.

        1. Faith*

          To me it’s not about “proven track record”, it’s about what the market rate for my labor is. If I think that the company is not paying me what I am worth, then I will start looking elsewhere, regardless of what anyone else at this company is making. However, if they already are paying me what any other employer would realistically offer me, then I don’t understand how I am not being respected and valued just because someone else is getting paid the same amount (especially if both me and the other guy had to be bumped up to get to this amount).

          1. MT*

            thats the problem with having a minimum wage. the govt is artificially setting what the market rate is vs what value the employee is adding to the company. If I have 2 workers doing the same job, and each one is doing $55k worth of work, one is doing $50 worth of work, setting a minimum wage of $55 is artificially driving up the wage of the employee who is making $50 and stagnating the wages of the worker making $55k. This is why as automation is becoming more and more available.

        2. bridget*

          I just don’t get this. You would prefer to have less money in absolute terms in order to feel superior to someone else in relative terms? I’d argue that you should really try not to base your “morale” or measure how much someone values you based on how much lower on the ladder other people are. (Plus, by your own worldview, this means at your next job you’d be the newest person and therefore justly valued the least).

          In my opinion, tenure is often only weakly correlated with value to an organization. Nothing grinds my gears more than people who think they deserve more money or better projects or what have you just because they’ve waited out the clock the longest. If the senior person is mediocre and the junior person is a rockstar, it would be silly to reward the senior person more.

    4. Chicken Fishing*

      So, this was mine, and I definitely understand what people are saying. I probably should have been more detailed in my original post, but I’m trying not to be too specific. These employees work in a very small field where most jobs are part time and most people leave after a few years (because it is low paying). We can definitely agree about how much that sucks, but that is all outside of my control. None of the employees have more than 5 years in the position and all have the same responsibilities and expectations. They are making over market value and all have ultimately taken jobs in other fields (again, not uncommon and I completely understand). We opted to be completely transparent that raising everyone to that point was all we could manage in the budget for that fiscal year but would continue working to get everyone where we thought they should be. It is a challenging field and I understand everyone’s reaction that this was a morale killer, but I just wanted to add a little clarification that I was trying to do right by them (even though I’m seeing now that it doesn’t read that way to everyone, which makes me feel awful) and it was hard fought. Most employees stated and were thrilled and understanding so I know it wasn’t too poorly presented. I understand their feelings on it, but quitting without having another job lined up seemed like an overreaction to me. I appreciate hearing these perspectives though as it gives more insight into their thought process.

      1. CM*

        With that context, it makes more sense. But I was surprised this one made the list, because salary compared to your coworkers has a huge effect on your morale. A study a couple of years ago showed that people were more satisfied at work when they thought they made more than their coworkers, but were deeply unhappy when they thought they made less. People see their salary as a measure of their value, and comparative salaries as a measure of fairness. While it’s not rational to quit over a change that gets you more money, it definitely doesn’t feel good to have the new and less experienced person making the same amount as you after you’ve been there for several years.

        1. fposte*

          I think that’s related to our cognitive overweighting of loss in general. We’re more unhappy to lose $5 than we are happy to get $5.

    5. FlibertyG*

      I think there is literally a bible story about this (IIRC they are picking grapes) so this is likely a problem that is old as time.

      1. Lady Jay*

        YES! There is a Bible story about this. The people who pick grapes for a long time get paid the same as the people who don’t pick grapes for very long at all, and when the long workers complain, and the vineyard owner tells them not to be upset that he’s being generous with his money. After all, he’s paying them the amount agreed on when work began.

        In the Bible, the point is that God’s grace is freely & equally available to all, which in the Christian tradition is great! Read this way, the master’s generosity is a good thing! But if we think about this in terms of actual employment, then yeah, it stinks to work hard and long and make the same as people who work for a very little time. Generosity is good in many things, but I think in salary, we consider equity and fairness, proportionate to the amount & quality of work, more important.

        1. Julie Noted*

          In the parable, the amount agreed on when the work began was the amount needed to support your family for a day. The people who were employed in the afternoon had been unemployed all day because nobody wanted them. They still needed to eat, and to feed their families. Everyone was paid a just wage — that is, a wage that supported their material needs. It would have been unjust for the afternoon labourers to go hungry because the economic system was unbalanced.

          Concepts of the grace of God and other theological points in the Bible aren’t so divorced from the realities of life for us here on earth as we are led to believe.

          1. Lady Jay*

            Oh, I hadn’t thought of this, but you’re right; the denarius is indeed a “day’s wage”. What an excellent point.

  7. Snarkus Aurelius*

    The story of the cookies really infuriates me because entire offices are being punished for the bad behavior of one or a few people. Like…I get that it’s easier to do away with the whole benefit because it’s not worth the ongoing hassles, but I was always one of the people punished in the process.

    To quote Office Space, why should I change? He’s the one who sucks.

    At my old job, we used to have flex Fridays in the summer where if you came in early and stayed late throughout the week, you could get Friday off. But one woman who abused the privilege (and every other privilege we got), and the whole thing got taken away. A dozen people lost out because of one person.

    Is it really that hard to deal with the bad apples?

    1. Katie the Fed*

      I used to bring in treats for my team – a really fast-paced, crisis environment. I bought them with my own money. No big deal. But I got so sick of the whining – I got the wrong kind of pretzels! They preferred animal crackers! Eww jelly beans! – that I just finally said “to hell with it!” and stopped getting snacks.

      1. Robin Sparkles*

        I can’t understand who these people are. Over here if anyone brings treats people not only are grateful – they actually compensate by replenishing empty treat bowls or are encouraged to contribute themselves. I am hoping these stories are appalling because these type of ungrateful people are rare…?

        1. Malibu Stacey*

          As an admin who orders food that’s both for treats or working lunches, I can say the majority of people are usually at least happy for the thought if it’s something they don’t like, but a lot of times there is at least one person who wants to complain* or take more than their fair share.

          And I don’t mean valid complaints like, “All we ever order is pizza and I can’t have gluten.”

      2. GOG11*

        I can’t eat much of what gets brought into the office due to food allergies, but I don’t complain when someone brings in something that would make me very ill, much less something that I don’t prefer. People are weird.

        Granted, half the time I’m happy to just have a whiff of that delicious pizza or those scrummy donuts but I’m pretty sure the fact that I want to smell other peoples’ food makes me weird, too.

    2. K.*

      I would be LIVID about losing summer flex Fridays. We had them where I used to work (added an extra hour Monday -Thursday, got a half day every Friday from Memorial Day to Labor Day), and it’s such a wonderful benefit. People wouldn’t have taken that lying down. It was a giant company though, so I do think they’d have been able to handle the one bad apple.

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        Did you perhaps work in Milwaukee? That is the exact set up where my husband works. Only lately, they haven’t announced it ahead of time- last year they announced it the Friday after Memorial Day!

        And people were insisting that they planned out their summer with the flex Fridays in mind, and were going to work those hours regardless of company policy!

        1. K.*

          Nope! This was in NYC. And it was an industry-wide thing – my then-roommate worked for a competing company and she had summer Fridays with every other Friday off. But people did plan their summers around it – if you had dependents, for example, and you’d planned not to need care for them at those times and then you had to find it, it would not have gone over well. They’d have had to give people a LOT of notice.

    3. Parenthetically*

      In my experience, for an inept manager, it *really is* that hard to deal with bad apples. There are some people whose unpleasantness makes it impossible to address for someone who doesn’t understand “return unpleasantness to sender.” I have a few scripts for dealing with stroppy, grouchy teenage students that I actually think would work like a charm with the sort of prickly bulldozer who ruins everyone else’s cookie day, bagel morning, flex friday, or ice cream freezer!

    4. Anon Anon*

      Where I work we lost the ability to work-from-home and flex hours all because of a couple bad apples (both of whom left years ago). Unfortunately, I think it’s just easier to change the whole system than address the issues of individuals.

    5. Antilles*

      A lot of managers seem to take the unfortunate viewpoint that “extras” should be completely hassle-free. I’m required to manage your performance, so I’ll address issues there. I’m paid to manage clients, so I can be patient with issues there. And so on.
      But cookies? Casual Fridays? Meh, whatever, we’re doing this as an unnecessary favor; if it’s going to be a pain in my neck, just forget it.

      1. Silver Radicand*

        That is sometimes a reasonable view, to be honest. At some point a manager does have to decide whether the morale gained by a given perk is worth the extra time they put in to deal with problems that arise from it. And sometimes the perk isn’t worth the work (or alternatively, doesn’t seem worth it).

        As a manager, it makes a big difference to me when I am making those calculations if I know that my top folks appreciate that perk. If they seem meh about it, I’m more likely to be meh about fighting to keep it, as I’d rather spend my time and energy to create/keep the perks that I think my employees (and in particular, my top employees) want.

  8. CollegeAdmin*

    #13 brought to mind the post from a couple years ago about the auctioned timeshare contracts. I feel like this poster (“I will never tell anyone what happened to those flowers”) and that one (who drove out to a deserted road and set fire to the timeshare contracts) would get along.

    And I would like to be friends with both of them because they sound awesome.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        That is fantastic – I hadn’t read it before so thank you!

        And I agree that I would like to be friends with both of those people.

      2. WhichSister*

        Thank you for sharing. This image of her setting fire to the papers are now my happy thought for the day that will keep me going

      3. K.*

        Literal laugh out loud moment. I can picture this poor soul with a car full of papers and a lighter, driving desperately out to the middle of nowhere with a lighter, a look of grim determination on his face.

        1. chocolate lover*

          I think the $150 “fat girls can’t jump” bumper sticker story should be on that list.

    1. LBK*

      For all the crazy things that have been posted on AAM, I really think nothing will ever top the burning contracts story. There’s just something so absolute about that action that pleases me immensely.

      1. Anon because I'm revealing location*

        As much as I read this blog and the comments…I can’t believe I missed the timeshares. Wow.

        I don’t blame the writer at all!

  9. Enya*

    “She compared it to ‘papers, please’ and how this was the slippery slope that would lead to robot workers”
    I literally laughed out loud at this!

    1. Parenthetically*

      I mean, it’s clearly something this person has spent a LOT of time thinking about!

  10. AnotherAlison*

    #2, #3, #6, #8, #9, and #11 are all things I’ve been annoyed about at one time or another, but I’ve never flipped out over it. So, I’m half thinking these people in the stories are not crazy, but obviously half of me knows they took it too far. For me, though, it really is the little nuisances that drive me nuts. I can deal with my job, clients & coworkers, but it’s really the little corporate minutiae that make corporate life feel like a Dilbert cartoon.

    For example, the email signature we standardized on was ridiculous, and we must have gotten 6 emails telling us what to do and how to do it. We weren’t supposed to have our direct phone numbers, just the main line. Why do you hate the receptionist & want her to field thousands of phone calls? We all kept our direct numbers in the signatures, and no one has been policing this, so what was the point?

  11. Gen*

    Oh no. The PJs one. The call centre I worked in tried to enforce that, but one of the guys who was wearing some kind of parachute pants (the kind with the crotch at knee level? I dunno) was deeply offended that anyone thought his £200 trousers were nightwear. He loudly threatened to show up in his actual nightwear- he sleeps nude. Nothing was ever said about PJs or any kind of dress code beyond ‘PLEASE WEAR CLOTHES’ again while I worked there.

    1. Rincat*

      “Pajama dressing” is a trend that’s come back…slip dresses, wide leg silky pants, fluffy slipper sandals…

      1. Whats In A Name*

        All my college don’t are trying like hell for a return visit to my closet.

    2. OhNo*

      I don’t know what part of this I like more: that he threatened to come into work nude, or that someone apparently took him seriously enough that it became the (un)official dress code.

      Honestly, I’m mostly astounded that anyone willingly spends £200 on a pair of pants.

      1. Gen*

        I never doubted for a minute that he’d do it, he got banned from a local hotel for streaking the New Years party haha. (The job was so awful due to the subject matter than it was rare for anyone to be fired if they’d lasted more than two years and were good at the actual content of the role)

  12. blackcat*

    Eh, I sort of see where the professor was coming from in #10.

    I have used this sort of specialized mathematical software (I can think of a few things it could be). It is a HUGE pain to only be allowed to install it on desktop/lab computers that don’t leave the premises. It means that you can’t, say, test an idea when you’re talking to someone at a conference. Sure, being told to not bootleg is normal. But if you were told to, say, not download packages that technically alter the software, that could be a huge deal that would prevent someone from being able to do their work. Those sorts of modifications can fall under “don’t break the software” clauses, despite being very common. Many scientific communities write their own libraries to supplement commercial software.

    He response was way over the top, but I have seen many a war fought over site licenses for software. Often IT folks have no understanding of why a faculty member might need software to work at home/when not connected to the internet/etc. Faculty are often expected to work crazy hours doing research–the upside is that you can work whatever 60 or 70 hours in a week you want. And preventing software from being portable cuts into that flexibility. Pitching a fit isn’t okay, but getting frustrated at an overly cumbersome process is pretty normal.

    1. Another perspective*

      IT folks understand that perfectly. They are just trying to prevent your employer from being sued by a huge software company that is not afraid to defend their contracts.

      1. blackcat*

        I totally get that the IT people have no real power in the university.

        I’ve seen it many times when a university decided to pay for package A, which comes with all sorts of intense rules (such as continual authentication over the internet… that is the worst of the site license rules I have encountered) because it costs lets money than package B, which would allow for greater freedom with the software.

        Getting frustrated at IT does nothing. They can’t fix it! That’s why the professor was in the wrong. But I understand some level of frustration if the license was overly restrictive.

    2. fposte*

      I don’t think it was that he couldn’t take it home–it was that he couldn’t bootleg it to get it on his computer at home. Our research software goes on people’s laptops all the time, with no site license problems. It also sounds like the professor was mostly mad about having to fill out a form.

      And the thing is, even if it was a problematically prohibitive clause, them’s the rules. He’s free to pay for his own personal license if he wants more freedom.

      1. Amadeo*

        Bingo. Except I don’t think he intended to bootleg it. It really was all just about the form.

        1. AD*

          I can totally see a faculty member being ornery about filling out a form, or providing documentation. I’ve seen similar things myself.

    3. twig*

      I handle software licensing at a university and Software Licensing is a special kind of animal.

      Those limitations that the professor was asked to acknowledge –are the limitations of the software manufacturer.
      And Honestly, “don’t bootleg the software” is a pretty standard clause. If the university’s license limits use to University owned machines or on premise use only — that is the manufacturers limitations and being annoyed with the IT person who has to enforce those limitations doesn’t do any good.

      1. blackcat*

        “Don’t bootleg” is 100% standard and appropriate.

        But “don’t do any modifications that could break it” depends a lot on the particular software. Several things I have used specifically allow for modifications in the software TOS, and, in one case, the university banned modifications (I suspect this has to do with not wanting to fix stuff if two incompatible modifications were made. That’s not unreasonable, but in reality, this just meant everyone did their own thing and never when to IT with problems.)

        1. The OG Anonsie*

          Yeah, when I was in research many places forbade a lot of things like this on the grounds that “we don’t want our IT people to have to support it,” which ground a lot of groups to a complete halt. One place that had a full department and staff dedicated to genomic research refused to get them the programs they needed to actually work with the data they were collecting or computers that could support said software. They also weren’t allowed to purchase their own using their funding for this purpose, even if they kept it off the network, and there was no process to have one purchased and individually vetted by IT. This meant they were literally incapable of handling a lot of their research, but the institute would not back down on this point.

          There are somewhat good reasons for their level of caution and concern, but the solution shouldn’t be “then I guess this entire specialty can’t actually do the work they’re being funded for, too bad.”

    4. Amadeo*

      Before the state decided not to pass a budget, he could have requested (and gotten) a laptop owned by the university but loaned out to him, or even a desktop machine, set up just for him (we had some extras), that he could fill out a loan form for and take home. There was nothing stopping him. Except it would have been another form making him responsible for the item he was carrying off.

      I don’t know much about the software he wanted except that it is made by a big-time company and it was massive, powerful software. Frankly, knowing this individual the way that I do, it had nothing to do with any modifications he wanted to make and everything to do with being inconvenienced or made even partially responsible for anything belonging to the university that he was allowed access to. The ‘get out of my way so I can teach’ spiel pretty much cemented that in my mind. Nobody else gave me this kind of headache if a form needed filled out for an install of software that the math department didn’t directly own.

    5. GOG11*

      When I first started here, I created a form that people could fill out IF THEY WANTED TO. It had all of the options on it and they could just jot down how many they wanted and circle which options they wanted. One coworker asked for several copies of it and was delighted that he didn’t have to email me with all the specifics or have to write a note spelling it all out.

      Another got really nasty about it and couldn’t believe that I would make him fill out a form. People are strange.

  13. Anna*

    So many of these are about feeling like people don’t have any control over their lives already, so these changes are The Last Straw! It’s kind of a sad commentary on our “post-Capitalism” society.

    I think my favorite, though, is the project report one. Because of this line: Some went to elaborate efforts to put a few token documents in the repository but create a locked-down, secret stash of ‘real’ project updates for their eyes only. So you did the work, but were so incensed that you were being asked to do the work, you kept it secreted away as if you were “showing them.” Okay!

    1. Holly*

      This is what I was thinking when I was reading a lot of these, especially the PJs one in a call center. Those places are often nightmares (I’m sure there are nice ones, too) with all kinds of rules and restrictions. For a lot of people, I bet the psychology of being able to think “At least I’m in my PJs” while some customer screams and berates them and they have to respond with “I’m so sorry, Mr. Smith” subservient language meant a lot to them.

    2. The OG Anonsie*

      As someone who does a lot of project based work: You would probably not be shocked at how many people are like this. The principle of having to show me what they’re doing ENRAGES them.

      1. only acting normal*

        I can kinda sorta sympathise about people not wanting to share the unfinished product. With most projects I work on the shared drives and it annoys me when others don’t.
        But I currently have a micromanaging project lead: if other’s work-in-progress is on the shared drives he will actually make stealth changes. He once introduced a subtle but critical error to the modelling by inserting a -1 in the wrong place to “fix the code”. We didn’t catch it for *a year*, as we (the modellers) had no reason to know it was there and the effect wasn’t obvious until we had a new data-set. His project’s outputs were flawed that whole time as a result. Working on personal drives, and only sharing finished segments is necessary to protect him from himself!

        1. The OG Anonsie*

          Man I don’t even need their WIP, in fact I actively only want to see finished drafts around approvals. I just need to know what point in the progress they’re at or who they’re waiting on so I know what to say in my status updates to other people or if I need to poke someone or whatever.

          For example, if the people who made a request want to know when we will have a draft for them, and I ask you when you think you will have a draft available because they want to know so they can plan around that, aaaand you tell me it’ll be done when it’ll be done and to leave you alone… That’s silly.

          1. only acting normal*

            Yeah. That’s just obstructive to you doing your job. I feel your pain!

    3. Julie Noted*

      That was mine! I’m so honoured that it made the list!

      (For the record, this workplace had excellent pay, conditions that would make Americans weep, and more than average autonomy about the way you did your work. What it didn’t have was any sense of accountability within. No one had EVER been fired, demoted, or faced any disciplinary consequences as a result of screwing up a project, but the idea that the CEO should have visibility of how things are going sent about 1/3 of staff underground.)

  14. Temperance*

    #13 had me in tears laughing so hard. I’m sorry I missed it on the original thread. I work with some people who are frantic about saving literally anything and everything, and I could just picture them screaming about sending the ugly old dirty flowers to a homeless shelter.

    1. Robin Sparkles*

      I am secretly hoping that OP had an office space level scene of taking those flowers to a field with a bat… and that’s why they didn’t get into what REALLY happened to the flowers.

      1. LNZ*

        As someone who was graciously allowed to do this* to my nightmare office computer when we got upgrades, i can tell you there is no better feeling in the world.

        *They didn’t let me use a bat though, so i wore heavy boots and settled on smashing it into the ground and stomping it a bunch.

    2. Natalie*

      Those people are hilarious and frustrating. The homeless shelter does not want your garbage! They are just going to throw it away, and now they’ve wasted precious staff time (and possible money) doing so.

      1. fposte*

        I just saw something about one of our local charities that spends something like $5k per month disposing of donations that go to the garbage.

        1. BadPlanning*

          In the US, the postal system has been doing a food collection day where you leaving a bag of food by your mail box and the carrier takes it to a local food bank.

          In my house, this is really, toss the expired food from my cupboards in a desperate attempt to find something reasonable to donate. Opt to make a monetary donation instead.

        2. Can't Sit Still*

          One corporate volunteer day, we were sorting donated items at a homeless shelter. There were literally tons of stained and torn clothes, broken furniture and toys, and so on. But the capper was when one of my co-workers screamed. She’d been sorting baby items, reached into a donated diaper bag, and it was full. Full of dirty diapers. She found several more dirty diapers scattered throughout the donations.

          1. AnotherAlison*

            I hope this is a result of the opposite of what happened at my house. I had a garbage bag of donations sitting in the garage (not anywhere near the actual trash), and they set it out with the trash. Normally, you have to wait like 3 weeks and nag them to get anything that is not already in the cart to the curb.

            I’m still sick about that because there was a lot of nice stuff in that particular bag, like like-new shoes that I was debating whether to give away or not, but did because of blisters.

        3. Natalie*


          A long while ago, I think maybe the ’04 Indian Ocean Tsunami, I read a fascinating article about the absolute crap people donate to “help”. Things like high heeled women’s shoes, winter clothes (it’s super cold in Indonesia, right?), expired medicine, stuff like that. And at least some people seem to lose their damned minds if you suggest giving cash instead of junk from their basement.

        4. drashizu*

          My mom is part of the reason. She hounded me constantly during high school whenever I cleaned out my closet to give away everything, never throw away clothes! Someone homeless could wear them! I typically gave away stuff that was just too small for me or that I didn’t want, but she’d go through the trash and pick out clothes I tossed out because they were stained, ripped, threadbare, yellowed with age, warped from going through the dryer’s highest heat setting one too many times, etc. There was nothing that could be wrong with an article of clothing that wouldn’t make her take it out of the trash and switch it into the donation bag. It drove me bananas, and there was no way to get her to understand: They do not want that stuff. You are just wasting everyone’s time by making them throw it away for us!

      2. K.*

        YES. I’ve done some volunteer work that involves donations, and you really do have to go through them carefully because people will donate any old thing (please do not donate ripped bras). The homeless shelter doesn’t want your ugly flower display!

    3. Jessesgirl72*

      At my church, someone left the church because a pew that was literally falling apart and could no longer be repaired (cheap veneer) was removed and tossed into a dumpster. Never mind that it was a lawsuit waiting to happen, it was a GOOD PEW.

    4. paul*

      The best part of the occasional manager switch at my job is it usually gets me like a 2-3 week window where I can purge some crap we don’t need (why are we storing broken folding chairs? We aren’t keeping them for parts…)

  15. PizzaDog*

    I had missed the flower pot scandal when reading the original post! That’s a great one. The heck is a homeless shelter going to do with a dusty fake tree?

    1. Anna*

      Don’t you know? Homeless shelters are such grim, hopeless places they’ll be so grateful for even fake flower color added to their bleak existence. ;)

    2. BadPlanning*

      I know! “Here’s some crap we don’t want, we expect you to appreciate it.”

    1. DaniCalifornia*

      Yes now I need to know what happened to the flowers.
      Maybe he/she went Office Space on them or sent them up in a blaze of glory.

    2. Nea*

      You are not alone in this. Don’t leave us hanging! Tell us the fate of the fake flowers!

    3. Been There, Done That*

      Maybe the flowers were grafted onto a fake ficus and now they’re proliferating.

    4. drashizu*

      My vote’s on dumpster, but I’d sure like to read a story about how they were tied up with rocks and dropped off the side of a bridge like a criminal disposing of damning evidence…

  16. LadyL*

    Is it too late to turn myself in as an Office Dramatic? I work in a super old building with no A/C, literally all our customers and employees complain constantly how hellishly hot it is all summer…except me. A/C is my arch nemesis*, I love that our building is old, and I’ve been happily sweating away pleased as punch that we can’t afford to get A/C installed. Turns out we just got a big grant and that’s what we’re doing with it. I’ve already whined about it enough that everyone knows my position on this topic. I try not to but I’m not looking forward to being miserable and bundled up all summer. Not to mention that my position involves going in and out all day, so I can either dress to sweat outside or to freeze inside. Anyone got any tips on how I can try to reign in my own hysteria over this?

    * I don’t know what it is about A/C but it makes me feel absolutely miserable. Natural cold air is fine (I love winter!) but a/c always feels like it’s blowing wet frigid air directly on my neck. I once took a train ride where the A/C was super high and I literally got body shakes like I had hypothermia. I became unglued, it was one of the most uncomfortable 3 hours of my life, I tried to beg my companions to get off early and find other transportation because I was so miserable, I nearly started sobbing. No clue why A/C does this to me but it does.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      I don’t know, because I am almost the exact same way when it comes to stuffy heat. If there’s no breeze or airflow and/or it’s really warm, I feel like I’m going to curl up and die. I can’t sleep, I can’t relax, I hate it.

      1. Amadeo*

        Me too. TKD class is hell through summer. There are two window A/Cs in the walls that get turned on, but no other fans or air movement. All summer is a desperate struggle to not faint or be sick while the grand master pushes hard at my physical limits.

        Give me wet, cold A/C any day, or even 3F temperatures and I’m happy as a clam. We relate with LadyL, just in the other direction!

      2. Alton*

        Me too. Also, heat triggers bad headaches for me.

        My office is older, but it has window AC units, which is actually kind of nice because we can have our offices as cold or warm as we want. I was a little uncomfortable at my interview because I was in a room that didn’t usually have the AC running much and I was wearing a suit, but I fortunately haven’t had any problems since I have the AC and am not wearing as many layers.

      3. LadyL*

        My SO is that way! One of our biggest conflicts moving in together was over bedtime A/C usage. We had to come to a complicated compromise regarding cool air placement, fan speed, angle, etc.

        I think I’m just warped because since I was a teen I’ve worked at outdoor summer camps every summer. I would down a pot of piping hot coffee, then go play tag outside in 85 degrees/80% humidity all day. One summer I was starting anti-depressants for the first time during a heat wave and I joked with my co-workers that I honestly couldn’t tell if what I was experiencing was a side effect from the new meds or a mild heat stroke.

    2. misspiggy*

      I feel your pain – literally, because aircon blasts and fibromyalgia don’t get on well. The best thing would be to ask for a desk sited away from vents and – I think – from the thermostat. Befriend the engineer who’s putting the system in place and find out which parts of the building are likely to be least affected by the aircon. Put in a bid early to be seated in one of those places. Or, if that’s not possible, find people who love a cold breeze and are in a low AC spot, and arrange to swap with them.

      1. SarahKay*

        Seconded – make friends with the engineer, or your local facilities team. Not only will they (hopefully) help you find the least bad spot, they may even be able to turn your current seat into a less-bad area. We have a couple of vents where the relevant fan has been turned off because whichever poor soul had to sit under it was being turned into an icicle.

        1. OhNo*

          This is a great idea. My office has one of these overhead vents that blows cold air constantly – no matter what the season. I wasn’t able to get facilities to turn it off (apparently that is a very complicated procedure), but they gladly agreed to turn a blind eye to my “illegal” space heater as long as I turn it off at the end of the day (and as long as I don’t let Certain People see it, as there are some who have had space heaters confiscated because they cannot be trusted). Even if they can’t make any adjustments to the plan, they might have strategies to limit the AC’s impact on you.

          Really, any time you can make friends with facilities staff, janitorial and cleaning staff, maintenance staff, IT staff, or whoever manages/cleans/repairs your office space or equipment, do so. They are a godsend to have on your side, in addition to generally being pretty nice people.

        2. Papyrus*

          The maintenance people at my work had a diverter thing they put over the vent at my desk once because I was directly below it and I felt like I was working in Antarctica. The AC wasn’t blocked, but it just pushed the air away from my desk, which was much more tolerable.

          Also, is it possible to have a space heater at your desk? Some offices (like mine) freak out about the wattage/safety concerns though. They did allow me to have a mini one that I put on my desk (Google Lasko My Heat – you can get one for $10-$20) and while it doesn’t put out a lot of heat, it did warm up my hands pretty well and gave me a little comfort.

          1. WhatTheFoxSays*

            This was the solution when I was moved directly under the vent and froze my little butt off too.

      2. Gen*

        Yes I have fibromyalgia as well and being as far away from the aircon as possible is the only thing that seemed to help, layers just make me feel like the Stay-Puft man while still being frozen.

        Since you’ll be there when it’s being built definitely try to talk to the engineers about any prime locations

      3. LadyL*

        I’m only at my desk part of the day, the rest of the time I’m roaming around the building interacting with kids. That’s actually part of my issue with layers- I work with little ones so I’m constantly ending up with armfuls of their junk (sweaters, backpacks, hair ties, art projects, etc) so I’m loathe to add more junk of my own that I need to take off and on and carry with me. But it looks like that’s just gonna have to be how it is.

    3. Jessesgirl72*

      If you sit near the vent, I know someone who got magnetic strips and used those to cover the vent above him in the summer, so it was never blowing on him. It worked like closing a normal register in a house.

      Other than that- layers that you can wear only in the office.

      1. Hlyssande*

        My former boss stood on his desk in his office one day to put clear packing tape over the vent. While I and a coworker were in there for a meeting. We made sure he wouldn’t fall, but were giving each other Looks the whole time.

        As far as I know, the tape is still there.

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          He used the magnets since he knew there was no way they could do any damage and were easily removed. Packing tape does dry out and come down. (before the magnets, he tried to tape up paper)

    4. Tris Prior*

      I’m the same way. I live in a part of the country where we only get a few months of warm weather each year. We’re having a freak warm spell right now (by that I mean high 70s/low 80s, not even really hot) and the AC is Blasting. I may have been overheard saying, “Really? We can’t be warm for just a COUPLE of days after a long winter?!”

      I’ve found the best line of defense is to get one of those rice-filled heat wraps that you can put in the microwave. You can heat it up and put it on your lap, on your chair, on the back of your neck if that’s what’s bothering you, bury your hands in it when your fingers get too cold to type. I’ve even put my feet on it when my toes have gotten numb from the cold! Yes, it’s ridiculous that we have to do this in the middle of summer, but it is better for me than putting on lots of layers, which don’t even really help with the cold neck/fingers issue. I find I need an actual heat source rather than bundling up more (and of course space heaters and electric heating pads are forbidden at my work.

      1. SarahKay*

        Oh- heated mouse! I get cold hands (lousy circulation), particularly my mouse hand, and last winter I got a heated mouse from Amazon. I love it so much!

      2. Brogrammer*

        For you and everyone else who is perpetually cold, I recommend The Warming Store (online store, not posting a link so I don’t get eaten by the spam filter). They carry a wide variety of heated apparel, including socks, gloves, jackets, etc. I’m not a patron myself, but one of my coworkers has a warming jacket that she absolutely loves.

      3. LadyL*

        The thing is, some light A/C use during very hot & muggy weather is something I’m all for. But people are addicted. As soon as it gets even close to warm outside people immediately jump to A/C blasting at 65 degrees. I’m like you, I’m always like, “It’s barely 75, can we all just try to enjoy the breeze for a few days???”

        Once a visitor at my current job told me that it was “dangerous” for kids to be in 80 degree temperatures and it was hard for me to keep a straight face. Just to be clear, she didn’t mean “kids left in a parked car in 80 degrees” or that her child had a medical condition or something. She literally thought it was negligent for our building to be open to the public without A/C because hot weather could kill kids. I told her my previous job had been working at an outdoor summer camp, and that we played outside in pretty much all weather and she was appalled. How did she think all of our ancestors survived long enough to have descendants in the time before A/C existed?

    5. k*

      On the bright side, you’ve been very lucky to have not had A/C for so long, that isn’t very common….try and put that “it was nice while it lasted” spin on it.

      For more practical solutions, learn to love layers. My office tends to be super warm in the winter and freezing in the summer. Cardigans and other easy to put on and off layers are my friend. Depending on your office you may be able to keep a little blanket at your desk, in a more casual set up I’ve seen coworkers wearing Snuggies at their desk. For a more professional option, a shawl works well, or a blanket scarf that can be draped over your shoulders while you sit. A fleece zip up is very warm but not bulky.

      1. LadyL*

        That’s actually a big part of what motivates my drama over this- A/C is becoming ubiquitous, even in beautiful historical buildings built to have maximum airflow. Sealing windows shut, keeping the nice fresh air out and pumping sickly recycled wet air in. I don’t get it.

        And unfortunately I’m only at my desk part of the day, the rest of the day I’m walking around in the building doing random jobs, so depending on where the vents end up going in I’m not sure how to avoid them when I’m roaming.

        1. Callie*

          Some of us have to keep the nice fresh air out because we have miserable allergies. I’d love to have the windows open, but I’m violently allergic to ragweed, and I’m on three kinds of meds that only mute it, not eliminate it entirely.

    6. GOG11*

      I have Raynaud’s and some other health problems that flare up when exposed to even mildly cold temperatures (like, purple fingers and toes when it’s 70 F for example), so these were ADA accommodations for me, but I’m commenting anyways in case your company would work with you even if it’s not a medical problem.

      My company installed a dampener to cut off the A/C in the summer and that could be opened in the winter to let heat in. If you have your own office, could you request a vent that can be opened and closed to cut down on the disparity between your office temp and the outside temp?

      This may be a long shot, but they also installed a radiant heating tile since just shutting vent still means it is 66 degrees F some days. This seems to be much safer than running a space heater and it keeps the room temp much steadier/constant.

      Like other commenters said, layers can be really helpful. I have a fleece zip up that is company branded that I keep to put on when needed. I also have a blanket. Heated gloves or hand warmers can also be helpful. Hot beverages also help in making me feel warmer when I drink them and also for keeping my hands warm. I think things like the two things mentioned above would be best, though, because they keep there from being such a huge difference in temperature to try to cope with.

    7. Shortie*

      I don’t have an answer, LadyL, but I feel your pain. Cannot for the life of me figure out why AC in office buildings has to be turned down so dang cold in the summer. How about a nice middleground temperature that’s cooler than the heat outside, but not frigid? I know everyone’s bodies are different, but when you look around an office and almost everyone is wearing layers in summer, it’s too cold in the office…

    8. Manders*

      Have you mentioned this to a doctor? I used to do the same thing–cold weather was tolerable since I had an excuse to bundle up, but going from hot weather to A/C made me shivery and miserable, and I’d happily have worked in an office in the high 70s or even the low 80s.

      It turns out that I had an iron deficiency. Now that I take supplements and take more care with my diet I still like my office as warm as I can get it, but I’m not freezing in A/C.

      1. LadyL*

        Oh, I would not be surprised at all if I have low iron levels. I’m a lifelong vegetarian and I’m female, to things that put you at risk for one, or so I understand. I also bruise very easily, which I think is another symptom. I once bought iron supplements, but I’m bad at remembering things like taking pills, so I never got far with that. Maybe I should look into it. Thank you!

        1. WhatTheFoxSays*

          As another anemic chiming in, your symptoms sound like mine. Taking iron helps, if you’re not into pills try fortified foods.

    9. The OG Anonsie*

      I used to live in the tropics where it was common to not have AC despite having what people in most of America would call “actual swampassed hell.”

      As much as I hate being in hot humidity and being sticky all the time, I also hate being in moist cold as well and I’m always freezing to death in air conditioned buildings and miserable. Never happy. Anyway, the thing about parts of the tropics there there’s no AC anywhere is that it meant people’s expectations about appearance were real chill. Yeah, everyone is sweaty and kind of unkempt. You’d be an idiot to fight it, we expect you’re gonna have frizzy hair and sandals and whatnots at work.

    10. krysb*

      I live in Tennessee and I refuse to fix the air conditioning at my house. My bedroom has a unit that I turn on at night, but the rest of the house goes without. It’s been like this for 4-ish years and I like it this way. When I go to my parents’ house, it’s like walking into a cave because of the a/c.

  17. Corky's wife Bonnie*

    Oh Alison, this original thread was SO MUCH FUN to read!!! Can we keep doing them from time to time?

    1. OhNo*

      Yes, please! I love those best/worst comment threads, and in these roundups you always manage to include at least two or three that I never found in the original.

  18. Heart Vandelay*

    We have a lot of celebrations throughout the year, and we’ve had to either serve people directly or monitor their portions. I work with people that are well paid and enjoy generous benefits, yet they behave like they have just been rescued from a deserted island. I’ve seen people stack plates high with chicken and steak during “taco day”, with no concern for the people behind them in line. We have run out of food on numerous occasions and had people take whole entire trays of food while our backs were turned.

    1. Beancounter Eric*

      Law firm I worked for had a written policy regarding Pizza Parties – how many slices allowed on first pass through line, rule regarding when one could return to the line for another slice…it DID help prevent the problems you describe.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        Oooo, that reminds me of a time I had a project kick-off meeting over lunch, so I ordered pizza. A few extra people showed up (like, I invited SME manager, and he brought Junior SME). Since I was presenting and running the meeting, I didn’t have anything at the beginning of the meeting. Those hogs ate every scrap of food within 10 minutes, and I got nothing, even though it was on my budget. Next time, pizza rules will be implemented. Ha!

      2. Katie the Fed*

        What is the etiquette on pizza? I feel like 2 slices on your first pass is ok, and then once everyone has had some you can grab a 3rd if you really want.

        1. OhNo*

          That seems pretty fair to me. Personally, I might add the caveat of no more than 1 slice of each kind (to hopefully save some plain cheese or veggie slices for the vegetarians), but that’s just a personal preference.

          1. General Ginger*

            We have a few vegetarian folks in the office, and every time we’ve gotten pizza for a meeting or what have you, the person responsible for ordering takes down people’s preferences and checks if anyone other than the vegetarians want non-meat options. Nobody ever says they do, and yet the veggie/cheese pizzas are gone immediately, sometimes leaving nothing for the actual vegetarians.

            1. InternWrangler*

              We have a rule that vegetarians or those with other dietary restrictions get to go through the line first, so they are assured of getting some food they can eat.

            2. TootsNYC*

              Time to clue in the person taking the info that they need to just always add one plain pizza. Always.

        2. Beancounter Eric*

          As I recall, 2 slices on first pass, then one had to wait for all others to go through before a second pass. I don’t remember the count limit on the second pass – it’s been a few years.

      3. TootsNYC*

        I used to make cookies for a youth-group-type thing at church. Every kid asked, “How many cookies can we take?” as they went through the line. It amazes me the grownups wouldn’t consider this. Kids have better manners!

    2. Papyrus*

      All of these food vandals are so confusing to me, because whenever there is food brought in at my work, usually there’s way too much and people are literally begging you to eat or take more so they don’t have to deal with leftovers.

    3. WhatTheFoxSays*

      One year someone (yes, one) took 30 gallons of cider from our apple picking event. I still refer to it as Cidergate.

  19. CB*

    Solidarity on the lanyard thing, though. Honestly lanyards don’t go well with many women’s bodies, the card bounces conspicuously, anyone checking cards is looking at your torso, adults shouldn’t have to hang an ID bang in the middle of their breasts.

    1. Jessesgirl72*

      I really hate having things around my neck- and yes, they bounce off my chest or fall weirdly.

      But I wouldn’t quit over it, either.

    2. Umvue*

      Yeah; I also wouldn’t be jazzed about wearing my name around my neck on a daily basis. I don’t mind at conferences etc, but in the workplace, I always wonder if advertising every employee’s name could make the building vulnerable to social engineering attacks. E.g. making it easy for intruders to answer a pointed “Can I help you?” with something like “oh, hello, Susan let me in, I’m here to blank the thingamajig” or something.

      1. Observer*

        Putting a company directory on the web is FAR more of a problem in that respect.

      2. AnotherAlison*

        I was just watching some cybersecurity show on TV the other day where these “white hat” security expert hackers hired by corporate waltzed into a bunch of branches of a bank and were able to plug in usb sticks into multiple computers, “infect” them, and walk out with no one questioning them. They even talked to employees and sat right next to them, but just used the line that “they were here from corporate.” They had fake consultant badges that they made themselves (IBM or similar). I think nefarious people will be able to scam you no matter what, so I’m not sure being able to name “Susan” who they saw pass by earlier would really matter.

      3. JanetM*

        Sort of tangential to that, when one of the new buildings on campus was opened up, I learned that they were not allowed to put nameplates on their doors, just job titles, as a security measure.

    3. Lana Kane*

      We have the opposite problem at my employer. I work in healthcare, and lanyards for our badges were banned because they could be disease vectors. So now we have to clip our badges at heart level. The clip makes certain kinds of shirts droop, snags on knitwear, can sometimes really conspicuously draw your eye to people’s chests, etc. I want my lanyards back, as dorky as they look.

    4. Thlayli*

      I hate lanyards too. Love the little pill-cord belt clippy thingies.

      It’s not clear from the post whether she was offered the option of the clippy-pully-thingy but if she was met I can sympathise.

      Comparing it to robot workers is fairly strange behaviour though.

  20. jules*

    #15: I absolutely LOATHE wearing lanyards (the ones our company gave us are unnecessarily long, and I have a very short upper body, meaning that without adjustments, my ID badge hangs around crotch-level), but even I can’t imagine leaving a job over it. Why can’t people be privately annoyed by something and, you know, not make a big deal about it to anyone else? (I guess this is why I’m not our office drama queen…)

    1. Antilles*

      I sometimes work in secured facilities and there’s actually a good justification behind the lanyard-not-belt policy: When you wear a properly adjusted lanyard*, your badge should end up somewhere around mid-chest level right in the center of your body – so it’s extremely easy for people to quickly glance and check if you’re authorized to be there. A badge clipped to your belt, on the other hand, is well below typical eye level and can be accidentally concealed by your untucked shirt/jacket/etc.
      *If the lanyards are too long, that’s the company’s fault for not getting you an adjustable one.

      1. Nea*

        Tie a knot at the back of your neck. That’s how I’ve had to adjust every lanyard ever.

      2. Migraine sufferer*

        Anything around my neck gives me a migraine. I don’t wear necklaces or turtle necks. Even some cardigans bother me if they pull down on my neck. So I can understand the rage over a lanyard. Something that heavy would be really hard for me to deal with and I might just quit over it. I worked at one place that required employees to wear a badge above waste level but you had a choice of either a lanyard or a clip to your shirt. I chose the clip, even though it wasn’t great for dressy blouses.

    2. Anxa*


      I’ve been injured 3 times!

      First time, I was trying to take my lanyard off but my backpack was still pinning down my scarf and I ended up slicing my finger on the metal clip due to the messed up inertia of the movement.

      Once I forgot to take it off while I was driving home and the fabric dug into my neck when I had to stop short to avoid a car that stopped in front of me to get into an exit ramp they had missed.

      And, I do a LOT of leaning over people. It’s actually a really huge part of my job. The tables where I work all have a layer of peeling-off plastic that curl and once caught my lanyard and when I stood up straight I had a moment of body panic and I ended up popping my knee. Which hurt for 2 weeks and I couldn’t afford to go to a doctor to see

    3. Nye*

      I’m also pretty short, and when forced to wear a lanyard I just tie a knot at the back to shorten it. Still wish all name tags would just come with clips, though.

  21. Part-time Poet*

    Oh, I am so using this line “she built herself a weird little hovel out of boxes and sheets” in some future poem I will write.

  22. HistoryChick*

    But….what happened to the flowers???? I neeeeed to know! :-)

    Also, I never knew PJs were an option to wear to work. My office wear selection just dramatically expanded. #sarcasm

  23. Karyn*

    No. 14, RE: dress code changes:

    I read Tim Gunn’s book “Gunn’s Golden Rules” a while back, and this always stuck with me, from Chapter 8 entitled “Physical Comfort is Overrated”:

    “I get very impatient with this whole ‘comfort issue’ with clothing. Yes, you don’t feel as comfortable in clothes that fit as you do in your pajamas and robe. That’s a GOOD thing. You’re navigating a world where you need to have your wits about you. If you’re in a lackadaisical comfort haze, you can’t be engaged in the world the way you need to be. Would I be more comfortable in a business meeting wearing my pajamas? No! It would feel, honestly, very weird. I would think, Where’s my IV? When do I take my next meds? … Sure, oversize t-shirts feel soft on your body, but you know what’s genuinely comfortable? Being dressed appropriately for your surroundings.”

    I really like this, and I wish I could post it in the break room for people who don’t actually get dressed, comb their hair, or put on deodorant. I’m not saying, nor is Gunn, that you have to wear a business suit in a casual office or get a blowout and put on makeup every day if you don’t want to. But even in casual offices – wear NICE jeans, without holes, put on a t-shirt that fits or a casual blouse. Comb your hair, or at least make sure it’s clean and that you generally smell okay. Because I agree with him – if I go home and get into my pajamas, I am NOT as productive as when I don’t get changed until I go to bed.

      1. Mononymous*

        So much this. Especially for folks with touch-related sensory issues, certain illnesses or disabilities, etc. (E.g., me. Sigh.)

        1. Karyn*

          Well, of course disabilities (mental or physical) have an exception here – for example, wearing sneakers if you have leg/foot issues, or wearing certain materials for sensory reasons, etc. That’s different.

          But there is literally no reason I can think of that would keep someone from showing up with ordinary cleanliness and in something other than pajamas. Surely there are other options.

      2. OhNo*

        Yeah, that quote kind of equates physical comfort with an emotional state of relaxation/laziness. I’m sure there’s a correlation there, of course, but it’s not a universal constant.

      3. Karyn*

        I see your point, but I still maintain that if you’re going to work in a professional environment, you should dress for whatever that particular dress code is – and casual means jeans, but not jeans with holes in them, even if they’re your most comfortable pair. It IS possible to dress with physical comfort but still be appropriate (I’ve got some work-appropriate dresses in textiles that are less uncomfortable than, say, pure polyester, for example). It’s not about the material so much as the appropriateness.

      4. Observer*

        I was thinking about that. But, there is actually good evidence that for most “neuro-typical” people, he’s right as long as you don’t push it too far.

        I once watched a fascinating documentary on the German AutoBahn. They have much higher speed limits than almost anywhere else in the world, yet accidents are rare. There are a numbers of reasons for that, but one of the things they talk about is that the road was designed with curves. It runs out that long stretches of straight roadway lead to people “zoning out”, which inevitably leads to a higher accident rate. You can’t do that on a road where you have to constantly watch the curves.

    1. Browser*

      I’ve worked in call centers. It’s not so much an office environment as it is a perpetual cattle call – and if people want to wear pajamas it ain’t hurting anyone.

      I was pregnant at the time and I’d be damned if I was going to spend money on maternity clothes for a minimum wage job. Not really in the budget.

      1. Karyn*

        As I pointed out above, there is a difference here; I wouldn’t expect any pregnant woman to buy specific maternity clothes, because those things are expensive! But I would think that if you’re in a professional office environment, there are still professional-looking options that aren’t pajamas or yoga pants? There’s a difference, I think, in what Tim Gunn is saying here – it’s not that work clothes can’t be physically comfortable
        – I love wearing flowy tops and loose skirts – but clothes also have to be appropriate for the setting.

        Just as it’s fine to sit around your house unshowered, without deodorant, unbrushed teeth, etc. for two days during the weekend (or days off, whatever they may be), I think if you’re going to work, you should probably do something more? (This has been a problem at over half the offices I’ve worked at, so I understand that YMMV.)

        1. Ballet Flats*

          The thing with that is that “appropriate” is just what a certain group of people have decided. We can change what is considered appropriate if we, collectively, choose to do so. There’s no great psychological depth or meaning to what he’s saying, it’s just psychobabble meant to make him sound thoughtful while saying absolutely nothing of substance.

          Or in other words, all he’s actually saying is “people should dress appropriately for their work environment” – but that’s not catchy or likely to impress the sort of people who read about what he thinks. It’s poor writing.

          And frankly, he may fall into a “lackadaisaical comfort haze” when wearing comfortable clothes, but some of us are actually intelligent adults who can still manage to think while wearing PJs.

  24. lb*

    These are all great stories but I did take note of number 13 …. finally, a great office-appropriate prank! Taking turns foisting an ugly fake plant on everyone is a fantastic example of a funny, inoffensive gag. Applause to number 13!

  25. Rosamond*

    These are so awesome. So now, what is the best way 1) as a peer and then 2) as a manager, to tell someone they’re being a drama llama? My usual approach in either case is to follow up later and say something like, “Your reaction seemed a little out of proportion to that situation. Is there something I’m missing?” Which at least tells the person that I noticed the odd behavior, but also tends to invite more venting that I don’t really want to enable. Extra info: I work in an environment that’s somewhat sensitive to anything that could be construed as tone policing or silencing.

  26. Jaguar*

    I know we’re not supposed to do this, but with the convention that Alison’s text is un-italicized and no leading quotes on subsequent paragraphs, I got pretty confused as to who was speaking at times.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Not supposed to …? I am confused by that part.

      But the quotes are all from the people telling the story; nothing in the post is from me except for the brief paragraph at the top.

      1. Jaguar*

        Not supposed to point out grammar (unless I have that mistaken).

        Just without the subsequent paragraphs starting with a quote, I thought you were adding some commentary and re-adjust part way through.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I am unilaterally dismissing that rule on quotes, as I dislike it. I am creating my own style guide that will compete with Chicago for the hearts and minds of grammarians everywhere.

          (Totally fine to point out things that are causing you confusion though; I think that’s different than grammar corrections for the sake of pedantry. And I say that as a sometimes pedant.)

  27. H.C.*

    I need to draft a “Hills to Die On” document,with the common sense to just keep it to myself.

    1. Anonymous Poster*

      My “Hills to Die On” document starts in with document templates. Then it leads into office nameplates, and expands from there.

      1. Not my Circus, Not my Monkeys*

        I have already worked this phrase into a conversation I’ve loved it so much. I’m planning to make it a permanent addition to my verbal repertoire. Not sure if I want to experience the drama it would take to make me document my hills to die on though. Sounds exhausting.

      2. SusanIvanova*

        We had a document template for project planning in Microsoft Word. We were mostly Unix devs, so that meant dusting off old laptops and swearing a lot. Nothing in the template coped with any programming language or pseudo-code, and it wasn’t allowed to be changed, so the parts that best explained it were unreadable. It was supposed to be sent around to QA and a couple of other people for approval; they took forever to get back. Then you were supposed to have an in-person meeting with reps from those teams – yeah, nobody was ever available. So eventually you’d get the bare minimum of people together and they’d just ask a few token questions then approve it.

        I had more than one small project that got finished before the “plan” was ever officially “approved”.

  28. BadPlanning*

    These stories make me thankful that my work is not food crazy. People do like free food (and sometimes complain about said free food). If anything, people are conservative about taking first servings. If someone brings in treats, often there will be a second announcement of “Still food! Come get seconds.”

    We had one company wide event where they either greatly underestimated the number of attendants or someone over ordered and there were going to be lots of appetizer type leftovers. The people catering were handing out to-go containers, practically begging people to take food home so they didn’t have to toss it.

    However, a couple years ago, I did go on a vacation with a tour group and the group of people that I were with were food hounds. At two different buffets, people piled their plates (taking 2 meat entrees, etc) and food ran out. Apparently the restaurant thought people would take 1 meat, 1 veg, etc, so were unprepared for it to be consumed so quickly. Later in the trip, the buffet had a dessert table and although the desserts were small (2 biters, in the US, this size would imply you should sample a bunch of them), I figured this was the total desserts we were supposed to eat. I took 2. I watched other people stack their plates with desserts. Sure enough, there were cries of, “More desserts!” when the table quickly emptied.

    To be fair, we were not in the US, and generally in the US, “buffet” means all your can eat. There probably should have been some better communication to the group about taking a conservative portion and coming back for seconds when everyone had gone through.

    It was an awkward American moment for me — grabbing big plates of food. The people on this tour were retirement age and reasonablely well off (to afford this trip) — so you couldn’t even blame the plate piling on being a hungry/poor young person.

    1. Observer*

      On the other hand, on an expensive “all inclusive” trip, you shouldn’t have to worry about running out of food. 2 @ 2 bite deserts isn’t really a reasonable portion. Neither does the other buffet sounds reasonable, especially if people haven’t been snacking all day.

      This is also fundamentally different from free food. When you are paying for food, especially when you are paying a lot for the package, expectations are different, and justifiably so.

    2. LNZ*

      That sounds horrible, I’d probably die of embarrassment if i was in you’re place on that tour. I often find that older well off folks are the worst at this type of entitlement stuff (particularly when its a culture clash thing like this)

  29. Katie*

    It’s entirely possible that I used to work at the company in #3. Although if so, I didn’t realize people flipping out about the one-cookie rule was why they stopped it!

    1. Amadeo*

      Man, I hope so. It would not surprise me (would horrify me though) to learn that more than one company decided to stop supplying cookies because people were greedy and moaned about a one-cookie rule!

      1. Katie*

        In my memory, most people were pretty good about only taking one. But it was a pretty big office, so it’s definitely possible that some people were abusing it and I didn’t realize.

        It was kind of hilarious when they’d send out the email saying that the cookies were out. Everyone would just drop everything and make a beeline for the cookies.

  30. Anon Accountant*

    These are making me laugh. I love it- no more pajamas to work and people are upset?! I love this entire post and can’t stop laughing and cringing at the same time.

  31. DCGirl*

    I remembered one that I forgot to post to the original thread. At my last job, the building (not just the company) implemented new security requirements where we had to show our ID badges to the security guard at the front desk before proceeding to the elevator lobby. One man was so perturbed about it that for the first few weeks he stuck it to his forehead (I don’t know how) and walked in that way. I rode up in the elevator with him once. It was a treat.

    1. SusanIvanova*

      I worked at one place where, if you went in the door that had a receptionist (not even a security guard), you had to show them your badge. Not close enough for them to see details, just wave it in their general direction. And then walk to the secured door with a badge reader. Heaven help you if you forgot, you’d be shouted at and the door would be turned off so your perfectly good badge wouldn’t open it. Even though there was absolutely no way the receptionist could tell if your badge was fake.

      Or you could take the other entrance, same distance from the parking lot, which had a badge reader but no receptionist.

  32. Noah*

    I’m so with the complainers on #15. Not for style, but for (1) comfort, (2) interference with using a keyboard (3) not having people stare at my stomach. I’ll put it on my shirt pocket or jacket lapel, thank you very much. But I wouldn’t quit over this!

    1. Mabel*

      I can’t wear anything that weighs more than a few ounces around my neck because it hurts, so I would have a problem with being required to use a lanyard. But it would have nothing to do with my outfits! And I’d probably be able to get a medical accommodation as long as the badge was adequately visible.

    2. LSP*

      Me too. Being rather “chesty”, I usually opt away from lanyards for just about anything. I always sued to wear my badge on my waistband and I thoroughly enjoyed the cool pully-thing that would allow me to scan my badge to get through doors.

      1. LNZ*

        As someone who is also chesty, god forbid you have to run if your wearing a lanyard. I have been smacked in the face by so many of those.

  33. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    My wife’s coworkers routinely scream for food, try to eat hers, try to trip her so she’ll drop food or they can grab it before she does, and try to knock containers off counters so food will spill!

    …Very primal. But they are actual animals. Some very incorrigible cats!

    1. Rincat*

      Ha! When my manx cat wants his food, he’s very sweet at first but then will bite my ankles incessantly, even as I’m walking to his dishes.

      I miss working from home and having cats as coworkers. :( 10/10 will take animals as coworkers over humans any day

      1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

        We have two mixed-breed rescue cats- a tabby mix and a black medium hair. Our temporary foster cat though? Think a small, fluffy, fat cougar with dark stripes.

  34. superduperanon*

    Oh my God, I can’t believe that I forgot about “the flag thing.”

    In my state, the governor decided that on September 11th, all public offices would lower their flag to half mast to honor those who had passed away. At my office, we had a meeting with a politician and overheard him complaining endlessly to his staff about how the governor “has NO RIGHT to tell ME what to do,” and “now I have to get someone here on a SATURDAY to lower the flag” and “I’ll be DAMNED if I have to do it.” To honor the victims of terrorist attacks.


    1. MegaMoose, Esq*

      That is really weird. Flags on public buildings are ordered lowered all the time on short notice for all sorts of things. Was this politician brand new or something?

      1. superduperanon*

        No, he’d been in office for a VERY long time. We couldn’t decide if it was just a general dislike of the governor that prompted it, or whether he just didn’t want to get anyone to go out on a Saturday.

    2. Thlayli*

      Why couldn’t they just lower it on the Friday and leave it down for the weekend?

      1. superduperanon*


        This was also a small town, so we wondered why the politician didn’t just walk a block to the public office and lower the flag himself. It would have only taken five minutes.

  35. SusanIvanova*

    #13 – I’m picturing it being ceremoniously dropped over the side of a ship, like Jimmy Cagney’s palm tree in “Mister Roberts”. And the ensuing meltdown: “Allll right. Whoooo did it? Whoooo did it?”

  36. Lana Kane*

    A few years ago, my team was reorged into another department. Shortly after moving in, we decided to continue a little weekly thing we used to do at our old place as a way to integrate into the new department: we would take one of those giant post-its, put it on a wall, and add a “question of the week” at the top for people to answer. We’d leave out markers and pens for people.

    Soon after we started doing this, our manager started getting anonymous notes every time we’d put up a new one, asking who was paying for these post its, and they hoped it wasn’t coming out of the department’s budget. It never occurred to them that maybe they came over with us from our last department. Also, why would anyone GAF?

    I suggested that one of the questions of the week be “Who do you think is paying for these post its?” but for some reason my manager wasn’t cool with it. lol

  37. Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain*

    Stinking badges! I hate wearing my ID badge (university campus) — I always forget I’m wearing it and I end up grocery shopping or going out to dinner with it on. I also find it a tangled nuisance when I wear a necklace or scarf. Ours have our photo on them too. My boss and another coworker hated theirs so much that they defaced theirs. My boss carefully taped a photo of Elvis over his, and the other co-worker used a photo of Jackie Chan — for years, until the tape finally gave up. Which shows how secure our security badges actually are. That’s the galling part. They’re never updated from the day your hired — change your name, lose/gain weight, change hair/facial hair, age 20 years — the university charges $30 for a new badge no matter the reason. I’m not going to quit over it though.

    Paying to park, however… that’s my rage. Call me crazy but I expect my employer to pay me to come to work, not the other way around.

  38. LadyCop*

    All these people leaving jobs over ridiculousness clearly have never known what it’s like to struggle to find a decent job.

    I hope they all experienced great difficulty… Unfortunately, I doubt it.

    1. nicolefromqueens*

      Well, we really only have one side of the story here. We don’t know exactly what the rage-quitter was thinking.

      I wrote below my story: my boss probably thought I quit over a lanyard, but I saw rules being applied subjectively. That was also a last straw moment for me: hours being changed last minute, never knowing what time my shift would end, being yelled at by my coworkers in a language they knew I didn’t speak, and the next-to-last straw was being exposed only person doing step 2, then my boss complaining that the 4 people at step 1 are way ahead of me and the 12 people at step 3 are waiting for me.

      1. nicolefromqueens*

        I really need to proofread. Forget the word exposed I don’t know why it’s there.

  39. nicolefromqueens*

    Ironically (or not) the free food hogs at my job are the ones who make the most money. They’re also the biggest slobs in the lunchroom.

    I can see their point in #12: we’re not a project, but a small data entry unit that serves 4 other much larger units. We can realistically quantify, say retail orders (~ 600 / day, much more simplified process), but forget about, say wholesale orders (~ 2,000-3,000 a day, much more detail, variety, multistage process).

    And as a short female with boobs too big, a lanyard in a safety hazard for me. I actually got hurt once at housekeeping job where I was required to wear it. I then asked if I could buy my own ID sleeve and wear it on my arm like some of the guys who worked for consessions did. Nope, “Stadium policy”. But those guys didn’t have to play by the rules because they’ve been there for years and years (the Stadium and concession company were only 5 years old.) That was my last straw, I quit at the end of that homestand.

  40. Lissa*

    Oh man, the food ones make me so irrationally angry (OK, now I’m the one being dramatic). Like, the rest are just funny to me but the people who load up on food and their coworkers don’t get any – I don’t know what it is, but it makes me want to scream! Maybe it’s the entitlement of it – like, “I get double, and you get none, oh well” just….raaage!

  41. Lor*

    Ugh. The food thing. My old boss used to eat my lunch all the time. The worst though was when I went to Belgium on vacation. One of my co-workers loves Belgian chocolate so I brought a box back for my department to share. My boss made a beline for the chocolate, took half of it for herself, waited for two people to each take a piece and then she took the remaining chocolate and put it in her purse. My colleague who loves Belgian chocolate never got any, nor did the other 5 people in our department.

    1. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

      I’ve had Belgium chocolate so I can understand the greed but, Wow!

  42. MeanDogMom*

    I was the Chief Marketing Officer at a very large organization (>20,000 people). I was called racist for requiring a program to use the organization’s logo instead of the one they designed that had nothing to do with our organization and apparently held some deep meaning that was not apparent to everyone else. I had never even met the program head and had no way to even know what race they were!

  43. Been There, Done That*

    to #13: I had multiple reactions:

    1) Just when you think you’ve heard it all…
    2) And I thought MY coworkers were resistant to change!
    3) Mondo kudos for a great sense of humor. If I knew where you were, I’d send you flowers!

    Thanks for a hysterical story after a dreary day! :)

  44. that guy*

    Here, people get upset when they change the type of coffee that’s available. It all tastes like mud to me, but apparently coffee is super serious business.

  45. weaselologist*

    I had a coworker who sent an all staff email threatening to kill everyone unless his chair was returned. It would have taken him 3 minutes to walk round the entire office’s 40 desks and locate it himself.

    Also totally supportive of the person who didn’t want to wear a lanyard. It’s very petty of the company to insist on that, and also wearing stuff round my neck is something I hate because of my aspergers.

    Plus lanyards make it easy for a colleague or customer to try to strangle you, and yes, *sigh* that’s something I’ve witnessed in the office in the past.

  46. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

    Years ago I worked at a large venue as a chef’s assistant/gofer. Basically run around this huge venue to check details, relay messages, find people etc. After each event, he let the serving staff have any leftover desserts, these were very fancy desserts. Sometimes there was none, sometimes everyone got one or they shared, it was hit or miss. The serving staff made minimum wage and appreciated the perk. A new manager came onboard and she went ballistic, decreed that under no circumstances were the staff allowed to have the chocolate bowl with ice cream and fresh fruit or whatever the dessert happened to be. Instead any extra desserts would be collected for management level only personnel. Somehow, whenever it was time to collect the extra desserts I was always busy at the far end of the facility and never managed to save any for her.

  47. Jonno*

    Yeah, I think most of these are symptomatic of people in low positions having little or no control/autonomy over their jobs. Taking away just one more thing they have control over is kind of like being a toddler and having just one toy to occupy you while you are bored, but then your parent takes that away too, and now you have nothing.
    In a vacuum, yeah, these are ridiculous and over-the-top instances of people acting foolishly. However, when you are low on the totem pole and have no authority over how you do your job and everything is decided for you and you have no latitude for change, and they take the one thing you CAN have control over, people, rightly or wrongly, lose their minds.

    Except the cookie thing, that’s just…you can’t explain that.

  48. MissDisplaced*

    OMG! The cookies and ice cream bars… Some people are like animals at the watering hole.
    The prospect of NOT getting free food stirs up the worst, and unfortunately these people ruin it for everyone.

  49. UnderpaidinSeattle*

    I have to admit I led a probably, in retrospect, less than professional office rebellion when they replaced our regular coffee pot with a Keurig. Keurig coffee tastes like coffee flavored dishwater and I am totally puzzled that anyone thinks it’s drinkable. And I’m not remotely a coffee snob. I’ll happily down some convenience store coffee if I have to. They relented and we did get a cheap coffee maker.

  50. Serendipity*

    I once worked for a large company, and I worked in a satellite office on the other side of the country ~3000km away from head office. We had a executive manager in head office who was great, but wierdly attached to her own personal cutlery.
    One day she sent a ranty email out to the entire business unit, not just her local office, demanding the return of her cutlery ASAP, photo and all.
    Now, I’m pretty straightlaced and never a prankster, but I couldn’t help myself. Our office also didn’t have a coffee machine, which we desperately wanted. I created a ransom note from newspaper clippings, along with the day’s newspaper front page and photo of her cutlery, demanding an espresso machine in exchange for there safe return.
    Thankfully, she saw the funny side of this. I don’t know if she ever got her knife and fork back, but she created a “free coffee Friday” rule for our little office instead. Win:-)

  51. Candi*

    Love, love, love the new collapsing thread feature! :)

    My first thoughts when reading the ask the readers thread and this one were:

    1) What a way to burn up political capital on generally minor stuff.

    2) Layoff lists can be nearly impossible to get off of. Why the heck would you do anything that makes it more likely you’ll be on one? (Speaking of petty, tantrumy stuff, of course.)

    Also, on the top comment involving orangutans: Even the Librarian is generally not bad tempered on an average day, even though he started out human. (Just don’t call him a monkey.)

    (Search Librarian Discworld if you don’t know what that’s about.) :P

  52. Vicki*

    Re: standardized email signatures – I don’t think I’d quit over this, but I have never yet worked at a company that required one. The mere idea screams “overweaning corporate intrusion into a minor space” to me, with the immediate sense of “what will be next?”.

    1. LNZ*

      Really? I have never worked somewhere without one. Count yourself lucky you happen to only work with mature adults.

  53. The_Petty_is_Real*

    Our office is divided in to teams. There are 7 teams total and our team has 5 people on it. To show appreciation and to make people feel special on her team, my team leader decided that when a team member had a birthday that she would purchase a lavish small birthday cake from a popular (and expensive) local bakery ** USING HER MONEY**. The first two birthday celebrations were quaint, small and and a very nice break from the hectic work day. However, the 3rd birthday rolled around and one team member complained to hell and back that my team leader was selfish in not inviting other people to the party. This disgruntled team member was so outraged that she took it upon herself to invite selected others from different teams to partake in our team’s festivities … at my team leader’s expense. Of course there wasn’t enough expensive lavish birthday cake to go around. New invitees complained about the cake flavor (which was carefully planned because it was the birthday’s girls favorite flavor). Those not invited at all got their feelings hurt and complained.
    Thanks to this disgruntled a$$hole team member we longer celebrate birthdays

  54. Willow Sunstar*

    They have pretty beaded lanyards you can buy. I have one. They are also not that difficult to make if you do beading. Just make it like a beaded necklace, except the focal “pendant” is a key ring for the badge clip to go on.

  55. Lynn Marie*

    Have to comment on this older post – the idea of building a cardboard hovel to work in because you don’t like your cubby just tickles me – I think of all the dysfunctional workplaces I’ve been in and imagine building and occupying my little hovel/cubby in the lobby of each of them – what my horrible former bosses and coworkers would have said to me and how they would have said it each in their own particular horrible way. I don’t know why it cracks me up but it just hit the sweet spot.

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