the backless shirt, the person who frosted cupcakes at her desk, and more of your cringeworthy work moments

Last month I asked people to share things they did at work in the past that they now cringe over. In lieu of any more posts today since it’s Thanksgiving, here are some of my favorites.

1.  “I was executive assistant to the president of a local college. She left for a business trip, after sternly telling me that I needed to be more proactive ‘managing’ the things in her office (like Christmas cards, etc.). So while she was gone, I rearranged the items in her desk drawers. I don’t think she ever got over the shock of finding that I had straightened out her entire desk, and I sure wish I hadn’t done it. I believe my time was limited after that. But on the other hand – it was a good job but she was a terrible boss, and in retrospect maybe it was, after all, not a bad idea. Never mind! :)”

2. “I wore a backless shirt to an internship at a political consulting firm in college. What was I thinking? I was generally fairly savvy about such things, even!”

3. “Internship… I was upset that I had to hotdesk while all other employees had permanent desks/offices/whatever. We had an available office that wasn’t being used and didn’t have any furniture in it, so I decided that would be my permanent home. I spent the morning moving furniture into the office and ‘customizing’ my space, including extra chairs for when people came into the office to meet with me (WTF was wrong with me?!). I was setting up the computer when the CEO (my direct supervisor) came in and was like no….

Thankfully he and I knew each other from a previous internship I did, and he had a pretty good sense of humor about it so I completed my internship and got a great recommendation. But good Lord that was bad…”

4. “Oh the shame. One time when I was a fresh and new manager, I asked a job candidate to give me a ride after we had an interview. I had been in a car accident a couple weeks prior, and my rental car coverage time was maxed out. I needed to take the car back that day before they closed or I’d have to personally pay for it (I was so broke at the time, I would not have been able to pay). Immediately after the interview, I asked her if she’d give me a ride. She was gracious, though I’m sure she felt extremely pressured to do it. Needless to say, she didn’t take the job. I saw her at a street fair a few weeks later and gave her a hug. Why or why did I do these things? I’m going to go hide for a bit.”

5. “Back when I worked in food service, my manager kept getting on my butt for me to do delivery instead of just working in the store. I point blank refused, but he kept nagging me about it. Finally I just decided, ‘Well, he can’t make me use my car if I don’t have one.’ I lived in the next town over and I walked five and a half miles to go to my store. When I showed up, my manager told me that he really needed me to delivery that day because some people had called in. I told him I didn’t have a car. He asked where it was, I told him at home. He stared at me and said ‘don’t you live in the next town over?’ and I said I did.

I was an uppity little shit but he never asked me again and never brought it up. I don’t think that was very professional but it proved my point.”

Note from Alison: This is not cringe-worthy; this is awesome.

6. “Just out of college, I was working a very boring job at a law firm where I was supposed to manage files for one of the lawyers but often had very little to do. I was also DEEPLY disliked by his secretary, Agatha Trunchbull (she was very possessive of the dude and was proud of the fact that she had run off three young women before me), who tortured me daily. At this job every bit of billable time had to be accounted for in the company software system, and I had been told that for people in my position the descriptions were never read and we just had to put down SOMETHING. So, whenever I had time blocks where I literally had nothing to do I would (very, very stupidly) put down things like ‘Thinking of puppies’ and ‘Imagining Agatha Trunchbull being eaten by a Canadian Trap Door Alligator.’ Ultimately, this did not work out well.”

7. “As a first year grad student, I asked my grad advisor (a tenured professor) to remind me of my project deadlines because I worked better with a little pressure from authority. He gently told me that managing my own deadlines was my own responsibility. Yup.”

8. “My first job would send out a peer feedback form every 6 months. The first time it came out, I wrote long, obnoxious diatribes about the supposed shortcoming of all of my peers. We had some really inexperienced managers who then forwarded the feedback, verbatim, to the people it was about. Everyone spent weeks speculating about who wrote which comments, while I tried to keep my head down.”

9. “I once got some very much-deserved criticism that I was taking too long (1-3 weeks) to resolve invoice issues that should have, at most, taken a couple of days to work out. The actual problem was that I was prioritizing other work that I found more interesting and only tackling the invoices when someone yelled about them.

My suggestion was to have Accounts Payable print the problem invoices for me on color-coded paper, with a different color for each day of the week, so I could see at a glance when my GIANT PILE of invoices contained too many older ones, so I’d know I needed to tackle them. My boss somehow refrained from slapping me upside the head Gibbs-style, and actually discussed the suggestion with our A/P manager – at the time, I thought she took it to him as an actual possibility and he said no, but now I think they probably had a mutual ‘this is what she said, omg wtf?!??!!’ conversation about it before telling me to consider actually getting my work done as a solution.”

10. “I took a year off from college and my aunt got me a job at a place called ‘the onion factory’ one winter before going back to college. It was a processing plant for onions and they had big trucks come in full of onions that were weighed and then would dump their load into the hopper for processing. Part of my job was to do data entry of the weight of the onions that had come in. They had pre-printed slips of paper that said gross/tare/net. Sometimes they only filled in two of the three sections (but it wasn’t consistent which ones were filled in). I didn’t actually know what those words meant, so I wasn’t sure what to do when only two of the three sections were filled in. This was in the late 90s, before the internet, so I couldn’t just google it. And at that time I was mortified of ‘being a bother’ and ‘asking too many questions’ so I decided to just split the difference: sometimes I put the numbers in one column and sometimes in another.

My boss didn’t even check my work until the end of the season. When she finally asked me what was going on with the data I meekly explained what had happened. This usually verbose woman was speechless. I think she was in awe of my incompetence? An entire season’s worth of data was useless.”

11. “I used to come to my first internship at a magazine with hickies all over my neck. I was newly in a relationship with my then-girlfriend, and I guess we liked each other a little too intensely. It got to the point where my supervisor wrote me an email to tell me to make sure they’re not showing when I go to interview people. To this day that is the single most embarrassing email I’ve received.”

12. “In an interview I said I admired the ingenuity of a guy that had gotten fired from my previous employer for embezzling money. Srsly ???”

13. “I used to wear knee-high stockings and if my feet got too sweaty (yes, gross), I would take them off in my cube, wash them in the office restroom, and hang them to dry on my cubicle wall. My manager at the time even came by and saw them hanging on the wall, looked at me, looked at them, looked back at me, and said ‘Hmm!’ with a perplexed look. But no one ever said anything to me about it, so I kept doing it.

My reasoning was, no one ever told me it *wasn’t* okay to wash, hang, and dry stockings on your cubicle wall at work.”

14. “I once asked my manager if I could take the afternoon off because I was feeling hateful. Yes, those are the exact words I used.”

15. “My first job after college was a very straightforward clerical job, 8 am – 5 pm. Many of friends had jobs that were structured differently, with later hours or less predictable hours.

So, at 5:01 pm when I was “off the clock,” I would hang around at work, because I was waiting for my friends to get out of their jobs, and it seemed pointless to go home just to go out again later. AT MY DESK, which was IN THE C-SUITE, I would put my make-up on, do my hair, call all my friends (loudly) to ask important questions like “do you know if the hottie bartender is working tonight?” or “I was going to wear my black boots but do you know if Tami is wearing her black boots because in that case I would wear my silver pumps but tell me if you think they look slutty because if so then I could wear my red sandals unless it rains in which case maybe my Mary Janes etc etc etc etc.” I would bring projects to keep myself occupied, like plugging in a hot glue gun to work on a Halloween costume, or (this is real) frosting cupcakes that I was bringing to a party later on that night. Even though I was finished at 5 pm, there were still plenty of people still working, or wrapping up for the day, including senior leadership. I am dying thinking about it now.

Finally, the office manager started hinting that if I wasn’t actually working, I didn’t need to be at work. And I was so clueless, I earnestly wanted to know if there was a policy against it, because sometimes I saw Reginald reading a magazine at his desk while he was waiting for his ride to pick him up, or a lady who was taking an evening class one night a week would sometimes do her reading in the break room between work and class. It was a friendly, casual office and all sorts of people sometimes spent some non-work time at their desks doing some QUIET and LOW-KEY personal business, but I could not see how there was any difference between someone occasionally reading a magazine while waiting for carpool, and me turning my desk into my Own Personal Rec Room several times a week. What was I thinking?”

{ 233 comments… read them below }

    1. Katicus*

      I want to know why his is awesome and not an insuboordination problem by refusing to do what he was asked for work?
      Pizza delivery guys use their own cars, so it’s not out of line to ask food service workers to do the same and is required if delivery is done at this place. It affects the business when staff are straight up refusing to deliver.

        1. Karen from Finance*

          Exactly, the boss was out of line here, unless he had been told during hiring that he would be asked to do deliveries (doesn’t sound like he did).

      1. Imaginary Number*

        Personal insurance generally does not cover delivery drivers who use their own car. If using your personal vehicle for deliveries is not in your job description, you would have no reason to obtain additional insurance (although very few pizza delivery driveries ever obtain the necessary insurance.)

        So it really is completely unreasonable to ask an in-store employee to use their personal vehicle for deliveries.

        1. Chocolate lover*

          I was going to say something similar. My husband is a restaurant manager, and he can’t just ask any staff member he wants to do delivery, for liability and insurance reasons. Only the specific people, including himself, who’ve signed waivers (not sure that’s the right document.) He’s had to do the delivery himself, and once ended up having a small mishap, which we then had to pay for because it wasn’t covered by work. It’s hardly fair to ask cashiers who never expected to drive to have to do that.

        2. Loux*

          My little sister works for a pizza place and they recently tried to get her to do delivery (she’s a cashier, I think). She’s 17, and drives my parents’ car that they own and pay the insurance/fuel/etc and everything. She doesn’t even have her full license! She’s still at the intermediate stage. She happened to bring it up one day when I was actually, for once, home (I live several hours away), and after I explained the whole insurance thing (which I just randomly happened to know), my parents were very quick to agree with me and told her to tell her bosses no.

          1. Ms Cappuccino*

            I am normally against parents calling the boss of their children, but since she’s under 18 and it is their car that the boss asks her to drive, I would make an exception and have a word with the boss.

            1. Loux*

              Good point. Perhaps I should mention that if it comes up again. After all, my parents are the ones who would be liable if she got in an accident and then the insurance didn’t pay out because she was using personal insurance for commercial activities…

        3. LW 5*

          So I’m the person who submitted that and yes you are correct. I was hired as an in-shop employee- it was two totally different positions at two totally different pay rates. I had been a delivery driver for the same company previously and it put a lot of wear on my vehicle, there were issues with my insurance, and you didn’t make that much money since the average bill was between $5-10. We didn’t deliver pizza.

          There were also safety issues – we were a high traffic area in a sketchy neighborhood and I’m a small woman.

      2. BeeJiddy*

        I think it is also important to consider that delivery is an inherently riskier job, and it’s not unheard of for delivery drivers to be assaulted or worse. If you are hired as a delivery driver you accept that going onto people’s properties is part of your job, but if you are hired as a cashier or cook, that probably isn’t something you would have considered or consented to. I’ve worked many food service jobs but I would never take a delivery job because of the risk to my safety. I’m sure some people would think this is a bit dramatic, but my brother and his girlfriend used to deliver pizzas so I’ve heard enough stories to put me off. A woman in my hometown ended up in the hospital for a week because she was ambushed when delivering food to a house.

        1. RUKiddingMe*

          Yup. The summer between undergrad and grad school I took a counter job at Pizza Hut. They kept trying to turn me into a driver. Nope. Even way back in the 80s I wasn’t doing that. Too dangerous plus not what I signed up for.

        2. Michaela Westen*

          I worked as a pizza driver in the 80’s with my own car. Actually, the first driving job I had was in my hometown with little warming trucks that had CB radios and a dispatcher. It was the first delivery the town ever had.
          After I moved to the big city I used my own car. Drivers were paid by the delivery, not the hour. With tips the money was pretty good.
          I wasn’t very aware of the risks, but I was always careful about not going between buildings and being aware of my surroundings. I saw some sketchy things but was never threatened myself.
          The difference in pay structure is reason to refrain from asking cashiers or chefs to do deliveries, along with the different risks.

          1. Michaela Westen*

            Wow! Rough neighborhood!
            The neighborhood makes a difference. I wouldn’t have been a pizza driver in some of the notoriously rough neighborhoods here.

        3. RVA Cat*

          This. My husband’s college roommate was murdered while delivering pizzas. The killer tried to rob him at gunpoint and shot him multiple times when he ran to his car.

      3. RUKiddingMe*

        Asking a cashier, pizza maker, waitress, etc. to use their own vehicle to be a delivery person, which is a *different job completely* isn’t the same as saying “you need to bus tables.”

        1. restingbutchface*

          Sure it is! It’s just that the table is in the customer’s house, jeez. Totally the same situation. /s

      4. Flash Bristow*

        Apart from the insurance issues, which other people have addressed, there are solutions. Where I live, if there aren’t enough delivery guys then a minicab driver is hired to do it. Yes, it costs, but there’s a charge for delivery anyway and if the restaurant is cunning they can organise several nearby on the same run.

        So your argument that it’s affecting the business? Think outside the box and find a solution. They are out there.

      5. Mommy MD*

        I can see him not wanting to use his car if it was not part of the hiring deal, but refusing to do so doesn’t make him awesome. Also he could have parked a half mile away and came up with the same excuse so not exactly genius lol.

        1. Michaela Westen*

          I think he wanted to be absolutely, positively sure they couldn’t make him go get his car! Also it made a very firm statement! I love it. :D

          1. LW 5*

            Actually it was because our delivery area was about two miles around the store and I had a really distinct vehicle. I didn’t want to risk someone seeing it, which someone probably would have, and saying something to myself or my boss.

        2. Michaela Westen*

          I think he wanted to be absolutely, positively sure they couldn’t make him go get his car. Also it made a very firm statement! I love it. :D

      6. Ms Cappuccino*

        In this case he should pay for mileage and extra car insurance. But anyway it wasn’t part of her role to do deliveries.

      7. Life is good*

        It is awesome because I hate employers who assume you’ll use stuff you paid for for their business purposes. Old employer wanted us to do property inspections in our own cars “on your way home from work anyway” and take photos with our own phones and email to them with our own cell service. I so pushed back against that and was written up for “not being a team player.” Wish I had the creative genes of OP 5 to have come up with a solution they couldn’t hold against me at the time.

        1. it's-a-me*

          That’s when you start using office resources for personal matters, right? Need to print 500 invitations? Office printer with office paper stock. “oh well the printer and paper were already there!”
          Run out of coffee at home? Grab the office jar.
          Office has a camera for promotional photos? Borrow it for a wedding!

          “Oh, I thought we were a team, sharing resources and all that!!!1!”

  1. Lena Clare*

    No. 14 – did you get the time off !?

    No. 10 – eh, your boss shoulda checked your work the first day.

    No 6 – Excellent. Hahaha!

      1. Kathlynn*

        There are days where I hid from the till for this reason. (I still run the till as needed, but instead of getting my coworker to wash dishes or the floor, I’ll do them). Not every day. And the frequency totally depends on who I’m working with.

      2. Flash Bristow*

        I rang my boss once and said I couldn’t come in because I felt down and like I couldn’t get out of bed that day. He’d never had anyone call out for mental health but he handled it. Sort of “um, OK – if that’s the case I’ll deal with it with Big Boss – not sure quite how, but I’ll do it”.

        I see “feeling hateful” as a similar mental health issue – not sure I’d have worded it like that, but if it’s the fact of the matter…

      3. Loux*

        This is something I would totally say to my boss, too. Feeling hateful. Hah. I love it.

        I am actually currently feeling hateful because I learned yesterday that, after completing an annoying spreadsheet that took a week to finish, they had someone else do it in half an hour (Excel coding skills and access to another system I don’t have access to…), and they basically deleted all of my work. They then proceeded to give me similar work. I’m not exactly inclined to do anything right now. Why did they tell me that?!

    1. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I’m #14! And yes, I did get the afternoon off. This was a professional job too. Fortunately I knew my boss pretty well and she just laughed and said sure. I seem to remember that I had finished up something awful, like cleaning records out of a basement that had lots of rat poop and spiders (the life of an archivist; I have since changed fields).

      1. Anonny*

        Ah, archiving work. I did a bit of that, went to the toilet at the end of the day to wipe off the excess sweat (from hauling boxes around) and fished a spider out of my chest binder.

        I actually quite like spiders but that was a bit too close and personal for comfort.

        1. Pomona Sprout*

          Yeah, I don’t mind being around spiders as long as they aren’t the dangerous kind (black widows, brown recluses, etc). But inside my underclothing is something else entirely. And as for the rat poop mentioned above? Uhhh…. thanks but no thanks!

        2. restingbutchface*

          Noooo! Things I Have Found In My Binder is totally a chapter of my autobiography but I’ve never had a spider! Or I guess it was an ex-spider?

        3. Flash Bristow*

          Ah, archiving work indeed. Our local council found their records were being stored somewhere contaminated with asbestos!

          However they then used that as a reason for “so we couldn’t possibly provide the info we are legally obliged to give you” on a contraversial topic – ah, but that’s Another Story, to be told Another Day.

          I did feel bad for the suckers that had been rooting around in that basement, though. It’s as if lower level workers don’t count as being as human, or mattering, the same as those higher up the food chain. Everyone started somewhere once :/

          1. Anonny*

            I’m so glad that the worst I had to deal with (apart from binder spiders) was that time I went down to the basement archive and found it was flooded. Apparently they’d told everyone, but as I was part-time I wasn’t in when it was announced to the office and no-one warned me.

            Fortunately, I was allowed to wear more casual clothes than the rest of the office (jeans, tshirt, throw a shirt over the top when at my desk) because of the grimy nature of the Spider Zone, so I had some nice thick-soled trainers on and didn’t get soaked feet.

          2. TardyTardis*

            This reminds me of the scanner who got stuck scanning records from boxes in the basement that were hideous with mold. Nearly became an OSHA issue, I might add.

      2. Hateful*

        See I think you were wise and mature to recognise your mood and your manager was wise and mature to see that a 0.002% loss in yearly productivity is nothing.

      3. Chinookwind*

        I feel your pain as someone who, as a receptionist on a rather busy day with the phones ringing non-stop (I would average 100 calls a day and that day I was topping 200), I told my break replacement that I would be back after I got enough fresh air and silence to stop myself from snapping at the next person I came in contact with. I must have had a look on my face to match as she told me to take all the time I needed.

    2. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

      Agree about #10. Even if a new employee doesn’t ask any questions, the boss should still check that everything is being done correctly. After all, you can only ask if you know that you’re not sure what to do, and sometimes you think you’ve understood everything but you’re still doing something wrong. So bosses aren’t supposed to presume that everything is OK if they hear no questions.

      On the topic of onion factories, one such company in my country got a bit of publicity with their job ad. They were looking for onion peelers and the position was paid by kg of onions peeled. People who saw the ad found the pay ridiculously low and contacted the media. Turns out that people had seriously underestimated how much onions a person can peel in a work day, and the employees were making a nice amount of money with this system. Apparently your eyes get used to the constant presence of onions in a couple of weeks. Still I have huge respect for people who peel hundreds of kilos of onions every day!

  2. The Bimmer Guy*

    Numbers 3, 4, 13, and 15 had me visibly cringing.

    I think the most cringeworthy thing I’ve ever done was keep calling and calling about a web design/development job I really wanted. Finally, I got ahold of the owner, who interviewed…and then hired me. He liked my gumption. Unfortunately, he did not like my—admittedly terrible—work ethic, and I was fired just three months after.

    1. selena81*

      on the plus side: you have legitimately earned the right to be *that guy* whenever Alison claims that gumption won’t get you the job

    2. Michaela Westen*

      After 15 and other things I’ve read on this site, I will never feel bad about my clueless youth again. :)

  3. Beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk ox*

    The most cringeworthy thing I recall doing (or really more allowing) involved my first non-temp job. I worked at a fast food place when I was 18 and was shocked to find that the majority of the time was spent cleaning the dining room even though I was The New Kid. I actually managed to get a higher-paying job at a grocery store bakery (where I’d be trained to decorate cakes) within about a month, so I put in my notice.

    Here’s the cringey part: I put in the proper two-weeks notice, but I just REALLY didn’t want to work the last week there because it was unbearable or something (it absolutely wasn’t; I just had a terrible attitude/was being way too picky about a first job). My dad offered to talk to my manager for me and basically say that I wouldn’t be coming in for my final few shifts. AND I LET HIM.


      1. stampysmom*

        I remember being about 18 and I was SICK. In bed with a fever sick. My dad came to ask me if I needed a lift to work and found me totally out of it and sweating. He told me to lie back down and that he’d call my boss. So he actually called in sick for me lol. In fairness my dad would normally never be that guy but he could tell I was a total mess and had run into my boss with me locally a couple times so they had chatted. I ended up going into the drs with a bad case of strep throat. One and only time that happened.

  4. WMM*

    It really is a relief, for once, that these anecdotes are all self reported. I don’t have to wonder the people involved ever figured it out!

  5. J.B.*

    These are amazing! I’m glad they all stop short of putting an intern petition together, and that they show many of us have done very silly things and mostly managed to recover from them.

  6. char*

    I didn’t share anything on the previous thread, because I thought I didn’t have anything that bad, but now I realize that I totally do. Turns out I was just blocking it out! Hopefully it’s okay if I share it here instead:

    One of my first jobs when I was in college was super-simple: I just had to come in to the music building once a week to fill up the water reservoirs in the humidifiers for the pianos. At the time my anxiety was totally out of control, and I was terrified the possibility that I might go into a room to water the piano only to find someone in there practicing. So instead I would sneak into the building at midnight to water the pianos when nobody was there. I never communicated that I was doing this; I just did it.

    It was only at the end of the semester that I realized that I hadn’t been paid for any of this work. So I timidly went to my boss (who I hadn’t spoken to since I took the job!) to ask about my paycheck, at which point she was visibly surprised to learn that I actually had been doing the job I’d been assigned the whole time even though I’d never said a word to her and she never saw me around. (Honestly, I’m not sure if she even believed me, though to her credit she did pay me anyway.) Somehow it never occurred to me that if no one saw me doing my job… no one would know I was doing my job!

    1. Stinky Socks*

      All those hours I spent practicing, and it never occurred to me there were humidifiers running. Of course there were.

      But seriously, the place was empty at midnight?!??

      1. char*

        Actually no, but it was emptier. Midnight was just when it was supposed to be closed and so it was the latest our keycards would let us into the building. So sometimes I’d go in at midnight then lurk around waiting for the last people to leave. (I also tended to practice at midnight, because I was terrified of bothering anyone with my practicing… in a building dedicated to practicing music. Look. It wasn’t a great year for me.)

        1. Flash Bristow*

          Oh I get that. At school, the best place to hang out was the music school. But if anyone heard me practicing (or singing! Even worse!) I would just be mortified. Even if they came in to “see who was making that beautiful sound”.

          I totally get it. I went there to hide, and quietly get stuff out of my system. But it’s hard to do anything quietly with a trumpet…!

    2. Bulbasaur*

      Presumably it would have become clear eventually if you hadn’t been doing your job? (For example. the humidifiers might have stopped working).

      Although I confess I’m struggling to imagine how I would recognize an unwatered piano.

    3. SherSher*

      I have now discovered my post-retirement job! I don’t retire for two years, but until then, I am building up my resume as a piano waterer!!! (Also, if your boss didn’t think you were doing the job, she should have ASKED you long before the end o the season!)

    4. Zelda*

      “I would sneak into the building at midnight to water the pianos”

      This is the best thing I have read all week!

  7. Kathlynn*

    I spent one of the last months reading on my tablet at a job. Didn’t do anything. Just read. I own the responsibility of the mistake. But I was extremely stressed due to the job,coming back from a bad reaction to meds so my mental health issues were flaring up. And my coworker honestly didn’t care. I left the job because I was having stress related dreams every night. And I was tired being the only person who cared about the illegal changes. Also they weren’t taking taxes off my pay correctly (the company had recently been sold, and the new owners are horrible.)

  8. Lindsay gee*

    In high school I had a front desk job at a campground, and it was super seasonal due to the weather. Some days you could be swamped and other days have 1 customer. We were totally allowed to do homework, read, play cards etc. as long as there were no customers and all other duties were done. But for some reason, I got it into my head that painting my nails at work was a good idea. I didn’t do the full clipping, filing etc. but i would full on paint my nails at the front desk. Occasionally customers would smell the varnish and wonder aloud what was going on…….

    1. Suze*

      Came here to say that! I did a double-take at the Canadian Trap Door Alligators, then spent the rest of the article grinning. Good job #6!

  9. Budgie lover*

    No. 4
    I am still confused where the rental car actually was during all this. Was it returned the day before the interview? Somehow I read it as the car needing to be returned the day of the interview before closing. But that doesn’t explain why OP was car-less while giving the interview and how bumming a ride was the only solution to get to the dealer on time.

    1. selena81*

      i read it as the car being returned the morning of the day of the interview, leaving him struggling to get home from work (no money for a cab or public transport, not enough warning time to ask friends for a ride)

  10. Embarrassed employee*

    Here’s mine: My first year out of college I was working for a company as a contracts coordinator. We had email, but 99.9% of our contract and files were kept in paper form. I got really behind on my filing, so there was literally a 3 foot pile of correspondence, emails, contracts, invoices, etc. sitting at my work station. I honestly had no idea why any of that stuff was important.

    I put in my notice, and decided to save myself some time by just recycling everything in that 3 foot stack. Back then, there was no way to recreate the file materials, so if there were any problems with the contracts, my company would have been severely limited in being able to resolve them without those materials. I honestly didn’t know any better.

    Ironically, the reason I put in my notice was so that I could go to law school. It only took me two months of my first contracts class to realize what a foolish thing I had done. I am now a judge.

      1. Cat wrangler*

        I did something similar when I left my job to go to university. I had some odds and ends of paper which were just hanging around my desk and really needed binning, in retrospect but I kept meaning to “sort them”. I kept being nagged about them so I took a couple of lever arch files, put them in alphabetic order and stuck them in the files. Everyone was happy (apart from my co-worker who I never really saw eye to eye with for various reasons but you can’t please everyone). I wonder occasionally what they thought when they opened the files after I went. The lesson I took from that was to be ruthless with paperwork and if you can’t bear to dispose of something “just in case”, hide it well or scan it to yourself

        1. SignalLost*

          I wish my predecessor at my current job had known that. Literally threw out print brochures on graphic design that were from 1982. I reduced the amount of saved paper by something like 7/8 in the last month.

            1. SignalLost*

              I did hang on to the typed, possibly-original Master’s dissertation from 1968 that wasn’t written by my coworker (we are going to try to reunite it with its owner, which is not its author) but honestly, I kept finding the same information filed multiple places or, like, all the conference info is neatly labeled – conference 2012, conference 2014, conference 2016, etc – but then you open the file up and ACTUALLY, conference 2016 also contains conference 2012 and 2014 info! But it’s okay, because the other files are equally messed up. And I have literally no idea – my role is communications – why she was keeping invoices when we a) have a finance manager and b) the finance manager has the invoices.

              I was just so over it. Though I do have a bankers box to give to our field’s museum when I go up and introduce myself.

              It is mostly full of unarchived photos still in the pickup envelopes from the late 90s, but still.

          1. KayEss*

            I was once asked to sort through a mess of old papers for anything that might be of enough interest to send to the University library archives. Among several items of actual historical interest (typed student protest newsletter from the wake of Kent State, somehow lurking in a filing cabinet in the IT offices), I found a hand-written list of notes on possible ways to court a prominent donor into sponsoring a new campus building back in the 1970s. While legitimately interesting–they considered offering his wife a music professorship–I wasn’t sure it was the sort of information the University wanted preserved.

            I don’t remember what I did with it. (The building did get built with the donor’s name on it, so I guess whatever strategy they went with worked.)

        1. Marion Ravenwood*

          To quote Yes Minister (British political comedy): “Under consideration means ‘we’ve lost the file’. Under active consideration means ‘we’re trying to find it’.”

    1. ..Kat..*

      Remember the letter writer who could not get a bunch of ‘stuff’ properly sorted? She finally gave up, drove to a remote, deserted location, and set everything on fire.

    1. Canadian Public Servant*

      I scrolled up and was very disappointed #8 wasn’t the knee high washer. Because finding two people who did that would make my day even more than just the one.

    2. NotmyCircus*

      #6 I had a ex-company where I had a disfunctional paranoid boss send these type of reviews at a time when I didn’t want to participate. So I wrote up my comments using phrasing and sentence structure another co-worker would use. The boss demanded to know why that other person said what was said. The co-worker was “I do not know what you’re talking about boss.” But I didn’t feel bad because those two had a personality conflict from day one.

  11. Ashamed*

    I missed the post requesting these stories, but here’s mine, which is in no way shape or form a humble brag, it’s really awful.

    I worked at a copy shop that shall remain nameless, and we recently installed one of those photo kiosks that you put your camera’s memory card in to print out pictures (this was in the early aughts). It was a weekend, and our usual goof off gang was working and we were just finishing laughing about something hilarious when a woman asked for help on the kiosk. I went to help her, still chuckling about something. The photo she had up on the screen was of a middle aged guy making what I thought was a goofy face. Before I could censor myself, I said something along the lines of “I’ll help you however I can, but I can’t make that man pretty.”

    I immediately clapped my hand over my mouth and thought, well, that was pretty horrible to say. Then it got worse. The woman stared at me a few seconds and said “um, yeah, he has Downs Syndrome.”

    I tried very hard to crawl under the counter at that point. Also had to explain to my boss why I gave away so many prints that day.

    1. Queen of the File*

      Oooooooooof. I see we both attended the school of learning not to say everything out loud the hard way!

    2. Flash Bristow*

      Oh my. There’s no coming back from that, is there?! I’d be all “I’m sorry, that’s not what I meant, what I meant is…”

      I’m the queen of Digging Myself A Bigger Hole until someone takes pity on me and lets me know to just Staaaaahp! already.


  12. Karen from Finance*

    This one’s not mine but…

    A former boss once told be the story of how she once was at the hairdresser, spoke to the phone with a friend, and after hanging up the lady next to her said “Oh, you work at [gigantic company]? My kid works there, he just joined! Can you help him? I don’t know what to do, he broke up with his girlfriend and he’s so upset, he hasn’t left the house in a week… I don’t think his boss knows because he’s supposed to be in some sort of training for the new ones or something, I think? But I can’t get him to go to work, poor baby, can you let them know that the reason he hasn’t been going is that he’s so upset?”

    My former boss never did find out the employee’s name or what happened to him, but one can assume.

  13. Phil*

    #6 reminds me of David Thorne’s timesheets on 2b/6… I highly recommend you google it if unfamiliar.

  14. Girl friday*

    Number 5 is the single best thing I’ve read. I have a list of things not to do at work and hanging around work is number one!

  15. Little Miss Know It All*

    #10: I know I’m being picky, but the internet (as we know it) was around in the late 90s. 1994/1995 was the start of the internet becoming more accessible to the public. So I am assuming this onion job probably happened in the mid-90s.

    But no, Google didn’t really exist as the search giant it is now in the 90s, so people were using Yahoo.

    1. Screenwriter*

      Oh, dear, how young are you? I graduated from college in 1972, and can assure you that I had many, many years in the working world before there was even a hint of any internet.

      1. Little Miss Know It All*

        I’m 38. We had internet in our houses on multiple computers in 97 as well as my school.

        1. matcha123*

          I’m 35 and I agree with you. I started school in 1989 and my elementary school had computers in each classroom by at least fifth grade, if not by the fourth. We had computer class and played Oregon Trail, etc. and a good many of my classmates had home computers and some of them were going into chatrooms.
          When I was in middle school, a lot of kids in my neighborhood would go to the public library down the street to use the computers or go to chatrooms. That was the time I got my first email account on hotmail.

          This isn’t to say that everyone of the same age growing up in America had the same experience or access at the same time, but it is annoying to read posts by people who act like there was no internet before 1999. (Widespread, cuz the internet was already a thing decades earlier…)

          1. londonedit*

            I’m 37 and grew up in the UK. At primary school in the late 80s/early 90s we had one computer which we used to play a few games and do ‘word processing’ (it printed things on those big sheets of green and white striped paper with perforations between the pages). At secondary school (age 11-18) we had one computer room with about 20 computers, for 1200 students to use. I don’t think those were ever connected to the internet while I was there (I left in 2000). At university (2000-2003) we did have access to the internet, but it was still very clunky and most people still used the uni computer rooms rather than having their own internet access in their room/student flat. I had a laptop, but no internet in my first year at least – I was still burning things to CDs and printing them out on the uni computers. If you wanted to use the internet, you went to the computer room.

            At home, we got a computer in about 1995 and got the internet in about 1998, because I was going to be studying for my A level exams and my younger sister was going to be studying for her GCSE exams. It was dial-up and my parents ended up getting a second phone line for the computer so that the main landline wouldn’t be tied up. We lived in a rural area that didn’t get broadband coverage until about 10 years ago, so the dial-up was extremely slow and very expensive.

            1. MsSolo*

              Primary School BBC computers! Where you learnt basic coding and made the clown’s bowtie spin around and whenever anyone printed something the whole room had to fall silent because the dot matrix printers were so loud. Also, later, school edition PCs that ran WindowBox instead of Windows you’d get on a home PC, with the oh so educational games.

              We had a home computer for most of my life, including one that involved plugging what was essentially a cassette player into the TV. I don’t remember precisely when we got internet at home, but in 1997 we were making basic websites in IT class and hanging out in chatrooms during lunch (no internet safety measures at school in those days, not until someone had the bright idea of accessing the Playboy website a few years later and school suddenly realised that a bunch of 11 year old girls being invited to cyber with strangers wasn’t the forward thinking IT policy they intended it to be).

              1. londonedit*

                Exactly! I seem to remember there was a game on our school BBC computer that had something to do with a wizard :D

                We were meant to have IT lessons at secondary school, but those of us who did 10 GCSE subjects (the standard number at my school was 9) already had to do an extra lesson on a Wednesday after school to fit everything in, so there wasn’t room in the timetable. We were told we’d do a couple of days’ intensive IT lessons per term to make up for it, but that never happened so I just taught myself how to do things by playing around on the computer at home.

          2. Ms Cappuccino*

            It may also depends of the country where we are. I haven’t heard of Internet before 1997 but I wasn’t in the US.
            Also we didn’t have it at work. It sounded like science-fiction to my boss :D

    2. Just Employed Here*

      Some of us were using Altavista. :-)

      Having access to the internet wasn’t at all that common in the late nineties, certainly not at a job site that didn’t require its use. OP 10 says this happened in the late nineties, so I would assume it *did* happen in the late nineties, not the mid nineties…

      1. Little Miss Know It All*

        Because a person can have memories of something but never gets the things confused by 1-2 years. Right.

        1. Emma Frost*

          Why are you being so weird about this? We are asked to take OPs at their word on this site. Sure, maybe they got it wrong. But maybe they didn’t. Either way, you are being obnoxious and trying to show off something you think you know better than they do. Which is pretty ignorant behavior, frankly.

        2. Michaela Westen*

          This is the progression I saw:
          – The first PCs I saw at work were around 1994-95 working in the office of a manufacturer. There was no internet access, I used it for word processing. Anyone remember WordPerfect?
          – Worked with PCs at every job since. I remember using a PC in 1998 as a secretary in the downtown corporate office of one of the biggest insurance companies. Still no internet.
          – Used yahoo mail and groups (for personal communications) in my job in 1999 at a membership organization.
          – Had internet access but was not allowed to use it at my job from 2002 – 2004, another insurance company. That’s the one that fired me because the creepy file clerk wouldn’t leave me alone. IRRC back then most employers had a rule against using the internet without special permission.
          – Since then I don’t remember any restrictions on internet use at work.
          IME a factory or processing plant like OP describes wouldn’t prioritize getting internet, so they probably weren’t one of the first.
          At home I got dial-up internet with my first PC in 2000. Remember those big clunky PCs and monitors? Remember how you had to get it started dialing and do something else for 15 minutes till it connected? Remember the almost constant glitches and bugs in the Microsoft OS? And the huge bulky monitor that blew out with sparks one night when I turned it on. Good times! :p

          1. Jennifer Juniper*

            WordPerfect! What a pain in the ass that was!

            I remember the strip of paper printed with multiple rows of tasks above the function keys and have to hit three function keys just to underline or something equally simple.

            Someone also once set a foot-high stack of papers on top of the back vents of a CRT. About 2 pm, cue the smell of French-fried monitor and tons of smoke coming out. PU!

      2. Gyratory Circus*

        Yep. I had my first professional job starting in 1997 and while we had computers (I worked in hospital admissions and billing) you had to special permission – signed off on by both your boss *and* your grandboss – to have actual internet access and be able to do things like use a search engine. That didn’t change until at least 2000 when some of our billing systems became web-based.

      1. TardyTardis*

        AOL and CompuServe…but before them were BBS (bulletin boards) where I played Red Dragon and Exitilus. And getting a 28.8 modem for my anniversary (my husband is a sweetie). Before that was the Commodore 64 and Word Writer 3 (and this is why so many of my papers were 9 pages long or a multiple thereof, since that was the top file size).

    3. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      True, but you had to find a computer with Internet access, possibly wait for dial up to connect, wait for Windows to stop thinking about stuff and actually open the browser, and then search alta vista or yahoo (or heck, why not ask jeeves).

      Although I suppose a dictionary might have been available…

      1. TechWorker*

        Yeah ‘before the internet’ seems like reasonable shorthand for ‘before the easily accessible internet’ :p

      2. whingedrinking*

        It is kind of remarkable how quickly we’ve changed over to such ready access to information and what lingers on in terms of bias. The other day I was tutoring a kid in French and he said his dad had told him he wasn’t allowed to use the iPad during his sessions any more – even though I was specifically teaching him how to use online dictionaries effectively (ie, not just plugging stuff into Google Translate, but applying critical thinking to the process). I had to dig up a paper dictionary that hadn’t been used in god knows how long and teach the kid how to use it, even though that’s an increasingly less important skill and one that most people abandoned once they had access to other methods.

    4. Michaela Westen*

      I don’t remember seeing internet access in offices before 1998 – 99. That was in offices that did office work, not factories or processing plants.
      Between 2000 – 2005 I knew many people who didn’t use the internet at work, or didn’t use computers at work. They used to come to me with questions. Even around 2007 – 08 I still knew a few who didn’t use the net.

        1. sheworkshardforthemoney*

          Our first work computer was as TRS-80 or a trash 80 as they were known as. We even had a ribbon cutting ceremony for it. This was late 80s? I’m not sure but two of the men basically took it over. I remember the green text and having no interest in learning because it all seemed so tedious. I do remember my Wang word processor, I loved it.

      1. TardyTardis*

        We had AOL or CompuServe starting in 1992, when we got our first Windows computer. People said Windows was slow, but oh dear, not compared to a Commodore 64 (though I did enjoy playing Rags to Riches, MULE, and other games of that type).

    5. I’m actually a squid*

      I started college in 1999 and it was a big deal that our college provided a computer for each dorm room. My family got online (dial-up modem hogging the sole landline!) about three years prior and I’d say we were pretty average for our moderately upper-class demographic. In college it seemed about 2/3rds of us were used to the internet and about half of us could find things fairly well, especially pre-google (google existed but it didn’t catch on until early 2000 among us). However the remaining third… we legitimately had students who had never touched a home computer before they arrived. Smaller, rural school districts in areas where people didn’t see the point to a home computer or couldn’t afford one. Three of the eight girls in our quad were of that group and one never did learn how to tell a pop-up ad from a legitimate computer warning.

      What I’m saying is that the late 90s could very well be pre-internet for many people. Existence =/= access or familiarity.

      1. Anono-Mice*

        “Existence =/= access or familiarity.”

        This is the best way I’ve heard that explained. So true! I think it was 2003 or later before I ever went on the internet, I had used computers for typing and disk games but never had any reason to actually go on the internet so I never did.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Not all companies saw it the same way. I started working as a technical writer in early 1999 and no one in the group had internet access. It was for some reason a big deal that required managers to jump through hoops for approval.

      Humorous aside: When our group got its first access approval, the writer had never used the internet before. She was told to go look up something for herself to get the hang of it… anything. She looked up furniture. The net nanny was so strict that it gave her the red screen of doom for ‘inappropriate content”….which eventually turned out to be that the furniture store advertised “Mission Style” bedroom sets.

    7. Jack V*

      I don’t think they meant the internet didn’t EXIST, even as a common consumer product, but that when you didn’t know how to do something, “just look it up on the internet” wasn’t yet the go-to solution.

      I mean, they COULD have looked it up in a library, or asked someone other than their boss, or lots of things, but they were embarrassed and didn’t. That’s something most people have to learn when they start having responsibility, what doesn’t really matter and what matters and you need to make sure you’re doing right. I think that’s what they meant when they didn’t use the internet.

      I mean, it’s entirely likely that “late 90s” meant 1996, but it’s also entirely likely that it meant 99 and many people had the internet, but they didn’t at work or at home, or they did but they needed to ask someone’s permission to use it, or they did but it hadn’t occurred to them weird technical terms were something you could look up on the internet. Any of those would be completely normal and I don’t think it’s worth quibbling which one was the truth.

    8. chickaletta*

      Yahoo? In ’95? No.

      I graduated hs in ’95 and remember AOL dial-up in the first half of the ’90s, yes some of us had the internet in the early 90’s. But it was the flip phone to today’s iPhone whatever. Nobody used the internet for research back then, we just used it to chat online with strangers and send emails to Aunt Sylvia. It was forbidden to cite the internet in school papers because it wasn’t considered reliable.

      College in the second half of the ’90s wasn’t much more up to speed. Online reasearch was still in its infancy. Most of my research was done the old fashioned way with books and index cards. I can’t image it was much more advanced in work areas; definitely not in agriculture. I worked at an onion farm during college around ’97 or ’98 and the office in the single-wide didn’t have any computers to use for research, LOL!

  16. Moo*

    While working remotely, part of my job was to do mail merges of letters and send them to the RNs in the office to proof. The letters templates were not allowed to be changed, so they only things they were proofing was whether the due dates populated correctly. One RN who was new, and who I had never really interacted with before, sent me back one of the letters and asked me to change the wording. I (stupidly) forwarded that to my in-office partner with a comment like (paraphrased), “I’m not making changes to our template because this b***h doesn’t know how to check her letters.” My partner then forwarded my e-mail to our supervisor and copied the RN with a comment like, “Can you please go over the protocols with [RN] so that she edits the letters correctly?” Our supervisor then sent me a very rightfully-deserved chastisement saying that if she ever saw something like that out of me again we’d have a big problem. I *immediately* e-mailed the new RN with a very heartfelt apology, and we ended up becoming great friends. But I still cringe when I think about that. It definitely taught me appropriate communication skills.

  17. Sally Forth*

    #14 Tears are streaming down my face. This is EPIC! Honestly, if more people asked for time off because they were feeling hateful, there would be far fewer issues in offices.

    1. UKDancer*

      I have from time to time taken a day’s leave because I feel hateful. I just get fed up with everyone and everything and want to be alone. So I take the day and swim laps or go dancing or wander around the National Gallery. Then I feel better the next day. I’ve just never specifically said it’s for that reason. I’d agree it’s brilliant.

    2. Fish Microwaver*

      We wouldn’t have much work being done but we would definitely have less issues bothering us in the office.

    3. Doctor Schmoctor*

      I agree. I take a mental health break about 5 or 6 times a year. Of course, I tell my boss I have a migraine.

  18. What Was He Thinking?*

    I used to work for a company processing job applications for rather big companies (think Fortune 5).
    There were several job applications we would just shake our heads about, but the one I will always remember was the young gentleman who used an email address that started with “copkilla”. I’m sure he’s still wondering why he never got a call back.

    1. Ermintrude*

      I very deliberately got a normal Hotmail account featuring my actual name and not my favorite fantasy character’s for jobsearching so at least that part of the application process would go smoothly. (I’ve had some cringy interviews and embarrassing behaviour elsewhere in the process… live and learn.)

      1. SherSher*

        Right? I used to have (still have but somewhat abandoned now that I am old and less clueless) an email with a humorous moniker… not rude but not appropriate for adulating! LOL

    2. Hobbert*

      I called an applicant about his application and he had “Riding Dirty” as his ringback tone. He applied to be a cop. Reader, we did not hire him.

  19. Lars*

    I very often cringe thinking about the absolutely inappropriate outfits I have worn to interviews where I wasn’t hired. Just off the top of my head, I can recall multiple sheer blouses, multiple halter tops, a t-shirt covered in daisy appliqués, jeans with rips in them… worst was probably wearing all black to an interview because I had no formal clothes and showing up 4 hours early because I was so nervous. It was 100 degrees that day, and after spending the four hours walking around the neighborhood, I showed up with a sunburn, my makeup running from sweat, and limping from blisters that developed from the shoes I had on. Luckily I have blocked out all memory of that interview.

    I did interview once wearing a zipper hoodie with a corduroy miniskirt, but in my defense for that time I was 17, it was a movie theater, and I was wearing what I wore to school that day.

    1. Sciencer*

      I showed up to an interview once with visible blood stains on the heels of my (new, not-broken-in, bought for the interview) light tan fabric wedges. I’d had to walk 20 or so minutes to the interview in a hilly area and they absolutely shredded the backs of my heels. Worst part was the interview was just a formality and the woman told me I hadn’t needed to dress up at all (she was in jeans). I think I walked home barefoot…

  20. Anonymous for this!*

    I forgot about this when everyone was sharing stories but I’ve definitely got one.

    When I started my first office job out of college (the job I’m currently at) I was coming out of a… very rough period in my life where my Mom was dying of cancer and I did not handle it well. Long story short, I ended up with a probation officer and pending court date (the offenses weren’t egregious but still).

    My boss was so understanding when he found out but I had to take quite a bit of time off to deal with these matters. Being new to the professional world, I did not realize that I did not have to go into specifics in the “reason” section of the time of request paperwork. As a result, there is a ton of paperwork in my HR file declaring I took time off for things like “Probation Appointment”, “Pre-Trial Hearing”, “Lawyer”, “Mom chemo”, and “Appointment with 2nd Probation Officer”. I am a do exactly what is asked type of person who takes things very literally unless told otherwise… I finally realized how weird this was until I read something on AAM that tipped me off!

    So beyond embarrassing.

    1. whingedrinking*

      I dunno, I think that’s a case where it the honesty doesn’t hurt. At least your reasons were pretty ironclad for missing work!

      1. Anonymous for this!*

        Very true! That’s a better way to frame it.
        And, yeah, legally having to be places and every once in a while missing work because of a sick parent… definitely solid explanations to answer the question “why is the new girl taking work off already?”.

        My workplace is one of those that for no real reason insists on “butt-in-seat from 8-5” even for exempt employees so it definitely would have been noticed. And it’s a lot easier to assume potential attendance/reliability issues when it’s a brand new employee and they are gone for chunks of time during those hours.

    2. Michaela Westen*

      I used to put things like “chiro appointment” or “CT scan” on my time away requests until my boss told me to just say “medical appointment”.
      I trust him and my colleagues, so I wonder what he’s protecting me from. Since then I’ve wondered about his admin though.

      1. Just Employed Here*

        It could be that he just wants to promote a culture where people don’t feel that they *have* to give details in this situation, rather than something specific he wants to protect you from.

        1. winter*

          Yeah. At my work people routinely describe what’s wrong with their bowels or how sick they feel exactly when they call out and it would be really sufficient (also for the higher-ups) to write “I’m sick.”

          1. Michaela Westen*

            IME people do this when they feel they management won’t believe they’re really sick, so they provide lots of details.
            Is someone making them think they’ll be disbelieved and/or punished for calling in sick?

    3. Lucille2*

      I don’t think this is unusual, especially for people who have worked in micro-managed type environments or workplaces that require a doctor’s note for taking sick days. As a manager, I have had too many emails with too much detail about why someone needs to take a sick day. One employee of mine gave some gross details about how sick his wife was (stay-at-home-mom), so he was needed at home to take care of his kids. I don’t know if he was clueless or just hated me.

    1. Michaela Westen*

      Wow! It was awesome that you carried on in spite of embarassment! You really showed them! :) :) :)

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Brilliant! I cringed on your behalf and loved it when you pulled the technical requirements rabbit our of your hat.

    3. SusanIvanova*

      Female software engineer here. Way back around 1995 I got flown out to Des Moines for a one-day on-site debugging session – for a bug I’d fixed the day before, but they were a Very Big Financial Company and Sales insisted. I can check their code for them and make them happy.

      Sales had also tried to insist that I wear a suit-dress, whatever the proper name for it is; I’ve owned exactly one of them in my life, wore it to the interview, and everyone had made a point of saying I wouldn’t need to wear it to work (I *know!* But in that case it was my mom who’d insisted.)

      That suit-whatever is long gone. I am not buying a new one. I do have some nice slacks and a casual blazer that had belonged to my brother – think Miami Vice, but gray instead of pastel. So that’s what I wear.

      I get there, and it’s worse than I thought – a total time warp to the 50s. Men in suits, women in dresses, and me in Miami Vice. Am I embarrassed? Oh, absolutely not. If anyone remembers the MASH movie – I am the Pro From Dover, the expert dragged in at great inconvenience. I am rocking it.

      The software guys – of course they’re guys because it’s Iowa, but they’re my age and this is still the era when software was so rare that women were as likely to get “ooh cool, someone else who knows this”, and they were that kind of guy – said that as soon as they walked in the lobby they *knew* I was the person they were looking for.

    4. Delightful Daisy*

      What a great story! As someone who travels often for work and often with too much luggage, I have high regard for someone who travels with just a briefcase. Brava!

  21. AllieJ0516*

    Every one of these stories has made me feel so much better about myself! I know I’ve done some pretty dumb things in my past, but I’M NOT ALONE!! Thank you ALL!! <3

  22. Leela*

    Re #15 – There’s a lady at my old office building (not at my job, another company that shared a hall bathroom) who would go in with a caboodle and put make-up and hair stuff allllllll over the counter space around the only sink. She’d also bring in a radio and loudly sing along to it while doing her hair with various hot tools and putting on make-up while I was in the bathroom. She wouldn’t turn off the radio or even stop singing. It was also a pain to get her to move away from the sink so I could wash my hands when I was done. I really, really hope she winds up cringing about it later because that would mean she’d actually stopped.

    1. Â*

      Didn’t you write to Alison about this? Whatever happened with her, anyway? Lots of good ideas in the comments…

      1. Leela*

        I left when she was still there, and she might still be. I’ve written about this in comments before I think, but I don’t think I’ve written Alison about it. It seems to be more common than one would think given how egregious it is!

        1. Pomona Sprout*

          Oh wow, Alison did have a letter from someone about a very similar situation. I don’t remenber a radio or singing being involved, but other than that, the lady in that letter sounded just yours. I don’t know whether to lsugh or cry knowing that there is actually more than one person like that out there!

          1. Leela*

            Don’t know whether to laugh or cry: isn’t that the truth? She acted like YOU were inconveniencing HER when you said excuse me like 3 times while she was loudly singing to try and wash your hands in the sink that she had covered with product and heated tools.

    2. SherSher*

      I used to work with someone like this. She said she started work at 7, but she would arrive at 7, turn on her computer and disappear into the bathroom where she would do full make up and hair for about an hour every morning. Everyone else besides her and I arrived around 8 or later so no one knew but me. She didn’t work for me and I didn’t like that job much so I never said anything.

      1. SherSher*

        Oh also… her stepfather was a partner in the firm so I suspect no one would have done anything anyway. She was not that great at her job but I think he felt pressured to keep her on.

      2. Michaela Westen*

        I sometimes feel bad about slacking too much at work – spending too much time on AAM, or a few minutes over at lunch – then I look at my colleagues and feel better. The openly do personal things during work hours and can easily spend more than 1/2 hour chatting about personal stuff. They make me look good. :)

  23. Cringe-omatic*

    Oh wow these are great! I missed the first request for these, so if not too late here’s my cringiest:

    I had a toxic boss and part of her role was to attend C Suite meetings and keep notes on action items out of the discussion.

    What she did instead was secretly record the meetings on her phone and give me the recordings so that I could type up outcomes for her. At the time I loved being able to get insight into the minds of CEOs but now of course I feel so ashamed. There were many things I heard that were NOT for my ears (CEO’s candid opinions on others, staffing issues, budgets etc).
    I’m proud(??) to say I never passed on anything I heard – but the information did come in handy against my toxic boss when she’d make up lies about things executive said (and I could be like “actually he didn’t say that”)- silver lining?

    1. SherSher*

      You shouldn’t be cringing, Toxic Boss should be cringing! This was so inappropriate of her. But I would love to have been the admin who got to type up the notes too (I love being in the loop, but like you, I know how to keep my mouth shut!)

    2. Michaela Westen*

      Me too, I would have been very interested to hear those meetings, and used the insight to manage my work life.

  24. restingbutchface*

    #3, I am SCREAMING.

    Some people achieve fame by birth, some by hard work and some by being the intern who created an office/fort/meeting space. I bet you’re an urban legend at that company, even today. Love it.

  25. Flash Bristow*

    Trying to think what I’ve done. I don’t think mine is too awful but I did inherit some work from someone who was…

    Briefly, mine first: I used to dress goth. If I was going out after work that’s what I’d wear. So I often showed up in clingy, lace up, black latex. Or tight leather trousers. And one time, right at the start of my career, I couldn’t afford many clothes, we weren’t allowed to wear jeans – and the only thing clean was a miniskirt length black lace dress. Let’s just say it turned heads. Nobody told me off though! Technically I met the regulations…

    On to the nightmare role I inherited… I was taken on as a temp to sort out the filing. OK… Couldn’t see a problem with the files but fine, I’ll do it and just remember that for every 10 minutes the boss is bending my ear, that’s £1 they’re wasting on me, smile sweetly and nod…

    I get to the files. I’m warned that my predecessor was a very odd, small girl, seemingly meek, who then swore obscenely under her breath all day. Hmm. Odd, but whatever.

    I look through the files. She has filed everything under the first number. OH. MY.

    So the invoices are in this kind of order: everything beginning with 1.

    So: 1, 153, 1064, 12, 1845, 162, 18, 15, 1643… You get the idea.

    After *thousands* of 1s, we move on to everything beginning with 2…

    I have no idea what was in her head. It took me ages to sort out… it was frustrating and tedious as heck (especially as every invoice was on really thin paper which easily tore, like the kind you used to get in card machines where they’d roll over your card to make a physical copy – if anyone’s old enough to remember? Very thin copy paper where the imprint is barely dark enough to be read. Ripped really easily when taken out of a lever arch file. Grr.)

    I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I resorted to my usual trick of counting the minutes and telling myself “that’s another quid… That’ll buy soup for dinner… ” and so on, to get through it.

    I have no idea what was in the previous hirer’s mind.

    1. Flash Bristow*

      Damn, I meant I have no idea what was in the previous *hire*’s mind. Apols for typo.

      I’ll shut up now :)

    2. SignalLost*

      Bananas. Bananas were in the previous hire’s mind.

      I didn’t know how to file when I took my first professional job, but at least I knew not to do that. (My problem was that I didn’t realize the files were arranged chronologically inside the file, so I was just jamming pages in where we the file opened. Luckily my boss noticed quickly.)

  26. Angeldrac*

    “My reasoning was, no one ever told me it *wasn’t* okay to wash, hang, and dry stockings on your cubicle wall at work.””

    Just snorted kombucha up my nose reading that.

  27. Jack V*

    Oh gosh, *cringe*. I can’t even think about the things I’ve done.

    Although I wish bosses were more reliable at quickly checking in on people and actually saying what they mean, and not just frantically beaming requests to be more professional telepathically and being sad when people don’t pick them up :)

  28. Urdnot Bakara*

    I remember absolutely dying when I read #12 in the first thread. Still funny. So short, yet so effective.

  29. Ms Cappuccino*

    I really like #5. It was deserved
    #14 Feeling hateful should actually be a good reason to miss work.

  30. 653-CXK*

    One time when I temped for an assignment during my college summer breaks, I made the mistake of coming in with jeans, a polo shirt, and Chuck Taylors. The comptroller cheerfully, but firmly reminded me that this was a business dress company.

    From that point forward, I asked what the dress code was whenever I had an assignment.

  31. cheluzal*

    First “real” job in college: medical records, filing, grunt work at a dr’s office. One day I overslept, never called, quickly got there (hours late) and deadpanned my excuse: I was abducted by aliens. Then I went right to work. No one said a word and I was never late again. I still maintain you can use this once per job site.

  32. Emma*

    The stockings drying on the cubicle is the prime example of why saying “I do X and no one says anything” does NOT mean what ever you’re doing is ok…LOL

  33. don'tgoforsecondbest*

    When I was 20, I decided I had had enough of a part-time job I had while in school.

    The manager on duty called me at home and asked me where I was.

    I told her I wasn’t coming in because it wasn’t fun.

    She got extremely angry and said, “Since when is work supposed to be fun?”, and slammed the receiver down.

    It wasn’t a professional way to quit, but in retrospect, it was a very honest way to put it.

  34. Never*

    #10: I once had an intern say to me, “Oh when the data was missing I just put in a 0.” My jaw might still be on the floor of that conference room.

  35. SouthernGuy*

    First time working at a restaurant they asked me to clean the walls. They gave me a spray bottle and rags. I cleaned all the walls around the entire restaurant. The next day, when I came in, the dark green carpet had a bleached white ring around then entire restaurant. No one told me there was bleach in the spray mixture. I didn’t get in trouble.

    1. cardamom*

      It would be pretty awful of them to get you in trouble. You just did what you were told with the materials you were given.

  36. Geologyst*

    “I once asked my manager if I could take the afternoon off because I was feeling hateful. Yes, those are the exact words I used.”

    I 10000% feel this and I totally appreciate the honesty! If I were a manager, and it was a one time thing and nothing was pressing, I’d give the time. Sometimes, your headspace just ain’t right!

  37. (another) b*

    14. “I once asked my manager if I could take the afternoon off because I was feeling hateful. Yes, those are the exact words I used.”

    Mood, tbh.

  38. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

    #3 and #6: Oh. My. I am shaking my head in disbelief at the lack of common sense and good judgement. That was indeed cringe-worthy.

  39. EddieSherbert*

    I missed the cupcakes frosting/personal rec room on the original post and am so glad I got to see it here :D
    Hahaha, ohh dear. You learned!

  40. stitchinthyme*

    Coming in late because I’m just catching up after a vacation.

    Early 2000s; I was working for a dotcom company. A manager I knew only slightly came over and asked if she could talk to me for a minute. I was knee-deep in trying to fix a production problem, so I asked if she could give me 15 minutes to get it resolved. She said sure, so when I finished I went over to her office. Turns out she needed to tell me that my current manager had just been laid off and she was now my boss.

    For the next couple of years she teased me about how I blew her off when she was coming to tell me she was my new boss; I always retorted that she should be happy at how dedicated I was to making sure that problems got fixed quickly!

  41. stitchinthyme*

    Hmm…the above one from me was minorly embarrassing, but I have one that truly does make me cringe now.

    I was in my 20s and was late to a meeting that was scheduled after lunch. I had no good reason or excuse; I just hated meetings and didn’t consider it worth bothering to make sure I got back from lunch on time. My attitude was apparent to my boss, who (understandably) read me the riot act. As it was more than 20 years ago I don’t recall exactly what she said, but I do remember crying at my desk afterward.

    I still hate meetings, but I’m way better at hiding it now, and I haven’t been late to one since.

Comments are closed.