asking to use the boss’s limo and other unprofessional mishaps

Ever look back at your career and realize that you weren’t always the consummate professional that you (of course) are today? A while back, I asked readers to confess their unprofessional deeds from the past. Over at Inc. today, I’ve got 10 of my favorites — including a temp who asked to borrow their boss’s limo, someone who went overboard on perks, and more.

You can read the whole list here.

{ 203 comments… read them below }

      1. Maybe Relevant*

        I’ve definitely said “I need to take this afternoon off as I’m about to kill people just for contacting me” Honestly, saying “for feeling hateful” would be more accurate and more concise. I will start using it immediately

        1. PeanutButter*

          I worked with someone who was normally a very laid back and gentle soul. We put our names down in a book at the charge nurse’s desk if we wanted to be sent home first if the patient load was light. Once he put his name down and noted “I got very angry when the espresso machine made my order *correctly* and I don’t know why, please send me home if at all possible.” He got bumped to the top of the list. XD Sometimes we have those days!

          1. JSPA*

            That’s impressive self-awareness… and I hope he’s OK.

            I totally get it!

            Sometimes you need the espresso machine to screw up so you can ditch a quantum of anger in its general direction, because you’re full up on stress, with no acceptable place to blow it off. (See also, the nicest people who are evil, evil, evil screamers while driving, or people who rage scream on bridges at midnight.)

            “feeling hateful,” whether that’s “feeling full of hate” or “feeling like an appropriate object of hate” both seem like really valid reasons to leave early.

            1. They Don’t Make Sunday*

              Kind of tempted to make “rage screaming on a bridge at midnight” my new username.

          2. MissM*

            As someone reading AAM whilst searching for the grace to not reply to an email with some cold hard facts about why we’re behind in very important teapot project with drop-dead due date next week, I really sympathize with him as well as “feeling hateful” LW

      2. Squirrely*

        We had a three day weekend. I came back on Tuesday ready to work, and every coworker asked me a stupid question, and my new boss’s inability to do work made me feel…very hateful indeed.

        I took a mental health day on Wednesday, and said I was going to try the whole work thing again Thursday, because Tuesday obviously was not going well. (A la kindergarteners)

        Told a coworker exactly that, and my grand boss a version of that on Thursday.

      3. Forrest*

        “Time off for feeling hateful” always reminds me of those lists like, “things Victorian heroines died of”: “too much sea” “insufficiently heavy curtains” “a surfeit of apricots” “feeling hateful”.

      4. Miss Betty*

        Ages ago my sister got sent home from McDonald’s for not smiling. She was having a bad day. She wasn’t acting out but she wasn’t smiling. Manager told her that if she couldn’t look happy she needed to clock out and go home. So she did. Maybe she was feeling hateful! (I suppose he figured she’d paste a smile on her face and keep making french fries. She didn’t get fired for leaving – but then he told her to. Also, she was a good employee.)

      1. Chickiepunk*

        I don’t think the hateful one is anything to be embarrassed about. We’re all human. After an epically frustrating morning where a VP (who wasn’t even in the chain of command for the product, was asked for feedback throughout the process as a courtesy, and who ignored every opportunity for input up to the day we were supposed to go live) threw the brakes on at the very end of a months long nightmare project I led because she “didn’t get a chance to weigh in”, I told my boss I needed to take the rest of the day off or I might quit. He was not great at having our backs most of the time but I got the afternoon off without any fuss.

        1. Elena*

          It’s human to feel hateful at times but it’s weird to tell your boss that your going home because of it

          1. TardyTardis*

            I know, sometimes bosses can’t handle the truth. I know one day I kept looking around for David Spade because I just knew our building was shooting an episode of Please Shoot me (snip ongoing printer saga, the cruel death of the coffee machine, the person in charge of reviewing inexplicably absent, you know the drill).

  1. Justme, The OG*

    I can understand how poster #5 did what they did, became their company was completely unhelpful.

    1. Junior Dev*

      I remembered that one! I love it. And yeah, lighting things on fire is not the best outlet for work stress but what they did afterward (admit defeat and try to make it right with the donors) was really their only option.

    2. Two Dog Night*

      And transferring timeshares is hard! There’s no way they shouldn’t have hired a lawyer. Props to the OP.

      1. Marzipan Shepherdess*

        Yes, they REALLY dropped the ball on that! Normally I’d NEVER advise ANYONE to send their problems up in smoke, but that company really deserved to get burned (so to speak.)

    3. Xenia*

      I remember #5 too and I still maintain that it was the best result possible for poor OP. Real estate is challenging enough for regular purchases. Timeshares? I’d have poured the gasoline for OP.

    4. I'm just here for the cats*

      I feel so bad for that LW. There is a reason why Real Estate lawyers exist, because the paperwork and regulations are so very confusing. “Your smart enough, figure it out” is not an appropriate comment for any type of problem, but especially when your dealing with real estate

    5. WellRed*

      The document bonfire is an old fave of mind. I laughed so hard I cried when it first posted.

    6. lemon meringue*

      The bonfire story is tied with the Wakeen/Joaquin story as my all-time favourites. This one is extra delightful because the situation was so ridiculous and it all worked out in the end. I hope OP5 uses it as an example of their problem solving skills for every interview.

    7. ShowTime*

      That’s a great one! At a previous job, I was tasked with applying for a trademark because I have a law degree (I didn’t practice law at that job and I know nothing about intellectual property). The paperwork was complicated and I kept saying we should hire a lawyer. My boss – also a non-practicing lawyer – said no because they didn’t want to spend the money, but also wouldn’t help me. The application was rejected. Thankfully I left for a new job soon after that.

      1. Nanani*

        If it makes you feel any better, “How hard can it be? I’ll file the trademark/patent/copyright myself” is the source of A LOT of rejected applications the world over.

    8. June*

      I think of bonfire guy (gal?) often; especially when I’m working on difficult paperwork.

    9. Brett*

      I understand poster #5 because timeshares are awful and I wouldn’t even consider a free time share to be a donation in the first place.

    10. KayDeeAye*

      The bonfire OP has my full support! You can say – as I originally did – “Oh, there has to have been a better option.” But…what? Yeah. There certainly are better options, but they are all things the OP’s employer needed to to, e.g., hire a real estate attorney/not ask the impossible/get a grip, etc. So as far as I’m concerned, aside from going insane, the OP did the only thing that was realistically possible, which was to extract themselves from an impossible situation. Go, OP!

    11. Kes*

      Yeah that one is so great because on the one hand, it’s so obviously not the right way to handle it, but on the other, the company is refusing to handle it the right way (hire an actual lawyer) and it totally worked well in the end. And it’s such a great story.

  2. Sami*

    I can completely relate to feeling “hateful”. And wanting to go home. I’d use the word “migraine” though. :)

    1. Damn it, Hardison!*

      That was me! I do have migraines, though, so I have to save that excuse for real ones. I did get to go home for the afternoon.

      1. Empress Matilda*

        I stand by my original comment that “feeling hateful” is a legit reason to leave work for the day!

      2. Campfire Raccoon*

        It’s a completely legitimate reason. One any good manager can understand, empathize, and support.

      3. They Don’t Make Sunday*

        I salute you. If only I *had* gone home on days I felt hateful, I could have avoided some pointless own-foot-shooting.

    2. Helvetica*

      When I was once working three people’s job at the same time, and really at the end of my rope one Friday, I told my boss that I needed to go home early or I would get annoyed at the next person who asked me something and I really did not want that to happen. I wish I’d known to utilise the word “hateful”.
      He, being very nice and understanding – and completely reliant on me to do the massive workload, and support him in his new managerial role – let me go without a word two hours early.

        1. TardyTardis*

          “The first thing that/All Vikings learn/Is first you pillage/And then you burn.” If my husband was still teaching, I bet I could get some local cheerleaders on this (name of the team is the Vikings).

    1. Lily*

      Seconded. Hearing someone say “It’s on SharePoint!” when I’m seeking information makes me want to punch a wall.

    1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

      Yes – I will never forget that one! What a fantastic way to deal with something that is impossibly hard and way outside the scope of your normal work. I’m so glad it turned out so well.

    2. Damn it, Hardison!*

      This is epic, right up there with duck club, quitting in cod, and Hanukkah balls.

  3. Snailing*

    These are hilarious!

    As a side note, I really wish I could take time off just for feeling hateful…

    1. SheLooksFamiliar*

      I sometimes do take time off because I’m feeling hateful, but I say I have a cold instead. Those make me hate the world and everything in it, so I’m not lying by much…

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I did that once at ToxicJobwhen the downhill slide before the layoffs was gaining speed. I said I felt like I was coming down with something and if I could go home and rest, I’d probably be fine in the morning. Really, I just wanted to get the eff out of there that day before I punched someone.

        1. Crabby Patty*

          >Really, I just wanted to get the eff out of there that day before I punched someone.

          I know this feeling so well.

      2. Campfire Raccoon*

        Perhaps it is more professional, but “I’m taking a personal day” is not nearly as satisfying to say as “I just spawned a blood kraken and am jonesing to falcon punch someone.”

    2. Chris*

      If one of my employees told me they need an afternoon off because they were feeling hateful, I would be 100% supportive, especially if they were generally a good employee. That one can be positive or negative, you’ve got to know your manager and company culture pretty well.

  4. JillianNicola*

    Oh god the bonfire story. I cackle every time that comes up on AAM. What a legend.

  5. Cranky Lady*

    #10 made me laugh. I once got a summer job because (according to the interviewer) I had neat handwriting and I showed up to the interview in a suit rather than a bathing suit. (This boss later came to work regularly in Hawaiian shirts, and no I wasn’t a lifeguard.)

  6. LoopityLoop*

    I was nearly an hour late each day for my first week of work. I assumed it was 9-5 because that is what all the tv shows and songs said. No one corrected me. Each day I showed up late with a cherry “Hello everyone! You’re all in early!”

    Finally on Friday I asked a coworker why everyone always came in so early – I had been inching my start time up by 10 minutes each day trying to get a feel of the office culture but was still the last one in. When she said everyone is typically in by 8 I literally yelled “WHAT? Why does everyone consistently come in an hour early!?” She laughed, said that explains it, and informed me that the start time is actually 8.

    1. Soup of the Day*

      Oh my goodness, I did something very similar – I was working 9-5 but still taking hour-long lunches. I just assumed that lunch was part of the 8 hours I was expected to be at work! I feel like it’s not made clear enough from movies or TV shows that you’re expected to WORK for 8 hours a day ;)

      1. Ben Marcus Consulting*

        There was a period of time that 9-5 included your lunch, 7 hour days were normal for many offices. I can still remember when 8am was early opening for a doctor’s office (now 6am isn’t unheard of).

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          Even now, every office is different. I can’t believe nobody told these posters the start time & lunch policy. (I’m used to “core hours” – you can start & end when you want, provided you work during those hours every day & do your 40/week.)

          1. Former Unprofessional Being*

            Yeah that is really on the company, my organization is 9-5 and people have lunch during that time.

          2. londonedit*

            Definitely – where I live it’s normal for a working week to be 35 or 37.5 hours, typically 9-5 or 9-5.30 with an hour’s unpaid lunch included in the working day. So you’re not actually meant to be working 8 hours. But it should be clear what the deal is when you start working for the company!

      2. StripesAndPolkaDots*

        I’ve never had a professional job where lunch wasn’t included. I suppose most would officially have said half hour lunch, but in reality no one cared when people took long lunches—happened all the time.

    2. Meg*

      LOL to be fair, I feel like that’s on your supervisor for not telling you your start hours! That feel like a basic piece of information to tell new hires, or something they should have realized they hadn’t told you when you didn’t show up until an hour later.

      My former boss was amazing at onboarding new people, and I’ve come to realize that isn’t the case for everyone.

      1. The Original K.*

        Yeah, someone should have made that clear up front! I worked a temp job a few years ago where the hours were 9 – 5:30 with an hour lunch, so the work week was 37.5 hours. No one told me that. I worked 8:30 – 5:30 with an hour lunch for a few weeks, submitting time sheets to the staffing agency every week, and it took weeks for the finance guy at the client to tell me I was actually working too many hours. (I wasn’t first in at 8:30 so I had no idea I was technically coming in early.)

      2. Marzipan Shepherdess*

        Yes, telling new hires what their work, break and lunch hours are is about as basic as you can get! I’m amazed that no one made that clear BEFORE the new employee’s first day.

        1. Nanani*

          And pay day! I had to ask when to expect my first pay to arrive at the last office I worked at.
          They were very nice, but I was going antsy from trying to budget without that crucial information (I had the amount just not the actual days)

      3. Eye roll*

        I was used to teaching and construction jobs prior to law school, and my internship started at crazy early hours in law school because no one ever went home. For my first “real” legal job, I was hired, went through all the HR stuff, and scheduled for my first day… but never given a start time. I showed up at 7:00, because I didn’t want to be late, and all my prior jobs started by 7:30. The manager didn’t arrive for another 2 hours and no one knew what to do with me. It was a government job, so no OT. I was sent home early on my first day. Lol.

    3. RabbitRabbit*

      Wow, one of those guys could have said something before that! Or the person who hired you could have told you that up front! At least you were clueful enough to try to figure out what was going on and then ask.

      Back when we were in the office in my department, my division only had ‘core hours’ (basically be in before the 10 am daily meeting, be able to stay until the 3 pm end of meetings a couple times a week, and if you need to set a meeting with someone you obviously had to make it work for them, within reason) and we’d explain to new employees that it was kind of up to them on their hours, and please try to keep similar hours each day so that your coworkers would know about when you were in and out. A couple of us were 7 am-ish early birds (like me), a couple would come in close to 10 am and stay late, and most were in the middle.

    4. The New Wanderer*

      I showed up at 9 for a new job, just trying to guess if that was the right time because I hadn’t thought to ask and no one thought to let me know. Not thinking to tell me the approx start time was an indicator of the very laid back environment. I ended up waiting nearly an hour outside the locked office door before the first person showed up to unlock the place. It was a strange situation where we had the only locked office space in the entire building, but there was no place else I could work in the meantime. After that, I was given a key and happily showed up around 10 for the rest of that job.

    5. Liz*

      This is totally on the employer for not telling you the expected hours. If they have set office hours then it’s on them to communicate them. Like you say, 9-5 is the standard, but even then they should stipulate because some people might prefer 8-4 or 10-6 or whatever, so they should include that information in the basic induction.

    6. JustKnope*

      I am CRACKING up imagining you announcing “you’re all in early!” to your coworkers every morning. That is incredible!

  7. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    The last time I called off, I was still living at home with my parents, who were away on vacation, and it was the morning after I had inadvertently taught myself why no one on Earth orders chicken “medium rare.” I have no memory of how I tried to explain why I wasn’t going to make it in that day.

    My interview for my first programming job could hardly have gone worse. I left the job I was getting laid off on early, only to find the dress clothes I intended to wear were still wet in the drier (judging from the clocks, there was a power failure ~15 minutes after I’d left for work at 5 am). Pre-Google Maps, I got lost in a one-stoplight town (literally) and ended up 15 minutes late. Almost literally inhaled a sandwich while driving. The recruiter was in another state and had prepped me for the wrong job, so I could only answer about half of the questions “I don’t actually know.” My sister called about 15 minutes into the interview to ask for my recipe for potato soup. I was so speechless when I was called back that the recruiter assumed the call had dropped, hung up, and called me back.

    1. ampersand*

      All of this is amazing! LOL

      I have just one question: did you order chicken medium rare, or did you make it medium rare yourself?

      Any restaurant that would allow anyone to order medium rare chicken is highly suspect/terrible, to say the least.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        I was cooking it on our grill and ran out of gas. I think it probably looked better-cooked than it was; I was also really preoccupied with a relationship that was disintegrating, so my story is that my concentration wasn’t entirely there.

        By the time it sunk in that it was chewier than it should be, the die had been cast.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        I did; I carried a Motorola Razr3 in those days, so all I saw was the phone number, which I recognized. For all I knew, there was an accident or emergency; my sister and I rarely spoke on the phone unless it was truly urgent.

        Of course, my sister’s voice carries naturally and mine doesn’t, so I try to speak up a bit on the phone, and everyone in earshot could hear her ask as clear as day. I think I responded along the lines of “I’ll type it up this evening and send it to you, but I can’t go repeat it all at the moment.” Thankfully that boss had a sense of humor about it after she hired me.

  8. Nanani*

    #1 why does boss have a limo in the first place
    Or is the joke that boss sometimes rents a limo for big fancy events and can’t actually lend it out or something?

    1. Sleepless*

      That was my question. Did the boss actually have a limo, or did the LW just assume that all bosses have limos because, you know, boss? It’s pretty great either way.

    2. Adrienne*

      Hi. the boss had a limo for personal use but also as a side business. there was a professional chauffer employed by the business.

      1. Nanani*

        Aha! Thanks for explaining :)
        Did you ever get to ride in the limo, even if just for work?

  9. Homophone Hattie*

    I feel a bit foolish because I’m a middle-aged professional but have never worked in the yoga class offered at work sort of job — what was so professional about what the intern was doing there? Was it not asking the boss? Was it not intuiting that they were for the engineering interns ONLY? Was it taking too many of them?

    1. Just Here for the Free Lunch*

      I think it was taking too many of them and also skipping out on actual work and meetings to take yoga and Spanish classes.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        I have never worked at a place that offered this kind of not-actually-work stuff. I honestly have no idea how it is supposed to work. Presumably you need to get your actual work done. So does this mean I am to spend extra time at work? I guess so, but it doesn’t seem appealing.

        1. Wisteria*

          So does this mean I am to spend extra time at work?


          I guess so, but it doesn’t seem appealing.

          True dat

        2. RabbitRabbit*

          This is why a lot of those companies offer all these extras – to entice you to stay at work and make it your life.

          I was at a training at a company that handles medical software, and was astounded at the giant spread of free breakfast and lunch (and presumably dinner) and snacks, plus the postings of yoga classes and the like… and then I realized of course, they’re offering all this because they expect their employees to rarely leave the building.

          Normally if you take a yoga class it would be outside your core hours (when I worked in the office, I would hit our employee gym before I started work) or during your lunch break or you would shift your hours so you’d make up the time earlier/later in the day.

          1. Nanani*

            Or perhaps, if your class starts in 20 minutes, you ~might as well~ get 20 minutes more work done in the meantime instead of leaving. How convenient.

            1. RabbitRabbit*

              That too! If they’re set just outside of most people’s core hours, that not only lets more people take the class without having to make arrangements, but maybe might get more employees to work longer.

              (I went to my work’s gym because I wanted the experience of not having random people in a gym; I knew that harassment wouldn’t be tolerated, and decided that the occasional experience of seeing a manager on the weight machines – or a board member in the locker room – was worth it.)

          2. Elizabeth West*

            I am absolutely going to take free food if they offer it. But my personal time is MY time and outside my normal start/end time, I’m going home. It would be nice to have a gym there if I were going after work anyway. The closest I ever got to that was the parks and recreation facility I could see from the window at Exjob.

            My jobs have been hourly, and few workplaces want to bother with overtime, so it’s usually expected you won’t go over 40 hours. Obviously, I would if it were necessary.

        3. I'm just here for the cats*

          The thing is your not really spending more time at work doing work because the extra time your doing yoga is not work.

          Bit I think.the real reason why it’s not unprofessional is because they were doing so much. 2 hour lunch breaks?!?

        4. Kes*

          I think the assumption is you will make up time as needed, so if you can still get all your work done you might be okay but otherwise you might need to spend an extra hour later to make up for the hour of yoga. And the advantage is intended to be convenience – you don’t need to spend time going to the gym when it’s right there. Plus it’s often free.
          But as others have said, it’s also that in many cases they expect you to be around the office, and they want to make work an appealing place to be – yeah you’ll be working late, but you have yoga, and might as well stay to catch up and work until free dinner, and then you just need to finish that one thing…
          ‘Flexibility’ and ‘work-life integration’ by introducing more ‘life’ into ‘work’ in hopes that you don’t mind that ‘work’ is now a longer period overall. Doesn’t work as well with people who prefer a clearer line between ‘work’ and ‘life’, but they tend to target younger employees with fewer outside commitments

      2. Kes*

        Yeah – I don’t think it’s a problem to take advantage of them, it just sounds like the OP was taking a little too much advantage of them. The assumption is normally that you will prioritize your work, make sure you’re there for work meetings, make up time if needed, etc, and also especially as an intern you typically want to show up and be present and diligent, etc.
        At the same time honestly I actually think this one isn’t too bad overall, as long as their work was getting done and done well, which it sounds like they were doing okay at least, to be brought back for multiple internships. It seems like they were just a little overboard on the activities vs being present in the office doing their work.

    2. Akcipitrokulo*

      Taking advantage of all of them to the point that the actual work wasn’t being done properly, and disappearing off wthout telling boss :)

      1. Homophone Hattie*

        I see! It’s really not intuitive! I might have made the same mistake as the intern, though hopefully being older and wiser I’d know enough to observe my colleagues and copy them. But maybe not!

        1. lemon meringue*

          I’m not sure if it’s the same everywhere, but when I worked as an intern, it was understood that interns didn’t get things like vacation or sick days, so I think in that context it would be a bit more unusual to assume you could use any of the other perks.

    3. lemon meringue*

      I’m guessing it was intended for full-time employees who would presumably already be working late into the night. Why bother leaving the building at all if you can take your yoga and Spanish classes right there? I interned with a company that had similar perks and it didn’t occur to me to try to use them (as an intern you get used to not having the benefits regular employees do) even though I was being paid to stare at a blank screen for eight hours a day.

    4. LadyByTheLake*

      The idea is that they are offering these kinds of classes that you might take in your spare (non-work) time, but they offer them on campus so that you don’t have to leave the campus to go take the class. No more, “I need to leave by 5 to get to yoga” instead you stick around working until it is time for the class. The notion with having these classes is that it is a benefit to not have to drive somewhere else, which gives you more time for work (or being less cynical, more time for the other things in life, which makes for happier workers). But they are not a substitute for work.

    5. Tara*

      My company has a lot of these kinds of things. You do them when you have some spare time. As an intern, you probably want to spend your time making yourself busy and getting to know people. It would come across as entitled and not focused on the work (if you were an experienced employee, for an intern, I would think just naïve).

    6. londonedit*

      Yeah, I think the problem here was that the company offered perks for permanent employees that were meant to be taken *alongside* work, but the intern was taking advantage of them *instead of* work. So they were spending their day ‘skipping off’ to yoga classes and presentations and learning Spanish, without telling their boss where they were going, rather than spending their day actually working, and they were taking advantage of too many of the perks – I can imagine they were intended to be enjoyed sparingly (so you might do yoga OR Spanish, or you might go to a lunchtime presentation once a month) rather than being seen as a full programme of extra-curricular activities during the working day.

    7. MCMonkeybean*

      I agree, that sounded reasonable to me unless someone told her later that she shouldn’t be! Certainly it would be better to check with your boss first that there are no conflicts, but in general if they offer that then they shouldn’t judge you for participating.

  10. Mr. Cajun2core*

    I once hit reply instead of forward in an email so my response went to the person who sent it rather a co-worker as intended. The email went to the person I was speaking about. The email read:
    “Joe XXXXX has reached a new level of stupidity.”

    Luckily Joe was very gracious and accepted a very heartfelt and sincere apology. I had gotten arrogant.

    1. Mr. Cajun2core*

      Lesson Learned – Never put anything in writing that you don’t want to be placed on the front page of the New York Times.

      1. RabbitRabbit*

        I like “Write your emails as if they will one day be read out of context during a deposition.”

        1. Mike S.*

          I worked at Enron. While none of my emails were read during a deposition, they did make it onto the web in some interesting data analysis apps. My last boss at my current job got bored one day, and looked them up.

          1. Susan Calvin*

            Oh. My. God.

            I did a lot of work on automated text analysis in college/grad school, so I’ve spent many, many hours with the enron email corpus. This is genuinely mindblowing to me!

      2. Elizabeth West*

        If you want to rant about someone or something, do it in a fresh Notepad text document, and then when you’re done, close it without saving. There is no way you can inadvertently send it. Just make sure no one can come up behind you and see your screen!

        1. LoopityLoop*

          Your last sentence is why I stopped doing that altogether. Especially now with Microsoft business drive a lot of stuff is auto saved whether you save it or not. It’s just best to break that habit.

          If you really need to vent go on a coffee run for your team and “tell off” the other person as you drive or something.

          1. Nanani*

            If it helps, notepad (not wordpad, not wordanything) is about as basic a program as you can get and doesn’t auto-save. So unless your work machine has a keylogger AND people who care enough to check, you really can use it for ranting and cathartic deleting.

        2. Mr. Cajun2core*

          Good thought but I still wouldn’t trust me. I would still find some way to mess it up. Nah, from now on, I am not writing anything down! If I have to vent, I go to a co-worker behind closed doors (another long story).

      3. Flussschifffahrt*

        The proper way to ‘scratch through’ a pen-on-paper message is to write other words through it. If you just try to cross it out, the human brain is rather good at separating the “Boss sucks” from the “####” or “WWWWW” or whatever your preferred ‘trying to black out this message’ scratching looks like. However, it can’t separate the “Boss sucks” from the “cucumber” or “spaghetti” or “cow’s feet” if all written in the same place.

      4. lb*

        My version of this rule has always been, “write every email like a client’s going to accidentally see it.” Did that rule come about because of certain sales reps replying to emails not realizing the clients were CC’d? Oh, yes, yes it did.

      5. Chris*

        Yup, I work for a large city government and everything on my computer is subject to public disclosure. Also, the higher you get up the hierarchy, the more likely your email can get used against you. At my previous job, someone created an anonymous Twitter account that was using quotes from emails to bash the toxic culture of the org (which honestly forced the board to intervene in some crazy shit and ended up being a good thing for the average employee). But as I get in leadership, I never forgot about the idea that my emails could be tweeted.

    2. MissB*

      Yep. I did something similar in my early career, although I didn’t call him stupid. I meant to ask someone for a status update and ended up asking him instead. I was a bit casual because I meant to send it to a coworker.

      I still chat with him occasionally. He’s a good egg.

  11. Rachel*

    In my first job, we had a lot of evening events that were catered, and the leftovers would be in the office fridge the next day. They were up for grabs for staff lunches and I just got used to eating whatever was in the fridge. On one of my first days in my next job, I ate some food out of the fridge in the staff lounge, and the owner of the food immediately sent out an all-staff email asking who ate his food! I was so mortified and now I wonder how I could ever have been that dumb, but at the time, it seemed perfectly reasonable. I wrote him an apology note and put in $10 to replace his food but he accepted my apology and gave the money back. It was just the worst thing to do so early in my time working there – I worked there for a number of years and always worried that he was thinking about it whenever we interacted!

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      If he was reasonable, as he seems to have been, he might well have been impressed that you fessed up and offered to pay him back.

    2. LoopityLoop*

      I accidentally stole someone’s drink once, and as soon as I realized my mistake reached out to the team email and offered to replace it.

      A surprising number of people, not the drink owner but others on the list, were pretty huffy about it! I think they assumed I was one of the food thief’s since I fessed up to taking the drink by mistake. (I thought it was mine but then remembered that I drank mine the day before).

      The owner was gracious about it and just let me replace it.

      I got chided Everytime I opened the fridge for weeks though. Are you suuurrree that’s yourss??? Until finally I kind of blew up and said. “Look I took someone’s drink on accident 1 time in the 6+ years I’ve worked here. Can we just drop it already?”

      1. Rachel*

        I think there is always some risk with a communal fridge! I shouldn’t have eaten the guy’s food, for sure, but there’s always the risk in that situation that food could have been taken accidentally as in your case, or spilled, or accidentally thrown away, or whatever. If your accidentally-taken drink was the only communal fridge mishap in 6+ years, I’d say that’s a pretty good track record for your office!

    3. Former Unprofessional Being*

      When I started at a new job there were a mismatch of cups and mugs and I had asked someone if they were communal vs. belonging to specific people. The person I asked said they were communal so I grabbed a nice big mug and brought it to my office on the other floor. It ended up staying on my floor for about a week before an email went out when someone sent an office-wide email enquiring about their personal mug. I was mortified and brought it back. It turns out *most* of the mugs were communal.

      1. michelenyc*

        When I was working for a well known clothing brand. One of the designers sent out an email and hung up lost flyers with a photo of a green mug that she was leaving in the communal storage space in a kitchen that about 50 people had access to. She told a long drawn out story about said mug. Everyone’s response was if it is so special then you need to keep it at your desk or not bring into work. It is also important to note that all of our desks had tons of storage space. I have no idea if it ever turned up but I shared that email with everyone.

      2. They Don’t Make Sunday*

        I used to have one of those coffee cups that looks like a paper coffee cup but it’s ceramic. I wasn’t out much at my last job, but when I was, my cup would always disappear from the kitchen. I eventually learned to go straight to my boss’s desk, where it would inevitably be, with one or two sips of yesterday’s coffee in it. I always got in before him, so I’d just grumble and go wash it.

    4. Lyudie*

      I once accidentally took a swig of the IT guy’s Coke while he was doing something on my computer…he grabbed my Coke and took a big swig and said “now we’re even!”

      1. michelenyc*

        Back in my retail days someone had left their almost full large soda on top of one of a rounder. I grabbed it and was running to the backroom to pour it out and throw it away. Our po0r shipping associate Sean (his real name) had been putting away a delivery and the bathroom was completely blocked so I asked if he would mind throwing it away for me. We joked around with each other a lot. Sean asked me if he could have a drink I of course said no you don’t want to do that. Of course he takes a big drink of it. The look on his face when I said OMG I found it on top of a rounder and had no idea who it belong to. Not going to lie was hilarious.

    5. Le Sigh*

      Someone ate my lunch once (we bought similar Trader Joe’s frozen meals). She offered to replace, I said no big deal. Truly I never thought about it again. If anything I felt bad when I realized someone junior to me ate it, because I think she felt how you did and I really didn’t want her to!

      Now, the CFO we all suspected was swiping food from the fridge (he would also loudly comment about how he could “really go for a bagel” right as I was preparing my breakfast) … THAT guy I remember, and not fondly.

  12. Campfire Raccoon*

    “Feeling hateful” is completely legitimate. Can’t have someone working a CSR job if they’re looking to burn the world down.

  13. Liz*

    I love #9. I too have felt “hateful” at times at work, and wished I could just walk out the door!

  14. Choggy*

    #5 and 9 made me laugh out loud…thanks for those! I could never include my most unprofessional moments at work…thankfully I was able to resign and not be fired!

    1. Choggy*

      I think “feeling hateful” is a perfectly legitimate reason to leave early or take a day off work! :)

  15. setradri*

    Years ago when I was in the USAF, at a squadron Christmas party, the CO made a speech & ended it by warning everyone to not drive home if they were under the influence. To emphasize his point, he said something about how he’d be willing to drive you home if necessary. There were taxis, co-workers, immediate supervisors, a whole host of options so no one took the offer seriously, well, almost no one. This new airman walks up to the colonel at the end of the evening & announced he’d be needing a ride home. The colonel drove the young man home but of course the guy threw up in the car.

    Same guy was low on funds & pay day was at least a few days away. So he borrowed money from some senior NCO (maybe the first sergeant?). Later that evening the person who made the loan caught the guy at the NCO club playing the slot machines.

    1. anon for this*

      Through a series of odd circumstances, one night a friend and I ended up on a pub crawl with the three senior officers of a US Navy anti-aircraft ship. We were enjoying our night when a young sailor came up and saluted the Captain and then sat down, put his head on the Captain’s shoulder and fell asleep. The XO flagged down some other sailors to take the guy back to the ship.
      I later told the story to some ex-Navy folks I know and they all physically cringed. They said the next few days of that young man’s life was not pleasant in any way shape or form.

  16. Lizy*

    The bonfire one. I mean… yeah, it’s not *technically* professional, but let’s be honest – show of hands on who is incredibly in awe / jealous of how they handled that??? (As in, who secretly wishes they could do the same thing and get away with it?)

    (y’all better admit it cause I’ll feel rather silly if I’m the only one admitting it lol)

    1. dx*

      There are a lot of people who’d just as gladly burn the actual timeshared property to the ground! The paperwork is getting off lightly.

  17. Burnt eggs*

    Calling out for ‘feeling hateful’ you are now a legend. I’ve done the same, but THIS should be it’s own bucket of time off.

  18. Former Unprofessional Being*

    Oh man… so many to choose from

    I worked at a catering company in college and we were allowed to take home opened wine bottles. We would start opening multiple bottles about 15-30 minutes before the event ended.

    I was a first year professional going to an out of town conference and I stayed with a friend. I realized I had forgotten to bring an undershirt and was legitimately going to go with a silk shirt that my bra was completely visible in. My friend had to stop me and convince me it was unprofessional.

    Getting drunk at work parties, I did this so often in my 20s and I cringe so much. I would never do that now.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      Wine bottles: This is why we can’t have nice things. Once the Powers That Be figure out what is going on, employees will be forbidden from taking opened bottles home. And rightly so.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        Keep the wine; I just want the bottles. Have you priced them out at a brew supply shop? Especially the 375 mL!

    2. michelenyc*

      I have a ton of stories too! I worked for a luxury goods company in the early 2000’s and PR would have special parties at the flagship store on 5th Avenue quite often with finger foods and lots of wine. Technically they were supposed to inventory all the bottles of undrunk wine before they left but because they were tired from all the sucking up to A-Listers all night they would come back in the morning to count it. After one such party the management team stayed after; drank lots of the leftovers and then almost all of us took wine home with us. I came home with 6 bottles unused for the party. There was a huge thunderstorm as we were leaving and since it was summer no raincoat. Finding a cab was going to be near impossible so expecting to drunkenly walk home we put on black trash bags to start uptown. Within a few blocks I got cab. Got home and was like wow brought home way more wine than I probably should have. After that night PR didn’t go home right away. They stayed and counted the wine.

      1. Former Unprofessional Being*

        I love the mental image of drunky wearing a garbage bag with six bottles of wine trying to hail a cab.

  19. TechWriter*

    I NEED to know what happened with the board meeting note taker… Did they melt into the floor in embarassment? Did they go home to change? Did anyone mention it?

  20. Temperance*

    At my college job, which was making sandwiches at the HUB at Penn State, I woke up for my 7 AM shift still drunk, got dressed in the dark, and was wearing a green shirt that said “Pickle Party!” and had a pickle wearing a party hat instead of our tan uniform shirts.

    Our boss Peggy brought me a spare shirt, and cut up some cheese and foccacia to apparently sober me up. Sorry Peggy!

    1. New Jack Karyn*

      One suspects you were not the first undergrad to show up to a 7 am shift in that state of being. Not Peggy’s first rodeo, by any means.

      1. MissM*

        I concur, but also Peggy sounds like a good egg and someone who is well-disposed to managing college students!

  21. I edit everything*

    I can picture myself being either the timeshare burner or the “hateful” person. No doubt.

  22. 2 Cents*

    I can remember many an outfit I wore in my 20s while working for a reference book publisher that I cringe at today. Nothing that was totally scandalous, but perhaps things that weren’t completely appropriate or flattering. I fell to the magazine scams to “wear this to work, but then wear it out later!” Anything could be a work outfit! I also used to wear flip flops shamelessly in summer because it was NYC and it was hot.

    1. Nanani*

      At my first office job, which I started in July in a much hotter climate than I’d grown up in, it took me several weeks to realize that the “aren’t you cold?” comments were a subtle way of telling me that my shirts were not work appropriate.

    2. Filosofickle*

      There was a college intern from another country working in my department who I longed to give feedback on her wardrobe but never did. (Because I’m an Old and didn’t know where the line was for when it’s inappropriate to judge or police someone’s clothing. I wasn’t her boss or even on her team.) The fabrics and styles were office-ish and hyper feminine and I could see she was making an real effort to dress up professionally, with a fashion spin. But everything was incredibly short and tight. Scandalously, don’t-lean-over short. It was like someone made clubwear inspired by office wear. She was a lovely person and I wonder if anyone said anything. I quit halfway through her summer so I never saw the end.

  23. Name goes here*

    One of my very first jobs (retail), I taped over my name tag with a sticky note on which I’d handwritten the name of a super obscure character from the Lord of the Rings. Had no idea why it was a big deal when the manager asked me to change it.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      Please tell: which one? I trust it wasn’t Berúthiel, and you working in a pet shop. That would be dark.

      1. Name goes here*

        Ha! Nothing that dark.

        The character was Finduilas, who I think only comes up in the Silmarillion / Lost Tales. I just liked how the name sounded.

        1. Gray Lady*

          Nerding out: Finduilas was also the name of Denethor’s wife, Boromir and Faramir’s mother, and one of the “purer” descendants of the Numenoreans + some Elvish blood, in Gondor in the Third Age.

    2. Crabby Patty*

      LOL. Sort of reminds me of when I a work nametag of mine displayed a shortened version of my middle name.

      I’d graduated college but had moved back home, couldn’t find job but retail at the time, and figured if anyone from high school thought they recognized me, the name would throw them off.

  24. Pinkie Pie*

    I remember when I had to deal with an person in upper management who was helping herself to my bottled waters. First time, it wasn’t marked. Second time, I marked it on the bottle. Then the lid, then I taped the lid. I hid the bottled water. Finally, I was in the lunch room at the time she tries to open my water with the tape on the lid, my name on the bottle. I pointed out that it literally had my name on it and she tried to excuse herself with a “I thought the water was complimentary.”

    It was dysfunctional- my boss sent me an email scolding me for my behavior.

    1. Mike S.*

      I kept toys in my cubicle. One day, a VP picked up one of them, and took it to a meeting. I worked with a couple of people in the meeting, so they the asked if she’d been to see me. After the meeting she brought it back, and then came by while I was around to apologize.

  25. Jennifer Strange*

    Not nearly on the same level, but the time shares one reminds me of when I was working an entry-level position on a fundraising team and the head of our department was flabbergasted that I didn’t understand the intricacies of understanding the stock market. What’s funny is she hired someone to come in and do some personal training (for everyone, not just me) and when I brought to the trainer the request that had been made of me she also didn’t understand what the department head was asking me to do.

  26. Lola bugg*

    If I took an afternoon off every time I was feeling hateful… I’d have to give away a lot of my afternoon work

  27. EchoGirl*

    Interviewing with a campus LGBT group for a college job, I gave an answer to a question that basically amounted to “so, I have gay friends…”. There was more to it than that from my side of things (having to do with still being in the process of figuring out my own identity and an important person in my life being dismissive of the idea that I could be bi), but it still makes me cringe thinking about how that must have come off. I didn’t get the job, and I don’t blame them one bit.

    1. Professional Homosexual*

      If I heard that from an 18-20 year old I would not be bothered. I worked in, and hired for, an LGBT org for years and my favorite examples of allyship from cover letters were, “My hairdresser is gay,” and “In 8th grade I organized a school assembly on bullying” from fully-grown adults with years of professional experience.

  28. Kate*

    #5 isn’t unprofessional, it’s straight up amazing. This person is everything you want in an employee! Hard working, tenacious, creative, and, in the end, quick thinking. This person is my hero! LOL

  29. Amber Rose*

    Husband once got an afternoon off because he told his boss it was his time of the month. It was a very long time ago, and the kind of not great workplace you’d imagine, but still.

    I cringed a bit (or a lot) when he told me. -_-

    1. it's-a-me*

      Wait was he saying it was his (husband’s) time of the month, or was he blaming his day off on your time of the month?

  30. Forrest*

    First job after university. I was dating someone on the other side of the Atlantic, so before I went to the interview I booked flights to go and see them and when they offered me the job I told them I had two weeks’ holiday booked in what would be the 5th and 6th weeks of the new job and was that ok. So they said sure, fine, ok.

    The job involved lots of travel, and I was away in one country for some marketing events for my very first week, and another country for the second week. At the end of the second week, I was out with lots of other people from other countries, fell down done stairs on the way out of a club at 2am, and broke my arm. My boss came to pick me up from hospital the next day and take me back to the airport.

    As I hadn’t actually moved to to my new job yet, and couldn’t commute with my broken arm, I had to take the next two weeks off.

    Then I went on my pre-arranged holiday for two weeks.

    I finally rocked up at the office in week 7, by which time everyone had started to assume I was imaginary.

  31. Lunch Ghost*

    I was a mutual friend in a scenario a lot like #8. It was extremely awkward. Especially since one of the differences between my scenario and #8 was that EVERYONE in the room had been privy to the unrequited crush, so there was no ‘figuring it out’ required.

    The reason I’m pretty sure it’s not the person I knew, changing some of the details, is that I’d hope the person I knew would include the metaphor they used in their talk– think like “It’s like if you meet a puppy you like at the animal shelter and go home to think about it, and when you come back it’s already been adopted, and you realize you should have brought it home while you had the chance.”

  32. Silly Janet*

    These are golden. I have one of my own that now horrifies me. Long ago I worked at a horse stable, giving lessons and taking care of the horses. My week was usually Tuesday through Saturday. I was in a party hard time in my life and had gone out dancing Friday night with some friends. Well, we decided to, ahem, chemically enhance our experience, and I still did it knowing that I had to work the next morning! I got like three hours of sleep and looked like a zombie run over the next morning. And I was working around HORSES. You know, large, unpredictable animals. And there were children around! My supervisor sent me home around noon, and I cannot believe I wasn’t fired on the spot. I mean I would have fired me.

  33. Crabby Patty*

    When I was 18 and freshly graduated from high school, I sought an office job with an airline for which a couple of my relatives were employed. Mid-1980s.

    One of my relatives secured an interview for me, and, during the interview, I was asked about whether I’d ever taken any drugs (standard question, I was told).

    I proceeded to share that I’d smoked some pot and tried a couple of harder things out of curiosity, but that was “all.” (I was young, naive, and was taught lying was wrong). Well, as you can imagine, the interviewer looked horrified, ended the interview, and my relative found out and chewed me out. There were many lessons baked into that experience, the least of which was that sometimes, you need to lie.


    1. ratatatcat*

      Interestingly, in certain jobs for high level government security clearances in the UK apparently you’re actually not supposed to lie – because they’ll find out anyway – so you should just confess to the bare basics and say something like ‘but it’ll never happen again of course’!

  34. Nony Mouth*

    Oh man. The time I brought a friend to the holiday company party so we could hit the bars after. The time I lost my goddam everloving mind and my mouth when I found out Damon signed with the Yankees. The time I hid under my desk to avoid the lecherous courier rather than just tell him to GTFOH. The time I didn’t have a Kleenex, flicked a booger, and it landed on a coworker’s monitor and she found it then next morning and I played dumb. I have no idea how I was employed in my early 20s.

  35. Not trying to be rude, just good at it*

    Withdrew for college after first semester and went to work for gigantic insurance company in the department processing payments. I worked a Tuesday to Saturday shift and Saturdays were a very much dress down day. During the summer the building turned off the A/C at 12:00 so from 12:30 to 4:00 we got really sweaty. We were young and dumb and didn’t care. I unknowingly changed a processing system for the better that was to be instituted company wide (just lucky, not smart). At 2:00 pm on Saturday I was told to run over to another building down the street and report to an office. Turned out a 19 year old stunad wearing ratty shorts and a torn up t-shirt was summon to the C-Suite to demonstrate how new system would work. I still got a nice bonus.

    1. Social Commentator*

      They turned off the AC during the hottest part of the day? What was the weather like in the C Suite?

  36. Yessica Haircut*

    Honestly, I have nothing but admiration for the intern who extracted all possible personal value from their workplace programming. ESPECIALLY if the internship was unpaid. By all means, take all the Spanish and yoga classes you can!! I’m sure at this stage of their career, that internship is a distant memory and probably not even on their resume anymore anyway.

  37. KuklaRed*

    Funny this came up now. I interviewed a candidate for a PM position on my team last Friday. The guy was clearly at a vacation resort (OK, no problem – I’ve had interviews while on vacation too), dressed in a tee shirt (I know things are more casual these days, but still – a tee shirt for an interview for a 6 figure job?), hair completely disheveled, wristband from a bar still on his wrist, and clearly still drunk and/or high from the night before. He could not form a coherent sentence, rambled on about nothing for long stretches, and could not think of a single question to ask me about the company or the position.

    I’m not moving forward with him.

  38. germank106*

    One of the first post college jobs I had was as assistant manager at a small hotel. One of my jobs was to touch base with new employees to find out if there where any issues or concerns. One day I was talking to a person that was hired to do the hotel laundry. She said she had no problems other than keeping up with all the personal laundry. The hotel didn’t do guests laundry so I was not quite sure what she was talking about. Turns out the night auditor would bring in his, his girlfriend’s and sometimes his roommate’s personal laundry to save on money for the laundromat.
    Same job about a year later. The company gave us all stainless steel travel mugs with the company logo to be used whenever we were working. Because all the mugs looked the same we personalized with stickers (mine was a big red heart) so we would recognize our mugs. I went into an early morning meeting and set my cup on a credenza in the meeting room. During a break I grabbed my cup and took a healthy swig. Only thing is that the cup I grabbed was full of icy cold….Vodka. Turns out I wasn’t the only one to use a big red heart to mark my cup. I still don’t know whose cup it was, nobody ever claimed it.

  39. thebobmaster*

    I work at a retail store where the dress code is very simple. Red top, khaki pants (or shorts, if you work outside like I do). Somehow, one day, I forgot to change into a red shirt for work, and instead came in wearing khaki shorts…and a grey shirt with a drawing of a sloth, with the words “Mondays got me like…” underneath the drawing.

    This was on a Monday. I consider myself super-lucky that A) once I realized TWO HOURS into my shift that I was out of uniform, HR had a spare red shirt for me to change into, albeit one size larger than what I normally wear, and B) despite the fact that I exchanged words with my direct manager, she didn’t notice that I was out of uniform, much less what my shirt said.

  40. Zandra*

    I lived in an apartment complex with a rooftop pool and would throw parties for the people in my office. I also went to every single office happy hour and stayed until the very end. I came in hungover a lot. But I was good at my job and everyone knew who I was so I got included in lots of projects. I was definitely not professional, but i think somehow all that partying helped my career.

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