tell us your stories of triumphing over work jerks

Earlier this week a commenter shared this magnificent story:

My first job out of college was a sales job with a very overbearing, bullying boss (he made at least one guy cry while I was there). I am a pretty deadpan guy, especially when I’m nervous, and my boss had a huge personality and wanted all his employees to be the same.

Whenever we had a sales appointments we would have to go over our deal in front of all 25ish people in the company, and invariably he would get mad that I wasn’t “excited” enough. I might have been broke working a 100% commission job, but I didn’t like being bullied, so I would turn my excitement meter down to zero whenever I presented. I got the point where I basically sounded comatose. Then I would drink a ton of Red Bull before I actually met with the client boost my energy to close the deal.

Eventually we started to get along, but for a while this guy couldn’t figure me out at all, especially since I was eventually one of the better salespeople in the office. I didn’t feel too bad because I knew that if I hadn’t been a strong performer, he would definitely have relentlessly bullied me.

Clearly we need to hear more stories of times you triumphed over a jerk at work. Pettiness is fine. Pettiness is what we’re here for. But we will also accept non-petty triumphs, such as the person who got back at a boss who made him swap roles with the boss’s friend’s son and take a drop in salary of tens of thousands of dollars with a few days notice. All stories of triumphs over jerks are welcome. 

Please share in the comments.

{ 944 comments… read them below }

    1. Gnome*

      I am in the ER awaiting IV antibiotics…. And just got on the wifi to see this…. Totally helping! I cannot wait to read these!

          1. Squirrel Nutkin*

            Good luck, Gnome! I hope you’ve got those antibiotics now and that you heal up and feel much better soon!

  1. Littorally*

    Ah, it’s so good to reread that epic quitting story. Two hours notice — reap what you sow!

      1. TiredMama*

        I like to imagine the OP calculating back pay with interest and lost retirement contributions for the previous four months plus something for embarrassment and calculating that into an hourly rate based on estimation of how long it would take to finish the big project.

        1. Autumnheart*

          I’m sure it was still a fraction of whatever it cost the company to finish the project with Nepotism Nephew in charge. On the one hand, must be nice to have someone who’ll be like “Here, have this amazing job without having to work for it at all,” but on the other hand, if I got magicked into that sort of position, I know I would dread going to work every day. Non-stop stinkeye all day long, and nobody believes in you and actively thinks you’re a jerk. That better be a really nice paycheck.

          1. Katrinka*

            Anybody who’s willing to use nepotism like that doesn’t care about what their co-workers think.

            1. CoveredInBees*

              Plenty of nepotism hires honestly think they’ve earned it. There’s the expression of: Born on 3rd base and thought they hit a triple.

  2. Forrest*

    Not actually a jerk 99% of the time, but certainly a triumph:

    when I was working as a medical secretary just after graduating, the doctor that I worked for came into the office as I was on the floor putting some files away in a low-level cupboard. He instinctively joked, “Oh, I do like to see my secretaries on their knees!” I just stood up, turned around and looked at him incredulously, and he went bright red, mumbled, “Er, um, I–” and backed out of the room.

    It was about the most poised I’ve ever been. I didn’t even say anything, just radiated “what the HELL???????” with every fibre of my being.

      1. Not Australian*

        I had an ex-boss who told his (gay male) secretary “I like my secretaries to wear skirts.”

        “Oh, I can wear a skirt!” exclaims secretary delightedly, batting his fabulous eyelashes…

        1. Where's the Orchestra?*

          As long as you have all the appropriate “underthings” go for it guys.

          Signed, the person whose male kilt wearing coworkers had to be told that they couldn’t skip the underwear. Yeah, that was a very uncomfortable conversation.

      2. Forrest*

        He was clearly horrified by the fact that he’d said it! There was a brief moment of, “oh shit did I say that” followed immediately by seeing the look on my face and going, “oh shit oh shit I DID.”

      3. Robin Ellacott*

        In my retail youth SEVERAL men made comments like that to me as I was stocking shelves. Only once was it a colleague, to be fair, usually customers.

    1. Chantal*

      OMG, the exact same thing happened to me when I was a young office worker! Except that I was so naive that I thought he meant it as, in a subservient position – rather than the more sexual-harassment way. Still a giant NOPE either way!

    2. Executive Assistant*

      Mine is similar, but this doctor WAS a jerk 99% of the time! He was an ER doc and I was the executive assistant to the CEO of the hospital. So the first incident was right before Hospital Week and we always did a themed t-shirt that you could order to wear. He had forgotten to place his order and came up to me in the cafeteria to complain he had missed the deadline. I told him “Oh I have extras!” He was still salty and said “well you probably didn’t order any triple extra sexy size for big guys like me!” I was kind of annoyed at this point so I just repeated back his words and said with a straight face “Yes, I actually do have extras in size triple extra sexy.” He laughed and then asked me if I was a “chubby chaser”. Inappropriate!

      I probably would have let that go, but then after I had delivered his shirt to the ER department for him I saw him in the medical records office on my way back to my desk. I poked my head in to tell him his shirt was waiting for him, and turned right around to leave. He stopped me and said “Hey wait, you probably want to hear who was diagnosed with gonorrhea! You’re single, right?” Um, inappropriate and illegal!

      My coworker convinced me to tell my boss. My complaint ended up being the straw that broke the camel’s backs and Dr. Triple Extra Sexy was fired.

      1. Dasein9*

        “[A]nd Dr. Triple Extra Sexy was fired.” is the most beautiful sentence I have read in a long time!

      2. MissBaudelaire*

        You’re nicer than me. Re: gonorrhea I would have said “Oh, I never planned to sleep with you.” and kept walking.

    3. laowai_gaijin*

      The silence was perfect. He had nothing to do in that moment except replay the words he’d just spoken and realize how utterly, thoroughly inappropriate they were. I hope he still wakes up at night cringing at that moment.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Did that too…the other place is still trying to dig out from the hole other guy caused with a bunch of people leaving…as someone else said, play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

    2. Mainly Lurking (UK)*

      Me too: my replacement lasted 3 weeks. My replacement’s replacement lasted 3 days.

      After that, according to a contact who is still there (but thankfully not directly supervised by my toxic boss), there was plenty of drama, and eventually she was moved off the project team.

      1. laowai_gaijin*

        I once got a position through an employment agency as an office administrator. When I looked through the files, I found out I was the sixth person in a very short time to have been in that position. And there would be another very soon, as I quit after a week. Boss was a jackass, and I wasn’t really suited to being an office admin, anyway.

      2. Good Vibes Steve*

        They had to hire 3 different people to do the job I did alone, for which they refused to give me a pay raise and to stick “senior” at the start of my job title.

        I could have been convinced to stay for a lot less then it cost them to replace me, and I still get extreme schadenfreude from it.

    3. Alexis Rosay*

      Yes! My husband got ‘revenge’ after what he saw as an unjust firing (the company asked him to lie to coworkers and say he resigned because they knew people would be furious if they found out) by being successful at his next role and even earning an “outstanding employee” award that is given only once per year in his new company of 30k people.

    4. ceiswyn*

      Even better than that – two years later I got a phone call from a recruiter telling me that my previous employer had ‘had someone really good and they really regretted letting them go’. I really enjoyed telling him that I was now earning 10k more than the top of their offered salary range :)

      1. ferrina*

        I got passed over for a promotion due to nepotism- the person who got it had less than half the experience required, was missing key skills and basic industry knowledge, but she was BFFs with the grandboss. After she was promoted to be my boss, the first thing she said was “Just want you to know I have no hard feelings that you applied for my job.”
        Um…what?
        Well, I worked for her for a year and it was a nightmare. She had no idea what she was doing, complained constantly and offloaded her major responsibilities to me. Well, I took those responsibilities, EXCELLED at them, then used my accomplishments to rewrite my resume.
        Within one year, I took a position elsewhere. I handed back all the responsibilities she’d been avoiding for the past year. When she tried to counter offer, I laughed and informed her the company didn’t have the budget for a counteroffer– my new position was going to be paying me $10K+ what she was making.

    5. Wendy*

      Yep, I got laid off at the end of March. I’d been there for 5 years and my manager was a complete and utter jerk. He didn’t even let me say good bye to my coworkers.

      I start a new job in September at one of best employers in the city with a 25% raise and better hours. I never would have even applied for the job had I still been employed – it’s a really stretch for my skills and I didn’t think I’d even get past the first round.

      1. Bee Eye Ill*

        When I left, my boss almost left without saying bye. I think he was mad that I was leaving. I watched him go to the parking lot and get in his truck, then hesitate a minute before coming inside and giving me a halfhearted “so long” and a handshake.

        1. Tyche*

          This happened to me! I worked at Old Job for almost 12 years, it was run (poorly) by a couple. One of them called me from the car after leaving, probably at the insistence of their partner. The one who forgot didn’t like me very much but the other one did.

          1. Bee Eye Ill*

            It’s well known that people leave their supervisors before they leave their jobs, so I guess some take it personal.

        2. Vanellope*

          I had a similar experience! I worked at an accounting firm for three years, and when I left one of the partners did not say one word to me from the time I gave my notice through my entire last two weeks. He literally never spoke to me again.

    6. Sans Serif*

      Yeah, me too. Two departments were consolidated and given to one boss. She didn’t really want anything to do with the people from the new dept (including me) — and as each of us left, was not replacing them, refusing any possibility of promotions by making up non-existent rules (you can’t get a promotion for 5 years – wtf?), being condescending and rude. So our part of the dept kept getting smaller and smaller. We were the only ones with certain types of knowledge. She wasn’t really interested in learning that either. I think she thought whatever we did was trivial or easy. So comes the day my last co-worker from my old dept gives notice. I’m not worried because I know I’m about to receive an offer. My offer comes two days later. Giving notice and seeing the truth hit her that she was screwed was glorious. When I left, I took a lot of knowledge with me. I would have been happy to share it — if anyone had ever asked …

    7. WantonSeedStitch*

      Same! I left my old job (first non-temp job after school) years ago, with my confidence and my nerves so shattered that I was afraid I’d never be able to cut it in the Real World outside college. Then I got hired somewhere else at a higher rate than I’d made after three years at Evil Company, and have since managed to be promoted five times. Guess it wasn’t me, then?

    8. Speaks to Dragonflies*

      I did this too.The icing on the cake was that I was one of two that did what I did and it was a VERY busy time. They had to have multiple people that had been promoted out of my position step back down and cover what I did. Pay me crap and work me like a rented mule…Nope. Have fun filling those open spots with the craptaculer pay you offer.

  3. numerouno*

    my boss’s boss told a really awkward joke the first time I met him. I didn’t laugh but wasn’t offended by it, it was like a silly dad joke that you’d roll your eyes at if you heard it at the dinner table. but I wasn’t at the dinner table, I was at work, so I kept my face neutral and went back to taking notes or whatever I was doing before he interrupted with his stupid joke. A few months later he was back in town and came by my desk and loudly and magnanimously apologized if his joke offended me. completely without thinking I said there’s no need to apologize, it didn’t offend me, it just wasn’t funny. I heard my coworker gasp beside me because apparently nobody has ever told this guy he isn’t funny. he turned red but laughed it off but I immediately began job hunting because I thought my days were numbered. He was laid off shortly after that for reasons not pertaining to his humour and I have a way cooler boss now.

      1. Toodie*

        What I especially love about this response is that numerouno didn’t soften it with “I didn’t think it was funny.” That makes it so much better!

    1. socks*

      Unless there’s more context that makes this worse, I don’t see how making a dad joke makes someone a jerk??

      1. Liz*

        Maybe not, but “loudly and magnanimously” apologizing if “my joke offended you” usually does.

        1. ChemistryChick*

          Yeah, it’s not the dad joke that makes the guy a jerk. It’s that he responded that way to OP not laughing about it. And months later, no less.

        2. Properlike*

          It’s that whole assumption that an unexpected reaction = “I offended you” that I find… well, offensive? It’s always a big deal too, how they’re being the bigger person for apologizing that your feelings were hurt (and you’re clearly the “too sensitive” one that’s being accommodated.)

          I’m an adult. I might be frustrated, angry, mystified or even indifferent to what you said. Very rarely will I be “offended.”

          1. Violet Rose*

            This! I hate having offence projected onto me by the joke-teller, acting like now they have to walk on eggshells around me or something. No, bro*, continue as you were; there’s a wide gulf between “I find that funny” and “I find that offensive”, and I’m not gonna perform laughter if I didn’t find it funny?

            *I’m using “bro” gender-neutrally here, but I’ve only experienced this from men

      2. numerouno*

        I never called him a jerk for making a joke. nobody laughed at his joke, but he only called me out for not laughing. that’s what makes him a jerk.

    2. drpuma*

      When I was in grad school my classmates elected me to be one of a handful of ombudsman-type students who would meet regularly with administrators. At one of these meetings I looked straight at the director of our program and told him, “Whenever I see an activity is required I know it’s not going to be useful for me. Because if it would be helpful you wouldn’t have to require me to go.” He turned bright red but sputtered that he couldn’t argue with my logic. At the time I think I didn’t realize how angry I still was that my whole class had been required to attend an anti-climate-change presentation a few months prior that had been paid for by a major donor. Nobody even tried to pretend it was relevant to our MBAs.

      1. Frankie*

        Wow, they were literally selling MBA students’ time and attention to listen to nonsense. That’s horrible.

        1. Artemesia*

          My son in high school was doing his math homework during the morning homeroom watching of ‘Chanel 1’ — a morning 10 minute show that capitalist pigs forced schools to show in exchange for TVs in the classroom. The VP for harassing students saw him and insisted he needed to watch the show; my son told him he could not be compelled to watch commercials — lead to escalating stand offs which he finally won.

      2. MM*

        Oh god, I assumed “anti-climate change” meant like, fighting climate change, not climate denial, and I was like, “eh, doesn’t seem so bad…” thank goodness for the replies!

          1. Carol the happy elf*

            I had to train some Channel 1 employees, and some of them had the brass to complain about the nonprofit’s informational video at the start of each module. “It’s like a 5-minute COMMERCIAL! Can’t we just fast-forward past the &$&;#×>;-‘ COMMERCIALS??”

            Yes. They complained about having to watch commercials showing a history of the nonprofit organization.

            I mentioned the irony. They couldn’t have me replaced, because I was one of two certified trainers. The other one was my sister-in-law.

  4. The Other Evil HR Lady*

    I started my career in HR as an assistant in the HR department, and one of my main jobs was verifying employment for many, many applicants. Well, apparently, I wasn’t moving fast enough for the recruiter, even though I was spending every free minute getting the needed information, on top of other duties that our boss assigned to me.

    The recruiter, Lucinda, complained to our boss, Mandy. Mandy took me aside and found out that I was being given such a large workload from Lucinda, that not only could I not keep up with her demands, but I was also falling behind on the work that Mandy needed from me. So, Mandy told her to cool it and not to throw just any application on my desk, only applications of people who we were actually hiring. At least half of the applications she had me working on, were for people we had no intention of hiring!

    Lucinda finally cooled it, but was suddenly fired – with no real explanation from Mandy. Nor did I need one! I was glad she was gone, tbh.

    Years later, I found out from Mandy that Lucinda was fired for… um… running her own illegal business during work hours. Let’s just say that this business that Lucinda was running is not illegal in Las Vegas.

      1. Business Cat*

        This is a small victory, but I worked for a land surveyor as his office manager several years ago. He was verbally abusive and would frequently be incredibly rude and accuse me of weird stuff. The office was a disorganized mess when I found it and I spent a substantial amount of time reorganizing and making processes more efficient. Well I finally found another job using the experience I gained in my two years under his management. I handled fielding resumes for my replacement and we managed to find someone to start my last week. I spent the week helping to train her. During one training session, my boss sat with us and was talking with my replacement, and I took out my phone for a minute since I wasn’t involved at the moment. Well he took umbrage at that, and the next morning brought me into the conference room to yell at me about how disrespectful I had been etc. I took this quietly and apologized, but over lunch I decided I had had enough. I spent the remainder of the afternoon training the replacement on the last bit of information, and then went up to the boss’s office to inform him this would be my last day and why. He got extremely mad that I wasn’t finishing out my week and yelled at me that “he was good to me” as I walked away. I yelled back “I was good to you too!” And left.

      1. EPLawyer*

        Good thing I wasn’t drinking anything when I read that. Also good I work alone because I literally LOLed LOUDLY.

      2. Aggretsuko*

        Hahahaha, we used to have an employee who ran a boudoir photography business. When she quit she didn’t bother to remove that stuff from her office space….
        She worked in printing ID cards and the one day I trained with this woman to cover her once she quit, one of the machines was broken all day and she didn’t bother to fix it. This is because she was printing her boudoir business card on it and didn’t even bother to remove it….and after she found out I was “taking over” she quit even faster and left all her stuff behind. Like that. We laughed and laughed.

      3. WorkNowPaintLater*

        All the stars. Every single one.

        thankfully no one is in right now to catch me giggling….

    1. Hawkeye is in the details*

      Not the point of the story, I know, and I hope this doesn’t take away from it – it actually IS illegal in Las Vegas. You have to travel outside of Clark County to find the legal versions.

      But of course it still happens on the regular.

      (I am on the please decriminalize it for the health and safety of everyone side of the argument, but that’s not even an issue that Vegas politics has on its radar, unfortunately.)

      1. The Other Evil HR Lady*

        My hat off to you – you are correct. I’m in the same camp as you (decriminalize, make it safe), but the state where this happened is not even Nevada. My poor boss had tried to keep my innocent butt firmly out of the mess and only told me the full story when she wasn’t my boss anymore and I was not as innocent.

        1. Hawkeye is in the details*

          I hope you know I was not trying to step on your story! I just wanted to take the opportunity to clear up a common misconception.

          1. The Other Evil HR Lady*

            Oh, I got it – I wasn’t sure myself, and I remembered watching that show about the “ranch” (Bunny Ranch?), and it wasn’t IN Vegas, but was nearby… I just didn’t know how close/far it was. I should have ended it that the illegal activity isn’t illegal “NEAR Las Vegas,” LOL!!

            1. Kit*

              I knew what you meant, too, but yeah – I know enough folks working to decriminalize/destigmatize sex work that I even knew why! NV law prohibits brothels in counties with populations over a certain size – 700k residents, iirc.

              Then again, I’m the kind of definitely-not-innocent who mentioned that I enjoy the smell of leather, to which a coworker asked if that’s what was under my bed: “Oh, no, it’s in the closet, there’s not enough space under the bed.” I… think he thought I was joking?

        2. Mannequin*

          Holy cow, I was sure you meant she was running some kind of bookie operation! Hahahahaha! This is even wilder!

    2. peanut gallery*

      My understanding is prostitution is legal in most of Nevada but not in Las Vegas. But I have a feeling you don’t mean gambling.

  5. Ali G*

    I may have told this story before, but…
    My last job was awesome until I got a new boss, Jane. Jane had zero experience in what I did, but was competent in other things in the department and she was put in charge of the entire dept. No big deal. Until she realized that no matter her title, everyone was still coming to me because I could get stuff done for them, even outside vendors (BTW this was my job). She eventually started micromanaging me, taking away all my high level duties (I was a director with 4-5 reports) and marginalized me in the company.
    Jane is very competitive and thinks Keto is a hobby and that people care about her kick boxing lessons (we don’t). During the last “team bonding” activity she organized, the department was split into teams. It was SO obvious she put herself with the people she thought were her best bet to win and she also made a team of, in her mind, losers, so obviously this was where I was placed. I mean, it was a bunch of activities at an adventure resort and one of my teammates was wearing wing tips.
    Anyway, there were all types of activities, and you got points for how well and quickly you completed them. We were able to complete one activity on the first try that netted us 150 points.
    At then end when they tallied up the scores and it was down to the top two (my and Jane’s teams) I could see the smirk on Jane’s face. I had an idea that we probably had a chance due to that 150 pts, so I opted to watch her as the winner was announced.
    Well we did win and look of shock and horror on her face as our little band of misfits cheered and everyone else cheered for us was something I will treasure always.
    Take that Jane!

      1. SomehowIManage*

        Alison should start a side business selling script ideas to Hollywood—with shared profits to OPs

    1. Audrey Puffins*

      You have told it before, but it’s like a favourite bedtime story, I love to read it again and again and again

    2. Llellayena*

      I wonder if anyone ever taught her that when you form a team of people who are “best” in the same way that you are “best” that you end up limiting your collective skills AND ideas. The “misfits” are often the better team because they all come in with a different perspective and a different skill set and a good manager/team leader/coach can get more out of that diverse team than any homogeneous group. But awesome for your win!

      1. Mental Lentil*

        Yep! We have a tendency to hire people who are like ourselves, because we click with them in the interview.

        But really, you need to hire people who are not like you, people who will see the things you don’t see, and who will look at things from a different perspective. Proof positive, right here!

      1. Le Sigh*

        As I recall, this was also the plot of an episode of “Saved By The Bell.” But Zack Morris was 17 and fictional.

    3. Blarg*

      I have a similar but different story. I was doing my open water scuba training on an island known for being inexpensive so people from all over the world did their dive master/instructor courses there. The dive shops were in competition and sorta friendly. They all supported the same local charity. I was there for a big fundraiser, an Olympics style event with each dive shop’s staff and students competing, with each participant paying to play, that included a bunch of physical games and some trivia. My dive shop hadn’t fared so well in the physical contests. It was more the assemblage of international misfits. The trivia allowed unlimited participants (more $ for the charity). And all scores added to the total. When I realized this … I suggested we *all* play.

      And that’s how the small weirdo dive shop won the championship. We didn’t win a single gold medal. But we scored more points overall. And the trophy.

    4. TootsNYC*

      Not work, but a similar “winning on points when everyone thinks you’re a loser”

      I used to go to a week-long summer camp where were divided into teams and competed for points, including participation points: the classic sports, and things like whist for the non-athletic. Assigned tournament berths in the day, challenges in the late afternoon. There was a skit competition and a song competition. My team was at rock bottom, always; we were such sad sacks on the athletic field.
      Everyone liked to challenge us because we sucked so bad. So on Thursday late afternoon, our counselors suddenly realized they’d accepted so many challenges, that we had exactly enough people to not forfeit in each sport. Everyone HAD to show up to their sport. “It doesn’t matter if you suck at volleyball, it’s a participation point, and a forfeit will really hurt.”
      Thursday after the sports was the song competition; we had a pretty decent song for our theme. We would have VERY little time to practice between the sports and dinner. All the other teams had chosen their strongest sport to challenge us on, and the rest of their members would be practicing during sports time.
      At dinner, they announced the standings before going into the competition. On participation points alone, we were suddenly number two.
      We won the song. We all showed up to choir in the morning for 100% participation points. We came in second in the skit.
      We won–it is one of the highs of my life.

      (As we were cheering, my boyfriend at the time tugged on my elbow to tell me to sit down and not make such a fuss. I broke up with him on the drive home.)

      1. Lady Knittington*

        At university our halls of residence had an annual sporting competition. I genuinely can’t remember all the events, but I volunteered for table tennis. (No idea of the rules or how to serve, just know how to hit a ping pong ball).
        Our hall was the only hall to field a team, so I won the singles and doubles without ever touching a bat.
        Never underestimate the power of participation.

  6. Rachel*

    I took a job that was part-time, 24 hours a week, but the job description was never updated when it went from a full-time to a part-time position. I constantly faced questions from a manager who couldn’t understand why I wasn’t doing 40 hours of work in 24.
    After I took a few (unpaid) days off, when I came back we had a meeting in which he handed me the job description and asked me to highlight the parts I did well, then demanded to know why I wasn’t doing the other pieces. When I pointed out that it hadn’t been updated from the full-time job description, he told me it didn’t matter, I needed to start doing all of them. (Never mind that many of those things were included in his job description, I was expected to do it all.) He also mentioned that I didn’t do a good job of staying on top of my email inbox.
    I heard that he had complained to someone else about me not asking about taking the time off. I found the email where I had asked him if those dates were ok for me to be off (he’d asked me to send that information by email but never responded and when I asked for verbal confirmation, he said it was fine), and printed it to include with my written two-week notice, along with a post-it note on the printed email saying that he needed to stay on top of his inbox.
    After I’d been out of the job for a few weeks, I submitted a few anonymous tips to corporate about some of the things he was doing that were unethical at best, illegal at its worst. He suddenly “resigned” a few months later.

      1. Warby Parker*

        I used to have a colleague who was…not the most motivated person. But the work had to get done, so I ended up doing a lot of her work in addition to mine.

        Our job involves printing out a lot of paperwork. I figured out her copy code, and every time I walked by the copier, I’d log in as her and see if she had any queued jobs. If she did, I’d delete them so she’d have to walk back to her office and send them again.

        1. Me*

          I get the impulse but wasn’t that just shooting yourself in the foot? You already had to pick up her slack and then made it so that she has even less time spent on doing the work because she had to keep reprinting things?

    1. Chantel*

      “…printed it to include with my written two-week notice, along with a post-it note on the printed email saying that he needed to stay on top of his inbox.”

      The very definition of awesome. Well done, Rachel, well done.

    2. Cat Tree*

      I love it! Sometimes people miss emails I send, but usually aren’t rude about it. When someone is rude though, I will go back to my sent items folder and find the original email and forward it to them, pretending it’s just an innocent misunderstanding. People miss things sometimes and I’m always willing to help. But no one needs to be a jerk about it.

      1. ThisIsTheHill*

        100%. I had one guy that was notorious for sending “I wasn’t told about this” e-mails. One time, he sent an e-mail to my boss & cc’d his boss about how I didn’t share information with him about a project. Boss forwarded it to me & asked that I reply all.

        Having learned early in my career about keeping a CYB file, I took the three or four sent items pertaining to his question & added them as attachments (at least one of which was a forward from a previous time he’d asked), with a simple “please see attached” statement.

        His boss called an hour later to apologize.

        1. Karo*

          Those are the best emails to send. My company sent out a major announcement via our marketing email platform a few months ago and we got an email from Fergus last week asking why Llama Grooming Inc hadn’t received the email. I was able to pull the reporting and see that Fergus himself had opened the email 5 times, in addition to opens from others at LGI. Same vibes and it was *chef’s kiss* amazing.

        2. laowai_gaijin*

          That’s the type of guy you have to do the passive-aggressive “Per my last email” thing to.

          1. Katrinka*

            I am, apparently, a master at the “as I said in my [date] email,….” My co-workers all know that I keep all emails to remember when customers were sent invoices, notices, etc. (because I do find sometimes that they weren’t sent when they were supposed to be). I deal in facts and figures and I will bring the receipts.

      2. Laney Boggs*

        I love doing this. I work in email CS, and have to hound sales for everything, so I just do it preemptively.

        It feels good every time.

    3. Caliente*

      OMG- I hear a lot of “didn’t you get my email”? And I’m like I’m yeah I responded…I cannot tell you how many times I have to resend the same emails to my supervisors smh. So annoying.

      1. Watry*

        So much this, I have to spend minimum ten minutes of a morning telling our customers that they got an email two days to two years ago, and that no, you waited six months so we’re not waiving fees to reproduce what they got.

      2. Rachel in NYC*

        On the otherhand, if someone says it must have gotten eaten by my outlook, I’d believe. I swear I’ve had emails mysteriously disappear.

        Though that may have more to do with the fact that I rarely delete emails. My email inbox is like people’s old filing cabinets- stuffed with copies of copies of every email I’ve gotten at my current job. All organized by what it’s about.

        1. JustaTech*

          I have a boss who is notorious about not being great about staying on top of his email, and then saying ” I didn’t get it!”.

          Then one day he was having a meeting with one of my coworkers and they both just happened looking at his computer screen as a whole bunch of his emails were just deleted without anyone touching anything. (It was some kind of weird bug.) After that we were all a lot more willing to just re-send that email.

        2. Amaranth*

          I found that outlook was deleting some of my emails and replies when I checked it on my phone – I’m guessing a sync issue of some sort – and took that as an opportunity to stop checking email on my phone after hours and when out of the office. 100% less stress and totally supported by the company so that emails wouldn’t be lost.

        3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          I do this too. I have been lauded a few times for my ability to find an email that everybody else in the group knew they got, but couldn’t find.

      3. calonkat*

        “We’d like to appeal this governmental decision because we weren’t informed of the deadline”.

        From me:
        “Here’s a copy of the 4 emails that went out with the specific date you missed in them, the program/form user guide with the deadlines (which are the same every year), a screenshot of the program you entered earlier data into that has the deadlines on the login page, a list of the 8 conference calls through the year (that you were on) in which I went over the deadlines, the group calendar with the deadlines in it, and the website with all related information with the deadlines on it.”

        The agency head “Yeah, I think they had notice…”

  7. Chantel*

    I do good work, develop good working relationships with my other co-workers, let my accomplishments speak for themselves, and otherwise make a liar out of the jerk who currently (and for no valid reason) has me pegged on the workplace rumor mill as a clueless incompetent. What I did to deserve her ire, I’ll never know, but quietly observing her making herself to be unkind and petty to everyone else is highly, highly satisfying.

  8. Valancy Snaith*

    I worked for The Worst Boss In The World, making minimum wage at an in-office sales job (the kind where I worked 8-4 at a desk, had a sales territory of 4 provinces, and handled sales of equipment worth a quarter of a million dollars). My province had just announced that the minimum wage was going up some minimal amount, like a dollar and a half or something like that. My boss said “Just because the province says I have to give you a raise doesn’t mean I have to do it.”

    Well, that was actually exactly what it meant. After a call to the Labour Board sorted him out, he decided he would cut our commission from 5% to 2.5% to “counteract this.” His other retaliation would be to block 97% of the internet, including, helpfully, some of the sites for equipment we sold, making it almost-impossible to do our jobs. So we retaliated by daily sending him lists of 50+ websites we needed unblocked, including our customers’ websites.

    The day I went to go tell him I was quitting because we were moving away was the greatest day of work I ever had there. He asked if I would be open to working remotely and coming into the office once or twice a week, and he was giving me a “fantastic opportunity.” I told him that since I was moving 3 hours away it would not be possible for me to come into the office once or twice a week. When I had been at our new home a month I got a job making double what I made there. It’s been five years since I worked there and now I make triple-plus what I made there. He is still, I’m guessing, a miserable, penny-pinching SOB.

      1. Robin Ellacott*

        Same! I give it to people recovering from surgery or something who need a happy read.

        1. tired librarian*

          The Blue Castle, by L. M. Montgomery (if you like Anne of Green Gables, check out Montgomery’s other books, and her short stories. Fantastic!)

    1. pleaset cheap rolls*

      Good story but I wish you hadn’t said why you were quitting – or laid some of it on him/working conditions.

      1. Katrinka*

        People like him either don’t believe you that they are at fault or don’t care. They have no intention of changing their ways, they don’t care if it will improve their company and increase revenue, they’re making what they think is enough by doing what they’re doing.

        1. MissBaudelaire*

          Yeah, I told a boss why I was quitting. He refused to believe anything was in his power to change. Everything was just ‘But that’s the way that it is!’ But it didn’t have to be. He, the manager, could have changed it. He chose not to because it was easier for him.

          Okay. Fine. Have it your way. There was a mass exodus when I quit, and it wasn’t because I quit. He rapidly found himself up shit creek without a paddle and was fired for things we had always suspected him of. He will lie though and say he quit because it was such an awful place.

    2. Mira*

      Seconding (fourthing? fifthing?) the user name love! That’s easily one of my favourite books, period!

  9. Timecanfly*

    I had a boss that loved to scream for people. She would sit in her office and yell my name very very loudly til I appeared at her door with my notebook ready to take notes. She also liked to treat people like you would dogs or children you’re trying to train- ignore negative behavior, reward positive behavior.

    One morning I was stressed with a big project and decided I did not want to be screamed for anymore. So I took a page from her book, sat at my desk, and kept working while she yelled my name repeatedly, stretching it from two to three syllables. Eventually, she came out of her office, looked at me and said my name at a normal volume. I turned, looked at her and said calmly, “Did you need something?”

    I did manage to get in a few more petty wins like that before leaving, but that was the one that I really enjoyed the most. I could tell by the look on her face she knew exactly what I was doing when I did that, and she stopped screaming for me, at least.

    1. Mister Lady*

      This is amazing, and I admire your nerves of steel! If someone was screaming for me, I would probably run to do whatever they wanted–whatever it took to make the screaming stop!

      1. it's-a-me*

        I would likely sit at my desk and scream back “WHAT? WHAT IS IT? I CAN’T HEAR YOU! COULD YOU REPEAT THAT?”

        1. kicking_k*

          Cat would be SUCH an infuriating boss. I don’t know how Kara never stealthily froze her coffee.

        2. Rebecca1*

          That was hilarious though because it was such a callback to the original Superman movie. Callista Flockhart’s imitation of Gene Hackman is FLAWLESS.

    2. Momma Bear*

      I had a screamer boss once, and after someone complained, she started calling on the phone. Only she talked so loudly that it didn’t help and I could still clearly hear her both over the phone and from the hall….

    3. FreakInTheExcelSheets*

      Oooh yes I had a boss that did the same! I was always so tempted to do the ‘snotty teenager’ and yell back “WHAT?!?!?!” but I somehow managed to restrain myself. I did, however, take to wearing headphones all the time – sometimes I was actually listening to something, but normally they were just for show. This boss (we’ll call her B) also liked sneaking up behind you to make sure you weren’t doing something you shouldn’t so wearing the headphones made her think she didn’t have to be as quiet and I got more warning (not that I was doing anything wrong, but she thought startling someone by tapping them on the shoulder was hilarious and always seemed put out if I didn’t jump/screech so I was determined not to react). I guess there is a little bit of triumph here as I later found out B and her boss randomly decided I didn’t need to be replaced when I left for a nearly 50% raise and my two peers (P1 & P2) could handle the workload. My leaving and this decision, which by the way would require working constantly-rotating split days since it was Mon-Sat that required coverage and you could only work 5 days in a calendar week (I got in trouble for this after *Z* messed up scheduling me so I only worked 40 hours each pay period but worked 6 days one calendar week and only 4 the next), caused my peers to both GTFO. P1 was so fed up she rage quit 2 months later when B wouldn’t agree to a set mid-week day off so she could take her mother to weekly doctor appointments (there was no reason for rotating days off since before I left if you were split that week it was always Wednesday off – I’m also mad I missed this because P1 is the quietest, sweetest person I know). P2, who I’m still friends with, had been planning on giving her 2 weeks a few days later but decided nope, I’m quitting today too. B went nuts screaming about how was she supposed to hire someone in time for P2 to train them and P2 just responded “guess you’ll need to figure something out” (this was B’s favorite response if you asked for help/overtime during our busiest period – we weren’t accountants but think tax season level of insanity that happened every September). Last I heard, since P2 still worked for the same company but was leaving for a corporate role across the country, there was a revolving door of replacements who only lasted 3-6 months. This went on for a couple years before someone finally looked at turnover and complaints against B. Sadly she was not fired but they restructured the org so she had no direct reports and lost her manager title – I have no idea if there was a pay cut involved but losing that title definitely would have hurt her more!

      1. laowai_gaijin*

        “Guess you’ll need to figure something out” – ooh, that gives me a happy little shiver!

    4. HC help*

      I did something similar with my former boss who didn’t scream, but would talk to us like children when she came into work in the morning. She would say “good morning, scientists, how are we today?!” in a very condescending singing voice like you would talk to a dog. She is the exact same age as me and I haaaated it.

      Eventually I decided I don’t have to accept being spoken to that way, so I stopped responding to it. Once she had that out of her system each morning, she would approach me and talk to me like a normal adult, and I would happily respond in kind. Just thinking about it still sets me on edge.

      1. Mongrel*

        “She would say “good morning, scientists, how are we today?!” in a very condescending singing voice like you would talk to a dog.”
        Did she at least have caramels in her pockets?

  10. Dr. Rebecca*

    I worked for a picture frame warehouse in my mid-20s, doing what was supposed to be “light warehouse work/mostly computer” but ended up being the opposite. I’m very bright, and very quick, and I became VERY bored as soon as I learned everything. I was the only order-puller, shipping/receiving agent, and their business was in the type of decline that stretches out over decades, so after the morning rush to get overnight orders on the trucks before they went out, I didn’t have much to do.

    The warehouse was full of saw dust, metal shavings, and chemical fumes, and it wasn’t climate controlled, so I was sick ALL THE TIME. Out at least once a month for sinus problems, for which I ended up needing surgery. Eventually, my ex-husband persuaded me to go back to school, and I quit between Christmas and New Years and re-started my undergrad in the Spring semester.

    What you need to know about this business is that it was a family affair. Staffed by father, son/daughter/daughter in law/daughter in law’s brother. If you were family, you got perks, benefits, time off, all excuses made for you. If you weren’t, you got ZERO. I got a call on my cell on the floor one day and had to leave because my dad had a heart attack. The next working day, a new rule was posted: no cell phones allowed on the floor (except for the faaaaamily…)

    So I quit at Christmas. They made it two months before they were on the phone BEGGING me to come back, if only for one week–no one else was as efficient, they were so far behind, they had problems hiring a replacement.

    It was a wonderful moment in my life when I got to tell them no, I had school work to do.

    1. ferrina*

      That really is the best. Watching them realize how much they actually took you for granted….

      1. Dr. Rebecca*

        Seriously with as badly as I was treated and as sick as I got, if the place caught on fire I’d stand on the top of the nearest hill to watch it burn. The nerve…

        1. Dr. Rebecca*

          Also, the GM who was the son of the family used to subtly hit on me, which was quite literally the only good treatment I got while I was there. His wife was the office manager. I hated every single one of them.

        2. allathian*

          You’re far more generous than I am. If that happened to me, I’d be tempted to hose the burning building with gasoline…

      2. JB*

        First thing to consider before getting rid of someone, are they irreplaceable? You may just be getting rid of the glue keeping everything together.

    2. Speaks to Dragonflies*

      It is such a unique, wonderful flavor to experience when the folks that treated you like crap come calling, wanting you to come back.

    3. MissBaudelaire*

      I love that. I love that so much. Tears are in my eyes with how wonderful it is.

      I remember quitting my last job, my boss insisted on being there when I left. I told him I didn’t care. He was there when I punched out. “Well, just remember, if you ever need a job again….” I think he thought I was quitting to just prove a point, like I didn’t mean it? Um, I had another job. I looked him dead in the eye and said “I’ll just go on down to the Wal-Mart.”

  11. SunnyGirl*

    I worked with a lovely woman, Timid, who was a touch shy, introverted but an extremely hard worker who loved to dot her i’s, cross her t’s and follow the rules and processes, which was good and necessary for her job. She was actually very bright and fun to talk to once you got to know her.

    Her immediate supervisor was, in comparison, a gregarious woman, Curly, who could veer into bullying and she used to get on Timid’s case. She once told Timid, a childhood cancer survivor who still suffered the effects of her recovery (migraines to start) to “get over your booboo’s” when a friend of Curly’s got breast cancer and apparently was a model patient. She was just not very understanding of who Timid was and could not relate at all to Timid’s careful, measured work personality. It brought out the inner bully lurking in Curly that was not publicly visible with previous owners of that job.

    Part of Timid’s job was to hole punch materials in order to file it in binders. She carefully saved all the confetti from the hole puncher, in envelopes, for months. I’m not sure what her initial plan was for the confetti but one day, she figured she had saved enough. Timid called me over to her desk and we brought out all the confetti-filled envelopes over to Curly’s desk, who was on lunch, and dumped the confetti all over Curly’s desk, in her desk drawers and in her shoes. It was everywhere.

    Then we quietly returned to our desks.

    Oi, Curly’s cries of outrage were delicious. And she never once suspected it was Timid.

    1. L.H. Puttgrass*

      Good thing I’m still working from home, otherwise I’d have a whole office asking why I’m laughing uncontrollably.

    2. Sunrise Ruby*

      I howled with joy after reading the paragraph about Timid’s revenge. I’m working from home, and I’m sure everyone who lives on my floor in my apartment building heard me!

    3. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I’m imagining that she was still finding little paper circles for months, and it makes me feel so happy.

    4. allathian*

      That’s fabulous!

      I’m amazed that Curly didn’t put two and two together the next time she saw Timid punching materials to be filed…

    5. witchesbruise*

      I said that I was going to do this when I quit my last toxic workplace but I never did. Always wishing that I had.

    6. Rena*

      On a less revenge-confetti note – We had a board game reception at our wedding, and had decorated the tables with hole-punch confetti in a bunch of colors. We had friends deliberately go through and put small handfuls of confetti into all the board game boxes we had out, and now it’s a very happy reminder of our wedding every time we pull out a game!

  12. GeorgiaB*

    First full-time job, fresh out of grad school, someone a few levels up from me (who I knew was good friends with my manager) sometimes sat at an open workstation next to mine. One day we were chatting about something, and he said something very condescending and ended it with Ms. [My last name]. I turned to him and deadpan responded, “that’s Dr. [My last name], thank you.” I never have the right comeback, but that time I did because that man never condescended to me again.

    1. Artemesia*

      The only times I use ‘Dr.’ are with dweebs like this. I did my career in the South and from time to time had to work with men who loved to say ‘is that MISS or Mrs?’ when I was introduced as Ms. It had that ‘are you some loser or have you actually accomplished the one thing women are good for, snagged a man’ feel to it — usually set with a kind of smug leer. To those men I always said ‘Oh you can just use ‘Dr.’

      1. Regardless of Personal Cost*

        I’m not a doctor, but I do enjoy telling those kinds of men that they can just call me ma’am.

  13. Anya*

    I had a boss who was a real all-around jerk: talked about himself like everyone was dying to know every detail of his day, teased and harassed assistants when he was bored in the most juvenile, condescending ways ever, etc etc. I was one of those assistants. One time, I was submitting his receipts for reimbursement when he let his train of thought take him in a million directions and kept asking me questions further and further from the task at hand that were simply unnecessary and I think intentionally distracting. When I got visibly flustered and couldn’t focus on his questions or my submission work, he came around my desk to stand behind my chair, grabbed the top of the back of the chair, and started pushing down on it repeatedly, making me bounce voilently in my seat. I was so outraged that I shot up out of my chair, turned, and YELLED at him to cut it out and that it was wildly inappropriate behavior and that I deserved to be treated with respect. I honestly don’t know what came over me and EVERYONE in the office heard, but he backed off – very startled – and never pulled anything again. I started getting more respect from everyone after that – shouldn’t have been necessary and its one of the reasons I left, but I still think about it proudly.

    1. TimeTravlR*

      Wow! Good for you. I once had a boss who was not a jerk, rest his hands on my shoulders while he was reading my screen as I was typing (not a normal thing but it was a huge rush). I didn’t even say anything but he took his hands away pretty quickly.
      The next day he said, “I noticed you tensed up when I put my hands on your shoulders, did I offend you?” I appreciate so much that he had enough self awareness to notice and to acknowledge. I told him I just don’t like anyone in my space (very true!) and he never did it again.
      I think I’d have responded as you did though if someone bounced my chair! WTAF?!

    2. Caliente*

      That is insane. Who even does this crap, tho I think I said that on another post lol. People are nuts!

      1. LavaLamp*

        A lot of people do weird things like this. I had a teacher in high school who liked to run his hands through my hair. It was weird; and I asked him to stop one day. He did, and my male friend started haranguing me that it wasn’t hurting me so I shouldn’t get to object. My teacher, who I later figured out only did it because I reminded him of his daughter, put a stop to that nonsense with a lesson about respecting people’s bodies and consent.

        1. KateM*

          Ew. I hope you dropped that friend after putting him to a situation when someone kept doing something weird to HIM.

          1. LavaLamp*

            Naw, he was just a dumb teenager, and he had the grace to look embarrassed after the lecture.

  14. Jester*

    I shared this in an open thread at some point but it’s a doozy. Seven weeks after starting a new job in a new state during a pandemic, my coworker accused me of abusing him. He had been moved to my location and had been told it was temporary. It wasn’t temporary and he was literally the only person who didn’t know that. So to make up a reason to justify going back to the old location he said I told him he wasn’t allowed to go to the bathroom, that I yelled and swore at him, that I was bad at my job, and uninterested in my job. I really don’t know what he expected because if what he had been saying was true, I should have been fired and would have been stuck anyway. Of course, none of what he was saying was true so I just reported every time he was a jerk and bad at his job. Anyway, after six months of episodes of bad behavior and getting everyone on my side, a position at yet another location opened up so I transferred and now he’s stuck doing two people’s jobs alone. He complains about it too to which I would like to answer, ‘Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.’ Every single person at my new location is 100x nicer and better at their jobs.

    1. melko*

      Years ago, I was in school part time and working as the bus driver and cooker for a brand new day care. All I heard about from Day 1 was “Too bad we can’t afford…” a cook the boss, the assistant manager, and the lead had all worked with before. I was constantly compared to her and always came up short. Several months later we’re open and our census is full with a wait list, I got back from my morning bus run and guess who was in the kitchen? Yup, Expensive Cook. I got let go 89 days into my 90 day probation.

      I was irritated, but applied for unemployment, managed to switch enough classes that I was now essentially a full time student, and moved on. A few months down the road, the assistant manager called me near tears, begging me to come back. Full time, part time, *any* time, cash at the end of the day, all under the table, unless I wanted to be employed again, in which case, she’d pay me OT to do the paperwork – could I start tomorrow?

      I finally got the rest of the story. Turns out Expensive Cook and Boss’ fiance were having A Thing and ran off to Vegas to get married. Boss had crawled into a bottle of gin and hadn’t come out yet, and Assistant Manager was left holding down the fort, trying to be all things to all people for 60+ kids. Telling her I couldn’t do anything for them was the highlight of the year, easily, and still one of my favorite ‘jerk boss’ stories.

      1. Lucien Nova*

        This story seemed EXCEPTIONALLY familiar to me for some reason and I’ve just twigged to why – I’ve read it in Etiquette Hell’s old archives! I’ve always loved the “no, now screw off” ending.

  15. kdizzle*

    I worked with a horribly strange woman during the summers in college when I filed medical records at a hospital. She would always complain to my boss that I wasn’t working fast enough (I promise, I was working fast enough). I tried my best to ignore her.

    One day, I was taking some trash out and noticed some medical records in the dumpster. “That’s weird”…I thought. They weren’t shredded or scheduled to be burned, just sitting in the dumpster intact. I brought it to the attention of my boss who said that definitely wasn’t right. They checked the security camera, and it turns out that the crazy lady was just throwing records away instead of processing them and filing them…per her job. She was fired. I don’t feel one atom of remorse over that.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Agreed – she was likely violating HIPPA, and could have gotten the hospital sued. You did the right thing.

      1. ThatGirl*

        sorry if this is pedantic but it’s HIPAA, a “hippa” is a lady hippo (not really, just a joke)

        1. Lily C*

          I’ve found that mentally pronouncing it as Hip-aaaah! helps me remember that it’s a double A, not a double H.

        2. nothing rhymes with purple*

          Heh, they used that in our training, complete with a cute purple lady hippo sticker.

        3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          I think I typed it right – but autocorrect on my phone has been known to swallow abbreviations from time to time.

    2. Clisby*

      Oh, gosh, this is Ignatius J. Reilly did in Confederacy of Dunces. I can’t remember how he got his filing job, but his bosses thought he was super-efficient at getting rid of the backlog of stuff to be filed. Until it turned out he was just throwing the files away.

      1. Marianne*

        oh goodness, you are so right – a definite Ignatius move! my favorite book, ever, I re-read it every few years. on a side note, did you hear the book was made into a play starring Nick Offernan (Parks & Rec) as Ignatius? it was delayed due to COVID, but I believe has plans to eventually show at a theater in Boston.
        Thanks for the morning laugh :)

        1. Theo*

          Actually, it already played in Boston in late winter 2015! Normally, I wouldn’t be so sure of this — but I was in the audience :D I’ve never read the book but quite enjoyed the play.

      2. JustaTech*

        Way back in the early 1980’s in Baltimore, the IRS moved one of their filing facilities to a new location. One day there was a heavy rain, a leak in the roof, and what do you know, the whole ceiling caved in, as hundreds of tax returns had just been stuffed into the ceiling.

        So some poor person has to call every one of the people who’s returns were ruined and ask them to re-file. By bad (or good) luck one of the first people they called was an investigative reporter for the Baltimore Sun, so then it was front-page news.

    3. EPLawyer*

      No wonder she complained about you not being fast enough. If they compared your time to do the job to how much time she spent, they would have known she could not possibly be processing the records properly in the time she claimed.

      Good thing you found those records.

    4. kdizzle*

      Thanks, all. This woman unexpectedly died less than a year after she was fired, and honestly, I did feel bad about that for a while. I was young and thought, “oh geez…I helped make her last months on earth extra painful.” With age and some perspective, I’m more solidly in the camp of feeling as though I did the right thing.

      1. Bibliothecarial*

        Since this was at a hospital, there’s a pretty good chance that somebody could have stolen patients’ identities or done something else unethical with that un-secured paperwork. You may have saved many people from dealing with identity theft or worse in their last months!

        1. Momma Bear*

          It’s highly likely that her actions caused problems for patients. I’m glad you gained perspective. She did it to herself.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I’m more angry on behalf of the patients who have lost their medical history because of her. Could you imagine coming out of remission, and the hospital has no record of your previous treatment?!

      2. Botanist*

        That seems to be an unfortunately easy thinking error to fall into- she definitely made her own last months hard by choosing to do such a blatantly bad and illegal thing at work. Not on you at all!

      3. Sparkles McFadden*

        Nope. She’d have gotten found out sooner or later. You just made it sooner and saved headaches for the hospital and some patients.

      4. StrikingFalcon*

        But you didn’t get her fired – she got herself fired by throwing out patients’ records. All you did was report something that needed to be reported (improperly disposed of records). Her getting fired is just the natural consequence of what she was doing. She could have avoided that by actually doing her job. The fact that you are the one who found the records doesn’t make this in any way your fault.

      5. Worldwalker*

        No — *SHE* did that.

        She made all the choices that led to her getting fired (and I’m surprised not prosecuted) — you just pointed out what she’d done.

    5. Siege*

      I worked for a major game company that makes a collectible card game. Call it Gather: The Magicening. The cards are localized in 9 or 11 languages, I don’t remember, but the main thing is that the printing process they use is designed so that for most of the languages they just need to change the second black – they do CMYK+K – and if I understood correctly, the 2nd black has the text. (Don’t ask me how they accommodate the mana dots, I was a temp in 2004, I don’t remember.) For the Chinese localizations – I think both Simplified and Traditional, but maybe only Simplified – they had to do some serious shifts in the art because they couldn’t sell card art with skeletons on it due to Chinese cultural beliefs, so they had second arts done for all the cards (a lot of them!) that had skeletons on.

      A print vendor who may have been lovely decided he was going to save time on the presses by doing the fastest switch ever from one localization to the other and he did this by not changing the CMYK plates for the Simplified Chinese cards, just the second black plate. I, knowing nothing of this person, nor what he was like as a person, but knowing that my job was to QA the cards caught that the art was wrong. The company had to eat the cost to reprint – many, MANY thousands of dollars – and fired the foreman as a result, which I always found a satisfying outcome even if it’s not revenge on a jerk because I don’t know anything about him and never met him. But it was like … you have ONE job. It is to produce these cards CORRECTLY, not get into speed contests. If you cannot do THIS JOB, then I cannot be super sympathetic to your problems.

      So if you played Simplified Chinese Gather: The Magicening in 2005 and there was a delay in your Betrayers of Kamigawa set, now you know why!

      1. Sparkles McFadden*

        Someday, I hope to understand the “faster is better” mentality. If you’re not blowing deadlines, what difference does it make if you got the work done fifteen minutes faster that the person next to you?

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          One of my favorite supervisors had to tell me a few times, but got through to me after about a month. “Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est, I can explain late, but I can’t explain wrong.”

          On April 1st, she added “And I can’t explain you.” Neither one of us could hold back the laughs long.

        2. JustaTech*

          I’ve got two facilities full of people who think like that, for two reasons: 1) it’s the only part of their job they can measure or control (they can’t tell what the outcome will be, but they can tell how fast they did it) and 2) the sooner they are done, the sooner they can get out of their protective gear.

          I’ve spent years trying to get them to slow up just a tiny touch, or at least not take shortcuts, but it’s a losing battle.

          1. Siege*

            My understanding is that changing all five plates is messy and time-consuming, so he decided he didn’t want to bother.

      2. David*

        Ooh, thanks for sharing! I always like to read behind-the-scenes stories about the development and printing of, uh, GtM cards :-) but this one is more personal than most.

  16. Lorena*

    There was this time that this marketing manager at the company I worked for, decided that they would use an external photographer to take all the shots for the new website. At this point, even though I was the office manager for the company, I was also the official company photographer, as I had spent 3-4 years taking courses at College in Photography, as well as spending money on equipment. I also took all the photos at company events and employee photos for their profile on the website. She and I did not get along though, mostly because she had a habit of starting projects, procrastinating and then I would end up having to bail her out – not to help her, but because not doing it would be bad for the company.
    Anyways, the external guy comes in and takes the photos – they come back and they are so BAD. Like terrible. I ended up having to take all the photos anyways, and she ended up quitting before the site even got completed. Even now, many years later (and I’m no longer working there) – the site is covered in my photos.

    1. Bee Eye Ill*

      That reminds me of the time my employer wanted a new website and hired a graphic designer to make the layout – no code or actual templates – just a layout. I had to take that and build the whole thing from scratch based on their color schemes and weird floating boxes. When it was done, the graphic design people got all the credit.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’ve seen that happen with document designs. It sucks and I’m sorry it happened to you too.
        Hopefully the web implementation has a prominent place on your resume, because it’s a thing to be proud of.

        1. Bee Eye Ill*

          I left there two years ago and they are still using the same site, so I guess it has stood the test of time. I don’t think they have anyone that knows enough to build another one like I did, and they sure don’t want to pay for a web design firm to actually build it.

  17. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

    Was at a networking event for journalists when I joined a conversation going on about advances in space flight between a colleague and a newly graduated (and very cocky) engineer who had been writing for us during his studies and who was now trying to land interviews for his dream job in aerospace but not having much luck.

    I write on tech trends (and have no background in engineering) and I made a remark about a new space program being tested by the large aerospace company Mr. Engineer most hoped to work for when he cut me off and said, “Yes, but you’re not really qualified to comment on something like this”. I just smiled and said, “You’re right. I’m not, I just parrot what I hear from my dad”.

    He rolled his eyes and said, “Oh yeah, and who’s your dad?”

    “Oh, the VP of engineering for *that large aerospace company*” and I turned to walk away as his face drained of blood.

    1. Llellayena*

      Oooooooo…..wow…..I mean some of this you can chalk up to fresh graduate arrogance and can be trained out, but really. I think I’d quietly observe him for the next…say…6 months and if it looks like he learned from the “anyone can be a network contact” lesson offer to forward his resume. But it’s a big hurdle, he’d have to show some serious attitude improvement.

        1. Autumnheart*

          I wouldn’t offer OR forward it, even if he asked. In fact I’d go home and tell Dad, “Btw, Condescending Jerk was a condescending jerk to me, so if you ever get his resume…” Let him wait 10-20 years to build his reputation because he blew it when he was a new grad. It’s not like there’s a lack of qualified engineers out there. Take a chance on someone who wasn’t openly an a-hole.

      1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

        Haha I had actually already told Dad about him and had the all-clear to send his contact info but Mr. Engineer’s conduct at that event kind of killed it for me. Mr. Engineer apologized later that day and took me aside to ask about my dad and possibilities, etc. But by then I felt like he was only apologizing for gain. I moved from that company and am now curious as to what became of Mr. E.

        1. bopper*

          Engineer: Did you mention me to your Dad?

          You: No, I am not an engineer so I am not really qualified to comment on something like that.

          1. Nerdling*

            Engineer: Did you mention me to your dad?

            You: Yes, but I think if you knew what I told him, you’d rather I hadn’t.

          2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

            Early in my career, I had a sit down with my manager to discuss my first performance review in a new job. In the “needs improvement” section, he had listed my report writing skills as needing serious improvement. When I asked him about that, he pointed out a one-page report he had rewritten.

            Now, for context: The one-pager was an early draft I had sent him with the question, “Before I get to far, I wanted to check, is this in the right direction?” Instead of responding, he just took it on himself to rewrite it.

            More context: Just a month before that performance review conversation, I had completed a 10 page report on a deeply complicated and technical topic. No one gave me any input on the report, since no one on staff had the skills or expertise necessary to help. The entire team (including his boss and the person who would soon be his boss) had read it and everyone was impressed with both the report’s thoroughness and accessibility for non-technical people (i.e., all of them).

            Given all that context, I was too shocked in that conversation to say anything, so he submitted this performance evaluation saying how much work I needed to be up to par with report writing.

            Well, his boss and HR made him rewrite it, because they were like, “What? Why would you think Analytical Tree Hugger needs to improve his writing skills? His writing skills are great!”

            That manager stopped having direct reports soon after that.

      2. alwaysonefootoutthedoor*

        Yeah, no to coddling this kind of nonsense. Guy can learn from the school of life.

    2. I'mJustHereForThePaycheck*

      As someone that has worked in aerospace and with many of these kinds of engineers, this is beyond glorious. I’m honestly jealous that you got to hit back with that. What a fantastic win.

    3. AshK434*

      Meh…using someone else’s status to make you look good isn’t the triumph you may think it is. Sounds like you’re just a benefactor of nepotism

  18. 2cents*

    Years ago I had a horrible manager. He was brought in as sort of a consultant to try and fix some issues in our department. He scheduled a weekly meeting on Monday mornings – they had to be on Monday mornings because he enjoyed making us miserable by working throughout the weekend so that the presentation was ready on Sunday night. He didn’t do any work – he’d call us from the pool asking about our progress. Mind you, we’d abandon the presentation halfway through the meeting because it didn’t even address the real pain points so it was all useless. One weekend I simply didn’t do anything. Didn’t even pick up the phone. I got into the conference meeting a couple of minutes late for the Monday morning meeting and the only available seat was right next to him. God, just typing this makes my heart race. Before I even sat down he started berating me because I didn’t work that weekend. I calmly waited for him to finish and said, “I’m sorry, I was too busy getting divorced.” It was true, that weekend was when me and my ex-husband decided to split. You could hear a pin drop. A moment of complete silence and shock followed as I sat down and opened my laptop.

    He was spectacularly fired a couple of weeks later.

      1. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

        On a related note, I called my then-boss once to say that I needed to take the next day off to file for divorce. “Oh, you can throw yourself into your work then,” she responded with no sympathy whatever. I hope karma has done something unpleasant to her.

      2. 2cents*

        He was fired a couple of weeks later after an investigation was concluded. It was glorious. I ended up working for another horrible boss for a couple of years but I’m in an excellent place now. No more horrible bosses for me!

        1. Sinister Serina*

          Oh man. This reminds of when I went on vacation and hired a temp receptionist to take my place for a week. My manager hated seeing me laughing with the temp and thought I wasn’t teaching her anything about my job. Sure, I can teach somebody to do my job and do it well in four hours.
          I go on vacation and come back and get called into her office-the temp didn’t do this, the temp didn’t do that-it’s all your fault for not telling her blah. Look, I left copious notes, I told her everything and sometimes they get it and sometimes they don’t but the office was not going to fall apart in a week, I promise. But she hated that I had time off and had a good time and had to yell at me about it. But this time, I took bout two minutes of it and interrupted her and said “I can’t do this right now. My dad is in the hospital, we don’t know what’s wrong and I’m waiting to hear from mom”. Her “Why didn’t you tell me? Me? Really, when? I walked out. Dad turned out to be fine, btw. Revenge was when her boss sold the company years later and she didn’t have me to pick on any more and the company I work for now actually values me. Imagine that.

  19. Waiting on QA*

    There was a guy I worked with that got hired a few months after me and was constantly competing with me over EVERYTHING. The only problem was, while we were both over achievers, he would rush through his tasks, getting them wrong and causing problems at least a third of the time. This did not endear him to our boss, and it was clear she favored me when giving higher level work. He was always trying to bring me down with him, blaming me for things I had no part in, telling our boss I wasn’t contributing, going out of his way to make me look bad, etc.

    Eventually he got so fed up that they wouldn’t promote him, give him more money (to his credit, we were woefully underpaid), or give him higher level work, that he left.

    Less than 6 months after he left, I got promoted to team lead and almost doubled my pay, while the rest of the department got gigantic market-rate pay increases. He doesn’t know any of this, of course, but I do get petty satisfaction out of it.

    1. TimeTravlR*

      Wouldn’t it have been great to run into him shortly after and be able to say oh so casually, “So much has changed at work? I got a promotion and we all got big fat raises! It’s so great, isn’t it?!?!?!”

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      It might even be more ironic if his exit interview’s reason for leaving was pay scale….and triggered a revamp of wages so Poole thank him for leaving. :D

  20. Wisteria*

    Usually, the way I triumph over a work jerk is to change jobs. :(

    Although, there was one time this guy was bragging about how he wasn’t going to do the thing I wanted him to do. It got back to me, as bragging does. I (metaphorically) waved the contract with the customer at him, which meant he did it. Not a great story, but very satisfying to me.

    1. LabTechNoMore*

      Usually, the way I triumph over a work jerk is to change jobs.

      Seriously. Even the petty triumph stories weren’t all that satisfying, because having blatant evidence right in front of our faces would just cause the Office Jerk to dig in their heals even further.

  21. Cat Tree*

    Ok, this is minor but still satisfying. I’m an engineer and work in manufacturing. Engineering is technically a support role; the Operations department that actually makes the product is the star of the show because that’s how the company makes money. So in toxic companies, there is usually a bit of a “rivalry” which is the most polite term I can think of to describe it.

    At an older job, my engineering group worked directly with customers (who were other companies). We wrote test protocols that they would have to sign off on, as well as our internal Operations and Quality. A big part of my job was getting 4+ people to sign off on these things in time to meet the customer’s deadline. Operations was notoriously careless and slow about this kind of thing. But our department wasn’t well-run or organized, and they knew they could always blame us for delays because we’re less important. Well, based on my previous experience I developed a system where I keep personal notes on the status of every document on my worklist. This is for my own sanity and it’s something as simple as “left on Bob’s desk Aug 12” or “with customer as of Aug 12” or “draft, waiting for XYZ to complete”. So one day a project manager was really wound up about a particular protocol because the customer really needed it ASAP. The Operations guy, Bob, claimed that he never received it from the Engineering group, basically saying that we were all lazy and behind and it was our fault. I was relatively new at the time and he had no idea that I kept these notes, so I replied to the email with feigned innocence and said that I left it in his mailbox on XYZ and could something have happened to it where I need to re-print it because surely he wouldn’t have overlooked it?

    So he was in a spot where he could no longer imply that it was my fault and he would have to make a direct claim that I was outright lying. That is a little too far for most people. He never responded to that email, but later that day the protocol magically ended up on my desk with his signature dated for that very same day. I didn’t stay at that place for very long, but after that he always signed my documents promptly and didn’t try to pretend that I was the slow step in the process.

    1. Cat Tree*

      I thought of another one that was similar. I was at a really, really toxic company (like so toxic that the CEO was asked not to return to a specific country). I found a problem with one of our products, and I needed to do a bunch of testing to fix it. It was not ideal because it caused a huge delay, but it was bad enough that I felt it was unethical (possibly illegal) to knowingly send junk to our paying customers. The CEO was constantly harping on me about speeding up the testing which just wasn’t possible. At one point she tried to pull rank and even said, “I’m not paying you to do this testing”. So I asked her outright if she wants to knowingly send a defective product to our customers. Feigning innocence to call someone’s bluff is apparently my go-to strategy, and it’s very satisfying.

      1. bopper*

        Remind them that at Morton Thiokol the managers overrode the engineers who said the Space Shuttle was not safe to fly.

        1. Cat Tree*

          It wasn’t quite as high-stakes as that, but we definitely studied that case in an Ethics course during college.

        2. Worldwalker*

          I still think the person who signed off on the launch paperwork should have been charged with, at the very least, negligent homicide. I can never un-see those smoke trails in the sky.

    2. Wisteria*

      Oh, I have worked in engineering at a manufacturing operation. Yes, I feel that pain. I used to have regular arguments with operations over signing things. Funnily enough, the company realized that there was a general problem with things not being signed off quickly enough, and they designated an empty cube as the sign off cube for people to drop off their docs instead of walking from person to person to collect signatures. Signatories were expected to check the cube at least daily. Sign off times got shorter, and I stopped having so many arguments.

    3. TimeTravlR*

      So many organizations and people are like this that I have learned to keep very good notes. People will someday learn not to try to throw my group under the bus because I will always have the ammunition. “Well, Bob, we submitted that to your group on [this date] via [this communication]. We’re waiting on your [response].”

      1. Cat mom*

        Yup, working with a backstabbing jerk was never an issue for me because I already kept copious notes, action items at meetings, results and more. Slippery people just don’t do well with receipts :)

      2. alwaysonefootoutthedoor*

        I work with faculty who think staff are servants and don’t hesitate to blame us for any & everything they break or forget.
        I track everything. It was really helpful when an exceptionally karen-ish prof pulled the ‘who is your manager?’ bit with me. I had receipts for the issue at hand, plus my dad died that day, yet I was non-stop working to help lazy profs set up resources for remote teaching (we went lockdown that same day).

    4. identifying remarks removed*

      Had something similar happen with a member of the sales team. I started working for the VP of Sales and I’d email each member of the team reminding them to send me their updated sales data each week ahead of the team meeting. Bert sent me his data at the last minute so I had to scramble to update the presentation. I asked him nicely to get the info to me on time next time. He did the same thing the next week. With the added bonus of letting me know I was just a secretary and he’d get me the data when it suited him. I had a good relationship with the VP as I’d worked for before and he’d recruited me. So I let him know that I didn’t get Bert’s data in time so his slide would be blank. When the time came for Bert to give an update on his missing sales slide he blamed me and said I hadn’t sent him the email and he’d taken it upon himself to get the data to me at the last minute. I said Bert I think you’re confused – I sent you the email at 3 pm last Thur and you opened it at 3.05 pm that day. Deafening silence and then the VP said never mind Bert I’m sure you won’t miss any more emails from my secretary.

        1. identifying remarks removed*

          He was the best boss I ever worked for – moved to 3 companies to work for him. I knew he always had my back and he knew I’d always get the work done.

    5. turquoisecow*

      I’ve had similar experiences. My department took direction from several other people, who would send us a bunch of tasks and then come back and claim that we hadn’t done them properly, or that we’d done them without authorizations. Lots of “you did X on Y date, as I can see from the time stamp in the system, why did you do that?” Lots of blaming us for errors type thing, and my boss saved all his emails but could never find evidence so was constantly getting thrown under the bus.

      Not long after I started he began giving me these tasks to do and I decided that i would follow his advice to save every email, but I’d be organized about it and categorize them in folders in Outlook. One or two “how come you did this?!” emails responded to with “you told me to, here’s the specific email in which you said to do that,” later and that sort of pushback stopped. They couldn’t throw me under the bus for doing what they’d specifically told me to do.

      Several years later after that dysfunctional place shut down I got my current job, where I miraculously have not had to have a CYA archive of emails, and they are also miraculously doing much better.

  22. The Circle Jerk*

    I worked with a horrid VP of Sales – arrogant, obnoxious, just a nightmare. We were in an internal meeting and he used the phrase “get in a circle jerk” with them (and even used the hand motion). Then smirked at me, the only woman in the room and the youngest by far. I’d had enough so (fake) innocently asked, loudly “what’s a circle jerk”? He tried to move on but I asked again “sorry I don’t understand, what is a circle jerk – if I’m negotiating the contract I need to know the terms”. Everyone froze. The ceo walked in and asked “so where are we”. I loudly said “well we are waiting for ____ to explain what a circle jerk is as he’s really worried about it being part of the contract”. It was absolute gold and a career highlight that sadly can’t go on a resume!!

    1. christine*

      You can’t leave it at that!!! What did the horrid VP say? What did the CEO say? Please don’t leave us hanging!

      1. The Circle Jerk*

        I finally just excused myself and left the room and let them regroup. I kept the poker face the entire time and to this day – I’ve never told anyone at that company the true story (it was years and years ago). The VP got fired shortly after – for expense related issues (his best line was “well you can’t get receipts for what you put in a g-string” – as he loved taking his team to strip clubs). This was in the 90s in a small tech company if you are wondering where HR might have been!

        1. Evan Þ.*

          “Well, if you can’t get receipts for it, you shouldn’t be spending it on the company dime.”

        1. mcfizzle*

          I truly believe this will prominently featured soon and become a timeless AAM gem, as well it should be! Thank you so much for sharing this!

    2. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

      You win AAM gold!!! Its exactly how Alison coaches to handle this type of thing!

    3. Blatherskite*

      ” if I’m negotiating the contract I need to know the terms” got my tea snorted up my nose. Priceless!

    4. bunniferous*

      I just read this story to my 63 year old husband. Who legit did not know what a “circle jerk” was.

      I have explained a lot over the years….thankfully in this case he was happy staying ignorant!

      1. Mannequin*

        LMAO because there’s an old punk band that’s been around since the 70s called the Circle Jerks, and their singer is now 65.

    5. Radical Edward*

      I raise my virtual glass to you. That was magnificent. Superb. Perfection. You could probably sell that story to a comedian (but there’s no way they’d enjoy telling it half as much!).

  23. Formerpublicaccountant*

    Not sure how much pro revenge this is – but here’s my story.

    I am an accountant and was still in “public accounting”. When I was a second year associate, I got saddled with a senior, who was pure evil and bat-shit crazy. I went from a “top” performer to having this crazy woman go out of her way to make me miserable, sand bag my reviews and do her best to prevent me from getting promoted to “senior”.

    She also conveniently assigned me to all of her work, because I am great at my job, then gave me reviews that did not represent the work I was doing. fun stuff.

    I complained to higher ups, no one cared, so I started job hunting. She said the only way she would ever consider leaving the hollowed grounds of our firm was if she could make $75,000. A sum, she surmised would be impossible to earn.

    Guess what salary I negotiated at my new job? that’s right $75,000. With 2 years less experience than her. I was promoted 1-week before I gave notice and left her high and dry to finish her tax returns by September 15th.

    Management was absolutely flabbergasted that I would quit. I have not seem her since, but I do run into some of my former boss’s bosses. There are no hard feelings.

    1. bopper*

      My spouse worked in a similar company and I have no idea why she would do that…promotions are perfunctory at that point (unless you are terrible)…you being a senior would not affect her as she would be moving on to the next leave or leaving the company (in an up or out culture).

    2. Mister Lady*

      Yikes! I don’t know how you manage to have no hard feelings with the higher-ups who ignored your complaints about this woman assigning you all of her work. You’re a more forgiving soul than I, and you deserve all the peace!

  24. Dust Bunny*

    Not me, but my former (now retired) supervisor. We work for a medical school library and a subset of our patrons are local big-cheese doctors, who tend to be a bit spoiled but in general are fine. There is one big-shot doctor, though, is massively full of himself and rude as heck.

    For the record, Supervisor was a mild-mannered sixtysomething native Midwesterner who slightly resembled Harry Truman and was always unfailingly nice to everybody. It’s not hugely important but the contrast was delicious.

    He called us once, Supervisor answered, and Patron made a sort of obscure request. Supervisor [I know this because Supervisor explained later why were always to refer this Patron to him and not handle him ourselves] followed up with a couple of questions to clarify and Patron, instead of providing useful information, repeated himself but. much. more. slowly. and then followed up by basically calling Supervisor stupid.

    Supervisor pulled out his most pleasant customer service voice and apologetically told Patron we couldn’t help him until he was willing to be civil, and then hung up.

    I think he did finally call back but Supervisor insisted on dealing with Patron himself in case Patron thought he might get away with abusing lower-level staff. I know we did some research work for him so I guess he behaved himself the second time.

    1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

      Your description has me imagining Colonel Sherman T. Potter from m
      MASH as your supervisor! Not always mild mannered but always sarcastic :)

  25. Erin*

    John, my former boss, was one of those classic charismatic abuser-types: charming and a favorite of 99% of the people he interacted with outside our team, but he had a long-standing industry reputation of abusing the people who worked for him–explosions of anger, out-of-left-field threats of termination, undermining them or keeping them from advancement.

    He always had a favorite and a scapegoat. On our team, I was the favorite, which basically meant he’d treat me better than the other team members, but always with the implicit threat that it would be taken away if I stepped out of line. I did my best to protect the rest of the team from him–redirecting, talking him down, etc. I was exhausted, and constantly feeling guilty because I’d see how beaten down everyone else felt. Reporting to HR felt very risky because he was friends with the head of HR.

    Finally, he started scapegoating the youngest member of our team–pulling her behind closed doors to scream at her, threaten her, intimidate her. She came to me about it, and I coached her through her decision to report to HR. They, as expected, did nothing.

    Then, one day, I happened to be in a casual conversation with our boss’s boss. He made an observation about how our team seemed unhappy…so I decided to go for it. I told him what was wrong. I told him he needed to talk to a few team members in particular. And he actually listened. He even went to HR (which he also oversaw) and told them off for failing our team previously.

    Several months and an HR investigation later (during which worse stuff emerged), John resigned in disgrace.

      1. Erin*

        Unfortunately no. And it’s not the only issue people in the organization have had with him (routine casual discrimination against women being the main thing). We’re hoping there’s some accountability there soon.

    1. Radical Edward*

      It’s honestly depressing how often that (a lucky moment of private conversation with another superior or outside individual) is one’s only recourse… thank goodness you were able to take advantage of the chance and actually get a result!

  26. Bagpuss*

    love these!
    The only one I can think of was very early in my career when I had a truly toxic boss. He used to scream, shout and throw things, and lie to others about what had happened.

    Very early on in my time there, he came into my room, angry about something, and started shouting.
    I was totally shocked and said the first thing which came into my head, which was “I can see you’re really upset at the moment, wouldn’t it be better to talk when you’re feeling calmer?”
    He more or less stopped dead mid-rant and looked totally disbelieving, and turned round and walked out.

    Much later, after having seen his behaviour to co-workers, I realised that what he wanted/expected was that I would lose my temper and shout back at him, and then I would have been in the wrong and it would have become “Bagpuss yelled at me, she’s so unprofessional, but I will be magnanimous and forgive her” By being calm and apparently unimpressed (Actually really scared and and in ‘freeze’ mode) I think I took the wind out of his sails and he didn’t know what to do.

    He never screamed at me again but he continued to scream and throw things at the other staff members.

    I stayed there far too long (it was my second job after graduation, so I didn’t have a lot of experience, and it was a really tough market in my industry, but it really destroyed my self -confidence. By the time I left I was literally sitting in my car in the car park every morning feeling physically sick about walking through the door. It was horrible, but at least I got that one perfect moment!)

      1. Bagpuss*

        For some reason, the fact that it was completely unplanned and just my natural reaction pleases me immensely!

    1. Filosofickle*

      Ooh, yelling bosses do not fly with me. Early in my career I saw my boss yell at a coworker in front of all of us. Later I went to his office and calmly told him if he ever yells at me I will walk out the door. That I had this composure at a 23 year old woman in her first “real” job, still kind of amazes me. I don’t think I saw him yell again so maybe I had an impact.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Refusing to take the bait and committing to going forward is really something, if a person can get themselves through it.

        Boss said asked me when I was going to “wrap up That Thing with my father dying and get back to work”. My weak spot is restraining Those Words from flying out of my mouth. I made myself sit there silently by promising myself that I WILL have the final say on this one. The next day I went to HR. Since this was something the boss had been scolded for one previous occasions HR took me super seriously, even questioning my exact reaction. “Did you yell?” no. “Did you cuss?” No, I did not speak at all. I thought HR was going to start drooling at the prospect of having a clear case against this person.

        I heard that when big boss got done talking to my boss that my boss was in TEARS. I dunno what went on there and I don’t care that much.

        The thing that grabbed me about all this is the knowledge that if I had yelled or cussed my complaint would have been less credible or something. Not everyone can hold their tongue. Not everyone even wants to hold their tongue- they want to say their piece and walk out the main door. The severity of the reprimand should not be based on the employee’s reaction, that is the reprimand should not be less because the employee responded poorly. Wrong is wrong and if the employee had not felt their back was to the wall the employee probably would not have reacted poorly. The boss’ accountability should not be on a sliding scale. I don’t know where this thinking comes from, I see it in many places, but we need to ditch it somewhere.

  27. not a doctor*

    This isn’t epic or even huge, but it does remain my most satisfying “take that!” moment:

    I made a huge mistake when I got hired at my first post-grad school job: I accepted an offer based on a vocal (but not written) promise of a promotion after X time and upon Y and Z conditions being met. Naturally, when the time came, they backed out. Worse, they essentially gaslighted me by saying that the original promise had never happened at all, that I’d made an incorrect assumption, etc., despite the fact that my boss had discussed the promised promotion so many times in mixed company that it was common knowledge across the entire department (and I had many people asking me what the hell was going on). They never gave me a particularly good reason for withdrawing the offer, except that I needed more training… which they were supposed to be giving me.

    I cast my net and managed to stumble into an offer doing the exact same job for another district. I still liked my place, and kind of wanted to see if I could still stick around for at least another year, so I requested a meeting with TPTB to ask just one last time about getting into the new role, or at least a timeline for the cross-training so I could eventually get there. They said no. No to cross-training, no to all of it.

    I said: “I’m sorry to hear that. In that case, I should tell you that I’ll be accepting an offer as Exact Same Role in Neighboring District, and you can consider this my two weeks’ notice. I’ll have the letter on your desk within the hour.”

    I’ve never been more composed, and their faces were PRICELESS. After a beat of silence, I thanked them, walked out, hastily called the other place to accept the offer, and wrote up my letter of resignation. In a bit of a dick move, I also ended up taking one of my two weeks out of my unused vacation, but 1) they didn’t cash those days out, and 2) they very clearly wanted me GONE after that.

    1. Sometimes supervisor*

      More of a :: flip table :: moment than a “take that” but reminded me of one of my first jobs. My job title was “junior teapot maker”. Over the two years I was there, my job role evolved to the point that I was doing something which was very much not “junior” teapot maker. I asked several times for my job title to be changed as it wasn’t a fair reflection of what I was now doing. Every time I was told they couldn’t do it, HR policy, hands tied, super sorry.

      Eventually, I found a “teapot maker” job elsewhere. When I resigned, I was very clear one of the reasons was this was a promotion in job title. Again, got told super soz, HR policy, nothing we can do.

      Take a lucky guess what job role they advertised for when recruiting my replacement? That’s right. “Teapot maker”. (I suppose the take that part would be that within three years of that happening I’d been promoted to “senior teapot maker” and then “teapot supervisor”…)

      1. Anon Y Mouse*

        I had a moment like this but not so satisfying. I had a part-time job which had more work in it than I could do in my assigned hours. I was always struggling with a backlog of tasks which with the experience I have now, I would have got help with sooner, but back then I thought I just sucked. When I left to go on maternity leave there was still a backlog.

        Mat leave in my country is long so they hired someone as cover. This person had already been working for us full-time on a temp contract which was due to end, so they were happy to take the cover job. They were good, and when I came back it was to no backlog and Cover Person (who had now left) was highly praised for clearing it. I felt dreadful about this because try as I might, I still couldn’t keep up with the tasks I was assigned. I started planning my exit.

        Some months later, when I was in a new job, I found out that Cover Person had been retained full time, and nobody had mentioned this. I think I could have cleared the backlog too, if I’d had fulltime hours to do it in…

    2. Lizzo*

      LOL I had a similar reaction after bringing ten pages of typewritten complaints to boss’s boss about favoritism, incompetence, and all sorts of terrible management practices on the part of my boss. I knew going into that meeting that Big Boss despised conflict, and sure enough, after saying my piece, he essentially said, “Your boss can do what she wants.” My response, “Cool! Please consider this my two weeks’ notice.”
      Based on what has happened since my departure, I am glad I got off the (slowly sinking) ship.

  28. Constance Lloyd*

    Ha, I mentioned this in a comment thread about professional clothing for jobs which don’t pay professional wages yesterday, but I can add it here and flesh out a few details.

    When I was a 22 year old bank teller, our dress code changed with one week’s notice. While I was able to purchase a $20 blazer from H&M to throw over all of the forever 21 dresses I was already wearing, male employees were expected to go from shirts & ties to a full suit. No budget was provided for these upgrades, nor did we receive a paycheck in the time between announcement and implementation.

    Shortly after this went into effect, my least favorite regular was at the window. He was a foul, spoiled 40-something who was very wealthy because his daddy was wealthy. He was verbally abusive and his behavior barely skirted the line of sexual harassment. As I was counting his money, two of my male coworkers walked by. He scoffed, and muttered, “Somebody needs to tell these guys there’s nothing worse than a bad suit.”

    I stopped counting. I locked eyes and, unsmiling, countered, “I feel like there’s nothing worse than making $9.00 an hour and being told you have to wear a suit to work.” And I held that gaze, unblinking and unsmiling, for an uncomfortably long amount of time, until he gulped out a brief, “Touché.” I then wordlessly returned to counting his money. From that day forward I was the only teller he would see, and he was significantly less miserable to deal with.

    Eight years later, I’m married to one of those guys in a bad suit. He’s now an attorney who wears jeans and T-shirts to work, and that suit still hangs in his closet.

    1. Mental Lentil*

      I love this story! The ending reminds me of a Reader’s Write stories from the The Sun.

      Thank you!

    2. A Girl Named Fred*

      Oh yay, you shared again! I saw your comment yesterday and loved it, so when I saw this post go up I was hoping you’d share again since it fit so perfectly.

      1. Constance Lloyd*

        It was so soon I almost didn’t! Then I decided an internet comments section is pretty low stakes, so why not :)

  29. nuqotw*

    I had a boss who just did not believe that women were capable in the same way as men. I wondered for a long time whether it was just that I was incompetent but then one of the few other women and I went out to coffee and talked about it. I was not incompetent, and neither was she.

    I had saved up a bunch of money and was getting ready to quit with nothing lined up because it’s hard to job search when you’re working 12 hour days. Then…the president of the company called me into his office one day and asked if I wanted to transfer to the department everyone under my boss wanted to transfer to. Why yes, yes I would, thank you so much. In two weeks, you say?

    Old Boss did not want to let go of me and kept putting work on my plate. The day I could finally tell him no was a great day.

  30. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    Worked for a consulting company doing turnkey network/hardware/software installations for big law firms. One place was a mess, they could never settle on requirements (big things and small things). We cycled through 3 different project managers during that time, and then the burden fell on my shoulders. They fired their wishy-washy IT director and we had to work directly with the partner who ran the IT and facilities committee (who was one of the reasons that they could never make any decisions). After a few more weeks, they cancelled our contract. Part of the contract terms was that we had to deliver to them all of our partial work product.

    I put a bankers box of documents together, along with a CD with the soft copies, set up a meeting to see that partner a few days later for the handover, and then on the appointed day headed downtown for our 10:00. I had 2 copies of the transmittal letter that listed all the documents we were turning over. I was sitting next to his assistant in the outer office, he came out, I indicated the box, and then said “Here’s the transmittal letter; I need you to sign both copies, and then I’m taking this one back with me.”

    He said – “I’m not signing anything. I don’t know that what you say is in the box is actually in the box.”. I replied “But you’ve been looking at these documents in various draft forms for the last 18 months. Surely you can flip through them and verify that these are the most recent versions you’ve seen.” He shot back “No, I’d need to have the IT department and the other committee members look at them”. I said “Look, I’m on overhead since you cancelled the contract. I have nothing else to do today. I’m happy to sit here in the outer office next to your assistant all day long while you call in anybody you want to look at these documents, but either I’m taking that box back with me at 5:00, or I’m taking a signed transmittal letter with me.”

    This was 20 years ago, and his billable rate even back then was probably $700/hour. He made a few phone calls, had a couple guys run in and out of his office, and after 30 minutes came out and said “Give me that, I’ll sign it.”

    1. PhyllisB*

      This is a personal story rather than work, but still valid for this thread, I think. One year the battery went out on my car (On Thanksgiving, of all days!! In a cemetery 30 minutes before they locked the gates!!) The next day I took the car into the dealership and told them I needed a new battery, and that this one was still under warranty. Well, the lady I usually dealt with was off for the holiday and the technician I was talking to decided to give me attitude. He started telling me he would have to “verify” that it was still under warranty (a 30 second computer check of the work orders, plus I had my original receipt.) Then he told me that they would have to put the battery on a tester and it would take “hours” to complete. (He was hoping I would just say never mind and pay for a new battery.) I just cheerfully said, “Oh, that’s no problem!! I have a book with me and no plans for the day!!” And made myself comfortable in the waiting area. His look was priceless. It wasn’t 20 minutes before my car was ready, and “No charge!!”

      1. COBOL Dinosaur*

        My story similar to this was when I took a car in for a flat tire repair. They called me back to talk about my car and said ‘your tire is done but look at how dirty your air filter is (showing me this prop dirty air filter they kept around)’. I looked at him and said ‘my car doesn’t take a square air filter’.

        1. EngineerDE*

          A shop I used to go to tried something similar with me. They told me my air filter needed to be replaced and asked me if I wanted it done. I declined politely as I planned to do it myself. When I got home, I checked it, and they’d done the replacement anyway and not charged me! I think that they probably changed it before they asked me.

        2. Beany*

          Hah! How did he explain that? “Oh, this was an example prop. Yours is just as bad, only rounder.”

        3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Ohhh, have any of you ever heard of “blinker fluid?” That is the thing the crummy shops in the Mountain region like to try and sell you on. I firmly remember telling a shop they could sell me blinker fluid when they could show me where on my car the blinker fluid reservoir was. And I refused to take just trust me, going to far as to walk into the garage portion with my phone out to take pictures of the blinker fluid reservoir. They backed down after that.

          1. allathian*

            I’m glad you got out of it, but I just wonder how many more gullible people they conned…

  31. KJo*

    In college 20+ years ago, I was an intern in an entertainment magazine’s promotional department. They were throwing a party to promote hot show in NYC at the time, complete with alcohol sponsor, and brought in the publicist of a famous photographer to help attract celebrities to the party. It was the same night as a hip hop star’s birthday party, so he was in competition to get famous names.
    He gave me a one sheet, which had a list of celebrities as “confirmed attendees,” to fax to a bunch of phone numbers. In reality, I think these celebs had only been invited, but I did as I was told, faxing this one sheet to tons of numbers with no idea who it was going to.
    At some point, he got a phone call from the agent of the “top” celebrity on the one sheet, saying that their client knew nothing about our party and why are we using that person’s name? So the publicist told me to stop faxing so he could amend the one sheet, which I did.
    A while later, I heard the fax machine going nuts – someone tried to send a fax without dialing 9. Figuring it was one of my faxes, I took a look – and the publicist had tried to fax back this celebrity’s PR person a note that read: “Sorry about the previous fax. An overzealous intern sent it without checking with me first.” Laying all the blame on me. Dude, I was just following your directions. I don’t know who I’m faxing!
    I took the fax to him and told him it didn’t go through, and why was he blaming me? He said, “Are you taking it personally? If I wanted to blame you personally, I would’ve used your name.” He was a class-act jerk.
    So party night comes around. I was working the coat check. He comes to me and says, “Anytime you see a celebrity walk in, come get me so I can walk them through the crowd for publicity.” We had a new confirmed “top” celebrity coming to the party.
    This celeb arrived toward the end of the night. He stood there with his handler, looking around (he had a court appearance that morning for a drug charge, I believe, so I guess he wasn’t in a party mood). Did I tell the publicist? Hell no At least, I didn’t until after the celebrity left. The publicist looked crestfallen, I felt vindicated, and decided I never wanted to work in this field, which is why I’m a librarian.

    1. Beth*

      After Big Celeb had left, you could have told the jerk publicist, “I didn’t flag you because I didn’t want to be overzealous.”

    2. cncx*

      Tangential but related, i always tell people if they need to blame me, then blame me, but tell me first so we can get stories straight. I work in IT and a coworker wanted a day off so she blamed her “excel problems” but she bounced 5 minutes after she sent the email announcing her “excel problems” to the CFO, blaming me
      Had she really just wanted to bail and blame her computer, i could have come up with a computer issue way more creative that didn’t make me look bad.

  32. WavyGravy*

    Things were getting progressively worse at my last job, including piling me with way more work than was feasible (80+hrs a week for no real reason), and forcing me to work with the biggest glass bowls because no one else could handle them, oh and a salary reduction and perma freeze when I was already paid significantly under market. After giving several polite heads up that this was not going to work long term and being told “deal with it,” I quit. I said I was just taking time off to deal with family and health issues (semi true) but I also was about 99% sure I had another job locked up to start in 2 months (and I did!)
    They lost it and offered me any amount of money to stay, perks, etc. I said no, and because of how truly abusive some of the bosses were, I informed HR I would send them everything on my list when I left but I wasn’t comfortable speaking with them again without HR present. I sent them their projects at 5p on the day I left and immediately shut off access to my email.
    After I left, they lost many more people of with even more on the way. Several people called me and said my leaving with nothing lined up was the sign they needed and each of them has a better (more $, better hours, etc.) job now.

      1. Harriet Vane*

        Oh geez! I was thinking why are they saying “glass bowls” instead of “chocolate teapots”??

  33. anon for this*

    I had just been hired by a large medical school you’ve definitely heard of for a role that turned out to be quite different than my impression of it during the interview process. I was trying to make the best of it, but a few weeks after my start date, I got the flu. BAD. Like, I had a 104 degree fever and could barely speak. My boss and the faculty member I was supposed to be working on a project with LOST IT. Like, you would have thought the office had burned down rather than an employee who was still being trained was too sick to work.

    I didn’t know what else to do, so I came in as soon as I could stand upright (I still had a fever), and was berated by my supervisor for missing work. The faculty member (a pulmonologist) simultaneously yelled at me for being out and sprayed lysol at me while covering their face with their sleeve for clearly being sick at work. The next few days/weeks are a blur, but I do remember my supervisor yelling a lot, the faculty member trying to hit me at one point and making me run up 10 flights of stairs after them even though I could barely breathe. There was other stuff too, but that’s the worst of it. I ended up with pneumonia, and both my supervisor and the faculty member (may I repeat, a pulmonologist!) were very put out by that.

    I didn’t know what else to do, so I talked to the manager who had hired me, even though I didn’t directly work with them. I came at it from the angle of, “I want to be successful in this role, but I’m encountering x and y and I’m not sure what to do, do you have suggestions?” Manager was horrified and asked me to please document everything while they looked into it, and email it to them by the end of the week. I had a background in compliance so that was easy enough to do.

    Well. Little did I know that both my supervisor and the faculty member had both had numerous complaints against them but not enough had been documented to take disciplinary action. After I emailed manager the log, the next thing I knew I was meeting with the Dean of the school, the department chair, and the provost about what was going on. They were all appalled, said they would handle it, and offered me a slight promotion under a different supervisor. I actually had gotten an offer from another department at that point that I chose to take instead (they offered to give me good references even though I hadn’t been there that long at that point), and I was out of there less than 4 months after I started.

    My supervisor ended up getting demoted, the faculty member faced some sort of serious disciplinary action that I wasn’t privy to, and I got a big promotion and a raise and ended up working with an awesome boss for the rest of my time at the school.

    1. Wisteria*

      “I want to be successful in this role, but I’m encountering x and y and I’m not sure what to do, do you have suggestions?”

      This is great wording, and I am going to steal it.

  34. SleepingSatellite*

    I was actually going to share mine as a good news letter with you at first, but maybe it’s better in this context.

    Put it simply, thanks to the management in place, my old team was toxic beyond repair. And I knew that from AAM that I couldn’t fix it, this was one of those places where you like to dream of finding a job that will ‘show them all’, but the reality is much harder to achieve because of how bad things are and the damage it does to you. One of the coworkers was a total frenemy who was in a senior role, and took complete advantage of me at my lowest people pleasing self. Passing off my knowledge and ideas as their own, downplaying my effort, calling me a pushover yet taking complete advantage of my low self esteem at the same time. All while maintaining a ‘friendship’ outside work at the same time. I can recall this person planning to visit me at my home at a pre-arranged time of 12pm, only to arrive at 230pm. This person then tagged along while I picked up my kids from school, gave them dinner and got them ready for bed. They didn’t leave until almost 10pm and you can imagine my partner’s reaction!

    Fast forward a few years later and this person ended our friendship after I didn’t take their side in a dispute of their own making. During a year of lockdown I was able to work on myself and find an amazing job opportunity. I applied for it with a healthy mindset and used the fantastic advice and tools shared by Alison and everyone on this site. I didn’t set out to get a new job that would ‘show them all’, but I did! The coworker did try to reach out and make amends but I was determined to leave all the old drama behind and I have no regrets about leaving that bridge burned. And now I think I can say I definitely have closure!

    1. Sick of Workplace Bullshit*

      Congratulations! And no, you didn’t burn a bridge, you constructed boundaries. Good for you!

  35. nonbeenary*

    A tale of petty revenge: This is a little nepotism-y but–when I first got hired with my company a couple years ago, I was working out of a small regional office. Manager and coworkers seemed nice at first, but things slowly started to get uh, weird. It’s a very long story but to shorten it: Manager was trying to push me out bc she wanted a relative of hers to have my position.
    After a very bad meeting with Manager where I tried to negotiate for my hours back (she’d cut me from 25/wk to 9/2k with no warning and some very flimsy rationale), and Manager made some uhhhh not great comments about my gender identity and work ethic, I called my dad.
    My dad is the vice president of the company.
    He’s very close with the president of the company.
    By the next day, I had a new manager, new position, and was work-from-home until I was able to move and transfer to an entirely different office (where I learned that my previous manager had basically not been letting me do ANYTHING I was supposed to be learning how to do–and yet she had complained that I was lazy and didn’t do enough????).
    It embarrasses me a little bc I know I wasn’t, like, an AMAZING employee and probably didn’t deserve to have anyone go above and beyond for me the way they did–but it turns out I wasn’t the first employee Manager had treated poorly, so yknow if my Super Nepotism Powers helped her see some consequences and helped my coworkers out, then I’m fine with it. And now that I’ve actually been allowed to do tasks, I’m able to do what I was hired for: Lightening my colleagues’ workloads and making things easier for them.

    1. Ally McBeal*

      While I understand why you’re a little embarrassed about the nepotism thing, I do think it’s hilarious that Manager attempted nepotism without (apparently) knowing that the person she was trying to force out had a family connection much higher on the company food chain than Manager.

      1. nonbeenary*

        Actually the hilarious thing is, she DID know about my dad, as he’s the one who passed my resume on to her. Idk what her reasoning there was: “I’m gonna do a nepotism, but surely the literal VP of the company, who helped get his child hired at my office, will not interfere in MY nepotism with HIS OWN nepotism, right??”

        1. Mental Lentil*

          Wow, this is really not nepotism then. She was doing an absolute terrible job and was fired for that.

          1. Mongrel*

            I mean it is, no other new employee would have been able to call up the VP like that and have the complaint acted upon.
            What it is is a rare case of nepotism being used for good.

        2. LadyHouseOfLove*

          I’m guessing the Manager thought you would be too shy about using your connection like she was trying to use hers. That backfired!

          She does not sound like an intelligent person.

          1. Amaranth*

            I wonder if Boss might have thought VP was ‘passing on for a friend’ not ‘this is my kid, teach them but Here Be Dragons if you aren’t a good boss.’

  36. Not Weird Weird But Like Exciting Weird*

    After 5+ years in the Teapot Support Services department, my grandboss fired me for what she considered a personal slight after 18 months of gaslighting and a weak PIP in an attempt to drive me out. [That is its own AAM letter.] My boss—who was a mere cudgel for grandboss—told my coworkers that I would never work for their department again. Which was true. However, since I was good at my job and built up professional goodwill throughout the company, people simply funneled work through different departments so I could freelance for them.

    A year to the day I was fired, a manager from the Teapot Creation department asked if I could finish out another person’s contract and work onsite for several months. I accepted, partially because it was a steady gig and good money but admittedly because 1. grandboss and boss couldn’t do or say anything about it because 2. their department supported my new department. So in a small way, they were now working for me.

    Any time I saw either of them, I would smile broadly and make pleasant small talk. It killed both of them. I was fully protected from their games and BS. The bullies could do nothing, and everyone else knew the score.

    1. #Null*

      I was once hired to replace the sole bookkeeper, Sheryl, for a firm, but she didn’t know it. I was hired through an agency, and the toxicity of this woman was palpable. She was quite accustomed to using her tongue and it was very sharp. She tried her damnest to get me to quit. I cried A TON. In retrospect, I don’t know why I stayed on, but I did.

      We needed to hire a temp to help for a week at the beginning of each month, and the one agency the company had used for ages refused to place anyone with us because of Sheryl’s abuse to the previous placements. They were direct about their reasons.

      I waited 11 months for this woman to be terminated. I took absolutely no pleasure in her termination, but she was absolutely besides herself when she learned I was taking her job and she was fired.

      Then we had a very awkward lunch where it was suggested me and two other ladies go with her to lunch…

      1. Not Weird Weird But Like Exciting Weird*

        Eleven months is a LONG time. I’m sorry you went through it but am happy there was a satisfying ending.

        I waited for them to fire me because I did not want anyone to take away my pride in my job and my work ethic. I knew I wasn’t doing anything wrong; in fact, a coworker and I did our jobs and my direct boss’s job since she had never worked in the Teapot industry before. She was specifically hired for her “people skills,” of which she had none. She kissed asses above hers and refused to listen to any or her direct reports, who had more industry experience and only wanted to help. At least six people told me that they specifically mentioned her incompetence in their exit interviews. Of course, nothing was done, and she was pushed into lateral positions before finally getting let go—THIRTEEN YEARS after her start date. Really.

        She fired a coworker who was a giant in the Teapot community a few months after I was canned (in my PIP, I was “strongly encouraged” not to talk to him because he had a “bad attitude” and it would reflect poorly on me; eff that!) and then showed up at the party we threw for him at a local bar. And the week after that, she called to asked him to freelance. Really.

  37. Bee Eye Ill*

    Just remembered this one – Not a boss but a mid-level “senior” type guy I worked with was a huge a-hole who tried to shift blame to people for random things, loved to fudge his time cards, overbill clients, etc. The type who constantly talked about how busy he was – you probably know the type. Walking chaos.

    So this guy takes a 2-week vacation – first real leave he’d taken in over a year – and things were so quiet and smooth around the office that the boss finally realized how much trouble he’d been causing – and fired him the day he came back from PTO.

    1. KateM*

      So that’s why they say not to take time off fearing that others will find out how well they can do without you.

  38. mcfizzle*

    I had a really toxic coworker who left for another department within the same organization, but then was pushed out (he fully deserved it). Unfortunately, with some major changes in management who didn’t remember him, he reapplied back to my department about 3 years later. I warned my boss about how terrible he was, and… boss hired him. Dude was 15 minutes late his first day – no explanation, no apology, just slowly sauntered in. It only went downhill from there. We’re salaried, so no clocking in or out, and he would always come in late, leave early, and take a long lunch. The “work” he did was organizing his kids’ sports team, planning vacations, and talking a lot of trash (including about me). I know it’s petty, but I started tracking this, as it was egregious. Boss was “talking” with him all the time, but dude was not interesting in changing his behavior.
    Finally we had a big, formal, scary team meeting with the grandboss (also the CFO), boss, and members of the team. Dude is correctly called out by management, loses his cool, and *very* passively-aggressively shouts out “well, SOMEONE has been trying to sabotage me since day 1!!!”. I knew he was talking about me though I never, ever have sabotaged anything – he did that all by himself. I realized he was counting on me to respond… and I didn’t. If he couldn’t be bothered to say my name nor look at me, I wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of responding. So I just sat there, calm and cool. Oh.. that moment was beautiful. No one responded at all, and this heavy, awkward silence just hung there for about 30 seconds. He then screams it again “SOMEONE has been trying to sabotage me the whole time!!” Again, no one acknowledged it at all.
    Grand-boss found me afterwards and commended me for how I handled myself. Dude was forced to resign about 2 months later.

    1. Sparkles McFadden*

      Laughing to myself imagining “I said…SOMEONE has been trying to sabotage me! Hello? Can anyone hear me?”

  39. Texas Librarian*

    In college, I worked at a large video chain (this was early 1990s). When I started, we had a wonderful manager and then she got transferred and we got Jeff. Jeff started harassing the female assistant managers, although not me (I’m female). It so happened that the chain sent random employees a survey to fill out (by mail) and I was one of those employees. The survey was geared to very positive responses, so I added my own narrative, with specific examples of how he was harassing women. About 2 weeks later, the district manager was in with Jeff and the harassment stopped. The two assistant managers somehow knew it was me and were so appreciative.

    1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

      First thing i thought was “Texas Librarian must have worked at Rose Video!” Love me some Schitt’s Creek!

  40. Search Me*

    This was about 15 years ago, so email systems were a lot less intuitive and had a lot less storage. To archive old messages, you literally had to put them on a different server, so you had to access the archive server to search for an email there.

    My job at the time was experiencing turnover and drama. I worked there for several years with perfectly solid reviews, but it became very clear that I was being pushed out and at the same time was regularly told that I was a terrible employee. It went on for about 6 brutal months as I tried to find anotoher job or fix the broken one that I had. Then I got a new job.

    I gave my two weeks. Knowing the bridge was well and truly burned, as I completed the remaining work on my plate I transfered the emails to the archive server. By my last day, there was not a single email in my inbox. Now, my managers had access to my email and they had access to my archive. I found out later that they couldn’t figure out what I had done. They searched my folders and my trash and couldn’t find emails they knew I had sent. They did not search the archive server. to be honest, by the end of my tenure I wasn’t working on anything significant, so my act of responsible rebellion was more of an annoyance than anything else. But, it allowed me to take back some of the agency that had been beaten out of me.

    1. Not Proud Of Myself*

      I once quit on the spot (and it was a truly toxic environment that deserved every bit of my no-notice termination) and one of my last actions was to mark all email as read. I wasn’t trying to be malicious, but it felt delicious knowing that they were going to have to scramble to piece together what was needing attention.

  41. Crisy*

    My old job had a rule that only 2 people could be off for vacation at any given time. This meant that senior staff usually claimed holiday weeks at the beginning of the year and no one else ever got them. One year, I was alerted that 2 people had put their names on the team calendar for the week of Christmas, but had not actually put their requests in. Meaning they did not have the week off. I quickly requested the week and told another coworker to do the same. That’s the only time I had Christmas week off working that job. And what a glorious week it was!

  42. Another health care worker*

    I work in the field of substance use/mental health.

    My former boss sent an email to a group of our company’s corporate clients and investors all about my report, “Alex.” The email told a heroic story of how early young Alex was in her own recovery when she first came to us, including specifically saying she had only been sober 30 days when in fact it had almost been a full year. (Length of sober time is a very big deal for people in recovery, which my boss knew.) Guess who wasn’t copied on this email? Alex herself. So I forwarded it to Alex, who was pissed and who confronted Boss about the inaccuracy…not to mention that she was never asked for input or consent before the email *about her* went out. Using her first and last name, the whole 9.

    My boss irritably told me she was “surprised” that I forwarded the email to Alex. I brightly said that I assumed she would want to see it, since it was a public communication that was all about her. Alex and I both left within a few months of each other.

    1. PhyllisB*

      Good for you and Alex. My daughter works in substance abuse, and that would never fly with her.

      1. LF*

        It took me a few reads, but I think Alex was an employee, not a client.

        (But you’re not wrong, of course!)

  43. Elizabeth*

    I had a manager who wasn’t terrible but was mostly clueless. He first decided that the four women in the department would share an office while the two much newer male hires would get their own offices. Next, he invited us to a team building dinner at a local restaurant, to which none of our spouses were invited. Except the day of the dinner he announced that his wife would be joining us.

    I was torqued. I started by stopping cleaning up his political messes. He was constantly offending people and I was usually the one to sooth the ruffled feathers. I quit doing so.

    Next I went to the head of HR with the office issues along with emails he sent to us from his personal email that could best be described as off color. I asked that someone at least explain to him why what he was doing was wrong.

    About two weeks later, his boss announced that we would be hiring a new manager, and he was moving to an individual contributor role. His trajectory took a severe downward spiral after that, as HR told every manager who we hired to talk to me about the history. And I would lay it out for them. He eventually left because he saw that he would never be trusted again.

  44. Sam*

    I worked a part-time customer service/admin job in a small office while I was in college for three years. It was a really great job with wonderful coworkers until we got a new manager as I started my final semester of college. During the semester my schedule did not really overlap with hers, but after I graduated I worked full-time in the summer to save up money before starting grad school in the fall.

    The manager was terrible and my coworkers already had warned me but it felt like she was trying to make me quit. She would give me useless tasks like literally alphabetizing paperwork from years ago that was already organized. Meanwhile, she gave new people more difficult tasks without any direction, then yelled at them when they made mistakes, and made me redo their work. She never had me complete the tasks first or even train the new folks.

    One time I worked the evening shift with only one other coworker, who was a sixteen year old who had just started that week. Our boss gave her the keys to lock up the office after the shift. The next morning, she yelled at me because my coworker had not locked the office properly and that was somehow my fault because I had been there for three years (but was not given the key?).

    I knew I was leaving soon so I just shrugged and worked my final weeks. Now in my country, every employee works on a contract and my yearly contract ended in August, shortly before I was moving for grad school. On the last day of my contract, I just left my keys and badge on my desk. When I didn’t show up the next day, she called me and I ignored her call. My coworkers then informed her that my contract was not extended (because she forgot!) so I assumed I no longer worked there and had already said goodbye to them. She got really mad and when I heard I felt so petty but so good.

    Six months later my former coworkers, at least those who were left because many had already quit, went to HR as a group and demanded she’d be fired or they’d all quit. She was gone two weeks later.

        1. Where's the Orchestra?*

          Don’t know about all regions, but at least where I live (Mountain Region of the US) the person locking up must be a Legal Adult due to some policy somewhere. So for us, the 16 year old wouldn’t legally be allowed to have the keys to lock up (an 18 year old would be allowed though).

  45. Hour by hour*

    When I was in grad school, I was working two part-time jobs during the summer break from classes – one in the morning, and one in the afternoon. I was trying to save up some money, so naturally I crammed every minute I could with work. As part of that, I agreed to any extra evening/night shift that my afternoon boss offered me – which ended up being a LOT, since my coworkers there were not the most reliable. Of course, after working 14- to 16-hour days, for 6 days a week, for nearly three months straight, I got sick. I ended up needing to take almost a week off to recover, which was all the more difficult because I didn’t qualify for PTO at either job.

    Once I finally recovered, my afternoon boss pulled me aside my first day back in the office. He lectured me for nearly an hour about how irresponsible it was of me to take a full week off sick, how I had really left them in the lurch, and how I would need to “grow up” and “be professional”. I was so tired and worn down that I very nearly cried, but after I was released from that nightmare to go back to my desk, I started getting mad.

    Instead of doing my work that afternoon, I ended up creating a very detailed spreadsheet and report of every single instance from the last few months where I had picked up a shift, stayed late, or other wise gone above and beyond what I had officially been hired for. Before the end of my scheduled shift, I dropped off a printed copy at the boss’ office, and told him, “According to my math, the extra shifts I’ve picked up at your request over the last several months is more than five times the amount of time I took off while I was sick last week.”

    The next day I was in, he apologized to me for what he said, and gave a very nice little speech about how much he appreciated all the extra hours I had covered. Which was nice of him to do – but I still turned down any extra shifts for the rest of the time I worked there.

    1. T J Juckson*

      Bravo! Nobody dares argue with spreadsheet!
      I recently made, what I referred to in my mind as the “spitesheet,” to counter a complaint by my boss, complete with completely superfluous tacky graphs.

      1. Hour by hour*

        It definitely taught me the value of having hard numbers at my disposal! That boss wasn’t a bad guy, overall, but I think actually seeing all the numbers laid out in front of him was a bit of a surprise.

        1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          Berating someone for missing work because they were sick makes them a poor manager, at the very least. In my book, though, that also makes them a bad person.

  46. Viki*

    TLDR: Sexist colleague is a jerk to me in meetings, talking over me. I make him lose his long desired promotion as well as steal his department goals (by just being that good at the job)

    I had a colleauge, T. T is a man. We were hired on the same date, same position (Cat heders Policy analysts). T acted like he was my team lead. He constantly interrupted me, talked over me and repeated my ideas to our leadership team in meetings, after telling in the same meeting why it would not work. T was highly ambitious, wants to be SM of cat herders policy analysts. Nothing else will do. He talks down about the other teams, about how stupid you have to be to work for them.

    T and I do not get along. But we were both the high performers on the team I was asked to take an interim management role for our highly specialized team, I declined because I don’t like managing, and would prefer to be an SME. T got the role, I went back to the SM told them exactly how T could not/would not manage me due to his sexism, which was noticed and commented upon by leadership before (remember those meetings?)

    T did not get to keep that position, as the team is a strong mix of men and women and other women on the team had complained as well. However, T had already set his signature, announced it to the company at whole etc. etc. He then had to walk it all back.

    Four years later, T is in management but for one of the teams, he talked down about. I still work on the team, except I’m now the SM of the Cat Herder’s Policy Analysts (oops).

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        SME = Subject Matter Expert

        SM = Not sure about this one. Maybe Supervising Manager?

      2. Cheerfully Polite Grey Rock*

        SME is usually subject matter expert, I am not as sure about SM but given the context I’m guessing it’s Senior Manager.

  47. Veryanon*

    The job I had before my current job was a complete sh*tshow. I was promised many things (in writing!) during the interview process that just evaporated as soon as I started there. The company was sold after I had been there for 2 months, and I was notified that my job was being eliminated. Two months after I started.
    The worst was that my manager was a complete nutjob screaming banshee who would often pace around the office muttering to herself. If anything went wrong, even if it was someone else’s fault, she would physically stand at my desk and berate me in full view/hearing of everyone else (thanks, open concept office environment). She did this to everyone.
    The first time it happened, I was so shocked that I really didn’t know how to respond and I just sat there, then crept off and cried in the ladies room. I should note that I have been in the workforce a long time, over 20 years when this incident occurred, and had never previously cried at work. I vowed this would never happen again.
    The next time she decided to berate me for something that wasn’t my fault, I held up my hand and just said “I’m going to stop you right there. I can’t understand what you want when you scream at me like this. If you want me to fix the problem, you’re going to have to calm down and talk to me rationally.” I figured I had nothing to lose at this point as I’d already been told when my job was ending and was actively searching for another opportunity; the worst she could do was fire me, which frankly would have been a relief. She was shocked enough to stop in mid-rant, and then proceeded to describe the problem in a more normal tone of voice. Afterwards, everyone in the office made a point of congratulating me on felling the beast.
    I left that job a few weeks later, and was able to give her my notice ON MY BIRTHDAY. Best birthday present I’ve ever received.

  48. ChemistryChick*

    My first non-retail job out of college. Boss was a massive jerk. Misogynistic a-hole to the max. At first I didn’t realize that things he was doing constituted sexual harassment, bordering on hostile work environment; I just knew he really irritated me.

    Things came to a head when he claimed that I and a co-worker didn’t respect him. Well, no, we didn’t because he treated us like garbage (we were both confident women who didn’t take his crap). Eeeeverything came out at that point. How he’d talked about another co-worker’s chest even after being told to stop. How he made jokes about another co-worker’s sexual orientation (with the co-worker right there with us) and continued to laugh even after we told him it was inappropriate. The list could go on, but those are the worst two I remember off the top of my head.

    He was removed from the supervisor spot and moved laterally to work under the CEO on projects. Which, in hindsight, was BS, but hey at least I didn’t have to deal with him anymore, right? Thinks went on for a bit, he continued to suck at his job and for reasons I can’t remember, either didn’t get a bonus that year or it was lower than he wanted. So he walked. A few weeks later, I applied for and got the job he vacated. Impressed the CEO and multiple others with my skills up until I left for a better opportunity.

  49. different username to avoid linking to my usual one*

    I developed and teach a sophomore-level science writing course at my college. It’s actually open to all majors as long as you’ve completed the (couple of science courses) prerequisites; and I’ve had pretty much every science/engineering discipline represented over the years, as well as math and even IT administration. My students are amazing, and the range of backgrounds and interests makes the course an absolute thrill to teach.

    Over the years, a handful of people outside my department have, without consulting me first (or even looking at the course description) “decided” that my course is perfect for a variety of paired-course arrangements, freshman-seminar status, etc (it is not suitable for any of them) so I’m accustomed to having to explain what should be obvious. But I was still taken aback by the adjunct in the English department who came to my office to “explain” to me, based on his extensive experience in tech writing, all the reasons why my course was “inadequate.”

    Him: You don’t do enough writing in the course!
    Me: Oh? When did you look at the syllabus? [knowing full well that he would not have seen it]
    Him (stammering a bit): But…but…your course doesn’t work for engineering majors!
    Me: Really? I mean, I guess you couldn’t know this because you wouldn’t be able to access enrollment information, but it’s actually a pretty even split between the folks on the engineering side and the folks more on the life sciences side.
    Him (getting angry): But…but…STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, AND MATH!!
    Me: You’re right! And actually one of my best students from a couple semesters ago is a math major, and her final project was incredible.
    Him: But…but…your course doesn’t serve the students!!
    Me (no longer willing to respond “neutrally”): Stop. You have clearly not read even the course description, let alone the syllabus. You are not qualified to tell me anything about how the course that I developed and have taught for years falls short. Get out of my office and do not bother me again.

    He tried to stammer other stuff, but left. Thankfully, I haven’t heard from him since. More thankfully, I’m pretty sure that was the last time anyone tried to appropriate my course!

    Why, yes, I DO have the temerity to hold a PhD in the physical sciences while female; why do you ask?

    1. Tau*

      That is epic, and also – as someone who did a maths PhD and read a number of papers in the process of that – my god, your course sounds fantastic and I’m kind of jealous of your students now.

      (The closest I came to a STEM writing course in undergrad was the one that taught us how to use LaTeX. I mainly ended up leaning on my experience writing fanfic to write my thesis – it was more useful than I expected but still not ideal!)

    2. Where's the Orchestra?*

      As the daughter of an Engineer (Chemical, and now retired) thank you for your writing course. My dad spent the last several years of his long career trying to teach baby chemical engineers how to communicate with non-engineers (he was specifically asked to to this by the company he worked for). I was occasionally shown some of their writing – oh my word, gibberish from my kindergarten students at times was more intelligible than what these PhD’s were producing (and, sorry in advance if this seems sexist), and without fail the worst of the worst dreck always came from the male engineers. . . .

      1. cncx*

        Same same, the last ten years of my stepfather’s career were literally spent teaching whole adult PHDs and Postdocs how to write papers for journal submission. Woo wee some of the stuff he got as first drafts :)

    3. Vesuvius*

      As someone who has OFTEN been on the receiving end of this type of sexism (and is in a field where half the people in it, engineers included, think that technobabble is comprehensible), thank you for both teaching this and not putting up with his BS. I cannot tell you the NUMBER of times I have read a geologic report for an assignment, and have had to run it through my own edits to understand what the writer is saying. These are reports published by IRL licensed professionals. Many of whom think it is “obvious” what they are saying is correct. (Cue my eyes rolling out of my head.) And the number of men who pull this BS…sighs.

      Great put-down and very satisfying to read!

  50. atgo*

    I’m a product/project manager for software. I was working at a site you probably use every day, where we were looking for a new vendor for some critical infrastructure. The tech lead and I, both women, were vetting vendors alongside the non-technical internal client, another woman.

    We got on a call with this guy who was unbelievably condescending and misogynist. At one point he actually replied to a technical question with something like “alright ladies, you don’t need to worry about that.” I was so glad we were on the phone because I’m sure if we’d been in person it would have been accompanied by some creepy hand-on-knee and a knowing wink. This guy was so slimy.

    So I responded that he hadn’t addressed the question, and doubled down with a tirade of technical jargon, getting really detailed about the specifics of what we were asking. Then my tech lead jumped in to elaborate.

    And then, silence. The guy obviously had no idea what to do… It was clearly unimaginable that we might know what we were talking about, and wouldn’t be charmed by his slime. The next time we spoke to this company, he brought along an engineer who did 99% of the talking. What the slimy sales guy did say was very careful – he was obviously (appropriately) embarrassed.

    My non-technical colleague still talks about the smack down to this day.

    1. Elizabeth Bennett*

      YYYYYYEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSS

      My story isn’t nearly on par with yours, but was satisfying. At lunch in the breakroom with three male coworkers; one was so quiet that I forgot he was there. One was kind of a big mouth, but mostly harmless. I forgot what prompted the conversation, but big mouth said that basically while he respects women and all, there are just some things that men do better than women.
      I had been cramping that morning, and wasn’t feeling my best, so I piped up, “I’m about to have my period. Can you do that better than me?” And he was so grossed out he couldn’t recover his argument.
      Dude to my left is laughing his head off and the quiet guy that I forgot was there, later told the laughing guy he didn’t see that coming.

  51. Apathetic Agnostic*

    As a student worker, I had a fellow student who was obnoxious about their religious beliefs, or rather the lack thereof. This student was aggressive about their atheism, constantly being antagonistic towards our peers who were religious by trying to argue with them about why their religions were wrong and loudly going on rants about why people who are religious are unintelligent. I was never a target of their attacks, as I am also not religious, however I did not agree with their actions. Right before I left that job, I used their information to sign them up for every “contact me with more information about your religion” service I could find. Catholicism, islam, even things like scientology – if there was a mailing list they were on it. I don’t know what ended up happening, but I like to imagine their fury as their inbox was filled with informational pamphlets and their phone inundated with spam calls.

    1. allathian*

      Ouch. I’m a secular humanist and have absolutely no patience with people who are obnoxious about other people’s religious beliefs. That said, I think that religion is and should be a private matter and I don’t think it should be discussed at work unless you’re discussing some form of religious accommodation with your manager/HR. Members of minority religions should also not be expected to discuss their religious beliefs at work as a matter of informing the majority.

      I profoundly despise proselytizing in all its forms, and that should definitely be banned at work. This includes atheists berating believers for their religious beliefs.

    2. Selina Luna*

      I’m a fairly staunch atheist and I also think this student was being a jerk. My personal rule is, I won’t bring up religion at all until someone starts harassing me about there’s. Not just telling me about it, but actually harassing me about it. Once it reaches the point of harassment, I feel like they’ve earned a little assholery in return.

      1. Kaitydidd*

        Same. I will, however, also answer direct questions. An older man at work once went around doing a spiel about Jesus as he relates to Jack o lanterns. Part of it was candle light shining out like Jesus’s light through… holes? I don’t remember. It was a decent metaphor. He asked me, “do you have the light of Jesus in you?” I said, “No, I don’t think so.” He stared at me slack jawed for a moment and then jumped back into his script. I don’t think he expected the little 20 something girl to deny his god right to his face. It’s also worth mentioning that we worked for a state agency at that point, so honestly the religious proselytizing was extra inappropriate.

  52. MissBliss*

    This is small, so maybe not quite a triumph, but it’s always meant something to me. I spent 2.5 years in my first job in my current field. They hadn’t had someone in my position in a few years, and the position morphed because I brought a lot of skills to the table, but the salary didn’t really keep up. I’d been there a couple of years and I was thinking about the future – I wanted to stay there, because I loved the work and the people, but I wanted to advance (and make more money).

    I went to them with two proposals: keep my tasks the same, but take this most basic one off my plate and let’s get someone else to handle it, and pay me more, OR, I’ll keep half of my responsibilities, take on new higher level work that would allow us to meet strategic priorities, and pay me more. My boss supported me but was on her way out. The powers that be were furious. So I, very sadly, left (on good terms). I told them, for the money they were paying, they could get someone brand new to the field (like I had been I started), but if they wanted someone with even half my skillset, they’d need to pay more. They did not listen.

    They went through three replacements for me in less than the time I’d been there. I heard about it every time. The most recent time they listed the position, they finally raised the salary. That successor has stayed for a while, thankfully, because the work really is important. But if they’d just paid the really, in reality quite modest salary increase I’d requested in the first place, I’d almost certainly still be there, they’d have spent less money on training and recruitment, and they’d raised more revenue because turnover does awful things to a fundraising department.

    I now make double what I made at that first job.

    1. Siege*

      Hah, I have a similar one. When I went into web development, I became the person who knows a little about a lot, and usually enough to get by or figure out where to look for more. So I’m high value, because while on paper I’m a graphic designer and web developer, in practice (and very clearly on my resume) I’m a junior full-stack dev who does graphic design and editing/writing. People don’t seem to realize that they shift your workload, and therefore the company, to accommodate those extra skills. The downside is that tech, at least when I was seriously working in it about 10 years ago, wanted deep knowledge of like one thing.

      So I’m at a horrible misfit of a job. There is a reshuffle of responsibilities that means I end up doing parts of another person’s job (the way the organization ran was apparently “if I like you you can have what you want” and the coworker whose job I took over part of had stopped speaking to me months earlier because she found my personality “stressful”. We literally sat next to each other and she wouldn’t talk to me.) which I’m not trained on, but never mind, I guess I’ll figure out how to schedule a Chinese documentary crew in media opportunities all over the got-damn tri-county region just because the State Department says we can do that. I’ve already added event planning to my web developer, database admin, graphic design, editing, full-time job, why not add media coordinator to my position??

      After it was over I went to my boss with, essentially, nothing left to lose to discuss a change in responsibilities or title or pay or SOMETHING because I was tired of being expected to work 60 hour weeks for 40 hours of shitty wage (they paid $15K under comparable non-profits, so about $100K under comparable private companies). Instead of getting a change to my job description I was put on a PIP because I didn’t like getting to work at 8 AM and sometimes came in at 8:30 when we had no fixed start time and supposedly I flipped off my colleagues all the time. When I was fired, I noted that they were making a mistake they would not be able to recover from because no one with my skillset was going to work for their wage and they weren’t going to get two unicorns in a row, so the company would be out of business within two years. It took four, but I was right, and a large part of it was their inability to replace me causing them to take on major financial commitments to maintain their web presence, etc.

      Whoopsie.

  53. FaintlyMacabre*

    I’ve shared this before, but it still warms my soul when I think of it:

    Several years ago, I had a temp job in a ridiculously dysfunctional workplace. It was a large factory and I along with two other coworkers did office work there. In my head, I dubbed them Micromanager Mindy and Do-nothing Delores. (For this story, know that while she drove me insane as a coworker, as a human being I actually liked Micromanager Mindy.)

    Do-nothing Delores did not like me or Mindy, largely because we actually knew how to do our jobs, did our jobs, and didn’t cover for her when she frequently slacked off of her job. She was a giant suck up, and would bring in treats for everyone in the factory, but always mysteriously ran out before she got to me and Mindy. I could go on, but you get the idea.

    One day, Jim, the grand boss comes in. He’s holding three strips of ten raffle tickets in his hand. The office was having a raffle for charity and there were some really nice prizes- electronics and cash and gas station gift cards. Jim addresses the three of us, saying that while he wanted to support the raffle, as the grand boss it would be inappropriate for him to win anything and therefore had bought the tickets for us.

    Even as Mindy and I are getting out our thanks, Delores has already snatched a strip of tickets from Jim’s hand and walked away without saying anything. (In my memory, she goes off into a corner and hunches over them, crooning, “Preciousss, my preciousss,” but that is probably not what happened?) Jim, Mindy and I exchange a three way eye roll and then Mindy and I make an elaborate dance out of choosing the two strips of raffle tickets left. “Please, Mindy, choose which tickets you’d like.” “No, no, I insist you choose.” “I couldn’t possibly take away your choice. You simply must have your pick.” This continued until Jim more or less threw the tickets at us and walked away, no doubt regretting all the life choices he had made that had led him to that point.

    All week, Delores natters on about the prizes she wants and complains that Jim *only* bought her ten tickets. Mindy and I get in some high intensity eye rolling excercises. Finally, the raffle occurs and the prizes are distributed. Mindy and I both win gas certificates. Mindy also wins one of the higher end electronics. Delores gets diddly-squat. And every time she complained, we reminded her that she had the first pick of tickets. It was beautiful! Never have I enjoyed putting gas in my car so much as when I was using that certificate…

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Ha! If I were Jim, I would be mildly exasperated by the two of you, but also deeply amused.

  54. Malicious Subject-Lining*

    Oh I have a good one. When I first started at my current job, we had one process that needed to be sent off to another department. About two weeks after I finished training, my boss had a sit-down meeting with me because the subject line in my emails to them was “not formatted correctly”, and instead of telling me, the new employee, they asked my boss to discipline me.

    Naturally I was NOT HAPPY since no one had even taught me that it mattered, and it’s not like the content of my emails was bad or even that there was missing information in the subject. Plus, they send emails to us that don’t follow those rules exactly! So, for the rest of the time I’ve worked here, whenever I respond to or forward emails involving that department I edit the subject line to make sure it fits their very important rules. It messes with the conversation views in Outlook when a subject line changes and I always cackle thinking about the mild annoyance I must be causing.

  55. Susan Sto Helit*

    I worked as a cashier at a book store chain during college. One colleague was assigned to the floor but was supposed to back me up as a cashier when the line got long. She usually did not back me up, leaving me to deal with long lines by myself. She also would take the glue that magazines use to adhere the labels and would throw it in my hair. One day, a famous singer/songwriter, who was playing a concert in our city, came into the store, and all the employees were a-flutter. This colleague, for the first time, actually went to a checkout station, and at first I thought she was actually doing her job in backing me up, but then I realized she just wanted to be able to ring up the famous singer. However, he ended up coming through the checkout line twice and he came to my station both times, proving that pure hearts (mine, obviously) are rewarded.

  56. BPlusvsBMinus*

    Small thing:

    During college (US), I was a student worker for the English department. Most of my job was making copies. One day, I was asked to make a graph of the grades for the big research paper at the end of a class that all freshman had to take. I was to compile the data by teacher and by whole grade (papers were graded A, A-, B+, B, B-, etc). I clarified that they really wanted me to do this by whole grade (A, B, C) and not by +/-, etc. Nope, whole grade. As I compiled the data. I could clearly see that some teachers were going to look heavily weighted in different grade groups (a professor giving out more A- and maybe 1 A, looks like they’re giving out “all As”). Having worked in the department for several semesters and witnessing professors “behind the scenes”, my spidey sense said this would be an…interesting meeting when this data was reviewed.

    A couple weeks later, I was asked to re-do the data, broken down by plus/minus. I was not at all surprised. At the time, I felt smug that the whole grade thing was a fail. But now I wonder if the whole grade plan was an intentional blow up — knowing full well it was cause some chaos reviewing it.

  57. Susan Calvin*

    I don’t know if this will be particularly exciting to read, but I still think of it fondly, and I think it netted me my last promotion:

    We’re a software provider for large industry clients (think SAP or Oracle, but more specialized type of software), and were currently pitching a concept for a fairly large project with a not very tech-forward client. Now I’m not sales, but I was already in the lead on a limited pilot project we’d done with this client a year earlier, and had already be-frenemied their IT manager, who was good at his job but the walking definition of Napoleon complex. Most stakeholders involved in this process were very hesitant, because they’d had several failed project in a similar vein before (and I do think some of them were just low-key technophobes), but we did our homework – prepared an in-depth presentation with case-by-case examples, nice illustrations, did several dry-runs and preparatory role plays.
    The day of the presentation comes (remotely, because this is in 2020) and I go through my slides, fend of several smaller butwhatabouts, and get through the most complicated part of the concept without stumbling, and open the floor to questions. Of course IT Napoleon zeroes in on the last part, points out several things adding to the complexity there, and states his doubt that we could adequately address them. I mute myself for a second to adjust my headset, take a deep breath and crack my shoulders, and proceed to lay out the entire logic, in excruciating detail, covering every concern they have ever even hinted at, and speak for what feels like another ten minutes – steamrolling over any attempts to interrupt me before I’m done.

    Once I have finished, I feel like I’ve run a marathon, and there is a beat of silence silence on the call. “Well. I guess that sounds right then.”

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Oh, I ADORE the visual of you preparing to lay the (well-warranted, professional and technical) smackdown…

  58. Oryx*

    My ExJob was working as a librarian at a small career college with a VERY small library. There was enough room for my desk, several computers, and maybe three bookshelves (the college focused on online / digital resources).

    Occasionally due to spacing issues, classes would be scheduled in the library. They were always small, maybe a handful of students, so everyone had a computer and despite my best efforts the library was underutilized as it was, so there was never a concern about them disrupting studying students or what not.

    Well, one of the teachers who had her class there was very chatty. With me, with the students, anyone. But it was a tiny space and you could hear everything. So, one time she has her students in there and they are taking a test and she would.not.stop.talking. Her co-teacher was in there and Ms. Chatty would not stfu. While her students are trying to take a test. She also had no sense to even whisper, but talk at regular volume. The lack of self-awareness was unreal to me.

    So I very politely but firmly suggested that perhaps she and her co-teacher take their conversation outside the library so as to not disrupt the test-taking students.

    She gets all offended by this and asks to speak to me in the hallway and just lays into me about how dare I undermine her during her class (even though a) she wasn’t teaching, she was gossiping and b) she was in my library) and I had no right to do that blah blah.

    Now, what she didn’t know was that I had been in my two weeks and this was my last day at that job. So I just passively stood there while she yelled at me, not saying a word or reacting in any way. When she was done, I smiled and said “I promise, that will never, ever happen again.” She acts all triumphant believing she’d won, and goes back into the library. Her students finish the test and everyone leaves.

    A few hours later as I was finishing up my day, I sent out an all-staff email about how today had been my last day and I wished everyone well. I only regret not knowing what her reaction was when she read it.

  59. Not me*

    I had a boss who was dynamic and incredibly forward-thinking. But she was also egomaniacal and completely intimidated by anyone else who was competent. So none of her ideas ever came to anything because she always sabotaged anyone who could actually get things done. Although I reported directly to her, everyone in the organization went to another of her direct reports for everything, thus isolating some of the true bananas. Well, I was very competent in my job but because I was fat, she was not intimidated by me- she truly believed that I had no chance of a successful career because of my weight. So she decided she wanted to ‘develop’ me so I would be more successful. She would say things like ‘I know you can’t wear nice clothes because of your size but you have to wear X jewelry and Y shoes’. She would assign me to a work trip and when I would arrive it would be a makeover or a manicure. I checked with Other Direct Report who said my appearance was fine- I was neat and professional and clean. Designer shoes were not in any way a job requirement. Fast forward a few years to when she was fired by the board and replaced by Other Direct Report. She applied for a job at one of the top organizations in our industry (a BIG step up from our organization), confident that no one else in the world could possibly get the job. She left our organization bragging to everyone about how she was going to NewPlace and we were all stuck at Old Job. Well, I quietly applied for that job, used Other Direct Report as my reference, and have been successful and happy here at NewPlace for quite a few years while Old Boss is currently unemployed.

  60. cheeky*

    I worked with a real jerk coworker who was relentlessly awful to me and many other people in my group. He was an aggressive guy with a nasty attitude and would argue that his direct reports were doing their jobs wrong and insist that they follow his (incorrect) rules. I complained about his behavior to our (numerous) supervisors over the years, but even when the guy was rabidly picking fights with me in meetings in front of everyone, nothing ever happened to the guy because I had bosses who simply didn’t see the behavior as a problem. My MO in interacting with him was to minimize interactions unless strictly necessary and just let him hang himself with his own rope.

    Well, it took several years for this to catch up to him, but a few years ago, he went to an unofficial company golf tournament, in which everyone was apparently sh*tfaced by 9 am. He was riding in a golf cart when the driver hit a bump and the cart tipped over on its side, crushing the jerk’s leg and breaking his ankle badly. He ended up needing two surgeries and was off of work for 6 months, recuperating. This alone gave me a good dose of schadenfreude, but in his absence, the productivity and morale of his work group shot way up, and my (then new) boss took notice. A very talented coworker came to her and said that he would leave the group if he was forced to worked under the jerk. So my boss decided that the jerk could not come back to the group without a major modification of his role and put him on a workstream he had never done and would have to learn from the bottom up and would therefore not be in charge of other people’s work while he was training. She figured this would make him want to leave the group, and she was right! He was gone within 2 weeks of returning from his leg injury. It’s been harmonious in my group ever since!

  61. Wing-N-Wing*

    My undergrad math prof hated me. I got an A in the class first semester. First day of second semester, she told me, “I had to give you an A last semester because your grades supported it, but I don’t really think you’re an A student or cut out for this career.” Rough feedback for a science major! (I was too young, startled, and naive to report her.) Sure enough, I got a B second semester. But didn’t take her advice to change majors, just changed profs for my remaining courses. We rarely crossed paths the rest of my time at university.

    Payback came 3 years later. The way they ran graduation, they didn’t just announce your name and hand you your diploma, they rotated through all the faculty and someone read a little blurb about every single graduating student. Well, wouldn’t you know that the way it fell out, professor snarlywitch was the one reading the accomplishments for my group? So she, personally, had to announce to the assembly that I, her not-worthy-of-an-A-student, graduated magna cum laude, with a triple major in math, physics, and chemistry, and accepted into the national honor society and the math honor society. My parents said she was absolutely white and shaking. She retired the following year.

    1. Nanani*

      That’s such a horrible thing to say to a student!
      The “weedout” mentality can’t die fast enough.

      Yay for you and yay for karmic timing

      1. Cedrus Libani*

        Some professors are ferociously territorial about who’s “good enough” for their program. I ran into one – barely scraped a B in her course sophomore year, while dealing with what turned out to be an autoimmune disorder. Didn’t interact with her much, either then or after. But the few times I did, she made a point of singling me out in front of an audience, wondering why I was wasting her time and mine by not quitting. (I wasn’t her only target, either – she was well-known for this behavior.)

        At graduation, she sidles up to me and my parents with this obnoxious little smirk-grin, and asks what I will do after graduation. I’ll be a senior groomer at Famous Llamas, Inc., I replied. The professor looked sour. You stayed in the field. Of course, I said. My internships at Famous Llamas went great, and after I trained their whole team on mermaid hair-dying last summer, they decided to hire me at the senior level. I’m super excited about it.

        Professor rolled her eyes. We both know you’re only a Grooming major because you couldn’t handle the work in either Animal Sciences or Cosmetology. Which was a lie. Yes, I’d switched majors repeatedly, but I had good reason. The perils of being interdisciplinary – I’d gotten multiple scholarships that required me to have a specific major, and I’d had to get creative with the paperwork in order to collect them. Also, if she knew about this…I certainly hadn’t told her. She’d been nosing through my records. NOT COOL.

        Pro-level revenge time. “Mom, why don’t you tell her about my scholarships?” My mom, bless her sweet summer heart, could brag about me until the heat death of the universe. She happily launched into an explanation of all the things I’d won – Sheep Council here, 4H there, Future Hairdressers of America, and how Grooming was such a new field but I was such a talent that they wanted to support me even though I wasn’t precisely what they were looking for…you get the idea. Professor stood there for several minutes of this onslaught, looking grumpier and grumpier, until finally stomping off mid sentence.

        *chef’s kiss* Thanks Mom. One of my favorite memories from college.

    2. LabTechNoMore*

      Is it bad that I could immediately guess the major when I read what your professor said? Chemistry department faculty are a special kind of hell.

    3. Where's the Orchestra?*

      My dad had one of those teachers in High School (why are you bothering to take chemistry – nobody from West Virginia understands chemistry – real peach of a teacher). He got his revenge though. . .never mess with a person who has lots of bootleg chemistry experience in the family (moonshiners know a lot of bootleg chemistry if they are successful; otherwise at best your brew tastes bad, worst you are poisoning customers).

      The teacher ended up spending an enormous amount of time trying to explain how a student had access to the supplies and the time to make Nitrous Oxide (aka Laughing Gas) accidentally in their chemistry lab class. Apparently it wasn’t a large quantity, but because of the age of the school building the whole school had to be evacuated for the day. And the police and fire department were called to deal with the “Chemical Incident” as well. No students were harmed, and my dad didn’t get in trouble – it was the mid 1960’s, the teacher was the one who took the heat. And he learned a very valuable lesson – never mess with a budding chemist.

  62. Anon for this*

    I worked at a non-profit org that primarily served a vulnerable community of color, and for some reason (pushover wimp of a CEO, mostly) we had a super racist and grouchy VP. He said derrogatory things about other cultures, forbid his front-line employees from speaking their native language in the office (even though it was the primary language of our clients) and was a general horrible bully. I was one of the other VPs at the tabnle with this jerk, was the only white VP who was actively trying to learn our clients’ language, and tried really hard to be an ally for our marginalized staff – so we butted heads constantly, and he was incredible dismissive and demeaning of my efforts and me as a person.

    A few years into the gig, the state decided they would make anti-racism training a priority for contracted agencies. I jumped at the opportunity and co-developed a day-long training with a colleague I adored – and we even offered the entire thing dual-language! I got amazing feedback from staff who attended and we were super proud of it, and folks from other agencies who came to hear it asked us to come to their agency to train. It was a big success! The racist VP, however, forbid any of his staff from attending, called me “a stupid bleeding heart liberal idiot” in meetings in front of the CEO, and got extremely hostile with me.

    So my colleague and I worked with our state regulatory agency, and eventually we got our curriculum certified to be the mandated anti-racism training for agencies like ours – which made us the statewide trainers. The state folks announced they would make the 8 hour training mandatory for 100% of staff in agencies like mine for the following year. When I hosted the next session that he was legally required to attend, I made a special seat just for him at the front of the room, with a little seating card and everything, and made him sit front and center for the whole 8 hours. Watching him chew his own face off during that training is one of my favorite memories of all time.

  63. Nell Fenwick*

    I have two that still bring me joy…

    First is a follow up to a question/update that has been previously been posted (update is here: https://www.askamanager.org/2018/12/update-since-i-gave-notice-at-work-my-boss-has-tripled-my-workload.html)
    At my new job after toxic job, my boss was really wonderful and super supportive as I worked through the after-effects of my toxic job. About 3 or 4 months in, New Boss and I attended a local industry event, where we promptly ran into Old Toxic Boss. They’d never met, and Old Toxic Boss started introducing himself. New Boss just looked him straight in the eye and said in a knowing tone “Oh, I know EXACTLY who you are” and then walked away. Old Boss looked utterly stunned. It was so marvelous and petty and yet perfectly polite.

    #2
    Same good workplace (post toxic job). We had rented out some items to a company in our same field but across the country. In the shipment on the way back, some things were damaged. The other company got very difficult to deal with regarding the cost to replace the damaged goods and it all got needlessly messy. The folks we were dealing with at this other company were all men and the reps from my company were all women and there was definitely more than a little bit of misogyny to how they were reacting to the situation. Eventually, we decided the time/energy we were putting into the problem wasn’t worth the monetary value of the damage and let them off the hook. However, even after we had given them their way, I got back one of the pettiest emails I’ve ever received that ended, I kid you not, with “We will remember how this played out” (again… we had agreed to NOT charge them for the damage that was clearly their responsibility per the contract). Well, another co-worker found this resolution hilarious, so the next day, we come in to find a poster-sized print out of Snidely Whiplash with the line from the email on it. To that day, the poster is still in my (now former – I’m in a different role/dept, but same company) boss’s office and is now covered with post-its of other petty, overly dramatic things people have said over the years.

  64. Alexis Rosay*

    I had a coworker who typically would only be present at work for 3-4 hours a day. She lied constantly, never finished any work, and set false expectations with clients that the rest of us had to clean up after. Once she didn’t show up to work for multiple days in a row without saying anything, and a family member called our office trying to find her—apparently she hadn’t told them where she was either (according to her social media, she flew to another city to party over the weekend and decided to just stay a few extra days).

    The problem was, she was super charismatic and clients loved her almost no matter what she did. The other problem: she was collecting a full time salary to do no work at the same time as our company was almost bankrupt.

    The last straw was when my boss tried to confront her about her behavior (way too late), she sent an email to the whole team accusing us of hating her because she “cared more” about the work than we did.

    One of my coworkers threw a dinner party and invited everyone on the team except Bad Coworker and our boss. At the dinner party, we hatched a plan: we would refuse to set foot in the physical office as long as she was employed—WFH was unheard of in our company at the time. We presented the plan on Monday, our boss caved immediately and two weeks later she was gone.

  65. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    Pettiest thing I’ve ever done at work:

    I once managed a database. People planned projects for the firm in it. I often coded reports and front end bits for them. I worked for IT, they worked in different departments, never had a problem with any of them.

    ..except one. She was convinced that I was her PA, or something. She’d regularly demand I walk across the road to her office to do errands/answer her questions in person etc. She was fairly high up enough in that department for my boss to want to keep her happy. The reports from the database were NOT good enough for her one day – she demanded a printout of ALL data in the database. Tried to tell her that this would be pointless without some kind of ‘only for year X, only for projects relating to her department’ search.

    Nope. She demanded it all. AND I better bring it by hand over to her because it was raining and she didn’t want to get her new shoes wet.

    Anyone who’s ever managed a database can guess how many reams of paper that poor printer went through but once I was done I gathered them up and went out into the rain.

    In England, during a thunderstorm downpour.

    The LOOK on her face when I unceremoniously dumped a colossal amount of soaked printout on her office floor was one I treasure. ‘What am I supposed to do with THAT much data?!’ she screamed. ‘I don’t have TIME to look at it!’

    ‘You asked, you got’ said the very soaked and much younger Keymaster and went back to her office.

    (Never got any reprisals and she did continue being an ass up till she was fired for slapping a coworker)

    1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      (Although I do recall having the printer break shortly afterward which did add to my workload…so didn’t come out entirely on top!)

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          Yeah, about 2 years later she got told by another manager in a meeting that she was wrong about something and she straight up slapped them round the face. She tried to blame ‘personal issues’ but HR wasn’t having any of it given they’d had loads of complaints about her attitude in the past. So she went bye bye.

    2. NoviceManagerGuy*

      …I think I would take a backup and import the .bak file into a text editor, then print a ream of gibberish.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        I’d totally do that today! This was…ohh so long ago so I didn’t think of it. (Think Windows NT 4.0 era)

    3. KateM*

      You should have covered yourself with all those reams of paper so that you wouldn’t have been so soaked!

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        Wasn’t capable of balancing a huge box’s worth of paper on my head :p

  66. ThisIsTheHill*

    I was a committee clerk for a state senator. That meant I was responsible for ensuring that we followed all of the Open Meetings Act/federal/state rules for public meetings. We had a set schedule, specific day & time each week. A senator with a bone to pick with my boss either didn’t show or showed up late. She publicly, on camera, blamed me for never notifying her about the meeting. Mind you, these are publicly posted, with e-mail & back-up paper invites to committee members – which my boss pointed out in support of me.

    This was back in the pre-laptop days, so I couldn’t pull up the calendar & show that she & her chief of staff both were sent & accepted the notice.

    The next week, I added read receipts. Printed them all off, even for the committee members & lobbyists who weren’t giving me grief. Printed the Outlook responses, screenshot of the calendar, everything possible. She had the gall to try it again, so I quietly handed all of the paperwork to my boss & let him rip into her. It was glorious.

  67. K.E.*

    Some years ago, I worked as the assistant to a politician who bullied me relentlessly, and I discovered through the grapevine she’d been doing exactly the same to a series of young, and in some cases quite vulnerable, female staff since being elected a decade prior. Do bear in mind she was an MP for a party set up to support worker’s rights…

    While working there, I helped contribute to the formation of an independent investigations system for the legislature (not in the US) which was in the process of being set up at the time. After I left, myself and four others made an official complaint through the system, and she was the first politician in our country found through the new system to have been guilty of bullying her staff.

    She had stepped down as a representative by the time the story came out unfortunately, but still, an article in a national newspaper about what a bully you are can’t have been fun! Revenge is a dish best served long after they think they’ve gotten away with it…

  68. PolarVortex*

    My company very much has a bro culture aspect to it, which is improving a bit as the years go on but was a real pain in the seat cushion a few years ago. My director at the time was a big bro, who favored all the other bros and the women who played into the bro culture. I am pretty much the antithesis of that culture, and was in a role that managed people and practically ran half the department on the day-to-day level but was not allowed included in future planning. And due to my folk-metal-head personality, he didn’t have any desire to include me like he did others nor did he include my counterpart Diana (a woman who could care less about bros).

    One time, he and his bros planned out an entire department change. It was to be revolutionary. (Spoilers, every change we made was supposed to be revolutionary and never has been.) It was announced to me and Diana, and all the underlings, 48 hours before implementation. Afterwards as the VP is hanging about and people are chatting, the director asks me and Diana our thoughts, and we start listing off questions about various positions/duties that were not mentioned in this revolutionary change. Just a never ending list of things we couldn’t not have in the future state. It was rather satisfying to see his bug eyed look. Not to mention Diana and I looked like heroes when we then started spitballing solutions to each idea and managed to cobble together a plan to solve most of them so we could still implement in the 48 hours.

    From then on while we weren’t included in initial planning, he never failed to include Diana and I in the late planning stages to at least catch the gaps. I have so many stories of Head Bro and the dumb things that went on in that dept but I still feel smug as heck about proving in front of all and sundry that Diana and I the real power in that dept and that Head Bro and his cohort had no idea about the actual running of the teams.

    1. JustaTech*

      Ah yes, the ever popular “let’s change everything and not ask the people who do the things”. I’ve seen that on several scales from the “why would the building that receives temperature sensitive material need a full-time shipping/receiving person?” (I was able to ask the innocent question and get the nipped in the bud) to the colossally stupid “why do we need a scheduling department, that’s what Outlook is for” during an M&A. (Turns out our scheduling is so complicated we had to build the industry-leading software, and the overlords had to hire everyone back at higher salaries *and* let them keep their severance.)

  69. SwampWitch185*

    This is just petty. Our office building had a very wonky kind of partial geothermal heating system where it took the temp from outside to level the temp inside. It was -15 outside and something with the thermostat broke and it was almost 90 degrees inside the building. Opening a window only made it hotter inside. We had this one coworker who was always complaining of how cold she was and would snuggle up on the male employees including our manager and director, sometimes sitting on their laps. She always did a dying swan act about being cold no matter what the temp was outside. She brought in space heaters and started a small fire. We had to do sexual harassment training ALL THE TIME because of her. It was literally a daily thing. They didn’t fire her for harassment though. Small town hierarchy and what not.

    The thermostat broke the day we had some new interns come in, and we were in the conference room for a meet and greet coffee hour. We were all just sweating like crazy making sauna jokes. She came in wearing her duffle coat, sweat running down her face, doing her chilly Willy routine for the new interns, of which there were a lot of younger men. Everyone was uncomfortable and it was really evident she wasn’t joking. One of them looked right at her after she gave her “omg I’m so cold, you guys” act and said “wow, you need a lot of attention, huh?”

    She took her coat off and went back to her office. We didn’t hear a lot about her being cold anymore after that.

    It was awesome.

    1. Murfle*

      One of the uncommon instances where an intern’s still-developing sense of professionalism can be a force for good. Holy cow!

    2. Hawkeye is in the details*

      That is not petty! That is amazing. And kudos to the junior employee who said it!

  70. Magenta Sky*

    I was working as a temp in a lab that built one of the first successful neutrino detectors. The staff consisted of the professor in charge, and her grad student assistant (who were a couple of stories of their own), and a bunch of temps doing the grunt work. They cycled through the temps regularly because that’s the nature of the work.

    One day, a new guy shows up who is a bit obnoxious from the beginning, moaning about how oppressive the government is, etc. About day two or three, he starts trying to recruit people into the local KKK using a “we have to protect our country from fascists” sort of “logic,” and is fairly (verbally) aggressive about it. In southern California, mind you, not exactly a hotbed of conservative white supremacism. I pointed out to him (this was in the 80s, before the fall of the Soviet Union) that the KKK was most *certainly* financed by the Communist Party in the Soviet Union as a subversive group (which was true).

    For some reason, he didn’t show up after that. (And nothing of value was lost. He was a crap worker on top of everything else.)

  71. Mary Smith*

    I had a boss that was a real bully and would lie/throw her staff under the bus as much as she could. She would ask me to do things that were illegal even (which of course, I refused). I hated working with her and would go home and cry a couple of times a week.

    One time, she asked me to submit a purchasing form “by the end of the day, no matter what you have to do to get it done.” The person on my staff who usually did the form was on vacation, so I did my best and submitted it. Apparently I made some mistakes (not shocking since I didn’t know what I was doing, but nothing really major). It apparently made her look bad, so she decided to formally reprimand me for it. She pulled me into her office with the HR manager (who knew how much of a nightmare she was too, but couldn’t do anything about it).

    I walked in and told her I wanted to talk to her quickly about something when we were done with whatever she wanted to talk about. She said ok and then proceeded to reprimand me for 45 minutes. After exhausting herself, she literally slumped in her chair from the exertion. I waited. She got her second wind and then got a curious look on her face and said “Oh, wasn’t there something you wanted to talk about too?”

    “Oh yes,” I opened my folder, “I quit” and slide my resignation across the table. Her eyes literally bulged, her mouth dropped open, and she shook her head in shock. She tried to ask me about my new job and I wouldn’t tell her anything, so she finally ended the meeting.

    On the way out, HR asked me to follow her back to her office. I did, she closed the door and….busted out laughing and said “That was epic!”. She knew what a nightmare the boss was and she thought what it was hilarious how much I shocked her.

  72. anonamama*

    My first job out of college as an office admin. My job was to order office supplies. Our bookkeeper would ask me to order things as she ran out, so sometimes I was ordering her things 4xs a month. Eventually our boss asked me to just place one supply order a month to streamline costs and time. Bookkeeper was not thrilled. And would send endless emails CC’s thing boss claiming I had not ordered her items etc. I would respond to just her because I thought it was silly she would pull our company CEO into these things. So eventually she just looked like a crazy person always emailing me and CC’in him until one day he finally responded to her telling her to knock it off and not include him in petty matters anymore.

  73. Seen it.*

    This was my favorite work jerk moment in my life.

    I used to work at a University, and every year there would be budget crunches, and the faculty would have to decide where the cuts would come from.

    Most of the faculty loved me. I provided their IT support and I knew all of my users well. Most of the time, I’d worked with them enough to know exactly what they needed to get back up and running.

    However, one Professor in particular didn’t like me, and so every time budget constraints would come up, he’d say something to the effect of “The University offers central IT services, and they’re very good and very responsive. We don’t need to have our own IT person.”

    Officially I wasn’t supposed to know this, but I was close with a number of the faculty, and they’d shared his rant with me. I never said anything about it, just kept doing my job though.

    Finally, it was my last day at work. I was packing up all my stuff and moving to my new job. The professor who was always talking trash came running down the hall, stops in front of me and tells me he has a huge emergency.

    He’s about to give a grant proposal in front of a bunch of House/Senate members, and none of his formulas were showing up! The entire presentation was worthless, as all the math to prove anything wasn’t displaying.

    So I told him (his name was Richard, and he always wanted to be called Richard). I said “Well Dick, I’ve heard that the University offers wonderful central IT services. I’m sure if you call them now they’ll be with your shortly. Have a nice day!”

    He turned beet red, spun around on his heel and slammed his door shut.

    The best (or worst) part of it was I knew exactly what was wrong. He’d used some random Japanese font that allowed him the characters he needed for his formulas. I had a copy of the font sitting on a flash drive in my office. I could have fixed his problem in 20 seconds, because I’d seen it before. I think the first time it took me days to figure out.

    As far as I know, he had to cancel his grant proposal.

    1. anonymous 5*

      This warms my cold, cold heart! (Also I hope that your last day at that job was the segue into either a great new one or a fulfilling retirement…)

  74. Nannerdoodle*

    This happened when I was 24, and it’s probably the pettiest thing I’ve ever done.
    I worked in a department where all the regular employees were micro-scheduled (to the minute) for their whole day to make sure everything got done at the times it was supposed to per agreements with the clients. We had a 1-2 person buffer each day in case people got sick, but their rule was basically “don’t call in sick unless you’re dying or in the hospital” so people wouldn’t call in for “little things”. The buffer people would check the messages in the morning to fix the schedules, and the lady in charge of call ins would also check the messages because she couldn’t give up control of it. She was a jerk and severe micromanager, and made the call in rule (we called in and left a message to a voicemail since no one wanted to monitor that phone at 5am) that when we called in we had to say our name, the date, and the very specific reason we were calling in. She wouldn’t accept just “sick” or “have a cold/flu”. She wanted “I’ve been vomiting for X hours and had diarrhea” or something similar. I hated this. I also almost never got sick. The first time I got sick, I only said “had the flu” or whatever vague thing it was, and she gave me a written warning for that. She said that I needed to be as specific as possible when I called in sick. She wrote several other people up for this as well, so most people didn’t like her.
    Many months later, I got my revenge. I got SICK. Vomiting every 15 minutes like clockwork. I couldn’t keep anything down. And I knew I’d have to call in. So I chugged a bunch of gatorade shortly before the end of that 15 minutes, and called the line as soon as I could feel it coming. I said “I’m Nannerdoodle, it’s ‘date’, and I’m calling in because I’m sick. As far as details go,” then I vomited. Loudly. Horrifically. And I’d kept the phone close enough that it definitely picked up the sounds. When I finished I said “sorry about that, I’m basically stuck next to my toilet” and then hung up. I had the presence of mind to text the person who was the buffer that day who would listen to the message and tell him not to listen unless he could handle the noises.
    I didn’t hear about the fallout until the next day, when I went back into work. The buffer guy told all our coworkers about my message, because he thought it was the funniest thing he’d ever heard. They were all waiting for her to listen to it. Turns out the micromanager had a very weak stomach (I didn’t know this). She listened to my message on speakerphone in her office with the door open (another issue, but it just makes this story funnier), and as soon as she got to the “good part”, she turned a shade of green and sprinted out of her office to the bathroom. And then had to call in sick.
    The call in rule was changed to just needing to say you were sick, no details necessary. I became department legend.

    1. Baffled Boi*

      Why on earth would she ask for all the gory details if she can’t handle the sound of someone throwing up over the phone???

      1. SnappinTerrapin*

        She was apparently never warned to “be careful what you ask for, because you might get it.”

      2. Nannerdoodle*

        Apparently she was fine with the embarrassment people felt having to list out all the details, but assumed no one would ever make her listen to them. Which to be fair, most people wouldn’t wait to call in until they were actively vomiting. She just underestimated how petty I was.

  75. the case of the pineapple scented air freshener*

    This doesn’t involve me but happened at Oldjob.

    This one place I worked had a very strict perfume policy. Meaning it was not allowed at all. Employees were prohibited from wearing any type of fragrance. Which I won’t lie is not a bad thing. I personally don’t love perfume and to be next to someone in an office isn’t great. Anway… it was mostly because one employee (Jane) claimed she had a terrible allergy to fragrance. Jane went as far as bullying others for their choice in shampoo, hair spray and deodorant claiming she smell everything they wore. She asked HR if they could please stop people from using scented products at all, like deodorant. Jane even wanted people to stop using hair spray. HR basically said sorry we cannot and will not do that. HR’s solution was to move her desk from the person who she said she could “smell” the most.

    Well this only made things worse. The person she was moved next to had terrible allergies. She blew her nose all day and sneezed a lot. This made Jane bully her for sneezing. She would spritz a homemade essential oil blend her general direction anytime she sneezed (please don’t ask me why EOs were ok). Eventually this led to them getting into a screaming match, in front of the entire office one time. The lady who sneezed had enough of Jane. Jane was sent home for the day.

    Fast forward a few weeks later. The entire company is given Pineapple scented car air fresheners as a gift. I do not know why this happened with all the “scent drama”, but it did. We instructed to not open the air fresheners in the office. The next day Jane claimed she could smell the air freshener in her desk somewhere (she did not take one). They had maintenance come bleach her desk and overhead compartments. She still smelled it. They put fans all around her desk to “air it out” and then bleached it again. She could STILL smell it. Eventually someone found an air freshener stuffed in a crevice of her desk. Jane walked out that day and never came back.

    Apparently the lady that sneezed stayed late everyday. They never caught who did it, but I’ll let you form your own conclusions.

    I am not sure if this is triumph story or not. While I totally respect no fragrances at work, Jane often took it too far.

    1. Recruited Recruiter*

      I have an acquaintance who sounds just like Jane. She tried to sue her (former) employer for refusing her “ADA” demands for no fragrances of any kind in the workplace. They offered to ban perfume/cologne, but she demanded that she not be exposed to even people in clothing that had been washed in scented laundry soap, and that they change all the cleaners to unscented “natural” cleaners. In a SCHOOL!

    2. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      My friend worked for a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad boss. Reprimanded her for not wearing pantyhose on a 100-degree day, that kind of thing.

      She got a new job. Someone (I will neither confirm nor deny involvement) suggested that on her last day she leave a tuna sandwich far, far, in the back of a bottom drawer of his desk.

      I never heard how it all turned out, alas.

      1. Sparkles McFadden*

        Pro-tip: If you have a drop ceiling, put the tuna sandwich up there. No one things to look up in the ceiling.

        1. Jaid*

          I managed to persuade maintenance to put a picture of Ceiling Cat in a vent.

          The vent/ceiling tile had warped and they were taking their sweet time to replace it. I put a picture of Ceiling Cat on the wall underneath it. When they came around to make sure they had the right measurements for the replacement tiles, I pointed out the picture and asked if they could…

          And they did! So now I can look up at the vent and see a kitty looking down at me. :-)

  76. Heading out the door*

    My manager was awful in many ways, but one was she wouldn’t respond to any form of communication and was rarely at one of the sites. Knowing she never read emails, I started emailing (knowing I wouldn’t get a response) and including some along the lines of “here’s what I propose. As it’s the busy season, I don’t want to take up your time unnecessarily. If I don’t hear back by xxx I’ll go ahead with the proposed action”. I was able to do whatever i needed to do to get things done, and had a written record that I’d run it by my mgr.

  77. Librarian of SHIELD*

    Mine’s a jerk customer story.

    At a library where I used to work, the children’s help desk was placed just outside the children’s area, so right on the border with the adult section. I was working the children’s desk one afternoon helping a kid find books for his school project, and a man in a suit came up behind him to wait for help. After about a minute, he called out “some of us don’t have all day, sweetheart.”

    Now. I am not usually the person who comes up with a zinger response in the moment. I generally freeze, sputter, and only think of the perfect thing to say hours later. But this day, the lords of sass were apparently on my side, because without even thinking I answered back “Sir, I am not your wife, your daughter, or your partner, and it’s inappropriate for you to speak to me like that. I’d be happy to help you with whatever you need as soon as I’m finished with this gentleman.” Then I turned to the kid and told him we would go find the book he needed and we headed to the shelves.

    When I got back to the help desk a minute or two later, the guy was gone and I never saw him again.

    1. Hawkeye is in the details*

      That is epic! And a great model of behavior in front of a child.

      By the way, I have to say, every time I see you post here, I can’t help but wonder if I know you on Ao3!

        1. Hawkeye is in the details*

          Then there is another SHIELD fan who works in a library! I wrote a fic for them once. :)

  78. Alex the Alchemist*

    Last year I started a part-time social media and communications job at a startup after I graduated with the intent to go full-time after my evaluation. When the time came to negotiate my full-time salary with my grandboss, he offered me about half of what a full-time job in that field would actually pay, with the excuse of, “You can’t just EXPECT to make a living wage.” I kept going there because I needed the money but kept job-searching. During the final month of my stay there, my immediate boss quit because of the way I was treated and almost everyone in my grandboss’s direct team had left for higher-paying jobs. The best part? Now I’m working at a job doing the same thing with half the hours and twice the pay of that job, and I haven’t seen any social media or communications updates from my old company since I left. AND my current boss actually values work-life balance and tells me to meticulously track my overtime.

    Moral of the story: Don’t work for a startup, even when you believe in its mission.

    1. Anhaga*

      “Don’t work for a startup, even when you believe in its mission.”

      Start-ups aren’t all bad! Working for a start-up that isn’t, I’d amend this to, “Don’t work for a star tup that tries to tell you that start ups shouldn’t have to function like normal companies.”

      They will start as they intend to go on. If the start up is treating employees like crap from the beginning, that is not going to change when their balance sheets are in the black.

  79. UKgreen*

    A colleague kept stealing my work – copy-pasting stuff from documents I’d written, and claiming PowerPoint decks as her own.

    So I embedded my name in everything I made – in the footer or the slide master, in a tiny white font. Then when she claimed the work was hers in a meeting I asked for the mouse to ‘point to something’ and ‘accidentally’ highlighted where it said ‘documents created by UKgreen on date’.

    Petty? Hell yeah!

    1. Despachito*

      That was genial!

      (I find stealing others’ work particularly heinous, so 3 times kudos for you!)

  80. Irish girl*

    So this isn’t an office job story. I referre soccer games on the weekends for extra cash and have been doing it for over 20 years since I was 14. I had been assigned a 3 game set in which i was supposed to do 1 as the center official and 2 are the line official which is typical and i can do with no issues. On that morning the ref coordinator told me that 1 of the other refs was not going to show up and that i would have to 2 games. Ok, no problem i can handle that. Well the 3rd person never showed so i was stuck doing all 3 games by myself with no help. At the time I was 23. The ages for the games were 15, 16 and 17 year old boys. Not exactly slow paced games and there is no time in between them for me to rest, go the bathroom or eat so the last 2 games were late getting started with just me. Parents weren’t happy but not much i could do other than my best in the situation.

    I managed to get through the 15 and 16 games with little to no controversy but the 17 year old game started off with the coaches pissed at me that i was late and by myself. Again not my fault or something i could control. We start the game and i was exhausted and it was a tough game and everyone on the field expected that i could see everything that normally my ARs would be responsible for. The parents were horrendous in yelling at me which in turn made the boys yell at me. I told the coaches at half time to deal with the parents and they didnt. There was a situation where the ball may have gone over the goal line but there was no way i could call a goal without my AR in the situation so hell broke loose. I finally blew my whistle and called the coaches on the field and said either all the parents leave and go to their cars or i was leaving as i was not going to take the abuse anymore. I went to the sideline and sat down and drank water. Needles to say the coaches kicked all the parents out and I restarted the game to a quieter field and managed to make it through the rest of the game. It felt soooo gooood to kick those parents out and showed the kids on the field that i wants going to take their shit without repercussions. I called the ref coordinator to explain what happened before i wrote my report. Needless to say the teams got a fine for their behavior and abuse.

    1. KD*

      That is amazing. I play rec sports and without the refs we can’t play. I once tried out reffing. It didn’t go well. I have great respect for those who make it possible for me to play even if I don’t always agree with them. And I certainly wouldn’t have handled the situation as well as you did at 23!

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I was at my nephew’s parochial league basketball game. These were 7 year old kids, the head ref was an older guy, overweight, walked a little slow – but he knew basketball. One of the fans was giving him a hard time for calls and his appearance.

      The ref blew his whistle, got the ball, pointed at the offending fan and said “You. You’re out of here. You’re embarrassing yourself in front of your family and your neighbors.” And stood there glaring until the guy got up and left the gym.

    3. Nannerdoodle*

      Oh man, this reminds me of when I used to ref hockey. Important information: I was a teenage girl when this occurred, which is super rare for hockey refs. I also braided my hair and tucked it into the uniform, so between the helmet and loose shirt, you couldn’t see my long hair at all or see any defining bodily characteristics that could have told you I’m a girl.
      Hockey parents are insane and scream at refs over basically every call. And when they’re exceptionally bad, they wait at the end of the game for the refs to walk out of their special locker room to yell at them some more. After one rivalry game, where I had the most controversial call (other closest ref agreed with the call I’d made), parents were waiting outside the hallway for a bunch of guy refs to come out. This was pre-phone video recording being widespread, but I knew I could call the ref coordinator and get his voicemail. I did so right as I walked up to the parents. I asked them who they were looking for, and they unleashed the worst stream of vitriol I’d ever heard about the refs, because they assumed they weren’t talking to one since I’d changed out of my uniform. I never told them I was a ref, but they figured it out when all the fans were banned from the stands for the next few games.

      Another story about reffing, coaches can only say so much to dispute calls before they get kicked from the game. We were in the first game of a single elimination tournament, and somehow two of the best teams were against each other, so the best the losing team would be able to do in the tournament is win the consolation bracket (like 9th place overall or something). Both head coaches got several warnings in the game (warnings go away after the games, but get enough and you’re ejected), but neither had gone over the line yet. After the game while we were all still on the ice, the coach of the losing team came up, shook the other refs’ and my hands and very calmly said to me “Now that the game is over, that was the worst called game I’ve ever watched, but makes sense because you’re a girl” and followed it up with a few very sexist things I will not repeat.
      I said “I’m sorry to hear that, and am letting you know that due to your comments and this being your 3rd warning of the game, you are ejected from the tournament.” I’ve never seen someone turn that shade of red. And his team didn’t win the consolation bracket.

  81. Lizzie*

    So mine was more of an indirect triumph, but still sweet all the same! I know I’ve mentioned this story in comments before but…my first job out of college I worked for one boss. Who then finagled working from home before it was even a thing. I think, since it wasn’t a thing, the powers that be assumed that since she wasn’t IN the office, there was nothing for me to do! So they assigned me “help” another group. No explanation as to what, or how much time, etc. I’d be doing for them. It ended up being essentially two full time positions. I was tired, stressed, and burned out. This went on for months! Then one day I was told that we had bought out a smaller company, and there were two people, me and someone at the other company, and one job, and unfortunately, they chose her.

    I was upset but actual happy as it was hellhole and I was so over it. My WFH boss was PISSEED as she had not been consulted in this AT ALL. the triumph came when this new person started Monday morning (I was told Friday afternoon!), given this one horrible task I had to do, with almost no explanation, and told to just figure it out.

    Tuesday morning THEY walked out, never to be heard from again. The kicker is I found out from my WFH boss, who “thought I’d want to know”

  82. Twisted Lion*

    I worked at a call center and had the boss from hell who continually harassed me for various reasons. I only worked this job because it was in a small town and my husband was in the Air Force and it was the job I could get. One week, I had to go out of town because my best friend’s mother suddenly passed away. When I came back, in a team meeting, she gleefully informed me that I would be working ALL of the holidays for the remainder of the calendar year (it was March). While I was gone she had the other reports put in for the ALL of the holidays and she said I “had” to work July 4th, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years etc because I don’t have kids. I just nodded and let her feel triumphant and then when she was done gloating about how I should have put in the hours if I wanted them or it would be selfish to take those holidays away from people with children, I informed her I was putting in my notice as my husband had received orders for a new duty assignment.

    Her surprised Pikachu face was beyond satisfying.

    1. Lady Ann*

      Reminds me of when I worked in a place that had to be staffed 24/7. The rule was everyone had to work 2 holidays a year, they’d put out the holiday list at the beginning on the year and you’d sign up for your two holidays. There was a ton of turnover so I’d sign up for more minor holidays at the beginning of the year and ended up never having to work on Thanksgiving or Christmas. I’m not a total jerk, though, so I definitely did my part (for example, one year I worked Easter morning, a double shift on the 4th of July because nobody else signed up that day, and 2nd shift on Christmas Eve, which wasn’t officially considered a holiday but still a shift nobody wanted to work). My boss (who was a jerk for other reasons) told me “next year you HAVE to work Thanksgiving or Christmas because it’s not FAIR that you never do it” even though at that point I was literally the most senior person on staff, having been there for four years. So I happily signed up for both at the beginning of the year…knowing I was finishing grad school in May and I would be leaving the job in June, which I did.

    2. Sparkles McFadden*

      Oh ugh. At my first job out of school, I was told that, as a single person, I was expected to work all of the holidays. OK. Then my boss would assign extra work to me “to lighten everyone’s load.” OK, I’ll do what’s assigned. When we got to the point where I was doing three times the work of everyone else, I went in to the boss and made my case for what my raise should be at the one year mark. Boss replied “Raise? You’re not getting a raise. There are people with families here. They need the money. You don’t.” Being young, I blurted “The next time I come to your office, it will be because I’m quitting.” She laughed at me.

      I started job searching immediately and got something in two months. It was a particularly busy time, so when I appeared in her doorway holding a sign that said “I am giving my notice today!!!” Boss just said “No! No! You can’t quit! We have too much work!” I said “Yes, I am giving my notice and I will now do my ceremonial ‘I quit” dance’ and I shimmied away after handing her my official resignation.

      A little childish but I was only 21.

      1. Jackalope*

        I hate that argument so much. I spent my 20s and 30s as a single person. I know that’s cheaper than, say, being a single parent, but you know what? I too wanted to eat, and have a roof over my head, and electricity, and so on. And I didn’t have a backup if something happened to me.

      2. Bagpuss*

        Yes – fortunately I haven’t ever come against the ‘signle people should be paid less’ argument in my work life, (although I have met a lot of people who don’t get that being single is far more expensiv than being part of a couple) but I have come against the ‘single people should be expected to work holidays’.

        When I was fairly junior, my boss and the other person who made up our immediate department both had children. I was single and didn’t.
        There were two major times I pushed back.
        (i) I had booked time off, about 9 months in advance, for my grandma’s 80th as we planned a big family party. The time off fell during school half term . About 2 weeks before, my boss realised that I had the time booked so she could not book it, and tried to bully me into cancelling my time so she could have it. She threatened to cancel it if I wouldn’t, and tried to guilt-trip me about the fact that she needed to be with her children when they were off school. I told her that I needed to be with my entire family who had been planning this for months, and that if she cancelled my leave, since that was against our organisation’s policies, I would raise a formal grievance. She backed down, but she moaned about it for months afterwards.

        (ii) Same boss. We had one day a week when our department stayed open late to offer a free drop in advice session. When I started, I was told this was covered on a rota basis, so I would have to do it once every three weeks. OK. Then my boss decided that she shouldn’t have to do it, because she needed to pick her kid up from school, and that my coworker shouldn’t be expected to do it as she had a kid, so I would have to do it every week. I said no, I was willing to do my fair share but I wasn’t prepared to take on their responsibilities as well. She decided the drop in session could be moved earlier so no one had to stay late.

  83. J Quitskies*

    I had worked for a couple years in a role with an absent-but-micromanaging boss. You know, the boss who never had time for your questions or to meet with you, or to actually give you the evaluations you were supposed to get, but when she was actually there in the office she’d interrupt your work to try and micromanage the colors of the paper you were printing handouts on, or what font you used in a slide deck (even though she’s a VP). I was unhappy in this job because I was hired to make changes but realized very quickly nobody actually wanted the changes. Although I’d have energy at each of our events, strategizing meetings, and attended professional development where I learned how to better use data to boost our results, the atmosphere of nobody else caring and wanting everything to stay the same was a drag and I grew to hate it. I was always praised for my work, though, because I DID do a good job.

    We were faced with low numbers and they decided to hire someone to add to my currently understaffed dept of one, but higher than my level. I didn’t have the experience of turning things around during a recession like they needed, so it didn’t bother me at first, but I was completely left out of all the interviews and hiring discussions, which was weird and unprecedented. My boss stopped responding to my emails when I needed her approval to book events or make purchases. The week before the newly hired director of my team was to begin work, she took one task we’d agreed a year ago was not a priority and did not actually produce results, and started asking me why I wasn’t doing it regularly. I explained what we’d discussed before and reminded her we’d said I wouldn’t do that while we didn’t have more staff and I had bigger tasks on my plate and it was for down time only, but she started demanding it be done by an impossible deadline. I realized what was happening because I’d seen her do it to someone else before – she was trying to get me to quit or find a reason to fire me before my new senior-level colleague was to start. They most definitely couldn’t afford us both.

    I decided to leave ASAP. I spent that last week (in which she was working from home) with a booked calendar of fake client names so I had time to tie some things up with real clients, emptied out my office, interviewed at temp agencies, and prepared emails to clients that I would send on my last day. Because she never cared about my attempts to collect and use data to inform our decisions, or any of the client resources I’d created from my own initiative (even though they had come to rely on them), I removed all my hard work from the server. I left the minimal amount of info that could help our clients out without screwing them. My favorite part of the week was shredding all the documents and resources I had produced and already printed, *right in front of everyone*. I would casually walk into the large office area where my colleagues and the shredder sat, start a conversation with a co-worker, toss a few things in the shredder or recycling, take more things out of cabinets while chatting and just keep destroying everything, and nobody noticed what I was doing because it looked like I was just doing a massive re-organization. I left them with just a list of clients, their contact info, and updates on each of their current statuses. Everything else they would have to re-build from scratch (I did not violate any intellectual property rules here by keeping my own creations because they didn’t have any).

    I went home that Friday, opened a beer, and emailed my resignation effective immediately. I started a temp job that Monday that turned into a permanent job right away and really boosted my career. The company struggled for years with their inability to adapt and make any changes as the market around them changed, and they recently closed.

    1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

      My principal is like that, absent but micromanaging. As the school year is about to start, I’m having to interact with him more as he wanders around, commandeering preparations and snapping at people. He’s really good at turning excitement for a new school year into dread.

  84. The Prettiest Curse*

    This is completely petty and was very low-stakes. Our offices at a previous job got extremely hot in the summer – we were on the top floor and there was no AC.

    Our ED was a micromanager and something of a bully, but since she didn’t supervise me and also took a liking to me, she never bothered me … but over time, I got really annoyed by the way she treated people.

    Due to the heat, I would sometimes use a couple of squirts of a foot refresher spray that contained eucalyptus so that my feet smelled less sweaty and awful. (Trust me, that was an office with much worse smells than my foot spray … the fridge, for one.)

    My area of the office was sparsely populated and the windows would be wide open when it was hot, so nobody ever noticed or said anything … except for the ED, who would stop in her tracks while wandering past my desk and ask me if I smelled anything strange. I always said that no, I couldn’t smell a thing. Petty satisfaction achieved!

  85. Cheesecake Baker*

    So this is a story of both triumph and reconciliation. This was while I worked part-time as a server at a restaurant. A co-worker of mine, Katie, lived in a fourfold with a really great apartment becoming available in the building. Another co-worker, Vanessa was first interested in the apartment as well as I. Vanessa spoke with the landlord about it. I spoke to him after and told him in the event Vanessa was not interested in the apartment I would take it. Vanessa went MIA on him. I called her and left a VM that I needed to find a new place ASAP and if she still wanted the apartment I would back off and look for something else. I never heard from her, the Landlord never heard from her, so he called me and told me it was mine if I wanted it, so I met him, signed the lease, gave him the deposit, etc.… Once that happened Vanessa was furious with both Katie and I, and told another co-worker she wouldn’t speak to either of us anymore. She was popular at work so a lot of people took her side and ostracized me over it. Work for a month or so was pretty miserable, so I decided to make Vanessa a cheesecake. I brought it in on a day I knew we’d both be there and asked if I could talk to her for a moment, and told her I made her a cheesecake and then left as that was the end of my shift. I found out later that Vanessa had cried over it, and felt awful about what happened and that she was just embarrassed about it. She made things right at work and told people that it was a mistake on her part, and my work life got better instantly, and we’re still friends to this day. So moral of this story, if your co-worker acts like a jerk to you, make them a cheesecake. lol Oh and that apartment was one of the BEST I’ve ever lived in lol.

  86. NoMoreOffice*

    I used to work at a horrible place with horrible, two-faced management. I started being very vocal about the fact that no one outside the owners family and the GM made a living wage, even in our rural area. That started a conversation among staff about unions. That’s when I started getting assigned menial labor far, far below my skill set. I saw the writing on the wall and started looking for a job. They found out and came up with a BS reason to fire me, then contested my unemployment claim by saying I had actually quit. I was able to prove that wasn’t the case and eventually found a slightly less crappy job, but I still had a lot of friends who worked there. Two of these friends, are a married couple. Half the couple got fired for a very legit reason, but the way they went about it was absolute crap, which pissed the other half of the couple off. He handed in his resignation a few days later, along with a copy of the GM’s criminal record. She had a felony conviction for embezzling from an elderly man who she had by hired to care for. That would seem to explain why so many orders from “China” never made it to the warehouse. Owner completely blew it off.
    Less than a year later the company hand to lay of 3/4 of their employees and almost had to fold entirely because there was no more money. Vendors hadn’t been paid in months and were getting mean about it. Rumor has it, the GM had stolen a SIGNIFICANT amount of money from the business. And the owner was warned about it and still didn’t even bother to look at the books. That was two years ago and nothing has ever given me so much satisfaction as seeing the perpetual help wanted sign in front of the shiny new office they built before the hammer came down and seeing the owner sell his fancy, shiny, vintage cars one-by-one, just to stay afloat. Last I heard, FedEx wouldn’t even pick shipments up from the warehouse anymore because they were so far behind on paying the bill.

  87. Rainer Maria von Trapp*

    I was selected to be on a “pilot team” at my school. There was heinous hostility and quite a bit of cruelty towards the selected team (honestly, it felt like I was IN middle school — not teaching it!). The two most vocally cruel people kept finding Pilot-branded pens in their mailboxes for the better part of the school year. Small, petty victories.

  88. Renee Remains the Same*

    My last job ended in a train wreck. Too long to get into. There was a charming sociopath as our VP, an inept Director, and a lot of high school drama. It was a political minefield and I did not navigate it well. After the charming sociopath was fired, the Director applied for and was rejected for the job (this was the second time she attempted to grab the VP spot). A new VP came in and pretty quickly started cleaning house. I attempted a clean slate, but quickly became #3 on her list and after a few months realized I was on the verge of getting fired. One of my colleagues was promoted over me and I now reported to her. Then we scheduled a meeting to go over why I was terrible with HR, my newly-installed manager, the Director and the VP.

    The day before the meeting, I was verbally offered a new job and was told I should get the official written offer by the end of the week. I wasn’t telling anyone until I had an official acceptance letter. So at the meeting, when the inept Director told me that not getting promoted was an indication that I wasn’t good at my job. I cocked my head to the side, looked at her very directly, and said, “Oh, ok.” and then looked at the VP sitting next to her.

    I said very little during the meeting, defended myself not at all. It must have been fun for them to list all the reasons I sucked to which I nodded my head and said “I understand.” I was told by the office gossip that the inept Director was worried I was considering a lawsuit. (The office gossip just wanted to get a reaction out of me, which I did not give)

    Two days later I handed in my two weeks.

  89. KittyWhiskersPsPsPs*

    Provided some of the damning information in a deposition against them. They are out of business now and have to reimburse those they ripped off. It was cathartic.

  90. GG*

    I worked for a horrible bully of a boss who was well known not just in our office but industry wide for being abusive and impossible with her staff. I stayed in the role for upwards of two years. When I finally left, I kept in touch with my former coworkers and was absolutely tickled to learn that my replacement quit in THREE DAYS after working for my boss. Subsequent replacements lasted anywhere from 6 months to a year. Despite the hits to my self esteem and anxiety I endured while in that position, I’m weirdly proud that I was able to stick it out for so long and not-weirdly thrilled that she had to replace folks in the role basically quarterly on average, haha.

  91. PaigeNotPage*

    Firmly in the petty end of the spectrum but one of my coworkers, Doug, who I’d worked with for YEARS continually spelled my name Page in emails despite the fact that in order to email me he must have at one point correctly typed Paige as that was in my email name. I finally got tired of it and one day when he emailed me “Thank you Page” I replied, “You’re welcome Dug.”

    1. Jay*

      I have a common name with an unusual spelling – think Pattie instead of Patty. I understand why people get it wrong except when they a responding to an Email I sent. The correct spelling is in the TO: line of their Email and in my signature on the one they’re answering. Aaargh.

    2. Anonymoose*

      I had something very similar, where my email address was wrong, and I mentioned it to IT who ignored it for several days, and then when I saw them in the hallway I said “Good morning Steph!” and he responded “It’s Steve” and I responded “And my name is spelled with an ‘e’, not an ‘a'” and a few minutes later my email was fixed. Ha!

    3. Plz spell my name right*

      Hahahaha I’m slowly reading through the comments and stories and I posted a similar one below. Same thing – someone continuously spelling my name wrong, I “snap” and purposely spell their name wrong, and they never spell my name wrong again. Petty in every sense of the word but so worth it.

        1. Sinister Serina*

          I had a colleague who continuously called me by the wrong version of my name. I tried to correct him politely, by recounting a conversation with my mom in which I said my name the way it is pronounced. Listen, Susan and Suzanne are two different names. And he called me the wrong one until he retired.

    4. Where's the Orchestra?*

      I dealt with a version of that in High School from the second band director. He was new to the area and wanted to get in good with the “right families” in the area. One of their kids was part of the Drum section, and didn’t like me because I was “unimpressed” that he had money. So he insisted on calling me by a nickname created from my last name – which, well, I guess I now know your maturity level, but you’re only 17 and have time to mature. However, he convinced the Band Director (a grown adult in his late 40’s) to call me by the same name – which, charming. After telling the director that wasn’t my name, please call me by my given name instead failed – and continued to fail for two and a half semesters, I just started ignoring anything from the director that started with my incorrect nickname (anything directed to the section/instrument group I belonged to was listened to, as was anything that accidentally started with my given name – so I wasn’t completely ignoring the jerk). It was a half a semester long passive-agressive grudge match, that ended with me in front of the Principal. He just looked at me, asked what was going on from my point of view – and then absolutely tore the band director a new one (and got an investigation started that turned up at least five other students he had done this too) and denied him the end of year a bonus band director thought was just a rubber stamp. He got fired just before the end of his second year for using school board resources to job search, in violation of the agreement he has signed with the district to stay at the school for four years. Karma. . .

    5. Ant*

      I go by a nickname that can be short for a male name or a female name depending on the ending (y vs ie), and it always cracks me up when I email someone something they don’t necessarily want to hear and they address me with the full male option in their response – like, the name in my signature is very clearly the female spelling, my full name is *very clearly* in my email address, so if you must passive-aggressively full name me in your terse response, can you at least use the right one?

  92. Jay*

    I’m an MD coming to the end of my clinical career, which has included a number of leadership positions both at work and in professional organizations. I took this job because I wanted a purely clinical position – let me see my patients and write my notes and I’ll be happy. I was not looking to climb any more ladders. It’s a national company with local offices.

    After I’d been here a year, the company started an initiative in my area of expertise and I was asked to step into a low-level coordinator/educator position for my local market and I agreed. The woman who was managing this at the national level quickly figured out that I was a good resource and often asked for my input. So we’re on a conference call reviewing a series of training videos. The group on the call was 95% women. About 15 minutes on, a man signed on and interrupted the leader to explain that he was late because this was scheduled at a very inconvenient time. Then we looked at the videos and the leader asked if I had any comments. I started to say something and Mr. Inconvenient interrupted and, in a sneering tone of voice, said “I don’t even know who is speaking or why she’s involved.” I introduced myself by name and went on to say that I’d spent the last 25 years as a faculty member with the academic organization that trained the people who made the videos, had consulted with them on some of the early versions of the product, and would be happy to pass on any feedback the group had. I thought I was quite restrained – I didn’t mention that I was the immediate past president of the academic group. Didn’t hear another word from him that afternoon.

  93. AnonThisTime*

    Years ago I had started a new job as an attorney at a company and as my first big project, my boss assigned me to redo the procedures and job aids for a critical process — let’s say llama grooming. About two or three weeks later I held a meeting to roll out the new materials — it was a big meeting with about thirty people, most of whom I had not met before. So this was both the roll out of the new materials, it was also most people’s introduction to me. I went through my spiel, showed everyone what I’d done, and then asked if there were any questions.

    Another attorney, Fergus, aggressively asked, “Where do you get off taking it upon yourself to rewrite the llama grooming procedures? What was wrong with the old ones?” I was in shock — I couldn’t even respond. While I was sitting there, mouth agape, a VIP in the meeting said, “These new procedures are great. The old ones were awful, they were unreadable. Thank you for redoing these.” Everyone else spoke up in agreement. It turned out that Fergus had written the old procedures and had to sit there listening to everyone talking about how terrible they were.

    Also, years later when I was at Prestigious Co and needed to hire someone, Fergus approached me for a job. Yeah, I don’t think so.

  94. Anonymoose*

    I worked for a guy who made jokes about women. I asked him to stop, but he wouldn’t because he came from an era where he could get away with it, and he was very close to retirement so felt untouchable. It ended with him retiring rather than having any consequences, but I did find out that he told his wife about it, asked her “You find my jokes funny, right?” and discovered that she never liked his jokes for the decades they were married. That was probably better punishment than any meeting he could have with HR and made me feel good!

  95. The answer is (probably) 42*

    I have a classic “reply-all revenge” story! This person wasn’t so much a bully as he was kind of stubbornly oblivious, I had a few similar stories about him.

    I was asked to produce a document, and since there were a few people who needed to weigh in, we had a whole reply-all chain discussing the contents and giving feedback. Clunky, but in this case reply-all used productively. We got everything approved, and I sent out the finished version. This guy replies thanks. A month later he sends a reply-all email to the first email in the chain and asks “When will this be finished?!?! It’s been a month!”

    So naturally I responded, also by reply-all, and attached his very own thank you email from a month earlier, which also contained the full chain showing all the work I did. I also helpfully attached the finished document, again.

    I actually submitted a different story about this guy to notalwaysright years ago (please ignore the terrible title, I didn’t write that part): https://notalwaysright.com/office-based-frustration-on-the-rise-as-coworkers-attachment-to-incompetence-leads-to-inability-to-open-attachments/128062/

    1. JB*

      I remember when they were in the overly long expository title phase. So many complaints about it in the comments.

  96. LBAI*

    I was in a rather large meeting with the CFO, Treasurer, and about 20 other finance folks. One of these folks was an analyst, Cersei, who had a rather nasty, well known habit of being difficult to work with, especially towards my team (argumentative, uncooperative, “I’m better than you” attitude in general). I rarely got the opportunity to be in front of the CFO and Treasurer, so I wanted to make a good impression. As she was presenting, the CFO asked her a question about her work and how the results of it would be reflected on the cash flow statement (my team did the cash flow statement). She said, “Maybe if LBAI is paying attention she can confirm that this transaction would go into the investing section”. Everyone in the room looked at me, I looked at her, and just said, “Wow, Cersei”. And just took a beat for her to start realizing that what she said was not kind. Everyone in the room smirked. She corrected herself, and asked the question differently, and I confirmed that yes, it goes in the investing section. Later, she tried to apologize in the elevator with several of the other meeting attendees present, saying she didn’t mean for it to come out like that. Coolly, calmly, and matter-of-factly, I responded with, “I’m not surprised that it came out like that. You often disrespect my team and their work.” Her jaw dropped while everyone else in the elevator tried not to laugh.

    It was one of those rare instances where I said/did the exact right thing at the exact right time, rather than thinking of it later!

  97. sometimeswhy*

    I worked at a small photomat in their digital department. One of the negative scanners went down on a regular basis. One day, I was (literally!) elbow deep in this thing, sitting on the floor trying to fix it from the inside and the owner came back and just started yelling about delays and how this was unacceptable and how we were all incompetent, and a bunch of other stuff that wasn’t even related to the negative scanner I was working on. He was bellowing at the top of his voice, turning red, spit flying and blocking the doorway to the glorified closet that I was in.

    I kept working while he hollered. He finished with, “AND WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO SAY FOR YOURSELF?!!” and I took a deep breath and turned to look at him, arm still fully in this piece of equipment and said, “I’m sorry, could you repeat that?”

    And he just… deflated. He sputtered a little and walked off without repeating himself.

    Luckily/unfortunately, it didn’t cost me my job and I didn’t fix him. (I did fix the scanner.) He still yelled at people and once made the mistake of doing it in front of a high-volume customer who pulled his business on the spot but that was somehow also our fault. But it was really satisfying to find the reset button on him in that one moment.

  98. Already Ate Lunch*

    I worked for a kitchen and bath “designer” – just him as the owner and client person, and me doing everything else. My boss was a world class jerk – yelling, condescending, never happy, and inconsistent expectations. After 3 months I was done, wrote out a 2 week notice and gave to him on a Friday afternoon. He told me to “GTFO” while trying to steal my notary stamp. I was young, and it was really scary. But –

    That drive was home was the first time in months I wasn’t a stressed out mess.

    Two weeks later I received a paycheck in the mail. I called the bookkeeper (outsourced) because I didn’t want Jerk Boss to come after me. She explained that when Jerk Boss said I did give notice, he had to pay me for the two weeks. She advised to cash it ASAP, as he wasn’t happy at all having to pay me. But even better – she told me my paperwork was the best she’s worked with, and helped me job search with some of her other clients.

  99. old biddy*

    This isn’t anything that I actually did, but it was funny as heck. When I was a first year grad student, I shared a 3-person lab with Mike and Group Hothead (GH). GH had a huge chip on his shoulder that our boss favored another student. he had a temper, although he was an ok coworker otherwise. He had, however, thrown a giant temper tantrum in front of me the day he found out that I would be working in his lab rather than being assigned to another room, so I held a grudge about that.
    Around this time, a squirrel got into the lab and we couldn’t get it to leave for several weeks since it was winter and it didn’t want to go back outside. One evening, GH left a bag of M+M’s on top of his lab notebook (eating in lab was not permitted) and when Mike and I came in the next morning, the squirrel had eaten all the M+M’s and pooped and peed all over GH’s lab notebook. Karma!

  100. Nora*

    I have a master’s degree in social work and I used to work for a nonprofit agency doing direct service work. MSWs are highly valued in some parts of the nonprofit world because we can supervise interns (free labor!). As soon as my agency figured out that I, the only MSW on staff, could have interns, I was overloaded with them. That was basically how I was treated the entire time I worked there. Disrespected, overworked, requests for reasonable changes ignored or mocked.

    To be clear, I loved having students, I liked my students, and I still keep in touch with most of them. They are all lovely people. Leadership, however, were not. The CEO broke into my desk one day looking for reasons to fire me (thankfully my direct supervisor figured it out and declined to listen). When that didn’t work, I was forced to move offices into a back corner next to the loudest person in the office, who was also a relentless bully. They had staff birthday parties every month EXCEPT for mine. It wasn’t an oversight. I probably had a really good claim for a hostile work environment but all I wanted to do was bail.

    So anyway I finally had my chance to go, and I took it. The moment I left, the agency lost their ability to host social work interns. When I left I basically took 5 other people with me. Also, the entity I work for now sometimes paid this other agency for services rendered. However, we’re only allowed to pay agencies with specific licenses. I casually let slip to my current director that the other place isn’t licensed at all. Now they don’t get paid either. That’s what they get for giving me PTSD and a sleep disorder. :-)

  101. K$*

    I was an operations manager at a startup that, for a variety of reasons, went through a hostile takeover two weeks before I was due to leave. (I loved the job and had put in well over a month’s notice.) The new “CEO” was just about as much a culture mismatch as you could imagine. He was also sexist and racist and when confronted about those behaviors, he’d always say that’s “not how he meant it.” Eye roll.

    I was in charge of setting people up in our payroll system. This new CEO lived in another state, one that has no income tax, but had just told us he’d be spending five days a week on site with us in NYC. This meant that, from a payroll perspective, he was an NYC resident, and I explained that he’d be getting two tax returns, one from New York and one from his home state (this was very normal as we had a lot of employees who commuted in from New Jersey). This also meant that he’d pay New York income tax.

    He replied, “but I don’t want two tax returns,” and tried to get me to change his state of residence to his home state. I repeatedly told him that I was uncomfortable with this (and also texted a lawyer friend who told me that this was such serious tax fraud, I could personally go to jail for it). After he wouldn’t stop hounding me about it, I told him that he should just speak to the COO.

    The COO, however, wasn’t from the US, and didn’t have any idea about how tax laws differ from state to state. I gave him the heads-up that what the new CEO was doing was super illegal, and that he shouldn’t allow him to do it. The COO then tells the new CEO that if he wanted us to list his residence incorrectly this way, he just had to call up his tax attorney and get him to sign off. Of course, when he did, the tax attorney was like ARE YOU KIDDING ME and finally the CEO realizes that it’s not going to happen and he’s going to have to pay income tax like the rest of us.

    The CEO reached out to me and tried to say that I was “just confused” and “misunderstood” him despite the fact that I’d explained it over and over. More eyerolls. Either way, he had to pay his taxes and I left the company shortly before he ran it into the ground.

  102. Kindness By Spite*

    I worked with someone who was one of the most hot-cold people I’ve ever met, with a list of random excuses for it that made no sense half the time. It was to the point that after a few months I had to walk on eggshells around them every day until I could figure out what their mood of the day would be. They were also weirdly bad at our job despite taking every opportunity to brag about their accomplishments, while also taking every opportunity to slack off which left me with almost double the workload half the time because I don’t have a spine. A winning combo of traits to be working with.

    Well I’m a personal fan of the whole “kill them with kindness” mentality. So while I worked to make myself the star performer in our department (which would’ve tried to do regardless) I made sure I was as friendly and warm to them as I could possibly be regardless of how they treated me, right down to personally delivering them any treats my wife had made the night before so that they wouldn’t miss out. It gave me great satisfaction to be outshining them in every way and then also never once giving them a reason to ever dislike me, so any ill will they could feel toward me would be because they were ultimately being reminded of their own shortcomings and terrible attitude.

    Don’t get me wrong, I genuinely tried to become friends with them. But does it ever feel good to get that personal satisfaction with the only “consequence” being that I got promoted partly for being such a team player! ;)

  103. Janet Snakehole*

    I’ve got several:

    At an old job, a peer of mine (who happened to be a major jerk) and I had very similar names – let’s say his name was Dan and mine was Dana. He always mispronounced my name with a short A even though I told him over and over that my name was pronounced with the long A and sounded like “Day-na” instead of “Dan-na.”
    After months and months of me and everyone else at work correcting him, and him ignoring us, I began mispronouncing his name on purpose, calling him “Dane” instead of Dan. I haven’t worked there in a few years, but from what I hear from a friend who still works there, Dan is still known as Dane around the company

    1. Janet Snakehole*

      Oops, forgot to delete my “I’ve got several” comment after I decided to share just one.

  104. HBJ*

    Ooh, I have one from school. My first semester in college I was in Core-101-Class-Everyone-Had-To-Take. There was one guy who found out pretty quickly that I had been high school educated in a manner he found to be subpar. He regularly made cracks about me not having “really graduated” and how he didn’t know how I got in to school.

    I ended up being in the same group as him for a group project, so he had my number. I ignored him and the teasing from classmates that we liked each other (seriously, were we actually still in high school? Or rather middle where “if a boy teases you, it means he likes you”?) Now this was a class I wasn’t great at, but I worked hard, took every extra credit available, and wound up with an A. In this class, if you had an A at the end, you could keep that grade and skip the final.

    Fast forward to a few minutes before the final. I get a call from my jerk classmate. “Where is the final being held.” I knew because I, you know, read the syllabus. And I had it handy I could have looked. But instead I just said sweetly, “oh, I don’t know. I’m not there since I got an A. You’ll have to check the syllabus.”

    He just said thanks and bye, and I never saw him again.

    1. Lizzo*

      I was part of a four person group project in grad school where we decided to divvy up the project based on our strengths. I took on most of the paper editing, two teammates did the majority of the heavy lifting on the research, and one Dudebro said he’d handle the presentation.
      It’s been a while, so I don’t recall all the details, but Dudebro–who was sporting a pretty spectacular sunburn from a tanning bed–did not prepare and totally bombed the presentation. The rest of us were so pissed and dumbfounded. YOU HAD ONE JOB, DUDE.
      The professor was strict but fair. I went and spoke with him afterwards and he said, “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it.”
      We got an A on the project–the only team in the class to earn an A!–but the sweet victory was when I went to check our grades (2 exams, 1 group project, participation, and final grade for the semester), which the professor had posted on his door. Grades were listed by student ID, not name, but it was easy to spot my three other team members on the list since they were they other As on the list.
      The only reason Dudebro passed the class was because of the project grade…and it was by the narrowest of margins.

  105. Ozzie*

    Ok I absolutely don’t feel good about this, and I have not and would not do it again. I’m wiser and way more professional now. But…

    I, a slight, 23 year old woman, worked for a startup as a survival job – just a pack line worker with a fairly small team. I got along great with my supervisors and the manager, absolutely no issues with the immediate team. I was promoted to team lead a few months in and oversaw the packing process, and with it came a $2/hour raise to $12 an hour. At the time, this felt like an absolute boon. The manager apologized that he couldn’t get me more, but that they had tried to only give me a quarter an hour, so this was the best he could do. No complaints from me.

    Fast forward a year, the company has been scaling up, wages haven’t changed, morale was sinking. Manager had been fired, as far as we could tell because upper management didn’t like him, or that he would push back against them look out for his employees, etc. I find out through back channels (I don’t specifically remember how, but solid chance I was not supposed to know) that the team leads – all men – who were promoted with or after me were making $15 an hour.

    I’m not saying they didn’t deserve to be making $15 an hour. But I was still making $12 an hour, and I hated the job, I hated upper management, I hated the company. The treated us terribly – no insurance, we had to fight to take our 10min paid breaks, the warehouse didn’t have AC, the schedule was horrible – the office staff were treated like real employees, while the warehouse staff just felt taken advantage of at every turn. By this point, they had hired a new manager in place of our previous and she… wasn’t great. She wasn’t a terrible manager, per say, but she just didn’t know what she was doing. But there was also a director of Ops who came around occasionally, who seemed to have less idea of what he was doing than she did. The floor team and one supervisor were really the ones holding down the fort.

    Well, I mentioned to the Director of Ops – I don’t remember exactly how – that it had come to my attention that the male team leads were making significantly more money than I was – the only female lead. By the end of the week, I had been pulled into the conference room with him, the guy in charge of “special projects” (we weren’t sure what exactly he did, besides micromanage us and schmooze with upper management), and I think one other upper manager. They informed me that it was not their intention to pay me differently, and that, effective immediately, I would make $15 an hour – the same as my male colleagues. I signed the like, acceptance of pay paperwork and went back to work.

    I felt pretty good about myself at the time – especially because working there was so absolutely miserable. In retrospect, there were about 600 better ways to handle that situation (not to mention a number of others). But the company folded about 4 months later and they did everything they could to take care of the office staff they laid off, while nearly giving the warehouse staff half the severance (and no paid for insurance coverage – only COBRA). So while I feel a little bad, and wouldn’t do it again……. they were still a terrible company to work for.

    1. Sparkles McFadden*

      I don’t think you should feel bad about this. It sounds as if you handled it professionally. You pointed out something that was wrong and management addressed it. Trust me, your $3/hour did not take anything away from anyone and did not contribute to the company going out of business at all.

      1. Ozzie*

        Oh, I mostly felt bad for implying sexism when really it was just an oversight. That was absolutely how they reacted to it – in a CYA manner. I at least could have made the case that I actually deserved the $3 (I was doing just as much work as the other leads – or in the case of one, absolutely more, since he was a 1 person team, where I was managing 10 others, and often doing his job too. Quantifiably.) They definitely ran themselves into the ground though, no concerns about my $3/hour doing that.

    2. Recruited Recruiter*

      I’m going to be honest with you. I am in HR, and I would be mortified if it came to my attention that a situation like this had occurred, even if it had been without my knowledge or approval. There are many places that this is illegal and is unethical everywhere – since they were promoted to substantially similar roles with similar qualifications.
      I think you handled this in the best way that you could.

      1. Ozzie*

        Aw this at least makes me feel better. When I’ve recounted this story in the past, it’s been met with shock, and a “why would you do that” attitude….!

        1. David*

          Right now I am having a “why would you do that” attitude toward the people who are reacting that way to your story! I mean, if people of different genders are being paid different amounts for the same work – intentionally or not – it shouldn’t be even remotely surprising that any of the people involved would want to fix that.

        2. Beth*

          I’m having a “Why would you NOT do that? EVERYONE should do that” reaction.

          Please consider yourselves absolved for now and always. If anything, this was a triumph and you can regard it as such!

    3. Loredena Frisealach*

      Honestly, I don’t think you did anything wrong! It very much sounds like gender discrimination, and they clearly thought so too.

      1. Ozzie*

        It really felt circumstantial at the time, but obviously I have no idea! Considering how terrible a company they were though, at least they reacted appropriately when it -was- brought to their attention.

    4. TechWorker*

      Idk if I’m missing something, but there’s absolutely nothing in this story that strikes me as you doing something wrong…? You noticed a pay discrepancy, pointed it out & it got fixed :p

    5. Lilly Ledbetter fan*

      I…. don’t understand why it was terrible to tell them you wanted equal wages for equal pay, and that the gender discrepancies were wrong and probably illegal?

      Did you curse at them or something? What was the bad part?

      1. Ozzie*

        also in response to TechWorker:

        I don’t think I was purposefully underpaid because I wasn’t a dude, I think it was just circumstantial, because of how my raise was negotiated before theirs, under different circumstances. (and maybe I’m wrong about that!)

        I definitely brought it up in a way that stripped that nuance from it and -made- it about gender, which was why they reacted that way. It just wasn’t the most professional way to go about it I don’t think – probably could have approached it based on merit.

        BUT the fact that this seems to be the response tells me that I wasn’t as wrong as I was made to feel about it! A little bit of a weight off my shoulders.

        1. Mannequin*

          The vast majority of places that pay women (or POC etc) less than their white male counterparts aren’t twirling their mustaches thinking Nyaahaha! Pay them less! These kinds of prejudices are often quite unconscious- this is why orchestras have people try out behind a screen, so they cannot see their gender.
          Any good employer/HR department would want to make sure their was not even the APPEARANCE of prejudice, even if it was accidental.

          The fact that the men negotiated their raises AFTER your & still got more actually DOES raise a huge red flag for genuine sexism however, because TPTB should have been using YOUR pay as a guide when giving those guys their raises as well. Remember, you yourself said your manager had to fight to get you $2 extra dollars ON MERIT, because they wanted to give you a single stinkin’ QUARTER- twenty five measly cents! But these guys just ALL rated an extra FIVE BUCKS, no problem?
          That sounds like a pretty clear cut case of sexism to me, and not something that you would have been able to make a case for yourself on merit alone. They thought you merited *twenty five cents*.

    6. learnedthehardway*

      I don’t think you did anything wrong. I think you got the result that was fair and that you needed. And you did it professionally.

  106. DMLOKC*

    Ah, yes, Glendzilla. She and I were in the clerical pool with desks next to each other in the floor’s fishbowl. She liked country music playing while she worked. I found it distracting and didn’t like that callers could hear the music while I was trying to transact business with them. She was a Mimi Bobeck fashion type; I was a banker fashion type. We worked in a scientific research organization where the 1990s dress was pretty business casual. I was the outlier. Very buttoned up, professional, working on my degree, wanting out of the clerical pool.

    I’d finally had enough of the loud music, loud conversations, crazy laughing, and employees using my desk as their coffee counter when they were visiting with her. I politely but sternly asked her to turn down the music and I asked everyone to please use surfaces other than my desk to rest their coffee cups and snacks. She BLEW UP. We wound up being called into the VPs office to discuss the behavior. I was mortified. He asked what was going on and she flared and flamed and went on and on about how I was being a snob and not having fun and intruding on her rights. I sat quietly and let her go. When asked for my side, I said that I was trying to do my work and appreciated a quiet, respectful workplace. The VP and our supervisor excused us and said they’d get back with us with a resolution.

    The only feedback I got was my supervisor telling me that I’d impressed the VP with my control and professionalism and I had nothing to worry about.

    I’ve moved on knowing that I can hold my own against the office bully.

    1. Mannequin*

      This woman sounds awful, but could we not with the “Mimi Bobeck” insults? Appearance has nothing to do with it. Unless of course, you think that “overweight” or “colorful & unconventional dresser” are character flaws?
      It doesn’t sound like your management had an issue with her wardrobe, and you yourself admit that *you* were the outlier at your workplace by dressing extra conservatively (maybe people viewed you as “stuffy” or “buttoned up” or “sticking out like a turd in a punchbowl”?) so why pick on someone ELSE because they did not dress like everyone else?

      1. SG*

        Nothing derogatory was said. It was an illustrated comparison. The only person reading judgement into it is you.

  107. Plz spell my name right*

    I have a common first name that has multiple spellings (kind of like Alison!). My particular spelling is fairly rare – you’ll definitely see other variations way more frequently.

    When I first started my current job, I was on an email chain with lawyers, accountants, and partners at our firm. I was tasked with answering some basic questions, so even though a bunch of people were on the chain, it was really between me and one other person. Like me, she had a fairly common name that had a bunch of spellings.

    Because my name is so frequently spelled wrong, I try to be really mindful of how others spell their names, so I made sure to spell her name correctly in each of my emails. But, in every response, would spell my name incorrectly. It was right there! It’s in my email! It’s in my signature!

    So finally, I was annoyed enough that in my next response, I purposely spelled her name wrong.

    She has never spelled my name wrong since.

    We’ve now worked together for almost a decade and have a great working relationship. But there’s still a small part of me that’s proud of my little petty moment.

    1. Ozzie*

      Omg yes!!! I also have a common name that is always misspelled – even in email! I have challenging customer with a similar situation with her name – I make sure to spell it correctly, she always misspells mine. For years. I once, totally by accident, spelled her name wrong in an email (I had just typed an email to someone with the same name, more common spelling!). Her response had her spelling my name correctly for the first time EVER.

  108. Unkempt Flatware*

    Not Petty but my first ever boss-bitch move. I managed the transportation department at a ski resort which included the staff bus up to the resort and the parking lot shuttles to get them and tourists where they needed to be within the resort. On Thanksgiving, the first day of ski season, a brand new employee somehow found my personal cell extension which is information only available to managers and for emergencies only. But this guy called my cell at 7:00am to complain that the bus should stop for him at his work area front door and that he shouldn’t need to have to use the parking lot shuttles. He followed it up with an email to me (why the call then?) saying the same thing. I wrote back copying his entire management team and said,

    “Dear Name, I respectfully require that going forward, all inquires of this nature get routed up to your highest level manager. In your case that is Mr. X. Please know that calling my personal cell phone before 7:30am on a holiday, especially for something like this, is not appropriate.”

    It may seem rather dull but I was never prouder of holding my professional boundaries.

  109. Ann O'Nemity*

    My boss used to steal food, then I read about some sugar-free gummy bears that were known have laxative effects….

      1. The cat’s ass*

        Oldjob was graced with the boss from hell, let’s call her snakelady. Evil, narcissistic and adept at managing up. Terrible to everyone else, and called us “the minions.” Appearances were VERY important to snakelady and she was very proud of our beautiful office in a swanky new building with windows that don’t open. She finally ran afoul of a fellow minion who was a very scary paralegal who was on the verge of retirement and heading back to her home country. Paralegal left very professionally, except for leaving a huge slab of raw salmon in the pencil drawer of her steel case desk, and then locked said drawer and crazy glued it shut. She then locked her office door, broke the key in the lock and crazy-glued that lock as well. By the time the hazmat people were called ( and it took about ten days before the office was habitable again), paralegal was safely out of the country. I’m still filled with admiration ( and frankly a little fear that she’ll resurface at some point tho she’s pushing 80). Snakelady was humiliated and grand bosses really started looking at her more closely as well. Staff also started making fish faces at her and started talking to upper management about her crappy behavior. I left for a much better job soon after that, but snakelady was out of a job a few months later as well.

  110. Super Anon for This One*

    After job searching for about eight months (confidence lowering and desperation kicking in) I interviewed at an organization where I really liked everyone on the interview committee except for Fergus, who would be my manager. Even when he called and gave me the job offer he made a weird comment about how until something was in writing I shouldn’t consider it final. So it was like, “congrats you have the job… maybe”. Such a red flag but I really needed a job and really liked the org.
    Well, our working relationship became what felt like (at least to me) a long, draining mind game. He was very belittling to me, usually when no one else was around, and he would repeatedly reprimand me for small mistakes, and basically hold me hostage in conversations until I said I was wrong. I thought he was untouchable at the org and was afraid to say anything because I assumed I would either not be believed, or Fergus would find out and treat me worse or I’d be fired.
    One time he got very angry at me over something that seemed pretty small, and came into my office, closed the door and spent 45 minutes telling me that he regretted hiring me, that if he could do it again he wouldn’t but that was “on him” and that I needed to seriously think about if I wanted to be in the role. This went on for 45 minutes and somehow I was able to hold it together until I got to my car.
    I’m not sure what is was but about 18 months in (I can’t believe I put up with that for so long) I finally snapped. I was at work late doing a favor for him, he made a mistake in a presentation that needed to be reprinted after hours, and I asked if I could expense something for a client. This was a very common thing done at my org by him and other colleagues. He then proceeded to berate me on the phone and would not let me hangup until I apologized for asking and said I was wrong for asking. I think the fact that I was at work late helping him and it still wasn’t enough to get a basic level of respect made me realize that our situation was never going to improve and I went straight to HIS boss after the phone call.
    It turned out his boss had no idea, and felt really badly that I had not said anything for so long. There were also other younger, lower ranked women that he was apparently treating in a similar way but I just was the only one that had to deal with it on a daily basis. I was so supported when I came forward and got to start reporting to Fergus’s boss who was really lovely. Fergus was let go, for a myriad of reasons shortly after and I went on to have a great career at the organization. Even though it was a bad experience, I learned a lot, gained confidence and I know what I will and will not put up with in the future.

    1. Wisteria*

      “he made a weird comment about how until something was in writing I shouldn’t consider it final.”

      Isn’t that pretty standard? I don’t know the industry, so maybe there are different norms, but that has been the understanding for every job I have ever had.

      1. Wisteria*

        I should have specified–every white collar job I’ve ever had. The service jobs I’ve held didn’t do offer letters. Again, I don’t know what industry you are referencing.

        1. Super Anon for This One*

          Yes definitely. It was just I felt like he was specifically doing it to make me feel unsure and uneasy. I had been told the interview was a three part process, and then after the third part I was told that there would be a fourth part. And then after the fourth part, there was a “potential fifth part” that didn’t happen, and then he called me to give me the verbal offer. And I was so excited, and said something about being happy and relieved and he followed it up with “just a piece of advice, don’t consider something finalized until you have it in writing” and then it was the weekend so I felt very unsure for the next few days. It just felt very cryptic.