I’m in trouble for what I wore when when my boss made me pick him up for the airport in the middle of the night

I’m on vacation today. This was originally published in 2016.

A reader writes:

I am working at my first job since I graduated university and I have learned a lot from reading your blog. I had a job while I was in high school and in university but it was part-time and in retail and things were different there.

I was wondering what advice you would give for my situation. I have been working at my job for almost 18 months, and this is the first time I have had an issue. On Thursday, shortly after midnight, my boss phoned me. He was at the airport with two other supervisors and their transportation had fallen through. He wanted me to come get them and drive them all home. I didn’t even know his schedule and it’s not my job to pick people up at the airport. I didn’t want to do it, but at the same time he is my boss and I didn’t want to leave a bad impression because he implied I didn’t have a choice. I got up, picked the three of them up at the airport, and drove them each home. I had previously booked the day off for an appointment, so when I got home I slept for a few more hours because I didn’t have to work that day.

When I got to work on Friday morning, I was called into my boss’s office. He said I was being written up for my lack of following the dress code, and he lectured me on dressing professionally. I wear a skirt suit to work every day and have never had an issue, but he told me he was talking about when I picked them up at the airport. Since it was the middle of the night and it was an unexpected request, I had worn a knee-length t-shirt, leggings, running shoes, and a bench fleece jacket. I had brushed my hair and my teeth and my clothes were clean. He wouldn’t let me explain myself, and in addition to being formally written up he suspended me for a day without pay (so tomorrow I am serving my suspension).

I didn’t see this coming. It was after midnight when he called me and told me to come pick them up and he knew he was calling me out of bed. Doing this is not part of my job description in any way and no one who knows about this has ever heard about such a request being made before, even for assistants (I am not an assistant but a junior underwriter). I had to drive for over an hour to get them, do another hour and three separate stops to drop them off, and then drive another hour home. I was not reimbursed for mileage or gas, and it was my personal car and not a company one. Only the other two managers thanked me and my boss never did. They all have company credit cards, but none of them used one to get transportation home. Also, when he called me he didn’t mention anything about me needing to dress up in my work clothes to do it. My clothes were clean and not ripped or anything like that.

I am shocked about my suspension and formal write-up. My boss lectured me for half an hour on being professional and he called me an embarrassment. If we didn’t have two big project meetings, I am certain he would have made my suspension for Friday. I am being honest with you when I say that I have never had any issue or been disciplined at work before and my one year review was positive. Did I really do something wrong by not wearing a full suit when I went to pick them up? I am wondering if it is something common I should have known about.

No, you did not. Your craptastic boss is the one who’s in the wrong here.

First of all, calling you after midnight for anything short of a dire emergency is Not Okay (and even if it had been a genuine emergency, it would generally only be okay if your job could reasonably include dealing with emergencies). And then asking you to do something that would keep you out for hours — until around 4 a.m. or later, it sounds like? Not Okay.

And then suspending you for wearing the clothes one would expect you to be wearing if called out of the nowhere for a middle-of-the-night airport run? Even a mild talking-to would be inappropriate for that. Suspending you takes it to a whole new level of WTF.

This is, frankly, beyond the pale. Your boss is a jerk on multiple levels.

Is this the first time you’ve seen him being ridiculously unreasonable? It’s hard to imagine that he has seemed like a reasonable person up until now, so I’m curious about what the rest of your experience with him has been.

In any case, if your company has decent HR people, you might consider approaching them about this, framing it as “I’m really unclear how doing this rather large favor has led to an unpaid suspension.”

And in the future, know that you have zero obligation to answer your phone if your boss calls you late at night (assuming you’re not in a job where that’s explicitly part of the package). If you’re asked about it later, you were sleeping and didn’t hear the phone. And if you are unlucky enough to answer the phone and you’re faced with an unreasonable request like “drive around for hours in the middle of the night,” your car is unfortunately in the shop and you’re unable to help out.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 147 comments… read them below }

    1. FrenchCusser*

      I think this is one of those, ‘I know I’m being unreasonable, so I’m gonna somehow make you be in the wrong to cover that up.’

      I know people like that.

      I avoid people like that.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        This one and the jerk boss who was never satisfied with the pregnant employee’s dress choices, and then harassed an intern and got fired. That one was really sweet.

            1. Candi*

              One thing I liked best with the update to that was that the company was overall functional enough that when both that LW and the intern went to HR, they promptly looked into it and helped the employees, rocks fall, boss is gone.

        1. Temperance*

          I forgot about the maternity clothes one. Being pregnant now, I can fully appreciate just how impossible his demand was. Those clothes do not exist because pregnant bodies were his entire problem.

      2. Splendid Colors*

        Thank you for this comment. I suspect it applies to the leader of a social club I just quit.

        The short version is that someone who puts the absolute minimum effort into setting up virtual club meetings is extremely bent out of shape that more people are forgetting they RSVPd “Going” than actually show up. She lectures the no-shows about how hard it is for her when we don’t change our RSVP–and how harmful it is for her when “people who were indoctrinated as people-pleasers” think they need to apologize for inconveniencing her, because then she needs to “do the emotional labor of lying and saying it’s OK when it isn’t.” Everything is phrased as “I need you to X for my self-care” which I don’t think is how “self-care” works.

        But we shouldn’t expect her to send reminders or even just links to calendar invites so we can click to add it to our calendars because she’s doing this for free for the good of the community. We are all adults and it’s our responsibility to make sure our RSVPs are current and we show up when we say we will.

        If she needed a head count for the caterers, you bet I’d be on top of that RSVP. If she were a client, I would have that whole day set aside and show up on time. I’d make sure to download whatever chat app she’s trying this week and test it. But she’s expecting a lot from the members to treat this video chat with the same level of cognitive effort as a Major Life Event or business meeting.

        1. JB*

          If she feels like she ‘needs’ to respond to every apology by ‘saying it’s okay when it isn’t’, it sounds like she might be the one who’s been indoctrinated as a people-pleaser…

          1. Splendid Colors*

            Yes, she’s complained about how being forced into that kind of compliance has harmed her. So apparently one strategy for not doing it is to have other people participate in her “self care” by not putting her in situations where she might be tempted to do it. You know, like not taking your friends to a bar on the way home from the AA meeting.

            I think it might be more effective to make it easier for members to keep track of invitations/RSVPs, since she’s complaining that most folks are doing it all wrong. Or just quit–this is a social club, and clearly it isn’t people’s #1 favorite activity or they’d be motivated to show up if they didn’t want to miss it.

            1. Candi*

              I have the usual suspicions of why it’s not people’s favorite activity when one person is being a… lazy victim over the situation.

    2. Artemesia*

      The thing that amazed me was that the boss who demanded this favor did not realize he was overstepping (even when several people he called refused) and so suspended her and made a fuss such that others in the organization became aware of the abuse. If he had just thanked her and hadn’t done anything else it might have gone unnoticed.

      1. Mongrel*

        I think he did know it was overstepping, the suspension and talking to were part of the gaslighting that LW was the one in the wrong.
        By piling accusations of wrongdoing on the persons shoulders it makes them question their reality of right & wrong in that circumstance and bullies them into silence.

        1. Autumn*

          This, right here, was the reason for that ridiculous write up and suspension, he meant to shame her into silence, it might even have worked, except others wondered where she was that day and the paperwork crossed someone’s desk who actually gave a damn. I wonder if this guy has done the “I’ll write you up for petty offense to shame you into not reporting my harassing behavior” trick to other young women. Especially since it came out that he’s been inappropriate with other young women.

          Good riddance to bad baggage!

          1. Candi*

            Overall, the company sounded reasonably functional; they just had to know there was a problem. Boss was trying to keep OP from finding that out.

          2. lola*

            I just read the update to this story (from 2016 obviously hella long time ago!!) and OP said the following that really shocked me: her boss wasn’t even straight he’s gay!

            “In regards to what people were saying in the comments about it being sexual and creepy, my boss is gay. Also wearing a skirt is not a requirement for my job. We have to wear suits but we have the choice to wear pants or skirts. I wear skirts only because I find them more comfortable. He was definitely on a power trip but it wasn’t anything sexual.”

            Her boss was clearly a sexist and misogynistic. Insane ..

  1. Keyboard Cowboy*

    Having the update already here to read this letter I hadn’t seen before is like pulling out a gift on Christmas morning, only to find there’s another gift under the tissue paper in the bottom of the bag. This is great! Hope your vacation is going swimmingly, Alison!

  2. EPLawyer*

    That was one of the more insane boss stories.

    So glad everything turned out okay. GOOD assistants are worth their weight in platinum.

      1. It's not Monday*

        The good assistant was the person who heard about the story, pulled in LW to ask what happened, and then got the higher level boss involved. That type of assistant can really be a force for good in the workplace.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Oh yes – that Assistant was a total rockstar.

          Wondering idly though if they’d had their own run-ins with Mr Ungrateful and we’re just waiting for him to step in it.

  3. Delta Delta*

    This is one of those letters I think about from time to time and wonder how the LW is doing now and if the letter has become a ridiculous cocktail party story she can tell.

  4. Lacey*

    This one is SO wild. It has a decent resolution, but even then – they made up for it by giving her two extra vacation days and removing the absurd mark on her record? Not enough.

      1. Delphine*

        Personally, I would have expected them to pay her the salary they docked, remove the mark on her record, *and* give her an extra vacation day as an apology.

        1. Stitching Away*

          They did pay her. That’s the two extra vacation days. One day is the unpaid suspension being paid back, the second is the apology.

          1. ecnaseener*

            If she’s salaried, an extra vacation day doesn’t make up for the lost money from a suspension. And if she’s hourly, she’s owed overtime.

              1. Beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk-ox*

                OP was a junior underwriter. They mentioned retail early on to explain their work history, but this happened when they were a junior underwriter

        2. SG*

          That’s exactly what she got according to the update. I think they should have paid her overtime and reimbursed the mileage also

      2. Awkward Interviewee*

        Money. She should have been given back pay for her unpaid suspension day plus mileage for the 3 hours of driving she did. Possibly time and a half for her time spend driving if she’s hourly. I could see the vacation days being an ok sub for the driving time if she’s overtime exempt.

        1. Hey Nonnie*

          They should have given her overtime for the time spent working even if she was salaried. They made it clear that working outside of office hours was not within her job description (or anyone else’s), so they should have paid her for doing it anyway. (Call it a “bonus” if you have to, though I don’t think there are any legal barriers to voluntarily giving someone overtime pay even if they are classified as exempt, it just means they’re not legally required to.)

          Plus pay for her unwarranted suspension, plus mileage reimbursement, plus a vacation day as an apology for taking advantage of her.

        2. Gothic Bee*

          Agreed. The way they did it was to essentially give her comp time, but that’s only acceptable if she’s exempt. Based on the update, it sounds like the LW was hourly, so assuming she’s non-exempt, I’d be really surprised if just giving her the extra vacation days was a legal alternative to paying her for time worked. They should have paid her for the time worked (including overtime) and the unpaid day immediately (or at least added it to the next paycheck since it was caught so quickly), and then if they gave her any extra time off, it should have been on top of that.

        3. LabTechNoMore*

          The airport chauffeuring also was on a day OP took off (it was after midnight the night before). The two days bonus vacation were equivalent to the day off that OP worked through, and one day suspension.

      3. KK*

        She should have been paid for: 1) the suspended day 2) mileage and time & 1/2 for the shuttling and the 2 extra vacation days given for the humiliation. Although it wasn’t the bosses boss fault, it costs the company nothing to give extra vacation days. But I’m happy she got any compensation, honestly.

        1. Candi*

          ” it costs the company nothing to give extra vacation days”

          Someone has to cover on those extra vacation days. So they’re either in on a day they’re off, or doing their work and someone else’s.

    1. Saberise*

      That is what I was thinking too. Between her gas and losing a day off pay she was out money. Unless she’s in the habit of taking unpaid vacation days the 2 extra days didn’t really add anything to her bank account.

    2. Essess*

      I was irritated about that resolution. She had to use her vehicle, so they SHOULD have given her extra money as reimbursement for the mileage/gas/overtime. Instead, she gets a day off, but her pay for the week doesn’t increase so there’s no actual reimbursement for her expenses and time.

  5. anonymous73*

    WOW! Before I read the update I was thinking that she should report her boss to HR. Nothing about his request, or his reaction to her wardrobe was even a little appropriate.

    1. Liz*

      And as it turns out she didn’t have to! Someone else beat her to it! I remember this one but somehow missed the update so I’m happy to see it had a good resolution.

      1. generic_username*

        I love that it sounds like someone else saw it and went to bat for her. Like, it didn’t take much, but so many people would mind their own business and not get involved. It’s great that while she was gone, someone else more experienced handled it for her.

  6. PJS*

    I’m glad to see the update, but she should have been paid for the day of suspension and mileage. Two extra vacation days don’t result in extra money in the bank so LW is still short a day’s pay plus mileage. If she’s non-exempt, I would also argue that she’s due time and a half for those 3-4 hours she spent driving that night.

    1. Splendid Colors*


      That is a lot of driving, plus taking on the liability of possibly getting in an accident during a lot of night driving after being woken up. (I gave someone a ride once late at night and a drunk convention-goer totaled my perfectly good Honda Civic hatchback days before the new semester started.)

      1. Candi*

        No, not a Civic! I’ve heard those cars last for ages with proper care! :(

        I’m glad you’re all right, though.

  7. Ray Gillette*

    Oh man, I remember this one. What a doozy. Seems like the boss’s strategy was “if you make them feel like they’ve done something wrong, they won’t notice the thing you’ve definitely done wrong.” The strategy has probably worked for him in the past, and almost worked for this OP, thankfully she sought outside advice because her gut told her something wasn’t right.

  8. Meep*

    Yikes! My fiance called me at 11 PM on his birthday last year. I rolled over and went back to sleep. Turned out, he and his brother were drunk and they had managed to break his brother’s arm arm-wrestling. I was 2.5 hours away at the time so what he thought I could do, I will never know, but they were both drunk. Point is, if I won’t pick up for the love of my life, I will certainly not be picking up for my boss. He was lucky you did even that.

    1. Gothic Bee*

      The only reason I would even consider picking up the phone in the middle of the night for my boss would be to yell at him for calling me in the middle of the night. But because I don’t want to get fired, that’s also the reason I’d probably avoid picking up the phone.

      1. SarahKay*

        I would answer the phone, but only because I absolutely trust my boss and if he’s calling me at that time of night then the site’s probably burning down… and he wants to check I’m not there working really late, and trapped in the building.

        1. TimeTravlR*

          This is the only reason I can imagine my boss would ever call me, especially in the middle of the night. And since I WFH and she lives an hour away I would kind of wonder why she’s watching my house burn down in the middle of the night!

      2. Meep*

        lol. Exactly this. I had my boss call me on Father’s Day one time. I answered the phone with “Happy Father’s Day!” (as he is a father) It took the wind right out of his sails and he stopped calling me during holidays. At night, I wouldn’t be so friendly.

        1. Claritza*

          My assistant principal suggested that I go into school on Father’s Day to empty my classroom for a summer school program starting Monday that he had just informed me about. I asked him if he would like to call my father and explain why I’d be missing our family Father’s Day dinner. AP quickly managed to devise a Plan B.

    2. generic_username*

      I 100% would let it go to voicemail and then only respond if the voicemail was something I wanted to deal with

      1. Meep*

        This is the best way to handle annoying managers/bosses calling after hours. I do that with one of my coworkers as she will keep you on the phone for hours to trauma dump. She only leaves me voicemails when there is something actually work-related she needs an answer to. I text her back so she cannot suck me in. Does not matter if she calls immediately after I answered. lol.

        1. allathian*

          At least she’s a coworker rather than your boss, so she can’t really “punish” you for not talking to her after hours.

          Still, that sort of behavior would annoy me a lot, probably because I hate not answering a ringing phone, so I’m much more likely to reject a call than to wait for the caller to hang up. In your shoes, I’d probably tell that annoying coworker to never, ever call me after hours, and only text me on urgent work-related matters that can’t wait until the next workday.

          But then, I’m not a very “nice” person. There are only about a handful of people whose trauma dumps I’d be willing to listen to, and none of them are people I work with. I’m also quite solution-oriented, and I’ve dumped friends in the past who just want to vent. I’ll listen to a good friend vent once about a particular issue, if they’re clear about wanting to vent rather than wanting to brainstorm solutions, after that, I’ll tell them to go elsewhere.

          I learned this the hard way, after I’d been the confidante of a former manager who was a feelings person and wanted to be liked by her reports. I ended up thinking of her as a friend rather than my manager, and seriously questioned her right to actually manage me when that became necessary (she was usually a very hands-off manager, but noticed that I was getting stressed out by too much work and used her managerial authority to take some of the work I was doing off my plate; I was too invested in doing that work myself and objected to her actions). She was right, but things got so bad that there was an intervention, and if I hadn’t mended my ways I might’ve been fired for insubordination at some point. I actually yelled at her, and in a session with HR told her straight up that I don’t respect her authority as my manager. I apologized for yelling at her, but I also said that I’d learned my lesson and that I’d never let myself become the confidante of another manager. The two managers I’ve had since then have been friendly and professional, and I’ve never had any trouble taking orders from them.

  9. Random Internet Stranger*

    I remembered this letter immediately upon reading the title, but that still didn’t stop me from raging while reading it.

    1. A Library Person*

      Same here. Reading it again makes me even more enraged- the levels of intrusion are astounding and I really hope the LW eventually got out of that job, because I’m sure a LOT of other boundaries were liable to be crossed.

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        From the update, it appears that the LW’s boss, who got fired over the incident, was the only problem person.

    2. Coffee Bean*

      I got angry again while reading this letter. Like cartoon angry with a beet red face, hair standing on end and stream clouds coming out of my ears. The gall of that douchebag boss.

  10. Coder von Frankenstein*

    2016 was the Year of Epically Bad Bosses. It says something that this clown only managed to come in fifth on the list.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      I think maybe because this bad boss was caught out pretty quickly and the company fired him. Other than this incident, there didn’t seem to be an ongoing campaign of nastiness.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, I tend to agree. I must say, though, that the update was one of the most satisfying I’ve ever read.

    2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      2016 was, I thought, never going to be beaten by the sheer level of wtf spawned that year. Both on this forum and elsewhere.

      Then 2020 was all ‘hold my beer and watch this’

  11. AnonInCanada*

    I remember this full well. Alas, despite the fact this one came pretty late in the year, it couldn’t hold a candle to the Worst Boss in 2016. And yes, Alison can just keep reposting those Worst Boss candidates all throughout this vacay week of hers, just to remind us that, in comparison, 2020 wasn’t so bar a year after all! :-P

    1. A Library Person*

      Ooooh, if that’s the theme will we get Leap Year Birthday Boss again? Or Skip Your Graduation Boss?

      Or the horrifying letter from the LW who was working for her father (or stepfather?) that has possibly the most uplifting string of updates from this site, where the commentariat came together in a swell of support and job offers. I like to remember that when I need to remind myself that the Internet (in the sense of community) can be a force for good sometimes.

      1. Coffee au Lait*

        What about the post who caused the writer’s horse’s death by not getting her when the writer’s friend called. I think about that letter from time and time.

      2. Lady Blerd*

        Leap Year boss, and his amazingly tone deaf update, is the Wors boss candidate that I occasionally think about.

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            I wanted to get married on Leap Day so that I would only have to celebrate our anniversary every four years. My wife wouldn’t go for it. I don’t understand why not.

            1. Mrs. Smith*

              I proposed to my husband on Leap Day, although we do actually try to mark the occasion (even if it’s just clinking glasses) on Feb. 28.

        1. Deejay*

          The way Leap Year Boss just kept insisting “Those are the rules. I don’t see what the problem is” in a totally unfeeling way makes me suspect they’re actually some kind of rogue AI. We need a Starfleet Captain or wandering Time Lord to ask LYB to calculate the value of pi, or say “The next thing I say will be true but the last thing I said was a lie” to see if their brain explodes.

          1. Candi*

            Nah, modern algorithms can handle that kind of thing, even if they’re not AIs.

            You write the calculating algorithm to cut off after a specific count of numerals after the decimal -it can’t go past that, so it stops.

            The other algorithm gets a “if X != Y, return ();” and it returns either an error message or null.

            Programs still aren’t independently creative, and LYB boss already failed that test.

            1. Deejay*

              But clearly rogue AIs in well-known science fiction franchises are not programmed with such safeguards, just as they’re not programmed with Asimov’s Laws of Robotics. So it might still work.

      3. Cat Tree*

        For me, the most horrifying boss is the one who peed into a cup and dumped it in the breakroom sink. I still think about that and shudder. And the one who stuck his bare hands into things like a bowl of fruit salad. Was that the same guy?

        I also hope we get to revisit “I bit my boss”. That place was so absurd and the LW gave an update that sort of defended it. That was weird.

      4. AnonInCanada*

        Or the one where OP was told by boss to leave a note at the gravesite of a grieving coworker, to get coworker to contact boss? There are quite a few doozies to badly reminisce about around here. :-(

      5. Artemesia*

        of all the ridiculous boss letters, the leap year one is the one I most often tell when an anecdote of terrible bosses is needed — that and liver donor guy. But the leap year one is so epic because the boss doubled down on this idiocy twice.

        1. Candi*

          The liver donor guy was more likely to be shot down. Not just because of the egregiousness of what they were demanding and the company’s potential reaction to the workers’ reaction, but because in the end it wouldn’t work.

          There was a commentator who said their job (at the time, anyway) involved organ donor screening. They said that if someone told them they were doing the screening under duress (which threatening someone’s job is), the person would be marked ineligible, and everything would be confidential, no matter how liver boss screamed. That was their advice, for LW and coworkers to tell the screeners they weren’t there willingly. (If it got that far.)

          Meanwhile, Leap Year Boss just kept going and going and going…

      1. All Het Up About It*

        I just went back and read that one for the first time. I am SO SAD we don’t have an update. I’m creating headcannon where it’s because she sued the heck out of the company and as part of her settlement she agreed not to talk about it, so she felt like she can’t send an update.

  12. TrackingCookieMonster*

    At first it’s shocking this one only finished 5th in the 2016 Worst Boss contest, but then you look at the other four and hooooooooo boy…

      1. EPLawyer*

        LOL. Yeah its bad when your boss is demanding your liver and he is STILL not the worst boss of the year.

    1. Deborah*

      Now I’m re-reading through the 2016 Bad Boss list and it was indeed epically bad. The lack of any follow-up on most of the stories is agonizing, thought.

  13. AndersonDarling*

    As soon as I read the title, I remembered the letter and was instantly mad again.
    I’ve seen this behaviour in bully bosses/megalomaniacs in my own work experience. If they realize that they have stepped too far out of bounds, then they write up the witnesses. One time, a jerk director had a hissy fit in a meeting and threw a book at an employee. Later that day, the guy who was struck by the book was called into HR because the director had written him up! Jerk director claimed that the employee threw the book!
    Jerk director was eventually fired, re-hired, and then fired again.

    1. TrackingCookieMonster*

      “Jerk director was eventually fired, re-hired, and then fired again.”

      This would be a lot funnier if they were fired, then immediately re-hired only to be immediately re-fired in a span of a minute or something.

      I suspect that wasn’t the case, though.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        He was rehired after a year and it was about 6 months before he was fired again. He was such a liability that the company had to take out an insurance rider on him.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Ummm, that being the case why was he even rehired. Must go find this letter now to figure out what I missed (I didn’t find AAM until 2018).

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        And he wrote the guy up on that same day! It’s like they say, the best defense is a good offense.

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      It makes me so angry that, out of all his and his colleagues’ employees, he called the one junior one who’d been in her first post-university job 8 months. He knew that a more senior coworker would not have answered his obnoxious middle of the night call. And then he had the absolute gall to write her up (!) and to suspend her without pay (!!!) The update was satisfying, but I certainly hope he isn’t being the same kind of boss somewhere else now.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        After re-reading the update, I stand corrected: “I also found out that my boss had called others, both men and women, before me and they all refused to do it.”

        That man. Please tell me he at least made the top three for the worst boss of 2016 award. (checks) Oh, he came in 5th. Good!

        1. Teapot Repair Technician*

          Also from the update: “…found to be fudging his time sheets and putting personal expenses on his company credit card. It’s likely that he promised the others a ride home from the airport but couldn’t deliver because his card was maxed out.”

          Sounds like his out-of-control behavior went well beyond what LW experienced. There’s a part of me that hopes he got whatever help he needed.

          1. J.B.*

            It’s the Al Capone theory of sexual harassment. Not that this guy was described as harassing sexually here, but that when you see that level of entitlement check all expense reports and anywhere he might have embezzled.

        2. Victoria, Please*

          Kind of even worse that he *kept going* until he found the new person. You’d have thought that anyone with even the tiniest bit of self-awareness would have paused a moment after the fourth “Hahahahahahahahaha hell no.”

    3. Salad Daisy*

      I was working at a law firm and the senior partner’s admin had called in sick. She was actually taking the day off to go to the beach, but I don’t know if the partner knew that. Anyway, he was so angry that he started yelling and then punched a hole in the wall. I left that job as soon as possible.

  14. MissDisplaced*

    Oh gosh, I remember this because the OP was written up for her attire while picking the boss up late at night, and it was super weird because it was just such unmitigated gall to write OP up for their outfit, given it was a car ride from the airport in the middle of the night (and there was nothing even remotely wrong with the outfit). Turns out they wrote up the OP because of their own failings. So petty.

    That boss was a total jerk but it sounds like he got what was coming to him. At least the company made it right in the end, and his behavior was not indicative of that company as a whole.

  15. Nea*

    It wasn’t an option in 2016, but I’m so glad that my phone has a feature that automatically silences it overnight now.

    1. Teapot Repair Technician*

      One thing I love about my phone today compared to my phone in 2016 is that voicemail is easier to check.

      Outside of working hours, there are maybe 5 people on Earth that I answer the phone for (and my boss isn’t one of them). Everyone else goes to VM.

    2. Nina*

      I do too, it’s called ‘the construction of my house makes it a literal Faraday cage and the moment I step inside I have no reception’.

  16. miss ames*

    The boss was a nut and deserved to be fired. The whole situation made me think of the “Shades of Grey” books and the Christian Grey character (ugh)

  17. Vesuvius*

    Good Lord. LW your boss sounds like my old boss. I really hope you are doing well now!

    This is one of the letters that made me realize “dang, my old job is SUPER toxic.” I appreciated the perspective then and I very much do now! My ex-boss was very weird about everything from the dress code to what violations you could actually report and I eventually left because it was impossible to get anywhere with that job. I am so grateful LW’s boss got fired, that LW’s grandboss seems good, and the update was a good one. I hope LW is still doing well.

    1. Sharpieees*

      I had a supervisor who told me that I needed to dress more professionally as she stood there in a sweatshirt coated in dog hair. It took all my willpower to not burst out laughing. I quit not long after that.

    1. Splendid Colors*

      Oh yes, the “I Won’t Ring Your Morning Alarm at 8:30 a.m. Because You Said You Didn’t Want To Be Disturbed Until 8:30 a.m.” setting.

      I missed several events after Google made that change to how DND works.

  18. Marzipan Shepherdess*

    The update to this is just priceless! A perfect example of karma…or should it be “carma”?

    Not surprising that the boss had his hands in the till; he sounds like a shining example of integrity (NOT!) and professionalism himself. Hope that the LW got a raise and promotion very soon thereafter! But yes, as several readers have pointed out, she should also have been paid for the day she was suspended; that whole disgraceful episode should indeed have been made completely right for her. Fortunately, her now-ex boss was the one disgraced – what was he THINKING??

  19. CW*

    Shortly after midnight? I would have already fallen asleep. If that is your boss’s reaction even after willingly picking him up, I can’t even imagine if you had actually fallen asleep and didn’t pick him up. It would probably have been worse.

    And on the update: glad your boss got fired. He deserved it. Not just after doing what he did to you but for using company credit card for personal expenses and tinkering with his timesheet. He was stealing company money – definitely grounds for dismissal.

  20. Eefs*

    The update to this letter reminds me of something similar that happened to me when I was 22 with a higher up of mine. There were four or five execs at my company, and my immediate boss on the east coast sent me to LA to train and had the exec of finance “watch out for me”. Everyone in my office does relatively the same, highly specific task, and there’s one woman who looked after almost all the admin for the office. She was severely ill for weeks, and one random day, one task she hadn’t completed due to her illness fell on the finance exec. The entire office’s financial forms needed to be sent to an event team otherwise we wouldn’t get paid for a large project we’d been working on for weeks (we were all contractors so this would DIRECTLY affect us). For some reason this all got dumped on me (perhaps as the most junior and one of the only four women in the office). I cannot describe how crazy this task became without this becoming a novel. I had to get six or seven forms from everyone in the office in a single day. Some people were in different time zones, some out for the day, some just didn’t consider me important enough to get back to in a timely manner. He wanted me to doctor forms that were incorrect. He asked me to forge signatures (and when I refused, he had me submit his forged signatures). He told me to bluff people’s marital status’ for tax papers (again I refused, but as politely as I could). He had started phoning me before six am to help him with his ‘special project’, and kept me in (alone) until 8pm that night (my regular hours were 8am-4pm). He had me continue the project on my Saturday alone. When I asked him questions he would interrupt me and tell me how pretty my accent was (which I had found more annoying than demeaning, until my male colleagues called his behaviour out as “weinstein-y”).

    The next week I called out sick because I was so stressed by this bizarre, all-consuming assignment. I got a peculiar phone call from the CEOs assistant asking me how I was, and that my boss was ‘taking a break for a while’. I didn’t tell her that my calling out sick was directly related to my discomfort over what had happened the weekend before. But when I was back sure enough he was gone for several weeks, before making an equally unusual return.

    When COVID started and we all started working remotely this same boss phoned me to remind me to keep my skin pale and perfect and out of the sun (?!) amongst other weird things that were connected to the general disfunction of that job.

    I’ve since moved on but I still receive the office wide emails. Turns out he collapsed while on a project out of office, and is in hospital only a couple weeks ago. Not sure if the guy has some personal issues or has been a drug abuser, but he used to tour the US as a rock guitarist so I think he’s just a bit off from years of touring.

      1. Candi*


        “Elvis Presley and the Bloodsucker Blues” by Matt Venne

        Blood Lite: An Anthology of Humorous Horror Stories Presented by the Horror Writers Association.
        Butcher, Jim; Harris, Charlaine; Kenyon, Sherrilyn.

  21. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    Call me late at night for a lift? Hope you like Cthulhu slippers. And Cthulhu pyjamas…

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      If I even pick up the phone, I’m assuming it’s either one or two people that I have known for over thirty years who make really stupid prank calls when drunk; or that you have dialed the wrong phone number. Either way it’s ending with a really fast hang up.

  22. Recruited Recruiter*

    HR person here:
    If I hear of a rumor about something severely problematic, the first place I go is to someone’s assistant. I can say “Tell me what you know about Fergus.” and I typically get enough information to start the investigation. I also ask said admins about rehire applicants, since they tend to have heard about all of the worst employees.

  23. Cheddar*

    My contract states that I may be required to work on weekends, but it has to be arranged ahead of time. But sometimes they call people on a Saturday morning and tell them to go to customer sites to sort out some issue. One Saturday they tried calling me, and I just ignored it. Good thing I kept my personal phone when they gave me a work phone. That Monday they gave me a ton of crap for not answering the phone, so I said I was visiting family over the weekend and I didn’t have my phone with me. Another time I told them I was hungover. I don’t even drink.

  24. Hank Stevens*

    Wow, this manager takes the cake. Given how out of line his request was, one would think he would have been extra nice to the OP for helping him out instead of writing her up for a dress code violation. I guess he had an employment death wish. I’m glad he got his comeuppance.

    1. Candi*

      He was hoping to bully her into feeling so ashamed and embarrassed that she would never make a peep about him calling for the ride. (Nvm the two other witnesses.)

      The problem with such a song and dance is you have to be careful to realistically cover all your bases, and he didn’t.

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