the intern who set up a cot and other stories of internships gone wrong

With summer internships ending, here are 10 of the most intriguing intern stories that readers have shared in the past.

But first, for the record, most interns are great! But when things go wrong, they tend to really go wrong. Read these with nostalgia for what it’s like to be new to the work world. And if you manage interns, remember that you need to provide them with guidance and mentorship so they avoid disasters.

1. The cot

“Our office was one of those super modern open floor plan models, where everyone sits at a table, regardless of title. Our office had a lot of those lux amenities, like a gym, hair salon and convenience store, so a lot of interns viewed it as their own take on Google. I came in one day and found a very neat cot made up next to the large common table, complete with sheets, pillows and even shams. Our company did frequently have health observance displays, so I thought maybe it was a sleep hygiene demonstration – but no. An intern had decided he needed a midday nap and had purchased and set up a cot. His manager worked in a different area and rarely came to this building. When she did and saw the cot, and found out it was the intern’s sleeping place, her rage was epic and horrifying.”

2. The music fan

“A brand new co-op student came into our lunch room for the first time, listened to about 10 minutes of our usual conversation (sports, major world events, Game of Thrones, and other TV), and announced that those topics didn’t interest her and that we should be talking about classical music instead. One of my colleagues asked how that would go, and in a very condescending tone she said, ‘Well, if I was to say the name Beethoven, would you know who I meant?'”

3. The love

“I had a young employee who used to invite her boyfriend to work so she and him could make out.I still remember her expression when I pulled her aside to tell her that this was not okay. She stared at me for a good 30 seconds before saying, ‘But I love him.’ I still don’t know what she expected me to say to that.”

4. The brother

“I had a student intern who, unbeknownst to me, brought her brother in to do her work while she studied. She had been assigned to shelve items in our library stacks. When I went out to check on her, I found [her] sitting at a table reading while her brother was off shelving. Aside from the legalities of having a random stranger doing the work that had been assigned to a paid intern, this guy had no official training whatsoever; apparently she just told him what to do. I didn’t even want to know what their family dynamics were. All I know is my brothers would never, ever do my job (if they were even capable of doing it) without getting paid. A few days after I thought I had laid down the law on this mess, she and her brother pulled the same thing again! I ran the brother off for good this time, and – needless to say – his sister did not last long with us.”

5. “We don’t use that language around the congressman.”

“I am a very level-headed person but had an alcohol-fueled adventure in front of some very important people one night. I was a political intern, and there is an annual convention that (in all honesty) is just a big, drunken booze-fest – and I did partake. My biggest embarrassments of the night were falling over drunk on the governor (his security detail had to step in because I was so tipsy) and being kicked out of a hospitality suite for reasons I don’t remember, but all I recall are the words ‘we don’t use that language around the congressman.’”

6. The pajamas

“We had a summer associate who decided it would be a good idea to PUT ON HER PAJAMAS and take a nap ON TOP OF HER DESK one summer. … She was not offered a position at the end of the summer.”

7. The patio

“At an old gig, generally when assigning IT equipment, managers and up got laptops and everyone else got PCs. I was responsible for walking new user through their setup. When I started talking about how to log into your PC, the intern began grimace and appear to begin having a panic attack. When I asked what was wrong she said, ‘Why can’t I have a laptop?’ Slightly freaked out but cool on the surface, I explained the general IT assignments.

She began to weep.

Totally freaked out, I just looked at her for a minute as she lamented, ‘What if I want to go outside? Or I see something that inspires me on the patio? How could you do this? Why?!’ She didn’t last long that summer.”

8. The wine

(This one isn’t disastrous, just funny.)

“I was working at a government agency the summer after my sophomore year of college. I was 20 years old, doing pretty well, having a good time, getting to know my coworkers. Near the end of the internship, I mentioned off-hand to a woman who had become something of a mentor to me that I would be leaving soon, to which she said, ‘We’ll have to celebrate. We’ll buy you some candy and wine.’

Now, I had about 8 months until my 21st birthday, so without thinking, I said, ‘Candy sounds great, but let’s hold off around 8 months on the wine.’

I didn’t realize what I had implied until she awkwardly tried to congratulate me. To this day, I wonder if she ever realized that I was not, in fact, pregnant.”

9. The pay inequality

“My office had an intern once who was ultimately let go for issues around lack of professionalism. After he was let go, we discovered his twitter account where he’d spent weeks complaining that gender-based pay inequality wasn’t real because he (an intern) was being paid less than us (his managers, all women, who had all been with the company for 5+years at that point.)

This wasn’t even an unpaid internship! He was making more than minimum wage in an entry level internship as his first job out of college! But apparently him not making manager money as an intern proved ‘reverse sexism’ was real and alive, somehow.”

10. Rick’s List

“My company hires several interns from the local university every summer, and most of them come in with the idea that they know more than the rest of us and they are going to change the face of the company as we know it. The one I was saddled with a few summers back didn’t seem this way, so I thought there wouldn’t be any issues … until I went on vacation for a week.

While I was gone, I had ‘Rick’ contact all of our suppliers to make sure that we had all of their latest terms and conditions on file. I thought, what harm could there be calling suppliers and asking a simple request that they’re accustomed to? Well, apparently Rick took it upon himself to ‘negotiate’ existing terms and pricing with our established suppliers. Mind you, many of these contracts are quite intricate and many months in the making, and usually include some verbiage to the effect of ‘these terms are set, don’t come back and ask for better pricing just because.’

The gasoline on the fire was when Rick decided to get tough and told some of them, ‘Well, if you can’t give us better pricing, then we’ll go to someone who can,’ then proceeded to call said alternative suppliers and supply them with all of the specs and current pricing for our materials (all proprietary by the way).

In our industry, the supplier-purchaser relationship is very tricky and tentative at best. In many cases, companies are not only suppliers, but also customers, and in some cases competition. … Because of the exchange of certain proprietary information and bad blood, in general we now have a list of companies we can’t or shouldn’t buy from or sell to. We’ve named it Rick’s List in his honor.”

{ 538 comments… read them below }

  1. Harper the Other One*

    Yowsers. Every one of these is mind boggling.

    #9 inadvertently sort of proved pay inequity is a thing by expecting that the contributions of a male intern deserve the same compensation as a female manager.

        1. Canadian Librarian #72*

          That line is evergreen – writer Sarah Hagi coined the phrase several years ago in a tweet, and it’s been a viral staple ever since (deservedly so!)

          1. No Longer Looking*

            Thanks! I never knew who coined it – AAM is a never-ending treasure trove of information.

    1. Becca Rosselin-Metadi*

      Exactly. “I am a male college student. I clearly deserve to make more than these female managers”.

  2. Littorally*

    #10 had my jaw on the floor. How on earth do you handle that with the intern? With references for him? “Keep this guy on a tight rein because he will do whatever he damn well pleases”?

      1. RedinSC*

        I was wondering does this rise to lawsuit level? Since he was an intern, is there some feedback mechanism? (the interns we hire it is actually part of their curriculum and we have to provide a written review at the end of their service)

        There needs to be some SERIOUS consequences for this guy, he actively destroyed relationships in their business.

        1. Golden*

          I don’t really have the details, but apparently a classmate of mine broke the NDA impressively badly during their internship program and it definitely rose to legal issues for the student and school.

          The career dev lead is one of the friendliest people I know, but he definitely got shark eyes when going over NDA/legal stuff at internship orientation the following year.

        2. Artemesia*

          And predictably. We once had an intern for a politician who was told he could not speak for the politician and so when asked by a reporter for the congressman’s position on X said ‘no comment’ which he took to mean. ‘I can’t comment since I have no authority’ but which alas in the world of journalism is quotable as a comment and got reported as the congressman’s response. it was an innocent though naive mistake. Rick’s was not so innocent and predictably lead to disaster. But one wonders to whom he was reporting while this was going on.

          1. Xenia*

            That at least sounds like a communications breakdown and a pretty understandable one (though I don’t know what political interns learn so I might be wrong) vs massive massive arrogance

          2. Khenet*

            I’m curious, what was the correct thing to do in your intern’s situation? Is it to direct the reporter to someone else, or is it to just ignore them entirely?

            1. M*

              “No comment”.

              Nothing more, no additions, no changes, no creativity.

              *If* you know what you’re doing, you redirect to the right person. But any reporter knows how to call/email the press office, so that’s usually not necessary.

              1. BethDH*

                But that’s what the intern did, which got taken as the boss saying “no comment,” and I can understand why. Intern needs to say that they are not the right person to ask. It’s clearly an honest mistake, but a mistake nonetheless. “No comment” is actually a statement about the boss’ willingness to go on the record. “I am not the right person to ask” is probably the way to go.

                1. Kal*

                  But the intern didn’t say “no comment”, he said “I can’t comment since I have no authority”.

                  “No comment” is understood to be “I am not saying anything on the record at this time”, but anything else could be taken as a statement on the record, which is why you don’t deviate from or add to “no comment”.

                2. biobotb*

                  @Kal, the intern did say “no comment” because he thought it meant “I don’t have the authority to comment for the congressman.” If he’d actually said, “I don’t have the authority to comment for the congressman,” it never would have been quoted as the congressman’s position on the issue. (Because how could that be the congressman’s position on anything?)

              2. Rusty Shackelford*

                No, the correct answer is to say “I can’t speak for the congressman, you’ll need to contact our media office.”

            2. M*

              “No comment”.

              Nothing more, no additions, no changes, no creativity.

              *If* you know what you’re doing, you redirect to the right person. But any reporter knows how to call/email the press office, so that’s usually not necessary – and there’s enough pitfalls that if you don’t know what you’re doing, the only correct answer is “no comment”.

              1. C*

                Nah, its worded a little confusingly, but the intern did say “no comment” which he (the intern) *took* to mean “I can’t comment, as I don’t have the authority”, but was received by the journalist as the congressman’s response. But “no comment” was all the intern said.

    1. AJoftheInternet*

      “I’m sorry to tell you that Rick did irreparable damage to our company and I can’t recommend him as an employee.”

    2. Mental Lentil*

      My question is who was in charge of him while LW was on vacation for a week.

      You do NOT leave interns unsupervised for a week. A few hours, a day, maybe. But a week?

      1. twocents*

        Especially for difficult relationship management! It may be a routine request but if the clients are that sensitive, why risk it on an intern?

      2. Marzipan Shepherdess*

        I was wondering the same thing – wasn’t anyone assigned to oversee what Rick was doing? (You can cause a LOT of damage in a week! ;) Of course this was Rick’s responsibility and fault, but whoa…SOMEONE with knowledge, experience and authority really should have been monitoring what he did.

      3. Maglev to Crazytown*

        When I interned wayyyy back when, I finished my entire summer of work they had planned… In about two weeks. By the end of that summer, I had generated graphics and written sections for major reports, provided a briefing to upper management and another agency when my minder got sick and was out that day (the first question asked by the other agency was, “are you guys planning on hiring Maglev, because if you don’t, we will”). And was running complex statistical computer models on six stations simultaneously. They brought me back the next two summers, no question, at the max pay rate they could, and I got a job offer as well after I graduated.

        I look back and go, damn, I think they were not expecting that, considering the stories I hear of interns and ones I’ve seen come through. In hindsight, I laugh at all the shit they trusted me with.

      4. Environmental Compliance*

        Not saying it was the right thing to do, but…

        When I interned for state gov’t, I was handed a truck, a boat, and all the equipment and told “there ya go”.

        I had never driven a boat before. I was lucky in that I had backed horse trailers before, so I learned quickly with a boat trailer. I was also not from that area and got lost often.

        Did I get all my work done and then some? Yes. I got outstanding references and came back for a year. But looking back there were definitely some questionable decisions made as far as intern management that I would absolutely not make now, with my own interns.

        1. LemonLime*

          You just described my entire ungrad working experience.
          “We’re doing a prescribed burn, you’ll be a flapper.”
          “A what?”
          “Here’s a pole with a rubber mat attached to it. If the fire goes where it’s not supposed to, just hit it until it’s out.”
          “Do I have back up if things go badly?”
          “Nope, we’re taking the truck and dropping other undergrad workers off in other parts of the woods armed with just poles to fight the fire we’re about to set. Good luck!”

  3. Archie Goodwin*

    “Well, if I was to say the name Beethoven, would you know who I meant?”

    “Ah, my apologies. Tell me – what’s your opinion of Francesco Azopardi’s music? Personally, I find it attractive enough, but a bit archaic.”

    Don’t play that game with me. I have wells – nay, canyons – of obscure classical musical knowledge.

    1. R*

      I would personally be so tempted to say, “yeah, he was in the movie with Salieri who was so jealous of him after he wrote The Nutcracker” and then just start humming the bit from Marriage of Figaro where Bugs Bunny massages Elmer Fudd’s scalp.

      1. Merci Dee*

        Gotta love Buggs Bunny at the Opera. Now I’m going to have Elmer Fudd jabbing a spear into a hole stuck in my head all day. “Kill da wabbit, kill da wabbit, kill da wabbit!”

        1. R*

          I had a fairly full music appreciation class in high school and one dude and I sat in the back and we’d hum all the songs that we knew from old cartoons. Looney Tunes did so much more to foster a love and appreciation for classical music than poor Ms B did.

          1. Despachito*

            I just LOVE these “light” references, because I think you are spot on – I am much more likely to remember something I learn as a half-joke than if I learn it “seriously”.

            I am able to immediately remember the tune of Ode to Joy due to some bawdy lyrics we used to add to it as teenagers.

            And as for the more “serious” but still very funny stuff, I love “Decomposing Johann” by the King’s Singers (I am not sure about posting links here but if you are interested in a very unorthodox and funny, a capella rendition of Tocatta and Fugue in D minor, please google it, it is absolutely worth every second).

            1. Miss Betty*

              You can sing O My Darling Clementine to the tune of Ode to Joy. I can’t even say how happy that makes me!

              1. Sapphire (they)*

                Gotta love the Common Meter for making fun stuff like that possible. My favorite example was someone setting the lyrics of the Pokemon theme song to a hymn tune.

                1. This comment is awaiting moderation*

                  You can sing the Lizzie Borden Song to ‘cadence’ which inspired me to write Archcriminal Jodies To March By. My number for Saddam Hussein was actually sung by troops in Iraq!

            2. Lime green Pacer*

              And now I have the Monty Python song “Decomposing Composers” in my head.

              They’re decomposing composers.
              There’s nothing much anyone can do.
              You can still hear Beethoven,
              But Beethoven cannot hear you.

      2. GlitsyGus*

        I would want to reply, “Oh! I love St. Bernard’s! So fluffy!” because I really hate catering to snobbery. But yeah, I would also be itching to school her butt at the same time.

        1. Benefits veteran*

          Got to hear him in concert in 1995 in an outdoor amphitheater. His routines were as funny as ever, but the highlight of the evening was when he played “Clair de Lune” with masterful expression accompanied by the National Symphony. It was a balmy night in June, just as the sky was fading from a colorful sunset to twilight. Pure magic!

    2. 867-5309*

      Beethoven? I assume you are referring to the early-90s movie. I thought the dog was great but generally prefer rescue mutts myself.

        1. anonymouse*

          Same. Wasn’t David Duchovney the villain? Or was that just Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead?

          1. knitcrazybooknut*

            That was Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead. His hair in that is hilarious.

            I’m right on top of that, Rose.

            1. GlitsyGus*

              Bahaha, on my last team we would use, “I’m right on top of that, Rose!” ALL the time. Especially when we were trying not to lose our temper with a client or upper management A-hole trying to tell us how to do our jobs.

      1. HarvestKaleSlaw*

        I love it. It’s the best possible kind of response with this sort of person, too. Don’t play their weird one-up game – go the other way. Just keep proving to them that you are every bit as dumb as they assume – and dumber. Give them alllll the rope they need, and enjoy the show.

      2. 867-5309*

        I would follow it up with a reference to Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

        “Oh! I see! You mean the guy who was in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure? Wasn’t that hilarious. He was good at the piano, too.”

          1. KuklaRed*

            Cheers for PDQ!! I saw him several times in concert at Lincoln Center and he was a blast every time.

              1. Huttj*

                I love how obscure some of his jokes are. There was one where my brother and I (did choir growing up) were cracking up, and my mother (trained in flute and some piano) had no clue what was funny, and it was because the choirs were doing a repeated vowel-consonant pair, where we had been specifically taught in choir to never to that, just repeat the vowel (im-or-or-or-or-or-or-or-or-al porpoises).

                I’ve also heard his Beethoven’s 5th with color commentary has a flub on the French Horn, that is obviously fake to horn players as it goes over the break with different fingerings, and is thus basically impossible to do by accident.

                1. Benefits veteran*

                  Professor Schickele had a long running weekly radio show on that ran on NPR stations. He covered a broad range of topics like ” In 3/4 time but not a waltz” and “Music in fifths”. Very informative and full of fun, occasionally using illustrative selections from the works of PDQ himself. I would love to here them again but I understand that rights to broadcast the show were a victim of a subsequent merger of the company producing it.

          1. R*

            That show made me realize that I was completely wrong about “Hollaback Girl” and that it was actually one of the finest pop songs of its era.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        “Oh well,’ said Jack: and then, ‘Did you ever meet Bach?’

        ‘Which Bach?’

        ‘London Bach.’

        ‘Not I.’

        ‘I did. He wrote some pieces for my uncle Fisher, and his young man copied them out fair. But they were lost years and years ago, so last time I was in town I went to see whether I could find the originals: the young man has set up on his own, having inherited his master’s music-library. We searched through the papers — such a disorder you would hardly credit, and I had always supposed publishers were as neat as bees — we searched for hours, and no uncle’s pieces did we find. But the whole point is this: Bach had a father.’

        ‘Heavens, Jack, what things you tell me. Yet upon recollection I seem to have known other men in much the same case.’

        ‘And this father, this old Bach, you understand me, had written piles and piles of musical scores in the pantry.’

        ‘A whimsical place to compose in, perhaps; but then birds sing in trees, do they not? Why not antediluvian Germans in a pantry?’

        ‘I mean the piles were kept in the pantry. Mice and blackbeetles and cook-maids had played Old Harry with some cantatas and a vast great passion according to St Mark, in High Dutch; but lower down all was well, and I brought away several pieces, ‘cello for you, fiddle for me, and some for both together. It is strange stuff, fugues and suites of the last age, crabbed and knotted sometimes and not at all in the modern taste, but I do assure you, Stephen, there is meat in it. I have tried this partita in C a good many times, and the argument goes so deep, so close and deep, that I scarcely follow it yet, let alone make it sing. How I should love to hear it played really well — to hear Viotti dashing away.”

        1. Horrible Old Leopard*

          There’s a fairly deep cut as a response, though I like to think you have this particular exchange memorized.

    3. Richard Hershberger*

      You beat me to it! Except that I was going to go with Johann Baptist Wanhal and include a discussion about whether it should be spelled “Wanhal” or “Vanhal.” His work is very good, by the way. Sure, if you have to chose between him and Beethoven for your desert island CD collection, you go with old Ludwig Van. But when it is time to move past the war horses, Wanhal is a good place to look.

      1. Archie Goodwin*

        Can’t have Vanhal without Mysliveček.

        (I mean, you can…but I first encountered them together on the same disc, lo these many years ago.)

        And the only Bach worth bringing into the discussion is PDQ, natch.

    4. Code Monkey, the SQL*

      I would have had SO many replies to that which would have been unkind. But also BOY do I want to geek out about classical music now.

    5. Love WFH*

      I _burst_ out laughing at this one!
      And I think that would be a reasonable, and educational, reaction in the moment.

    6. Chilipepper Attitude*

      My son, aged 4 or so at the time, took a music class from a woman who recently moved here from Russia. It was an amazing class and he learned a lot.

      We were shopping one day around Christmas time and he kept saying, “cheese coffee, its cheese coffee!” It took me a while to figure it out. When the teacher said, Tchaikovsky with a Russian accent, he heard cheese coffee.

            1. MsSolo (UK)*

              The cheese is salty, and a bit tangy (and chewy from being grilled first). Sort of halloum-esque? The coffee is very, very black. Definitely worth trying, but it’s not going to be a hit for a lot of people.

    7. quill*

      At least this intern didn’t have Lisztomania. (That’s my only reference, I had to take “musical appreciation” in school due to not being able to carry a tune in a bucket, and it didn’t stick unless the song we learned about was in Disney’s Fantasia. I have stupid amounts of random painter knowledge though.)

    8. Name Goes Here*

      I say drag in an old M*A*S*H reference.

      “Ahhhh, Bach!!” While waving your hand knowingly.

    9. Archaeopteryx*

      That one is so hilarious and aggravating – I’ve seen so many college freshmen come in hardcore pretentious because they don’t have the social skills to know the difference between how smart people actually talk vs. like a kid’s cartoon version of intelligence. That this intern was presumably older than 19 is… not a good sign as far as her ability to read the room!

      It’s just so adorably childish to think that smart people only talk about e.g. Beethoven, Einstein, and Renoir (intelligent but also extremely basic and well-known smart-people-esque topics) and that if you also pay attention to the news or enjoy TV you can’t possibly know about or appreciate anything sophisticated. It’s like Mitchell and Webb’s “Big Talk” sketch and the intern is Raymond Terrific.

      1. Ex-M*

        I am an ex-member of Mensa. When I became a member and told my dad, he said, “Bah, how boring. All they do is stand around and compare their SATs and IQ scores, and talk about Einstein.”

        Which, ah, isn’t true at all.

        It’s more like. . . all the nerdy and socially-awkward kids who were bullied as children grew up and formed their own club where they take out all of their childhood anger on each other with snark, doxxing, humiliation, rage posts, sexual harassment, and garden-variety condescension like the intern displayed.

        I have a postgrad degree and work at a place where pretty much everyone else does, too. They are all lovely, smart people who can converse across a wide range of topics without once trying to shame anyone for not liking or talking about the “right” intelligent things.

        So I guess I’m saying that it just depends on which group of smart people you come across as to whether or not they behave as the intern did. Imma bet she’s now a member of Mensa. :-D

          1. lb*

            you should check out comedienne Jamie Loftus’ podcast about her year in Mensa; it’s pretty dark, honestly!

        1. a seyssel*

          Yup. My husband is a Mensan, and even runs a SIG. Through Mensa, he has encountered some interesting, supportive, all-the-good-things people, and a bunch of ill-mannered, condescending, horse’s hind-ends who don’t cope well with not being the smartest person in the room. But hey, most of them use proper grammar.

          1. Ex-M*

            Yeppp. That’s Mensa in a nutshell. So. Many. Pendants.

            I made some good friends in the few years I was involved but the good-people-to-assholes differential was massive. And it was really disheartening to see people use their intellect and good grammar to support truly horrific stances (“Same-sex marriage is no different than pedophilia; here are my smooth, well-spoken, 10 points on why that’s true.”)

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              I bet all those pendants are just hanging around, huh?
              ( My nominee for best auto-in-correct of the week.)

              1. Ex-M*

                BAHAHAHA! I heart autocorrect typos and this one is pretty good. I’m not even going to feel embarrassed for not catching it. :-D

        2. Kal*

          I always felt iffy about the idea of mensa, even though multiple people in my life said I should join. The idea of a club where the defining criteria was being smart where smart = high IQ (which is a flawed and racist/ableist/classist system anyway) always seemed like it could very easily become a giant mess, even if there would be benefits. So I can’t say I’m surprised by what you described of it, and it makes me glad I stuck with my instincts on that.

        3. HereKittyKitty*

          There’s also a great Columbo episode “The Bye Bye Sky High IQ Murder Case” which is one of my favorites. The murderer gets caught up in his own “I’m smart” attitude that he explains to Columbo exactly how he committed the murder.

    10. laowai_gaijin*

      I’d have sung her Ode to Joy in German. But I like yours better, because I’m guessing that she had no clue who Azopardi is.

    11. Yeti Spaghetti*

      Ya, Beethoven was a big fluffy dog who starred in a whole series of movies in the 1990’s and 2000’s. Duh.

    12. EventPlannerGal*

      Nah, the best way to win that game is not to play. “No, sorry, never heard of him. See the match on Saturday?”

    13. Pipe Organ Guy*

      Hmmm. I could have a lot of fun dumping a blizzard of questions on this snobbish intern.

      Beethoven. Do you know what form the Marcia Funebre in the “Eroica” is in? (It’s a rondo.) How many overtures to his one opera? (Four, for Leonore/Fideliio.) Why does one of his string quartets have two different final movements? (The first one he wrote, the Grosse Fuge, is a big, hairy, long, difficult piece that almost swamps the rest of the work. Hence, a different finale that is in better balance. The big, hairy fuge lives on independently.) What is unique about his fifth piano concerto? (The cadenzas are written out, not improvised.) How would you describe the form of the last movement of his ninth symphony? (A theme and variations with symphonic and concerto elements.) And that’s just scratching the surface of fun conversational topics with other musicians.

      One of the great lessons life teaches is meeting people where they are.

    14. Susan Ivanova*

      I’m reminded of the episode of MASH where Radar gets tips on impressing his date from Hawkeye: “Just say ‘ah, Bach'”.

    15. Belle of the Midwest*

      “well, if I was to say the name Beethoven, would you know who I meant?”

      “why yes, he’s the dude that the Beatles told to roll over!”

      (just kidding–I was a music student back in the day and Beethoven was my jam)

    16. Marzipan Shepherdess*

      There once was a lady named Hatch
      Who was fond of the music of Bach
      She said “It’s not fussy
      Like Chopin or Debussy
      Sit down and I’ll play you a snatch!”

      Of course, “Chopin” is pronounced “choppin’ ” and of course I didn’t write this one. Wish I had! Wonder how the author would have mangled the name “Beethoven”? Probably “beeth oven”…

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Great example of forced rhyme, though. Only the first & last lines rhyme without mispronouncing something.

    17. Jay*

      When I was a third-year med student, I was waiting for my team at a nurse’s station where one of the other attendings was on the phone. He was apparently running late and was telling someone else which bottle of St Emilion wine to retrieve from the cellar for dinner. He hung up, smirked at me, and said “When you’re an attending, you’ll learn.” I shrugged and said “I already know three good California merlots that cost about half as much as the bottle you’ll drink tonight, and probably taste better, depending on how you’ve stored yours.”

      Not the most politically savvy thing to do. I knew I was leaving the state for residency and this was a doc in a different division who had no input into my evaluation. It was totally worth it for the look on his face.

      1. allathian*

        Hah! Good for you. I have very low tolerance for snobs, so when you can put one in their place without jeopardizing your job, I say go for it!

    18. Canadian Librarian #72*

      “You mean, the big dog from the 90s movie?” or “Oh, I always thought it was pronounced Beeth-Oven!” would have been my go-tos. Let’s find out how stupid this woman really thinks I am, haha

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        If I had been in that conversation, I’d either go that way, with the dog movie, OR mention some of my favorite contemporary classical composers, such as Arvo Part or Travener.

        For a pleasant listen/read may I recommend “The Composer is Dead” by Lemony Snicket. It is a delightful introduction to an orchestra.

        1. Erin C.*

          I have a Facebook friend whose wife is a classical organist. Somehow he ended up taking a picture of Arvo Part loading groceries in the back of his car. I don’t know much about music other than “I like it” and I do like Part but frankly had no idea he was a contemporary composer or if he’d died 50 years ago. So now whenever I listen to his sweeping, majestic music, I think of an old guy loading groceries into his Subaru.

          That is all.

    19. Confident Mediocre White Man*

      That intern sounds insufferable. Tbat intern also sounds exactly like me back then. Heh. Ugh

  4. Amy Farrah Fowler*

    I’m completely dumbfounded that a list about ridiculous intern stories does not include the post about the protest to change the dress code. Link in a reply comment.

      1. generic_username*

        Lol, wow, firing them feels like a massive over-reaction – although I wonder if that petition read like an ultimatum (the dress code or us). That was a lesson learned the hard way….

        1. Mental Lentil*

          As someone else pointed out below, many of them had asked individually and already been told no. The petition was an escalation on their part. They also had a really bad example listed in their petition.

          I really think that schools (both high school and college levels) do a really poor job of setting up work expectations for young people. School is a place where it is very difficult to get fired (expelled); whereas most work places are at-will and you can get let go at the drop of a hat.

          Our society really does owe young people better.

        2. JB*

          You have to read between the lines to get the full picture here – the intern who wrote the letter doesn’t call out all of their own egregious behavior, because they don’t have the experience to understand that it was egregious.

          So here’s the big thing: all of that conversation, organizing, and petition-signing was happening on company time, in their workspace.

          A conversation that was focused around the fact that one specific employee was allowed an exception to the dress code.

          An exception that was granted because she had a disability.

          Now, were they astute enough to keep the conversation quiet when she walked by? Maybe. Based on the judgement on display in the letter, we can’t say for sure. What about other employees? Also unclear. Either way, if this employee had ever found out that this whole gaggle of interns had been spending time talking about her and how she’s allowed accomodations that they don’t get…it’s likely she would have felt at least a little hurt. The interns clearly didn’t see themselves as bullies, but that is bullying behavior, or close to it. And the fact that they were specifically targetting her for her disability accomodations could have been a big problem for the company.

          Interns are not worth the trouble of keeping this particular pack together.

    1. Hills to Die on*

      I hope all of these interns are looking back in horror and embarrassment, and also able to laugh because they are in better places now.

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        There was a letter from one of the members. I think it served as a teaching point to him/her.

      2. Dasein9*

        I hope they learned their lesson and are much more ably organizing marches and rallies for BLM, gun control, and bodily autonomy.

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      My heart always goes out to those interns. They were so confused and got WAY too much internet publicity over it.

      1. Bamcakes*

        Me too! I remember discussing it on The Toast and I stand by my comment then: if you have to fire EVERY intern of a cohort, you’ve don’t a terrible job communicating expectations and setting clear boundaries somewhere along the way.

        1. anonforthis*

          Genuinely surprised that the interns gathering together to collectively ask for a change in their working conditions isn’t a legally protected activity in America.

            1. allathian*

              Yeah, I wholeheartedly agree, at least in offices. It’s a different matter when the reason for the uniform has to do with safety or hygiene (clean rooms requiring hazmat gear, hospitals requiring scrubs/lab coats…), or when it’s necessary to be able to identify a member of a profession quickly (cops and soldiers in uniform). Even in the latter case, the more personal choice they can give individuals, the better; as in, a female-presenting person in the military should be able to choose between wearing pants or a skirt in dress uniform. I’m even open to male-presenting people wearing a skirt even if he isn’t a Scotsman wearing a kilt (which isn’t a skirt but you get the idea), but that’s probably too radical for some.

              1. ceiswyn*

                People keep claiming that a kilt isn’t a skirt, but as someone who was brought up in Scotland – it is, by any meaningful definition.

                Isn’t it interesting, the logical contortions we will go to to avoid the idea that men can wear skirts without impact on their manliness?

                1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

                  I think here we’re concerned with the definition between them. Kilts might fit into a subcategory of skirt, but at the same time we are concerned with limiting both male-presenting and AMAB people to this defined subcategory of skirt that is delineated for men.

                  “I want to wear a skirt.” “Well, you can wear a kilt. That’s a skirt, so good enough.” “But I don’t want to wear a kilt, I want to wear a skirt.”

                  For the purpose of the conversation above, it is useful to delineate between skirts and kilts. Just because a meaningful definition of a skirt would include kilts does not waive the societal definitions.

    3. EvilQueenRegina*

      I was surprised the one who’d never heard of Abraham Lincoln and didn’t know ham came from pigs wasn’t there. (The joys of the random post button meant I came across that one again recently).

    4. Boo Radley*

      I’m sure Alison didn’t want the attention from the corners of the internet for whom this is rage-cat nip.

      1. The Original K.*

        I’m trying to imagine my response. “… Okay?” Or “That’s great. He still needs to stay home.”

          1. Mental Lentil*

            I keep hearing that meme where someone picks up a kitten and says “You’re my friend now!”

            Maybe she found him just wandering around outside somewhere and decided to keep him?

            1. quill*

              I knew couples like that in high school / college, I always wonder how they ended up coping as adults…

              1. Alex*

                There was a great College Humor sketch about this back in the day about Everyone’s High School Boyfriend keeping on with the same hangaround behaviour well into adulthood, and it was so accurate.

    1. A Poster Has No Name*

      I’m really curious about that one. Where were they making out? Was it at her desk? The lunchroom? In the front lobby? How long would he be there for? Was it every day? Did they not get to see each other otherwise?

      So bizarre.

      1. JB*

        Back when I worked as a bank teller, I had a coworker whose boyfriend used to come visit her every day and bring her lunch. And for the first 10 minutes of her lunch break, she’d sit in the branch lobby and make out with him. Right there in front of God, the customers, and everybody. I would find something else to look at but I could still hear them smacking lips. Yeegh.

        You’re probably imagining a teenager. This woman was old enough to know better – in her 30’s, with children.

        1. Jaydee*

          Wow. I feel awkward enough giving my husband a quick peck on the lips when he drops me off at work after we go out to lunch (an occurrence that happened maybe 1-2x a year pre-pandemic). I can’t imagine audibly making out for 10 minutes in the middle of my workplace.

      2. Lacey*

        There was a college student at a previous job who would make out with her boyfriend at her desk. It only happened twice. Someone must have said something. But it was weird.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      I’m picturing her with Ariel’s pouty face when Triton yells at her in the Little Mermaid. “But Daddy I love him!”

    3. Gamedev Lady*

      Same here!
      I also made me shuddered because I had an intern who was a similar brand of “naively honest”.

      After watching him slouch, blurt out “that’s lit!” every few minutes and manspread to an extent I could never before imagine, I had to take him aside to ask him to behave more professionally when meeting with external partners. He could not comprehend what I meant so I explained that “we all to put masks at work to some extent”.
      That’s when he got VERY upset and yelled at me “BUT I AM NOT A HYPOCRITE!!!!!!”

      1. Nothing Rhymes With Purple*

        This is the kind of person who gives “bring your whole self to work” a bad name.

        There is such a weird idea that having different facets to one’s personality or behaving differently in different situations is Hypocritical and Mendacious. I don’t know if it’s uniquely mainstream-culture US: the other cultures I’ve experienced here certainly understand code-switching. Anyway I hope this intern caught a clue one day and I’m sorry he so violently rejected the one you offered him.

      1. EmKay*

        I’m thinking Eric’s sister in That 70s Show, when she’s messing around with Kelso. Red finds out and givers her hell, and she goes “but DADDY, I love him”

        She starts of saying it with conviction, but she can’t keep up the façade for the whole sentence so it ends on an unconvincing flat note, which I thought was hilarious at the time.

  5. anonymouse*

    Earlier in my career I was active in local meetups and was talking to a male intern about the womens hacking meetups I’d attend. He looked at me dead in the eye and said, “what do you guys do at those meetups? Talk about men?”.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        (And, since I work in an NGO with only women, I can actually vouch for that, interrupting is very rare)

    1. Nanani*

      Revealing isn’t it? Like he can’t imagine a group of men talking about anything but women (and probably not in ways they’d want said women to hear)

    2. Canadian Valkyrie*

      The shocking thing is that I’ve run into WOMEN who don’t like hanging out with other women because they’re like “all they do is create drama and talk about men” and then proceed to talk about how their male friends are constantly hitting on them, making them uncomfortable, and also stirring up shit… and I’m just like okkkkk I think you’ve internalized a really problematic narrative.

      1. Nightengale*

        On my OB-GYN rotation in medical school, I mentioned I had never heard so much talk about clothing, shoes and makeup. One of the team members said, well “the doctors and students on team this month are all women, all that estrogen.” They said that, estrogen, in 2005.

        “Right.” I said. “Except that I went to a women’s college.”

        At my women’s college we had talked about. . . classes, professors, books, TV, the clubs we were in where we had no budget and everyone was fighting, the problems of the world and how we were going to fix them, writing the great American fantasy novel, health, boyfriends, girlfriends, family, and yes sometimes clothing, shoes and makeup. So no, I didn’t buy the explanation that those were the only available conversation topics for a group of women, or that our conversation topics were limited by our hormones.

  6. Kimmy Schmidt*

    I’m kind of in awe of Pajama Nap Intern. I so want to try that, just stretch out in my cozy loungewear across the top of my desk in the middle of the day.

    1. Rainy*

      I seriously want to find a murphy bed in a case that looks just like the filing cabinets we have in my office, install it over the weekend, and be able to nap at work.

      1. Smaller potatoes*

        My company office actually does have a murphy bed! However, we are a 6 person operation, most of us work from home, and the office serves as the spare room of my house on the weekends. :-)

      2. Noxalas*

        After playing The Sims far too much, I feel duty-bound to warn you away from the murphy bed! So many Sims lost to the murphy bed!

        (A secret passage painted over to look like filing cabinets that leads to a sleeping nook would be great, though.)

      3. KateM*

        My kids in daycare have for napping beds that look like a chest of drawers except these are actually beds of different height (and somewhat different length) over one another and can be pulled out separately.

    2. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      Not one but 2 napping interns! Honestly, I think they might come from, or have read/heard somewhere, a culture that public displays of napping at your desk is a sign of hard work and dedication.

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        Oh, I worked with as asshat who saw people napping in their cars in parking lot and decided it was too far to walk. She wrapped in a blanket and took a nap. She needed one. So busy all day bad mouthing how lazy everyone was.
        It was…amazing to watch.

    3. Despachito*

      I actually saw an office with an officially built-in sleeping place.

      It was in a young IT company built in an old refurbished loft, and used as an example of modern architecture, with many interesting features (I was told that they let the employees participate in the design of their office).

      One of these features was a booth, a little larger than an old telephone booth, with dark curtains, meant for people to relax, and on its top, accessible by a ladder, there was it. THE BED.

      Most of the staff were young IT crowd, and I think they were sometimes supposed to stay at work overnight (not very positive), but at least the company provided some accommodation for that.

      I absolutely loved it.

      (And evil me thinks that Intern 3 might possibly appreciate it even more)

    4. Massive Dynamic*

      As someone whose sleep hygiene has gone out the window the past few years, I’m somewhat impressed with these interns and their natural, if naïve, advocacy for sleep and comfort. And FWIW any of those places that bring in all other sorts of real-life (don’t-drive-away-and-go-home-to-your-real-family) amenities shouldn’t be AS shocked when the young and inexperienced take it to the sleep level.

    5. Foofoo*

      I’ve done it, although not with the pajamas. 20 years old, would go out to the bars dancing and drinking on a work night, come into work hung over and exhausted, so I’d do my work and then sleep on top of the desk. My managers, bless their hearts, were kind of used to it since it was a very casual “office” (in reality it was a set of houses at the end of a lane just off the edge of a wildlife conservation and on a lake and we were doing water chemistry and fish biology sciences and my job was to do data entry for it, which was very very easy for me and I’d finish a full days of work in 2 hours so they didn’t really mind that I was sleeping in the lab where they were hacking up fish).

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I knew someone whose dad used to sleep under his desk on his breaks. I guess he worked 2 jobs to put his kids through private school.

        My parents went the more sensible route of both having jobs, sending us to public school, & encouraging us to work hard & get good grades. (Also, my dad worked a night shift & took overtime.) Since I ended up at the same grad program as this person, I guess it worked. And I ended with a dad who wasn’t sleep-deprived.

        1. Clewgarnet*

          I used to keep a sleeping bag under my desk, and nap when I could.

          (I was one person supporting a 24/7 network. It was common to be in the office for 72 hours at a stretch. If anybody had objected to my naps, I would have walked out of the job and the business would have folded.)

    6. not owen wilson*

      I fell asleep ALL the time as an intern. Some highlights:

      – In our weekly group meetings
      – Sitting at my desk in my mentor’s office on my first day while reading a journal article related to my summer project
      – In a presentation given by my friend’s PhD advisor, also while sitting next to my mentor
      – In a presentation by the CEO of a company that was contracting my team for a project (although in my defense, I had moved out of temporary housing and back to my normal internship housing on site that morning! they had to do emergency repairs on the building we were in and moved us into a dorm an hour away while that was taking place)

      I was hired full time after I graduated, so I couldn’t have left too bad of an impression. But man do I look back and cringe. I’ve since been diagnosed with ADHD too…. turns out most people don’t uncontrollably fall asleep when they get bored and stop paying attention in meetings. Who knew!

      1. Gimble*

        Same here. For whatever reason it’s gotten better as I’ve grown older, but I used to fall asleep regularly in classes and meetings. Felt terrible and embarrassed, but it truly was uncontrollable no matter what I tried! ADHD is weird.

        1. not owen wilson*

          That’s how it was for me too! By the time I got to senior year, I was a pro at using all of my focus to keep my eyes open and look like I was listening when actually I was nearly asleep. I had a reputation among my friends for being really good at falling asleep in class because it was so bad. Weirdly enough this was one of the biggest things that made me look into an ADHD diagnosis too…. my iron and thyroid levels were normal and the symptoms of narcolepsy didn’t really. I just got officially diagnosed a couple weeks ago and it’s been great but also so weird to realize how much sense it makes, haha.

          Anyway, I don’t think my situation is the same as the intern’s in this letter! I never set up a cot, and it was always pretty clear by my coffee and the pencil I’d be jamming into my hand that I was trying to stay awake. But I’m so grateful that my mentor thought that watching me fall asleep was funny, rather than flying into an epic rage at me.

    7. GoryDetails*

      Yeah, the need/desire for naps is very real, but choosing the place, time, and outerwear does matter. (As a software engineer in a massive building-of-cubicles, I would often work into the wee small hours – not because I had to but because working with code was so darned much fun – and then grab a nap underneath my desk from roughly 3 AM to 5 AM, as I found that the hardest period to stay awake through. Didn’t do it all that often, but it was definitely a part of the culture in that time and place.)

    8. Ann O'Nemity*

      Once upon a time my coworker and I both fell asleep in a meeting with our boss. We were traveling for work, and the three of us were in one of those hotel rooms that has a big conference table in it. Well, it also had comfy couches. “Wakeen” and I went from sitting, to lounging, to sleeping on the couches. I woke up with a blanket over me, and there was one on Wakeen too. And our boss was at the conference table quietly doing our work while we napped!

    9. Mimi Me*

      I worked in retail for a lot of years and had an employee who offered to come in early to do a big floor display set up because it was overtime pay. 20 minutes into the shift she vanished. We later found her in the soft toy section asleep…with a cozy throw on her…a throw we didn’t sell. She brought it in from home because she planned on napping for overtime pay.

    10. Jaydee*

      I have repeatedly joked about crawling *under* my desk to take a nap. But on top of it? In pajamas?! For real and not as a joke?!?! The mind boggles.

      1. allathian*


        I had to tell my boss I was pregnant several weeks earlier than I had planned, because she found me asleep at my desk one day.

  7. Madtown Maven*

    Some of these are interesting takes on inexperience and expectations vs. the realities of the work world, and comparing them to modern ideals of a healthier work-life balance in the white-collar work world. The interns who wanted to nap? Yeah, that’s a great idea for many people in the workforce! Having a laptop so that you can work outside and find joy? Yeah, that’s a super idea that could lead to greater employee satisfaction!
    And then there are the crashing realities of needing to show that one is responsible enough to handle that kind of flexibility and and freedom, and still get the work done.

    1. 867-5309*

      I wondered if the PC vs. laptop story was from awhile ago. It’s been several years since anyplace I worked offered someone the option of a PC…

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        My organization is fairly tech savvy and we’re just now phasing them out. Some people (young people!) are even resisting.

        1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

          I would resist.

          Moveable computer = moveable work, which means you can now work anywhere. In fact, you need to. Snow days are now remote days, and why didn’t you answer my email last night? I needed you to run something through the software at midnight, shouldn’t be a problem because you have your laptop, right?

          My workplace is also now holding us financially liable for our computers. Guess what’s much easier to break than a stationary PC whose keyboard is just a keyboard? A laptop with the whole computer in the base, and that you have to carry around.

          Laptops also need to be on stands if you don’t want to destroy your neck.

        2. Observer*

          Yeah, we’re not going to laptops as a primary computer any time soon.

          There are a LOT of good reasons to stick to desktops. Sure, it’s not for every situation and you have to know your particulars. But let’s not get so carried away with “the olds are resisting the new goodness” that we overlook that we overlook that reality is bit more nuanced.

      2. OyHiOh*

        I type this from my workplace issued PC, while devoting 80% of my attention to a meeting streaming on my personal laptop. My co workers were issued laptops, but they also are expected to be visiting other people’s offices on a regular basis, while my admin work is more often expected to physically be in our office.

      3. Jennifer Strange*

        My current organization has PCs for many folks (and my previous one did too). I don’t think it’s that out of the ordinary.

      4. Chilipepper Attitude*

        We work for a city. We still all have desktops, even managers. There are 5 laptops for the whole building of about 80 to share and those are only for the top level managers during a crisis – the kind of crisis that leads to us being closed.

      5. seahawks*

        I’m glad this isn’t a trend I’ve come across in my jobs. In my office, it’s all desktops. There’s no way I could work from a laptop – not without external monitor, keyboard, and mouse, at which point I may as well just have a desktop.

        Saying that, while working from home, I am actually using a laptop – hooked up to external monitor/keyboard/mouse and webcam and stashed out of the way on a shelf under the desk.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          “not without external monitor, keyboard, and mouse, at which point I may as well just have a desktop.”

          That’s my office setup lol. Well two monitors. My laptop is actually on the filing cabinet next to me.

          1. pandop*

            It’s the same here at the moment. We mostly have PCs on campus, but they are gradually being replaced by laptops (accelerated by working from home due to the pandemic), but because of the extra equipment we need (monitors, barcode scanners etc) when on campus we are going to be using the laptops in a docking station. They were also pretty good about sending out second monitors to those who needed/wanted them for home.

        2. Valancy Snaith*

          Yeah, I have a laptop, but it just functions as the brain for my two screens, keyboard, and mouse. And honestly it’s not really powerful enough. When I take it home and have to work off the tiny little screen it’s a massive pain.

          1. A Feast of Fools*

            Even pre-pandemic, I threw in the towel and bought two monitors for my home office setup (the corner of my bedroom) because that tiny laptop screen makes it impossible to get any real work done. Like, if I’m going to work from home, I’d rather not be frustrated the entire time.

            I use my laptop as a third screen instead of as a flat server, tho.

        3. Liz*

          Same. and I had a moment of panic yesterday when my monitor (ok, and old small tv) crapped out suddenly. so I had to do a mad scramble to find a new monitor quickly. i got one today, but in the meantime, I have my laptop connected to my old 32″ tv i never got rid of. its ok, but not optimal.

        4. Sara without an H*

          Yeah, about a year before I retired, my work PC was upgraded to a laptop, with the option of hooking it up to as many monitors as you needed, plus a keyboard. (Two, in my case. I think one of the IT guys had three.)

          I, too, don’t like working on a laptop. The bitty screen and elfin keyboard just don’t do it for me.

        5. The Prettiest Curse*

          Yup, I have that exact setup too. I have terrible eyesight and also find it very painful to type on any laptop keyboard. So any setup without space for an ergonomic keyboard and large external monitor won’t work for me at all.

        6. oirishgal*

          In the EU our workplace safety regulations (known as the DSE regulations) make it that you have to be provided with a separate keyboard, mouse and stand so your laptop is a screen (or separate monitor if laptop screen too small to work effectively from). There are “laptop ergo packs” that are for people who travel with their laptops. Even though the Regs came out in 1992 some employers may not realise or will try to get around it but once you point out their legal obligation they usually soon cough up. You can ask for “non standard” kit too if you can make an ergonomic argument..e.g. I use a gaming mouse as i have a larger hand and the standard mouse my employer supplies is too small for my hand. I also have two screens as the nature of my work is that I need two.

        7. Rusty Shackelford*

          In my office, it’s all desktops. There’s no way I could work from a laptop – not without external monitor, keyboard, and mouse, at which point I may as well just have a desktop.

          But this is what a lot of us do. It’s not really that weird. I can’t even tell I’m working on a laptop when I’m in my office,because I’ve got two external monitors, a keyboard, and a mouse.

      6. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

        It’s only because of the pandemic that my university is changing the policy to 1 device per person. In the past, those that wanted them could have an office PC and a laptop, and a tablet too if they wanted. Now the policy is that you get a laptop and a docking station in your office — so you can still have a bigger monitor or dual monitors.

      7. Littorally*

        Depends where you are and what you do. Laptops for work have only been a thing here since the pandemic sent everyone home.

      8. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        The organization I work for is transitioning to laptops – but every unit will keep at least a few desktops for training and back up purposes. It takes IT generally two to three days to completely configure the laptops and schedule delivery (they physically come out for delivery and troubleshooting). A back up plan works best if it’s fully fleshed out.

      9. Foofoo*

        I pushed back on a laptop for awhile… I didn’t want the expectation that I’d have to “bring work home”. That being said, I’m glad I have one now and it’s super useful for the wanting to work from home times but I seriously wanted to avoid that for a long time.

      10. RussianInTeaxs*

        My office is all desktops. So much so, if I want to work from home (as now), I have to use my own computer/laptop.

      11. I'm just here for the cats!*

        Everyplace i’ve ever worked has had PCs. The only reason why we all have laptops now is because of covid.

      12. Lacey*

        I’ve never worked anywhere that offered a laptop – except to a few specific roles that needed one.
        I’m a graphic designer, so I’m generally going to choose a desktop anyway. I need all the processing power I can get.

      13. Xenia*

        I think it somewhat depends on what sort of oomph you need from a computer. If it’s going to be email, excel, web browser use, then laptops will probably do you. If you have something that’s using the New York Stock exchange as a real-time input or are doing some serious 3D cad/cam it probably becomes much more cost-efficient to have PCs. Or if you don’t actually want the computers leaving the building for information security reasons.

      14. AcademiaNut*

        Our summer program students (research facility) get desktop computers. Buying a set of 25 laptops that will get used for 2 months a year, are up to the computational demands of the work, and have big enough monitors is not cheap. Desktops are cheaper for the processing power, and last longer, and are less likely to be damaged. The way IT sets things up, desktops run Linux and are setup on the larger network, with shared software (and appropriate licenses), firewalls, etc, while laptops are independently maintained and connect via the network. Plus, during the rest of the year the desktops can be linked into a Beowulf cluster if wanted.

      15. allathian*

        Yeah, my workplace went to laptops only in 2014, and we’ve been working more or less hybrid ever since. At the office we have docking stations and external keyboards, mice, and two monitors. At home I use the laptop screen and an external monitor, keyboard, and mouse. I hate touch pads, I’m lost without the number pad, and I need more screen real estate than my laptop screen so I can work as productively as possible. Sure, I’ll use just the laptop in an emergency, but I hate doing that and won’t do it unless I have to. At this point in my career, I wouldn’t be willing to work with just a laptop for long.

      16. Anononin*

        Until pandemic, all staff had PCs at my firms because they are explicitly supposed to only have to work normal working hours. Attorneys have laptops because they are expected to work extra hours, travel, attend meetings, etc.

    2. The Original K.*

      My accountant has basically an office suite – two rooms and a bathroom. One of the rooms has a day bed in it, and he told me he takes power naps during tax season when his hours are long. I was like “Great idea!”

      1. Tessie Mae*

        Same for my accountant. He is a solo with his own business, with a smallish office. Yes, there is a sofa, and, since he’s tall, he made sure it’s long enough for him to take naps during tax season.

        1. Liz*

          my BF is also a CPA, own, small office but he has no couch. he knows if he did, he’d be sleeping a lot! hahahaha. that’s not to day he hasn’t fallen asleep in his office during tax season, but the couch would be too great a temptation (so he says)

    3. Chc34*

      Honestly one of the huge benefits of working from home for me has been that I’ve found that if I allow myself to take that twenty-minute power nap I so desperately need, I’m much more productive for the rest of the afternoon than I would be if I tried to force my way through it.

      Would I do it on a desk in full sight of everyone else? Absolutely not.

      1. TiffIf*

        When I first started at my current company I would sometimes on my lunch break go down to the breakroom/vending machine area that nobody used and take a 20 minute nap. When we moved to a different building I would sometimes do the same in my car (depending on the weather).
        Working from home now I will sometimes do this on my bed. 20 minute power naps can be great!

      2. Rach*

        I’m “essential” so work on-site. Last week, my vaccinated co-worker tested positive for covid, I’m vaccinated but had to WFH until I got a negative test. One day I had a bad headache, took a nap during lunch and was fine the rest of the work day. If I had been on-site, I would have been in pain all day, possibly having my headache turn into a migraine. I wish we would normalize afternoon office naps.

      3. MeepMeep*

        I actually have a bed in my home office (which doubles as a spare bedroom). I have used it for naps. One of the reasons I’ll never go back to a real office.

    4. FrivYeti*

      When I was working as a temp, I always looked around to see if there were quiet places that I could sneak a nap at lunch (supply rooms were often great for this, since half the time I was the only one with the key because I was covering for someone in administration, and if I took my lunch hour away from my desk no one would have supply room access anyway.)

      Looking back, I’m lucky that I never got caught at it, but even then I was wise enough to know that if I did want to find a good napping spot, it could not be at my desk surrounded by other workers.

      1. Tessie Mae*

        A friend took power naps in her car when she was pregnant. Obviously, that only works when weather is permitting and if you’re sure others won’t see you and think there’s some sort of emergency situation, but it worked for her.

        1. Perfectly Particular*

          Omg – me too! One time I went out to nap, got sick in the parking lot, and just went home. My boss didn’t love when I called to tell him I wouldn’t be back, but it wasn’t like I made a habit of it!

        2. Rach*

          My workplace forbids napping in cars or at your desk as you won’t be visible in an emergency. You can nap in the cafe or at the nurse’s office. I would definitely nap in my car if it was an option (at least during the cooler months).

    5. Susan Ivanova*

      I worked at a place that bought a Team Sofa in case you wanted a nap, and then later moved into a new building that had small “relaxation rooms” which included napping on the list of accepted activities. (Duck club was right out)

    6. Teapot Repair Technician*

      Some of these stories are versions of “The Emperor Has No Clothes”–naive youth questions orthodoxy.

      Why can’t we nap at work? Why can’t we cuddle our boyfriend? Why can’t we subcontract out menial tasks to our brother?

      Beyond “that’s just the way it is” I don’t know the answer to any of these questions.

        1. Teapot Repair Technician*

          I know it’s wrong, bad, and illegal, but I’ve heard some WFH workers sometimes get help from family members. Not me, of course.

          1. PT*

            It probably also depends on the sort of job their parents have. It’s not uncommon for someone whose parents are, say, a teacher, to have their kids help decorate their classroom or put together the elements of a craft project for their students. When I was nonprofit we also tended to draft friends & family into similar sorts of things, like small handyman repairs or folding a zillion tshirts or sorting papers or tidying up a program area. People who grew up with a family business like a shop, a contracting company, or a restaurant also might have spend their childhood “helping” at the family business too.

            While you can’t have someone else do your job for you, if someone comes into a workplace with a totally different frame of reference, sometimes explaining to them why that is is less obvious than you’d think.

          2. Nanani*

            What kind of work are they doing that a family member even -can- do their job?
            If it’s something that doesn’t require expertise like stuffing enveloppes, there isn’t a problem.

            Odds are that getting your roommates and relatives to do your work for you will backfire in a big way because they don’t have the relevant knowledge or worse, because you’re breaking confidentiality by letting them (in a job where that’s a concern)

        2. Sasha*

          If you are paid hourly, or are napping/snogging in front of an audience, I can answer the first two as well.

          I don’t think any of those are exactly arbitrary or capricious edicts, to be honest. You work with other people, and can’t do exactly what you please at work.

      1. Atalanta0jess*

        It says make out though, not cuddle. The answer to that one is that it’s not appropriate to engage in sexual activity around people who haven’t consented to be part of that.

        1. Metadata minion*

          Maybe we have different definitions of how much “making out” entails, but I wouldn’t think it was inappropriate for a couple to be making out on, say, a bus. To me it’s a question of professionalism, and possibly of non-employees not hanging out at your workplace in general, rather than public indecency.

    7. Alpacas Are Not Dairy Animals*

      I’m kind of glad that we had unions long enough that we get legally mandated lunch breaks, instead of having to prove we can be ‘responsible’ before we get those too!

    8. I WANT MY TWO (monitors!)*

      Everyone in my office has desktops, though I think IT have a couple for their own use. The big “want” for people in my office are multiple monitors. I inherited my desk and its setup, which had two monitors. I initially thought that was silly, but now you’d have to pry the second monitor from my cold, dead hands.

      I had been at my job for a couple of years when we promoted someone who had worked outside the office to an office position. Within a month, she was bitterly complaining about why she doesn’t have two monitors like I do and asking me how I managed to get two (!!). She complained enough that she got a second monitor, as well as her own personal printer. Half the time, the second monitor isn’t even turned on and she prints equally from her personal printer and the office printers.

      Since then, I’ve had no fewer than three other newer hires who are astounded that I have two monitors and they don’t. My answer is always the same; they were here when I got here, but you should ask IT and not me.

      When I requested a new ergonomic keyboard and mouse to replace mine that had gave up the ghost, the first person was furious about it. She demanded to know why I got a new keyboard and mouse (!!).

      Well, I use the 10 key a fair amount and that’s what was going out, but I dealt with it for nearly 6 months before I mentioned to IT what was going on, but that I’d really prefer the type of keyboard I had, rather than a standard wired one that he probably had. He laughed, told me to pick out what I want, and send a link to the Office Manager.

      I spent probably a week looking at keyboards, then send her two links; one for the one I wanted and one if that one was too expensive (the one I wanted cost about $60). I stopped by my desk after she read my email and was laughing (nicely) at my concern about the cost, but that she ordered the one I wanted.

  8. 867-5309*

    This reminds me that I would enjoy hearing from the interns who were let go for requesting/demanding dress code changes. Five years on and it would be interesting to see if their perspective has changed.

  9. CarrieT*

    #1 (The Cot) – the manager reacted with epic and horrifying rage? That’s just not okay, and is distinctly non-inclusive. Taking a nap mid-day is a very normal thing in many cultures, and may be necessary for people with certain medical conditions. When I worked in Vietnam, nearly every single Vietnamese employee took a brief nap under their desks during the work day (with pillows and blankets and everything). Zero American employees did – but many of us were jealous. It’s not “wrong” and is definitely not worthy of rage – just of a discussion about workplace norms and preferable locations for a rest.

    1. 867-5309*

      I felt the same way about the interns who were fired for the dress code petition. Certainly a stern conversation was in order – and they were entirely wrong-footed – but there had to have been extenuating circumstances to warrant the mass fire.

      1. EPLawyer*

        there were. they were already told no. THEN they went and got the petition done and even pointed out that someone was allowed to wear sneakers. Turns out that person was a vet with a prosthetic leg (foot?). So there was a WHOLE LOT more there than poor clueless interns who didn’t understand business norms.

        They wrote in because they STILL didn’t know what they did wrong. They were all “but we got a petition. And we researched it. “

        1. AcademiaNut*

          I think a lot of the cases of firing interns/entry level employees for screwing up badly come down to how the interns react to being called out on their behaviour (plus, how publicly they embarrassed their employer). If they realize that they’ve screwed up, why their behaviour was a problem, apologize and learn from it, firing isn’t necessarily warranted. If they double down and argue that they were right, and it wasn’t that big a deal, and the employer is just stuffy/mean, that’s a lot harder to work with. Alison once referred to it as “a particularly difficult type of naive”. In those cases, they’re going to have to learn the hard way, and firing them is appropriate.

          There was the lovely letter about an intern at a formal financial institute who showed up on Hallowe’en in a princess costume, and pranced into a meeting with senior clients demanding candy. When called on it, she doubled down and said she was just trying liven up a stuffy workplace. Stubbornness, combined with publicly embarrassing them – she was fired.

        2. KateM*

          “And we didn’t know she was allowed to wear sneakers because of disability, nobody told us she had a disability!”

          1. Heffalump*

            When the story ran, the LW said that prior to the petition, they’d asked their managers if the dress code could be changed. I wonder if they specifically brought up the amputee veteran at that time. I’m guessing not, or management wouldn’t have explained it when they fired the interns. The interns used poor judgment, but I suspect it was partly driven by the perceived unfairness of one person getting an exemption from the dress code.

            I doubt that I would have spearheaded the petition if I were an intern. Since I’m a few decades past college, it’s really hard to say if I would have signed onto it. But if I knew that the veteran had a medical exemption, I’d be much less inclined to sign onto the petition.

            If the interns were bothered by the dress code, they can use this to inform their choice of academic major, industry, and employer going forward.

      2. Sparkles McFadden*

        I’ve always wondered if there were other, smaller issues prior to the petition and the petition was just the last straw.

        1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          I think that a lot of time was spent on this project. The meetings, the discussions. It became the focus…surveying staff. Even one person would be a lot, but multiple people talking about this, very disruptive.

        2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Yeah – I honestly felt like this group probably really failed to read the culture around themselves. Keeping or letting them go probably came down to how the group reacted when being told they were wrong.

          1. The Prettiest Curse*

            I’ve always thought that story was a prime example of the dangers of groupthink. From the outside, their actions were completely illogical, but inside the group it all made total sense…

            1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

              Especially when one person does the bulk of the out loud thinking. If that one person is then way off kilter then the whole group is in danger of going down with them (which from reading both of the intern dress code links that have been posted seems to have been the case).

    2. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      Even taking cultural differences and medical reasons into account, though, it sounds like this intern decided unilaterally to coopt a large portion of communal space and make it his personal space. It’s 100% acceptable for me to grade papers at my workplace, but if I set up a desk in the break room and moved a bunch of personal stuff there, that wouldn’t be cool.

      1. Zelda*

        Had the intern, on the first or second day, inquired, “And where do we take our naps?” from a cultural assumption that this is the Done Thing, then one explains without judgement that here, we do not. Had the intern, on the first or second day, stated “My medical situation requires that I rest; what’s the best way to make that work?” then one makes it work.

        An intern who looks around, sees that no one naps anywhere, and still just decides to do their own thing where they please because they feel like it without communicating with anyone… nope, doesn’t fly.

    3. Peachtree*

      Aren’t we meant to take letter writers at face value? I can almost 100% guarantee this was a privileged American-born non-disabled intern who just wanted to sleep on the job.

      I had someone in my office who would fall asleep at her desk. We gently and informally let her manager know so that she would get some help (whether this was to do with overwork, medical conditions or something else, I have no idea). I wouldn’t write this up as a funny story because it was clear it was involuntary and something she needed help with. I feel that we shouldn’t nitpick writers who know their own situations better, who are aren’t writing in to make fun of someone from a different culture or with health issues, as your post implies.

      1. anone*

        If we’re taking it at face value, then actually we have no idea about the other characteristics of the intern in question.

    4. EPLawyer*

      The epic rage — yes. At an intern that is never okay. Okay, epic rage in the office is never okay.

      But a really clear “We don’t do that in the office” would have been a good idea. Because most offices in the US do not allow napping during the work day. Note I said offices.

      1. Littorally*

        I don’t know, I feel like we’ve seen some stories on this site over the years that justify “epic rage.”

      2. tangerineRose*

        I think in this case, epic rage was over the top. Unless the intern started talking back and wouldn’t listen.

      3. AJoftheInternet*

        I’m choosing to interpret that the manager raged toward the intern in the presence of her coworkers and then had a sternly professional discussion with the intern.

      4. Perfectly Particular*

        We had an engineering co-op who dressed a little more “cute” than would normally be ok for the office, but not fully inappropriate for our casual dress code. We let it slide since she was a) young, and b) from a different geographic location where showing skin isn’t as big a deal. She was pretty huggy and touchy too – really not engineer-like! I was relieved she wasn’t my report the day that a Director gave her manager a heads-up that she was sitting on another co-op’s (male) lap in the cafeteria! Naturally she was in a short skirt and crop top, not something mundane like jeans and a t. My colleague (the manager) turned shades of crimson as she realized she was going to have to explain to the girl that this is just not. done. in the office….

    5. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      I think the lesson in that though is be aware of and follow the norms of the work culture that you are IN. That applies to dress codes, microwave use, vacation requests…and nap time.

    6. Eden*

      Well, they set up a cot complete with full bedclothes in the middle of a communal space. That’s not the same thing. I agree that “rage” threw me off too, that does seem too extreme, but I do think it’s worse than just napping under your desk.

      1. LKW*

        This. I remember one place that had a futon for folks who had to spend a late night in the office monitoring or on call. Same place had a mezzanine that overlooked the entrance and had couches and small tables; we went over for a meeting and found someone just taking a short nap. We quietly turned around and went away. Sometimes people are up all night working or just need a short breather, totally understandable.

        Bedclothes, dustruffles and PJs are not understandable.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Yeah – it’s not the napping necessarily that is the problem, but the amount of energy and preparation devoted to the napping that is the problem. A quick power nap where you aren’t seen with an alarm you know will wake you up – most places you are fine. But a cot, sheets, and pillows is just was too much, unless you are in some sort of “on call for 24 hours, need the ability to rest when possible” situation.

    7. Netts*

      They took naps under their desk…so it sounds like they did NOT set up a cot in the middle of a communal space?

      Even if workday napping is common in your culture, I think taking it upon yourself to set up something large like a cot in the middle of the office without asking seems pretty entitled, so I’m not surprised the boss might have a strong reaction.

    8. Double A*

      What I think is interesting about this one is it calls out what the employer is doing with all their other bella and whistles. The game rooms, the snack bars, the gyms… they’re all there so you live more and more of your life at work, but for the benefit of the employer. That intern was really just taking it to its logical conclusion.

    1. laowai_gaijin*

      If I were to be walking down a hotel hallway and someone got shoved out of a suite with a firm, “We don’t use that language around the congressman,” I would desperately want to know what happened.

    2. OP #5*

      The Governor, however, was fine with it, he was just as drunk as I was and had no idea I was hammered and falling over on him.

  10. Mockingjay*

    #7 is hilarious. “Oh, honey, wait ’til you see the windowless cubicle that your PC – and you – will be placed in. In the back of the room. By the copier and the microwave. Oh, and across from the supply closet.”

    1. Nea*

      Across from the supply closet? Swank! I have, in the course of a varied career, been placed in 2 supply closets and once at the end of a workbench.

      I’m a technical writer.

      1. Liz*

        Yup. CEO’s assistant in my first job had an office in an old linen cupboard. About 4’6″ by 10′ and chock full of filing cabinets and shelves. She had to tuck herself behind the door to close it and when she sat at her desk her back was about 6″ from the wall.

    2. Bamcakes*

      All the desks in our office were reassigned once, which was a bit high handed and weird (why did our great-grandboss care that much where we sat?), but most people grumbled a bit and got on with it. One of my colleagues, who was naturally a bit dramatic and also going through a very stressful personal time, stood up in a team meeting when her new deal was assigned, threw her hands in the air, and lamented, “But John, I’m a CREATIVE PERSON. I HAVE to sit next to a window!”

    3. LKW*

      By the by – someone likes to reheat fish and someone else often forgets their popcorn until it’s a bit …. smoky. Enjoy!

    4. Essess*

      No kidding. I spent 10 years working in an office in a windowless basement. In the winter because the days are short, the sun was down when I went in to work, and was already back down when I went home so I’d only see sunlight on weekends.

      1. anonforthis*

        Is that legal in America? To allow people to work in a workspace without windows? How would you escape if there was a fire outside your door?

        1. Xenia*

          The same way you would if you’re on the 20th story of a building? Not having windows isn’t to my knowledge a safety violation.

          1. anonforthis*

            Follow up question—is it legal in America to work in a building without a fire escape? Genuinely learn something new every day.

            1. merula*

              Depends on the job. Fire escapes have been standard code for decades, so every office building, retail establishment, warehouse or manufacturing location I’ve ever seen has marked exits.

              However, construction workers routinely work without a designated fire escape, as do household employees or agricultural workers, as codes are different in under-construction building, private homes and farm buildings.

        2. Charlotte Lucas*

          It’s totally legal. Most windows in newer office buildings don’t open, anyway. As long as the door stays open or there are multiple exits, no one cares. (Not legal for bedrooms.)

          On the plus side, you’re usually safer from tornadoes in the basement.

        3. allathian*

          In Finland it’s illegal for office workers. There are exceptions for other professions, like factory production lines don’t require windows, flight controllers at airports can be in dark radar rooms, etc. The setup doesn’t require everyone to have a direct line-of-sight to a window, but some access to natural light is required. The law says nothing about a view, though, so in many office buildings, you have an inner courtyard with windows on all sides. I’m at 60 N, and for several months out of the year, I wouldn’t see any daylight if I didn’t have a window in my 2-person office. Even so, I often used to go to lunch in the next building, unless the weather was really horrible, just to get a few minutes of daylight in the middle of the winter. Even with my SAD light, true daylight helped.

          1. *daha**

            I thought flight controllers would be up at the top of a tower with enormous windows to let them see if a runway is clear before allowing a plane to land on it.

        4. Yods*

          At my workplace (in the Netherlands) we rearranged the seating / offices / internal walls and getting it right was quite a puzzle since you’re not allowed to work in an office without a window that can open. I don’t know whether that was a legal issue or just the rule at the company, though.

  11. LCH*

    oh boy! I think my worst offense while an intern was to get too tipsy during an after work get together and maybe hit on some upper management. very cringey. so after that internship, I decided drinking with work people isn’t for me.

    1. PT*

      When I was an intern we were allowed to bring food and I think the worst thing I did was bring a Starbucks corn muffin to eat while checking my email. I tried so hard to eat neatly, and I tried so hard to pick up the crumbs after, but those are just so crumbly.

  12. Meep*

    Re: all the sleeping in the office.

    I didn’t realize how desensitized I am to people sleeping at the office until the stories of people being fired over it. The owner of our company can regularly be found sleeping in his office or the conference room. Naps are a healthy way to boost productivity, ya weirdos.

    1. Archaeopteryx*

      Naps are one thing, but elaborate, pajamaful, clearly frequent naps (e.g. George Constanza under the desk) are different. Head down on desk, maybe with headphones? Sure, in some places. Doing something akin to putting on a long pointed night cap with a pompom at the end? You might want to not.

    2. Trillian*

      I did a postdoc in an insanely expensive city. One of our grad students, who was into his sixth year or thereabouts and therefore had used up his stipend, was living in the lab. Something I discovered when I went through to his area late one evening and nearly trod on him, rolled up in his sleeping bag on the lab floor. I muttered apologies and carried on with my experiment. What can I say—our collective normal meters were, if not broken, a little bent.

      1. quill*

        On the one hand, academia.

        On the other hand I have never worked in a field where I would assume sleeping in the lab was safe? Maybe I did too much chemistry…

      2. Purple Penguin*

        Oh academia! Our four person grad student office had a blow up air mattress in it and I’m pretty sure that it was used for extended periods when we had to be in the office while away from research fieldwork (where we lived). We weren’t located in a lab though!

      3. Meep*

        We had a contractor who moved cities to help take care of his girlfriend’s grandmother but would be required to work here 2 days of the week for no other reason other than vanity on the part of our boss (he liked being able to show off how full his office was to friends so everyone needed to be in Thursday/Friday so he could do such). The contractor kept being denied hotel rooms as it was too expensive so he slept in the office. I know because I found him in here at 5 am one time with a bedroll.

        We had another guy who was in the PhD program for 10 years so 15 years in academia meant he would come in at 2 PM and stay until 8 PM before going home to eat dinner and work until midnight.

        The point being is sounds about right. lol.

      4. J.B.*

        When I was in grad school (in our giant fire trap of an office with extension cords everywhere), one student was working so late the buses stopped running. So he started sleeping at the office. His advisor was THE WORST.

        1. Rainy*

          Yeah–working til the buses stopped running was a real danger at the university where I was a PhD student. There were only a few buses that ran all the way out to campus after 11 and the last one was at 12:35, and if you missed it you were stuck on campus until 4am. Campus was out on a promontory and there wasn’t much in between it and town proper at that time. I never got stuck all the way out at campus, but the walk from my department’s building on campus to my apartment downtown was 11km. I got stuck about halfway out once when the buses stopped running due to weather and I had to schlep 7km home. Luckily I was wearing boots and a heavy coat.

          1. Elenna*

            Oof – reminds me of the time I stayed late on campus to finish an assignment (entirely my fault, I procrastinated on assignments a lot). It was one of my few classes where I had to hand in physical assignments to a dropbox instead of dropping them off online or giving them to the teacher in class, so I figured I’d do it on campus and drop it off immediately instead of going home to do it and then having to come back just to print it. By the time I was done, it was maybe 5 or 6 am, and I figured the bus wasn’t running so I had to walk home. It was also pouring rain, and I was completely soaked pretty quickly (not sure if I forgot my umbrella or if it was just inadequate to cope with the rain). Not a great time.

            Halfway home, the bus passed right by me. Turned out it had been running after all.

      5. aceinplainsight*

        When I was working in an academic lab, one of the grad students was running tests where two dials had to be adjusted every 3 hours for ~3 days. He set up a sleeping bag under his desk in the next room.

    3. LKW*

      Naps on a couch or at one’s desk is totally understandable. I was thrilled when I got an office with a solid wooden door because my naps were so much quieter! Setting up a fully decked out cot or changing into pajamas – not so normal.

    4. fhqwhgads*

      I’ve been completely perplexed by all the nap stories. I know it’s common in Japan – but that’s also a culture of overwork. I totally can’t nap unless I have a high fever or slept no more than 6 hours in the last 48 – and even sometimes then I can’t. Even if I feel so tired I think I can’t keep my eyes open, closing them does not result in falling asleep. It’s not that I’m anti-nap per se, but I am learning it is A LOT more common to be able to do so on a regular basis as an adult than I thought was a thing. From my end, if people are so exhausted (from work) they need to nap at work, to me that’s a totally different problem, the solution to which is not “well nap then”, it’s “have better coverage so people aren’t overworked”. But if people are wanting, willing and able to nap at work to boost their own productivity in a not-completely-run-down situation, I’m sort of like…how? How do you sleep in the middle of the day when not completely exhausted?

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Oh I was taking daily naps instead of lunches during WFH. Naps are great. Sometimes I take them for fun on weekends.

      2. curly sue*

        This is me. Like when health and wellness advice is “get eight hours of sleep” and I’m all “great, show me how?” because I wake up every few hours regardless of circumstance or exhaustion levels. Napping on purpose and with a timer is beyond me.

      3. Metadata minion*

        Same here — I think it’s least partly genetic. I always know I must be “actually” sick even if I don’t otherwise feel all that terrible if I can fall asleep in the middle of the day. Even if I’m having a bout of insomnia and am exhausted, I can’t sleep during the day and definitely couldn’t do it in an unusual environment like work.

      4. Elenna*

        Yeah FWIW I can take naps pretty easily, especially if I’m a little behind on sleep. Doesn’t have to be anywhere near completely run-down – e.g. if I’ve been getting 6 hours the last couple nights, I can very easily nap, and have done so a couple times while WFH. I also tend to fall asleep on long car trips even if I’m not particularly tired. I… just do it? I guess it’s like “how do you wiggle your ears” or such, it’s the kind of thing that if you can do it, it’s hard to explain how to someone who can’t.

        1. Elenna*

          That being said, interns definitely should not set up a cot complete with bedding in their office! If they happen to work in a company where napping is okay, there’s probably already spots to do that.

      5. Insomniac*

        I once got in trouble in preschool as a 4-yo because I couldn’t sleep during naptime and instead was quietly reading a book. I have had difficulty falling asleep at night my entire life, to the point where I was given prescription medication to help me sleep at night when I was in elementary school. My fiance has narcolepsy and can and will fall asleep anywhere and anytime. It baffles me when people without a medical condition are able to fall asleep on demand throughout the day.

  13. Adrienne*

    I’d like to think our nappers eventually self selected into their perfect, nap-affirming & snooze-positive jobs where they now thrive. I salute you bold and sleepy interns!

  14. Albeira Dawn*

    At the end of one summer a fellow intern read me a draft of his feedback form (he was giving feedback to his manager) where he had listed in minute detail every single infraction he felt had been made against him or the organization in general. He mentioned that some days he would drive past the office after his workday had ended to see if his manager was working the hours she said she was and would take note if the lights were off.
    To be fair, some of his complaints about the lack of work for him were reasonable. But the rest of it, I quickly told him, was absolutely not in his best interest to comment on, especially since he needed a reference from the organization.

    1. generic_username*

      Oh wow, if someone listed a bunch of “infractions” I had made against him and then talked about driving by after his work hours to see whether I was still there, I’d feel… unsafe.

    2. The New Wanderer*

      Well, now we know how every micromanaging, spreadsheet keeping nosy coworker starts out.

      I would have done the same thing (warned him off including the “extras”), but that kind of person probably needs to get caught out so they don’t continue to think it’s fine to do that.

    3. PT*

      We had an employee like this on the back end of his career! He was a man in his 60s who took a part-time, entry level job with us during the recession, and his job was to supervise a program area as a lookout. During lessons, his job was to check off anyone who showed up late to class on the attendance sheet (the instructors would check off everyone at the start of class, but class was hands-on and they couldn’t interrupt once they started to check in the latecomers.)

      One day I was going through the student attendance sheets and found he’d added a line on each sheet for all of the instructors and teacher’s aides for the course and was checking in their attendance and if they were on-time/late as if they were students! Which was 100% not his job, because he did not have any staff supervisory duty at all! It was ridiculous.

  15. quill*

    Rick’s list is a disaster of epic proportions but I have a TINY bit of sympathy for him, based on the time I spent a month being sent BACK to the phones to try and cadge sample chemicals out of various suppliers and getting (rightfully) blocked for it when I explained that we could not handle a 20 gallon drum, the minimum order.

    And the epic (and in hindsight sort of hillarious?) rant my then-boss went on when I couldn’t find nitrocellulose, with me blurting out “they won’t sell it to us anymore because it’s used to make EXPLOSIVES and your last sample container of it expired before we had a department of homeland security.”

    (Note: Due to various things like uh, having no training on how to order potentially hazardous materials I can’t confirm that it wasn’t possible for me to buy nitrocellulose, but my boss certainly didn’t want me ordering off Sigma Aldrich, also this was over six years ago so I definitely don’t feel like going back and figuring out how I could have done it. I’m just reveling in the fact that it knocked my loud, angry boss silent for a full minute.)

    1. quill*

      No, second thought: I no longer have any sympathy for Rick, I assume he ACTUALLY GOT TRAINED and had instructions for his talks with suppliers!

      1. ScruffyInternHerder*

        My (fairly limited) experience in intern herding has left me with the impression that phone-training and supplier-discussion training are both continual works in training, and mileage varies heavily. Have absolutely had one intern that I could let loose on the first day with nothing more than “make sure you take notes on your conversation, make no promises at all, and if this/this/or that are discussed, conference call me in ASAP.”, while having had yet another who couldn’t be left unsupervised on the phones at all. Ever.

        My favorite was when I advised “field trip Friday, wear jeans, button down shirts, WORK BOOTS”. Friday was three full work days away at this point. All interns were given a WAIVER for a free pair of work boots as a part of on-boarding. What do you suppose they showed up in? Yeah. Converse, because Friday. Nope. Not on an active construction site. Oh, I’ll drive by your apartment so you can swap out shoes…wait, what, you didn’t redeem your waiver yet?!?

        There were days I questioned if I spoke ancient random alien languages that nobody else did, believe me.

        1. quill*

          My internship was filled with “don’t do this because chemicals” and “don’t do this because forklifts” so I too needed steel toed boots… which I got before the internship started, because I needed them on to go in the door. :)

          1. ScruffyInternHerder*

            It was interesting, and I tried to weigh out how bent to get over it. I’d been present in the on-boarding meeting, and they were told that though they weren’t necessary in the office proper, any site visit WAS going to require them, so they needed to redeem that voucher ASAP. And if transportation to the approved stores was a thing, then to please let your (the intern’s) supervisor know. That would have been me. None of them said a thing about requiring transportation.

    1. A_Jess*

      I could just see Rick being one of those poor souls who took the bad advice to ‘show initiative’ to heart.

    1. Nanani*

      I know my eyesight isn’t great, but I do wonder how anyone gets work done outside. If it’s nice enough to want to be on the patio, it’s also too bright for me to see anything on a screen :/

      1. AcademiaNut*

        I work on a university campus and on the rare days with nice sitting outside weather (not too hot, not too cold, not actually raining), I sometimes take my laptop out to a grassy space, get an iced coffee, and sit in the shade under a tree while I work, at least until the battery runs down. If you’ve got shade and aren’t facing the sun, it works pretty well.

    2. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      Don’t know why my mind bent this way, but I’m reminded of the movie “Cold Comfort Farm” and grandmother coming downstairs to tell the story of how, when she was a girl, she saw “something nasty in the woodshed” … whatever it was, it inspired grandmother to become a melancholy hermit and take her entire family along for the ride. Let’s hope the patio is more cheerful.

        1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

          No, she didn’t remember anymore! and she couldn’t even be 100% sure it was the woodshed…it might have been the potting shed.

  16. SuspectedDragon*

    #5 is my hero. I have been tempted to use “that kind of language” around several of the congressmen I work with!

  17. Suzy Q*

    Multiple of these exhibit jaw-dropping levels of privilege, entitlement, and lack of common sense. Who has raised these people? How were they educated?

    1. Teapot Repair Technician*

      Who has raised these people? How were they educated?

      At home (where they were raised) and in college (where they were educated), many of these behaviors would have been things you could get away with–like wearing pajamas, taking naps, hanging out with boyfriend, enlisting sibling, getting drunk, etc.

      For me these stories are mostly about jaw-dropping levels of inexperience and naivety rather than privilege or entitlement.

      1. Bamcakes*

        Yes, totally agree.

        And it’s trying to make sense of a ton of conflicting messages about gumption, initiative, being a go-getter, asking questions, boundaries between work life and private life, professionalism and all of that. It’s SO confusing and young people need quite specific guidance, especially if they don’t have parents who can provide it.

        (The “But I love him” person totally makes sense to me if their family upbringing was heavy on the no-physical-contact-before-marriage or something. If you’ve grown up with “the only acceptable situation for physical contact is within marriage” and you’ve gone to college or had casual jobs in restaurants or fast food and met other people who think it’s OK to kiss and make out on public, where are you likely to have learned, “kissing is fine and OK but not at work”? Certainly not from TV! To me it’s really logical to think that your boss/colleague’s framework for disapproval is that you’re somehow wanton or promiscuous, rather than just that it’s not appropriate at work.)

      2. Xenia*

        College in particular is really, really bad at setting good boundaries. Weird and wild hours, not showing up to class can be totally acceptable, nap where you feel like it, and a campus attitude of “we’re all here to help you” mixed with “you can do it, seize the day, power through to your degree”. All these interns show a lack of observational social skill and some poor critical thinking but they’re also interns. This is partially where they’re expected to learn those crucial business skills, or that’s what the counselors and teachers all tell them

        1. Starbuck*

          The napping thing, totally. When I was in college just a few years ago, people napped all over the place! Any soft bench in a building (and many tables and chairs and library desks as well) were claimed as nap spot. I still fondly remember my favorite upholstered bench on the 3rd floor of the student hub’s atrium where I’d spend the break between my early morning café shift and my first class of the day… good times.

          1. Elenna*

            I’m still a little annoyed that my university got rid of the unofficial napping room with the super soft couches and half-lit light, in favour of less comfy chairs and bright lights. Apparently someone decided it was a fire hazard to have a bunch of student napping there? IDK

    2. Donkey Hotey*

      Don’t know about privilege but a few of these remind me of other letters here on AAM, written by the interns.
      “My boss yelled at me for taking a nap on my lunch break!”
      “Why do I get stuck with a desktop! I want to go on the patio!”

  18. Expelliarmus*

    I was lucky enough that my first interning experience was at a company where my parents and a lot of family friends worked (big company, so our teams didn’t overlap); as a result, I took a lot of cues from how I figured my parents behave at work, and that was really helpful in preventing me from doing anything like this, thankfully.

    1. Nanani*

      Also an excellent reminder of why we can’t expect new people to Just Know how it all works. A lot of people’s parents don’t work for big companies, or any environment that translates.

      1. The Original K.*

        When my best friend did her summer associate-ship at a BigLaw firm, there were formal “here’s how to work in a BigLaw firm” trainings. They covered everything from the billing system to appropriate office attire. My friend said the latter got pretty detailed, especially for women because the options for women are more varied. (Her then boyfriend, now husband, who she met in law school, wore the same two suits for the first month at his summer BigLaw job until he could afford to buy more suits.) I think that’s great – if you’re a first-generation white collar worker, you don’t have anyone teaching you this stuff. I think of an episode of “Shameless” in which Fiona wore her “best dress” to work at her first office job but her best dress was a cocktail dress she wore clubbing – inappropriate for an office.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          I have been a judge at student competitions (high school/junior high) where the students must have been told “no jeans” but nothing more specific, because yeah. Clubwear.

          1. Metadata minion*

            Oo, and that’s even harder when you’re an actual kid, since how often does your average 7th grader *need* business attire?? Even if they have after-school jobs, they’re probably the kind with a work-assigned polo shirt or other uniform.

    2. LKW*

      So you observed and replicated. Where are people getting the idea that they can skip the first part?
      If everyone in the office takes a nap – go for it. If people are not bringing in their own bedding, keep yours at home.
      If everyone is making out with their SO – have your partner come on down for some smooches! If not, meet up during your break or after work.

      The point is – every intern should have a modicum of common sense to observe their coworkers first and then act.

  19. Public Sector Manager*

    I’m a managing attorney in the legal department for a state agency. Way back before I promoted, we had two interns for the summer, a man and a woman. About a week before their Monday start date, the then managing attorney calls them up and explains that Monday through Thursday, it’s business attire, and on Fridays, it’s business casual. Interns say they understand.

    Monday morning rolls around, the female intern is wearing a very sharp business suit. The male intern shows up in jeans and a Hooters t-shirt …

    1. mcfizzle*

      Wow.. if that’s what he wore on Monday, dare I ask what constituted “business casual” on Friday? A loincloth?

    2. FD*

      I scratch my head a little at that one in terms of it being legal, so I feel like just TV should give you an idea about suits for that line of work. I understand much more how people struggle with what the heck “business casual” is supposed to mean!

      1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

        It took me a few read-throughs of your first sentence to realize that you mean “it being legal” as the legal profession and not the legality of having business attire M-Th and business casual on F. I could possibly understand an intern thinking that they aren’t a lawyer, and not going to court, so why do they need a full business suit, but yeah I scratch my head that the intern thought jeans and t-shirt was appropriate… unless they explained that they were on their way to work in a suit, ruined their suit changing a flat tire, and could only find jeans and a t-shirt at a thrift store on their way, but they will have a proper suit ASAP.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I had a one day temp gig as a guinea pig for a class of management trainees at a big bank – they needed to practice interviewing people, and I figured no harm in getting paid twelve bucks an hour to practice interviewing. The temp agency said business formal. As formal a business formal as you can manage. I had my suit cleaned, wore hose and heels in August, and even got a nice briefcase at the charity shop up the road to put my kit in.

      The other two temps who showed up with me were a dude in dirty hiking boots that smelled like a barn, khakis, a polo shirt and a bolo string tie, and a young lady in a strappy sundress (that did not contain her ample tracts of land nor pass the fingertip test by a full handspan and a half), those Greek-deity-inspired sandals that have strings that wind all the way up your legs, and a wallet on a string type purse tucked into her cleavage.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I think I worked with that lady once – she was temping at a department reception desk at a college……..we eventually had to ask the agency for a new person, nothing we tried over the course of two weeks could get the skirt to even make it to her PALMS (on the fingertip test), and she was genuinely confused as to why it was inappropriate for everyone who saw her sitting at the desk to know the cut and color of her bra! because her necklines were struggling to conceal the “bountiful blessings” (as my almost 95 year old granny would call them). Literally two weeks of it before we could get a new person – and yes we told her explicitly – and at one point gave her a sweatshirt and made her wear it – that her wardrobe was not appropriate for a professional work environment. It was also what we told the agency when we told them “she can’t come back, we need someone new who will dress appropriately.”

      2. MsSolo (UK)*

        I have some sympathy for an intern who confuses “this is my most expensive outfit” with “this is my most formal outfit”, especially if the main guidance they’ve received is “no trousers for women in business formal” (obviously, no true, but you still see the advice sometimes) so think any skirt/dress is formal.

        At least the management trainees will have got a taste of real life interviewing – you don’t know how interviewees are going to interpret the guidance!

        1. Skeeder Jones*

          Managing guinea pigs should now be the example we use for a job description instead of teapots or llamas

  20. mcfizzle*

    “Beethoven? Oh, the movie about the dog, right?! OMG I LOVE IT!! Fav dog movies, everyone!!” is instantly where I would’ve gone. :)

  21. DH*

    #2 music fan. I would have looked at the intern and said – wide eyed and honestly as i could: “yes, of course. that’s the movie about the big furry dog”

  22. A Feast of Fools*

    At my first internship, I was still in school but my co-intern had just graduated. So he really needed a full-time job to come out of the internship. But a merger happened that summer and everything was up in the air.

    Co-Intern sent a meeting request to our grand-bosses and great-grandboss so that he could “discuss his future with [Company] with them.” Essentially, he wanted to tell them to piss or get off the pot because he had life decisions he needed to make.

    Luckily, he and I both started a lot earlier than everyone else and he [proudly] told me about the meeting request immediately after sending it. I taught him how to recall messages in Outlook than had a sit-down with him to let him know that the ONLY outcome of that meeting would be, “OK, Co-Intern, then we’ll make this easy for you: There isn’t a job offer for you at the end of this internship.” And that they’d also likely never hire him in the future, even though our profession is pretty small and there’s a lot of movement among the local companies big enough to need our skillset.

    I was able to impart AAM wisdom to him: “Act like you don’t have that job. Start interviewing elsewhere.”

    He did, which was good, because the new parent company decided it didn’t need to hire any interns.

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      I just don’t understand. He…how…wha…tha…buh??

      I mean, good on you for telling him, but what the heck was he thinking?? Is there just space between his ears??

    2. Email Opsy*

      Thank you for the reminder about recalling emails in outlook, literally the next day at work after I read your comment, I send an email out with a somewhat embarrassing mistake and immediately thought of your comment and was able to recall the email before anyone saw it.

  23. Not Going Back*

    Oh my! Most of these interns must have moved on to work at one of my previous employers. Am I the only one who has worked in the hospitality industry?

  24. CW*

    Oh my goodness! Most of these interns learned about it the hard way. Yes, lack of professional experience may be one thing, but something like pajamas at work or making a sibling do the work for you is really crossing it. Perhaps they have learned their lesson since.

    I also have one internship story as well, though it is not really considered horrifying. In the summer between my junior and senior of college, while I was applying for some internships in accounting, I finally got a call from an accounting “company”. Notice the quotes, which you will understand why later (it wasn’t a company). I briefly chatted with the “manager” on the phone and he asked me to come in for an in-person interview. I agreed.

    On the day of my interview, I Googled the address, set my GPS, and double checked the address and drove off to the interview. When I got there, I pulled into a residential neighborhood. That threw me off. This was a huge red flag. I was expecting to pull in front of an office at least. The address was actually a residential house! I started getting scared, but parked my car and rang the doorbell. A middle-aged man opened the door, shook my hand, then invited me in. Turns out he was the only one “working” and his house on his personal computer. I knew then and there that I was being baited. I cut the interview short and drove off. What mortified me was I gave him my resume and I thought I was going to be stalked or become a victim of identity theft. Thankfully nothing came of it and still hasn’t. This was a little over a decade ago.

    Eventually I found another internship in my hometown that worked out really well, but they didn’t have an opening for me. Which was a shame since I really liked the work environment and the boss I worked with.

    1. Nanani*

      Glad you got away safely. Even if it was just a clueless setup, the alarm bells are ringing LOUD.

    2. Frank Doyle*

      This doesn’t strike me as a bait-and-switch; surely there are plenty of accountants that are self-employed and could use some extra help from an intern. If that’s not what you were looking for, fine, but I don’t think there was necessarily anything shady about it. I hope you learned to do a little more research on a company (and check out the location BEFORE the day of the interview).

      1. Nanani*

        Gonna guess from your name that you have never been a young woman or otherwise had reason to be deeply alarmed by men luring you out to private rooms when no one one think to look for you there.

        1. Frank Doyle*

          I actually have been a young woman! I’ve also gone to interviews at two-person firms when I was a college senior. I definitely thought after the interview that I wouldn’t want to work there, but I wasn’t freaked out or anything.

      2. Happy Sharpie*

        I think this is a condescending response. As you pointed out, businesses can be run out of homes and so googling the day before might not have provided any clarity on the “company.” Secondly, they pointed out they were between junior and senior year of college before they probably had the professional/seasoned norms of someone that’s been working for years. Thirdly, this scenario is a fear of women/trans women. I don’t want to assume the gender of the commenter but even if it wasn’t a bait and switch, this set up sets off alarm bells as a woman and if something had happened, that last line is very victim blamey.

        1. Frank Doyle*

          You’re right, I was condescending! I should have worded my response more carefully.

          I put myself in her shoes, when I was that age, and my reaction to that situation would have been very different. (Especially the bit about stalking or identity theft, I cannot relate to jumping to those conclusions at all.) And if I had written that post, if I had gotten a creepo vibe from this dude (because I am in fact a woman, and I know from creepo vibes), I would have finished by saying “I certainly learned to check out the company and location beforehand.” The dude could definitely have been fucking creepy, granted, but the post never actually said anything about a vibe from the guy itself, just that an accounting company run out of a home is super suspicious — I disagree, I do not think that is weird or suspicious or a red flag at all. I have worked for small companies for almost my entire career, they get maligned a lot in this forum and I guess I got a little defensive — just because a company is small, even a one-person company, that doesn’t mean the guy is trying to steal your identity (???) by soliciting resumes, or whatever his grand scheme is purported to be. I think that putting “company” in quotes that you call attention to is also, in fact, condescending.

          However I would never intend to disregard or disparage a person’s (particular a woman’s) ability to assess situations as being Not Quite Right, and I apologize for appearing to do so.

          BTW I’m pretty sure there’s no need to distinguish between women and trans women. You can just say women.

      3. CurrentlyBill*

        The best case, most positive interpretation of this guy is that he is totally clueless on business norms, hopelessly naïve about the realities of professional life, and therefore should not be educating interns.

        Were he a professional, he could have arranged an interview offsite at a coffee shop. Or at the very least advised the interviewee that the business operates from his home and the interview would take place there.

        This is either shady or clueless, and either way is not something you want for an internship.

        1. quill*

          Yes, were he considering that approximately half his applicant pool is justifiably wary of the setup he’s created, he could have done much better.

  25. AJoftheInternet*

    I sit here with my laptop on my patio with my tea and deeply relate to intern #7. I hope she found a place that worked for her.

  26. Blinded By the Gaslight*

    Not an intern, but I once had a student employee at a university come back from summer break wearing a wedding ring at 18 years old. She had already told us awful stories of their on-again/off-again relationship, so this was a shock to everyone. When I asked her, concerned, why she’d gotten married so young and to someone she didn’t seem to get long with very well, she said (as if I were the dumbest person alive), “Well, we weren’t just gonna FORNICATE.”

    Okey-dokey! Con . . . grats??

  27. El l*

    I had an intern apply for a job where he said in his cover letter, “I went into your office one time. Seems like a pretty chill place to work.”

    He did not get called back.

    1. Kiki*

      I’d give him an interview. I like to work with people who take their work but not themselves seriously. And I can imagine many of my colleagues saying this too.

  28. WellRed*

    I’m always amazed that people can power nap for 20 minutes, even in an uncomfortable place. It takes me longer than that to fall asleep. But please, interns, leave the beds and pjs at home ; )

  29. kdizzle*

    I’ve loved my eager and slightly clueless interns.
    I asked for measurements of a few offices so we could buy paint. The intern delivered each office measurement in centimeters…like…the room is 114 inches by 154 inches by 100 inches. I didn’t specify, so maybe that’s on me.

    Same intern was delivering something for me across campus. He called me in a panic and said, “I spilled a lot of water on the front of my pants. I took them off and right now I’m trying to dry them with the hand dryer in the bathroom (claim substantiated by the significant hand dryer noise), so I’ll try run back as soon as they’re dry.”

    1. Beany*

      As a European immigrant to the U.S., I strongly support any effort to promote metric over the slow-roll disaster that is imperial measurements. Kilometers and kilograms, people!

    2. Teapot Repair Technician*

      I don’t see anything wrong with recording measurements in centimeters if you’re calculating how much paint to buy. Doing math with measurements expressed as [feet], [inches], [fractions of an inch] is a pain in the neck.

      1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

        but if the paint is sold by how many square feet it covers, as it usually is in the U.S., then they’d still have to convert to imperial at some point

        1. Teapot Repair Technician*

          It’s still less math to start with measurements in centimeters, calculate area in square centimeters and convert to square feet. (There are 929 square cm in a square foot.)

          For instance, if you tell me a wall is 311 by 261 cm, then the math I need to calculate area in square feet is simply: 311*261/929 = 87

          Whereas if I measure the wall in feet and inches, it’s 10’2″ by 8’7″, and the math I have to do is:

    3. Magenta*

      I’m really confused by this one as I’m from the UK and I would measure a room in cm what is wrong with that?

      1. Magenta*

        Oh I see someone up thread answered about paint being sold by sq ft, that makes sense, most things here give both measurements. I thought it was about using just cm rather than m and cm like 154 cm rather than 1m 54cm

  30. Barbara Eyiuche*

    The corollary to #1: When I was looking for an articling position, the big firms in Calgary were notorious because they had cots set up in their offices. You were expected to work such long hours that you wouldn’t be able to go home and sleep sometimes, so cots were provided. Some students took one look and decided not to apply at these particular firms.

  31. KWu*

    It seems like there should just be a generic piece of advice given to all interns to hold back and actually try to observe the workplace environment first. Does literally anyone else have a napcot set up next to their desk? Are any of the napcots from brand new people? etc.

  32. Bamcakes*

    I managed an intern who would shoot back emails responding to the rota saying things like, “Why haven’t you put me down for Tuesday? You said I could work Tuesday!” (I hadn’t, I’d said I was aware she preferred Tuesday and I’d try to take that into account but I had to look at overall coverage) or “Why haven’t I been paid yet? You said I’d be paid on Monday!” (I didn’t, I said it would be the 25th of each month, that was a Monday last month but this month it’s the Wednesday etc.) That was the full email each time. Sometimes no capitals or punctuation either.

    When I had about three or four of these and it was clearly a pattern, I sat down with her and said, you cannot send accusatory emails like this. First, you need to use a salutation and a sign off. Secondly, before you email back with what you think I said, you need to check back in previous emails to make sure, because there was an email right here where I said 25th of the month, not the last Monday. And lastly, if you’ve double and triple checked and you’re sure you’re right, you’ll get so much more cooperation from people if you phrase things as if you’re giving the other person the benefit of the doubt, not an accusation!

    She immediately went and found an email from me where I’d said quickly responded with something like, “Great, thanks for that and look forward to seeing you tomorrow!” without a salutation and sent to me saying, look, YOU did it, so why can’t I?

  33. Recruited Recruiter*

    Well, now I feel like I was an excellent intern! The worst thing I did was accidentally follow old policy the day after new policy was implemented. I got a very gentle reminder, and cried in front of the other intern about how I had ruined my reputation.
    – News flash to intern me: not only was there no damage to my reputation, nobody even remembered the next week.

    1. A Genuine Scientician*

      My worst was telling a person who wanted to schedule a meeting with me what my medical appointment that conflicted with the proposed meeting was about.

      I figured we were all biologists, the detail was enough to establish why I wasn’t willing to move the appointment (I had an open wound from that morning that I wanted to get closed up and make sure it didn’t get infected; it wasn’t serious enough for an emergency room, and I’d gotten a same day appointment to deal with it) but also that it wasn’t going to interfere with my ability to be there for the rest of the week. But, still, too much information for the circumstances.

      1. Recruited Recruiter*

        This is funny. Just a work norms error – nothing that won’t be laughed about if it is even remembered.

    2. Nayo*

      This sounds like something I might have cried about a few years ago, haha. I’m glad I’ve gained some perspective since then!

  34. Babyfaced Crone*

    I was more than a decade into my career when circumstances forced me to hire (for a coveted paid internship!) an unmotivated rising college junior who spent the entire summer avoiding the work I’d assigned him while wandering around to other departments to ask if they had anything more interesting for him to do.

    While saying goodbye on the last day of his gig, he magnanimously told me he’d happy to serve as a reference for me. I did not reciprocate.

  35. banoffee pie*

    I’m imagining ‘we don’t use that language in front of the congressman’ in a really deadpan, Tommy Lee Jones type voice lol

  36. Please Remove Your Monkeys from My Circus*

    These stories are making me feel better about the intern (working in the US on a visa from an EU country) who decided she didn’t want to go back home after her internship ended. She got herself kicked out of the housing we’d arranged for her by sleeping with one of her housemates (who was engaged to another of the housemates at the time) and eventually taking up with a coworker—breaking up is nearly 20 year marriage and getting pregnant in the process. (Note: I absolutely fault the two men involved in these scenarios, but the pattern of her poor judgement remains.) Last I heard, she’d married her baby daddy, so she got to stay in the US rather than going home at the end of the year—which had apparently been her plan all along.

  37. YL*

    I used to work in the art world and we’d get really weird applications for internships.

    One person wrote a cover letter and anthropomorphized the gallery as a “Prince.” My boss would have interviewed the person just to learn the story behind it. But the writer should have done some research and written about a “Princess” because my boss is a woman.

    We put out a search for gallery sitters and someone emailed in their headshot with one sentence, “I think I’d be good for this.” Did you not read the Craigslist about this being an internship (where you’re not just sitting around) and your just paid in transit and food? We’re not interested in pretty boys.

    1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      That’s kinda funny…I bet he thought gallery sitter was something like a life-drawing model.

      1. Metadata minion*

        Now I’m curious — what *is* a gallery sitter? From a quick search, it looks like basically a docent, but I’ve also seen art museums with docents, so is it just regional variation in terminology or is a gallery sitter a distinct role?

        1. YL*

          It was an art gallery, so a gallery sitter in our case would have to open and close the space, be able to do some admin work, and have some competence to answer questions from visitors or take messages for my boss to answer. The sitter could have a lot of time to do their own things, but they’d have to be able to do the tasks assigned by my boss. No warm bodies.

  38. Lizard Egg*

    “Well, if I was to say the name Beethoven, would you know who I meant?”

    “Maybe. Can you sing some of his lyrics?”

    1. Fiddle_Faddle*

      I totally would have sung the last movement. In German. (Actually, I’d have stopped after the first several bars and pointed to Ms. Condescending to see if she could pick up where I left off.)

      Interesting fact: In December 1989 to celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall, conductor Leonard Bernstein led a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, with choir and orchestra members gathered from East and West Germany, as well as the four allied powers: France, Great Britain, the Soviet Union and the U.S.. He made one small change to the lyric of the final movement, changing the world “freude” (joy) to “freiheit” (freedom). It was an amazingly moving event. Sadly Bernstein died less than a year later.

  39. FreakInTheExcelSheets*

    My internship was a breeze compared to these! Probably made a few questionable clothing choices, but more in terms of color than style. I had a pair of bright red dress pants that I absolutely loved and a coral blazer (no they weren’t worn together and I think they were either Express or NY&Co) and they were probably a bit much for an office that was at the formal end of business casual but given they had to send out memos about casual Friday because someone showed up in tatty/grass-stained yard work jeans that was not even worth a mention. The one thing that remains with me is the lengths people go to when they see someone else getting a ‘perk’ (similar to the dress code petition interns mentioned a number of times) – the company had recently switched to a new timekeeping system, so there were frequent emails reminding people how to use the new time clocks. My schedule was built around my classes, so for example I wouldn’t come in until after lunch one day a week. Apparently people were ‘reporting’ me so much for coming late/leaving early that they had to put in the emails “[I am] a college intern and have a varied schedule due to classes”. And of course there was the time someone insinuated that I was having an affair with another employee because we were seen leaving together several times – it was my dad. He worked in a totally separate department and we were carpooling because his car was being repaired. Sadly this was not the first or last time I have been mistaken for my father’s girlfriend/trophy wife, at work or otherwise.

  40. Erin from Accounting*

    My first year in an office job (I was not an intern, but I was in a new grad role), the intern in my group would routinely fall asleep in his chair next to me and start snoring! Did that kid go to bed at 2am every night?!?

    He did get invited back as a new grad, though, so his work product must have been good. I wonder if he still falls asleep in his chair…

  41. LostInTheWoods*

    I think Intern #1 is a good example of what happens when employers intentionally blur work/not work life of their employees. If the employer is encouraging you to live your life at work, is it really so crazy the intern brought in a cot? If its a Google type company, google has napping rooms on its campus! I think instead of ripping into the intern it would have been a good opportunity for the employer to clearly define boundaries that they have been intentionally blurring.

  42. me*

    The napping-related ones are really interesting to me. I’ve been working in China for several years now, mostly in schools but also in an office. Almost all students have naps at school after lunch and this sleep schedule habit follows them into adulthood. The teachers I work with all have cots they bring out at lunchtime and sleep for about 60-90 minutes (although they don’t have sheets or shams, and they don’t change into PJs). When I worked in an office, it was super common to see people sleeping in their desk chairs or passed out on couches in the early afternoon. A colleague in another city said that on Friday afternoons, he’d be about the only one awake in the building.

  43. nnn*

    The pyjamas are the most amazing part.

    I can absolutely imagine scenarios where a person might end up taking a nap at work.

    I can absolutely imagine circumstances where the desk is the best place to take a nap.

    I cannot imagine bringing your pyjamas to work and changing into them at work for the express purpose of taking a nap!

  44. Malarkey01*

    My craziest intern story from about 6 years ago- I walked into our copy room to find an intern crouched behind 2 file cabinets, with the lights out, shushing me and saying “shhhhh I’m hiding”. We’d recently had one of those workplace safety training and my mind flashed to OMG there’s an active shooter! (Because why else would you be hiding at work??) I slammed the door and started shoving a large work table against the door to barricade it and whisper yelled “have you called 911?! Turns out the interns were playing a game of hide and seek in our very straight laced conservative office. I went home for the day since I thought my blood pressure was probably around stroke level.

    1. Heather*

      All of our entry level attorneys work on the same floor. I went down there one day to drop something off and was gobsmacked to find them playing a game of tag. I was even more surprised to see their boss had joined in.

  45. CouldntPickAUsername*

    1. I gotta say, I love the audacity of this guy. Buying a cot and bringing it to work…. love it.
    2. “Yeah, the dog right?”

  46. Formerly Ella Vader*

    Oh my gosh I just remembered that when I was a co-op student at a prestigious high-tech company, they rearranged our office and put me and the other student in the end cubicle. It had curved smoked-plexiglass windows which everyone looked into on their way to and from the cafeteria or bathrooms, and we joked about feeling like we were in a fishbowl. So my cubicle-mate cut out some fish and bubbles and stuck them up on the window. Until someone important instructed our supervisor to tell us to take them down. Then she put up blueprints and got told to take them down.

    1. Metadata minion*

      Thank you for this one. It brought back warm memories of my dad, who did the same thing in his lab. It also was fishbowl-like, but as a senior research scientist while you don’t get a great deal of *respect* exactly, it means you can cover your lab windows in an increasingly elaborate array of fish decorations and wear socks and ties to match, and nobody can tell you not to. :-b

  47. baroncorbin*

    The classical music person reminds me of some girl I used to take Japanese with. She got mad because nobody in the class listened to classical music. She had varied music tastes. She refused to believe that System of a Down broke up. She used to wear an Aquabats shirt to class, but never mentioned listening to their music.

  48. Schnookums Von Fancypants, Naughty Basic Horse*

    #2 “You mean Camper Van Beethoven? Huge fan! Take the Skinheads Bowling!”

  49. Yoyoyo*

    #3: I had to tell an adult employee with work experience that it was making others uncomfortable to see them making out with another (married, not to them) employee in the parking lot. They appeared shocked that it would be an issue and did not understand why it was a problem if they were doing it after 5 (at like, 5:05).

  50. Hatchee Malatchee*

    I feel like we should have a whole topic assigned to sleep on here. People do sleep in the office, and I feel like most of the time sleeping visibly in the office is because there isn’t anywhere to privately sleep. Seriously, I can think of half a dozen employees who napped at work, almost all of whom were pretty good employees. Hell, I did it during my first trimester of pregnancy — in my locked, private office in place of my lunch break. But interns don’t usually have private offices.

    However, for a while I had a narcoleptic intern who fell asleep wherever she was. She was not a good employee — not because of the narcolepsy, but because she had poor executive function. The narcolepsy was just kind of a weirdly charming quirk.

    1. Donkey Hotey*

      Believe me, I am a HUGE sleep evangelist. I think everyone should get more sleep and I rage against the cult of exhaustion that is so prevalent in Western and specifically US work culture.
      And, at the same time, I still push back a bit on sleeping in the office. Not because it isn’t helpful. It’s helpful in part because people aren’t getting enough sleep at home at night. More because it blurs the line between work and home (yes, I know, we’re in a pandemic, more people are working at home anyway, but still.)

  51. SK*

    I’m surprised and not surprised by these stories. I managed/worked alongside interns who were the same age as me (mid 20s, maybe a year or two younger). I was always surprised by how they didn’t take the role seriously and were always trying to pull one over on me. Maybe it’s just my industry (art world).

    I kept in touch with my boss from a former internship. Boss offered me some freelance work at the nonprofit she had started managing. It was summer, so there would be an intern, but I wasn’t managing the intern. I open the storefront as instructed and the intern is late. I give her the benefit of the doubt because it’s raining and there may be trouble with public transit. She gets there 20 minutes after opening and I try to make small talk. “Do you want to exchange numbers in case you’re running late in the future?” “No, that’s okay. (with pained look on intern’s face)” Then she proceeds to tell me she always leaves 30 minutes before the end of business hours–like that’s her normal schedule. Total BS. She didn’t have any permission to leave early. She tried to get away with it because she thought I was a stupid, random freelancer. She had no idea she and her boss (my former boss) were actually very good friends now, so yep I told boss about this ridiculousness.

    Later that summer, the same intern forgot to close up the storefront one day. My boss showed up the next day and was totally bewildered at seeing the store open. My boss texted me asking me if I had been to the store that morning. I hadn’t. Boss realized it was the intern. It was a miracle we weren’t robbed or vandalized because it was a Friday into Saturday and that neighborhood is known for a wild nightlife.

    1. ForeignLawyer*

      I did too. My first intern randomly just didn’t come in one week. I got concerned and called her emergency contact, who didn’t answer the number or email she had left. So I asked my manager what to do, so we filed a police report and worried and worried. Three weeks later she just randomly wandered back in one day and started working like nothing was wrong.

      We fired her. Turns out she’d been abroad to get a breast enlargement surgery but didn’t think it necessary to book time off, or even tell anyone she wouldn’t be in. She then filed a discrimination complaint against the company for “firing her due to her breast size and for having had a medical procedure.” I still get a good laugh out of that one.

  52. Another side*

    I work for an association that has a large, multi-day annual event. We scheduled our (paid) intern to work the front desk, greeting people, giving name badges etc. I stopped by the desk and he was sitting there, eyes closed, sound asleep. I had to wake him up and explain that he could not sleep while on his shift, but particularly at the front desk. He seemed surprised and a little offended.

  53. Greg*

    I can’t say I witnessed this one personally, but I was once talking with a law-school student about the fact that, when you are offered an internship after your second year of school, that pretty much guarantees you will get an offer from the firm once you graduate. What, I asked, would it take to not get that offer?

    He proceeded to tell me a story of a person a year or two ahead of him at law school who was famous for blowing the offer. Apparently this person was fortunate enough to get sent to London as part of his internship, and rather than be happy at this gift of a free international trip (with little work required), asked to be upgraded to business class. When that request was denied, he bought the business-class ticket anyway and then submitted it for reimbursement. While there he purchased an expensive pair of sunglasses, which he also expensed. I think there was also a story about how he publicly insulted a partner during a meeting.

    The kicker was that, even after all that, the guy still got a “soft offer”, which is where they told him he could have the job but made it clear they weren’t very enthusiastic about hiring him and it might not be the smartest move for him to take it. All of which drove home to me how completely irrational the whole law school system is (or was; this was a couple decades ago).

  54. Dazed and Confused*

    We had to fire an intern for various reasons, generally around incompetence and cluelessness. Their supervisor sat them down for a long conversation with the specifics of why they were fired. The next day, during the intern lunch that included a celebration, this person showed up with a gift and stayed for lunch! We all kept looking around at each other, trying to figure out what to say. Finally, one of their “friends” pulled them aside and explained that you don’t come back the next day to hang out at a place that just fired you.

    1. London*

      I don’t see the problem. They were an intern, the lunch was for them. They even brought a farewell gift!

  55. Consultant*

    I have always wanted to submit this story. I work in a consulting field, and there are very strict rules regarding engaging with clients or prospects (usually hierarchical in nature). Our firm does a lot of seminars regarding intern development, and our previous intern found them so inspiring that they decided to contact NASA.

    The outreach was done via LinkedIn to several leaders at NASA, and was very generic about how we could save NASA lots of money. The intern was very pleased when they announced this in our morning meetings, and that they had been “negotiating” for several weeks prior to this. Our senior leadership had to reach out our NASA contacts to smooth things over. Needless to say most of the conversations abruptly stopped after that.

    The intern was very bright and motivated and ended up getting hired full-time, so no major harm was done. There were several other instances where they displayed initiative by scheduling meetings with C-suite executives just to chat.

  56. Intern at heart*

    All these stories are too funny! But they also got me thinking … are there ways we can help interns with the “unwritten” rules? Probably the only reason I was lucky enough to not make one of these faux pas years ago is because I had family members who worked in offices and could warn me away from making mistakes. But for a lot of interns, they may be the first person they know in an office setting! How do we systematically make sure they’re set up for success even without someone telling them the unwritten rules of the road?

  57. Heffalump*

    #10 (Rick’s List)–If I were managing him, I couldn’t not ask him what he’d been thinking. I’m sure his response wouldn’t change my decision to fire him, but I’d just have to know.

  58. Heffalump*

    #2 (the music fan):

    I wouldn’t think you were ignorant if you didn’t recognize the names of these artists:

    James Carr
    O. V. Wright
    Alvin Cash & the Crawlers
    Barbara Lynn
    Barbara Acklin
    Mable John

    But I’d be very impressed if you did!

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