what’s the most unreasonable thing you’ve ever been asked to do at a job?

On the recent post about office supply drama, several people shared stories of wildly unreasonable things managers have asked them to do. For example:

•  “I temped for a small NFP and the director was bananas. She was filthy rich (like own private jet and multiple homes rich); her husband owned a hedge fund, which funded the family foundation, which contributed heavily to the NFP, which was a pet project of hers. … She asked the mail room person to call the post office to see if they could deliver the mail earlier in the day. In NYC. She legit thought the post office would/should change its route for her.”

•  “I had a boss who, the day after he learned we’d not had our grant renewed decided that he would have us work with some incredibly gnarly diseases. So his first step is to come to my desk with a hand-written list and ask me to email our animal facility about using these (very scary) things there. And he just stood there watching me type, so I couldn’t even start the email with, ‘Hey, sorry to ask this, my boss wants to know if we can use hanta virus in the facility.’

So I send the email, my boss leaves and I sprint down the street to the animal facility to apologize for asking and to beg them to say ‘no.’ (Of course they were going to say no, this was like serious BSL3 stuff.)”

(Of course, nothing can ever reach the levels of the boss who made someone leave a note at an employee’s relative’s grave.)

So: What’s the most unreasonable thing you’ve ever been asked to do at a job? And did you do it? Share in the comment section.

{ 1,955 comments… read them below }

  1. Sleepy Time Tay*

    Ooooo, I’m grabbing a cozy blanket, some popcorn, and camping out in the comments section.

      1. Daune*

        Told to change time clock records or I would be fired. I was 5 months pregnant, so I did because I was terrified of losing my job and insurance. Funny thing is I forwarded all those to my personal email and only had to wait 6 months for the class action lawsuit to be filed. I helped the lawyers win their case with the paper trail. I quit shortly after my kid was born. And never went back into management.

    1. MeridianShrill*

      I know! Like, ugh, c’mon! This was posted a whole 5 minutes ago, where are the juicy stories???

    2. EPLawyer*

      Arrrgh wish I could. But I have a hearing and a brief to work on (not the same case obviously). UGGGGH.

    3. SeluciaMD*

      Any time these kinds of posts go up, my brain immediately goes “Ginger, get the popcorn!” It is moment’s like this I wish we could add GIFs to our comments. :)

        1. SeluciaMD*

          Solidarity! I’m still cranky about how they did Toby dirty in the final season. #justicefortoby

      1. Katefish*

        This isn’t something I was asked to do, but someone else was. I used to work with a manager with questionable judgment in general. He had a pornographic ring tone (exactly what you’re picturing). He left his phone panting and moaning in the office while he stepped out, and the manager below him was asked to go silence it, which she did.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          I feel like that’s a very reasonable ask in the situation, followed by “and please also take a promotion to his level, we just fired him.”

      2. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        My office frequently had visitors from HQ. They invariably wanted to visit the famous Reeperbahn entertainment district and particularly the Salami Bar, an outfit, since closed, that took “live act” very, very seriously. I was tasked to take them there and be a tour guide/chaperone for managers twice my age and a dozen pay grades above mine.
        After a few visits, young assistant manager me had a roll of almost 500 complimentary entrance tickets to said establishment on my desk, given to me by the doorman. You can imagine the checks…

      3. alicia.x.*

        Ok omg I actually have one. I was being supervised by a horrible, lazy, dumb supervisor. We’ll call her Cherrie. Cherrie was genuinely awful at her job. She came in late, left early, spent most of her time in the office socializing, was totally uninterested in keeping up with developments in our field, and was absolutely petrified of bearing any responsibility for anything, so she wouldn’t give me advice about what to do in any situation, she’d just basically march me into our executive director’s office and ask the ED what to do. It’s crazy that she still had a job, but it was a nonprofit organization and she was married to the deputy director aka the second in command.

        In the beginning, the problems with Cherrie weren’t super noticeable to me because I was so new. But as I got more competent, her lack of competence became increasingly clear. As I was given more responsibilities, I had to work longer hours and get better organized, and her lack of organization and short work hours drove me crazy. Even if she happened to be in the office when I had a question, she couldn’t (or wouldn’t, because that would mean assuming some responsibility for the outcome) answer it.

        I started seriously looking for new jobs. The ED got wind of my job search, and had a meeting with me about what was bothering me and what they could do to convince me to stay. I laid out the supervisory hellscape nightmare I was living in. I was like, I’m here for 8+ hour days, every day, working Saturdays. My supervisor literally works 4 hour days, maybe 4 days a week. She won’t answer my questions when she’s here, which isn’t often. I routinely have to take over her cases when she can’t manage them anymore, and I end up taking on additional projects (think: trainings, outreach) because she gets assigned to them, then can’t manage her time, so I have to do it.

        The ED of our organization said: yeah, I know, I have no respect for her as a [teapot producer]. If I could, I would have let her go years ago. But the Deputy Director (her spouse) knows about all these things at our org and nobody else could do DD’s job, and DD also happens to be the HR director (because we were such a small org) and DD will never sign off on firing Cherrie.

        So the ED came up with a solution. It would “hurt Cherrie’s feelings” if I was assigned to a new supervisor. So the ED of our org instructed me to continue to meet with Cherrie as if she was still my supervisor, knowing that those meetings would be absolutely pointless. But, I was secretly being assigned a new supervisor. I could meet with new supervisor, but I would either need to wait until late in the day after DD went home, or meet with new supervisor outside of the office… because new supervisor’s office was NEXT TO DD’s office, and DD would figure out what’s up, get mad, and tell Cherrie.

        That’s right, I was instructed by the ED of our org to have a fake and useless supervisor, then physically leave the office to meet with my new shadow supervisor to spare Cherrie’s feelings and escape the wrath of DD. I left the org about a year after that, and now work in a functional workplace for significantly more money, and my only regret is not leaving sooner.

    4. Working Hypothesis*

      Absolutely!! I like this kind of call for anecdotes in general, but this is looking to be one of the best ever.

      Thanks, Alison!!

    5. Res Admin*

      I was in my early 20’s. First big time job as an executive assistant to a VP. VP went out on extended medical leave so I was asked to help out some high level consultants that had been brought in. Their demands were…interesting (to say the least).

      The most memorable, however, was when one of the young hotshots (from a big NYC consulting firm) decided to grow a beard. He didn’t know how to trim it. My mistake was to tell him to just go to the store and pick up a beard trimmer. (duh!) He wanted me to go buy him one and basically act as his barber. I declined. He was shocked. I ended up telling him that if he was old enough to have a beard, he was old enough to figure out how to care for it.

      1. MassChick*

        Wow. I wouldn’t have much confidence in a consultant who couldn’t manage his own (completely optional) beard.

        1. DJ Abbott*

          Ahh, consultant mills. When I was temping in the 90s, and I also had a neighbor who was doing this, there were large well respected companies that hired young men straight out of college to be consultants.
          The job required almost constant travel, and my understanding was they got a little bit of training before they were sent all over the country.

      2. Journalist Wife*

        I am thinking back to the early-20s-age “professional me” in first big time job, and my ruefully naive understanding of what one has to do to please others, especially when filling in/temping for my absent Big Boss, despite firm knowledge of all the things actual Big Boss wouldn’t have been *asked* to do, let alone agree to do…and I have this awful suspicion that I genuinely would’ve just tried my best to give that beard a trim because I was scared shitless of the Good Old (and sometimes Younger) Boys’ network at large in my line of work, and let myself be walked all over in virtually any way they thought up. Kudos to you for your response!!! (And shame on me for knowing I’d have been way too cowardly to say that to them. Not sure what I would’ve done, but I’m certain it at least would’ve involved my spending my own gas money/mileage to drive to get them a damn beard trimmer and hoping to God I was reimbursed very soon.)

    6. academics, man*

      I’m sure there will be many more unreasonable than mine, but what immediately came to mind was the time my boss asked me to take photos of him in his office for his dating app profile, which turned into me helping him write and set up said profile.
      Why yes, my boss was an older man and I was a younger woman, why do you ask?

        1. Vegetarian Raccoon*

          “Just because you’ll be much younger than me, doesn’t keep me from expecting you to be my mom/babysitter!”

    7. DoggoMom*

      Not an office setting, but back when I was in school I worked as a server at a restaurant. I’d caught strep throat (actually from another server they pressured to work) so I went to my doctor, was diagnosed, and given a work excuse because strep throat is super contagious. So I call the restaurant, can barely talk because my throat is inflamed, and tell them I’m not coming in that night or the next. The general manager then tells me to come in or I’m fired. I tell her I have strep throat and have an excuse because it’s so contagious so I should not be around people’s food. She tells me again to come in or I’m fired. I tell her I’m not coming in, hang up. I wasn’t fired. She knew if she fired me for not violating health code they’d be in so much hot water. But how she handled it was exactly why I’d caught strep throat from another server. That server was a single mom so she couldn’t risk it, came in anyway (and then complained the whole shift that she felt awful because she had strep.) Honestly, should have reported them anyway, but a few months later the place closed anyway.

      1. Kat*

        I worked at a hotel in the catering department and had a very similar experience. I was extremely ill, couldn’t talk and had a note from health services. They said it would count as an occurrence even though I called in. I quit pretty much a week later.

      2. Ozzie*

        This is a weird parallel…

        Not recently, but when I was a barista, I caught strep (no idea where from), could barely stand up at work to finish my shift. Went to the doctor, diagnosed, excuse from work, etc. Called the store and talked to the manager, told her I had strep and wouldn’t be in – and she asked “You can’t work?” To which I responded, of course, “No, I’m highly contagious.” Naturally I didn’t get paid for the days I missed, but at least some was over a weekend/happened to be a Monday holiday (so I wasn’t getting paid anyway/wasn’t scheduled as a result).

        Wild, what managers try to do…

        1. Katefish*

          I forgot about this, but back when I was a barista my manager was upset that I was a few hours late for work because I was in the ER with an asthma attack. He was like, Why can’t you come in now? I gently explained that not being able to breathe might hinder work.

          1. Barbara Eyiuche*

            When I was a teacher in Asia, the school managers and owners really did not accept illness as a reason not to come to work. At one school in Taipei I phoned in sick because I was coughing up blood – I had tuberculosis, but had not yet been diagnosed. The director was annoyed and kept asking why I couldn’t come in. ‘You mean you can’t talk? You have laryngitis?’ I kept trying to explain that yes, I could still talk, but I was coughing up blood.
            At a school in South Korea I had gone in to work even though I was having a miscarriage. I started bleeding so heavily that I decided I had to leave. They kept on insisting I was fine and could finish out my shift.

      3. Working Hypothesis*

        I’m a massage therapist. We have a licensing requirement that we refrain from seeing clients for at least the duration of any contagious illness plus 24 hours.

        One time, my clinic had a new manager who came out of the business world and didn’t know a damn thing about massage. (Our owner was great, but she’d been trying to raise money in order to expand rapidly into new locations, and he’d been forced on her by the people she was borrowing from.) He decided to make a rule that he’d seen, and probably used, in other settings to keep people from taking sick days: if you were going to be out sick for more than 24 hours, you need a doctor’s note.

        This meant that, if we obeyed both his rule and our state’s ethics requirements, we would need to see a doctor every single time we were out for anything infectious, no matter how trivial or how brief. It couldn’t be done. The doctors in our city are largely swamped (even pre-Covid, which this was by several years), and there’s no way they would accept an appointment on their schedule from somebody who had a minor cold because their boss demanded a doctor’s note. So we had only two options: break the rule, or risk getting our licenses yanked for ethics violations.

        I pointed this out in an email thread on which was reading every therapist in the company, and asked him politely how he expected us to obey his rule without committing an ethics violation and losing our licenses — since I couldn’t figure out a way, myself.

        He was livid. I don’t think he knew before I said so that there was a conflict; and he sure as heck didn’t want the other therapists to notice that there was!!! He fired me as soon as he could send off a private email to me, saying so.

      4. Terrier Queen*

        Sorry for my ignorance, I’m from UK but I’m not sure what strep throat is? I certainly would never call in sick for a sore throat but I’m guessing it’s more like a flu or pneumonia if you need to avoid work? Is it known as something else over here?

        1. Splendid Colors*

          Strep throat is a highly contagious bacterial illness (streptococcus infecting the throat). I have no idea what it’s called in the UK but maybe “streptococcal infection” would be a good term to search.

  2. froodle*

    I worked in a call centre for one of the Big 5 UK energy companies. We had large bins on each floor, marked metal, paper, food waste, and misc. Our team had the bank of desks right next to the bins, and the call centre manager (essentially the boss of all 1000+ employees at that particular call centre) asked our supervisor if we would empty and sort through the “misc” bin in order to catch any recyclables which might have been incorrectly disposed of. Really said something about what this woman thought of the staff she managed.

    (my supervisor laughed, first because she assumed it was a joke, then laughed harder once she realised it wasn’t)

    (and no, we did not have to sort through garbage in the middle of the call centre floor while adhering to the office-casual dress code)

    1. Meep*

      OMG. I am all for recycling (and being green) while my older coworkers could give a flying hoot but this is too much and unsanitary. Really makes me feel glad the worst I have had to deal with was being expected to take out the trash as the only female engineer because they guys had “more important things to do” then walk their trash 100 yards to the dumpster apparently on top of acknowledging how demeaning it was… for them. And no, spending $25/week on a cleaning service was “too much” when they could pay me $30/hr to do it.

    2. GraceC*

      Did you accidentally inherit the letter writer who had a vendetta against the mystery office non-recycler?

    3. Amy the Rev*

      We had to do that as lifeguards at the beaches I worked at- dive through the trash bins to catch recyclables, dive into the recycling bins to catch redeemables and trash. You’d be surprised how many people threw dirty diapers into the recycling bins, and how many folks tossed bags of beer cans into the trash! At the end of the season, our boss would take us all out to (a local, delicious, and fairly pricey) breakfast with the money we got from redeeming all the cans/bottles, which was usually about $300-$400 total! At least trash duty was the end of our shift so we didnt have to sit in stinky clothes for hours afterwards…

      1. Elizabeth West*

        That reminds me; when I lived in California, there was a funny commercial about recycling. It started by slowly panning across several scary-looking guys in a police lineup. A woman’s voice said, “No….no….not him….no….” Then it stopped on a very meek, balding man in rumpled office clothes, and the woman screamed: “AAAAAHH! That’s him! That’s the man I saw throw a BOTTLE in the TRASH!”

        Immediately, all the scary dudes turned on him in disgust and went, “Ewww!” “You did WHAT!?” And the guy looked very sheepish and shrugged.

        It never failed to make me laugh! I tried to find it online but I couldn’t.

        1. Caliente*

          I absolutely giggled at the description! Although for the little guy I pictured the hapless green m&m who’s always getting yelled at by the grumpy yellow one :)

        2. alienor*

          My daughter was born and brought up in California, and recycling and water conservation were heavily emphasized at all the schools she attended. Well, a couple of years ago while we were on vacation in another state, she saw a man throwing a full water bottle away in a street garbage bin, and I thought she was going to have a stroke. She was around 19 or 20 at the time, so that early messaging really stays with you!

      2. Texan In Exile*

        Sadly, I would not be surprised at how many people throw dirty diapers into recycling bins. I’ve watched people change a baby’s diaper on a table in an airport food court. Nothing surprises me anymore.

        1. Artemesia*

          I still have nightmares about the dirty diaper I stepped in in a Rome parking lot and then got on the floor of the car and my purse —- At least the purse was a travel thing that was actually washable — it went through a complete washing machine cycle. But it was not a good start to a day trip. Human waste is so much more dangerous and contaminating than animal waste — urggghhhh. Awful. And awful that any employees would be expected to dig through garbage. urggghhhhh.

          1. Mimi*

            I have actually dug through garbage for work, but it was a thing that the sustainability committee voluntarily got ourselves into because the compost hauler was going to start throwing away our compost if we didn’t clean up the contamination, so we wanted to figure out what parts of the building needed better signage/design/something. (But it was absolutely a pain in the neck, and we didn’t do a great job of the audit, because there’s only so much you can do in the middle of a kitchen, in office clothes.)

        2. Nobby Nobbs*

          I’m pretty sure I’ve thrown a dog poop bag in a beach recycling bin before. In my defense, the cans were not well marked, which is why I’m only pretty sure.

        3. RetailSucks*

          I worked one holiday season at Macy’s and people would leave dirty diapers in the dressing room! (eye roll here)

      3. Azure Jane Lunatic*

        I had a gig for about a week standing guard on the bins at a tech company event to keep the waste streams clean / paper recyclables from being soaked with beverages. It was an experience. I managed to not get my safety neon yellow shirt dirty.

    4. Kate*

      This reminds me of a crazy crazy boss I had.
      On my last day I had filed, copied, given away everything the company needed to continue on without me. She then saw me take a bunch of other stuff, mainly personal or no longer needed, to the rubbish or the secure bins depending on what it was. Later that day she stood over me and demanded that I tell her which bins I used because she might need to go in and get it out because it was the “company’s property”.
      If Alison ever does another tell us wild and crazy stories of managers I will now have a lot to share.
      I never actually had to write in for advice because “your boss sucks and isn’t going to change” was the advice applicable.

    5. Software Eng*

      This reminds me of my tone at university IT support

      It was about ten years ago, and we had nice shredders in our office that would shred CDs so professors could bring us CDs they needed destroyed. One day somebody brought in a huge box full of floppy disks to be destroyed… not even the smaller ones I remember but the older, bigger ones.

      But of course our shredder could not handle the metal piece on the floppy and anyways these things would not fit in the CD slot. So we had to rip them apart by hands to take out the data film thing and shred that. We had college students doing this on and off for hours in between helping customers until somebody cut himself badly on one of the metal pieces and my boss said F this and threw it all in the trash as-is

      1. Snuck*

        Couldn’t they have just wiped them with a magnet? Stuck them in an oven (or the sun in a black trash bag)? Pretty sure those 5 inch floppies were reasonably fragile!

        1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

          Nah, they are actually quite robust.
          I had one without the sleeve. Worked well if you knew how to insert it. Had another one pinned up on my whiteboard (with a magnet!) that still worked.

          Once my boss told me to inventory our IT equipment across multiple offices. He insisted on totals; when I pointed out that a total af a wild mixture of printers, terminals, mobile phones, data cables (!), modems, PCs and monitors did not make much sense, he still wanted them. So I diligently totalled all columns. Whatever he made of the total of all serial numbers, I don’t know (nor care).

          Re floppy disks: I collected my share of weird looks when coworkers spotted me diligently photocopying a big stack of those. The reason? Documenting which software serial numbers went to which office – these were very long and printed onto the disks, so a xerox was both fast and reliable.

        2. Mimi*

          Magnets aren’t actually great for destroying data, at least, not the strength of magnets the average person has access to. A run-in with a magnet will wipe your keycard, sure, and if you’re unlucky it might make your computer unusable, but I wouldn’t trust one to make data on a hard drive irrecoverable unless I had the hard drive loose in front of me with the disks visible (and at that point, a hammer or drill press usually does a better job).

        3. MBK*

          Important data you need to keep is remarkably fragile. Sensitive data you need to destroy is amazingly durable. Even if they’re stored on the same media.

          1. Sharpie*

            In my British Army days, we frequently had to wipe hard drives. We’d take four or five at a time and set them up plugged into computer base units in a back room, overnight, with a program that would literally wipe and over-write the data down to the bit level, seven times (which was why it was done overnight!). More than once we came in the next morning to find it had stopped halfway through. If it failed a second time, the drive automatically got its classification upgraded to ‘secret’ which meant physically destroying the hard disk. Much fun but very hard to do because those things are remarkably tough – and I’m talking the hard drive found in the average PC back in the early 2000s rather than something specifically military grade.

    6. Emily*

      Where I work, we have volunteers that sort thru all the trash (mostly food service waste from about 5000 customers per day) and pick out anything that’s recyclable. They don’t even get paid for it. For real.
      The main difference being that our volunteers at least know that’s what they’re signing up for!

  3. Siege (The other one?)*

    It wasn’t unreasonable, but I did once have to get some damp towels for a guest that had a fish fall on him while staying with us. We were not a fish-related business.

      1. froodle*

        Seconded! Was the origin of the miscreant fish ever identified? Or was the guest intruding on fish territory and got his fishy desserts?

        1. Siege (The other one?)*

          Hahaha, it wasn’t the fishes fault! I worked for a very big company in the swamplands of central Florida, to give you an idea. What we think happened is a bird caught a fish but then couldn’t hold it, so it dropped the fish on the guest while he was exiting our ride.

          1. mqs*

            Oh wow! The same thing happened to my husband’s car. A giant fish got dropped on it… in Houston…. in August… several hours before it was found. The whole car was covered in baked on exploded fish. We were still finding tiny fish bones in the door gaskets weeks later!

              1. NoviceManagerGuy*

                Sort of a self-perpetuating problem with all the seagulls that would make friends with the car.

              2. mqs*

                He managed to get it cleaned up pretty well, pretty fast. I think it was at least 3 runs through a car wash plus handwashing that night at home. He has terrible luck with cars: things falling out of the truck in front and he can’t swerve out of the way, getting t-boned while parked on a residential street, etc. This was by far the funniest though!

            1. Thursdaysgeek*

              You need to google and watch the newscast about the “Oregon Exploding Whale”. It isn’t completely clear in that newscast, but the car that was hit was a new one.

              1. Tigersmom*

                The reporter from that story, Paul Linnman, wrote a book about it (the whale story is interpersed with the story of his life – it’s pretty interesting). I met him at a book signing by Oregon authors at the State Capitol so got to talk to him a bit. The book is called “The Exploding Whale and other remarkable stories from the evening news/”

              2. Anhaga*

                In case anyone skims past this and thinks “THEY DID WHAT TO A WHALE”, know that the whale was already long dead, and this was merely an utterly inadvisable way to get rid of the very large, very smelly carcass.

                1. Worldwalker*

                  There’s something about extremely dead whales … look up the one that exploded without any help in Taiwan.

                2. allathian*

                  Once putrefaction starts, whales can explode without any human intervention. I bet those who set the explosives didn’t figure the amount right, because the putrefying internal organs and their contents no doubt contributed to the explosion.

              3. TGOTAL*

                Oh man. I remember downloading that video on my dialup connection 25 years ago. It took all night.

                And it was absolutely worth it.

            2. NoMoreOffice*

              Never had a fish dropped on my head, but I was crouched down looking at a jewelry display and the shop cat fell off the edge of the case and landed on my head. Claws out of course. I couldn’t even be mad because it’s not like the cat did it on purpose.

              1. DesertRose*

                Many a year ago, when I was still married to my ex-husband, we had two cats, a fairly chill tabby and a very sweet but impish tortie.

                One Sunday afternoon, I was reading on the couch while erstwhile husband was playing video games. Because we were just hanging around the house, he was not wearing a shirt. He paused his game and went into the kitchen to refill his tea.

                And then I hear a godawful yell.

                That silly tortoiseshell cat had gotten on top of the refrigerator and jumped on his head/shoulders when he opened it looking for the tea pitcher. She was a petite kitty, so he had a mere six pounds of cat on his head–but he still had a cat on his head. She looked very pleased with her practical joke.

              2. lailaaaaah*

                I was at my cousin’s baby shower + was grabbing some stuff from a kitchen cupboard when one of their cats slipped off the counter and landed on my back, claws out- upon which I instinctively jerked and launched the poor thing onto the floor by the far wall. She’s been a lot more skittish with me since then.

              3. Michelle*

                I used to be a non-drinker, and had some friends who were very unsupportive and pushy about trying to get me to drink. Two of them were getting married — an outdoor wedding — and at the reception they insisted it would be rude of me to refuse champagne for the toast. I tried to get Sprite, but I was young and everyone kept saying I was being rude, so I accepted the glass. And then, in the middle of the toast, a huge caterpillar dropped from an over-hanging tree directly into my glass. Everyone was convinced I somehow did it on purpose, but it got me out of drinking the champagne!

            3. Working Hypothesis*

              My dad told me a story decades ago about a small airplane that was forced to make an emergency landing because it was hit squarely on the windshield by a codfish… at several hundred feet up!! An eagle had evidently caught the fish and dropped it while flying it away to its nest. The insurance claim report for that incident must have been epic.

                1. Working Hypothesis*

                  Oh wow, not small at all then! I think I mentally inserted that part myself, assuming it must have been; now that I see the article, I’m remembering that my dad may have just said it was a plane. :)

    1. Supernonymous*

      I once had a leaf blower fall on my head. Indoors. While I was getting a roll of toilet paper for the public bathroom. I had a concussion that took months to clear up. And this was not a business that sold or bought leaf blowers, it was just the leaf blower we had for our own leaf blowing needs.

      I had to remind staff multiple times after that not to put the leaf blower on top of that cabinet…..

      1. Penny Hartz*

        Omg, after the leaf blower fell and gave someone a concussion, other employees STILL had to be reminded not to put it on a cabinet? Yikes. I hope you are all right and have fully healed!

      2. Awesome Sauce*

        A former co-worker had one of those roll-up projector screens come loose from its mounts and fall on their head once. Needless to say it was a topic of discussion at the workplace OSH committee meetings for months afterward.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          I once had a bookshop browsing session rudely interrupted by a shelf that was overloaded with calendars crashing to the floor and (mostly) missing my feet. If I’d been closer or wearing less sturdy boots, I would have definitely broken something.

        2. MigraineMonth*

          I was helping my college theater department tear down their set when one of the large theater lights fell off the catwalk and hit the set. Fortunately I was under the set at the time, but it became a real teachable moment about how the (extremely expensive) lights should never be left on the catwalk.

          1. Princesss Sparklepony*

            That sounds like a murder mystery plot! Was there anyone underneath the area that was hated by someone….

        3. Rob aka Mediancat*

          I had a toilet paper dispenser land on my left foot — one of those jumbo public restroom sized dispensers. It literally came off the wall when I tried to get some paper. I limped for a week.

          1. Ann Onymous*

            My mom was in a public restroom when the cover fell off the big toilet paper dispenser and hit her in the head.

        4. Susan Ivanova*

          I was at just the right time and place to catch a glass shelf full of collectibles in a shop once when the shelf support collapsed. If I’d tried to move, all the breakables would’ve fallen off it, so I was stuck there until the shop employees noticed. My mom was in line so she didn’t see me until later, and she was all “why did you do that? You could’ve gotten cut by the glass shelf” but it was just reflex.

        5. lailaaaaah*

          We have digital display screens in every classroom and hall in our school except one, where the teacher has adamantly refused (it’s the chapel, he thinks it would be sacreligious). Last week, when I was setting up the projector screen he has instead, it collapsed and almost landed on a group of students. I think the teacher in question has started to see the benefits of the display screen idea now.

      3. FairestCat*

        Concussions are the worst!

        It was as a volunteer rather than as an employee, but last December I managed to give myself a concussion trying to shove a resentful tomcat into a carrier, and I’m still dealing with the aftereffects.

    2. Tiffany Aching*

      I also have a fish story from a non-fish-related business! As a student I worked in my university’s library at the circulation desk, and on the last day before winter break of my freshman year, another student came in with a beta fish in a bowl. He said that as the dorms were closing for the break and he was flying home, he needed to do something with this pet fish and he’d heard that “the library takes fish.”
      I was so confused about what to do but the other student employee at the desk — a senior who’d worked in the library for years — just shrugged and took the fish.
      When our supervisor came back from her lunch she was flabbergasted [the library also closed during the break, so it’s not like anyone would be there to take care of the fish]. Going forward it was a part of new employee training that library does not, in fact, take fish.

      1. Coenobita*

        I volunteered at my local library when I was in high school, and one of my (self-assigned) duties was to take care of the beta fish at the children’s desk! I’m pretty sure the fish was brought in on purpose, though, and not just left there by a patron.

        1. Artemesia*

          What are the odds that someone in a library that was assumed to take fish would post in a column read by someone with a library that does have a beta fish?

          1. Chase*

            Higher than you think, actually! (From another library worker whose library hosts a beta fish who lives at the children’s desk.)

          2. Mimi*

            I think it must be pretty common for libraries to have fish (even though you’d think tanks of water would not be desirable). My library when I was a kid had beta fish at the children’s desk, too.

      2. Mr. Shark*

        Haha, I can imagine years down the road when someone is reading the employee handbook and it says, “The library does not take fish” and being blown away by how ridiculous that is!

        1. Artemesia*

          Don’t use the hairdryer while sleeping. You know there is a story and lawsuit behind that warning.

          1. Princesss Sparklepony*

            I’m thinking that might have come about when those portable inflatable bonnet type hairdryer units were popular. You set your hair in curlers, popped on the bonnet that looked like a big shower cap, and turned on the unit which blew air (hot or cold depending on the dial) into the bonnet to dry your hair. The blower unit was portable so you could grab it and walk around a bit. Not a lot since there was still a plug attached, but it wasn’t like the old ones in the beauty salon that were stationary or the ones that were smaller units that looked like domes when packed up. The hard ones would have been harder to fall asleep under but it could be done, though you would likely slump down if you fell asleep and it would just blow hot air on the top of your head maybe…

            1. Retired (but not really)*

              The bonnet ones made it possible to actually sleep with brush rollers in your hair!

          2. Rufus Bumblesplat*

            My sister took a train where there was a notice by the power sockets. It said that you were welcome to plug in and charge your phone or laptop, but please no hair dryers or toasters. She really wanted to know the story behind that one!

            1. Frequent Traveler*

              It’s almost certainly about how much power could be provided by the outlet, much like the “Electric shaver only” plugs in many hotels.

        2. BeckyinDuluth*

          My sister literally just told me a story about how they aren’t allowed to touch cats at work (she works in a large manufacturing plant with big doors, so sometimes animals get in) because once three years ago someone got scratched getting a cat out, it got infected, and then it became an OSHA reportable injury because they needed antibiotics. So now, no one is allowed to touch the cat. Which is walking on the product leaving cat prints, and otherwise living in the plant…no Animal Rescue in the area, and no advice from HR on what they are supposed to do with the cat that is living there.

          1. Jennifer Juniper*

            I would have been OK until I saw that cat.

            Then I would have picked up a towel or something and scooped the cat up for loves and pettings.

          2. LittleMarshmallow*

            Manufacturing plants often have pest control that would take care of that. If they don’t, I’m sure they could hire a one time pest control tech to trap the kitty and remove it from the premises. Also… we had the same rule at our plant for a similar incident…

        3. Ben*

          I am reminded of something I once heard from an aeronautical engineer – ‘every single stupid, redundant warning you see in the handbook is there because someone actually did that once.’

      3. Anne of Green Gables*

        I am laughing so hard at this! I can see this exact thing happening at my workplace–expect my library is at a community college with no housing. But a student just taking a fish and it ending up in the handbook, yup!

      4. bamcheeks*

        Ahh, this is lovely. Some of the rules you have to come up with when you work with students are brilliant.

        I worked as an RA during my postgrad degree, living in a halls of residence with about 800 undergraduates. I came home one day to find about 300 people having a party in the quad (the square grass space formed by buildings on three sides), including one guy who was juggling fire– clubs, bucket of propellent, actual fire, several hundred drunk undergraduates, including a girl standing near him who was saying, “no, seriously, can I just try? I just want a quick go!”

        I went over to him and introduced myself as the RA, and asked him to … not juggle fire. He was terribly polite and caught his clubs and said earnestly, “Oh — is is not allowed?” And I answered very honestly, “I’m not sure we’ve ever technically banned it, but we’re VERY strict on barbecues, so I’m sort of — extrapolating.”

        Fortunately, he decided that was good enough and took his BUCKET OF PETROL and FIRE away from all the drunk people. I am not quite sure what my second line would have been if hadn’t.

        1. bamcheeks*

          (Also I have just looked up “fuel for juggling fire” and apparently the Circus and Aerial Industry Blog is very strict that you should use kerosene/paraffin for juggling fire, not petrol, so I apologise for the inaccuracy.)

          1. Florp*

            I confess I was totally going to look that up. That right there is some miscellaneous research catnip.

          2. MelR*

            Yes, I was about to say that if he was actually using petrol, you probably stopped him just in time before things got crispy.

        2. Penguin-on-Fire*

          Safety 3rd as they say!
          In pre-pandemic times I would help fire safety for the fire spinners and props people at a few burn and festival events and the vast majority are pro safety.

          The main event I would volunteer for had rules around sobriety, fiber content of clothes you’re wearing and mandatory attendance to the safety meeting. Everyone abided by the rules and the most push back we ever got was people who missed the safety meeting even though it was posted that you had to attend it you wanted to spin conclave.

          Although this juggler sounds like he didn’t have a perimeter, safety or a proper dump station.

          1. Dragon_Dreamer*

            For those who wonder at the “fiber content” thing, we have the same rules for our English Civil War re-enactment group. We shoot muskets and cannons with black power. Basically, you have to have natural fibers when working with anything flammable.

            Natural fibers (wool, silk, cotton, linen, etc) smolder. Synthetics (polyester, spandex, etc) MELT. I’d rather have the smoldering cloth I can put out quickly next to my skin than the napalm of melted plastic.

            1. Nobby Nobbs*

              Apparently there is DRAMA in online knitting circles regarding whether you have to take into account “what happens if the baby catches on fire” when choosing yarn for a baby blanket, for this very reason.

              1. The Prettiest Curse*

                My mum does not knit, but this sounds exactly like the kind of thing she would worry about!

                And I suppose the online knitting community needed a new controversy now that the debate over knitting hats for the Women’s March has passed.

                1. ADHSquirrelWhat*

                  oh no, the drama about whether or not one can knit acrylic for the baby is a long-standing one. pretty much since the dawn of acrylic yarn, I’d assume.

                  personally, I figure anything that’s handwash only around babies is just asking for it, but hey, that’s just me!

                2. pancakes*

                  The Prettiest Curse, I’m not a knitter, but after reading a lengthy New Yorker article about Ravelry, I think that debate is still going in some corners of the internet.

              2. BubbleTea*

                My baby was recently diagnosed with eczema and is using some pretty heavy duty emollients. I’m very sad that it means I can’t take him to any Guy Fawkes Night bonfires. Too flammable :(

                1. batcat71*

                  aw! what if baby on fire became part of the celebrations? ohh.. saying that out loud, please ignore me. ^-^

            2. Penguin-on-Fire*

              Yup! I’d rather deal with wool sweater fuzzies catching and putting themselves out rather than potential burn with plastic.

              We’ve told people as counter intuitive as it is it’s better to go out in your birthday suit than in you spangled short shorts and sequin top if those are your only options.

            3. Pennyworth*

              Actually, cotton burns quite briskly, or at least a cotton shirt does. I have no experience with cotton sweaters.

              1. Anya*

                Synthetics burn at a higher temp, but usually melt before they ignite. Even if they don’t actually catch fire, the melt of the fabric can mess you up pretty bad. Natural fibers ignite at a lower temp, but they also tend to burn faster and will do less harm to your body than synthetics.

                Then there’s the toxicity factor – natural fibers burn pretty clean, while synthetics are mostly plastic based. Plastics release some nasty stuff when they melt/burn.

                Of course, trying to find ethically sourced natural fiber clothing that is affordable and sustainable is a trick unto itself.

                1. Artemesia*

                  Back in the days of panty house people were cautioned to not wear them in circumstances where fires might occur.

              2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

                Sure, but cotton won’t try to melt and adhere to your skin while it burns like synthetics will. Synthetics came from goo, and will happily be goo again while also being on fire (and stuck to you).

              3. Drtheliz*

                The key is *how* it burns – a cotton shirt will burn up “whole” and you can yank it off yourself in a panic. A plastic one will melt to your skin, *then* burn.

                My school got a bit lax about apron rules in cooking class and tried jack o lanterns once. Kid leaned forward and lit his nylon t-shirt on fire. They tightened up the rules *real* fast after that, and you could see bandages under his collar for six months.

              4. RebelwithMouseyHair*

                Yes. In fact the very worst is a mix of cotton, to burn briskly, with plastic, that’ll then melt all the more quickly.
                And by plastic, we mean all synthetic fibres polyester polyamide acrylic nylon lycra spandex elastane creora gore-tex and all other fancy sounding fabrics.
                Get everybody in any given group to remove all synthetic fabrics from their body, and most people will end up very indecent if not stark naked (except me).

                1. Kal*

                  I have temperature regulation issues, so I try to find cotton clothes for almost everything so sweat can evaporate and heat can escape, but unfortunately because I have a female-shaped body, all of my shit is mixed with elastane. For some clothes it makes sense, but it is rather ridiculous how hard it is to find clothes for a female body that don’t have any synthetics in them at all. Like, even things that are supposed to be pretty shapeless somehow still have random synthetics added to the mix. Given the amount of downsides to synthetic fabrics, especially synthetic blends, it sucks how hard it can be to not have your home filled with synthetics.

          2. Admin of Sys*

            Oh, gosh, I wish my group had those sort of things. I was always the one trying to enforce perimeters and such w/ no help from my fellow burners. I finally left the group when one of the poi guys showed up on shrooms.

            1. Penguin-on-Fire*

              I got lucky in that at my first event the group running conclave was of the mindset “Safety 1st, 2nd and 3rd”, so I’ve always adopted that stance when doing perimeter or safety. We also basically showed up and said that we wanted to help fire safety for any events they ran which they loved because a group of 6 promised to show up sober and work one of the most boring jobs of the burn, perimeter.

              We now have a theme camp who’s focus is fire safety. We’ll come safety your theme camps event if you find us before beer o’clock. If you need help setting perimeter or need experienced safeties for conclave we promise to be there sober with our best duvees.

          3. DataSci*

            The one time I saw a friend juggling fire he had another friend – both of them completely sober – doing nothing but watching with a wet wool blanket to dump on him if he or anything else that shouldn’t be on fire caught fire. Even dry wool will take a long time to catch fire – wet wool will smother a small flame.

          4. Freya*

            I once saw a fire spinner set his own loincloth on fire while spinning the fire thingies. In retrospect, I’m glad that all of us drunk people abided by the perimeter requirements he set…

        3. KoiFeeder*

          You know, this isn’t actually my story, but I do hope that having to confiscate all the cleaning supplies out of my dorm after my roommate made mustard gas in the shared bathroom was the most unreasonable thing she had to do in her job.

          (student services decided that putting the germaphobe with the person with severely damaged intestines was a great idea, because we were both requesting a single for medical reasons. it was not a great idea.)

          1. calonkat*

            I always knew not to mix ammonia and bleach, but didn’t know that was literally mustard gas! I love learning things while being entertained (and I’ve had roommates like that as well).

            1. Worldwalker*

              It isn’t. Just chorine/chloramine gas, which is lethal enough in its own right, but it’s a different thing from mustard gas.

            2. Jennifer Juniper*

              I actually did that one time in college. I had the bright idea of cleaning the bathroom with bleach and cleanser at the same time. I started coughing, of course, but wasn’t in pain, so kept on cleaning the bathroom. Dad heard me hacking away, said “What the hell’s going on?” and shooed me out posthaste over my protests.

            3. Princesss Sparklepony*

              Two common household products mixed together make chloroform… Not that you would ever have need of that information………………………….. bleach and acetone.

            4. JustSomeone*

              My partner’s boss actually offered this as an honest-to-goodness sanitization tip during the very early days of covid when no one really knew what was going on and hand sanitizer/sanitizing wipes were impossible to get! At a mandatory all-employee meeting (small family company) about pandemic response, he suggested mixing ammonia and bleach to kill covid germs. My partner tells me he slowly raised his hand and strongly encouraged his coworkers not to do that.

              1. Splendid Colors*

                The macho young grad student TAs in a graduate biology class decided it was a good idea to mix bleach and detergent to clean contaminated glassware. I was less than tactful telling them to move stuff to a fume hood and evacuate the lab. They particularly didn’t want to hear it from a dorky middle-aged woman (returning student).

                Guess who got written up by the department? Yeah, not the ones who could’ve killed a bunch of students. The one who was insubordinate.

                So grateful I got out of that hellhole university.

          2. Your local password resetter*

            Thats an interesting train of logic from the services. The solution to problems that need extra space is to cram all the problems together and hope they cancel each other out?

            1. KoiFeeder*

              I should point out that it was functionally impossible to get an actual single unless you had an accompanying mobility disorder because all the students with disabilities were generally placed in the oldest resident hall, which was not ADA-compliant. So the “single” room that we got was basically one of the two person rooms with two walls shoved in to make “two singles” so small you had to turn sideways to squeeze past the bed, and a “common room” with the rest of the furniture.

            2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

              It’d be so that the people with problems that make them miserable only make each other miserable.

          3. MigraineMonth*

            Isn’t that chlorine gas, rather than mustard gas?

            Unfortunately, creating chlorine gas is common when using bleach + any acid (vinegar, ammonia, chlorine, etc).

            1. KoiFeeder*

              I was told it was mustard gas, but you’re right that it was far more likely to be chlorine gas.

              Either way, I had just come back from class and wasn’t allowed back into my dorm for six more hours.

        4. ladonnapietra*

          I once ran an NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates program at a university in Idaho, and after the third year, I had to implement a “No driving to Alaska” policy. The short version: a lot of people from the East Coast do not realize 1) just how big Western states are, and 2) just how far you have to drive, including going through Canada, to get to Alaska.

          1. SweetFancyPancakes*

            A friend’s wife once insisted that you cannot drive to Alaska because it is an island. Then pulled out the US map from her planner (showing the time zones) to prove it- both Hawaii and Alaska were depicted in little boxes because, you know, they are not contiguous with the rest of the 48…

          2. K_TX*

            We had this same rule for our REU at my university in Texas except it was a “no undergrads using the department truck to drive to Mexico” policy. The main PI was sending 18-19 year olds to do field research driving trucks by themselves. This was ‘how they did it in the old days’ and they never told any admin or risk management until there was a accident and the university had to fly students back.

            We also had to have a vice provost come in and explain to all of our faculty that you could not try and skirt around the compliance/materials transfer paperwork for transporting samples to another university by having a grad student (who had been in the country for less than a year) take 5 buses to Illinois over a 24 hour period while holding a box of bacteria samples IN THEIR LAP, letting them stay in a co-PIs house for not one full night, and then asking them to take another 5 buses back. Our now former graduate chair thought it was fine because “the PI wanted to save money on flying the student there”, and “they don’t have time to worry about paperwork to do every little thing”

            1. Splendid Colors*

              I voluntarily brought my C. elegans cultures with me over winter break once while I was house-sitting. I needed to get away from school for a week, but didn’t want to restart my research after my cultures starved while nobody was there to take care of them. (I found out the hard way that my research results are inconsistent unless I pamper the heck out of my critters.) I brought my lab’s microscope, a bunch of agar plates, my tool to move nematodes, an alcohol lamp, and the cultures.

              One of the many improbably convenient features of C. elegans as a research subject is that their favorite growth temperature is 68F. So I just set the house thermostat to 68F (this is super reasonable in the San Jose area in winter) and every day I’d set up the microscope and transfer a quota of nematodes on a fresh plate.

      5. MusicWithRocksIn*

        I wonder if this was just one collage student playing a prank by telling this one kid that the library took fish – or if it was a rumor that got out of hand like the ‘if your roommate commits suicide then you pass all your classes’ thing.

        1. JB*

          I’ll bet it was someone else he was trying to foist the fish off on who just told him that to get him to leave them alone.

            1. Mad Harry Crewe*

              We did get to do that in high school once. The band teacher’s wife was pregnant and they had to deal with some kind of emergency. We were all loitering outside the band room wondering what to do until the school’s security guy rolled up on his bike and was like “What are you doing, get outta here before they find a substitute” and we all bailed. It was an open campus and you could have a free period in your schedule, so having students wandering around during class time was unremarkable.

          1. Overgraduate*

            There were some good ones at a university in my city, that’s about 500 years old.

            Supposedly a student once demanded a glass of port in the middle of an exam, as was his right under the university code.
            Then when he left the exam he was fined for not wearing a sword.

      6. Language Lover*

        When I’ve worked the front desk at a library, it’s amazing what people tell us they heard the library does or offers. This is probably the most unusual. At the same time, I’m not the least bit surprised.

      7. (Witty Name)*

        Ooh! Beta fish story here, too. I was in fundraising for a human services nonprofit. We had an annual gala, chaired by a rotating series of volunteers that were always very well off women of a certain type. One year, the chosen theme was something tropical. The chosen centerpieces included vases filled w sliced tropical fruits- not sure how to describe them but they were pretty. However!! When you’re raising funds to support food insecure people… not a good look. Not horrific in and of itself but not a great visual. BUT! The same women who chose those centerpieces also thought it would be awesome to add ambiance by having bowls with beta fish on the bars and in other areas. One bartender hid the bowls part way through the night because more than one drunk attendee tried to eat one. And then came the end of the night- when the event committee had no idea what to do with these living creatures they were using as decor. Yup. We’re breaking down the room and there are the fish. With nowhere to go. Staff ended up adopting them. My 3 year old son loved Spider-Man, who lived happily in his room for several years… but WTF. This event led to an official policy of 1) not wasting usable food as decor and 2) never, ever using living creatures as decor. Can’t believe it had to be made official.. yet… I can.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          I was picturing a fruit bouquet, which is silly but edible. *Throwing away the tropical fruit centerpiece* would not have occurred to me.

          1. (Witty Name)*

            The fruit was sliced and arranged inside vases. (To be fair it was pretty to look at). But the fruit was then unusable…

            1. Jennifer Juniper*

              I wouldn’t be surprised if one or more of the guests simply upended a vase or reached in it to get the fruit.

        2. MusicWithRocksIn*

          Can confirm that drunk people will dare each other to swallow a live fish. One of my mom’s friends threw a Luau once (they all worked radio, not a normal mom friend type of party) where they used fish as centerpieces, and a ton of them were swallowed whole that night.

      8. just passing through*

        I am a fish person (it’s the only pet my lease allows!), and I would absolutely have just accepted the free new fish and taken it home. Although it’s just occurred to me that he may have wanted it back…?

      9. Candace*

        Wow. Sounds like my library – we had a fish left behind on a desk, with a note that said “Please take care of this fish. His name is Andre. He is a nice fish.” We did, actually, and Andre lived happily in the Library for a few years till he died of fishy old age.

      10. MM*

        Ha. My aunt was a university professor for decades. One year she accepted a student’s fish to watch over break, and the fish did unfortunately die. For her retirement party at LEAST 30 years later, my cousin collected testimonials from former students, and this student–who had in the meantime gone on to be a very successful published author–accused her of killing his fish in his letter. (It was a joke, which was entirely in keeping with his whole authorial style and brand. No one took it amiss at all.)

      1. Siege (The other one)*

        Ha! Okay, I’m not losing my mind. I saw your posts and had a brief crisis of “wait did I sleep post that or something?”

    3. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      My favorite part of this is the last sentence “we’re not a fish-related business” :)

    4. machinedreams*

      This is me joining Team Fish Story. By proxy, because it’s actually a friend’s story.

      She worked the customer service desk at Walmart for a while. One day, she had a customer come in and throw a goldfish at her. This was not a Walmart that sold goldfish. (Back when they actually did.)

        1. machinedreams*

          Near as I can remember — because it’s been fifteen years now, at least — she was the lucky employee that had the misfortune of helping this guy when something was wrong. He had a return, she wouldn’t let him do it because it was outside the return policy and it wasn’t a return because it was damaged or anything like that, and he was being a jerk and a half so she REALLY wasn’t inclined to see if there was anything she could do.

          His response was not to ask for a manager, no. That would’ve been normal and she would’ve been like “Okay, lemme get them for you.” No, THAT’S where the goldfish-flinging came in.

          1. Siege (The other one)*

            Wha???? Did he have it just, like, on his person? Just come from the country fair???

  4. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    Cover for a philandering boss. Did so as best as I could. Given the unusual circumstances, I couldn’t do so fully.

    Pirate professional software. NO ****** WAY.

    Write a phony performance report, that was designed to get someone fired. NO ****** WAY.

      1. La Triviata*

        I once got involved in a weeks-long struggle with someone who insisted that I had to share some expensive software with her so the organization wouldn’t have to pay for her to get her own copy. She won. sigh ….

        1. Worldwalker*

          That is a hill I would die on.

          I’m a small software company. How can I expect anyone to respect my IP if I don’t respect others?

      2. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        When I went to work for a software vendor, we got very uptight about people doing that. Obviously.

      3. Sharpie*

        I kinda misread it as ‘professional pirate software’ and wondered what on earth program Jack Sparrow needs.

        1. Working Hypothesis*

          There are plenty of professional maritime management suites for ships’ captains. You just need to modify it slightly to add features that track incoming plunder, crew wounds, etc. And distribution of loot instead of payroll ought to be a slightly tweaked feature because the amounts are handled differently; it’s on a percentage of profit system.

          1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

            Percentage of profits is quite common in fishing, so there’s surely software for that…

      4. many bells down*

        I’ve been asked to pirate video for events (not by my boss, but by members who want to hold said events). I work for a CHURCH.

        1. Liane*

          Doesn’t surprise me. Years ago a friend who was a member of the LDS church played an animated story from the Book of Mormon for my kids, with my okay. Friend pointed out the unique anti-piracy PSA: after the standard “copying is a crime…FBI…Interpol” warning was “set a good example for your children, be honest like [Book of Mormon Figure].”

      5. AnonInCanada*

        Why is the “Don’t Copy That Floppy” jingle from the early 90’s now stuck in my head? Thank you, philandering boss!

      1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        Generally, different places – but pirating, was asked to do that at a couple of places.

        Phony performance reports – one was at one place, to get someone fired, I refused to do it because it was wrong and it was due to malfunctioning equipment, not the person’s hands on that machine’s keyboard.

        The other was to do an assessment on a project, and I was ordered to “write it this way”. I resigned. They then called me back and worked a compromise – I would be allowed to do the study “straight” – I would leave the report on the director’s desk and she could accept it or just shred it. But don’t ask me to lie.

        1. Napkin Thief*

          For some reason, I originally interpreted 2 & 3 as being part of the unusual circumstances that led to 1 being less than fully successful. I don’t know if it’s better or worse for you that the terrible was spread across different places, but it made for some entertaining headcanon!

      1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        The first time – way back in the 70s – no, it wasn’t my management that asked me to do that. It was someone in a remote office – long story but I was completely in control of the situation and my own managers said I did the right thing, The second – it was in a politically charged place and the director had decided that a project from another division would not go through. So I was asked to write a report “this way” and put my name on it.

        I refused. My immediate manager said “you can get yourself into trouble” and I said “no, I quit. You have my home phone number if you want to discuss this. I’ll be at the house.”

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          Oh yes, I saw your comment above about it. Did you agree to the compromise? Good for you for quitting over that!!

          1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

            Yes. And ironically, the study I did – HONESTLY – said what the boss wanted it to say. Our systems couldn’t handle the software needed to support the project.

    1. Rich H*

      I got asked to pirate software for someone at work once.

      I had to point out that I’m a developer … someone who writes software to earn a living.

      I’m still not sure if they understood why asking me was a bad idea.

    2. Sparkles McFadden*

      Pirate professional software…ugh.

      I was asked to load company software on company hardware and sneak the computer out of the building to give to an employee who has been fired. She was a friend of my boss and the boss “didn’t want her to go away empty handed.” I said no and explained why. My boss said she was calling HR because she was going to fire me for insubordination. I told her “OK. That should be an interesting meeting.” I was kind of disappointed that she gave up at that point.

      1. tangerineRose*

        This was so wrong! And why didn’t the boss do it herself? Was she setting you up or afraid she might get caught?

        1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

          In the corporate world, people in high places often order nefarious activities in the enterprise.

          But they’re often careful enough to shield themselves from consequences. When the s**t hits the fan, it’s everyone for him (or her)-self. If and when that occurs, those who were directed to perform dirty deeds will often be forced to take the blame, and the ones who directed the action will likely “skate”.

        1. pancakes*

          Also a lawyer, not IP though I did work on a freelance project at an IP firm for a little over a year, also kind of horrified. I think this is a red flag. PootyBootToots, I have a feeling that if you’re reasonably good at what you do, you could be making more for it at a firm that isn’t staggeringly cheap!

  5. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    Be the girlfriend of the manager’s son, because he was 26 and had never had a girlfriend and was shy/socially awkward and needed a relationship to get him out of severe depression.

    No. I didn’t do it.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        This was decades ago, I think maybe around 2002, I’m pretty sure I just murmured something about being more into women (I’m pansexual). Did leave that firm eventually.

        1. Storm in a teacup*

          Decades ago = 2002 (*o*)
          I feel old
          And now sad
          And binge eating the popcorn I’d grabbed for this thread

        2. Required (Name)*

          DECADES ago? That was 19 years! WWII was decades ago. The civil war was decades ago. 2002 was a blip ago.

          1. Yep I'm Old*

            Well, in one year, it would be considered more than one decade. I’ll go eat my feelings now that I feel super old.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      Based on the posts I’ve seen you make, if you wrote a book about your life, I’d buy it.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        From 2000-2020 it would…be rather depressing to be honest. And there’s a lot of times where I was the one in the wrong.

        1. Zelda*

          Carrie Fisher got some entertaining writing out of several of the effin’ train wrecks that happened in her life. And we’ve seen evidence that you are quite the good writer. Just sayin’.

    2. EPLawyer*

      Prettttty suuuuuure that is illegal.
      And kinda sad. I feel for the kid. If he found out his parent did this, it probably did not help his depression.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        My 20s and early 30s were….eventful. Actually was thankful when I hit 40 and things seemed to calm down a bit. Late 40s means I’m generally settled and less likely to take any crud.

        1. Miss Muffet*

          the best part of getting older, imo! My give-shitability is getting lower by the year and it’s wonderful.

          1. Slow Gin Lizz*

            Same. My current LL is giving me crap about moving out b/c apparently it says in my lease that I am not allowed to move out between Sept-Apr. Well, not apparently, it does say that in my lease. And I’m like, well, I’m moving out in Dec, whaddya gonna do, evict me? (I mean, yes, he could come after me for the $$ but I live in a state where tenants’ rights are much stronger, thank goodness. Limiting the times someone can move when they’re in a month-to-month rent is truly a dick move.)

            Were this 15 years ago I would be super scared of him coming after me but now I’m like, go ahead, jerkface. See how judges like your weird tenancy rules.

            1. Working Hypothesis*

              Especially limiting the times when somebody can move out **to less than half of the year**. It would be one thing if it was like “No moving out in the week between Christmas and New Year’s, because we don’t have the staff on hand to process relevant paperwork that week.” But that’s ridiculous.

              1. Slow Gin Lizz*

                Thank you. That is what everyone I talk to is saying (except the lawyers, who of course refuse to comment on that part of it). The idea I guess is that it’s hard to find renters in the winter, but, um, I moved in in Dec so….

                And we live in a very high demand area. Finding tenants is not a problem unless the place is a total dump, which it isn’t.

            2. Liz*

              I had a similar situation with my last landlord. Let’s just say he was cheap, and well, kind of sexist. Generally a nice guy, but a bit old-fashioned in some of his thinking. So I wanted to move out mid-month. OH NO. that was completely unacceptable. Fine. I’ll pay rent on both for a week or so and move gradually, have time to come back and clean, etc. I also must have told him a hundred times I was moving out on x date, and would be COMPLETELY out and handing in my keys on y date, which gave me a little less than a week for HIM to go in and paint, etc.

              So I have movers coming, and he supposedly had a new tenant. He calls me the night before my movers were coming, to tell me, not ask, if he could bring someone to see the apt, as his other tenant fell through. I said sure, but made sure to mention the movers would be there. He seemed a bit put out, like I was inconveniencing HIM. I just let it go, but today I would have said “its fine as long as you stay out of the way of the movers I hired and PAID for” because he liked to be there to make sure nothing of HIS was damaged.

              This was on a Saturday. Sunday I came back to get some more stuff, and then Monday at lunch. Remember how I said I told him a hundred times the timeline? Well, HE was in there, hard at work painting. And had moved a lot of my stuff, INCLUDING my grandmother’s china, to the middle of the floor. I was pissed. His response was “he thought I was leaving it” in what universe? So I got petty, and took everything, including my stepladder HE was using, and all the paper towels and tp. I came back the following weekend to clean, and he had already painted the baseboards, where I had intended to vacuum up dust that was under furniture. I said eff that, and just left it. This was almost 20 years ago and it STILL makes me mad!

    3. awesome3*

      One of those things that could make a charming romance novel but is absolutely horrifying in real life.

        1. Metadata minion*

          I could see it being a cute story if the son is also not into it and they play along to make dad/boss happy while going on Hilarious Capers of some sort. But they cannot under any circumstances actually hook up.

          1. Your local password resetter*

            We can always introduce a Best Friend on both sides that the other can pair up with. And to tangle the web further for extra complicated Shenanigans.

        2. AcademiaNut*

          That describes quite a lot of romantic comedies, honestly. The ones where I want to scream “run away” to one of the leads, or I’m happy they end up together so no-one else has to put up with their creepy dysfunction.

    4. Meep*

      OMG. The owner was allegedly trying to set up his son with my Toxic Coworker’s daughter. I don’t know how much of that is actually true, because she is a pathological liar and I have heard many a story about how “desirable” she is to men who are clearly being polite.

      The kid was not a bad kid. Just awkward as heck. I drove him home a couple of times while he was interning for us because he didn’t drive. I once asked him what his favorite music genre was and he replied “I don’t know.” Not in an “I like all music” sort of way but in a “I am afraid to share my opinion” sort of way. o.o

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        I did meet the guy once, he was definitely very very nervous about speaking to women but at the same time a ‘well actually’ type. Definitely didn’t find him physically attractive either. (He showed up to work once, this was before my boss made the…ahem..request).

        Basically the complete opposite to the man I have been married to now for over 16 years.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I went out with a boss’s son once when I was in college. It was actually nice; we had a great time. He didn’t live in the same place, so I never saw him again because the boss moved away shortly after that, but if they’d stayed and he’d lived closer and was into it, I probably would have kept seeing him.

          I would NEVER EVER do that now, though.

      2. Tiny Soprano*

        My very first job the boss kept trying to get me to hang out with her son… who I already knew from uni and wouldn’t have gone near with a barge-pole. Now, to be fair that’s a bit more on par for small family-owned businesses, and there weren’t many people in my uni course so I could truthfully say we already ran in the same circles and went to a lot of the same parties. Fortunately that worked. Apparently he’s now entered the manosphere big time so bullet well and truly dodged.

    5. Mary Kay*

      I’m a woman and my female manager asked me in the dead of winter during sub zero temperatures if she could wear my winter hat home. I take public transportation and would be in the cold for a total of about 40 minutes off and on. She wanted to wear my hat because she was going to get a haircut after work and for some reason was getting her hair dried afterwards.

        1. JJ Bittenbinder*

          Yeah, many places charge extra to dry hair. So, she was being cheap AND rude AND abusing her position, most likely.

    6. On the road again …*

      Single mom here – I wasn’t even given gf status! I was told to have s3x with the owners younger brother (also an employee) bc he wasn’t getting enough. Apparently my shocked expression made him think I was on board bc he provided details: at a local hotel, on my lunch hour (and don’t take more than an hour or eat at my desk!) and pay for the room bc poor kid is on 80% commission and has a house to pay for.
      Yeah, no, only job I ever rage quit. On the positive side I had a better offer (in all respects lol) that same day.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        Holy crap. I really hope you — or at least someone, since I don’t think for a second you were the only employee an ass like that was mistreating — sued them for sexual harassment. Doesn’t matter if it’s on somebody else’s behalf; ordering you to do sex work when that isn’t the job you were actually hired for counts, big time.

      2. Caliente*

        OUT! What?! I feel like you should be able to report someone to the police for this- solicitation? Felony insults?
        I would’ve been like Yeah I’m not a sex worker, but you can probably find someone on Craig’s List…?
        And also don’t take more than an hour or eat at your desk?! I am flabber-fucking-gasted right now.

      3. RB Purchase*

        I have a lot to say about a lot of this but it is WILD that in this scenario you weren’t allowed to eat and THEN HAD TO PAY FOR THE ROOM

      4. Your local password resetter*

        Did you smell sulphur in his office? Did he have a strange penchant for spear-fishing and never taking off his hat?

      5. Cera*

        I had the floor supervisor at a factory (not my supervisor) ask me to have s3x with him in the bathroom and when I starred at him in shock he offered to pay me. Later I realized that another (married) office worker did it in order to use his truck. ….. and that’s why she was so upset when I wouldn’t let her use mine.

      6. Despachito*

        What the actual….. what.

        And that is when I thought Keymaster is the winner because there is no way below this line.

        Apparently… there was. I am left speechless.

    7. Thomas*

      I’m a PhD student and my advisor wanted me to pick up working on a piece of code left behind by a prior post-doc.

      The code was totally undocumented, with anemic comments and no version control. It was in C++, which I didn’t know yet and which my boss expected me to learn fully in 2~3 days. The code was about high level quantum semiconductor physics and the professor who’d been supposed to give me and a coworker a course on the subject had refused, so we’d been teaching ourselves from the textbook. I’d been supposed to have a supervisor (my advisor didn’t know how to code so he couldn’t supervise me) but he was too busy for me, so I just didn’t have a supervisor.

      And then to top it all off my advisor forbade me from taking the time to read the code and told me to just “use it like a black box”.

      The code, predictably, turned out to have a very subtle bug which ruined all my attempts at simulations with it. It took months of being yelled at and derided for failing to convince my advisor of this. After which he still said it was my fault. Somehow.

      Oh and this was during the summer, so I was being paid 20hrs/wk with no academic credit. My advisor expected 60-80 hour work weeks out of me.

      1. Beany*

        The setup sounds very familiar to me. I work in computational physics, and code bases with good documentation and proper version control are the exception rather than the norm. Even when starting from a mature code, students & postdocs have to extend and twist them for new situations, and there’s usually no time for documenting these local changes if you’re actually trying to get results in a short timescale.

        I wasn’t expecting the yelling & derision you describe, though. Given how normal this is, senior people I’ve worked with are used to subtle bugs and weeks-long rabbit holes of wasted effort. Your advisor was comically out of touch & you have my sympathy.

        1. MassChick*

          I suspect the yelling and derision was because the advisor didn’t know how to code. And assumed it was easy/trivial

      2. Rachel*

        I have also lived nearly this same situation in my PhD (inherited a project and could never replicate the data, boss tried to kick me out of the program because I clearly was incompetent or lazy, I am not at all a programmer and it took years to figure out that their code was completely wrong).

        You have my sympathies and I hope you graduate and get out soon!

    8. Tyche*

      I wasn’t outright asked/told to date my boss’s son, but it was heavily implied that I should and that my career would’ve gone better if I did. Instead I fell in love with and married someone else, he lost his shit and became an incel and tried to get me fired repeatedly. I didn’t get fired but I didn’t get any promotions. Thankfully not working at that circus anymore.

    9. RB Purchase*

      Something kind of similar happened to me, but thankfully much lower stakes! A supervisor of mine in a big box store wanted me to sleep with a coworker in a different department who I’d been flirty with because he hadn’t had a girlfriend in a few years. She pressured me for a couple of months about it but in my last month, she probably mentioned it every shared shift and he also got progressively flirtier the closer it was to my last day. He asked me on a date during my last week there and I agreed because he was nice and fun but he was kind of a dork and I was moving 1,000 miles away, so I didn’t take it seriously.

      In retrospect, I think she may have told him that I was 100% down to clown – I was NOT. We had one kiss in my car and then he pointed to the backseat and asked me if I was nervous and if it was my first time. We did nothing more after that than the kiss. I was SO glad I was moving across the country a few days later and never had to see him ever again.

      1. RB Purchase*

        Point of clarification – I wasn’t flirty because the dude hadn’t had a girlfriend in a few years, I was flirty because I was a flirt.

    10. Worldwalker*

      Have you submitted that manager for the bad boss competition? Looks like a pretty strong contender.

    11. Zippy*

      I was asked to do this in high school for a developmentally disabled student. By a teacher. I declined.

  6. OrigCassandra*

    This is fairly pedestrian and not funny, but… in my first Real Job(TM), after I wrote a public FAQ list in my off-hours (but about the work I did) that became very popular in the industry, the Big Boss where I worked was at pains to tell me that further such writing was absolutely an acceptable use of my work time.

    He did not, of course, tell me the copyright ramifications of doing the writing on work time — in the US where I am, that lets the company call it “work for hire” and own its copyright.

    I did, because I didn’t know any better then, but when the company got bought out a couple of years after I left, I quietly republished under my own name and the new company didn’t give me any static about it.

    1. Boof*

      hmm. If you write it on your own time, but working at the company really helped you write it (because it was about work you did), not sure you are fully in the clear with owning the copyright either. I think boss was just being nice, not sneaky. But maybe copyright lawyers can weigh in. (And i’m sure it will vary by location)

      1. MistOrMister*

        It sounds like the boss WAS being sneaky. The way I read this, OP did further writing during work hours and then was not able to claim that work because now it was considered to belong to the employer since it was done at work.

          1. Amaranth*

            I read it that OrigCassandra wrote it up in off hours, then the boss loved it and said to go ahead and use work time to continue working on it, so that flipped it to work for hire. I’m not sure Boss was being sneaky so much as clueless – if the company actually filed for copyright then I doubt OC would have been able to repub later. However, I believe Boof is incorrect that using work knowledge to write it would make it work for hire regardless of using work hours — that seems like it would prohibit people from writing about any area of expertise gained through work experience or schooling.

      2. OrigCassandra*

        Big Boss was definitely not being nice. I didn’t put this together at the time, but Big Boss had a history of having employees ghostwrite articles and presentations for him at work, stuff he then put his own name on. Of course he wanted me doing that too.

        When the company got bought and most of its employees laid off, Big Boss’s written and presented output declined to near-zero, and what he did put out there was rehashed. Funny thing about that.

        Here’s what US law says a work for hire is:

        (1) a work prepared by an employee within the scope of his or her employment; or (2) a work specially ordered or commissioned for use as a contribution to a collective work, as a part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, as a translation, as a supplementary work, as a compilation, as an instructional text, as a test, as answer material for a test, or as an atlas, if the parties expressly agree in a written instrument signed by them that the work shall be considered a work made for hire. (17 U.S.C. § 101)

        In my situation, there was no written agreement/instrument (so exit clause 2 stage right), and I had not been tasked with writing anything other than project documentation (which absolutely fits clause 1, no question about it) until Big Boss grinned toothily and said “sure, write professional stuff on company time.”

        1. Boof*

          thanks, the boss’s habit of taking credit for other’s work makes it a lot clearer (to me at least!)

          1. Em*

            Had a similar issue with a jerk boss taking credit for my writing, not in a copyright sense but to our big boss. I was young and in my first year of my professional career and was tasked with writing this massive, very very important report. I couldn’t understand why my jerk boss kept coming back to me with requests for context, background research, and structural edits that sounded like he didn’t even know what he was asking for. I was massively worried that I wasn’t a good enough writer to survive in the field and that I was going to be fired for not meeting my jerk boss’ expectations.

            Turns out, jerk boss was taking my writing and presenting it to big boss as if he had done the research and writing. Which, seeing as how the report was actually HIS job, made sense (he was too busy surfing Amazon during business hours to do any work). When the big boss came back with questions/requests, my jerk boss couldn’t answer them and tried to get what the big boss wanted from me without letting on.

            A question came up about a (correct) decision I had made. Jerk boss was so bad at his job, he thought the decision was wrong and threw me under the bus to big boss who asked me via email to explain what happened. After big boss read my two paragraph email, he apparently recognized my writing style as being the same as the massive report and clued me in.

            Big boss was too classy to tell me directly that he was baffled by jerk boss’ sudden jump in apparent writing skills for this report. He was, however, just classy enough to forward the email chain he’d been having with jerk boss to me to ask me his next question WITH JERK BOSS COPIED. It was a glorious moment and I still have that email saved.

            Jerk boss did not learn from this and made me write my own (FIRST!) employee evaluation – a big no no in our office. Big boss again, instantly recognized that jerk boss hadn’t written it and tore jerk boss a new one.

            Jerk boss is no longer with us and big boss has gotten many well deserved promotions. Huzzah for justice :)

            (I also once had to physically step between jerk boss and a lower-level employee as he was so angry, it looked like he was going to hit the employee. . .)

        2. Worldwalker*

          Given that you wrote the initial part on your own time, the company at best would have owned a derivative work. That can be a real hairball.

      3. Hex Libris*

        Cassandra would likely be in the clear regardless, or tell-all books about working various places, or memoirs that heavily feature work life, or industry-insight books couldn’t exist.

      4. Worldwalker*

        Um … no. No how, no way, not even slightly.

        Copyright covers ownership of the words you write, not the knowledge or experience that enabled you to write them.

    2. Coenobita*

      I clearly scrolled down here too fast after the fish stories, because I definitely read that as “pescatarian” and not “pedestrian”!

  7. middle name danger*

    Not something wildly unrelated to my job, but once I asked for help managing an unreasonable caseload, and then less than a week later when a coworker left, I was handed half of their work on top of my own. Cried in the bathroom then went back to my desk and immediately opened Indeed.

    1. ferrina*

      Oof, yeah. I was once told to run a 4-5 person department by myself. I only had 1 year professional experience, so I while I knew this was a big issue, I was desperate enough for a job that I did it. Even though I definitely made some mistakes, I actually did decently and kept it running, even adding a couple new initiatives. It was almost 4 years until it was properly staffed, at which point the new boss immediately laid me off.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        Working your way out of a job: I did that once, in my twenties. I was brought in as a temp for a firm that had completely dropped the ball on payroll. This was that transitional era when payroll was computerized, but the hours were on paper. Whoever was supposed to be doing the data entry hadn’t been, and they were ridiculously behind. So I came in and entered the data at a furious pace. Once I was caught up, they booted me out the door. I later heard that the owner’s daughter was given the job.

        1. Queen Anon*

          Worked myself out of temp jobs that way at least twice that I remember. They just needed someone long enough to catch up but vastly overestimated the length of time catching up would need. (Or maybe all the employees at both those companies just worked verrrry slowly – who knows!)

          1. Lenora Rose*

            I’ve done that a few times with temp jobs or substitute jobs. But always to the pleasant surprise of the company and good reviews for the next position up, when I did.

            (I’ve also been asked to keep up unreasonably fast paces or commit to nigh impossible tasks at temp jobs so… My conclusion is less that temps or ex-workers were necessarily lazy and more that managers don’t always know what a manageable pace is for the work itself.)

          2. Lady grey*

            Ha, I did that too! I had a temp job at a company that sold medical supplies. It was arranged I would stay there for at least three months. So to start I got several days of training to use their software, and it seemed I would work there for a while.
            The company had just taken over another company that sold incontinence materials. They had sent a paper questionnaire to the customers of this company, to see what kind of product these people used, so they could recommend something from their own stock for them. It was my job to sort through boxes and boxes of questionnaires, scan them and put the scans in the digital files of these customers.
            But, people who are satisfied with a certain pad or diaper often want that specific brand and type, because it works for them. So lots of customers just added the wrapping of their product to the envelope.
            So I went through all the boxes and had to trow away all these packages. I was not supposed to do anything with the wrappings, but throw them away. Bad luck for the elderly customers.
            So I worked as hard and fast as I could, and kept washing my hands a lot, because these wrappings just seemed to smell a bit off. Yuck.
            And then I was finished in two weeks, and was let go.

    2. CaviaPorcellus*

      I relate to this, and I’m sorry it’s so common. I was a caseworker for public welfare programs at the beginning of the pandemic. At one point, every other person in my unit was on 2 week EPSL, leaving me alone to work the ENTIRE unit’s caseload. I was going through 15-16 interviews a day and processing Medicaid applications in between. It was nuts.

      And, yeah, I have a new job now.

    3. Meep*

      Oof. I wish I was as strong as you. We fired a guy my boss didn’t really want to fire (but should have been fired) because my Toxic Coworker didn’t like him (chronic illness, wealthy parents who bought him a house, a wife, not “hot”) and convinced him if he wanted to keep me they would have to fire him (I just wanted them to coach him, man). Because of it, one of the founders left after realizing he was being mistreated. Didn’t matter he was working part-time and the guy fired hadn’t done any work in a month (only uncovered after he left), I was supposed to be doing all their workload because they left because of “me”.

      The only reason I was involved in the first place was that these grown adults 2.5x my age (straight of college) refused to communicate their expectations with me and left me to do it. He was a sexist (I am female), ageist (I was a year younger), elitist (he had a Master’s. I didn’t) prick so it didn’t go over well but they also made it very clear I had no authority over him so why he would listen to me I never know.

      The only benefit I gleaned from it was I could pick up instantly when my Toxic Coworker tried to pit me against the next guy she didn’t like because he wasn’t hot enough.

    4. Loredena Frisealach*

      I am in IT ,and at one point my role was mostly dev but also 2nd level phone support. Only, they were slowly closing the other longer-staffed office and shifting that work to me. Towards the end I was 24×365 support (on a pager!) and caught flak if I was *on vacation* and unreachable. The same manager had a fit if I opted to WFH rather than drive in a snow storm

    5. Ashley*

      Oh, I get that. At Former Employer, the Powers That Be decided to restructure. I had just finished a pretty successful first year as a manager, so they decided to “temporarily” double my staff and triple my client load, because the additional clients were all “small.” I ended up in tears in the VP’s office but somehow managed to make my mega-team reasonably functional, at great cost to my personal health and well-being. As soon as I got that team to the point of functionality, I was informed that I wasn’t putting enough time into my biggest client and that they would be taken away from me. It wasn’t technically a demotion, but I was told I should consider it one. (My senior manager was treated similarly.) The PTB then added the biggest problem client in the department to mine, took away my experienced supervisors, and gave me two brand new supervisors that spent the next 3-4 months in training. I was finally in a financial position to leave when they informed me that they were going to restructure my clients and teams for the 3rd time in two years. I really don’t know if someone there was overly impressed with my abilities or if I had really pissed someone off, but even the Employee Relations rep was shocked at all the turmoil during my exit interview.

    6. Clewgarnet*

      Oh, yeah. I went from second/third line tech support to being one of two people running a country-wide telecoms network. I’d often be in the office for three days at a stretch. I kept a sleeping bag under my desk to snatch an hour of sleep in between crises.

      We finally got a new head of department who actually hired some more engineers – and then promptly fired me for my ‘attitude’. (I was constantly exhausted and my brain-to-mouth filter was shot.) The new engineers talked a good game but didn’t know anything. The company folded six months after I was fired.

  8. pickaduck*

    Not me, but a co-worker, was summoned to our then-CEO’s house in the middle of a work day to dig a grave for his dog.

      1. AnonInCanada*

        I read this as “woof” at first, as in the dog’s barking saying “I’M ALIVE! Don’t bury me!”

        But yeah, WTF is right!

      1. Clorinda*

        I’m guessing big. Really big. A long tall dog, Great Dane or such. Something that needs a grace that would fit a human being, you know.

      2. The Dogman*

        Probably wouldn’t need help for a little dog…

        When my last Bullmastiff died it took three of use to lift her into the car for a trip to the crematoria. She was only 60Kg but they are not holding themselves up for you once they are gone.

        1. Meep*

          It really depends on what kind of person the boss is. I had a former boss who infantilized herself so much that some of the things she expected me to do were ridiculously out of line.

          1. The Dogman*

            This is also true… I loathe those people!

            Asking for help is one thing, demanding servitude is quite another!

        2. Rose*

          I find it interesting youre assuming the manager is some kind of reasonable logical person who would only ask for help if necessary. You are FAR more generous than me.

          1. The Dogman*

            Lol, not usually that generous, but I suppose most of the people I deal with are decent humans who want the best for their dogs…

            I have nearly forgotten much of the managerial nonsense I too suffered under in the corporate world.


        1. Jean (just Jean)*

          Oops that was supposed to be below Guin’s comment. Not trying to steal credit intended for pugsnbourbon!

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      Okay, that makes the person who wanted their colleagues to donate so they could give their dog a Viking funeral look positively reasonable. At least they weren’t expecting anyone to build a pyre (at least, from what I remember of that post.)

    2. EvilQueenRegina*

      One job I had involved coordinating a handyperson scheme. This one time, a woman booked someone to fit a cat flap. So far, so good, until after that job was done she then came out with a request for a coffin for a DEAD cat. The coffin was not built, but a while afterwards the same woman rang up asking for something else altogether to be done, but the guys were suspicious of the request and rang her back – she confessed she really wanted the cat coffin again. She was told that we were not cat undertakers.

      1. Artemesia*

        For our last cat, I used the hot bag pizzas come in as her coffin. The pizza guy left it and although I called and told them I had and to get it they never did and so when the time came, it was a nice container for dear departed cat.

  9. Emi*

    When I was relatively new/junior, the facility director asked if my team could magically see our way to changing our independent analysis just because it looked bad for them. I looked at the team lead in a panic but she had gotten pulled into a side conversation right before that, so I just looked back at the director and said “NO.”

    1. A Poster Has No Name*

      Man, I get this literally all the time. Not quite so blunt, but we do an analysis on the performance of a product and then product team comes back asking for narrower and narrower slices in an effort to find a story that works for them.

      Sorry folks, the data is the data.

    2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      I was asked to change the tone of a translation once. It was a set of accounts for a lawsuit, apparently the gardener at a chateau in the south of France had started getting uppity after finding out that he was being paid less than minimum wage. The accounts were about his alleged behaviour, hanging out with the castle owner’s wife, doing yoga with her by the pool, behaving more like a house guest than an employee and we were asked to make it all sound worse in the translation than in the source text. Sorry no.

      And the woman who turned up with a torn piece of paper who claimed that the scribbled Arabic text on it was a letter from her lawyer stating how much she was entitled to according to her father’s will, oh and could we just add a zero to the amount in the translation because the lawyer got it wrong? Hell no!

  10. Alex*

    My boss (at the time) asked me to be in charge of his young children (preschool aged) at our family-friendly office holiday party, so that he could drink and have a good time. His wife was unable to attend, so what was he SUPPOSED to do???

    (I said no.)

    1. Frideag Dachaigh*

      Sort of related but as a teenager I was working at a respite program for adults with disabilities. One time the director decided to drop off his four elementary school aged kids with us, a group of under staffed, mostly teenage volunteers, to go spend the evening with his wife (not the biological mother of the kids) and their baby, and have us to babysit them. He didn’t tell anyone he was doing this, few of us had met him (he had just started a few weeks earlier), and no one had met his kids. He didn’t last much longer.

      1. Artemesia*

        if he has contacted you first and also offered extra pay, you might have gone for it — but he just shows up and dumps the kids?

        1. JSPA*

          1. Seems unlikely that a place licensed for adult respite care would have the insurance, the screening or the set-up to handle babysitting kids.

          2. Just, no.

    2. SeluciaMD*

      I have a similar-ish story! When I was a teenager, my first “real” job was working at a chain restaurant as a hostess. Our GM and Floor Manager were married to eachother and had five kids. They would regularly ask me to babysit their kids – at their house, an hour away – instead of working my shift. But it was the restaurant that paid me for the time, not them. I was 16 and although it felt weird, both managers assured me it was fine and I liked babysitting and didn’t know any better so I just went with it.

      That was just the tip of the iceberg for these people – they were shady AF. So much so that they ended up getting fired for embezzling from the restaurant and an unrelated theft. Because of the way I got weirdly looped in to that drama (they were trying to pin the theft part on me – long story), once the truth came out, the regional manager was so aghast at how I’d been treated that he got me some nice severance pay (even though I’d quit several weeks before) and offered to hire me back with a huge raise and the ability to work at any other location I wanted. I took the money and declined the job offer. I was definitely too trusting and naive at that point in my life, but I wasn’t THAT naive LOL.

      1. JSPA*

        Them having the restaurant pay your babysitting hours was already embezzling, on their part! What ELSE were they stealing / misappropriating (besides your time / the cost of your time)?

    3. pancakes*

      The summer between high school and college I had a job canvassing door-to-door for an environmental group, and one woman whose door I knocked on insisted I watch her daughter for a bit while she ran an important errand. I’m an only child and had never babysat before in my life and was really uncomfortable with the idea of being responsible for her kid, but her babysitter canceled at the last minute and mom was clearly desperate. I suppose she thought I looked trustworthy? Or didn’t have much choice. This was pre-internet. She insisted, so I read the kid a story and mom was indeed back in 15 minutes or so. It was pretty weird! Not the weirdest thing that happened to me in that job, but your boss story reminded me of it. It was a relief when I met the kid and she was probably 6 or 7, not a tiny baby.

      1. Florp*

        Holy Hell. I once ran an errand and came back to find my 12YO had opened the front door to a window salesman and was busy telling him they were home alone. 12YO had been explicitly told to never answer the door when they were home alone many, many times. 12YO had to accompany me on many boring errands after that until I trusted them to be alone again. It would never have occurred to me to ask the window salesman to babysit…

        1. pancakes*

          Oh nooooo! I did something a little similar once but I was older. Old enough to know better. A reporter from the local paper knocked on our door to ask about rumors that my stepdad was about to retire. Being a somewhat boy-crazy 15-yr-old and an expert in winding up my parents, I told him they weren’t home but he could come in and have a drink in the meantime. I poured him a glass of whiskey, which we kept only for company, and felt very sophisticated. I thought he was cute! My parents of course promptly threw him out when they got home, and gave him a talking to about taking advantage of the hospitality of teens.

          1. Marillenbaum*

            I can completely understand the teenager impulse, but I am aghast that this grown adult was completely fine being offered (and accepting!) alcohol from a minor who is home alone. I hope his boss chewed him out after.

            1. pancakes*

              I hope so too. It was incredibly terrible judgment on his part! I have no idea what he expected to happen when my parents came home, either. They were livid with him. I think my stepfather said something like, “she’s 15, what’s your excuse?!”

        2. Era*

          I think my brother might be the opposite of your kid – one day when the two of us were home alone (I was probably 12/13ish, so he’d have been 9/10) the phone rang. I thing I was in my room reading, while he had been watching TV in the room with the phone or something, so he answered it. By the time I got there he was awkwardly insisting that our dad was home, but just not able to talk right now, Grandma.

          I grabbed the phone and explained to her that our dad was actually running errands, and had not in fact decided to stop taking his mom’s calls (to be clear: there was and is no estrangement between them), he was just own running errands. My brother protested that he thought we were supposed to tell people that we were at home by ourselves, and I explained that that rule was for random strangers or people we didn’t know well, not for our grandmother who lived 4 hours away and couldn’t even have gotten there in time to do anything nefarious before our dad got back in 20 minutes, and who, again, was our *grandmother*.

          1. Fleur-de-Lis*

            My dad’s parents argued about what to name him when he was born. My grandmother won and he got a fairly ordinary first name (think “Michael” or “John”), while his middle name was more rarely heard (think “Elwin” or “August”). My grandfather did NOT call him by his first name, insisting on using a diminutive of his middle name that I didn’t know when I was little.
            Grandpa had a habit of calling and yelling for “Gus”, and when I answered the phone, I would say, “There’s no one by that name here” and hang up. He was loud! And scary! And on the mean side! Finally my younger brother figured it out and would take the phone away from me and go look for our dad, if he was around. The other problem was that our dad worked nights and Grandpa called right in the middle of his sleeping time. All around, Grandpa was a giant asshole. He could have just said, “I meant your dad, Michael.” Ugh. But no. He did not.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        This reminds me of the first time I went to London. It was so long ago they were still using little yellow paper tickets in the tube station turnstiles. A harried man dressed in business clothes randomly asked me to accompany his child (a boy around ten or eleven years old) to meet the kid’s mother. Clearly, he had to go to work and couldn’t drop him off.

        We rode the tube to Westminster together. The kid was great—very polite, very calm, not freaked out by it at all. When we got there, I asked if he wanted me to walk him anywhere, but he said he knew exactly where to meet his mum and then vanished. Nowadays, I would insist on it, but back then, kids were more free-range and we ran all over by ourselves, so I figured he was used to this and would be fine.

        1. Virginia Plain*

          I love that you think we are super high tech these days but paper tickets still very much exist on the tube! Most regular travellers use an Oyster card (a smart card you touch on a circle to get through the barrier) or you can use a contactless bank card in the same way, but paper tickets be they single, return or lasting a week/month/year are still available! Turnstiles did go out with the ark though – vicious pairs of little automatic gates that will get you right in the backside if you aren’t nippy!

    4. Le Sigh*

      Okay not work-related, but this made me think of the weird assumptions people make. When I was in my mid-20s, my aunt freaked the hell out two nights before my cousin’s wedding because she had just assumed I would be willing to watch her kids during the rehearsal dinner. She had not asked me and if she had, I would have informed her that I had to work (because I have a job like her) and couldn’t attend, but even if I could I wasn’t going to skip it to babysit her kids.

      And ftr, they’re great kids, I love ’em … but they were 17, 16 and 11. They really did not need me.

    5. Elenna*

      But but but he has socializing to do! He can’t be expected to babysit his kids, that’s the women’s job! /s

      (You didn’t say you were female-presenting but, y’know, it seems likely.)

    6. Needs More Cookies*

      I was doing a co-op term at a sort-of dot-com office through my university, way back in the home dialup days. One of the (older, male) managers, not even my manager, pulled me aside and mentioned that some sort of Take Your Kid To Work day was coming up, and he’d like it if I could essentially supervise his 13-year-old son while he surfed the web for the day.

      I immediately panicked and he backed off. I told him was that I had zero babysitting experience, yes really, none, despite being the only female intern in the office and everything!

      But my real concern was that I’d have to spend the day being the Internet Porn Police for some kid with high-speed Internet access for the first time in his life and no incentive to respect my authority.

      1. I take tea*

        I first read this as your manager wanting to surf the web the whole day instead of supervising his kid. Which, given some of the stories here, would not have been unlikely either.

    7. Silence Will Fall*

      I worked at a movie theater in high school. I can’t tell you how many parents would bring their young children (like toddler age) to R-rated movies and when the kid would get scared, try to dump said kid on the high school aged staff so that the parents could finish the movie.

  11. AlexandrinaVictoria*

    I had to babysit a donkey in the rain until his owner came to pick him up. (Live Nativity)

    1. GoryDetails*

      I… would actually have been into babysitting the donkey, at least if I had some kind of rain-gear…

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Yeah, I’d have been down for this. I used to work for a veterinarian, though, and that skews your perspective of what is “reasonable” where animals are concerned.

        I haven’t worked for a veterinarian in years now but I’d still do it if for some reason there was a donkey at my library.

        1. Sleepless*

          Vet here, and I was thinking sort of the same. I can see it…husband calls me like “where ARE you?” and I’m like, duh, I’m waiting with the donkey until his owner picks him up. What’s wrong with that?

        2. BubbleTea*

          It sounds from earlier stories upthread that a donkey in the library is not impossible! “I heard the library took donkeys…”

    2. Mr. Shark*

      haha, yeah, I think we need more details. How did this come about? And how was the donkey, was it okay standing there in the rain with you? Was it on a leash?
      Somehow I picture you on the side of the road at a bus stop, with a leash and a rain slicker (both on you and on the donkey), just waiting for the owner.

      1. Need More Sunshine*

        Oh my goodness, imagine a donkey with a yellow rain bucket hat on with cutouts for its ears!

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        A bus pulls up with lots of legs. Totoro gets off. AlexandrinaVictoria and the donkey get on.

    3. pancakes*

      This reminds me of another incident at my canvassing job, when I found a goat wandering a country road and took it door to door with me until I found who it belonged to. There was some rope around its neck so clearly it had been tied up nearby. It didn’t take long for neighbors to identify a likely owner, but I thought she’d at least subscribe to our newsletter in gratitude for returning the goat, and instead she just muttered “thanks” and slammed the door in my face!

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        We live in a fairly rural area with small hobby farms all over, and once my oldest kid came home from school and phoned me from the street corner, saying “I can’t get back to the house. There’s a cow in our yard and it keeps charging me every time I try to walk across the grass!!”

        I went out and, sure enough, this cow I had never seen before was in our front yard. I took a few steps out onto the grass and she ran at me too, so I climbed onto a nearby boulder and phoned the local animal control department. Meantime, the cow kept circling the boulder, trying to find a way to get closer to me, and I kept scrambling to the other side of the rock.

        Animal control said they would send somebody, but it might take a while. They asked if I was in a safe place for now. I said, “Well, kind of, but I’m on top of a big rock wearing my nightgown, and it would really help to be able to get back into the house!” They said they’d try to hurry.

        Reader, they did not hurry. Eventually, after an hour and a half or so, the cow got bored when I didn’t come down, and wandered off around to the side yard where the grazing was better. My kid, who had been doing their homework in the road, ran for the house when I told them to, and I did likewise.

        About two hours later, the animal control people came by. They went round and found the neighbor whose cow had broken out and returned her to them, advising them to secure their pen better. Apparently they didn’t do that too well, because the cow was back about four more times over the next few months. We got to keeping a phone number listed only as “COW OWNER” on our fridge so we could call directly and ask them to come get her back. (They did tell us early on that the cow was very friendly and was probably just asking to be petted when she ran toward us. Which was definitely reassuring — but when several hundred pounds of animal runs at you, it may not always matter what their intentions are, if you’re not positive they’ll stop in time.)

        Eventually, I went over to visit the neighbor who owned the cow, to see what was going on. A very nice lady explained to me that the cow was her husband’s pet, but that he had had to take a job with long hours, so she was taking care of the cow, who was very lonely without other cows and without much attention from her master. She told me that she was trying to persuade her husband to get rid of the cow for its own sake, since it was clearly unhappy. She asked if it was okay to tell him that I had come by to talk about the cow’s frequent visits to our yard, feeling that it might help to convince him that the cow needed a new home.

        It must have worked. We never saw the cow again. I hope she ended up in a better home, wherever she went.

          1. Working Hypothesis*

            Thank you! It’s become one of the family’s favorite stories, even making it into a song my brother wrote (“Our yard has deer and rabbits and sometimes the neighbor’s cow…”). It just felt so perfectly representative of the newly rural experience for people who’d all lived in big cities for a long time before that. I won’t say that I’d never had to call animal control in New York City… but not for a cow!

        1. Bowserkitty*

          This is kind of cute but also quite wild! I love imagining a charging cow who only wants pets… (Although in your position I too would have runoft…)

    4. Zona the Great*

      Off Topic but I once lived in a small New Mexican village and I had to call in late once because the donkey wouldn’t move from the road. If you know donkeys, you know this is a real thing; donkey’s gonna donkey. My boss was like, “Oh okay! See you when you get here!”

      1. Anomalous*

        I once got caught in a rush hour traffic jam caused by a group of wild turkeys that refused to leave the road until they were good and ready.

      2. Anomalous*

        I was once caught in a rush hour traffic jam caused by some wild turkeys, who refused to leave the road until they were good and ready.

        1. Arabella Flynn*

          Ah yes. Turkey season has begun in Massachusetts. Sometimes Harvard Square just sort of… stops, because of a combination of feral turkeys and freshmen with smartphones wandering into the road.

      3. Charismatic megafauna*

        I work near a national park. It’s in our new employee guidance that calling in late because “wildlife” is blocking you is absolutely okay, even encouraged.

      4. Working Hypothesis*

        My father was once delayed three hours on the way home because a black bear had lain down in the middle of the highway and refused to budge. The whole of New Jersey rush hour traffic ground to a halt behind that bear.

      5. Princesss Sparklepony*

        I used to live on (in?) a cul de sac. The across the way neighbors had a very large Saint Bernard, sweet dog. But she would take to plopping herself down in the middle of the road and if you had a normal car for the times you would not get past her. So you had to wait until Pooka decided to get up. Although if you were dog savvy you could lure her to the side with dog treats. It’s kind of amazing she never got hit by a car.

        1. Clewgarnet*

          My cat used to do that. He ruled the other cats on the street with a paw of iron, to the extent of merrily sauntering into their houses and eating their food in front of them. For a while, he decided to extend his rule to vehicles, too. After being ignominiously scooped up and deposited in our garden a couple of times, he accepted that the cars were not so easily cowed.

  12. Anony Mas*

    I worked at a startup where the unstable owner asked the chief designer to put together a photo slideshow for her mom’s birthday party.

    1. Bee Eye Ill*

      Reminds me of when I worked for a city government and had to help the mayor’s secretary with projects that often involved fundraisers and campaign stuff for his re-election. Big time no-no.

      1. Hazel*

        Me, too! I was working for a state legislator, and we were REQUIRED to work on the reelection campaign during the day, while I was being paid by the state. So wrong!

        I also had to wait at the legislator’s house all morning for the cable guy (or some other repair person), and I regularly took in his dry cleaning and got his car washed. It isn’t completely crazy that someone would be doing those things for him, but it shouldn’t have been me. I was a field rep, (again – paid by the state) not his personal assistant.

        The legislator and his chief of staff were both incredibly sexist and gross. The chief of staff called me “chuleta,” which means “little pork chop,” and it’s not a term that should be said to anyone but maybe a spouse, child, or pet. It’s not how you address an employee.

        After I had been there a while, I found out that I was being paid below the mandated range for that position. I raised hell, and my pay was increased just enough to put me inside the pay bracket.

        This was my first post-college job, and as I’m writing this, I’m realizing how very angry I am that they took advantage of my inexperience.

    2. MusicWithRocksIn*

      Oh – Reminds me of when my boss asked me to re-write her boyfriend’s resume. It was 3 pages of solid block of text. No paragraphs or formatting at all – and all super technical in a way I have no experience with, think I work in Teapot purchasing and this was about operating a wrecking ball. Clearly I brought formatting experience to the table, but I had zero idea how important any of that stuff was or what it meant.

  13. TheyThemTheirs*

    I was once fired because I refused to upsell a BLT to a lady who wanted a grilled cheese. I didn’t, the person working to me next to me asked me about it, I explained she didn’t want it. They made me go ask her. I did, and explained and came back that she didn’t want it. I stopped getting put on the schedule after that.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      As a grilled cheese devotee, I doubt if the upsell would have worked. We are pretty dedicated to our sandwich choices.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Yeah, a BLT is not an upgrade from a grilled cheese. Grilled cheese with bacon and tomato inside, maybe.

        1. PolarVortex*

          But even then, it’s not a ‘true’ grilled cheese. Don’t get me wrong, I love adding things to my grilled cheeses. However it’s not the same as the ooey gooeyness of a pure grilled cheese and most times I just want that.

          1. Princesss Sparklepony*

            How do you feel about grilled cheese cooked in a waffle iron? My mom made those when we were kids, they were the bomb. Chewy but still melty.

          1. MoinMoin*

            Wow, what’s it like being wrong?

            To be clear, a BLT is at the top of it’s game. A grilled cheese is at the top of it’s game. But they are very different games.

        2. Worldwalker*

          Go all the way. Grilled cheese with bacon, tomato, and chicken.

          Now I want a Denny’s Superbird.

      2. James*

        My first real job was a grill and fry cook. We had the Grilled Cheese Lady. Sweet older woman, came in every couple of days for a grilled cheese sandwich, fries, and a drink. As far as we can tell she’d been doing it for decades. We all knew her and would throw a grilled cheese on as soon as we saw her come in.

        If we’d have tried to up-sell her anything it would have gone badly.

        1. PolarVortex*

          well now I have a new life goal. Grilled Cheese Guy. Sounds like a great life to go out to get a grilled cheese every week. Although I’m probably already chocolate chip pancake and bacon guy at my local diner.

          1. Roy G. Biv*

            There is something to be said for being the “food item of choice” guy at your local diner. I can order for my husband and daughter, based on their unwavering choices, but at least two of the wait staff already know what they want when they see us walk in. I am the only wild card.

            1. La Triviata*

              Early in my working life, I used to treat myself to lunch from a Chinese restaurant. I’d always order the same thing. I changed jobs and didn’t go there for quite a while, at least a year. I did go back, placed my usual order and the person taking the order looked at me and noticed I’d cut my hair.

              1. JustaTech*

                I once went to a New Year’s Eve party at my husband’s coworker’s house and one of the other guests looked at me as I was leaving (as I put on my distinctive hat) and shouted “three quarters of a shot caramel macchiato girl! What’s up?!”

                Yeah, I got recognized by the barista at a party.

                1. Beehoppy*

                  My dad and I go to a diner in my small town a couple times a month. One summer I was selling souvenirs for a sold-out One Direction concert in a baseball stadium at least 40 miles away from the restaurant. Tens of thousands of people there. Waitress from the diner came through my line and immediately said “Do you live in smalltown?”

              2. Lady Diania*

                I’m my husband’s 3rd wife.

                He and his first, and their kids, used to eat at a Japanese place in their mall, regularly, for years. They divorced, he moved away, returned with wife 2. They go in to eat, he orders, guy recognizes him, then looks at him, then at wife 2, and goes “not the same one!”

                Years after THAT, probably 10 years at least after the original visits, we go in. He recognizes hubby, chats, hey, how’s it going! Starts to rattle off the original orders, double takes when he looks at me, and kind of shrugs.

              3. PhyllisB*

                That reminds me of a Chinese restaurant I frequent occasionally. We used to go every week when our kids were little. For various reasons we didn’t go for a couple of years, then my husband and I went for Sunday lunch. They remembered us!! And asked about the kids. I was amazed.

              4. allathian*

                This rings a bell. I went to the office yesterday for the first time in 18 months, and grabbed a coffee to go on my way in from the cafe in the foyer of my office building. When I ordered my semi-skimmed latte, she apologized for not recognizing me right away, because I pretty much always order the same thing. She recognized my voice, but I was masked, my hair’s grown from just below the ears to mid-back, and I wasn’t wearing my glasses. Both of us laughed about that. If I’m honest, I’m just relieved that the cafe survived the pandemic.

            2. Snow Globe*

              A couple of years ago, my husband and I invited our son (senior in high school) to Denny’s for breakfast on a Saturday. The waitress came up and asked my son in he wanted “ the usual”. Whaaa?

              1. OhNo*

                Hahaha! That just reminds me of my brother, who was in charge of driving both of us to school in the morning, but was terrible about being on time. Every morning he was running late, he’d get a dozen doughnuts from the bakery to share with his class and teacher, and three coffees – one for me, one for him, and one for my teacher that I could use as a bribe.

                He apparently stopped by with my dad one weekend on their way out of town to go camping, and my dad had a very similar reaction. “When do you come here? How often are you running late that the bakery owner doesn’t even ask before she just slings you a box of doughnuts and a couple coffees?”

                1. Working Hypothesis*

                  I’m a massage therapist, and when I was in training our school used the donut trick to teach us to be super careful about turning off the ringers on our phones. A massage therapist absolutely can’t afford to have their phone go off when they’re with a client or it’ll wreck the whole relaxing experience, so they used “donuts for the whole class next day” as punishment for anybody whose phone rang during a class session, to get us used to being careful with them before we graduated and had clients of our own.

                  I figure it must have worked. I did have to bring donuts once or twice during my student days, but I can honestly say that I have only once, ever, in seven years of practice, forgotten to turn off my ringer when I had a professional client… and that time, I got away with it; nobody called before I had a chance to turn it off again after that hour.

                2. Susan Ivanova*

                  A long time ago I worked on a software project with a *very* large codebase. It took over 8 hours to do a full build, so that happened automatically every night and then in the morning you’d pull it down so you’d be making your smaller changes against the whole thing.

                  If you broke the build – checked in something that wouldn’t compile as part of the whole set – everyone would have to work against the previous day’s build until a new one finished. Often that meant they couldn’t do anything as they required the latest build. So anyone who broke the build had to bring chocolate for the entire team. I only had to do it once or twice as my changes were mostly self-contained.

              2. BubbleTea*

                There’s a great and very funny song by Keith Marsden called Doing the Manch, and the opening verse goes:

                I was 18 when my dad first took me to the pub
                And I’ve never ever seen him quite so mad
                “A pint of your usual, sir?” the barman said
                But he was asking me, not dad.

                1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

                  Note that in many places – especially in Europe – the legal age for drinking beer and wine is 16.

              3. A Library Person*

                My dad ran into his brother at a bar during his (my dad’s) 21st birthday celebrations. My uncle was sitting there drinking a beer, clearly knew the bartender, all of that.

                He was several years younger than my dad.

            3. lilsheba*

              I miss having a local diner. We used to but because of the pandemic it shut down and now the building is torn down and a bank is going in it’s place. Like we need another one of those.

            4. TootsNYC*

              I went to order the Chinese takeout for our family once, after not having been in the restaurant for a long time.

              I ordered, and the woman said, “Don’t you want another rice?” No, I said. “are you sure? You should have another rice.” No, no, thanks anyway.

              I got home and my husband said, “Didn’t you get another rice?”

              she’d recognized me and tried to save me from myself.

              1. pancakes*

                Reminds me of the Bakoon “hot boy” tweet:

                “ordered from same chinese delivery place for years. when i would call i would hear the lady whisper ‘its hot boy’ because i liked it spicy.”

            5. socks*

              When I worked at a fast food place, we had a chocolate milkshake guy. Every weekday morning at 7 am he would buy a large chocolate milkshake (whipped cream, no cherry).

              My dad was also Specific Order Guy at a McDonald’s by his workplace. At some point he wanted to change up his order but didn’t because they always started cooking his usual when they saw him pull up.

              1. Worldwalker*

                I was the “custom spinach salad gal” at a mall deli — I paid extra to get mine with extra eggs, and the big midveins pulled out of the spinach leaves (this was before baby spinach was a thing). But I ran the arcade across the mall from them, so they pretty much knew me anyway; all of us on that side branch of the mall did.

                It’s been 30+ years, but I miss their spinach salads. Mine are never that good.

            6. bkanon*

              The Subway a block from my apartment knew my order to a T and would start on it the second I opened the door. One day a corporate person was there and started to correct the worker for not asking me questions. He got a very stern ripping from me on the excellent customer service I got there and his personal idiocy. I ordered the exact same thing twice a week for five years. No, it was not going to change.

              1. Marillenbaum*

                I used to have a favorite Thai restaurant in my old town. The restaurant was inside the Harris Teeter, so I would call in my order, go to the HT, and buy a few odds and ends before picking up my usual order. One day, I called, and the exasperated owner says “We have other dishes, you know! Things you might actually like!” and I had to explain that the promise of this spicy chicken pad Thai was the only thing that had gotten me through my workday and I just really needed this right now.

              2. just a random teacher*

                I used to stop by a Carl’s Jr. very early in the morning when transferring buses on the way to work. (Due to the vagaries of the local rental market, I had a 90 minutes each way bus commute and needed to be at work between 7 and 7:30.) After a few weeks I could just sleepily blink at them and they’d ring in my order for me. On the rare occasions it was a new person and I had to actually remember words before coffee it really threw me off.

            7. Apt Nickname*

              There’s a fantastic Indian restaurant with a lunch buffet near our house. I didn’t realize how often we’d eaten there until I met my husband for lunch during a school day and the host exclaimed “Oh, no kids today!”

            8. Third or Nothing!*

              I inevitably order 2 barbacoa tacos with no cilantro and the green salsa at my local taqueria down the street. Been coming here for 5 years now. The owner knows us by name and just goes “your usual, Third?” when my family comes in. It’s the best.

            9. MAC*

              It got to the point for me that when I *called* a certain place and gave my takeout order, they either didn’t ask for my name, if if they did, they would then say “I thought that was you.” One time I ordered something different and they said “Hey, you’re switching it up!”

            10. Lady Diania*

              Very true. I order one thing only at my favorite local Italian place. Best lasagna EVER. They see me coming, they bring our drinks and start my meal. Hubby rotates a couple things but they KNOW mine. It’s cool to be welcomed like long lost family, every week. :)

            11. Unixorn*

              I waited tables at a Mexican place in college. We had a regular who was _very_ particular about his order, but we’d all fight to get him seated at our tables because he was a really nice guy, tipped extremely well and as long as he got his fajitas and a pitcher of iced tea was super forgiving if you were in the weeds with other tables as long as you made sure the pitcher didn’t run dry for long.

              One day he came in with a friend, and the friend grabbed the bill and burst out laughing when he saw Keith’s meal was on it as “Keith Special” – we’d added his order to the computer since the kitchen knew exactly what it meant and we wouldn’t have to spell out all the things he didn’t want.

          2. 2 Cents*

            My son is 3.5 and the guys at the local pizza place around the corner from his nursery school all know him, as we frequently stop in for a snack after a long day of letters, shapes and colors. They don’t know my name, but they know his, his usual order and treat him like a king :D

            1. TootsNYC*

              my son came home from a late-night Chinese takeout run in near tears because he’d arrived just as they were closing, and the guy insisted on firing back up to make his food. He was so touched that they remembered him, and that the guy would go to that trouble for him.

            2. Artemesia*

              The sushi place near my granddaughter’s school is the same with her. It is fun to be with a celebrity diner when we stop by.

          3. Need More Sunshine*

            But only be That Guy when it’s on the menu. We had a rotating menu where I worked and occasionally would have a grilled cheese special – you choose to put tomato and bacon on it too and it was DELICIOUS. But this one cranky Sunday morning regular would pitch a fit if we didn’t have it (or if it was on roaster for lunch, but not ready yet because it was 9AM dammit). You’d tell him “Sorry, we don’t even have the ingredients” and he’d still act like you murdered a puppy in front of him. :(

        2. JustMyImagination*

          Same first real job was a waitress/line cook at a fast family restaurant. We had a regular who called himself “old man pancakes”.

        3. Kathryn*

          We had a couple of customers like that at the burger joint I worked in during the late 90’s! One customer we called The Onion Lady. She wanted her cheeseburger with extra extra extra onions, so many onions that you can’t see the burger beneath them. Seriously, she told us that. So when she came in, you’d ring the order up with “extra onions” and then go tell the kitchen staff that it was for The Onion Lady so they knew to put at least a 1.5″ pile of onions on that burger instead of just a couple of extra rings.

          We also had The Grilled Chicken Sandwich People. They were an elderly couple who came in a couple of times a month who always wanted plain grilled chicken sandwiches, just bread & chicken. As soon as someone spotted them walking (slowly) into the building from the parking lot, they’d yell “The Grilled Chicken Sandwich People are here!” to let the kitchen staff know to start cooking a fresh couple of chicken breasts for them.

          Regulars are the greatest!

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Right? We had regulars who always ordered the same things at Cafe Job. One was a lady who came in on her lunch break. Same sandwich and drink, every weekday. I still remember how to make the sandwich.

            And Senior Discount Lady. We would always point her out to new hires so they didn’t make her ask for it, because she would get pissy if she had to.

          2. Olivia Mansfield*

            I worked at a cafe where a bunch of old guys (the “good ol’ boys”) met to drink coffee for a couple of hours every morning. One of the guys would always check the outside pay phone for spare change, and every day he would come to the register and hold up his findings for me to see: “I pick the phone today, and I find a nickel!” Every day!

          3. HeraTech*

            LOL, I am “the pickle lady” at the office cafeteria! I usually get the same sandwich every day, but even when I mix it up a little I always want extra pickles. <3

          4. Sister Michael*

            On the topic of naming a person’s order… At my job, it’s well known that my supervisor, Albert, likes a particular method of llama grooming and has the team groom llamas in this specific way. It’s an excellent way to groom them and his opinion comes from long experience, but there are other ways to do it that will work equally well, so it’s noteworthy that he has this strong preference, which we follow. It’s such a normal part of our work that we started calling this method the “Albert Special”- not behind his back, exactly, but it was a sort of fond joke that we made when we talked about upcoming grooming appointments. “Oh, it’s the fluffy llama again- better prep for the Albert Special!”
            Because it wasn’t a secret, eventually he heard someone say, “The fluffy llama is coming in tomorrow, I’ll be sure to give her the Albert Special.”
            And he looked very confused and said, “…how do you know about the Albert Special?”
            Of course we said, “Know about it? We coined the term!” and he started cracking up.
            Come to find out, there’s a restaurant near his house where he always orders the same thing and *they* call it the “Albert Special” as well! So there are two Albert Specials in the world and apparently one of them involves sushi.

        4. Loredena Frisealach*

          This was me and my beloved (now closed) Thai restaurant. I tend to have specific orders for specific restaurants, and I’m somewhat distinctive looking. I think the one I’m only doing take out from is starting to recognize me when I come to pick up….

          1. James*

            Reminds me of a place in California. My wife and I used to bring our dog to a local Thai place and eat outside. She got Pad Thai, I got something random, and the puppy would get chicken on skewers.

            I asked them once if they had any objections. The waitress said “Do you know how much business you bring in? We’d give it to you for free!” People would come up and pet the dog, and my wife and I would talk about how good the food was (it’s a restaurant, the folks asked), and would end up eating there.

            1. Hazel*

              I once had a neighbor whose 2-year-old called chicken satay “chicken lollipops.” This kid was clever – the same kid who wore his superhero underpants backwards because the design was on the back, and he wanted to be able to see it.

        5. Le Sigh*

          Awww this is giving me the feels. The barista on my campus coffee shop saw me every day and would start my order the second he saw me. If the line was really bad, he’d tell me to come back later to pay so I wouldn’t miss class. I was broke as hell but I always came back. They were the best.

          I love being that customer and I wanna be grilled cheese lady one day. The pandemic has been hard in so many was, but a thing I realized early in 2021 was that yes, I missed family, my friends, my coworkers, I was scared, etc., but I also really missed my little day-to-day interactions. My dry cleaning lady, the delivery guy who knows your order by heart, the diner server who doesn’t even have to ask what you want — it just felt good to say hi, check in on them, to see them and be seen by them.

          1. SD*

            I’ve been going to this local medical clinic for over a decade – rotating cast of GPs but stable desk admins – and today I called up and they recognised my voice and didn’t even ask for my date of birth to find me in the system. They recognised me going in for a while, but this is the first time on the phone!

            Felt good though.

        6. Margali*

          3 friends and I go out to breakfast together once a month. Our server knows us as the “extra-crispy hashbrowns and extra-crispy bacon” table.

          I still miss my favorite Hunan restaurant that has been gone for 20 years now. I knew they knew us when I went in to pick up 2 quarts of hot and sour soup to go, and the waiter looked at me and said sympathetically, “Oh, husband home sick with a cold, huh?”

        7. Random Biter*

          I worked for years as a server at a Brown Derby. We had names for all of our regulars ranging from the Brandy Alexanders (sweet older couple who, yes, always had brandy alexanders) to Ma & Pa Tups (brought in their own Tupperware to take home not only leftover food but to raid the salad bar, request extra lemon to take home and empty the sugar rack) to the Gus’ Favorites, who would order the cheapest, toughest steak on the menu extra well done and complain about it being shoe leather while ordering one kid’s meal to split among their heathens who were allowed to treat the restaurant like a playground. Good times, good times.

        8. Kesnit*

          My wife and I used to go to Waffle House almost every Saturday. She changed her order, but I always got the double waffle (although I would sometimes change what was in the waffles) and hash browns the same way. It got to the point the servers would look at me and just ask what I wanted in my waffles.

          Now we go to a local diner most Saturdays. Because I am now on a semi-restricted diet (T2 diabetes), I can only get the omelet with certain sides. If I am really hungry, I will get 2 omelets. The servers just look at me and ask if I want a second omelet…

        9. VeggieNoCheeseNotToasted*

          I’ve been Veggie Footlong No Cheese Not Toasted Lady. I got the same sandwich 3-4x a week and honestly kind of got to be friends with Madison and Kenzie. I think they were giving me their employee discount or free avocado or something, that sandwich is always more expensive when I get it elsewhere.

          At a different sandwich chain, the shift lead not only started making my sandwich when I walked in the door, but figured out that I got it without mustard when I was wearing a nice dress I didn’t want to stain, and adjusted accordingly.

        10. Amethyst*

          In my years in grocery retail I had an elderly regular who always sought me out because I was his favorite. Once he found me he’d tell me all about his woes in finding the exact eggs his wife expected him to bring home: a dozen large brown eggs by Land O Lakes.

          No other eggs would do for his lady.

          His tale usually involved visiting three different stores before ending up at mine, in which he’d either inform me of his victory or his utter failure (because we didn’t have them either). Then he’d ask me for advice on how to break it to her. I used to give him all manner of outlandish suggestions: Once it was aliens stole our supply of brown eggs. So sorry. Or highway robbers stole our shipment. Try again in a few days; we should have new stock then. Etc. :)

      3. Mannheim Steamroller*

        The BLT might be an “upsell” if it’s in addition to the grilled cheese, but not in place of.

    2. Can't Sit Still*

      I love grilled cheese and I can’t eat bacon and won’t eat raw tomatoes. I would be quite upset at the attempt to upsell – those are two different sandwiches!

      Back when Baker’s Square existed, I would go in every Sunday afternoon for a grilled cheese with fries, iced tea, and a slice of the pie of the week. Yes, they knew my order and generally which type of pie was my favorite.

      1. cacwgrl*

        You’re my people. I also cannot eat bacon and can’t stand even the smell of raw tomatoes but grill cheese, fries and iced tea are life.

      1. TheyThemTheirs*

        EXACTLY!! I was like wtf? It really worked out for the best as I absolutely hated working there…

      2. Le Sigh*

        I’m not a vegetarian but those aren’t the same foods! I love a BLT but…that’s not an upsell from a grilled cheese. That’s … a different sandwich.

        1. Worldwalker*

          I love BLTs.
          I love grilled cheese.

          But when I’ve ordered one of them, I absolutely do not want the other one instead.

        2. just passing through*

          It’s like upselling someone from a grilled cheese to an egg salad sandwich. They’re not different points on one sandwich spectrum, they’re different sandwiches!

    3. Richard Hershberger*

      Many years ago when I worked in a chain convenience store we would get a monthly schedule of what item we were supposed to upsell each day. Many of the customers were regulars such as the guy who could come in every morning for a coffee and a pack of Marlboro reds. I would have the pack waiting for him when he got to the counter. This is good customer service, which regulars appreciate. Trying to upsell him would have been bad customer service and could have driven him away. I ignored those schedules. I have wondered ever since if there was any discernable effect on the sales of the listed items.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        To counter this, at places where I know they’re obliged to do this I always accept the upsell. Where I live it tends to be shops rather than food outlets, with for example a multipack of special edition KitKats or a sheet of seasonal stickers. It’s typically £1 or something, and gets another check on their stupid management-mandated chart.

        I always take leaflets when offered, too. When you have to give out 100 flyers in the rain before you’re allowed back indoors, every refusal cuts to the heart, and you absolutely don’t care if the kind person who accepts puts it in the next trash can they see.

        I know I’m perpetuating a stupid system, but it’s solidarity from the days I used to have to do similar, and hated it.

        1. calonkat*

          When I get polite salespeople on cold calls for coupon books and the like, I let them know that I won’t be buying, but I’m willing to listen to the pitch if it makes a difference in their pay. Or surveys where they identify themselves , if I have the time, I’m willing to take the survey. I’ve had those jobs, and it sucks when people curse at you or blow airhorns in your ear. You are broke, took a job, and have to read a script after calling one off a list of phone numbers. Doesn’t make you a bad person or a believer in the product.

          1. Clisby*

            I would probably talk to them for the sheer novelty of getting a cold call from an actual person.

          2. alienor*

            I won’t listen to the pitch, but I do say “no thank you” nicely before ending the call. There’s no point yelling at someone and making their terrible job worse.

    4. HD*

      I would never have made the leap from grilled cheese to BLT. The only BLTs I’ve seen are like, dry white toast, no cheese, and definitely not grilled. A grilled bacon and tomato with cheese does sound good.

        1. Elenna*

          Avocado grilled cheese is delicious! If I ordered a grilled cheese and someone tried to upsell me avocado, I admit I’d be tempted.

          A BLT, not so much.

      1. Le Sigh*

        Have had some really good BLTs with brioche buns, lettuce, tomato, good bacon…and a fried egg. It’s really tasty.

        But yeah, if I want grilled cheese, I don’t want a BLT.

    5. Paris Geller*

      I hate upselling in general, but I don’t see how it could work with food (except for upselling sizes of things like fries/drinks/etc.) If I come in wanting a grilled cheese I want . . . a grilled cheese. A BLT is no substitute, especially since I don’t like tomatoes!

      1. Need More Sunshine*

        Yeah, upselling with food is generally more about getting a bigger size or adding something on the side. Like if someone orders a sandwich, “Do you want chips with that?” works very well. “Do you want a whole different type of sandwich?” does not!

      2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        I guess maybe if it’s “instead of this totally ordinary grilled cheese, would you like to add side salad / add onions / upgrade to [Cheese Of The Week] for an extra 50c?”

        But yeah, it’s not like you’re selling a house and upgrading from concrete to parquet.

    6. EPLawyer*

      Yeah that would go over very badly with me. I despise bacon. No everything is not better with bacon. If you tried to upsell me a BLT I would be very firm that I had stated what I wanted. My husband wouldn’t even do that, he would just say cancel the order, we’re leaving. If our drinks had already arrived, we would pay for them of course. But we would leave.

      If someone has placed their order, don’t try to upsell them.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Thank you! Not only am I a vegetarian, but I don’t think bacon is the massive taste treat everyone thinks it is.

        Now, if you offered some caramelized onions added into my grilled cheese, we could talk.

      2. Le Sigh*

        It’s also weird because it doesn’t feel like upselling (like trying me to get a bigger size). It feels like you’re questioning if I know what I want. if I order a grilled cheese and you come back with “but don’t you want a BLT instead?” my first thought is…what aren’t you telling me? Is something wrong with the grilled cheese? Why can’t I just have what I ordered?

    7. Magenta Sky*

      I got fired once for taking lunch. Exactly one day after I got chewed out for *not* taking lunch. Most insane boss I’ve ever worked for.

    8. Cold Fish*

      I have finally found my people! At least three people have mentioned not eating/liking tomatoes. I have gotten so many odd looks in my life when I’ve ordered no tomato. I don’t know why it’s so unusual.

      BTW there is merit to a BLnoT but it is no substitute for a grilled cheese. However, I would never order a BLnoT because restaurants never cook the bacon enough. Bacon should not be limp.

      1. Coffee Bean*

        I am a “no tomato” person. I will eat pizza and pasta with red sauce. But, the red sauce has to be devoid of tomato chunks. It has to be completely smooth. It’s a texture thing. Which is really difficult to overcome.

        1. Hazel*

          I don’t like tomatoes either, but I get the most shocked stares when I tell people I don’t like mint. I don’t understand why so many people seem to think there’s NO ONE who doesn’t like mint.

          1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*


            I like tomatoes, but dislike most mint things–which unfortunately includes something like 98% of fluoridated toothpastes. And no, I don’t want flavored dental floss either.

          2. Mannequin*

            I absolutely hate the taste of mint & it makes finding toothpaste very difficult. I used the anise flavor Tom’s for years, and recently I’ve found an inexpensive name brand that has a wintergreen flavor, which I can actually stand.

            1. Hazel*

              Because wintergreen is not mint! I forget what it actually is, but it’s not mint. I can only tolerate the wintergreen breath “mints,” but I guess my toothpaste isn’t very minty because it doesn’t bother me (and I do love the anise Tom’s toothpaste!).

        2. SaraV*

          Ketchup, marinara sauce, pizza sauce, tomatoes in a stew, salsa. I LOVE tomato soup with my grilled cheese.

          Do NOT make me eat a raw tomato.

        3. Lady Diania*

          I like tomato raw. I eat red sauce. But my mom finally started pureeing spaghetti sauce because my sister and I picked the tomato chunks out and it drove her nuts. 40 years later, I won’t eat cooked tomato chunks. The texture is just awful.

        1. Cold Fish*

          Oh, weird allergies abound! My nephew has incredible life-threatening allergies. Many I no idea someone could be allergic to before he came into my life. It has really opened my eyes and brought about one of my biggest pet peeves… people who say it is an allergy when it is just a dislike! Oooo, all upset just thinking about it.

          I had no reaction at the doctors office, but when I explained one watermelon related incident, the doctor agreed I should stay way from it. I don’t to refer to it as an allergy but refuse to eat watermelon, and avoid all melons just in case. That is another one that gets some odd looks.

          1. Lenora Rose*

            For me it depends. If I suspect that saying it’s an allergy will force them to deep clean an entire section of the kitchen, I emphasize it isn’t one (eg, I have typed into an online menu, “no onions please. it’s for a kid who doesn’t like them”).

            But I also expect even preferences to be accommodated if reasonable (see above re kid), because what would be the point of offering us food we then don’t want to eat?

            1. KoiFeeder*

              Yeah, I’ve definitely put “allergic to tomatoes, but only if I physically eat a certain amount of tomato- being in proximity to a tomato at any point is fine” on online menus because my tomato allergy isn’t life-threatening. It’s not comfortable, but someone using a tomato knife isn’t enough to set me off.

              But my tomato allergy is a complex thing because it’s one of those “the thing I react to is close-enough to the actual life-threatening allergen in tobacco that it sets me off anyways” things. Heck, I’ll get a reaction from bell peppers, but that one is milder still than tomatoes.

              That being said, the doc doesn’t want me exposing myself to allergens unnecessarily, and I also don’t like tomatoes or bell peppers, so here we are.

          2. Hazel*

            I always thought a melon allergy was common – probably because it was common in my house! My mom is allergic, and strangely, my brother and I developed a melon allergy (real allergy with mouth swelling and itching) at the same time, and we’re not the same age, so…I don’t know why. My melon allergy went away a few years later. So weird.

        2. Susan Ivanova*

          I had a coworker who was allergic to fresh tomatoes and related fresh fruits but not cooked ones. Yes, he does want ketchup on his absolutely-no-tomatoes burger!

          1. allathian*

            Yeah, I’m the same way. I don’t get a severe reaction, but the burning sensation in my mouth and the itch all over is quite unpleasant enough, thank you. I can get away with a cherry tomato or two when it’s not pollen season. Italian food with cooked tomato sauce, or ketchup, absolutely no problem.

      2. Clisby*

        I love BLTs but the only part that should be cooked is the bacon (and it’s OK to toast the bread.) A grilled cheese with bacon is fine; a grilled cheese with bacon and tomato would be an abomination because the tomato would get all hot and squishy and corpse-like.

        1. pancakes*

          Nah, my local diner cooks the tomato on the griddle before adding it to their grilled cheese with bacon & tomato and it’s delicious. Sometimes only a plain grilled cheese will do, but sometimes a variation hits the spot.

      3. Dragon_Dreamer*

        I eat the occasional BLE (bacon lettuce egg) because I can’t stand raw tomatoes. Frying the egg in the bacon fat is nummy!

      4. JP in the heartland*

        I’m even weirder. My husband likes BLTs but I don’t like tomatoes on sandwiches. So I have bacon and peanut butter.

        1. nym*

          Your weird does not beat my mother’s – who cannot stand mayonnaise.
          Tuna fish and peanut butter, anyone?

          To get back to the thread and weirdest things a boss has asked you to do, I had a boss who asked me to house-sit her 20 dobermans when I was a teenager. To be fair, she was a dog breeder, and I was kennel staff – but no, the house-sitting didn’t come with extra cash. It did come with feeding the dogs raw burger and sleeping on the sofa. Would I do that now? heck no. Was it really egregious? nah, not really. And the dogs were sweet, they were bred as show dogs and beautifully trained.

      5. Sopranohannah*

        Not a huge fan of tomatoes either, but 100% on the bacon. I’ve taken to ask for it well done. Still 50/50 if it will be edible.

      6. Lenora Rose*

        I’m the odd one out. I love tomatoes with bacon or cheese but I cannot fathom why lettuce on a sandwich. A salad, yes. a wrap with the right other ingredients (usually caesar and chicken), okay. But trad loaf bread, buns, or bagels should not have lettuce. Or burgers. (my husband laughs because at restaurants I pull out the lettuce snippily from my desecrated burger…. then eat the lettuce. )

      7. Lady Diania*

        WHY do restaurants not get this??? Bacon should be crispy. Very crispy. I order it, specify “the color of my coke” “extra extra extra crispy” “pull it off just before it starts smoking” “if you think it’s too done, it isn’t”.

        I did this in Cracker Barrel a few weeks ago, and on the 3rd try I had the best restaurant bacon I’d EVER had. The server told me she likes super crispy bacon too, and she had them DEEP FRY it for me. It was fantastic!

    9. rnr*

      Oh man, that reminds me of my last day at my retail job (years ago) before I was going to move to another state for my new office job. I was rearranging soap dispensers or something and this new manager comes up to me after I had helped a customer find a specific item, I think a shower curtain? Anyway, he had seen the interaction and he decided that he should lecture me about how I should always try to sell the customer additional accessories, like the separate soap dispenser/toothbrush holder/etc. that were a matching set. I just nodded along while laughing on the inside. Like, dude, even if it wasn’t my last day, you don’t pay me enough for that.

  14. MysteriousMise*

    1: When I was trainee attorney, my firm hosted an annual golfing outing for its (predominantly male) clients. We female trainees weren’t invited to the golf, but were allowed come to the dinner in the gold club afterwards. We were informed that it was skirts/dresses only; non negotiable. Hmmm.

    When we arrived, a senior male partner started clapping and singing “here come the girls” to the whole room. It was as if we were the strippers arriving at some frat party.

    I left not long afterwards.

      1. MysteriousMise*

        It was awful.

        At a Christmas party, one of the female trainees had just passed a certain exam, with exceptional marks. As part of his annual speech, the managing partner (a different person) praised her brains as well as beauty,and then went on to discuss her beauty.

        She left too.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          My vices include watching What’s My Line, which ran from 1950 to 1967. They commented about any female contestant who was at all attractive, regardless of her job. If the job was completely unrelated to her looks, the comment would be that this was a shame. This talk clearly was regarded as chivalrous. It is very creepy.

          On the plus side, it has been fascinating to watch the shift in attitudes about smoking. In the early ’50s episodes they would light right up. By the ’60s this is nearly entirely gone except for a few guys where it was part of their image (think Groucho Marx or George Burns, with their cigars). But they occasionally were caught finishing up their smoke as the show came back from commercial. I love live television!

          1. calonkat*

            I love that show too. And I agree about the comments on that show and so many others. Bennet Cerf really seemed to have trouble with trying to be funny on the spot, but veering into creepy.

            And my answer to the old guys today who insist that because it was that way in their youth, and they can’t learn a new way of treating other people is that if their brains have calcified that much, they should retire immediately and allow younger people to take over.

            I’m almost 60, btw. Apparently getting more liberal and strident with age.

            1. Richard Hershberger*

              I am the same age, and also far more liberal than in my youth, when in my first presidential election I happily cast my vote to reelect Reagan.

              Bennet Cerf: What I find most remarkable about him is that the president of Random House was a public intellectual. I have no idea who runs it today, and I strongly suspect he is a bean counter. Cerf’s memoir At Random is available as an ebook and worth reading. But yeah, when speaking to women he was a product of his time, and not in a good way.

              1. Lore*

                The current CEO of Penguin Random House worldwide is absolutely a bean counter but also an activist member of the board of PEN America and has ensured that the company gives a lot of time and money to supporting freedom of expression and literacy worldwide, so, could be worse. (In the time I’ve worked there, Jon Meacham was probably the closest to a public intellectual we had on staff…he may still be an editor at large, actually. His comings and goings are a little mysterious!)

              2. pancakes*

                He wasn’t quite as much of a public intellectual after Jessica Mitford skewered his Famous Writers School (a correspondence school) scam.

        2. LemonLime*

          That just reminded me that one time a 30 year scientist was retiring and the married CEO, who had worked with her for many years, was giving the retirement/accomplishment speech and veered off text to describe how beautiful she had been when she had started working with him years ago. Then sensing the room’s mood shift to awkward, he tried covering these comments with how she was still a beautiful mature woman so many years later.
          Like I wanted to scream “Abort, abort! Just get off the topic of how beautiful you find her! Go back to the paper, the one in front of you, the one about her accomplishments!”
          I wish the retirement party had included booze because I needed a drink from shared embarrassment and horror on her behalf.

          1. Worldwalker*

            It is times like that when you wonder if there might be some merit to burqas. Or maybe large cardboard boxes with eye holes.

            Is it really that hard to treat 50% of the population as fellow human beings?

            1. BubbleTea*

              The cardboard boxes should be put over the lecherous, inappropriate commenters, of course, not the people just existing while attractive.

            2. Michelle*

              Sounds like one of those ideas that sounds good from a certain angle (“Now all these men will stop making such a big deal about my LOOKS instead of my ACCOMPLISHMENTS!”) until you realize it’s actually much worse (“Now we’ve turned my physical appearance into such a big deal that I am literally walking around in a cardboard box.”) Instead, maybe the men who can’t handle the very existence of female colleagues should just stay home.

    1. Professional Cat Herder*

      Oh the stories… I was an EA for two insane years for this dude.

      1. Boss wanted to host a 4th of July BBQ for the staff. Except we didn’t have a grill. He insisted that banks just had grills lying around they would loan to customers. So I was tasked with calling local bank branches to get a grill. All the senior staff in the meeting said NOTHING. I called two banks, got laughed off the phone then found an actual rental place nearby and got one delivered.

      2. Insisted I call Delta and tell them to hold his flight because he was running late.

      3. Once when his office was being repainted, he insisted that I hold the drop cloth up behind him so he could sit at his desk to work. For HOURS. The fumes were intense. But the killer was that he had a laptop. He could have literally hooked into any other work station in an empty office but nope, not acceptable.

      1. JustaTech*

        If only your boss could have done what my mom’s boss back in the 60’s would do when he was running late for a flight: abandon his car at departures and let it get towed.

        Thought nowadays that would get you arrested as soon as you got off your flight.

        1. Rachel in NYC*

          I actually got to do that once with a rental car- with permission from the rental car agency. It was sorta awesome.

          1. Magenta Sky*

            Rental car agencies are used to picking up cars from places other than their offices. There’s a standard fee for it. (It’s best if you tell them in advance you’re going to do so.)

            1. Lily C*

              Absolutely tell them in advance! We had a senior partner change his flight home to a different airport, parked the rental in a random lot at the new airport, and never said anything to anyone until we got a call from the rental company after they reported it stolen.

            2. whomever*

              I once rented a car on one of the Greek islands (I think Mykanos IIRC). The rental car guy litereally said that when returning it, just park it anywhere in the village and toss the keys in their mailbox, they would find it.

              I miss the Greek islands.

        2. Susan Ivanova*

          Recently on a car blog, they had an article about cars that went up to auction after being abandoned at airports. Lots of theories were floated about how they came to be there, but nobody was really sure.

          1. Artemesia*

            The guy up the street from us years ago abandoned his car at the airport after he murdered his stepmother.

      2. No_woman_an_island*

        Omg, that just reminded me that a former boss invited us all over to her house to celebrate an event for one of my coworkers. It was a 4th of July theme, so burgers, etc. When I arrived, she informed me she didn’t know how to make burgers, so she got the ingredients but expected me to do it all. But her ingredients were just…meat. She had no other spices in her house. I’m salting the crap out of this meat trying to get some flavor in it. Like, just let me know ahead of time and I’ll come prepared to make a good burger. I had completely forgotten til your comment.

          1. BubbleTea*

            I just laughed out loud so forcefully I was worried I might have woken the baby in the other room. Well played.

      3. Rob aka Mediancat*

        This reminds me of the person I saw referred to once on Etiquette Hell (back when it had forums) whose boss had been in a business meeting in Florida on 9/11 and absolutely WOULD NOT HEAR that his flight had been cancelled and demanded that someone on his staff get him a flight back to Atlanta or they were all going to be looking for other jobs.

        They finally managed to get him to accept a drive back, instead, but apparently he was not happy that his staff hadn’t been able to what was literally impossible at the time, and get him his flight, because he had a business to run, dammit!

        1. Sinister Serina*

          Wow! At least when two bosses at my company got stranded on 9/11 they knew they couldn’t fly cross-country, so they hired a nice car and a couple of guys to drive it and that’s how they got back.

    2. anonymous73*

      Did your company also plan an all men hunting trip each year and tell everyone to keep it secret?

      1. Professional Cat Herder*

        2011 unfortunately.

        There was also the time I got to meet his Russian mail order bride. Oh and the time he had me call his urologist to check the status of his sperm count test.

        1. allathian*

          Ugh. I’m so sorry. PAs don’t get paid anywhere enough for all the gross stuff they have to put up with. Yuck.

  15. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    I compiled a list of things and wrote them down – and was going to write a book = “Dinner Table Stories – 250 wild tales from the computer world” but decided not to. Even using a pseudonym and with names redacted, I could get sued.

    Although I have related some dinner table stories in AAM.

    1. The Dogman*

      Put “And in the fevered dreams tom had he…” then put all the details in perhaps?

      Or whack a “No similarities to persons living or dead…” etcetcetc in there maybe?

      1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        No, some of the circumstances were so unique that people would see themselves in it.

        I had a lot of other weird things happen as well, especially in the last two years at my long-term job. But you know how I got around it? Mentally/spiritually?

        – you assume it’s a game they’re playing with you. When someone’s playing dirty with you, play back. If you’re smarter than your management, you’ll win.

        – managers don’t mind dissent, or private discussion. But often they paint themselves into a corner. The best way to handle that, is to give them a chance to escape, to back away, without them losing face. It may not always work – very often, managers “stick to their guns” even if it means disaster for the enterprise and personal professional degradation. But you want to avoid that.

    2. Mental Lentil*

      In her book on writing Bird by Bird Anne Lamott always said to include the fact that he had a really small penis, like an egg in a bird’s nest. They will never come forward.

    3. Meep*

      Hmmm. I thought I could write a book about this one horrid coworker. Then I realized the villain was my boss (not that she didn’t have her own book of “Unqualified Talk Therapy”). I was totally thinking about writing a book about the experience, but now I wonder…

      Though, I suppose she is too lazy to read it and too cheap to hire someone.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        If a male colleague said “Clever girl” to me, I’d claw his face off like the velocirapter I am.

        1. Princesss Sparklepony*

          It could possibly be gotten away with if both colleagues were Dr Who fans. It was a thing for a while I think when Matt Smith was the Doctor and there was the Impossible Girl….

  16. ABBBBK*

    I had a part time “internship” during college with a lady who ran a non profit. She ran it out of her house and had intense allergies so she asked that I use non-scented body products and switch to non-scented detergent for my clothes. That all seemed fairly reasonable.
    But my clothes were old and held smell, so then she asked that I change into some of her daughters clothes when I got there. um…..
    And that still wasn’t good enough, so she asked that I shower upon arrival….
    …..and then shower…again…

    I can’t believe I did all of that for a part time (unpaid) internship with a nut. I was so uncomfortable showing in her bathroom then putting on her daughter’s clothes. But I was young, and perceived authority is powerful!

        1. ABBBBK*

          Yes, the daughter was alive, but I think I remember that the clothes were more like her daughter’s rejects. Some cargo shorts and a tshirt type of outfit. And the double showering only happened once, but I went to her house twice a week for much of a summer, so changing clothes and sometimes showering happened a lot. uurrgghhh. what?! why?!

    1. I’m screaming inside too*

      Oh wow. That sounds exactly like the kind of thing you see presented in crappy sitcoms as if it’s totally reasonable, where everyone has a big laugh about it at end and no one ever questions how unreasonable it truly is. (And as a semi-related aside, can I just say how glad I am that “Kevin Can F**k Himself” was renewed for a second season. Seeing how it skewers those terrible sitcom tropes is so much fun.)

    2. Tara*

      Did we have the same boss? My lady (non profit, working out of her house, strong scent sensitivities) asked to sniff my hair, clothing, and armpits during the job interview. And switch to non scented products.

    3. Purple Cat*

      “But I was young, and perceived authority is powerful!”

      So many people writing into AAM need to remember this. Looking at you Grave Note Leaver. The people who take advantage of young professionals are the terrible people.

    4. JB*

      There’s a Sherlock Holmes story a lot like this. The daughter didn’t happen to be locked in the attic, did she?

    5. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Are you my friend A2 from college? She had an internship with someone like that, couldn’t use fabric softener. I don’t think she lasted more than a month there though.

  17. DeepAnon*

    The year before I went up for tenure at a state university, the other professors in my discipline insisted that I announce that I’m trans and queer on the first day of classes so students could decide whether they wanted to take my course.

    The union rep in the meeting didn’t see anything untoward about that.
    My own sense of propriety was so skewed by the place that I actually did it.

    I’m better off in a job with more money and low prestige now.

    1. middle name danger*

      Ah! The old “we are totally inclusive and respectful but we demand you out yourself to serve our purposes” routine.

      1. LilyP*

        And not even the fake-woke “you need to out yourself so we can take credit for having ~~visible~~ LGBTQ staff” but just straight-up “you need to out yourself so students can discriminate against you more efficiently” :O :O

          1. DeepAnon*

            Can confirm! Before taking testosterone, I was criticized for not doing enough for students, no matter how much I worked with students’ particular situations, provided snacks at office hours, etc. After my voice started to deepen, any concern at all I showed for students’ well-being was seen as heroic levels of nurturing.

    2. Mostly managed*

      Did they make homophobic professors announce they hated gay people on the first day of class so you could avoid them? (Somehow I doubt it!)

      1. DeepAnon*

        The most homophobic one was also gay. So, no.

        (I did get tenured, but only because folks on the university personnel committee noticed that these colleagues stopped rating my work as “stellar” and started rating it as as “concerning” about two months after I started taking hormones. Only to get laid off during a budget crisis.)

      2. Worldwalker*

        They wouldn’t have to make them; those people would be happy to do it voluntarily. And do.

  18. Hotdog not dog*

    I was asked to give a daily hormone injection to my boss’ wife (they were trying to get pregnant). She couldn’t give herself the shot in her own butt, and he was afraid of needles.
    (To clarify, he expected me to go to his house daily, on my own time, and give her a shot in the backside.)
    As far as I know, they still have no children.

    1. Expelliarmus*

      They probably still have no kids because he keeps asking his employees to administer the injections!

        1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

          Nah..also someone struggling with infertility here and if they’re that selfish and feel okay inappropriately manipulating positions of power to get what they want, they may make bad, bad parents.

        2. Dream Jobbed*

          They’re being sarcastic about an employee being asked to do an incredibly inappropriate task on the employee’s own time. This is entirely about those horrible people, not infertile people in general. I’m guessing many of us would go to a neighbor to inject them, but I would not do it in the workplace. (And if you are dealing with infertility, all my best energies are heading your way for a happy conclusion.)

        3. KoiFeeder*

          My infertility is more mechanical than hormonal, so maybe I don’t get a say here, but I’m okay with that comment. Their lack of offspring in this case is directly tied to their bad behavior (demanding employees perform unreasonable tasks). Also, as per Teekanne aus Schokolade, these people don’t sound like they’d be good parents if they ever succeeded!

        4. Web Crawler*

          I agree. Even if you believe this couple deserves it (and yeah it sounds like they’re terrible), you’re using the same rhetoric that gets used to hurt other infertile folks.

          Basically, you’re mocking them for being infertile. And that couple’s never gonna read this, but a few commenters will see this and wonder- “is Darwin also applauding my lack of ability to have biological kids?”

          1. pancakes*

            I doubt that many people will in fact imagine Charles Darwin is frowning upon them from a peculiarly busybody-centric afterlife. Either way, people who imagine the disapproval of long-dead public figures has some bearing on their actual lives are people with bigger problems than that comment.

          2. Worldwalker*

            Not mocking them for being infertile. Mocking them for being boundary-violating, unreasonable people.

          3. Anonymousaurus Rex*

            I agree with this. It’s more that infertile people (like me incidentally) are told in all kinds of ways that we are just not “meant” to be parents. This comment reinforces the idea that you deserve to be infertile if you behave this way, and so people who are infertile logically feel the opposite is true–I must’ve done something to deserve this. No doubt this couple is awful–totally unreasonable and they have way out of touch work boundaries–but it’s pretty unkind to applaud a medical condition that can be hugely traumatic in its own right.

            1. Lenora Rose*

              Lots of infertile people do not remotely deserve infertility and would be excellent parents if biology were just. And it is a tragedy.

              And some parents absolutely do not deserve fertility or children, and this is even worse because now there are kids who suffer for it.

              And some people. like this couple, demonstrate by their actions why we breathe a sigh of relief they haven’t made it into that second group.

        5. Worldwalker*


          The issue is not their infertility — the issue is their incredible violation of norms and boundaries.

          It would be equally awful if the shot was for any other purpose. And equally good that such people did not procreate.

        6. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          Please, this is not about infertile people, it’s about entitled people who think employing someone to make hotdogs means you also have someone to do all sorts of stuff including medical procedures for intimate reasons.

        7. JSPA*

          Why? They’re not narcissistic (or bad parent material) for wanting a kid, or for needing injections to procreate.

          They’re boundary pushing jerks for asking one of their employees to

          A) administer medical treatment without a license (and without insurance)
          B) do it on their own time, uncompensated
          C) do said treatment in a way that makes them engage with someone’s exposed ass

          We’re not wishing ongoing infertility on them as some sort of punishment. We’re saying that they’re boundary stomping jerks, and boundary-stomping jerks make bad parents, as well as bad bosses.

      1. Hex Libris*

        This comment doesn’t really make sense, they’re not infertile because they’re having mechanically incorrect sex or anything. And it’s not great to be celebrating a difficult medical condition, even for these people.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      We once x-rayed our boss’ (at a veterinary hospital) kid’s (kid was about the size of a golden retriever) broken arm to see if it had healed, but it was the boss’ idea and did not involve dropping trou.

      1. NopityNope*

        I LOVE that instead of pegging the kid as “about 6 years old” (or whatever), you went with the comparison to a golden retriever. Kinda made my day!

      2. Mannequin*

        Reminds me of when I sprained my ankle very badly at the time I was working at a veterinary hospital, and the other techs did an X-ray & had the Dr check it out to make sure there wasn’t a fracture.

    3. AnonyNon*

      My husband’s boss bred dogs as a hobby. When she found out we were planning on having kids, she offered to have her veterinarian do a sperm count for him.

      1. Anon33*

        Actually that is a thoughtful offer. Sperm count and motility are key indicators of male fertility. If the boss was having regular checks for the dogs it would be much cheaper than a human clinic. Still a bit icky; how is the sample to be maintained at body temperature?

    4. Anonymousaurus Rex*

      As someone currently in the middle of doing these shots myself–WTF? You can absolutely give them to yourself. It’s intimidating at first, but definitely not impossible. They even make auto-injectors that make it easier when you’re at an awkward angle trying to inject your own butt. I can’t fathom the idea of any of my wife’s *colleagues* doing this for me. YIKES.

      1. Irish girl*

        All my injections for IVF were in my abdomen or thigh. I couldnt do it myself so it was my husband and mom. I could have gone to the clinic at work and have a medical professional do it if needed, but never ask a co-worker to do it.

      2. Mannequin*

        I had a blood clot a couple of years ago, and the first week of treatment required me to inject a blood thinner into my belly fat 2x a day. I absolutely HATE needles (total body horror/squick medical trauma from a million ER visits growing up) and I was still able to get it done because it was important!

        1. allathian*

          For myself, I imagine that injecting into fatty tissue would be less intimidating than having to hit muscle. Many T-1 diabetics learn to do it at a very young age, my cousin did it when she was 10, her parents checked the dosage, but she injected herself.

  19. Bend & Snap*

    My employer asked for the phone number to the resort I was going to be staying at on my honeymoon (no cell service).

    I was an entry-level PR coordinator at the time. There’s no reason they would have needed to call me. I actually laughed when they asked me.

    1. TheyThemTheirs*

      Absolutely not. I’d have given him 999-999-9999. Please tell me you got away without him calling you?

    2. No_woman_an_island*

      Yikes. I thought my boss was bad for getting into my employee file, finding my parents’ number (emergency contact) and calling them about a problem while I was still ON THE FLIGHT to their house. They greeted me at arrivals and said call your boss, she needs you.

      1. Meep*

        OMG. I have a coworker who cannot fathom anyone else taking a vacation and has the nerve to text me in order –

        6:30 PM Day Prior: “I haven’t forgotten you are on vacation tomorrow.”
        7:30 AM Day Of: “Will you be in the office today?”
        8:30 AM: “Hey. I need you to call me.”
        9:00 AM: *tries to call me to complain about her personal life and nothing work-related*

        Like clockwork, every time. I have given up responding to any of it when I am on vacation. Everyone else, I will pick up for. Not her.

        Still, the most invasive thing she has ever done is go into my personnel file to get my new home address to Internet stalk it. (There are no Zillow pics, fortunately.) Which I mean, is beyond creepy, but at least only I have to deal with her acting like a creep.

    3. Global Cat Herder*

      Same thing happened to me! My boss said that when he asked “where are you going on your honeymoon?”, saying “Acapulco” was not an acceptable answer, he needed to know which hotel, just in case he needed something while I was out. I too laughed, thinking it had to be a joke.

    4. lizzay*

      At some meeting we had a few years ago, it was suggested that we print out a list with everyone’s cell phone on it, so as to make it easier to call us at home or on vacation if there was an issue. I responded (probably too quickly and/or loudly) with a NO. If the company wanted to pay for my cell phone, then fine, plus that removes some of the psychological block for calling someone who’s not at work. The list was never made.

  20. Neosmom*

    Many years ago, I got a job as a receptionist / admin at a commercial air conditioning contractor through my contacts at the Data Processing Management Association (now named the Association of Information Technology Professionals). Both the company president and I were members. Company president asked me to break the law and install Microsoft Office software (from the one license he purchased) onto all of the company’s PCs! I told him no, I would not be doing that. I sincerely hope it was an ethics test and not an actual request to violate licensing / copywrite law.

    1. Elle*

      My horrible boss had us using TeamViewer free version for commercial purposes. I considered turning them in when I quit.

    2. anonks*

      Yeah, when I took over an IT position my predecessor handed me a flash drive that they had loaded with an old copy of Office (like early 2000s old- this was 4 years ago). He said that the leaders wouldn’t pay for licensing so this is what we used to install Office. Uh…. no. They were paying for licensing shortly thereafter. So many people don’t think software theft is serious!

    3. ferrina*

      I worked with a C-Suite who would pass around his log-in credentials for our data collection software because he didn’t want to pay for extra licenses. We would have happily reassigned the license, but he didn’t feel like going through that process (i.e., send us a message and it will be transferred within a day).
      Eventually he was hacked, the hackers got his log-in credentials that he’d been passing around, and they downloaded a bunch of data from the data collection software.
      Oh, and this was at a tech company.

    4. Elsewhere1010*

      I once worked at a law firm that ran tons of unlicensed specialized programs.

      The firm’s specialty was intellectual property.

  21. Salad Daisy*

    I worked at what was then one of the Big 8 accounting firms. The senior partner called me into his office one day and told me he had been prescribed eye drops by his doctor and was unable to put them in by himself. So every few hours I had to go in his office and put eye drops in his eyes!

    1. Supernonymous*

      I currently supervise an employee, and the first thing this person did when they met me was to request the exact same of me.

      This was in December. So I awkwardly explained that that would violate our workplace covid policies….

    2. Scrooge McDunk*

      I was a shift supervisor in a call centre. One day my boss made me flush out another employee’s ear with Crisco every hour, on the hour, because she had gotten a foam earplug stuck in her ear canal. This wasn’t an on the job accident, mind you, he just didn’t want to have to find someone to cover the other employee’s shift while she stayed home having her ear flushed out.

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        I hope it was oil rather than solid shortening. I only think of Crisco as solid, and for sure wouldn’t want someone to melt some into liquid for the task.

    3. RabbitRabbit*

      Admittedly I did do that a couple times for a colleague, but she was in her late 60s with significant arthritis in her hands and sometimes had trouble with the bottle… but again, that was maybe 2-3 times over the course of years.

      And we worked in an ophthalmology office and I did that for patients on a daily basis anyway, so putting a couple drops in a colleague’s eyes wasn’t a big deal.

    4. Can't Sit Still*

      Oh, this reminds me of the boss who had chemotherapy for skin cancer on her face. It made the skin on her face peel off, basically, so she had to put this liquid film on, but we, her direct reports, had to cut it up and put it on her face.

      I still preferred that to working on her Sunday school lessons.

      1. whomever*

        I, um, confess I’ve sort of been that person. I bike to work and one day skidded on a bunch of gravel and fell. It stung a bit, I swrore, and got back up and continued into work. It was only when I got into the office I noticed that the sting was road rash down basically all of one arm (it really didn’t hurt much). My boss ended up bandaging up for me, but in my defense he offered, I didn’t ask!

        1. Sinister Serina*

          Hah-I had a colleague who professionally raced bikes on the weekend. He came one Monday with bad road rash on his shoulder and hard for him to reach (and it was large-all over his shoulder and back). Yes, he asked me to change the bandage and ointment and yes, I did it. Sigh.

          1. IndustriousLabRat*

            I’ve been asked to give someone stitches at work. No, I am not a doctor or even healthcare adjacent… Figured it should get its own post due to how freaking crazy the situation was…

    5. CatWoman*

      I volunteered to put the drops in my boss’s eyes after he had cataract surgery. Said boss was a complete bastard, and I got tired of watching him flinch and miss his eye and whine about it. I got a measure of satisfaction from holding his eyes open and SPLATTING that drop right in there with no warning AT ALL. Good times.

  22. Akcipitrokulo*

    In my defence, I was young and it was my first real job…

    I was an admin type/general assistant at an estate agents in London. Pretty exclusive, renting expensive central london properties to the likes of high up embassy and bank staff. Small firm, two partners ran it.

    On my first day, one partner took me out to show me ropes, and a tenant was leaving a furnished flat, and doing check out inspection.

    In front of the tenant, he got me to go onto bed, and on hands and knees sniff it all over to make sure it hadn’t been soiled.

    1. Akcipitrokulo*

      It was bad for me… tenant was also so embarassed! She was not that much older, mid-twenties I’d guess.

      I also have suspicion he wouldn’t have done that if she were white :(

      1. Mannequin*

        Just when you think it can’t get any worse, racism comes screeching in yelling ‘hold my beer’…

      2. allathian*

        Reminds me of my first job when I was a senior in high school. I worked at a small grocery store, and when we were filling shelves, we were told to follow any Roma who came in, especially the women, in case they stole things and put them in their skirts. This seemed normal in the late 80s and early 90s, now it would be unthinkable.

      1. Artemesia*

        No one should be renting out a place with a bed to be re-used for next tenants that doesn’t have bed bug covers on all the mattresses. i.e. bedbug and liquid protection.

        1. Mannequin*

          I lived in a legendary set of shithole apartments in Hollywood 30 yrs ago and even THAT junk heap provided furnished apartments with new, albeit cheap, mattresses for each new tenant.

          This was nothing but an assh@le power maneuver on the part of this slimy excuse of an ex-boss, who knew damn well what he was doing.

    2. AnonInCanada*


      The further down this thread I go, the more disgusting these stories get. What’s next? I dread hitting SUBMIT to get the next batch!

  23. Elle*

    Boss and I were driving to a meeting where we would be presenting information to field staff. The boss was driving, and he asked me to open the laptop and add a specific topic to my part of the presentation, with its own new slide. During the presentation I got to that slide and said the things he had asked me to, and from the back of the room he interrupted me to go on a rant about how that was a stupid thing to say and he couldn’t believe anyone would ever take the time to talk about it. It was so mundane and banal that I don’t even remember what it was, but boy do I remember the mortification. That boss also had a policy of never firing anyone and just making their lives hell until they quit on their own because he thought that was the more compassionate thing to do (he had a whole story around this that made it clear he just didn’t want it on his conscience). I legitimately had PTSD from that job that has taken me years to get over.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        “I totally agree. That is totally stupid. I didn’t want to say anything when you told me to put it in, but I am so happy to clear the air now.”

      2. Elle*

        I don’t think so, no. After I had been there awhile I started calling him out on things gently – “Did I misunderstand, I thought you told me to do X this morning?” Which got me nowhere. Eventually I got bolder, doing things like replying by attaching the email where he’d told me to do the opposite and saying, “I did this because you told me to yesterday – see attached.” That’s when he got aggressive with me instead of just humiliating me. humiliating people was common practice, and he often tried to make up for it by buying us presents.

        My final straw was a Friday afternoon when he called me into his office with another colleague and berated me for 45 minutes about how I was, “letting our customers down.” He had a sheet of paper in his hand that he said was a list of mistakes I’d made but refused to let me see it and could only give me two examples (a minor typo early in my training that I had immediately corrected, and a time a customer asked me a question I didn’t know the answer to and I had followed up with an answer the next day after I looked into it). My poor coworker was absolutely blindsided and horrified and called me later to apologize. That afternoon was the closest I’d ever been to offing myself. On Monday morning I submitted my resignation via email detailing things like how he was unable to provide a job description, withheld a company car for 6 months despite that being part of the written job offer, etc. At noon I became locked out of all software without anyone speaking to me, so I left.

        It’s a very small industry, so I am still a customer of this organization (there are no alternatives) and he has since tried to get me to join the board (it’s a very small nonprofit). It took me nearly four years to stop having an anxiety attack when I saw a vehicle of the same make and model he drove.

        1. Meep*

          Oh my. That is absolutely horrible.

          I have PTSD from a similar situation with a boss (though not a big company so she couldn’t do half of this crap) last year during COVID. I still haven’t a clue what is real and what is not because she was constantly trying to make my life an absolute living hell. She isolated me and would scream at me for trying to talk to anyone. I drove home every day (because she didn’t care about COVID safety – I was the only one ever expected to be in the office) in tears contemplating running my car into a wall right then and there.

          Luckily, my coworkers and family pulled me out of it. I am a masochist so I still work for the same company* and she still works there, because the owner is spineless. But I am in therapy now and she is not allowed to ask me to do anything at all. Not even bring her a pen. She still tries and it frustrates her that she can’t, but I have my power back.

          *before it was years and years of alternating between “Owner will fire you for this mundane offense if you don’t help me fix this bigger project”/”If I get fired for not getting this done then he is going to make you do it anyway” and “You /could/ leave but at least you know what (kind of abuse) you are getting here.”/”It is going to be worse anywhere else. They will eat you alive.” with a sprinkling of “When someone is dead to me I make sure they end up dead. And this is a small industry so watch your back.” so my sense of self-worth is still bottom of the barrel but I have been working with a therapist and a psychiatrist for 4 months now for PTSD caused by her abuse.

          1. Elle*

            That sounds awful! I’m so glad you’ve gotten mostly away from the nightmare boss.

            That’s one of the worst things about this stuff – when I describe it out loud to people, it sounds like I must be making it up. It makes me feel like I might be losing my mind. I do admit that my last few months I wasn’t doing a lot of work. I couldn’t bring myself to do it knowing that regardless of what I did I would get yelled at – and that I also couldn’t ask clarifying questions because that would also get me yelled at. It made me feel like, deep down, I might not have standing to complain.

            1. Zweisatz*

              Just to validate you, that is classic learned helplessness. You were cut off from any reasonable action so no wonder you just tried to stand still and attract no attention.

  24. kwagner*

    My two first jobs were at a forest preserve and a trampoline park. The trampoline park was riddled with unethical practices, like never allowing workers to sit or lean on anything ever while wearing the special trampoline socks (so basically standing barefoot on concrete for 8 hours), but none of that is particularly unusual, unfortunately. But the forest preserve job was a job for teens through a grant, which means that they didn’t have a ton of work for me to do and often gave me busy work. The worst thing they ever asked me to do was sort through a home depot bucket full of expired batteries and separate out the different kinds. Some of these batteries were leaking or had leaked battery acid and the building they had me do it in had windows that only cracked open. I’m surprised I didn’t pass out.

    1. Ace in the Hole*

      I work at a facility that sorts dozens of tons of batteries per year by hand.

      Even cracked/corroded household batteries are not a serious respiratory hazard… a few bucket’s worth is not enough to create a safety issue in an unventilated room. As long as they gave you gloves and appropriate training on handling waste batteries, that was a totally reasonable thing to do.

      1. kwagner*

        no training and I don’t remember gloves but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt maybe I just forgot

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        “Had leaked battery acid”
        I asumed that meant household batteries were mixed in with marine batteies: sealed (or not) lead-acid batteries. Different level of hazard.

        1. Ace in the Hole*

          Different type of hazard, not really a different level of hazard. Lead-acid batteries (even leaking ones) are still not a respiratory concern unless you have a very large quantity. The risk from handling them is skin or eye contact with corrosives that can cause chemical burns. If there were for some reason a large enough leak to cause a problem, Kwagner would have known immediately because it would have caused a painful burning sensation in the eyes/throat long before it reached a point that would cause serious injury.

          My bigger worry in this situation would be the risk of fires from lithium-based batteries. But they didn’t mention any fire concerns, so I assumed they were satisfied with the fire safety equipment provided.

  25. Mostly managed*

    I was an admin assistant, but also put in charge of IT and marketing for a small family run business (this was all, in retrospect, big red flag territory.) The CEO wanted to have red in a new logo, so I photoshopped something up and sent it to him. He said no, it had to be the purest red. Because print shops would ONLY have something in the Purest Red. This wasn’t true, but I was tired of arguing with him. So I redid the logo with the Purest Red, and then (this was my mistake) sent him the design, with the names, hex codes, and RGB codes of each color.

    Boss went nuts, stormed over to my desk, and insisted that Pure Red had the same codes across the board, and that I needed to make the hex and RGB codes the “same.” I tried really hard to explain that I couldn’t do that– the numbers were fixed representations of a color, using two different codes. Boss would not take that explanation, and eventually started threatening my job. So I lied. Sent him an email where all the codes were the “same” and volunteered to talk to any print shops so I could let them know in advance what we actually wanted. (also, several print shops didn’t have “pure” red because they used CMYK, like most print shops do. Sigh.) I was ~22~ and very scared of my boss.

    1. Rowan*

      As a graphic designer, I am so so sorry. But good idea on lying, he would never know the difference. “Pure Red” *rolls eyes*

      1. Mostly managed*

        This legitimately sapped up all interest I had in graphic design– the work is great, but working with people is not

        1. Mostly managed*

          (Oh, and the logo ended up “pure red” “pure yellow” and “pure blue”, and it made me want to tear my eyes out.)

      1. Mostly managed*

        He was sooooo sure that the hex code and the RGB code had to be the same number for the same color. And he was the boss, so he was right. Eyeroll.

    2. The Tin Man*

      I don’t really know color codes…but isn’t that like getting upset that ten in base ten is 10 but in base eight is 12? Just different ways of saying the same thing?

      1. Mostly managed*

        Exactly– and it didn’t matter how many guides I showed him. I was just trying to be helpful! I learned to be less helpful.

  26. Anon for this*

    So in college I worked in a big box store in the US. The job was typical retail mixed with unreasonable demands. Mostly from customers but I recall two things about that job very specifically. It was also my first job and didn’t have a good grasp of my worker rights. Turnover in this job was higher than normal for retail in my area.

    Unreasonable thing 1: I was asked to clock out of the shift but then the manager made us stay for 30min to 1 hour to clean up the store before the actual cleaners clocked in. Being young and not fully aware of my worker rights, I didn’t know this was weird. It was always 3rd shift and the manager STOOD BY THE DOOR AND KEPT IT LOCKED SO WE COULDNT LEAVE.

    Unreasonable thing 2: This was an isolated incident but I did decide to quit after this. I was asked to clean a dressing room that had been absolutely defiled by someone without protective gear or proper cleaning supplies. They expected me to use paper towels. This was basically the last straw. I went to the back and got appropriate cleaning supplies, then gave them my 2 weeks as I was walking past the shift scheduler. I thankfully got pulled from the shift schedule immediately so I didn’t have to go back.

    1. PolarVortex*

      Woof with your unreasonable thing #2. Been there, cleaned a destroyed diner bathroom with bags leftover from holding bred on my hands. Toilet was full of paper towels and other hazmat.

      Rough day for a teenager. (Poor cook ended up throwing up in the other bathroom from cleaning it with me.)

      1. Mr. Shark*

        Worked at a fast food place. The assistant mgr (mgr was not at the job, since this was evening work) said we had to clean up some #2 on the bathroom floor. Everyone refused, so he had to do it.

    2. AnonInCanada*

      I don’t know what’s worse: the wage theft, the forcible confinement (locking the door and not letting you out when you’re off the clock) or having to clean a biological hazard with nothing but your bare hands and paper towels!

      Y’know, this is what they should be teaching in high school, not who won the Byzantine War or the complete works of William Shakespeare. Things to prepare you for the real world. Let’s face it, when was the last time you recited a verse from Hamlet?

      1. American Job Venter*

        Why not both?

        But then I did say “there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy” yesterday while having a seasonal discussion of ghosts and spirits.

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          Definitely both! literature and workers’ rights and the Marxist take on history. And cooking and sewing and changing lightbulbs and filling in tax forms (what’s known as adulting these days right?)

          But did you hear the one about the little old lady who went to see Hamlet for the first time in her life? She quite liked it, but thought the text contained rather too many clichés.

          1. American Job Venter*

            She quite liked it, but thought the text contained rather too many clichés.

            Okay, that’s funny. :)

    3. Not Management Material*

      I’m so sorry you had to do that!

      When I was in college, I worked for a while at the downtown location of a major fast food chain. One night, about this time of year, a man walked in covered in dirt and blood. He walked right up to the counter, and at first I thought he was wearing Halloween makeup, but he slurred out an order and stumbled into the men’s room.

      My manager followed him, came out and called the cops and an ambulance–the man had been stabbed. Once the gentleman in question was under the EMT’s care and taken to the hospital, my (male) manager made (non-male) me clean the men’s room (no hazmat gear provided, of course).

      This was also the manager who was shocked when I turned down his proposal that I take on more duties for another 30 cents an hour so he could “get me ready” for the company’s management program. He couldn’t believe that I was more interested in finishing my college degree and going for a career in the field I’d chosen years ago.

    4. Working Hypothesis*


      Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, anybody?

  27. BubbleTea*

    I had a live-in role working for a wealthy family, with my own bedroom and bathroom in their house. They asked me to stay elsewhere for the weekend so that they could use my bedroom for their guests. No offer to cover the cost of a hotel room (in the capital city of a European country, when I was earning below minimum wage because I was being provided with board and lodgings).

    They also got angry with me for asking whether my friend, who they allowed to visit me while the family were away, could eat at the house during her one-night stay. Apparently I was being dishonest because I said “eat at the house” instead of “eat the food they had paid for”. I felt like this was obvious, because why would I need their permission for my friend and I to eat food we had bought ourselves? But apparently eating in what was meant to be my home was a privilege.

    I quit that job two months earlier than planned. They were not happy about being left in the lurch. I think they genuinely believed they were good employers.

    1. MeridianShrill*

      “I think they genuinely believed they were good employers.”

      They always do, don’t they? I think it’s mostly because they see themselves as “job creators” and that alone is god tier, nevermind that they are crappy employers who enjoy terrorizing those employees.

      1. BubbleTea*

        I don’t know how relevant it is, but I think I was the first European they’d hired for that particular role. Mostly they hired Filipina women.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Oh, I bet it’s relevant. I bet they try to hire people who are new to the country and feel that they have nowhere else to go.

          I’ve been seeing the same with some of the small businesses, healthcare providers etc. in my immigrant community. Their target audience are older people who barely speak or don’t speak English, are on Medicaid, etc, so their clients aren’t going to make waves or change providers no matter how bad or shady the service is.

          I hate it, and consider it a predatory practice.

        2. Ben*

          It’s relevant. I’ve seen places where upper management explicitly says ‘don’t hire locals who speak English, hire immigrants’ with the very obvious subtext that they want employees who don’t know their rights and won’t be able to communicate their complaints effectively.

      2. Magenta Sky*

        If you firmly believe you’re better than other people, anything you do for them is a tremendous favor, and they should be grateful for your generosity.

    2. The Bimmer Guy*

      Was this an au pair sort of situation? Usually au pairs are treated much better than that. Yikes.

      1. BubbleTea*

        Yes, I was an au pair. They had bought a house for their housekeeper and her husband (the handyman) but couldn’t pay for anhotel for me. I was young and didn’t push back. I would now.

        1. Jh*

          I once interviewed for a nanny position where they had designed and built the house… Including a 10×10 room in the basement for a nanny… They had used the rest of the space in the basement for an extra playroom and another bedroom.. For… No one? One tiny bathroom that wasn’t attached. None of it was terrible, but the fact that they actually designed the entire house all fancy and then specifically chose to make the smallest, crappiest room for a nanny told me all I needed to know. They also didn’t want me to have guests over. Otherwise they actually seemed perfectly nice, but big red flags!

    3. Friendly Comp Manager*

      I had a very similar experience being a live in nanny when I was 19, between my Freshman and Sophomore year of college. I was very non-confrontational at that time, but at some point I had had *enough* of the horrible treatment, so I tried to talk to the mother — and she said, “How you feel is not my responsibility.” Welllllll okay then.

      I moved out while they were at lunch one day without telling them, and called them that evening saying I was not coming back.

      I have SO many stories from working for them … for like 4 weeks.

  28. Albeira Dawn*

    In college I worked in the Admissions office, usually covering the front desk or filing. They only transitioned to digitally reviewing applications in 2020. So the process was: students submit the Common Application and test scores online. Once a week the processing associate would print all of the Common Apps, all of the test scores, all of the letters of rec, etc. Then I or another student would take this big stack of printed test scores and sort them into physical file folders we had set up in milk crates around the office for every, single, applicant. This was a steady 10 hour a week job for me from around September to April. I got really, really, really good at alphabetizing.

      1. E*

        The university I work for has only transitioned to digital processing of applications because of the pandemic. They had no intention of doing so previously.

    1. Cordelia*

      Your user name!! I am also a huge Rude Tales fan and I am loving the crossover here into my fave advice column. What a small internet it is :)

    2. Catnip*

      I feel you!! I worked Admissions at a very small college for a year; they only started reviewing applications online after my insistence when I started in July 2020. Before that, they would sit in a locked briefcase, and Admissions Committee members would schedule times to review them. Even when we did move online, we had no real reviewing software, so I had to manually download documents from the Student Portal and upload them to a shared Google Drive. Our policies also mandated keeping paper records, so I had to print out and file copies as well. Such a pain!

        1. Catnip*

          Yeah, it was a student body of about 100, so incoming classes usually only had 30-50 students (it was a very niche school in a relatively remote area). That said, it usually meant 75-100 apps – a pittance to process electronically, but a nightmare to physically file!

    3. Higher Ed Marketer*

      omg. I work in Admissions for a mid-size public, and I cannot even comprehend what it would look like if we PRINTED all of our applications… Like, we *admit* 18K-20K students each year to get our class — admit, not receive apps from! My two-floor office would be floor to ceiling paper. Committee reports and some specific stuff in specific instances gets printed, but not everything. We thankfully switched to digital a decade or so ago, I believe, which was long before my time here. I’m interviewing for and will hopefully get a new position in the office that would be part admissions recruiter, and if I get the job I will be thanking my lucky stars that all my app reading will be digital!!!

  29. Unwitting Drug Dealer*

    I worked in media at a major broadcasting company and was hired as an admin to support three departments, but was promised to get special projects from the Marketing team. I was excited! It was early in my career, I was young, and I wanted to move up at some point.

    Special projects for the head of Marketing included:
    – Setting up her Brazilian bikini waxes appointments.
    – Mailing prescription anxiety meds through USPS to her best friend–many, many times.
    – Planning her yearly trip to Art Basel in Miami with her fiancé.

    Looking back, I’m pretty sure that the 2nd one was illegal. As I wasn’t hired to be a personal assistant, I didn’t show particular enthusiasm for the job. Got fired. Oh well.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Wow these are special projects indeed! And you’re right, isn’t #2 basically dealing drugs?

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        “Unwitting Drug Dealer” wasn’t actually dealing though, she was just the mule since she was sending them.

  30. Anon today*

    When I was high school (20 years ago) a boss asked all of the female employees (food service) for sexual favors because his wife was pregnant and wouldn’t do what he asked. He told us if we were “nice” to him, he would make sure we got the best shifts and more holiday days off. Someone/something must have been looking out for me because the first customer was my 6 foot, 210 lb. defensive lineman boyfriend and other defensive lineman friends. He never asked me again and got a quick and mysterious “transfer” soon thereafter. Still to this day don’t know why, but I assume another employee told parents or reported him.

      1. Anon today*

        He was super friendly to the manager, introduced himself and his friends and told him they were available for “security” if we got any rowdy customers. I 100% believe someone/something protecting me from him because I got many weekend opening shift with him because I lived so close. I’m sure he would have asked again and possibly force himself on me or fire me if I refused. Sometimes the universe just looks out for us!

  31. PolarVortex*

    Not so funny story.

    Have to deal with an absolute pervert. I was female presenting at the time (I was 19 and looked like I was 14 yo, I got carded buying lottery cards until I was 30) and was more a wallflower personality than the terrier I am now. Guy would come into the men’s clothing part of the store I worked at and would make me help him buy underwear and shorts. (And make him look at the short’s fly to make sure it was laying right because “it wasn’t laying right”) And he’d come back and return them and start the process all over again. There were only two of us in the dept, and my senior coworker (male) refused to deal with him and wouldn’t help me. Nor would the managers because of course he’s just a nice customer who needs help.

    Went on for months until a nice grandmother type coworker was assigned to the dept one day to backfill and he came around. She shooed me off and must’ve put the fear of some deity (or herself) into him because I never saw him again.

    1. Observer*

      Not funny at all. I DO like the part about the “grandmother type” who had more brains and backbone than anyone else in the place. (Not YOUR fault!)

    2. Puh-lease….*

      Ugh… I had several of these types of customers when I worked in a tux rental shop in my early 20’s. Asking for repeated inseam measuring, adjusting waistbands for them, help with “zipper malfunctions”, come out of the dressing room with no pants on… a lot of the time I was there by myself so would just have to say no and hope they didn’t get aggressive (some did, and required security calls!) but when my large male ex-marine coworker was there with me I’d call him over to “help them out”, and suddenly they figured out how to zip their own zippers… just… ugh…

  32. Purple Pen Fiasco*

    Purple pen. I wrote my personal notes (in a personal notebook that I purchased at Target with my own funds, when I was learning my job/my personal training notebook) in purple pen. Purple is my favorite color, and it made me smile to read my notes to myself in purple. Again, no one saw these notes. They were my notes to me alone, and I could pull them to remind myself how to do a process as I was training. I didn’t have to turn in this notebook or anything of the sort.

    My boss came in, screamed that she hated purple pens (this was news to me), snatched it out of my hand, and threw it at me, while screaming. Then she grabbed it off the ground where it landed, and took it into her office. I was flabbergasted. Witness were equally puzzled.

    The next day, she called me into her office. I was scared, as I walked in, and she was holding my purple pen. She threw it at my again (gentler this time) and said I could have it back. She only screamed at me the previous day because her husband forgot her birthday. She then proceeded to sob about how horrible he was and her life was.

    1. PolarVortex*

      What on earth.

      I hope you’re able to use your purple pens without remembering that constantly.

      1. Vimes*

        I once used a red pen for an in class essay in high school because I hated getting corrected in red pen. Teacher got mad at me (reasonable—my handwriting suuuuuucks. Ten pages of it in red pen. Aw, education, no), realized she had never actually forbidden us to use red pen despite the fact that I was being an obvious jackass, and corrected the whole class’ essays in purple for the rest of the year, which was awesome. Thanks Ms. S!

        1. Purple Pen Fiasco*

          I taught as well! I wasn’t allowed to correct in red. My principal said it was damaging to the children and looked like blood all over the page. Apparently I shouldn’t write at all!

        2. Artemesia*

          I used an ink that was called ‘gold’ but was more goldish brown for corrections or if that wasn’t available, green. Lots of kids sort of freak when they see lots of red comments.

        3. Dana Whittaker*

          I was The Crazy Correction Mom when my daughter was in elementary/middle/high school. Every Parents’ Night, I asked how corrections were made. “Oh we don’t like to make corrections – it is disheartening.” I offered to buy every teacher a case of pens in whatever positive and uplifting color they wanted, but I did expect my child to actually learn grammar, spelling, and punctuation at some point.

          Setting: 8th grade Parents’ Night.
          I raise my hand and ask the teacher if this is the year that students will have their work corrected for grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

          Teacher replies: “Oh no – by this point, if the students haven’t gotten the hang of it, we just assume they are not going to ever get it.”

          I do not actually remember my response – my husband said it was like something out of a horror movie, complete with references to the nuns that I had in Catholic grade school. He was just glad we made it out without the police showing up.

          The following year, my daughter’s freshman English teacher described how she spent the first quarter on diagramming sentences, grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

          I hugged her. In tears.

    2. Robin Ellacott*

      That is just bizarre and must have been really alarming.

      Once upon a time we had people in my office fighting over all WANTING purple pens. I wonder what hijinks would have ensured if your boss had been introduced to the mix.

    3. Plebeian Aristocracy*

      Seriously, there seems to be something magically wrong about purple pens! There was the pen story in the supply list, and I have watched coworkers getting snippy about “having enough” and “pens disappearing.” This could very much be a me thing—and if they bring you joy, go for them—but I have such bigger fish to fry.

  33. Holly Golightly*

    Once when I was very young, I was asked by a supervisor to take suicidal coworker home with me.

      1. Hiring Mgr*

        Nope.. I had answered an ad in the paper (this was when i was in college, decades ago). The ad was pretty vague but it said something like “get paid cash daily”. I called the guy up and for the first few days I was just driving around doing deliveries, picking up other things, etc..

        Then he calls me one night that week.. asked if had any big friends who could handle themselves, and if I’d every done any collecting.. Then he said if i really wanted to make some big $$, i shoudl round up some of my “big friends” and he’d show us the ropes in collecting :)

  34. Foreign Octopus*

    Working in recruitment, my boss told me to only put forward English-sounding names because the client had, and I quote, “enough diversity”.

    Obviously I didn’t do it and left for another job some time later.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        Sadly no.

        We were a five-person office and I think he knew that what he was asking was wrong as he was doing this weird hovering thing at my shoulder. I did make a point to send candidates that were absolutely qualified and met all of the visa requirements but had traditionally non-British names in the hope of forcing his hand or the client’s hand into putting something in writing.

    1. HS Teacher*

      I had a boss who your story reminds me of. We had an opening for an account exec, and he had set up some interviews. One of the people who came in ended up being a black female. After the interview, he told me he wasn’t going to hire her because he didn’t need another one. (I’m a black female.) If I had known what her name was or any way of contacting her, I’d have offered to testify on her behalf in the lawsuit.
      I left that job, and industry, shortly afterward. Freaking toxic, racist, homophobic… Never again.

      1. Zweisatz*

        Jesus Christ. Not better by a lot if he had said it to somebody else, but it somehow still makes it worse that he told you directly.

    2. Forgot My Name Again*

      I used to work in a place where the secretary would vet applications for “funny-sounding names” before passing them to the hiring manager. I think she’d confided in me thinking me an ally, and I must have looked so shocked that she quickly backtracked and said “oh, they’re all international applicants, and we don’t have a budget for help with moving costs.” Uh huh. All of them?

  35. Albeira Dawn*

    Oh also I worked in a grocery store bakery department where the store manager regularly got mad at me when the bread displays were empty. While standing in the back where she could clearly see that there was literally no bread for there for me to put out.

    1. Michelle*

      My daughter’s boss gets mad at her when she’s gets all her cleaning done too quickly. On slow days she’ll finish everything and end up standing around, and he’ll get mad and make her re-clean things she just finished with just so she’s “doing something.”

  36. La vie est belle*

    In my first office job as an Admin Assistant, the President of our small company had her office redecorated. She found the new leather sofa looked “too new”. She asked me and a couple of the other assistants to take take turns jumping up and down on it until it looked sufficiently worn in.
    It was a very formal office in the early ’90s, so we were all in skirt suits and pantyhose – not the ideal outfit for playing trampoline on a sofa. Out of the team of 4 assistants, only one (not me!) had the sense to say no. Amazingly, despite it taking a couple of days of jumping to get it to the point she was satisfied, there were no serious injuries. Now many years later into my career, can’t believe I did it and can’t ever imagine asking someone to do that!

    1. SnapCrackleStop*

      I’m picturing something like the scene in Sabrina where the secretaries all stand on a plastic board to demonstrate it’s strength.

    2. Mr. Shark*

      This sounds like something that would have been in MadMen, somehow acceptable in the ’60s but wildly inappropriate in the ’90s.

  37. AgentOfBway*

    I once had a boss ask me to create fake user profiles to write positive reviews of a a new part of our business opening m various websites because there were so many negative ones. I was the receptionist.

  38. Jennifer*

    In my first job out of college, my boss asked me to write up the minutes for a meeting I hadn’t attended. I asked her for her notes and she started screaming at me that I never just do what she asks. I tried to explain that I obviously couldn’t recap a meeting I didn’t attend and she stormed away. Turns out she was supposed to be at the meeting but instead was at a hotel room with her grandboss, with whom she was having an affair that EVERYONE knew about.

  39. Gipsy Danger*

    Not me, but a colleague. We worked for a political party, as assistants to elected officials. My colleague’s boss was about to go on tv and she told him that he had something in his teeth. He responded “Well, get it!” – he expected her to pick his teeth for him. To her eternal torment, she did. She mentioned it as the inciting incident when she resigned a few weeks later.

    1. Ally McBeal*

      Ew, oh god, every cell in my body (still traumatized from enduring the first 6 months of the pandemic in NYC) just recoiled in disgust.

  40. That's Just, Like, Your Legal Opinion, Man*

    During my last year of law school, I started clerking at a small practice. It was just me, the legal assistant, and the attorney/practice owner. Part of my job was to prepare notices of service, which are formal notifications to the opposing counsel/party that we had filed a motion or other pleading. Well, one day my boss asked me to prep a notice for a motion that she was filing that day. She then told me to wait THREE DAYS before sending it to opposing counsel (whom she had a personal grudge against) so they wouldn’t have time to file a counter motion. This is a HUGE no no! She wanted me to violate the court rules and the state bar’s code of ethics, risking her license and my future all because she was being petty. I “accidentally” mailed the service the same day I prepped it and quit a few weeks later. Needless to say, she has a horrible rep in our area!

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      If opposing counsel was really on the ball they could save the envelope with the postmark.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        Yup. I work with an practice that has very tight turnarounds and service requirement. You don’t serve timely, they will throw it your submission as not filed timely/in accordance with rules. I had a newbie paralegal screw up service entirely by accident, and trying to keep our very important brief in file required an all-parties teleconference with the jurisdiction and a very expensive hand-delivery service to another state.

  41. Listen to your ticketsellers*

    I work in ticketing. My first job was at a small venue with a ~250 seat house. We were hosting a day-long scholarly seminar with several high profile speakers, and sold the tickets as general admission, meaning the audience expected to arrive and choose their own seats. We ended up selling out the house and my boss panicked about how everyone would fit in the space; my suggestion: “Can we just ask them to move down the rows and fill in all the empty seats?” was immediately rejected as lacking professionalism, and he insisted instead on retroactively assigning seats to everyone, one day before the event, without notifying the ticketbuyers themselves we were doing so. I begged, pleaded, and even cried (I was young) about why this was a bad idea, but was told to do it anyways. The day of the event, the first audience members arrived well in advance of the doors opening time to stake out the best seats, and were outraged to be told we’d assigned them a seat without their knowledge and they’d have to sit where we told them. Lots of shouting, utter chaos, several ADA-violations since the retro seat assignments had no way to account for special seating needs, and in the end, when we were running late and desperate to start, we *asked everyone to just move down the rows and fill in all the empty seats*. An entire day of totally pointless work that resulted in us just doing the thing I suggested we do in the first place, but only after making our audience irate.

    1. Worldwalker*

      At the GDC keynote one year, several requests were made to move together, etc., because they had given out exactly as many tickets as they had seats. (special seating needs were separate) People shuffled around a bit but didn’t do much. Then one of the volunteer staff got the mic, and announced “Okay, everyone, defrag the room!” They did. :)

    2. Bugalugs*

      OMG I can’t imagine. I have enough horror stories on working box office and building last minute shows to fill a book. First rule of ticketing don’t screw with the tickets people are very particular about where they sit.

    3. Silence Will Fall*

      I worked for a 400 seat venue in college. We had a well-known public radio broadcaster come in as part of a grant-funded speaker series. Tickets were free and were available at noon on a first-come, first-served basis. By 9 am, there were well over 500 people in line for tickets, so the venue manager decided to just hand out the tickets until they were gone rather than make people wait. A few minutes later, we were “sold out”. This was pre-social media days, so we updated the box office voicemail and put up signs on the marquee and door. Despite this, by 10 am, there were dozens of people lined up. When I went out to let them know that the event was already sold out, these regular NPR listeners turned into a raving mob. How dare we give out the tickets early? They were banging on the box office windows, screaming for a manager. Waving their fingers in my face. One woman threw her coffee on the ground and stamped off. It was awful! We had a repeat performance every 30 minutes or so until early afternoon when people were finally able to gracefully accept that there were no tickets left.

      1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

        At my university, they had a short stint of high-profile media figures coming in to have a talk with our most famous alumnus, one per year, I think for all four years I was there. The third or fourth one was INCREDIBLY famous, in a different category to the others, and people (myself included) lined up the night before and slept outside (in October, I believe) to get the tickets.

        The university president showed up in the morning to observe, ordered coffee and hot chocolate for us from university dining, and also released all the tickets that were being held for faculty and faculty guests. They also policed the line to prevent people from joining their friends without having waited, and may have counted the line to make sure not too many people joined it and were disappointed.

        Not to say that y’all could have done any of this, it just reminded me of my experience.

  42. Snarkus Aurelius*

    At my very first internship, I had no idea how bad it was. That’s why the Executive Director liked college students who had no office experience. She’d manipulate us and tell us every intern in DC worked 80 hour weeks with no pay and if we didn’t go along with that, we’d never find a job. My internship consisted of planning for some big national conference. One of the reasons I accepted initially was because, hey, free trip to LA as “payment” for my work.

    The night we got there, we had an all staff meeting. The Executive Director, who had a suite of her own, required one of the interns to wake her up every morning at 6 AM. We were like, “What?” I suggested having the front desk give her a wake up call. She said, “No. I need someone to come into my room and wake me up properly with a cup of fresh coffee and the newspaper. Make sure I’m out of bed and getting ready. I’ll give you a key to my suite and everything!” The room was awkwardly silent. Another intern finally said yes, and that poor person DID IT every single day of the conference! I couldn’t believe it. I refused to do it, especially because the Executive Director traveled with her husband and they were sleeping in the same bed.

    The worst part was we weren’t going to bed until 1 AM so all of us were operating on about 5-6 hours of sleep for those three days.

    That woman is dead now, and I do not miss her at all.

    1. La Triviata*

      Place I worked years ago would have a lot of meetings. It was not located near public transit and to get there, I’d have to take a cab. The alternative would be take multiple buses, walk a good distance and leave home unconscionably early … this while us peons were working literally 16 hours a day. The upper level staff had rooms at the hotel and parking for their cars, all paid for by the organization. As were their rooms. And movies. And dry cleaning. Those of us who weren’t important enough didn’t get lunch breaks and couldn’t even count on getting food paid for. When I was told that I had to leave the venue, go back to our office for some materials and get back ASAP, they refused to pay for cab fare. Following that meeting, they decided – retroactively – that they would not pay any overtime unless it had been approved in advance.

  43. Joyce To the World*

    This is all the same boss in a small non profit that used federal funds to operate.
    Made me share a bed with her when we traveled for work. She had a twin size inflatable mattress she would bring and I had to sleep next to her while she floated above me on her mattress. Flopping loudly every time she turned over. Finally had to put a stop to this and insisted on a rollaway bed or my own.
    Also made us sing stupid songs about food when entering elevators with others in hotels. -Also while traveling for work.
    The biggest and final straw was her telling us we had to hide her shady handling of federal funds When we were audited and it started to go south, she left the country for a month and left us holding the bag. We shut it down and made her come back to face the music.

      1. OhNo*

        Agreed, what the what? Did she just secretly dream of having a barbershop quartet constantly giving her life theme music or something?

        1. Joyce To the World*

          She was in the Sweet Adeline’s, basically a female version of Barbershop. We worked with children and she thought it was cute for us all to bust out into our songs and dance movements every time we got on the elevator. It was mainly just humiliating. I started ignoring her prompts to start the “Dog and Pony Show” and pretended like I didn’t know them.

        2. Slow Gin Lizz*

          OMG, like that episode of Scrubs where the barbershop quartet sings in the elevator! I love that one!

    1. Alexis Rosay*

      I also had to share a bed with my boss at a nonprofit retreat she organized. She…didn’t bother to check the number of beds the rental had apparently. No air mattress though!

  44. A Stranger in the Alps*

    Working collections, we had a judgment against someone who owed between $40-70k. We were going to pursue a bank levy to collect the funds, and my boss wanted me to call the bank, pretending to be a creditor, and see if they had enough funding in the bank so we didn’t waste our time. I refused.

  45. Ace in the Hole*

    The award has to go to the customer who demanded I stop controlling traffic to interrupt the firefighters and ask them how much longer it was going to be. They’d driven a whole 10 minutes to get to us and HAD to drop off their recycling TODAY. This was while the recycling center was obviously on fire: smoke pouring out the roof, six fire trucks crowded outside, and all the staff huddled on the street.

    You’ll be shocked to learn that I did not do what the customer wanted.

    1. 3DogNight*

      When working 911 we had a minor flood event. One of our city council members called 911, while our officers, who were out, you know, rescuing people. Council member wanted them to close his road, because when people drove past the water was making wave in his house. Well no $–t-Sherlock, there’s a flood, and you built your house below sea level (not in Louisiana, either).

    2. anonymous73*

      I worked a short stint as a CSR for Comcast internet service. We had 6 weeks of training, which included handling phone calls while our trainers assisted in one giant room. On the last night of training, a big hurricane was spinning through the area. The phones were pretty dead, but I did have one caller who asked why their internet was out. Ummmm, have you looked outside? And after the hurricane, my first week on the phones alone I had one guy ask why his cable/internet was out when he had a generator.

      You can’t fix stupid.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I’ll never forget the customers calling us asking why they couldn’t fax anything after OldExjob was hit by a tornado during the 2009 super-derecho (the power was out because the pole got snapped in half, and the fax machine was down but the phone still worked). When I told them what happened, everyone was shocked and concerned, asked if we were all right, etc. Except for one woman: “Oh. *pause* Well, when do you think I can fax my quote?” *facepalm*

      2. Ace in the Hole*

        The flip side, of course, was my local power company insisting that my lights flickering whenever it rained wasn’t an issue on their end.

        They said their equipment was weatherproofed, so it must be my building’s wiring. I pointed out that it happened to at least two of my neighbors also – nope, still blamed the house wiring. I called a second time and pointed out that the power pole transformer was sparking every time it rained and seemed to be getting worse over time – nope, not related to the flickering lights, and not a problem either… “they just do that sometimes.” But when I called a third time to tell them the transformer exploded they did finally send a tech!

  46. Canadian Valkyrie*

    1. One of my former managers asked me to clean out an old storage room in a very old building that was in an attic-like space. I said I couldn’t because I have asthma and allergies to dust and would be unable to be in a space with that much work doing physical stuff without becoming very unwell and being unable to breath. She told me to use an inhaler and do it any how and wouldn’t listen when I said that my emergency inhaler wasn’t just going to magically make it totally ok. I was livid because there were absolutely other employees she could have asked who don’t have respiratory illnesses and had me help once the stuff was in another part of the building that wouldn’t cause me to become unable to breath well even with medical intervention and it felt pretty messed up that she would expect me to compromise my health for a menial task that others could have done.

    1. Canadian Valkyrie*

      1. One of my former managers asked me to clean out an old storage room in a very old building that was in an attic-like space. I said I couldn’t because I have asthma and allergies to dust and would be unable to be in a space with that much dust doing physical work without becoming very unwell and being unable to breath. She told me to use an inhaler and do it any how and wouldn’t listen when I said that my emergency inhaler wasn’t just going to magically make it totally ok (better sure, but still not comfortable!). I was livid because there were absolutely other employees she could have asked who don’t have respiratory illnesses and she could have instead had me help once the stuff was in another part of the building that wouldn’t cause me to become unable to breath well even with medical intervention and it felt pretty messed up that she would expect me to compromise my health for a menial task that others could have done.

    2. Bex*

      Ooh, yeah, I got a similar assignment but didn’t have any reason to say no other than that it sounded terrible. The theater company where I worked (in an office job) had been using donated warehouse space for a long time, and now that building was being sold and we had to get our stuff out. Only what we wanted to keep, because the place was being demolished and they would throw whatever was left in the dumpsters (pretty generous, actually!). I had never been there before but somehow got put in charge of the clean-out project, which was very important to the boss, but not important enough for him to, y’know, participate.

      First day, we arrive at the warehouse and it is a mess. Broken windows, bird poop everywhere, no organization, no shelving, piles of stuff just all over the floor, almost nothing worth keeping. We manage to fill the rental truck with potentially useful items, head back and unload, report to the boss that we got everything.

      He tells us that’s impossible. There’s thousands of dollars worth of fabric in that warehouse! The couch from that show he directed 15 years ago! The scenery from whatever other show! He made us go back for two more full days, never came out himself to see that all the precious stuff he wanted rescued was crapped on or torn up by nesting animals, mildewed, broken, or otherwise useless.

  47. Camellia*

    Back when I was barely 21, I lived in Town A and worked full time as a bank teller in Town B for minimum wage, $2 an hour at that time. A man who owned a business in Town A was complaining one day about having to drive to Town B to make his business deposits. My manager told this man that I would come to his house every morning and pick up his deposit from the day before and bring it with me to work. They both thought that was a great idea! Thank goodness that, young and inexperienced as I was, I had the sense to tell them no, I would not do that.

  48. James*

    I was once asked to plug a leak in a sump. It was 4′ down, no ladder, and the sump was of unknown depth and partially full of water. The whole thing was giving off TCE fumes, very nasty stuff. Permit-required confined space, too, which made the whole thing even better, due to the number of laws, policies, and procedures I’d have violated had I done it. I was also literally the only person in the building–it had been evacuated due to the TCE fumes. To fully paint the picture, this is in what I refer to as the Horror Hallways, access tunnels built under a facility in the 1960s and not upgraded since, so it was bad lighting, rats running around in the distance, weird noises coming from the outdated pipes…. Fortunately when I presented these concerns (well, when I explained my response of “Yeah, not gonna happen, this is insane”) my boss was 100% on board. He hadn’t realized what all this would entail and agreed I’d made the right call in pushing back.

    I also once had a safety audit that resulted in tripling our paperwork. Nothing got any safer, but boy howdy did we document it not getting safer! Lost a LOT of respect for that safety officer.

    Another time….This was was reasonable, but seems absurd from the outside. Two of us were doing a site visit, on a one-lane desert road. A desert tortoise, an endangered and protected species, was in the road. So we took a few photos to document it, keeping our distance (it was illegal for us to be within 10 feet of this thing, and it was literally our jobs to make sure folks complied with these laws, we were the environmental compliance contractor), and got back in the truck. It started walking towards us, so we backed the truck up–It kept coming. We kept backing up. It kept coming. We were fleeing from a 2 lb turtle for a solid 20 minutes! Absolutely absurd from the outside, but we got kudos for actually following the rules on that one. (If you get close to a desert tortoise they urinate as a defense mechanism. Most of the time they then die of dehydration.)

    1. CommanderBanana*

      Yes, the peeing turtles! If they end up on the parade grounds at Twenty Nine Palms, a group of Marines is dispatched to form a protective square around the turtle and move with it until it wanders out of danger.

    2. Worldwalker*

      Couldn’t you have just stayed in the truck and let the turtle assume it was just a weird big rock, and walk around it?

      1. TimesChange*

        They were following the letter of the law — “it was illegal for us to be within 10 feet of this thing”