let’s talk about people “misusing” their power for good

Last week we talked about the smallest amount of power you’ve ever seen someone abuse. But people can also use even small amounts of power for good — like the crossing guard who wasn’t really a crossing guard, or the graphic designer who sabotaged a homophobic group’s ad in her newspaper.

This week, let’s talk about times when you’ve seen someone exploit their power for good. Specifically: times when you saw someone violate the letter or the spirit of a rule or otherwise do something that could technically be considered under-handed in order to achieve good in the world. Please share in the comments!

{ 1,054 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Quick clarification that we’re not looking just for times you saw someone be a good person at work, but times when you saw someone violate the letter or the spirit of a rule or otherwise do something that could technically be considered under-handed in order to achieve good in the world.

  2. Eat Dirt, Jim*

    As with so many other tales on this site, this one is about pens. Unlike so many other workplaces, mine actually had a reason to be fussy- this was a food manufacturer and if you oopsied a pen into a vat of soup, they wanted it to be a metal pen that would thusly show up in the metal detector. That part was fine and dandy. I heartily approved!

    What wasn’t fine and dandy was that while the first pen was free, all subsequent pens cost two dollars. Expecting people to pay for their pens is bad enough, but this was highway robbery. People would often point out that they could buy other metal pens cheaper elsewhere- and they were welcome to do so- but they needed to keep a supply of the ink refills for their particular pen or else they were back on my doorstep, forced to buy a pen.

    My coworker and I were the unlucky peons tasked with actually handing out the pens and making sure people signed their pen forms (I also tried to make sure people read them, which…spoiler alert, so few people bothered to read the forms.) We were also the recipients of all the tantrums from people who needed a new pen and couldn’t believe that two bucks would be coming out of their paycheck for it. (I told them to read the form!)

    However, since not all pens were completely gone, but merely lost parts while the ink was being refilled, my coworker and I started a pen graveyard in order to cannibalize parts. We could fix pens, we could build you a refurbished one… the environmentalist in me liked our solution, but it was seriously such a waste of manpower. We also had to record all the ink refills (date and name of person receiving ink) and periodically yet another employee had to reconcile the pen and ink inventory with the supplies given out.

    I bet you’re shocked, simply shocked to find out that the owner of this place is one of those people who complains that no one wants to work anymore.

    1. AnonInCanada*

      (Eyes rolling in the back of my head at the sight of someone having to keep track on pens and ink refills). Is this ink so special it requires this kind of scrutiny? Or is the boss just a cheap ass?

      I bet you’re shocked, simply shocked to find out that the owner of this place is one of those people who complains that no one wants to work anymore.

      I guess that answers that question.

    2. Amber T*

      I totally get the need for metal pens vs cheap plastic ones, but was there any sort of regulatory reason you needed to keep track of every part of the pen? Like, if someone said they lost theirs, did you have to record that they confirmed they didn’t drop it into a vat of soup or something? I work in compliance so I’m very used to rules that seem ridiculous until you find out the reason behind them (and no one outside of compliance cares about said reasons), so I’m always curious when you hear these ridiculous rules. It sounds like your company didn’t want to shell out extra money for a safer product that was necessary and pass the cost onto its employees, which is just Bad.

      1. Eat Dirt, Jim*

        Nope, no compliance issues. In fact, our inspectors were more concerned by the constant flux of people into our workspace (we worked in the lab) than anything else.

        1. Eat Dirt, Jim*

          Keeping track of the ink refills was because the people who worked with flour needed more than everybody else, because flour particles would mix with the ink and clog the pen. I briefly tried soaking the ink refills to get them unclogged, but that really was a waste of time and effort. I guess the owner thought those workers were eating the refills or something? He was impossible to explain things to.

    3. quill*

      This is great, but my mental image is of you issuing calligraphy pens to workers because I’m more familiar with those than with metal bodied, refillable, non-calligraphy pens.

      1. Hamburke*

        I bought my husband a package of metal ball-point pens. I wanted to buy him an executive pen since he’s been working at home (for 5 years now) and won’t lose a pen by setting it down on someone else’s desk but this particular brand is known for being good for lefties. I have a nice pen set – a gift from my dad – but I mostly use G2 pens b/c I actually didn’t like the cartridges, like they scratched the paper and made a distracting sound, and it’s a twist one so I can’t replace it with a different cartridge. Love the pencil though!

        1. Reluctant Mezzo*

          And you can buy a magnetic tray so you can set a metal pen down and not lose it (well, not as easily, anyway).

          1. Snuck*

            Sure! Just get a really nice tray of any type you like and put a magnet in it! If it’s got a little foot of some kind under it just glue a magnet to the bottom of it to draw through the tray to whatever is on top so you don’t see it (works with thin metals or plastic type materials, not good on china/glass/thick materials).

      1. Meri*

        Which leads to the mental image of working in a set from such a show – corpses of pens strung up everywhere, springs spread out across tables, ominous lighting… the terrified employee in the doorway as Eat Dirt, Jim looks up from the pen they’re in the middle of dissecting, “Ah, yessss, come in. How can I… help you today?”

    4. Usagi*

      A while ago, I worked in a retail store that sold video games. As many of you know, in general, video games are (at least in the US) $59.99. Every holiday season, we would have a promotion that was for $20 off when you spent $60 or more.

      Lots of people came to our store every year to buy games for the young children (and grown up children!) in their lives, and I for a while always gave them the $20 off, because in my mind, $59.99 and $60 were the same thing. Until one day, our new (grumpy, penny pinching, holier-than-thou) market manager saw what I was doing, and flipped his lid. How DARE I give that promo, when OBVIOUSLY the customers were not spending $60. Did I not know how to read!? The promo CLEARLY says $60, NOT $59.99.

      That left a bad taste in my mouth. So I did some thinking, and realized we also sold gift cards for virtual stores, so you could buy games, movies, DLC, etc. for your games. I decided that in my mind, the promo was no longer “get $20 off when you spend $60 or more,” it was “get a free $15 gift card and $5 off when you buy a full-priced game.” (to be clear, that was $59.99 for the game + a $15 gift card = $74.99, which qualifies for the $20 off, so the customer only ended up paying $54.99).

      I told all my coworkers to do the same.

      1. Kipianon*

        Love your solution, but I’m not sure I agree that your manager is in the wrong here. My guess would be that they wanted to encourage people to buy MORE than one game in order to get the promotion. Setting the promo at just one cent more is a bit silly, but I could imagine the intention was more of a “buy 2, get $20 off” concept.

        1. Usagi*

          Oh they definitely weren’t wrong. I wouldn’t give the promo if the game (or whatever the customer was buying) was, say $50, or even $55. We also sold all kinds of electronics, consoles, PCs, phones, so the promo wasn’t specifically targeted towards games, either. This was more along the lines of “we are a Fortune 50 company worth literally billions and billions of dollars, why are we making a fuss over one cent?”

          … I realize I’m getting close to calling out what company I used to work for.

      2. Underemployed Erin*

        I wanted this to involve the petty of you selling a bunch of 1 cent gift cards.

    5. Snuck*

      Different but similar… I had a micro controlling stationary whizz genius too… who controlled all manner of items and proudly announced the ‘savings’.

      One meeting she indicated that spiral bound note books (a ‘sign out only’ item because “last year people were taking them for school supplies) were ‘no longer disappearing and we had used half as many as the same period last year”!!!. I piped up. “How many did we use last year?” … cue great discomfort. Answer? FOUR. I then turned to the group, pointed to my “non company issue notebook” and said “I think it’s because we’re all buying our own, because we can never get one issued, and what’s the collective cost of our time to sit here and discuss this?” (We were all on six figures).

      She never gave a ‘stationary budget update’ again. And a month later the locks were taken off the cabinet.

      1. Zweisatz*

        This is golden. Truly, the item vs. salary cost needs to be raised in so many petty discussions.

    6. Gabrielle*

      What happens if you’re entirely out of writing utensils and can’t fill out the form???

  3. Seattle Frank*

    I used t0 work as a consultant. A hotel breakfast at a Marriot is ~$20 with tip. Although technically this was not following the rules for people who didn’t do “sales”, for the same price (or less) I could bring the whole IT department that I was working with donuts or pastries. As a result the IT tickets I needed done for our project were done first and we finished the project early – with a happy IT group to boot.

      1. Momma Bear*

        Double Tree used to give one of our sales reps cookies. Rep’s favorite people got their cookies first, and in return he got his requests handled extra quickly.

      2. JayemGriffin*

        I keep telling my users that I am extremely bribable. Unfortunately, the pandemic has kind of put a damper on food gifts :(

      3. Reluctant Mezzo*

        My husband consistently refilled the Twizzler jar after a certain unnamed vice principal liked to clean it out. Guess who got his requests taken care of first in the admin office.

      4. Julia*

        When I last did IT people would try to bribe me all the time because the previous person was very slow about fixing issues. Like $5 chocolate bar bribes for the most basic things. I felt bad that my coworkers were spending that kind of money out of pocket so I shifted them “if your candy bowl happens to have smarties that would be great.” I also fixed everyone’s computer stuff more quickly. The expensive candy bar bribes were reserved for times when I had to crawl under computers and get covered in dust or get incredibly out of date software to work.

    1. LPUK*

      I used to work for a well-known confectionery firm who would give you a little bag of confectionery that came off the lines that week ( street value about £2.50 at the time). It is AMAZING how much benefit you can get by giving the right people a bag of chocolate!

      1. Chinook*

        Best tips I ever made as a “coffee girl” was from the chocolate company workers who appreciated that we always had their favourite donuts freshly baked when their evening shift coffee break came in. Literally a sandwich bag of “seconds” of the chocolate of our choice (because they asked) that normally only could be found in a fancy box of chocolates (and then there was only 1 or two of a given flavour). I was in chocolate covered cherry heaven!

      2. Lissajous*

        I used to do something like this – I was the project mechanical engineer on a mine site in the middle of nowhere, as mine sites tend to be. I had to go into town every 2-3 days to fill up the fuel pod on the back of my ute, and there were very few people who could go into town at all. I’d also pick up some of the family packs of biscuits, and a couple of packs of chocolate biscuits.

        Me: Hey, the valve pits have rocked up – doesn’t need to be today, but we do need to get these two in particular installed as a priority, the rest we’ve got time.
        Supervisor: I’ll see what we can do – there’s lot on at the moment!
        Me: I know, believe me! Here, have some timtams to go with that cuppa.
        Supervisor: …so how about tomorrow for those valve pits?

        This was not underhand, alas, so doesn’t qualify for Alison’s request – my manager understood very well how far a couple of biscuits could go for good will, and cheerfully signed off the expense claims with nary a quibble.
        Those and the good coffee machine made that job a lot easier!

        1. Berkeleyfarm*

          On my sysadmin groups we often call it something like The Swedish Fish Principle – from a long-ago story where a hard working computer person always put a bag or two of a candy (Swedish Fish in his example) in the box when something had to go to the repair depot and always found that his requests were taken care of MOST expeditiously.

          I love timtams myself and am delighted that they are more findable in the US these days. (My old food blog had an illustrated guide to the Tim Tam Slam.)

      3. Scarrlet*

        We have a customer who always brings us bags of name brand chocolate. He owns a warehouse that he donated space to a food bank to use. Apparently, big organizations like Feeding America will call up food banks and go, “Okay, we have a big corporate donation for your food bank, it’s a truckload of breathmints.” If you respond with, “Our community doesn’t really need any breathmints, so we will decline. We really have a need for things like peanut butter or canned veggies,” you get categorized as “not needy enough” and get moved down the list so that you are the last to call when they have their next donation (which might be the peanut butter you need). So this food bank ended up accepting a shipment of thousands of pounds of a certain popular chocolate brand that were close dated, and ultimately had most of it left when it “expired” and couldn’t be handed out. We were happy to take as much slightly expired chocolate off his hands as he wanted to give us.

        He is a very nice man with very simple needs so we would be happy to see him even without the chocolate.

        1. JessaB*

          That is kind of odd, due to COVID issues I did a lot of shopping at food banks and many of the items are at or just past “best buy by” dates and they gave them out. Most food is good for longer than the dates on them indicate. Also at holiday times our local candy company (their main plant is like 3 miles from where I live on the same street, gives a truckload of their boxed selections to the food banks to give out brand new full on candy to their patrons. Sometimes breath mints are a thing you throw a handful in and find out that your patronage likes em.

          We have one massive food bank (Actually called the FoodBank) that distributes stuff around the city to smaller banks, so a truckload of mints would be fine.

    2. Anonymous4*

      I used to design reports for my department, and they were awful! Lots of data from all over the company, lots of requirements for variability, on and on and on. Plus, we had an overworked, cranky mainframe and my quarterly (and especially the year-end) reports tended to lock the computer up for three days.

      I would make frequent forays down into the IT department with homemade cookies, a big candy jar, a bowl of homegrown cherry tomatoes, or whatever was seasonably appropriate. Bribery helped make sure they answered my phone calls, and as long as I didn’t have to hand out $20 bills, I was fine with that!

    3. wine dude*

      In Olden Times waaay before Covid I used to travel monthly for business. I would always bring a bag of cookies with me I had baked the night before to share with airline people. Somehow I always managed to get the exit row or upgrade that made the flight a little less unbearable for my tall frame…

  4. SpiteCartridges*

    I transitioned to remote work for a company about 15 years ago due to a variety of factors, including my family’s relocation, timing of retirements/new staff in my department rendering my institutional knowledge really valuable, and while I can’t say I was the world’s best employee, I was damn good at some key tasks. A couple higher-ups were unhappy with the mere idea of my role working remotely and tried to make it as onerous as they could (jokes on them, even they eventually admitted it worked out great for everyone for over two years before I grew out of the work/moved on!). One particularly ridiculous requirement they establishes was that I had to purchase my own printer/scanner out of pocket that met very particular specs. The admin assistant who did all the supply orders was so furious on my behalf that they made me do this that she bought me twice the printer’s list price in ink cartridges for it and had it shipped directly to me. This printer still works, and, since I need it as often as you’d expect, we have a lifetime’s supply of spite cartridges.

    1. Magenta Sky*

      “twice the printer’s list price in ink cartridges”

      Depending on the brand, that could be one or two cartridges.

  5. TradeMark*

    So, back in the 90s, I worked for a rental car company – not one of the airport ones, but rather one that operated in the insurance replacement market. Sometimes we had insurance companies other than the renters’ being billed for the car, so when someone rented, we wanted to verify that they had car insurance in case something happened to our car. It wasn’t a hard and fast rule that we get that information – people who are getting a car in this circumstance typically have car insurance. But, it was best practice to confirm the information.

    Anyway, I had a couple in to get a car and I asked for verification of their insurance. The wife said that she didn’t bring it, and the husband just lit into her, “how could you be so dumb, etc.” It was super uncomfortable and totally ridiculous and in an effort to cut him off, I asked for his driver’s license to get the paperwork started for their rental. Well, it turned out he didn’t have the license with him. Now, you may not have needed to prove you have insurance to get a rental car, but you absolutely needed to show a drivers license to get one. So, I had the sweet satisfaction of telling this jackhole that I couldn’t rent him a car, but that I could get one for his wife.

    1. The Dude Abides*

      I wish a local car rental place was as diligent as yours – two years ago, my car got totaled by someone who had rented a truck for moving (they ran the red light). I’m still waiting for reimbursement on my $500 deductible, since they gave the rental agency expired insurance information.

  6. Anny Mouse*

    I used to work with this woman who was a police clerk for a small town. She also served as an unofficial dog catcher because their animal control was really overwhelmed so when the station got a call about a loose dog, she would go pick it up and either keep it in the kennel or would let it run around the station if it was friendly. I came into the office quite a few times to find a dog sitting on her lap while she was working. Anyway, there was this one couple whose dog got out every couple weeks like clock work. She had told me that they had no idea how the dog was getting out and had tried basically everything and were always really apologetic. They should have been ticketed but every time an officer would come in and ask if it was the same dog as before she would always say Nope! Never seen him before. A very small “abuse” of power but she just loved that dog.

    1. Katy*

      That’s great! My cousin used to have a dog (named Houdini, of course) who could escape from anything. The dog’s first owner, the one who named him, gave him to my cousin because he was sick of paying the fees to bail him out of the pound. He said that the people at the pound had told him when he adopted the dog that the dog was going to escape all the time, and since they recognized that this was going to happen regardless of who owned him, it was hardly fair of them to charge him for it every time.

      1. Dobby is a Free Elf!*

        But did your cousin manage to stop him from getting out? Inquiring minds need to know.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’ve known more than one dog that learned to open latches. The Jack Russell got away with getting away for a year because the gate had a spring to swing it shut. (Happily he only wanted to follow the sun into the front yard, so no tickets from Animal Control.)

        1. KoiFeeder*

          My mother’s engagement present from my dad, besides the ring, was a livestock guardian puppy because she had to walk around in a shady part of town often. Occasionally he’d open up the front door and just go walkabout to survey his terrain and make sure no shady people were around.

          He was a good dog by all accounts, even if he did trap someone in the bathroom once because mom didn’t realize that she had to be in the house for him to be willing to allow any visitors in the house.

    2. The Prettiest Curse*

      Our previous dog survived being in an under-funded kill shelter in a rural town for many months longer than he would have otherwise, simply because the woman running the shelter liked him and kept finding excuses to keep him around instead of the alternative. He was an incredibly sweet dog, and I’ve always been very grateful that the shelter director kept him long enough to let us adopt him.

      1. dawbs*

        My childhood dog came from a moment like that.
        It was “why the hell is this 6 month old possibly purebred, beautiful, loves children, friendly dog still here? it’s amazing” and the shelter bent the rules,s made some phone calls, adopted it out to a ‘friend’ and then managed to have the friend be the foster until someone (us!) matched up with her
        And she was amazing.

        (actually, our last dog came from some jerk dropping off puppies to young to be separated…and some kind soul bottle raised them until we came for them. I know it was to early for the pups to legally be separated from their mother [ my state, law is 8 weeks], but the shelter worker said they didn’t think they’d get the care they needed to survive for 4-6 more weeks from the person who had them…so they turned a blind eye to that law for the moment and took them. Worked out well for us. and the dawgus)

    3. EllieBellie*

      Ah, and I have a story that’s sort of the opposite, but still a happy ending:

      My cousin also worked at a police station. She, too, dealt with a very sweet dog that kept getting loose. The difference was, this dog’s owners were NOT doing their best to keep it in, were NOT apologetic, and sometimes took over a week to pay the minor fine to get the dog out of the pound because they’d use the $20 to buy beer instead. They didn’t actively abuse the dog, but they didn’t give a damn for its safety and frankly didn’t care one way or the other if it ever came home (and said as much on multiple occasions when my cousin called them to let them know the dog had been picked up).

      So one day when she found that same sweet dog loose on the streets AGAIN, my cousin didn’t bring it to the pound like she was supposed to, she brought it home. Its original owners never came looking for it, and it’s now the most beloved and spoiled pooch you’ve ever seen.

      1. Anny Mouse*

        My coworker almost took a dog home once! She didn’t get any response on social media and when Animal Control came and took them I know she checked on their website a bunch and said it was eventually put up for adoption. She ultimately decided against it but I had really hoped she would!

      2. Juneybug*

        Our horrible neighbor who ran an illegal dog breeding business. We will call her “Jessie, the backyard breeder”. Jessie had dogs escape all the time (I too would run far from that place). One time, her dog landed at friend of a friend’s house. Since this was a certain type of breed dog, I knew exactly where it came from. But I say something when asked if I knew the owner? (The answer was nope).
        I have heard from the grapevine that the dog stayed with the family and living her best doggie life.
        For those who will ask – the illegal dog breeder did not post looking for her dogs because then the county could deny her business license.

      3. The Rafters*

        Sounds like the dog found his furever home. It just took your cousin a little while to realize it.

    4. Delta Delta*

      I once found a pair of Airedales and called the local animal control officer. Her response, “oh, the Airedales? Yeah, we know them. They get out all the time.” And they offered to come get the dogs and deliver them home. When the officer showed up the dogs were all happy/waggy because they knew her from all their other adventures.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        We moved from the city to a rural small town a few years ago, and one afternoon my teenager called me on their cell phone after school. “I can’t get into the house,” they explained. “There’s a cow in the front yard.”

        I went out to look, and there was indeed a cow in the front yard… who promptly treed me on a large rock when I tried to get across the yard to where my kid was. I had my phone with me and called 911, not knowing who else to dial (and not having the phone book with me on a rock in the yard). I admitted that no, it probably wasn’t *exactly* emergent, in that if I stayed on this rock I was probably safe… but I couldn’t get down and my kid couldn’t get out of the street.

        It took three hours, but the local cops did come around to look into the cow situation. By that time, she had wandered around to the side yard where the grazing was better, and my kid and I had been able to get inside, so the whole situation was by that time just funny. We watched out the window as the cops tried for a bit to round up the cow, failed, and then went with the rather more effective plan of going around the neighborhood to ask if anybody had lost a cow.

        They found the owner — there weren’t that many houses in our neighborhood. She came over with profuse apologies and collected her cow, but it was back within the week. This time I was less frightened, as she’d told me the cow was actually just overly friendly; but still, several hundred pounds of beef running eagerly in your direction is not entirely safe whether it wants to skewer you or get scritches. So I kept it at a distance and called the owner, whose number I had after the first time.

        We hosted that cow at least four times before I went around in person to let them know their cow was out again. This time, I got to know the owner better; apparently the cow was her husband’s passion project, except that he was away for work a lot of the time, and the cow was lonely. His wife, who ended up taking care of it most of the time and wasn’t happy with this, asked me if I minded her using our displeasure with the cow’s visits — which was largely fictional; by this time instead of being displeased we found it hilarious — as an excuse to give her husband for why they should re-home the cow.

        It must have worked… or at least taught him to build a stouter pen for her!! We were never visited by that cow again.

        1. allathian*

          Love the cow story! I wonder if you’ve posted it here before, because I had a strong sense of déjà vu when I read it?

          1. Working Hypothesis*

            I might have! I do post it occasionally when there’s a reasonable lead in. I don’t especially remember one from Ask a Manager but it wouldn’t surprise me if there had been. :)

                1. Working Hypothesis*

                  Sorry for the repeat! I guess the story, like the cow, just keeps coming back to its favorite places. :)

        1. Working Hypothesis*

          Of the Airedales or of my neighbor’s cow? I can’t quite tell how the threading falls into place in this section.

    5. Art3mis*

      Our dog ended up in rescue because she kept getting out of her yard and picked up by local animal control. The last time her owners just didn’t pick her up. We’ve had her almost 4 years now and she’s only got out of our yard once when a workman didn’t latch the gate right.

      1. Anny Mouse*

        To be fair the officers knew darn well what she was doing. It was a distinct looking dog. But loose dogs always seemed to find her, even when she was off work!

    6. Hannah Lee*

      Years ago, a friend’s mother ran a veterinary practice in NH. One day someone brought in a young dog that had been running loose and got hit by a car. She fixed him up and while he was healing had her office staff search around for the owners. They found who the owners were, and it turned out it was a couple who were well known in the area for letting their animals run free, weren’t great about training, routine care for their pets, so vet had had a couple of cases of them bringing in a perfectly nice animal which was suffering or having to be put down because these dopes had failed to give the dog, cat regular shots, get the obstruction treated when they first noticed the the pet had stopped eating, or had gotten into a snap trap, been hit by a car, etc because the owners allowed it to roam. It wasn’t that they couldn’t afford proper pet care, they just didn’t want to bother.

      She thought about it for a bit, and decided, hell no I am not going to give this sweet dog back to those jerks. She asked her 20 something son if he knew anyone who might be good dog parents. And that’s how we came to be gifted my favorite pet dog ever! He was a sweetheart, my confidant in my teens and 20s and aside from terror about thunder and firecrackers, just fluffy, gentle, funny and perfect. (He was also a purebred golden retriever, which we’d never have been able to afford otherwise) Mom wasn’t sure about it when vet’s son first showed up with him, but Pup ran into the house and immediately laid down quietly at her feet like he knew she was boss, and wagged his tail looking up at her, and won her over.

      We heard that eventually, like months later, the original owners came around asking if anyone had turned in a lost dog matching that description. She and the rest of her staff were all innocent “oh my, how sad your dog went missing … no, sorry, we haven’t seen him. Good luck with your search”

    7. ZebraNeighbor*

      My beloved pony came from a similar situation. He lived all by himself in a huge field – this is a bad idea for social animals such as horses. He escaped on a regular basis to cuddle with the horses at other farms. The finders would call Animal Control and eventually start charging board fees because the owners took so long to pick him up. One of the Animal Control officers paid off his most recent bill and announced that he belonged to her now. Even though he loved being around people and other horses, he was mostly wild. I adopted him shortly thereafter. The Animal Control officer did that a few more times, paying off the bills of abandoned horses and seizing them herself. Definitely an abuse of power and questionably legal, but it worked out for the horses.

      1. allathian*

        Lovely!

        I suspect that the cow that kept escaping from her pen as described by Working Hypothesis above in this thread was also lonely. Cows are also social animals.

        1. Working Hypothesis*

          Oh, absolutely she was lonely. She had no other cows living with her, and fairly little human attention, because the man who had really wanted her wasn’t home much, and his wife was forced into taking care of the cow for him. She did her best by that cow, but she was busy and not much of a cow person anyway, so she gave her good physical care but not much extra time and attention. The cow responded by breaking out of her pen frequently and going visiting, hoping to find somebody else willing to keep her company.

          I felt very sorry for her, and even stopped to pet her for a little while on a couple of her later visits to our yard. But she really needed a home where she had regular company in the place where she actually lived, without having to run around the neighborhood looking for it!! I really hope that guy found a new home for her after his wife told him that I had come around to complain. (I didn’t; I actually went around to investigate, but she asked my permission to misrepresent my attitude in order to be persuasive.) None of us ever saw her again, so maybe he did. I like to think of her living peacefully in a yard with a couple of other cows and horses, and not running away anymore because she doesn’t feel she has to.

  7. Aurora*

    My old company, significantly pre-COVID, were not fans of WFH.
    So, they enacted a corporate policy that if you needed to stay home with a sick child, you had to use a sick day and not just WFH, because if your kid was sick you needed to nurse them all day.

    Now, maybe with a small child, but I had multiple people on my team with kids who were 10+. Most sick 10+ kids, you dose ’em every few hours, try to get them to do homework, video games.

    So, I had an “off site team meeting” where we discussed how to call in with a sick kid but WFH anyway. We generated an entire list of “can’t come in, cable guy is coming!” type excuses. They’d use them on the corporate phone/email, and text my personal cell that the kid was sick.

    Our management either never figured it out, or decided to look the other way because they had no proof.

    1. Sarah*

      I love this. My current company has a rule that you cannot use sick time for anyone *except* yourself. So, not for staying home with a sick kid, not for taking your elder to a doctor’s appointment, just if *you, personally* are sick.

      I told my direct report (who has a kid) the policy, then looked her in the eye and said, “I never need to know why you’re taking a sick day, okay?”

      1. Froodle*

        My absolute poo-factory of a job has implemented this same rule… which we found out when it was retroactively applied and a co-worker suddenly found herself £300 short on her December pay cheque, with no previous discussion or notification. During the pandemic.

        Anyone with sick kids is suddenly getting a lot of norovirus, and no, sorry, they can’t work from home due to symptoms. So many symptoms. Come here, malevolent HR buffoon,and hear our symptoms.

        Company chose to play a silly game, and they’ve won themselves a monumentally stupid prize.

      2. Meow*

        I mean… what are you supposed to do if your kid is sick if you can’t take sick leave? Magically know a week in advance and take vacation?

      3. KateM*

        I live in a country where the law is that when *you* are sick, your employer has to pay you part of salary starting at 3rd day, first two days being unpaid sick leave; but when you are on sick leave because you are taking care of your sick child, government is paying 100% of your salary starting at the very first day. (It all goes with doctor’s note, of course – you need to call your GP and tell them that you / your kid is sick so they can open an official form for sick leave.)
        So, if you ever fall sick at the same time with your kid (like we had 5/6 of family down with covid last month), I think every single GP in the country puts you down as taking care of your sick kid.

    2. Work-From-Anywhere*

      I basically do the same thing! Our office is required to be in the office 2 days a week, but you are free to adjust as needed with your direct supervisor. I just told my team to just text with any ole excuse if they needed/wanted to work from home on day 2 and try to not abuse the privilege. I’m lucky I work with amazingly honest and smart people who know where the line is, and so far it’s worked just fine.

  8. Aerie*

    In one of my first professional jobs, where I was paid barely over minimum wage, any time my boss ordered in lunch for a client, he would “accidentally” over order (who knew the client wouldn’t want to eat TWO entrees? Or that three people wouldn’t eat 8 lbs of barbeque?) so I could bring home leftovers. Corporate didn’t know exactly how many people were at any of these meetings since we were a satellite office, so he was never caught and I ate much better than I got to eat from some of the best restaurants in the city that I never would have been able to afford on my own.

    This boss was also a wine aficionado so any time we went out to lunch in the office he made sure to order us a good wine.

    1. Susie Q*

      I’ve done this. My company will pay for client’s lunches but employees have to pay during a working lunch. So I always order based on the customer invited list knowing many of them won’t come and my team can have the leftover lunches.

      1. Reluctant Manager*

        That sucks on the company’s part–don’t they think it will look bad when the staff are all sitting around hungry?

        1. OhNo*

          If it’s anything like my old workplace, their logic was “We pay you enough to afford your own meal at working lunches.”

          Spoiler: they definitely didn’t. And even if they had, it was just a case of trying to offload the cost of doing business onto employees wherever possible. Unsurprisingly, the meals were not the only example of that.

    2. Rey*

      I’ll never know if my college boss did this on purpose or not, but there was always extra food from lunch meetings for us student employees, and often healthy salads and vegetables that we probably weren’t eating enough of anyway. The same boss also saved up all of the free perks from those food orders to pay for our student Christmas party at the end of the year.

      1. dawbs*

        I used to be the boss of student workers; officially, I ALWAYS ordered for the attendees only.

        Unofficially, the dean and I found ways to round up and I chased off full time instructors from the leftovers to make sure the starving college students ate.

        Somehow there was ALWAYS extra pizza for my kids. Always.

      2. Rosalind Franklin*

        I used to work out of a medical office with the associated drug rep meals. You’d be shocked how often there would be massive, untouched trays of fruit and salad left over. They just weren’t interested in fruit and salad!

        1. advertising: more 'mad thanksgiving with your family' than 'mad men'*

          On the agency side of things (pharma marketing, making stuff for the reps to use to sell you drugs), I’ve always noticed the fruit gets snapped up but the salads are left to wilt unless they’re baby spinach.

    3. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

      I had a similar experience. When I was in college I worked for campus dining. They often had leftovers and such from catering events. These were often really good things, think baked brie cheese board, really good cakes. Fancy stuff that most college students could only dream of. Well, corporate management had said that if something couldn’t be repurposed or put in the dining hall it should be thrown away (so if there were veggies from a charcuterie board should be repurposed for the salad bar but a baked brie would be thrown.)
      Well, the Chefs and managers thought this was stupid so they would just let us eat it. Students were also not allowed to take food out of the dining room but they allowed us to take our free meals home with us or take the leftovers from the catering home.

      Also one time the chef was trying to use up some leftover alfreado sauce so she made a chicken and spinage pizza. This was not something that was “approved” to be on the list. (every college that had this dining service had the same meals each day. So like every Monday would be spaghetti night no matter if you were in my college or a college 3 states away. They did make exceptions during lent since I went to a private catholic college.) Anyways she makes the pizza and I think only us student workers ate it. It was so good we each took a piece, went to the back and ate it. Washed our hands and then went back to work.

      1. Meow*

        I worked for a place that let people rent meeting rooms and had a catering service. Since the customers technically paid for the food, no one else was allowed to eat it. But similarly, the chef at that place was appalled over all the food that went to waste that way, he told us AV people and maintenance staff to take some when we cleaned up afterwards. I was young and single and got so many free meals. (It was just sandwiches and snacks, but plenty for a work lunch)

      2. Raboot*

        I worked for university catering while im school. It was really really common that there would be leftovers from client events that were like, uneaten tiramisu, or a whole tray of fancy pasta bake that was never even opened – tons of perfectly good, non-gross food. (Catering is a very wasteful industry, turns out.) We’d put it in the staff fridge and anyone could eat it and take as much as they wanted home. Fancy free food as a college student, what more do you need.

        One day the catering director had all us students in for a meeting and basically said “y’all, I’ve been told by the University Food Service that we’re not allowed to let you take food home. So just make sure you don’t let other UFS employees see that you’re still taking food home unless you’re sure they aren’t narcs.”

        1. MAC*

          My most recent Previous Job was at a nonprofit. One of my responsibilities was event coordination. During my first event I learned that since we did a buffet line rather than seated/plated meals for lunch events honoring donors, the venue would tear it down before staff got a chance to eat. I guess because health codes? Length of time on the warming stations, or some such?

          Our team worked really hard, for nonprofit salaries, so from then on at every event I managed, I rallied a couple of volunteers and requested a dozen plates & domes and we dished up meals for all our workers who were busy making the event happen. Then when it was over, we’d eat together while the venue staff cleared the rest of the tables.

          The venue also wouldn’t let us take the leftover trays of desserts (cookies, brownies, finger food stuff — nothing that required plates or utensils) even though we’d paid for them. “No food can leave the premises!” So we started coming prepared – we’d bring several gallon-size Ziploc baggies and a few shopping totes and — again, after the event was over and everyone else had left — stealthily make the rounds to each table and smuggle the often-untouched goodies back to our table, tuck them away, and haul them back to the office … snacks all week!

        2. Azure Jane Lunatic*

          At one of my tech industry jobs, there was an email list that had been set up for the purpose of informing others of free food.

          As the administrative assistant of my team, when we were done with our catering I would personally send out the call to vultures@ (actual name of the list) so people could descend in a timely fashion.

          I also made sure that when I was ordering breakfast catering, that there was a substantial portion of much less time-sensitive food for people to snack on throughout the morning.

      3. Usagi*

        I worked for a large international catering service before, and our chefs/managers would always “mistakenly” order too much ingredients. A few days before events, one of the chefs would write a few seemingly random dishes on a white board (which mysteriously all used the same or similar ingredients to things that the customer ordered). Then, over the next few days, magnets would appear next to dishes.

        Completely unrelated, on the day of the event, the chefs would “mistakenly” cook an extra dish, which the customer did not order. Of course, it couldn’t be served to them since it wasn’t part of their order, so it would be stored in our break area fridge until someone had the time to throw it away (at the end of the day of course, since we were all so busy). Strangely, someone would also store a bunch of take-away boxes next to it too. Even more strangely, sometimes, someone would portion all that food into the take-away boxes before storing it in the fridge?

        It was 100% coincidence that the dish the chefs cooked was also the dish that had the most number of magnets next to it on the white board.

    4. Radical Edward*

      What a thoughtful boss!

      I used to work in a (non-hotel) venue that had its own restaurant in addition to rooms for hire. The restaurant catered all the meetings and events, and their food was excellent so customers usually splashed out on the buffet options. Technically nobody was allowed to eat the leftovers because of sanitation/liability concerns, but the staff hated waste (who wouldn’t?!) so someone would always stick their head in our office after the guests had left and quietly tell us where the food was and how long we had before it was cleared away. Being fresh out of college and very poor, my coworkers and I would fill tupperware containers with whatever we couldn’t eat on the spot and stash them in the fridge to take home. I saved hundreds of dollars on my food budget every year.

      1. MAC*

        LOL, I just posted a story a couple lines up of how my co-workers and I (not fresh out of college poor, but underpaid nonprofit poor) worked that type of system from the other side!

      2. I take tea*

        As a student worker I really appreciated the chance to eat fancy salads, cheese and fruit that were leftovers from whatever happening there had been catered for. The in house catering staff weren’t allowed to take any home, or let us take it home, but sometimes they were just deliberately slow in cleaning it away and waited for us locusts to eat it, rather than throwing it away. It was of course not supposed to go to us, it had been sitting out for a while, but they couldn’t keep an eye out for any random students if they were busy doing the dishes or whatever, right?

    5. KateM*

      Well, it’s always better to have leftovers than run out of food, especially for a client lunch. And it is also not a bad idea to order two different entrees so that your client can choose (just think if you ordered something they won’t eat!).

    6. Kat in VA*

      I’m an EA. We regularly and routinely over-order catering because golly gosh gee, you just *never* know how many people they’re going to add on to those meetings at the last minute, amirite, guise?

      This doesn’t benefit us specifically – it’s understood that if we order catering, we get fed too. This is for other folks who are head down and don’t have time to order out, younger folks who maybe don’t have a lot of stretch dollars for (now insanely) expensive lunches to be brought in, the building managers, whoever wants extra food. It’s not usually super fancy (boxed sandwiches and salads in this Covid era), but we always ensure that we’re at least +20% if not more.

  9. ClerkGoneCrazy*

    I work in hospitality, and a big thing with our computer system is that there aren’t prices, there are “rate IDs” that then generate prices from a database that can only be edited by top-level managers. Well, one weekend my boss yanked the Sunday rates way up – intending to reduce traffic so that he wouldn’t have to come in – and then declared me the “acting manager” for the same reason, and gives me a password to do all the managerial things.
    Fast forward to Sunday night, when a young-ish woman comes in, no luggage, no reservation, and as tense as I’ve ever seen a human being, looking over her shoulder every time the front door opens. Obviously she’s running from a stalker, abusive husband or boyfriend, something like that. She has enough cash to cover our regular rate, but not the artificially increased one. What am I going to say, “You have to use your credit card and potentially tell someone where you are”? Not happening. So instead I see if my password will let me into the rate IDs. Sure enough, it does, and I edit the price back to the original for her, then put it back when I’m done. As far as I know, no one ever noticed the change, but if they do I’ll happily defend my actions.

    1. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

      Good for you! And that person probably didn’t even realize what you did, but if she had I’m sure she would have been so thankful.

      1. LavenderStingray*

        As someone who works as a crisis advocate, I can truly say you are a hero!! There aren’t enough people like you in the world. Shelters are so overbooked and you may have been her only hope

    2. Working Hypothesis*

      Okay, you win the hero award for this topic. As somebody who might have been that young woman once, thank you.

    3. ICodeForFood*

      You definitely win the hero award… and EPLawyer is right in that you might have saved a life!

    4. I take tea*

      Thank you. This is the cases you should bend the rules for, not the ones that are shouting the loudest.

  10. Jay*

    I walked into my office on the first day at a new job and found it fully stocked with supplies – and I do mean FULLY stocked. Two boxes of staples. A large box of paperclips. A large box of rubber bands. Three dozen pens. A whole bunch of legal pads. Post-it notes in every color of the rainbow. The office manager said “they always tell me to order whatever new people might need, so I figured I’d get as much as I could.” I left that job ten years later and had not needed to request anything except more pens.

    1. Lilly76*

      I work in government so it’s not uncommon to have someone start and be given a desk still filled with junk from the previous occupant. I think that is the worst so whenever I have transferred teams or departments I make sure to thoroughly clean out the space I’m leaving and also stock it with fresh new supplies. Full pads of paper and sticky notes new highlights etc. Small but I think it’s a better way to welcome a new person

      1. A Feast of Fools*

        One of our team members started a new job a few weeks ago and I got her old cube. It’s in a prime location, off in its own corner with a window. I was genuinely happy to see that she left a pencil cup full of straws, pens with my favorite ink colors (purple and green), a lumbar thingy for the back of the chair, a rocking foot rest, a tap-to-turn-on lamp, and a full-tube of rose-scented lotion. Oh, and cube pins, those things you use to hang up paper and signs on the cube fabric.

        In this one specific instance, I am loving all the leftovers. :-)

      2. calonkat*

        I do that too! I figure everyone deserves the chance to build up their own hoard of pens, pencils, and sticky notes.
        And no one can use the notes from past conferences!!! It doesn’t matter that law XYZ was covered at the 2018 conference, no one has time to read every conference binder/flashdrive from the past. Everyone just searches on the web for current info! If one thing is indeed the standard, scan and PDF that thing for everyone to use!

      3. advertising: more 'mad thanksgiving with your family' than 'mad men'*

        when I was still working on-site I would also do this every time they moved our desks around, with the exception that I always hid a couple of post-it origami cranes (and the occasional flamingo, if I had pink post-its) in the filing cabinet for the new tenant to find

      4. Avril Ludgateau*

        I work in government and indeed I inherited my predecessor’s desk with a whole lot of junk, including a pen drawer full of writing implements.

        And one old, rusty steak knife that I found by reaching for one of those pens.

    2. Resident Catholicville, USA*

      You would be surprised at how often no one cleans a desk and restocks it after someone leaves and a new person is expected to take that desk over. I’ve cleaned out desks that had pudding spilled all over inside (!) and encrusted with god’s knows what. I always thoroughly wipe the desk down and make sure that the next person has at the very least a stapler, Post-it’s, pens, pencils, etc. I’ve started in places where no one has done this- literally left the last person’s stuff and not cleaned it- so I know it’s important to start a new person off with a new, clean slate.

      1. Eleanorjane*

        The previous staff member to me died suddenly and tragically and I came in to the office pretty much unchanged (they did clear out old coffee cups etc.) including her name on the stapler, notebooks full of her writing etc. A bit creepy, I have to say.

        I’ve changed up the furniture a bit, changed the stuff on the pin board, put some plants in and decluttered but I’d love to waft some burning sage around the place and totally redecorate! (and I don’t even believe in smudging!).

  11. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    Junior year in college, I befriended our RA. There was a room between mine and the RA’s, and two students who liked to “study” to loud music every night (it was loud enough you could hear it at the other end of the building, even on higher and lower floors) and recycled at least a pound of aluminum in the form of empty cheap-beer cans every morning. The dorm also had balconies and a flat roof, which were attractive for socializing and relaxing; many students in the dorm chose it for that very reason.

    We had an incident on the roof of the dorm in late September or early October, where the police were called and some drunken students threw debris at them as they approached the dorm. Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed and no one was harmed by anyone else (one of the students did *attempt* to run through a reinforced plate glass window while trying to evade police pursuit within the building).

    As a result, the RAs were issued keys to the balconies and roof, and instructed to lock them late afternoon or early evening, to avoid more trouble. It turns out the key also worked the circuit breaker, and every night afterwards, a few minutes after dusk, the loud students mysteriously began to trip their room’s circuit and lose power for the night.

    1. cubone*

      I would die for an AAM day of only stories about and from former RAs. It is absolutely one of the weirdest worlds of work and I miss it!

      1. Momma Bear*

        I’d love this.

        I lived in a coed dorm, just divided by floor. By the end of the year, one of the students dropped out/left, leaving her roommate alone. Shortly thereafter the singleton’s boyfriend basically moved into her room. He sat in on our floor meetings and was more polite and respectful of common areas (including the bathroom) than half the women that lived there. Technically the RAs were supposed to tell him to go “home” after visiting hours but they all ignored it since he wasn’t causing any problems and the women on the floor didn’t care.

            1. MBK*

              Lisa McGee and Nicola Coughlan both confirmed that season 3 finished shooting on December 21 and will be broadcast sometime this year. It will be (and was always intended to be) the final season.

        1. Working Hypothesis*

          My father lived in an all-boys dorm in the early sixties, when he was in college. The university had to have separate dorms due to the prevailing standards of the time, but they believed in treating students like adults unless and until proven otherwise, so the rules about visiting hours were rarely enforced. One guy had his girlfriend basically living with him, and nobody cared… until the two of them had a screaming argument at three in the morning.

          The Resident Master — not the upperclassmen who were RAs, not even the graduate students who served as RHs, but the full professor MASTER — lived directly below that couple, and he started up the stairs looking Very Grumpy Indeed. Being good neighbors, the other guys on the floor tried to distract him long enough to warn the couple to shut up and get the girl into a hiding spot, but he brushed them off and marched stolidly onward.

          When he knocked on the door, the girl flung it open in annoyance… and then saw who was there and froze in horror. In her skimpy nightgown.

          The Resident Master looked at her balefully — and tiredly — for a long, terrifying moment, and then just said, “For Chrissake, Sally… either shut up, or go home!”

          And he turned around and marched back down to his own apartment.

          Sally and her boyfriend must have either stopped arguing or finished their disagreement in whispers, because my dad says that not another sound came out of that room for the rest of the night. Sally was allowed to remain until the end of the school year.

        2. Underemployed Erin*

          I lived in a co-ed dorm that was divided by sides of the hall, with all the bathrooms being in the center. Girls rooms faced girls bathrooms. On the other side, boys rooms faced boys bathrooms, but there was an area by the elevators and a common area near the bathrooms that connected both sides of the hall.

          I went away to my aunt’s place for the weekend but had to return to get some medication. I found a couple that my roommate was friends with in my bed. I had just come back for some medication. The roommate washed my sheets before I got back the next day.

      2. introverted af*

        Oh man, the stories I could tell. I did it for 3 years through the end of my degree and all my current best friends 5 years on are friends I worked with in the dorms.

      3. Miss Muffet*

        i’d be so here for that! I did it for a year and so did my spouse (that’s how we met) … man, the stories of the things the residents did were bad enough. The staff stories were a masterclass in dysfunctional workplace!

      4. KoiFeeder*

        My undergrad advisor (before I was able to switch advisors the next year) was also the mother of my RA’s boyfriend. I would’ve happily believed that my rooming assignment was a coincidence if the advisor wasn’t always “checking in” with me every time the boyfriend stayed over at my RA’s dorm for the night.

        I truthfully never noticed anything- the RA was very polite and considerate. But even if I had, I wouldn’t have admitted to it. It was just so weird!

      5. Sue D. O'Nym*

        Junior year, we had an RA that was a Sophomore. On move in day, as they were coming around to introduce themselves, one of my friends had the following conversation with them:

        Friend: See these 8 rooms? (4 on each side at the end of the hallway)
        RA: Yes?
        Friend: All of us are juniors, we all lived with the same people in the same rooms last year, and half of us were here Freshman year as well. We won’t cause any issues for you, we just want to be left alone.
        RA: Ok, deal.

        Both sides stuck to the agreement. The RA would occasionally pass through and say hi, but we never gave them any reason to need to spend time dealing with us.

    2. quill*

      +1 I will admit to having been VERY tempted to trip the circuts on our unsecured breaker panel for a room with these sorts of students.

      The breaker panel was unsecured because each breaker went to two different rooms and all you had to do to trip it was have both rooms microwaving ramen at the same time while enough lamps / laptops / cell phones were plugged in: in practice unless you coordinated well with your breakermates it happened at least once a month in each room.

      When I was a senior, having lived on the same floor for three years and also having an RA who was a junior and officially “didn’t care what [I] did as long as nobody catches you with alcohol” (I was 21, but it was a dry campus) I discovered that there were a LOT of people afraid of resetting their own breaker. (You did not have to change a fuse or anything: switch fully off, switch fully on.) As a result I knew which pairs of rooms all the breakers went to.

      I did nothing myself, but I DID leave the RA a chart. Just in case.

      1. advertising is more 'mad thanksgiving with your family' than 'mad men'*

        I once had a key to my apartment breaker room because I was long-term tenant in a vintage building and the management company was sick of sending maintenance out to flip my circuit back when I’d thrown the circuit. I was VERY tempted to take away my neighbor’s electricity when they played furniture-vibratingly loud music at 3AM.

        I never actually did. But I often wish I had.

    3. Snowy*

      I had a neighbor in the dorms who obnoxiously listened to the same three songs on repeat, full blast, constantly. She happened to have nearly all her appliances on our shared wall, so I figured out that with her stereo on, I could short out the ancient 1960s wiring by turning on my microwave. Silence was worth having no power on my half of the room.

      1. Snowy*

        I should add, the only way to reset the breaker was to go down to the front desk and ask them to do it. And I was friends with a lot of the front desk people.

    1. Annie Onymous*

      Ah yes the chaotic good of buying your own vest at goodwill and then passionately defending your neighborhood crosswalks. I love that person.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        So long as she was actually following crossing rules, at least the way they’re typically used (I don’t expect her to know every detail; most actual hired crossing guards don’t), I agree. I just hope she wasn’t simply making them up as she went along! I’ve seen people who just walked out into the street and decided to direct traffic, and they caused total havoc by inventing all their own rules so that some people were following them and others were trying to follow the law and still more were desperately attempting to figure out how to do both when they were literally contradictory, and, and, and.

        1. Lizzo*

          I believe that rogue crossing guard was in Chicago, and I can confirm that (1) the majority of our street intersections here do have marked crosswalks, and (2) you are required by law to yield to people in the crosswalk.

    2. CoveredinBees*

      We have a self-appointed crossing guard in our town and he is often a problem. He places himself at busy intersections but tries to make people go against the light that would cause accidents either with other cars or pedestrians. Other days, he stands so in the middle of things, lanes of traffic have to merge to get around him. He’s a retired police officer from the town, so they seem to just go with it.

      1. Rolly*

        That’s pretty on-brand for police (in the US at least): highly incompetent with regards to traffic safety.

  12. Power for good*

    Our organization had a lack of space so they created a committee on office space. Margaret volunteered on the committee even though she was planning to retire within a year. Her mission was to get a dedicated lactation space. Up until this point, breastfeeding mothers had to find a conference room to use if they did not have their own office. Except, it was often difficult to find an open conference room because we were so short on space. The mothers were frustrated, but they didn’t want to make waves. We are in a male-dominated field so there is a real chance of it coming back to haunt you. Margaret had nothing to lose.

    She got push back from others on the committee and leadership. They can use a conference room. They can use the bathroom. She brought up the legal requirements. She also brought up that news media ever found about an organization that claimed it supported women made it so difficult to find a spot to pump that we would look really bad. Within a month, there was a dedicated office for pumping.

    1. River Song*

      Currently in a crisis healthcare role with this hot conference room issue that makes pumping super stressful- we are always understaffed so going to pump is a guilt trip because you’re leaving one person overwhelmed, and then all the “theoretically available” conference rooms and offices never are. Margaret is a hero, and I wish I had her!

    2. Shan*

      This reminds me of the bot that is currently running on twitter. Any time a verified organization posted something about International Woman’s Day, the bot would respond with with a statement like, “Company Z pays women XX% more/less than they pay men.” Sure you support women put have a 20% pay gap. I think it’s for British companies as they have mandatory reporting of that info?

        1. Teapot Wrangler*

          I think there were two in the end and two where women were the higher earners… Most of the tweets I saw were at least 15-25% pay gap for women though

          1. MBK*

            There were quite a few toward the end, but all seemed to be women- or care-centered nonprofits

    3. FlyingAce*

      Nice! When I went back to work after having my first baby, I used the bathroom in the floor below mine – this floor was quite empty, so the bathroom was kept quite clean and it was not a big deal if I locked the door (so as to have privacy in the sink area – of course I was not using the stalls). It lasted for all of a week before HR called me and mentioned it was a liability to keep the bathroom door locked… so they decided to empty the (unused) locker room and turn it into a lactation room. :)

      Now with my second, I’m working from home so I just pump at my desk and keep going!

    4. Fortitudine*

      35 years ago I served with a new mom who used to pump in the women’s restroom, this at a time when most USMC facilities didn’t even have dedicated women’s restrooms, let alone lactation rooms. Our Colonel found out and ordered her to use his office in future (I think he liked having an excuse to escape out to the flightline).

  13. Американка (Amerikanka)*

    When preparing for my wedding, I visited a wedding dress thrift shop and made friendly small talk with the attendant. I asked her about bridzillas on the job, and she said that her manager would kick customers out of the store if they were rude to attendants. I appreciated this manager’s decision to protect their attendants.

    I wish more managers in the US would advocate for and protect those they manage. No one deserves verbal abuse. The customer is NOT always right.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      I had a boss (a veterinarian) who would 100% fire people who were mean to us. He was a piece of work in a lot of ways but he did get this right.

    2. BritSouthAfricanAmericanHybrid*

      Totally agree. A friend of mine used to be a GM for a large chain of hotels. He maintained that the customer/guest is not always right and that they do not come first. He said, “If you put your employees first and make sure they are taken care of and happy, you will have happy guests.”

    3. NeutralJanet*

      When I was working at Nordstrom, a customer called one of my coworkers by an anti-Semitic slur because she refused to violate store policy by giving him a cash refund when he paid by card and my manager went BALLISTIC and screamed at him that if he didn’t leave in the next five seconds she would call security to escort him out, then let the coworker go to the back room for a while to collect herself (the manager offered to let her go home, but she said she would be fine, she just needed a few minutes). The manager then gave a description of the guy and what he was wearing to the other department managers, in case he came back that day. Easily the best retail job I ever had, the managers genuinely had our backs—it was such a contrast to the major department store I worked at next.

      1. NeutralJanet*

        Just realized that this actually did include an abuse of power—when Manager offered to let Coworker go home, she also said that Coworker didn’t have to clock out, Manager would just clock her out at the time her shift was scheduled to end, which was about two hours later. Both the fact that Manager made that offer and that Coworker decided to stick around for the rest of her shift anyway should show you how great that job was.

      2. JustaTech*

        Another reason why Nordie’s is my favorite place to shop for clothes. I always figured that they must have good management because I’ve never had a bad customer experience there, which means they must treat their employees well.

    4. Random Biter*

      Back when I was slinging hash in Bedrock the editor of the local newspaper (big fish, small pond) would come in for lunch quite often and invariably be a total jerk. One day, my best friend, who was really good at her job, waited on him. He was so nasty he reduced her to tears. One of the owners saw this happen. He pulled Mr. Editor’s chair away from the table and in the midst of a busy and crowded lunch told him that if he was enough of an asshole to make one of the owner’s best servers cry then he was too much of an asshole to eat lunch there…..ever. Mr. Editor was never, ever allowed to come back.

    5. SherSher*

      Many years ago, my friend was on the brink of 21 and in the Navy. In that time, and in the particular Navy town, the bars had a tendency to serve the Sailors regardless of age. Old enough to serve, old enough to be served, perhaps?
      Anyway, one night he had quite a few too many and got picked up outside the bar (not driving) by an eager cop. Spend the night in the drunk tank. Then had to go to the courthouse and pay a fine. It was like traffic court, kind of. Not a big deal. He got there, gave the guy his info. The guy looks at his license, and says, “Close enough to 21, case dismissed.”

  14. tessa*

    I am a librarian, and I am relocating for another job. I have a million things going on at work and at home, as you can imagine, including a ton of library materials I have yet to return, but that were due last week (though none were recalled). Someone (non-supervisory) who I work with went into our back end system and gave me a week’s extension for returning the materials – and let me know after the fact. I didn’t have to request it at all.

    If I didn’t think he was a lovely person before…

    1. Frideag Dachaigh*

      My mom is a librarian and if I didn’t know better I would think this was her post– a while back she checked out a book for me to read, on my library card (despite the fact that I was 100 miles away at the time), then proceeded to decide she wanted to read the book, and then got called out to a complex family emergency 400 miles away, and has the book with her.
      I keep getting harassments from the automated system about needing to return this book that I literally can’t return. All of a sudden, the other day, it stopped- turns out her coworker noticed this, overrode the system, cancelled the fees, and rechecked it out to my moms card.
      As a kid I used to joke that as a kid who grew up in the library, I had no understanding of late fees- not because I was so good about returning on time, but because I figured out how to be the cute 7 year old volunteering to run the desk and handle check ins and outs, and would just cancel my own late fees. Whoops!

        1. OhNo*

          So true. In my experience, that’s also why we so often “abuse” our power to extend due dates, cancel fines, and so on for patrons. And purchasing, when we can get away with it. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had to tell someone, “Sorry, no, we aren’t allowed to request textbooks through interlibrary loan… but that title does sound interesting, so give me two days and it’ll magically appear in our collection, and be on hold for you.”

    2. Emi*

      My MIL is a librarian at the university my husband and I graduated from, and when we got married, one of her coworkers cleared out all his library fines as a wedding present.

    3. As per Elaine*

      My childhood librarian stopped by my house (I lived two blocks from the library) at 5:10 on the Friday night before Harry Potter #5 came out, and gave me the copy that I would legally have been able to pick up at 10AM Monday morning. I felt a little guilty (like, no one was going to check, but if they DID, she could probably have lost her job, and I didn’t NEED it before the official release date) but she’d already taken it…

      That library system barely got new releases at all, much less advance releases, so it wasn’t like she could have done the same on a lower-profile book.

      We are still friends.

      1. dawbs*

        But think, if you had to wait until it *really* came out, you’d have been one more person on the wait list and it would have delayed another reader getting their hands on it!

      2. OhNo*

        Oh, you reminded me of some great memories from middle school. The school librarian and I knew each other very well, since I was in there all the time, and she would often hand books off to me to read before they’d even been cataloged or processed. She liked to put all the new ones on display with little blurbs about them, but definitely didn’t have time to read them all, so she was more than happy to give me early access in exchange for a quick plot summary and some “Read this if you liked [title]” suggestions to increase their circulation.

      3. Calm Water*

        She did a great service to the entire wait list by letting you have it over the weekend.

      4. Lee the Ghoul*

        Omg, similar hat! The summer between senior year and college, I was a volunteer at our small-town library. Every year since I was a kid, I would go for a weekend w/ my parents to an art fair where my dad was a vendor, about an hour away, in a town which had NO BOOKSTORE. And it ended up being on the same weekend that the seventh Harry Potter book came out.

        Our library apparently had a minimum order of 10 copies. The librarian gave me one of them a day early so I could take it with me on the trip. (I cradled it in my lap the whole way there and then waited to start reading it until exactly midnight. Because I was a lil rule-following nerd who wanted to make an Event out of it, haha.)

  15. Tomato Frog*

    I don’t have a story, but when I was a circulation clerk at a public library, all the clerks were really good about abiding by the letter of the law. But sometimes if a patron complained enough, and went high enough up the hierarchy with their complaint, they would waive the rules for that patron. It was maddening to hold the line against some jerk only to have someone above your head give them exactly what they wanted. So I started breaking the rules when people were really pleasant and undemanding — extending check-out periods and waiving fines for people who would never ask me to do that.

    1. Anonymous Hippo*

      Our librarian did this for my sister and I when we were kids. We read voraciously, I mean a least a dozen books a piece per week. Our library had a 3 books per person rule, which is probably reasonable for normal humans LOL. After dragging our mom to the library every 2 days for a couple of months, the librarian decided we could have an exception and let us take as much as we could carry. Sometimes we’d even bring a wagon. She was a very nice lady I kept in touch with her all the way up through college.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Same with me! The local librarians semi-adopted me, letting me take as many books as I wanted, and eventually allowed me into the adult section as it was clear I was more than ready for it. I wound up working there summers during high school – and they forgave me (more or less) for spending as much time reading books as shelving them. They gave me a bound set of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings as a high school graduation present.

        1. Anonymous Hippo*

          If I told you I don’t even know who Matilda is would that explain? LOL We grew up without tv or radio, and were homeschooled, so basically our only form of entertainment was reading and we had lots of time for it.

          1. I take tea*

            It is a book by Roald Dahl. (And film, and radio adaption, and musical, but originally a book.) Matilda teaches herself to read and devours books. It’s a good book, even though it has the usual Roald Dahl problem of dividing the women into angels or absolute harridans.

      2. Loredena*

        When I was in Junior High and HS I read so voraciously that the librarians encouraged me to join the junior friends of the library. That gave me permission to check my own books out, and removed the limit on paperbacks. TBH I’m not sure friends of was even a thing but …

      3. kicking_k*

        I went to a school with an excellent library. The librarian got to know me and my taste in books pretty well, and knew I was a re-reader. When it came to be time to take less used books out of circulation, she would call me aside and say “K, you’re the only one who’s taken these out in a year. If you want them, they’re yours.” I always appreciated this and still have some of the books.

      4. DataSci*

        3 books per person at a time might work for adults, but it’s ridiculous for kids!

        I don’t know what the actual rules are at our library – maybe 20 – but in March 2020, the day they announced schools were closing, my wife took our then-7-year-old son to the library, knowing it was going to close too, and they literally let him check out as many books as he could carry. He filled a massive tote bag.

    2. Sarah*

      I adore my small town librarians because they almost always waived fees for me. Granted, when my kids were young, we came in almost weekly, and would chat with them while my kids browsed. I have also told them when the city was looking to make changes to the facility to give me their thoughts, so I could vote appropriately. We now no longer have fees, so they don’t have to waive them, but I still visit regularly and chat while picking up my holds.

    3. Watry*

      A few years back I accidentally damaged a library book–no idea what happened but it got covered in soda–and the circulation desk person actually tried to get me out of the replacement fee. She said later that it was because I just walked up and admitted it and asked what the fee was so I could pay it.

      It’s really sad that her bar was so low for good patrons.

      1. another, another librarian*

        As a librarian, it’s true though. I will do so much for people because they’re nice and honest about situations!

    4. Owl Boat*

      Right there with you! I work in a different kind of library now, but back when I worked at a public library I did this, too. My library is in an urban area with a huge amount of economic disparity, and we’d often get patrons in whose accounts were blocked because of $20 in fines and they clearly couldn’t pay. People whose accounts were blocked could get a one-time access code to use the computer (if your account was clear you could just log in normally without a code or having to interact with staff). They also couldn’t check out books at all, which meant that people enduring financial hardship had to jump through a lot more hoops to use the library’s services (or couldn’t use them at all) even though they were the people who needed them most. A ton of people came in to use the library’s computers to check their email, hunt for jobs, apply for benefits, etc., and forcing them to wait in line for a computer access code only good once a a day, and telling them over and over again that they needed to pay their fines, just seemed so cruel and inequitable to me.

      I also found that most people who were in this position didn’t argue about it or ask for the fines to be waived–they knew there was no point, so they just accepted their fate. The rich people in the area, though, would argue to death over a 50 cent fine because of “the principle of the matter.” They expected us to cave and often the supervisors would and waived their fines because it wasted more staff time arguing (somehow this never applied to people with financial hardship and unhoused patrons, though).

      I didn’t work the circulation desk all the time, but when I did I would waive as many fines as possible from the patrons who couldn’t pay (the ones who came up to ask for a temporary computer pass, or who wanted to check out a book and then said “nevermind” when they learned they had a fine). Sometimes the joy and relief on people’s faces when their fines were waived was really incredible and made my heart hurt. For the obviously well-off patrons rudely arguing to death over tiny fines that didn’t even block their account, well, that was my hill to die on. I would happily let them rant and just kept politely citing policy at them and absolutely refused to waive those fines. A couple times someone got so mad that they said “I’m never coming back to this library!” and threw their library card at me. The prospect of losing asshole patrons like that was never the threat that they thought it was!

      I’m glad to say that this library system has since gotten rid of all fines and created better paths for unhoused patrons to get library cards with fewer restrictions, so I hope the situation is better now.

      1. dePizan*

        The movement in libraries (at least in the US) now is to just completely do away with fines, because of the inequality like this and it only hurts those that need libraries the most. Plus, it’s usually so hard to recover the fines, that money was generally only a very tiny portion of their budget anyway.

        1. Metadata minion*

          Yep. It mostly penalizes poor people and depending on exactly how you handle fines, the staff time to deal with them often ends up costing more than the fines bring in.

        2. Ann Nonymous*

          I have mixed feelings about this. If I am late returning library items, then I happily pay – even if I don’t have to – because it’s my own damn fault and I need to be taught a lesson.

          1. NerdyLibraryClerk*

            I work at a public library that got rid of fines a few years back. We saw an *increase* in the return of late items when we stopped charging fines. (Not as in more late items, but as in items that were late/lost actually returning.) With fines, people just didn’t bother bringing their items back if the fines would block them from checking out new books/movies/whatever. Now, there’s every incentive for them to bring the items back, since, even if they’ve gone to lost, the moment they’re checked back in, the patron can check out again.

            The lesson of fines just doesn’t seem to be “bring your items back on time,” at least for lower income folk; it’s “no library for you.” :(

            1. pandop*

              I work in an academic library, and we got rid of most fines a few years ago. Now you only get charged if :
              1) you completely lose a book, or
              2) someone else has requested it – you get a grace period of 5/7 days (varies depending on if the book is short/long loan), and then if you haven’t returned it, you will start accumulating fines.
              I think this is fair, as library materials are for sharing, and you only get fined when you are not sharing.

          2. ThreeDogsInATrenchcoat*

            I’m a librarian; it’s definitely not the public library’s job to teach anyone “a lesson” and that is a hill I will die on.

            Most people return library books if we tell them they can’t take more out until they bring the old ones back. That’s all it takes to be good stewards of our physical materials, no lesson required.

          3. C Baker*

            But what if it’s not your fault?

            I know you’re not suggesting that the librarian should be in charge of determining who does and does not have a valid excuse.

            Perhaps, if you feel this way, you can *voluntarily* make a donation to the library when you bring a book in late and it’s your fault.

          4. Longtime listener, first time groomer*

            There are still consequences for not returning books, it’s just that they’re actually aligned to the infraction.

            At my library you can have X books out at a time. Don’t return your books? No new books for you.

            But no more racking up $3.00 in fines because one book got missed out of the round up last week or because three weeks ago you went to the library on Saturday and checked out a dozen books but this week you can only make it on Sunday so they are all one day late.

          5. Owl Boat*

            I understand the impulse to want to be “taught a lesson,” but there are definitely differences in people’s ability to absorb the impact of that lesson, and people experiencing economic hardship aren’t going to be taught a lesson, they’re just going to lose the ability to access a service.

            Ideally, libraries aren’t in the business of teaching lessons, we’re here to provide services, support, and information to our communities. We’re about eliminating barriers to access, not reinforcing them (or at least ideally that is what libraries do).

            There are also a couple points that I think get lost in translation about eliminating fines: fines are one thing, lost fees are another (and lost fees haven’t gone away). Fines accrue daily and if you have a lot of books checked out it can block your account really quickly, and that’s where the hardship comes in. Fines also don’t go away when you return the book. Lost book fees, however, are still very much in place even in libraries that have eliminated daily fines: if you keep a book 4 or 6 weeks beyond the due date you’ll be charged for losing the book, and your account is blocked. With lost fees, though, they go away when you return the book. All the library wants is to be able to keep its books and have people use them! Fines are a barrier to that; lost book fees, when waived on return, do roughly the same job but less punitively.

            Also, I think a lot of people also think that paying fines supports the library. I’m not sure if this is the case everywhere, but for public libraries in my state any “income” in fines is deducted from the funding the state provides. It’s not income, it’s just a wash. The library doesn’t see any extra money from taking fines, it really is just an antiquated way of trying to get books back, one that has been disproven. We have better, more inclusive priorities now!

            1. I take tea*

              In the library where I work the fines are actually part of our budget, and not even an insignificant one. There are people who can waive them, but not for the person who in the same transaction moans that they have to pay fines because they just kept a book that was requested long past the due date, “because I needed it”, and then turn around and ask why the book they were waiting for hasn’t come yet, even though the due date was yesterday… It took a lot of effort not to say “do you actually have no concept of irony?”

          6. MigraineMonth*

            There have been a number of studies that indicate that charging nominal fines actually increases bad behavior. For example, when a daycare started fining people who didn’t pick up their child on time, more parents didn’t pick up their child on time because they were willing to pay for the extra half-hour. Charging a fine actually normalized picking up kids late and made late parents feel less guilty about the behavior.

            As a result, overdue fines end up blocking poor people from using the library and encourages people with more resources to ignore the due date because they think it’s worth the dollar or two to be able to keep the item longer.

          7. Can’tAdultToday*

            I’m always happy to pay my fines because I know the library needs all the money they can get. I’m admittedly much happier now than when I lived paycheck to paycheck, or was a broke college kid. I never asked for a waiver, though.

      2. Chauncy Gardener*

        Back when there were still fines at the inner small city library near me, I would go in around the holidays and pay as many fines as I could afford. I thought the librarians were close to crying when I did that. I never had any money growing up and would have died if I got shut off from my life’s blood, the library!
        I’m so glad most libraries have eliminated the fines

      3. EmmaPoet*

        A lot of systems ditched fines during lockdown/curbside only, because it was just one more thing to deal with for an already overburdened staff. When people called us to ask about fines, you could hear the glee in staff member’s voices when we told them fines were gone and you only got charged for lost or destroyed items. It was a huge relief for us as well as for the public.

    5. A nice fish*

      During my first term at university I accidentally checked out one of the “master” copies of a duplicate set of books. (The spine is specially marked but I’d forgotten what that meant.) The day after, I got an automated email reminding me that this type of book was a 24hr loan only, and now it was already due, only I didn’t see that email until the evening. I returned the book after my lunchtime lecture the next day… to learn that late fees for this were £1 PER HOUR.

      I think the horrified expression on my face was enough entertainment value to be equal to the cost of my fine – the librarian voided it and said she was pretty sure I wasn’t going to do it again. And I didn’t!!

      1. Nina*

        Back in the days when college in my country was heavily, heavily government-subsidized, my mother managed to rack up library fines equal to her total tuition for the year.
        My brother has, at least once, skipped the country on double-digit library fines.
        My father spent my entire childhood glowering darkly at the library book box (me, mother, and two siblings = 80 books at a time, living walking distance from the library) and refusing to get a library card.

    6. Libarry*

      This reminds me of being about 11 or 12 years old and bringing my whole jar of collected change to the library to try to pay off my $50 fine (I read a lot and my parents tried to teach responsibility by making me keep track of my own due dates). The librarian accepted the one $20 bill I had and then when I started to count out the change, she waived the rest of the fee. As an adult I believe it was about half kindness, half “omg I’m not counting and rolling $30 in change at the end of my shift.” :)

    7. Cold Fish*

      That was my first job at the Target Customer Service Counter. There was only a few things that would require an actual supervisor approval to do. It wasn’t long before I would just overturn the system since I knew the manager would anyway. I think I lasted 5 weeks before getting a new job but it definitely formed what I need in my workplace throughout my life.

    8. BadLibrarian*

      When I worked at a college library and we shared a system with the local public library I always cancelled fines for students that were at the public library. I will never be sorry. The library didn’t even get to keep the money, it went to the city.

    9. PhyllisB*

      Yes!! Cherish and appreciate your local librarians!! I am quite well known at my local library, and they occasionally bend the rules for me in regard to things such as late fees. I never ask, and of course I try not to be late with my returns, but we all know life happens sometimes.
      The last head librarian would flag me down a lot of times and ask me if I wanted a book that was not put in circulation yet.
      I think what really shocked me though, was one day I was checking out while they were training a new employee. The head librarian walked over and introduced the young lady to me, and told her, “This is one of our best patrons. Take good care of her!!”
      Courteousy pays!!

    10. CoveredinBees*

      The librarian at my local library asked me if I was interested in a book based on the ones I was checking out. This was remarkable because the book hadn’t been entered into the library’s catalogue yet. I could have absolutely just walked off with the book and there would have been no record. As it turns out, no one else will get to take the book home because it is marked as a REFERENCE book. Of course, I brought it back at the same time as the other books, but it was thrilling to get to take it home semi-illicitly.

    11. HBJ*

      When I was a teen, I started borrowing a book series that had an insane number of books in it. Somewhere around 50. My library didn’t have any of the series, so I got the first couple on interlibrary loan. Then I returned them and ordered the next 2 or 3 and so on. Once this had happened three or four times, I showed up at the library to return my three and order the next few only to find the next three books waiting for me. They saw I was working my way through the series and requested them for me. I finished the series never again having to order the next few books or wait for them to arrive.

  16. PolarVortex*

    A manager in my former team knew a few things:
    1) everyone who got hired into the dept got hired on at the lowest level they could possibly pay
    2) men definitely got paid a huge chunk more than women (I was hired at 5k less than a male new college grad, and I had years of experience) and of course were promoted faster
    3) she valued the heck out of the leads who made the department functional on a day to day basis and implemented processes that actually improved things
    4) she knew she had the power to make some changes that the director wouldn’t argue with but would hurt her long term with the company
    5) she wasn’t going to be with the company long term

    So she organized a 23% increase in pay for my coworker who had a lead position and was just promoted into a senior lead position and was clearly underpaid for the same above reasons that had affected her from her hiring date. This meant when I was promoted to that same role, I benefited from being able to get a 17% increase (since I had less experience than my coworker).

    I could write a long series of the things she did to work around dumb or ridiculous decisions. Honestly I appreciate her commitment to caring for people more than policy, and miss her greatly.

  17. Lizzie*

    Not really sure if this counts, but MANY years ago, I was let go from my first job. It really had turned into a total shit show so I wasn’t too upset about it, more relieved. I was given the choice of packing up my stuff then, or coming back the next week. I chose then as I commuted by bus into NYC. My friends, who were very upset this happened were helping me pack up my boxes (publishing so a LOT of books, etc.). I was very careful to only pack what was mine and not company property. My friends, however, were not, and as we routinely sent out huge, heavy boxes with no questions asked, when I got my stuff later the following week, there was ALL kinds of stuff in there. Including my heavy duty tape gun which I still have to this day!

    1. hamsterpants*

      Was the “all kinds of stuff” yours, or did your friends… rob your former employer?

  18. Just Me*

    I used to be an administrator in a beauty school. One of our students had a stalker–a very creepy guy who would invent new names/phone numbers/emails and try to make “appointments” to see her, but as is often the case with stalkers, not everything they do necessarily can be reported to the police and I think the restraining order was pending. Our front desk knew his voice and general demeanor, and so whenever he called they would go, “Great! We’ll call you back to schedule the appointment!” and then would never call. When he would call again to complain, he would get a response along the lines of, “Oh, what’s that? I’m sorry, it sounds like the call–crrrrr crrrr–is breaking–crrr crrr–up!” *click*

    1. Sauron*

      Ah, this one warms my heart. I’m sure that student was so, so grateful for their protection.

    2. Working Hypothesis*

      I’m a licensed massage therapist and we ran into this kind of thing once in a while. But my boss was good enough that the admins never had to make excuses about it.

      “I’m sorry, sir, but we cannot make an appointment for you,” was the first response when guys like this called us. If they pressed for a reason why, they were told, “Your behavior has made you unwelcome here.”

      Usually they didn’t take it further than that. The one time somebody threatened, the admin hung up on him… then told the boss in some trepidation, as that had NOT been, unlike the other responses, explicitly authorized.

      The boss responded by telling the admin, “I’m sorry. I should have told you that it’s all right to hang up on callers who try to threaten you.” Then she called a meeting for all of the admins and explained to them not only that they could *and should* hang up on callers who attempted to threaten them, but that they should write down their names and send to the boss, who would put them on the “not welcome here anymore” list also.

  19. Foofoo*

    I don’t know if this was “good” but it felt good at the time.

    I was 18, working in a kitchen at the local pizza place that was mostly staffed by highschool and early college students. Management wasn’t very good but we did our best.

    One night a lady walked in to order for delivery but she was awful. Screamed and ranted at the two of us working behind the counter because she “didn’t have enough hot peppers” on her last order and we DAMN WELL BETTER GET ENOUGH HOT PEPPERS. We had a default measurement we did for every ingredient, and even had measurements for requests for double or triple. We had no idea if she’d asked for double or what, or even who had done her pizza or when…. there were 15 of us that worked there, it could have been anyone (but she was definitely screaming at us).

    When she left, we made her pizza as per her order and added at least triple the amount of hot peppers. Then we added extra juice from the hot pepper container all over the pizza. It wound up a soggy mess. Vindictive? Childish? Sure, but we were 18 and she spent 10 minutes screaming and demanding that we better put enough HOT PEPPERS on her pizza.

    She called in after she received her order and was mad as heck that her pizza was gross and soggy. My coworker responded “well we have a set amount we’re supposed to put on a pizza because otherwise it ruins it, you wanted that much, so we fulfilled your request” and then hung up on her. We didn’t get in trouble and no one ever mentioned it again. I like to think that awful woman thought twice in the future about ordering highschool kids how to make her pizza.

    1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      I do not understand people like that at all. Is there something that prevents them from saying, “hey, I like a lot of hot peppers on my pizza, can you put extra on?” or the like? So many ways to do that politely.

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        She wanted double peppers. She doesn’t want to pay for double peppers. Therefore, she screams “More peppers” and gets free peppers.

    2. DataSci*

      I still remember when on a high school debate trip we tried ordering a pizza with triple cheese. “Pizza with that much cheese won’t cook” was the response, and that was the end of it. Even as immature high schoolers none of us would have ever imagined yelling at the guy, undoubtedly a high schooler himself, who took our order.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        I worked at a pizza place with a convection oven that blows hot air, so we were trained to always put some cheese on top of the pepperonis so they wouldn’t fly off. There was one guy who always ordered pepperoni pizza no cheese, but when I took it out of the oven, more than half of the pepperoni was gone. I could have added uncooked pepperoni, but who wants cold pepperoni on a pizza?

        There are sometimes weird reasons that perfectly normal requests can’t be honored. The next time he called, I just put the crust with sauce in the oven, then cooked the pepperoni on the grill.

  20. Ginger Baker*

    I once lost my ID, on my 21st birthday. As it happens, a policewoman found it/my wallet and called my mom (I think I had some emergency contact info? and this was before cell phones were ubiquitous). I called my mom later, frantic, and she had already heard from this woman. My mom being my mom, she sweet-talked the officer into not “officially” logging it in and instead holding it for me so I could run over and pick it up that day (as technically, the police officer was supposed to log it in which would have led to an apparently mandatory 24-hour delay before it could be returned to me! which obviously would have ruined my birthday plans…). Her tiny abuse of authority (not a thing I am normally in favor of in cops, to be sure) saved my day for sure.

        1. Watry*

          It’s likely the logging/entry process would take that long. I work in a PD, and the officers at our front counter will keep a turned-in license or wallet for a few days before logging it in as lost property so it’s easier for the person to pick it up.

          1. doreen*

            Exactly – it’s most likely the bureaucratic process involved, not a deliberate policy to withhold the wallet for 24 hours. Somebody has to log it in and complete a report and once that’s completed supervisors have to sign it and so on. And everything has to match up, so once it’s logged in there has to be a report with all the appropriate signatures and maybe it gets sent to the property clerk at a different location where it will have to be logged in again so they can find it – and therefore if the owner shows up after it’s initially been logged in there will be a delay in returning it.

            1. Ginger Baker*

              ^Yep, this was my understanding, it was something to do with the red tape of logging etc. etc. The woman stayed a little late past her shift just to be able to get it back to me that night, I was very grateful!

            2. 1LFTW*

              Yup, this. A long time ago, a very kind bus driver broke this exact rule for me once for this reason. He found my wallet on his bus at the end of his shift. The rules required him to it into the transit agency’s lost and found, but that would take at least 48 hours to process, and on top of that, he couldn’t vouch for the honesty of every single person involved the processing. Instead, he found me in the phone book and called me before I even realized it was missing. He arranged to meet me at a safe, clean, public McDonald’s to return it to me that day. I offered to buy him coffee but he refused; he said he had granddaughters my age and wanted to look out for me the way he hoped someone would look our for them in the same situation.

  21. Kind Manager*

    I had an amazing admin assistant reporting to me who was underpaid for her position. I managed our department budget and could approve most expenses including overtime, but for some reason could not approve wage increases. My boss wouldn’t approve a raise for her even with my support, and even though we had enough money in the budget to cover it.
    Guess who mysteriously started having extra hours added to her time sheet each week in just the right amount for her total paycheck to equal what she should have been making for her regular 35 hours at the higher wage I requested for her? That scheme lasted nearly two years until she got married and ended up moving across the country. She knew it was happening, but I was the one who altered the time sheet so she could have plausible deniability in case anyone cared to look that closely – which of course they didn’t!

    1. Anon for this*

      Still going Anon for this.
      I did the same thing for my IT guy a million years ago. He worked his butt off and the CEO REFUSED to approve a raise for him, even though the sales guys were charging through their wives holiday gifts to the company, in addition to truly amazing levels of client entertainment expenses with no receipts. Grrr.
      Since the CEO never looked at the detail level financials, I just paid him an extra $5k per month until I left
      I also used to take my team out for really expensive lunches (we were ALL working like dogs) and then charge them to the Sales department.

        1. Anon for this*

          He was SO underpaid to begin with it wasn’t even funny. With the $5k he was at a competitive salary

    2. HE Admin*

      My first out of college job was as an admin assistant. Whenever I would take a one-off vacation day for various reasons, my boss would alter my timesheet to say I was there, and said she couldn’t give me a raise (all raises being severely limited by an awful review system, and capping out at like 2% at the most) but she could give me more vacation. That let me actually take time off to visit family in a bigger chunk! My second boss at the same institution knew I spent all my vacation visiting family and that I didn’t LOVE that but didn’t have a lot of options because I was student loan broke and hey, staying with family is free, so she wrote me a $500 check from her personal account so I could afford to take a vacation for myself for once.

  22. Mostly managed*

    my team was ludicrously burnt out (the executive suite literally called one of my devs at 1AM to get data from him.) We’d all been working upwards of ten hour days, occasionally on weekends, and none of us had a good amount of vacation time. Our manager was advocating for us as best he could but it was pretty relentless and he didn’t have much power. Eventually, he said our department was doing a three day business retreat and couldn’t be disturbed and then told us to go home and rest. It was a pretty dysfunctional workplace but I appreciate my manager doing all he could.

    1. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

      Well, it was a business retreat and they retreated from business. Does what it says on the label. ;-)

    2. Catwhisperer*

      I did something similar last year. My former employer gave each team money to do a team building exercise and we were all completely burnt out after a year and a half of wfh, the pandemic, and being expected to work extra late (past 10 p.m.) to accommodate coworkers in other timezones. I was asked to plan my team’s exercise, so I decided we were all getting a day off and could expense whatever food delivery we wanted that day. The team lead approved and as far as I know no one else knew or said anything about it.

  23. Save the Hellbender*

    I interned at a fundraising firm that had a database of thousands of people across the country that it would sell to organizations to add to their email lists. Found my parents in the database and subtly deleted out their emails – I thought less spam was a nice little gift!

    1. Американка (Amerikanka)*

      That is a nice gift! There was one charity my husband and I stopped supporting because when we donated to them, many other charities would magically mail me spam and “free gifts” to solicit donations as well. Once my husband gave them a stern call about selling our names an told them that we were no longer supporting them, the spam mail stopped.

      All this mess makes it hard for me to want to give to future charities…

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        I have had to drop a few charities for that reason. I made sure they knew why, too. One actually had a human being call me back more than a year later. She said, “I’m sorry if I’m intruding. I know you haven’t been a donor for a while, and I know you had good reasons for that. But your reason is in your file, and I wanted you to know that we’ve changed that policy. We can promise you now that if you choose to restart your membership with us, your name will never be given to any other organization through us. Whatever you decide to do, I thought you might want to know that we took your complaint seriously, and that it and others led to the change.”

        I thanked her for the information, and I did restart my membership. Partly in order to test whether or not they were telling the truth (they were), and partly because I felt that if they were, they should be encouraged in this. Besides, I had liked the organization otherwise enough to have been a member in the first place, so why not? But I was very pleased to hear they’d seen sense on the subject.

      2. MigraineMonth*

        I still remember getting a very thick envelope from one charity I had never donated to. I expect a few freebies (such as address labels or a calendar) as part of new donor recruitment, but this was way over the top. It contained stickers, address labels, postcards, cards with envelopes, a calendar, a daily planner, a small notepad, a large notepad and a dreamcatcher (made in china). It wasn’t even the type of charity I would consider donating to, but I definitely made a mental note that they didn’t seem to be using their funding well.

        1. Paris*

          I got this one recently, too! And I had the same thought, how much does all this junk cost to send?!

    2. t-vex*

      I did something similar at a cold-calling sales job. Recognized my boyfriend’s mentor’s name on the auto-dialer and punched him in as a “never call me again”

  24. Lizzie*

    When I worked PT in retail; customers would frequently get coupons or promos, always after they had just purchased something. Company policy was; you couldn’t return and repurchase using that discount, but there were a few very nice, very polite customers, who would come in, ask nicely, and I’d just do it. Because they treated us well.

    1. Yellow*

      In my retail days we had a 10% off code for Credit Card holders to use during their birthday month. I routinely gave that to extra nice people and/or regulars.

    2. Not a mouse*

      If I tell a customer no in that circumstance, they’ll just do the return and then go re-buy it anyway. With up to 5 regular registers and 18 self checkout lanes, no one’s going to notice. My philosophy is, I might as well make it easy for them and take care of the entire transaction for them. Same with the customer who brings in coupons she “forgot to use last week” but I’m sure she actually got in the mail days after she already bought the stuff. I can ring up the “forgotten” coupons, which takes a minute or two, or she can go home, get the stuff, return it, and then re-buy it to use them, which is way more trouble for everyone concerned. Or I can call a manager, who will tell me to do it, and probably be annoyed that I called them over $2.75. So I just ring them up.

      I suspect my immediate boss would find my approach overly pragmatic if she knew the details, which is why I don’t tell her the details if I don’t have to.

  25. irene adler*

    An error occurred with a customer’s order (we make diagnostic test kits). Two negative controls were provided instead of one positive and one negative control.

    The remedy was to provide the positive control to this customer. This meant looking up the kit documentation, ordering the positive control from our inventory and shipping it out.

    The manager of manufacturing was… is… a very vindictive man. He’s extremely hard on his reports when they make a mistake. In fact, I would label it abuse.

    When the replacement order was given to the manager of manufacturing, he asked why this was needed. He was informed about the mistake. That made him angry. He asked who committed the error. Respondent (me) said “don’t know.” So he went in search of the kit documentation to find out for himself which of his reports had made the error.

    I knew he’d be merciless to whomever made the mistake.

    Sure, the report needed to know about her mistake. But she did not need to be subjected to an angry tirade. As QC supervisor, I pulled her aside and explained what happened and suggested that, going forward, she pay closer attention to what she was doing. She thanked me and promised to do so. She then commented that she was very afraid of what her boss’s reaction would be to her mistake. Talking tears here.

    So, that documentation pertaining to the kit? Manufacturing manager never found it. Looked everywhere too. For days.

    It went home with me.

    It got returned to the files a year later. Never missed.

    He never learned the identity of the report who made the mistake.

  26. machinedreams*

    Very small one, retail so not all that interesting, but.

    I worked in the dairy department and, well, at one point we completely ran out of milk. (Not quite as disastrous as it sounds, our delivery was the next morning so mostly it just sucked for those couple hours after we ran out.) Well, we still had… like… I want to say it was a name-brand of Vitamin D milk (as opposed to store brand). We were told we couldn’t price match it for some reason, I don’t even remember now. I think because we didn’t have all that much of it left and management didn’t want to burn through it. Well, it was just me and one other guy, the department manager. We had a lady come in, ask us if we had any of the store brand milk left — out of sheer “i need to feed my child” desperation, which we know because A: she told us it was for her child and B: it was glaringly obvious that there was no milk to be had in back, because of the way our coolers were set up.

    So what does department manager do? Tells her to take two gallons to the register, tell them that he said to change the price. As he put it to me later, “if management doesn’t like it, they can take it up with me”.

  27. kiri*

    I work in the patron services dept of an academic library. We serve mainly commuter and nontraditional students, and a fine of even a couple dollars can be really prohibitive for a lot of students we work with (not to mention causing a ton of anxiety around future library use). If you check out an item that has a limit of two hours (course reserve textbooks, calculators, etc.), it can be really easy to go overdue without even realizing it, and incur fines.

    My boss is many, many not-so-great things (chief among them completely ready for retirement, and therefore WILDLY checked out, no pun intended, of his job), but one thing I’ll say for him – he has no qualms whatsoever about just erasing someone’s fines, no questions asked. He actively encourages all the other staff to do it, too – no need to check with him or anything. I love being able to lift that burden for students, and make a regular habit of it too!

    1. kiri*

      ALSO imo library fines should just not exist at all (I could rant for ages about this haha) so that’s hopefully a logical next step for our library. But in the meantime there’s this!

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Mine regularly forgives fines but we’ve also had to declare a lot of material to be non-circulating because it’s stuff we can’t replace if somebody doesn’t return it. We lost a bunch of dissertations and obscure reference books to people who just didn’t bring them back, so now they have to be used on-site. (We’re a specific discipline, too, which means most of our stuff wasn’t widely published in the first place.)

      2. Anonymous in the Nutmeg State*

        Growing up my mom used find overdue books that I would put down wherever I finished them…shed shrug and say at least the fine pays to replace lost books.
        Fast-forward to my anger learning that in my new home state of Connecticut, library fines do not stay at the library but instead go to the state’s general fund.
        I haven’t figured out how to get that changed yet.

      3. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

        Yup! All three of our local library systems have completely eliminated late fees
        (and not to derail too far, every patron gets 70 pages a week to either print or photocopy)

      4. dorothy zbornak*

        our county library did get rid of fees but if the book is not returned 30 days after the due date, they will bill for a lost item. not sure if that is common or not.

        1. Miss Muffet*

          ours is pretty similar – you won’t get late fees but you may have to pay for replacement after a certain point, and checking out new items gets restricted if you have stuff out past the due date or a pending replacement fine. Still, makes it nicer when you just need a couple more days with it.

    2. Американка (Amerikanka)*

      I work at academic library too. Course reserve fines are the worst! In my library, they can even go up to the triple digits. Thankfully, my boss is also willing to clear or reduce fines . I really detest how high these fines go, but the decision makers for this fine structure are much higher on the totem pole than us).

      1. kiri*

        YES! Academic libraries get so complicated, since (for us at least) so many non-library departments like Registration/Scheduling and Finance/Billing get involved at various points, so a LOT of people have a say in whether we’re issuing fines. I know if a student has too many fines on their record they’ll be blocked from being able to register for classes.

        I’m so glad your boss is also on board with rogue fine-clearing! I’m sure there are lots out there :)

  28. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    Putting in a load of filters that stop antivaxx/conspiracy theory/qanon stuff from being accessed at work or being shared by company email.

    On much smaller scale, blocking internet access entirely for the people who try to circumvent those rules. Oh you rang us in IT to ask why you can’t get to a website? Haven’t a clue mate.

    1. Glomarization, Esq.*

      > blocking internet access entirely for the people who try to circumvent those rules

      Wait, so someone who reads or tries to share objectionable material now can’t even go to Wikipedia or some other website appropriate to their job to look something up?

      1. NerdyKris*

        I think it can be assumed that those aren’t positions where internet access is required to do their job, since anyone who did need network access would have their boss demand it be turned back on.

        1. Glomarization, Esq.*

          If it’s not required for their job, then why are they calling IT to ask about their connectivity problem?

          1. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

            Because they’re trying to surf in between things that are pertinent to their jobs?

            1. Glomarization, Esq.*

              I mean, it just makes no sense to me, if they have internet at their desks they must need it, or in any event the workplace is one where using the internet for non-work stuff is not disallowed as a general thing. So cutting them off entirely because they sent along some objectionable e-mail seems to me to make more work for the OP, not some kind of “misusing their power for good.”

          2. Magenta Sky*

            You’d be amazed, or perhaps appalled, at who clueless some people are. Of *course* they can’t do their job without being able to check their Facebook and shop on Amazon. How could you not know that?

            1. Esmeralda*

              Or watch porn. People violate work internet rules aplenty, despite sometimes dire consequences. Keymaster blocked those whose violations were ethically bad.
              Rock on, Keymaster.

              1. Magenta Sky*

                I once spent a couple of hours being paid to visit porn sites, as part of documenting what a manager had been up to (not all the URLs were *obviously* porn sites just from the domain name, and I was told to be thorough). 45 pages of small print, with duplicates removed, later, he was unemployed. (And he’d print out his favorite screen caps – in black & white, mind you – and kept them in the bottom draw of the file cabinet, which was referred to as “the porn drawer for a long time after.)

                This took place less than two weeks after I had a casual conversation with him (not suspecting anything at that point) about the fact that if you did something on my network, I had a log of it. I only went back a week on the proxy logs.

          3. Pikachu*

            One of my friends runs an IT help desk. He once got a call from one of the company’s retail locations in another state asking for help getting a bird out of the store.

            People will call a help desk for literally any minor problem that you can think of, including being upset that they cannot access inappropriate content at work.

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

            Our IT blocked Facebook to the medical clinic on campus — not only should the employees not be surfing FB while they are supposed to be working, but it had the potential for patient privacy violations (that’s what I heard anyway — and apparently there were patient complaints about bad service). They put up a hell of a tantrum to IT to get it restored — IDK if they succeeded.

            1. Loulou*

              So people who were on break couldn’t even access Facebook on their phone if they were connected to WiFi? I’m not on FB but I’d be unhappy about that too.

              1. Observer*

                That’s a very reasonable precaution. In our office the wifi is blocked the same way the rest of the network is blocked because it’s part of the network. Remember, IT needs to protect the entire network, not just the individual workstations.

            2. raktajino*

              The facebook privacy violations is super real–or at least it used to be, idk if they fixed it. Basically, FB used to suggest “friends” if you’ve both been to the same location. That can reveal that you’re all clients of the same therapist, or something like that.

              Of course, when I googled for updates (“facebook privacy violation friend suggestion”), Facebook claims it doesn’t do that and has never done that, but that’s also a reverse of what their initial statement was. So who knows. Not allowing facebook on medical system wifi seems prudent either way.

        2. Liane*

          At which point IT could inquire of the internet-less employee’s boss, “So what is the Work Reason your report needs access to the Stupidity R Us and No Masks Evah websites?”

        3. Loulou*

          Is that a safe assumption? Virtually every job I can think of in my own workplace requires at least some amount of internet access, even ones you don’t think of as a desk job.

      2. Anon for this*

        Yeah, sorry, I (a progressive) find the above to be an example of petty tyranny for bad reasons. Do I wish people would be able to make value judgments about the information they are consuming? Yes. Do I think qanon is poison? Also yes. Do I think a single IT employee gets to decide what (otherwise safe-for-work) sites people get to visit, and *unilaterally decide to cut their internet access*? Absolutely not!

        1. DarthVelma*

          Same here. I’m not feeling this entire post/thread. Sometimes there’s a really fine line between “using your powers for good” and being a petty tyrant making like difficult for people you don’t like/disagree with. And sometimes that difference is just about whether your audience happens to share your political views.

          Also, as many threads as we’ve seen on this site about accommodating dietary restrictions and food allergies, to have a link to the “onion sandwich” example as “misusing your power for good” really concerned me.

          I think I’m going to just close AAM for the day and come back tomorrow.

          1. justabot*

            Agreed. The examples in the subject and some of these posts sound more like petty revenge than actually using small power to help or do good for people.

            The fast food example disturbed me. I think that provoking drunk people or charging them for things they didn’t order or gaslighting them by telling them they ordered something they didn’t is actually extremely dangerous and could have escalated an already volatile situation. The obnoxious group wasn’t right, but they should have been asked to leave or even call for help to escort them out if they were vandalizing the property, but not messed with. The employee should not have engaged with those drunk customers at all, let alone purposely messed with their order and added on charges. Similar situations have even resulted in someone pulling a gun or escalating into violence or worse. I really don’t see that as a prime example of someone using their power for good.

        2. HelloHello*

          But they’re blocking people who are trying to get around firewalls, not just people who try to navigate to the websites in the first place. Someone trying to get around work firewalls is opening their entire system up to viruses and other security issues, and probably should have their internet shut off until they can be reminded not to try to access blocked websites. (Especially since, frankly, q-anon, antivax, etc. websites are probably rife with viruses and other security risks.)

          1. londonedit*

            Exactly – Keymaster is blocking access to websites promoting vile/inflammatory/fake news content, which is fair enough because no one needs to be looking at those at work (or anywhere else, but hey ho). The only people who have their entire internet access revoked are the people who see that these websites are blocked and who try to get around the block so they can still visit QAnon etc during work hours. They want their internet access back? They should explain to their boss exactly what sort of websites they’ve been trying to circumvent company firewalls in order to access.

          2. Calliope*

            Oh come on, these non-IT people are “trying to get around firewalls”? What does that even mean? They’re clearly not trying to break into admin permissions or that would warrant a real company response and not a petty unofficial one. Either people are getting blocked for googling stuff the OP doesn’t approve of (as if nobody ever looks up stuff they don’t agree with to understand a news article or something) or none of this actually happened, which is probably more likely. Either way we shouldn’t be acting like it’d be ok if it did.

        3. Pikachu*

          I think if you repeatedly violate an authorized use policy by trying to access prohibited content at work on work devices, you should lose your tech privileges. It becomes a management issue. IT is well within its rights to cut off your access until you and your boss can figure out why you can’t stop Qing all over company time.

        4. Hepzibutt Smith*

          Yeah I had one particular IT dude who blocked out all Black Lives Matter content. I guess, like Keymaster, he was correct that I did not need to access that information for work. But overall people like this are a real bummer, even when we vote the same way.

      3. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        Most of the positions that I keep the IT services running for can be done perfectly well with no external internet access. As long as they have access to our intranet they can do their jobs.

        1. Glomarization, Esq.*

          So “they don’t need it anyway” — do you really know that, though? Isn’t it up to the employee and/or their supervisor to decide whether or not their job can be done perfectly well with no external internet access?

    2. Momma Bear*

      It is very common for companies to block sites that are a distraction or simply not allowed. I’m all for this, frankly.

      1. Glomarization, Esq.*

        Blocking sites is fine by me. I’ve had more than one gig where IT blocked Facebook, for example, because it can be such a time-sink and because there were business confidentiality issues. But OP is talking about blocking an employee’s access completely — and apparently not giving them any warning and not assisting them at all to get it back, either.

        1. Dutchie*

          I assume that by circumventing a block we are talking about something like installing a VPN. I don’t think it’s that weird to say that if you are trying to access the company network to use a VPN, you are no longer allowed to use it, since you have demonstrated to not respect restrictions put in place by higher ups.

          I would also think it fair for a company to revoke someone’s keycard if they had been trying to destroy windows to enter rooms their card did not get them access to. At that point you have demonstrated you don’t possess the judgement necessary to handle this responsibility and from now you can ask colleagues for help if you do need to enter a locked room (or use the internet).

        2. Shiara*

          The typical ways to circumvent filters aren’t things people will accidentally try and are things that will throw up plenty of “this is a security risk are you sure?” warnings. This isn’t just hitting refresh or trying a different browser or turning private browsing on. It’s completely valid for IT to kick you for trying to bypass security.

      2. Anonymous Hippo*

        I don’t like it because I’m an adult and can manage my own time.

        What goofy is when the blocking hits in a nonsensical way. Our I.T. has managed to block all our benefit and 401K sites, but Reddit & FB work great.

        1. KRM*

          But what’s happening is this: employee visits qAnon site. Site blocked. Employee tries to get around blocking. IT notices and pulls their internet (because they don’t NEED the internet for their job and they’re trying to get around security procedures). Now employee has to 1-stop trying to access an already blocked site AT WORK, and 2-possibly has to explain why they’re trying to work around the blockage, so they can get internet back.
          Keymaster is clearing treating people like adults when they prove they’re adults. You try to circumvent the security policy at work to visit a blocked site? You’re not an adult and don’t deserve internet. This is clearly different than being at work and reading AAM or doing some banking in your down time.

    3. I-Away 8*

      It goes without saying you’re the hero we all aspire to be. But I’m surprised you still have a job. In my industry, sabotaging part of a company’s IT would get you fired on the spot, and probably end your career.

      I wouldn’t want to work with Q-anon conspirists. But I also wouldn’t want to work for a company that allows individual IT employees to unilaterally decide who deserves or needs internet access.

      (Though perhaps I’m biased because at my workplace, all employees need internet to communicate with off-site colleagues, submit PTO requests, access help systems for desktop apps, and other essential tasks.)

  29. Similarly Situated*

    I work for a government office where we need people to fill out a printed form before we can help them. My old boss would slip a stamped envelope in with the form whenever she knew the recipient was struggling. She bought the stamps herself, but it was technically an ethics violation.

    1. Momma Bear*

      This is an absolute kindness for people who not only can’t afford stamps but maybe can’t get to the right store or post office to buy them.

      1. Similarly Situated*

        Something about not giving gifts. Government ethics rules are weird. I doubt she’d have gotten in trouble if someone reported it though.

      2. rubble*

        probably something about showing favouritism to certain people/groups and introducing bias

  30. Anon Admin*

    On my last day at work at a public library years ago, someone who I guess had something against me went into my library account and deleted it. Not just changed it from a staff account to a regular account, but deleted it completely. I found out when I went home and tried to download an ebook I’d finally gotten off the hold list after months of waiting and the account was gone. A friend who still worked there went in and created a new account for me under a fake name (Gee Buttersnaps) and put me at the top of the hold list. I continued to use that account for YEARS with no issues when I got a message on FB from another previous coworker who asked “Are you Gee Buttersnaps?” And when I asked how she knew, thinking she was some sort of Sherlock Holmes, she said “Uh, the email associated with the account is your first and last name.” Whoops. She still let me use the account, though.

  31. Have you tried sparkling at it?*

    When I was in college, the trans community was really struggling- multiple suicides, widespread hostility on campus and some much worse stuff that I’m gonna leave out to keep this anonymous. And to make things worse, the school system reacted by creating a gag order- nobody, including the LGBT coordinator, was allowed to talk about it (or the gag order) for risk of their job. Even openly supporting the trans community was “political”.

    So the LGBT coordinator reached out to some trans students that he trusted and started sending messages through them. I’d hear them through group chats and in person. Stuff like “avoid the Quad today- the transphobes are doing a demonstration. I didn’t hear this from John”. Or “John *doesn’t* say that hosting a trans pride march is a good idea. He can’t be there, but the office will be unlocked from 1 to 2 so we can use the flags. Don’t tell anyone where we got them”.

    1. quill*

      I love the “I’m sorry, I can’t help you (do this very specific set of instructions)” routine

      1. Zephy*

        Like how during Prohibition bottles of grape juice would come with “warning” labels advising people NOT to add a bit of yeast and keep the bottle in a cool, dark place for a while, lest it ferment into wine, heaven forfend?

        Or like tweets warning people NEVER to add just a pound or two of sugar to concrete mix, because then it won’t set right, which would definitely disrupt whatever construction project might be underway?

      2. Amy Farrah Fowler*

        This reminds me of the Incredibles… “I’m sorry ma’am. I know you’re upset… I would NOT recommend that you file a form blah blah blah”

      3. Sharpie*

        I just wanted to mention that absolutely nothing happened today in Sector eighty-three by nine by twelve. I repeat, nothing happened. Please remain calm. Thank you.

    2. Calamity Janine*

      an absolutely stunning example of doing good, and also praeteritio so fine that it would make Cicero weep at its glory!

  32. The New Wanderer*

    I worked for a shady ‘charity’ telemarketing office almost 30 years ago as office support. One of those places that buys the rights to use phrases that sound legit around police and firefighter orgs, but the supposed recipients only get about 10-15% of the donations. Shady to the point that the FBI came by a few times and the whole place shut down a few years later.

    The phone bank solicited donations from something like 15 different orgs. The policy was that anyone who asked to be removed from the calling list was removed for that one ‘charity’ they were solicited from but were on the other 14 lists, because “they might still want to donate to those.” Well, most of the donations appeared to come from residents of nursing homes, based on the notes included with the checks (most of which read something like “I’m on a fixed income, please stop calling”). Since I was in charge of data entry and had access to the master phone lists, I took ALL of the donor names off every list along with everyone else whose number I knew.

    1. singularity*

      You are a SAINT! These places who prey off of vulnerable senior citizens are the worst of the worst.

    2. Chauncy Gardener*

      You absolutely ROCK! Thank you so much on behalf of senior citizens everywhere!

  33. Bookworm*

    Years ago I waited a really long time to ship something out at Fed-Ex. I got to the front, was annoyed by this time and the Fed-Ex employee said I was suddenly an certain type of worker (educator? I can’t remember anymore) eligible for a 15% discount. I absolutely wasn’t but he said “today you are.” Customer service can suck so bad but I did appreciate that. I haven’t used that location since (moved away) but I do hope he’s doing well.

    1. machinedreams*

      That reminds me of the time I went to the Field Museum in Chicago. I’m standing in line patiently, while the poor employee is dealing with this guy and his family. Guy is being an absolute douchecanoe about a bunch of stuff (price in general, price for what he wanted versus what he thought he should pay, what he thought should be included for the ticket level he wanted).

      So finally that guy and his family shuffle off. Lady looks at me and goes “Are you an in-state student?” I tell her no. (I mean, I did live in-state but I wasn’t a student.) She was just like “You are today!” and charged me like two bucks less than she should’ve, something like that. Not much, true, but my wallet appreciated it that day.

    2. Insert Clever Name Here*

      I was at a Sherwin Williams several months ago getting paint for a project. There was a lady in there apparently doing a little bit of research before doing her own project, and she got all huffy about a sign stating that a $.25 supply chain surcharge was going to be added to each item (not sure of the price exactly). She was absolutely berating the poor guy who had been answering all her questions, “well Sherwin Williams needs to rethink that because it is absolutely ridiculous.” So I spoke up: “I work in supply chain management [it’s true!] and it is not ridiculous. There are constraints on almost every single part of the supply chain and honestly, you should be happy that it’s only $.25. From what I heard on a call with a supplier before coming here, Sherwin Williams would be completely justified in a higher surcharge.”

      She GLARED at me, spun on her heels, and flounced out. When my paint was finished being mixed, the guy behind the counter asked me if I was doing all the painting myself, and I told him no, I had some friends who were going to help. “Ok, I’m going to give you the contractor discount then.” It was 25% off each can of paint I bought! It literally saved me over $100.

      1. Radical Edward*

        Retail employees giving the customer *behind* the awful ones a discount or freebie is one of my favorite little subterfuges. (I worked in hobby-focused retail for over a decade. It was just so satisfying to burn that rage by making another person’s day.)

        My other favorite thing was the ‘a-hole tax’, but that was the opposite of doing a nice thing under the table… :)

        1. Chirpy*

          This. I have no idea why so many customers think they need to be jerks when so many retail/food service/etc workers are FAR more willing to go out of the way to help a nice person. The a-hole tax is real.

          1. PhyllisB*

            Yes, about going out of the way for a nice person, I have been the recipient of that. I was at our mall one day and had shopping to do at several stores that were all running specials/had discount coupons, ect. Anyway, I was behind a lady that was a nickel short of her total. I gave her a nickel. The next store I had an extra coupon and offered it to the person behind me. The third store I went to I had a coupon good for 20% off one item. (I bought a lot of items at that store that day.) When I got the register, the cashier called over to her manager, “I’ve heard about this lady, she’s nice. Can I give her 20% off her total order?” Manager okayed it. I don’t remember total saved now, but I think it was over $100.00!!
            I know all this sounds like I’m bragging on myself, and I don’t mean it to sound like that; just that when you’re nice to others, it comes back to you.

        2. Insert Clever Name Here*

          In college I worked at a coffee shop and as a shift leader was given a number of “free drink” coupons to give out at my discretion. The main purpose was for us to give them out if we messed up someone’s order, but I definitely enjoyed giving them occasionally to folks who were extra kind to us *after* someone had been a massive jerk :)

      2. Emi*

        My friends and I once got rain check tickets to the splash park even though they weren’t technically doing rain checks for that storm (it was complicated) because the man ahead of us was hassling the admissions clerk about it and someone in our group lost her temper and low-key yelled at him to leave the poor staff alone.

    3. Alfalfa Alfredo*

      That reminds me of this one St. Pat’s Day (huge, huge parade in my city, drunkenness galore by 10A) and I was downtown with my — at the time — 5YO kid. We had a great time at the parade and went to Starbucks for hot cocoa. There was the drunkest lady there complaining that the employees won’t let her use the public restroom (one guess why) and that it was closed for the day.

      I hope into the conversation explaining to her where all of the open potties were that day because 5YO needed to go all day. The grocery store here, the restaurant there, etc.

      Next thing I know, more free cocoa for my kid and at least three cake pops from the Starbucks employees just because we diffused her anger with complete kindness.

    4. feath*

      Once when I had to get legal representation (car accident in a state that required a court appearance), the rep working with me basically ran through my entire family history trying to find me all the discounts. My grandfather was in the navy? Sure that counts for the military discount. And so on. Saved me a bunch during a stressful time!

    5. Gumby*

      Heh, I have been given the senior discount at Ross on whatever day that is. The first time it happened? I think I was 40 or 41.

      Cashier: Are you a senior?
      Me (confused): … I’m 40?
      Cashier: Well, right now you are 55. (I think she had rung me up and didn’t want to fix it.)

  34. A Library Person*

    A place I worked had a fragment of a Gutenberg Bible (yes, a real piece of paper that was really printed by Gutenberg’s shop). I wasn’t technically forbidden from handling it, but I didn’t have access to the place it was stored. One day, a group of very VIPs was visiting our space and we pulled out all the stops for them, including the Gutenberg. I snuck into the room where it was being displayed and touched it, just lightly put a (recently washed!) finger on it, to say that I had touched a Gutenberg Bible. No consequences for me, no regrets, and I came out of it with a cool “I did this” story.

    I’ve handled a lot of other cool stuff but I never had to be sneaky about it, and you’d be amazed what you have access to in archives even as a random person on the street (truly, please come visit!). But that Gutenberg moment was special.

    1. Dragon_Dreamer*

      Very cool, but the reason for the gloves isn’t exactly because of dirt. Even clean, your fingers have oil on them, which can help break down and discolor the paper over time.

      1. 867-5309*

        Agree with this. It is not even really about the dirt, it is about the oils on your skin that breaks down the paper. This is not using power for good but could permanently damage a historical artifact.

      2. Loulou*

        Yes, the reason you wash your hands is to remove this oil. Since OP worked in a rare books library, I think we can assume they were trained on materials handling! I don’t remember the last time I used gloves at work but I think it was pre-pandemic.

        1. Zoe Karvounopsina*

          I remember a BBC History presenter recently got told off on Twitter for not using gloves, and went on saying “You don’t have to wear gloves, they can sometimes cause more damage, and this is why.”

          1. Loulou*

            I always appreciate when people with big platforms explain this! Though I must say I don’t understand why randos with no rare books training assume they would know better than professionals in the field to begin with.

            1. xl*

              Because people like to think that they’re smarter than others.

              I work in a niche occupation and over the years I’ve been on a few message boards to discuss things with others in the field. I’ve given up on that because invariably people who don’t know what they’re talking about will show up and argue because they once saw something in a movie.

      3. A Library Person*

        Oh my goodness, yes I EXTREMELY know this, my point was that I came into contact with it, not that I did so without gloves.

    2. disneychannelthis*

      “times when you saw someone violate the letter or the spirit of a rule or otherwise do something that could technically be considered under-handed in order to achieve good in the world. ”

      I don’t see it

      1. Coconutty*

        Yeah, this is just breaking the rules for one’s own benefit. And potentially damaging something priceless in the process.

        1. A Library Person*

          On reflection, you’re right. I got caught up in the “using power” part and not in the “greater good” part. But I did get roasted for poor phrasing, so I suppose I got a little of the karma I deserved for the misplaced post. :)

    3. Former librarian*

      As a former archivist/rare books librarian, just have to always note: you do not need gloves to handle rare books. The amount of oils on a clean hand is negligible and will not harm the paper. If you’re handling a bound volume, is actually better to NOT wear gloves. I only require gloves for photographs and other shiny things. And for something that could be damaged by touching (like an piece of art or any gold leaf), you shouldn’t touch it even if you’re wearing gloves. For the most part, TOUCH AWAY, my friends!

      1. A Library Person*

        Yes! I phrased it badly above, but don’t worry, I’m an archivist myself and I only use gloves with photographs.

      2. Insert Clever Name Here*

        When I lived in DC, I once got to tag along with a friend on a Super Special Access trip to the Library of Congress and one of the librarians pulled several rare books to show us. We were all shocked when he didn’t put on gloves and he went on to explain that gloves are just one tool archivists use, but not the only one and certainly not the right one as often as the public thinks it’s the right one — it was fascinating!

      3. Elizabeth West*

        The first Van Gogh I saw was at the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff. It’s called “Rain—Auvers.” There is no rail in front of the paintings like there is in the National Gallery in London, so I was able to get up VERY close to it and study the impasto. I was so excited to see it; I went there specifically for the Impressionist collection (although it’s a cool museum overall), and did not know they had it. So I was moving along the wall looking at each piece, and there it was.

        Seeing it so close felt like looking at Vincent through two-way glass and I could see him, but he couldn’t see me. A docent was stationed at the door nearby. I wanted to touch the painting SO SO BADLY. I didn’t, but I wanted to. If the museum had been empty, as in after-hours or something…I might have.

        1. Insert Clever Name Here*

          Oh my gosh, you put words to the feeling I get when standing that close to a painting — it IS like looking at the artist through two-way glass and seeing them, but them unable to see you. Chills. Love it.

      4. Magnus Archivist*

        this ^^

        If your hands were clean and you weren’t, like, manipulating the paper, this is absolutely fine.

    4. Snowy*

      Ugh, this was the bane of my existence as a museum curator, telling adults who think they can touch things because they’re “careful” or “my hands are clean” that they really, really shouldn’t do that as it can damage the artifacts. Even if one touch won’t damage it, the cumulative touch of many people thinking “but once won’t hurt it” will over time.

      I do get it’s fun to touch all the stuff nobody else can, but please don’t. Even though I was fully allowed to handle everything (I was the curator, after all), there were some things even I didn’t touch more than necessary because they were just too fragile.

  35. Let me clear my schedule for you*

    My grandboss asked my manager if I could do Unpleasant Task, but he didn’t know since I recently moved departments. Manager contacted my old supervisor who said no, even though that is what I was originally hired for. My old sup and I wondered why they want an analyst doing entry-level work …

  36. Milk Maid*

    My breasts got three women offices.

    I had just returned from maternity leave, and while I was out we had gotten a new facility director. I had never met the director until the day of our all hands meeting. I was trying to quickly finish pumping before the meeting started in 3 minutes, when there was a knock on my office door. I yelled, “Don’t come in!”, but the door opened anyway — the new facility director, in his rounds to ensure everyone was going to attend the all hands, had walked in on me pumping!

    I used his embarrassment about the whole situation to have a sit-down meeting about the office situation at the facility. Every single man, including those who worked off site full time, had an office. However, three women: two admin professionals and our only IT person, were still in cubicles. There were 11 unoccupied offices — and literal garbage being stored in some of these offices (old personal belongings from terminated employees). One of the admins had already been turned down to move into an empty office (she didn’t “meet the criteria” for an office – mind you, neither did I, nor at least two of my other colleagues). Within a week of him walking in on me, all three women had offices.

    Because they were no longer using a whole block of cubicles, the company removed them and gained a larger meeting space/ rec room that they ended up using to accept an award about a year later.

    1. Jennifer Strange*

      Your first sentence threw me for a loop. I legit thought you meant that your breasts were given three offices that had previously belonged to women and I was so confused about how that worked (in my defense I’m 10 weeks into my own maternity leave and sleep deprivation is setting in a bit).

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        I was wondering the same thing, except I don’t have any excuses.

        May you and your little one have good, long lives.

    2. Momma Bear*

      Sorry it took that big of an embarrassment to get it sorted, but glad that you were able to get the office space fixed.

    3. Daisy Gamgee*

      That is a glorious opening sentence to a splendid tale. Thank you for doing this, especially in leveraging his well-deserved embarassment for good.

  37. Amber Rose*

    Oh, and a very silly example of my own abuse of power. We’re supposed to have all of our service staff log in to this portal once a year and do a customer-specific Bear Awareness course. I just log in as them and do it for them. They take a general Bear Aware course through official training companies, and it’s way better.

    I don’t know who made this thing, but I feel like I know less about safety around bears every time I take it. It’s awful.

    1. 867-5309*

      What… actual training on Bear awareness and safety… not B-E-A-R that means something else?

      1. TK*

        I assume they’re.. park rangers, or something? It’s pretty amusing to just tell the story as though “bear awareness” is a typical training in most workplaces. :)

        1. Valancy Snaith*

          Bear awareness training can be a major compliance requirement for anyone whose job requires them to be outdoors–waste management, facilities workers, utilities workers, road workers, delivery drivers/long-haul transport drivers in some communities (including postal employees)–or anyone who works in an environment where bears are around, such as employees of resorts or tourist spots in more distant locales. A lot of it does boil down to “don’t litter, don’t approach bears, and be sensible,” though.

        2. Amber Rose*

          The training video is done Smoky the Bear style with this horrible cartoon bear. So it really makes me feel like a park ranger. But no. We do associate work on pipelines. I’m so used to weird training requirements that I don’t even think about it anymore.

          I wish they’d make it like that one jokey bee video where it was like “Remember kids, bee safe! And don’t f**k with bees or we’ll f**king sting you to death.”

          1. Hazel*

            I just thought Amber Rose was making up a “chocolate teapots” type of example! Live and learn. Actually, “read AAM comments & learn”!

            1. Pug Lover*

              Same! I thought “Bear Awareness” had to be analogous to Llama Grooming or Teapot Inspection. I also learned something new.

          2. Worldwalker*

            I know of a site (government-adjacent) where their in-house safety training videos feature an error-prone worker in a dinosaur costume. I don’t know if they did this because they were worried that someone would complain that their particular demographic was (or wasn’t) represented by hapless star of the videos, or just because that guy wanted to get away with wearing a dinosaur suit on company time.

            1. Anonymous4*

              I would love to wear a dinosaur suit on company time! I have a mid-year review coming up; I think I’ll add it to my list of Things To Do.

        3. Kate Kate*

          A very small one, but I had a work study job in college and I worked admin in a department office for one of the nicest people on the planet. Due to the nature of my major, if I didn’t have enough office work to do, I couldn’t really work on homework at the job, so she’d often be like “oh put down 2 hours for today then and go do your homework” knowing the department had the budget for it. She also knew getting the mail was my favorite and saved it for me every time I worked :) 20+ years later and we still keep in touch-they even named their dog after me!!

      2. Carlon*

        It’s not weird in e.g. environmental consulting where you do a lot of site work in remote mines! The more you know

        1. londonedit*

          There are no bears in the country I live in (well, apart from at the zoo), and it never would have crossed my mind that bear awareness training would be a thing! I mean it makes sense when you think about it, but it’s not something anyone here (with the exception of zookeepers) would ever need to know about!

          1. allathian*

            I learned bear awareness at my grandma’s knee, or nearly, when I went berry picking with her as a kid. I never saw any bears, although I did see the paw prints of what could only have been a bear once when I was 11.

      3. GoryDetails*

        I was assuming they’re the staff of a dude ranch or something similar, located near bear country. I had a summer job at one, and we often heard accounts of the lucky folks who got to roust the bears out of the dumpsters in the mornings….

      4. Amber Rose*

        A very large cause of death amongst pipeline workers in Canada (and maybe/probably the US) is bears, because pipelines tend to cross bear home territory. On the one hand it sounds silly but on the other hand, bear attacks are scary af.

        1. 867-5309*

          I definitely wasn’t intending to imply it wasn’t critical for some roles. More that as an office employee in a state without bears, I read it as B-E-A-R until the second sentence and realize OP meant actual, the animal bears. I had to read it twice.

          1. Amber Rose*

            No, I know. I never thought about it either until I started working here. I’m a city girl, I mostly see bears in zoos. But I’ve read some of the incident reports and… :O

        2. Chinook*

          I agree. In pipeline work, it is legit to say you can’t work today because they spotted a bear (bonus points if you have a photo). And it is more common because the pipes can be warmer than the ground when uncovered, so the bears will walk on them (they leave footprints). The downside to that is they then have to inspect the pipes to make sure the bear didn’t cause any damage from their weight, but they have procedures in place for that too.

          On the flip side, I do have a photo of DH doing northern policing where he yelled at a young bear (not a cub) to get out of a tree in someone’s backyard. He talked to it sternly and gave it commands like a dog (his partner had a rifle covering him just in case). All it did was cause the bear to run down that tree, up the next one and then start crying. It eventually got tired and ran back into the woods, but he had a rep in that remote community as “the cop who made a bear cry.”

          1. Anonymous4*

            I feel sorry for the poor little bear! Got its feelings hurt! It wasn’t doing anything — it was just sitting in a tree when this guy came along and YELLED at it!

      5. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

        I just figured OP just used Bear Awarness course as a stand in for the actual name of the course for anonmosity. Just like we often see Teapot painter or Llama Groomer as a stand in for an actual title.

        1. Amber Rose*

          Bear Aware is my single favorite real course to sign people up for because it’s fun to say. :D

          1. Formerly Ella Vader*

            I sign people up for assorted safety courses from a place that offers Bear Aware (Western Canada oil industry, but mostly not remote), and I’ve always thought it sounded more interesting than Confined Space or H2SAlive.

      6. Old Mountain Lady*

        I live near Asheville, NC. We have community based BearWise training here because anyone who lives here needs to know how to behave around bears and how to avoid attracting them. When we moved here, I often didn’t lock my car at night because we’re out in the country. Now I always lock it after hearing about friends of friends whose car was totaled after a bear got inside and couldn’t get out. I love the bears, but I’m careful.

    2. Zombeyonce*

      I love this mainly because I initially read “Bear Awareness” as a silly fill-in name for a training, the way Alison uses ‘llama groomer” instead of generic job titles in her answers. I didn’t even consider that it was a real thing until the end of the comment! I’m definitely using bear awareness training as my go-to generic training from now on.

      1. Twenty Points for the Copier*

        Me, too! I assumed it was a fill-in for a some sort of corporate or technical training and not Actual Bears.

        1. The Rafters*

          This thread is amusing. I’m rural enough that I immediately read it as actual Bear Awareness. I read a few comments, then went back to the post to see if I misread it.

    3. Chinook*

      As someone who once had to sit through corporate online training about safely using stairs while sitting in our one floor building (not even a basement), thank you for taking one for the team.

      Our teams response was to see how wrong you could answer the question and still pass. I am pretty sure that the head office thought we were all idiots after it took us 10 times to pass a test with questions about whether or not to use handrails on stairs.

      1. Morrigan Crow*

        I remember safety training about using handrails on stairs (3 story office) – and then my manager telling me it’s better NOT to use the handrails because you’ll pick up germs! (And this was pre-Covid advice)

    1. fposte*

      I think that’s the opposite of this post, though–it’s for deliberately causing harm with compliance. This post is about creating good with noncompliance.

      1. Nesprin*

        Indeed- This seems like a celebration of chaotic good, instead of lawful evil (how i would describe malicious compliance)

  38. Anon for this*

    A million years ago I was the newly hired controller at a software company with an open office plan in an old mill building. Think super high ceilings and exactly zero sound insulation/proofing. I had accounting, HR and IT reporting to me. The payroll/AP person was a lunatic. She spent most of the day on LOUD personal phone calls (we all had landlines, see a million years ago) while typing away as loudly as she could (to pretend she was working, I guess?). It was SO disruptive and everyone was really upset about it. I spoke to her about the calls several times to no avail. While she was typing noisily, she was also overwriting all the deductions on everyone’s paycheck under the pretext of being “busy.” So that wasn’t ideal either.
    So on my 6th or 7th day, I quietly called the IT guy over and said “break her phone.” He was incredulous and asked me what I meant, and do know I was his brand new boss so he hadn’t figured me out yet. I just said, “I don’t care what you have to do, just make sure her phone doesn’t work ever again” He got the biggest smile on his face and in a few minutes it was done. She kept coming over to me and asking why her phone wasn’t working. I innocently said I would talk to the IT guy, but in the meantime, if she needed to make a call, she could certainly use my phone. Peace reigned and payroll was more accurate.

  39. Jennifer Strange*

    I worked in the box office for an opera company one summer and everyone involved with the productions got a certain number of comps for the season. You would submit a form to us for the performance(s) you wanted your comp tickets to be for and the day of the performance we would fill those comp requests based on the order they had come in and what seats were still available. A few of the performers were jerks (mostly the men’s chorus and parents of the children’s chorus) but there was one chorus member who was the worst.

    First, he showed up four minutes before we closed one day to fill his comps, but when I asked him which performance he wanted the tickets to be for he seemed perplexed by the question and it took 20 minutes for him to figure it out. Then he showed up the day that he had guests coming to a performance to ask where they were seated. I don’t remember where they had been put (somewhere in the orchestra, but likely nearer the back) but he decided that the ticket location was not good enough. Again, he was a chorus member (not that it would have been okay had it been a lead*, but maybe a bit more understandable) and these were FREE TICKETS. He berated the BO associate he was talking to and made her give his guests better seats, then said self-importantly, “Good thing I came by to check. That would have been embarrassing.”

    A week or so later I was wiling comp requests for the day I came across a form for him. Looking at the seating chart I saw that there were two seats available in the middle of Row M…or two seats available on the side of Row U. Guess where I seated his guests? I was working will call that evening as well and saw his guests pick up their tickets. They gave me a sour look when they saw where they were seated for the evening.

    *Just as an aside, every lead I interacted with – as well as the wife of the company’s artistic director – were absolute gems!

    1. Il Divo*

      Why punish his guests when he was the jerk?

      Why demean chorus members? They’re as important as the leads. Leads aren’t allowed to act like glassbowls either.

      1. Insert Clever Name Here*

        Because giving his guests the best possible seats after he berated someone for giving his *other* guests seats he deemed subpar just teaches him that berating people gets him what he wants. That’s not what we should teach anyone, whether they are a jerk chorus member or a lead ;)

      2. Anyfizz*

        I’m confused by this question. It’s not as if the guests treated the OP that well either. Who gives someone a sour look over the seat placement for free tickets?
        Also, the OP went out of their way to say that it wouldn’t have been appropriate for a lead to act that way either… that it was just strange to such antics (likely fueled by a great sense of self-importance) from a non-lead.

        1. Gumby*

          Who gives someone a sour look over the seat placement for free tickets?

          Jerks. That is who. When I was a volunteer usher I saw a father (assuming, he was there with a kid about 12 years old) berate another usher to the point that we got the house manager involved because his free tickets were not good enough seats. Sadly, he was actually given slightly better seats. The whole performance was free but it was still assigned seating, mostly determined by when you requested your tickets.

  40. Anon for this post*

    When I was in the National Guard, my unit was activated for Desert Storm. Our top sergeant decided that anyone old enough to go to war was old enough to get a drink, so he issued all of us under 21 ID cards that made us at least 21. It didn’t do me a lot of good there, but when I returned home it definitely was put to use.

    I know for a fact he risked a lot to do that, but I think he was right.

        1. Database Developer Dude*

          Indeed he was right. If you can fight and die for your country, you should be able to have a beer.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I agree with this, but I wish the age to go to war was at least 21. Or better yet, no wars.

    1. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

      Fascinating. Around the same time, I was on a military base and an active duty card was always good enough to get a drink at the e-club, and for the same reason.

  41. Buttercup*

    This is really small, and the amount of good limited to just me, but it made my day at the time.

    I worked at a smoothie stand on my college campus for a few years, and occasionally, we’d get in these locally-grown apples to sell as well. I was restocking the apples for the display, and found a ridiculously tiny one in the barrel – it couldn’t have been more than two inches tall, an inch and a half across, and I thought it was the cutest thing. I told my boss about it when I got back, and sighed that it would have cost about a third of my lunch benefit for the day to get it. (They were really expensive apples, and we got about $7 each shift to get a sandwich or something on our break.) She went to the back and found it in the barrel, snuck it into my apron pocket, and told me to have it on my break for “quality control”. It was absolutely delicious.

  42. Dragon_Dreamer*

    I have 2 stories.

    The first time, I had a customer with a broken ethernet port on his laptop. This would not have been a problem, except that he plugged his power cord into the port, touching the exposed contacts. Fired the motherboard. So I called the warranty company with him, intending to tell them it had “just died.” He had the full accident, and I knew there was no way to tell.

    Bless his soul if he didn’t try to blurt out the WHOLE story to the warranty rep. REPEATEDLY. He really wanted me to tell them exactly what he’d done, which would have voided the warranty and gotten him nothing. Through creative use of the mute button and more than a few “I promise I’m telling them everything” I did get his motherboard replaced.

    Story the Second: We had a gentleman buy a laptop for his daughter, who was going to study in Central America. What is relevant is that where she was going, there were no computer repair shops. We warned him repeatedly to get the full accident warranty ($199), but he said, “oh, she’ll never break it” and bought the basic one. ($99) This was in July.

    In September, he called us and said that her roommate had sat on the laptop, shattering the screen. Technically, there was nothing we could do. My manager (the good one who later got transferred) and I hatched a plan. We told him to tell his daughter to hook the laptop to an external monitor for a few weeks. Meanwhile, we refunded his old warranty and sold him the full accident. After the waiting period, the claim was put in, and she got her machine fixed.

    Both customers were extremely nice and apologetic, and were willing to own their stupidity. (In the first guy’s place, too much so.) That was why we bent over backwards for them.

  43. Limepiranha*

    Worked as an Assistant Manager at a learning center with rigorous requirements for teachers to devote time to lesson plans, but very few actual laptops were provided for them to work on.
    When I was hired I was never actually given a new laptop as was approved but used an old one from a previous manager. As the teacher laptops grew old the company refused to provide new ones so we were down to just a couple of functioning machines.
    On my way out of that job I called IT support, claimed a blue screen of death on ‘my laptop’ which prompted them to order a new one for the next incoming assistant.
    I then gifted my laptop (wiped of anything administration-wise) to the teachers and didn’t feel bad about my subterfuge since the company technically would have provided an assistant manager a laptop regardless.

  44. fax lady*

    I worked at the circulation desk of an academic library for 6 years before transferring elsewhere in the library. That circulation desk had the only publicly available fax machine on campus. You would be surprised at how many people still need to send and receive faxes these days. We were also the cheapest place to send a fax for miles around and were open later than the public library. So we would often get community members as well as students. Even with our low prices, it could be multiple dollars to fax verification paperwork to the welfare office. I just never charged for those and instructed my student workers to do the same. Why make applying for SNAP any harder than it already is?

    1. Just Me*

      Oh my god, yes. The social security offices are closed where I live and the phone lines are perpetually tied up, so you can only get an appointment by faxing or mailing a request to your closest social security office. Doctor’s offices will also only take a lot of documents by fax or mail. It sucks because fax is the fastest way to get your documents sent out and is also so ancient that no one knows how to do it anymore. I want to start a petition to get the dinosaur, late-adopter industries onboard with secure email so we can just kill the fax machine already.

      1. quill*

        Snail mail government offices were the bane of my existence when I worked regulatory affairs. Even faxing would have been an improvement over “sorry, the post office is imploding during a pandemic where god only knows when the addressee will be on site to pick up the mail,” but we REALLY should just skip to email. I guarantee it’s more secure to email “hey, I want to buy a copy of public record certification paperwork X with the official seal for business reasons” than it is to hope that it made it through pandemic, postal service, and in-office mail pick up schedules.

      2. Christmas Cactus*

        Medical offices are not allowed to use e-mail to transmit documents that contain health information. Under HIPAA, e-mail is not a secure method of transmitting personal health information. Fax and snail mail are still necessary.

        1. Emi*

          In a lot of cases, they can send HIPAA-protected information through less secure means if the person whose information it is requests that they do so, and anyway that’s no reason why they should only *accept* files by fax.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Yes, both my doctor’s office in OldCity and here in Hellhole have secure messaging platforms but not all patients have or know how to use the internet. Before they got it, they just mailed stuff.

        2. Chili pepper Attitude*

          At my local govt job, we paid for hotels on the bosses p-card but could not bring the card on the trip. So hotels required us to fax them a form, it could only be faxed. Our city used an app that faxed things so we were actually just emailing the docs.

        3. MAC*

          That’s so weird to me. At one of my previous jobs, the very publicly located fax machine was 5 hallways away, in a building with ~100 people (and accessible to ~4000 campus wide) so anyone passing by could have seen/taken my private medical records while I was making the trek. But I was the only one with access to my computer & email. Of course, we were a government contractor that did a lot of national security work, so our network was among the best-protected in the country, I realize not all systems are as well shielded. It still always struck me as odd that my eye dr. wouldn’t send my contacts prescription to my email even when I expressly gave consent.

        4. Squidlet*

          That’s weird because more people have a private email account than a private fax machine, surely? I’ve never owned a fax machine.

          In my country, confidential info is often sent by email as a password-protected PDF attachment.

        5. Captain Sweatpants*

          Like Emi said, they can actually do it in a number of common circumstances. HIPAA does not say that email is verboten, but a lot of medical networks like to pretend that it does. They choose to do this because 1) the policies are written by legal teams that want to stay as far away from potential liability as possible, and 2) creating better IT infrastructure for the hospital/clinic costs money, and their big wigs want to stay as far away from spending money as possible. As with most things, we would rather help patients less than scale back hospital nonsense.

          A lot of people have discovered that most folks don’t know what’s in HIPAA, and they can therefore use it as a blanket excuse for not doing things they don’t want to do. For example, the woman I talked to earlier today who said it was literally illegal for her to transfer my call to the pharmacy’s line because of “HIPAA rules.” When I told her I work in compliance and knew good and g-d well that was not true, she got pretty mad. Which is how they always react when someone tries to give me that excuse and I tell them they’re wrong, which happens a hell of a lot. I’m always like, sorry you tried to BS me and it didn’t work? But I digress.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        OldExJob had customers who were adamant about using fax for quotes because email was “dangerous.” We wasted so much paper printing and faxing them. Then they were stored in drawers, which were emptied into storage, and then all this was thrown away. I shudder to think how many trees we killed. I figured out we probably spent around $4000 a year just on paper and the bosses wouldn’t pay for recycling.

        The fax machine would print out a report after you faxed, which was even worse; it went straight from the fax machine into the garbage. It was much less irritating once I figured out how to turn that off.

    2. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

      That always kills me. Fax machine? What, is your carrier pigeon out sick today?

      1. Observer*

        You are spoiled! you should be grateful for having the LUXURY of faxes! In *my* day, we either hand delivered it or used the Pony Express if we needed really fast turn around!
        /sarc

        I do recall having to fight to get fax – being told by funders and BOD of various organizations that fax is a “luxury” and the “no one needed them when I worked in an office”.

        1. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

          Ayup. One slip of the chisel and the whole stone tablet had to be thrown out.

    3. AdequateArchaeologist*

      I worked in a copy shop with one of the few fax machines in town. There was a girl who was attacked and the police made her fax crap back and forth, another woman who was fight for disability accommodations for her kid with the state Department of Education, and older people filing for social security. I almost never charged them for things like that. Whatever bureaucracy they were tied up in, there was no need to pay $1 per page on top of it!

    4. GammaGirl1908*

      Just this week I had a laughing conversation with my mom about the two of us going in on an all-in-one wireless printer / copier / scanner /fax to keep at one of our houses (we live within a few miles of one another, so this would be practical). This is because it’s expensive and painful to find a scanner or fax machine, but the once in a while you need one, you DESPERATELY need one and there is no substitute.

      I used to use the ones at my office, and did not realize how often I did until I went remote. I think the last time I needed a fax was when I was buying my condo. I was on a hard deadline to get the mortgage paperwork in, and I COULD NOT get the thing to work, because it’s not like I ever use it. A very nice admin found me sobbing over the fax machine and gently led me away, and sent off my paperwork for me, on time. That lovely woman has my eternal gratitude.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        You’re so right. I bought an all-in-one for the same reason. Just try to find a scanner if you don’t have it!
        And bless that admin.

        1. GammaGirl1908*

          We’re looking very seriously at the Brother MFC-L2690DW, which they have at Sam’s Club for a decent price.

  45. Don't Park Here*

    I worked at my university parking services department. I took night classes often and noticed this one SUV would constantly park in the load zone or worse the handicap spot in front of one of the buildings. I watched the pattern for three weeks and finally had enough and mentioned it to the ticket takers the morning of one of my classes. That night when I left the class their car had big stack of tickets because in a load zone you could get a ticket every 21 minutes. The ticket taker had keep looping back to their car after hitting the other nearby lots.

    Best part is when they tried parking in a handicap spot the next week and they got hit again. After $300 they finally bought a parking pass to park legally in a normal spot. It was so satisfying to take their money while they complained. I told them don’t park in handicap parking unless your handicap! LOL.

    1. Wendy City*

      Bless you for this. I’m not too high-and-mighty to judge a one-time misuse of a parking place, but the pattern of behavior there is upsetting. We live in a society!

    2. Chauncy Gardener*

      Thank you!! Love when entitled folks who park in handicapped spots get their comeuppance royally.

    3. Jackalope*

      I knew a woman with a son who was always in a wheelchair, and they would often spend their afternoons at the train station because he loved trains. It happened with disturbing frequency that someone would come park right next to her in the hashmarked area right next to the disabled parking spot. This put her in a bad situation because she couldn’t get her son in the car if that area had another car – it was the wheelchair access area. Thankfully she was friends with some of the police or security officers that patrolled the station and they would cheerfully come give tickets whenever this happened. Lots of people learned a painful and expensive lesson.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        That’s more upsetting than parking in the handicap spot; it’s actually preventing a person who uses a wheelchair from accessing their vehicle!

  46. Anon for this*

    My workplace has offers alternative schedules like 9/8/80s (every two weeks, work 8 nine hour days, 1 eight hour day, and get one weekday off) and 10/4s (every week, work 4 ten hour days and get one weekday off).

    When my workplace rolled out the alternative schedule options, I had not understood that the somewhat murkily written policy was that if you regular non-weekend day off fell on a paid workplace holiday… that was too bad, no make up day for the day off. I discovered my misunderstanding when I looked at my leave balance and asked HR about it since I figured I’d have some “floating holiday” hours because of the overlap between a regular day off and a holiday that month.

    I alerted my supervisor to suggest it be noted at our team’s next staff meeting since I had missed it and didn’t want it to happen to any of my colleagues. I was not asking my supervisor to do anything about the policy, just to loop others in since the alternative schedule program was so new. But you could practically hear the record scratch sound effect as I explained what happened. “Oh no, you’re getting that day off. Even if I can’t get it approved officially, you can take one.”

    So I did.

    Did the policy change? Nope.

  47. urguncle*

    My first job out of college was at a B2B call center. Technicians who called us were not being paid their book rates for fixing cars to be on the line with us. I was aware of that and I had a very quick and efficient call time. Our call times were published every week and shared too the entire group. James, another person on my team, was a retired sales guy who wanted some part time work. His call times were about 4x as long because he stopped to tell stories about his time as a salesman. Very charming, sweet man, but slow when it came to this.
    I got a call from a technician who immediately complained to me about my opening lines, then tells me he has a “really complicated” case and he needs a man for this one. I call down to James.
    “You busy, man?”
    “No, do you need something?”
    “Do you want to take a call?”
    Transferred him over and they spent a good half hour together.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I love this one. I’ve known a few James in my time, and I’ve dealt with those people before; never concurrently but I can imagine the fun if I had.

    2. PhyllisB*

      This makes me think of the dealer where I get my car serviced. The technician who usually writes up my order is female, and she really knows her stuff.
      She shared a story with me about a customer who told her he needed “a man who would understand his problem.” She handed him off to a male technician who told the customer, I don’t know about that, “Mary” is the one who has the expertise on that issue.”
      We both had a good laugh that day. (I realize that’s not the same as your story, but it just amazes me how many men don’t think women know how to do their jobs.)

      1. urguncle*

        The auto industry is so far behind everywhere else in terms of gender equity, it’s honestly intolerable.

  48. Hotdog not dog*

    My mom volunteers at her local animal shelter. One day they were doing intake for over 100 dogs from a hoarding situation. Most of the dogs were young and would be easy to adopt out, but there were a couple older dogs that were slated for transfer to another shelter (where they would most likely be euthanized).
    Somehow, one of them mysteriously found herself in the back seat of Mom’s car, and her intake paperwork went missing.
    The supervisor failed to notice any barking in the parking lot, and sent Mom on some silly errand. By the time Mom returned to help finish the intake, my dad was already at the pet store buying stuff for his new dog.
    (She was a sweet old lady dog, probably the mama to a lot of the young ones. She lived about another 3 years in the lap of luxury with my parents.)

    1. irene adler*

      Yes!!!!!! My fantasy come true! I always wanted to swoop in, take home the older pooches and cuddle/play with them all day long!

    2. Observer*

      Your parents are great. I wonder if the supervisor didn’t hear or “didn’t hear”.

      1. Sorrischian*

        Considering that they then sent OP’s mom on a “silly errand”, I’d put my money on the supervisor being fully aware.

        1. Hotdog not dog*

          Yup, she knew. Technically the dog should have gone to the other shelter, but Mom and her supervisor couldn’t stand to see such a sweet dog suffer, so Mom put the dog in the car, the supervisor “lost” the intake form and gave Mom an excuse to drop the dog at home. They guessed (correctly) that because of the large number of dogs it would be easy to say someone miscounted and no one would be the wiser.
          My mom has always been an agent for Chaotic Good, and I hope I grow up to be just like her! (Which is an inside joke, since I’m in my 50s)

          1. VegetarianRaccoon*

            I used to work at an overcrowded public shelter that sometimes got big hoarding cases. Bless your mother for coming in to help. And I always loved when a trusted volunteer took home an animal that was good, but was a ‘hard sell’ adoption-wise (like the older ones, or that had medical issues.). When a member of the public took one home, of course I was happy, but always with a little nagging worry that they would change their minds at the first little problem and bring it back. It happens. The kind of volunteer who shows up to help with big intakes is made of stronger stuff imho.

  49. CreepyPaper*

    Whoever wrote the script on one of our systems that autofills vessel sailing schedules (a task we were told we had to do manually – as in our former manager sat us down, and said this had to be done by us individually because we couldn’t trust the machines) gets my vote. Anyone who works in logistics or international shipping will know what a pain scheduling can be, but some anonymous genius has saved us all at least an hour a day by… doing something that makes our system talk to the schedule software. Yes, we do double check them but the fact we don’t have to sit there and type them in manually makes my soul happy.

    So if I ever find out who it is, they’re getting a hug. So I suppose this is kind of underhanded, in a ‘it was done manually for twenty years why should we change?’ way. I don’t mind, makes my life easier!

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      Similar story: I worked with a programmer who eliminated two FTE’s by automating running client samples. It was a task he was forbidden to do (we need the schleps and plebs reviewing these every single time!!!) and he only could do because he’d been around long enough to figure out where all the information was buried and in which database tables.

      He also knew with the then-current staffing levels that the forbidding had no teeth.

      It turns out Production errors went down by roughly 40% during the 3 months after people started using his code–you can run things right manually that are wrong in automation and vice versa, but the scripted code only knew how to do things the way that automation did things.

  50. Ace in the Hole*

    I used to work in a recycling center. Official policy was no salvage allowed – for both customers and staff. Once it was in the bin it was supposed to be gone for good. Partly for safety, partly because recycling centers make money by selling the recyclable materials so salvage reduces revenue. In practice, management turned a blind eye to staff taking things every so often as long as it didn’t get out of hand… but for liability/safety reasons, they were very strict on the policy with customers.

    A lot of people toss perfectly good stuff. And a lot of our regular customers were low-income or homeless.

    I had a coworker who would set aside every useable bicycle that came in and hand them out to customers who needed them. I helped expand the service by repairing some of the bikes that weren’t rideable when we found them during slow periods (I had the tools/skills from fixing my own bikes). I don’t know how many he gave away over the 15 years he worked there, but it must have been hundreds. Maybe thousands.

    1. Susan Ivanova*

      Wow!
      From my town’s recycling website: “Furniture and other items in good condition rescued from the garbage and recycling areas of the SMaRT Station are placed in the re-use trailer for customers to take home at no charge.”

      1. Ace in the Hole*

        Many places have programs like this! They’re really great. My hometown has one where people can donate stuff to a thrift store on their way into the dump… that way there’s an extra incentive because if you donate it you don’t have to pay landfill fees.

        I was trying to set up a similar program for my org, but then Covid happened and I had to focus on other things :(

  51. Zephy*

    In my first job out of college, I worked in a high school to mentor at-risk students – there were a group of us, we were an outside nonprofit organization that worked on the campus, and there were a lot of rules about what we could and couldn’t do while “representing the organization” (read: wearing the branded clothing that was our uniform). You know, we were behavioral mentors, we couldn’t tell kids to stay in school and not do drugs and then be seen jaywalking and buying alcohol (even if that second thing was technically legal, as most of us were 21+).

    One morning, two little kittens, about 10-12 weeks old, ran into the school while we were greeting the students walking into the building. I’m very much a Cat Person, and so were two of my coworkers. We coaxed the kittens out from under a cart where they were hiding, and then, not knowing what else to do with them now that we had them, hacked together an ersatz container from a milk crate and some jackets and put them in the classroom that was our base of operations within the school. Another coworker was deathly afraid of cats, so our boss said we couldn’t just keep the kittens there all day as it wouldn’t be fair to her, but just letting them go again didn’t sit right with any of us, either. Coworker 1 had a friend who worked in cat rescue, and I happened to have kitten food and litter at home for my own cat, so Bossman made an executive decision: Coworker and I would take the kittens to his place and set them up in his bathroom for the day, and then he would coordinate with his friend to get them fixed and placed for adoption.

    Normally, we wouldn’t be allowed to leave campus in the middle of the day; we weren’t technically even supposed to drive while on the clock, and while I don’t believe the handbook said anything specifically about transporting animals, moving two fully-mobile kittens in a regular-degular cardboard box in the back seat ain’t it, fam. There was basically nothing about this situation that Bossman should have allowed to happen, he would have been fully within the letter of the law to tell us to just put the cats outside and get back to work. I don’t quite remember but I believe stories and photos of the Kitten Caper made it into our end-of-year retrospective that we put together and shared with the entire chapter of the org, so the story did eventually get out, but no one was ever reprimanded about it as far as I’m aware. Bossman was fully prepared to defend our actions if anyone ever did say anything to him about it – you know, community engagement, being kind to animals, the right thing to do from both a moral and ecological perspective, etc.

  52. Jaxgma*

    Many years ago I worked in the office of the food service director for a public school system. One of my jobs was to review the applications that came in for the free/reduced lunch program. One time I had one that exceeded the max allowable income by $10/week. I gave it to my boss, who called the principal at the school and asked if she knew the family. Principal told us this was a middle class family with 2 working parents who decided to have one more kid – except the one more kid turned out to be twins with medical problems. One parent had to quit working to care for the twins, take them to doctors, etc, Then the other parent’s company reduced their hours (unavoidable, there was a recession at the time). My boss said, “I think they made a math mistake. Can you see if they can submit a new form?” Few days later we had a new form showing $20 less income per week, which got them reduced price lunches and lower bus fees. I shredded the original application and we pretended it had never existed. My boss could have been jailed for up to a year and fined $10k for that. She was actually pretty terrible at her job but this time she did the right thing.

    1. ferrina*

      This is definitely the right thing. It’s so horrible when $20 isn’t nearly enough to make up for the benefits, but there’s nothing you can do about it.

    2. Chriama*

      Honestly that benefits cliff is so frustrating. It’s what people who don’t understand marginal tax rates think is happening with their taxes, but applied to the most vulnerable people in society. I’m glad your boss did the right thing,

  53. LovelyTresses*

    I worked in a big city for a big box chain store for about 5 years — it was soul crushing, to say the least. Our store was #1 in grocery sales in the entire nation, but many who lived in the area where this store is located are housing and food unstable, and/or living in poverty. As a manager, I had precious little power (and spent most of my time trying to figure out how to cut cashier hours to maximize profits for a huge corporation), but one thing I COULD do was requisition products from the sales floor for business use, like pens for the office or cupcakes for the team etc.

    There was an unhoused woman who would stand outside the store and ask people for money, and then come in to buy a pint of whole milk. Every day. She was a lovely senior citizen with a quirky personality and we all took a shine to her — she would sit on the bench inside the door, drink her milk, and chat with whoever would listen. Let me tell you, I requisitioned A LOT of pints of whole milk for her. Also, the way the labels are on shelves (and the inconsistent stocking) meant that often times the WIC items were mis-labeled or out-of-stock on the floor. Much to the chagrin of the crunchy granola moms in my line, I never hesitated to shut down my entire lane to walk with a guest with a WIC check to each aisle to find the right items. And I would spend as much time as needed in the backroom digging out the “right” boxes of cereal, correct cheeses etc. In theory the WIC program is great, but in practice we make it SO HARD (and stigmatizing) for parents and their kids to buy the “right” foods (the right amounts, the right brands etc.) I loved using my time and modicum of power to make their experience in the store as great as possible.

    1. Observer*

      Thank you so much!

      In theory, the WIC program is great. The execution leaves a LOT to be desired. Things are a bit better than they were, but still. So anything that anyone does to make it easier is much appreciated.

    2. Daisy Gamgee*

      I think someone took a sliced onion from your store and put it somewhere on my desk… seriously, though, you did so much good for people who needed it. Thank you on behalf of many people including myself who’ve needed such help.

    3. pugsnbourbon*

      Thank you, thank you for doing this. It was ages ago, but I’ll never forget telling a mom she could only get plain rice cereal, not flavored, when she came through my checkout line. Another cashier had been threatened with termination for doing that. I felt awful. In hindsight I should have rung her out, but I was young and stupid.

  54. Dezzi*

    I managed a pool of PRN staff, and technically there were all kinds of rules about them not being allowed to decline more than a certain number of shifts (iirc, they could be fired for declining more than eight shifts in a three-month period). If a called them at least 24 hours ahead of time for a shift that was in their listed availability, they were “required” to take it. If their ability was changing, they were “required” to notify me in advance. They didn’t get benefits or paid time off, because they were part time, but they were still expected to give at least three weeks’ notice via a special form if they were going to be unavailable for more than five days straight.

    I thought this was all completely ridiculous. We weren’t paying these poor people enough to make those kind of demands on them, and most of them were in school, had kids, had other jobs, or all three. So I told them that as long as they made a reasonable effort to keep me in the loop, we’d work around anything they had going on.

    Well, the policy said they had to submit these forms to me, and I had to sign them & forward to HR…..but TECHNICALLY there was nothing in the policy saying the employee actually had to sign the form. Nor were there any rules about how soon I needed to get the form to HR (since I was completely responsible for the scheduling).

    I’m sure you can see where this is going. My staff would text me that they needed a schedule change/some time off/whatever, and wouldn’t you know, if anyone asked, it would magically turn out that the completed form (with a date showing they’d given me the required notice, of course) had just been sitting on my desk and I’d forgotten to tell HR about it!

    1. Dezzi*

      Funnily enough, my group of PRNs had the lowest turnover rate of any of our clusters, and my sites consistently had the highest rates of PRN usage. Turns out, if you make it clear to your employees that you’ll bend over backwards to accommodate their needs, they’ll work really hard to meet yours! Who’d have thought???

      1. Water Everywhere*

        It’s such a no-brainer that treating your employees well earns their loyalty, how do so many employers not get this? Good on you for cutting through the bullshirt.

        1. Dezzi*

          Right??? I was in a newly-created position with essentially no oversight, so I pretty much threw the rulebook out the window. There were a few times I did have to write people up for declining shifts, when they refused to work with me and tell me what they needed. Which sucked. But I never had that problem with a staff more than once, because I’d use that conversation to drill into them “seriously, I don’t care if it’s 2am, just f***ing text me what you need and we’ll make it happen.”

        2. Merrie*

          You’d think it’s a no-brainer, but a lot of managers don’t seem to have a clue about this. As a manager myself, I try to do this for my staff. I desperately want to quit my job because of the way my managers manage ME.

          1. Dezzi*

            I think it helped that I’d just spent five years doing the same job as the people I was now managing, so I knew what they were going through & how much their job sucked.

        3. JelloStapler*

          The rypical- we’ll make you jump through hoops but not raise a finger to help you in return. :(

  55. Balto*

    I just came to say, about the trip to Alaska in the onion sandwich link, go get your dog sled!

  56. Rhymes with Face*

    I was a bank teller in 2008, during the last financial crisis. If a non-account holder came to cash a check, we were supposed to charge them $5. (And of course we were supposed to try to get them to open an account so they wouldn’t be charged.) One day a man came to cash a check and I explained about the fee and he was just so crestfallen. He wasn’t arguing with me but he was traveling and it was clear that this was a problem for him. I was about to say what I usually said in those situations which is “I’m so sorry but there’s nothing I can do to keep it from charging you” when I suddenly realized that wasn’t true. I had the option to waive the fee. You may think I’m a bit dim for not realizing this sooner but I was 22 and not yet accustomed to questioning anything higher ups told me. So you better believe for the rest of the time I worked there I was waiving fees left and right (when my supervisor wasn’t around).

  57. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    One of my team members, after an HR crackdown, came to me and quietly confessed they’d been doing some work off the clock the previous month. When I audited that month between timecard data and timestamps on their work, I was like “Jiminy Christmas, what the heck,” it had this person working an extra hour and 15 to hour and 45 minutes literally every single day after they clocked off. Then something occurred to me, and I emailed our HR folks to ask them, “This person is in the next time zone over, are their time cards based on THEIR time or the SERVER time?” HR assured me, 100%, time cards were server time. Reiterated it three times. So I shrugged and put in my team member’s 40-odd hours of OT for payment. They were somewhat baffled, didn’t realize it had been anywhere near that much, but hey, at least fat paycheck, and since they were the one who came forward and identified the issue, HR gave them a bye on the formal corrective action, so literally no harm, no foul.

    …. three weeks later, I found out that no, time cards are totally on employee’s local time, and the 40-odd hours of OT should’ve been about a quarter of that. But because I had confirmed with HR THREE TIMES and they kept assuring me otherwise, and our HR is otherwise as dull as a sack of hammers, I never went back and corrected it, my team member got to keep their extra OT.

  58. Sara*

    My job allows me to print things without paying, but most people here have to pay (a small amount, under a dollar per page). If it isn’t work related, I need to pay, too. Some of my work friends signed up to get their COVID vaccines at a pharmacy where they were required to print off and present at the pharmacy something that proved they’d signed up to get a vaccine at that particular time (why it wasn’t in the pharmacy’s system, I’ll never know). I had them email the forms to me, and printed them so they wouldn’t have to pay. Non-work related things usually get flagged if I try to print them (I printed an insurance form once before I knew the rule), but this never came up on our IT system.

    1. Squidlet*

      Mine story is also printing-related. I was in my early 20s and at my first job. I had a personal project that I worked on in my free time (my friends and I were organising a games convention), and I naively asked our Managing Director if I could use the office printer after hours, if I brought my own paper (it was a lot of printing). He smiled and said “no problem”. Afterwards I found out that the cost of the paper was pretty insignificant – it was the toner that was expensive! But he never said anything. It was really kind in so many ways.

  59. Big Sigh*

    When I was in college, I was employed in the tutoring center. We helped people brainstorm assignments and checked over their papers to see if they were on the right track.

    A lot of students came in person, but we also had an email for students to submit a paper or question and ask for feedback. This was long enough ago that few students used it.

    One day, I checked the email and found a student submission. It was a 10 page paper where the student needed to expression an opinion and outline their defense of this opinion. The student decided to write about why they felt gay marriage was against God’s plan and homosexuality was a sin. As a gay myself, I wrestled briefly with what I thought the proper response should be and then I just … deleted the submission from the queue.

    I don’t feel bad about it to this day, though a friend of my at the time thought it was low and petty of me.

    1. Not Australian*

      In a similar vein, I arranged a ‘mysterious accident’ to the only copy of an appallingly out of date book in our library that described homosexuality as a mental illness and prescribed treatment for it. (School of Nursing library.) What do you know, the book was too badly damaged to be retained in the collection – and being out of print it could never be replaced.

      Small victories…

    2. Jillian*

      I might have deleted it too but I do this it’s low and petty. People are allowed opinions, even bad ones.

    3. Anne Wentworth*

      Nah, this wasn’t low and petty.
      The author of that paper chose to send hate speech to random strangers, without concern for whether the recipients might be members of the group they were targeting. The faculty or staff running the tutoring center should have had policies in place for how to handle submissions containing hate speech or harassing content.

  60. AnonBecauseOfReasons*

    I had put in my notice at a place which had a small staff because my husband (military) was changing duty stations. Right before we left (but a week after I stopped working) I got severely ill with sepsis and had to be hospitalized. My boss came to visit and said he had “forgot” to put the correct end date in the system so I was on the sick leave that the company didn’t pay you for when you left the company. He said once my sick leave was up he would update my end date.

    We needed the money so it was really unexpected!

  61. Former teacher*

    My first professional job was as a high school teacher, for a Llama Grooming pilot program that was the first of its kind in my state. I needed an emergency teaching license because I hadn’t been through a traditional teacher preparation program. The licensing agency had a 6-month backlog, but I was hired only two weeks before the school year started. An HR employee in the district central office called the licensing agency and told them that if I didn’t get my license before the school year started, it would whip up a lot of anger within the Llama Grooming community of the state. It was a complete lie because most people were not even aware of the program, but they got my my license within a week.

  62. The Talented Dr. Ripley*

    When I was finishing my PhD I had a silly formatting issue that meant that the graduate school office required me to reprint my title page. Which wasn’t a big deal– except that’s also the page that committee members had signed to indicate that I’d passed my defense the previous week. I was able to get 4 of the 5 members to resign easily, but one of them had left the country for the summer the day after I defended. I went to our department’s grad program admin assistant in a panic and told her what had happened, and she said “Leave the form with me and come back tomorrow, and I’m sure I can get it worked out.”
    “No, you don’t understand, X is out of the country…” I began.
    “DON’T WORRY.” She repeated. “I can get it WORKED OUT.”

    So technically, the documentation for my PhD was ever so slightly forged.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        I worked at a job where we wrote software to replace people’s paper systems. We would carefully collect all the information about regulations and which supervisor needed to sign off on which procedures in the system and build the software to require approval by those individuals.

        The minute we turned the system on, no one could get any work done. It turns out that the person who required to sign off on certain processes had never actually been signing off; they had given someone else a signature stamp.

  63. Allornone*

    I think I’ve told this here story before- Our office shared a restroom with other offices on that floor. Said bathroom required a key. There was one key that we had to sign out for. For various reasons, this quickly became a pain. Not to mention, the key kept getting misplaced. I found an app that lets you take a picture of a key and have a copy sent to you. I did that, told a handful of people, including my boss (I wanted to be on the up and up; she thought it was hilarious). Word got around and the next thing I know, I’m enormously popular, with people paying me to make keys for them. Heck, I even gave one (kind of jokingly) as a birthday gift!

    I was the keymaster.

    1. Imapirate15*

      I just looked up this app and while how you used it is amusing, I’m horrified this exists. It would be so easy for someone to use this to duplicate house and car keys.

      1. Anonymous Hippo*

        You don’t even need an app. It is extremely easy to cut a house key from a picture of it. Locks are an illusion and a slight deterrent at best. Car keys have chips so don’t work the same.

      2. Allornone*

        Yeah, there are definitely some inherent concerns with it. I work elsewhere now so I’ve long deleted the app. Now you know, though, don’t ever let your keys out of your care.

      3. Zephy*

        Yeah. This is why you shouldn’t upload pictures of keys that you have to social media. Or, if you’re going to, make sure the teeth aren’t visible, at least.

      4. Sharpie*

        You should look up the Lock Picking Lawyer on YouTube. (OTOH, maybe you shouldn’t. Locks are basically designed to keep honest people out…)

      5. Elizabeth West*

        Pre-apps, I researched bump keys for something I was writing. I wished I hadn’t. Now I carry a doorstop with me when I travel.

        1. Imapirate15*

          I always put a bottle of vitamins on the door handle so if someone tries the door they fall and make a large noise. But I also typically block the door with a chair or provided ironing board. I’ll be screwed if there is a fire and I need to get out quick but I never feel comfortable otherwise knowing housekeeping and the front desk could just give out an additional card.

  64. a tester, not a developer*

    My team considered this as something that was done for the greater good, but my (former) boss probably would not agree…

    This was about 20 years ago. I had a boss that insisted on being up in everyone’s business about everything – she had admin access to everyone’s emails (“in case you and your 2 delegates are all off at the same time”) and she made it clear she was reading everyone’s personal emails if they were in the office or not. And she had master keys to all our desks – we had a system for storing work in progress in a common location, but she would go through locked drawers and comment on what you had bought at lunch time. I started work about 2 hours after my boss, so she had plenty of time to snoop.

    One day, I had finally had enough. I grabbed a company branded envelope (the kind HR put documents in), and rigged up a little thing with paper clips and rubber bands that would make a noise like a rattlesnake when you opened the envelope. I clearly labelled the envelope with “(my name) – Personal and Confidential” set the rattler, and stuck the envelope in a locked drawer.

    I was told that the next morning, she opened my desk, opened the envelope, and dropped to the floor when it went off. I honestly didn’t know she was afraid of snakes.

    When she returned to work after her stress leave, she gave all the desk keys to the admin assistant, and to the best of my knowledge never went through anyone’s desk by herself again.

  65. The Bill Murray Disagreement*

    When my mother died, I asked my boss how much time I got for bereavement and he said, “Don’t worry about it. Take what you need. I’ll work it out later.”

    The next time was when my husband (who worked at the same company I do) was dying of cancer and I had to step away from work to take care of him. My boss called me to tell me if I ran out of paid time off to let him know and I could charge to whatever code made it so I could stay paid & take care of my husband.

    These were bosses at two different companies so I feel exceptionally fortunate to have had such kind bosses who were willing to flout guidelines to help me out.

    1. Zombeyonce*

      I’m so sorry for your losses, but happy that you had great bosses that supported you so well. May we all receive such grace during hard times.

    2. anonymouse*

      I am sorry about your mom and your husband. I want to share that when my dad passed away in 2020, I called my boss that day (Sunday) and was told she’d take care of filling out my time sheet stuff for the week, so would not have to come back into the office on the following Monday and have to input all the funeral dates. Managers are not supposed to do this (in fact, they will send it back if a staffer needs to edit an error) definitely not required to do it, so this was really sweet and thoughtful. I was very grateful.
      (Especially because I hadn’t thought of it. I would have come back a week later and been told hey, put “funeral day” in all the entries on this screen.)

      1. Whynot*

        I’m so glad you had supportive bosses. My best friend has been caring for his terminally ill husband for more than two years, and the struggle to be able to keep working from home and all of the administrative hurdles he had to jump through made a terrible time even harder. His husband died last week, and the number of clueless/pestering emails from his boss (who will surely be pressing him to be back in the office full-time almost immediately) are absolutely infuriating. Fortunately his organization has solid leave policies and my friend has the resources to walk if necessary, but it is maddening.

        Good managers and good people can make such a difference for people in these kinds of circumstances, but in the US we truly need to do better for everyone. Our healthcare system is brutalizing for both patients and staff, caregivers needs are practically ignored, and no one should be at the mercy of their employers to the degree that so many Americans are.

  66. ghostlight*

    My own personal triumph: I interned at an opera company right out of college in the middle-of-nowhere in this tiny mountain town. One of my daily tasks was creating the Intern Schedule; basically assigning a bunch of menial daily activities (like watering plants, cleaning the opera house, working the receptionist desk, etc) to the group of 10 interns (including myself) and also including their work shifts in the costume shop or rehearsal hall or wherever they worked.

    For whatever reason (I think she blamed the poor connection/Wi-Fi in our mountainous area? even though it wasn’t a big issue), the head of the company HATED digital copies of the schedule going out. Every day this schedule had to be printed out and put in the mail boxes of all of the supervisors, as well as posted at several locations around the opera’s campus like outside the rehearsal hall, on the bulletin board in the office, etc. All of the interns were forced to hike around the campus looking for an updated schedule after work hours, and it drove us nuts, but I was told, “this is just how it’s done; you have to post the schedule physically in these locations everyday.”

    A couple weeks into our season, multiple supervisors also asked me to start emailing them the daily schedule, since they never checked their mail boxes, and frankly, the all-paper route was archaic and wasteful. The production manager compromised, and I started sending the schedule to supervisors via email every day… with all of Interns blind-copied on it.

    I still posted a physical copy in all the required locations, but all of us Interns swore to secrecy and got around her crazy rules and power trip.

  67. extra-anon (and slightly paranoid)*

    Pre-COVID times I worked as a contractor at a Fortune 50 company. FTEs got Summer Fridays; contractors, being paid for the hours we worked, either didn’t or were told we could come in early/stay late to make up the time if we wanted to leave early. One year my boss told me, “Summer Fridays start on [date] and they’re only for employees…. but I’m planning on taking them… and if I’m not in the office, I don’t know whether or not you’re here (shrug) (wink) so as long as your work’s getting done…”
    Needless to say, every Friday I left right after he did but still billed (and got paid for) my usual 40-hour weeks.

    1. RabidChild*

      One place I worked would be cleared out by noon on Fridays, since most of the higher-ups had vacation homes and barely showed up at all. But for some reason, junior members of staff weren’t afforded the same flexibility. So I’d tell my team that I was leaving at noon, and if they all forgot to come back after lunch I wouldn’t be there to see.

  68. Have you tried sparkling at it?*

    There’s so many regulations about being trans, it’s not even funny. In my state, in order to change the gender on your driver’s license, you have to have a doctor’s note saying that you’ve had “gender-reassignment surgery”. Which as you can imagine is terrible for people who:
    * can’t afford surgery
    * can’t get surgery for medical reasons
    * don’t want surgery for gender-related reasons
    * don’t want surgery for any other reason

    I knew my primary care doctor was a good one when she told me that anytime I wanted to try, she’d write me a letter with lots of technical-sounding language to say that I’ve “fully completed my transition”. Or if I wanted a different kind of surgery, and could relate it somehow to gender, she’d write me a letter that says I’ve had gender reassignment surgery (since there’s no legalese that specifies exactly what gender reassignment surgery means). Then I could take that note to a DMV and try my luck.

    1. Zombeyonce*

      I’m so people willing to bend the rules like this exist, but I wish these terrible rules making it necessary didn’t exist.

  69. The Prettiest Curse*

    Back when my husband and I first got married, we didn’t have a whole lot of money and he also had lousy dental insurance because he worked for a penny-pinching law firm. My husband needed some expensive dental procedure (I can’t remember what) and he was expecting to have to max out his credit card to pay for it. (It was a couple of thousand dollars.)

    When he went to pay, the front desk guy must have realised that he was really stressed, because he just looked at my husband and told him not to worry about it. I don’t know how he was able to get away with doing that and I hope he didn’t get into trouble for it, but we were both incredibly grateful and used that same dental practice for many years until we moved.

    1. jane's nemesis*

      A neurologist did this for me once. Long story short, an eye doctor misinterpreted some test results and sent me to a neurologist who took their word for it that I was in the onset of *scary neurological disease*. He sent me for very expensive testing (run by his practice, not offsite) to confirm it. I had very bad insurance and a very low salary, so on top of being terrified that I’ve got this scary disease, I’m also freaking out about how I’m going to pay for the very expensive testing.

      Well, once he looked at the results of expensive testing showing I absolutely did not have the disease, he realized optometrist must have overreacted to the tests in their office, and (i suspect) realized he should have done more preliminary testing himself before sending me for expensive test. Not only did it turn out I did not have the scary disease, he wiped the expensive test off my bill and I never had to pay the huge deductible copay because he didn’t bill insurance.

      For a little while, I was worried I had misunderstood when I asked what the copay for the test was going to be and the receptionist smiled and said not to worry about it – but I never got a bill and it never showed up in my insurance!
      (The results of the test are still in my record, or at least were a few years later.)

      1. MansplainerHater*

        I was having a miscarriage, but didn’t know it. Went to the ER and they confirmed it. The doctor gave my husband and I some time to process and cry. I saw him waive off the person who gets insurance info. And we packed up and left. Horrible news, but we didn’t have to pay a cent.

    2. Margaretmary*

      My mum had a situation a LITTLE like that. To begin, I have to explain that Ireland has a two-tier medical system, a private system and a public system. My mum is entitled to free medical care on the public system as a pensioner but the particular procedure she was awaiting (cateract surgery) has a ridiculously long waiting list (I’m talking a couple of politicians started bussing people North to get it done on the NHS in Northern Ireland because the wait down here is so long) that she eventually, after about two years of waiting, decided to go private. The doctor closed the door and asked her if she had health insurance. She said no, so the doctor put part of the treatment through under the public system so my mum wouldn’t have to pay as much. She COULD have afforded it (and we would have helped out if she couldn’t), but she IS living on a pension, so it was nice to get it a bit cheaper.

      1. allathian*

        I’m in Finland, and we have a similar system. In addition, sometimes you can get vouchers from the NHS to get service on the private side when the waiting lists are too long. This happened when my dad needed cataract surgery [sic!]. He got tired of waiting for the vouchers, and because they had the means, he decided to pay for the surgery himself (my mom doesn’t drive, and his license was temporarily suspended because he really couldn’t see well enough to drive safely). As he was recovering, the vouchers arrived in the mail. My dad contacted the private healthcare provider that had performed the surgery, and they accepted the vouchers and he got a refund. I’m not sure if he got extra good service, or if this sort of thing is built into the system, but I’m glad it worked out for him in the end.

    3. Hen in a Windstorm*

      I had a similar situation about 15 years ago. Just started a job, hadn’t gotten health insurance yet, got diagnosed with a rare illness. I was at a university hospital, and when I went to the bursar or whoever to pay and found out how much the $$$ medication cost (probably looking upset), she looked at me, then said, “What was your last name again? Oh, your cousin works in X department. Let me link up your account so you can get the employee family discount.” I was slightly confused, but extremely grateful to that woman.

  70. RCB*

    I was at NY Penn Station waiting on my Amtrak train once, and when they announce the track number everyone lines up at the track entrance waiting for it to open. There was a long line and this entitled man just walked up to the front of the line and put himself in line there. A few seconds later an Amtrak workers walks up and says “sir, you’ve been randomly selected for a security search, please come with me” so he has to leave the line and do all of that instead of cutting to the front. The Amtrak worker did it so subtly that it would have been easy to miss, but those of us who were rightfully at the front of the line sure noticed and appreciated it.

    1. it happened*

      Lol last time I was in an airport this young woman tried to cut to the front of the security line. TSA stopped her and said, “You can’t cut everyone in line.” The woman said she was in a hurry (who isn’t?) and needed to go to the front, and the TSA woman said, “Did you ask *everyone* in line if you could cut in front of them?” She then pointed to the first guy in line and said, “Excuse me, sir, did this woman ask if she could cut in front of you?” Woman had to go to the back of the security line.

      1. anonymouse*

        I swear it did! I fly like twice a decade, so my sister dropped me off for my 8:20 am flight at 5:00 am. I stood in the TSA for three hours. At the 8:00 hour, I was finally only two loops of people back from one of the metal detector arches and half way through a 200 page pocket book, when a young woman bounds down to the attendant and says, “I have a flight at 9; I need to get through.”
        Now, I’m a woman of a certain age, and I’ve never been the one to get special treatment anyway, but I’ve seen it happen to many people for many reasons. So I sigh, as do many people around me. The attendant…he does not. He laughed. My man busted out, and said, “yeah, so does everyone is this line.”
        And she stared, quite shocked that this man who is assigned to do one task today, is not going to NOT do that.
        (And no, I 100% do not think this was anything but run of the mill entitlement, but yeah, maybe don’t try batting your eyes at a person who is trained to follow procedures to the letter.)

      2. HelloHello*

        I’ve been the person desperately trying to get through a security line at an airport (thanks to budget airline shenanigans, it had taken a full hour to get my boarding ticket printed that morning) but I did, in fact, ask every person in line if I could move in front of them so I could make my flight. I made it about ten minutes before they shut down boarding, and I’m super grateful to everyone who let me skip them in line for it.

    2. Susan Ivanova*

      Another one that was probably satisfying for the spectators:

      Long before TSA, my mom was a US Customs Inspector at DFW Airport. They didn’t do shift work; if a plane was arriving at 1AM, you got overtime from 5PM to however long after 1AM it took to clear the flight.

      On one of those flights, a certain Dallas Cowboys football player who was not a US Citizen kept trying to cut in line, playing the “do you know who I am? I’m [Loud Guy]! I’m a Dallas Cowboy!” He kept getting punted to the ends of lines. Finally he gets to my mom.

      Mom looks at his special “this person is the only one who can do this one specific job” paperwork. And it says “play for the LA Rams.”

      Now, she’s got some discretion in situations like that, because paperwork can lag. And she’s no football fan, so if he’d kept his mouth shut she wouldn’t even have known. But he’s spent so much time annoying passengers and customs agents alike that she flags it with Immigration, and back he goes, to get some unhappy Cowboys lawyers out of bed to fix his paperwork.

  71. Zombeyonce*

    When I was a freshman in high school, I was the dishwasher/busser for the restaurant in the local country club. Part of my job was to inventory the desserts at the end of each night, which were things like pre-sliced pieces of cake and ice cream pre-scooped by a morning prep person, and write it down so they’d know how much to prep the next day.

    There was a kid my age, a child of a member who dragged him along while they went golfing and left him with nothing to do. He would spend hours helping me out with things before the restaurant opened for dinner, like folding hundreds of napkins, setting tables, and assorted tasks. (He definitely had a crush on me but I still appreciated the help.) With my tiny amount of inventory power, I’d regularly slip him a plate/bowl of dessert at some point during the night and mark it on the inventory list as “dropped,” “squished,” or just miscounted.

    I got help with my work that was hard to keep up with for the great cost of about $0.84 per shift that I didn’t have to pay, and never got caught falsifying the inventory sheet, the country club got some very cheap labor without ever knowing it, and a teenage boy got extra treats and to hang out with a girl he liked. Win-win-win!

  72. Lady Kelvin*

    I work for a four letter government agency in a very high COL area with very few job options. We have a hard time keeping people, we hire them, they work here for a few years, then transfer to another office in a cheaper place to live. Previously our leadership were pretty strict about WFH, it had to be scheduled and not more than 5 days in a pay period/3 days in a week. Well they have been reevaluating this policy since COVID (go them) and decided that while the federal level rules require is to be in the office once a week, there’s no reason to be there more if you don’t want to, although you still have to have a set schedule for when you are in the office/WFH.

    My supervisor has taken this a step further and is making all his staff put in the paperwork for the maximum telework schedule. He plans on having a weekly coffee hour on the day we are all required to be in the office to get together and chat/talk science/etc. And then we are free to work wherever we want the rest of the time because we can always come into the office but can only WFH on your scheduled day. This way you don’t have to ask permission to WFH whenever you want or need to.

  73. I was "only a temp"*

    In my 20s, I worked for this company that was horrible about hiring people through a temp agency as contract workers and then stringing them along with promises of a full-time employee position, without actually hiring people into said full-time positions. Some of the people were pretty toxic, so for part of my time there I was constantly waiting for the day they would call me and just tell me not to show up the next morning / that day (happened to lots of people, including one of my friends). In general, they were real sticklers for following the letter of contractor vs employee law in our state when it came to any perks or benefits of working there – catered lunches, company gifts, certain celebrations, etc, so I missed out on things all the time.

    For months, I worked for some of the really horrible people, but the head admin of another department, Sally*, liked me. When she had the opportunity, she exerted her power (she was the big boss’s admin) to get me switched to her department. Even though I was still a contract worker, I was treated far better. Sally and her boss both gave me their company gifts that holiday season, which were AmEx gift cards. Technically, that was a big no-no as it had been broadcast that those were gifts for the “real” employees and not at all for us contract workers, but it meant so much to me at the time and I know Sally enjoyed breaking the rules in the name of good. The amount was probably trivial to them because they were both financially secure, but it was a few hundred bucks and so was a windfall to my cash-strapped self.

    There were other times that Sally bent or broke the rules because she could get away with it, but that’s the one I remember best.

    *Name changed to protect the not-so-innocent.

  74. Water Everywhere*

    The company I work for had in place a small payroll deduction to cover the cost of coffee for staff. This company is not at all cash-strapped and I personally thought it a ludicrous, penny-pinching requirement. When our first lockdown happened in 2020 and everyone had to work from home for a time, as a payroll admin I got permission to deactivate this deduction for the duration. Somehow, I’ve never gotten around to reactivating it ;) If anyone higher up has noticed, nothing’s been said.

    1. ZSD*

      Wait, did *everyone* have to have this deduction, or only people who announced they drank coffee?

      1. KGB*

        Back in the 90’s my mom worked for a company who deducted for coffee and other misc. supplies. It wasn’t a lot but everyone paid for coffee not just those who drink it. One guy would go in every Friday around 2 pm and make a double strong pot of coffee, stand there waiting for it to brew while he drank something else, and then slowly pour it down the drain. If he was going to pay for it he was going to use it even if he was just throwing it away.

  75. Laure001*