the axe thrower, the carpet glue, and other astounding first impressions made by new employees

Last week I asked about the most astounding first impression you’ve seen made by a new coworker. Here are some of my favorite stories you shared.

1. The axe

We had a guy apply for a staff job. His very first day he was helping clean up brush along the edge of a mountain biking course. One of the other staff said “when you’re done with that axe, I need it,” and the new guy proceeded to say “OK” and THROW THE AXE AT HIM. It went within a yard of his torso. New guy’s first day was his last day. He protested that he didn’t mean to hurt anyone, he just didn’t think about the risk, and was told “Look, we know you didn’t mean it, but you’re so stupid you’re dangerous.”

2. The beneficiary

New hire insisted on naming himself as the beneficiary on his life insurance policy “in case I’m around when it pays out.”

3. The men

Years ago I worked in the cataloging department of a library. No public there at all, ever, just staff. Our New Hire had been at work about 2 hours when she asked, “Where are the men?” “uh, what men?” we replied. “MEN! I took this job so I could meet MEN!” She marched to her desk, gathered up her belongings, and stormed out, never to return.

4. The dinner

We had a new hire and there was a work dinner with clients his first week.

He got loudly drunk and started asking “okay.. so who’s f—king who at this table? I need to know the lay (ha ha) of the land.”

At times, I’ve felt like my company was too slow dealing with extremely problematic employees. But they moved fairly quickly in this case.

5. The security guard

I work at a commercial property management company and we have security guards on duty 24/7. We hired a guard to start on a Thursday at midnight who no-called no showed. He came into the office the next day with a friend, asked me for some Gatorade and told me he and his friend would be working together (that’s . . . not how it works).

We told him to go the security desk and train in if he still wanted to work, and he agreed. He went to the desk and told the guard on duty he would be back in an hour because he had to “take care of something” and never came back. We called him and told him it wasn’t going to work out, so he called everyone in the company he could get a number for and told him we couldn’t fire him before he started.

6. The oblivious new hire

Manager hired someone from a conference without conducting any interviews. First day she walks up to the administrative assistant and asks for a list of who she gets to “boss around” (in those terms).

(Then later, when a small local conference took place she introduced herself as the “Improved [name of former person in that position]” … to the person who used to be in that position and had left to a different local job which was a step up in terms of position.)

Not great at reading a room.

7. The shoes

I was wearing slides that had a bit of fluff over the toes. New hire yelped when she saw them, bent down, AND PROCEEDED TO PET them. It was both horrifying and delightful (as I knew it would be a funny work story for years). It was 22 years ago and it’s still a top story.

8. The disaster

The New Guy sat behind me, in the other half of the shared cubicle.

Day 1: He spent his entire day making a chart on graph paper, of every writing implement that the last person had left on/in that desk, with a column for each writing implement’s nickname, long description, and examples of solid and dashed lines. This despite me giving him the standard training materials and a practice assignment to complete.

Day 2: First thing in the morning he asked me a lot of questions, then told me my answers to each was wrong – in each instance running down his whole resume of how he’d done things “in my last 20 jobs” (the guy wasn’t old enough to have had 20 jobs unless the average tenure was +/- 3 months.) After he was done with me he moved on to my supervisor in the next cubicle, who had heard the whole thing and repeated everything I told him. After lunch he moved on to one of the higher-ups in the big offices, barging in on a closed door to repeat all the questions and complain about our previous answers. That guy marched him back to his desk, told him not to do that again, and to direct all his questions to me.

Day 3: He brought in a radio and played it loudly. I told him that wouldn’t go over well in that firm. He told me I was wrong. 5 minutes later people from all over the office started coming by to complain. He would turn the radio down, then gradually inch it up again to loud. The guy from the closed office came and yanked the cord out and walked away with the radio.

Day 4: The partner in charge of the office announced a full staff meeting in half an hour. New Guy decided to impress him by making coffee for everyone. But he didn’t put the coffee pots under the machines. A coffee river started rolling by our cubicles and everybody but New Guy rushed in with paper towels.

Day 5: New Guy played video games all day. I didn’t do anything about it because at least he was quiet and not flooding the office. Around 3 PM he handed in his two weeks notice. The boss said that’s ok, you can leave today and not come back. New Guy applied for unemployment. Maybe that was the plan all along.

When I was cleaning up his space for the next guy, I found a little notebook in which he’d recorded his judgements about each of us coworkers. They weren’t kind. Leaving that behind was probably also intentional.

9. The MLM

When we hired a new rep for a call center I used to manage, she spent the better part of her first week pushing her awful jewelry MLM to everyone in the office. She didn’t understand what she was doing wrong (despite being shown in our handbook that sales of any kind (think: Girl Scout Cookies or fundraisers not sponsored by the company) were not allowed.

It might not have been so bad, but she was terribly pushy, saying things like “I know for a fact everyone here can afford $5!”, and had told another new hire during orientation that she mainly got this job to obtain a “new customer base”. She refused to stop harassing others with her toxic pyramid scheme (many who would be ON the phone with a customer. She would tell them to put them on hold briefly so she could give them the newest catalogue). Thankfully she left before being shown the door, probably because she realized she wasn’t going to make a dime in this office.

10. The carpet glue

Many moons ago, I worked for a company that rented office space on the third floor of a building that was showing its age. In particular, the elevator made some weird noises. The certificate in the elevator was also not up to date, although we were told that the current certificate was on file somewhere. We had a new hire, let’s call him Bo, who was especially vocal about the elevator.

One night in his first month of work, Bo was especially determined to take a smoke break. Unfortunately, the building owner was replacing the carpet. At the time of Bo’s smoke break, the carpet layers were replacing the carpet on the one and only staircase. Bo refused to use the elevator and he REALLY wanted his smoke break, so he decided to use the stairs anyway. The stairs that were covered with super sticky, smelly carpet glue. He walked through the glue-covered stairs, got to the second floor, and realized that his shoes are now gross. He decides to use the second floor bathroom to try to clean them. The carpet has already been replaced on the second floor, so he and his glue-covered shoes are now walking on brand new carpet. The carpet layers were trying to get him to stop but did not speak English; they put a carpet scrap down on the floor in front of him so he could wipe his shoes off. He JUMPED OVER the scrap and continued to the bathroom, where he apparently made another mess.

Building management was obviously not happy and complained to my boss. Boss was out of town and asked me to let Bo go before he got back. (There had been other issues involving Bo’s attitude, so it was not the first strike, just the funniest.)

11. The cocaine queen

Working as Corp Trainer at a call center. CEO comes storming down to our offices asking who owns a car with a car wrap on the hood that says “Cocaine Queen.” We find out whose car it is and tell them they can’t park the car in the office parking lot because it isn’t appropriate. She gets indignant and tells us that it is her “stage name” she worked nights as an exotic dancer. When we tell her that is fine, but it can’t be parked in the parking lot, she tells us that she picks her kids up from school and no one has ever said it wasn’t appropriate.

12. The geese

This wasn’t their fault at all but I’ve never forgotten it. I happened to look out the window as one of the new hires was walking towards the building. He noticed that there were geese in the fountain and detoured to go look at them. They had nested and if you know anything about Canadian geese, they can be vicious! The geese started chasing him, he freaked out, ran around to get away from them, slipped on the geese poop, landed on his back in the grass, and had 4 geese honking at him. Poor guy came in covered in poop and wet grass. I told him to go home and we would try again tomorrow.

13. The hero

We hired a new volunteer manager at my mid-sized nonprofit. Young guy, not completely new to work but only a couple years out of school. His role has very little authority built in – he recruits volunteers, gives them the orientation spiel, and then hands them off to the department manager where they’ll be working. Well his first group volunteer orientation comes around and because Covid, it’s being held on Zoom. Because it’s New Guy’s first one, our CEO has logged in to say hello and whatnot. Well apparently CEO logged in from his phone in his vehicle because New Guy stops the orientation and PUBLICLY ASKS HIS BOSS’S BOSS’S BOSS’S BOSS NOT TO ZOOM WHILE DRIVING. He did, all is well, and I’ve never been so impressed with someone in my life!

14. The skunk

This happened to me – first day of new job and my dog got sprayed by a skunk that morning. You know how bad skunk smell is, I showered multiple times, sprayed air freshener on my clothes, etc. I knew it was still on me but it was my first day and I was young and so scared to call and say I wasn’t going to show up. I thought I would look like a flake. So I went and I could immediately tell how overpowering it was. I swear, people looked like they wanted to vomit as soon as I got close to them. I guess they were too polite to say anything, and I was just trying to pretend it wasn’t happening. Manager called me in the office and told me to go home. He was nice about it. When I went back the next day I could still smell the skunk smell lingering in my chair / office area. They must have hated me! No one ever said anything. I am gone from there now, but I always wonder if people at the office thought of me as Skunk Lady.

15. The office supplies

So many years ago I hired a new receptionist (we can call her Erma) to manage our busy front office. Erma interviewed very well with myself and the rest of the hiring team and had prior experience that included some great references.

One of the receptionist’s responsibilities were ordering office supplies for the company. Erma was provided with an account with a local office supply company and could order whatever was needed within reason. Anything over a certain amount, or including items needing special approval, would trigger and e-mail asking for me to review and provide approval. Erma went through training on how to order office supplies and was given a list of items we normally stock along with our monthly supply budget. The former receptionist who was doing most of Erma’s training was very pleased with her positive attitude and how quickly she seemed to be picking up on her new tasks. No red flags at all.

Fast forward a week and Erma’s first day after her finishing her training was off to a good start. She was showed up a little early and was busy rearranging her new work area and making it her own. She said she noticed that there were a few things that would make her life easier such as a pop up post it note dispenser and clip boards to make it easier for candidates coming in to complete paperwork. I told her that I was totally fine with that and to go ahead and order what she needed. Later on that day I get an e-mail from the supplier….Erma had ordered…. an expensive new chair for herself, a side desk, a lamp, a coat rack, a computer stand, an ergonomic keyboard, a light up bathroom mirror, pink glitter pens, pink chair cover, foot rest, artwork for the wall, a pink fuzzy rug, about 20 bags of candy, and a candy dish, a bunch of fancy lotions and soaps along with matching dispensers… and those are the items I remember!! The invoice was several thousands of dollars.

I thought this has to be an accident. So I approached her on it and she said oh no it was very much her doing. I explained to her why this was not ok as it was way over budget and included many items that require special approval such as furniture and artwork and she pitched a fit! How can she work in this environment? Her chair was too high, the office was drab, the pens all blue and black… lack of a candy dish is soooooo uninviting…. and forcing her to work in such an environment would be bad for her health. I showed her how her chair was adjustable and told her I was fine if she wanted the special pens and a couple of bags of candy, but we just did not have the budget, or the authority to purchase those other items. Corporate had a specific “look” for the office and well pink fuzzy rugs were not part of our corporate colors or their vision. She had a full-blown toddler fit and said she could not work with such a micromanager and she left. The next day she tried to show up to work like nothing happened. Security turned her away at the door. A few months later she actually put me down as a reference for a new job. I told them that I was not comfortable being a reference for her. I will never forget Erma!

16. The terrible judgment

I had to train a new accountant for another manufacturing plant in our company. He came down to our company was immediately set everyone’s back up because he knew everything about everything and WOULD NOT SHUT UP. And I’m talking stuff he literally didn’t know anything about, like arguing with the middle aged lady with 2 kids about how much it costs to raise children, him being a 21 year old unmarried just out of college young man. He rearranged the furniture in my office because he felt “trapped” behind the L-shaped desk during training, and would randomly make barnyard animal noises while he was working on the computer (like random moos, or snorting like a pig or whatever..appropo of nothing, just like a tic or something). I muddled through the training steadfastly ignoring his utter weirdness, just telling myself everyone is different, it’s not on me to judge.

He went back to the plant after training, and OH BOY. Apparently he unplugged his desk phone because “people kept calling him and he didn’t want to have to figure out the answers” he was told multiple times by multiple people, up to the plant manager that he had to leave it plugged in, and he just kept unplugging it each day. After a couple weeks he went straight to the plant manager (this was an entry level accounting position) and demanded a raise, because he was so much smarter than everyone else he was working with. He caused such a ruckus over this that he was eventually frog marched out the plant by security and told never to return. And this is a company where previous employees might stop by and hang with old coworkers, ie super chill. After all this went down a couple of us did some after the fact digging and found his FB page which was a veritable hotbed of wackadoodle conspiracy theories and nonsense. Turns out his first impression was indeed correct.

17. The mistake

I was in my 20s, working at a new job in marketing. I had recently read a memoir of someone who seemed confident and funny, if a little bit of a mess, and she was relating tales from her previous jobs. For some reason, I thought that using some of her language at work would help me portray the image of myself that I wanted–smart, funny, perceptive, a little irreverent. So, in a meeting with my boss and a couple other people, I offered an insightful critique of a proposed marketing campaign: “I think this would be us blowing our wad too early.”

18. The student worker

I was asked to see if I could find the brand new student worker who was supposed to be staffing a front line desk, as everyone who walked past noticed no one was sitting there. I happened to go around the desk- and discovered her sitting underneath the desk, absorbed with her phone. (She’d taken off her shoes, for an added touch.) I politely asked her to sit in the chair. She climbed out from under the desk, said something about not feeling “people-y” today, and sat in the chair, eyes never leaving her phone.

19. The temp

We had a temp-to-hire in an office setting that seemed normal in a short interview, but the crazy came out strong in her first week. She was stressed out her first morning about having left her bird home alone all day. She talked about having connections to the mob. She also spent a fair amount of time complaining about the work she had to do – which was exactly the tasks and responsibilities discussed in the interview.

And then about day 3, she said she was a medium and told a coworker she had a message for them from a dead relative, but would only relay the message if the coworker went to lunch with her. A little emotional blackmail anyone?

Fortunately, she only lasted a week. But what a week it was!

20. The coding genius

Someone joined my team fresh out of school. A few months into it he said he was going to teach himself to code to figure out a problem that was pretty complicated. I was sort of like “yeah, OK, cool” and figured he’d take months to do it, never do it, or it was just the start of a longer learning process.

I was wrong.

Somehow he self-taught a coding language in a week and googled all of the glitches and hitches that would’ve stopped most senior people in their tracks.

He realized he had a huge talent for it and eventually left to be more data focused.

{ 566 comments… read them below }

  1. The Original K.*

    The men one had me laughing out loud, as did “you’re so stupid you’re dangerous.”

    1. ArtK*

      I was wondering if she missed the memo about getting her “Mrs” degree in college.

      (So that nobody gets upset, I’m just referencing a very old, tired, sexist idea that the only reason women go to college is to find a husband. Not something I’ve ever subscribed to!)

      1. Lexie*

        I know someone who went to college in the mid 80s for her Mrs. which she obtained halfway through. However, she didn’t drop out like some women did but went on get her masters which came in handy when she relinquished her Mrs.

      2. Mr. Cajun2core*

        When I went to college there was an actual MRS degree (Medical Records Science). :-)

      3. Meow*

        There were a couple of girls in my Psych 101 class 10 years ago who loudly proclaimed that they were only going to college to meet men who would presumably get degrees. I couldn’t believe it was still a thing people did. I imagine their parents must have been paying for their tuition but still, what a waste of money in this day and age!

        1. Observer*

          It’s always been a waste, not just “in this day and age”.

          I also don’t think it ever was “a thing people did”, if you mean that it was actually common. It was a common trope, but not a common reason for women to do to college. Sure, it did happen. But it was far from a norm.

          1. Pescadero*

            It’s pretty common in certain religious circles.

            My wife is an ex-Mormon who attended BYU – and there are a lot of women at BYU who are there with the express purpose of snagging a returned missionary for marriage.

            1. Drago Cucina*

              There’s a women’s college in my state, in the same town where my son went to college. The students at the women’s college joked about shopping for a husband at my son’s school. I’m hoping the attitude has changed.

              1. JSPA*

                Ugh. Yes.

                And it doesn’t help when the men’s college has its own take on the situation.

                (with apologies to all included below, as they are all reductive)

                “Lesley to bed,
                Wellesley to wed,
                Radcliffe to talk to”

                Was characterized in 1980, by the Crimson, as a “well known adage.”

                Other schools sometimes were substituted for Lesley (BC, Simmons, or out of town but continuing the 7 sisters motif, Smith.)

                Once MIT had more than a smattering of female undergrads (they were only 5% in the class of 1969) “MIT to talk to” entered the running.

                It’s all pretty foul.

                1. Reluctant Mezzo*

                  I almost applied to St. John’s because it was so close to Annapolis, where my older brother was middie. He finally begged me not to, because he said it would cause talk if he had to beat up any of his fellow cadets.

            2. Hobbit*

              My friend went to ORU and she said that it was almost a guarantee that all (or almost all) of the females students would get “their ring in the spring” of their junior year.

              1. Indigo a la mode*

                Whitworth also has a “ring by spring” tradition, but at least there it’s spring of senior year. So…better? :|

            3. RSTchick*

              So true. My friend went to a Christian college, and getting engaged/married was cultish. After someone got engaged, at some point the couple would go outside at night and pledge their love. A bunch of their classmates would witness this, surrounding the couple in a circle and holding candles. Then the couple would get tossed in a small lake by their closest friends.

              I’m Christian and married, but I’ve always found the obsession with getting married by age 22 in many Christian circles to be quite bizarre.

            4. Burger Bob*

              Yep. I went to a Church of Christ school. There were absolutely some girls there who were pretty open about the fact that they were mainly looking to get married. There were even more of them at the more conservative COC schools.

            5. Azure Jane Lunatic*

              My foster daughter’s birth mother is religious but not Mormon, and expected that my daughter would go to college to become or marry a doctor, ideally both.

              She instead realized that she would have approximately the bedside manner of Dr. House without the skill and switched to computer science because she actually has an aptitude for that, graduated cum laude (with no student debt because her birth mother was sufficiently awful that she spent a summer in a youth shelter). She has a nice tech job and I’m very proud of her.

            6. Renna*

              Which is weird because it’s actually an incredibly hard school A. get into and B. do well in. I did my undergrad at BYU and I struggled 10x more with their basic coursework than I did with my masters. Some of that is certainly due to the fact that my masters was in my field of interest and talent, but most of their programs are challenging.

              I guess it’s at least cheap to go to and flunk out of if you’re wasting it for man-hunting.

          2. Chauncy Gardener*

            Oh my. When I went to college (in the 80’s) it was indeed A Thing. A rather large one, I’m afraid.

          3. Ana Gram*

            Oh it’s definitely a thing women do. There’s a certain religious college that we sometimes do job fairs at and the students are very upfront that the male students are looking for careers and the female students will work in nursing or teaching until they have their first kid and then she’ll stay home to homeschool them. We live in a fairly liberal area so I secretly hope that seeing me (I’m a woman) doing a “man’s” job and moving to the area will change their outlook but who knows.

          4. biobotb*

            Eh, I think it was maybe a bigger thing than you’d like to think, at least in some circles. My mother’s cousin had to drop out of college when her parents refused to continue paying tuition after she didn’t meet her future husband in her first few quarters.

          5. Boof*

            I admit, I thought if someone definitely wanted a career as a homemaker and was going to be professional about it, I thought there were finishing schools and home economics tracks etc – then meet your partner at the social gatherings for Group Of Interest.
            That would be the smart way of doing it (finding a domestic partner who wants to be a primary earner; no prob in my book as long as everyone agrees on it) rather than paying tons of money for a track you’re not actually interested in, anyway…

          6. nonprofit llama groomer*

            Depends on where you grew up. My mom is a first gen college student (not first in the family to go to college, but among the youngest in her generation to go) and readily admits she was there for an MRS. She grew up in a rural community and saw going away to a medium sized college in the 1960s as a great opportunity to meet a good man.

            1. Candi*

              With the female rural students going away to college pre-1970s (or even later), I wonder how much getting married in college was about having a reason to not go back to the rural areas. Especially pre-Equal Credit Opportunity Act.

        2. Cedrus Libani*

          I went to MIT in the 00’s, and even there, I knew two women on the MRS plan. One was a fundamentalist who had accepted her eventual duty of making babies for Jesus, but also liked engineering, so she was doing that for something to do while God found her a husband. The other had been raised vaguely Protestant, but converted to LDS specifically because it was a target-rich environment. I’m still Facebook friends with both, they’ve got their ever-increasing herd of homeschooled children, so mission accomplished I guess.

      4. Jamie Starr*

        My HS principal would tease my friends and me (all girls) that we were going to college for our MRS degrees. (This was the early 1990s.) He was a jerk.

      5. PhyllisB*

        Yes. I still remember seeing in our local society column about women getting their PHT “degrees” at special luncheons. For the clueless, that was Putting Hubby Through. This was for wives who worked and supported the household while “hubby” completed his education.

      6. BeenThereHatedThat*

        I used to hear about the PhD – Papa has dough. Very important consideration when looking for that MRS degree.

        1. Candi*

          If you’re working front or checkout desk, you meet a LOT of people.

          The idea wasn’t that off*, but she apparently didn’t realize there’s different kinds of libraries. She wants a public library or a library on a large college campus.

          *”Off” in regard to her goal. The idea of choosing a job primarily for the chance if offers of meeting men is rather gross to me. YMMV.

          1. Nanani*

            Yes, seeing work as a place to meet potential love interests is messed up regardless of the genders of interest and demographics of the chosen workplace. Other people are there to work or use the services your work offers, not to star in your personal romantic drama.

      7. Fen*

        I spent years telling my grandmother that my sister and I were not going to university to find husbands. Imagine my irritation when we did.

        1. Candi*

          If you went for an education and happened to fall in love while there, I see that as quite a bit different from going to school just to land someone with a hopefully well-paying degree.

      1. Indigo a la mode*

        Right? My hearty congratulations to commenter Popinki for their accurate prediction of this being #1 on Alison’s roundup.

    2. TechWriter*

      I especially enjoyed The Men, since I know a number of people in library and archives. A field notoriously, overwhelmingly, predominantly filled with women.

      1. RVA Cat*

        This. I’d almost set her up with the drunken “lay of the land” bro, but I shudder at the idea of them becoming parents.

      2. Wendy*

        THIS. And the whopping two dudes in the library system are inevitably old, married, and/or really weird. Not really priority dating pool material!

          1. Azure Jane Lunatic*

            My masc-presenting nonbinary youth librarian partner who does the pajama storytimes with the bubble dance breaks is almost 40, so this tracks pretty well… ;)

          2. kitryan*

            This is like my original field- costume design for theater. The costume shops of the world are unbelievably short on The Men whom this variety of woman would be looking for. When I was in grad school, one of the older shop staff used to say, semi-seriously, that the engineering school had a very nice new library and it would be a lovely quiet place to study where we could maybe find us a nice engineer boyfriend. One might also venture over to the scene shop, a venue that tends to have one of the highest concentrations of The Men in the various theatrical professions.

        1. marvin the paranoid android*

          I’m not old or married, so I feel very targeted by your “really weird.” Although I’m also gay and trans as hell, so I don’t think I’m the one this misguided new hire was looking for.

        2. La Triviata*

          There’s a kind of joke about “what do we call a single straight man our age? Monsigneur”

      3. CY*

        Librarian here, and my first thought was that she thought she’d be interacting with library users on a daily basis and get to meet people that way…except that anyone who’s spent more than a day working in a library could tell you that’s not gonna happen in Cataloging.

        1. Greige*

          My guess is she misunderstood “technical services” and thought it was more male-dominated like IT.

        2. Heather*

          Also, even if she was working with the public, the library users who you DO meet are not the kind of folks you’d want to date anyway, at least in my experience.

    3. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I laughed at that one too. Pro-tip: If you’re going to start a new job in hopes of meeting a lot of men, maybe pick a profession that’s not 80% women.

      1. The Original K.*

        That’s what I was thinking! Everyone I’ve known personally who works in libraries is a woman.

        1. whingedrinking*

          At my university, the engineering and nursing student societies used to team up for social events in the hopes of getting gender parity at parties.

          1. allathian*

            That’s how my MIL and FIL met. He’s a retired structural engineer and she’s a retired nurse, although she went on to get a degree in pedagogy so she could teach nursing.

      2. Critical Rolls*

        Maybe she was hoping to live out some version of The Music Man? Although I don’t know how you can both have enough understanding of cataloging to get hired, and so little understanding of libraries that you would think that job was public facing. Mysterious.

      3. Not the Cataloger*

        And add cataloging, which, while it does not entirely deserve its stereotype as the place where the socially awkward or extreme introvert librarians go, is not a public-facing role (except in the smallest libraries where people often have multiple duties). Even for someone who isn’t a librarian but was joining the department in a support role, it should have been obvious based on the job description and the interview that it wasn’t a public facing role (and presumably she should have seen there were no men in the department, either, during her interview, unless she was at an R1 academic library with a 20+ person cataloging department and didn’t meet everyone during the interview process.

      4. Janet*

        On a sadder note, I was surprised by a neighbor who was telling about her daughter moving back home with her. Her husband, a soldier, had just been killed. She was a school teacher.
        Her mother said she was putting pressure on her to go back to school and get a different degree, because she wouldn’t be likely to meet a new man at work!

        I hope that young widow is ok, and didn’t give in to the pressure. This was more than 15 years ago.

        1. alienor*

          I’m a different person, but I was widowed during the same time frame and remember the pressure, and also people reassuring my mother that I was young (I was about to turn 35, so…young-ish I guess) and would get married again. I found that the pressure sort of evaporated after about five years, like everyone finally gave up and accepted that I wasn’t going to provide the “young widow finds love again” narrative they were hoping for. They meant well, but it also felt like it was more about what they wanted/what they thought I should want, than what I actually wanted.

          1. Candi*

            Ugh. That sounds like when I was divorced. If I had a dollar for every time I got “when you get married again.” Nope. (Stories. All the stories.)

            These “you should have a partner just to have a partner” and “it’s wrong to be alooooooooooooooooone” mentalities are toxic.

  2. Casey*

    Oh my god these are gold. Here’s my “quickest firing I’ve ever seen”. New guy Bob joins Jane’s team on Monday. Jane sends out the following email:

    Welcome Bob to the widgets team! To celebrate our newest member, and the success of recent XY project, I’ll be hosting a BBQ on Saturday. +1s are welcome, and I also have a pool so feel free to bring your swimsuit – it’ll be hot out. Hope to see you there!

    BOB REPLIES-ALL TO THE EMAIL: Thanks Jane! If we get to see you in a swimsuit, sounds like a can’t-miss event.

    Jane immediately walks over to Security, Security walks over to Bob’s desk, five minutes later it’s like Bob never even existed. What the hell dude, but props to OldJob for handling it quickly and decisively.

    1. Jean*

      Otherwise known as the day Bob learned that he’s actually not as charming and funny as he thought he was. (Actually it’s way more likely that he learned nothing, and still tells that story in an aggrieved tone while complaining that you can’t even be nice to women anymore.)

      1. Casey*

        Oh, the BBQ was still on. Don’t think anyone was eager to go for a dip in the pool though.

        1. Kevin Sours*

          As somebody once said, you can gauge your standing in a company based on whether or not you were invited to your farewell party.

          1. Squirrel Nutkin*

            Hehehe! At one job, when we found out the problematic head of a sister office was resigning, my boss literally broke out the champagne. No, problematic head was not invited.

      2. KateM*

        I think Bob was included just to be polite, the real reason to celebrate was XY project anyway.

      1. Candi*

        Depends if it was less than two hours. That’s how long it took one guy I heard of to get fired.

        Small company. Guy comes in, talks to the receptionist and his manager-to-be, then fills out his HR paperwork in the owner’s office.

        Guy makes a sexist, ribald remark about the receptionist’s attractiveness, and wants to know when he’ll be promoted above his manager since new guy is “obviously” smarter than the manager.

        Besides the horrifically bad judgement this shows in any situation, it was a small family company. Receptionist was the owner’s (yes, highly attractive) wife, and the manager was his younger brother.

        Guy didn’t get to finish filling out the paperwork.

  3. Turanga Leela*

    The graph of pens had me screaming. I think I identify most with the goose poop, though.

    1. Popinki*

      Me, too. The college I went to had an artificial lake and during orientation they made a point of saying keep far, far away from the geese. Don’t try to feed them, pet them, scare them, hunt them (um…), and keep extra extra far away from any goslings.

      You had to watch where you walked, too, because the saying “like poop through a goose” is based in smelly, squishy fact.

      1. Lexie*

        I know someone who went to college in the mid 80s for her Mrs. which she obtained halfway through. However, she didn’t drop out like some women did but went on get her masters which came in handy when she relinquished her Mrs.

      2. Shhh*

        The grad student apartments at my university were also home to probably hundreds of geese. They often blocked the path to my apartment and even when they weren’t, the path was a minefield of their droppings.

        So I too very much identify with the goose poop story.

      3. Elenna*

        My university also had plenty of Canadian Geese. During first year orientation I heard a whole lot of horror stories about people being attacked by them (as did every other first year in the history of that university, I’m sure). Never actually saw a goose attack anyone myself, but that’s probably because we were all careful to give them a wide berth, especially if there were goslings about!

        1. Wendy*

          Canadians get a reputation for being really nice people… it’s because they stuff all their aggression into their geese and export them to the US.

      4. Cruciatus*

        I wonder if I live where you went to school. Red and white? Kilts? Most people call the lake on campus Fake Lake and yeah, watch out for the geese.

        Also for others: it’s Canada geese, not Canadian geese.

        1. SweetFancyPancakes*

          Thank you for being the one to point out that they are Canada geese, not Canadian (named after ornithologist John Canada) because I always want to say it but I usually don’t, unless I can get it in with a “fun fact” type of thing…

          1. Autumnheart*

            I was today years old when I learned that Canada geese are named after a person, not a country.

            1. Lenora Rose*

              Me too and I am a Canadian.

              Who has worked fairly near a university grounds where the geese paused on their way north and south. Spring wasn’t so bad as they were close to done their trek, if they didn’t just stay in the nearby lake or riverbanks, but we wrre an early stop in September/October. Geese at the start of migration aim to be as light as possible. The poop piles per goose TRIPLE or even quadruple in size. Add the extra large flock numbers from gathering for the flights, and parking lots and lawns went from mildly icky watch where you step to “ewww”.

              Amusingly, the fabric shade we now call “olive” was known in earlier ages in England (when olives were a rare import) as “goose-poop green”. And somehow still managed to be a popular hue.

          2. Party Pooper*

            Sorry to burst your bubble, but from what I can tell, the “John Canada” origin of “Canada goose” appears to be an urban legend. The name truly does refer to the country.

      5. whingedrinking*

        I once directed an outdoor, site-specific piece for a local theatre festival. We had most of our rehearsals in late spring, when the geese were migrating. The stage manager’s job duties included shooing geese away from the site and everyone learned quickly not to wear shoes they cared about. Luckily no birds had actually nested there, otherwise we probably would have just relocated and rewritten the show.
        The day a huge red setter got off leash and charged at the geese, barking its head off and scattering them in all directions, was among the most satisfying of my life.

        1. Global Cat Herder*

          Our company headquarters is a campus with many buildings and retaining ponds between them, and we used to have a huge problem with Canada geese every spring. One year they literally shut down a building for a few weeks because a goose had nested so close to the door that you couldn’t get in without getting attacked.

          Now we have retiree Jim and his great big hound dog Trotter. They get paid to take a walk through campus every morning and every afternoon with Trotter off leash, barking his head off and chasing geese before they can nest, both of them living their best lives. It’s a joyful solution.

          1. Candi*

            “great big hound dog”

            He’s a slobber bug, isn’t he. And I bet people time their breaks for when they come through.

      6. Janet*

        Oh, we have plenty of geese around here. When my husband’s office was flooded, he temporarily worked in another building with a severe goose issue. Slip n slide for adults!

        They put these silhouettes of dogs on the grass, kind of like wind vanes, so they moved a little. I don’t think it worked.

      7. Jay*

        I recently discovered something absolutely wonderful on Redit, of all places. It would seem that they have discovered a new name for Canada Geese and it is equally descriptive and delightful.

        So the legend goes, it all began one night at a restaurant kitchen. A new line cook of Vietnamese ancestry was just finishing his first shift. He was a recent immigrant and still did not have a full command of the English language yet. Unbeknownst to him, but WELL knownst to the longtime staff, a particularly large and fowl tempered Canada Goose had made it’s home out behind the building, near the garbage bins. As the New Guy, our hero tended to be tasked with all of the small jobs that no one else really wanted to do. Like taking out the trash. And so he heads out, bag of trash in hand, heading for the bins in back. Queue honking, banging, and cursing in Vietnamese, followed by laughter from inside the restaurant. After a few minutes he comes storming in, to share with his coworkers his first encounter with the fearsome “Cobra Chicken”.

        1. Azure Jane Lunatic*

          When I heard the “Cobra Chicken” story, it was on Tumblr, a farm and a particular field where one had made a nest near the gate.

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      “I think I identify most with the goose poop” is a mood I did not expect to experience today but I agree

    3. Jaydee*

      I love the idea that all the writing implements had nicknames! Like, I’m just imagining that there was a yellow #2 pencil (“old yeller”) and a standard ballpoint pen from a local bank (“Miss Moneypenny”) and a skinny orange highlighter (“Slim Jim”) and a fat yellow highlighter (“Big Jim”) and a dried out old highlighter (“Dead Jim”). Who does this?!

      1. Zelda*

        Apparently, you! The first couple were very clever, but it was “Dead Jim” that made this old Trekkie finally crack up. Well played.

        1. Jaydee*

          Lol! As I posted it I was like “well, clearly I just nicknamed some imaginary writing implements, so I sort of answered my own question.”

      2. Indigo a la mode*

        I laughed out loud at the Jims. Unfortunately, you may have just inspired a whole new generation of pencil-nicknamers.

    4. MCMonkeyBean*

      I feel like for that goose story it was I guess actually kind of good that they happened to see it through the window so it didn’t look like the guy just regularly shows up in clothes stained with grass and poop?

    5. Turtles All The Way Down*

      We had some geese nesting next to one of the doors of my office building once. Thankfully, there were 2 other main entrances because that one was understandably off-limits for a few weeks. We also set up a webcam to watch the goslings hatch, though they were promptly herded up and marched to the closest body of water by mom less than 48 hours after birth.

    6. CoveredinBees*

      I identified with the goose poop one too. Sounds like something that would happen to me. There’s a park across the street from my house that is very popular with Canada Geese during migrations. They are scary and I have absolutely slipped a bit (but luckily never fallen!) on their poop.

      1. allathian*

        Same. I’m a bit sad that the best picnic lawn I’ve ever used has been utterly ruined by geese during the last few years. You can’t take a step without stepping on poop. For some utterly unfathomable reason the geese are also protected here, while they’re almost as common as gulls. Literally hundreds of thousands, they’re nowhere near endangered.

    7. E. Chauvelin*

      I feel sorry for the goose poop victim but also find myself wondering if they had spent any significant part of their lives living in a place where there were Canada geese, and, if so, how they could possibly think walking towards them on purpose was a good idea.

  4. Nanc*

    How, how, how, HOW does anyone miss that there must be a coffee pot present in the brewing process? Full disclosure: am old, learned to brew coffee in a stove top percolator.

    1. NeedRain47*

      These things are hard if you haven’t had any coffee yet! (I did this the other day at home. Luckily my coffee maker is smart enough to shut itself off instead of overflowing.)

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        +1. I’ve also done this more often than I’d like to admit with a keurig.

        1. PhyllisB*

          Yep. I made the Keurig a cup of coffee the other day. I was only glad the drip tray was under there and caught it all. Like another poster said, sometimes you need the coffee to make coffee.

      2. ZK*

        I nearly made my husband coffee on Monday without any actual coffee in the basket. Lucky for him, I realized it before it started to brew, so I could cancel it and try again. And this was after my second cup of coffee.

        1. PeanutButter*

          A month ago I put my protein shake powder in the coffee maker basket. I’d blame not having my glasses on but really – it was WHITE VANILLA POWDER. How could I have possibly missed it? And then I had to deal with cleaning it up with NO COFFEE ON BOARD.

      3. JB (not in Houston)*

        Yep! My old office had a coffee maker where you can’t access the reservoir where the water goes; there was just a spot for you to pour water in, but you couldn’t take the top off or pick up the coffee maker and pour that water out. Once before I’d had any caffeine, I made a pot of coffee and then immediately poured it into the water reservoir. I had to spend the next 10 minutes or so pouring several pots full of water into the reservoir to make sure I got all the coffee out.

        Part of me was tempted to just leave it because my coworker who most frequently made the coffee during the day made very weak coffee, and I kind of wanted to see if brewing weak coffee with coffee would improve matters or just make a different type of bad coffee.

        1. Zephy*

          I think it would have just made super-duper bad coffee – heating brewed coffee makes it really bitter and unpleasant (see: diner coffee that’s been sitting on a burner for hours).

        2. Ozzac*

          When I went to the university coffee made with coffee instead of water was called either “coffee of coffee” or “student’s coffee”.
          It was bitterness given form, but it was really powerful, ideal for all nighter.
          A guy I knew tried to make “coffee of coffee coffee”, he had to throw out the coffee maker and air the kitchen for a full day in january.

        3. Candi*

          PLEASE tell me someone had the job of regularly taking the thing about and cleaning it out. There are some true horror stories on AAM of what happens to the inside of coffee makers if cleaning isn’t done, and that’s when the innards are accessible!

      4. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

        We call these problems “Schrodinger’s Barrista” – problems that would not be problems if you had already had your coffee.

    2. anonymous73*

      One morning, my dad made coffee. They had one of those under counter coffee pots. The pot was in the dishwasher (I’m sure you know where this is going)… He leaves the kitchen and comes back in to the coffee brewing onto the counter and the floor below. He tried to clean it up before my mom got up but was unsuccessful. It happens. Sometimes you need the coffee to make the coffee.

      1. sacados*

        Several times my parents have caused overflow spillage at home — the carafe/pot part on their coffee pot is metal/insulated and therefore you can’t see inside it. There have been a few times where they set up the machine to brew a full pot, not realizing the carafe was still say half-full of old coffee …. cue overflow and coffee running all down the cabinets and onto the floor haha.

        1. Software Engineer*

          I have done this too, happened more often when I had an insulated pot that isn’t clear but I’ve done it with a clear pot at least once

    3. learnedthehardway*

      I managed to not realize that the basket is necessary to coffee making while visiting someone a month ago. In my defense, it was very early in the morning, I don’t drink coffee, and I hadn’t had any caffeine yet. I just put the filter in the place where the filter should go, and carried on. First indication that all was not well was that the coffee maker seemed to be leaking coffee all over the place.

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        I’ve done this several times. What a mess. I don’t even freaking drink coffee. I was just trying to be helpful. Argh.

      2. JustaTech*

        I had a boss fail to put the basket all the way into the machine so when it brewed it somehow overflowed and grounds got everywhere, including inside the giant, office-sized carafe.

        Of course he did this on a day when we had a very early, very important study all day, but I still had to find time to get the grounds out of the cabinet (he’d cleaned the counter and floor) and then out of the carafe.

    4. No_woman_an_island*

      I have actually done this before, but only because the coffee pot was slight askew instead of, you know…absent.

      1. Ann Nonymous*

        I literally did this yesterday. Normally my husband makes the coffee, but he slept in. Note to self: make sure coffee pot is fully clicked in under the drip basket.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Secondary note to self: make sure the drip spring isn’t all gunked up.

          This is for those of us that have the nice pots where the drip is on a spring so you can pull the carafe out to pour a half a cup while the pot is still going. It’s supposed to stop the dripping onto the hot plate.

          Why yes – that part of my kitchen is also nice and freshly polished up now .

    5. Antilles*

      If you never drink coffee and have never in your life brewed coffee, I might be able to see it. Maybe he assumed it was like a soda machine where you turn it on, then just put your cup next to it and hit the “dispense” button.
      I’ve never made a cup of coffee in my life, have never owned a coffee maker in my life, and if you added up every sip of coffee I’ve ever drank it would fit into a Dixie cup. So the idea that he had no idea how to operate a coffee maker sounds plausible to me, but why volunteer to do it if you have no idea how?

      1. anonymous73*

        As a daily maker of coffee, it can happen. Not making excuses for this dude because he’s a hot mess of epic proportions, but I have done some really stupid shit trying to make coffee in my past.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Like somebody said above – sometimes you need the coffee to make the coffee.

        2. CoveredinBees*

          I set my coffeemaker up the night before in part to avoid this problem. It is mostly, but not entirely, successful.

      2. FrenchCusser*

        I held several temp jobs after graduating from college, and every time I’d start a new job, they’d assign me to make the coffee.

        I do not drink coffee myself.

        And every time, after a couple of days, they’d assign someone else to make the coffee.

        Apparently there’s a secret squint or chant or head bobble you have to do to make drinkable coffee.

        1. This Old House*

          I drink coffee now, but I didn’t until I was in my md-30s. At my first couple of jobs, I typically felt like an accomplished, professional adult who was good at my job and knew what I was doing . . . until someone asked me to make a pot of coffee for a meeting. It was like asking a toddler to operate the space shuttle. I just didn’t even know where to start, what equipment was necessary or what it did or where it went.

          And now? Now I drink coffee, which means I can competently make coffee in precisely one pot – the one in my kitchen. I tried to use a Keurig at work the other day and it was just as baffling as ever.

          1. pandop*

            I don’t drink coffee. The only coffee maker I have ever used was the one we had at home for my Dad. I could make coffee they way he liked it in that machine.

            I do however, regularly try to make my first cuppa of the day sans tea bag, & have been known to overfill the mug because I forget to stop pouring. It is likewise a great design fault that you need to make your first cup of tea before you have had a cup of tea …

        2. Candi*

          When I was living with my dad during the Recession, I got banned from trying to make coffee. I either made it too weak or too strong. (Granted, Dad’s retired Army.)

          I know where everything goes, but I just can’t put the pieces together right. And I think all coffee tastes bitter, so I don’t drink it myself.

      1. Anonym*

        Ooh, same. I recently put whole beans into the espresso machine filter and then stared way too long, vaguely aware that something was wrong, but unsure what. As anonymous73 says above, sometimes you need the coffee to make the coffee.

      2. JESUS IS THE MAN!*

        How I learned that my father is, I’m convinced, the greatest troll in the universe:

        When we were kids, we learned to make coffee pretty early on. He convinced me that my mother loved hers with a dollop of grounds spooned on top like a garnish.

        I didn’t figure it out until I was old enough to start drinking coffee myself.

          1. JESUS IS THE MAN!*

            I don’t know, maybe she couldn’t bring herself to do it in the face of “Mommy, I made this just for you!!”

      3. TeaCoziesRUs*

        I just got a bean grinder. Came back from school run, got the grinder open, the beans out, then poured the beans into my glass IKEA French Press instead… only realized it was wrong because it wasn’t making the right sound. *facepalm* I did learn that damp coffee beans are a great way to clear the dust of former grinder uses!

    6. SadlyTrue*

      I’ve done this. I owned a B&B for 18 years so it seems like I would not make this mistake, but I did. I wasn’t far enough away from the machine to not hear the splashing and sizzling as the coffee hit the the heater instead of dripping gracefully into the carafe. But, I was too far to get the carafe in place fast enough to avoid the smell of burnt coffee wafting through the inn.

      In chatting with other owners (in one of those ‘dope slap, can you believe what I did’ sessions), I found I was not alone.

    7. All the words*

      It’s one of those things a coffee drinker does so often that brewing a pot is a matter of muscle memory. One just does the motions while the brain is a million miles away…

      And then one hears the splashing.

    8. SweetestCin*

      It’s interesting how all of one department gets all pi$$y when the OWNER declares that NOBODY is above making coffee. It’s not the admin assistant’s job, it’s being a decent human to all of your coworkers and a matter of respect.

      It’s one, non-managerial and very technical non-IT department that has flat refused for years.

      Queue up the passive aggressive “oops I’m too important to have ever learned to do this so I’ve made a mistake” from that department, to which, to Owners credit, he hand holds the offender through cleaning the mess and successfully brewing a pot.

      It’s getting there.

      1. Marzipan Shepherdess*

        Good for the owner for shutting down any attempt at weaponized incompetence on the part of anyone who thinks they’re too lofty (read: too male, too White, too generally superior) to make coffee! And kudos to that owner for NOT assuming that only the female staff members should do kitchen work!

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I love that he made the offender clean it up!

        And then gave lessons on how to make coffee.

      3. Another One Bites the Dust*

        I once started a job as the only admin in an office of 5. A few days in I noticed my boss came in every morning and started a pot of coffee. I was usually in before him and asked if he’d like me to start one when I got there. Boss: Do you drink coffee? Me: No, but I don’t mind making it. Boss: If you don’t drink it and my wife found out I had you make it for me …. thanks, but no thanks.

      1. Nanc*

        Fair point to all those saying uncaffeinated folks may face challenges when making coffee. Funnily enough, I learned to make coffee at around age 8 but didn’t really start drinking it until my 50s.
        So all you inventors out there–come up with a solution to help the undercaffeinated safely brew coffee! It can be the next big As Seen on TV thing!

        1. NeedRain47*

          A friend’s mom used to drink a cup of instant coffee so she could make coffee…. I used to think this was bonkers, but the older I get, the more I think it’s genius.

        2. Bronze Betty*

          Someone has come up with a solution. My coffeemaker will not work if there is no carafe in place!

          Although I am unaware of a universal solution which will work for all coffeemakers.

        3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          My coffee maker allows me to set it up the night before, and has a timer to turn itself on approximately twenty mins before spouse and I wake up.

        4. PeanutButter*

          I have an ancient Black & Decker that has a timer on it. It’s older than me but it’s the only coffee maker I’ve ever found that has a one-button delay brew you can just keep at the same time every day, and it NEVER loses/gains minutes like the digital ones do. I usually set up my coffee the night before and it brews when my alarm goes off.

        5. TeaCoziesRUs*

          I use a French press (because it works well for cold brew or hot). My 9 year old LOVES to push down the plunger when I remember to make Cold Brew the night before. :)

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          My coffee maker has the timer built into it. Best $60 spent.

          And it has continued to work for going on three years now.

    9. ThatGirl*

      I’ve never made coffee without the pot, but I have tried to make it without the water before. Thankfully I realized it quickly.

        1. WellRed*

          Nothing like the disappointment when you realize you just brewed a pot of coffee tinted winter and have to start all over.

          1. wendelenn*

            I know it’s a typo but I love it. Coffee Tinted Winter will be the hit single on my new Christmas album. :D

      1. pancakes*

        I’ve done both. Not at the same time, to be clear, but yeah. One advantage of pour-over, besides making delicious coffee, is that if anything is missing you’ll notice right away!

    10. CY*

      At my first full-time job post-college, I got asked to make the coffee one morning. Had never operated a percolator before in my life (any time I’d made coffee before that it was instant with hot water from a kettle) but didn’t want to admit it/ask for help because it seemed like such a Basic Adult Skill I should have. I did not forget the coffee pot, but I DID pour water directly on top of the grounds in the filter basket instead of into the part where the water actually goes. Made a mess and ruined a pot’s worth of coffee grounds, but at least I didn’t flood the office.

      So yeah, coffee mishaps can happen! But forgetting the pot seems like a particularly special one.

      1. NNN222*

        I appreciated that part of my office tour at my current job included how to operate the coffee makers because we brew whole air pots at a time so it’s not even a system you would expect most coffee drinkers to have operated before. I’ve never tried to dispense coffee only to find it completely empty so it seems like everyone who uses the coffee pots on my floor (we always have one light roast, one dark roast, and one decaf at a coffee station on each floor) is considerate about brewing a new pot as needed and I think no one having to work around not knowing what they’re doing helps that happen.

    11. Mockingjay*

      I did this working in a pizza place during college. I thought the warming plate switch was the power switch. I was setting up for lunch, put in fresh coffee packet and filled the reservoir.

      I caught the waterfall as soon as it began and cleaned up my own mess.

    12. Elenna*

      I’ve never made a single pot of coffee. I think I’ve drank about half a cup once or twice just to confirm that, yep, I still hate it. So I could probably see myself doing this? I mean, I’ve seen coffee makers running before, I’ve seen where the pot goes, but when figuring out a new machine sometimes you forget stuff.

      That being said a) I wouldn’t volunteer to make coffee, since I’m aware that I don’t know how, and b) if I somehow did end up making coffee and made a mess, I’d at least help clean up my own mess!

      1. Wendy*

        I’m 40 and have worked at receptionist/secretarial/office-type jobs for half my life, but I’ve never made coffee before either. I got asked to once when I was in college, but a coworker noticed my clueless look and took over :-P

    13. Bronze Betty*

      I learned a couple of weeks ago that my coffeemaker simply does not work if there is no carafe in place. Smart design! Unlike my old single-serve coffeemaker that worked regardless and made a huge mess when I forgot my cup.

      1. Janet*

        I had a drip coffee maker that had a little knob on the top of the carafe that depressed something on the basket. It wouldn’t flow unless the carafe was there.

        I use a Keurig now, but it is possible to brew a cup without a cup underneath it. The overflow is useful.

    14. SkyePilot*

      Not quite as bad as no pot, but came in one day when most of the office was delayed due to weather. Decided I would make some coffee so it would be nice and fresh as everyone trundled in from the cold. Started the machines, went to put my things down at my desk and get settled. Came back to boiling coffee grounds water overflowing the entire office kitchen. Somehow managed to misalign the filter (still not sure how I did it…) so that the water couldn’t actually make it through the grounds and into the pot.

      I shut the machines off and got the mess cleaned up, but I was too short to smoothly remove the very, very hot, very, very full grounds baskets. Luckily our wonderful office security guy came wandering in hoping for some fresh joe and was able to get them out without scalding either of us.

      I managed to successfully make fresh pots without anyone in my office being the wiser.

      1. Azure Jane Lunatic*

        The weirdest coffee behavior I have seen in an office was the practice of stacking the used grounds and filter between a pair of paper plates, in one corner of the kitchen counter. In my building, I eventually traced it to the way the bins were all full to overflowing by lunchtime, so there was nowhere correct to put it.

    15. Selina Luna*

      I can see how it’s possible, but my ability to know how it’s possible is also why I drink cold brew (which requires more prep, but I’m able to do that prep when I’m my most awake) or Javy (it comes in a tiny bottle that looks like patent medicine, so that’s fun). I also will sometimes use a Keurig, but if I’m doing that, I am usually already a little bit caffeinated.

    16. FisherCat*

      I have done this before (at home! not in the workplace!) it was a combination of exhaustion and distracted inattention thinking about a problem I needed to solve. I knew a pot was required but actually putting the thing in the spot didn’t get included in the making coffee steps on that morning.

      Cleaning up the resulting mess did not improve my day.

    17. Rose*

      I can’t decide but I think I think he did it on purpose? It seems like the whole thing was an attempt to get fired for unemployment.

    18. Mannequin*

      My husband & I are regular coffee drinkers and we have BOTH done this before.

      I actually keep a small jar of instant around so I will be sure to have enough caffeine in me to properly make a pot of coffee.

    19. Michigan mom*

      My first day and a new internship as a baby engineer I decided to make coffee. I didn’t realize that the water was piped in and so I put in the coffe and then poured a pot of water into the top of the machine. When I came back to the break room I found two pots worth of water had friend cram themselves into the carafe and there was water and grounds every where. It was mortifying. I did try to clean it up myself though.

    20. LittleMarshmallow*

      This happened enough at my old office that we had a sign on the coffee maker (ours was a little weird though too…. You had to have a pot under it to pour the water in cuz it would just start, so newbies usually learned the hard way). I also like many of the others have done that with the keurig.

    21. La Triviata*

      One office I worked in (many, many years ago) had coffee cups that were just thin plastic handleless cups that were supposed to go in a sturdy plastic frame. The frames were permanent, but the thin plastic inserts were disposable. As you might imagine, it wasn’t unusual for people to neglect putting the insert in the frame before having the coffee flow into the empty frame, and have coffee flowing all over.

    22. Lady Blerd*

      Every coffee lover has missed a step in the process at least once. I use a French press and more then once, after the brew time, I came to a pot with only hot water or only the powder, and sometimes completely empty because all I did was put the kettle on and forgot the following steps.

      1. Turanga Leela*

        I was once mugged by geese in Vancouver.
        I tried an evasive maneuver,
        But I fell on the ground,
        Tracked their poop all around,
        And I had to clean up with a Hoover.

      2. Phony Genius*

        Ooh! A challenge:

        I was once mugged by geese in Vancouver.
        To escape I just could not maneuver.
        From the side of my eye,
        I saw the janitor guy,
        And he scared them all off with a Hoover.

    1. quill*

      Sours was mugged by geese in Vancouver,
      while vaccuming with a new Hoover,
      when calling the foul
      He was saved by an owl,
      who flew him away to the Louvre.

      (Your mileage may vary on whether that rhymes.)

    2. Underrated Pear*

      I used to bike to work in Vancouver in the warmer months. My bike route took me along the False Creek Seawall. I was frequently running late (don’t worry, our start times were fairly relaxed) because the path would be blocked by vicious geese and I’d have to wait to get around them. Moving there taught me you don’t eff with geese!!

      1. Kevin Sours*

        I was on junior high band trip. We were at a park (I believe if you know Vancouver you know which park — all I remember is the duck ponds went on forever). I was feeding some bread to the ducks. A flock of geese decided they wanted that bread. They got the bread.

      2. Rose*

        Did anyone else assume this was also a poem comment and try to read it rhythmically in their head but get confused.

    3. CoveredinBees*

      I can believe it. Not because of anything about you but because geese are vicious. A geese tried to eat my husband when he was a baby. Not joking. Bit down on his chubby little baby foot and PULLED.

  5. quill*

    Holy (goose) crap, ERMA! I need to know what possessed her to wait a week and a day and then immediately rack up a huge bill?

    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      And she seemed so nice and normal right up until they wouldn’t let her decorate her desk like Delores Umbridge.

      1. ferrina*

        Truth. Probably thought she just needed to wait until they officially gave her authority, which in her mind would be unfettered, unlimited, total domain over her kingdom.

    2. Haven’t picked a user name yet*

      It sounded like she waited until the person training her was done/gone. First/second day on her own and she went for it!

    3. Antilles*

      I’m more interested in how exactly she planned on using this stuff. The sheer volume of stuff listed in the comment (plus presumably more that OP has forgotten) is way more than would have fit in the reception area of almost any office I’ve ever been to.
      Almost makes me wonder if she was just hoping the order would get approved, then after it shows up, she just takes a lot of it home to furnish her own place.

      1. quill*

        I think it’s possible it could all fit if most of the items were on the small side of their normal sizes. Maybe?

      2. Meow*

        Yep that was my thought too. She’s so bright and cheerful because she’s been using her previous employers credit cards to sneak in whatever she wants over the years.

        Crazy part is, if she had good references… does that mean they never caught her? Despite being that blatant about it??

        1. Candi*

          Or they wanted to get rid of her. And make sure she never came back.

          Stuff like the bathroom mirror, I strongly suspect she was planning to take home. And apparently (if she heard that part), she thought the auto-email to OP was a formality, not something that would actually be reviewed.

          I do think it’s weird she went so drastically over the stated budget. Even if she cleared every other obstacle, accounting would have a FIT.

    4. Dust Bunny*

      Right? My department is getting new furniture–which we need–and we’re still like, eh, this old work table is fine. Replace the reading room tables, yeah, because they’re falling apart, but the rest of our ancient stuff is OK. I’ve held onto this desk chair through three or four rounds of new chairs because the newer ones are too big and the hydraulics on this one happen to have died at the right height for my desk. (My boss is insisting I replace it this time, though.)

      1. KateM*

        We have a desk that my 50yo husband used as a schoolboy. But he says newer ones don’t have that big and sturdy drawers. I painted it over so at least it now looks newer.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          We have the desk that my mother salvaged (as in, it was already old) when she was in grad school in the early 1970s. It’s practically a member of the family.

          Our work furniture is mostly 1980s-early 2000s, so not old but dated and high-mileage for a bunch of office chairs. But it’s mostly still in good shape.

    5. Richard Hershberger*

      Erma is my favorite. She was aiming for the abuse of petty authority list but couldn’t make it that far.

      1. LavaLamp(she/her)*

        I absolutely love stationery and fun pens, but like; I bring my own. And my old cubicle at old job was decorated with all kinds of fun toys and whatnot, that I BOUGHT MYSELF.

        I don’t understand how she expected all that to get approved.

          1. Candi*

            I’ve noticed a lot of people who seek to exploit the company for their own gain tend to be selectively deaf to things like “purchases will be reviewed” and “accounting will notice”. It seems to be a combination of arrogance and very short-term thinking.

      2. Alex*

        And I thought buying a one of a kind (for our office) Chair was a ballsy move (with some malicious compliance of the chair-ordering person involved) – but my chair actually was cheaper than our usual office chair, so I think that’s why everyone let me get away with it..

  6. OrigCassandra*

    Oh my GOSH, poor Skunk Lady. Reminds me of the time one of my cats Did What Cats Do on the padded strap of my work messenger bag and I honestly didn’t notice until I arrived at work (since I bike). Not the day I wanted to be riding in the elevator with the university chancellor… but we do not always get the days we want.

    1. KateM*

      I bought a piece of fresh fish and nothing else, and as I usually do with small things, just put it into my purse insetad of getting a separate bag.
      And then I forgot to take it out when at home.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Not work related, but many years ago my sister borrowed my grandmother’s car and went fishing. When she got home, she forgot to take the one fish out of the car. Locked the car, returned Granny’s keys and didn’t think about it again.
        My grandmother didn’t drive very often, and car sat there for two weeks. This was in August. Not under a shelter. When my grandmother went to use her car, her reaction was…not exactly grandmotherly.

        1. PhyllisB*

          Okay, now that I threw my sister under the bus, it’s only fair to tell one on myself. When my husband and I first married, we lived in the house with same grandmother, (it was divided into two apartments.) One night we had boiled shrimp and put the shells in the outside garbage can because we were going out of town the next day and didn’t want to leave them in house garbage.
          Well, I wasn’t thinking about the fact that the garbage can was under her bedroom window by her bed, and she slept with her window cracked open. We were gone for about four days (also hot sunny weather.) When we returned home, she wasn’t pleased with us, either.

    2. Wendy*

      A friend of mine temporarily lost her sense of smell due to COVID. It mostly came back, with one unfortunate exception: coffee now smells to her like dog doo. She claims it still tastes fine but she keeps thinking “eww, did I step in something?” while drinking it :-\ She’s got two large dogs and a new job, and we’re all dreading the day she DOES step in something and assumes it’s just the office coffee…

      1. Jora Malli*

        I know someone who had that happen as well! She used to use a specific cleaning product because she loved the way it smelled, but when her sense of smell came back after covid she had to change products because the old one smells terrible to her now.

      2. Mannequin*

        I didn’t really lose taste or smell with Covid except for spicy food not being as hot and coffee- it smells fine but tastes really flat & watery, like how instant hot cocoa tastes if you make it with too much hot water & too little powder.

        It appears to be slowly coming back after a couple months out, but it’s been really weird to get a whiff & think “mmmm, coffee” but have it taste like nothing.

    3. FrenchCusser*

      A former boss had a pair of skunks move in under his house, and he didn’t realize his clothes stank until he got to work and we all started edging away from him.

    1. Pants*

      The thread that spawned this column was fantastic. I was having a crap day and then that thread happened and I laughed till I good-cried.

  7. fiona the baby hippo*

    This probably falls in between ‘weirdest power move’ and ‘worst first impression’ but we once had someone hired to cover a 12-week maternity leave who changed her job title in her signature to sound more senior than she was, told me (the most junior person on the team) very early on she was ignoring the budget left to her by the person on maternity leave and commissioning way too much from freelancers (of course I told my acting boss that!), and took an entire box of free marshmallows sent to the office, kept them under her desk, and ate them for breakfast for days. It was a mix of BEC and wild incompetence and the longest 12 weeks of my life.

      1. Llama face!*

        I am also confused. Both about what would inspire someone to give “free marshmallows” to an office and who would consider eating just marshmallows for breakfast for days in a row? Blergh!

        1. Resident Catholicville, USA*

          If a box of free marshmallows showed up to my office, no lie- I’d be thrilled. We’ve had candy, pastries, cookies, etc. Marshmallows would be distinctive and a great way for a vendor to stand out.

        2. Sakuko*

          When I worked in smaller companies we’d sometimes just get treats send from happy clients, either around holidays or just as a “keep the good relationship fresh” kind of gift randomly. It was often stuff they sold or produced themselves. So it could be cookies or chocolates if it was from the pharmacies (no promotional merchandise allowed anymore), but also soaps, bath scrubs or power banks.
          We sadly did not work with anyone selling marshmallows, but it would not have been a big stretch.

      2. LunaLena*

        It might have been a promotional thing. I once worked in an office where they received a box of about 100 individually-wrapped cookies. The company in question was a bakery that did customized baked goods, and all of the cookies were roughly business card-sized and had their name and contact info baked on them (they were hard cookies, sort of like Oreos). A few people took a handful, and then no one wanted them. I ended up eating one a day for about two months to get rid of them because, outside of an occasional taker, no one else would.

        As a side note, the cookies were tasty, but as a promotion it was an abject failure. Even after eating roughly 60 of their cookies I couldn’t tell you what the place was called or how to find them. I think about that place a lot whenever letters about gimmicky job applications surface here on AAM.

        1. Candi*

          When I interviewed at one place, someone had dropped off a basket of cookies with a company logo and a label with the company name and contact info.

          Of course, I don’t know how good they were, but it seems to me giving (hopefully) yummy cookies with a card the receptionist or whoever could stick up on the wall or by their computer until they could enter the information was a much better move then what the company you’re talking about did.

      3. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        Since they mentioned commissioning freelancers, it might be journalism of some kind. People will send the weirdest freebies when they’re trying to get publicity, both places sending free samples of their actual products and, occasionally, people just sending you Weird Stuff to try to get you to open their mail and, ideally, read their press releases.

        Or a bakery that might be looking for a new marshmallow vendor, I suppose, but then the freelancers thing seems less likely.

  8. Hey Pal*

    Oh nooooo goose guy! That would totally be me. Bless the LW for sending the new hire home and ending his mortification. (Although I’m sure it still comes into his head unbidden at 2am.)

    1. Anonym*

      Goose Guy, if you ever perchance come across this, please know that we all sympathize! No judgement!

    2. Macaroni Penguin*

      Ah yes, the mighty Canadian Hissing Cobra Chicken strikes again. Do not underestimate them. Not sure where this story takes place, but nearly every Canadian child has been threatened by a goose. Even Canadian adults are not immune to attack. I have so much empathy for #12.

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            Third times the charm!

            Wish I’d known it in college – we could always tell who the new freshmen that didn’t pay attention to the move in meeting were – they were the ones being chased away (occasionally screaming at the top of their lungs) by the Canadian Hissing Cobra Chickens.

    3. Kate, short for Bob*

      Giving him a straight do-over may be the most humane management response I’ve seen on this site

    4. Rose*

      I found it double hilarious that he sent him home for the entire day. Not like, hey shower and let’s give it another go after lunch time! Everyone basically silently agreed to pretend the day never happened. Love it.

  9. NeedRain47*

    Bwahahahaha, #3….. 80% of people who work in libraries are women, it’s not a good job for meeting men. I don’t know if the statistics are any different for catalogers and technical services people in particular. Where I work currently there are two men in a department of about 20.

    1. Gracely*

      I can say that currently the only men who work at my library are in technical services, unless you count student employees. And other libraries where I’ve worked, the men working there skew pretty strongly into cataloging/tech services, and sometimes gov docs.

        1. NeedRain47*

          Public library? Seems about right.
          My previous job was at an academic library and there were more men overall than there seem to be in public, but not by a lot.

    2. Shhh*

      My current library has more men than I have ever worked with in libraries and it’s still probably somewhere around a 60-40 split.

    3. Frinkfrink*

      We’re somewhere around 25% men here (university library), but the systems department–I’m the only woman–is heavily skewing that. Of course 50% of the administrators are male…

    4. Bernice Clifton*

      It’s also not really something one should seek out, regardless of where they work.

      Some people do meet their significant others at work and and it works out, and some of those relationships DON’T work out and then you dread going to work because you have to see someone who screwed you over.

    5. Cthulhu's Librarian*

      I have to assume she thought she had gotten a public facing role, and that there would be Men from the public who she could meet. Nothing else makes sense.

      1. Llama Drama*

        I thought maybe she was confused about what was meant by cataloging. Maybe she thought she would meet male models for a magazine catalogue??? But then again, Id have to assume that they would have to test and/or have a background in cataloging. So strange.

    6. EmmaPoet*

      Yeah, we’ve got three male librarians in a staff of 14, and four guys in circulation. AFAIK, all of them are married already. If she wanted to meet men, she’d have been better off going for reference jobs where you’d see the general public. (OTOH, if you hit on me on the desk I would automatically write you off as a potential date, so you take your chances either way!) I did work at a small library where I was the only woman for several years in a staff of five people.

      True story, one of my male coworker asked me for dating tips. That was fun.

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        In case anybody is reading this, I do not recommend getting a job in a library in hopes of making a romantic connection with a library user. The number of my coworkers I’ve had to hide from creepy obsessed customers is not a promising number.

        1. EmmaPoet*

          Yep. I still remember the call I got from the mother of one of our pages (page was about 16 and very shy) saying her daughter had been propositioned via a letter handed to her by a 40something dude who followed her around the library. Dude was subsequently banned for several months. EW.
          I’ve had to hide other coworkers from the “She was polite to me, she must be in love with me!” types.

        2. Princesss Sparklepony*

          In college the library I worked for had a number of love connections and yes, there were more women then men working there…. One new hire got a little hysterical because she got asked out by another woman. I had to talk her down which probably wasn’t helpful. I asked if she said no to the date, she said she did. I said, problem solved.

          Most everyone who worked there was a good egg. The boss was funny and fair. Although somehow she decided I was also the one who would be good with foreign students. I have failed out at all romance languages and won’t even consider trying a language with a different alphabet because of my incredibly poor language track record. Add in that my grasp of accents is horrendous and led to a lot of frustration on both sides. But we all muddled through.

        3. yala*

          I remember this one older dude hanging around waiting for my coworker to come back to the desk. She was Deaf and he specifically asked for “the one that can’t talk.” We kept covering her shift with other workers and he eventually got frustrated and left a note for her instead. It was a creepy “this is not a come-on” type come-on, the whole “I have a wife, I’m just looking for a Smart Friend” etc thing. We started walking to our cars w/ security for a bit.

          I had a young military-fiction-obsessed security guard who spent his whole shift following me around, recounting the details of a book I was not interested in, and saying how nice it must be to have a job where you get to read all day (ahahahahahahaha) Find Out my last name by going over our (out-of-the-way) schedule, figuring out my email address from there, and sending me another not-a-come-on come on about he he totally had a girlfriend, but he also just really likes smart women with long hair.

          I don’t miss working the public desk.

    7. Empress Penguin*

      I’m a hospital librarian. My last job was 3 men and 2 women, which is very unusual, but my current job is 7 women, 1 man. And that one man only works two days a week!

    8. Rose*

      I love libraries, my mom is a librarian, but I just can’t fathom how you try to think of where to meet men and what pops into your head is “library job!”

      1. yala*

        Maybe she read “Girls with Slingshots?” There’s a very cute romance with one of the characters after she gets a library job. But, y’know. Very much a fantasy.

  10. That_guy*

    The guy who had the confidence to tell the CEO not to zoom in while driving is a good person.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Agreed – I loved that he was labeled the Hero. He truly was, distracted driving is the worst.

    2. Kit*

      So very much so – and on a zoom call with lots of volunteers! Talk about setting a good example for them right off the bat; I hope CEO recognized that after the fact, at least!

    3. Snarkaeologist*

      I’ve done volunteer coordination/management and it’s easy to get into a sort of kindergarten teacher mode – it’s not that the volunteers are clueless, but you can’t make assumptions on what they already understand, and keeping things simple and unambiguous is the best way to get a bunch of people working in the same direction quickly.

      So I’m wondering if this guy fully realized what he was doing or just went into automatic ‘safety violation = safety reminder’ mode.

  11. Haven’t picked a user name yet*

    It wasn’t my first day at work, but it was the night before the first day of an audit I was conducting at a third party site. My husband went out late with the dog. Dog gets sprayed. I got the kids up at 10:00 at night and took them to a hotel. I bought all new clothes at 8:00 in the morning. And I still smelled like skunk. It took days and days for it to fade from the dog and the house.

    It was 15 years ago and I still panic a bit when I smell a skunk!

    1. quill*

      So when I was in college, my dog got sprayed, and apparently my younger brother was deputized to go buy four gallons of listerine and the largest and cheapest amount of tomato soup he could find. My mom calls me in the middle of scrubbing the dog down with a handful of Campbell’s to cancel on me coming home for the weekend, but doesn’t give me the whole story, just “DOG, SKUNK, DON’T COME HOME.”

      Three weeks later and I could still smell it in the garage when I came home.

      1. New Job So Much Better*

        Was wondering if anyone used tomato soup for de-skunking. I recall seeing them use it on The Partridge Family about a hundred years ago.

        1. JP in the heartland*

          I remember that episode too. I think about it every time I hear a skunk story.

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            Family friend did.

            Albino German Shepherd or Great Dane (I can’t remember which).

            Have you ever seen someone walking a 100 lbs Technicolor Pink dog around the neighborhood?

            1. quill*

              Yes, because my mom sent me a picture: our dog was a yellow lab so blonde he was basically white. (He was probably only about 90 pounds at the time though.)

            2. Princesss Sparklepony*

              I absolutely just LOLed in real life at the thought of that sight. Thank you very much.

        2. MarsJenkar*

          I remember the MythBusters tested a number of skunk remedies in one episode, and tomato juice did seem to work. Not sure what the science is there–does it just mask the scent very well, or does it actually remove the scent compound?

          1. quill*

            I have no idea but my brother and I were enormous fans of mythbusters. I still don’t know why my brother picked up soup instead of juice but I strongly suspect it was because it was 6 AM on a weekend and he was a teenager.

        3. SweetFancyPancakes*

          A couple of years ago, my first summer in my current (very rural) home, my dog got sprayed THREE different times. She would not learn that the fluffy striped kitty didn’t want to play. The best solution I found was fake vanilla, diluted with water. I would shampoo her, then douse her in the vanilla and let that sit for 10-15 minutes, then rinse her off. If you stuck your nose right in her fur you could still smell it, but otherwise it took most of the stink right out. I couldn’t believe how well it worked (it was a neighbor that tipped me off to it).

        4. ThursdaysGeek*

          Tomato soup, tomato sauce, tomato anything – it doesn’t really work. And it makes the bath water weird. Suave Strawberry shampoo can help. Hydrogen Peroxide is what you need. I wish I had known that when I got hit.

        1. quill*

          It was hard to hear over the barking, since for a dog that’s allegedly a fan of water our lab hated being sprayed with the hose.

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            Lol – I also grew up with the Lab that was terrified of water. We had no clue why because he came home with us from the shelter at 8 weeks (the other pups were claimed quickly, but Eernie was the runt, so nobody wanted him). He was the sweetest dog in the world – but it took three of us in bathing suits to give him a bath – and forget about taking him to a groomer – that was tried exactly once, Eernie broke the groomer’s large dog tub in his frantic haste to get out of the tub.

            Still miss him, he was a great study buddy in high school.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      My BF grew up on a farm. Their dairy barn didn’t have electricity but it usually wasn’t a problem since it wasn’t that big and they all knew their way around it . . .

      . . . until the time he got up early one winter morning (so still very dark), opened the grain bin, and, instead of scooping a helping of grain for the cows, scooped up a skunk. His mom didn’t let him back in the house for two days.

    3. PostalMixup*

      The family dog got sprayed the day before I started high school. My dad dragged him through the house to the shower, which meant that everything in the house smelled like skunk for a week, including all my clothes and my backpack. Great first impression!

    4. ThursdaysGeek*

      It wasn’t work, because I was still in college. I saw the skunk when I biked past it, stopped at the edge of the field and verified I couldn’t smell anything. But as soon as I walked into the DQ where I was meeting a friend, I realized that while it wasn’t a smell outside, it certainly was a smell inside! I quickly told my friend what I wanted and exited the DQ. I threw my old ratty shoes and socks in their dumpster (I am so sorry!), and by the time we finished our ice cream outside, the store was empty except for the poor employees.

      Up close, it’s a completely different (and more potent) smell than when you drive past a dead skunk.

    5. whingedrinking*

      I used to tutor at a place where the clientele was mostly Korean immigrants. One day one of my students came into the room, closed the door, and sat down, which is when I noticed a slight…whiffiness.
      “Uh…hey, Suyin. How’s it going?”
      “Okay. I got sprayed by a skunk today.”
      Basically the family had gone to leave the house in the morning and spotted a skunk. The father didn’t know what it was and tried to shoo it away. The skunk did as skunks do, and the family had spent the entire day trying to get rid of the smell, including going swimming. It obviously worked pretty well, because my reaction was “Huh?” rather than “Oh god!”

    6. The OG Sleepless*

      Somebody put a dead skunk in the freezer in the biology lab where I worked in college. Turns out that if you freeze a skunk, the scent glands will explode. Who knew? The whole department reeked of skunk the next day.

      1. Candi*


        I did not know that, and I went through a phase where I read All The Things I could find about skunks. Dang.

  12. Mallory Janis Ian*

    I love the coding genius story. He saw a problem he wanted to solve with code, and just commenced to figuring it out. His raw intelligence reminds me of a guy in my high school algebra and geometry classes. He was rarely in class but he would show up on test day and get 100% every time. He was often drunk and/or high first thing in the morning, and the principal would give him little jobs to do to keep him busy; I think he had discovered it was useless to call his parents, so he would have him go up into the third-floor storage and sand the old desks smooth from the pocket-knife and pencil carvings.

    1. Serin*

      I want to see the John Hughes movie where the head cheerleader befriends him for a prank and then they fall in love.

    2. Unkempt Flatware*

      A couple of people would have had a chance at a successful life if they were treated like this instead of like criminals. Awesome story.

    3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Go Principal! The best ones meet their students where they are.

      I still remember my senior year the principal turning away one of my classmates – making him take a tardy. The tardy was better than the felony charges form bringing a gun to school would have been. He’d been hunting over the weekend, and missed one of the rifles in the gun rack in the back window.

      When he (that principal) died suddenly a few years later they had to hold the public service at the convention center – there were almost 4,000 people who showed up – most of us under the age of 28. He was the best.

  13. No_woman_an_island*

    A.) Thank you so much, as this post makes me realize how awesome and normal I am.
    B.) Some of these HAVE to be intentional, right? Like, Disaster Dude lost a bet with his friends and the payment was taking a job and doing all the worst things. Or Barnyard Guy. Clearly he was bored and just wanted to see how far he could take it.
    C.) Bless Erma’s heart.

    1. Rose*

      I think disaster dude misunderstood something about how unemployment works and was attempting to get a job for like a week then get fired.

      1. Candi*

        They see or read about how unemployment used to work and try to play the system. They don’t stop to think about how unemployment caught onto the “get a job, get fired after a few weeks, collect” game* a long time ago and put rules in place to counter the play. (And of course, the 95-99% of rule-abiding people subsequently suffer due to the nitwits.)

        *Really, they figured this out by the 1960s at latest just about everywhere.

  14. SadlyTrue*

    First day of a new job I had to call in sick—my seven-year-old daughter had given me chicken pox. New manager laughed at me on the phone and said it was the best excuse she’d ever heard. We got on like a house afire once I was well enough to come in to work.

    1. learnedthehardway*

      First week of a new job, I had a really bad flu. Shut myself in my office and didn’t come out until I was better. My colleagues must have thought I was weird, but I was afraid to call in sick and afraid they’d all catch it.

    2. DataSci*

      I once missed the first day of a new job. We got close to 3 feet of snow the weekend before (this was Snowmageddon 2016, for those in the Mid-Atlantic US), public transit was shut down, and the roads were impassable. Since it was my first day there was no way I could have WFH. My new manager biked to work and was able to make it into the office that day, but was understanding that I couldn’t have.

    3. Pickwick Picnic*

      I was due to start a new job on the Monday after Thanksgiving. I’d made plans long, long before I got the job to go visit my in-laws for Thanksgiving, returning Sunday evening. Well, my flight got delayed and delayed and delayed and eventually I had to sleep in the airport for a 6 am flight. I possibly could have made it to work on time (It was a short flight and I live and work fairly close to the airport), but instead I emailed my new manager at 1 am to let them I know wouldn’t be able to come in until noon. Got home, got about a 2.5 hour nap, got showered and caffeinated and I think I made the right choice. Everyone on the flight was complaining about what they would be late for, but “first day on the new job” always won!

    4. Firebird*

      On the way to my first day, at my first professional job, my car died. This was pre-cellphone so I had no way to contact anyone. I was able to restart the car and get to my dad’s shop with steam pouring from the car. When he got to work we switched cars, but I was going to be over an hour late.
      I had to start at the personnel office to pick up my work ID and had to wait a little while making me even later. When my boss said he thought that I wasn’t going to show up, I just said that I had to wait in the personnel office and didn’t say how long I waited.

    5. CJ Cregg*

      I missed my first day of my current job because I got a terrible infection from my contacts and woke up with no eyesight in my right eye. I spent all day in various medical offices and was able to start work the next day, but I still had to go see the eye doctor once a day for maybe 2 weeks. I also had to put eye drops in every hour (ish) and keep all the lights in my office off. I really made a dramatic first impression.

  15. yala*

    I thought nothing would make my jaw drop like #1, but #3 joining a historically and noticeably woman-dominated profession to “meet men” is just astounding.

    But…yeah. Still can’t quite top THROW AN AXE AT A COWORKER wtf

    1. anonymous73*

      I know. I won’t even throw scissors at someone. As a certified klutz, I don’t do anything that could unintentionally hurt someone else. I hurt myself enough LOL

    2. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      But “You’re so stupid you’re dangerous” is a phrase I hope I get to use someday.

  16. Slow Gin Lizz*

    I still wonder how the guy in #8 lasted past day 2. And for #5, wasn’t there a follow-up to that story that he also requested his paycheck? I may be misremembering, but whichever story it was where someone asked for their paycheck after not ever actually showing up to the job is absolutely the icing on the cake.

    1. Dotty*

      #8 was my coworker, and he lasted through Day 2 (and 3 and 4) because it was an office with a lot of levels of hierarchy, so none of the directly-pestered had authority to fire him, and the Grand Poobah boss wasn’t around much. I was young, timid, ad hesitant to be a complainer (and I probably would have stuck out this situation another whole week, just to see what he’d do!) I think he was gradually broadening his circle of annoyance deliberately – I was the only one near enough to appreciate the pen chart, the insolent question barrage moved outward and upward a couple levels of coworkers, the loud radio reached most of the office – but it wasn’t until the coffee river that the boss with firing power was around to witness the crazy.

  17. Dust Bunny*

    I would never actually harm a goose but I hate Canada geese, especially, with every fiber of my being. They were everywhere in Denver when I was a kid and they ruined so many parks, trips to the zoo, etc.

    1. Esmeralda*

      They are worse than squirrels (cute rats), pigeons (flying rats), and deer (tall rats).

      1. Dust Bunny*

        I would take all of those, plus actual rats, skunks, and raccoons, over Canada geese.

    2. Linda Lou Who*

      They’re still everywhere in Denver….fewer in summer than in winter but still not great.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        My favorite place to see them will always be flying overhead, on the way to somewhere else.

        1. Llama face!*

          Even flying overhead can be a risk.
          -Signed, former passenger who was almost in a car accident when a flying goose let loose with an impressively large green splat that covered the drivers’ side of the windshield just as we were going around a corner.

        2. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

          And that’s almost always okay, but it only takes one goose in the wrong airspace to destroy a jet engine.

          I’m posting about this cheerfully because a lot went right after that one thing went horribly wrong. That was the plane that landed on the Hudson River, with no deaths or even serious injuries.

      1. Jennifer*

        I carry a personal alarm when I run… I’ve only ever used it to scare mean Geese away!

        1. Janet*

          It works? What kind of noise does it make? Hoping to have a picnic in peace in some areas.

    3. Industrial Tea Machine*

      There’s a special place in heaven for animal lovers, that’s all I know.

      1. Delyssia*

        You got a problem with Canada gooses, you got a problem with me, and I suggest you let that one marinate!

        (Though, yes, geese are mean, nasty little creatures. I just couldn’t leave the Letterkenny quote unacknowledged!)

  18. Just J.*

    You really can never tell tone……but, I hope that #9 was a joy to work with – and I mean this sincerely. I hope the incident wasn’t creepy, and that it was sweet-funny, as I could appreciate the silly humor of someone who would want to pet fluffy shoes.

    1. Popinki*

      I like to pet fluffy things, and I’d have wanted soooo baaaaadly to pet someone’s fluffy shoes, but I’d never do it in a million years. I’m just tickled that someone had the… chutzpah? Insanity? Complete lack of decorum? to actually do it.

    2. fposte*

      See, my office is very petting-friendly, and I’ve definitely pet somebody’s sweater and had something petted. We do always ask first, but I think this would floor me much less than it did the OP.

    3. anonymous73*

      I mean, if I were close or friendly with someone, I’d definitely do it. But with a random colleague, it’s just intrusive and bizarre.

    4. Kimmy Schmidt*

      I like to think I’d have the wits to actually stop myself from following through, but I could totally see myself instinctintively reacting to cool, stylish, tactile thing by reaching for it.

      1. Fresh Cut Grass*

        I’ve had to restrain myself from reaching to play with some of that flippy sequin fabric (you know, the kind that changes color when you stroke it one way or another) when I realized that it was on a shirt that was being worn. (and by a child, no less! that one would’ve been hard to explain.)

  19. anonymous73*

    Geese are NASTY! A few jobs ago our offices were spread out among 3 different buildings and geese would always build nests next to some of the buildings. We had to start putting signs on certain doors when a nest was nearby or whoever was walking out of the door would get attacked.

    My shining moment…in college I worked as a cashier at a local grocery store chain. They were opening a new location and asked for volunteers to work a few shifts at the new store. So I worked a shift in the express lane. We had small “tables” behind us to place groceries if the customer didn’t have a cart or wanted to bag their own groceries. So someone came through my line with a gallon of milk (the outside of the jug was usually wet). I asked them if they needed a bag, they said no. So in one fluid motion, I slid the milk across the scanner, spun around to place it on the table behind me and it flew out of my hand and slammed into the window behind me…where it broke and splattered milk everywhere. They didn’t ask me to cover anymore shifts LOL

  20. Popinki*

    I’m not sure why the shoe-petting one amuses me so much, but it does. The others are great but that one’s still my favorite.

    Pen inventory guy cracks me up, too. When I started my job I scribbled all the pens and threw away the ones that didn’t write (about half) and people thought I was hardcore. At least I never flooded the place with coffee, passive-aggressively noise polluted the office, or any of that other madness.

    1. Christmas Carol*

      I wore a pair of black satin pumps (with rhinestones) to a wedding once. My 2-year old niece thought they were the prettiest thing she ever saw, and spent the whole evening petting them every chance she could.

      1. SweetFancyPancakes*

        Once in a storytime I was wearing some slightly shimmery grey tights and a little girl came right up to the front to stare at my legs. Her mom tried to call her back to her seat and she whisper-shouted “I just want to touch em!”

        1. Rose*

          Once on a bus ride a little girl behind me kept leaning forward to get realllly close to the back of my head. I have very tight, dark curls and a lot of hair. She had very straight, thin, blonde hair. Her mom slightly tensely told her to give me some space and she stage whispered “I just wanna pet her,” like it perfectly excused/explained the issue. It was the cutest/most hilarious thing ever. Mom did her best to explain why that wasn’t ok, but later she fell asleep and I felt a tiny hand gently touching the edges of my hair.

  21. Emilu*

    #19: Birds involve a lot (a lot!!) of work and many non-bird owners would probably not be aware of that. That said, you accepted the job knowing you have a bird and the requirements of keeping it, so…

    Can’t say I have any familiarity with the mob stuff, however.

  22. Emotional support capybara*

    All of these are deep fried gold, but the beneficiary… my dude. my guy. my pal. my bromigo. What… what major life event do you think triggers the payout on life insurance?

    Hint: THE LAST ONE

    1. Prickly Cactus*

      I worked in benefits administration and one of my employers was an organization that ran a fairly decent-sized private school system. Each year in late summer a lot of teachers were hired and a fair number of them were first time teachers fresh out of school who did not get hired by the public school systems in the area. I was responsible for getting all the new hire benefit paperwork properly filled out and signed. Every single year I would have to explain the purpose of life insurance to a number of clueless young adults and how to select someone as a beneficiary, i.e. “the person who would pay for your funeral or who would be adversely affected financially by your passing”. Still I saw some interesting beneficiary designations.

      1. quill*

        If it wears a pink hawaiian shirt to a frat party… it’s a Bromingo!
        If it does keg stands on one leg… it’s a bromingo!

    2. tamarack etc.*

      Um, …. the kind of life insurance I knew of when I grew up (in Germany) is one that pays out at the death OR after X years. Life insurance in Germany works that way. It’s like a private retirement savings plan, actually.

      I admit, I was startled (not now – many years in the past) to hear that life insurances don’t work like this everywhere.

      1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

        We would call that term life insurance, and it is very much a thing here in the US, and absolutely something people can get. It is usually privately funded, however, because the terms tend to be long, and you wouldn’t want to lose a policy and the rate you were paying for it, simply due to changing employers.

        1. Elenna*

          (Canadian here) My understanding is that what you’re describing is specifically “universal life term insurance”, which pays either when you die or at the end of the term. As opposed to regular “term insurance”, which pays only if you die during the term, or “whole life insurance”, which pays whenever you die.

          1. Haven’t picked a user name yet*

            Correct. A regular term life insurance policy just expires after the term. It is less expensive if you are younger.

  23. whistle*

    I’m on Team Bo. He might have other issues, but refusing to use an elevator that does not have posted inspection is not one of them.

    1. Observer*

      The problem is not that he refused to use the elevator. It was that he insisted on taking his smoke break anyway. AND deliberately messing up the new carpet and bathroom. There was no reason he needed to walk down the hall on the second floor and mess things up. And he CERTAINLY didn’t need to jump over the carpet that the carpet layers put down to keep the gunk off the new carpet.

      1. Snarkaeologist*

        But he didn’t understand what they wanted him to do, because they didn’t speak English.
        He showed really poor judgement, but the situation was caused by the company not fixing the code and OSHA violations that left employees without a safe way to get between floors.

        1. Observer*

          But he didn’t understand what they wanted him to do, because they didn’t speak English.

          They put a piece of carpet in front of him, which he JUMPED OVER. You don’t know how to speak a given language to understand that you should walk on the carpet piece rather than the new carpet. So, if he did that because they didn’t speak English, that would be even worse. Because that means he was trying to be obnoxious to people because of their immigration status.

    2. Llama face!*

      Yeah as a former Occupational Health Committee member I cosign that. There is no excuse for not having certifications up to date and if it is then it needs to be properly posted. (It is literally an offence under health and safety regulations where I live not to have that up to date AND posted in the elevator).

    3. RacoonBabies*

      Me too — I felt for Bo here! Maybe a smoke break doesn’t feel “necessary” to everyone, but people need to be able to enter and exit their offices safely. Personally elevators often make me feel sort of motion sick and I will avoid them when possible, so I’m probably extra sympathetic!

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

        yeah, why were the workers doing the carpet when people were in the office? I think that was half the issue. What if there had been a fire?

        1. Janet*

          Exactly! Why not during the night/weekend?
          I’m sympathetic to Bo for not wanting to use an elevator that makes weird noises and may not have been inspected for a while. We have one at my workplace I’m quite suspicious of — it sways side to side while going up and down! It’s not supposed to do that, is it?

          Where Bo went wrong was walking around with those gluey shoes. Once he realized, he should have gone all the way down, had his break, then come up and taken his shoes off.

        2. Rosemary*

          I guess if there were a fire, keeping the carpet clean would have been the least of their concerns. OP did say “one night” so he likely was there after hours.

          1. PianoGirl*

            I’m the OP from the carpet glue story. “Bo” worked an evening shift (market research call center). It was probably like 7 or 8 pm when this happened. The other offices in the building had daytime hours.

        3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          I got the impression that the carpet guys were installing after everyone but this one office were gone for the day. Or that the other offices had a work from home day that day.

        4. Jora Malli*

          I’m mostly just surprised that the staircase was carpeted. The only offices I’ve worked in that had stairs had those creepy closed off industrial looking stair wells with concrete stairs.

  24. Mr. Cajun2core*

    I would love to hear the other side of some of these stories just to see how crazy some of these people are!

    Now, I must admit, that I there have been a couple of jobs where I walked in with an arrogant attitude but nothing compared to these!

  25. Clorinda*

    #18. I too am not feeling very people-y. However, I am a teacher, so . . . that’s not much of an option, but I’m looking at the space under my desk and thinking hmm, could I fit? WOuld anyone find me?

    1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      At one of my old jobs there was a director in another department who would randomly appear at your desk and 1) freak out about something that, if you had experience, wasn’t worth freaking out about; 2) plant himself in your cube for at least 30 minutes having said rant; and 3) somehow make up an overly complicated solution that you had to do because he and his staff were “too busy”. For various political reasons, the other directors and bosses couldn’t tell him to get bent, so my director told the receptionist that if Rob came downstairs to signal everyone and we could all hide, leaving him only her to talk to and shut down any requests since, clearly, her staff wasn’t available. If I couldn’t make it to a friend’s office or the supply room I used to tuck up under my desk. It is amazing how small a space you can fit into when properly motivated

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          That place it was the unbroken stairs in management that were the outliers. Whole damned staircase was broken in strange and fascinating ways

      1. Firebird*

        I used to hide on the roof, because people would follow me to the bathroom to ask questions. One day I found my boss out there, so we decided to have a “staff meeting”.

        My office had a window to the hallway, so sometimes I would lay on the floor behind my desk to rest my back.

      2. TrixM*

        Not quite the same, but there was one workplace where I did the ninja crawl more than once below the waist-high cubicle height whenever an infrequently-present “colleague” was at their desk. I got sprung by the boss once, but thankfully they didn’t say anything out loud. Their expression, however, spoke volumes.

    2. Ama*

      I had a very big reception area style desk at a previous job and there definitely were days I fought the urge to sit under there after one too many colleagues showed up with an emergency that was only an emergency because they’d delayed telling me about it for two weeks. In fact at my current job, pre-pandemic, I used to console myself on busy days by telling myself “well it was a rough day but you didn’t have to resist the urge to hide under your desk so you’re good.”

    3. profe*

      My first teaching job out of college was as a long term sub at an all-boys prep school. I was 21 and had no idea what I was doing. At least once a week, I’d lock my classroom door and cry under the desk during planning.

    4. MsMaryMary*

      My mom taught at the same school where I went to elementary school. I got sick while at school once, when I was in first grade. Mom couldn’t leave and there was no one to pick me up, so somehow it was decided I should just chill quietly in the back of her classroom until we could go home. I was embarrassed and upset and ended up running through her classroom to hide under her desk. I refused to come out until all the other kids had left for the day.

  26. Erin*

    The stories here are funnier, but I have a couple (both from Old Job):
    1) A new hire came in on her start date, sat through orientation, and at the end of the day left her laptop and ID on our director’s desk with a note saying she wasn’t coming back. Zero explanation.

    2) I had a temp who didn’t show up on Day 2. We called him and he claimed to have overslept. Came in at 11am. Fine; gave him another chance. Day 3, didn’t show up, so my manager fired him. He drove to the office anyway around 11 and started calling my desk from the parking lot, begging me to let him in (thankfully we kept the doors locked). Yeah, no. A little bit later, I got in my car to go to lunch and noticed he was FOLLOWING ME. So I sat in a Target parking lot and called my mom, telling her that if I ended up dead, this was why. Eventually he left, never to be heard from again.

    1. New Job So Much Better*

      Had an employee once who went out to her car for “cough drops” her first day and never returned.

      1. Leems*

        We lost a temp to “I think I left my lights on when I parked, be right back” . . . and we never saw him again.

    2. Purple Cat*

      Oh no! Hindsight is 20/20 and all but for anyone else reading, drive to the nearest police station if someone is following you.

        1. Candi*

          Not all cops are jerks. They’re human, and have the human range of great to awful. More important is to know what kind of cops you have locally.

          There’s a lot of precincts that need fixing. Housecleaning, burn to the ground and fire everyone, than rebuild, or just weed out the bad ones so they stop spreading toxins. But automatically saying police = evil is not going to help the cleaning get done.

          1. allathian*

            Yeah, this. But it also depends on who you are, a white, middle-class or wealthy cisperson is a lot less likely to be the victim of police violence than members of pretty much any minority you care to name. I guess I’m lucky in that cops don’t routinely carry guns in my area. They usually only carry them to stakeouts, for example. Every gun incident involving cops is thoroughly investigated, as well.

    3. Punkzilla*

      I got a job at a (very) small architecture firm. I thought it was going to me, one other employee, and the head architect. I was wrong, it was just me and the architect. The first day I am in the office, he sets me up at an ancient computer, and asks me to make some flyers for a church event he is participating in. I don’t really mind, I love that sort of thing, and am pretty good at photoshop. I draft something up and he really likes it. Then he leaves the office… and does not return the rest of the day. I am left with nothing to do. At 5 I call him and let him know I’m leaving, and he just tells me to make sure I lock the door on my way out.

      The next day, I show up, and there is no one in the office. Or at least, I don’t think anyone is there, since the door is locked and I can’t get in. I go back to my car and wait for about an hour, and then I just leave. This job isn’t going to be worth it. I send him an email, saying that I’m quitting, and never went back. I feel bad, but I could already tell that this place was just not going to be a good fit for me at all.

  27. Phony Genius*

    Anybody notice how many good stories on this site involve birds?

    The goose story above.
    The woman with bird phobia.
    The nesting ducks (and the follow-up photos).
    The Quack Quack. ;)

    I probably missed some.

  28. Wronged!*

    A friend of my (much) older brother offered me a job, when I was a student. She didn’t know me at all until offering me this job. The role involved serving artisan-type food to customers, in a sociable and relaxed environment. I was excited to start. Sadly, the night before my first day I was sick, vomiting, with perhaps food poisoning or a bug. First thing the next morning I rang in and told the boss what was happening and that I couldn’t come in that day. She answered in a cold way and told me not to bother ever coming in. (In other words, I was fired.) I was taken aback, and young, and sick, so I just said “ok” and it took me a while after the call to realise that she thought I was lying or something. It still rankles me 20 years later! And the worst thing is that she told my brother and he *never stood up for me* and he STILL doesn’t believe me when I say I was telling the truth! I was an unusually measured student who loved having fun but didn’t drink or take drugs for health reasons (so I couldn’t have been hungover), with no record of flakiness. On the other hand, my brother and his friends (probably this boss woman) had done a lot of wild partying and were probably a bit flakey as students. To this day my brother suspects I’m a bit flakey in work environments. The whole story annoys me so much :)

    1. mah*

      She was kept on for almost the full length of her probationary period before being let go. (That wasn’t handled well at the time, either, but that’s not on her. She wasn’t given any feedback from supervisors prior to being let go, so she had no real way to “fix” any of her behavior.)

      1. Observer*

        I’m not sure I blame her supervisor(s). It’s not clear to me that this was stuff they could coach her on.

        The problem with asking who she gets to “boss around” isn’t the language she used. It’s her attitude. As for telling someone that “I’m the improved version of you” is not something I would even know how to address.

        You can’t really train someone to read a room, at least not in a reasonable time frame. And she sounds like she wasn’t just clueless, but had a attitude problem that wasn’t going to be resolved with a conversation or two.

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          I could maybe, possibly, see someone making these kinds of remarks in certain circumstances. If she was clearly joking with the receptionist, if the prior incumbent was widely known as a train wreck (even then, certainly not to their face!)–someone who could read the room, and had the charm and self-effacing humor to pull it off.
          This was clearly not that.

        2. Candi*

          (Agreeing) Attitude is really hard to fix, since the personality traits that cause it fight against changing it.

  29. sMELly*

    Oh man, I feel for the skunk letter writer… My two dogs were also sprayed about one month into my last job and I felt like I had to go in because I was there less than 90 days, it’s such a crazy reason to call out, etc. I knew immediately as I walked in that the smell was wafting. Luckily, my boss had pity on me and told me I actually couldn’t stay at work because it was so bad. Went in the next day and could still smell it in my cubicle. Will never forget that…

  30. SloanGhost*

    Was training a new receptionist, shepherding her through her first few phone calls. A client asked the cost of the service, and I quietly supplied the price, since there was no way she’d memorized them yet. How she relayed that to the customer was “YEAH WE CAN DO THAT BUT IT’S GONNA COST YA FIFTY BUCKS”

    She lasted 4 days and sent my manager a strongly worded email about how rude I was.

  31. Show Globe*

    So many of these remind me of the string of secretaries on Murphy Brown. They seem normal for about a minute; then the weirdness comes out and suddenly they are gone.

  32. Shiba Dad*

    I worked at a car dealership. A couple of new salesmen took a sports car out for a spin. When they left they peeled out of the parking lot, not far from the front doors of the dealership. They were fired immediately when they got back.

    1. TrixM*

      One of those instances when you’d fire them just as much for demonstrating their utter stupidity in doing that in full view of the boss as the action itself.

  33. Lyd*

    I don’t have a lot to add apart from I read this with an open mouth and wanted to let you know I’ve loved reading all of these reader stories so please continue doing them :)

  34. Observer*

    #13 – The hero.

    Well, what do you know. For a change, a situation where “gumption” actually, really turned out to be genuinely useful!

    This guy really is a hero. It was really gutsy of him to do that. In a good way. It also says something good about the company that the CEO actually listened, and there were no repercussions.

      1. LC*

        I loved that one, hero indeed!

        I was so concerned until I got to the last line, I was already getting ready to defend him in the comment section!

        I’ve done a much, much, much more mild version of that and am still both incredibly disappointed in myself for not pushing more and very proud of myself for saying anything at all.

        How did Boss Boss Boss Boss handle it?

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Yay to the new guy for being concerned enough to say it out loud, and for big boss for being rational enough to hear and accept it. That’s what real adults do.

      3. Kit*

        I said this above, but I’m seriously impressed with his “gumption” and also his ability to model responsible expectations in front of a whole bunch of volunteers! Because I’m pretty sure there have been a bunch of AAM horror stories whose first red flag might have been something a lot like the CEO zooming in while driving, as an indicator of how much “dedication” the C-suite had (to be matched by insane hours and unpaid/underpaid overtime by the rest of the company, usually). Hats off to this guy, and to you for sharing his story with us!

  35. Lab Boss*

    I’m honored to pull a number one spot! We were all blessed the axe didn’t connect, and “you’re so stupid you’re dangerous” did enter our professional vocabulary that day.

    I couldn’t share my other blade-throwing story because neither of the idiots involved was a new hire, but it involved the phrase “see who flinches first” and, later, the phrase “you’re lucky, you should still be able to have kids someday.”

    Teenagers are infinitely resourceful when it comes to finding dangerous stuff to do.

    1. Elenna*

      Oh – this also isn’t a “new hire” story, but your comment reminded me of a story from the youtube channel StephenVlog.

      TW: risk of bodily injury

      This happened when Stephen and his friends were in college (before Stephen started the aforementioned vlog). They had some sort of art project – I think it was something like “make an everyday object out of cardboard”? In any case, it involved cutting cardboard, and therefore it involved Exactoknives. You can probably guess where this is going.

      For… some reason, Stephen decided the best way to cut this cardboard was a) without any sort of protective layer underneath, and b) ON HIS LAP. Everything was going fine until about halfway through, when the knife slipped slightly. It was at this point that he looked at the newly created hole in the crotch area of his shorts and realized how much of an idiot he was being. Fortunately for him it only cut through his shorts, and not anything more valuable.

      That project also resulted in at least two actual injuries – one where Stephen leaned forward and accidentally stabbed his friend Dan who was sitting on the floor in front of him, and another where Stephen’s friend Alex gave himself quite a large cut on the thumb. Apparently 20-year-olds shouldn’t be trusted with sharp knives.

      1. LadyPomona*

        Given that young man’s lack of even basic common sense, I’m not sure that anything that was under the fabric of those shorts really WAS all that valuable…seriously, can you imagine him fathering kids?!

      2. Anonymous Pygmy Possum*

        Oh my god, a fellow StephenVlog (etc) watcher, on AAM? I wasn’t expecting to see this referenced today!! Hi!! :)

    2. whingedrinking*

      Sounds like the bit on Taskmaster where the task was “Deliver this message to Alex in the most interesting way”.
      Rhod Gilbert asked Alex to wait in the caravan (camping trailer, if you’re American) and taped the message to a javelin he’d somehow acquired.
      I have always sort of assumed that a javelin is just a pointed stick. Like yes, I know people used to use them in warfare, but surely the kind you use in track and field are different. Less stabby.
      I guess Rhod assumed this too. So must whoever was responsible for health and safety on that shoot, because they let him throw the javelin at the caravan. With, remember, a human inside it. They probably thought it would just hit the side and bounce off.
      The javelin punched through the wall of the caravan and it was only due to blind good luck that Alex was not in its path. To this day I am amazed that they showed that on television and played it for laughs.

      1. allathian*

        Umm yeah. A javelin’s still a lethal weapon. I mean, these were amateurs, but the speed of a javelin that leaves the hand of a professional thrower can be as high as 70 mph/113 kph. A men’s javelin weighs at least 800 grams (nearly 2 lbs), and a women’s javelin weighs at least 600 grams/1.5 lbs, so they’re lethal. The same thing can be said for all of the other things that athletes like to throw.

  36. Writer Claire*

    My spouse has all kinds of stories from when he worked at his parents’ company. The top of the list involved this woman, her sister, and their brother-in-law.

    Woman starts work on Monday. She lasted two full days, then on Wednesday, she was last sighted walking into the women’s restroom around noon. Never seen again. (We speculated that she had climbed out the second-story window and down the fire escape, but we don’t really know.)

    Next week, the sister applies for the same job, and when asked what happened, said, “Oh, she went off and got high. She does that.” Sister lasted one day before she too ghosted.

    The week after that, the brother-in-law shows up and wants to apply. Which is when my father-in-law decided he’d had enough of the family and turned BIL away.

      1. Writer Claire*

        Hah! You’re right.

        The job itself was pretty tedious–microfilming books and newspapers–but I still boggled at how they decided to quit. And I could just imagine my father-in-law’s expression when the BIL showed up to apply.

        (The job was tedious, but the books and newspapers were fascinating. Newspapers from 1941 reporting on WWII. A rabbi’s diary from the 14th century. Papers from the Vatican.)

  37. Camellia*

    I swear my husband is magic. Animals and children love him. Geese will bring their goslings TO him, and he will pick them up and cuddle them and pet them and then give them back, and all the geese are happy. When he walks away they will follow him.

    Dogs on leashes in parks will drag their owners over to him so they can lean against his leg and beg for pets, sometimes while the owner is saying please don’t pet him he’s not friendly. And then they look down and their jaw drops.

    Walking across a parking lot we see a woman and a boy around 7 or 8 years old walking toward us. The boy waved at my husband, and he waved back. The woman stopped in shock and exclaimed, “HE NEVER DOES THAT!!! HE’S AUTISTIC AND HE NEVER DOES THAT!!” We just smiled at her and kept walking. The toddler that the person in front of us is holding, while going through the subway sandwich line, will reach their arms over their parent’s shoulder towards my husband, struggling to get to him.

    In Hawai’i for our honeymoon, on a submarine trip on the ocean, a pod of about 10 dolphins came up to the ship and three of them had babies with them. They kept pushing the babies up to the window on our side of the ship. My husband remarked to the crew that it was awesome that they got to see this all the time. The stunned crew replied that they had never ever seen that before.

    I have 20 years worth of these stories. Yep, he’s magic.

    1. No_woman_an_island*

      This is amazing! And I thought my husband was awesome because an unknown little kid came up and hugged him and told him he loved him because he thought he was Jesus. :)

    2. Hermione Granger's muggle cousin*

      I love this! I’d read a book full of stories about your magic husband!

  38. London Calling*

    Oh this has taken me back.

    Way back in the last century (1977) I was working in the collateral dept of the London branch of a now defunct US bank. Basically the job entailed looking after the certificates of deposit, sending them out as collateral for overnight loans we’d taken out and taking in the bonds sent as collateral for loans taken out by other banks from us. And, of course, keeping a register of what was in, what was out, what we held, balancing the figures and reporting to the dealing room every night at close of business so they knew what they could use the next day.

    So – we have a new person start. A short while after, I’m doing the end of day reconcilation and we’re short. Like, 50 million dollars short. This is A Big Deal. These are bearer bonds. We checked. We rechecked. My manager checked my recheck. We tore the place apart – between desks, under carpets, checked desks, bags, UNDER desks, between filing cabinets. Nothing.

    I went home thinking this is it. I’m finished here. Somehow I’ve just lost, let me reiterate, a 50 million dollar CD.

    Cut a long story short, newbie had taken it home to show to her mother. ‘Look at the big amounts of paper I’m handling every day, mom!’ Reader, when I heard I nearly died. I was new to the finance world and even I knew that walking out with a CD worth tens of millions in your bag to take home was very high on the list of Things We Do Not Do If We Wish To Keep Our Job.

    She didn’t come back, funnily enough.

      1. London Calling*

        Then there was the time I paid a figure with a lot of zeroes to the wrong account. I use THAT one when people are talking about the worst work mistake they have ever made and it turns out their mistake comes nowhere near that one.

        1. The OG Sleepless*

          A very smart person I know made her employer’s state income tax payment with a few extra zeroes. Even with the website asking “Are you sure?” three different times.

    1. Observer*

      Did she REALLY just want to show her mother? I mean it would be incredibly stupid for her to think she could get away with actually stealing it. But this is just another level of crazy. How did they find out what happened?

      Also, how in heavens name was she able to walk out the door with this thing?

      1. London Calling*

        I assume so as she must have brought it back the next day and when told there was a discrepancy said ‘Oh I took it home with me, I wanted my mother to see what my work is.’ I don’t think she had any intent apart from that because actually trying to cash it with no audit trail as to how she came by it would have started alarm bells ringing very loudly. And they weren’t very big, pretty much the size of a big cheque and paper, so she could easily have folded it up and put it in her bag. She just saw a pretty bit of paper with big figures on it and wante to impress the family.

        As for walking out of the door – it was 1977. We didn’t get door security until the Iran hostage crisis in what, 1979?

        1. Observer*

          That’s wild. All of it.

          But the security thing also blows me away. Even in 1977 place with lots of cash or cash equivalents had lots of security. It’s not for nothing that Brinks has been in continuous operation since 1951. Also, just general procedures to maintain security of this stuff, like requiring two people to go into security boxes, etc.

          1. London Calling*

            We had security for the vaults (two people to open and be present when anything was taken out/deposited). I wasn’t handling cash so honestly have no idea what the arrangements were and how much we handled anyway.

      1. London Calling*

        Well, you can tell what an impression it made on me that I still recall it 45 years later! at the time it came under the heading of ‘It would NEVER occur to me to do that, why on earth did it occur to her that it was a good idea??’

        1. MsM*

          I don’t know if it’s better or worse that she only felt the need to show *one* person, as opposed to posting it on Instagram like her modern counterpart probably would.

    2. OyHiOh*

      I recently handled a check for a sizeable amount. No where near tens of millions but a sum that amounted around a quarter of our grant revenue for that quarter. It had LOTS of security features on it. I think every current security feature for checks was crammed into that one piece of paper. The foundation that issues it regularly sends out checks for hundreds of thousands of dollars. The investment in high security checks is worth it. I was mightily impressed.

      I DID NOT take it home to show to my partner. I did mention the several features I’d read about but never actually seen on a check. You don’t just take stuff home to show off!!!

      1. London Calling*

        *You don’t just take stuff home to show off!!!*

        Colleague learned that one the hard way – which tend to be the best lessons.

        1. Observer*

          *Did* she learn her lesson? I imagine she got let go, but did she understand what happened?

          1. Kal Zakath*

            It’s very likely that why she shouldn’t have done it was told to her in loud, colourful and graphic terms as she was shown the door. If she didn’t understand after that… {shrugs}

  39. I'll Never Tell*

    At one of my old jobs, there was a large pond out front that attracted a flock of Canadian Geese for most of the year. Spring nesting season was intense though! I grew up on a hobby farm with about 15 geese (regular domesticated geese, not Canadian) and I can testify that all geese are AH, not just the Canadian. I also learned how to manage a charging goose at a young age. So my first spring there, I showed up to work and found that I suddenly had to run the goose gauntlet to get the door. When the first one charged me, I reached down, grabbed it’s beak and then picked it up (around it’s body) and chucked it (it was unharmed)! They actually mostly left me alone after that. IDK, maybe geese talk.

    Later in the season, one of the geese pairs who decided to nest on the ground instead of the roof like the rest of them (the racket of them running on the roof was insane!) met an untimely end from a predator. Our housekeeper was… extra… and was CONVINCED that someone got mad at the geese for nesting by the door and shot them. Nothing would convince her otherwise.

    1. London Calling*

      My mother (UK, born 1931) was evacuated during the war to a family that kept geese. The way they used to deal with them was grab them by the beak and walk them round in a circle until they got dizzy.

    2. Azure Jane Lunatic*

      My mom got my dad a pair of goslings while he was away on a work trip, as a surprise. My dad was basically a disney princess, and the goslings would snuggle up, whistle at him, nibble his eyelashes (!!) …

      The gander only became an AH when his wife started laying for the first time. He’d follow his wife around, extremely devoted, extremely protective. When he was eventually widowed he started following my mom around.

      When we didn’t have the sticks that we used to fend him off, we kids used to let the gander get close enough to grab his beak, then launch him away using a similar top-of-the-foot throw technique as we’d learned playing soccer. He either didn’t learn, or he felt it was sufficiently his territory that he needed to defend it regardless.

  40. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    I somehow missed that post.

    The worst impression I’ve ever seen was from a young coder, whose patience was starting to falter and a little bit desperate for their first real coding job. The young coder was called about an interview at 8pm on Tuesday, only to discover Wednesday morning that the current job as an Accounting Pleb was being eliminated in merger-related layoffs, along with all the coder’s peers. That also meant the young coder couldn’t ask to leave early that day until ~15 minutes before the last possible minute to leave and still arrive on-time, due to department-wide meetings and soon-to-be-ex-employee counseling sessions.

    The young coder hadn’t dressed up more than usual that day, so as to fly under the radar–that employer had a reputation for aggressively managing out employees who interviewed elsewhere. Instead, the young coder had intended to quickly change clothing at home (which was on the way to the interview) and grab a quick sandwich for lunch–only to discover when arriving home that the power had been out in the entire neighborhood since about half-an-hour after the young coder had left.

    The interview outfit had been washed in the washing machine overnight and was drying in the dryer when the young coder left the house. It was still there and still sopping wet. The next best option had been washed in the same load. So the young coder frantically assembled a makeshift interview outfit (that was, truth be told, closer to “business casual” than “I’m here to make a good impression”). The quick sandwich was summarily forgotten.

    This was before smartphones were ubiquitous, so no Google Maps along the way. The MapQuest (or Yahoo! Maps?) printout from the night before was from old/invalid satellite images, so the young coder was ~15 minutes late from getting lost in a literal one-stoplight town. The young coder didn’t have the hiring manager’s contact info, and the contact info that the coder did have was for a recruiter in another state.

    About 15 minutes into the interview, the young coder’s phone rang and was quickly silenced. It then rang a second time immediately, which was the family’s code for “urgent,” so the young coder, brimming with embarrassment and dread, tried to take the call as gracefully as possible under the circumstances. It was the young coder’s sister, still in college and wanting the young coder’s recipe for potato soup, and her voice was loud enough the hiring manager easily heard the request.

    The in-house recruiter who scheduled the young coder for the interview had the wrong programming platform, so the young coder had zero experience and had never even heard of the headliner skill for the job.

    So, in summary, this young coder showed up emotionally frazzled and distracted from the layoffs, late, dressed semi-haphazardly and excessively casual, with no clue how to do the job, stomach grumbling from hunger, confused, confidence shaken like Anchorage in 1964, and even had the interview interrupted frivolously.

    That young coder was me, and the twist to the tale is that I was actually offered the job, worked there for 3 years, and when my supervisor left, she trained her replacement that I was one of the two best programmers on the team. I left that interview completely relaxed; I believed I’d bombed it beyond any shadow of a doubt, and literally fell from my chair when she called me that Friday to discuss the job’s pay rate and negotiate a start date.

    1. Wintermute*

      Depending on the field, code skills you can teach: unless it’s VERY specialized if you know one language you basically can learn any other in a week– but flexibility, adaptability and grace under pressure, especially, in some fields, the grace to soldier on and present something to the client despite the circumstances… those things you can’t teach.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        I agree with you, and make the same case when we’re looking for personnel (give me a basic understanding of a language in that platform’s language family instead of 25 years’ experience with a given language). But I showed up such a disaster that I never have figured out what potential I showed to justify the hiring.

        It’s possible that it was just showing up, period. The plant was about an hour out from the outer-belt and it was hard to recruit young programmers who wanted to live in college-like areas with college-like nightlife. But, IMWO, that’s an excessively cynical take.

        1. Kevin Sours*

          I don’t have anything nearly that bad but my first job went like
          Them: “What experience do you have with Windows programming”
          Me: “None whatsoever”
          Them: Shuffling papers through intended programming questions and coming up blank.

          The thing is I manage to bomb the Windows questions in a way that showed I was at least moderately bright and inquisitive and demonstrated I knew the words SELECT and FROM in a era where that wasn’t a given. So they hired me.

          The bar for entry level developers isn’t always that high. You expect to have to train.

    2. Em*

      Oh nooooooo.

      I thought the interview I went to with my pants on backward (and I am, shall we say, callipygian, so the fit was VERY odd) was a good story. I stand corrected.

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        I bought a spiffy new outfit for a job interview. Got in the car and discovered the skirt was a well disguised wrap skirt. It fell open to just below crotch level. I spent the interview with my notebook firmly clamped on my lap.

    3. Squirrel Nutkin*

      Once interviewed for a student research job with a very runny nose and not enough social graces to excuse myself or ask for a kleenex. I was stunned when they later offered the job to me after what must have been a fairly disgusting interview experience for them.

  41. Moo*

    My manager was hiring for a second person for the position I was in. For the second round of interviews, the candidate had to job shadow with me for 30 minutes, then do the second interview questions with my manager. My manager would then ask for my opinion on the candidate.
    We had this one woman pass the first interview, then job shadow with me. She was actually with me for maybe 5 minutes total. She kept getting up to get a drink from our pop machine, take some snacks we have for customers, go to the bathroom, get some stuff from her car, etc. Then she did her second interview. My boss asked me and I told her I did not think that candidate would work out; that I didn’t even get to talk to her because she kept leaving! (My job is a glorified receptionist, you do need to actually be at the desk.)
    She was hired. Spent the whole time trying to get me to do all of the work for her, schedule meetings for her, would just leave the desk and go watch TV in our customer area, ask other staff to answer the phone for her, the list goes on! She was eventually let go for it.
    I still rub it in my boss’s face sometimes that I told her so.

    1. Chirpy*

      If one of my managers had actually listened to the receptionist who immediately spotted how creepy this guy was when he came to interview, we could have avoided the whole “general creepiness escalating to openly playing with knives and death threats” situation…

      …then again, this manager also didn’t take multiple people’s concerns about the creepiness AND KNIVES seriously until the death threats started, so… at least the manager no longer works there either. The creepy guy wasn’t just garden-variety creepy, even in the early stages he was “creep alarm screams GET AWAY NOW AND MAKE SURE YOU’RE NOT FOLLOWED” type creepy.

  42. Claire*

    12. Oh no! That’s probably the best way to handle it though, just trying again tomorrow.
    13. Wow, good for him! Once I was onboarding for an internship and was told by the HR Director that it was very important that I never let anyone in the side entrance without a badge and that I should feel free to close the door in someone’s face if I felt they were trying to come in behind me without a badge. A fellow intern followed instructions very precisely one day, closing the door on a senior VP from another department and telling him she didn’t recognize him so he’d have to go around front and get a temporary badge from security. SVP did and called the HR director – to compliment her on her training of the interns and to pass along his thanks for following policy!

  43. Melanie Cavill*

    I have to assume #8 was a week-long con for unemployment insurance. The alternative (that someone really finds this behaviour professional and appropriate) is too implausible.

      1. Dotty*

        This happened in Pennsylvania. I don’t think there’s any minimum requirement for how long you stay at any one job – just a requirement that you had to have earned some minimum amount per week over some past number of weeks, and that you were terminated. If you strung together a bunch of short-term jobs and then manage to get somebody to fire you every so often, I guess you could make a highly annoying career out of that. I often wonder what ever became of him – maybe still out there somewhere playing world’s worst employee.

    1. Dotty*

      I wrote about #8, and yes that was my conclusion too. That’s probably exactly why/how he’d already had 20 jobs. He was successful in collecting unemployment, because the boss fired him instead of letting him stick out his 2 week notice period – and I think the guy knew exactly how to be useless and obnoxious enough to make that happen.

      1. starsaphire*

        I worked at a nonprofit once where there had been a huge schism – half the agency had split off and formed another agency, then tried to get the original group’s funding canceled.

        Two of the former employees had secured other jobs elsewhere, then gotten let go, so that they could get unemployment – paid by us, as we were their last long-term employer. I was never quite sure how the whole deal worked, as I was young and very new to the work world, but I remember our bookkeeper being very annoyed by it and saying that it was legal, but a pretty awful thing to do.

  44. Engineer with Breast Cancer*

    9. I bought something from an MLM from the administrative assistant at work once when I had been there for a couple of years. It was food, and the food was fine, if overpriced. But she never presented again after that.
    13. I hope I too would be willing to call out my manager, my manager’s manager, or my 8th level manager/CEO on video calls and driving. If a workplace culture presses people on taking calls while driving, it’s not a place where I want to work.
    20. I want to meet a real life coding genius.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      20. I want to meet a real life coding genius.

      I’m over programming geniuses.

      The problem, I’ve discovered, is that they’re genius writing genius code, which means it helps if you’re a genius trying to read their code. Because they’re geniuses, they don’t need pleasantries like comments or consistent naming conventions. Sometimes they can even flaunt structure–and it all makes sense to them because they’re geniuses.

      Source: I’ve been the primary back during PTO for too many “programming geniuses.”

      1. Wintermute*

        See, none of those things would I consider an attribute of an actual genius. Writing for maintainability and writing for a project maintained by a group (and in my field, writing code that can be handed off from dev team to ops team when the project is finalized and it’s assigned to a production group for day-to-day) are all hard requirements of the job. If you’re not doing that, you’re not actually good at your job. I’ve never worked anyplace you could just not follow house style, in fact most places I know of use automation-enforced house style, and not meeting quality metrics on those automated checks is going to lead to a very short career.

        I’ve met some people that are legitimately geniuses, they can sit down and write, in house style, correct and clean code that runs reliably for years without missing a beat, probably do in 6 hours what it would take others a week to do, and it always compiles properly the first time and it never breaks.

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          That sounds like a paradise.

          I’ve mainly worked in places where programmers are working in parallel, not collaboratively, and are silo’d so those behaviors can flourish, and getting things out of Production once they’re in is like extracting the the water from coffee.

          Truth be told, I’m actually very grateful for those genius; the experiences have taught me what habits I needed to stamp out of my own modus operandi and/or never allow to creep in to become/remain a good peer.

          1. quill*

            I don’t do more than poke macros and copy paste patches for out of date games, but I do appreciate good documentation, because if ONE MORE PERSON decides to add a feature into a patch that actually conflicts with something else, and never record that… I’ll have to learn to code.

            1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

              Good code should be thoroughly legible without a single comment, and heavily documented consistently on top of that.

              The tokus you save will probably be your own.

              Yes, I do have strong feelings about this.

              1. quill*

                Last time I made a macro I included the instructions for using it in the same spreadsheet, as well as the instructions for unlocking and relocking the affected sheet (to prevent someone accidentally hitting a hotkey and breaking my precious pivot table.)

                Was it overkill? Maybe. But I did not have a single request to fix the data sheet for it the last six months I was at that job.

      2. Bryce*

        I remember the first time I had to go back and comment old code. It was only a week old, but that headache still taught me a whole lot.

  45. Poppin' in for This*

    This unfortunately happened recently. I work on a small town newspaper and we needed to hire a reporter. My editor, who is one of the most deliberate and upright people I’ve ever met, took a chance on a women who had just completed a drug/alcohol program after she spent some time in jail and in a halfway house.

    The new hire was great! Although she didn’t have a car she arranged rides into the office, hoofed it around to file stories, etc. She picked up our design system quicker than I did when I started and since she had been a freelancer was a perfectly good writer. It’s a quick learning curve but she was doing fine. She was with us about 10 weeks.

    Two weekends ago she was back in jail for violating her parole. It turns out she had not done a lick of work for four days (a big stretch with a weekly paper), had no-showed at events and interviews throughout her employment, and generally left a big mess behind. She damaged our 160-year reputation in a way that really smarts in a small region. She lost her kids and pets (again) as well as a new rental apartment that a co-worker helped her get.

    Even my boss makes mistakes sometimes. We both feel badly and hope she’ll be OK.

  46. EchoGirl*

    So what I’m gathering from this thread is, I’m basically the only person in the world who doesn’t hate geese. (I do understand the annoyance of goose poop, etc., I just watched Fly Away Home too many times as a kid to not have a certain fondness for them anyway.)

    1. Popinki*

      I don’t hate geese. I just find it hard to love an animal that will come charging at you, hissing and flapping its giant wings like some kind of demented honking dragon that’s all like “YOU WANNA PIECE OF ME? YOU WANNA PIECE OF ME!?!?!”

      1. Retired (but not really)*

        My issue with geese is that they think they can intimidate you in your vehicle trying to go past them to the corner stop sign by making noise and flapping their wings! My truck horn makes more noise than they do, so eventually I do get where I’m going. Hopefully I’m not making the school bus driver wait for me to meet my grandson at the bus stop.

    2. Metadata minion*

      Hello, fellow goose lover! My minor random superpower is that stereotypically “mean” animals don’t bother me. I’m not sure if geese can tell that nobody told me geese were mean and so I don’t smell like stress hormones or what, but I can walk through a bunch of nesting geese and they just sort of honk mildly annoyance and move out of the way. I’ve very occasionally gotten hissed at, but never chased or attacked.

      And wasps? I love wasps. I’ve gotten stung by yellowjackets a couple times, but I would sting someone who stepped on my house, too, and it’s so annoyingly hard to tell when you’re about to step on a yellowjacket nest.

      1. MsM*

        Exactly. As long as I’m not within striking range, they have all my respect and admiration.

    3. SweetFancyPancakes*

      Me too. I used to live by a big city park that had a pretty large year-around population of them, and I walked my dogs there several times a week. They never bothered me, I just had to watch out for their poop. Even now I stop and look when I see them flying overhead.

    4. EchoGirl*

      I should add that the only real problem I’ve ever personally had with geese is the poop. I know that they can be and have been aggressive, but I’ve never actually had a goose react that way to me.

    5. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I also don’t dislike geese – what I don’t like is the poop and the noise/chaos of having to rescue “idiots who don’t know better” from the wild animals they have just enraged by harassing them.

      Honestly it’s mostly the rescuing idiots. I dealt with a fair bit of that in college. The dorms were fairly close to a nature preserve area – we dealt with lots of geese, but also raccoons, possums, deer, alligator snapping turtles, water moccasins, eastern diamondbacks, southern timber rattlers, and lots of other “swamp” animals. The only good thing we had was that we were just cold enough that the actual alligators stayed away – otherwise we definitely would have lost a few of the idiots….

  47. MuseumChick*

    I can’t stop laughing about 3. The men.

    Here is a little secret of anyone who doesn’t in the LAMs field (Library, Archives, and Museums) it was BY FAR mostly women. Like, a comfortable 70 -80% of I would guess of employees in this field are women.

  48. Lisa*

    I just realized that 22 years ago I would absolutely have petted a co-worker’s fuzzy shoes and never considered it might be inappropriate. I hope I’d think twice before doing something like that now, but I would absolutely have been a shoe petter 20+ years ago. I’m glad I never encountered a truly pettable shoe when I was younger.

  49. Eff Walsingham*

    One of the vets I used to work for would tell clients who asked, “Yes, it works, but I wouldn’t try it on a Samoyed!” Meaning, if your dog is big / fluffy / light in colour, then all you have is a different, somewhat less smelly, mess. We used to sell something whose active ingredient was (I think?) hydrogen peroxide? But it’s been a few years. Now I’d have to Google.

    1. The OG Sleepless*

      I have a de-skunking recipe somewhere, but weirdly I’ve never had to use it and I don’t really remember it. Tomato soup/juice wasn’t part of it though. I remember peroxide and maybe bleach.

        1. Kevin Sours*

          There is *nothing* that will kill nasty orders like bleach. The problem is the potential for collateral damage. Bleach will mess a lot of stuff up. (I once left a moldy tea ball soaking in undiluted household bleach and came back later to just a chain ending at the surface of the liquid).

      1. Candi*

        For animals, I doubt bleach is involved.

        The Mythbusters recipe that worked best of what they tried on the show was a mixture of soap, hydrogen peroxide, and baking soda. I don’t know how the chemistry works, but I do know I’ve read skunk goo is oily, so it makes sense the soap would help get rid of it.

    2. It's not Monday*

      There is a great pet shampoo called Skunk Off that works well. It is safe to use on a pet’s face/ears which is important (this is often where they get sprayed). We always keep a bottle around.

      But for the love of dog, please use gloves when you wash your pet. Otherwise you will get to smell skunk coming from your skin from the next few weeks.

  50. TechGirlSupervisor*

    Many years ago I was a new employee trainer at your favorite fast food restaurant. New hires got three, three hour shifts with a trainer to learn how to be a front counter employee. First shift is me doing everything for the first two hours while they watch, going over the register, how make fries and pour drinks, how to bag orders, and then letting them practice orders with me and maybe handle a couple of customers at the end. Second one I let them fly solo with me standing beside them to answer questions, jump in if required, etc. I had one new guy that was very passive the first shift. No worries it can be a bit much for high school students in their first job. Second shift, he would literally stand at the register looking stunned whenever a customer came up. He would take their order and then stare at the customer. This kept happening for the entire shift. No matter how many times I explained that after you take their order you actually have to put it together and give it to them. Just would stand there, staring. I tolerated a lot of stupid teenagers in this job, but this is the only one I had fired after his second shift.

    1. Turtles All The Way Down*

      When I worked in fast food in high school… let’s say, not everyone was eligible to be trained on register /to interact with customers. But once you were, you were no longer (usually) scheduled for grill shifts, at least. I worked with one poor guy who almost exclusively worked grill shifts, the worst of all, since it was hot and greasy.

  51. Ana Gram*

    I interviewed (but didn’t hire!) an applicant who told me all sorts of interesting things about herself. She didn’t have sex with her first husband so the marriage didn’t count. She wasn’t sure if her name change was legal and also had to make a list of the name everyone in her life knew her by. The names weren’t even related, like her mom called her Katherine but everyone else called her Kate. No, this was more like her friends call her Meg and her boss called her Lisa and her family calls her Jenna. She was also twice asked to stop working at businesses due to poor performance but she didn’t think she was fired because she agreed she wasn’t a good fit. She was an odd duck but she was really nice. But there was no way we could hire her.

  52. CuriousCat*

    My favorite was after I had been with my company for 2 years, we were trying to fill an artistic role that brought in many interesting characters. When we finally filled the role, my (much older) brand new co-worker asked me “how do people know when I am taking my lunch break at my desk?” His work was not the urgent kind, and our small office normally uses email for communication, so I explained that he could just email whoever when the project would be completed, and just eat at his desk, no one would approach him. Instead, he hand wrote a sign that said “do not bother me, I am on break” and hung it outside his cubical. On his second day, he ask our director (who has BRIGHT dyed purple and blue hair) if the company dress code allows for hair to be dyed in non-traditional colors.

  53. quill*

    Didn’t fit on thursday, so I’m telling it here: the story of a guy who we did NOT hire.

    When I was 23 I got hired at a scientific testing (and assorted other contact scientific work) company that was four people in the basement of an office building. There was some sort of on the phone crisis my first day, so instead of trying to interrupt the shouting when I immediately discovered my computer had a virus that turned the whole internet rather unsafe for work, I googled how to remove it on my phone… and accidentally became the office tech support person.

    Except that it’s the mid teens, I’m 23, I have never used, nor actually seen, a fax machine before.

    Fast forward six months: the electronic screech of a fax machine. The shout of my boss across the basement for me to come see what was wrong with it. The printout that read, in full:

    “i am applying for [job] at [company], very highly qualified, resume attached. – sent from my iphone”

    Despite my boss’ instructions and the fax machine’s squealing, I never did figure out how you manage to email a fax machine… or if the resume ever managed to print out.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      Despite my boss’ instructions and the fax machine’s squealing, I never did figure out how you manage to email a fax machine… or if the resume ever managed to print out.

      My father, before he retired, had a subscription to a service that provided a virtual facsimile number. He could give that out and would receive the facsimiles as emails, and when he replied to the email, it would be converted to a return facsimile. I don’t know what it would have done with an attachment, but the scenario the boss wanted is *plausible*.

      However, I’d be concerned the candidate was only applying for a job there thinking they could embezzle plutonium to get back to their own time.

      1. quill*

        Just because I can disassemble a printer and pick melted labels out with forceps does NOT mean I can time travel!

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

      When we had to WFH we had to set up our fax machine so that it goes to email now instead of printing and saves so much paper on the junk we would get!
      There are apps that you can download to your phone and such that will send to a fax number. and I’ve never done it to a fax, but there was a way that you could send a text to an email and vice versa, so I assume a fax number could do the same thing?

      In regards to the resume. We get those all the time. And we don’t even have the type of positions they are looking for! I half think that it is some reqruiter that has people’s resumes and just spams anything remotely in the field they are looking for to get t more money.

      1. quill*

        I’m still stuck on the why, rather than the how. Is it gumption? Is it an attempt to get around a spam filter?

  54. Unanimously Anonymous*

    My first job after getting out of the navy was as an electronics technician at a defense plant. The plant had a small navy liaison office, and I was surprised one day to see a Chief Petty Officer I served with in the lunchroom; let’s call him Chief Smith. Shortly after that, I saw yet another chief I served with (we’ll call him Chief Jones) walking in the entrance to the Engineering Department. I didn’t talk to him that day, and never saw him again. A few months later, I mentioned to Chief Smith that I’d seen Chief Jones in the plant one time, but never again since. As related by Chief Smith, turned out Jones had retired from the navy after finishing his 20 years and gotten a job as a field-service engineer at my company. After only a couple of weeks on the job, he went out to lunch and got snot-slinging drunk, behavior for which he was notorious when he served on the USS Whatchamacallit with Chief Smith and me. Unfortunately for Jones, the company didn’t have a very high tolerance for such nonsense and he was fired on the spot when he staggered back to his office.

    1. Candi*

      I’m hoping that the firing served as a wakeup call for Jones to fight his alcoholism. Sometimes enforcing boundaries can do that.

  55. SaeniaKite*

    If the MLM being referred to is the one I’m thinking of (the $5 price point being one of their main selling points) then they’ve recently been found to contain over the recommended amounts of heavy metals. Toxic indeed

  56. Sara without an H*

    All of these are priceless, but I have to say — the “coding genius” (#20) is my favorite. I hope that, wherever he’s working now, he’s happy, productive, and valued by his manager.

  57. Galadriel's Garden*

    This is my own amazing (terrible) first impression at my first “real” office job. I was working as an administrative assistant at a small consulting firm; it was my first week, and one of my first task was to refill the vending machine in the break room with pop. Attempting to carry an armload, I got close to the machine then two cans slipped from my arms – and exploded on impact. I rushed to grab them, dropped the rest of the cans, another one busted open, I slipped in the pop now coating the floor, and fell amongst the can carnage…and then realized I was not in fact alone in the room, and one of the consultants had witnessed the whole thing. He stood there, frozen in abject shock, while I began laughing hysterically while exclaiming, “Well, THAT was embarrassing!” from the floor, my new dress pants now soaked in Mountain Dew. To his credit, the consultant did help me clean up my disaster, and even more to his credit never mentioned it again.

  58. Berkeleyfarm*

    Oh my! I missed this post last week. I have a couple:

    1) Mr. Elevator Eyes – this is a reliable second hand report from when we finally got rid of someone.

    We had a co-worker who was hired in as a legal word processor but “really wanted to work in IT”. This guy presented VERY well to upper management, but had two major issues: 1) He was nowhere near as good at IT support as he thought he was and the rest of us spent time cleaning up after him and 2) he did not have control of his eyes or his mouth when looking for/commenting about what he found attractive in women. (Like, VERY specific comments on clothing sort of thing.) This was in the 90s before a lot of places had mandatory anti-harassment training. At some point I guess the everyone-else-was-a-woman legal support staff got tired of him and/or our director lost to theirs at golf and he got transferred into IT.

    At some point he managed to talk himself into a ‘better’ job somewhere else and we were all delighted to see him go. One of our employees had a spouse who was working at the new company. We were told that Mr. Dunning-Krueger was introduced to a (female) VP the first day and _did the full elevator-eyes checkout_ without attempting to hide anything. A memo went out reminding people of the anti-harassment policies. Shortly thereafter he got transferred to a branch office. He didn’t last long there. He failed upwards somewhere else with much more male upper management.

    2) Those of you who work in manufacturing, especially manufacturing IT, know that PLC programmers are a *special* breed. We got one in who made himself very memorable. He was given a fully functioning engineering-grade computer when he started and managed to brick it the first day by making registry changes from an article he had on the web to “enhance performance”. (For IT people, we did have to give local administrator for other reasons.)

    We were a small operation and didn’t have images, so doing a replacement was really eating up our resources. My coworker got pulled into exclusively Fix Dude’s Issues mode and I had to pick up the slack for the rest of the organization. Fortunately I sensed this was going to get political e.g. dude was planning to blame IT for all his problems and advised my coworker to get our management in the loop early. By Wednesday lunch time we (my coworker, me, our boss, our director) and the manager in charge of the position were having a frank discussion (“we strive to provide excellent support but he is causing his own problems”.) By Friday lunchtime he was gone because he’d had a screaming temper tantrum at HIS department. Dude had a good looking resume but I guess you can get away with pointing fingers etc. when you work for a megamultinational as opposed to at a company with under 200 people where half the staff ate lunch together.

  59. sunshine*

    Oh, wow, these sure are something!

    The most astounding first impression I’ve ever seen a new coworker make was when I worked in a sandwich shop. Our manager had hired a new delivery driver. The new driver walked into the restaurant at the beginning of his first shift, immediately followed by two cops who arrested him right there in the restaurant lobby for domestic violence (he and his girlfriend had been having an argument, and when she got into her car to drive away, he had thrown a flower pot through the windshield at her).

    He said, “Sorry, guys,” as he was led away in handcuffs.

    He returned to work the next day and did his best to be quiet and polite, but the damage was done. Everyone gave him a pretty wide berth.

    1. Candi*

      Wait… he didn’t try to justify any of it to you? No “it was her fault because [reason I caused]”?


      I hope that was a good sign, and he went on to become a better person who handles relationships more constructively.

  60. Calibri Hater*

    Ok, this thread makes me feel a little better about having social anxiety. I’m socially anxious, but I am NOT socially incompetent like most of these protagonists.

  61. Orchestral Musician*

    Aaahhh I’m so sorry I missed the post from last week, but all of these are fantastic.

    My contribution:

    My first job out of college was at a small educational publisher. My first morning was spent being trained on how to use the software the company used, along with another new hire who started the same day as me. About twenty minutes into the training, she was asleep and snoring slightly. Our supervisor didn’t really know what to do (understandably!) and eventually gently woke her up. (She didn’t get fired; I didn’t stay at the company long for unrelated reasons, but I heard she stayed for at least nine months so who even knows.)

  62. inaudible*

    I have an axe story that isn’t mine, but was told to me by a coworker when I was in land surveying. I heard this a long time ago, so I can’t swear I remember it all correctly, but someone needing an axe *asked* for it to be thrown to them. The person throwing it hesitated, but complied. The axe was thrown and sailed through the air flipping end over end, and the person who asked for the axe ran to intercept it. Everyone watched in horror as he ran past the flight path of the axe and then got thumped in the back with it and sprawled in the brush. Then he abruptly stood up and held the axe aloft declaring, “All good! it was this end!” gestruring to the end opposite the blade. (Don’t worry, it was told to be in the spirit of warning against stupidity, not encouragement of such conduct.)

  63. Anxious one*

    We hired a temp at (top 5 software company). We literally couldn’t get him to do anything. I printed out a sheet on how to get into his email account and change the password. Told him he needed to do it ASAP. Three days later I checked and he still hadn’t changed the password. (I wasn’t his supervisor, just getting him on email). He also had not responded to any emails nor done any work at all (I knew this because I was in his email lol). We also had some security stuff that everyone was required to do within 3 days of hire or they would be locked out of the system and need special permission to be reinstated. Of course he got locked out. There were reports of him wandering the building and just hanging around in the cafeteria. Took over a week to finally get him removed. Still not sure why he didn’t even do the most basic tasks. It was weird.

  64. Apt Nickname*

    I’m pretty sure #17 is about Laurie Notaro’s book “I Love Everybody (And Other Atrocious Lies)” This is especially funny because the particular story it’s from is about bring firrd.

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