the fake crossing guard, the controversial coat rack, and other abuses of tiny amounts of power

Last week I asked about the smallest amount of power you’ve ever seen someone abuse. Here are 12 of my favorites of the stories you shared.

1. The emails

I worked with someone who would not read messages if he was cc’d rather than included in the “to” field of emails.

2. The crossing guard

In my old neighborhood in Chicago, there was an incredibly dramatic crossing guard. She was an older woman, who would halt traffic for every single person crossing at a four way stop, yelling, “PEDESTRIAN CROSSING” at the top of her lungs. She worked every morning and every afternoon on weekdays. It was always a slightly eccentric, but harmless part of the neighborhood’s local color.

We later found out that she was NOT a crossing guard, and had just bought a crossing guard vest at Goodwill.

3. Salutation regulations

One team lead that I had created guidelines for when you could say “good morning” or “good afternoon” in your emails, with the thought that there were times of the day that were before noon, but weren’t really morning anymore and so using either would be inaccurate. The rule was that emails sent between 10:45 AM and 12:30 PM could not include either “good morning” or “good afternoon” (I am not sure why you couldn’t say “good afternoon” in an email sent between 12 and 12:30). I got chewed out for starting an email sent at 10:51 AM with, “Good morning Lucinda,” and when I argued that Lucinda was in a different time zone so for her it was 8:51 AM, a non-ambiguously morning time, I was told that that was confusing and made our brand look bad.

4. The monitor

We had an IT guy who was … extra. For example, during the 2007- recession, we had tons of empty offices with huge flat screen monitors. And a bunch of lawyers who sometimes needed two monitors for document review. One of the younger lawyers simply took a monitor from an empty office, and plugged it into his existing setup. The IT guy went ballistic. Now, should the jr. lawyer have asked first? Sure. But he was made to go through some kind of requisition process after the IT guy took away the purloined monitor.

And what was he given at the end of this? One of those tan CRT monitors from the 1990s. I kid you not. I’m shocked it even worked with our computers. The young lawyer took his lumps and used it without complaint. You also have to understand, during this same time period, I came in at least twice to find my old, perfectly functional flat screen monitor replaced by a newer bigger better one. We all did. So it wasn’t like there was a dearth of flat screen monitors.

5. Signature power grab

I’m not sure if this counts as power — more like Potemkin power— but I have had two different colleagues in two different jobs repeatedly change their signature blocks within hours of their boss being out of the office.

One of them would change his signature block to “Acting Deputy Spokesperson” every time his boss took even an afternoon off to go to the dentist or was out of the physical premises of the office for a conference.

The other changed hers to read “Acting Deputy Director” within an *hour* of her boss sending around a message that he had to go into five day quarantine because his son got COVID.

6. The coat rack

I used to work in a bonkers workplace where folks were very resistant to any kind of change. I worked reception so I was the only employee who didn’t have customizable space to store personal effects. In the winter I had no place to hang my coat. I was in charge of ordering office supplies and was given fairly free rein so I just decided to add a coat rack to the next supply order. It was around $35 and reasonably nice looking and I figured it would also be useful for occasional clients who visited the office. I put it up in the empty corner near the door and as soon as I did every person who worked there came by to express concerns about the coat rack. Head of Accounting, the CEO, half the engineers. They just didn’t think it was going to work out. The head of IT argued with me that was going to interfere with his arming the building security at night because it would get in the way.

I pointed out that by the time somebody was setting the security everyone would have left the building…with their coats, so it would be empty. Then I gently suggested that we try it for a few days and if it caused a problem we could find somewhere else to move it. He grudgingly agreed that was reasonable and apparently the coat rack didn’t impact his ability to get the security box because no one ever brought it up again.

7. Too much joy

My very first job out of undergrad was at a super dysfunctional, super small law firm. A partner’s wife worked in the same office space as a “travel agent.” In reality, she mostly did nothing and monitored the office for things large and small she could grieve. There were many little gems on that front – but my favorite is when she confronted me about having “too much joy” in the workplace because I was laughing at something a coworker had said. The workplace was indeed joyless though so perhaps she didn’t want to change the status quo.

8. The forwarding

Right after college, I was temping (admin work) at a small midwestern property management business that managed stripmall properties. I think thought it was a HUGE flex for them to be able to finally afford a temp admin.

The President for some reason decided he was going to forward every email he received to me, and write in the message, “pls forward to so-and-so ASAP” (so-and-so often being someone AT the company of fewer than 10 employees). Why he didn’t just forward the email to so-and-so himself, I’ll never know. Whether delegating such task felt powerful to him, or he literally didn’t understand how email worked, who can say? In any case, I was to forward all emails within 30 minutes of receipt, whether I was at lunch, running an errand off-site or in the back room filing. At the 31-minute mark, he’d walk into the main office area, ask the intended recipient whether they had received the email and, if not, would lecture me.

One time, at the 31-minute mark, this happened, but I knew I hadn’t received the email to forward (I’d been at my desk refreshing my inbox every five minutes for the past hour). When I told the President I had never received the email, he did not believe me. So I asked him to pull up his email so I could see the “sent” email. He did not know how to do this, so I showed him and, turns out, the email had bounced back, since there was a typo in the email address. He’d sent it to admn@stripmallpropertymanagement instead of admin@stripmallpropertymanagement

Why he was typing out the recipient email address BY HAND, I’ll never know.

He was also constantly confused by blatant spam, sending me spam messages he’d received (in general and via the “contact us” form on their website) with “Pls follow up with this.” If I responded, “I think that’s spam,” that was not deemed acceptable.

After that temp job. I spent months signing up his email address for every single spammy newsletter and mailing list under the sun and sending absolute garbage through the form on their website. This was in the days before email spam filters were robust enough, and I know for a fact he didn’t understand how to unsubscribe, so I’m sure his email inbox stayed full. I feel bad for the future admins, though, who were getting forwarded newsletters about supplements with “pls follow up.”

9. The handwritten note

Many years ago I was a senior executive at a Fortune 100 company. I learned that the mother of a professional colleague — a colleague who was also a vendor to the company and someone with whom we worked closely — had died. I wrote a condolence note to the colleague and put it in outgoing mail. The admin for the department refused to send it unless I personally paid for the postage because it was handwritten, so it couldn’t be business correspondence. When I explained that it was business-related because it was to a vendor, she demanded that I “prove” that sending the note furthered the business interests of the company before she would send it.

10. The short chair

A previous boss was very small-statured and insecure, so he bought himself a very large and tall office chair and put in an incredibly short chair beside his desk. I was about a foot taller than him standing, but when I sat in the “chair of shame” I was staring him in the chest.

11. The project manager

I used to have a coworker who always felt aggrieved that he was never given any developmental opportunities or leadership roles (because he…was the worst worker…on an entry-level team…) so the one time he was in charge of a team project, he:

1) demanded to know how many hours a day we would be taking away from our regular workflow to work on the project assignments;
2) assigned us a schedule when he decided that 30 minutes a day per person wasn’t good enough;
3) unilaterally changed up the project design even though we had originally voted on the design together;
4) tasked us with spying on other teams on our floors to see how they were handling the project, so we could one-up them;
5) drafted up a list of materials we had to purchase for the project (out of pocket) and assigned the cheapest ones to himself;
6) tried to kick someone off the team for “not being passionate enough”;
7) sent a team-wide email that he was disappointed in us for how little progress we had made on the project (because we had an all-hands-on-deck emergency that occurred for our day-to-day work).

The “team project” in question? Building a gingerbread house for the department’s annual Christmas party.

Late-breaking update! These additional details were just added in the comments below:

If anyone is curious, the project manager’s favourite way of spying on the other teams on the floor was to go over and strike up a conversation with whichever employee was sitting closest to the gingerbread house so he could get a really good look at what they were building. The only problem was that most of these employees were people he’d never interacted with before, so his attempts at conversation were probably met with a lot of confusion. At one point, one of the employees I was friendly with approached me in the breakroom and asked if the project manager was trying to hit on her.

12. The neon green paper

I worked with an Accounts Payable person who would only accept disbursements on their form that was printed on neon green paper. Fine, fine. But she would only give out ONE FORM PER DAY, so if you thought you might ever need to submit two requests for a payment in a day, you’d have to go by on another day to get your single form and save it for that day.

And then the second year, we discovered that she’d scanned the green form and then printed it IN COLOR onto green paper when she ran out of the original forms, meaning she was using green ink to cover green paper, and also that regular pens would no longer work on the now very shiny form.

The third year I bought my own green paper and started printing my own forms. She was furious, because of course the “you can only get one form per day” policy was to ensure she never had to actually pay anyone. But since it would be very hard to explain that to her boss, she just huffed a lot about “where I was getting all these forms” when I’d turn them in.

{ 517 comments… read them below }

      1. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

        “They just didn’t think it was going to work out.”

        Why is this single sentence so funny to me? I am dying laughing!

        1. Le Sigh*

          Glad it wasn’t just me. I don’t know why this hit the way it did but it made me laugh so hard. Almost like they were describing a breakup or a new employee they’re about to fire.

          1. Le Sigh*

            Okay I thought about it some more, and I think it’s because I can picture a group of office employees, clad in their tan separates, crowded around the coat rack, solemnly shaking their heads. There is a soft murmur of disproval, mixed with concern, wafting through the room — as if they knew they had to fire the coat rack, but the coat rack just had a third kid and they just didn’t know how to deliver the news.

            1. Seespotebitejane*

              This is actually fairly accurate. There was a definite air of “we understand you meant well.”

        2. CoveredinBees*

          Because it is such an outsized thing to say about a little coatrack in the corner of a reception area within hours of its appearance.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        They should start referring to the boss’ elevated chair as his booster seat and see how he likes that.

        1. quill*

          I need to stop reading this thread before the “travel agent” finds me laughing in my cube.

      2. Curious*

        So long as the Boss’s chair doesn’t become the Iron Throne … and those who sit in the Chair of Shame condemned to a Walk of Shame …

    1. Anonymous4*

      I knew a lawyer who did this! She was about 5’1″, and she had her desk up on a 3-inch platform with a big ole chair, and the clients were given a sofa with broken springs so when they sat down, they sank until their butts were about 6″ off the floor. So, naturally, the clients were looking UP at her, which is why she arranged it that way.

      She was a terrible lawyer but her office arrangements were an absolute hoot!

      P.S. I sat on the couch arm, which meant our eyes were about even. She hated that.

      P.P.S. Did I mention that she was a terrible lawyer?

    2. LittleMarshmallow*

      This is hilarious to me also… buuuuut… there are people that I work with that I could see having issues with a coat rack, which also makes it a little sad…

    3. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

      Omg, the chair of shame! The person who submitted that said they were quite tall, and they ended up staring him in the chest when they sat in that chair. I’m glad I didn’t work there, because, short as I am, I’d probably have ended up eyelevel with his crotch! *insert facepalm emoji*

      No thanks, dude. I will just sit here and stare at my notes and pretend this isn’t happening! 8-(

  1. Stephanie*

    #4: I mean…I can imagine being support staff at some of those professional firms can be rough. I haven’t worked at one (have interviewed at some and have many friends who have worked at them) and I’ve heard there can be a dichotomy between the revenue-generating functions (the consultants/lawyers/etc) and support staff. But that is petty hahahaha.

    #6: That is ENTRENCHED. A coat rack?!

    #11: I have worked with this person on extracurricular activities (not quite as trivial as a gingerbread house) and it is rough. Not to the level of spying on groups, though.

    Thanks for the mid-afternoon laugh.

    1. FrenchCusser*

      I once temped in an office where the person I was subbing for had EVERY SINGLE THING in her office (chair, stapler, etc.) down to the Ticonderoga #2 pencils labeled with her name.

      Well, OK, she didn’t have every single paper clip labeled, but those were the only things.

      1. SeluciaMD*

        That’s dedication. I’ll admit, I’ve labeled my stapler and scissors (both had a tendency to walk away from my desk) but the PENCILS? That’s…….a lot.

        1. The Rural Juror*

          I labeled the label maker, but no one seemed to think that was funny but me.

          1. JESUS IS THE MAN!*

            I have fond memories of a college dorm roommate getting a label maker. We went wild with it, labeling everything in the room. Like, everything.
            BETTA FISH
            (This last was on the fish tank, I hasten to add, not the fish himself.)

  2. not a doctor*

    LOVE the project manager story. Buried the lede there in the best possible way.

    The email stories are also bringing me joy, though hopefully not *too much* joy.

    1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

      “Buried the lede there in the best possible way.” YES. It was — *chefskiss* — perfection!

    2. Lydia*

      Between this post and the one about Sarah, I want to lay my head down on my desk and weep.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Yeah – I just figured that person had seen enough near misses from cars not paying attention and decided to do something about it before a pedestrian ended up in the hospital. It’s semi-petty but very safety focused.

      1. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

        I can’t help but wonder whether she lost a loved one to a car vs. pedestrian accident – the level of commitment seems kind of extra for much less.

    2. WindmillArms*

      My house look directly onto a crosswalk that is far from any traffic lights or stop signs, on a winding road where people often speed. I would love if one of my kooky neighbours started doing this!

    3. Hats Are Great*

      Heck, if you get like six neighbors together, there are federal, state, and local grants that would fund your crossing guard program, either right actually paying for them, or by paying supplies and training for volunteers.

      The only weird thing about it is that she’s doing it solo and guerilla-style! If she got half a dozen people together, they’d get official blessing from local authorities in an instant, and get recognized at town council for their service.

    4. Elle*

      I had the same thought! She saw a “need” (probably debatable how legitimate it was, but…) and addressed it. This is fully going to be me post-retirement.

    5. For the Moment*

      I’m so glad I’m not the only one thinking this sounds like my future role.

    6. SnappinTerrapin*

      Decades ago, there was an older man who spent years directing traffic at the corner of Perry Street and Dexter Avenue in Montgomery, Alabama. He wore a police cap, shirt and pants, without insignia or badge, and carried a baton and whistle.

      It’s been awhile since I visited, but there used to be a mural painted on the wall of one of the stores depicting him.

      1. fieldpoppy*

        The final paragraph in the crossing guard one gave me a literal spit take. I love their chutzpah.

    7. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Came here to say “retirement goals!”, but apparently there are quite a few of us. Shall we start a crossing guard company?

    8. PeanutButter*

      I have to admit, after moving from an area with a moderate culture of respect for non-motorized road users (Oregon) to one with with ABSOLUTELY NONE (Missouri – my first week here I was cussed out for refusing to turn right WHILE THERE WAS A WOMAN WITH A STROLLER IN THE CROSSWALK) I am absolutely on team Vigilante Crossing Guard. XD

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I knew someone online who’d moved from our mutual home country (where walking was expected and encouraged) to a far suburb of Atlanta. She told us about how, when she started going on walks around her lovely, walkable suburban area in the first months after her move, she suddenly found herself unable to walk anywhere without drivers pulling over to ask her what was wrong. “Oh honey, what happened? Why are you walking? Do you need help??” While it wasn’t as bad anywhere I’ve lived in the US, I’ve definitely lived or stayed in areas where people would not expect anyone to be crossing a street on foot, and as a result you couldn’t expect them to pay attention and stop on time. To them it would be just as odd and out of the ordinary to watch out for pedestrians as it would be for them to watch out for a glittery unicorn crossing the road in front of their car. Never crossed their mind to expect either. Vigilante Crossing Guard would’ve certainly been useful!

      2. Anonny*

        Same – I grew up in an area where there was a road good for speeding down and a number of entitled people who should have stuck to Mario Kart. Unfortunately it also had one of the main crossing points to get to the local school, and the bus stop for my secondary school. I still can’t shake the feeling that car drivers are out to murder me.

  3. Halle Pear*

    Oh my god, the short chair story is hilarious! Im imagining if a short coworker sat down—would they be at the boss’s stomach level?

      1. Order of the Banana*

        At that point, I’d just be ignoring the chair and kneeling on the ground every time I had to speak to this boss.

        1. Wintermute*

          I can only imagine the boss getting arrested for trying to steel a kneeler from a catholic church.

          1. whingedrinking*

            My alma mater has a set of furniture made by Indigenous artists and used at convocation, consisting of the Chancellor’s chair, the Chief Speaker’s staff, a lectern, a mace stand, and a kneeling stool. The latter is because of our slightly weird tradition where each graduate in turn kneels before the Chancellor, who lightly baffs the student with their hat and says “admissus es”.
            I’m now hoping this boss doesn’t hear about this and commission her own hand-carved throne and matching kneeling stool.

            1. Elle*

              Oooo, the baffing with the hat isn’t weird! It’s totally normal in Scotland! I too got bashed in the head with a seriously grim looking ‘hat’ when I graduated.

              Both my alma mater and the university where I now work (and occasionally get roped into acting as a fire marshal at graduations) have done away with kneeling to make the whole process quicker, and have instead put the chancellor’s chair up on a large step to make it easier to cap the graduands; while you are reeling from the concussion, the porter chucks your hood round your neck, gets you by the shoulders, and spins you towards the far edge of the platform.

              1. whingedrinking*

                Oo, that’s fascinating! I graduated from a Canadian university and had never heard of this tradition anywhere else. Even my dad, who went to grad school in England, had never seen it done before. Good to know!

        2. Lab Boss*

          We mostly ignored the chair and just stood, which meant the chair had the opposite effect he intended. We absolutely TOWERED over him.

          1. Anonymous4*

            I love it!

            What would he do? Start to sputter? Tell you to sit down? Climb up on his desk?

            1. Lab Boss*

              Usually tell us to have a seat, attempting to sound extremely affable as though he just didn’t want us to be uncomfortable standing. That kind of ruined the effect so usually I would go ahead and sit (unless I felt puckish, and would say I needed to rush back to the lab and didn’t have time to sit).

    1. Lab Boss*

      Chairboss was mine- it never really came up, we were a very small department and everybody was on the tall side except for him (I’ll note that he did not have any kind of medical condition, he was just a little dude and we were a bunch of big Norse-descended Midwesterners).

      He loved to make physical power moves. The tiny chair, or coming up to you at your desk and standing really really close with his hand on your shoulder so he was looming over you and you couldn’t stand up without brushing his hand aside. He was also notorious for running into his male subordinates in the bathroom and giving you assignments while you used the urinal, sometimes also with a hand on the shoulder.

      Honestly we probably should have done something involving HR but the whole situation was just so absurd, and we all considered him so generally ineffectual, we mostly just laughed about him behind his back.

      1. Thursday Next*

        When he sat in his big giant chair did his feet touch the ground? I would find that absolutely hilarious if they didn’t, :)

        1. Lab Boss*

          I’m twisting my brains trying to remember, and I’m going to suspect that he MUST have had a footrest under his desk (or they were just kicking around down there). I might be assuming that because I want to assume the worst of him, though :D

        2. KateM*

          I was thinking that the Big Boss bought himself one of those children dining-room chairs…

      2. BigHairNoHeart*

        “He was also notorious for running into his male subordinates in the bathroom and giving you assignments while you used the urinal, sometimes also with a hand on the shoulder.”

        Full. Body. Shudder.

      3. lex talionis*

        If someone put their hand on my shoulder or touched me while I was at a urinal I would rapidly, mid stream, turn around and say, “what?”

        1. Anonymous4*

          That’s what I would expect from some of the guys I know!

          “What? Oh, man, I’m sorry about that — “

      4. Zweisatz*

        Oh yeah that borders on, not sure if *sexual* harassment is the right word, but shoulder touching, the urinal thing, running into you?? That’s all gone too far.

        1. DecorativeCacti*

          If your hand is on your business I think it counts as sexual even if it’s not being used for a sexual purpose at that second.

      5. Emotional support capybara*

        Jesus, I didn’t start using the men’s room until just a couple of years ago and ***I*** know the “eyes forward, no talking, definitely no touching” rule, wtf is his excuse!?

        1. Lab Boss*

          His excuse for the whole collection of personal space things is that he grew up in South America and personal space norms are different there (although his primary residence was in the Midwestern US since college, and he was in his 40’s by the time I knew him). I do know that my region has larger personal space bubbles than most, but I would have to assume even in the places with small bubbles there are certain bathroom norms.

          1. This is a name, I guess*

            As someone who likely lives in your state or an adjacent state, I will say that the cultural differences are real. And, if we are in the same state, it’s very difficult to live here as a transplant because native residents are almost irrationally dedicated to maintaining the local culture, even if it alienates transplants and residents from non-White cultures. There’s a definite (if subtle) push for transplants to assimilate to a cultural norm that we find toxic and dangerously homogenous. I know many people – myself included – who bristle at being forced to adhere to the cultural norms of the “Norse” Midwest, especially since so many people pay a lot of lip service to “diversity and inclusion” but then don’t accept my diverse ways of presenting myself. They expect me to change my entire demeanor to be fake polite to meet the “Nice” norm (when, in reality, my natural demeanor is perfectly acceptable in much of the rest of the country).

            Does that mean that your boss should touch people on the shoulder in the bathroom? HECK NO! But, as someone of Mediterranean descent and from the East Coast living in this homogenous culture that pretends to care about diversity but still punishing me for not being soft enough, I can see why he fought to retain his cultural norms, even if those ways are questionable.

            1. Lab Boss*

              While I can’t truly say “I understand” (as a pretty well homogenized white guy whose family has been here quite a while), I do recognize your message- he had plenty of mannerisms that I found uncomfortable but wouldn’t have ever made fun of, the biggest of one being how close he always stood to talk to people. I always made an effort to limit my scorn to the transparently manipulative moves like the powerchair ™ and the urinal touch ™

              1. This is a name, I guess*

                No, you should totally give him side eye for those example. Though, as a short person, I would just laugh at the powerchair. It’s just toxic masculinity in its funniest form.

                The Urinal Touching is annoying, but it is something that my Italian-American and Italian family members would likely have no qualms with. And it would embarrass me. My father was also A Close Talker, and no matter how many times I told him to stop, it was just ingrained. No one ever decked him, but I truly worried someone might.

                1. Lab Boss*

                  That’s actually some really interesting insight! I would have assumed prolonged urinal touching would be out of bounds worldwide, regardless of other norms around personal space/privacy. I learned something today, thank you :)

                2. Anonymous4*

                  Your dad grew up A Close Talker and it was baked in. No changing that! But I understand your concern — lot of people DON’T grow up like that.

                  A friend of mine volunteered, as a college student, to go to the airport to pick up a visiting professor from the Middle East, and got backed across the terminal because when he’d step back to get to a “comfortable” distance for talking with the professor, the professor would step forward to get to a “comfortable” distance for talking with my friend.

                  My only regret was that it happened before I met him, and was therefore unable to witness that delightful pas a deux.

                3. allathian*

                  @Anonymous4, I’ve actually experienced this first hand. I’m from Finland, and our definition of personal space is very wide, we rarely allow anyone, except close family members, to come closer than it takes to shake hands, and even after a handshake, we take a step back. We usually don’t look the other person in the eye while we’re shaking hands, because that’s too close, instead, we look at the hands, and look the other person in the eye again as we step back. Crowded spaces, like public transit, are different, but then we don’t look at other people and do our best to pretend that other people don’t exist. Even while waiting for the bus, it’s normal for people to prefer to stand in the rain rather than squeeze in with other people under the bus shelter. Distancing in public as mandated by covid precautions hasn’t been a hardship for most of us, it just increased our natural personal space slightly.

                  When I was in college, I volunteered as an exchange student tutor, and more than once did a pas à deux with students from other cultures, especially those from Southern Europe and South America (we din’t have exchange contracts with universities in the Middle-East when I was a student). It was a difference we were able to laugh about, though. Oddly enough, this was most awkward with students I found attractive. I remember dancing cheek-to-cheek with a Spanish student I had a slight crush on at a party once, and how I was able to really relax in his arms, because he was a great dancer and easy for me to follow. Afterwards, when we were doing the pas à deux again and he wondered about that, I finally told him that when he stood as close to me as was comfortable for him, it felt like we were dancing again, and that normally I’d only let a man I was dating to get that close to me while we were talking. That time, I felt like I was taking advantage of his personal space preferences because I found him attractive, and that was unfair to him. I didn’t tell him either of those things, because he wasn’t interested in dating me.

                  When I went on exchange to France, and later interned in Spain, I learned to adapt to more Southern ways. It never felt completely natural, though, and I guess some people thought I was a bit standoffish, even if less so than some others from Northern Europe.

            2. eisa*

              out of curiosity : what are those cultural norms of the Norse Midwest (other than what constitutes personal space) that transplants find difficult ?
              What does “punished for not being soft enough” mean ? (both the ‘punishing’ part and the ‘not soft’ part)

              1. Blj531*

                As a person who grew up in a Boston suburb and now lives in nyc, I would hazard a guess that’s about direct and indirect communication styles. I find it difficult sometimes to communicate with people who are taught to soften their language (for example an excuse rather than a no or finding a blunt no to be rude) in a way that reads polite in some states but reads incredibly passive aggressive in the more direct communication places I have lived.

                1. Blj531*

                  The norms about how and where to greet people can also be different. In nyc it can actually be considered rude to make too much small talk at say, a register, or on the subway with people you don’t know, but in other places it is considered rude NOT to do that.

                2. JESUS IS THE MAN!*

                  Small talk–yes, I live in a small Midwestern town and it took me half an hour to buy a cup of coffee today. It really is a different world.

                  It’s also a culture where confrontation/bluntness are very easily read as aggression/rudeness, so you’ll find a lot of tapdancing around tough issues and just *radiating quiet disapproval* instead of saying something. If you’re not from here, this conversational style sounds unbearably passive-aggressive. If you are from here, everybody else sounds brusque.

          2. The New Wanderer*

            In college I had a creeper pull that “my culture has close personal space” line when he came up and stood right behind me, like an inch separating his front from my back, in the hallway. I edged forward and told him very coldly to back off, MY personal space is what matters to me.

            Full body shudder indeed.

      6. madge*

        I don’t think I could stop myself from going Edith Ann/Lily Tomlin and ending every sentence with, “and that’s the truth, pfft”. (<however one spells that sound)

        1. SeluciaMD*

          Thank you SO MUCH for this comment! I am a short person with a relatively long torso so in a lot of different situations (I’m looking at you restaurant booth seat) the seat will be high enough that my feet will be swinging. I always say it makes me feel like Edith Ann and I am truly disheartened by the number of people in my age bracket that have no frame of reference for that. I only knew the character from Sesame Street but STILL! How do you not remember her tale of the peanut butter and mustard sandwich?

          1. madge*

            Haha, I know – I can’t believe how many people don’t remember her. It sounds like we have the same body style and I SO feel your pain! I think of Edith Ann every.time my feet swing!

  4. Snarkus Aurelius*

    Okay so I’m guilty of number one but…

    If I’m copied on a mass email, especially if there’s no specific addressee, I’m not going to respond because the chances are good that someone else will. This approach works well about 95% of the time.

    It’s not an ego thing; it’s a If Someone Else is Gonna Respond Anyway, I’m Not Gonna Try.

    1. Colette*

      Yeah, I’ve definitely worked with people who do that.They consider things they’re copied on to be informational, so they file them but don’t necessarily read them.

      1. Snarkus Aurelius*

        You’d think in the year 2022, people wouldn’t send directives in emails to a bazillion people with zero specific delegation but…

        1. eisa*

          Yeah, that.
          Good practice : if you want Mary to do X and Joe to do Y, both Mary and Joe are in the To: field for one thing; in the body of the mail, you write “@Mary: please do X” “@Joe: please do Y”, and for good measure you highlight the @Mary and @Joe.

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        That’s my approach. I’ll read it, but if you aren’t specifically asking me to respond you’re just giving me information that I may need for later.

      3. Global Cat Herder*

        I have a co-worker whose email signature even says “I don’t read or reply to emails in which I’m cc’d” and he seriously has a filter that just files them unread. Then he complains loudly about never knowing what’s going on.

      4. DataGirl*

        “They consider things they’re copied on to be informational”. I mean… isn’t that the whole point of cc?

        1. quill*

          Yeah, they’re for pulling up as receipts later. Wilhelmina stated that the beverage snorkels were last calibrated on the fourteenth (see attached email). If you’ve found an uncalibrated snorkel it must not be useable.

      5. Serin*

        Yeah, I work for a guy who has a filter that sorts his emails into different folders depending on whether they’re cc’d to him, sent directly to him, or sent directly ONLY to him, and of course he keeps a closer eye on the last folder. But it’s one thing to say, “If it’s only cc’d to me, there’s a better chance I might miss it if things get crazy,” and quite another to say, “Put my name on the correct line or I will ignore your communication.”

    2. anonymous73*

      My first thought was that they’re only screwing themselves. If I CC someone, it’s because I think it’s important that they have the information. So if they don’t read it, oh well, I did my part.

    3. Olevst*

      you mentioned you don’t respond to emails like this was someone who wouldn’t even open them. Big difference.

      1. Snarkus Aurelius*

        (I won’t open mass emails unless I have spare time.)

        Not an ego thing, I swear!

        1. LittleMarshmallow*

          Out of curiosity… what is your definition of a mass email? Any email with more than one recipient? 5? 10? Ones that use a PDL? I ask… because I send a weekly email to our team. Mostly I don’t need people to respond unless they have a question, but I do need them to read it so they are aware of work going on the following week and month that might affect projects. The mix of people that need each individual piece of info varies widely and I try to make it skimmable so people can pick out what will affect them but it would be so much harder for me to split the email up to only people that need to know x piece of info rather than just letting everyone spend a couple min reading an email once a week so I do get annoyed when someone doesn’t read it and then is all offended because “they didn’t know what was happening”. So be cautious of that approach… or at least if you take that approach don’t assume someone didn’t give you info you needed just because you didn’t see it in an email you chose not to read.

          Also… this email used to be a meeting… I felt like it was a meeting that could’ve been an email so I changed it, but if I find people aren’t getting the info they need because they can’t bother to read a 5 min email because it’s not addressed only to them… then it’s gonna have to go back to being a meeting.

          1. Snowball*

            I find that a lot of my team doesn’t read mass emails…but they also are the last to know about early closures or other perks…so it’s their loss.

      2. Lab Boss*

        Yeah, I quite often CC important people on e-mails so they see what’s happening. I never expect a REPLY, but I’d be miffed if I found out later they thought the work wasn’t done because they took umbrage at being in the CC line.

    4. turquoisecow*

      My old boss used to do this (don’t know if she still does). She had emails she was CC’d on go into a completely separate folder and she’d work on her inbox first. If you wanted her attention she was fairly quick about replying to emails, but not if she was only CC’d.

      To be fair, she was copied on probably hundreds of emails, a lot of which she didn’t really need to reply to or even read.

    5. Jonquil*

      Number 1 is a legitimate email management strategy. I had a very senior boss who did that – he had a rule on his inbox that all emails on which he was a cc went into a folder that he didn’t look at until the end of the day/week. It helped him keep on top of the massive volume of emails that come into a c-suite inbox.

      1. PeanutButter*

        Yeah, I have certain “mass email” groups that go to a “look at later” folder. Not MyDepartmentMembers-at-company because we’re a small group so anything sent to all of us is important, but AllResearchLabs-at-company or AllEmployees-at-company get sent to a different folder for more leisurely perusal. My organization is also very good at only putting “high priority” flags on actually high priority stuff, though, so I find out about tornado drills or water shut offs in my default inbox.

    6. If you can respond, then respond.*

      I worked with someone like this too. So I needed to send an e-mail to Bob, Sherry, and Mary. We talked a lot in e-mail. We were working on a project together. I took an e-mail and responded.

      “Hey I need this information.” Now I’m sending this e-mail at 11 pm because the project was behind and nerfed and I was working late to get it better.
      Next day, no response. I get yelled at that things are getting done. And I say, “Well no one responded to my e-mail.”
      Bob says, “Well you didn’t send it to me, you only CCd me. So I didn’t respond.”

      After that, everyone got e-mails sent to them.

  5. quaint irene*

    I keep thinking about the gingerbread house project manager. I really think it could be successfully adapted as a Hallmark movie.

    1. This is a name, I guess*

      The gingerbread house manager is obviously a woman who cares too much about her job in this Hallmark Movie. And someone needs to show her about the power of love through Christmas whimsy in order to change her workaholic ways. :D

      1. I'm just here for the cats.*

        or it’s someone who hates christmas but has a mean competitive streak and gets assigned to be the gingerbread house Project Manager. The others on the team show him the true meaning of Christmas ala Christmas Carol.

      2. Pantalaimon*

        I thought it was going to be the guy that the woman is dating at the beginning, who sees Xmas as a whole “job to be done” and not a “season to be savored”

      1. KAZ2Y5*

        It wasn’t harmless to the next admin. And let’s be real – you know the boss just sent all the emails to them.

    1. Catalin*

      Why does ‘Pls’ in this context seem snooty to me? Like, “You’re not worth actually typing out ‘please’, just do this. Pls.”

      1. Warrior Princess Xena*

        Probably because the whole chain of behavior is one of pettiness and power-tripping. There are people from whom I’d get ‘pls’ and think nothing beyond “they only have a few seconds to type this out”. There are also people from whom I’d get ‘pls’ and think “wow, rude much?” It really depends on my interactions with that person ahead of time and how familiar I am with their writing style.

        1. Salymander*

          I have never thought about this! I had a boss when I was younger who wanted all communication to be written at least partially in abbreviations. I’m pretty sure some of them were abbreviations he made up.

    2. Cathie from Canada*

      I worked in offices throughout the “email” revolution, when all of us had to figure out how to change the way the office functioned. And it was a difficult transition sometimes.
      So what I noticed about this story was that this boss was really just trying to handle this new-fangled “email” exactly the same way as he had handled his “real” mail back in the good old days. In those days, when he came back from lunch after the mail had arrived, his secretary would have already opened the envelopes and assembled a stack of letters and put them in his “In Box”. Then he would have spent half an hour glancing at all the letters, figuring out what he wanted done, and then dropping the stack back onto his secretary’s desk, with little Post-It Notes (what a marvelous invention they were!) to tell her “give this to Jim” or “tell Ed to deal with this” or “this looks interesting, please follow up on it” or whatever. And then the secretary would deal with everything by doing all her magical secretarial-type stuff like typing the referral notes, deciding where to file it, following up on requests, filing everything away, or whatever.
      It was, actually, sort of reassuring to know that someone else was setting all this in motion for you. It did take a while for bosses to realize they could change how they did things and actually be more efficient, too.

  6. Laura Petrie*

    Number 8 reminds me of a temping job I had when I first moved to this city 16 years ago. The job was only a couple of weeks to cover the holiday of the reception/admin woman.

    The company was run by two older men but was a technical field, so I expected them to be computer literate.

    The senior partner printed out all his emails, brought them to my desk, and made me type out a response, print it on letterhead and send it out in the post. He refused to email people back, even if it was for something tiny, like acknowledging receipt of some information or to ask a single question about something. His favourite phrase was ‘in connection with the above’. Each time I typed ‘in’ into word, the whole phrase came up as a suggestion.

    That’s pretty much all I did the entire time I was there. The other partner knew it was weird but did nothing about it. All the favourites on the receptionist’s browser were job hunting websites. I really didn’t blame her, two weeks was more than enough for me.

    1. Wowzer*

      I would really love to to see the reaction of people receiving mailed responses to their emails days later!

      The best part of fax machines was when people would include a note asking the recipient to fax back the documents they just received via fax because the sender only had one copy.

      1. A Feast of Fools*

        I worked at a big box office supply store in college back when faxing was still a thing but not everyone had a fax machine at home. I worked in the copy center and one of our services was sending and receiving faxes.

        At least once a week I had to explain to customers that, no, they didn’t need to make a copy of their document before I faxed it. And, “Please trust me on this, you’ll have these exact pages back in your hands in a few minutes,” wasn’t good enough. Nor was trying to explain that the machine was just “taking a picture” of the pages.

        We eventually had to put the fax machine on the customer service counter (instead of in the back where the high-speed copy machines were) so people could see that their pages went in one end and came out the other, and we handed them back one page at a time. With each page handed back, their anxiety visibly declined.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Half serious half rimshot? I once worked with the person who would copy blank paper to get more printer paper…..sadly less that ten years ago.

      2. quill*

        Couldn’t you just… fax the original across the hall or something? If you needed to use the fax to make a copy?

        Or is this even more ridiculous than I am thinking?

        1. Blj531*

          It’s even more ridiculous.
          Fax machines didn’t physically take your copy of the document- they basically scanned and transmitted the data over a phone line to the other persons fax which then printed a new copy.

          So your original didn’t get lost when you faxed it

    2. Sc@rlettNZ*

      One of my colleagues at the job I’ve just left used to print out all his emails and have the administrator file them.

      1. Irving Velociraptor*

        I just read an email best practices tutorial from 2012 that recommended treating all email correspondence like business mail. It called for printing and filing all emails to create a paper trail. Now, 2022 digital storage capacity far outstrips 2012’s, but that’s just lunacy. Also, any document requiring a signature should be printed, signed by hand, scanned into the computer and sent as an email. Then the hard copy should be filed.

        1. Warrior Princess Xena*

          That second one sounds a lot more reasonable – I recall in 2012 digital signatures were much less common and much less secure, and there are documents now where I want my actual physical signature on a hard-copy rather than just the electronic copy. But printing and filing ALL emails is just stupid and it’s a rare document that I want to keep that permament.

          1. Observer*

            The second you are using a scanned signature, the signature means absolutely zero. Do you realize how easy it is to spoof this – and to do it in a way that makes it impossible to even use the metadata to figure out that something is up?

            1. Blj531*

              The thing is your actually signature is pretty insecure as well. No one actually compares them and peoples handwriting varies enough that handwriting identification is… well let’s just say there is a debate about whether it is meaningful

              1. quill*

                Legally handwriting analysis can still be meaningful, although all the science points to it being probably entirely forensically useless.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I …may have had a temp job purging that filing cabinet down to the 10% actually worth retaining.

        3. Observer*

          Now, 2022 digital storage capacity far outstrips 2012’s, but that’s just lunacy.

          Agreed, even in 2012.

      2. Heather C*

        I worked for a community organization, and when I started I found that my predecessor had printed out the websites of partner organizations and other frequently used sites and put them in a big blue binder.

        I started there in 2010.

      3. Not playing your game anymore*

        Back when dinosaurs ruled the earth campus administrators used to do this (we’re talking late 80’s) We actually have a few files full of printed out emails in our library archives… we’ve discarded most of them, things confirming appt. times and itineraries, but printed memos and later emails have been helpful verifying timelines on occasion. I’m not sure how things are going to work 30 years from now when historians come looking only to find there are no yearbooks, no files of “correspondence” but, it won’t be my problem I guess. They won’t be able to read the handwritten marginalia either.

      4. A Change of Name*

        I work in internal audit / accounting / finance. We live in Excel.

        When my department’s VP reviews any work, he will *PRINT OUT* every tab of a massive spreadsheet, tape the pages together (because the data spreads across multiple 8.12″ x 11″ sheets of paper), then mark it up with a red pen, hand writing his review comments.

        His only saving grace is that he hands that mass of paper back to the person whose worked he reviewed instead of giving it to his admin to type in the original Excel file.

      5. dreamingofthebeach*

        The guy I replaced (as a senior executive level HR) had been here for 30 years — he printed MULTIPLE copies of every email and filed them all IN the same file — so if it was an email regarding employee John Smith, John’s employee file would have 6 copies of the email confirming he had received the document regarding x. And this former guy would email a reply, print multiple copies of that, and file those in the folder as well….well, correction, he would yell to the front office and have one of his “girls” bring the items off the printer to him, he would stamp with the old To be Filed stamp with the blank for a date – put the date in, and then make THEM file it in the cabinet IN HIS OFFICE. Ugh!

    3. For the Moment*

      My first internship, technical field, had a boss who would dutifully print out every email, hand write his response, type (in all caps) from his handwritten draft, send and then file the print out.

      Every one.

      I am thankful that he didn’t expect anyone else to support his system, and the end result was actually email communication, but whew, it just looked so painful every time.

    4. Lacey*

      That’s amazing. It would be so infuriating to get a letter in the mail in response to an email, but I love imagining people’s expressions when it happened!

    5. Anon4*

      Oh, that’s not bad. At least he printed them himself. In the year 2020, I left a job where one of my main responsibilities was printing each of the owner’s e-mails for him to review. Someone else took over the job when I left.

  7. The Lexus Lawyer*

    1 – wait, how would he know he was in the cc: and not to: if he didn’t at least read the top part?

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      You can set an Outlook rule to filter messages based on whether you’re in the “to” or the “cc” field. I’m assuming that’s what he is doing – perhaps he filters them straight to trash!

      1. cheapeats*

        Yep- my recently departed and unlamented “boss” did just this for years. He had an Action folder, where he was on the TO: line, and an Info folder, where he was on the CC: line. He never read the Info folder stuff unless he was bored and wanted to complain about being on CC for things he needed to take action on. He didn’t notify anyone of this rule, either, which made for a lot of fun times.

        1. Mid*

          What is the alternative here? Gmail isn’t secure enough, and I can’t think of any other major email service that would be common enough to not be scorned by you.

    2. Olevst*

      Good old Outlook. I actually worked with someone who did the same thing and what I can’t understand is why they feel the need to tell people. He just told me one day oh I don’t open emails unless I’m in the to field, if I’m in the CC field I can’t be that important to the discussion. Oh my God. An absolute lunatic. He also would not Mark out time on his calendar, and we were an exceptionally meeting heavy company. When I had to include him in a meeting and his calendar showed him free I would take a screenshot. When he would email me that he wasn’t free at that time I would send him the screenshot and say your calendar shows that you’re free. And then he would say I don’t block out time on my calendar if I’m doing something. Oh okay. You freak. Basically I just told him that nobody likes all the meetings we have to have, but all of us are in the same boat and you’re only making it more difficult for everyone and I’m not rescheduling any meetings you’re in if your calendar shows you are free. These people are absolutely exhausting.

      1. anonymous73*

        As a former Business Analyst and now Project Manager who has to setup a lot of meetings, nothing infuriates me more than people who don’t block off their calendars when they’re unavailable.

        1. Stephanie*

          Or doesn’t keep it up-to-date and you’re just guessing when/if they’re free or have to schedule the meeting at 7 am or 5 pm because the calendar isn’t clear otherwise…

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            I had a faculty member in a previous department who blocked his calendar every day, all day long, for the whole entire year. His stated reason was that he wanted people to have to ask his permission before scheduling meetings for him (i.e. sending him an Outlook meeting invitation). Like, he found it presumptuous that these meetings would just show up on his calendar without any prior conversation, so he made people have to contact him first — annoying!

        2. Howard Bannister*

          The only thing worse is people who block their entire calendar but if you ask them about time they’ll suggest a time… that’s fully booked on their calendar… (but won’t check your calendar to see if you’re free, that’s too much work) …

          1. Student*

            I can one-up that. I have a colleague who’s calendar is perpetually full. If I ask to book a meeting, he’ll direct me to book a meeting well outside of working hours instead. Think before 8 AM or after 7 PM, in an industry where that’s unusual outside of emergencies. A direct quote from him: “I have plenty of time free after 7 PM most days!”

            Then, when I nope out of that and decide to proceed without his input, he gets deeply resentful and makes a big huff to the boss. No, dude, I’m already working well over the hours I actually get paid for – I’m not adding yet another unpaid hour to my week for your sake.

    3. tamarack & fireweed*

      Most of those are great, but for 1 I’ve worked in an environment where this was part of the standard operating procedures, without any implied power move. It was understood that for the managers about one or two levels up from my boss and higher, even if they were cc:d on a message, there shouldn’t be an expectation for them to take action on it or even read it, except if the topic was something in their area of responsibility (in which case they should have been in the To: line, not Cc:) or it was a general announcement where everyone is in Cc: or Bcc:. Some of them filtered their email so that only the messages with their address in the To: line, plus some with keywords/tags that concerned them, would be highlighted. This was in an environment where everyone would get 400+ emails daily, so some strategy in managing the flood was definitely necessary, and the managers who used this would have been below the level where a PA filters their email, but high enough for their time to be quite valuable. Also it was to discourage the “I’ll put your big boss into Cc:, so there” move: If you wanted to bring up something with my grandboss you actually have to address my grandboss.

      I am still automatically quite selective about who I put into To: and who in Cc:, and sometimes reorganize these lines when I reply to group messages. Though I’m aware probably no one else cares.

      (I’m also not sure #2 is about power primarily – at least not in too oppressive a sense.)

  8. BCC*

    Re #1: It’s common for executives in my company to set an Outlook rule to place all of the emails where they are ‘only’ in CC into a separate folder and only review that folder periodically.

    When my manager became a manager (I was his first employee) he contemplated adding this rule to his inbox to me one day. I had to convince him, tactfully, that he was by no means senior enough to ignore all of the CC emails he received.

    1. Anonymous Hippo*

      Seems like a bad idea for an executive too…like CC is for informative purposes. Yes, maybe you don’t need to respond, but it’s very likely something you need to know about.

      1. BCC*

        Most of the people who are known to do it at least I form their direct reports. Additionally, they have an assistant checking the CC box more frequently. But also it’s almost cultural, it seems that everyone in the company knows not to put executives in the CC line if you want them to see it.

        It was slightly useful to, I could put ‘my’ executives name in cc and add a layer of importance to my email without actually bugging them.

    2. Subtext*

      It wasn’t just common for executives at my previous employer (fairly big multinational corporation). I got advised to do that very early on by the one in HR responsible for me. Generally people – including managers – were expected to NOT use CC in the case of tasks or important information.
      It worked incredibly well since a lot of mails were floating around every day and it was an easy way to filter out a lot of nonrelevant stuff…since I didn’t have to read everything. It did cause some friction with a new manager (and I got in trouble for not doing some urgent stuff I only got cc’d on) but she quickly picked up on it when I explained her what and why I was doing that (and started doing it herself).

  9. OyHiOh*

    RE #6/coat rack – I too am an office manager sort of person, who also has considerable latitude with ordering office supplies. I’ve so far managed to use my powers primarily for good, such as ordering fresh ink for a home printer going home with a hybrid worker (so they wouldn’t need to email me a week after getting the thing, because it had been sitting on a counter for actual *years* before going home with this colleague), calling up the electronics recycler to come and haul out piles of equipment we were never going to use, and clean up supplies for the boss’s office because he has a habit of just . . . leaving spills?

    1. JJax*

      I had the messy spill boss too! Moving anything in his office was guaranteed to leave you with sticky hands, and one time I tried to take a piece of paper off of the desk and ripped it in half because the other half was glued to the desk with dried soda. When his predecessor had been in place the carpet in that office was a mild blue, but by the end of Sticky’s five-year tenure, it was a blotchy dark gray.

      At least the obsessive hand-washing I learned in that job to deal with his disgustingness was useful during the pandemic.

      1. OyHiOh*

        My boss’s office wasn’t vacuumed by cleaning staff, for more than a year, because he left so much paperwork scattered on the floor. We ended up exchanging offices, and as soon as his/now mine was clean enough to vacuum, I swear the carpet lightened by about three shades.

      2. Zweisatz*

        As disgusting as that must have been (my condolences), the ripped paper made me laugh.

  10. Susan Anderson*

    #9 brings back bad memories about our dreadful school admin who similarly once insisted that I pay for a stamp on a handwritten envelope because she didn’t believe that it was for business (it was). A couple of days later she asked me to deliver an urgent piece of correspondence to a colleague who was off sick and lived quite near me. A little bit of me would have loved to ask for money for the extra fuel but I just couldn’t stoop to her level!

    1. anonymous73*

      Oh I would have so enjoyed calculating the cost of the fuel it would have taken me to drive the extra distance and let her know that I could do it for a price.

    2. Grand Admiral Thrawn Is Blue Forevermore*

      Many years back I worked as a temp at a publishing company. One day we switched from mailing in our time sheets to the temp agency, to getting timecards to punch at the assignment. At that time a stamp was… 25 cents? Maybe 32? Another temp had an absolute fit because she had already mailed hers in. And wasted her precious few cents.

      1. FrenchCusser*

        To be fair to her, when I was unemployed/temping, that extra 32 cents would have made a difference in my QOL. Like, can I afford to put some tuna in this salad?

    3. Nina*

      I would have done it and submitted the mileage claim tbh. But my employer has a very clear policy that if you’re using your own car for work purposes, you get IRS-prescribed mileage for the distance from your normal workplace or your home, whichever is closer to the destination.

    4. G Clarke*

      I mean… is it just me or it just seems like a bit of a career limiting move for a departmental admin to try and argue with a senior exec about whether or not something is business related, especially over the cost of a stamp?

  11. Salymander*

    The project manager letter is just so hilarious. Spying on the other groups? Over a gingerbread house? He sounds like a frustrated James Bond villain who inexplicably decides to compete on Bake Off. That is a film I would totally pay to see!

    The Rogue Crossing Guard. So funny. Was she just bored, or was she like some kind of Caped Crusader in an orange vest?

    The Coat Rack letter hit a little too close to home. The earnest, change resistant, micromanaging silliness reminds me of way too many former bosses and coworkers. The LW was really clever and kind in the way they handled that one.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I posted up above, but I wonder if the crossing guard was retired and had seen too many close calls at the intersection in question and was trying to prevent a tragedy? There are definitely intersections like that in the downtown area of my city.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        It’s definitely possible, but the commenter did add these additional details: “And for reference, it was not a dangerous intersection! It was pretty busy, but it was a four way stop, so traffic was stopping anyway!”

        1. Liz*

          It’s worth noting that most people, but especially drivers, dramatically underestimate how dangerous intersections are for vulnerable road users like pedestrians and bicyclists, especially at even seemingly simple but busy intersections in cities like Chicago.

          1. Artemesia*

            Crossing on the light with a toddler in hand near my apartment on LSD, a left turning motorist swung around the corner (with total visibility) and nearly creamed us — only the urgent honking of a taxi driver at the intersection as well as my being aware and pulling the kid back prevented disaster. I was in a crosswalk walking on green/walky man.

            On the other hand tourists tend to cross on green not waiting for the white walky man when the traffic has a right to make left turns thus screwing up motorist traffic.

              1. quill*

                When my brother lived in chicago most of the intersections on the way to his apartment needed one.

              1. Leenie*

                I’m pretty sure she meant “Lake Shore Drive.” But I, too, momentarily wondered about the advisability of walking around with a toddler while tripping.

        2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Ahh – had a major project the day the initial thread happened, so I had only the info in #2 to go off of.

          And yes – I’ve met a few of those impatient drivers in my city too. So much fun to be honked at for staying at the intersection and NOT turning the second the light changes to make sure no pedestrians are going to cross the road first.

    2. KateM*

      I’m imagining the Rogue Crossing Guard as a Caped Crusader for all wronged pedestrians, with extra special care for children, elderly, and other such people who necessary take so long time crossing that if they had to wait for a suitable space in traffic, they’d have to wait for a long time.

      1. Salymander*

        Yeah, like when Batman or Wonder Woman or whoever goes into retirement, they decide to keep their skills up by becoming…

        I don’t know. Too tired to think of a good superhero name. Any suggestions?

        1. allathian*

          The Amazing Lollipop Lady? In the UK, at least in the 1980s, crossing guards who worked near schools in the morning and afternoon to ensure safe crossings for children were called lollipop ladies because they held a small stop sign in the shape of a lollipop. The vast majority of these people were/are women. The male version, lollipop man, doesn’t have the same pop to it.

              1. quill*

                Okay, first you take your application to the mayor of munchkin city, in the county of the land of Oz…

            1. Margaretmary*

              I read this as the Lollipop Gardaí at first. The gardaí are our police force in Ireland, so…it would sort of make sense. The Lollipop Police.

              1. Salymander*

                That sounds like a way more hardcore badass version of the Lollipop Guild. Awesome!!!

    3. Bunny Girl*

      The crossing guard sounds much more professional that the mentally ill man who used to stand in the middle of our intersection shirtless with a weapon he carved out of a branch.

  12. The Lexus Lawyer*

    Sorry to be pedantic but for #6, it’s “free rein” as in a horse. It’s not “reign” like a monarch.

    1. Giddyup*

      I have given up on this one and am patiently awaiting the day when “reign” is officially declared Equally Correct by whoever declares these things.

        1. The Lexus Lawyer*

          Faze/phase gets me so mad.

          Another more recent one I have been seeing is people butchering camaraderie by writing it as comradery for some inane reason

          1. Elle*

            I actually just found out the linguistic reason for this and I think it’s fascinating. Apparently, both comrade and camaraderie come from the same french word (I believe it’s camarade) but comrade was brought into English much earlier, before standardized English spelling was really A Thing, and so the original french spelling was lost. Camaraderie was brought in much later and retains basically the same spelling as the French equivalent. Given the similarity in meaning and pronunciation, people who are unfamiliar with the spelling of camaraderie often assume it is just comrade+ry.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          You guys are making me nostalgic for childhood when a much-older friend ranted on the drift from normality to normalcy.

        3. WellRed*

          Phase faze and discrete discreet arrrrgggggh. So abused in the comments on this site. I like you guys!

        4. londonedit*

          I’m almost at the point of giving up on ‘everyday/every day’. ‘Everyday’ is everywhere.

      1. Ravine*

        The confusion is understandable. Both horse-riding and reigning are pretty niche, antiquated activities. But it still makes me bristle every time, along with “hold down the fort”.

        1. Em*

          There’s a wonderful David Mitchell bit from a few years ago on that. “What, is it some sort of… inflatable hover-fort that’s liable to blow away if things get a bit breezy?”

          1. ShysterB*

            Apparently “hold the fort”. But they can pry that “down” from my cold, dead fingers after I fail to hold the fort.

            1. Kate*

              Wow. I have a Ph.D. and was raised by two journalists, and I was today years old when I learned that one.

        2. OtterB*

          Heh. I was following a twitter thread recently about people who tell their pets that they’ll be back soon when they leave the house. Our standard to our dog (no longer with us, alas) was to tell him to “Dog the fort” as we left.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            I’m now inspired to splice that with yoga and downward dog the fort.

          2. Mid*

            I leave the house every day with “I love you, baby cat! Be good!” And a kiss on her nose. One time I forgot because I was running late, I got two blocks away from my apartment, and turned around to go back and give her a kiss and say good bye because it felt terrible to not do it.

      2. ShinyPenny*

        “Definately/defiantly,” is my personal cringe. It appears to be purely an act of autocorrect sabotage that is missed shockingly often. They are two completely unrelated words! I mean, surely nobody is actually confused about the meanings? But I am horrified at the possibility that they’ll eventually be declared synonyms just based on how frequently it happens.

        1. Napkin Thief*

          I think that happens because “definitely” doesn’t actually have an “A” in it when spelled correctly, so “defiantly” is the closest alternative to the misspelled version :) Both give me hives!

        2. allathian*

          Definitely/defiantly. Spelling definitely with an a, as you did, is one of MY pet peeves. I live in fear that it’ll eventually be declared a correct spelling because it’s so common.

        3. Iris Eyes*

          I think you can attribute this one up to people just not seeing the middle of words when they read. I would guess that most people don’t even notice the misspelling, their brain knows which one is correct in the context because the meanings are so distinct.

        4. laser99*

          Has anyone else noticed “publically”? I see it occasionally and it drives me batty. “The mayor publically admitted to wrongdoing…”

      3. The Rural Juror*

        Champing at the bit makes no sense to me, but CHOMPING at the bit does. I was perplexed when I learned the “correct” phrase.

        1. Beth*

          Horses champ their teeth. It’s a repeated nervous movement, as opposed to taking a sibgle hard bite (chomping).

      4. Elenna*

        I think this one has already been Officially Declared Correct by Merriam-Webster, but the one that really bugs me is “lowly” used to mean “quietly/softly”.

        1. JESUS IS THE MAN!*

          Ugh, I run across this one in fanfic quite a bit. I’d like to think I’m not a raging prescriptivist, but I can’t stop cringing when I see it.

    2. Nea*

      I know, but I always get the most delightful mental image of a monarch, complete with crown, red velvet, and ermine, ambling slowly with their head down, wandering where they please.

    3. Nanani*

      Reminds of my pet peeve: It’s try a different TACK, as in ship rigging, not different “tact.”
      I suspect some people thing “tact” is short for “tactic” maybe? But “tact” actually means it’s own thing and you can’t have “different tact.”
      You can try tact, perhaps changing tack to do so.

      1. Not playing your game anymore*

        Mine is “tough road to hoe” No! It’s a row. Like a row of cotton or corn or…

        1. You may not mean exactly that*

          Always makes me think of the other kind of “ho” which would be more likely to occur in an urban environment…

      2. This is a name, I guess*

        Maybe we need to get rid of all these nautical metaphors in our language! Only rich people and a handful of Navy peeps even use this language anyway. And, let’s be real, the military has enough slang. :D

        1. lost academic*

          I don’t really think it’s entirely about antiquated language – you see things like this even with commonly used words – it’s more about phrases you only ever hear, especially early in life, where you get an idea of the words associated with them and how to spell things and it just sticks with you. Maybe someone doesn’t see that phrase in writing, like, ever. Like misinterpreted song lyrics.

          As an opposite aside – like anyone would guess how to pronounce “colonel” if they never heard it.

            1. eisa*

              On a thread about recruiter horror stories (I can’t remember whether it was here or maybe on Workplace Stackexhange), someone shared the following gem from a recruiter company’s ad :

              “Required : Experience with the Linux colonel”

              1. quill*

                And the Kentucky fried one as well. (I spent my childhood not knowing that Colonel was pronounced Kernel. Because in my mind kernel, pronounced exactly as spelled, is a grain of corn or a kernel of truth, while colonel should not have an R in it at all!)

    4. AcademiaNut*

      Fun fact – this is what is known as an eggcorn; when a word or phrase is misunderstood, and replaced with something that sounds similar (see also tow the line, all intensive purposes, mute point)

      1. All the words*

        My contribution: Dominate instead of dominant.

        The dominate culture of that part of the world…

      1. eisa*

        Hilarious ! I didn’t click through all the pages, but I expect the very popular “per say” is also listed there.

        If you like this kind of thing, I also recommend “Word Crimes” by Weird Al Yankovic, the video is as fantastic as the song itself.

    1. John Smith*

      Can I second this? I was going to post “shout-out to #2”. We need more people like this.

    1. Marika*

      I don’t know – there’s an intersection on my route to my kiddo’s school that is always NUTS before and after school: there’s a crossing guard two blocks up for where the primary school kids cross, but at this intersection, all the middle school kids are biking to THEIR school, and it’s crazy. And, because there’s a crossing guard two blocks up, the city refuses to assign another one, no matter how people complain.

      It was better during the lockdowns – because hey, no schools – but when the schools went back it went from bad to horrendous; no buses and no carpooling meant that every kid who COULD bike to school DOES bike to school – and we live where biking is possible pretty much all year. It got to the point where you basically held your breath and prayed when you were approaching the intersection – between kids who didn’t look and drivers who got impatient… My husband did the drive for a week (I was out with a knee injury) and after day two he went out and bought a dashcam, just so that WHEN he saw an accident, there would be a record (and yeah, he saw one on day four, and a couple of close calls).

      Four months ago, one of the houses on the corner finished a MASSIVE reno – and apparently, one of the homeowner’s parents moved in. The following Monday morning, said homeowner’s dad was out on the corner, with a vest, a crossing guard’s sign and a whistle. He works the morning commute – his wife works the afternoon commute. That intersection runs like a swiss watch! Everyone seems to listen, everyone follows instructions and the delays are gone – and there hasn’t been a single close call that I know of; I’ve certainly never seen one, where I personally was seeing two or three a week. The police came by about three weeks after they started – spent at least an hour watching (they were there when I did the drive to school and were still there when I went home after running a couple of errands) and… nada. Nothing ever came of it, that I know of, and they’re still there, marshaling the traffic and the ‘bike patrol’ (that’s my kiddo’s nickname for the masses of bikes who gather on the corners waiting their turn), and always with a smile, and a wave for kids in cars… I’ve got to say, BOY do they make the neighbourhood better!

      1. Critical Rolls*

        That’s lovely. Makes me think of Mr Rodger’s encouragement to “look for the helpers.”

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Yay to the volunteers – boo to the city. And I bet the police love it because no more responding to accidents (and car vrs pedestrian accidents are the worst) at that intersection anymore.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Oh – and I bet the school likes it too – because it being a safer crossing may actually help some kids get to school on time too.

          1. KateM*

            It may help to get some kids to get to school, period. (Instead of being run over on their way to school.)

      3. For the Moment*

        Good for them!

        My kiddo’s school is in a civic planning nightmare – two one lane one way streets in to drop off, a single lane one way street out, no actual pick up/drop off area that is out of the “flow”, multiple schools of tiny children (3 preschools and an elementary) on all fronts, lots of walkers/bikes. We have crossing guards and I can’t imagine the city pretending the different cross walks don’t need one because there’s another one on the next nightmare street corner.

        As it is, some Range Rover is going to take out a first grader. I think about equipping my kid’s backpack with a flag to get her some height.

  13. MisterForkbeard*

    Regarding number 1, I have to set really aggressive e-mail rules because I get a ludicrous amount of them. While I read things that are cc’d to me, I don’t always read things that go out to distribution groups that I’m on.

    This is because I’m in a large organization, I have very limited time but receive something like 700 emails each day and literally can’t read all of them if I want to do anything else. This doesn’t strike me as necessarily a petty abuse of power, but I guess I’d need to know why they were doing it.

    1. anonymous73*

      I wouldn’t call it an abuse of power because by not reading something you’re only potentially causing an issue for yourself.

    2. Warrior Princess Xena*

      I can’t comprehend not keeping up on CCs. Sure, organization-wide emails can be a problem, but at least in my organization CCs are used to flag ‘here’s some info you’re going to need that I got from this third party’ or ‘an issue has come up and I’m looping in the manager because we need backup here’. I haven’t gotten more than a dozen emails in the last 6 months that I would classify as ‘didn’t need that at all, thanks’

  14. My own boss*

    I had a team member who refused to be held responsible for any tasks discussed in emails he was cc’d on. He once told me I was “lucky” he happened to read an email back and forth with a client that was explicitly about his tasks. I about died.

    1. Sabina*

      I was an admin for the Board of Directors for a non-profit. At least 2 of the Directors would not check their email unless I called them to tell them I was sending an email and then again later to insure they got and read the email. Even then they would complain they weren’t receiving minutes, agendas, etc. I then would have to explain what an attachment was and how to open one (I explained this numerous times but it didn’t seem to stick.)

  15. Order of the Banana*

    Awww, seeing my post (#11) on the list made my afternoon. Let me consider this the pinnacle of my achievements.

    If anyone is curious, the project manager’s favourite way of spying on the other teams on the floor was to go over and strike up a conversation with whichever employee was sitting closest to the gingerbread house so he could get a really good look at what they were building. The only problem was that most of these employees were people he’d never interacted with before, so his attempts at conversation were probably met with a lot of confusion. At one point, one of the employees I was friendly with approached me in the breakroom and asked if the project manager was trying to hit on her.

    Also, the best gingerbread house by far was the three-storey Disney-esque castle put together by a lady whose side hustle was baking and cake decorating. She took the gingerbread house home with her to work on it a few days before the party, and project manager wanted to accuse her cheating because that was unfair.

    1. Anonymouse*

      Banana, you are an excellent writer. When I got to the gingerbread reveal, I made a sustained high-pitch noise that prompted my cat to come investigate.

      1. Order of the Banana*

        Thank you so much! I actually look forward to more of these type of Ask the Reader type of questions, because this coworker was a walking collection of red flags, and he supplied enough tea to satisfy all of Britain.

    2. Salymander*

      This makes it even better. I picture the Gingerbread Spy humming the Mission Impossible theme to himself while moseying up to coworkers he had never spoken to before for a friendly chat. And the castle baking winner was cheating by having extra skills and taking the thing home! Delightful!

        1. HairApparent*

          I can’t stop picturing this guy ducking into the bathroom to put on his Clark disguise while doing this intra-office recon! :)

      1. Empress Matilda*

        I’m picturing the black market in decorations…some guy wearing a trench coat, walking around whispering “psst…ya wanna buy some gumdrops?”

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Hey for a couple of years there, Neca Wafers were a hot commodity. (150yo company closed, and it was a while before another company took on production of their 1860s-era candy that makes beautiful roof shingles.)

    3. Phony Genius*

      You know, I wouldn’t put it past him to actually have been trying to hit on that employee, anyway.

      1. Salymander*

        Like Napoleon Dynamite? He was trying to woo the coworker with his team leader skills? His Gingerbread skills? His super spy skills?

    4. Casper Lives*

      Yours was my favorite story!! I cracked up at the gingerbread house reveal. Perfect.

    5. Mallory Janis Ian*

      The reveal that it was a gingerbread house was hilarious, and then the spying-technique update just kicked it over the top.

  16. many bells down*

    #8 is giving me some rage right now because I’ve been having a similar issue with one person in my office. We’re a staff of 10 Chris, you can just cc the person you need to include on the mail.

  17. Artemesia*

    Missed this but this reminds of an example:

    I was nearly 50 years ago a new asst prof and was really avant guard with media in that I used an overhead projector which virtually no one else did. This was long before personal computers and even routine installation of projectors in classrooms. So I not only had to make slides laboriously but also fetch a projector from across campus and carry it to my classroom and then return it. The newly hired highly paid professorial level media support guy had no one to actually deliver it and as far as I can tell was doing nothing to support or increase classroom media use.

    A colleague pointed out to me that there was an AV closet in our building and I could just use projectors from that and gave me a key. When I thanked overpaid yutz for the convenience of building AV resources, he changed the locks so I couldn’t use those projectors. At the time I had one in my office as I was getting ready for class and discovered the lock change when I tried to return it. That projector lived in my office for years till they put them in all the classrooms. No noone ever missed it. Almost no one but me ever used this stuff.

    1. Artemesia*

      After my college merged with giant research university I was an associate Dean to our new Dean. He was the world’s greatest boss and all around fabulous guy — but frugal. Like when he took me to lunch he used 2 for one coupons. So when he discovered a whole closet full of carbon sets, he insisted we use them up. The back copy was blue. A few days later we got this burst of incandescent rage from the Chancellor’s admin. Apparently ONLY the Chancellor was entitled to blue copies and getting one was kind of like a message from on high and this blueness had to be respected and NO ONE could use blue copies and. the Dean was clearly trying to undermine authority by so doing because EVERYONE KNEW it was a princely thing. FWIW the Dean’s office had been the President’s office when our college was independent, and so perhaps it was a Presidential thing back then — no idea. It seemed incredibly petty.

    2. London Lass*

      I love how his petty power move backfired by locking the projector OUT of the closet. Although I suppose you never had the satisfaction of letting him know that you had won, lest he reclaim it…

      1. Artemesia*

        Exactly. But feeling superior and smug was reward enough. The thing that drove me nuts is that he was an expensive hire and as long as he was there did as far as I can tell absolutely nothing to improve classroom media use, which you can imagine given that I was tres innovative because I occasionally used an overhead was very behind the times even for then.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I can almost see number two from today as good – if the self appointed crossing guard prevented anybody from being hit that counts as a Very Good Thing.

    2. Liz*

      It’s honestly very, very troubling to me that people consider the crossing guard as using small amount of power for bad instead of good. Stopping completely at stop signs where pedestrians are present is the literal bare minimum for being a safe driver in a city.

      I understand that everyone wants to get where they’re going, but allowing cars to speed through cities like Chicago – places where the majority of residents and visitors rely on public or active transit to get around – was a gigantic, dangerous mistake that endangers the majority of people who don’t get around in cars! Traffic violence kills people at an alarming rate, and that violence disproportionately affects marginalized people, including people of color and poorer neighbors. People shouldn’t have to risk their lives to cross streets, and this crossing guard was almost certainly speaking to that awful reality.

      1. Salymander*

        I don’t think anyone thinks that the crossing guard is bad. It is just a really funny and whimsical story.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Exactly — this wasn’t power used for bad. It’s great just because she seized power for herself and used it in a way you don’t expect.

          1. Coconutty*

            But then what makes it an abuse of power? It’s a funny story, sure, but I don’t see how it fits here.

        2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Oh not what I meant to imply – I was going from the angle that Alison has the first nominee for that post!

          1. Salymander*

            Yeah I figured that was it. :)

            Honestly, I can see myself doing that in another 20 years or so. The intersection near the school by my house is a nightmare, and at least one person was killed there (while crossing at night, but still really scary in the day). I used to walk my kid to school, and more than once I sort of took over because they hired a really unreliable crossing guard. If I had less to do and I was slightly more grumpy, that orange vest would look mighty tempting.

            1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

              My kidddos school finally has crossing guards this year (actually I think they started half way through last year). It has improved the walking/biking safety. Crossing guards are a must around elementary and middle schools in my book. By high school most of the kids can drive, so I think the crossing guards are a bit more optional there.

              It was a matter I think of enough parents finally complained to the district that crossing guards were needed (which is the way it works where I live).

              1. Salymander*

                We have one, she just didn’t always show up, or was really late. They fired her and found someone she, and the new crossing guard is great. The kids all do what they are supposed to, and even the parents and motorists do not dare to break the rules. She is a bit scary, yet awesome.

      2. moonstone*

        I was going to say, I think that story is an example of power used for good! The intersections in the city where I live are crazy and we could use some vigilante cross guards.

  18. June*

    For #8, I had a boss who was very similar. He would just forward things to me and say “Please make sure this gets to [law firm].” And then when Law Firm would inevitably come back with questions, he would expect me to go into his office, read them out loud, and he would dictate what the answers were, or order me to order them to give him a call. But it had to be when he was free, so he would also make me pull up his calendar while I was sitting there and read to him what his own availability was. Usually he would say something like “That doesn’t seem right, I’m supposed to go golfing on Tuesday so that afternoon shouldn’t be free.” Once we decided on a time I would then email outside counsel and have them send a calendar invite, and then would spend the next several days fielding increasingly-panicked calls from them as they wondered if he was going to be at the actual meeting. Sometimes he’d dial in, sometimes he wouldn’t, but he never actually “Accepted” any of the calendar invites so no one ever knew what he would do.

    At the end of all these calls he would then say, “That sounds complicated, send me an email.” -.-

    1. sofar*

      OMG. I’ve definitely worked with people who “don’t do” calendar invites, and I always had to remember to email the Zoom link to them directly before the meeting. Otherwise they likely wouldn’t show up.

    2. GelieFish*

      I saw this more as someone who didn’t understand email. I had a contract employee (overall competent but aging) who was printing and scanning documents to email. When he realized he could just attach and forward he felt like such an idiot. We all died laughing when his fellow employee (who was his son) was sharing this with us.

    3. Julia*

      At one of my academic jobs it was common for older male faculty have their wife coordinate with their admin to make sure their calendars were correct. It was wild.

  19. Susanna*

    Is it OK the I think the crossing guard is a bizarro control freak and also kind of awesome?

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I’m right there with you – and wondering if it was an intersection where previously cars had been bad about paying attention to pedestrians- so the self appointed crossing guard set out to prevent any accidents themselves.

    2. Artemesia*

      Speaking as a control freak, it is an example of using that gift for good. To the extent we natural organizers of everyone can figure out how to channel it to make life better for others rather than annoying the fire out of them, it is a win.

  20. Esmeralda Fitzmonster*

    I about died at, “They just didn’t think it was going to work out” in the coat rack letter. It rings so true!

  21. Dust Bunny*


    As a lifelong builder of gingerbread houses I would 100% have showed up unannounced with a four-story Second Empire decked out in full royal-icing holiday decor, just to tweak him.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        It could!

        I read a thing in Good Housekeeping or something years ago about cutting a hole out of a cake, sealing it with frosting, and filling it with blue gelatin. I’ve been dying to try it. It sounds disgusting but it would look cool.

        1. Artemesia*

          I made a cake with my granddaughter this summer that when you cut a slice, each slice is an American flag. It was fun and came out amazing. The little sugar stars I used in the blue part melted so I need to figure out something better for stars, but it was pretty neat.

        2. Becky*

          You are my kind of person.

          I once made a Shelob cake just for fun (early pandemic) and for my friend’s birthday I made a external Bag End (complete with tree on top of the hill). (we’re Lord of the Rings geeks)

        3. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Track down an old steel or silvered serving tray. Build house on part of it and ice the “snowy yard”, and do the rest in blue jello. Float a swan.

        4. Gamer Girl*

          I did that! Years and years ago for my little brother’s 13th birthday party. It worked so well, and I did a whole set piece with gummy bears and various candies to make the floaty accessories, diving board, etc. It was surprisingly straightforward, and if any leaks out, it’s just like a poke cake, so the flavor won’t be spoiled.

  22. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

    I’m kinda torn about the crossing guard. Part of me thinks “weird flex” obviously.

    But then I remember the news story from the 90s. Woman somewhere in Texas was tired of people speeding through the school zone near her house. She wrapped an old hair dryer in duct tape and sat near the road, pointing it at cars as they drove by and writing in a notepad. People complained. Police said there was no law against pointing an unplugged hair dryer at someone.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Hey, they slowed down! That was probably the whole point of the excercise.

      1. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

        Exactly. Murphy’s Second Law of Combat teaches us, “If it’s stupid and it works, it’s not stupid.”

    2. Aggretsuko*

      Reminds me of an old neighbor who got pissed off if anyone parked in front of his house or drove anywhere near the house. He left me a Crazy Person Note one time (yay) and glared and waved his hands at you to go away if he was outside.

      I *think* he’s moved now since I haven’t seen him since the pandemic started, but I’m still afraid to have my car near his house.

      1. Artemesia*

        A colleague’s sister’s fiance was shot to death by an old lady for parking in front of her house.

      2. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        I live on a cul-de-sac, and my next-door neighbor has four cars, but we do NOT mind him parking them in front of our house.

        The only time I get upset is when someone parks – in front of my MAILBOX – and the mail hasn’t yet arrived for the day. If someone’s blocking that, I don’t get mail delivery.

        We also have a new neighbor who had workmen park in front of the fire hydrant across the street. And the police once asked me about that , and I said “that’s the neighbors’ – I guess. Not my circus, not my monkeys.”

      3. Becky*

        I live in a 4-plex apartment that is on a road with a bunch of single family detached homes. The house next door has a barn in their backyard that is regularly used for sports practice (I have seen both baseball and lacrosse equipment carried by players) and the people playing or observing will park on every inch of the street. Luckily the apartment has parking in the back so I don’t mind the street being packed unless or until they block my driveway. The neighbor has a horseshoe driveway and so one side of their driveway is just a few feet from ours. A small car MIGHT be able to park between them without blocking one or both completely–the people who regularly show up in f150s? not so much.

      4. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

        Stuff like this boggles my mind. I live at the end of a cul de sac. Due to the geometry of the ‘sac, my neighbors have about —this much— sidewalk in front of their house. Their son has parked in front of my house every day for the last ten years (and pretty much constantly for the last two years). I have done a lot of yardwork during the pandemic and every time I come home to see him gone, I rush and take a picture because I don’t know when the next time will be.
        Meanwhile, I recently drove over to my BIL’s, who lives on a straight street. We pulled in to the curb near the border between his place and the neighbor’s. Neighbor came out and stood in front of my wife’s door and wanted to know what we wanted. (?!?) It took her a minute to realize that “Just visiting!” meant “not her.”

      5. Ali + Nino*

        Sounds like a neighbor of mine who threatened to call the police when someone stopped in front of his driveway for a few minutes.

    3. Esmeralda*

      We had a lot of trouble with people speeding on our residential street. Lots of kids, no sidewalks.

      I grabbed our city trash bin, hauled it out to the street and stuck it in the middle of the street. I was working in the yard, so I could move it if need be.

      Most people slowed down, maneuvered around the trash can, and went on their way.

      Not this guy. He stopped in front of the trash can and beeped numerous times. I walked out to the street and pulled the trash can out of the way. “Hey, what’s up with the trash can?” he asks. “You’re driving to f**ing fast and I don’t want any dead children in the street” I reply. He drove off slowly.

      My husband told me to stop it because he was afraid someone would shoot me. Alas, he was right.

      But it sure felt good that one afternoon.

    4. Salymander*

      I love this!!!

      In my neighborhood, we have one guy who waits at the bus stop in full samurai armor, complete with sword. Wooden sword, I hope. We also have a guy who walks around dressed like a viking. They may or may not be the same guy, because they are never at the same place together, and I have never seen either without their helmets/face masks on. I think this guy/guys would make very effective crossing guards. The kids would love them!

  23. Catherine*

    Perhaps even more petty than number 1, a manager in a huge company I worked for got really angry if he received an email where his email address was listed after that of more junior staff. He felt that all emails should have the recipients listed by seniority or it was a terrible insult. I took great pleasure in sending emails with recipients listed alphabetically, knowing how much it would annoy him.

    1. ThisIsTheHill*

      I worked for one of those types early in my career. It was so ingrained in me back then that now, some 20 years later, I still generally add recipients based on their seniority. People get so weird about the oddest things.

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        In my first job, the lab director would put the names of the authors in alphabetical order and his post doc got upset that a lab tech was ahead of him.
        Nice paper, but the other one where I had to do a lot of scanning electron microscopy was my favorite.

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I still do the order of seniority thing, too, as a holdover from olden times.

    2. MsM*

      Can we pre-emptively count this one toward this week’s upcoming “tiny amounts of power used for good” theme?

    3. OyHiOh*

      I use a couple variations of alphabetical order consistently and routinely. If anyone thinks I’m ordering someone else above them, they haven’t said so to my face.

    4. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      Confession time: I often put recipients in order of how much I like them.

    5. Someguy*

      I end up generally doing it in inverse order of rank.” First are the people I actually need to communicate with – who will actually contribute to the conversation. Then their supervisors for the folks whose bosses need(?) to be included. Plus associated program management. Then if there are enough of them, their shared boss. So exhausting keeping everyone in the loop about everything. Fortunately nobody complains (that I have noticed anyways).

  24. CarrieT*

    #12 – The thought of printing green paper onto green paper makes me cringe so hard. The entire sheet covered in green ink!!

    1. Clorinda*

      Also, how brilliant of OP to . . . copy the form onto her own green paper! I cackled evilly. It was brilliant, so simple and yet so precise.

  25. Ann Nonymous*

    I love all of these SO MUCH! I spent way too much time the other day scrolling through the stories, but missed a couple of these the first time.

  26. Emily*

    I worked with someone who didn’t read emails if he was cc’d on them. This totally made sense to me — he got hundreds of emails a day, so he filtered out the ones that he was just cc’d on. He was in a leadership position, so he’d tell you to cc him on something if you needed the attention of the person you were emailing (because the appearance that he was tracking this could frequently produce that), but you didn’t actually need him to read it. I think that was reasonable.

    1. ThisIsTheHill*

      That was one of my former boss’ reasoning as well. She knew that if I needed her to read something, she’d get a separate e-mail sent high priority; that system might not work for everyone – because you know some people would flag everything – but the system was pretty perfect for us.

    2. Critical Rolls*

      It’s one thing if there are reasons for it, and it’s openly and clearly communicated what the reasons and expectations are. This… does not sound like that.

  27. tessa*

    #8 “After that temp job. I spent months signing up his email address for every single spammy newsletter and mailing list under the sun and sending absolute garbage through the form on their website.”

    You’re my favorite of all, Number 8 – and just when I was going to purr about the crossing guard.

    At #10: DYING!!

    1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      I don’t really understand the point though. Seems to me that OP was the one abusing their power to harass an inept boss and any future admins.

  28. Ness*

    #3 is my favorite! I’m in Pacific time and on a team with several people in Mountain time and one guy in Eastern time. We have a recurring meeting at 11:00 MT, and any time someone says “good morning” the ET guy reminds everyone that actually, it’s afternoon for him.

    1. SheLooksFamiliar*

      Our global and North American HQs are in Central time, and team members all over the world are part of Town Hall or team meetings. One of our meeting leads says ‘Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening, everyone…’ to cover all time zones.

      Most stick with ‘Welcome, everyone,’ or ‘Thanks for joining.’ You know, something time-neutral.

      1. Mouse*

        I’ve seen various online people say “Happy Timezone,” which I thought was kind of hilarious.

      2. Elle*

        I do a lot of virtual chats for prospective students and always open with “Good morning / afternoon from ‘city'”, which always produces a lovely little flurry of people responding in kind!

      3. Elsajeni*

        I used to read a forum that was split roughly evenly between Australians and USians, and everyone was always hopelessly confused about each other’s time zones, so the forum culture eventually evolved the greeting “good MAEN” — morning, afternoon, evening or night, choose whichever applies!

    2. Artemesia*

      I’ll bet he doesn’t eat sandwiches either.

      People who have to point out pointless things that make them an exception are tedious boors.

    3. Loredena Frisealach*

      We’ve been having standups with our offshore team in India in onshore’s morning. They get on and say good morning, I get on and say good evening. Seems reasonable!

    4. Beeb*

      I’m on central time and most of my team is on pacific time. I start at 8 am their time, I can’t wait to make them all hate me by correcting people on what time it is for me when they say “hello 8 am squad”

    5. O'Bunny*

      In a previous job, I was on a multinational development team: project management in the UK, documentation in Eastern Standard Time, physical development in CST, and major test sites in Atlantic Time, Mountain Time, and in Tokyo. The weekly meeting time rotated so it was only unreasonable for you one week out of three, and eyerybody just said “Hello”.

    6. coffee*

      My team was, for a while, banned from opening any email with “Good morning” in case the recipient opened it in the afternoon and “became confused”. (Same for good afternoon, in case they opened it the next day.)

  29. Not Australian*

    There was that time I got screamed at for buying a *pencil* for office use (out of petty cash) on my lunch break…

    1. Artemesia*

      Did you present your old pencil to the accountant to DEMONSTRATE you had used it up before you were authorized for a new one? Well didja?

    2. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      We had an admin person who wouldn’t allow staff to have small boxes of paperclips. If we wanted paperclips, we had to tell her how many and she’d count them out into an envelope. When I asked for steno pads (which was the easiest way for me to log public requests at the time), she wanted me to photocopy my current one for her so she could determine if it was a good use of a steno pad. Nuttier than squirrel poo.

  30. Lab Boss*

    I had the misfortune to answer to chairboss!

    For some context and closure: He used to hold some kind of higher-up advisory position. He was very bad at that job, but he also had some connections to company VIPs that saved him from being fired, so he was put in charge of my tiny department (at the time we were considered a “lesser” team that nobody wanted to get stuck with). As the company grew and moved away from the good-old-boys early days, his protection got more and more tenuous until he was ushered into a last-chance job that focused entirely on his schmoozing and socializing skills. I strongly suspect he was on the verge of being ushered out, but his father passed away on the other side of the country and he moved back to take over the family business.

    Everything he did was as absurd as the chair of shame. I put a few examples above but he had a whole host of “endearing quirks.” A lot of time and energy was wasted on our arm of the organization working around that gaping missing stair, and more than once I got some version of “we know he’s terrible, and a buffoon. We know you’re doing your best in spite of him. We’re trying to get rid of him. Please don’t quit over this latest thing he did.” In retrospect it was profoundly dysfunctional but I was much younger and it was my first “real job,” so we just soldiered through it.

    1. Warrior Princess Xena*

      At least they acknowledged that he was terrible and that the system was slow instead of insisting that he was the Best Boss and that you should all bow to his experience

      1. Lab Boss*

        100% agree, and I’ve commented along those lines on various posts here. In a perfect world he’d have been summarily dealt with, sure, but even the best bosses and management chains are working with imperfect tools. One manager (not even mine, just one I worked with on key projects) could see me chafing and sat me down to bluntly explain some of the behind-the-scenes politics, why things were the way they were, and that if I could hold out a bit longer there would be a change. That really helped me understand why bad situations can last a while even though they’re being addressed, and I credit him for knowing when to break the rules and disclose something semi-confidential to an employee he wanted to not quit.

  31. Endlessly Screaming into the Void*

    Oh, man, this brought up a memory from the deep recesses of my mind. I received a promotion from Teapot Contact Centre to Teapot Manufacturing, which was located in a different building and (at the time) had a certain level of prestige associated with the position. I had been in an unofficial position of leadership in the Contact Centre, but only by virtue of being an extrovert, and I had watched many of my colleagues leave for the greener pastures of manufacturing. So, after years of trying, I finally made it to the new office, and was excited to engage with a huge number of people I had worked with for many years.

    It was a joyless place. Completely miserable. The leadership was petty and shortsighted, and- outside of the people I knew who moved to that office- it was full of cranky people who hated change.

    Anyway, within the week of my arrival at the office, my supervisor pulled me into his office and told me in very serious terms that someone had complained about me. When I asked what the issue was, he shared: “There are complaints that you know too many people.”

    So, I guess.. someone had seen me engaging with my peers, and was upset that I had established relationships? I’m still confused by it. The other petty complaints continued for the rest of the eight-ish months I stayed in that department, and I got out as soon as I could.

    1. Critical Rolls*

      That’s wild. Definitely one of those where I would love to hear an answer to “what would you like me to do about that?”

      1. eisa*

        Bidet !
        Would that be cheap-ass Critical Rolls ? ;-)
        (btw, you missed the meetup on the weekend thread.)

        and excellent point regarding the question. I mean, what ??

    2. eisa*

      Oh my God, that’s cray-cray.
      People who know many people are in fact very valuable to a company, as every sane person knows.
      and as Critical Rolls pointed out .. what were you supposed to do about it, develop amnesia ?

  32. sacados*

    These are so great!
    I wonder if those people in #5 would include it on their resumes, like “Served as Acting Deputy Director every Friday from 3-5pm” hahaha

    1. Well, you know...*

      Why not? I know someone who put attendance at fan cons on their resume. Not presenting, just attending.

    2. Lab Boss*

      No, but “Served as Acting Deputy Director during all manager’s absences” or some version of that would make great resume filler. Imply that you were the right-hand man covering maternity leaves and leaves of absence and extended vacations, it’s not TECHNICALLY a lie.

    3. Artemesia*

      oh no. This person will simply put ‘Acting Director’ on their resume and leave it at that.

  33. Catabodua*

    For #1 – there is a popular executive course that advises this as a way to save time/energy. Lots of folks where I work do the same thing.

    1. Ranunculus*

      Yep, I work with someone currently who follows this rule. They are also a very rule-followy person generally, so it’s in character for them.

  34. Just a Mom of Two*

    These are gold. I worked in an office that had one cash drawer we all shared. We had this crazy over the top admin and if you didn’t put the bills in the right way aka all the heads had to be feeding the right way or have everything on your receipt checked then she would complain to our boss. I just went with it but the more in away from that place the more I realize how dysfunctional it was.

    1. Critical Rolls*

      Those actually sound like pretty normal cash-handling procedures, based on my retail and retail-ish experience. People make fewer mistakes if bills are visually consistent. Of course there’s a right and wrong way to instruct that.

    2. LadyByTheLake*

      That is called “facing” the money and it is standard cash drawer procedure. Anyone who has worked in retail or banking has this drilled into them from the first day — I can’t imagine not facing money properly. Many banks won’t accept business deposits if the money is not properly faced. I have to say I’m with the admin on this one — that’s a pretty basic cash drawer requirement.

      1. Not a mouse*

        Not necessarily. I’ve been in retail for about five years and was never taught this. I face fifties and hundreds naturally in the course of checking the watermarks, but everything else, no. And I do deposits – the bank doesn’t care either.

    3. NC living*

      Worked in the casino business and so cash was handled every day. Folks would and could be very particular about the bills before dropping them into the dropbox.
      Buy-In’s — the bills are placed 5 in a row with a total of 5 rows (no matter the denomination). If still more bills, set previously counted aside, count them out til done
      The worst time, player buying in on a crap table for $2000 in twenties. The supervisor unfolded/uncrinkled the bills, faced them all the same way, and took his time. Once that was done, he then proceeded to count out the now correct facing straightened bills and took his sweet time. Meanwhile the player is yelling at me cuz he doesn’t have his chips yet, The craps crew figured the supervisor really didn’t care for that particular player

    4. SomebodyElse*

      Yeah, sorry this is normal (or used to be, it’s been a long time since I’ve had a cash handling job). Nobody ever explicitly told my why* but it’s easier to see different bills if they are all facing the same way and usually you are counting and checking each bill as you arrange them so you are double checking your count and that you received the correct bill from the customer while arranging them.

      Agree though… this should have been explained.

      *And you learn something every day! 2012 WSJ Story

      “Last year, the central bank dropped a decades long requirement that financial institutions stack all their currency face up and in the same direction when sending money to 28 regional Fed offices throughout the U.S. Banks hand over money they don’t need, and the Fed credits their central-bank account.
      Employees at Amarillo National Bank separate and bundle bills, which the Fed still requires. But banks no longer have to stack bills face up.

      Improved sensors in the Fed’s sorting machines mean it no longer matters how banks stack their bills. But the habit is hard to break.

      For years, money-counting machines at the Fed destroyed bills that went into the machines with a facedown George Washington, Alexander Hamilton or the like.”

      1. NC living*

        When I started in the casino business, 25 yrs ago, handling cash was far more particular.
        However, as bill sorting machines and surveillance became more technologically advanced (while counting out the money, the front and back of the bills were/are to be clearly visible to the cameras), the same way facing was not viewed as quite as necessary.
        ( still, old habits endure) Also, the faster you count the money , the faster the players are playing.
        So, for that supervisor to take his time straightening and fixing the bills, then start to count then out so slowly. (remember it was more than 5 minutes start to finish, when is an eternity in casino time). lol

    5. allathian*

      I see you haven’t worked in retail… This was one of the first things I was taught when I started work as a cashier in a grocery store as my first summer job. I was 17 at the time, now you’d have to be 18 to be allowed to handle money, but times were different in the late 80s.

  35. Healthcare Manager*

    At my work place no ones allowed to book meeting rooms themselves.

    Process is:

    View the meeting rooms calendar
    Fill in a FORM with request and email it to the admin team
    Admin team will then make the booking in the meeting room calendar

    Absolute nightmare (pre covid and again soon) as no one cancels as it’s too much hassle, or when someone got their request is before you but the calendar wasn’t updated in time so your request gets denied and there are no rooms left so you have to start again.

    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      It was fascinating to me to see the different ways that room scheduling was handled at two different colleges at my university. At one college, anyone could make a room reservation, but reservations for some special-purpose rooms had an extra layer of approval, and some rooms were blocked off with additional restrictions. All this was handled via settings in the reservation software.

      In another college, room reservations were considered too complicated for the lay faculty or staff member to be trusted with, and were handled by submitting a FORM to the ONE PERSON in the college who was permitted to use the reservation software. They thought the software didn’t work because no one ever bothered to set the permissions properly (ex. restricting the dean’s conference room and the special-purpose labs).

  36. Metadata minion*

    Wowww…as a dedicated pedestrian, Rogue Crossing Guard is my hero.

    And I would drive Time-Based Salutations Guy up the wall. I don’t usually use that sort of greeting in email, but I have definitely been known to wish someone good morning at 3pm because I was distracted and my brain apparently pulled up the first rote greeting it could find.

  37. Data Bear*

    Not to be a killjoy, but #5 isn’t necessarily a mad power-grab. It was policy (maybe still is) at my workplace that there HAD to be somebody acting as the head of the department At All Times, so if a couple of the high-ups were out at the same time, the person making official responses to time-sensitive email may not have been at all who people expect it to be. Changing their email signatures could just be the Acting Deputies’ attempt to remind people that they’re the ones behind the wheel at the moment, so they don’t get lots of people asking why Bob is responding instead of Director Jane. It might even have been suggested/required by the person they’re subbing in for. Sometimes there are good reasons behind nonsensical-seeming things!

    1. bluesclues*

      yeah this was one that seemed weird to me–what’s the “right” amount of time to wait until changing email signature?

      1. Metadata minion*

        I would love to see a survey on this! At my workplace, it would be weird and power-grabby to change your signature unless the person you were stepping in for had permanently left and you were filling the role until they hired someone new. Or *maybe* if they were out on some sort of extended leave (multiple months). Otherwise the higher-level person just lets the relevant people know who to contact, and usually includes the information in their email out-of-office message. But we’re a pretty small organization, and I can see that getting confusing fast if we were either much bigger or it was much more important to quickly figure out exactly who to contact about the escaped llamas.

    2. Metadata minion*

      I would think that if this were the case, the person submitting that story would have seen it from other people stepping in for their bosses. If it’s just the one person doing it, I think at a minimum it means there’s something unusual going on with either them or their boss.

      1. Sandy*

        I’m the one that submitted it! It’s definitely NOT the culture at either of those organizations— it rapidly became a running joke and neither person could quite be taken seriously after that. Definitely not suggested by their bosses’, just not considered the managerial hill to die on.

    3. Julia Gulia*

      I thought the same thing! My partner works at a (US) federal government agency and someone HAS to be the acting boss, officially, any time the boss is out. This includes being out for only an afternoon or one sick day. They deal with a lot of safety issues, so I think it’s meant to be sure everyone at the agency knows exactly who to contact if there is an emergency (because they have real ones, not a “the printer is broken” type.)

  38. RJ*

    OMG that project manager gingerbread house struck a chord. Years ago, I worked at a Very Prestigious International Engineering Firm (their reputation had seen better times) that hosted a Christmas decorating contest every year. One of the PMs, also disgruntled for various reasons, was decidedly paranoid and would spy on the other departments to try and find out what they were doing and when they were putting their designs up. He kept a daily diary, noting who was there from each department and how much time had been logged into the code set up for the contest by department (as a PM he had access to this). He was literally the cartoon villain hiding around the corner with a notepad scribbling down everything he could.

    He was successful in creeping his department out and having them participate as little as possible. They lost. I later heard from a long time employee that he pulled this drama every year and had been there for over a decade. This was one of many signs that I was not a fit for the culture there and I left after less than a year.

  39. Curator in an R1 research University*

    The mailroom thing.
    I was new in the job and wrote a handwritten thank you note to a significant donor.
    Tossed it in outgoing mail.
    About six weeks later it was returned to me in an interoffice envelope.
    No personal mail.
    Could NOT get anyone to understand that THIS was literally my job.
    Then I asked for stationary. So it would be “official” University mail.
    Yep. Nope.
    Gave up. I buy stamps on my own dime and mail from home.

    1. MsM*

      As a fundraiser, I am very worried about your university’s donor retention strategy. Or lack thereof.

    2. Anonymouse*

      This is the perfect opportunity to create your own university donor stationery.
      And after a year of use, announce it is now the official university donor stationery.
      And announce you have the only official supply.

      1. Artemesia*

        yeah I’d have made my own on the office copier and with whatever graphic skills I had if I couldn’t convince these idiots. With envelopes with the logo/address in the return field. You might even find some old resume bond paper in the back of a storage closet somewhere to use.

  40. skunklet*

    # 8 clearly has the BEST retribution:
    “After that temp job. I spent months signing up his email address for every single spammy newsletter and mailing list under the sun and sending absolute garbage through the form on their website. ”

    I mean, how awesome!

  41. mina*

    Darn I just remembered one. I used to work at a law firm and my job was to take diction for one of the senior partners. He did not like the way apostrophe in the word “it’s” looked because he thought the apostrophe was too close to the letter ‘t’. I was able to set something up to automatically correct the kerning for the word “it’s” but I still had to go through every document we sent out to look for other words that ended in ‘t’ and had an apostrophe. I was not to change any other apostrophe words however. He would send documents back to me to correct if he found any offending apostrophes. I’m very glad I don’t work there anymore.

    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      How tedious! That reminds me of one professor whom I was helping to quickly edit his contributions to an accreditation document we were compiling. He was over my shoulder telling me the edits he wanted me to make, and at one point he said, “Now put the cursor right there . . . and now hit the space bar sixteen times.” I was like, “Don’t tell me to hit the space bar sixteen times; we’re going to be using ‘tab’ for this!”

  42. Randi Helpinstill*

    In a former position, I quickly realized my direct supervisor was prone to drama. On my first day I brought in a framed picture of my kids, a houseplant, and a small glass bowl in which a tea candle rests. The candle was unscented, just apart of the bowl configuration and of course, I had no intention of ever lighting it; it was a small gift my family bought me for my birthday. As my boss was explaining procedures she loudly cleared her throat and proclaimed that her allergies were on alert because of the candle. I thought, “okay, I guess” so I immediately moved it under my desk. Just for the record, I am highly sensitive to fragrances, potpourri, and the like so I understand allergies and asthma, I really do. I forgot about the candle and after a few months, I reported to work to a very angry boss who told me that I needed to meet with her immediately. Behind closed doors, I was told that she has been feeling so sick and couldn’t figure out why until she searched, yes SEARCHED my office to unearth, THE UNSCENTED TEA CANDLE. She went on to tell me that I have committed an egregious offense and tossed a large wrapped package at me. She had triple layered bubble wrap around the offensive tea candle, and took red sharpie to it, writing in all caps that I needed to dispose of immediately. Outside to the dumpster behind the large, office building. I’m sure her reaction had nothing to do with her tobacco-puffing husband, her benign brain tumor, her dysfunctional kidney, her ocular migraine disorder, her interstitial cystitis, her severe food allergies rendering her to only eating carrots or broccoli, her asthma, irregular heart beat, her god knows what, etc. All things I learned on day 1 at a lunch where she wanted to get to know me more. I couldn’t top any of that so I’m sure I was boring. No disrespect to anyone with physical health issues (I too have them) but she really liked to lord them over anyone in her sphere.

    1. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

      Oh boy. That is crazy. And I thought the incident I saw involving a flower arrangement was one step beyond. An employee received a flower arrangement on her birthday that contained a couple of lilies, which are very fragrant. The CEO (who had his own office, and sat pretty far from this employee’s office) insisted that the flower arrangement be removed from the office immediately because he was allergic. It was the middle of winter, and the employee had to put her flower arrangement outside on the snowy, freezing terrace.

  43. Zeus*

    #10, the short chair – I’m pretty sure that was a joke in the sitcom Waiting For God, where the pompous manager of a rest home put a shorter chair in his office for visitors to sit on, because he wanted to impress/intimidate someone important. When the important guy came, he took the manager’s chair, leaving the manager sitting almost on the floor! The difference is, that was an exaggerated situation for comedy, not someone who actually thought it was a good idea!

  44. RussianInTexas*

    #1 – I work with these people! My operations department (I am in the front office, customer care), consists of 3 women, all of which require us to copy all 3 on all e-mails that go to the operations, with any questions or concerns. However, none will ever answer if it’s not addressed to her specifically, even if the person who the e-mail addressed to is out of the office.
    I don’t think they are doing it as a power play, they just ignore the e-mails.

  45. Goaty1*

    My company cafeteria had a policy that you were only allowed two free lemon wedges per drink, any more was 50 cents. That seems petty but this policy was put into place after someone decided to shove all the lemon wedges into his bag because there was no limit as to how many he could take, threw a fit when told he couldn’t do that, and had to be escorted out of the building by security.

    1. Insert Clever Name Here*

      Ugggggh, my husband used to order water and a bowl of lemons at restaurants to make lemonade. I finally managed to convince him that we can afford to buy him lemonade if he wants lemonade and for the love of all that is holy never do that again!

      1. Loredena Frisealach*

        My SIL would ask for water, lemon and artificial sweetener. she wanted the lemonade, but with no sugar. I just figure if I really want lemonade that much I can have the sugar!

      2. The OG Sleepless*

        We call that “redneck lemonade” where I live, and it is a quick way to have the waitress take a very dim view of them.

      3. Becky*

        My sister used to do this! But she was a high school student in an after-school job at the grab and go/salad bar counter of the grocery store. She didn’t want to spend her money on anything because she was saving it up for college and so would occasionally make herself a lemonade from the free water, lemons and sweetener packet at her counter.

    2. Artemesia*

      I used to frequent a salad bar that was really great; then it wasn’t so great — it was down to half a dozen ingredients like grated carrots, onions or chopped cabbage to add to the salad greens. Turns out people had been taking bowls of cilantro and other pricier ingredients then taking them home to cook with. Some piggish person always spoils it for everyone else.

    3. Polecat*

      After being purchased by our biggest competitor, you can imagine there was a lot of angst and stress going on at our office. One of the things they touted was $.25 soda machines. Woo hoo. It was a nice little perk. Until the day they sent a location wide memo saying that the $.25 sodas were only to be consumed on the premises and people shouldn’t be buying them to bring them home. Sigh.
      There was also #milkgate. The new company Would buy gallons of milk for the refrigerator so people could have it for their coffee. Another very small but convenient perk. Until the day they sent out a location wide memo saying that the milk could not be used and oatmeal or cereal, only in coffee.
      This is the kind of petty bullshit that drives employees mad.

      1. Fortitudine*

        Maybe it was adding up? Although the milk thing is weird, I once worked for an IT firm that offered generous break room freebies in the form of coffee, tea, cocoa, snacks, soda…and had to end everything but the coffee and tea, because employees were cleaning out the cupboards and taking the goodies home.

        Eventually they had to lock up the coffee and designate an admin to make fresh coffee whenever the pot was empty.

  46. NotAnotherManager!*

    I have deep sympathy for the IT person from #4. Before two monitors became the standard law firm setup, there was always a bunch of jockeying for extra monitors from the review team pool and people trying to swipe IT equipment. It creates a lot of problems. First, many organizations asset tag their materials to track it, and, if it’s leased, not knowing where it is when it needs to be returned is a big problem. Second, it’s hard to take something back off someone’s desk when your next review spins up than it is to take it out of a closet. Tantrums ensue – possession is 9/10 of the law, and lawyers know that. Third, as soon as one person gets something someone else doesn’t have, grown adults will start whining about why BOB got a SECOND MONITOR and they didn’t.

    I love that the IT person gave them a beige CRT in the end, too. That makes me happy.

    1. Casper Lives*

      Did you read the entire story? There were loads of monitors to go around. High end monitors. There’s no indication the IT person or anyone else ever explained the process for requisitioning equipment to the young lawyer.

      In conclusion, instead of trying to have a smooth relationship between the departments, the IT guy was an asshole.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        Not only did I read the story, I worked in law firms during the entirety of the same time period and in the IT department watching the poor guy in charge of managing the technology contracts trying to track down physical assets that someone appropriated because “there were loads to go around” and they just took one (and sometimes moved it to another office or home). I’ve seen lawyers do this in situations where the “empty” office was being prepped for a new employee or a temporary contract review team, too, and it’s great when your new hire or contract attorney that gets paid by the hour shows up to no computer or their office chairs having been nicked. (These people are vultures when it comes to free lunch or office furniture of the departed, too.) Most of them could not care less about a “requisition process” – that’s the most impressive part of this story, that the attorney actually followed the process when advised.

        Also, in many law firms, the IT people (and anyone who’s a “non-attorney”, as staff are called) are treated like dirt on the bottom of the attorneys’ shoes and complained about constantly, even if the root cause ends up being a PEBKAC issue. The combination of that and the fact that I bet it was the 12th monitor someone had to run down after it vanished into thin area make me applaud a beige CRT deployment. I have a deep appreciation for the insane crap law firm IT deals with on a daily basis. Even the assholiest IT guys I’ve worked with have nothing on lawyers.

        1. FormerIT*

          Thanks for posting this clarification. I’ve worked in IT before and we often got caught in the middle of competing interests. IT usually sits at the intersection of many departments with different policies, budgets and SLAs (service level agreements), plus they have to answer to the C-suite, accounting, HR, and coordinate with facilities and security among others. It can easily get… complicated.

          IT is often responsible for keeping track of all inventory that was classified “IT” equipment and even though it is owned by the department that paid for it, IT would get yelled at if anything went missing. And though equipment requests went to IT first, they had to be approved by the employee’s department according to their policies. But yet to the employee it often looks like it is the IT employee saying “no”, not their department. Oh, and all those “extra” monitors? Do they belong to the same department or to a different one? IT often got flack for some people having better equipment than others when it’s their own department’s policy, and another department has a different policy (and budget). You mentioned the issue of “empty” offices being set up for new employees, but there are also traveling employees, flex employees, part time employees, WFH employees coming back to the office temporarily or permanently, and many other cases where an “empty” office is expected to be available to be used on short notice, and where much grief is given to IT if equipment is not there and set up when expected. (Disappearing equipment can also turn a no-rush setup into an emergency job meaning other requests get delayed.)

          And finally, the old CRT monitor may not have been spite from IT but either that is what the employee’s boss approved, or the boss denied the request and IT took an old depreciated monitor and gave it to him off the books to try to be nice.

          From the description and my experience, the only red flag here is the word “extra” and it is unclear without further detail if there really was a power trip going on or if that’s just all that could be done within policy.

      2. Artemesia*

        yeah it is the difference between an IT guy who thinks his job is to facilitate the mission by making sure people have the tech they need to work effectively and the guy who thinks he owns all the equipment and his job is to guard it and ration it and make it hard to get. Unfortunately there is a lot of the latter in organizations, perhaps because of the personalities of the types of people who gravitate towards IT.

        1. Casper Lives*

          Yeah. I’m a lawyer who’s never had a problem getting equipment or assistance from IT. Either I work in a functional company (kinda halfway) or chit chatting with IT works wonders.

          I recently had an IT contractor threaten to shut off my account access because I hadn’t mailed back my old, broken, won’t turn on laptop. I gently reminded him that he hadn’t sent me the fedex label to ship it back. ‍♀️ No apology but he sent it immediately.

  47. Velocipastor*

    For the crossing guard, I’m just imagining Mary Stuart Masterson directing traffic with ping pong paddles and a snorkel

    1. eisa*

      Benny and Joon ? Loved that movie. OMG that was a long time ago .. that movie caused my lifelong violent and irrational dislike of Julianne Moore btw, lol

  48. essie*

    Re: the first one on the list: I have a colleague like that too!! Though not only will she not read emails she’s cc’ed on, she won’t read/respond to any email if there’s a big group of people in the “to” line. In fact, it offends her to not be the only one included. She has missed out on so many company memos that way because she won’t read them and then she complains to me how she’s always out of the loop. I sincerely don’t understand. But it is a small consolation to know I’m not the only one who has to deal with people like this. :)

  49. sb51*

    The fake crossing guard reminds me of the guy who modified a California freeway sign that he thought was unclear; it stood for years, and when they replaced it, the new version included his change. (Google “california freeway sign richard ankrom” for various articles about it.)

  50. Groffington Thirdly*

    #2 – I’ve seen IT people be downright psychotic about hardware so I’m not surprised.

    At my previous job, I needed an individual printer that could accommodate me going through 1+ package of paper per day. My role was extremely paperwork-heavy and we The printer I got had two funny little habits. 1) It would regularly stop printing what I wanted it to print, mid-document, and print over 100 pages of weird symbols unplugged I unplugged it; and 2) it would regularly freeze, mid-document, and stop printing entirely until I unplugged it. IT dicked me around on this for months, ignoring e-mails and not answering phone calls, until my manager stepped in and got someone in IT to order me a new printer. Three months later, it hadn’t arrived, and the IT person my boss had coordinated with was like, “… yeah idk I’m busy don’t talk to me.”

    By this time, my boss had had enough and ordered me a printer himself. It arrived the next day but I needed an IT person to set it up for me due to escalating hardware permissions. The first IT person I spoke to threw a huge tantrum about how all hardware requests had to go through the IT management team and refused to set it up for me. My boss was PISSED. I don’t know what happened after that; a few closed door phone calls. I did eventually get my printer set up but my department completely gave up on IT. When our safety coordinator needed a new printer, my boss just gave him his and never got another one because that was easier than dealing with IT’s bizarre hardware rituals.

  51. Pipe Organ Guy*

    I had a choir director once who, despite being apologetic about it, routinely would not give me music ahead of time. Also, if he wanted the organ to sound different from what the composer/arranger specified, he wouldn’t tell me either. Eventually, I had to quit to get away from the psychopathic choir director and the rector who enabled him.

    A few years later, I had my schadenfreude moment when this guy, with his completed doctorate, got a faculty position in South Dakota and got fired for various sorts of malfeasance.

    1. Berkeleyfarm*

      I was on a church board and had to leave shortly afterwards for my own sanity/what was left of my health. Many days were stories of people making mountains out of molehills, or abusing small amounts of power, and the people who continually enabled them.

      I had to report the activities of someone who had a largeish amount of power which is why I needed to leave. I do put some of it in work terms – “board member discussed personnel issues in my presence, I was not on the board or personnel committee” “people were consistently treated differently according to gender and sexual orientation” “board member trashed the CEO on publicly visible social media repeatedly”.

  52. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

    I have a story that is a reverse of the monitor one, but likely not good enough to be saved for “small amounts of power used for good Thursday”. In 2001, it was my second year working at Adhesive Llamas Corp and I’d acquired enough clout by that point to get myself a large CRT monitor, instead of the standard tiny ones. Flat screens and double screens were not a thing at the time. In the summer of that year, our building flooded (company hired an outside vendor to repair the roof, vendor removed the old roofing and went home on the day when a heavy rain was predicted in a lake-effect area, hilarity ensued) and we weren’t allowed to go back to our desks for a few months while the building was being repaired. The day we finally came back, I walked into my cube, only to see my big monitor gone and a tiny one in its place. I told my friends from the infrastructure/hardware support team. Two days later, one of those guys walked into my cube bearing my large monitor. In his words, “I walked into this lawyer guy’s office, and he had two of these monitors sitting on his desk. I took one and walked out.” My understanding is that no words were exchanged as this was happening. That was the end of the story, the lawyer never complained to anyone.

  53. n*

    i went to design school and there was this one woodshop technician who was notoriously grumpy and unhelpful. the school, rightfully, was VERY strict about safety and so students were not allowed to change the table saw blades (there are different types of blades for cutting with or across the grain of the wood, cutting slots, or cutting plastic or metal, and it’s very important that you use the right type of blade both for the maintenance of the machine, the quality of the cut, and safety). this tech used to wait until a student asked him to change the saw blade and then announce, “i’m not doing that tonight.” so you could only use whatever blade was already on the machine. thankfully he didn’t last the rest of the semester.

  54. Soylent Green*

    The coat rack… LOL. At prior job, they actually had to purchase some coat racks by employee demand because there were no coat closets! In the winter, everyone’s big down puffer coats were hanging off their chairs, getting trampled on, etc.

    For some reason I am having flashbacks to my first job out of college as a paralegal at a law firm in Manhattan. I was put on “probation” (whatever that meant) because of the following reasons, which were provided to me in a formal HR meeting:

    (1) I didn’t smile enough as I was walking through the hallways.
    (2) My general demeanor wasn’t enthusiastic.
    (3) I was “tardy” too much. I would arrive as late as 9:06 am up to twice per week, even though the work day started at 9 am. I was shown the arrival logs as evidence of my tardiness. We had to check in with Reception every morning upon arrival and the receptionist would write down our exact arrival time to the minute. (I routinely worked 11-12 hour days, by the way.)
    (4) On one particular late evening, I didn’t pick up the call of the attorney that I stayed late for, and I wasn’t in my office when he looked for me.
    —I did respond to this example with the following explanation: I was in the BATHROOM for no more than 5 minutes, and when I got back to my desk, I immediately responded to him.
    (5) I “rudely” left a room in the middle of a conversation with two attorneys.
    —I also responded to this example, explaining that one attorney was *screaming* at another attorney, with their backs to me, and that I was not part of this “conversation”, and that I was very uncomfortable being witness to this, and since I was by the door, I left quietly and neither attorney even appeared to notice my departure at the time, as the screaming didn’t even pause– but I guess at least one did notice!

  55. Airport Arrivals Guy*

    #2 reminds me of an experience I just had at the airport. I was standing outside by Arrivals waiting for my Uber, and there was a guy in a vest YELLING at people every single time a car approached the curb – “Red Honda Civic, is this you? Whose car is this? I said, it’s a RED HONDA CIVIC! Step up if that’s yours!” If nobody immediately claimed it, he got increasingly loud and agitated.

    He was literally standing in the middle of 3 lanes of traffic, and as soon as he found a car’s “match,” he would tell the car to cut over the 3 lanes to get to the curb, causing many people to cut other people off. He almost caused several crashes.

    Traffic wasn’t even that bad, to be honest. His “help” was entirely unnecessary and made everything much worse, but you could tell he felt like he was the one person standing between order and utter chaos.

  56. ___JustNo___*

    I’m late to the game but I have a good one!

    We had a completely annoying accounts payable clerk. Our company was an international firm headquartered in Chicago. We had employees who worked all over the world, including South Korea and part of my job entailed providing them with online training. When I submitted the bills for the training consumed, each month I would be told that they would NOT be paid because our company was “not allowed to do business with ‘Korea’”. I pointed out several times that there is no such country as “Korea”, but the country we were not allowed to do business with was in fact a place most of us called “North Korea”, and that we had no employees there in any case. Finally the HR IT people took pity on me and they reprogrammed all of our employees in SOUTH Korea to have a street address of “Seoul, Illinois”. (I wish I was making this up.)

    1. Pug Lover*

      LOL and WOW.

      This reminds me of the time I met a guy from New Mexico when I was living in Spain. He was having trouble getting some paperwork from the US Embassy. It turns out the personnel in the embassy thought the poor guy was from the country of Mexico. Our own embassy apparently did not understand that New Mexico is, in fact, a state in The United States. After emails, and phone calls, the guy had to actually take off work and travel to the Embassy in Madrid in person to finally get everything cleared up. (I also, wholeheartedly, wish I were making this up.)

      1. Freddled Gruntbuggly*

        Another one for New Mexico Magazine’s “One of our Fifty is Missing” continuing feature!

  57. More Colored Paper*

    We had a paper form that was named for the color paper it was printed on. It was not a traditional color name, the paper was a yellow/orange and called the ‘goldenrod’ form. The form had a very specific purpose for the clients who had to fill it out, and a new assistant director made the compelling case that for the benefit of ourselves and our customers, we needed to call the form a better name, like “Request for Advanced Funds” rather than a “Goldenrod”.

    Oh Heck No. People thought she was ridiculous. People wanted to debate the change. People wanted to know if it could still be on that color paper. People wanted to know if the director had approved the change. Mercy!

  58. nnn*

    For #3, I really want to know how they wanted you to start emails sent between 10:45 and 12:30!

    1. Boom! Tetris for Jeff!*

      Greetings at this uncertain time of the day, I have some news to pass on from the meeting that started this morning and continued into the early morafter. Awaiting your response in later morafter or afternoon. Sincerely yours.

      1. Caraway*

        I started giggling as soon as I read your first sentence and haven’t been able to stop since.

    2. Anonymous Hippo*

      Lol, I would have just switched to good day. provided they didn’t get shirty about emails sent after 5pm or something. At which point I would have probably gone rogue with “felicitations” or some such nonsense.

  59. Pomegranate*

    OMG, the breaking-news update on the gingerbread manager. That’s the only kind of breaking news I need in my life.

  60. SB*

    The gingerbread house, omg!

    I worked for a company that a had a “swear” jar in the office, only instead of getting fined for swearing, you got fined for saying “no problem,” especially to a customer. Because “no” is a negative word and “problem” is a negative word, and “no problem” is TWO negative words! This was one of many such rules enforced by the CEO.

    There were so many issues with this company that I worked there just long enough to find another job. (The brand I worked for had been sold by our original parent company to this company; it wasn’t like I interviewed with these people and decided it looked like a good place to work. There was a mass exodus after the acquisition.)

    1. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

      This is pretty late but worth it.
      Right out of college, I worked at a credit union. Many people think that CUs are the same as other financial institutions when there are some significant differences. A different CU in our area instituted a “swear jar” for using “a four letter word: bank” to get tellers to switch from “do your banking” to other terms.

  61. Liz T*

    #12, you are my HERO.

    I had to read the thing about printing green-on-green twice to understand it, but…oh my gourd.

  62. MissDisplaced*

    SPAM “I think that’s spam,” that was not deemed acceptable.
    I love this story. Believe it or not, I still occasionally encounter people who still do not understand email.

  63. New Senior Mgr*

    The green forms!! Where are you getting all these forms?? I can’t stop laughing!! I tell you I can’t.

  64. Pug Lover*

    About twenty-five years ago the school where I was teaching was renovated. This required several teachers to have to move their classrooms to mobile units (aka trailers) while the renovation was taking place.
    A new hire declared that he was the “administrator in charge of the mobile classrooms.” He went around inspecting our classrooms, giving us a list of ridiculous rules (which all of us proceeded to ignore), telling us to check in / out with him when we arrived or left campus. He once “wrote me up” because I forgot to turn on the outside light overnight. It was ridiculous, silly, and bizarre. He was just a regular teacher. He was NOT an administrator. He was NOT a supervisor. So strange. Later, he was asked to monitor the cafeteria during lunch along with several other teachers. This was a normal duty, rotation for most staff members. I found out that he declared himself the “administrator in charge of lunch supervision.” Once again, he was NOT in charge of other staff in any shape or form. His job, along with some other faculty, was to supervise The Students in the cafeteria. The guy was weird. Just always declaring himself in charge of whatever situation he happened to find himself. He lasted about one or two years, I believe.

  65. RB*

    These are golden.

    So for the form that was printed in green ink onto green paper, how did you see where the fields were that you had to fill out to provide the information for the disbursement?

    1. river*

      I understood it to mean, the form was originally printed in black on green paper, but then she started printing a color scan of the original (so green background with black writing) onto green paper. So entirely covering green paper with green ink and a little bit of black writing. A massive and silly waste of green ink.

  66. Jay*

    My husband was the director of a grant-funded project at a university. The grant included money for furniture. The purchasing agent sent him the catalog they used and he picked out a desk. He likes big desks and there was a lot of money in the grant, so he chose the largest desk in the catalog and filled out a requisition. He was then informed he couldn’t have that desk because he was only a director and thus not high enough on the pecking order for that large a desk. He reminded them that the university wasn’t paying for the desk – the money was coming from the grant. Purchasing replied that there was a policy forbidding this. He looked at the handbook and didn’t see the policy so he asked them to send him a copy. He was told it was an unwritten policy and that he could only have that desk if he met with members of the public. He pointed out that he was working with teachers and business leaders from the community who came to meetings in his office. No, that wasn’t what “members of the public” meant.

    In the end he had to get a letter from the dean authorizing him to order the bigger desk.

  67. fluffy*

    That story about the crossing guard was literally the plot of an episode of Tuca and Bertie. Only I suspect the real-life one happened long before.

  68. CalT*

    “After that temp job. I spent months signing up his email address for every single spammy newsletter and mailing list under the sun and sending absolute garbage through the form on their website. This was in the days before email spam filters were robust enough, and I know for a fact he didn’t understand how to unsubscribe, so I’m sure his email inbox stayed full. I feel bad for the future admins, though, who were getting forwarded newsletters about supplements with “pls follow up.” ”

    Why is this praised?
    LW looks much worse in this story than their boss. Or is LW’s immaturity the abuse of power this post is allegedly about?

    1. KateM*

      I was wondering, too, which one in that story was supposed to be the one abusing their tiny amount of power.

    2. Pinky*

      You’re right Ca1T and you should say it. As a person who has been abused by an ex who for YEARS did this to me out of spite, sending me the most disgusting stuff and making my email account nearly useless for long stretches of time: it’s a shit thing to do and reflects very poorly on the person gloating that they pulled this high school level b.s. on a former employer.

    3. sofar*

      I’m the LW on that one! I thought twice about including that detail, but decided to err on the side of honesty. And, years later, I do think it’s a bit of a punchline that makes me chuckle, thinking about this guy (who bullied me, at age 22) getting political fundraising emails for feminist causes and candidates (you know I signed him up for those).

      The president of this company had treated me badly in ways not included here (as did other coworkers there — as an example, a sandwich was thrown at me, another story entirely). With 20 years of hindsight and a great career, I realize I SHOULD have brushed that temp job off and gotten therapy. But, at the time, it made me feel a teeny bit better after what I’d experienced (which I know now to be bullying), and it got me through a couple rough months in a relatively harmless way.

  69. CalT*

    Number 4 and number 6: were there official channels that had been ignored? Because it might look too rigid and too formal, but if half of the company was just grabbing whatever they fancied and buying stuff without checking if there were official vendors and official budget (not mentioning liabilities), the mess would be immense. Really, not every formal rule is a personal insult and a powerplay.

  70. Tom K.*

    Too much joy! I immediately thought of the song “You Took My Joy” by Lucinda Williams, now I have an ear worm. LOL!

  71. thegoodolddays*

    The cc: vs To: line email policy isn’t that unusual – my (very large, very global) company went through a period of suffering through email deluge so that significant numbers of employees were never making it through their inboxes and projects were suffering, timelines impacted, costs impacted – measurable effects of Too Much Email*.

    The problem is compounded by being in a heavily regulated industry and highly matrixed company where there were so many people each having some form, even miniscule, of accountability or responsibility on projects that they needed to at least be kept abreast of what was happening even if there was no direct action for them on a given email chain. So people were being flooded with emails they needed to read eventually, but not act on in a timely way, with poor distinction between the subtypes of emails received.

    So a company cultural norm was established among managers (Director & up) that if their direct action, input, decision making, etc, was necessary based on the contents of an email, their name should be in the To: line. If they were being CC:ed for accountability, information only, leaving an email trail or whatever else, their name should be in the CC: line. Anything addressed To: someone was to be read & responded to within 24 hours whenever possible. Anything addressed CC: was given a lower priority and was assumed to not specifically require answer or input from the CC: list (unless they saw something that needed it, had new information, etc).

    *Too Much Email was a direct result of Let’s Have Fewer Meetings So We Can Actually Get Work Done, which was a direct result of being in a highly matrixed organization which was desperately in need of a reorganization, but there we were. The email solution to everyone’s surprised actually worked – it didn’t necessarily cut down the number of emails, but it did take a lot of the pressure off of people who stressed about not being able to manage email load, and so it was a quality of life improvement until new management turned over and a full re-org finally fixed the roots of the problem.

  72. MS*

    The pettiest small abuse of power I’ve seen at work was with the narcissist I used to work for (he truly met all the criteria for that) who was on a power trip and took any opportunity possible to exert control over me. We were leaving for a team trip the next day, so I printed out copies to give to the team members I oversaw after practice that day and left them sitting on my desk in our shared office. When we came back, I couldn’t find them at first until I realized he had taken them and put them on his clipboard so HE could give them to them instead of me. We took them off the clipboard and never said anything to him about it.

  73. My Special Red Stapler*

    Oo, now I’m inspired to share mine:

    At one of my jobs we had a “newsletter” and report we would send out regularly to our clients. And it was a huge pain in the butt. It basically required have some basic graphic design skills and being able to figure out formatting loop holes in word, plus a double mail merge, ugh. And this is my first admin job out of undergrad college and a not very tech savvy boss (which I guess made me the “tech savvy” millennial by default). And once all of that stuff had been done you had to do the whole mail machine process. So one day I had finally got a whole group printed, envelopes labeled and ready to be stuffed and mailed the next morning.

    The next morning ………..
    All of the letters were piled up on my desk and some had they’re staples removed. The reason … because the staples were in the “wrong” direction. For example, I had stapled them at a diagonal and they should have been straight. Which okay, noted for next time we send out this dumb letter but you’re really going to make me re-staple ALL of these before they have to go out in the mail today??? So, yes I had to go through and remove the staples from each letter and re-staple them all “correctly”. There were definitely other things that happened in this job but have blocked them from my memory – being an admin is wild!

  74. Former Library Employee*

    Oh these remind me of something I had entirely forgotten.

    I worked in a library for a small firm. And some electronic titles give you daily emails. Let’s say “Horse Litigation Daily” would come, faithfully, every morning to a lawyer’s email. he would have it forwarded to the library to be printed out so he could read it. Daily. I was the lowest person in the dept and so it was my job to print “Horse Litigation Daily” as well as a routing slip for him to receive it, put it in the interoffice mail and have it sent to him. As we slowly lost employees in the library and did not replace them we finally pawned off the daily printing of his favorite title. Granted, the Horse Litigation Monthly magazine was also routed to him. So even if he didn’t read the dailies, he would get it when the shiny new journal graced his inbox!

  75. Fortitudine*

    “A previous boss was very small-statured and insecure,”

    We had a very, very short (probably barely made the minimum height requirement for service) lieutenant colonel who was our FSCC (Fire Support Coordination Center officer) on an exercise in Korea. He was also a hugely unpopular man – seriously, our CHAPLAIN sabotaged his sleeping bag one night – and he threw an absolute fit when he found that the hole in the officer’s latrine (this was 1983, environmental regs were looser) was just a leetle too high for him. He demanded that the camp commander send a crew over to rebuild the arrangement.

    Unfortunately our CO was 6’4″ and wouldn’t approve that, so the crew built him steps for it, instead.

    1. Fortitudine*

      Forgot to add – as a consequence of this incident, he was known to everyone in the regiment as LtCol Short-shit.

      (Yes. Even the chaplain).

  76. Elle*

    I actually just found out the linguistic reason for this and I think it’s fascinating. Apparently, both comrade and camaraderie come from the same french word (I believe it’s camarade) but comrade was brought into English much earlier, before standardized English spelling was really A Thing, and so the original french spelling was lost. Camaraderie was brought in much later and retains basically the same spelling as the French equivalent. Given the similarity in meaning and pronunciation, people who are unfamiliar with the spelling of camaraderie often assume it is just comrade+ry.

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