strangely dramatic responses to mundane office changes

Ever since the letter earlier this year about the office-wide meltdown over a new phone system with fewer speed dial buttons, I’ve been thinking about overly dramatic responses to relatively mundane changes at work.

We’ve heard quite a few doozies over the years:

A couple years ago, I led revamping one of our workflows. The process was old, more than 40 years (!), and our administration was adamant that we had to modernize it. In truth, it was something that wouldn’t affect many people, and most other offices had made the change 20 years ago, but people were mad about the very idea that we would change it … My personal favorite was one person who arrived at the meeting with a prepared written statement about why the old workflow was necessary, and titled it “Hills to Die On.” Why they thought that would make admin change their minds, I will never understand.

We just standardized our email signatures yesterday. People flipped out. “Why can’t I have this picture of my dog in my signature?” “‘But I’ve always used pink cursive font — it’s cuter.” “You’re crushing our individuality.” Another department manager had employees who threatened to quit. I really didn’t think that having a standard email signature was that big of a deal. This is literally the only company that I’ve worked for that didn’t have one (until now).

When I worked at in the office of a warehouse, we would get a freezer full of ice cream bars in the summer. It actually had to be addressed that workers MUST STOP taking entire boxes home with them. One coworker took such offense to this that he would made it his mission to eat as much ice cream as possible while on site. I watched him eat seven of them during a thirty minute lunch break. He would proudly boast about how he’d make himself sick on free food just to make sure he got his “fair share.”

I had a couple coworkers pitch a huge fit when my employer updated the dress code. What did they change? No pajamas. Not even kidding. This was at a call center and the dress code was VERY relaxed, but we had people literally coming to work in their PJs or similar nightclothes. The best part was some of the worst offenders went on to harangue management over it, since “it was never a problem before” and “we’re not face to face with customers so why does it matter.” People would show up in defiance in PJs and argue when they were told to go home and change, and the suggestion box got spammed with “let us wear PJs” for weeks.

So, let’s hear in the comments about weirdly dramatic reactions that you’ve seen people have to changes at work — the more disproportionate, the better. Details, please!

{ 1,342 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    I understand there is apparently a strong desire to debate whether pajamas should be allowed at work but it’s off-topic for this post. I’ve removed a bunch of it. Please stay on-topic. Thank you.

  2. NewJobNewGal*

    We had a department that was being completely redesigned. Think something like a laboratory where employees do various hands on work all day. The current layout wasn’t functional and staff had to jump across the room constantly to complete tasks. Funds were secured to construct a new state-of-the-art area and an architect experienced in this kind of work was hired.
    Plans were reviewed by the decision makers, contractors were hired, permits and licenses were updated, a schedule was created, everything was done perfectly. I had never seen such a complicated project planned so well. They even had observers in the Lab to watch current processes and they interviewed staff to make sure they didn’t miss anything.
    Once everything was signed off on, a meeting was set to present the department with the final plan and schedule. One of the employees listened politely to the architect and CEO, and then rolled out THEIR OWN HAND MADE BLUEPRINTS on top of the presentation. The employee had even stamped their blueprints as “APPROVED” across the top.

    1. it's just the frame of mind*

      Amazing. I too will stamp my work documents “Approved” in the future!

          1. SeluciaMD*

            Comments like these make me desperately want that like/upvote button! Tip of the hat to you Rockette J Squirrel. :)

    2. Quinalla*

      I’m an engineer who works with architects and LOL things like this happen way, way more often than you can imagine. Though the “approved” stamp is the detail I love in this story, hahahaha!

    3. Amber T*

      Hahaha can I just mark all of my recommendations at work “APPROVED” myself? Is that how it works? Amber T deserves a raise of one billion dollars – APPROVED!

      1. Hannah Lee*

        This strangely reminds me of an intern who worked in my department one summer. He was a first year MBA student and was bright but a bit odd. Every MBA intern was assigned one “brown bag” lunch to present at during their 4 month stint with the department. They could pick any project, analysis they wanted and drill down on it with a problem statement, hypothesis, analysis based on observed data … and had some flexibility to explore, examine available data sources or observe/interview internal “clients” as needed to fill out their presentation.

        One guy locked on to some subject for his Brown Bag lunch early on … even though his mentor tried to steer him away from it since the available data was thin and the obvious question everyone would ask about the data was unanswerable … since no one in years had bothered to collect any data on it. No worries: Mark was on it and dedicated. He made his PowerPoint pack, very slick. He had some back up slides with info in case anyone wanted to drill down on Y and Z. But X … the obvious question, the subject anyone seeing his presentation would ask about, well … there was no data there. Granted, Mark *could* have gathered info about it if he’d wanted to, he just didn’t bother.

        So, Mark’s brown bag presentation rolls around, he does his most professional intro and starts to MBA walk through his slide pack… and a VP who decided to sit in on the brown bag lunch (not uncommon … our department lunches were a great networking, informal conversation opportunity for lots of folks in the company) points out the obvious question about … “What about X?” and Mark doesn’t miss a beat: he points to a BLANK spot on the conference room wall and says “if there was a diagram about X, it would obviously trend up, allowing for these factors” while he pantomimed pointing to an entirely imaginary and invisible chart on the conference room wall. When he got to “as you can see here on this chart” gesturing to an imaginary upward or downwards slope on an imaginary graph, it was all the rest of us could do to not burst out laughing.

        The strangest part was after the presentation, Mark completely rebuffed any feedback which implied the chart about X didn’t exist. It was like he was so dedicated to his lunch presentation, he had willed his powerpoint pack into being, he imagined the invisible chart on the wall actually existed and would tolerate no suggestion that it didn’t (which obviously became a stopper when Senior Management was deciding who to extend long term offers to: sorry Mark, imaginary analytical and data presentation skills don’t top real, demonstrated ones.

      2. Salymander*

        I knew a girl who used to stamp happy faces, stars and “Good Job!” on all her returned homework. I thought at first that she was trying to fool her parents into thinking she had good grades, but nope! She did really well on all her assignments, but felt that our teacher was too grumpy and stingy with praise so she took care of business herself. It was pretty impressive problem solving for a 2nd grader.

        I wonder if she grew up to be the Approved employee.

        1. Leonineleopard*

          That is brilliant self-regulation of emotions for the purposes of motivating oneself! Feels like the opposite of the temper tantrum of the “approved” performance, actually.

          1. Salymander*

            Yeah you may be right. I remember admiring her gutsiness and thinking she was the coolest kid ever. She was pretty much just made of sass and cleverness, which greatly impressed 7 year old me. I think maybe wherever she is now she is likely running the whole show and no longer needs to deploy the stamp of self approval.

    4. Lady_Lessa*

      Being a lab type, was the employee designed one better or worse than the professional one?

      My similar tale: We redesigned the lab and I figured out a nice production area from one location on the bench to another. The production involved several people handing their completed task to the person next to them, with the last one placing the items in a rack for the water bath. RIGHT in the middle of the planned flow was a large support pillar that I don’t recall seeing before. It was next to the bench and large enough not to easily reach around.

      1. PostalMixup*

        A brand new shiny lab at my university failed to install gas lines. They had to buy a bunch of portable bunsen burners so researches could flame their spreaders.

        1. OtherBecky*

          A newly renovated FLOOR of lab classrooms at mine had:
          -No electrical outlets at the lab benches
          -No DI water lines at the sinks
          -Personal storage cubbies about the size of a typical student backpack, with a non-removable shelf exactly in the middle

          I believe the shelves got removed via reciprocating saw.

          1. noncommital pseudonym*

            I heard about a recently designed biomedical lab building where the architect thought making the hall floors out of unsealed, rough brick was a good idea. So, people were pushing carts full of glassware to the autoclave over rough brick floors, and breaking a few each time. If anybody dropped anything hazardous, it would have been impossible to clean up because the floors were unsealed. Did they even ASK any of the end users before building the thing?

            I won’t say the responses were strangely dramatic – they were more appropriately dramatic. But they were dramatic. The floors got sanded and sealed.

            1. La Triviata*

              We recently moved to a new office. The workspaces for everyone except the directors are small AND the desks have an outlet in which you can plug ONE thing. The other outlet is specifically for recharging iPhones.

              In a previous bad job, they set up a special room for the network servers. Small, with a door that closed. They overlooked that the AC went off every evening at 6:00 and all weekends. So they installed a special AC unit. In the ceiling. With an air pipe that ran right over the servers. With condensation dripping down onto the servers.

            2. PostalMixup*

              I can’t even imagine! How many batches of freshly-autoclaved LB would be gone. And heaven forbid you took your stuff out of the autoclave still hot…

            3. Mr. Shark*

              That literally made me laugh out loud! I can just imagine everytime they were pushing carts down the hall the glassware bouncing all over the place!

          2. PostalMixup*

            Oh man, I’m just thinking of all the random stuff I’ve got plugged in on my bench. Like, two different sizes of centrifuge, plus a vortexer, plus the charger for my pipet-aid, plus a computer, plus a thermocycler…granted, probably not gonna have all that in a teaching lab, but oh man I can’t even imagine how hard that would be!

          3. JustaTech*

            When our building got renovated, thankfully we (mostly) kept them out of the very functional labs. But they pulled out the DI system (and replaced it with these little portable units that are painfully slow. Like, 5 minutes a liter slow.), pulled out the autoclave, pulled out the glasswash machine and made us sell a bunch of BSCs at pennies on the dollar for no reason.

            And then all the offices were re-done with the phone-based group in mind. The folks who should never have to use a single piece of paper. While for the lab folks all our stuff is still on paper, paper we are legally obligated to keep. And now there’s nowhere to put that paper because the bookcases we had were “un-aesthetic”. Oh, and guess what group is now almost exclusively WFH?

            (The difference from the original comment is that literally no one ever asked us what we wanted or needed, or looked at how our space was used before we were moved out.)

            1. Reluctant Mezzo*

              This reminds me of the time the electricians, in another room, and without notification, cut the circuit to the hood in my husband’s chemistry class.

              Nitric acid is not your friend (and my husband coughed for a week). He had a little chat with them about letting him know when they were going to work on circuits after that.

          4. Hannah Lee*

            a friend of mine taught high school English, including AP English literature courses.
            His school district built a brand new building, including a wing of classrooms for the English department … with absolutely ZERO bookshelves. When the department head asked about the lack of bookshelves during the design and construction phases, they were told “everything is virtual now, there are no books so no bookshelves” Hah! There was also no “teacher secure” space in any classroom … ie a teacher grading essays had nowhere to secure them, get them out of sight .. or to secure virtual or hard copy gradebooks, as multiple classes came through their workspace throughout the day or when they had to leave the classroom to monitor lunch.

            What finally put the breaks on the move to that new building/wing was a public safety inspector noticing that the *single* door to/from every classroom, combined with fixed windows that could not be opened in an emergency, created a hazard in case of fire or other emergency. The English department eventually got classrooms with working windows, entrances and egresses and yes, bookcases.

            1. just a random teacher*

              When thinking about school building trends in the last 20-30 years, the big one I see a lot of is glass walls everywhere. This supposedly makes it easier for teachers to keep an eye on the hallways, passers-by to keep an eye on the classrooms, and just generally lends a nice, open feeling to everything.

              The other new trend in education in the last 20-30 years is active shooter drills. These require you to cover all of the windows into the classroom so the shooter can’t see that there are people in there to shoot.

              I have worked in multiple buildings with butcher paper taped up over the glass classroom walls. Some schools you can tell which day the “surprise” drill is because that’s the day the teachers all tape up the butcher paper.

              1. Phryne*

                I work in higher education, and we too suffer from the ‘everything glass’ plague. Active shooter drills don’t happen in my country, school shootings not really being a thing here, but still having glass windows between 2 full classrooms is not helping students focus.
                The absolute worst bit was when they had a fully glass wall in the Physiotherapy practicum space where physiotherapy students (student population about 80% female) were massaging each other in their underwear right opposite the huge glass fronted Life Sciences lab.
                Those curtains went up real fast.

            2. Batgirl*

              The latest batch of schools built in my area in the UK were all built with fabulous glass balconies. No classroom cupboards, staff rooms or work spaces. No quiet areas for exam access arrangements. However we’ve got plenty of balconies at great height that we have to keep secure from a lot of heedless children who would either drop things off , or possibly themselves. At my particular school, they demolished a place that looked like Hogwarts to build what looks like a bus shelter with balconies. Oh, and there’s no library (whyyyyy).

            3. Inca*

              Remodels and renovations are just fun in general… though a few of the times it has been with the process of renovating too.
              So they wanted to upgrade a lecture hall, and for that lectures from A moved to nearby location B. Ok, but where do the people at B go? Well, maybe they can go to C? And I hope anyone has figured out the obvious here, but apparently they didn’t and some group ended up homeless and only then, on the day they had no actual place to go, someone figured out moving doesn’t magically create more space and some temporary facilities were rented. (I thought it was hilarious.)

              Same renovation but different situation was when they thought they could just expell a few of those pesky students from campus facilities (not housing or study related but culture halls) because the Very Important People wanted to have a nice, student free zone to be at (sometimes.) Requests to work out a better solution were denied: they said they had thought it through very thoroughly but it really was impossible to do it any other way, the students had to just go.

              So we showed up to protest (yeah!) and lo-and-behold, a solution was found, and the thing of note really was how smooth it all worked out. This *didn’t* require additional rental of space, it was mainly rearranging some of the furniture and coordinate the schedules. It was totally lack of interest/respect for the students that it hadn’t been solved before. I’m very proud we showed up and got it changed though.

          5. sophiamerle*

            The new sciences building at my university had both showers with no drains in them, and sinks in the fume cupboards that the drain wasn’t linked up to anything, so water that flowed into them just came out on the floor below. I believe the plumbers have been sued…

      2. JessaB*

        When the new stadium for the Boston Celtics was being built, they showed everyone the plans. Nobody said a word about any issues until Red Auerbach came over and said “Hey where are the bathrooms?” Seriously a whole new building and they left off all the bathrooms. Egg on everyone’s faces, nobody had noticed until that point. People miss things.

        1. Aitch Arr*

          I think this is an urban legend.

          I can’t find any reference to such a story in the history of the Boston Arena or the Boston Garden.

          1. Babbalou*

            I also seriously doubt that story. As a retired architect, I can confidently say that architects are very familiar with building codes. Building codes specify the required number of bathroom fixtures by occupancy type.

            I think this is a variation of an old story about a building in the Vatican that was allegedly designed without bathrooms. Story is that the Pope reviewed the drawings and commented that they “weren’t angels.”

      3. BethDH*

        I’m not in a lab, but we had a fancy remodel that had some interesting choices, mostly where someone got too clever.
        My favorite:
        They put the lights on motion sensors, which I is slightly annoying because they turn off if I’m just sitting still in a zoom meeting or something, but what’s really awful is that they put approximately half of the electric outlets on the same circuit. This meant that one of my computers kept restarting. Since it was only one of my computers doing anything unexpected, and since it often happened when I was in the middle of running a big model on that computer, I assumed I was just killing it myself. Eventually I realized that whenever my computer was busy processing things, I would go refill my tea, conveniently leaving the room just long enough for the motion sensor electricity to go out.

        1. Stunt Apple Breeder*

          A lab I used to work in also had lights on motion sensors. If you stood in one place long enough, the lights would go out…which was really inconvenient when someone was working after dark.

          Another lab I worked in was designed to have U-shaped work stations. There were no spacers between the bank of drawers at the bottom of the U and the floor-level cupboards that lined the upper parts of the U, so the cupboard handles blocked the drawers from opening fully. This same lab had a 220 outlet right under the safety shower, which had no drain.

          1. Fae Kamen*

            They’re not so uncommon. At my old office, people would just wave their arms around until it turned back on :)

        2. roctavia*

          Not to be dramatic about our office remodel… but sometimes things just don’t make sense. We have several locations and they all need refurbishing, mine is the newest and smallest, so least in need of refurb, but they are doing mine first since it’s quick and they can get the supplies. Fine, whatever, we’ll make it work.

          I get to pick new art for my walls, which is fine, though the art I have is actually nice and appropriate and cost a lot 10 years ago when it was installed… I asked if some pieces could just be reframed, since they are doing that for a couple of pieces at another one of the locations… I never get a answer, but we got a department wide message that we were approved for this remodel but it has to be consistent everywhere, and we can’t be asking for exceptions etc. (probably my fault :P )

          So we get the art to choose from… one of them is literally the same art I already have and love, so I guess we’re just buying it a second time, since no one will listen to me say that I have art we can reuse and stay even more under budget…. It’s annoying since they are cutting the budget on other things, but then wasting money on stupid stuff like this.

        3. MJ*

          Hahaha I worked in an office where the lights went off AND the alarm started auto arming. So you had to leap out of your chair in the dark and get to the panel to disarm before it finished. Otherwise the cops showed up.

          1. Sharp-dressed Boston Terrier*

            That would be the point where I’d try coordinating a non-response to the alarm – anyone in the office when that happens doesn’t disarm the alarm so the cops keep showing up, then the company starts getting dinged for misuse of public resources. I’d put good money on the issue getting fixed real fast.

            1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

              Yes, asking nicely to please do something so you don’t have to leap about every ten minutes probably won’t have the same effect.

        4. Can’t think of a name*

          My company also put our lights on motion sensors. It’s a tech company. Populated by developers who sit at computers and write code, which is apparently motionless enough for the sensors. The lights go off when there’s multiple people there working.

          1. SixTigers*

            Happens to me all the time — I’m sitting there, intent, working, and apparently motionless, and poof! Dark. I have a cabinet with a door that I reach over and open/close a couple of times to wake the lights back up. Annoying.

        5. Mr. Shark*

          If you haven’t seen the Better Off Ted (office comedy) episode in which they put in motion sensors that would activate any room someone walked in automatically, including opening locks and such, you should.
          Basically, the sensors could not detect people of color, so one of the Black scientists got locked into the lab all night. So they ended up hiring white people to follow the Black people around so they could get into rooms with lights on. But that created an imbalance, because it was basically racist to hire only white people for those jobs. So they had to hire another black person to follow the white person around…and on and on and on.

        6. Software Update Failed*

          at a previous job, my team got moved into a new building with motion sensors. Most of us sat at computers nearly immobile for hours at a time, so it was super annoying, we’d have to wave periodically. My boss was put in an L-shaped office where the motion sensor couldn’t detect him when he was behind his desk due to the corner. He ended up buying a cheap oscillating fan and would turn it on when he came in and turn it off when he left.

          So… not very power saving.

      4. Salymander*

        A city government near me had plans for a massive parking structure drawn up by a team of architects and went through multiple sessions where they reviewed plans and approved every detail. They got all the way to the first stages of building it when they realized that there were several entrances, lots of parking, but absolutely no exits. I don’t suppose it was that hard to fix the problem, but it is both funny and a little scary that no one noticed a problem until they had already started building.

        1. Not Your Sweetheart*

          At least they caught it at the planning stage! In my city, they built a new parking structure at the airport (20? years ago). On its first day, multiple vehicles were damaged, and at least one got stuck at the exits. The exits were almost a foot less than the garage’s clearance.

      5. raktajino*

        My ochem prof used to work in industry. His last private job was so full of OSHA bees that it drove him back to academia. Some highlights from the recently redesigned building: there weren’t enough emergency showers, so someone just put up nozzles and signs without hooking them up to any plumbing; and fume hood vents on the roof were positioned right next to the air intakes, so all that crap just got sucked back inside.

    5. Jora Malli*

      I know he probably used a stamp the office already owned, but I love the idea that he was so passionate about his designs that he ordered his own APPROVED stamp online.

    6. DuskPunkZebra*

      I am a UX designer and user of products made by the company that invented PDF. They are notorious for terrible UI that is way more complicated than it needs to be, and for making changes that make even less sense than the previous layout.

      Before the introduction of the subscription model and quarterly updates to software, there would always be a huge uproar in various digital arts communities whenever the new version would come out because they’d have changed something that screwed up everyone’s processes, but very few would change their software because there just isn’t anything out there that is as capable or is compatible with the main software used. (Now with the subscriptions, it’s down to grumbling and Stockholm syndrome because we know we’ll never get out.)

      People can hate a layout and will defend it to the death against changes because they’ve adapted to the other bad way and change is hard, even if it’s verifiably better.

      1. R*

        Everybody I know who uses it HATES it, and they all use alternative programs that they like better but they still keep using it for some reason, and I, a non-artist, say, “Well, why don’t you just cancel your subscription?” and they just get a glassy, far-away look.

      2. The Prettiest Curse*

        I use all of those programs, just not enough to complain about changes. What I reaaaaaaaallllly hate about the subscription model is that I’ve yet to work for an organisation that didn’t screw up renewals in some ridiculous way, resulting in my temporarily losing access (usually at a critical time.)
        If anyone works for an employer that actually handles these well, I’m jealous of you!

        1. Hannah Lee*

          I have the version that allows you to create and edit the files, I use those functions 10-20 times a day as part of my basic job function. Invariably, when it comes time for renewal, somehow my “new” version winds up being the “read only” version. And then 2 weeks later, I’ll get a new annual license that’s the full editor version on top of the basic version. So basically at work I always have two licenses – the useless one and the one I use all the time. (and at least every other year, our CEO randomly buys an enterprise version for 20+ license on a Saturday when he’s impatient and can’t figure out how to activate the license he already has for his workstation … we pay lots of extra money to that pdf company)

          1. Hannah Lee*

            Random rant: I also do the financial closes for the entire company. Often during Christmas and New Years when we are “shut down” I’ll come in a couple of days because I can run all the financial reporting, do the nuts and bolts of the close processing and analysis when no one else is making entries in the ERP system, backing up files, etc. This year, I told the CEO when I’d be in the office doing that. At 5:30 am that morning (he’s an earlier riser) he logged in remotely and decided to restructure our server architecture, change security permissions and install a brand new finance server on a different domain … without telling me what the new server structure or credentials were. Not only was I dead in the water that day, for weeks later he kept updating things on the fly, changing domains, printer access etc so that every. single. morning. I had to guess whether I’d be able to login to my workstation, whether or not I’d be able to access the main financial network, whether i’d be able to run analysis queries off the ERP system without having to start from scratch and figure out what domain, which data tables stuff I’d built an entire annual financial close and analysis process off of and worked with for 6 years would maybe, kind of run off of. And for some reason, even after I’d got everything working, there would be 2-3 mornings a week where my 2 workstations would lose network connectivity and I’d have to reconnect when I got it in the morning, usually to find out he’d “optimized” storage and moved one key resource to some other server without telling me, so I’d have to guess whether something was not working or it was just that the path/parameters had been updated in the wee hours.
            I swear our annual financial close took 3 extra weeks due to me having to hunt and peck and rebuild queries and data store links every day.

            1. The Tin Man*

              As someone on the ops side associated with month- and year-end closes, that sounds horrifying. If someone just started changing around where I pull all my data from I would probably have a breakdown.

              That’s quite the technically adept CEO though, was this a small company whose focus was on software or something like that? Seems like the data structure would fall to the CDO, head of IT, or head Controller in a normal environment.

      3. Architect*

        I am working on a new building for a governmental agency. At the beginning of the project, they said to us “These are all the things we hate about our current buildings.” So we gave them a design that solved those problems. The response? “That’s not how we always do it.” *headdesk*

        So, yeah, some people just really hate change.

      4. Picard*

        I still use my ancient desktop version of said software and have delayed upgrading my ENTIRE system so that I dont have to change softwares. I will NOT buy into the subscription model but I have so many created presets and actions and plugins that I cant make the jump (easily) to another platform. Once my PC dies for good, I know I will have to do something but its hard to give up on 20+ years of experience and deal with a learning curve

      5. Sara without an H*

        Beware of local processes.

        I once worked at a large academic library that was onboarding a new integrated system. (Integrated Library System: The software that manages circulation, purchasing, creation of database records [i.e., cataloging], periodicals check-in, interlibrary loan, etc. Basically, everything but payroll.)

        The old system was much hated, but staff had developed some really very inventive workarounds to compensate for the weaknesses in the system. When the new system was demonstrated, hands shot up and several people asked, “That’s nice, but how will we do Process X? And Process Y? And Process Z?”

        It took a really, really long time to get it across that the locally-developed processes would no longer be necessary in the new system. I don’t think some people really believed it until the system went live.

        1. Nerfmobile*

          Oh goodness, I lived through that exact kind of transition too. Though in our case, the old system had actually been home-grown, so it had some very very customized workflows as well as the layered on workarounds people had invented. I had librarians literally in tears at the transition as their whole world suddenly changed.

        2. What OpSec*

          I’m dealing with that as a user in the military healthcare system. Sweet new system that looks beautiful! Meanwhile I have to confirm which branch we are and if our address and phone number have changed at EVERY appointment, which makes excellent sense of all someone uses a doc for is an annual physical. If I’m coming in 2-3x/wk / mo, it gets REALLY old. Also, used to be able to order prescription refills online with two clicks. Now we have to keep the scrip # and call it in… or go hang out in the long line. Yay for new technology!

        3. Quoi*

          In ye olde days (ie, 2014ish) I had to convince a charity I worked with to move from managing their journal production system by post to digital. I would email them a submission we’d received for them, and they would mark it up (on computer, not by hand) then print it off and post it to me. The Wailing and Gnashing of Teeth about…. Please just email me the file you’ve marked up? Was rather a lot.

    7. Michigan mom*

      At my office everything has to be reviewed and approved by several levels. Except we have two people sharing an adobe pro account and someone in IT assigned my boss and I to share accounts so when I sign off I have access to both of our signatures. So silly.

    8. Sopranohannah*

      I work in healthcare, and it seems like every time a department gets an upgrade/revamp/remodel,, no one actually asks staff or even managers how they would want things. Every remodel tends to make things less efficient. I would almost defend this guy for everything but the approved stamp, but it sounds like you got staff input.

      1. AntsOnMyTable*

        One of the units here when getting updated took all the hand sanitizers out of the rooms. The amount of time staff is suppose to clean their hands while in a room is…a lot. To expect people to wash their hands 2-5 times instead of just using sanitizer is unrealistic. Instead you just had worse hand hygiene. I will never understand the thought process behind this.

    9. InsertNameHere*

      This is the story I want an update on. How did people react? Did they get far into their presentation?

    10. CommanderBanana*

      My jaw dropped.

      Also, I will now just start putting APPROVED on everything. Because I approve of it.

    11. LittleMarshmallow*

      While the approved is funny… I sorta get the sentiment. Where I work they built a whole new building and just refused to get input from current employees operating in a similar building. They kept saying “this is how it is at other building”, but our building function is closer than other buildings function to new building… so our input would’ve helped. Later we found out that other building was hated by those that worked there too. We had to redo a bunch of stuff that didn’t meet local regulatory requirements. They didn’t even slope the floors to the floor drains… we had to pull equipment out and chip out the floor to reslope it in a brand new building. So yeah. I trust issues too with architects.

      1. CC*

        oh yeah, I’ve had the floor of an industrial building not slope towards the floor drain sump. And the slope at the outside door drew rainwater *into* the building. And two completely different buildings designed by completely different companies where the lighting designer assumed the building would be empty and whoever approved that and/or hired the lighting designer didn’t tell them where the equipment would be, which made for some very dark spots…

        1. Hannah Lee*

          I’ve found there are multiple levels of dysfunction on design: there’s the “person in charge wants it this way even if it doesn’t makes sense” and then the “company designing it is going to make it this way even if it doesn’t makes sense in this situation … because that’s how they always do it everywhere” and then Yay! there’s the person in charge and people will work in it and company/engineers/architects have finally thought it through and came up with a design that is fantastic! … but the construction firm building it just does what they always do or uses the stuff they have left over from some previous project so the whole thing comes out lousy anyway*.
          Is there a Peter Principle of construction projects?

          * this played out recently on a new sewage/public water infrastructure project and new US national park refuge HQ near where I live. Lots of public sessions and Army Corps of Engineers and environmental, civic, etc analysis of what the designs needed to be, how the system, spaces would be used, what was needed to protect underground aquifers, local drainage, protect flooding. 6-12 months after all the fancy new stuff was installed, the multi-million dollar HQ and sewer system was up and running, everything began failing … leaks, low pressure, sewage everywhere. Turns on the construction subcontractor had decided to use the brackets, connectors, pipes he always used on his construction projects, ignoring the design, engineer specifications.

          But while all the design people had taken into account that the new construction and infrastructure was being done on a barrier island on the Atlantic coastline with brackish water (aka salt water) in the groundwater, Mr I’ve BuilT STuFf, nOOne CanTelL ME whAT WoRkS, didn’t … and all his piping, connectors used WEREN’T rated for exposure to salt water and failed pretty quickly after installation.

          1. whingedrinking*

            I worked for a small local coffee chain with a few locations in a relatively small geographic area; for Reasons, someone in management declared that we were going to standardize all our procedures across all locations in the name of “consistency”. A nice idea in theory, but in practice ignored the fact that maybe there were good reasons why different locations operated differently. Management didn’t seem to have considered the idea that everyone doing the same thing is not good if everyone is doing the same *stupid* thing.
            For instance, management decreed that we would all use the same schedule for routine tasks. By which I mean, exactly the same schedule. The example that particularly sticks in my mind was that the flagship store cleaned their fridges on Saturday, and therefore that was to be Fridge Cleaning Day for everyone.
            Flagship store was a downtown location that was dead on Saturdays and closed on Sundays. My store was in a mall. Saturdays were the busiest day of the week and the day we received the largest food delivery, which we had to cram into our fairly small storage space as best we could. In short: the worst day to clean a damn fridge. But head office refused to give us any flexibility. Because if we weren’t Adhering to the Schedule, how could management be sure that Standards were being Upheld?
            We still cleaned the fridge on Sunday; we simply all concluded that management were a bunch of loons and took everything they said much less seriously going forward.

        2. LifeBeforeCorona*

          There is a house in my neighbourhood with a deep sloping driveway. Every time it rains the water pours down into the garage. Even in the red hot housing market the house sat unsold for months.

  3. Empress Matilda*

    I don’t have any yet, but I expect there’s one coming. I’m about to change a process that was developed in the *checks notes* 1980’s, and a couple of people are very uncomfortable about it. I’ll definitely share if this turns into a Story!

    1. honeygrim*

      For a second I thought I’d already posted. I’m working on a very similar situation, making changes that will make everyone’s job *easier*. But the rumbles of dissent have already started, and I haven’t made any changes yet.

      1. As per Elaine*

        I created an alternate database UI that limited the default view to what a person in a particular role would need to see, and streamlined the order of the fields so that they were grouped intuitively, rather than in whatever hodgepodge order they got set up in over fifteen years or so. It even included a link to the old UI, just in case you needed to do something outside your normal workflow. It MASSIVELY reduced loading time for big pages, and everyone who tried it liked it better. We gave it to new hires and I think most of them never even used the “view full page” link.

        But there were a handful of diehards who refused to switch — you’d think that I was suggesting they eat babies, rather than “Why don’t you try this UI that loads faster, and I’ll switch it back if you don’t like it?” If they haven’t all left the company, they’re probably still using it.

    2. many bells down*

      We’re getting a new copier in the next few weeks. I expect someone will have a meltdown over it. Possibly because the copies come out the other side from our current machine.

      1. Generic Name*

        I lol’ed at this. I’m someone who finds great comfort in routine and I have a hard time with change sometimes, but come on.

      2. EPLawyer*

        “the copies come out the other side from our current machine.”

        BLASPHEMY. Everyone knows the correct side from which copies must come.

        1. Salymander*

          That is really funny, because when I used to volunteer to make copies at my kid’s school, the other parent volunteer who trained me was really upset because one of the copiers had been turned to the side so that the paper was easier to load. It was the same machine, it was just turned 90° to the left. She kept saying how sorry she was, like it was some kind of embarrassing faux pas.

      3. Olivia*

        This makes me think of the epic copier story from last year where a university department director absolutely lost her sh*t because they were getting a new machine to replace their outdated and barely functioning one. She was later found to have been embezzling, and the LW got to testify against her in multiple courts.

        It’s AAM lore that perhaps the old copier, which IT had identified as having security weaknesses, was being used for the embezzlement.

      4. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Oh my – that reminds me of the uproar at my current company when they installed a new printer – that required a code from every person to release your print job. You would think that they got rid of the printer from the uproar and hullabaloo that ensued from having to punch in a four digit code…..

        Oh – and we’re in healthcare, so yeah HIPPA is a big deal.

        1. fogharty*

          Years ago I worked for a place that produced educational content, both online and also print (because not everyone had access to internet or even computers.)

          Part of the content required users to fill out forms or write papers then the non-internet people would fax them in. To indicate which pages should be faxed, they were a different color (other than white.) One of the office assistants picked a color she said tested best for faxing clarity. That color was goldenrod, a bright deep yellow.

          After a time the people who worked with this content began to complain the bright yellow was hard to write on because it actually hurt their eyes. So my boss decided to just make those pages white… that way we didn’t have to include blank pages of goldenrod for them to write on and fax in. They could just their own white paper.

          It was a while before the assistant who selected the color noticed. Then all heck broke loose! She had temper tantrums that we changed the color, insisting that she had undergone a rigorous testing process to select goldenrod. That we were insulting and sabotaging her! She blamed me, no matter how often it was explained to her that it was our boss’s decision and it actually saved money. She threatened to quit over this and hated me the rest of her days until she retired.

          After that, if she even heard the word “goldenrod” she’d start yelling and had to leave the room.

          I’ll admit, once in a while one would hear a whispered “goldenrod” come wafting over her cubicle wall, like Orson Welles’s “Rosebud”.

        2. NNN222*

          Our work printers require people to scan their badge to release their print jobs and it’s one of my favorite things. No stack of abandoned jobs hanging out near the printer, no one accidentally taking your sheets along with theirs. Plus, we can now use the printers closer to legal and HR when we previously couldn’t unless we worked for those departments due to the sometimes confidential nature of their work.

        1. SeluciaMD*

          Thank you so much for calling that out because I would otherwise have missed it – and I absolutely needed that today. It’s the details, you know? *chef’s kiss*

    3. anonymous73*

      I’ve been there many times. “But we’ve always done it this way!!” Good luck.

    4. Migraine Month*

      At my job, there’s a piece of software written 40 years ago that hasn’t been updated in 20 years, and the last person who knew how to make updates retired a year ago. I have been warned about the one employee that will throw a fit if I try to reimplement the functionality in a modern system, even though it will make literally everyone else who uses and maintains the system happier.

      1. CommanderBanana*

        We had a system for booking rooms at one of my old job that was ridiculous, but it was providing job security for one guy, so. #fedlife

      2. Sibilant Susurrus*

        Reminds me of the following is saw in a screenshot

        Dear programmer:
        When I wrote this code, only god and
        I knew how it worked.
        Now, only god knows.

        Therefore, if you are trying to optimise
        this routine and it fails (most surely),
        please increase this counter as a
        warning for the next person:

        total_hours_wasted_here = 254

    5. Anonymous Pygmy Possum*

      Oh god, I was about to ask if you worked for my old company, but I also know for a fact that they aren’t about to change the “developed in the 1980s” process since my partner still works there and he would have told me. I imagine a lot of people struggle to deal with these kinds of things.

  4. Bird Lady*

    New York State changed its regulations regarding sexual harassment in the workplace – specifically requiring all staff to participate in a once a year training course. It was about two hours and was essentially someone from the leadership team reading the state-provided script. There were different sessions you could attend so that workflows, deadlines, or programs did not need to change. Many people weren’t thrilled about dedicating two hours of time to anything other than their hectic deadlines, but when they attended the sessions, became incredibly interested and asks tons of questions. They were engaged and serious.

    All except one person who had legitimate meltdowns every time he was scheduled for a session since he would not sign up for one on his own. When he attended his required session, he proceeded to take work calls on his cell phone, write emails, and generally disrupt the process for all in the room. This was rather unfortunate because due to the nature of his job, he was a mandatory reporter according to state law. He proceeded to scream at people about how unfair it was to attend the training, even though it was required by law and he was legally responsible and liable for reporting misconduct.

      1. RPOhno*

        I remember suggesting, along with several colleagues, that my excessively paper-compliance-documentation-based department decommission the 10ft tall bookshelf bursting forth with binders like a corn cob with a fungal infestation, amd replace it with… file folders. Earth shattering, I know.
        We cited as supporting evidence that some of the binders were empty, some of them were overflowing with documents, some were labeled things like “reports april through june” and contained some, but not all, reports from August and September. It seemed like a no brainer.
        I never would have imagined that it would cause a grown man and seasoned, senior department member to:
        – pitch a fit in the middle of a department meeting
        – insist that binders are superior to files in all circumstances
        – storm out of said meeting
        – sulk at his desk for several days
        You’d think we’d suggested replacing his children with chicken nuggets or something. It was such a surreal experience and a very weird lesson in human beings growing attached to strange things

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

        +1 Even then…what the hell is his logic on this one? If he doesn’t attend the training they can’t discipline him when he harasses someone?

        1. Jessen*

          Usually with that type, it’s more that they think their behavior is perfectly normal and acceptable and all these harassment trainings and whatnot are because of a few uptight man-hating mutter mutter…you get the idea. Everything gets twisted around so the training is really an attack on them and not, you know, an indication that harassment is actually not acceptable behavior.

    1. bunniferous*

      Please tell me his boss had a strongly worded discussion with him. That is just ridiculous-and actually offensive.

      1. Bird Lady*

        Nope! Our HR person thought he was brilliant and would never allow any consequences for his actions.

    2. Ryz_On_2B*

      In fairness – this used to be one and done compliance in NYS and now the annual requirement is annoying because THE MAYERIAL DOES NOT CHANGE. Also, working someplace where most of us are mandatory reporters…the training mod (which is a multi hour interactive mod) WE have to do is actually offensive and reinforces outdated gender and sexual orientation stereotypes. I literally wrote a multi page memo on all the problematic in the examples.

      So your colleague is doubly obnoxious because it could be so much worse.

      1. Turanga Leela*

        I had an awful sexual harassment training a few years ago. For context, I work in a law office where we have to talk about sexual violence (and sometimes other sexually explicit content) for work. People sometimes deal with the stress through dark humor, and we’ve had issues with sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior in the past, so I thought the training might be useful.

        It was not. The examples were weirdly outdated. The trainer talked about gay and transgender employees as a sort of exotic hypothetical example. (We have a lot of LGBTQ employees.) There was no attempt at all to adapt the training to an office where talking about sexually explicit topics is part of the job. At one point, the trainer suggested we shouldn’t eat during Zoom calls, because some people eat in a provocative way.

            1. Migraine Month*

              Were the managers afraid to fire her because it would be seen as retaliation for making a sexual harassment claim?

              My favorite line: “…she claimed [to HR] that… I escalated by choosing increasingly sexy potatoes to eat in front of her.”

          1. Magenta+Sky*

            Kind of reminds me of an accounts receivable person we had who would alter accounting records to avoid have three sixes in a row because, well, you know why.

            She *was* fired.

            1. Skytext*

              Hey, the movie “The Omen” has a lot to answer for, to those of us who saw it at an impressionable young age. I’m 57 and still get a little freaked out by “666”. And I’m an atheist!

        1. Hlao-roo*

          At one point, the trainer suggested we shouldn’t eat during Zoom calls, because some people eat in a provocative way.


          What on earth!?

            1. Jean (just Jean)*

              Also cucumber, zucchini, and carrot sticks. Oh! Forgot sausages and hot dogs. Or fish sticks, in a crunch (ha, ha).

              1. Danish*

                fish sticks?
                FISH sticks?
                Well now you’re just rubbing her nose in the fact that LW is a lesbian. How dare you frankly.

        2. Anon for this*

          Yikes. I’m not in NY, but our annual, identical-every-year training opens with an example of really vicious transphobia. It’s like they never even fathomed that the office might have Real Trans People working there (cough, ME) who might feel off-kilter after hearing language like that.

          1. D*

            Ours is like this. I sent feedback indicating that I didn’t think their unconscious bias training really considered that a diverse workforce would be seeing the training.

            1. tesserae*

              We had a group of people complain that the diversity trainer was a lesbian and they couldn’t be expected to listen to lesbians.

              1. whingedrinking*

                Well, everybody knows that you can’t listen to a lesbian because…um…I don’t know how to finish that sentence even in the most sarcastic way.
                I mean, obviously because lots of people are homophobic and sexist so it’s a double-whammy of “I don’t like this person!”, but now I’m seriously wondering how someone tries to justify that without outright saying “I hate gays and women and especially gay women”.

            2. BethDH*

              I’ve seen a lot of this too. And somehow they never consider covering what to do if you think you’re the one subjected to unconscious bias and worried about torpedoing your career.

          2. Shall we have some music?*

            One section of our training includes some transphobic messaging, so my company’s Pride ERG wrote a helpful piece explaining what’s wrong with the section and why it’s wrong. It’s required reading before we can watch the training, which I appreciated.

        3. Magenta+Sky*

          Our sexual harassment training is all online now. I miss the days when it was done in person by a trial lawyer with tons of experience in the field.

          He had . . . war stories. It’s hard to not take him seriously when he explains exactly how bad behavior can lead a perp walk out the front door – from experience.

          1. Mike S*

            Yes! At my previous job we had an attorney come in and tell tales from the field. It was great! Now it’s online, and I just try to see how quickly I can get through it.

            1. Gumby*

              Ours is also online but it is times so even if you read all the things, take all the quizzes, and watch all the videos in 1.5 hours (which, honestly, was all the time that was necessary and I was not racing through) you still have to be active in the online module for a full 2 hours. They suggest reading transcripts of the videos or re-reading the info blurbs. I… clicked through on links to the transcripts. And then read something else on my phone. Because if you moved focus away from the browser window with the training? The clock stopped.

              I agree that such training is important. And this year it wasn’t even that horrible; the acting is waaaayyyy better than it has been in previous years for one. But the way it is forcing the 2 hours thing makes people resent the training. Which is not a desirable outcome.

              ITA that the in-person lawyer-led training I did 10+ years ago was the absolute best. And I am pretty sure that was a full 4 hours and yet I was happy to do it because it was interesting the whole way through. Alas, I no longer work for a company with the budget to afford that type of training.

            2. Chief Petty Officer Tabby*

              … reading these, I really see how what flies in the animal care field wouldn’t fly anywhere else. We tend to joke about bodily fluids and parts all day long, and nobody bats an eye, and yet were this any other career, we’d all get PIP’d or fired!

              It’s educational reading, that’s for sure.

          2. Elysian*

            As an attorney who provides these presentations, these comments make me happy so thank you!

        4. Lemonlime*

          This is really neither here nor there, but I had a training where the trainer said sexual harassment like:
          “Sesh ul HAIR IS meant.” With that emphasis and pause between syllables. She did not have an accent or say any other words of phrases differently. She had to say that phrase at least 100 times, each time she said it my brain went “wha- oh yeah.” like it had to realize what she was saying— it was so jarring and distracting.
          “A joke can be considered Sesh ul HAIR IS meant to someone else.”

          1. Shhh*

            We had to watch a video in 8th grade health in which harassment was consistently pronounced like that, so obviously that went well in a classroom full of 14 year olds.

      2. The Rafters*

        Awful that the web training is exactly the same every. single. year. Rules one might think are set in stone over what constitutes sexual harassment aren’t as concrete as some might think, depending on your field. The in-person trainings we used to have would include instances where those rules didn’t necessarily apply.

      3. Migraine Month*

        My New Hire Orientation trainer tried to get the class involved and interested by using names of people in the training for her examples! So the first time I ever met my colleagues, I said my name and department, and the trainer said, “So let’s say [MigraineMonth] was sexually harassing John Smith by…”

        I interrupted to ask her to knock it off. Apparently they had never before received feedback that her teaching methods made any attendee uncomfortable. Or that using the example of a disabled person who she’d helped get a job wrapping napkins around silverware for restaurants was a terrible way to explain ADA requirements. *side-eyes the entire training*

    3. Ana Gram*

      I personally love when a training like this is well done. It can really be a fascinating learning opportunity. So many are poorly executed and it’s such a bummer.

      I attended a fantastic sexual harassment training a few years ago led by an engaging woman who didn’t have time for nonsense- the best combo for a class like this! An older man got fairly irate that gay people were allowed to bring their significant others to the company picnic (just like the straight people) and got absolutely irate. It was beautiful to watch her shut it down.

      Even if the class is lame and useless…it’s 2 hours! Who cares? I’ve certainly spent 2 hours of far more useless things. Such a weird thing to get worked up about.

      1. BethDH*

        I loved the ones that incorporated more bystander training — how do I tell whether someone would welcome my intervention? What can I do to avoid fostering an environment where people think bossed behaviors are okay? — I still need a lot of help with that.

    4. Tabby*

      We had the Illinois version when I worked at UIUC, and one colleague’s comment was “most of these things aren’t even rape! I know because I’ve done them”.

      1. DrRat*

        That sound you just heard was my jaw hitting the floor.

        I feel my next comment would have been “Well, the last three times I killed a guy who did that stuff, they said it was self-defense, so I guess we’ll find out.”

  5. Mallory Janis Ian*

    This is going to be the best thread ever! I’ll be here clicking ‘refresh’ all day long.

    1. Dana Whittaker*

      Totally getting nothing done today! May save it for next week when I am at a conference and can properly indulge in this thread after dinner in my room. ;)

  6. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

    Free Popcorn Monday being taken away. Well, not taken away but the person who’d pop it retired and despite many emails asking for others to volunteer to do it, no one signed up. Yet loud and numerous complaints about it would occur, and when you told them they could volunteer to pop it, they’d always have an excuse. I do feel gender did play into this as the complainers were exclusively male and the person who retired was a woman.

    Before my current employer went remote, we also had a popcorn machine. And everyone pitched in, like adults.

    1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      I should say everyone who wanted popcorn just naturally took turns. If you didn’t want popcorn, it was perfectly fine to not participate

      1. zenocelot*

        I *love* your username (and also secretly want you to change the outlet every time you comment but that would be way too much work). :-D

        1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

          Keely Jones, The Independent Woman Insert on Sunday. ;)

    2. Jessica*

      Hilariously pathetic. I’m just imagining the whole office full of pouty man-babies wailing because no woman would make popcorn for them. If I worked there I think I’d enjoy aggressively making popcorn for one and eating it in front of them.

      1. Kaliden*

        Yet I know quite a few men who wouldn’t complain and be pouty, and would actually volunteer. So there’s that.

        1. socks*

          And none of those men work at this office, where zero men volunteered to make popcorn, and a non-zero number of men whined about it, so…what’s your point?

    3. NeedRain47*

      We had issues like this when the person who made the first pot of coffee every morning for ten years left for another job. Woe.

      1. Meow*

        I do wonder who took over making coffee when I left my old job. I literally wrote up guide on how to make coffee and taped it next to the coffee pot, and the other dudes were still like “It’s too complicated”. Dudes in their 30s and working in IT.

        1. Shoebox*

          yikes on bikes! I figured out how to make coffee when I was like 10, just by looking at the coffee pot! I have no sympathy for people who use malicious incompetence like this.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            I don’t even drink coffee, & I’ve known how to use a coffee maker since middle school.

        2. Rich H*

          Good lord, I’ve been a software engineer for 30 years, and we’ve always shared coffee making duties whenever there’s been a coffee machine, men and women. What sort of man can’t deal with operating a flippin’ coffee machine?! Let those idiots go without their coffee fix!

        3. Software Update Failed*

          I worry about the state of the coffee pot and keurig at my last job, I was the only person who ever regularly cleaned them and changed the filter in the keurig.

          I don’t even drink coffee. I just couldn’t stand seeing it gross. (and I’d often come in before everyone else and see the mold growing in the filter left over the weekend)

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      This happened with pretzels! Someone had a pretzel cart as a weekend side hustle, and would bring in pretzels once a week, and then this person retired and no one could figure out why the free pretzels also left.

      1. Joanna*

        We had a pretzel problem too. There was a guy who would stop at the bakery once a week and bring in a box of pretzels. There was an honor system for paying, and after weeks of notes explaining that the pretzels would go away if people didn’t stop stealing them, the pretzels stopped showing up. So many people were so angry that their pretzel supply had been cut, and you could hear them for weeks in the break room complaining about not having pretzels anymore. We’re are in Philly. You can get the same pretzels in our cafeteria. Imagine being angry that someone decided to stop buying pretzels for thieves.

        1. Moira Rose*

          God, I miss Philly pretzels. Even the ones you could just pick up at Acme. My mom was in the hospital in Philly recently and while it was enormously stressful (she’s better now), it was a small well of joy to be able to stop by the Acme and get the greatest food known to man.

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            Pretzels: A critical leg of the Philadelphia culinary tripod. The other two are cheesesteaks and hogies, of course.

        2. Olivia*

          I’m glad no one’s by my desk right now because the “We’re in Philly” comment did me in.

          I live a few counties away and people pay good money at the Philly Pretzel stores to get pretzels that, idk, taste like they were made with Philly water? (They’re okay but personally I prefer Super Pretzel or Auntie Anne’s.) If it’s easy to get Philly-style pretzels in smaller, farther cities like West Chester and Lancaster, I have a hard time believing it’s hard to do so in Philly.

      2. Lana Kane*

        I’m just picturing everyone standing where the cart would be, looking confused and asking “Pretzels?”

    5. Lab Boss*

      We do free donuts/bagels at the start of the month- nothing fancy, just your generic options. At one point a guy who’d been newly promoted into a high-paying position decided to start bringing in mid-month donuts as well, really fancy ones from a nice bakery in his hometown, paid for out of pocket. He did this on a consistent date for a few moths, and then one month he forgot to pick them up- people were literally going to his office to complain to him for not bringing in the free donuts. He ended up never doing it again.

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        This reminds me of something non-work-related. I used to live in an apartment in a three-family building. My husband and I were pretty much the only ones who ever shoveled when it snowed. We were also the ones who bought salt for icy steps and sidewalks, and kept it in a bucket on the front porch so anyone could salt the steps and sidewalks if they saw it was necessary. Well, one day when it was icy out, we heard our upstairs neighbors outside complaining that the salt bucket was empty, and what the hell were they supposed to do NOW?

        I ended up writing a note saying, “hey, we buy the salt ourselves. And for the record, we’re the ones who shoveled the snow away last night. And after the last storm. This is not done by the landlord. Just so you know.” One of the upstairs neighbors–the only one who was too disabled to help with shoveling–felt bad enough to offer us $20 to stock up on more salt. She was so nice. The others were not.

        1. EPLawyer*

          We had something like that in our apartment. 4 apartments, 2 upstairs, two down, we shared a stoop with the other upstairs apartment and the two downstairs had their own little walkways from the sidewalk that went to the stoop. One downstairs neighbor was an older lady with mobility issues. The other upstairs apartment was a cool dude. Hubby would shovel the main walkway to the stoop, put ice on our stoop and then shovel and ice for the older lady. But we NEVER did the other downstairs neighbors walkway and stoop because they had LITERALLY tried to run me over with their car the day we were moving in. Yes literally.

          1. OhNo*

            Ah, snow shoveling is a whole thing with some neighbors. My dad also had a setup like this when I was young – he and two other dads in the neighborhood formed a coalition to trade off shoveling out the elderly woman next door, since she was pushing ninety and they were all terribly worried she’d slip and fall if they didn’t. Her adult son never helped, or even thanked them for doing it, even when he saw them out there shoveling and salting his elderly mother’s sidewalk.

            After she passed away, her son inherited the house. The first winter he was living there, the son had the gall to complain to the Dad Coalition that they didn’t shovel his sidewalk after the first big snow. I don’t know exactly what their response was, but knowing all of them as I do, I can only assume he got hit with the most severe Disappointed Dad Look known to humanity, in triplicate.

            (FWIW, the son did eventually learn the error of his ways. When I was in the hospital for several months about a decade later, he teamed up with the other members of the Dad Coalition to keep our grass mowed so my dad could stay at the hospital with me. So there’s always hope!)

            1. Bizhiki*

              I love that the Dad Coalition showed him the error of his ways, and gave him the chance to redeem himself. What a delightful story!

              1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

                Yes – loving that this guy was given the opportunity to show that he could learn from mistakes. And also that he did step up and learn from the mistake.

          2. Bill and Heather's Excellent Adventure*

            Yikes! Glad you escaped. Were you able to use your lawyerly powers in some way to scare them off?

        2. Tierrainney*

          The first time it happened, I might give them a pass. They might not know it was not a landlord provided perk of the building if they never saw you or husband shoveling. Or they might have though you were doing it for rent reduction. But if they continued to complain, that would be a problem.

      2. Elitist Semicolon*

        A co-worker in my last job came into my office one day and asked why I never baked anything without nuts, because he was allergic and couldn’t have any of what I brought it. I apologized and the next time I baked, I brought in brownies without nuts. When I knocked on his door and told him there were brownies without nuts, he turned around, smirked, and said, “I’m diabetic and can’t have any of that anyway.” Between him and the woman who always used to drape herself in my doorway and sniff, “I’m being sooooo baaaaad! You’re making me be baaaaaad!” while holding the tiniest molecule of whatever I’d baked, I stopped bringing stuff in altogether.

        Now that I think of it, I’ve had two co-workers like that first guy. The other person was vegan and complained that she couldn’t eat the fudge I used to bring in, so I spent a lot of time (and money) trying to reduce soy milk into sweetened condensed soy milk. It didn’t work and when I said, “sorry, I tried,” she told me, “Oh, I don’t actually like fudge.”

        Why are people, even.

        1. Selina Luna*

          The vegan in the second story was a jerk, but sweetened condensed coconut milk is both vegan and delicious. I made some brigadeiros (Brazilian-style chocolate caramel candies) with sweetened condensed coconut milk, and they turned out amazing.

      3. footiepjs*

        Guess they never learned the moral of the story of the goose that lay golden eggs.

      4. nobadcats*

        This happened where I worked too. On my days off, I would usually bake something, muffins, bread, saffron rolls, shortbread, etc. and I would bring 2/3 of the batch in for my co-irkers. I lived only two blocks away from that job, so it was no big deal and I got to experiment with loads of different recipes. I was usually going into work to pick up more baking supplies and dinner anyway (it was a European grocery store). One morning, I came in to get supplies and had three co-irkers come up to me and say, essentially, “You better be picking up supplies for baking, there are a lot of hungry people here.” When I got the boss asking me why there weren’t any baked goods over the weekend, I said, “It was a gift. Some people ffed that up for everyone else. The only thanks I ever got were complaints that I didn’t bring something else. I don’t get paid for this ish.”

        Those people never got another roll or loaf of bread from my hands.

        1. nobadcats*

          Adding that in my current job, publishing, before we closed the office and went fully remote, my boss and other people would bake stuff and bring it in. Everyone was perfectly lovely about it too. When I was in the hospital for major surgery, my boss texted me asking what my favorite cookie is. Sure enough, there was a double batch of oatmeal Scotchies in the kitchenette so I could take half the batch home with me.

          I do miss how lovely my officemates are. Now I foist extra baked goods on my neighbors since I still regularly make my own bread and can’t always eat it all myself.

          1. nobadcats*

            I picked it up years ago from someone else (I think it was back in the livejournal days). Always apt, even if you love your co-irkers.

        2. Liz*

          You used SAFFRON in your office baking? You are a saint and the very soul of generosity and they did not deserve you.

          1. nobadcats*

            I love to bake and I was trying out new-to-me recipes (my macrons were an absolute disaster, I’ll leave those to the French). I think I found the saffron dinner buns on a recipe blog. They were fun to make! Little, soft, round, yellow pillows. I served them with Thanksgiving dinner that year.

            I try to always have saffron on hand for all sorts of recipes (I cook a lot of Mediterranean, Indian, and Asian dishes too), it doesn’t take a lot, usually just 1/4-1 teaspoon.

            But you’re right, they didn’t deserve me. LOL

      5. Migraine Month*

        OldCompany used to be small enough that they would have free donuts on the one day a month new hires started, but by the time I joined it had gotten large enough that they no longer had donuts. Why do I know this? Because someone introduced themselves at staff meeting as “the woman who announced donut day was cancelled”. Apparently this non-decision maker lived in infamy as the personification of the company getting too big to properly appreciate their staff with monthly calorie binges.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Haha! At a glance, I did think that comment was going to be about getting popcorn to enjoy this thread!

    6. The Prettiest Curse*

      I worked in a high-rise building where there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth after the building safety manager banned microwave popcorn. They banned it after multiple microwave popcorn fires, but to some people, a burned out kitchen is apparently less important than the ability to eat warm popcorn.

      1. A name for this*

        I banned microwave popcorn from my own house for the same reason. Came home one day to find my boyfriend making popcorn, with the microwave on an extension cord in the back yard. Letter of the law…

        1. IndustriousLabRat*

          This is the modern equivalent of the 18th century “fish kitchen”, commonly found in coastal New England; a small space with a separate entrance so that the constant cooking of Fishy Things wouldn’t steam/stink up the living area.

          Frankly, if I had the funds, I would add one to my own home. I’m tired of dragging my portable burner out to the driveway to deep-fry albondigas de bacalao (which make the house extra EXTRA stinky the next day, but are DELICIOUS).

          Your BF is following a logical tradition!

    7. Ally McBeal*

      This reminds me of an old job where a new senior-level person was hired and quickly started an office tradition of Bagel Fridays where he would bring in fresh bagels and spread at no cost to the rest of us. The complaints immediately started because we didn’t have an office toaster. I got so tired of hearing the ungrateful complainers that I went on Amazon and bought a $15 toaster. Then they started complaining that we didnt have a bagel slicer and had to use disposable knives to split the bagels, at which point I started looking people straight in the face and said “I am an admin assistant and bought this toaster with my own money, you can invest in an office bagel slicer if it’s that important.”

      I told all the other admins when I left that the toaster should be formally called “The [Ally McBeal] Memorial Toaster” in all instances :)

      1. Kat in VA*

        In the same vein, I started taking advantage of a large chain’s sale prices on foaming hand soaps because the supplied soap smelled like prison and sadness. I bought them for the house and would buy an extra 5-8 soaps for the men’s and women’s restrooms.

        Didn’t take long before someone literally complained about “scented soap” in the bathroom. I could not believe that a generous gesture of providing soap that didn’t dry out your hands and remind you of middle school was something for someone to complain about.

        Then Covid hit and I stopped buying altogether. Now that we’re starting to go back into the office, I’ve replaced the soap in the women’s bathroom and if someone says something about “scented soap”, I’m going to clap back that they’re not required to use it and they can avail themselves of the building-supplied pump soap built in to the sinks.

        I swear, some people would complain about a nice, 72 degree, breezy, clear, low humidity day.

    8. Massive Dynamic*

      Oh god, popcorn machines. We had one at an old job and it was usually one of two dudes who made the popcorn. Until one day? They found RAT POOP IN THE MACHINE.

      Bye bye popcorn machine….

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        tw: over-concern with calorie consumption

        Blech! I may or may not save your comment to re-read when I next get the urge to eat multiple Entenman’s cinnamon crunch donuts in one sitting.

    9. LittleMarshmallow*

      Wow… I worked with basically all men (I’m female) at a place that had a popcorn machine… never once did they expect me to make it since my role probably had the least amount of butt in chair time on shift… those men dutifully made popcorn put it in a waste basket bag and brought it down to the control room basically daily. Haha.

    10. Junimo the Hutt*

      I will say, that’s one nice thing that the pandemic did for me: they removed our popcorn machine. My cubicle is near the cafeteria and due to food sensitivities, I can’t eat most popcorn. So I’d just be smelling a delicious food I miss horribly every time somebody made it.

      I don’t think there have been any meltdowns over it, though. Donuts not showing up on Thursday mornings? Yes, but our admin is a rockstar and handles that far more gracefully than I would.

  7. Mehitabel*

    It’s this ish that makes me extremely happy to now be working 100% remotely. Less nonsense from people severely lacking in maturity and emotional intelligence. It’s the one good thing to come out of this godforsaken pandemic. And thankfully my current organization is blessed with a team who actually behave like grownups. It’s refreshing.

    1. CR*

      100%. It’s amazing how much less I’m annoyed by my annoying coworkers. It’s a blessing for mental health!

      1. Rayray*

        I think I remember seeing letters or comments about that here. There was one where the managers made employees stand up on camera to show they weren’t wearing pajamas and another one where a boss sent someone to stalk and spy on employees at their homes…

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          ha. When we first started working from home, my boss stood up to gleefully show us that he was wearing shorts along with his white button-down shirt and bow tie — he thought he was so clever for figuring out that little bit of comfort despite being in meetings all day.

    2. Roy G. Biv*

      Yes, now those people are working from home annoying their families 24/7. I pity the family members.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        The families are the people advocating for RTW. We’ve just cracked the entire WFH debate wide open.

  8. MisterForkbeard*

    I don’t know if this is a good one, but we were in a company-wide (10,000+) user rollout of a new chat tool for the company. The old tool was going to continue to be usable if people really wanted it, and the new tool was the industry standard. A Sales VP threw a fit that IT was doing this ‘during the last 6 months of the year’ and demanded we delay it for the entire Sales group. He even did a “Do you know who I am!” speech.

    We ended up rolling it out but just never sent the Sales Team the “Hey you can use this service now” notification unless they specifically asked about it. It was a completely ridiculous compromise and caused way more confusion than just following the normal process.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Love the ‘during the last 6 months of the year’ detail in this disproportionate response! ‘All changes to software/processes/anything must be made January – June. Change is verboten July – December.’

      1. MisterForkbeard*

        I know, right? His reasoning was that it would ‘introduce unnecessary confusion and could jeopardize yearly results’.

        1. Leonineleopard*

          Wow I really want to know what they deem necessary confusion now? And why “yearly results” are such a fragile, blown-glass thing!

          1. MisterForkbeard*

            I was worried that if they can be upset so much by such a small thing, I’m worried about the new snack machines we’re getting in the kitchen next month.

          2. MCMonkeyBean*

            Changing software processes when it’s time to do year-end reporting would get a lot of pushback at my company as well.

            But calling that time “the last six months of the year” is a stretch. That’s much too big of a blackout period.

            1. MCMonkeyBean*

              (Well probably not *chat* software though, can’t imagine that really hindering many processes…)

              1. MisterForkbeard*

                Right. I won’t change process on people during the last month of the year unless it’s a “do or die” kind of thing, and we also restrict rollouts during the last week of each month and two weeks of each quarter, just to be safe.

                But seriously: It was *chat software*.

                1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

                  In some kinds of business, this could make perfect sense – when you are selling, for example, Christmas ornaments, you won’t want to disrupt any processes in the time you make almost all of your sales. And a “chat system” migration might have tons of history, channels set up to support processes and so on that do not always migrate well.

      2. Nom*

        the only time busier than the last 6 months of the year is the first six months of the year.

      3. Salymander*

        It makes it sound like one of those weird “don’t wear white after labor day” types of rules.

      4. Raboot*

        Lol same logic at the people who were like “meetings AFTER lunch???? you’re a monster” yesterday

        1. MisterForkbeard*

          I used to be really annoyed when people would schedule meetings at 1:00pm and be surprised that a lot of attendees were late. Like, use common sense people.

    2. Analytical Tree Hugger*


      “The old tool was going to continue to be usable if people really wanted it.”

      Literally, nothing *needed* to change for the Sales team What was the VP’d complaint?? Just keep using the old tool. The mind boggles.

      1. MisterForkbeard*

        I think he was worried that the Sales Team would fall apart because they’d have two different chat tools and it would just be SO CONFUSING.


        1. DuskPunkZebra*

          Poor them.

          I’m over here with three tools up all the time, two of which are team-specific. It does feel a bit excessive, but really, it’s not that confusing.

        2. Lana Kane*

          This was the exact argument my coworker made when we replaced Skype with Teams. We were both supervisors and I had my team rolled out with teams well before the deadline. She waited till the very end because “2 chats are confusing!” Whether she switched or not, she would always have the 2 chat scenario until it was rolled out evenly across the org. But no, she waited for months until the deadline and by then everyone was on Teams except her.

          I do not miss her.

          1. Mike S*

            We currently use Skype, Skype for business (which is completely different) and Teams. I’ll occasionally get a message on one of them, and not notice for a couple of days.

        3. Kat in VA*

          LOL he best not come to my company.

          We work with the federal government and use an entirely different instance across many, many apps – email, chat, office suites, storage, reporting tools…

          Folks on the federal side have both instances; folks on the Commercial side only have one.

          Always a treat onboarding a new federal employee who finds out that communication with the commercial side requires logging into their instance of chat, etc.

    3. Smitty*

      At the beginning of the pandemic, my office had a similar issue. As the organization prepped a majority of us to go fully remote (we were deemed essential, so certain people had to remain in the office and others chose to remail), we switched from Skype to Teams. Our remote setup made Teams the preferred option for chatting, meetings, calls, and tracking work, so a majority of us happily learned to us Teams and made the best of it (about 98% of the team).

      However, there were a few curmudgeons in the office who insisted on staying with Skype for a couple of months until the organization cut access. I cannot tell you how frustrating it was to contact those two people on Teams and have them send you a response on Skype that you never saw. Or to have them ping you on Skype and then send an angry email an hour later when you didn’t respond.

      Of course these were people in the group that did not have to work in the office, but chose to because the idea of learning how to access our systems remotely was too much to handle.

      1. tiny_strawberries*

        During the pandemic we switched to a new communication method for making virtual communication easier. Obviously it took some time for some parts of the org to catch on, but now everyone’s comfortable using this messaging system. Except for one person, who was pretty important in the org, who stated that she did not want to do work on the system, didn’t like it and wouldn’t check it. The worst part is that she came after we started using it so basically just didn’t want to use a tool her new job consistently used… She’s gone now.

      2. MisterForkbeard*

        We had a very similar situation during this roll-out, too. It turned out that there was still some legacy Teams access that was still around due to an old licensing agreement. We found out that there were 30 or so people that had just… never moved on from it even though they couldn’t talk to anyone else. They just refused to use anything else.

        There was a Sr VP with this setup and evidently everyone would route everything to him through his Admin because he was too stubborn. I suspect this was less about him being curmudgeonly and more about discovering a loophole which made his own life easier because no one could bug him in real time.

        1. Smitty*

          Yup. Of course you are sympathetic when people struggle to learn new things, but to outright refuse to budge is frustrating. Especially when you work in IT and beyond that, everyone offers to guide them through it.

          Clearly they hoped that if they dug their heels in, that eventually things would return to normal, which is funny to think about now.

      3. Artemesia*

        I was doing some research work involving a state office decades ago where they moved from fixed terminals for their data entry to computers. the seniors in the office refused to learn the new software and hired someone to configure their computers to be like the old terminals. I don’t know how it played out because I was there during the middle of the kerfuffle but not when it would have ended one way or another.

        1. Hazel*

          Sometimes people really don’t like change! I was consulting for a retailer writing documentation, training materials, and help applets for the new software the buyers would use. Instead of carrying around a 3-4 inch thick stack of printouts, they would have a laptop and be able to look up suppliers easily. Most of them complained because they were already finding information fast enough by rifling through the printouts. They didn’t want to take a few minutes to learn how to search a database on a laptop, which would have made their lives so much easier. I don’t know what eventually happened, but I think there was serious consideration (after paying for the software developers and us) to let the buyers continue to carry around the heavy stacks of paper.

          1. MisterForkbeard*

            This reminds me of the famous “patch notes and workflow” XKCD:

            Some people really, REALLY do not like change. Sometimes that’s for good reason (older processes can still work just fine) but most of the time it’s just inertia.

      4. Kiwi*

        I’m wondering if we were at the same company, because we had the exact same issue! Ours may have been pre-pandemic though, they were constantly changing software at that job and I’ve forgotten what happened when now!

        1. MisterForkbeard*

          Ours was also pre-pandemic, so it was a while ago. Still one of my more favorite stories, especially the part where my boss pulled me aside to say “You’re completely correctly and this guy is wrong, and also he’s extremely senior so you should try to give him something. He can screw this whole thing up if he really wants to.”

          Hence, giving all his people access to the chat tool (technical limitation – we had to roll it out to everyone at once) but just not telling them they were allowed to use it.

    4. Leonineleopard*

      My #1 goal for my professional life is now to deliver an unironic “‘Do you know who I am?’ speech” at work!

      I’m sure none of my colleagues, given that we are all middling level admin staff at a state university with middling responsibility and zero authority, will find themselves the least bit bewildered when I debut this monologue.

      1. MisterForkbeard*

        My goal is to be notorious enough that I never have to give that speech. :)

        I’m actually very well known at this company because my name gets attached to a lot of company-wide mail, or when things go wrong with critical systems I let people know why, how, and when it’s getting fixed. I’m actually very nice about it, and the upside to this whole setup is that people actually pay attention when I ask them for something. “Hey, System Y is in trouble and one of the reasons is because you made a search that executes 3000 times / minute. I’m afraid you need to shut it down.” gets a lot of attention when the day before System Y went down, etc.

    5. SpiderWort*

      We had to switch from Skype to Teams. People put messages in their status about how nonfunctional teams was compared to Skype.

    6. Migraine Month*

      I think this may be why, at my job, there are a half-dozen different chat/call/video call options, and every department seems to have chosen two different ones to use exclusively. I recently heard that we’re adding a seventh.

  9. Jane Bingley*

    Around 2017, during an office clean-up after a move, I tossed an ink cartridge that expired in 1994. We didn’t own any printers that were compatible with it (obviously). It seemed like a straightforward tidy. I even took a photo of it because I thought it was hilarious that someone had kept it that long, and even packed it to move to a new office several times!

    Another employee fished it out the garbage and put it in her personal desk space to ensure it never got tossed again. “We don’t throw out perfectly good office supplies.”

    1. NervousHoolelya*

      Perfectly good, almost-definitely-dried-up office supplies. People make my head hurt…

      1. Zephy*

        Almost-definitely-dried up office supplies that they can’t even use because they don’t have that kind of printer anymore.

        1. A Poster Has No Name*

          And I’m betting that kind of printer didn’t even exist in 2017. And if it did, the manufacturer certainly changed the type of cartridge it took.

          1. AnonInCanada*

            And if they still make a printer that took those cartridges, the ink would’ve definitely have dried out in it. And the cartridge would be incompatible anyway since most inkjet printer makers have their own special DRM built into the printers and the cartridges so no one gets any bright ideas like, y’know, refilling them or making a cheaper 3rd-party brand? Shysters, all of them!

            1. Migraine Month*

              Did you hear about the printer company that pushed a “security fix” that would cause any of their printers that had used non-proprietary ink to break? Technical support then pretended that using the non-proprietary ink caused the issues, not the code changes they’d pushed.

              They were sued.

        2. Cat Tree*

          My mom has about one million pens in her house. 90% of them don’t work. When she needs to write something she’ll grab one and it won’t work. I suggest that maybe she should throw it away since it doesn’t work. She puts it right back in the pen holder and grabs another one, which also doesn’t work. It’s exhausting just to watch it. And most of these pens are 20 years old.

          1. Migraine Month*

            My OldJob’s billionaire CEO complained to the entire staff that we weren’t being frugal with the company-branded pens and pencils. They told us to be more like them: only take home a pen or pencil from work if it was broken.

          2. Snoozing not schmoozing*

            When I worked, most of the time if I threw out an empty or dried-up pen, the housekeepers would fish it out of the trash and return it, thinking I’d accidentally dropped it in. You’d think they were Mont Blanc and not off-brand Bic copies.

            1. Leonineleopard*

              Maybe the cleaning staff wanted to avoid the impression that they were the ones throwing away office supplies without permission? But that is annoying, yes!

      2. Velvets rabbit*

        Opposite story. We had a fax machine that so rarely gets faxes that it was over 10 years old when it ran out of toner. it was difficult to figure out what toner model was needed (old one had no info) and to find a place that sold old, new cartridges, so we took a picture of the toner box with model information and taped it to the fax machine so in 2027 when it runs out again, whoever is still working here can order a new cartridge.

        1. Bob*

          Back in my Navy days (2007-13), I worked on some really old equipment for some of our older planes. So old many of our test benches had warranties that expired in the 60s. One of those benches, the only one we had of that type, got itself a broken pin connector. I had to do so much research and make strange calls/emails to track down how to get the new part for 60-year-old equipment. Essentially finding out what happened to the company that made the thing originally, both the bench and the part, and tracking it through decades of sales, mergers, and moves. It took about two months, but I got it.
          My backstabbing supervisor took the credit and got a commendation for my work.

      1. MisterForkbeard*

        I would love to have a quill set on my desk. Maybe that’s where they’re going for.

      2. EPLawyer*

        You laugh, I am pretty sure the law library at the courthouse still has a typewriter. Because some forms still are the carbon ones. Even though we have gone to electronic filing. Which means typing the form, then scanning it and filing it.

        1. Percysowner*

          As a retired law librarian, I can almost guarantee the law library has a typewriter somewhere on premises. One, because law libraries tend not to throw things out unless absolutely necessary and two, because, sometimes there are still forms that require a typewriter.

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            I occasionally used a typewriter within recent memory. Nowadays fillable PDFs are pretty nearly universal, but I would not be shocked to find one that was that far behind the curve.

            1. Recruited Recruiter*

              I used a typewriter almost daily at my first job in 2014. We had so many forms that required it, and our mailing labels for billing always jammed the printer.

            2. knitcrazybooknut*

              Some of our state institution’s payroll records are on microfiche, and it’s federal law that says we have to be able to access them.

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

          Back in the early 2000’s my mom worked as an operator for IBM. They still used typewriters! IBM a computer company couldn’t be bothered to upgrade the computers so they could type/print out mailing lables. No they had their staff do it on a typewriter. IT was right next to where my mom worked and many times she would be on the phone with someone and they would ask “Is that a typewriter in the background?”

          1. Anne August*

            I work at a non-profit and we get matching donations from various companies, including IBM. All of the companies switched to online verification forms ten years ago…..except IBM, which required paper forms, filled out by both the employee and us, and snail-mailed back to IBM. They switched to online only two years ago.

            1. Not that other person you didn't like*

              I worked at IBM on contract for six months in 2000 and I’d never seen such a backward company. When I’d need to print something, I’d have to send it to the printing center and then later that day (if I was lucky) they’d roll a cart by and deliver it. When you’d call in for tech support for their mainframes, they’d literally be looking through a stack of out-of-date paper manuals for errors codes and the like.

        3. NotMy(Fancy)RealName*

          I have a typewriter. Because several state agencies refuse to use fillable PDFs for their forms.

          1. thebeaglehaslanded*

            I inherited a typewriter when I started my current job in 2014. My predecessor was old school, printed everything, never did adapt to new technology. I also inherited about 15 bankers boxes of useless notes and files going back to literally 1982. I got rid of 90 percent of the files and the typewriter my first day, because typewriter! I didn’t want to be associated with it, but it’s still upstairs somewhere because there is one(!) form used once a year they need it for. Also, that same office upstairs will not give up their fax number (no machine anymore, the faxes come into the email mailbox and are 99% spam) because they deal with staff on medical leaves and apparently many doctors’ offices still use fax instead of online forms because they’re “more secure.” How many times has a fax been sent to the wrong number with somebody’s personal medical data on it…?

            1. thebeaglehaslanded*

              Oh, and the best part of my purge was I kept having nightmares my predecessor would come back to the office and ask me about the TPS report file from 1987…
              Fortunately, she never did.

            2. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

              A couple of years ago, I read a post by a therapist (medical professional) complaining that she still had to deal with faxes and even phone calls because those were officially/legally considered adequate for confidentiality, and email wasn’t.

            3. Lysine*

              Ah fax. I’m an attorney and we have a fax machine because the majority of medical offices will not send medical records any other way. A handful will send it via password protected pdf (or just send it in an attachment), but most wont because they think fax is more “secure”. It’s not, but the myth persists and we keep receiving faxes.

              1. La Triviata*

                We had someone call and DEMAND that we give them our fax number so they could send something to us. We hadn’t used the machine for quite a while and, since I was the only one in the office, I had to load it up with paper and wait while it printed out close to a year’s worth of faxes … mostly spam/junk faxes. Then, finally, the person’s fax came through. (I scanned it to a PDF and emailed it to the appropriate person.)

              2. Anon Supervisor*

                They probably don’t have encrypted email, so in their mind, fax is more secure than email. I work in Medical Billing and we just got encrypted mail a few years ago. Although, we still use fax because a lot of insurance companies don’t accept electronic forms.

            4. alienor*

              When my daughter was in high school a few years ago, I blew her mind by telling her that in college, I used to submit papers by faxing them to the professor. I lived 40+ miles from campus and worked 8 hours on all the days I didn’t have classes, so if something was due at noon on a non-class day, it was next to impossible for me to drive there to hand it in. This was just before email became ubiquitous (and I couldn’t afford a computer anyway because every cent I earned was going to cover tuition) so I got permission to fax papers from the office in the store where I worked. You can imagine how wild this story sounded to someone who was used to tools like Turnitin.

          2. ggg*

            My wonderful former admin hoarded typewriters. Under “key tasks” on her performance review she listed the ability to use three different models of typewriter, every year, through at least 2019.

            I am fairly certain these typewriters have not moved from the area under her desk since the early 2000s. But she was absolutely amazing in every way and her hoarding of various other types of office supplies saved us quite a few times.

            1. Beth*

              Three “different models” of typewriter . . . ??? Whut??? Such a rarified skill set!

          3. TRC*

            I had a typewriter as a child and it was really cool at the time. Color me surprised 20 years later when I walked into high end architecture office in about 2005 to find a typewriter taking up a huge portion of a desk in accounting. It was used to type out “pre-paid checks” for vendors who needed to get paid ASAP but their invoices were not in the accounting system yet. Getting the correct formatting on blank check stock was a pain in the ass and I totally messed up one and the bank wouldn’t take it. Then one day I notice that the accounting system has an option for “pre-paid checks”. Basically you put in the vendor and check amount and it printed out a nice computer check for them. In seconds. It took me MONTHS to get them to try it and even though it worked perfectly, people were skeptical. From then on I refused to use the typewriter and did them through the software even though it wasn’t officially sanctioned. But from time to time someone would come in and type up a check themselves.

          4. Kuddel Daddeldu*

            I own a typewriter that’s way older than I am (it was built in 1931) as a collectible.
            But I also use a 1992 vintage IBM keyboard on a daily basis.

        4. LinuxSystemsGuy*

          My partner had a typewriter (and carbon paper) in her office until the beginning of the Pandemic for this same reason. Finally after the Pandemic hit they put the last few forms up as filable PDFs and she could retire it. People have this image of the law as such a glamorous job, meanwhile I’m watching her use her Juris Doctorate skills to line up a form in a typewriter *just right*

        5. Seeking Second Childhood, CTA*

          You laugh, but my teenager wants an old-fashioned typewriter. Manual preferred. Those things are no longer cheap.

          1. Not that other person you didn't like*

            My teen found a couple of sheets of carbon paper in our art supplies and when I demonstrated how they worked he got so excited!

            1. Panhandle Princess*

              In about 2000, I found a box of carbon paper in a filing cabinet at work. I showed it to our newest hire, who was about 20, and asked her if she knew what it was. She correctly identified it, but then asked “How does it work?”

          2. Clisby*

            My son (now 20) really wanted a typewriter too, when he was a good bit younger. We found an electric typewriter cheap at a yard sale, so he had fun with it for awhile. It’s still in our basement.

            1. Clisby*

              Oh, and a year or so ago his Christmas list included a mechanical (?) keyboard that clicks like a typewriter. He still prefers that.

              1. Bronze Betty*

                My daughter’s preferred keyboard is a “clicky” one. But I don’t think like a typewriter, just like an old, noisy keyboard. For me? The quieter, the better.

        6. SnappinTerrapin*

          When I worked for a State agency, the auditors suggested we might want to clean up our inventory of ancient office equipment that was obviously no longer in use. We asked what they were referring to.

          Well, there was a manual typewriter the agency had purchased 50 years earlier that was still listed.

          We told them whose desk it was on. (That officer worked several more years before retiring. When he retired, I don’t know whether the typewriter was transferred to the Department of Archives and History for their museum, or if someone decided to pretend it was a service pistol and present it to him as part of his statutory retirement benefits, along with his badge.)

        7. A.N. O'Nyme*

          To be fair, a few years ago we had a city hall fall victim to ransomware. Luckily they still had typewriters do they could actually continue most of their operations.

          Even the mayor of the town was surprised they still had them, but you know. Never underestimate the value of a good analog back-up.

      3. Shallow Sky*

        My community college still uses carbon paper to handle duplicate note sets, like for students getting notes taken through Disability Services, which I found out when I volunteered to take notes for someone in one of my classes. I write relatively lightly, and in pencil; it’s totally readable, but doesn’t imprint on the carbon paper very well. I ended up just scanning in my notes after class and emailing them to the guy I was taking notes for, with his permission.

      4. CalamityChemist*

        I worked somewhere that required carbon forms be filled out to schedule certain processes. The forms were in triplicate and hand-writing them took forever and my hands would be so cramped after filling them out because I had to press so hard. It was tradition to do these by hand but I got pretty sick of it after one day where I had to fill out 3 or 4 or them. So I found a typewriter still set up in one of the offices and started filling them out that way. So much faster and I could finally read the copy on the bottom (which was, of course, mine). So of course it caused a whole ruckus when I started submitting typed forms because this made them look formal and professional and people thought I was trying to make other people look bad. You can’t win!

    2. Chris*

      Ooooh, I’m sure there are many stories about people letting go of old technology. I got a talking to for getting rid of a dot matrix printer in like 2007 during an office move. Our Director of Ops told me he didn’t think “laser printer technology” was reliable yet and we might need it as backup. By the time, laser printers were just printers and they’d been reliable for at least 15 years, so 1/2 of the staff had never even heard of a dot matrix printer.

      1. quill*

        My parents and grandparents just had whole reams of perforated tractor paper (you know, where you have to tear each page off and then also the little sides with the holes for feeding the paper though the machine?) well into the ’00s, because offices were trying to get rid of it so it was the cheapest paper you could have around for kids to draw on in crayon.

        I loved it because you could make a “scroll” without taping anything together, or draw a comically loooooooooooong giraffe.

        1. Lightning*

          My in-laws found a box of that stuff in some corner of their basement within the last year or two and gave it to us for the same purpose – my kids love it too!

          1. NoviceManagerGuy*

            My kids have already gone through their grandpa’s office’s backlog of dot matrix paper.

          2. Tazzy*

            Yes!! I remember that my grandma always had this paper laying around for me to draw and paint on. It was truly wonderful and it never occurred to me that she just got it all from the office.

          3. Emmy Noether*

            We used to do crafts with the side-strips with the holes when I was in kindergarten (and those printers were still in common use). Perfect for all kinds of fun things, like weaving, threading, quilling,…

        2. Ms. Hagrid Frizzle*

          Yes! I still remember when one of my father’s coworkers came to our house to drop off probably a dozen boxes of that paper. I think my mom finally convinced my father to get it out of our attice once I and my sibling were both in high school. . . She definitely didn’t get rid of it before then (my father is a bit of a pack rat – which is why he inherited the office’s stock of tractor paper).

        3. Elizabeth West*

          The laboratory I worked in (early 2000s) had a huge dot matrix printer. I can still hear that sound in my head.

          1. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

            When I first started my career in the mid-90’s I worked in a department where one of my daily duties for over a year was to print 2-ply reports on a huge dot matrix printer, remove the sides with holes, and manually separate the 2 copies into two piles (one to distribute, one to file). That industry changed pretty quickly after I started, so within 3 years the dot matrix printer and report process became obsolete.

            Years later in 2015, I started a job in another industry, and on my first day tour was startled to hear the clackity-clackity-clack of a dot matrix printer coming from one of the offices. I recognized it immediately. Turns out the government forms required for our business to operate were still using the 2-ply dot matrix format. I was boggled that it was still in use are these years and technology improvements later!

        4. Nynaeve*

          When I was very young my Mom brought home the last 2 pads of accounting paper she had in her office after they switched to electronic record keeping. They were like 2ft x 3 ft sheets of paper with a spreadsheet on one side and blank on the back. We used them for SO MUCH. Including very prized full maps of various 80s video games painstakingly drawn and referenced over the years.

          1. Joanna*

            My grandfather took boxes of old computer punch cards home when they became obsolete. Every morning he would grab one and stick it in his shirt pocket for his lists and thoughts throughout the day. He finally ran out a few years before he passed in 2001, and never really adjusted. Sticky notes just didn’t do the job for him.

            1. Dana Whittaker*

              I still get notes from my mom on old card catalog cards she saved when she revitalized my elementary school library in 1982.

            2. Kuddel Daddeldu*

              And the punched-out rectangular pieces of cardboard made for really effective practical jokes.

            3. allathian*

              My mom had some as well that she used in the late 70s on the university mainframe. My mom’s not a geek by any means, but she used FORTRAN for the scientific calculations she did at work and programmed the calculations with punch cards. One card for a line of code.

          2. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

            that is adorable! I love how unusual office supplies elicit extra creativity in kids.

            1. Clisby*

              When I was in school, my father was the head engineer at a manufacturing facility, and they were always getting stuff from vendors advertising their products. These were hardcopy – all in really sturdy ring-binder notebook things. My father used to bring them home and give us the ring-binders to use at school. My favorite was labeled Fly Ash Arrestor.

            2. BethDH*

              And adults. The niche office supplies are always way better than the officially cute ones.

            1. rosyglasses*

              MYST! I loved that game. We owned an Apple computer when I was in high school and it was the only game I could find that was compatible.

                1. quill*

                  I finished the set via a Steam bundle that had all of them remastered: I recommend it, as it patched out some of the roadblocks in the first three (click boxes too tiny on a modern computer, etc.)

          3. Office Supply Fiend*

            You unlocked a memory! My dad brought home some big old grid paper, and I mapped out the entire second floor of our house with all the creaky parts of the floor. I could move around ~silently~ forever.

            1. SeluciaMD*

              Man, I wish I could do this NOW. I’m 45. And it’s my house. But all the different creaks in the floor and the stairs just make me so crazy!

              Mad props to your young self. That was an excellent use of both your resources AND your skills.

          4. AcadLibrarian*

            My dad worked for an industrial sewing machine company. In addition to the dot matrix paper, we got fabric swatches. I was the only 3 year old sporting a FAKE MINX STOLE in a Shoney’s, circa 1982. Dad says I got some funny looks.

        5. skunky_x*

          Memory unlocked from my childhood – my Dad was an accountant and would bring home reams of management accounts for me to draw on, just like this.

          Data protection was not big in the 90s, evidently.

          1. shedubba*

            My dad was a CPA. Our drawing paper growing up was the back of last year’s leftover tax forms. Thankfully no client data, though.

        6. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          Ooh, there’s a memory. The stuff with numbered horizontal green lines on one side? I LOVED that paper.

          1. asterisk*

            I remember going with my dad to his office sometimes and drawing airplanes on that green-and-white paper!

          2. Seeking Second Childhood, CTA*

            I loved being near the accounting department’s printer. Any annoyance of being near the noise was offset by access to perfect moving boxes. Their paper came in boxes just the right size to fill with glossy books and magazines and still be able to carry it easily.

        7. The Dude Abides*

          At a job I was at for most of 2017, I had to use this kind of paper to print reports and checks – yes, I had to tape on a lead when printing paper checks.

          I also had to use a typewriter for invoicing, as it was in triplicate – one for my records, one for the job file, and a third that got sent to the vendor.

          I left there in December ’17, the owner passed a year later, and the company shut down in ’19.

          The things I saw/encountered there would make your head spin.

        8. Random Bystander*

          Other than discards, the only other paper that I know of is purchasing the butts from newsprint rolls from newspapers (they measure from the core in inches, with various rates depending on the width of the newsprint itself … I bought three rolls for under $5 that lasted through art production for 4 children for their entire childhoods–youngest of these children is now 21). Needless to say, the number of times that a newsprint page can wrap around the core to produce a single inch is quite a lot of paper (although these butts were too short to do production runs of anything).

          1. Snowy*

            My elderly neighbor gave us one of those rolls in the 1980s, and it lasted forever. My parents or grandparents found another, and that roll lasted up until last year. Best drawing paper as a kid (even better than dot matrix paper) and I was still using it for sewing patterns.
            The Ikea roll I got to replace it just isn’t the same.

          2. Clisby*

            Boy, that brings back memories. I used to work for newspapers, and one of them would just give these small leftover rolls to employees. One year I and my roommate wrapped all of our Christmas presents in the newsprint paper. (We also decorated lavishly with glue+glitter to jazz it up.)

        9. WantonSeedStitch*

          My dad got a whole bunch from his office during the ’80s when they were getting rid of a bunch of printers. It was a weird, non-typical size. We used that stuff for all our old crayon drawing. He also had a bunch of actual PUNCH CARDS from old programs.

      2. Ace in the Hole*

        I’ve been taken to task by my team lead for throwing out broken tools in the past. Like a shovel with a broken handle held together by duck tape, or a drill that only holds onto the drill bit half the time.

        Ridiculous part 1: we have a $5 million dollar annual operating budget. Upper management has told me that if I need something under $500 just go get it, don’t even bother getting approval. But team lead would still freak out about any little expense as if it came out of his pocket.

        Ridiculous part 2: This was at a garbage dump… and most of our hand tools were salvaged from the trash anyways. So a “new” shovel/broom/whatever would cost literally nothing.

        1. Observer*

          Ridiculous part 1: we have a $5 million dollar annual operating budget. Upper management has told me that if I need something under $500 just go get it, don’t even bother getting approval. But team lead would still freak out about any little expense as if it came out of his pocket.

          Reminds me of the letter from a manager whose report was driving everyone nuts over each an every penny spent by the company. And the one from the guy who was angry the coworkers had the audacity to eat the pizza suppers their employer bought when they had to work late.

          1. La Triviata*

            Once upon a time, many years ago, in a previous job, the office’s big copier caught fire. As in, flames, smoke, etc. One guy ran in, grabbed the fire extinguisher, flipped it and prepared to extinguish the flames … and stopped. When I asked him why, he said he didn’t want to ruin it.

            1. Anonymouse*

              Or he wanted a new copier.
              And since he was holding the only fire extinguisher, no one else could rescue the copier.

      3. Observer*

        Our Director of Ops told me he didn’t think “laser printer technology” was reliable yet and we might need it as backup.

        Snort. I don’t believe that he actually believed. Did he not pick you over everything else? Look for excuses to give you a hard time over stuff?

      4. Shiba Dad*

        At an old job I actually had to purchase at least 2 dot matrix printers. This occurred in the last decade.

        Some of our customers like having their system’s notifications/alarms printed. The older systems had a serial connection, which the matrix supported. Also, on inkjet/laser printers each notification would be on its own page whereas the dot matrix would just line feed after each notification.

        Dot matrix printers were also relatively expensive, between $350-500.

        1. Anonymous tech writer*

          Fire alarm system person here. Dot matrix printers can do one line at a time so that if a system error occurs, it can be is fixed as quickly as possible. If a life safety emergency occurs, there is a record of events leading up to it to help the fire department. It is now often duplicated in computer files transmitted off site.
          Many local fire regulations require the hard copy. All regulatory bodies require that the specific printer be loaded with firmware that is tested and evaluated with the fire alarm system. These are more than the average office printer.

        2. ArtK*

          Decades ago I did customer support for a service bureau — a company that sold computer time on a mainframe to various customers. One customer used a dot-matrix *TELETYPE* to communicate with our systems. I got a call one day where the customer was complaining that it wasn’t typing. We went over the usual routine: Was it plugged in? Yes. Was the phone line connected? Yes. Was it dialing our system and connecting? Yes. At the very beginning I had asked if there were any red lights on and was told no. But after all the Q&A they asked me “What does this red *PAPER* light mean?”

          That customer was the final straw and I haven’t worked CS since 1983.

      5. Free now (and forever)*

        When my husband was a baby prosecutor, it was back in the days of dot matrix printers. He’d print off the defendant’s record and put it in the file. When the defense attorney would ask for no bail, citing the defendant’s clean record, my husband would haul out the printed copy, hold it up and the whole courtroom would watch it unfurl to the floor. That kind of stuff never gets old. But the dot matrix printer did and was eventually replaced. BTW, the record was the longest record went to a woman who had plied the world’s oldest trade in ports all around the country. To test it out, he held it out the third story window. It nearly touched the ground.

        1. Sharp-dressed Boston Terrier*

          Your husband prosecuted babies?! Also what kind of babies *were* these, with rap sheets that long? :D

        2. Anna*

          For a second there I read this as your husband prosecuting babies. Those cunning little villains!

      6. Virginia Plain*

        My team in a government department moved to new desks in a different area of the office. Two or three desks were cluttered up with a piece of equipment, let’s call it a Device that we did not need and was pretty old hat; better systems had superseded it and anyway we didn’t have the required widget to make it work. I offered to dispose of the Devices safely to free up space – our new desks already had two entirely separate computers with a tower unit, screen, keyboard and mouse each, and two different phones.
        My grandboss said no, the Devices might come in handy.
        I only managed to convince him otherwise after I visited a glamorous other department, which dealt with widgetry and all sorts of devices. In their lobby for the benefit of visitors they had a small museum. You can see where this is going and you? Yes, there was an identical example of one of our Devices, displayed in a glass case as an actual historical exhibit.
        Grandboss caved when I basically said, the other kids are laughing at you.

    3. CR*

      I’m the person who was ruthless about throwing stuff out when I helped my last job move offices. It’s amazing the amount of crap that people are afraid to get rid of “just in case.” We had boxes of VHS tapes lying around.

      1. ABCYaLater*

        We have a couple of blank Maxell cassette tapes in our office supply room. Brand new. No cassette player in the building, though.

      2. This Old House*

        When we recently moved offices, we found typewriter ribbon stored with the printing supplies. I’m not sure which is worse – when I thought it had been sitting there being cleaned around for 25 years, or when it turned out it had been in use in the last 5 years or so.

        And heck, I used carbon paper in grad school, less than 15 years ago. Honestly, I loved it.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        Two people at OldExjob had the hoardiest cubicles I’ve ever seen in all my time in offices. One was BullyBoss, and the other was his favorite victim. The victim would clean his stuff out periodically but BB never did; throughout my entire tenure there, he sat in the center of piles of paper and books and mess. These were cubes with half-walls, too, so anyone who came into the open office could see all that garbage. His computer was the same—almost the entire desktop was full of icons.

        And the supply closet! Part of my job was to order/maintain the office supplies. I reorganized it and made it much easier to find pens, sticky notes, etc. I discovered a treasure trove of ancient Rolodexes, file holders, and other assorted desk thingys. Once we got a new sales guy and I was able to outfit his entire desk without buying anything (which, I suspect, was the bosses’ reason for saving all that junk). But I also tossed out anything that was no longer usable, and BossWife got kind of upset. “We need that!” No, we don’t; it’s BROKEN.

        The best old thing they had was a clunky old comb binder machine. I love those things. They make such nice neat booklets.

        1. Empress Penguin*

          My office has a comb binder that was manufactured in West Germany, making it older than I am. It still works perfectly.

        2. pandop*

          We still have a working comb binder, but 1) we are a library, and 2) it belongs to book repair.

      4. AnonInCanada*

        We still had some thermal transfer ribbons from an old printer/fax machine we threw out more than 15 years ago kicking around in a supply room. Y’know, just in case Brother ever makes that fax machine again? (eyeroll.) Thankfully new bosses, after attempting to sell them on Fleabay yielded no takers, just threw them out.

      5. Jora Malli*

        I promise you I’m not making this up. I work in a library and two days ago a customer asked me if we carry VHS tapes and was visibly disappointed when I told him we had phased them out 15 years ago.

        1. library haint*

          This happened to me on desk last week! We’ve also had several people ask if we take VHS donations, which is a whole separate other complaint. But no, no we do not.

        2. Ev*

          Oh yeah – I’ve been asked for that within the last month as well. That, and why don’t we carry audiobooks on cassette tape anymore?

          We held onto VHS and cassettes longer than you did, but it’s been at least a decade since we had either.

      6. Julia*

        I’m at a new job and have moved desks twice. I’ve found Rolodex refills, multiple types of dried up ink pads and dried up refill containers, a file drawer of ancient construction paper (I work in a public library), two folders of ancient printed out emails, many labels with dried up adhesive, mason jars and aggressively labeled items that belonged to someone who left 10 years ago (along the lines of JANE’S RULER DO NOT TAKE).

        At another library job I found a bottle labeled “POISON” (it was empty), neatly labeled keys for cabinets in a building we had moved out of 40 years ago and the inevitable pile of unlabeled keys.

        1. Hakky Chan*

          Oh the unlabelled keys!

          In my last role, I was deemed the keeper of unlabelled keys in case someone needed them (I was an EA, and we had someone who managed the facility, so I’m not sure why). I had amassed quite a collection by the time I left.

          I would have loved the opportunity to try them in every lock, but not exactly a priority.

          1. SnappinTerrapin*

            The contents were applied to the upper corners of pages in several obscure books. Eventually, a read will encounter it while licking her fingers to turn the pages.

            Maybe the detective working the case will be familiar with Umberto Eco as well as Alison Green, and will be able to make the connection.

            1. Julia*


              After I found the bottle we speculated widely about it. The main theory was it was used to get rid of rodents.

              HOWEVER, this was an archive of maps and related materials some of which dated back to the 1600s. The poison had been stored in a blue glass bottle (probably an old milk of magnesia bottle) with a hand written label. Eco was a visiting professor at the university during the right time period. Was he inspired by visits to the archive? Did he visit that archive with Robert Langdon? Hard to say for sure.

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

        My boss retired in 2021 and basically dropped off the key to his old office without cleaning anything out — when I cleaned it out, among lots of other stuff, there were 7 wooden 12 inch rulers (the kind you find in an elementary school), about a dozen ZIP disks — some unused in original package, and 3 bottles of white out. I had to get facilities to bring in a big dumpster for all the stuff. It was like a 1990’s time capsule. The fun thing is, our department has been moved 3 times in the last 15 years, so he packed this stuff up into boxes and moved it 3 times.

      8. Annie*

        We literally have these two GIANT file cabinets sitting here that need to go. I mean, we could use one, maybe, if that but like the person in “charge” of them has been here for like 500 hundred years so …. we even need to make space for an employee to put a desk now and I think they are not planning to consolidate crap from 1990. I hate working with boomers.

        1. Fiddlesticks*

          Let’s try to avoid the cheap derogatory statements about entire classifications of people by age, shall we? Otherwise, I’m not a Boomer, but let me tell you what I hate about people who say that everyone in an age group is “a certain way”… it shows a bigoted character just like expressions of racism, sexism, etc. It’s just more acceptable to say ageist remarks openly in public.

      9. HoHumDrum*

        I have the inverse problem at my job- I teach and we do a lot of craft projects & junk construction type stuff. So in our storage room we absolutely have boxes of odds & ends, (clean!) recycled goods, and straight up junk that we use. Regularly! Collecting all that stuff fresh for each class would be wildly expensive, wasteful, and time consuming. It makes sense to hold on to it, and replenish as we can. Kids make really amazing stuff with it all.

        But our great-grand boss who doesn’t teach or run the classes will walk through our storage area like twice a year and get upset at how much “trash” and “junk” is in there, and then try to get us to throw it all away. We’ve learned sometimes the best storage is opaque bins so she doesn’t know they’re filled with cans and cardboard tubes, saves us all a fight over what is “valuable” or not.

      10. just a random teacher*

        My first teaching job was being, among other things, the “computer teacher” in a small town middle school. Our school secretary kept a vigilant watch over the supply cabinet and had the only key. (I think I was allotted 10 pens to last me the year, and an equal number of pencils.) Anyway, on one of the shelves we had at least 10 or so unopened boxes of 3 1/2 inch floppy disks. I was allowed to take a single box for use in my computer lab.

        Since these computers were all networked with a central server for file storage tied to their individual student accounts, students didn’t need floppy disks for saving anything on, but they came in handy a couple of times throughout the year when students were working on a project together and needed to get files from one student account to another (the school district would not allow the students to get email accounts, which in turn caused a series of other issues). I probably had 7 out of 10 of the disks from that box left at the end of the year, so when a couple of students wanted to take their files home, I let them have a disk if they wanted one.

        I was in Big Trouble with the school secretary for not saving those disks for next year! Those disks that they still had many more boxes of in storage and we still had several left from of the single box I’d opened that year. (I don’t think any other teacher in the school needed any that year – I certainly never say any other teacher using floppies in the computer lab for anything.) I was apparently supposed to keep all 10 of my disks for re-use the next year.

        This was in about 2005, well after USB thumb drives had become the standard way to haul portable files around. Many newer computers didn’t even come with disk drives anymore. At that year’s profligate rate of consumption, had it continued, they might be running low on floppy disks by now, but I’m sure that the secretary kept a closer eye on the next computer teacher to prevent such waste. I wouldn’t know, since I have moved on to new districts multiple times since then, and I don’t think I’ve ever had a reason to issue floppy disks to students in any subsequent job.

    4. MusicWithRocksIn*

      Man, once when I started a new job my office had wall of filing cabinets. The cabinets were filled with paper that was so old it was all dot matrix style. I was allowed to get rid of it, but only had a single smaller shredder. Which actually worked awesome because I could just feed the first page in and it would pull in the entire stack (I swear no one looked at any of this stuff since it was printed in the 80’s). Every thing I’ve had to shred since then made me miss that week.

    5. brightbetween*

      I was using dot-matrix printers in 1994, both in college and at my part-time job, and IIRC they used ribbon cartridges not unlike electric typewriter ribbons. So now I’m imagining your coworker hanging onto a ribbon cartridge looking for a printer to match for the rest of her life.

    6. many bells down*

      I’m going through a similar clean out right now. I literally just tested EVERY SINGLE pen, marker, highlighter, etc and tossed any that weren’t working. People kept complaining that pens and markers were dried up… but they also kept putting them BACK??

      Also confused as to why we have literally hundreds of dry-erase markers when there’s like 3 dry-erase boards across 4 buildings.

      1. Other*

        Betcha there used to be 20 boards and when they got taken out, your supply closet got all the leftover markers cause no one could bear to throw them out! :-D

    7. WFH Corp Mom*

      The owner of the company I used to work for had an ancient, giant, flat screen tv from like 1994 that required two+ strong guys to move. He insisted it was useful for the office and we should utilize it. It… was not. It didn’t even have the correct plugs to talk to a laptop for a presentation, so it just took up valuable storage space. I think it eventually was tossed when it sparked during a power surge

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      I hope this is related to the ancient copier, and someone was hiding drugs in the old printer cartridges. “No one will touch these!”

    9. the cat's ass*

      During the pandemic, we were nominally open but mostly having remote visits, so between visits, a bunch of us decided to do some deep cleaning and pitching of stuff. We tossed expired equipment and samples, cleaned and did minor repairs on furniture, washed walls, etc. It was satisfying! But kicker came when we found and pitched a carousel projector with multiple wheels of slides. Yes, we had an employee who wouldn’t use powerpoint. Yes, this was in late 2020.

    10. Mrs Vexil*

      My co-worker just moved his cube after 10 years. I found him putting in the communal office supplies (Post-its, staples, pens) a binder/album in which you were to file contacts’ business cards in plastic sheets. I told him “No one wants that thing” and threw it out.

      1. Pomegranate*

        Actually, I found those surprisingly useful to organize the multitude of business cards I acquired from different projects. I’d note what project/site this person was related to or what supplies that contact can provide. It worked well for me to be able to reference my contacts in that way and find who I could get in touch with if needed. This was in 2010s.

    11. Lily C*

      She must be related to a former coworker of mine. I was cleaning out her cubicle after she left and found an unopened box of rubber bands. Not a little box, but a big shipping box with 24 one-pound each bags of rubber bands!

      1. Sue D. O'Nym*

        Having worked in a place that offered bulk mail preparation as one of our services, we would buy rubber bands in 25 pound cases fairly frequently, like every 6 months or so.

        1. Lily C*

          For our office’s needs, it was a mutlti-year supply. We kept one bag and donated the rest to a school. I found the box three years ago, and I don’t think we’ve needed to open the bag we kept yet.

      2. Philosophia*

        It’s become increasingly difficult to buy office supplies in the small quantities I need for personal use, and I think that’s even worse for corporate purchasers. Most annoying.

    12. The OG Sleepless*

      Multiply this x10,000 and you have my experience with helping my self-employed husband move out of his office and start working from home. Months and months of convincing him to throw out broken chairs, obsolete printers, dried out pens and ink cartridges, and on and on. Three years later, all that is left is a stack of keyboards (sigh) and a huge bin of cords of all kinds that he insists he might need “someday.”

        1. Run mad; don't faint*

          I thought they were married to mine!
          (I did get mine to throw out that box of cords no one ever used. Then about a year and a half later, he needed one (1) cord that he might possibly have had in that box. He wanted to crow about how I was wrong, but conceded when I pointed out it was the first time in 10 years the box might have come in handy…and that wasn’t even certain.)

      1. Lizzo*

        We also have a huge bin of “someday” cords…the contents of it are useful about once a year.

      2. Sweet 'N Lower*

        You’ll never need those cables unless you throw them away. The moment they’re in the trash, you’ll suddenly have a dire need for some random proprietary cable from 1995. ‘Tis the cruel mysterious nature of the Box of Random Cables.

    13. LinuxSystemsGuy*

      My second “real” job was as the systems administrator and general IT support for the Mathematics Department at a large university. Most departments just used the university IT department by this point (it was the late 90s and early 2000’s), but for legacy reasons a few departments had internal IT support. The math dept had gotten the first computer the university ever purchased way back when (mid to late 70’s I think), and thus had such a legacy position.

      Shortly after I was hired, the office manager (who in this case was the most senior non-academic person in the department and sorta my boss) showed me the “storage room”. It contained every computer the department had ever owned. Not like every personal workstation, though there were a few of those, but every large scale computational device the department had ever owned, including that first one from the 70s. It was just stacked in this room. Because “It was all very expensive, so we really can’t throw it away”. So it just all lived in this empty office.

      Mind you, not only was all of this stuff computationally useless by this point (I think the Nokia brick phone I carried around at the time had more processing ability), you couldn’t even plug it in. The university had removed department specific machine rooms years ago and centralized them. Most of these machines had 220v power requirements, and we had no 220 outlets. I spent close to year trying to get them to throw this stuff away. Even found a company that would haul it off for free (they made money recycling the rare earth elements). I finally “won” when they ran out of office space for a new hire. They needed the “store room” to house him.

      1. Quidge*

        One of my professors was a very early adopter of personal computers – and kept every single one he’d ever owned stashed somewhere in the dept. Every student in the lab had the experience of finding an ancient Acorn in the recesses of a cupboard or covered in dust on a high shelf and getting a chorus of “Put it back!! Don’t throw them away, EVER!”

    14. SunriseRuby*

      Wow. I have to wonder if the employee who retrieved the ink cartridge has hoarding issues. What does her workspace look like? If things are kept in check at work, I also wonder what her home looks like.

    15. Lady Ann*

      I once worked at a domestic violence shelter and we had a cabinet of OTC medication we’d give to the residents if they asked (ibuprofen, Tylenol, cold medicine, etc). One day I went through the cabinet and threw out all the old, expired medicine. We got it mostly through donations so nobody ever kept track of what we had. I got *in trouble* by my boss for throwing out “perfectly good medicine.” I get that you are welcome to take expired medicine at home if you want (very few medications are actually dangerous to take if they’re expired), but I don’t that it’s OK to make people who are homeless and living take expired medicine.

      I also went through our food donations and threw out all the expired food, so I clearly didn’t learn my lesson.

      1. Lady Ann*

        That should read “homeless and living in a shelter”, people who are not living probably don’t need to worry about medicine.

      2. Cat Tree*

        Most medications won’t become harmful after expiry but they absolutely do lose their effectiveness.

      3. kitryan*

        In about 2009 my father gave me a first aid kit to keep at my office. I did so and never had cause to open it. I changed jobs and moved and around 2018 I consolidated all my first aid/medicine cabinet stuff. I threw out all kinds of stuff that didn’t work anymore- where sterile packaging had come apart and adhesives had gone bad. The prize, however, was the aspirin from that first aid kit. It had *expired* in 1985. My dad had given me a first aid kit that was 25 years old.

    16. talos*

      When I moved into a new cube this year, I found all kinds of computer parts (extra hard drives, RAM, etc) from 2009 in the cabinet.

      2009! I was in elementary school then!

    17. learnedthehardway*

      I have worked from home for umpteen years now and share my office with boxes of tech from years past – I have tried multiple times to get rid of the cords of unknown devices from the distant past, but have been stymied because “We might need one someday”.

      No. No, we will not. If we do, we will order one from Amazon.

    18. China Girl*

      I worked for a long-established consumer products company. The head of procurement retired after many years and left behind 8 – 10 filing cabinets stuffed with invoices, shipping papers and type written memos (remember memos?) dating back 30 years. When I had time, I started to go through them and toss the stuff. It took me almost two years!
      My favorite finds were the “recipes” for long discontinued products dating back to 1969. Oh, and those bills of lading from a ship bound from Hong Kong in 1972. You never know when you might need to check that!

    19. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      2019 I was cleaning out a closet at my work (tiny company) and found 6 cases of tractor feed paper. I offered it up to anyone who wanted it (lots of parents wanted it for coloring paper). The manager had a fit because “what if our printer breaks and we have to use an older printer!”

      Never mind that of course even if we could FIND an old printer, it would not be compatible.

      I finally had to promise in writing that if anything happened to our printers I would print things on my personal printer until they could replace the company printer.

      I had to wait until that guy retired before I could replace the “perfectly good inkjet” with a laser printer. We were a seasonal operation and generally had to replace the ink every 6 months because it would be dried up and clogged. It cost less to buy a desktop laser than to replace the ink one time.

    20. Slovenly Braid Cultist*

      I definitely “accidentally” snuck some Xerox supplies from 6 machines ago out in a box of toner recycling once.

    21. Bagpuss*

      When a coworker retired and I moved into their old office, I cleared out their old desk and found a box of staples which still had the price on it. In pre-decimal currency. (The UK changed to decimal currency in 1971)

      And then a few years ago we (law firm) sold one of our office buildings. We had moved in in 1895, so clearing out the attic was interesting.

    22. Dark Macadamia*

      I love how this phrasing makes it sound like a company policy or universal truth, like when you tell kids “we don’t hit”

    23. Sara without an H*

      I had a staff member once who kept a large collection of floppy disks. The big old kind, that were genuinely floppy.

      There wasn’t a computer in the entire building that could load them. I’m not sure you could have found one in the entire university system.

      But she was adamant that they could never be thrown out.

    24. Scarlett FH*

      I’m a library manager in a public library cataloging department. For many years before I was their boss, my team used dot matrix printers to print spine labels for books. While absolute workhorse printers (so loud!) they were purchased in the very early 1990s and required special plugs to connect to modern computers. They were also falling apart and quirky machines to keep operational, esp after nearly 30 years of use. My catalogers did all sorts of things to keep their individual machines going and I heard many complaints about these ancient machines. I got approval for modern label printers and purchased new ones for my catalogers. When they were being installed and the old ones were being dismantled, our older guy computer tech asked me what to do with “the new ones.” Confused, I said, “These are the new ones, the ones you’re installing today.” He said, “No, what did you want me to do with the new dot matrix printers?” He then proceeded to take me to a computer storage room with 2 brand new, still-in-box dot matrix printers, identical to the ones we’d been using. All the years of my team trying to make their old printers work and literally taping parts together on them and we had 2 brand new ones they never once offered to install. I hate the stereotype of government agencies being cheap yet wasteful, but I felt the stereotype was fulfilled in this experience.

    25. katkat*

      OMG, this reminds me of my first job after graduation in a hospital. It was a slow month in my department and I asked if I could help clean out an old closet to make more room. There was a huge, unopened box of generic black buttons from the 80′. (it was 2012 when i found them) There had been some “rehabilitational work” done in the hospital and thats how it got in there. And even though it was not done anymore, a coworker took it out of the trash and placed it back on the shelve. Because: “You can do a bunch of things with buttons like these.” I dont know what she ended up doing, but they were still on the shelve when I left.

    26. WorkingRachel*

      At an old job I tried to throw out a broken paper cutter MORE THAN ONCE only to have it retrieved from the trash and returned to its place of honor next to two modern, working paper cutters.

  10. quill*

    Lab arguments about the proper way / order to use pipette tips lead at one point to everyone claiming their own box.

    (PS: the correct order is “any order that makes it so that you, personally, don’t have to turn and look before you jam the pipettor into another one.”)

    1. ducki3x*

      Oh wow, I had COMPLETELY forgotten about all the pipette battles my wife’s lab went through 20+ years ago, but hundreds of exasperated after-work conversations with her just came rushing back to me

    2. KRM*

      Okay but everyone needs to have their own boxes of pipet tips. I don’t understand why you’d share that sort of thing.
      **I was once being taught a labelling protocol by a colleague and we were at his bench so I just went to use his pipet tips and he just RANDOMLY TOOK THEM OUT OF THE BOX and it was the worst. I had to get new boxes because I needed who rows of tips at a time. Taking them randomly makes no sense when 75% of the time you need whole rows or columns!**

      1. quill*

        Trouble was we did NOT have the space for three people doing the same set of samples in a rush between time points to have their own boxes… and we would go through a box in like, an hour while doing at minimum 60+ samples in duplicate

      2. Zelda*

        “Sharing experimental apparatus is a bit like sharing underwear.” — an astronomer of my acquaintance. This chemist quite agrees.

      3. My cat is the employee of the month*

        These are the sorts of personality tests we really need. Introvert/extrovert, who cares? How should pipet tips be removed from a box?

      4. Sorrischian*

        I have one coworker who has openly admitted that he always uses a couple of tips out of the middle of the box instead of working across in rows, just to mess with whoever is using that station next. INFURIATING!

      5. PostalMixup*

        Especially if you’re doing anything that needs to be sterile, or at least contamination-free. Do not touch my tips, I do NOT want extra bands in my PCR and junk in my sequencing libraries!

    3. Lab Boss*

      These arguments can easily get bloody, I’m surprised it’s not an OSHA requirement to give everyone their own tip box to avoid them.

    4. Rainy*

      My dad was a microbiologist and when he started at the state lab, they still mouth-pipetted everything with autoclavable glass pipettes. “Safety” was jamming a cotton into the end of pipette before you sucked on it.

      The kicker–my dad worked in the public health division doing STI testing. Definitely not the least fun way to catch something (that was an old coworker of my first husband’s!), but right up there.

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        When I took microbiology in undergrad, pipette pumps were a new-fangled thing, and everybody knew that real scientists mouth-pipetted. I’m not much of a germaphobe, but that struck even me as a really bad idea.

        1. Rainy*

          My dad was an early adopter of finger-pipetting for that reason, and as he says, he retired just in time, as he’d developed RSI in the last of his four easily used pipetting digits.

      2. Just Your Everyday Crone*

        I gotta say that the last lines of a lot of these are really fantastic punchlines, but I almost swallowed my tongue at that one.

      3. Alex (they/them)*

        hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh its insane to me that people used to mouth-pipette

      4. Lab Boss*

        I was a trivia answer for a long time at my company. “Who are the only two people in R&D who learned mouth pipetting first?”

        It was one late-60’s old school guy, and 22 year old me. I’d learned in high school from a teacher with incredibly high ambition and a tragically low budget, using ancient glass pipettes. The school wouldn’t buy him pipette aids so we did filthy river water by mouth.

      5. ChemGuy*

        My undergrad (ca. 1994) organic prof, who was probably born around 1950, said that he still preferred the control of mouth pipetting. He said that his own advisor still used to *taste test* any new synthetic product. I asked, “So, how old was he when the cancer killed him?” The prof replied, “He’s 93 and still kicking. Spent a lot of his career working with nitriles, too!”

        1. Rainy*

          At my dad’s lab, they only stopped washing their hands in 100% acetone in the early 90s. Dad said after the switch it took some effort to feel like his hands were clean with only soap and water.

          Still has both hands, no cancer! :)

        2. quill*

          Dunno if we had the same organic chem prof but the timelines match up. The joke at my school was that he had taken enough acid in the 60’s that either he was no longer afraid of death or he’d developed an immunity to poison.

    5. Alex (they/them)*

      supply chain issues and no one properly documenting when they’ve used up supplies has resulted in people at my lab hoarding them lol

    6. LabRatsRule*

      The only acceptable way is to start at the top left hand corner and work your way across the row before starting on the next row.
      We have people who are lawless and will go about randomly using pipette tips.
      Our (many) OCD employees then take their time to “correct” the “error”.

    7. PipetRebel*

      There’s… a correct way other than just avoiding cross-contamination? Uh oh, I think I might be the lab version of the office pooper.

  11. Justin*

    At an old boss, four of my coworkers were all “assistant directors – (department)” at a senior center. No one was actually in charge. Now, I don’t love hierarchies myself, but unfortunately in their case, it meant it was very poorly managed and they covered for each other in ways both fine (sick child, etc) and not fine (not showing up to work etc).

    I ran a different department but worked with them often.

    Anyway, our mutual grandboss was like, “this isn’t working, someone needs to be in charge here,” and she hired someone. They were all very angry and decided to switch their desks so the new boss would get the most undesireable location (it was one big room).

    And then, because the new boss was a very understanding person, she never complained at all about being next to the AC. Gradually all the assistant directors left.

    1. TK*

      That’s not a “strangely dramatic response to a mundane office change,” it’s an inappropriate, unprofessional, and petty response to a a major and significant office change.

      1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

        Isn’t “strangely dramatic” pretty much synonymous with “petty”?

        1. Justin*


          I guess it’s not “mundane,” but it sure is petty to be that mad you will have a boss.

          1. TK*

            Yeah, I’ll concede you all are right the response was “strangely dramatic.” The situation wasn’t mundane though, it was a major organizational change.

        2. Rayray*

          It is bizarre to see someone argue about how something was worded isn’t it? I am curious what they believe the difference is too.

          1. TK*

            I was just observing that the example seemed to be a little more than what was asked for… but I didn’t mean any malice.

  12. Gen*

    We introduced a policy that anything left on the printer at the end of the day had to go into the shredder before the cleaning crew arrived—we dealt with financial documents for celebrities and millionaires so it was a security risk. One member of staff took to dramatically digging through the leftover documents at the end of every day “in case there was anything he urgently needed”. This process included making piles by document type or name, all over the floor by the printer. The weird thing was this guy didn’t really deal with paper documents, so he rarely printed anything but he suddenly became convinced that things would print themselves and get thrown away if he didn’t check. The cleaning team just took to doing our department last to avoid him

    1. Veruca*

      I have a daughter with OCD and this one just makes me sad. I can imagine her in that situation. Like she knows a document can’t say, print itself and then delete itself from her computer. She knows. But she also has to check. And hate herself for having to check.

      1. Jake*

        I had similar thought even though I don’t know anybody with OCD anymore.

        This sounds exactly like when a guy that lived on my dorm floor had to check to make sure he had his phone and wallet, check the door to make sure it was locked, walk away, come back, check the lock again, take his key out, make sure it still would unlock the door, re lock the door, walk away, come back, check to see if it was actually locked, then check for his phone and wallet.

        He knew it made no sense. He also knew he’d have a literal panic attack if he didn’t do that sequence every single time.

    2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      This is so weird. If you print something and it gets shredded, but you need it later, just print it again.

      1. Gen*

        Mostly people clicking ‘print all’ instead of taking the time to select just the specific pages they needed. Occasionally management would remind people not to print so much but no one would pay attention. The business no longer exists due to various poor financial choices

      2. StressedButOkay*

        omg, it happened ALL the time in my office before we went remote. Documents would sit for days/weeks and were never collected before they were tossed. Including clearly personal documents that didn’t have a name on them.

      3. Lily Rowan*

        In my office, part of the reason is printing to the wrong printer. We are large and they are poorly labeled. So I hit print, go to pick it up, see it’s not there, and figure I didn’t actually print anything when I did, just to a different floor.

      4. InsertNameHere*

        Happened a lot in my old office. It was small and things usually weren’t sensitive, but sometimes people would forget, think they sent it to a different printer, etc. We also had a similar policy that anything left on the printer was recycled at the end of the day.

      5. Gothic Bee*

        I sit near the printer and it’s surprisingly common for people to print things and leave it there, which is weird because in our case you can’t print things remotely. You have to swipe your badge to log into the printer and then select the document you’re printing and click print *all while physically standing in front of the printer* so like I have no idea how people don’t just take everything that prints out.

        1. Seeking second childhood*

          We had one guy who would frequently swipe to print a set of documents, but leave before all 10 of them printed. Worse? When the printer jammed or ran out of paper or toner he would *abandon his print job* and resend it to a different machine, leaving the problem for someone else to fix.
          (Why yes the people at the nearest desks were female. How did you guess?)

  13. fkjd;as*

    We had free parking passes available to specific visitors to our location, though most visitors and all employees (20,000+) had to pay to park on site. Paying to park sucks, and there were cheap options further away with a bus from the parking lot to the front of the building. One day, there was an unannounced change in the way the free parking passes worked, disabling our whole stack, and EVERY front-line employee in my department was late that day because they had been using the free passes! They then proceeded to complain and called several meetings appealing to our Director (who for some reason entertained these complaints) to find money in the budget to pay for their parking on-site, even though it was against company policy to pay for any employee parking. One person in particular said she couldn’t afford the close parking and refused to use the further away parking because riding the bus would damage her high heels.

    1. Bumblebee*

      Once we found out that all the grad assistants were stealing the guest parking passes. They had never put it together that these had the department name on them and were sent to the department along with a bill.

    2. Moira Rose*

      Perhaps unpopular opinion: I think that, unless you’re in an urban area with several modes of transportation easily available to you, forcing your employees to pay to park on site is just unacceptable.

      1. ferrina*

        Seconding. I feel that employee parking should be part of cost of doing business (to a reasonable extent). One of my former employers offered our choice of a parking pass or a public transportation stipend, which I thought was a great way to do it (the way public transportation is laid out in my city, my 30 minute drive would have been 90 minutes on public transport). If there’s a limit of parking passes, fine. But if you own the parking lot? Not cool.

        1. Moira Rose*

          Yes, I think the “if you own the lot” bit is the part that really steams me. (I don’t want to get into semantic horseplay about “owning” — e.g. what if the employer is leasing a large site? — I think the litmus test here is, is that lot open to the public or not?) It’s fine to provide incentives for carpooling or biking or transit use; it’s not fine to charge people for the privilege of parking where you’ve decided they must be to do their jobs.

          1. TechWorker*

            I totally agree with you – but – some offices still don’t have enough parking for everyone to park at the same time. Our office parking is free but if tomorrow every single person drove in we’d be screwed because there’s not enough room… maybe the better thing to do would be to give some sort of bonus for *not* driving in… but you can see how the situation might end up as ‘if people have to pay it’s less attractive to park here’.

        2. Ben Marcus Consulting*

          Talk to the IRS. An employer can offer a commuter benefit that allows an employee to divert money from their pay for tax-free parking. However, employer paid parking* is the same as income and the employee must pay tax.

          I know it feels like semantics, but a better way to phrase this is “employers should ensure that employee wages are sufficient to meet the basics of living within the community they work.” If it costs $280/month in parking to come to work, then the lowest paid wages should take that into account, and employees should be encouraged to use a commuter plan.

          However, education on benefits is usually bad to non-existent. Even within my groups, I have employees that are dead-set that we’re treating them poorly by not paying for parking directly.

          *Excess capacity is not taxable. So if the parking is controlled by the employer, they could offer free parking for staff and not tax them. That they’re not offering it could be clues that the current setup might be a shared pay-lot within a larger business complex, MTA parking, or some other form of non-employer controlled parking.

          1. Gothic Bee*

            I mean, that’s the part that frustrates me. I work at a university. There’s no question they own the parking, they built the parking garages, the lots are all on university property, they enforce parking using campus police, like the fact that as an employee I pay them for parking really annoys me.

            1. Ben Marcus Consulting*

              Universities are notorious for not having sufficient parking for all students, staff, faculty, vendors, and visitors that need it. Only so much can be built, so charging is a way to combat this.

              Universities are also pretty good about providing some form of subsidized mass transit. Iowa State, in Ames, pays for the city bus service ‘CyRide’. Students ride for free, city residents ride for extremely cheap, and everyone else is somewhere in-between those two.

            2. Natatat*

              My university employer is the same. To be fair, the university has 60,000 students + faculty/staff, so there’s no way they could accommodate free parking for everyone if everyone wanted to drive. But I still wish I didn’t have to pay my employer for parking

        3. Mike S*

          I work for a state agency. By law, my employer can’t pay for my parking, or my public transportation.

      2. Annimal*

        Or even if you’re in an urban area with some other modes of transportation but the area is probably 90% driving, forcing employees to pay to park is still unacceptable. I work in a downtown office in a Texas city where everyone and their mom drives (I would even have to drive to get to the one train here), and paying $7-12 for parking every day as a low level employee is ridiculous.

        1. RussianInTexas*

          Friend works at the TMC, one of the hospitals, and has to either park at the end stop of the light rail at the park-and-ride, walk 1/2 miles to the train, and ride it to work, for free or pay $200/month to pay for parking in the building. The hospital owns the lot and the garage. The only time she manager to get a free parking when she broke her foot on that park and ride. If you are familiar with the city I am talking about, you will know that even though we theoretically do have Metro, living somewhere it’s accessible is not an easy fit, especially if you want to own a house.

          1. AnonToday*

            I also used to work there, and second everything you said. “Theoretical” is a very accurate way to describe the Metro.

            I think I read somewhere that a course of leukemia treatment at the TMC would set you back about $5000 in parking costs alone.

            1. RussianInTexas*

              I have to go to a doctor at TCM in couple weeks and I am already dreading the parking, the labyrinthine streets, and the traffic.
              It’s one of the best places to get care (if you have insurance, can afford it, etc), but man the logistics there suck.

              1. Alexander Graham Yell*

                Honestly, I lived in a building full of residents right down the Metro line….and it was still a nightmare! There is no easily accessible, affordable way to get there, especially if you have to be there for more than an hour.

      3. Beka Cooper*

        I work on a campus that’s a 5 minute drive from my house, but it’s like 25 minutes if I walk. My mother in law was aghast at the fact that I had to pay for parking. And they keep building new buildings where parking lots are. We do have a good bus program that’s free for students, and low cost for employees, so whenever they take away more parking, they brush off complaints by saying they’re encouraging people to be more green. Thing is, public transportation in our little city really sucks. And despite the fact that I live 5 minutes away and could walk or bike, I have kids in daycare, so I have to drive away from work to drop them off, then come back and park in the far lots that are the cheapest, and walk 10 minutes in to my office.

        That was all pre-covid. This year I refused to buy a parking pass because in my opinion, parking revenue was part of the reason they wanted us all back on campus so desperately. That and food court revenue, even though they ended up with no staff and had to close the food court down. Our family situation changed so that my husband could drive me and then the kids, and I never did pay for parking this year.

        1. Spearmint*

          Unfortunately, good public transit usually comes after greater population growth and density, not before. Nobody has an incentive to push for better transit when traffic is light and parking is free/cheap and abundant.

        2. SMK*

          Either I work at the same campus or all Universities are the same with Employees having to pay to park and “they keep building new buildings in our parking lots”. When I worked for a private employer 10 blocks from the University and my partner worked on campus, I parked at my work and we didn’t buy the University pass. Now that we both work on campus, we qualify for the “carpool” pass. We still have to pay, but it’s about 1/2 price.

        3. HoHumDrum*

          I just have to say- I absolutely adore your name. What a great book series, my favorite author my far.

      4. Elizabeth West*

        This. I’ve seen companies in bigger cities offer to pay for employees’ parking in nearby garages and lots as a benefit. I’ve also seen complaints on Glassdoor when they don’t.

      5. Software Engineer*

        OTOH if there are options, making people pay to park incentivizes people to use alternatives. It takes a lot of resources to make parking lots big enough for all the employees and guests and it really changes a city to be coated in massive parking lots.

        When there’s a scarcity, prices I down demand and the alternative might be insane waiting lists. I work in the city at a huge company and the waiting list for the (subsidized but not free) parking is many years long. (They will also pay a certain amount towards private parking which is not enough to fully cover it if you park every day, and the bus passes are entirely free)

        1. Warrior Princess Xena*

          That’s only an effective approach if the alternatives are (a) practical for the majority of employees and (b) safe. I live in a very rural area – it takes me almost as long to get to a park & ride as it does to drive to the office, and I would be extremely uncomfortable using public transit even it it were practical because while the office is in a nice area of town the area around it is sketchy (port town – not as bad as some but I’ve been followed from the street to the office by a creepy guy before).

        2. FisherCat*

          the problem is when the entirety of the reasonable commuting area is not covered by the other options. my job doesn’t cover parking under this theory- the office is near a public transit option- but that public transit option is not anywhere near my home. I’d have to drive to a bus, take a bus to the train, take a train to the station near work, and then walk to work. My ~20 mile commute would end up at about 2 hrs one way. The drive is about 40 min. They’ll pay for part of that convoluted transit mess but not $0.01 toward parking.

          1. RussianInTexas*

            I live right outside of the city limit. Literally, few blocks over. It’s a huge metro area and the city limits contain only 1/3 of the population.
            If I decided to take a bus to work, I would have to spend 15 minutes fighting traffic to the park and ride, in the city, and then ride the bus for 40 minutes.
            Or I can spend 30 minutes to drive my car and park at my office.

            1. Cheshire Grin*

              My commute to OldJob by car would take 40 minutes each way. The sharp rise in gas pricing was among the reasons I decided to leave OldJob. Fellow workers wanted to know why I wasn’t using the free transit pass. They loved it and couldn’t understand why I wasn’t using the perk.

              If I came in via mass transit I would have to get to the train station 45 minutes earlier than my usual departure time, spend 60 minutes in transit with route changes and must leave exactly at 4:55 pm to catch the shuttle or wait another hour. That’s nearly 4 hours unpaid time each day.

        3. RussianInTexas*

          Where I live it incentivizes people to find new jobs, because we have very few alternatives.

        4. RabbitRabbit*

          Yup. I work for a hospital that is in a major city and has several bus and light rail/subway options that serve it. Employees pay a pre-tax, subsidized rate for parking, and less if they are parking further away. You can also get your train/bus/subway passes paid pre-tax as well. Then my workplace made the employee shuttle between a large train station hub and work into a free employee shuttle, rather than charging a nominal fee per trip, so that incentivized public transit even more.

      6. Jora Malli*

        I’m with you. Employees should not have to pay for the privilege of being at work.

      7. AdequateArchaeologist*

        I have worked for 2 companies in a major downtown area. One paid something to the tune of ~$9k per month for employee parking, including for field techs, because field crew needed to be able to leave their vehicles during field sessions. My current employer was willing to pay but the company that managed the garage refused to give us enough monthly passes. Their solution was not to force field crew to pay themselves, but to pick crew members up from their homes. (We moved buildings and now have free parking.) I have complaints about my industry, but parking ain’t one. It’s incredible to me that a company wouldn’t consider that part of doing business!

      8. Emma*

        A better alternative in some cases can be for the employer to put on a bus. It’s pretty common for warehouses here – and similar places which have a large workforce, are typically located somewhere on the edge of town which is difficult to get to, and have two or three shifts which all start and end at regular times. The company pays for a bus which picks up and drops off employees at the nearest public transport hub, so it’s easy for employees to get to work no matter where they’re coming from, and the company doesn’t have to provide masses of expensive parking space.

        1. Emma*

          Oh, plus – if you have several smaller companies in the same industrial estate, they can club together to reduce the cost per company. Everyone wins.

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

        Agreed. This is my hill to die on. My employer is supposed to pay me to come to work, not the other way around. I would rather pay to park in a city-owned lot rather than pay for a parking pass to my employer; my employer leases their lots from the city, and then charges employees to park in them, so I did the math…paying the city for daily parking — where I’m in the space and then pay — costs less than getting an annual pass to the employee lots where I pay whether I can find a space or not. I have to walk an extra 1/2 block.

        1. Moira Rose*

          I hate this for you!! It’s like the worst of all possible choices by your employer!!

      10. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        In our office, we just don’t have a space for everyone.
        Company cars get free parking, as do employees with mobility issues and some managers. Parking for bikes is free, public transport passes are subsidized by the company. Otherwise, you’ll have to pay ($8 per day).
        For me, cycling and driving take the same time, public transport takes 10 minutes more. I mostly cycle (hey, free exercise!) and give my spot to s coworker.

      11. Gothic Bee*

        I agree. If public transport is an easy option it makes sense to pay for parking. I work at a university and I have to pay (the university) for parking, but the only possible public transport option is bus and it takes 2 hours, requires 2 transfers and a 30 minute walk just to get to the first bus stop. Thankfully they did adjust how parking is done, so it’s only $50 per year now for all employees, but it would be nice if it was just free, especially since $50 per employee doesn’t seem like that much money (I mean it’s a lot of money all together, but adding it as a benefit is not a major expense per employee).

    3. Mallory Janis Ian*

      We got a call from university parking and transit once because a new employee had been caught using a guest parking pass, which is against university policy for employees to do. She had taken one and had been reusing it every day for a few weeks before the admin at parking called our deans assistant and put a stop to it.

      1. NeedRain47*

        I’m shocked that they called you. At the university where I worked they just would have given them an expensive ticket, no questions allowed.

        1. madge*

          Same and it would have gone against their record so that in 8 tickets, it becomes a tow. Good luck appealing Uni parking!

        2. Mallory Janis Ian*

          I think it was because the parking admin and our deans assistant had both been in their respective positions for 15 – 20 years and had that kind of back and forth about work stuff. So she gave a courtesy call to find out what was going on, and then the person who was using the pass got her hand mildly slapped and told not to do it anymore (which she didn’t).

  14. Elle*

    I was in an office that had over the top birthday celebrations. On someone’s bday staff would be asked to sign up for a potluck for breakfast and lunch. Inevitably people would forget what they signed up for and we would end up with many boxes of donuts and cakes when the day was done. Other staff would go all out and bring in catering trays worth of home cooked food. To try to get control of the situation management decided to limit the celebrations to a cake in the afternoon. All hell broke loose-one manager wouldn’t let their staff take time away from their desk for cake. Another department kept going with the pot luck but wouldn’t let other departments join. There were many manager meetings scheduled to resolve the issue but they couldn’t come up with a solution to make everyone happy. Obviously this place was a mess in many ways and the bday controversy highlighted the worst of it.

      1. Elle*

        This totally would have been the place to have a cheap ass roles incident. There were always complaints about the quality of food made for pot lucks and arguments over the kind of decor people volunteered to bring in for the parties.

      2. Wilbur*

        Weird Al needs to make a WAP parody, “Cheap Ass Rolls”. Instant platinum single.

      3. DrRat*

        I swear, if I ever get another pet, I am going to run into the most confused people at the veterinarian’s office. “This is my puppy, Muffin.” “This is my kitty, Mittens.” “This is my (cat/dog/naked mole rat/whatever), Cheap Ass Rolls.”

    1. Firecat*

      This is on management. Who cares that your office did a lot of pot lucks and had some extra cakes?

      It sounds like everything was fine until “management tried to take control”. Everything that came after sounded inevitable to me. You have the manager who bans any work time from being spent needlessly tanking moral. The manager who tells their staff – do what you want within our group – so of course they don’t let other departments come eat their food.

      The only overreaction here was management trying to eliminate the potlucks to begin with.

      1. Cringing 24/7*

        While this is a valid point, I can easily see situations where the sheer lavish nature of the potluck could be causing a LOT of work distractions for long periods of time throughout the day, which is a management needing to take control issue. Likely in the form of having a talk with everyone about being more conscious about how much time this is consuming before resorting to just restructuring or taking away the entire event, but… the way the potluck is described sounds like a LOT.

        1. LinuxSystemsGuy*

          Plus the obvious expectations of doing this on the regular. Not everyone has time/funds for a potluck contribution every week, but no one wants to seen as the person that doesn’t contribute.

      2. BuildMeUp*

        It sounds like everything was fine

        I mean, I personally would not be fine with being expected to make/bring in food for multiple meals (!!??) every single time someone in the office had a birthday.

      3. Meow*

        I mean it depends on the size of the company, but a potluck on every single birthday sounds like a lot, and it’s an invitation for hurt feelings when Jane gets an elaborate assortment of everyone’s home-cooked specialties for her birthday and Gayle gets 3 boxes of store-bought donuts. Not to mention the food waste. I doubt management just decided to nix it out of nowhere, there were probably complaints.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          It’s the kind of thing that is fine in a new startup when it’s half a dozen people who all earn about the same (and likely have no dependants or caring responsibilities) but as the company grows it makes less and less sense but nobody senior enough notices.

    2. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      Oh goodness. You just reminded me of the time my old office switched from individual birthday celebrations to quarterly ones. I didn’t care because I don’t like attention (plus I was the only birthday in my quarter anyway) but one of the middle managers FLIPPED OUT. She was the one who usually ordered the cakes and would go all out on lavish, expensive cakes from the best bakeries in town (except for the one person she didn’t like, they got a grocery store pie). Like my story about the timecards below, this was a decision that absolutely made sense for the business – we were growing and starting to have multiple birthday celebrations every week – but she absolutely lost her mind.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        “expensive cakes from the best bakeries in town (except for the one person she didn’t like, they got a grocery store pie)”

        Lol like Michael Scott with Toby

    3. Rachel Greep*

      We had people complaining about coworkers who always attended potlucks without contributing, complaining about having too many of the same dish, etc. The solution was having a sign up sheet to avoid duplication and strict reminders that you needed to contribute to participate. Then the complaints were about not being able to bring the dish you wanted because someone else signed up first, or a dish not being there because the person who signed up for it didn’t end up coming, etc.

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

      Makes me think of how at one place we had a potluck and it was set up in our little area of desks in the cube farm. It was only our department. When we were all in a meeting down the hall others from another department came and ate a bunch of the food before we even had a chance!

      There was also one guy who no matter who was doing a potluck would come and get food. even if the potluck was on the other end of the building, at the last row of desks he would sniff it out and take stuff! He was a nice guy for the most part but really annoying

  15. Pony Puff*

    I don’t have an interesting story but when I started at this office in 2015 people had (and were still using!) typewriters even though everyone also had a computer. They were not happy when IT tried to take them away and IT was not able to confiscate them all until a remodel a couple years later.

    Similarly, I was taught to hand out some reports via physical interoffice memo envelopes…oh boy.

    1. MusicWithRocksIn*

      My first job out of school there was a typewriter in the office. The owner showed it to me and told me that it was there in case the power went out so that we could keep working. One day the power went out, so we went to get the typewriter (all our stuff was on the computers, but it was in policy to get it out) and then we realized it was an electric typewriter.

        1. Ace in the Hole*

          Doesn’t seem strange to me. My employer has a policy about hand-writing work tickets on carbon paper if the power goes out. We’re considered essential infrastructure and can’t shut down operations just because of a power outage.

          1. Lora*

            So…you don’t have a generator and UPS on critical equipment?

            I’m also essential infrastructure but we put 1.5 – 3 MW generators on site and each piece of critical equipment gets a $15k UPS that can provide an hour worth of backup.

            1. Ben Marcus Consulting*

              All of my practices have comprehensive emergency prep plans. All of our networking equipment, phone systems, and elevator call box is set up to provide battery-powered services for up to 48 hours. We also have go-walls: It’s a location within the master-site for each group that has power banks, lanterns, and other emergency supplies. Each go-wall can support a single clinic for up to 8 hours, or up to 5 sites for 3 hours.

              All that said, every site has a paper-based backup plan. Clinic services have to go on, the therapies provided are the difference between maintaining or loosing a major sense. It can also take up to 1 hour to get a go-wall on-site, set up, and services transferred over.

            2. Ace in the Hole*

              Of course we have backup batteries and generators, but they’re limited to critical equipment in a prolonged outage (more than 24 hrs). Our computer ticketing system isn’t considered critical since it can be done by hand in an emergency.

              We also have contingency plans for generator failure, just in case.

            1. DannyG*

              Same here, just got through a major computer outage at my hospital. Back to paper charts & handwritten labels. Had to teach some younger staff how to write a proper order in the paper chart & fax it to Pharm.

              1. Storm in a teacup*

                We had a stack of prescription pads and old paper drug charts in our hospital for whenever we had a computer outage which happened at least annually.

          2. Storm in a teacup*

            A Pharmacy I used to work at years ago had a policy for how to use a typewriter or hand write labels for when the computers went down so we could keep dispensing scripts. Eventually someone (me) created blank pre-printed labels so we could just fill in the blanks for drug game / dose / patient name and date. Then they changed the SOP on how and when to use the pre printed labels.
            I don’t think anyone ever got rid of the typewriter.
            Also there were a LOT of SOPs in that place

          3. MusicWithRocksIn*

            TK is right though in that, that place was nuts. We had a policy about EVERYTHING. We had a eight page policy with diagrams about how to part the company car at the owners house. You weren’t considered a real employee until you had done something that warranted the owner writing an over the top policy so no one would do that thing ever again.

      1. quill*

        Possibly the best one.

        When I ‘worked’ for my high school librarian during study hall we had an electric typewriter, I think for some kind of labeling originally? Anyway our favorite prank was to type something and then make it delay printing it out… then hit the key to print when someone was standing with their back to it.

        -What the F, Quill!?

        The library aides did not get a lot of work done, besides re-shelving books and pointing the barcode scanner at each other mock-threateningly.

        1. Bob*

          It was a good time when printers started to be wirelessly accessible but not with passwords. So a busy place, like an apartment building, had so many. It was fun to connect and have them print odd messages.

    2. anon e mouse*

      Not quite typewriters, but I started my professional career in the late 00s and our email was still Lotus Notes and some documents were still floating around in WordPerfect. I assume the latter was client-driven. Eventually we did transition to Outlook, I want to say like 2011ish? Nobody freaked out that I know of, but it was just incredible that it took that long.

      1. Meow*

        I worked for a company who was still using Lotus Notes forms in 2015. I imagine they still would be using them if they hadn’t gone under a few years ago.

        1. Irish girl*

          ummmmm….. we are still using Lotus Notes here and they were going to retire the use of it but never came up with a better solution.

          1. Heather*

            I worked at a company where the previous head of dept had been a Lotus Notes developer, and so put everything in Notes. Even procurement, which it 100% isn’t suited to. I ended up making a shadow spreadsheet in Excel so I could produce the management data I was being asked for.

            On the back of that, I then got an editing job where they were writing articles in Notes, for no apparent reason. We had to track changes by underlining them by hand. My big contribution was finding a shortcut to do the underlining.

            But my favourite bonkers tale of old tech was when I temped for the local council. They were still using a council-specific offshoot of WordStar there, which I could use because I had come across it in Hong Kong, where all the office tech was at least 15 years out of date and the personal tech absolutely up to date. It’s sort of similar to WordPerfect, but older.

            I got fed up after a while and simply switched to using Word (then on about version 6) instead of the ancient system that printed exclusively in Courier New. Then I moved to doing mail merges for another task, instead of hand writing the same details into 6-7 preprinted sheets with gaps for each application (we had to send off a lot of reference requests).

            When I left, I ran a little class in how to do a mail merge for the other admins but I am certain that none of them ever tried it on their own. But at least they had all started using Word all the time instead of switching to the old system for all our certificates.

      2. Pipe Organ Guy*

        The office work I just retired from used, and continues to use, WordPerfect for the Sunday and other occasion worship booklets. I liked it (despite a tendency to crash unpredictably) because by working in Reveal Codes, I could see exactly what WordPerfect was doing and control placement of objects on pages. It really made producing a 20 to 32 page service booklet easier, and I could easily keep formatting consistent. (Why such a big booklet? Everything for an Episcopal church service–prayers, texts, hymns with music.) I’ve done it in Word, but it’s harder to make the program do what I want it to do, rather than what it wants to do.

        1. OyHiOh*

          I adored Reveal Code for the same reasons. It was the one significant argument I had with school IT when my college changed to MS Word in late 90’s. IT thought Word was better in every respect, but didn’t have a comeback for my beloved Reveal Code.

        2. JESUS IS THE MAN!*

          Liturgy makes for some serious printing bills, man. We’re pretty pared down at my place (Lutheran) and we still call ourselves the Treeslayers.

          (Currently trying to get our admin a computer that was built in this millennium, so that’s a thing.)

      3. Diamond*

        My company used lotus notes for email until mid last year and for chat until I think mid 2020? And there are still a couple of things that I have to go into lotus notes to do

    3. Miel*

      I’m in the market for a typewriter! I had no idea that an old office might be a source. Hook me up!

    4. HoHumDrum*

      TBH I am convinced I would be a lot more productive if I owned a typewriter and used that instead of my internet-equipped laptop. That’s why in school I always took written notes instead of typed on a computer. And why I vastly preferred when my mp3 player was a separate entity from my phone. I do not have the self-control for all of these new all-in-one technology!

      1. Dancing Otter*

        Hand writing notes is just faster than typing, isn’t it? Though with schools no longer teaching cursive, that may not be true any more? Any recent graduate care to enlighten me?

        1. Caps*

          It definitely depends on your typing speed, but I expect many people can type faster than they can print (or write cursive, if they ever learned it). I learned cursive, took handwritten notes through college, but am still about three times faster typing than handwriting.

    5. Picket line or bread line*

      I have a similar paper based issue at my current workplace. Paper timesheets. Paper timesheets that are printed from a digital version, hand delivered to our office, filled out, the faxed to finance. Then, I assume, hand entered into their payroll system. It blew my mind when I started. This is an org with thousands of employees! This is the first place I have ever worked (in 15 years) with a partial non-digital system.

  16. zuzu*

    I have one! I worked at a law school where the faculty could eat lunch together in a little house next to the student center that was used for various events. A dining services staff member would take their orders and bring them from the student center, where the dining hall/cafeteria was housed. The faculty had to pay for this service.

    However, they did not have to pay for the vats of soup that were provided. And boy, did they go through a lot of free soup.

    In my position, I was considered non-voting faculty, but the “real” faculty made me feel unwelcome, so I rarely went to these lunches unless I went with friends from the writing faculty (who were also given the cold shoulder, but they had numbers on their side, and they could vote in meetings). Those of us who were not “real” (tenured/”podium”) faculty) made much, much, MUCH less than the “real” faculty.

    Who do you think ate the most free soup?

    And when the bottom fell out of the law school market and our enrollment crashed and the brand-new dean had to do staff buyouts and layoffs (the first in 30 years) as one of the first actions in their deanship, they naturally set their sights on unnecessary expenditures, like the shocking amount spent on free soup consumed by the faculty, as a way to spread the pain around a little bit, since there was no way to lay off tenured, pre-tenured, and contract faculty.

    There was an uprising among the faculty. By God, this was a hill they were going to die on, budget and staff morale be damned. They might be making seven or eight multiples of the guy in the print shop who just lost his job after 25 years, but no one was going to take away their free soup!

    The dean backed down, the faculty kept their soup for another year, there was another round of buyouts and layoffs the following year, and the “real” faculty never quite figured out why the staff was so pissed at them.

    1. Sounds About Right*

      I’m dying to know the school. The physical layout describes the school I went to and the cafeteria soup was pretty good. I’m going to picture it as my school lol.

      1. zuzu*

        There was a gazebo. That’s all I’m gonna say about it, because I don’t want to give it away, but it you know, you know.

        1. Go mules*

          Oh, damn. I think this might have been my alma mater… we had a law school and a pretty famous gazebo. And the general attitude of people going there was very… uh, WASP-y, to put it delicately.

      2. Delta Delta*

        I’m also curious about the school, and I wonder if it was my law school. My law school recently went through some budget issues, but I don’t necessarily know it to be known for Very Good Soup. Unless there’s A+ soup all this time and I didn’t know about it…

    2. irritable vowel*

      I used to run events in a university library, and it was ALWAYS the tenured faculty who would show up and take third and fourth helpings of the food, and wrap up stacks of cookies and brownies in napkins to take with them. They were so much worse than the undergraduates, who you would think might actually NEED a free meal to take with them. (And I would never have begrudged them that.)

      1. Goose*

        That’s always the case, isn’t it? I had a VP elbow the recent college grads out of the way to get fill up their plate at the once a year work provided lunch.

        1. sacados*

          Sort of a corollary of the “nobody loves free stuff more than rich people” phenomenon ;-p

      2. quill*

        The librarian at my college would actively hand out leftovers to undergrads before a roaming professor could snatch it up. You haven’t known victory until you’ve walked off with 70% of a cheese tray under the nose of nobody’s favorite freshman required philosophy teacher.

        1. OhNo*

          Ha, I was that librarian for several years when I worked at a law school! The library offered free hot drinks (coffee, tea, cocoa, etc.) and snacks during finals time, and you would be amazed how many faculty came by at the end of the work day and just walked away with entire boxes of granola bars that were meant to feed students who were studying overnight.

          It got to the point where every day I worked during finals week, I would go up and clear off the snack table at about 4pm, and hand out everything still open directly to students who stopped by. Then I’d go back up around 5:30 when the faculty was gone and restock the whole thing for those poor, dedicated students who were studying straight through until midnight.

        2. BethDH*

          One of my advisors talked the events committee into buying a giant load of deli containers, foil, and plastic bags for the sole purpose of making it easier for the grad students to take leftovers home.
          There were some serious things wrong there, but that was a shining beacon of thoughtfulness.

        3. Salymander*

          So the librarian was like the Robin Hood of the buffet table? Brilliant! I love that mental image. My inner starving undergrad approves heartily.

      3. Rainy*

        The Chancellor at my undergrad institution (who was being actively investigated by the Chronicle the whole time she was there, culminating in a spectacularly career-ending piece) once called a meeting of senior faculty, catered with coffee/tea/cookies, asked people to please take one cookie max (university catering does not stint on the cookies) and then, having intimidated people into not eating cookies, sanguinely loaded the dozens and dozens of “leftovers” into a bag at the end and said off-handedly that she’d volunteered to bring the cookies to her grandkid’s birthday party.

        1. Rainy*

          (I was not faculty, obviously, but I was doing research for a senior faculty member and she came straight from the meeting to a work session and told me the story indignantly.)

        2. Dana Whittaker*

          I feel like we are going to need a link to the article now – or a reference we can look up ourselves, although I feel like I vaguely recollect something like this making the rounds several years ago.

      4. Lana Kane*

        I work at a hospital and att he cafeteria, doctors can get to cut to the front of the line in case they are really busy and have to get back to clinic right away. A lot of providers are very good about not abusing that, but there was oine that ate lunch about the same time as I did and every time, she’d just saunter to the front of the line – not just in front of other staff but also patients and families. She was clearly not in a hurry.

        I was so glad to be there the day that one of the cashiers called her out on it. The doc looked like she wanted the floor to swallow her up and left. I mean, if it was embarassing, then why were you doing it?

    3. Annie*

      I work in Higher Ed. This hits home. The new dean shoulda just sent round a “No soup for you” meme.

    4. FashionablyEvil*

      zuzu, are you by chance the former blogger from Feministe? or just another lawyer named zuzu? :)

      1. zuzu*

        Small world! I stopped practicing a while back and changed gears. Good to run into you!

  17. KSharp*

    My first company boasted an “extremely careful and thorough Quality Assurance” program… but didn’t actually have one beyond “Managers check against previous emails that were never shared with employees.”
    My boss (current, we both fled to a new company) attempted to implement an entire QA team that’d gather and manage information to share with other people and make sure we gave standardized feedback.
    The loudest screams were:
    – “I CAN’T check my own work!!!! I don’t have time!!!”
    – A 10page. Single spaced document. With why my boss was an idiot.
    – presenting my boss’s idea for a team as their own idea after poo-poo-ing the idea.
    There were other protests but those stuck out the loudest.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      – “I CAN’T check my own work!!!! I don’t have time!!!”

      I kind of agree with that one; it’s not a matter of time, but rather that an author makes a poor editor of their own work. I usually need to put something away for 6 months and not touch it for my brain to stop auto-correcting issues subconsciously if I don’t have a hard error message to troubleshoot.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        Erm, let me rephrase that. Of course I check my work, but I don’t consider my check to be authoritative. There’s a reason why writers have professional editors and programmers do code reviews for each other.

        1. KSharp*

          Oh for sure, they were just refusing to do ANY check on themselves because “They didn’t have time!!!”
          The point of our QA team was supposed to be to catch that last lil boneheaded mistake that slipped through the cracks.

      2. KSharp*

        We work with a program that’d have a couple minor flaws programmed in that’d have to be manually fixed. It’s the same flaw every time (I hate it so much) but they wouldn’t even go look for those flaws.
        The proposed process was supposed to be: Original Creator checks their work to get it to 80% correct, turns it in to the QA team, QA notes mistakes the Original missed in their check, Original makes final corrections then sends to Manager, Manager sends it on to client.
        Instead, work would get stuck in quality loops or in a pile of over 200 work orders because the Manager had to keep looking for the same mistake and physically writing it out.

      3. DuskPunkZebra*

        The way I’ve come up with to counter my brain’s autocorrect is to read something back using text-to-speech where possible. Everything will sound a little stilted in a computer voice, but the different mode of input helps call attention to errors you correct for visually. Plus, it can help with flow because things that read awkwardly when reading for the first time sound REALLY weird when read by a computer.

        1. boo bot*

          This is a good idea! One thing I’ve found helpful is to write in one font and change to another to review it for errors; I usually write single-spaced and change to double-spaced as well. It’s by no means foolproof (and I’m enough of a fool to know!) but it can help reset your brain a little bit.

        2. Free Meerkats*

          I like that. Especially because I’ve noticed that I notice things in audiobooks that I never noticed while reading the actual books (multiple times.)

  18. Isolde*

    My boyfriend works at a 3-letter federal agency. At that agency, employees get a few hours a week on the clock for physical fitness. You can walk, run, lift weights, etc. Whatever matches your physical abilities. You can also participate in a sports team like soccer or volleyball.

    Well, apparently they have some on-site “eSports” leagues — I’m pretty clueless about this but it seems to just be groups of gamers playing regular video games (so, not games that force you to be active like Wii Sports). And the agency had to specifically say that yes, while you are allowed to use your physical fitness time to play **actual sports,** you are not allowed to use them to play “eSports.”

    Apparently the whining was epic. It has sports in the title!!! How we were to know that it didn’t count as a sport as defined for physical fitness purposes???

    Blew my mind when he told me, honestly.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        Wii bowling still requires some physical activity, as opposed to StarCraft and other keyboard-only games. It sounds like they were trying to get “pressing buttons” approved as an athletic activity.

    1. Khatul Madame*

      How did they treat chess, considering that it’s a legitimate sport, yet does not contribute to physical fitness of the players?

      1. Isolde*

        No. No chess on physical fitness time. It has to be something related to your physical fitness. Apparently the word “sports” in “eSports” meant that some folks thought it was a free pass, which is just nuts to me. (If your business has a policy that says you may take as many stamps as you need to send business mail, and then you take a bunch because “I send a lot of email!”, that’s a clear violation of the spirit of the rule!)

      2. WellRed*

        Second sentence says the point is for “physical fitness,” which is a job requirement, I’m sure for Certain agencies.

    2. Hamster Manager*

      A friend recently sent me a list of universities who offer eSports programs and scholarships now…like, they’re in actual athletic divisions.

      1. not a doctor*

        I think that’s different. There, it’s about the competitive (and therefore money-making) aspect of eSports, not the fitness part.

      2. Galadriel's Garden*

        Gahh I have such a hard time with this because by that line of argument, wouldn’t like…instrumental performance fall into that category? I have a background in classical violin playing – is that a sport? I could compete and make money, so do I get an athletic scholarship for it? I deeply struggle with the notion of “eSports” as actual sports when a comparable activity is relegated to “arts” and therefore less frequently rewarded in the scholarship realm.

      3. Ruby*

        My alma mater offers eSports scholarships now, I unfortunately had to hear a talk about how they are “real” sports. Keep in mind, my school is an engineering-only school that does not have any physical sports teams at all.

        1. Isolde*

          They may be real in the sense of creating a teamwork/cooperative/collaborative environment in which folks (young folks especially) have to learn how to graciously win and graciously lose. They ain’t real in the sense of being a boon towards one’s physical fitness.

    3. Pipe Organ Guy*

      “It has sports in the title!!!” And a ’65 Chevy Impala Sport Sedan has “Sport” in its name, too. (The car was simply a 4-door hardtop sedan.)

  19. H.Regalis*

    Old job: Someone sent out an email to the whole department asking people to have everything (even condiments) out of the fridge on XYZ date so we could deep-clean the fridge. People were *outraged*. They weren’t even being asked to clean the damn fridge! Someone else volunteered to do that. Just “Please put your mayonnaise somewhere else for one afternoon.”

    The person who sent this out shared an office with me, and another employee came in and got into a very loud discussion with her about it while I was on the phone with a customer. It was loud enough that I was fifteen feet away from them and could not hear the person I was talking to on the phone. In the end, people did not have to remove items from the fridge. The folks who volunteered to clean just put them on the counter and then put them back.

    1. KateM*

      Which TBH sounds far more practical than 20 employees each carrying their one bottle away and then back.

      1. anonymous73*

        So it’s practical for the people who are cleaning the fridge to spend extra time deciding what can be kept and what needs to be thrown away? Sorry but no.

        1. KateM*

          No – either throw everything out or set everything on counter for a moment, just as they did.

      2. Beth Jacobs*

        Well, the point of cleaning the fridge is also that forgotten foods get tossed. I once forgot a bell pepper in the office fridge before going on extended leave and was mortified when I returned 6 weeks later and realised it was mine!

      3. Loredena*

        Except you just know that some of that deep clean really needed to include a toss pass!

    2. Orange+You+Glad*

      That’s kinder than my office. We had the fridges cleaned out once a month. We’d get an email of the date of the clean out and anything left in the fridges after 4pm that day would be thrown away, including containers. All we had to do was grab our stuff at 3:55, then return it at 4:30. Once I had some leftovers thrown away but it was my fault, I was in a meeting during the time I needed to move my stuff.

    3. Julia*

      I had a coworker who had a huge stash of condiments that kept on spilling all over the work fridge. His response was to shove them into a battered plastic bag which leaked. He also kept produce in there long enough that it would rot. His shenanigans led to the fridge becoming horribly moldy and having to be tossed out. When we got a new fridge there were many meetings to discuss policy of how messes were handled and what to do if items were left more than a week. He continued to make messes and leave food to rot.

      One day I patiently waited 10 days before tossing his rotting vegetables. He flipped his entire shit. He came to my desk and harangued me for 45 minutes. He blocked my cube door and wouldn’t budge even after I repeatedly said I had to leave. I wrote a letter detailing all of this and gave it to my manager and his. The response: “that’s just how he is.”

    4. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      Surely it should simply be “on pain of being chucked out”?

      Mind you, I’d say it’s better to let the deep cleaner also decide what gets to go back into the fridge, because I found yoghurt dating from more than 12 months when I deep-cleaned the fridge at work.

  20. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    I’ve seen the email one play out multiple times. Oddly enough, it’s rarely the loons who are being targeted who complain; it tends to be the people whose emails you’d look at and say “you’re not the problem.” Then, invariably, someone in IT blows the new requirements off and the standard falls like a house of cards in a month, only to be restandardized again 6 months later and the cycle repeats itself.

  21. academicadmin*

    I worked in an academic department that has been around since the 1960s. Our head admin started when files were still mostly in paper and never adjusted to the digital change, even though most departments had switched to fully digital files. I had to print emails, screenshot and print data from central University online records, hand copy information saved on our online databases…all to save in physical student files. All this information was saved in central University systems, as well as saved in department-maintained digital records (think GoogleDrive, BOX, etc.)…but she was insistent it all needed to be in physical files as well in case all of the computers and systems shut down indefinitely. The kicker is that the department had planned to move buildings and a huge project in the works was purging a huge storage room of physical student files dating back to the 1960s with the go-ahead to automatically toss anything pre-2010. And yet, we’re plugging away printing out emails from a student saying things like “I’m thinking of having Prof. Granger on my committee…” Technically not a change, but I found her resistance to non-physical files confounding.

    1. Zephy*

      I mean, she isn’t wrong that 100%-digital systems are vulnerable in that way, but having a 1:1 paper backup system running at all times is simply not sustainable – that’s why everyone’s migrating to digital in the first place. That said, for a school, nobody’s going to die if the database goes down for a day or two and this lady needs to chill.

      1. academicadmin*

        Yeah, I understand computers and systems can go down, but nothing we did was so urgent that not having immediate access would detrimental to the department. And if all the computers and all the systems went down *forever*, student files would be the least of of our worries, ha.

        1. Annie*

          I feel your pain. I’m guessing person has been there since the dawn of time, her way or highway, and cannot deal with learning new systems. One of the things too is that people like this usually get new bosses who never manage them and force them to learn.

      2. EPLawyer*

        One registration day in my law school, the system went down. We had a new registrar who had come in rather heavy handed to CHANGE THINGS UP. Which probably was needed but …. He didn’t bother to beta test the new system before registration day. Imagine a whole bunch of type A folks on registration day. We all logged on right at 7 a.m. to get our choice of classes. The damn thing crashed. No explanation. No communication. Just no way for the majority to register. Some kids got some of their classes before things went kerplooie.

        I drove to the school and walked into the registrar’s office which was full of very mad students who were being quite VOCAL about their displeasure. The registrar was standing looking rather overwhelmed (he’d come from a community college so had no clue how law students could be). I just looked at him and shrugged like “what are you going about this fustercluck?” He and I had chatted a few times and I was one of the few who was like “Dude you need to learn but I think you can do this and make the changes we need” He looked at me and then said “Okay everyone, we will get this fixed. we will close out any registrations that did happen and everyone can start back when we get it fixed. Go to your classes today and don’t worry about registering right now, you won’t lose out on anything.”

        1. Emma*

          Ah, law students. I remember sitting in the cafe at the faculty, watching other people’s laptop screens so I’d be able to pick the optimum moment to hit refresh and register for thesis topics.

    2. irritable vowel*

      I used to work with someone who would print out emails and bring them to me for me to follow up on. She could never understand why forwarding the email was preferable. One time I scandalized her by fishing one of her “forwards” out of my recycling bin when she asked about it.

      1. printer*

        I had an assistant that would print emails that had a task she needed to do, then place them in a pile to work through them. The issue was, she never checked to see if she got a new email related to the same task that might have edits or adjustments, so she’d spend an hour on a task (only referencing the printout), only to realize she did it wrong. I finally figured out she did this because she found it hard to keep track conversations in her inbox…once I showed her the “show email by conversation” (that groups all emails in a thread together) option, her mind was blown! Totally fixed the need for her to print each individual email.

        1. Presently DeMo*

          I just showed my boss how to do this, because I could see he was missing out on some emails within related topics that get lost in his inbox. This is a person who likes to change the subject line every time (I can’t imagine how annoyed the recipients are if they use conversation view) so I’m attempting to un-train one habit (don’t change the subject line) and training in another (conversation view).

          Today he’s hung up on why the conversation view shows the attachment icon when there’s not really an attachment on the *most recent* email.

        2. Hallofoats*

          I had an assistant who did this, and would get sooooo flustered when I had to point out the five urgent updates that came in (sometimes over multiple days) after she started working on said task. I felt so bad, bc she was a total sweetheart, but it was extremely stressful for me as her supervisor. And now I work for a university and am getting triggered by the comments below, ha.

      2. Storm in a teacup*

        I once worked with a professor who would dictate his correspondence to his secretary to send – including some emails. She would dutifully type it all up in hard copy letter format and send through the internal mail. It was a quirk I tolerated but when a action for a specific patient was delayed a week due to this I went an asked her to just email me any letters rather than printing and putting in the unreliable internal mail. The horror! How dare I mess with her system! Did I not know who the professor was?!

        1. Storm in a teacup*

          I should add I dealt with this the way all good healthcare staff do.
          I completed a (may have been slightly passive aggressive) incident report that needed to be investigated by the manager.
          Conclusion: send future correspondence by email esp when time sensitive

    3. Kammy6707*

      Also in academia – I see you’ve met my boss. EVERYTHING for her must be hard copy. It’s so frustrating.

      1. academicadmin*

        AAM needs to collect stories for an academic/University themed post! There’s the “research is the only thing that matters” folks that refuse to adhere to any administrative requests, admins who have been there for 40+ years, faculty with the type of confidence only tenure can provide, dual/spousal hires hired into the same department that later get divorced and air drama in the department, constant grumbling about buildings that used to be parking lots, students (optimistic students, students who bring their parents to meetings, students confused why they failed a class after not attending all semester, etc.).

        It is just a goldmine for office/work stories.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          I can’t be the only person with the recurring nightmare that I forgot I registered for a class, didn’t ever attend, the final exam is in an hour, failing the class will delay my graduation, and I can’t find the exam room.

          …Or maybe that’s just me.

          1. That One Person*

            No I think that’s a universal one with variations. Definitely had the “being tested, but I don’t remember squat from this class” type dreams. I think I’ve also had the “can’t find the classroom one” though tbf I’ve seen that in action in real life too as my college was kind of disorganized and doing a spot of construction. Due to this a friend couldn’t find one of her classes the first day so ultimately had to skip it because they weren’t great about letting people know either the new location or temporary one.

          2. JESUS IS THE MAN!*

            I’ve had the professor version of that anxiety dream! It goes like this: I walk into a classroom most of the way through the semester and realize that oops, I’m in charge of this class. There have been no syllabi, no papers, no exams, no basis for grading. I have no idea who any of these students are. Somehow I need to teach them everything they need to know and give them some grades in, like, one class meeting.

            1. DrRat*

              You know that old joke, right? A extremely senior professor tells a colleague, “I dreamed I was teaching a class, and when I woke up, by God, I was!”

          3. Dana Whittaker*

            I just stopped having nightmares about forgetting to check my student mailbox about 5 years ago.

            I graduated college in 1993.

    4. A Feast of Fools*

      I said something to one of my managers once about how annoying it is to review staff work when, say the type font was 9-point but the images they inserted in their documents were either the equivalent of 2-point or 70-point. All the zooming in and out and in again made it hard to follow their documentation.

      He said, “Oh? I never noticed how it looks online because I print everything out when I review work.”

      As in, he *prints out* Excel spreadsheets with 10’s of thousands of lines of data across dozens of tabs.

      Prints. Them. Out.

      He is in his late-30’s.

  22. Sir Ulrich Von Liechtenstein*

    My old company got told they needed to tighten up security in the building. This included a mandate that you could no longer hold the outside security doors open for people — everyone had to let the door fully close and electronically lock behind them, then the next person to come in had to swipe their badge and be admitted. This is pretty standard for companies that deal with sensitive information! We were a big enough office (~350 people onsite) that you couldn’t know everyone by sight, and even if you knew someone, you wouldn’t necessarily know if they’d been fired & had their access removed, etc.

    I’d say it’s reasonable to have some discomfort adjusting; letting the door close in someone’s face does feel rude when you’ve been raised with different manners. I’m a risk management guy and knew the importance from the start, and even I felt a little uneasy the first time I let the door bang closed when I knew someone was right behind me.

    But boy howdy, the drama that erupted. Some people made a loud and deliberate point of always holding secured doors open and letting in as many people as they could get to do so — “OF COURSE I will let you in, Mrs. Potts! I KNOW YOU AND TRUST YOU!” A guy told me he would always hold the door open for his boss because he was afraid he would get fired if he didn’t. (I knew his boss, and that would never happen; she was a consummate professional and generally lovely.) One woman used the ALL-STAFF email list to trumpet that she would never bow to the Corporate Overlords and shame the memory of her dear departed grandma who had raised her right.

    Things simmered down after a while — a few of the most ostentatious offenders got fired, several more got written warnings, and people adapted. But there were always people who would take a quick look around and then let you in if no one was watching.

    1. many bells down*

      This is a policy at the museum where I’m a volunteer. Volunteers MUST be buzzed in by security and staff CANNOT hold the door for us. I’ve been there for 8 years and the staff are still so uncomfortable letting the door close on me (I don’t mind, it’s literally 20 more seconds to get buzzed in).

      1. quill*

        I’ve always worked at places where you don’t have to let the door close, but everyone does have to swipe their card.

        1. A Feast of Fools*

          Same. And the culture was such that no one minded being asked, “Did you swipe your card?” when it was obvious that you’d forgotten.

          I’ve worked places where you have to swipe your badge to exit the building, too, not just for security purposes but because if a fire breaks out, the Safety Team needs a way of knowing if anyone is still in the building after counting heads at the various evacuation meetup locations.

          1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

            I liked knowing that if there was a fire alarm or other emergency and I was in a sub-sub-basement far from my office, Security could track me by what doors I’d swiped.

          2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            Surely that slows exiting down? I’m definitely holding the door open to let everyone out if the place is on fire!! People can DIE because of being held up needlessly.
            I read a horrifying article about how people living alone in high-rises were more likely to die of a heart attack. The several seconds more that it took the emergency services to get up there could prove fatal.
            Imagine being rushed out of your office while having a heart attack and having to be taken back because you forgot your damn card.

    2. ferrina*

      This is also common at preschools and some schools. I’ve had to close the door on a parent holding a baby because I couldn’t verify them- that didn’t feel good. I usually follow the spirit of the law on this- I’ll hold the door open for someone I know, but explain to someone I don’t know why I can’t hold it open. If there is an administrator there (whose job includes verifying people on the premise) then I’ll let them in and let the administrator deal with it (our administrators don’t mind this at all).

      1. BubbleTea*

        At my baby’s nursery they close and bolt the gate between each child’s pickup or drop-off, which prevents runaways. It must be annoying for the staff to reach up and down for the two bolts at the top and bottom of the gate but far worse to lose a toddler.

    3. londonedit*

      We’ve had quite a few instances of computer equipment being stolen because someone’s let a random person come through the door behind them – we all have swipe cards to get into the office building, and it’s a serious disciplinary matter to let anyone through the door behind you unless you’re actually going into the building *with* that person (like you’ve just been out for lunch together and you’re coming back to the office together), or you work with them. Otherwise, yep, if you’re not 100% certain the person is a legitimate employee then you absolutely do have to close the door behind you and leave them outside, where they can buzz in to reception if they’re a legit visitor. It definitely feels rude but it’s better than having a load of laptops and phones nicked.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Every single company meeting at Exjob, this policy had to be addressed, but people still kept doing it. The piggybacking was EPIC. It got so bad that someone put a sign up near the staircase door in my building with a picture of Gandalf that said, “There is not one badge to rule them all. All shall scan their own badge before they return.”

      I actually put it in my book, when a character has to figure out a way to get into a secure facility. Someone comes out so she says “I forgot my purse!” and he just holds the door for her.

      1. Emmy Noether*

        I actually once did forget something at a company where I had a meeting. Not only did a random stranger hold a door for me, he re-opened double building entrance doors for me with his badge and let me walk in unaccompanied. I just had to look flustered and smile sweetly.

    5. Warrior Princess Xena*

      I got to experience the benefit of this sort of system a few months back. Our office has a badge-locked door. I was coming up the elevator and was joined by a guy who was not a coworker and unlikely to be a client (since Covid clients are appointment-only). He got off at the same floor I did (our office was the only one on the floor). I was feeling distinctly creeped out and was very glad to scramble into the office and shut the door firmly in his face. Never have I appreciated badge-only doors so much.

      1. A Feast of Fools*

        Something similar happened to me at a hotel. I was at a convention and walked back to my hotel around 10:00 at night. The hotel’s doors become card-key-entrance-only after 8:00 or 9:00 PM. Some guy (who’d been following me) quickly slipped in behind me without swiping a card and was headed to the elevators with me.

        I was inebriated but my spidey sense tingled so I made a hard left before hitting the Up button and went to the front desk. Told the guy (who had been in the back) what just happened and as I turned to motion in the direction of the elevator lobby, Following Dude was headed back out the doors.

        100% this would not have ended well for me if I’d mentally shrugged and assumed Following Dude was a fellow conventioneer.

    6. DuskPunkZebra*

      Having worked as a government contractor most of my career, I boggle at this! I’m even in the Deep South, and you’d think that it would be a bigger issue, but nary a peep about it!

      Then again, violating security policies mandated by a government department comes with an array of career-ending consequences, so announcing that you refuse to comply is… not wise.

    7. KittyCat*

      Yup. I, as a secretary, once told my Great-Grand-Boss that no, he had to badge in at the top of the stairs and I would not hold the door for him (despite having been on the floor with him all day already, and having gone to a meeting with him on another floor- we were just returning to our desks from the conference room) but we had just had yet another email go out about ‘tailgating’ and I wasn’t about to just let him slide through on my badge. Thankfully he’s a great guy and had no issues with me following the rules. It was a massive pain, though, since we had 4 separate areas in the building that were leased by our company but the rest of the building was other companies, so even if you went to the break room you had to badge in.

      A couple years later, we moved back to the main building, which had single-person badge-activated revolving doors for access where we had to badge both in and out. It was always fun when they would break down and they’d just fold them open, leaving just the exterior door to badge in with, but you couldn’t badge out. I do not miss those things, as they were super sensitive to being bumped at all and would start screaming “VIOLATION- ALL COMPARTMENTS MUST BE VACATED” while it backed you out to try again. Sometimes after that, it wouldn’t let you through until someone else badged through before you tried again. I went through the lobby for a year because that had normal doors with a security guard that would even buzz you through the second badge door after you’d badged through the first one lol

    8. Cat Tree*

      This is standard in my industry too. But I’ve found it causes much less of a fuss to have turnstiles or revolving doors. For internal doors only where there’s an extra layer of badge access, we allow people to hold open doors as long as each person still scans their badge to have a record of entry.

    9. Sorrischian*

      My job has the same single-entry policy, and we’re generally pretty good about it, but the time we were coming back in from a January fire drill in <10F weather, I think we would have fully rioted if they'd so much as suggested enforcing the rule in that moment. (They didn't, we just had to hold up our badge so the supervisor holding the door could see it)

    10. LittleMarshmallow*

      Turnstiles are easier because you don’t have to let a door shut on someone. Had them at the manufacturing facility I used to work at. We also have them at the corporate headquarters. You can get in the door but need badge access to get through the interior “gate”. Now the gate never lets me in on the first try… and I’ve been stuck in the turnstile before but it solves the door holding issue.

    11. Jake*

      A lot of those systems are used to track who was in the building at any given time. Holding the door open defeats the whole point.

      I worked for a client that used the swipe in to electronically register who was in the building, then if something happened, they could use security cameras at the exits to determine if a suspect had left.

      1. Clorinda*

        I once called security in my school because I saw a stranger with no ID badge (he was a new custodian and wasn’t wearing his lanyard). It was a little awkward but Safety First!

    12. snert*

      You’re not the person who needs convincing but I have a reason it’s necessary:
      My husband assaulted me one day before work. I filed a report, then went to work for the afternoon. That evening he came to my office and another employee who knew him opened the door and let him in. Thankfully everything turned out OK, but things could have gone very, very badly in that moment. Security protocols exist for a reason, people.

    13. Kate*

      At a brand new Court building the designers decided the front doors would automatically open 9am Monday to Friday. As you could imagine the local paper got sent pictures of the public sat in judges chairs and basically having a party on the first bank holiday.

  23. Falling Diphthong*

    If you are directed to make your email signature “woo maximizer and Libra” I can see going to the mat in resistance.

    1. Siege*

      I’m sorry, as a Libra, this needs more style and more adjectives both. This is both pedestrian and plebeian.

  24. calvin blick*

    At one of my jobs, I had a co-worker who thought he ran the place based on his tenure, even though it was an entry level job and we had the same job title. (His brief foray into management apparently ended when he commented that some spilled yogurt resembled a certain bodily excretion in front of a young female employee). There were many, many outdated and confusing processes at this company, which this guy loved because he was one of the few who had all this arcane knowledge. He loved very publicly asking new hires like me whether we had tried some obscure process we couldn’t possibly know.

    At one point, I noticed a shared folder was labeled incorrectly; it should have been, say, Form X474L but was labeled Form V394B. I pointed this out and he airily informed me there had to be a reason it was labeled that way that I just didn’t understand so no one should change it. (There wasn’t). I offered to change the folder name and he freaked out. First he said it was impossible for a low level employee like me to change the name, then that he was forbidding me to change it, and finally after I changed it he started loudly telling me I was “on the list” and telling everyone within earshot I wouldn’t last long at that company, due to my presence “on the list.” I think he told my boss, who of course couldn’t have cared less.

    I was about ten years younger than him but much, much better at our job, and would point out the many inefficiencies. (I think management liked me, and appreciated my effort, but I’m sure they also were a little amused at my enthusiasm since they probably knew there was no way anyone would actually change anything. This guy took offense to that and things eventually got to the point where our manager separated us after other workers started to complain about how he treated me. The last I saw for that dude was him furiously commenting on Facebook on another former co-workers status after she posted that she liked her new job a lot more than her old one.

      1. calvin blick*

        Lol…whenever I told my friends stories about this guy (there were a lot) I’d always refer to him as Dwight. Picture Dwight as about 6″ shorter and a suburban dad and you’re pretty close.

  25. bassclefchick*

    I once got called in to my manager’s office because of pizza. Yup. I dared to suggest we order from a different place. The chaos that caused was mind blowing. The person who usually placed the order freaked out because she “didn’t know how to order from the new place”. No one could make up their minds what they wanted. Everyone was upset because it wasn’t their usual place so I got reprimanded for causing disruption. In my defense, the pizza from their usual place tasted like ketchup flavored cardboard. Yeah, that place was toxic in more ways than one. I did not last long there.

    1. Ace in the Hole*

      Oh gosh, you reminded me of the Great Sandwich War of 2018.

      We used to have these special Saturday events every month or two. Events were staffed by employees from other departments who volunteered to take an overtime shift. They were long (12+ hour) physically grueling days doing skilled labor in remote locations with no services. Old Boss started a policy of providing free lunch to everyone working events… typically gatorade and deli sandwiches, cost about $5/person.

      New Boss takes over and flips out over the free lunches. Since we’re a government employer apparently it’s a huge no-no to pay for employee meals. I had to argue her into keeping the gatorade on safety grounds. She made ME go and tell everyone that there would be no more free sandwiches… two days before an event was scheduled. She didn’t even go explain it to them herself. People were furious. Event participation dropped by 50% to the point we could no longer staff them properly. And New Boss spent the next YEAR complaining about how my coworkers were “acting like babies over a freaking sandwich” without ever acknowledging the morale impact.

      1. calonkat*

        I’m in government. The rules about food basically boil down to: Government employees are supposed to be as miserable as possible. Food will only be provided on the government dime when actual starvation may occur. *Note: when legislators are involved, food will be provided for the legislators and government employees are allowed to consume the scraps from the table (after the legislator has finished and left the area).

        It’s a misuse of taxpayer funds to have a happy or attractive workplace as far as I can tell. Oddly, people are less and less attracted to government work as time goes on…

        So yeah, old boss was probably paying for that out of pocket.

        1. Ace in the Hole*

          Ah, no, old boss used petty cash to pay for it. Since total event costs were in the tens of thousands, no one really cared if he spent fifty bucks feeding us.

          The thing is we’re a JPA that doesn’t get tax funding (we have to charge for services), and our policy handbook doesn’t say anything against providing food for employees. New Boss had previous experience working for federal government and just decided the same rules must apply everywhere.

          1. Curious*

            Yeah, in the US federal government, “no free food for employees” is a big thing. There is a whole section of the GSA Red Book describing the very strict limitations, and violating them is, technically, a violation of a criminal statute.

      2. Emilia*

        This is an interesting story but I think a bit different from what Alison intended. This is a situation where something that was seen as minor by management caused an uproar because it carried more symbolic weight than the manager realized.
        An important counterpoint though, when thinking about WHY employees ‘over-react’ to policy changes that might seem minor. Like say, reserving the best parking spots for execs when it used to be allowed for all. It can have a massive morale impact that is very understandable.

      3. Just Your Everyday Crone*

        Any decent government employee knows how to find loopholes for stuff like that.

    2. quill*

      OH HOLY HECK I just remembered pizza day at Worst Job.

      So we had days every few months where we worked the most disgusting part of our lab work, on our feet, for up to 9 hours. The attempt by our boss to make this slightly less hellish was to order pizza and appetizers from a local place. Unfortunately, this caused:

      – Ruthless competition over who got to take 30 minutes to fully wash up, sit down, phone in the pizza order, and drive six blocks to pick it up.
      – Boss, who must not have had a sense of smell “Why does no one ever want meat lover’s bacon Pepperoni pizza?” (Worst part of job involved working with pig biosamples, which put most of us off pork for the duration of our jobs there.)
      – Endless rounds of “Let’s try someplace new” (translation: I personally get a longer break than you would in my position) from senior lab monkey when she secured the coveted position of pizza fetcher.
      – Accusations of “pizza cross contamination” because the leftovers were stored in the same box in the mini-fridge. (Nobody had any dietary issues to cause this, just some people didn’t have realistic expectations of how we could store leftover pizza.)

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        To be fair, a pizza with green peppers makes everything smell like green peppers, & should be stored separately.

        1. quill*

          It’s optimistic that you think we could smell anything after bleaching down the lab at the end of those days.

        2. Cat Tree*

          Alternatively, green peppers are so good that maybe everything should smell and taste like them. The best pizza is green pepper and onion.

    3. AnonInCanada*

      Good thing I kept hitting that F5 key. This is just…bizarre on so many levels.

    4. Ben Marcus Consulting*

      I imagine “didn’t know how to order from the new place” is really her saying ‘there’s no way I am putting the effort into helping people read a menu like it’s the first time they’ve had a meal away from home.’ …and I get that.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        Also, donuts. When I started a job, employees were complaining that they no longer got free donuts once a month.

        They’d stopped doing that 5 years before I was hired, and the poor staffer who had to make that announcement was still known as the “No More Donuts” lady.

    5. Shiba Dad*

      Reminds me of situation at WorstJob. A few people in the office ordered pizza (I wasn’t one of them). Owner of the company, a guy in his early 60s, takes a bite of pizza and FLIPS OUT because it was thin crust.

      Pizza: serious business.

    6. Pizza Girl*

      I used to be the pizza orderer at my current company (several years and roles ago). I had a strict policy to only order from a certain place because they allowed online ordering (much easier), we had an existing account, but most importantly, they were good about delivering directly to our door. When a random person wanted to try a new place, they somehow never offered to help with the logistics. So if the company was paying, we only went to that one pizza place. Not that I feel I need to defend myself, but I will say they also did have great food.

  26. Blue Vanity*

    The email signature one hits home. I have a coworker who negotiated a really high sounding title that they actually aren’t, so they do not use our email signature, most likely so they don’t use the title on internal emails. Last time they did, I got privately asked by a few other people “how is so and so a VP, they don’t have any employees or budget?”

    1. ferrina*

      I got the opposite of this- I was doing higher level work than my role, so my boss had me change my signature to the higher role and started introducing me by the higher role. She didn’t actually put me up for a promotion or anything, just called me by the higher role.

    2. Jake*

      Our firm has 4 partners. For years, several of my coworkers thought there were 6 because two people had VP titles that weren’t partners, but everybody assumed they were. Neither did anywhere near VP level work, so it was a point of tension in the office until word spread that one of them wasn’t a partner and never was while the other had sold his portion of the business years ago and retained the VP title as part of the buyout agreement.

      The best part is that none of the four partners hold a VP title…. They are all C executives or President. Why did people assume these VPs were partners in the first place?

  27. straws*

    Management: we need to develop better reporting on productivity and account activities to make better business decisions and sales forecasts.
    Me: Ok, we will need to start tracking data (any data!) outside of narrative recaps. Here is a proposal for a simple tracking system that does this.
    Management: that requires way too much work, we can’t have employees wasting time filling out all these fields! (note: I added 3 dropdown fields on the same page that the narratives were entered on).
    Me: I cannot create a psychic database that creates reports on data that is not recorded…

    1. anon e mouse*

      lol we had this problem with sales at a place I worked. Every other department understood the relationship between collecting data and being able to use data to improve their work, but sales just flat-out refused to track anything they didn’t need for their own day-to-day interactions with prospects.

      1. straws*

        Yup, sales and management that used to work in sales were the primary complainers about the proposed system. One of the biggest issues was sales forecasting and I don’t know how they thought this was going to happen with paragraphs of monologue notes!

        1. El l*

          Yeah, Data means categorization and numbers. Notes are not good enough. No getting around that!

    2. ferrina*

      Yes! I worked at a place where they wanted to track hours on certain projects, but didn’t want staff to “waste their time” writing down the hours they spent on projects. I was literally told “make a timecard that’s not a timecard.” After several attempts on my part (none of which would have taken more than 5 minutes a day to complete, we ended up being told to just estimate how long a project took and assume that was right.

    3. quill*

      Things like this lead to the time I took away the ability to spell from everyone in the shared excel database. Use the dropdown for the country. Don’t you know that New Zealand, new zealand, New zealand and new Zealand all sort into different categories?

      I won that one because my boss realized it cut out at least half an hour of work every time someone had to run the numbers.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Oh god, scrolling through those drop downs takes an eternity. (I’ve heard they rolled out auto fill recently, but I don’t have that update yet if so.) I can see why people were frustrated.

        1. quill*

          We had sixteen countries, total, so it wasn’t THAT bad… I was also at BEC levels over everyone trying to merge cells within a pivot table.

      2. Observer*

        Don’t you know that New Zealand, new zealand, New zealand and new Zealand all sort into different categories?

        How many decades ago were you doing this? It’s been ages since Excel differentiated by case, unless you set it that way.

        1. quill*

          I was doing this three years ago, but the excel file might have been old enough to vote.

    4. Anon for this*

      Ha!! Once worked for a project based company, but we couldn’t calculate project profitability since the CEO’s stance was there was no way we were going to make the Project Manager “waste time” doing an “admin” job like, gasp! track their time.
      I was like, sure dude, whatever you want. So we’re getting around to implementing a new system and we’re discussing what reporting he’d like to have. “Oh, project profitability, for sure” he says. I say, “gee, wish we could, but can’t since the PMs don’t track their time” “Oh yeah, that’s right” Lather, rinse, repeat.
      Things finally got normal when he finally said “Why the hell aren’t the PM’s tracking their time? They need to do this!”
      “An inspired idea, sir”

      1. Shiba Dad*

        I had kind of the opposite situation at OldJob. We were told once that the only overhead time that we should have is filling out our time sheets. This ignored that we had regular meetings every week.

    5. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      This sounds like my job. I do a lot of building databases so community organizations can more easily track grant deliverables. I provide training and technical support, am available ad hoc, and can totally adapt things to folks work needs and level of complexity, including coming up with a paper-based system if needed. Inevitably, come reporting time, I get panicked e-mails asking, “Do you have X number?”, “Do you know how many Y happened?”. When I ask, “Did you enter this in the tracking system in the reporting period?”, the response is generally “No” or “Not always” and I have to reply that I can’t help them since I have no way of knowing how often they did X or Y. Luckily, it tends to only happen one time with each org.

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        Oh god same. I would run a report and have a colleague review it for accuracy, then he’d turn around and ask me to check his work. Like, dude! I can’t read your memories of what you did!

    6. Barnaby*

      Oh my literal God, the coworkers who want a psychic database. They are everywhere! Thank you for this comment, it was highly cathartic to me

    7. DrRat*

      I am stealing the phrase “psychic database.” Why do so many jobs have the conflicting ideas of 1) we need actionable data and 2) we can’t possibly waste time and money collecting real data, why don’t we make up the data as we go?

  28. Madeleine Matilda*

    At my old job There was one person who worked on a different floor who would come to the break room on my floor every morning, use the toaster, and read his newspaper for a least 30 minutes. If anyone else came into the break room he wouldn’t respond to them if they said good morning or hello. One day we go in and the toaster is gone. Turns out, unbeknownst to anyone, the person from the other floor had actually purchased the toaster and put it on the counter in the break room for his convenience. He got annoyed with other people using it and too many people coming into the break room when he was there, took the toaster, and moved to a less busy break room in the building.

    1. This is She*

      Apart from the ignored greetings thing (rude!) I kinda relate to this guy….

  29. Ness*

    I participated in a focus group for a “space modernization” project my office was planning. Some of the planned changes were lowering cubicle wall heights from 6 feet to 4 feet, reducing storage in cubicles in favor of more central storage, and adding private “huddle rooms”. A lot of people were unhappy about these changes, but my focus group was super dramatic.

    A woman started crying talking about how she’d received a cancer diagnosis at work, and how unbearable it would have been if she’d had shorter cubicle walls (even though the planned “huddle rooms” seemed like the ideal space to go to process bad news).

    A man went on a lengthy rant about how he’d been there for 30 years and had accumulated several shelves full of books, and he needed to access EVERY SINGLE ONE at a moment’s notice, and it was unfair that he got the same amount of bookshelves as kids straight out of college.

    I ended up leaving the office before the space modernization was completed, but I went back for a meeting about a year later, and everyone seemed to agree that the changes were no big deal, maybe even positive.

      1. Meow*

        I agree. I’ve worked in bull-pins, four foot walls (very briefly luckily, as I already had my foot out the door there) and shared spaces with one other person, and it is all incredibly stressful for me. I feel like I have no privacy, and I get distracted every time a person next to me gets up. Maybe it’s unreasonable these days for me to demand my own private space… but I’m so much happier and less stressed that way.

      2. StressedButOkay*

        Yeeaaah, at one of my old places to work, they lowered the cubical walls and the last “wall” was glass, so that we could see into the cubical next to each other while sitting down. We complained, pointing out that we were handling confidential information, such as CC numbers, and such, and they finally raised them back up. Give people some sense of privacy in cubicles!

      3. Anon Supervisor*

        Yeah, I hate shortie cube walls. I would def be a drama queen about that.

    1. Printer*

      Honestly, I would be pretty upset about this. Cubicles already have so little privacy and a couple feet can make a big difference. Maybe not a hill I’d die on, but I’d definitely protest a bit.

    2. Lab Boss*

      I don’t know about crying, but I’d be pretty peeved about 4 foot cube walls too. At that point the company is just having an open office and trying to claim that they’re still giving people cubes.

      1. NeedRain47*

        My current job had an open office when I got here (there were like one foot walls, absolutely pointless) and when we moved to a new space we got four foot walls, which I had tried really hard to be the squeaky wheel about b/c the open office was killing me. Trust me, they’re not the same at all.

        1. Lab Boss*

          4 feet from the top of the desk, or from the ground? I read Ness’ comment as meaning they went from 6′ down to 4′ measured from the ground. My current cube is 3-4′ higher than my desk which is better than nothing- if it was 4′ from the ground it would be about 1′ above my desk. Everyone would be able to make eye contact above the walls, and anyone walking by would see everything in the cube.

    3. Lizard*

      The change from a 6 ft to 4 ft cubicle wall is significant… it’s essentially the difference from feeling like you still have some privacy to being completely open plan. I’m in agreement with some other commenters about this being a hill to die on.

    4. catwhisperer*

      Yeah, I don’t think the person crying regarding their cancer diagnosis was off base or dramatic. To use the huddle rooms they would likely have to walk past other people (if the huddle rooms were even available and not being used by someone else), which would be humiliating and let everyone know that something was wrong even if they preferred to keep it to themselves. I don’t know if you’ve ever cried in the middle of an open office, but I have and it makes everything you’re feeling 10x worse because you know people can see you. Public humiliation isn’t something you want to add on top of anyone’s existing pain.

      1. Galadriel's Garden*

        Yeah, as part of our office move from Traditional Suburban Office Complex to Modern Urban Office, it meant we lost our massive, tall fortress cubicles to an open office, short-walled noise farm. When the company doing the office design brought in example desks to the old office, the overall freak out was, frankly, pretty warranted given how much space and privacy people were losing. I do ultimately prefer *where* my office is located, but I desperately miss my fortress (but also am in touch enough with the world to understand that real estate space in big urban centers comes at a premium, so that’s not really feasible). Oh, and we also have “huddle” and “focus” rooms – all of which have clear glass walls. If I needed to go have a cry about something, I’d be doing so in a fishbowl where all my colleagues could see me (or have to go hide in the bathroom).

      2. sb51*

        Having, in fact, gotten a cancer diagnosis (I’m fine now) while at work, I am 100% with the person upset about it. Having to try to book a room to play phone tag with hospitals while keeping a poker face in meetings while having my own office with a door that shut (albeit a clear glass door/hall wall) was bad enough.

        Sure, if it had been that way from the start the person would just have to have dealt with it, but it’s a very big downgrade and they’re not wrong to point it out.

  30. Kaliden*

    I had a co-worker who would experience a slow but robust crescendo of hysteria every time our boss brought up re-organizing our department’s shared email folders. Then would follow mean-spirited, sneering meltdowns, if I’m honest. You can imagine how she would react to other insignificant but necessary changes.

    Let’s just say “had” is the operative here, as I have long gone, fortunately, and she was a major pat of my reasoning for moving on. Well, that and the boss refusing to deal with her at all, let alone head-on, but that’s a different conversation.

    1. NeedRain47*

      Oh, I forgot about the file name drama! I went all wacky and used folder called “Department Type of Project” instead of “Department Things to Upload”, as it contains all the materials about those projects, not just things to upload. Got some unreasonable reactions and now I have to use the “things to upload” folder.

  31. the cat's ass*

    We instituted a new esystem, the third in 5 years, and one person abruptly quit in protest; three more resigned, citing the new system as part of it, and went elsewhere. It’s actually not that bad once you get adequately trained on it, but most recently, there’s been pressure to get everyone to load said system onto their personal cell phones so in case there’s a power outage business won’t be disrupted. Oh, and there’s no reimbursement for work related personal cellphone use.

    1. Princess Deviant*

      I hope the employer changed their policies then after people quit – those employees were in the right!

    2. Bilateralrope*

      What permissions did the app want ?

      Because if the app wants anything that lets them monitor me while I’m off the clock or modify anything outside the confines of the app itself, it’s not going on my phone.

      I’ve got an old phone that doesn’t have enough space on its internal storage to fit all the updates required for apps that can not be uninstalled. So part of my protest will be switching back to that phone then getting IT to figure it out.

    3. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      One thing I love about being in government is that I have a separate work phone. I’m sure some people don’t mind having everything on one phone, but to me, it’s inhumane.

      1. the cat's ass*

        I’ve dealt with this my telling them that the app is so big it’s crashed my semi-antiquated phone, so it’s not happening. And told them they can buy me a more up to date phone that’ll be my work phone. Crickets.

        1. Ace in the Hole*

          Hah, yup, my solution has been to tell them I don’t have mobile data included on my phone plan so if they want me to do anything other than call or text they’ll need to buy me a new phone and upgraded plan.

      2. Bilateralrope*

        I work security. So I carry two phones while working, my personal phone and the site phone. Which has all the apps we use, including various trackers. Including a GPS tracker that our management didn’t know until my supervisor told them that it existed and had proof that one now former coworker was leaving site in the middle of his shift.

        It should be clear why I like being able to leave that phone at the site for the next shift when I go home.

      3. Dana Whittaker*

        I am an independent contractor with a nonprofit org, except I have to clock in and out on the same system as employees – and they want me to turn on the GPS tracking. On my personal cell phone.

        Hell no.

        So many things that do not seem appropriate as an IC, but have not had the time to sit down and research it.

    4. Ben Marcus Consulting*

      it’s extremely reasonable to frustrated to the point of exiting when you’ve had 3 major platform overhauls in just 5 years. I also would hate the idea of constant day-one training.

    5. Raida*

      I hope the business looks into the risk profile of doing that, there’s plenty of stories where swathes of staff have their phones wiped of all data when there’s an update on that one work app, where reports turn up showing people not at home during WfH time based on their GPS which wasn’t disclosed or approved at the time of installation, and all personal files & app usage recorded internally and then breached

      1. Danish*

        I was going to say this! In fact just this week we were advised to not put anything work-related on our phones, including a password manager, unless we were okay with the risk of having our phones wiped one day.

        That said, I’d also probably quit if a job tried to commandeer my personal phone so there wouldn’t be business interruptions during power outages. That’s such an overstep.

  32. plumerai*

    In accordance with the laws of my state, the company where I work changed its PTO policy from an “all in one” policy (no differentiation between vacation and sick leave) to a system where vacation time was considered separate from sick leave. Anticipating that people would see this as getting less vacation, the company crafted a policy that gave everyone MORE PTO overall, but technically fewer days you could take off just because. Leadership clearly explained that both caretaking responsibilities and mental health days fell under sick leave, and that this was something you could plan in advance—meaning you could recognize you were stressed, identify a day in advance that worked for you to take a day off, and have it count as sick leave, no questions asked. Same with taking a day off for a doctor’s appointment or even taking a family member to an appointment or whatever.

    I saw this as a win-win: Mental health acknowledged and embraced! And structured in a way that meant people could essentially treat it as a vacation day! Caretaking acknowledgment! More PTO overall!

    And yet: People RIOTED. “I’m being penalized for being healthy!” “I’ve earned VACATION, not SICKNESS!” Those who had been here long enough to earn more vacation time under our tenure policy were pissed that they weren’t getting more sick days. People without children or other caretaking responsibilities were resentful that “all this sick time” would go “wasted.”

    It was SO WEIRD. My company by and large is full of people who value mental health and get that caretaking is a real thing; we’re a woman-owned, female-dominant company. But for whatever reason, this pushed some serious buttons!

    Two years in and everyone loves it now, but WOW did it take some convincing.

    1. NeedRain47*

      People who’ve never been seriously or chronically ill sometimes can’t wrap their heads around the fact that if you’re home with a migraine or whatnot, it’s not a vacation.

      1. ElizabethJane*

        Similarly, maternity leave is not a vacation.

        “Oh I wish I could take a 6 week vacation”
        “Yeah Karen, I also wish I could take a 6 week vacation. Instead I got to sleep in 40 minute bursts for 6 weeks and, oh, by the way, I still can’t sit down without a donut cushion”

        1. Lana Kane*

          “Do you know what it’s like to slowly lose your mind to sustained sleep deprivation, Karen? (moves closer) Do you?”

          1. ElizabethJane*

            Amazing. That’s what I’m going to do.

            Or I would do if the baby making days weren’t over.

      2. ElizabethJane*

        It’s also less of a thing that I’ve seen now but I was always one of those people where if I got sick I could take a day to sleep and be back to almost 100% the next day. Or I could power through it and work at 50% for about a week.

        The number of people who were like “Why are you taking a sick day for just a cold? Work through it!” Yeah, well, ultimately my productivity will be better if I do it this way, can we stop with the toxic “work ethic”?

        This was definitely worse pre-Covid though.

    2. Hamster Manager*

      I dunno, I’ve never understood the point of delineating between vacation, personal and sick time. Like, you get advance notice with vacation and personal time, so won’t healthy people who don’t need the sick leave just end up lying and leaving you in the lurch in order to use their sick time, when you could have just kept it all as ‘whatever’ time and gotten a heads-up when they’d be out?

      1. Warrior Princess Xena*

        I think the idea is that sick time is supposed to be a separate thing. The company gives paid vacation and they also acknowledge that, hey, people aren’t machines and will sometimes get sick. Pooled systems can run into the problem where people will get sick, want to save their PTO for vacation, and come in sick. Non-pooled systems work on the assumption that people will not do what you’re describing and the fact that coworkers get really, really irritated with you when you leave them in the lurch for a day off.

      2. NeedRain47*

        If you have employees who lie and leave you in the lurch instead of requesting time off, that’s not a problem with your leave time system, that’s a problem with their ethics and maybe your staffing plan as well.

        1. Venus*


          Everyone should have the same amount of vacation leave, that they can take however they prefer.

          Sick leave is about luck, and is essentially an insurance plan. Should someone who has a chronic illness not get vacation? Is someone who is lucky one year but sick the next year not deserving of vacation that year?

          I’m not used to companies that combine both types of leave together, and am completely confused that this is an option in some places. I’m used to companies that provide enough vacation time that people don’t feel that they need to lie and take sick leave when they are healthy.

          1. trex*

            except that… even when it’s separate it’s still about luck. when i’ve had surgery, i’ve had to use my vacation, because i didn’t have enough sick leave. people with chronic illness will often save their vacation leave for when they’re ill.
            it’s not that you can’t use vacation for sick days, only the other way around.

      3. ijustworkhere*

        Unused vacation time has to be paid out if you leave, unused sick time doesn’t. That’s why so many places are moving away from PTO, because all PTO is considered vacation time and has to be paid out if you leave.

        1. DrRat*

          If you’re in the US, it depends on the state. I live in CA so if I quit, I get paid for all my PTO. My colleagues in PA only get paid their PTO if they get laid off or fired. Bad policy, as it encourages people to just “call in” for weeks before they quit…

      4. DuskPunkZebra*

        As a chronically ill person, I loved the one job I had with separate sick time. It was front-loaded at the beginning of the year where vacation was accrued, and we got pretty good vacation to the point that the 60 hours of sick time weren’t a temptation to carry over.

        When working with PTO, I’m terrified of getting sick early in the job or needing a lot of appointments and not having the time banked. And hesitant to take long breaks because it’s not unusual for me to get sick shortly after a trip – and I’m screwed if I used up my PTO.

      5. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        I consider it important to separate sick leave and vacation time because disabled people deserve vacation too. Within reason, sick leave shouldn’t be limited.

      6. Ace in the Hole*

        We have a system like this so that we can put a cap on vacation/holiday accrual without capping sick leave accrual. The cap for vacation/holiday is pretty generous – you can roll over up to 2 years, which works out to several months of time off – but we want people to actually take planned time off regularly instead of saving it forever.

        Sick time, on the other hand, we want people to use as needed… for some people that’s going to mean using it regularly in short spurts, but for others that could mean banking a lot of leave and then taking 6 months off at once for a major surgery, accident, or illness. I’m going through something like this right now: as a generally healthy young person I don’t need to take many sick days, so I had several years worth of sick leave accrual. That meant when my grandmother needed additional caregiving, I was able to take a month off to help her out and still have plenty of time left over in case something else happens this year.

      7. JustSomeone*

        When all time off is in a single bucket, that just ensures that you can’t take full advantage of your vacation time. Instead, you have to hoard it in case you happen to get sick. If you take a vacation and then get sick after that, it becomes retroactively “irresponsible” to have taken the trip. If you get sick earlier in the year and had a trip planned for after that, you’ll have to cancel because you already used up too many days with that decadent bronchitis.

        Tell me I have 10 days of vacation and I’ll know I can take 10 days off. Tell me I have 14 days of PTO, but an arbitrary/unknown number of those days are spoken for by something outside of my control, and I’m going to only feel comfortable taking a handful of days off.

      8. Generic Name*

        The problem I see with combined PTO is the people who come in to work sick ad contagious because they don’t want to eat into their time off for vacations.

      9. AntsOnMyTable*

        They said it was in accordance to state law. My state did the same thing, companies are now legally required to give sick leave, which is awesome. But as a result my company now has to give it to PRN staff so they took from the PTO for FT/OP staff and have the same sick leave system for everyone. At least for us they have made it clear we can use sick leave for whatever the heck we want. Our PTO rolls over until you reach a pretty generous cap but not our sick leave and you can only use 40 in a year. So near the end of the cycle you have a whole bunch of sick leave calls because people need to use it up.

    3. Nynaeve*

      I’ve never understood the need to differentiate, but having one or the other policy has never affected my life or plans one iota. Maybe I’ve just always had generous managers. I tend to use vacation time for everything until it runs out each year and then use the sick time last both because, at my org, sick time accrues and vacay is block granted at the beginning of each year. But also because the only difference between them in practice is that using vacation time without scheduling it in advance technically counts against you (we have an attendance policy), but sick time can be used without pre-scheduling and there is no downside. But, in reality, if I pre-schedule a day off for mental health or a long weekend away, I’m just as likely to use vacation time as sick time because my boss both has no way to know why I scheduled the day and has no need to know beyond “she’ll be OOO that day.”

      1. DuskPunkZebra*

        The fact that your sick time accrues and vacation is front loaded is bizarre to me. I had it the other way around when I worked a job that had them split, and that was a massive relief to me as someone who is generally unwell.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          My sick time accrues, but you get a bunch of it shortly after you start. And when you retire, whatever’s left helps pay health insurance. (It accrues really fast!)

    4. Irish girl*

      So we had the opposite situation, we have seperate banks sick and vacation as well as floating holidays and family support time. They took it away and moved to just PTO and the uproar was intense and still people talk about it as long time employees di lose out on like 2 weeks worth of time.

    5. Jake*

      I’ve worked in both systems, and I’ve found that I strongly prefer having an all in one bucket. It makes decisions on when to take off for what a lot easier.

      The only way dividing them up would be better is if I had for example 3 weeks of PTO converted to 3 weeks of vacation and X sick days.

      Unless I’m getting the same amount of “vacation” days as before, I’m going to be disappointed. If I was otherwise happy at the company it wouldn’t make me go look, but it could easily become a straw that broke the camels back type moment.

  33. Nep*

    When I started as a temp in my current job at a law office, the organizational system for electronic documents was a mess. We had codes for every matter (e.g. BB449290), which we were expected to learn in order to look up documents electronically. Furthermore, all the electronic documents were in the same folder. So you had to scroll through pages and years of similarly named documents to get to what you were currently working on and hope you never, ever mistyped anything.

    I suggested that we start using folders for each matter so it’d be easier to review and harder to lose documents. I had to explain my logic and how it would work multiple times. The boss took a week to think it over and consider the pros and cons. It was such a huge change in how things worked, he just really needed to try to wrap his head around it. He finally agreed to a test run with a single folder.

    Guys, this was less than five years ago.

    1. A Poster Has No Name*

      Law offices, in my experience, are notoriously slow to adapt to any technological change.

      1. Mid*

        Yes. Yes they are. I’m slowly trying to convince my firm that spending $1000/year on a software that would save us literally multiple hundreds of man hours and be more accurate than our current method is a good idea. Currently, the feedback is roughly “that’s a great price, I see the cost savings, it looks wonderful and way easier than our current system, and the reduction of errors will decrease our risk of malpractice, but…’s new and so its a no.”

    2. Mockingjay*

      I would commit crimes to have folders. About 6 years ago, the same time I started this job, a new SharePoint site was being implemented. I was partly brought in because I had experience designing and managing large SharePoint sites.

      As you know, Microsoft repackages Office every 3 years. They add a few new features but mostly redo the GUI so it appears “new” and run a sales blitz on these amazing ‘new’ capabilities. For one redo, the GUI offering was ‘metadata.’ You set up columns of keywords and tag each document as it’s uploaded, then create Views to sort the docs. The Powers That Be (who DON’T use SharePoint) thought metadata sorting is a TERRIFIC IDEA. (It probably would be, if you only have a few kinds of docs. We don’t.) Me, being new, asked: “what do the end users want? Everyone I’ve talked to wants a folder tree to organize, and drag and drop check-in.” Oops.

      I work on a large government program with 60+ individual engineering projects. SharePoint is a freakin’ mess. One senior program manager got into a shouting match over folders; he’s paying for this site and dammit it will be the way he wants; nope, have to use metadata. So he pulled his entire team off the site. I started adding sorting columns within two weeks for my project (one of the largest). (I originally wanted to do a document map in Visio and upload it to create a standard folder tree. The SharePoint developers were unaware you could do this, but anyway doesn’t matter; gotta use metadata.) It can take 5 minutes per document to upload because you have to fill out all the properties correctly or the document won’t show up in the proper view. Numerous complaints and requests for changes have all been ignored or quashed.

      Recently some of us pitched a configuration management system to replace SharePoint for the engineering docs and info. It was denied, because TPTB haven’t heard any complaints about SharePoint.

    3. Abogado Avocado*

      I joined a non-profit law firm that had not one, not two, but three large old fax machines (the kind that used thermal paper and had telephone receivers) parked on the floor outside various offices. When I asked the office manager why these fax machines were literally lying around, he admitted they no longer functioned, but said he hoped someone would be able to fix them. This, even though we had a working fax machine and at a point in technological progress that faxed filing was rapidly giving way to e-mailed filing. However, the office manager also kept a two-wheeled hand truck with a broken wheel in the supply closet, apparently in case we hired a lawyer who specialized in hand-truck wheel repair.

      A year passed while the fax machines remained on the office floor like gigantic plastic turds, but one day, the city announced that it was accepting electronics for recycling. So, on a Friday evening after hours, I used my own hand truck (because the office hand truck still had only one working wheel) to take the dead fax machines to my car and off to electronics recycling. The following Monday, the office manager was shocked to discover that the fax machines had disappeared. I immediately fessed up to taking them to recycling while he office manager wailed, “But someone could have fixed them!” Everyone else in our small office studiously avoided looking at him. Later that day, the executive director quietly thanked me for removing the old fax machines, adding, “Tripped over one of the damn things last week and nearly broke my neck.”

  34. Bell*

    Yesterday comments that compared expectation that employees stay awake to abuse very much fit the description of overdramatic response.

    1. Siege*

      I’ve always been fond of the HYSTERICAL OUTCRY in the comment section whenever someone suggests that you should occasionally acknowledge your coworkers exist through speaking to them.

  35. UKgreen*

    Oh, we had ACTUAL TANTRUMS and a petition (signed by about four people…) when we changed stationery suppliers and a particular brand of fine liner pen was no longer available.

    1. WellRed*

      Well to be fair I’m still irritated that our office mgr now orders cheap ass mechanical pencils with non erasing erasers. ; )

      1. quill*

        I insist on having a pencil (pen-only office for document control reasons) because I need it to use as a pointer when comparing screens. It does not have a tip.

      2. Just Your Everyday Crone*

        Oh, crappy erasers are the worst. I fully support your pique :)

    2. Lana Kane*

      I am a fine point devotee and all we had in the office were the blue Bics. I bought my own because I am a reasonable person. So reasonable that I put my name on every single one of those f&*&*rs!

      Now I work from home and my unlabeled pen stash brings me so much joy.

    3. anonymous73*

      I’m very particular about office supplies so I buy my own. Back in the dinosaur I had to buy stuff more often, but now it’s just the occasional spiral notebook and Bic pens.

    4. fullaboti*

      At old job I heard tell of a day of great reckoning. A new admin decided to let everyone choose what pens to order so staff had their preference. There was a wide variety of pens, but soon people started squabbling when one staff person “took” another staff person’s pen. (They were for communal use.) That plus the cost of all these different pens caused the admin to tell everyone to buy their own special pens, and the stocked pens would be whatever was available at Costco. I don’t think there was a petition, but there were a lot of individual staff taking up the admin’s time with pen complaints.

    5. Sara without an H*

      I started buying my own pens years ago, when I worked for a Large State University System. (Their rules made the Federal Government look like a model of lucidity and nimble organization.) The regulation pens worked sporadically, if at all, so I took to buying my own. The expense was well worth it compared to the aggravation.

    6. Free Meerkats*

      No way would I even ask for work to buy me Lamy fountain pens. They but me the Uniball pens I use for things that need ballpoint, I’m happy with that.

  36. Wwinger*

    Not gonna lie, I am sympathetic to the people who just want to wear pajamas.

    My workplace is currently having a mini meltdown over an office move. Not the move itself, but the way the *initial* process is *beginning* to unfold. My office is a very how-are-you-feeling-about-this place which definitely has value but can be taken to unhelpful places. I know an office move ultimately is actually an important thing but the ways people are finding to be offended and complain about feeling “not consulted” is all feeling a bit silly.

    1. ijustworkhere*

      We have people running the gamut from engineers to janitors in our organization who are insulted about not being consulted about what we post on social media, or not being able to interview the receptionist candidates for the sales office, or not getting a say about what kind of carpet we put in the foyer. I just wish they would focus on the backlog of work they have piling up…

  37. Lex*

    I always assume stuff like this is A. A response to other underlying issues of greater seriousness that people feel like they’ll be at risk for raising, so they get pissed about the small stuff that seems less risky or B. They’re unhappy in general and the change is just too much.

    1. Meow*

      Absolutely. Our management is continuously baffled while people here are throwing fits over “little” things, but the reason is because they aren’t taking the employee’s wants and needs into account, and each little thing ends up being the last straw for someone.

    2. Toolate*

      Check-plus. I remember having feelings of lack of control bubbling up from a couple of simple office moves because I (correctly) felt it was actually reflective of my position being changed/marginalized in my organization. I wish I didn’t have those feelings or that they weren’t triggered by something as stupid as an office move but the underlying organizational/political problem wound up being true in those two cases.

    3. DrRat*

      Some people are also just really, really resistant to change. My old apartment manager comes to mind. She complained once about her bank…it wasn’t in walking distance, she didn’t have reliable transportation, they charged fees for breathing in the lobby, etc. Try my bank, I said. A short block away, super nice people, very few fees. Apartment manager was HORRIFIED. She had ALWAYS banked at Bad Bank! Her late mother had banked at Bad Bank! Her dearly departed grandmother had banked at Bad Bank! But…you hate Bad Bank, right? Just change! Her eyes glazed over completely as she could 100% not fathom the concept of ceasing to do business with a company that she loathed.

      She also wore her hair the exact way she had worn it since the 80’s and the exact style of makeup she had worn for 40 years.

      I gave her a ride one time when her car was in the shop and at one point she gasped and her whole body went rigid. Because I took a slightly different route than the one she always took. A right and then a left instead of a left and then a right.

  38. Dixie*

    I worked for a community mental health center with extremely limited resources. Among other things, this meant paper charts. Administration finally made the decision to get electronic medical records – hurray! My clinic had a lot of young employees who were already very fluent in all things technology, so we were very excited. This would greatly improve/shorten charting and tracking patients’ progress. But there was one satellite clinic that was already notorious for being, well, off. Old school, resistant to change, at times downright inappropriate in staff meetings and trainings (one guy asked in an ethics training about how he could conduct therapy with his wife, like as his client). They were utterly *panicked* over this switch, as most of them had been working at this clinic for 20+ years and were very set in their ways.
    The process of getting the electronic medical records in place took a long time, as they were designing it to fit our needs/system. Unfortunately, because of the very loud voices of the wacky satellite clinic the final product that was ultimately revealed was. . . . essentially just Word documents you filled in on screen. Completely missed the point of electronic medical records, with almost none of the features that were supposed to help us.
    The epilogue is that those folks were still crazy resistant to it. One of my co-workers was deemed as “super-user” and put in charge of helping people who were having issues. Oh my goodness, the calls he used to get.

    1. Suprisingly ADHD*

      I’ve been the youngest employee, and therefore the designated “computer expert” at multiple offices. I can imagine the kinds of calls your coworker received!

  39. NeedRain47*

    When told we were rearranging the department and might have to move desks… there was crying, wailing, and gnashing of teeth from a couple of parties. Literal boo-hooing, I mean. And she won, she didn’t have to move.

    I was upset b/c I went from a cube by a window, to a cube as far away from a window as possible. But I didn’t see a point in making a gigantic stink about it.

  40. CM*

    In my office it’s all about the beverage choices. Just say the words “grape juice” and stand back. People here tend to be very adaptable when it comes to changes in their workflows and physical environment, but if you change the beverage availability, prepare for battle.

    1. Gnome*

      My company has several kitchens on each floor and each has a different selection of soft drinks. I’m told this was based on a survey about who liked to drink what when the company was much younger. Apparently, after some time, people thought it could use updating as people were going to different floors to get, say a Diet Pipsi because there was only Dr. Pibb by them. The organization hires people with a specialty in optimizing stuff like this. They did a survey, ran numbers, and proposed a new distribution of beverages based on current tastes. Office Services was having none of it. The only concession that was made was some new beverags were added to the mix. As the company grew and expanded it’s footprint in the building, nobody really knew how new kitchens were allocated their selection, but apparently it was a fierce enough thing that there are still raw feelings about it over a decade later. I know this happened well before I got to the company, and I got the sorry from upper management…. Who were the ones who did the survey year ago.

  41. Not a mouse*

    And if every available laser printer died at the exact same instant, it would probably take longer to locate and enable/download/install the drivers for the dot matrix printer (because if your OS is reasonably modern, it probably doesn’t have drivers for an ancient model dot matrix) than it would to go out and buy a brand new laser printer that would be plug and play.

  42. Jam Today*

    ” It actually had to be addressed that workers MUST STOP taking entire boxes home with them.”

    I’ve encountered similar in multiple workplaces over the years, and it always strikes me as something so profoundly antisocial that its hard to believe people who do things like that are employable. Like, what a major synaptic misfire to be so wholly self-involved that the fundamentals of human interaction in a group is beyond you.

    1. Dixie*

      We used to very occasionally have pharmacuetical reps come with free lunch for everyone. Because many were busy seeing patients, some people missed the actual lunch, but leftovers were suppsoed to be put in the break room. One person would pack up all the food, I’m talking like multiple catering trays of pasta and plates of cookies, and take it to her office before some people could get to it. And if you were lucky enough to get the lunch, God forbid you wanted a cookie or brownie later in the day.

      1. Jam Today*

        HR had to intervene in one case, one person just refused to acknowledge that there were social norms that they needed to adhere to as part of expected behavior in an office setting.

    2. Water Everywhere*

      “Like, what a major synaptic misfire to be so wholly self-involved that the fundamentals of human interaction in a group is beyond you.”

      * gestures pandemic-ward * this misfire seems to be the norm rather than the exception these days, sadly.

  43. Cookies for Breakfast*

    I worked at a place that had a free drinks fridge. It was mostly cans of Diet Coke – that was already the situation when I joined.

    I later found out that, originally, the fridge was stocked with full-sugar Coke. Someone, at some point, made the decision to switch to Diet. Most people rolled with it, but there must have been a small group that just would not let it go, because comments about the change made it as far as the “advice for management” section of some Glassdoor reviews, including at least one written long after the fact.

    Years later, there was a motion to completely stop offering free cans of Coke, because people kept leaving empties (or even half-drank ones) on desks when they left, instead of disposing of them in the many bins around the office. It was floated several times, but nothing ever happened, which I suspect must have been due to widespread uproar (I remember many colleagues opening not one, not two, but several cans per day).

    1. ferrina*

      Okay, I would be annoyed by this. I hate the flavor and feel of diet sodas, and I have colleagues who feel the same about non-diet. Why couldn’t they just offer both?

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Me too! For some of us, fake sugar actually tastes bitter. And yes, in a blind taste test, I can tell if it’s diet or not.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          Same! I once accidentally bought pickles made with Splenda & had to throw them away.

          1. JESUS IS THE MAN!*

            I wish I could go back in time to those blissful days before I read this comment and learned there were such things as pickles made with Splenda in the world.

        1. Cookies For Breakfast*

          Bingo! This is the correct answer. I suspect someone close to higher-ups suggested Diet Coke at some point, and…that was it. One success story for the “you spoke, we listened” section of the employee newsletter!

      2. Jake*

        Exactly. I’m trying to cut back on caffeine, so I requested caffeine free Pepsi. Two days later there were 48 cans of caffeine free Pepsi in the office.

        Not tough.

    2. Meep*

      You reminded me of how I tried to advocate that my coworkers be responsible for their own trash. I, an engineer and a woman, was apparently responsible for taking out the trash – which was fine when it was just me and it was all my trash. When I finally got three shiny new (male) coworkers, I suggested that they be responsible for their own trash. Cue outrage from my (female) manager about how it was a waste of their time…

      I didn’t argue. I just let them deal with it. The trash in their office piled about 3 feet high before she finally made them take out the trash.

      1. Cookies For Breakfast*

        Ha, guess what! The person that started the drive to get rid of cans was a woman, and the worst offenders (who never really stopped offending, they just took short breaks after each new memo about trash) were high-earning men. The same people who insisted the office had to be in perfect shape when their clients came to visit. Since we had professional cleaners coming in after hours, I can only imagine they must have been in the throes of powerful collective delusion about the existence of the Abandoned Cans Fairy.

    3. DuskPunkZebra*

      I definitely would have objected to diet being the only option, but because diet gives me instant migraines. If you’re going to offer free drinks, then be inclusive of at least whether people can handle the sweeteners or not for various reasons, or just don’t do it.

      1. Cookies For Breakfast*

        You have a point, which may well have been behind some of the complaints. We’ll never know. For what it’s worth, I don’t know of anyone who actually stopped taking the free drinks when the Diet Coke appeared.

        What still puzzles me, and is still the first thing I think of when I recall how the offering was never really inclusive, is that the Coke was the only drink that was always free. That, and the alcohol the office manager sometimes bought on Fridays. When they added bottles of juice and water, employees had to pay for those, even at the height of the company’s (fairly tone-deaf) campaigns for a healthy lifestyle.

      2. Sorrischian*

        I’m your perfect opposite – unless I’m actively hypoglycemic, non-diet sodas give me headaches (long story, very annoying). Either do half and half, or poll the office and match your supply to those proportions, but you really have to have both.

  44. Heather*

    Hahah, I shared my ones about my boss that caused a small fire when the 10 year old copier that was not longer fully working was replaced.

    The other one, from this same office, was when I tried to get rid of the time clock. Now, we did not clock in. All staff were salaried. Yet, we had a time in clock for clock-in punch cards from like, the late 70s. This thing sat on a cabinet, plugged in, and would ding randomly. It had not been used since the 80s.

    Yet, when I unplugged it and put it in a bin to be donated out (to a museum, mind you, since it was so old and ‘vintage’), my boss flipped a biscuit. I had go back to our library donor and get the thing back, plug it back in, and leave it on the cabinet to collect dust because “we might need it”. Never touched the thing in the seven years I worked there, and it was thrown out the instant that boss was let go.

    1. Second Breakfast*

      Wait was this the boss that was fired for embezzlement? I love that story.

  45. Zombeyonce*

    We redesigned our intranet many years back and people went MAD. The old site was built on the most un-user-friendly platform I’ve ever seen, and the homepage was this godawful list of random links (not kept current, and missing a lot of info so people couldn’t even do a search on the page to find what they needed). The navigation was nonsensical and outdated, so most of the links didn’t even work. The search function for the site didn’t even work anymore. There was no grouping of similar pages into sections; it was basically just a bunch of pages with completely outdated information in places that you couldn’t find unless someone sent you the link they had bookmarked.

    We built a new intranet using a more modern platform. The search worked, the homepage had more general info but still had some icons that linked to the most-used pages, there were separate “sites” for different departments, and it no longer looked like something a teenager built in 1996. Hundreds of employees (out of several thousand) were furious at losing the old site. These were people that had been employed for decades and were angry we would deign to update to something more usable when they relied on a bunch of bookmarks in their browser (because even they knew the old site was unable to be navigated).

    This was 10 years ago and people STILL complain. Just wait until we migrate the intranet into a new platform next year…

    1. DuskPunkZebra*

      Well, when you build a workflow around a bad design, it can be grating to have to change it. Ask long-time Photoshop users!

      I will never not headdesk over objections to actual improvements, though.

      1. Been There*

        oh man, the lack of shift to aspect ratio scale in photoshop gets me EVERY TIME. I wanna know who decided that was a good idea and smack them.

  46. Joyce+To+the+World*

    I was the person who threw the hissy fit in this example. They were redoing the cubicles and moving every one around. We were instructed to pack our desk items up in plastic totes and label them with our name and information. An outside company was hired to do the reset and moves. I had a side room where I had several PC’s where I ran macros through out the day. The company decided to make my side room their headquarters. That was problematic in itself because PHI would be flashing up on the PC monitors as the macros ran. However, I heard the supervisor tell her people to go through everyone’s totes and confiscate certain items. Such as extension cords and power strips. I had a power strip in my tote with my name written on it that I only pulled out for potlucks. When they came and started going through my totes, the lady grabbed my power strip. I ripped it out of her hands and told her that she was stealing and I was going to report her. I threw a major hissy fit. My Manager had to come out of her cube and intervene, but I did win that one. That was a major invasion of privacy and theft.

    1. ecnaseener*

      I don’t get how it was theft – was that your personal power strip or a company-owned one?

      1. Joyce+To+the+World*

        Personal. That is why I wrote my name on it. They were confiscating things that were obviously purchased personally.

        1. Nynaeve*

          Okay, but it clearly wasn’t obvious and probably didn’t warrant a “hissy fit” over a single power strip. I agree with the sentiment, but having been involved in the planning and execution of a move like this before, a LOT of the intended outcome of the moves had to do with streamlining the power situation to reduce cords stretched across the floor, and outlets getting overloaded, etc. Management probably told them to collect all the power cords and strips so that they could make sure they weren’t being used to overload outlets, create tripping or fire hazards, etc. Completely understandable, imo, as in addition, every breakroom I’ve ever held a putlock in had a designated supply of power strips for the purpose, so there would be literally no need for anyone to have a personal one beyond trying to plug in disallowed items like space heaters and curling irons at their desks.

          1. Jackalope*

            Interesting. I’ve never worked for an office that had special power strips for potlucks; you just had to make do with the outlets you could find.

        2. NeedRain47*

          You never know, I had a coworker (same one I posted about earlier in this thread who cried when told she might have to change desks) who put her name on EVERYTHING at her desk, including everything that belonged to our employer. It was weird.

            1. Jackalope*

              This is obviously a bit different, but I have my name on my work-issued scissors. I am as far as I know the only employee in my office who is left-handed and I’m afraid someone will walk off with my beautiful lefty scissors and it will take ages to get new ones. (I did at least explain to my managers why I did this.)

              1. Jackalope*

                (I will add, for the non-lefties reading, that there are many right-handed people in the world who tend to forget that left-handed people exist. I’ve seen them do things like, say, pick up a pair of left-handed scissors, look at them in bewilderment for awhile, and then say, “What’s wrong with these scissors?” And sometimes want to get rid of the lefty item. So I feel that my fear of someone tossing my scissors is valid.)

  47. Four cats*

    At a previous company, we had a kitchen lunch area that included actual plates and silverware in the cabinets. Typically folks would reheat leftovers from home and eat off these plates or make a salad etc. Some fraction of staff couldn’t wash the dishes or put them in the provided dishwasher after eating and these dirty dishes piled up in the sink. Our admin staff was actually washing these at the end of day and just perpetuating this cycle of bad behavior by some employees. As the site lead, I finally announced that to solve this we were just going to offer paper plates and the ceramic plates were being stored away. To be clear we were not banning people from using their own plates but just providing free compostable plates. OMG- there was so much blow back and if I recall someone threatened to quit over our betrayal of our corporate values. Eventually I had to relent and we had the janitorial staff clean up and load the dishwasher. This was in the context of an R&D company that generated very large volumes of laboratory waste every day, so I was never clear on what was the objection.

    1. WantonSeedStitch*

      My office also does actual plates and silverware in the kitchen. Folks do generally tend to wash their own plates. HOWEVER. They put those plates and silverware into the drying rack to dry. And then other people put more wet dishes on top of them, so they get wet again. This leads, at the end of the day, to a precarious pile of dishes that are all still wet. As someone who used to get into the office very early (back when I was going into the office) I would put them all away every morning because it got my goat so much. I often wondered what happened when I was out sick.

    2. Ben Marcus Consulting*

      I have a policy for my groups that assigns a KP day for each member of staff. Every one takes a turn making sure the dishes run through the washer, the counters are cleaned up, food is stored away, etc.

      People lost their minds over this. Every one thought they were too senior (men and women) to be expected to help keep the office clean. Many people were adamant that this is why we having a cleaning service, but didn’t understand this would mean a filthy kitchen for the last 5 hours of the day as cleaning crew didn’t come in until the evening.

      I held fast with the policy. It took nearly 3 months, but now everyone cleans up after themselves so that the KP person typically need only turn on the machine and stock supplies. It’s no longer a problem.

  48. Completely Catty*

    When our new unit head started, he transformed our unit’s town hall style meetings where we all discussed issues as peers (which the manager was welcome to attend, but was not supposed to run) into HIS top-down meeting where he informed us of his objectives and achievements.

    Since he said many times he had an open door policy and welcomed feedback, someone told him that the group would prefer our meetings to go back to the way they were–he had many other opportunities to transmit his information, so our meetings were now largely a waste of everyone’s time. At the next meeting of 50+ people, he stormed in to the front of the room, and said in the most pissy tone, ‘well I had an agenda for today but apparently you don’t want to hear about MY agenda, so I’m going to just go over one thing and then GO BACK TO MY OFFICE.” He repeated this threat to leave 4 times in 20 minutes. At one point, someone asked him about an upcoming initiative, and his response was ‘well, that was item 2 on my agenda, but you don’t want to hear from me. So should I talk about it, or go back to my office?’

    1. Junior Assistant Peon*

      It’s been my experience that meetings called “town halls” really mean “shut up and listen” most of the time!

  49. Chilipepper Attitude*

    At my old job, the u shaped desk/counter where we served the public was vary large. Enough for 5 people to sit comfortably though we never had more than 2 there. These were shared desk spaces, not anyone’s personal desk. It was filled with forms we would give out to the public, info sheets, office supplies, and junk.

    I had a lot of down time so I asked if I could clean up the desks and drawers and consolidate things. I got an enthusiastic Yes! from my coworkers.

    I put all the like forms and handouts together in one centrally located spot. They had been scattered all around the u shaped desk/counter – one form in a drawer, another on an open shelf on the other side, another in a box on a shelf, another in a plexi display on the floor under our feet.

    When the staff came out and saw, 3 of them lost their minds. They could not possibly find anything in the open faced plexi display I put them all in, facing out, so they were visible and in one place.

    I had to carefully squirrel every form and handout back into its original spot. Until we got a new boss who took one look and said not, put it all in one spot.

    At my new job, I was brought on the bring some clarity and organization to one of our main services. Nope, no one wants me to actually do that.

  50. Shoney Honey*

    At a former workplace, it was decided that all the desk chairs would be replaced. The existing chairs came in two styles – a standard, green upholstered office desk chair, and then for certain offices/people, an “executive” desk chair (these were nicer, with wooden handles and leather upholstery and such).

    It is worth noting that the design scheme of the building was rigorously adhered to in all things, so everything matched. All the wood furniture was the same wood tone. All the upholstered furniture had to match. You weren’t allowed to bring anything in without approval (and you rarely got approval).

    So the new chairs are ordered, and we are notified that they also have two options – they were both the same style, but one was simply wider than the other.

    It caused an uproar the likes of which you would not believe. The few people with executive desk chairs were wondering why they were not being given nicer chairs again and complained about that. Others just didn’t want to give up their existing chair (even though the chairs were over 10 years old at that point). Passionate speeches were given in the breakroom about why people should be able to keep their old chairs. Meetings would be derailed with chair talk. It consumed people.

    The day before the switch happened people were hiding chairs wherever they could. I went into the restroom and there was a chair sitting on top of a toilet in a stall. I had a vault in my office, and multiple people stopped by and asked if they could stash chairs in it.

    The day the switch actually happened must have been the least productive day in the company history. People were going from suite-to-suite looking at other chairs (again, even though they were all the same color/style), people were gathering in the hallway to complain. Every time I passed an office window there was someone bouncing up and down in their chair and complaining. People were filing complaints with HR, a couple of people went home early in protest, some people that had stashed their old chairs pulled them back out and were sitting in them again, which made other people upset so there was a lot of “Steve is sitting in an old chair! I just want my old chair back!” so then they would go and take Steve’s old chair and then Steve would be upset about that. I ended up leaving early because I was just so tired of hearing about it.

    1. Nea*

      As someone with a back-related invisible disability who uses her personal chair for work, I have to admit – I’m on the side of the people wanting their old chairs. It’s not about what it looks like. It’s about being able to comfortably sit in it long-term.

      (Also, because I was warned that I could bring in my chair but nobody could guarantee it wouldn’t be stolen, I got the most eye-searing color it came in at the time. You can try to steal my hot pink chair, but everyone is going to know!)

      1. Chilipepper Attitude*

        Yeah, but go ahead and order new chairs but let people choose what works for their bodies. I am short and make sure to get foot rests and things that work for me. Others have other issues that make one chair better than another. A 10-year-old chair can probably be upgraded to something more comfortable!

        1. Meow*

          I think the problem is offices don’t want to special order chairs for everyone, but 2 choices really isn’t enough. My office did the same with a standard and wide chair, but for me, the standard chair was too big. First they “allowed” me to keep my ancient old chair until it broke down, and then they finally ordered one in my size. But I had to be super quiet about it, because they were afraid everyone would start asking for special chairs.

      2. DuskPunkZebra*

        I bought myself a kneeling chair because I wear corsets as back braces and I can’t really sit in most office chairs in them. Plus, I’m too short for the way ergo chairs are designed, they hit all the wrong places.

        Thankfully, most of my coworkers just thought it was funny because I’d scoot around on it – we had hard floors and I bought new wheels that used rollerblade wheels and it moved so easily! But I bought my own rather than request one so I could return it if I decided I didn’t like it and keep it when I left if I did.

        WFH, I’m bad about wearing my corsets, so I go back and forth between my kneeling chair and a small desk chair that fits me.

        1. DuskPunkZebra*

          Although I did a weirder one at my first job that I’m honestly surprised no one fussed at me about: I bought a giant bean bag.

          I had an adjustable desk that would go low enough to use it, it supported my joints in all the weird ways I wanted to sit, and I was in a mostly-private office with one other person, so it wasn’t really disruptive. But it got comments every time a new person came in!

          Now I have a giant green beanbag in my living room.

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      My old job replaced all the chairs, like for like, when they rebranded. So imagine the old branding was blue and the new branding is green. They replaced all the blue chairs with green chairs and put some decals on glass walls*.

      To avoid high disposal costs, they offered all the blue chairs to employees. And that’s why my father-in-law sits on a very expensive blue office chair to use his home computer.

      (* I wandered past while the last of the decals was being affixed, and said, “Hey, I thought it was spelled CompanyName”. Silence. Nobody else had noticed. They all had to be carefully removed, and there was yelling while they worked out who had approved the proofs and when the error had arisen.)

    3. anonymous73*

      At Old Job, the managers in the offices had much better ergonomic chairs. At one point my department was moved into a new building around the corner from the original. Mass layoffs and changes happened and when a manager left, I took their chair from the office. Then we were scheduled to move back to the original building. We put our stuff in boxes and labeled everything including our chairs. But we were told that manager chairs would not be moved if we were using them. So I put my chair into my car and took it the original office myself. I’m sorry but I’m not going to sacrifice my back because they give the lowly peons the crappy chairs.

  51. Kyle*

    At my current office we used to have birthday cake once a month for everyone who had a birthday in that month. There were constant complaints about the type of cake, nobody was ever happy and finally the manager in charge of it had enough and cancelled it. Now there is nonstop whining that we don’t get cake anymore.

  52. DrBarnOwl*

    Welp recently after my manager canceled a third meeting in a row regarding a project we needed to complete together and I layed out my concerns (especially since this project was ~3 weeks overdue, because she kept cancelling) she responded with a nasty text saying I “needed to remember who was the manager here” and that she “would not work under these conditions”. Things are super fun and interesting at work rn as you can imagine.