what’s the pettiest thing you’ve done at work (or seen done)?

One of the most amusing things about work is how just plain petty it can make people. Here are some excellent stories of pettiness that have been shared here over the years:

“At one of my early jobs one of my coworkers was a, shall we say, interesting character. She was called out about something in a meeting and was fuming at the rest of us. The next morning she came in, went into the rest room, and then went into her boss’ office to quit on the spot. She left without a word to anyone else. Later it was discovered that she had removed every roll of toilet tissue from the rest room.”

“I’m a graphic designer for a company that has a lot of athlete ambassadors, and thus a lot of my coworkers fancy themselves elite athletes as well (they’re not). For a New Year’s post on social media, we had a ‘meet the team’ post where everyone on the team had a picture and a bio of them using their favorite athletic product we manufacture. I have one coworker who particularly thinks he’s god’s gift to the world and has a huge ego about his supposed athletic ability, and it drives me INSANE. So as the graphic designer, I built out all of the posts before posting on the brand’s social media. This coworker put one of his personal records in his bio, so I decided to take his bloated ego down a couple pegs and added a zero to the end of his record time. After it was posted, he noticed immediately and had a total temper tantrum, crying about how people are now going to think he’s super slow! It was so *chef’s kiss* satisfying.”

“When I worked as a cashier in Target, if a customer was especially horrible to me (seriously though, why are some people so mean to cashiers) I would start to scan the items on the conveyor belt slower…and slower…..a n d s l o w e r.. .. .. . .a n d s l o w e r . . . . until I could see them seething at my incredibly frustrating pace. I would take their money and punch in the amount slowly and bag their items at the same pace too. And to make sure they knew I was being a d*ck specifically to THEM, I would then make sure they saw me scan and bag the next customer’s items very fast as they collected their bagged items. I’m lucky I never received a complaint.”

“A coworker, Jane, was very protective of her lunch hour (and the culture of our office was you eat lunch when possible and sometimes that might be late or early to accommodate other meetings, so her attitude was out of sync with the office). We had a grandboss who liked to schedule meetings right at lunchtime, and when Jane asked for them to be moved for her lunch, grandboss said just bring lunch in with you if needed. So Jane brought in a loaf of bread, peanut butter and jelly jars, and a tray of cheeses and proceeded to make everyone in the meeting a sandwich and cheese plate during the meeting. Neither she nor the grandboss blinked at this, and for a while we all had yummy veggie trays, sandwiches, and once a full salmon (like the entire grilled fish cut into servings conference table side) during lunchtime meetings. It was the craziest showdown ever- and both people were pretty miserable so it was great to watch.”

We need more of these stories. Let’s hear about the pettiest thing you’ve ever done at work, or seen done. Share in the comments!

{ 1,104 comments… read them below }

  1. Viki*

    Colleague who I hated because he kept talking over me, stealing my ideas, undermining me, very particular about mouses for “his” desk (hot desk situation).

    I swapped the mouse to a different mouse every few weeks when he was away from his desk. He never knew.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      While I like the cut of your jib, does it count if he never notices? Or does it merely confirm that he is a buffoon, which you already knew?

      1. Double A*

        I don’t think pettiness needs to have an impact; the thing with a petty move is that it should bring the pettiness-instigator some satisfaction.

        OP is doing something petty to prove that Coworker is a total blowhard. They have proof because he can’t actually tell it’s not his precious mouse. However, OP does not need any outside acknowledgment; the fact that they know is reward enough.

    2. Past Lurker*

      I assume this means he never knew it was you, as opposed to he never noticed the change? Lol

  2. TheNatFantastic*

    We had a tutor who would have described himself as a ‘good old boy’. He used to describe ME as ‘the girl on reception’. I am in my 30s and the company’s Operations Manager.

    Every time he called me ‘the girl on reception’ I would find a reason to send him an email and increase my job title in my email signature by 1pt size each time.

    It got pretty big before he was unceremoniously fired.

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        Guess: expecting the girl on reception and the “snot nosed kid” they just hired to do all the work.

        1. Mrs. Hawiggins*

          I’m trying to breathe from laughing. Seriously this mindset is out there somewhere.

      2. TheNatFantastic*

        He told us there was a hold up on his criminal record check because he had lived in a different country before starting with us (very plausible, in fact, I would expect there to be a delay).

        He accidentally CCd the CEO in an email where he was threatening to sue the government body who conducts the criminal record checks because they had included the fact that he was under investigation for assault of a child (specifically using corporal punishment on a student) on the check.

        Just to be clear, he was not teaching children with us but yeah… that was a big oof moment.

    1. Corporate Lawyer*

      Good thing I work from home, where my loud cackle disturbed no one but the cat. This is brilliant.

    2. nobadcats*

      Excellent. Well done! I’m gonna put this in my petty arsenal for possible future use (no need right now, my peeps at my job are wonderful).

    3. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

      Uggghhh when someone refers to grown women in a company as “the girls” or “girl” I really enjoy finding ways to refer to them as “girl” or “boy” after that. If I’m the “girl on reception”, you will now be “the boy that’s bringing my lunch/coffee” (when they’re just handing it to me or picking it up from the restaurant, etc)

    4. Zeus*

      Not quite as awesome, but I often have people mix up two letters in my name in emails, despite the correct name being in my email address, and usually the signature in the email they’re responding to! Say my name is Kristen, but I get called Kirsten a lot.

      For a time, when that happened I would edit the first three letters in my signature. I’d change the font, make it a different colour, or sometimes just do capital letters (KRIsten). Not super professional, but it made me happy (and occasionally I got an apology back if someone noticed that they’d gotten my name wrong).

      1. Kim*

        I do this too on occasion, but I also deliberately and very obviously misspell THEIR name.
        Is is professional? No. But it gives me satisfaction.

      2. MAC*

        OMG this is brilliant. I have a 2-name first name, and I capitalize both parts, i.e. MaryJane. I constantly get Maryjane (or worse Mary, even though there’s no space AND my signature includes my middle initial to emphasize that Jane is NOT my middle name). I wonder if I have the guts to start bolding the “J” or emphasizing Jane in red or something. Super satisfying to think about, anyway!

        1. Seaside Gal*

          Same in reverse. Using the Maryjane example, mine is Maryjane and I get Mary (which I DESPISE) or Mary Jane or MaryJane. It’s in my dang signature. Get it right. I haven’t corrected anyone through email yet, but man I may start.

    5. Madame Arcati*

      You are officially my guru. Just a few minutes ago I had a request (yet again!) from a team wanting one of my staff to do something not because it’s our job, or the first team can’t do the thing and pretty please can we help, but simply because they are busy. That is not our job or really our problem.
      I offered a polite compromise and enlarged by job title in my sig by one point.

  3. Kimmy Schmidt*

    I’m in a public facing “helping profession”. Before I left my last job, I changed every instance I could find of my contact info to my slacker coworker’s email and told people how happy they’d be to help after I left.

  4. Hills to Die on*

    Not me, but a coworker, T, who was just the biggest Drama Starter. She thought everyone was out to get her, so when her contract was cut short, she was sure we were all involved. Earlier, she had bought and passed around a birthday card for another coworker, M. She told her boss, J, that she wanted to take M’s birthday card with her. J, being who he is, didn’t think it was worth the argument so he told T that she could take M’s birthday card off of her desk. M was upset because it was the first time she had ever gotten anything from her coworkers and J just let T steal it. To his credit, J felt bad and got M another birthday card with a Starbucks card in it and had everyone sign it. J continues to be a bozo in general and nobody misses T.

      1. Hills to Die on*

        J needs a wtf button – he causes more problems than he solves as a general rule. We just try to keep him from finding anything out about our projects. He’s moving to a different part of the very large company so I am taking that as a win.

    1. I edit everything*

      Wait. There was a birthday card for M, presented and opened, and T just…took it? WHY?!

      1. Hills to Die on*

        Petty AF. She thought M was responsible for her contract ending, which wasn’t true.

  5. Ann Onymous*

    This is a story about two people at my workplace – let’s call them Bob and Tom. Bob had a box of crackers at his desk and offered some to Tom. Bob intended this as a one-time invitation, but Tom interpreted it as ongoing permission to eat from the box of crackers and did so a few days later. Most normal people would have a brief conversation, clear up the misunderstanding, and move on. But if Bob were normal people, I wouldn’t be writing this post. Bob called the ombudsman to report that his crackers had been stolen. And because the ombudsman is required to investigate all reports they receive, other people on Bob and Tom’s team got interviewed about the “theft” and whether or not they’d ever had anything stolen. Fortunately for Tom, the ombudsman was competent enough to figure out what had really happened so the only consequence for Tom was that he learned to stay far far away from Bob’s food.

    1. And I'm the alchemist of the hinterlands*

      I would have loved to be an ombudsman for this and just take super, super seriously.

    2. CarrieOakie*

      At old job, I used to have a candy jar on my desk, which was in my office, not an outside area, you had to walk through my door to come in. I bought candy that I liked, so it was a good name brand mix. Usually a mix of Twix, Take 5, Starburst, Swedish Fish & LifeSavers. Some weeks it was chewy candy, some weeks chocolate. People liked my offerings and I enjoyed the occasional visit. If a particular type or flavor ran out, people would ask if I had more and I’d say no, I don’t refill until the jar was empty – this is a free offering, not a restaurant where you can order what you like! Plus I did have work to do, if I stopped to get your specific favorite I’d be working just half the time.

      One week, I went on vacation to visit family. I kept my candy hidden in a desk drawer – like a file cabinet drawer in my desk, behind file folders. Same cabinet I’d put my purse in each day. It didn’t have a lock because the previous desk owner lost the key. While I was gone, the candy jar ran out. Someone decided to refill the jar, which fine enough, but they also then took an entire bag of Take 5’s! They clearly went through the other bags and removed every flavor they liked. I told my boss, because I pay for those things myself on my little salary. His solution was to reimburse me for the lost candy and ask me if I could get a candy that he also liked. He didn’t see someone going through my desk when I was out of office as an issue. The tip of the issues at that place, but I had decided I was leaving already at that point.

  6. Elle*

    I worked for a small non profit that centered around mental health support. Our ED was nuts but a very good sales person. She managed to talk our state’s pediatric professional association into partnering with us on a pediatric mental health conference. She promised connections to celebrities and corporate sponsors. It was all BS. She never had that stuff and after leading the association on for many months it was too late for them to pull out. They had secured a location and began promoting it. Not only were the sponsors and celebs not coming through my ED was difficult at every turn. She would take too long to approve conference materials and have a lot of feedback. I was mortified. Day of the conference and we have a number of attendees. The Professional association put out the worst conference lunch I have ever seen. Imagine picking out the menu with a blindfold. It was like, sandwiches, mac and cheese and pudding. Something weird like that. It was noticed by people at the conference. The association would not return our calls after that day.

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      I am cackling at that menu. Oh my. I know that association is still telling stories about it. “Yeah, they had mini hot dogs wrapped in sushi rice, cheap-ass rolls, and twizzlers, it was wild”

      1. Elle*

        I’m at a different job now but still go to the meetings and conferences the association puts on. They have not recognized me but I’m not sure if they don’t remember or are too embarrassed. I’m mortified every time I see the poor guy tasked with working with my boss.

      2. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*

        I think you could get a half sandwich, mac’n’cheese, and pudding at Panera.

        1. Nobby Nobbs*

          Yeah, but there you’re intentionally eschewing a vegetable if you choose those options, not being denied one. Major psychological difference.

          1. Green great dragon*

            Conversely, our company tried serving only fruit for dessert at our annual whole-company whole-day meeting. Everyone was pretty grown up about it, but we had evaluation forms and we used them.

            Last year we had a wide range of chocolate- and cream-based desserts, 2 or 3 per person supplied, and a small, mostly neglected fruit-bowl.

            1. Elitist Semicolon*

              Oh man, I volunteered to be a liaison to new employees in my old job and they held a noon meeting with promise of lunch. The meeting ran over, my assigned newbies didn’t even show up, and their “lunch” was a buffet fruit tray and cookies. On a day when I was booked almost solid and didn’t have time to go get an actual lunch. I also used the evaluation form.

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        Sounds like they watched A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and learned the wrong lesson, doesn’t it?

      4. Amber*

        Yay! Cheap-ass rolls! I can’t go through the bakery section of the store without giggling anymore!

    2. The Prettiest Curse*

      Sabotage by lunch! All event organisers who over-promise and way under-deliver deserve this fate, two thumbs up from me.

        1. Elle*

          To be fair the presentations were fantastic. Other then the weird lunch people had no idea what a mess behind the scenes it was.

      1. Loreli*

        We had a receptionist who ordered lunch for all-company meetings and never got it right. There were many vegetarians in the office, but receptionist would order pizza – 10 pies with multiple meats and ONE of just cheese.
        Another time she ordered subs from her favorite sub shop (“they have really good rolls!” she announced). There was roast beef with lettuce tomato & mayonnaise, turkey with lettuce tomato & mayonnaise. Guess the vegetarian option?……Lettuce (one tiny limp leaf) tomato (2 slices so thin you could read a newspaper through them) and mayonnaise.

        What made it worse was she’d announce a few days before the meeting that lunch was provided, so people who usually brought their lunch didn’t.

        For the company holiday party (catered, at a function hall), every single food item contained meat, including the green beans, which had bacon crumbled on top.

        Many of our coworkers were Indian and did not eat meat. Spouses were invited to this party, so many attendees got nothing to eat except dinner rolls. No amount of coaching could convince the receptionist to order properly.

        She would also refuse to order any actual dairy for coffee – only non-dairy because “milk is bad for you”.

        1. Daisy-dog*

          Ugh, been there. Went to the company holiday party where I was promised a vegetarian meal. I got to eat mashed potatoes and lettuce w/ Italian dressing.

          But I also had the flipside. A receptionist that I worked with once made me a rice dish for lunch because she’d ordered BBQ and they didn’t have any good veggie sides.

          1. Mrs. Hawiggins*

            I went to a networking thing one time that was being held at a local steakhouse type restaurant – not a chain but a famous one here in the city. Because it was later in the evening and I didn’t want a Flintstones sized steak sitting on me at 8:00, I ordered a vegetarian dish as did the person who eats only that way. We got macaroni noodles with partially melted cheese which looked like the chef hated making it. And hated us. I should have risked not eating and looking dorky. The organizer was mortified and muttered something about, “something for everyone next time.”

            1. Mairsy Doates*

              Just want to go OT and say I love your username. I can hear Mr. Tudball calling her on the intercom.

        2. Green great dragon*

          OK, I don’t know what was going on with the receptionist, but why didn’t the manager make it a firm instruction, not coaching, after the second time? And check the order in time to change it?

        3. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

          Long before I became a vegetarian, I learned to *always* bring a meal, even if the meal was being provided that day. I learned the hard way, being a non-driver in a location that had no restaurants to walk to and no public transportation, that sometimes lunch falls through. This failed me once though when I didn’t eat the pizza provided because it was meat with a meat topping slathered in meat and my boss flipped when I wouldn’t eat it after she took the meat off. I ended up eating literal peanuts because if I had brought out my back up lunch, she would have freaked out even worse. (She was a lovely woman, but the vegetarian thing threw her for a loop for a little while.)

        4. Wombats and Tequila*

          > Many of our coworkers were Indian

          A possible cause of the receptionists bafflement. Whatever she liked, believed, or did was the best way, and people who felt otherwise simply had yet to be open themselves to her enlightened path of perfect correctness.

    3. Lana Kane*

      Maybe I’m just not fully caffeinated yet, but did the state professional association create the menu as payback? Or were they appalled by the menu that OP’s non profit came up with.

      1. Elle*

        The association created the menu. They usually put on a good conference with a tasty lunch so this was glaring.

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      Honestly, I would eat that. But yeah, that sounds like “we’re finishing off whatever’s in the fridge/pantry before a big shopping run,” not a catered lunch!

      1. ThatDaneGirl*

        We call that Desperadoes Dinner! As in, any of the many teens in my house can (must?) eat the contents of the refrigerator on Friday nights. To be fair, the do a GREAT job. But in a professional setting, I don’t think I’d chase the cat around the kitchen.

    5. Cannibal Queen*

      ‘I worked at a small non profit that centred around mental health support. Our ED was nuts.’
      I can’t decide if that’s ironic or strangely appropriate.

      1. DJ Abbott*

        Long ago, and far away in my college, it was noticed that psychology students were the most screwed up.
        Trying to fix themselves.

  7. Coffee and Plants*

    I had a coworker who was having a one-sided feud with me because I got promoted to her same position and I think she took it as a threat (even though our work didn’t overlap).

    We had someone bring in daffodils to sell for Daffodil Day and this coworker overheard me say I wanted to buy a few to take home and proceeded to buy every single daffodil before I could get any. She hasn’t been with the company for years, but my coworkers and I still bring this up on occasion. So bizarre, but amusing.

    1. Rose*

      This is actually such a great fundraising opportunity for anyone selling stuff. Got a kid in girl scouts?! Just have Coffee and Plants mention they want some thin mints in front of Crazy Pants and your kid becomes the troop’s top seller!

      1. I Wish My Job Was Tables*

        Spiteful advertising! Probably more effective than people think.

        Signed, a person who once bought a book solely because a person I didn’t like hated the book (book ended up being fantastic).

          1. Kittenrigly73*

            Bwahahahahahahaha! I’ve had many . . . interesting conversations with my public library friends (i’m a hospital librarian) about Chuck Tingle. Haven’t had the opportunity to read him, though.

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      I had never heard of Daffodil Day before. Sounds like her pettiness went to a good cause.

      1. Mrs. Hawiggins*

        IIRC it’s for cancer awareness, and I remember getting a gorgeous bunch when our company participated. I would have been tempted to buy them all. Not petty, just pretty.

    3. Festively Dressed Earl*

      I wonder how many other good causes your coworker could be irritated into supporting? If she takes enough innocent things personally, you could raise funds to fight homelessness, fund libraries, create green spaces, and get people to stop texting while driving.

  8. BaristaFriend*

    Not me, but a friend of mine was finishing his science-field PhD while working as a barista. He was really good at fast math and would make a point to give jerks the most coins possible for change when checking them out (primarily nickels).

    1. FormerPizzaBoy*

      When I was working pizza delivery, drivers would carry bags of pennies to count out change for those who insisted (instead of tipping).

    2. MissBaudelaire*

      I hope he did it a lot to the people who would wait until you had given the total and started to take their money and then went “OH WAIT!!! Lemme give you a hand fullllll of coins because I hate coins!”

    1. Allornone*

      THIS. Back when I was still in retail, I had a thousand ways to passive-aggressively mess with problem customers in ways that still left them with nothing to actually complain to management or corporate about. Granted, it never solved anything, but I felt better.

        1. dawbs*

          I still ring people up (I work in a nonprofit w/ a gift shop that’s essentially a lovely toy store) as a small sliver of my job.

          But I can be petty. Also note, I’m good at sales. I don’t get commission, I generally don’t try to upsell, but if your kid walks up to me, I can chat for a minute, figure out what they’re interest is and have a demo toy out and them begging for it within 5 minutes–this is a power I use for good (I ask interests, direct a question about budget to the adults, basically if your kid says they like trains and have $7, I can find them what they need).

          But if say, hypothetically, someone was rude as heck (racism/prejudice) to my coworker? well, hypothetically if that rude person’s daughter is eyeballing cars, I can point her toward the matchbox cars (we have some cool ones! affordable. I know how to find the ones that you can attach lego figurines to, where the batmobiles are, where the barbie ones are, etc)
          Orrrrrr I hypothetically pointed the daughter toward the (overpriced) cars that should be illegal to sell. The ones that I won’t even buy my nieces on the other side of the country because they are a sensory nightmare. They are loud (REALLY LOUD music, annoying tunes), covered with flashing lights, and they self-propel, so they IMMEDIATELY drive themselves under a piece of furniture, and get stuck. And no, they do NOT time off, you have to crawl under the desk and fish them out to turn them off. And the batteries last a decently long time.
          They could either deal with tears or buy the car…oh, and I’m allowed to give spare batteries for them; I made sure the daughter saw and heard when I put the extra set of batteries “for later, in case the batteries wear out” into the bag. And handed the bag directly to the kid once it was paid for.

          1. Remote Reliable Remindmenottopissyouoff*

            As a former cashier, you’re my hero. As a parent, I’m terrified.

      1. nobadcats*

        I had a young woman, not an elderly person, when I worked at the Fancy Grocery, who, after I had rung up her entire order and bagged it, said, “Do you need some change?” and proceeded to pull out her pocketbook. I said, “Well, no, I don’t actually–” She opened her pocketbook, which I could see had more than enough folding money for her order (all of about $8), and pulled out five ziploc baggies of nickels, dimes, and pennies (no quarters, of course), and dumped them all on my counter.

        I shot an apology glance at the two regular customers behind her, and proceeded to veeeeeeeeeerrrrrry slowly count her change, which was mixed and scattered everywhere. She started fuming and huffing about my stupidity and why wasn’t I going faster.

        After she finally left, still taking all the umbrage and not leaving any for other people, the regular behind her in line (who’d been laughing up his sleeve the entire time) said, “So, need any nickels?”

        It was petty me and petty regular. I have no regrets.

        1. jane's nemesis*

          “taking all the umbrage and not leaving any for other people” is a great turn of phrase! Love it

          1. nobadcats*

            Thank you kindly! I know it’s not one of my own, but I can’t recall where I got it from, maybe … yes, I think it might from the Animaniacs. “Oh, sure, take all the umbrage and don’t leave any for anyone else.”

            It’s come in handy over the years.

            1. nobadcats*

              Ah, googled it. Two places: Bloom County and Animaniacs.

              I have a head full of weird phrases that have probably displaced many of the actually useful facts in my head.

                1. nobadcats*

                  I hope you know that Berkeley Breathed authorized a Christmas video, “A Wish for Wings that Work,” featuring Opus and Bill the Cat. It’s only a half hour and available on youtube. When I saw it in the video/DVD shop, I said to my boyfriend at the time, “I don’t care if it takes all the money in my pocket and all the money in yours, this DVD is coming home with me tonight.”

                2. Marni*

                  You’re in luck! Berke Breathed has been posting new strips on his Facebook page sporadically for the last 5 years or so. I think they’ve been collected into a new book as well.

            2. Texan In Exile*

              There is a street on Madeline Island (in Lake Superior) called “Umbrage.”

              When we go there in the summer, of course we take it.

        2. Turtlewings*

          “taking all the umbrage and not leaving any for other people” I love that XD

      2. There You Are*

        Same. I worked the customer service counter for a big-box home repair supply company. People who rolled up with huge attitudes suddenly caused me to be hard of hearing and a bit daft.

        The best was a woman who came in with a full entourage of family members and helpers (?). She was dressed to the nines (in a place where you might accidentally get dirt or grease on your clothes if you brushed up against some of merchandise) and demanded that she didn’t want to pay tax, so I had to process her order tax-free.

        What she was actually asking for was to use the store credit card and get her purchases that day on one of our 12-months-no-interest promos, something I did every day as a normal part of my job.

        But I played dumb and kept repeating that I’d be happy to not charge her any sales tax, she just needed to provide me the wholesaler ID and tax number for her company. Which, of course, she didn’t have.

        She ramped herself up into a froth and demanded to speak to a manager.

        When he showed up and told me that she’d meant “INTEREST free” not “tax free” I feigned embarrassment. “Ohhhh! I had no idea! She kept saying ‘tax’.”

        And I got the side-eye from my manager because he knew that I’d known all along what she’d meant.

        But wasting a half hour of her time was sooooo worth it.

    2. Sparkles McFadden*

      Some cashiers at my (extremely local) grocery store will put up their “Lane Closed” sign for some particularly rude regulars. After the rude person has moved along to another line, the sign will come down. Once, I was behind someone when the sign went up, and the cashier waved to me and said “Don’t worry. I’ll check YOU out. You’re a civilized person.”

    3. Rose*

      I was behind the jerk in this situation once and although it slowed down my day, it was fantastic and hilarious to watch, esp when the cashier checked me out at the speed of light to make updates or it.

    4. cv*

      When I worked as a cashier, the meaner someone got, the stupider I got. Nastiness rendered me incapable of doing anything except the very basics of my job, and quoting company policy word for word.

      1. nobadcats*

        As to the above comment I made, counting out pennies, nickels, and dimes, I also just got stupider. “5, 10, 15, 25… oh, sorry, miscounted, please forgive me, I have to start again.” So inappropriately satisfying, especially when I got to the pennies.

      2. Texan In Exile*

        It shocks me that more people do not understand and execute the concept of malicious compliance.

      3. TaraGreen89*

        I did a similar thing when I was working registration desks at conferences/trade shows (I did a lot of that pre-pandemic for extra cash). There is a certain type of customer that just gets off on making service workers unhappy – and feels cheated when you (seemingly) don’t have the intellectual capacity to understand their nasty little digs. I basically just pretended I was mildly concussed, cranked my vocal fry up to Barbie on crack levels and politely checked them in. They either got intensely frustrated or deeply ashamed of their behavior. And either way I was denying them what they wanted – a reaction.

    5. FormerPizzaBoy*

      This for sure. I’m always super friendly to anyone helping me (or that I meet really, I’m a kind person), so it so bothers me when people are rude. I’ve definitely been the person behind the ass. I love it when the cashier will apologize to me with the tone of “I’m sorry about this person”. I always reply with “It’s okay. I have all the time in the world.” So be slow all you want, get your revenge!

      I’ve also been the slow on purpose cashier. “Sorry, computer is going super slow” or being sure to be extra detailed in explaining the seating process or the popcorn/drink sizes/upsells when I worked at movie theaters and they are picking their seats.

      1. MissBaudelaire*

        One Christmas season, I was at our local discount store named after military personnel and currency. It was chronically understaffed. I don’t know why. Anyway, Christmas is busy, and it was a super busy day.

        A rather bitter elderly woman was berating the cashier for ‘making people wait’. No matter how the cashier apologized, this woman was not satisfied.

        As soon as I stepped up, I said in a loud clear voice; “Don’t worry! You’re doing wonderful!”

      2. LifeBeforeCorona*

        I work on weekends and often I’m the only person on site. Sometimes I get callers who wants information that they can easily find on our website. Whenever that happens I take my time “finding” the information even though I know it verbatim. If they’re rude, I put them on hold while I search for their answer.

  9. Former Greenhouse Goblin*

    At my last job, I had this coworker who was sweet to all the customers but was a nightmare to her coworkers. She bought this figurine of an African American man playing violin and told my boss it was “his guardian angel” and would bring it out and show customers and talk about “how funny this little black man looked”. It was awkward. So on my last day I took that figure and threw it in the dumpster.

    I should note that we sold garden decor and we would hang flags from the ceiling. I took the Welcome to the Nuthouse flag and hung it right in the front door. It’s the first thing you see when you walk into the shop.

    That place was toxic and I’m glad I’m not part of the main crew. I still maintain the social media pages but don’t interact with my former coworkers.

  10. ChemistbyDay*

    I had a coworker that noticed a misspelling in a customer’s signature. Rather than telling them about it (or mentioning it in an email), in every email conversation he would scroll down to this signature and highlight the one wrong letter. Every.single.time.

      1. run mad; don't faint*

        I was thinking his name was Psmith. “…the p is silent, as in phthisis, psychic, and ptarmigan.”

        1. Unkempt Flatware*

          Once I panicked on the phone with a customer service agent when they asked for the spelling of my last name (I was waiting forever humming to the muzak and then suddenly she popped in and loudly asked to spell my last name). I said, “P as in pterodactyl”. She just sighed.

          1. Emma*

            My brain has a nasty habit where, if I’m trying to give a NATO for a letter that is also the first letter of a swearword, I will just blank on the actual NATO, or any appropriate alternatives. I’ll just sit there, going “F for…





            FREDDY!”

            1. londonedit*

              One company I worked for had a postcode that ended ‘PB’ (here in the UK our postcodes are formatted like W1 1AA). If we gave the address out on the phone we’d always say ‘P for Paddington, B for Bear’.

              1. radiant*

                Our house number used to be 1d, so I would often say “as in, one direction”, also please use a lowercase d because number 10 are sick to death of getting our deliveries

            2. ADD*

              There’s a funny Dara O’Briain bit where he talks about having to spell out a ticket code for a customer service rep over the phone. He completely blanks on the usual letter associations and ends up saying “G-String” for “G” and “Brazilian” for “B.” As he imagines the poor CSR slamming the “record for training purposes” button on the other side of the line, he cringes as he realizes the next letter is “V.”

        2. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

          One of my favorite Wodehouse characters!!! : ) *Leave It to Psmith* is one of the funniest books I’ve read.

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      I don’t know why but this hit my funny bone just right and I’m in tears. That’s hysterical.

    2. CAM Wreck*

      No lie, I get annoyed by public misspellings. I would have definitely communicated the error, but I could also see myself getting frustrated enough to highlight the stupid letter.

    3. ZugTheMegasaurus*

      I had my phone number wrong in my signature for well over a year before anyone pointed it out to me. I think most people just emailed me instead when they couldn’t get through, but still I was surprised that no one mentioned getting the “this number is not in service” message rather than my voicemail in all that time!

  11. Spurs*

    I once worked at a healthcare office that was always busy and paid poorly, so our staff was a bag of mixed nuts. One guy brought in a new pen that clicked, and he started clicking it all. the. time. His coworker (Tiffany) asked him nicely to stop clicking and not only did he refuse, he started clicking it in her face when she around. It became a HUGE thing, with his minions clicking their pens at her every chance they got. She put in her two weeks (don’t blame her a bit!), and about an hour after she left on her last day there was an uproar at the front of the clinic. She had removed the springs from every last click-y pen, and the poor dears had to use basic Bic ballpoints until they went to the store the next day. Well played, Tiffany, well played.

    1. knitcrazybooknut*

      This is AMAZING. And there would have been blood if Guy and Minions pulled that with me.

      1. Spurs*

        Okay, so this is second hand info from like a decade ago, but here’s what I remember.

        At this clinic, the workers all had lab coats, and that’s where they kept their pens. According to Tiffany’s work bestie, over her last two weeks Tiffany would slowly swap out the click-y pens from the lab coat pockets, but left the main ones that people use (most people use the same pen, even if they have a pocketful). Then, in her last hour on her last day, work bestie distracted the offenders with a big spill so Tiffany could take out the last few springs. We had generic company pens that broke pretty often, so it wasn’t weird for one or two of them to act up, so no one was really concerned about them not clicking. But she took the springs from EVERY pen-even the ones in storage. No idea how she pulled that part off, but spite is an incredible motivator! I’m friends with her sister on social media, and by all accounts Tiffany is currently thriving. The original offender was fired a few months later for waving a used needle in a coworker’s face….I could go on for days with stories from that place!!

        1. Mister_L*

          “Waving a used needle in a coworker’s face”. W The actual F? I hope the guy had every possible certification for the job voided.

    2. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

      I hope wherever Tiffany is now, she’s very, very happy. Absolute icon.

    3. goddessoftransitory*

      Tiffany, you are my soul mate.

      Because pulling that kind of aggressive shit is a good way to lose a hand, but she played the long game.

    4. Donkey Hotey*

      Oooh! Well played, Tiffany.
      I used to interact with a person at church who did that with his Zippo lighter. Clink-clink-clink. One of the last times I saw him was at a campout. We were talking in a group and the clink-clink-clink kept going. I turned to him and said, “That’s a really cool lighter. Can I see it?” They handed it over. I held it in my hand for the remainder of the conversation and returned it to him with a “thanks!” before I left.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        Yes! I was on an 18-hour bus ride through Paraguay. The kid in the seat in front of me was playing with a very noisy toy that seemed to bother nobody else but me. At least, nobody else but me was exhibiting any annoyance at the prospect of 18 hours of noisy toy gun with flashing lights.

        I asked the kid to give me the toy, which he did. (Why are children so trusting?)

        And I kept it.

        After a few minutes, he realized something was wrong and started yelling.

        His mom turned around and looked at me.

        I shrugged.

        The kid yelled some more.

        I finally gave the toy to the mom, but I said, “This toy is noisy and it’s disturbing the other passengers. We have 18 hours ahead of us. Please do not give it to your child until the trip is over.” She was so shocked that she complied.

  12. KatEnigma*

    I don’t think Jane was petty at all. Those “cultures” where you’re supposed to catch lunch when and where you can end up with a lot of people involuntarily not getting a lunch! She was trying to show her coworkers to set boundaries, and OP criticized her for it!

    1. PNWorker*

      Totally agree! I think Jane was right and people shouldn’t just accept that lunch is a casualty of having too many meetings.

    2. Meep*

      +100 I put an hour block for my lunch break just to veg out because people kept interrupting me with complex engineering questions while I ate so I was working 9-10 hours a day with no break. It is common sense.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I had to do this at OldExjob — people would come in and ask me stuff, and I was off the clock. I wanted to write at lunch also so I would tell them (nicely) to email me and I’d deal with it when I got back. The pissy attitude I got! But I stuck to my boundary and they eventually stopped.

    3. Julia*

      The escalating food offerings are what it beautiful pettiness. Amazing for the coworkers at the meetings though. This is the kind of office battles I love.

    4. zolk*

      every time someone books me for a 12-1 meeting I schedule myself for lunch 1-2. A meeting is not lunch!

    5. lunch is lunch*

      I think Jane was being super reasonable. Legally speaking, lunch breaks are supposed to be uninterrupted sets of time, depending on the area. Where I am, if lunch is interrupted by work the lunch break timer starts back over. So you start your 30 min lunch, 10 min in your boss comes and asks you something… the 30 min starts again.

  13. Anon Shredding*

    A coworker told me they had a terrible, micromanaging boss for a while. It was getting to the point where they were thinking of quitting, which would have really hurt their career. Instead, they started randomly shredding their boss’s print jobs. The boss’s office was a distance away from the printer, and they would stop to pick up multiple jobs throughout the day. My coworker would pick one of the print jobs at random and shred it. It kept the boss on edge, and the IT folks were called to service as well, obviously finding nothing. Sweet revenge!

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        I mean, yes? All of these stories are childish and unprofessional, it’s what makes them so entertaining!

      2. Good Enough For Government Work*

        I’m glad you’ve managed to grasp the point of the exercise!

      3. Ally McBeal*

        You seem to be lost – this isn’t the “most professional thing I’ve ever done or seen at work” thread.

      4. Petty_Boop*

        In other words: petty, which I believe is the topic of this entire discussion. Also, hilarious. It’s not like the man couldn’t reprint the missing page so in the end a “petty” annoyance with no real damage done. Loosen up a little.

      5. Susie*

        I agree. And pissing off a bad boss like that is just going to make life worse for everyone who works under her, it’s not a thing to feel good about.

    1. irritable vowel*

      Reminds me of the place I used to work where some wag put a label reading “Suggestion Box” on the shredder.

      1. AnotherLadyGrey*

        At a store where I worked, somebody labeled the garbage can “Customer Complaints.” The patrons were not amused but we all found it hilarious.

        1. Cathie from Canada*

          At the college office where I worked, one of the student advisors had a ceramic jar titled “Ashes of Problem Students” prominently displayed on his desk. Funny, yes, but I thought it came across as a bit hostile, too.
          Another advisor had a funny sign that said “Advice: Free. Correct Advice: $5” — until an Asian student sat down one day and started pulling out her wallet after she read it. The advisor took the sign down immediately.

      2. nobadcats*

        Ooooh, this reminds me of another old boss when I worked at Famous Aerospace place. The HVAC was notoriously fickle, and despite locks being put on every thermostat there were still complaints about it being too hot/cold. Finally, my Boss created a graphical interface in, I think, C++ (don’t quote me on that, I’m truly not sure how he did it) where it looked like an analog thermostat, sent it out through a company-wide email, saying, “Now everyone has the ability to adjust the temperature in their area with this downloadable desktop app. Just rotate the dial to your preferred temperature.” It did absolutely nothing at all except allow you to rotate a fake thermostat dial.

        The complaints stopped completely within less than a week.

        1. allathian*

          Yup, it’s the placebo effect again. In some offices they have thermostats that aren’t connected to anything, people can adjust them all they want but nothing happens. But people like to feel that they have some control over their environment, that’s why this works.

  14. desk platypus*

    When I worked at a movie theater it was common practice to give awful popcorn servings to rude customers. We became experts at looking like we were scooping popcorn as normal but would really scrape down at the bottom to get a scoopful of the crumbs. To make it mix better we would do a layer of normal popcorn, big chunk of crumbs, then normal popcorn, then give it a little shake to mix it all. It would end up being about a third of crumbs and 100% satisfaction on our end.

    1. Blue Eagle*

      This is why I always tip the popcorn guy $1 every time I get a refill on popcorn.

  15. NYC Taxi*

    This was back in the day when your keyboard plugged into your computer. I worked in an extremely dysfunctional office with the most ineffective boss you could ever have. He thought nothing about throwing us under the bus to save his own skin. One day when he was out of the office I decided to unplug his keyboard from the computer, but leave the cord in just enough so it looked like it was still plugged in, and kind of forgot about it until the next morning when he started pounding on his keyboard pressing random keys, etc., freaking out about it not working. He called IT to come fix it and then left the room for a few minutes. I plugged the keyboard back in. He came back, the IT guy, who generally acted like all requests were stupid and a huge inconvenience comes in and presses a key on the keyboard and as it is working he keeps pressing that same key over and over while giving our boss the death stare, then just walked out of the room with no comment. Coworkers talked about this story for years even after I was long gone because it was so satisfying to make him look like an idiot.

    1. FG*

      “back in the day when your keyboard plugged into your computer”

      Dude, I would venture to guess MOST people who use a separate keyboard don’t use wireless even now. I work in IT & I have never had a wireless keyboard.

      1. Julia*

        My keyboard is plugged into my computer. The head of IT in my building also has her computer plugged in.

      2. NYC Taxi*

        Oh interesting. I stand corrected then. I haven’t had a plug-in keyboard at my last few jobs, so I thought it wasn’t A Thing anymore! I also work on Macs now, so maybe that’s the difference?

        1. Environmental Compliance*

          Might be an IT thing. Most of my coworkers do indeed use wireless. However, all of our IT staff I have noticed used wired.

        2. NoOneWillSeeThisComment*

          This reminds me of the person who felt they had to describe what white noise on a TV was…it’s still a thing, you just haven’t encountered it.

          It might be because Apple loves to get rid of things people still use (headphone jacks anyone??) but I’m just so sorry you’re stuck working on a Mac.

          1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

            While I am an Apple user furious over them getting rid of things I still need (I just bought a newer MacBook refurbished without realizing it has ONLY USB-C ports, rendering all my peripherals clunky with adapter dongles), didn’t a ton of Android phones also get rid of the headphone jack?

            I do like the wireless keyboards because I have to constantly change my workspace for different tasks and being able to move it or toss it aside is convenient, but you do have to charge it every few months, and occasionally it de-syncs.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              didn’t a ton of Android phones also get rid of the headphone jack?

              Yes, and I am FURIOUS

              1. Ella Kate (UK)*

                SAME.

                My backup headphones that live in my handbag are wired, and given I use them to stave off overload when I’m out of the house longer than I expected it’s completely impractical to have wireless buds in there.

                (Not to mention I haven’t found a set of earbuds I can tolerate yet!)

              2. coffee*

                I am so, so annoyed by the removal of the headphone jack. It’s a big reason why I don’t want to get a new phone.

                1. not a hippo*

                  I had to break down and buy a new phone last month and I’m SO annoyed by the lack of headphone jack. I know there’s some dongle or some such thing you can plug into the charge port to connect a pair of wired headphones but also…why did all the cell phone manufacturers have to remove the headphone jack??

                2. Grith*

                  The boring answer is that it got to a point where the 3.5mm jack became the defining factor in how thick any phone was. 3.5mm diameter, plus a mm of metal plus another mm of plastic each side and it doesn’t matter how thin you make the camera, screen, USB-C port etc, mi9nimum depth doesn’t change.

                3. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

                  At this point I feel like any thinner and I will snap phones in half. Especially since they are too wide to fit in front pockets! I’m glad they came out with the iPhone SE again or I would need a Fanny pack just for my phone.

      3. Random Bystander*

        I thought maybe it was “when your keyboard plugged into your computer” vs “when your keyboard is plugged into a hub because the number of peripherals have exploded to the point that no computer has enough ports for all the necessary things to be plugged in”.

    2. BurnOutCandidate*

      This happened about ten years ago. There was a character in the department that was called out of earshot “The Toddler” because he often acted like an entitled toddler. (His name was not Todd.) Despite being the one who sat next to him, we got along fine. Our work didn’t overlap 98% of the time. (The other 2% was a file he gave me to archive.) I had my work, he had his work, we stayed out of each other’s way.

      He stepped away from his desk without locking the screen, and one of my colleagues rushed over to his computer for some office retaliation. He took a screenshot of the desktop, moved the Outlook icon to a folder on the desktop (but leaving the space where Outlook would have been empty), and set the screenshot as the wallpaper. The Toddler would come to his computer, attempt to launch Outlook, and nothing would happen because he was actually clicking on an empty space on his desktop.

      “He’ll figure this out in five minutes, tops,” I said. “The first time he saves something to his desktop, it will plug into the first empty icon spot, where Outlook is.”

      My colleague, now deceased (a nasty cancer), cackled gleefully and went back to his desk.

      The Toddler did not notice in five minutes. But when he tried to open Outlook and nothing happened, he became a bit vexed. True, he could run Outlook off the Start Menu, but clicking the icon and having nothing happen was annoying. He restarted his computer. Nothing about the Outlook icon he could see (but wasn’t really there) changed. Outlook wouldn’t run if he clicked the icon.

      He tried again the next day. Nothing had changed. He contacted IT. Something was clearly wrong with his computer. IT kinda blew him off. (“Run Outlook from the Start Menu,” they advised him.)

      A week passed of The Toddler not realizing that the icon he saw had been replaced with a screenshot that showed an icon that wasn’t really there. He cursed the computer, he cursed IT.

      Finally, my colleague who swapped out the wallpaper decided enough was enough. He wrote a note that suggested The Toddler needed to “reset his display settings” by changing his wallpaper, scribbled on a piece of paper that looked like it was torn from an IT manual, and left the note of The Toddler’s desk. He came in, read the note, “reset his display options,” and the Outlook icon disappeared!

      No one told The Toddler what actually happened. He really believed there was something wrong with his “display options.”

    3. Mister_L*

      A couple job’s ago somebody (I think they never found out who) did something similar with the forklift charging-station. Technicians were called, in total 1 hour on site until they figured it out and 2 hours driving time for 2 techs. Needless to say, the warehousemanager was pissed.

      Probably the same person also hid forklift key and stole somebody’s food from he fridge.

  16. Olive*

    I’m sure that the “athletic” coworker was insufferable, but if someone deliberately sabotaged my bio and changed something that I’d put there because it had meaning to me, I also would be beyond pissed.

    1. SGPB*

      counterpoint: having a record time for some athletic thing in your work bio is stupid and no one should care about it

      1. Meep*

        I don’t care for Supernatural, but I don’t go out of my way to be mean to the fans. Because at least they aren’t Harry Potter fans, ya know?

      2. mdv*

        Yeah, but they were an athletic gear company, so in that context, it made a lot more sense. It was the whole point of the social media posts!

        1. Frankie*

          Yeah, I’m kinda of the opinion that putting that record time in there says enough about that person that you can leave it alone.

          I do think it feels different because it’s not like someone bragging about height or something. Athletic achievement can take a lot of effort. Still on the braggy spectrum and I wouldn’t do it, but like, I wouldn’t change someone’s signature if they sign with a particular credential, you know what I mean, even if they were annoying about that credential?

          1. Spencer Hastings*

            Or perhaps the company encouraged people to include that sort of thing? Given that their pictures were of them using “their favorite athletic equipment that the company manufactures”, and all…

    2. Trina*

      See, I pictured that the zero was actually an insignificant digit, like his time was 85.3 seconds and it was changed to 85.30 seconds

      1. Violetta*

        but then it wouldn’t make a difference and no one would think he was slower for it, so that doesn’t make sense with the letter

    3. Tequila & Oxford Commas*

      I’m with you. I am not athletic and not fast but I do put in a lot of effort to run half-marathons, and I’d be really bummed if someone did that to me. In this instance, the petty act seemed disproportionate, especially without any concrete examples of the athletic co-worker being jerky.

      1. Jaydee*

        I mean, it seems like something that anyone knowledgeable about his sport would recognize as an obvious typo and not a genuinely slow time. Maybe it could be an issue with sprinting? But any longer running distance is quickly going to lead to an absurd result when you add a zero. 8 minute mile becomes an 80 minute mile? 30 minute 5K becomes a 5 hour (300 minute) 5k? 2 hour half marathon becomes a 2 day (20+ hour) half marathon? I’d be perplexed if I found out someone had added a zero on purpose to one of my race times. But I’d probably just laugh if I thought it was a genuine typo. I’m really slow – double most of those example race times and you’ll be in the right ballpark – but not *that* slow.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          That was my thought. Changing 29.47 to 39.47 would still be plausible, for example, but 294.70 wouldn’t be.

    4. Capybarely*

      Reacting with “they’ll think I’m so slow!” to an additional zero says a lot about thesis person, though. That’s obviously a typo for anyone who knows him, if he’s a stranger? :whispers: No one gave it a second glance.

    5. Stuart Foote*

      Same, and justifiably so.

      Let people be a little annoying about their hobbies!

      (People seem confused about what OP did, but an example would be if the co-worker ran a 2:30 marathon, they changed it to 20:30. So basically adding a typo so that no one could know what time he actually had).

    6. Quill*

      My initial thought was that maybe he’d phrased it in his bio to like, obscure the unit? Pure speculation on my part, but I have had to sit through several arguments about units. 6 vs 6:00 can look very different but in terms of time is the exact same measurement. Though, now that I think about it, a 6 minute time and a 6 second time are not both actually plausible, so… I’m guessing you’re closer and it’s changing a 5 minute mile to a 50 minute mile.

    7. Princess Leia*

      I admit I didn’t love that one. It would have been so much more satisfying if she’s found another co-worker with a better time for the same distance/race and made sure that number was highlighted!

  17. MPerera*

    I once worked in a hospital lab where the supervisor was rude, unprofessional and incapable of running the lab effectively. I got another job and gave my notice.

    During my last week, I had to work nights. I’d heard that the supervisor had recently developed a habit of calling the lab during the night, maybe to annoy us, maybe because higher-ups wanted him to show some interest in helping us with our jobs, who knows. Whatever the reason, on my first night he called at 6 am, from the phone across the shared lab rather than the one right by me. I had to leave my work and cross the lab to answer the phone, and all he said was, “Is everything OK?” Even if it wasn’t OK, there would be nothing he could do over the phone.

    On the second day he called at 6 am again. When a technician on the other side of the lab told me the supervisor was on the phone, I said, “Tell him I’m resulting a stat specimen and I can’t talk right now.” On the third day, when I heard the phone ring at 6 am, I ran to the washroom and hid there for a few minutes. There was no fourth call.

  18. VermiciousKnid*

    When I was waiting tables and people were exceptionally rude to me I’d intentionally mess up their orders. *brings out hamburger* “Oh, you ordered the CHICKEN. I’m so sorry! It’ll be another 20 minutes!” They weren’t going to tip, so I might as well deserve getting stiffed.

      1. VermiciousKnid*

        I was a teenager working for a corporate chain restaurant that made *checks google* over $1B per fiscal quarter when this was happening. I estimate that over the course of several years, I intentionally messed up about $150 of food total (about 15 meals), which the staff than ate. I have no remorse.

      2. Water Everywhere*

        LOL. Rude customers will invent something to complain about no matter how perfect your service is. Restaurants can deal.

      3. Unkempt Flatware*

        Come on now. This is the Petty Things at Work post. Let people tell their stories.

        1. Moonstone*

          Yes this exactly! The ENTIRE point of this thread is to share petty stories. For the commenters who are getting upset or who dislike pettiness, I must know – why even bother to read this thread?? Just move on to the next one and leave this to the people who can find the humor in these stories. Ugh…sorry but I truly do not understand some of these comments.

  19. Katherine Vigneras*

    We had a screamer as the boss about a decade ago and he used to make me (a young woman in an admin role at the time) bring him coffee. He raved that mine was the best. That’s because I made him a fresh Keurig every time instead of using the big carafe – because I was secretly bringing him decaf. Sorry not sorry.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      Sounds like he needed to switch to decaf. Am I the only one who remembers those commercials?

      1. Decaf or Bust*

        Or there’s “we’ve secretly replaced the coffee in this fanceeee restaurant with Folger’s Crystals”…. :D

    2. IDIC believer*

      I was the secretary in an academic office with 14 professors, all coffee drinkers except me. The only water was from a restroom about 75 yards away and the pots usually had burnt coffee in them by the end of the day. My 2d day I decided hell would freeze over before I spent 10-15 minutes/hour making coffee. So I deliberately made super bad coffee repeatedly and just could not (hah) get it drinkable despite advice. By day 5, the junior professors were assigned a rota to make coffee. (I credit my dad with my deliberate incompetence plan – he only ever vacuumed once in 48 yrs of marriage due to breaking a figurine.)

  20. Middle Aged Lady*

    I worked st a Hyatt hotel that put on a grand Sunday brunch buffet—ice carving, free-flowing cheap champagne, and so on. Working it was exhausting—my thumbs were raw from peeling the foil and popping the corks, the tables were spread across the lobby, which was upstairs from the kitchen so we had to haul stuff up there and haul it down, for $2.11 an hour. But the tips made it a lucrative day. I answered the phone to take a reservation one busy Friday morning at the restaurant because the cashier was swamped. It was for a large party and I told the caller about the 15% gratuity for large parties, and she got snippy and asked why, “since we have to serve our own plates?” In a serious, helpful tone, I told her we could arrange a table where they got nothing to drink, near the busser station so they could retun their dirty plates there, would she like one of those? and in the long silence that followed, I hung up on her.

    1. Sunshine's Eschatology*

      AHAHAHAHA I love this one! It’s really all in the tone, isn’t it? Amazing.

      1. Middle Aged Lady*

        Yes, it is. When I became a librarian and pesky patrons questioned our policies, I put on my bright, kindergarten teacher face and voice and carefully and thoroughly explained every nuance of the history of why we do it this way, speaking very slowly and stopping every minute or so to ask if they understood what I was saying. With one exceptional jerk of a professor, who complained frequently’his magazine’ wasn’t on the shelf fast enough, I explained the whole publisher to US Mail to campus mail to serials department check-in to reference department process. ‘Why can’t you bypass all that?” He whined. He was an accounting prof so I asked him to explain to me what accounting process I would use to track what was received and when to accomodate his needs. And how I would know or prove an issue wasnt received. That shut his pompous ass up.

      2. ferrina*

        Truth! I work in a field where our clients love scope creep. For the worst offenders, they will throw out a ridiculous idea that is triple the cost, and I’ll cheerfully respond: “Of course, we’ll be happy to do that for you! Of course, this isn’t covered in our contract, so I’ll cost that out and draft up a contract addendum for you. I can have that for you by tomorrow. Does that work?”

        Usually followed by the quiet disclaimer that actually they don’t need that, or they need to check the budget first, etc.
        Bonus that occasionally someone says: “Yes, sounds great!” and we get more money and work from the client.

        1. Mister_L*

          I currently work in a transportation adjacent field and often feel bad having to ask our forwarders for an offer when I know that the second the person requesting it sees the price for a priority delivery they’ll decide that the normal transport speed is enough.

    2. Mel*

      I’m curious what you’d have said if she’d said yes? Because getting your own drinks and sitting in a less than optimal place for effectively a 15% discount sounds pretty good.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I assume they would also have to get the trays of food from the kitchen.

        People who complain about large-party gratuities generally don’t want to do the work themselves anymore than they want to pay for it to be done.

      2. Middle Aged Lady*

        I honestly don’t know! I was young and feeling brash. It came put before I could contain my rage at her cheap attitude.

  21. Magenta*

    I worked in a bank about 20 years ago now. We had a quick deposit box for cheques, you put the cheque in an envelope with your account details and put it in the box. The box was emptied at 4pm and we paid them all in. If your cheque went in after 4pm it would stay there until the next day. There was a sign explaining this over the box.

    We usually didn’t get around to emptying the box until around 4.15 and never ever opened it before 4pm because it was one of the end of day tasks we did once things were quiet. We recorded the time the box was opened in a ledger.

    I woman came in really kicking off that her cheque had been paid in late, that it was in the box before 4pm but not paid in that day. She was being really nasty to the cashier and it was so unnecessary, I tried to defuse the situation, got the ledger, showed her the box had been opened at 4.30, she accused us of lying, saying we had lied about the time etc.

    The money had gone into a savings account and the cheque had cleared so she wasn’t upset because she needed access to the funds, she was upset because she had lost out on a days interest. she went on and on and was causing a scene.

    I got a calculator and showed her that the interest she had lost out on was something like 1.2 pence, not even enough to buy a penny sweet at that point in time. She then started going on about how it wasn’t the amount that was important, it was the principle, she shouldn’t lose out because we opened the box early.

    I went and got my handbag, brought it out in front of her, and the rest of the customers who were watching. Slowly opened my purse, got out a 2p piece and told the cashier to pay it in to cover the lost interest.

    She went very quiet and looked embarrassed, it really took the wind out of her sails. She thanked me and left.

    1. Water Everywhere*

      I am 100% in favour of making obnoxious customers look ridiculous, kudos to you!

    2. CatMouse*

      I love this. I worked at a call center for a bit and at one point the company rolled out a new service and auto opted in exisiting customers. The customers had a 6 month notice through multiple communications. Of course those were ignored and when the service went live everyone was charged a prorated amount to align their subscription renewals. We of course gave refunds if they called to cancel, but anything under $1 HAD to be approved by a supervisor (I think the smallest refund was .07) my supervisor would have gladly been happy to do just give them a quarter much like this!

      1. Nameless*

        it took me a second to get this and now I’m annoyed… that I didn’t think of it first

  22. Dovasary Balitang*

    I once worked in a small office. One coworker got so upset about two other coworkers going out for lunch and not inviting her that she faked heart attack symptoms, made our safety rep call 911, and got carried out on a gurney.

      1. Dovasary Balitang*

        There are other stories I could share about that woman, she was incredibly memorable. But that one is my favourite.

            1. Dovasary Balitang*

              For starters, there were plenty of secondhand stories of her getting completely wasted at parties and barbecues team members would have and trying to take off her clothes. Once, she wiped out at one of these events and gave herself a black eye and a mild concussion.

              She would completely freeze out people she didn’t like. This generally shifted on a bi-weekly basis and depended on who was and wasn’t on her… Let’s call it a sugar list (I’m typing this on my work PC). If you were on her sugar list, her methods of retaliation included: staring at you for several minutes, interrupting you mid-word, running to our department manager anytime you did anything she mildly disapproved of, and other bizarre mischief. One time, I was on her sugar list. She took a document out of my recycling bin and fed it through the laminator without putting the necessary cover on it. The document got stuck and was abandoned until a week later when someone else needed the laminator. I got questioned for it because the document had my name on it. (My response was basically ‘I was born after 1990, what’s laminating?’ And the only person who cared was our nosy receptionist anyway.)

              One of our main responsibilities was a very annoying task. I’ll call it VAT, or vatting, for short. Whenever we got a new employee, their training started with vatting. No one enjoyed doing it. Lady would gleefully take the opportunity to dump all her vatting on the new employee’s desk. I once had to miss an offsite company barbecue because she gave me a bunch of time-sensitive vatting right before we were all supposed to leave for it. When my responsibilities changed, it took weeks of our boss reminding her before she would stop trying to give me her vatting.

              Despite this vatting-related evil, she also liked to swoop in on new people before they realised what she was really like. You ever hear that you shouldn’t trust the first person to try and befriend you in a new workplace? She is exactly why that saying exists.

              If you weren’t on her sugar list, she was uncomfortably affectionate. This includes uncomfortably long shoulder touches and trying to kiss you. One time, she took off her shoe and put her bare foot on my coworker’s desk.

              She loudly hated the #MeToo movement. When an NBA player was implicated of assault, she laughed and said that obviously the woman who spoke out had propositioned him, was rejected, and was acting out to get revenge.

              Toward the end of my time there, I’d had enough and tried to make an official complaint to HR. (The straw that broke the camel’s back was her speaking over me to give our shop floor completely incorrect information regarding employee satisfaction surveys.) Ultimately, HR heavily discouraged me from doing so – I was told my complaint would only be considered if I exhausted all other avenues, such as speaking our boss and skip level about my concerns. The skip level had once sent me crying to the washroom with his unkindness; needless to say, I was not excited to do that and just dropped it.

              To this day, I have no idea why everyone was bending over backwards to protect such an unpleasant person and honestly mediocre-to-bad employee. It wasn’t as if she had great institutional knowledge or any sort of work ethic to speak of.

              1. Dovasary Balitang*

                Oh! This is one of my favourite bits. So our branch was 515 and our sister branch was 198. For orders coded to our sister branch, you needed slightly elevated security access. She kept making so many mistakes regarding how the orders were distributed, I went above her head and got our skip level to reduce her security access; by dealing with the 198 orders myself, I was saving myself quite a bit of clean-up later in the process. Maybe this is my Petty Moment. She never figured it out. According to my coworkers who I’m still in touch this, to this day she believes it’s a system error and no one in our branch can handle 198 coded orders anymore.

              2. goddessoftransitory*

                This woman sounds like a perpetual motion machine of nightmares and I am amazed she hasn’t been invited on a car trip to the pine barrens.

              3. Katrina*

                My response was basically ‘I was born after 1990, what’s laminating?’ – this is amazing

    1. Lana Kane*

      “Mary is there anything we can do for you to help you recover?”
      *weakly* “Yes…come closer, I’m so weak…invite me to lunch next time…”

    2. Trek*

      How did you find out she faked her heart attack because of the coworkers going to lunch? I wouldn’t think she would advertise it.

          1. Dovasary Balitang*

            Correct. $40 for an ambulance ride here and our workplace would have covered that outrageous financial incursion.

    3. Sun*

      This is hilarious but also, I just wanted to save I LOVE your name, Dove is one of my favorite Tamora Pierce characters (next to Daine, my heart.)

      1. Honor Harrington*

        Please. We all know Kel is the real Lady Knight and the star of the series! :P

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      WOW. Can’t imagine why the coworkers wanted to miss out on a nice relaxing lunch with her companionship!

  23. Lurking Tom*

    We had a vending machine in the lobby of the building where I worked and it was pretty much always broken. Most of us knew this and skipped it for the convenience store just blocks away. Well, on our way out to lunch one day, we noticed a sign taped to the machine. It said “Out of Order” in big letters, but there was smaller type below that. It was the expected angry rant, but also had the gem of a line: “YOU ARE MORE LIKELY TO GET A SNACK BY TAKING YOUR COINS, THROWING THEM INTO A WELL AND WISHING FOR ONE THAN YOU ARE BY PUTTING YOUR COINS INTO THIS MECHANICAL THEFT ROBOT!”

    Additionally petty, the coin and dollar inputs and the snack retrieval door were taped shut with probably 20 layers of packing tape. The machine was gone the next day and never replaced.

    1. Mechanical Theft Robot*

      “YOU ARE MORE LIKELY TO GET A SNACK BY TAKING YOUR COINS, THROWING THEM INTO A WELL AND WISHING FOR ONE THAN YOU ARE BY PUTTING YOUR COINS INTO THIS MECHANICAL THEFT ROBOT!”

      I’ve been wanting a new handle for a while. Mechanical Theft Robot it is ;)

      1. Amber*

        From Billboard, June 16, 2023

        Hot new band Mechanical Theft Robot owns the charts this week with two catchy singles off their new album Best Before: No Peanuts for You and Hung on the Hook.

    2. Coffee and Plants*

      You just know that was a long time coming for whoever typed that up. Potential years of lost coinage! lol!

    3. PhyllisB*

      This reminds me of when I worked at the phone company. Our soft drink machine was out of order more than it worked. We all complained, and the head supervisor had even talked to the vendor, but nothing ever changed.
      One day I found a comic strip (Shoe, I believe.) Someone was comparing the likelihood of receiving your soft drink to playing the slots. (I can’t remember the exact wording; this was over 30 years ago.) I cut it out and taped it on the front of the machine.
      The next day I came in to work and the cartoon was gone, but the machine never malfunctioned after that.

  24. Everything All The Time*

    Mine are boring petty.

    I wrote very pointed process documents that got colorful edits and highlights to make sure they stood out when the same person had the same problem caused by the same mistake… and so every time he made the same mistake I’d end up having to spend 2+ hours training him on it AGAIN, and then clean up the mistake.
    I started putting notes like “If you’ve read this far, send me a gif of a cute animal on teams” into the document, and then just sending him a link to the document with the page number that’d fix his problem. He left the company months later after taking up more and more of my time cleaning up his work, and I forgot I’d done that.
    Until the Interns started. And my boss sent them the documents which were full of weird formatting and “send funny animal gifs to X person” notes.
    So that was a fun explanation that I ended up not in trouble for.

    1. Elle*

      I have always wanted to add funny notes like that to the quarterly grant report that I am required to submit but am sure the state is not reading. Thanks for living the dream!

      1. Student*

        There is a process for this. Add the word “elephant” somewhere in the document, or something equivalent. If ask about it or correct it, then just waive it off as a small copy-paste error.

        If they don’t ask about it, start adding more. Sentences, then paragraphs.

        I used to do this for school assignments that were graded on page count or word count instead of on quality, especially when it seemed very implausible that the teacher was reading the amount of work they were assigning. I had one particular health class where I filled up a full notebook with a year’s worth of weekly writing assignments that were all jibberish. I just kept getting full scores for them, and they were much faster to produce than the actual assignment, which was supposed to be health-related.

        At the end of the year, the teacher passed around MY assignment notebook, citing it as an excellent example of the type of work he was looking for. I was holding my breath as it got passed around the whole classroom, waiting for one of my peers to point out that my entries were entirely about elephants and nonsense. But nobody read any of it – so I got away with it.

        That class did teach me one important thing that I try to carry forward, though. Don’t assign writing that you don’t actually need or read. If you just need monthly project reports to chart spending, or just need the summary rather than the full details, just ask for the bits you need! If you find you haven’t read large parts of the reports you are getting for several iterations in a row, then reconsider whether you really need them, and how you could better communicate for everyone’s benefit.

        1. The Wizard Rincewind*

          I did this once in my high school career. I had a coach teach my senior year economics course and he was the absolute stereotype of “coach teaching x class”. My friend and I started throwing nonsense phrases into our essays (her favorite was “golden spigot on a stick”) to see if he would ever underline/highlight/comment on them. He never did.

          He also had a great sense of humor, though, so sometimes I wonder if he noticed but thought it was funny and wanted us to keep doing it.

        2. margaret*

          In high school my class schedule was such that I couldn’t take the regular health class and had to do an independent study. The independent study was nearly 500 printed pages of exercises I had to read and fill in. After doing 75% of it laboriously over the semester the deadline was approaching and I wasn’t going to be able to finish. My mom and I agreed no one was going to actually read all 500 pages so she helped me fill in ridiculous answers to the rest. I remember a series of questions asking what I was most concerned about with puberty (I was already 17 when doing this). I responded that I had heard I would grow tentacles, I was concerned what color the tentacles would be, when would the tentacles grow? Turned it all in. Got an A.

          1. Avyncentia*

            Oh my gosh. In high school we had to annotate our books for English and the teachers would check them. I didn’t see the point, so my annotations consisted of copying out passages of the book and writing comments like “this is stupid” in Latin and Greek. Straight As.

          2. linger*

            Conversely, the squid, according to a famous flub by TV chef Graham Kerr (“The Galloping Gourmet”), has … more to worry about from puberty than most animals.

              1. linger*

                “A squid, as you know, has ten testicles…”
                (He meant tentacles, of course. Most male squids have only a single tubelike testis.)

          3. Quill*

            *Laughs in fellow malicious compliance of health class*

            We had to do a unit on drugs being bad. My inner smart-alec presented a 18th century historical perspective on opium. I got an A but I don’t think the teachers appreciated the overaching theme that drugs are a tool of colonialism.

        3. Quill*

          I had an english teacher once who had the bright idea of not actually grading what she assigned… she didn’t last long.

        4. really anonymous for this*

          Oof. I supervise a faculty member who decided, for some unknown reason, that he needed 30-minute recorded presentations on a given topic. In a class of 15 students. And then reached out to me in a panic because he didn’t want to grade all of them, and the students were complaining that he was taking to long to get their grades. I ended up pitching in and grading about 3 hours worth.

          I made him change the assignment to 10-minute presentations there on out.

          BTW, this was “Fergus” from the “intent to flounce” post. Same guy.

        5. MacGillicuddy*

          I had a professor who would draw little shovels in the margin when your text veered from factual to the -er- augmented/fictional. Between one and three shovels depending on the level of platypus pooop you were trying to get away with. This prof was great . You couldn’t BS your way through his course.

          1. Nina*

            My favorite professor in undergrad – who later became my postgrad advisor – would mark (‘grade’ in American) doodles in test papers. I once got back a chemistry test with a) an extremely fanciful tetravalent carbon complex carefully labeled ‘mayapyramidane’ and the place where I’d given an atom the wrong number of bonds circled and b) my answer to the easy-credit question ‘how many rings will PAH C14H10 have’ marked appropriately (that’s anthracene, the answer is ‘three rings’, so of course I added ‘for the elven kings under the sky’ and was rewarded with a gigantic dwarvish G rune)

            1. Greebo's Other World*

              An exam I once sat had a question on sand dunes that I realised I did not know the answers to, so I ended up making a bunch of Dune references and drew a schematic of a worm. I did not fail the paper so can only assume the marker was a fellow fan.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                This is awesome. A schematic of a worm, hahaha, I love it.

                I created a cartoon character in high school and he eventually ended up all over all my homework. I used to draw pictures on math tests when I couldn’t answer the questions — it was mostly him going “I don’t know.”

          2. Artemesia*

            I tried to teach concise generally adjective free writing to high school seniors decades ago. I cautioned against including ‘snow’ which was the euphemism for BS at that time. One of my students made me a wood block stamp of a snow flake that I could use on the papers when grading. Satisfying — and of course the students were in on it. They did improve in their writing.

          3. Elitist Semicolon*

            I had a grad school prof who would do the same thing only with a less polite explanation: “this is where I had to shovel through the bullshit.”

        6. Queer Earthling*

          My dad claims that when he was in school, he and his best friend were convinced their English teacher wasn’t reading their assignments. So in the middle of an essay, the best friend wrote, “If you read this, you’re entitled to one McDonald’s breakfast on me” and continued on as normal.

          When he got the assignment back, up top was the grade…and the teacher’s breakfast order, please and thank you.

        7. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          I used to spend hours each month preparing a report for the director of a prestigious academic institution. It involved exporting data from a large database into a consolidated Excel spreadsheet and adding comments. There was never any feedback, positive or negative.

          Then one day in a meatspace meeting about something else, the director inadvertently revealed that he didn’t know there can be multiple sheets in an Excel document. Which meant that for over a year he had only been reading the summary on the first sheet.

          1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

            As someone who works at a non-prestigious academic institution this comment is ha ha ha ha ha ha ouch my soul

        8. Random Bystander*

          I still remember in my last year of high school (junior year, I skipped senior year), we had to take US history. Every week we had a test that consisted of 30 multiple choice questions and a set of questions: choose 1 of 5 for a long essay (2 pages, handwritten) or 2 of 6 for short essays (1 page each, handwritten). Long essays were worth 70 points, the short essays 35 each.

          Well, as the year progressed, it was rather obvious that our teacher was more than a little overwhelmed, and he wasn’t reading all of the essays. Classmates started filling in their essays with nonsense “Mr [last name], if you read this, I will buy you a Coke” and other stuff. Well, apparently they were so out of practice writing real essays that they were unprepared …. the week before our spring vacation, we had our usual Friday test. Teacher would leave during the test after all the scantron sheets were turned in, run them through the grader machine and then return to write our initials and number right (RB-30, for example). Over the course of spring break, he actually did get caught up and read all the essays … I was the only one who hadn’t filled my essay with a lot of junk and got the full marks for my essays … other classmates had to swallow getting a 30 (F) for that week’s test.

          Lesson: pay attention to things that might change so that you need to actually do the work.

        9. LifeBeforeCorona*

          Our high school history teacher assigned a 5 page report during the last week of school before summer. I wrote out a random chapter from the book and got an A.

        10. Kayem*

          I did this in my undergraduate program. One of my profs was always raving about how great my work was. I suspected he hadn’t read anything beyond the first few papers I handed in (he taught several of my courses). I joked to a friend that I could throw in dinosaurs and time travel into the middle of the paper and he’d never notice. Then I decided to do it.

          For the very last paper in the final course I had with him, I wrote what I considered to be the greatest achievement of my academic career. I managed to incorporate time travel, dinosaurs, zombies, futuristic dystopian cold wars, and squid into an otherwise boring paper on the history of the early 20th century anarchist mail bombs. And I didn’t just throw words in at random, I worked every reference into that thing so it was plausible and written as if I was dead serious.

          When I handed it in, he said “I don’t need to read your paper, I know it’s A-plus material” and handed it back to me.

          And that’s why for all the degrees that followed, if I suspected the prof wasn’t reading my assignments, I threw in random references to dinosaurs and squid without putting any more effort into it.

        1. Nonny Mouse for this*

          Somewhere hiding in the world, is a thesis project.
          If you were to take the printout of the thesis project and zoom in on the title’s underline, it is actually text reduced to an absurd size (like less than 1 pt) that says something snarky about the institution.
          If somene ever does ctrl-all and resets it to 12 pt, I’d be in trouble.

      2. Ally McBeal*

        I used to work for a research firm and one of my bosses hid an Easter egg in one of his complicated spreadsheets with a disclaimer that a special prize would be given to whomever found it first. It took YEARS and we had to scramble to come up with a prize idea when one of his nerdiest/wonkiest clients found it, but it was such a fun day.

      3. JustAnotherKate*

        I use the words Large Labradoodle (in red) as a filler when I’m drafting a grant application or report and need to look something up but don’t want to lose my writing flow by doing it immediately. (Silly word choice, but I was working from a family member’s house years ago when I decided I needed a filler word, and their big silly dog was lying at my feet, so there you go.) I’ve never managed to submit it to a funder, but I imagine some of them would be amused and most would not.

        1. Elitist Semicolon*

          Back when I wasn’t so adamant about having a work computer and a personal computer, I accidentally cut-and-pasted a link to a Toast article titled “Gabbing about God” into a document I was sending to a colleague, my boss, and my department chair instead of the paragraph from a previous version I was trying to copy.

    2. Kimmy Schmidt*

      Ha! One of my professor friends hides silly little instructions like that in her syllabus to make sure students read it. I think my faves so far are “tell me your favorite rock pun” and “include your favorite dinosaur in the email subject line”. She’s a geology professor.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I do this when I send my team important emails. “(Subject line) – Response Required!” in the subject line, and then the information, and the last line is “Please respond to let me know that you understand this information and what is your favorite flavor of ice cream.” :P

      2. Third or Nothing!*

        I’ve done this when giving away items on the local Buy Nothing page. I swear every post immediately has someone going “WANT” before really reading the post or considering if they actually want/need the item. So I started saying things like “first person to tell me your favorite animal gets the thing” to cut down on ghosting.

      1. Everything All The Time*

        I got animal and funny gifs on teams, and my manager forgot about it being brought to his attention until they reached one instruction that was “Send a Gif from your favorite movie to the boss.”

        the original ex-coworker hadn’t read a single page or taken notes, and apparently would sit around on teams calls playing guitar instead of listening so now it’s just a funny story.

    3. anonymous regular*

      I teach grad students and have an assignment before the start of term with a similar intent. It’s not even hidden! It’s listed in the syllabus and on the web based portal!
      It’s genuinely helpful for addressing any tech difficulties, and if they haven’t done the assignment by the first class, there are inevitably other issues down the line.

      1. really anonymous for this*

        When I was teaching freshmen in college, I’d hide in the syllabus that they’d get 5 bonus points for stopping by my office during office hours and introducing themselves. This did several things – it made them read the syllabus, find out where my office was and when office hours were, and broke the ice, making them more likely to stop by when they had questions.

    4. FormerPizzaBoy*

      When I was working on my Master’s in Teaching, we had a professor who was pretty awful for a variety of reasons, in which we ended up having a class meeting with our head of department on our concerns. One of those concerns was we didn’t think he was reading our work after the opening. (He was working on his doctorate and was obviously distracted). We all were receiving the exact same notes. We organized a check on his checking our work for when we presented our concerns. In the 3rd assignment, we put in pretty noticeable errors in our work. We still did the assignment but glaring errors. When we still got the same responses, we upped it with after the first page of just filling in with stuff like in this response, things that made it obvious he’s not reading it – jokes, non sequiturs, larem ipsum, etc. For the 4th, we all turned in the exact same paper (while writing our real one, just as had real papers ready to go for the previous ones).
      Luckily, the head of the department listened to our concerns. He finished out the semester and didn’t teach the course next cycle. Being a small cohort, she knew us, and knew we did the work so she wasn’t concerned about us not getting the material despite the instructor.

    5. goddessoftransitory*

      My dream job, since I have folders FULL of funny animals and every other kind of meme required to get a point across!

    6. There You Are*

      In an exceptionally boring graduate-level class (Governance, Risk, and Compliance) all of our assignments were papers and there was no final exam, just one big, honkin’ paper.

      Every single one of my papers had words, at first, and sentences, later, spelled out by the first letter of every paragraph in my papers.

      The first paper, a quick summary of some topic or other, the first letters of the six paragraphs spelled out BORING.

      The next was THIS IS DUMB.

      Then THIS IS NOT RELEVANT.

      Then I’LL NEVER USE THIS IN REAL LIFE.

      Lastly, for the big, honkin’ paper: I DESERVE AN A FOR WRITING ALL THIS BULLSH*T OUT

      And neither the professor nor the TAs ever noticed, even though I made the first letter of each paragraph a point or two larger than the rest of the type.

      At least it made writing the papers more entertaining for me.

      1. Elitist Semicolon*

        My agency had to do daily work logs back in the early days of the panda and, because I love malicious compliance, I did this with the items on my list. They’d spell out things like MURDER, ASSHAT, and , of course, the usual swears. Sometimes I had to really work to find a synonym for, say, “contacted” that would give me the letter I needed, but my favorite was the day I somehow managed to have enough Ws and Fs to spell out TWATWAFFLE.

        1. Nemi*

          outstanding! Reminds me of the teaching colleague who added a plenary option to the WALT and WILF required for lessons – so alongside We Are Learning To and What I’m Looking For, we had We All Now Know…

    7. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      hahaha I was sure my boss wasn’t reading my required weekly progress update emails so I slipped in a few lines of non-work accomplishments like “mastered level 420 of candy crush”

      He started laughing out loud in the middle of our very serious operations meeting while a different manager was presenting. I didn’t get grief for it though.

      1. Elitist Semicolon*

        I feel like anyone whose job it is to have to wade through reports like that probably appreciates a break from the boring of it all.

        1. Macropodidae*

          I went back to school as a “mature student.”

          I took every opportunity to slip in funny stuff. My bio prof was was entirely amused by my paper on wood.

          When I skipped two labs (with notification) in a row due my jerk ex-husband cutting off my phone and credit card out of spite, the very next lab was working with antibiotic-resistant E. coli, he said, “Please dispose of the samples here. Unless you have an awful roommate, then you are free to try to sneak it out.”

  25. ghostlight*

    I work at a large entertainment and theatre venue and pay for a monthly parking pass (not cheap) in a parking lot very close to the theatre. When we have shows, this lot is also used for patron parking, but if I’m coming in for work or to see a show, I just put out my parking pass on my dash and have no issues. There’s a kiosk in the lot for people to pay for parking that I just bypass because of my pass.

    One night, I come in with some friends to see a show, and I walk right by the kiosk like normal. There’s a security guard standing over by the exit though, and he is on a power trip. He starts yelling at me about not paying, I explain that I have a monthly pass, and he says I still have to pay the $20 event parking fee since I’m not working. Fine, I think, I’m not gonna fight with this guy, and I go to the kiosk, put in the employee discount code for $4 parking, and get my little parking ticket.

    I then turn around the line of patrons who are about to pay $20 for parking, and give them the same discount code. Discounts for all!

  26. pettypettybish*

    Started dating (and was broken up by) my former coworker at my previous place of employment during the start of lockdown. When we came back to part time in-office working, he and I were on different days. If I was ever missing a computer monitor, mouse, laptop stand, or cable at my desk I’d steal his from the other side of the office. Never caught because I was always the first in

    1. EBStarr*

      haha, so petty. also, i wonder if you were missing parts because he was stealing from you!

  27. The Prettiest Curse*

    I used to manage an email inbox that received requests for people to be removed from our nonprofit’s mailing list. It was the responsibility of our national office to manage these requests, so we couldn’t do anything except forward them for processing. 90% of the requests were polite or neutral, and I’d send them along as soon as I read them. The 10% of rude requests would still get sent to the national office for processing, just a week or so later than they would have been sent if the person who emailed had been nicer.

    I understand that it’s really frustrating to get unwanted mailings, but the person who reads your email requesting removal is almost never going to be the person who is responsible for your being on the mailing list in the first place. Some of the emails were so nasty that they’re engraved on my memory forever, especially the person who threatened to personally sue me. You also have the option to write “return to sender – unwanted mail” on the mailings and put them in a mailbox – though that’s a slower method than sending a polite request.

    1. anon today*

      I approve! But I will say I wrote a request to be removed from a mailing list like this in anger once, because they got my name and address from the law firm hired to investigate serial sexual assault and harrassment claims from a couple decades before–which I had bystander knowledge of and shared my information only because it was assured to me my information, identity, and contact information was to be kept confidential. Then the org started sending me requests for money before the investigation even concluded. Hadn’t heard a peep from them in over 20 years, not even a newsletter or anything. I was pretty upset that my information had, in fact, not been kept confidential at all and told the donor-request office that, asking they kick my complaint up the line so as not to violate the privacy of the others who participated like I did. It probably came across more rudely than I intended, but I really was upset. (The office apologized and removed my name immediately, for which I sent an effusive thank you email). But I wouldn’t be rude or angry about it in other circumstances.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I totally understand why you were rude in that particular situation. We didn’t buy mailing lists for regular solicitation requests, so everyone on our lists had donated at some point. Sometimes I would get requests from a relative of someone who was seriously ill or deceased and those people would get their requests forwarded immediately, regardless of rudeness. So it wasn’t every single rude person who got a slower response.

    2. Indolent Libertine*

      I’ve been trying to get my deceased MIL’s name off numerous mailing lists for nearly 4 years now (she was a dear lady who sent $10 to just about anyone who ever asked…). I confess that my tone does change when I’m writing to the same outfit for the 10th-plus time and it still doesn’t stop the mail.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Returning to sender will eventually work, even if they are ignoring email requests. We had the exact same situation with a deceased relative of my husband and it took about 2 years of returning to sender before the mailing volume finally reduced – which is why I can understand that it’s frustrating. If you write “deceased” and “please remove from list” on the front of the envelope, that also helps.

      2. There You Are*

        If any of them come with a prepaid return envelope, add something heavy to the envelope along with the “Remove from your mailing list,” note. The org has to pay more for weighty envelopes.

        I’ve included slats of wood, metal bars, small rocks swaddled in bubble wrap, and even just many, many sheets of card stock, folded tightly to cram more into the envelope.

        THAT seems to get the message through.

      3. zolk*

        If you’re in the states, I’m sorry for this! If you’re in Canada, what they’re doing is illegal and if you report them correctly they can be fined thousands of dollars per day until they fix it.

    3. Petty_Boop*

      I confess to occasionally being a rude responder to unwanted mail, albeit it’s email. Most checkouts for online purchases have at the bottom that little checkbox to “KEEP ME UPDATED WITH MARKETING B*****IT” and I ALWAYS uncheck that box. Yet within 24 hours I’ll get my first one, then 2 or 3 more that week and so on until eventually I blow a gasket. Yes, I mark them SPAM but oh how it chaps me to have to UNSUBSCRIBE when I never SUBSCRIBED in the first place AND I specifically unchecked the box. It is for whatever reason one of those button pushers for me, so if you ever got a nasty unsubscribe from me, I apologize!

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I don’t know if it’s just that the folks who are on the email list I currently manage are more laid-back than the general population or if it’s because they are usually on the list for work reasons, but I’ve only had one mildly annoyed message in the last couple of years. Let’s hope that continues!

    4. Lizzo*

      I once got wind of someone who had received a mailing about an event we were hosting and had called one of the other departments on campus furious about it. I eventually was put in contact with this person, who sent me a photo of the address block on the mail piece. Someone, somewhere in the mail process, had added a bunch of anti-Semetic slurs to the address information. I don’t recall if/how we tracked down the source of that inappropriate language (we had some external lists we were using), but if anyone ever had a right to be angry about a piece of mail, it was that person.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Yeah, that’s the type of thing where you totally understand why they were irate.
        I never had anything like that, but since the donor services department at our national office was either under-staffed or incompetent, they would sometimes only remove people after a few reminders. Sometimes the original requester would get in touch again, even angrier this time, to ask us why they hadn’t been removed, but unfortunately there wasn’t anything I could do except forward the email and ask them to escalate the removal request. The donor services people were on a different coast to us, so I couldn’t just drop by their desk and wave a stack of paper at them!

  28. squirreltooth*

    A coworker and I were bitter enemies, which was awkward because there were only three people on our team. One time a vendor sent us a gift of cookies to share, and Enemy Coworker intercepted it and ripped apart the card to destroy the evidence that it’d had both our names on it. But I has SUSPICIONS and took the ripped-up card pieces out of the trashcan, reassembled them, and presented the evidence to our manager like I was Kid Sherlock Holmes.

    We were both rightfully yelled at by a grandboss for our pettiness and told to get our act together. Luckily for both our sake, I left the company shortly after; we brought out the worst in each other.

      1. squirreltooth*

        It was more because this was an ongoing issue of escalating pettiness…but I still absolutely think coworker should’ve gotten in more trouble for stealing the cookies. (It’s also easy for a grandboss to think cookies are no big deal when he’s not being criminally underpaid in one of the most expensive cities in the world, I guess.)

      2. Yessica Haircut*

        Digging through someone’s trash can for evidence of their cookie crimes is not a great look. I get it, though; the fog of dysfunctional workplaces brings out a weird side of all of us.

  29. Alianne*

    My first name is a variation on a more common name. It’s FOUR LETTERS, but people misspell it constantly, even when my name is A) in the sig block of the email I sent them and B) part of my actual work email address. Whenever someone gets it wrong in an email, I italicize my name in my sig block in my reply. Second error, I bold it. Third time, I capitalize it. No one’s ever gone more than three, but I’m thinking fonts will have to be utilized…

    1. Corrigan*

      I feel this! I have a name that’s not unusual, but one letter off from a more common name. I’ve just started beginning my response email with “It’s X actually”. Most people are apologetic and don’t do it again, but I did have a co-worker who did it again and she was like “I’m sorry, you just told me this…” Yes, yes I did.

    2. EvilQueenRegina*

      My ex coworker had a last name that could also be a unisex first name, and used to get a lot of emails addressed to Hi Lastname. Her response was usually to put “Firstname” in a much bigger font in her signature.

      1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        I’m a woman. My first name is not English, and is ambiguous and could also be a last name. My former last name used to be a man’s first name.

        I used to get a LOT of emails calling me sir, and it was fascinating to see how differently (took my recommendations more seriously, took my statements as absolute authority) certain people treated me when they thought I was a man. They were often very surprised to meet me in person or via phone.

      2. Corrigan*

        One of those embarrassing moments that my brain occasionally brings up in the middle of the night is when I sent an email to our IT person (who I’ve never met in person). His name is something like John Sarah (his last name is also a female first name) and I replied “Thanks, Sarah!” I’m sure I’m not the only person to have done this and he’s probably forgotten it by now, but I feel so bad.

      3. Here for the petty stories*

        My male boss has a last name that could be a woman’s name. When eg John Smith responds to him as “dear lastname” he emails them back as “Dear Smith”.

      4. many bells down*

        I went to high school with an “Owen Ryan” and invariably, because class rosters are Lastname, Firstname – he’d start each new semester getting called Ryan and wearily trying to correct the teacher for weeks until the new term rolled around and he had to start over. Whole classes would call out “His name is OWEN” every day at roll.

        1. Quill*

          I have a commonly mispronounced semi rare name and class corrections during roll call still gives me warm fuzzies.

          “It’s [Quill’s legal name]!” every time someone butchered my name. Every time. To the point where neighboring classrooms knew if we had a sub because they could hear the corrections.

        2. Zephy*

          One of the girls I went to high school with had a similar problem. Her first name was both a common nickname for girls and a common given name OR nickname for boys, think “Sam” – not “Samantha,” her legal government first name was “Sam.” She usually went by a more obviously feminine nickname, like “Sammie.” Her middle and last names were both family names and also both happened to be common-if-older-fashioned first names for boys, think “Sam Gregor Henry.” Every new teacher, be it a sub or just the first day of class, would call her government name while taking roll and be really surprised when a very obviously female-presenting student raised her hand or responded “Here!” in a very high, feminine voice.

        3. azvlr*

          When I was a classroom teacher in the early ’00s, the only roster we got before the first day of school had limited characters for the last and first names. I would get lots of Hispanic students with long surnames (because they were hyphenated) and could only read the first few letters of the first name.
          I spend the first class period calling four different Alex???s or Alej??? Was Alexa, Alejandro, Alexanrda or what?! No way to tell other than embarrassing myself every damn time.

      5. Nina*

        My partner has a name that’s pronounced like a very common man’s name (and he is a highly gender-conforming man, so nobody ever makes this mistake once they’ve met him) but spelled like it might be the name of a woman blessed/cursed with nerdy or new-agey parents.
        We sometimes publish stuff together. We used to work in the same very large institution, and a lot of people knew me by sight and knew I was involved with those publications, and we would then have this conversation:
        “Hi, I think I read your paper, are you Jheonra?”
        “No, that’s my coauthor, it’s pronounced John; I’m Nina.”

    3. Anon for this*

      I get this a lot. My first name is “Catherine” and I usually go by “Cathy.” But I always, always, always get people who spell it “Kathy” or even “Kathleen” – my name is spelled out in my signature block and I also spell it when I sign my emails. It irritates the bejesus out of me.

      1. Elitist Semicolon*

        Similar. I’ve had to tell people multiple times and I’m, like, YOU emailed ME first and managed to get my name right in my address. And yet you somehow went from catherine.fakename to “Dear Kathleen?”

    4. The Wizard Rincewind*

      I accidentally misspelled someone’s last name in an email and he simply pointed it out to me without any snark. I apologized and mentioned that I, too, get that a lot with my last name so you’d think I’d be better about it! He responded: “It’s okay. My grandma sent me a card last week with the name spelled wrong and she’s the one who gave it to me.”

      1. PhyllisB*

        I can relate. My own MOTHER, who insisted my first name be spelled the way it is….misspelled my name until I was about 13.

        1. 3DogNight*

          I am the mother in a very similar situation. In my defense, they had me fill out the birth certificate while I was still drugged up from the C-Section, and I forgot the e at the end of her middle name. I spelled it the way I intended to until she corrected me when she was about 20.

          1. Pennyworth*

            My cousin has always gone by a nickname that ends with either an ”ie” or a ”y”. How do I not know which? Because she always signs off with her initial when communicating with the family. Katie? Katy? I have no idea.

            1. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

              Yeah, I have a co-worker like this. She goes by Pat, or maybe it’s Patty, or Pattie, or Patti, but I will never !@#$@#$ing know because darned if she ever signs her name. Lady, I want to get your name right — throw me a line here.

    5. Water Everywhere*

      My name gets misspelled all the time as well! If it’s a one-time error that doesn’t affect anything I let it slide but I will correct coworkers who I email with frequently, and if it keeps happening then they get put in email jail. I made a rule that directs emails containing the usual misspelling of my name to the junk folder and will fish them out about once a day. Or so.

    6. Bronze Betty*

      Not work-related, but I had a similar issue with a cousin. For years–even after I had been married for over a decade–he sent Christmas cards with my last name misspelled. Even after I signed with my last name in huge letters for several years in a row, this continued. Finally, at my pettiness breaking point, I sent a Christmas card to him with his last name misspelled. Think Johnson spelled Johnston. My name was spelled correctly by him from that point onward.

      1. Anonny*

        I did a similar thing to a boy in middle school who started mispronouncing my name intentionally. I called him by a similarly changed version of his name for three years…until we got to high school and he finally realized I’d been calling him by a girl’s name all that time. He never did it again.

    7. Nerdgal*

      I also have an unusual, unisex name, and notice the exact same thing.
      Once I flew to another country, 12 time zones away, at the invitation of a colleague who knew me by mail only. Boy was he surprised!

      1. Elitist Semicolon*

        The flip side: I was corresponding with someone in my field named “Kim” and we made plans to meet while she and her wife were passing through my town for vacation. And then, of course, Kim was male.

    8. Cat Lady*

      This also drives me up the wall! I might steal that idea if I feel especially petty one day.

    9. EngineerResearcher*

      Ugh, I feel this! I have a common name with a variation (think Sarah Jones vs. Sara Jones or Katherine Smith vs. Catherine Smith) that gets misspelled constantly! I usually send a teeth gritting polite note about “Just wanted to point out it’s Katherine Smith and KatherineSmith(at)org.com so the emails don’t get misdirected!”

    10. There You Are*

      My name has only one consonant while the more common version of it has two. Think maybe Camila vs Camilla. When someone sends me an email addressed with two consonants, I reply and double one of their consonant. Do it again, and I double an additional consonant, etc. If it’s a short name, I’ll double a vowel on the third time.

      Them: “Dear Camilla…”
      Me: “Hi Jonnathan…”

      Them: “Hello Camilla…”
      Me: “Hi Jjonnathan…”

      Them: “Hey, Camilla, I have a question…”
      Me: “You’ll find the answer, Jjonnatthan, in the XYZ file on the shared drive.”

      Hilariously, the main person who gets this treatment is my direct manager. At this point, I’m not sure if he’s punking me or not.

    11. stratospherica*

      I have a similar issue – my name itself is common where I’m from, and the same name with one letter that is different is very common where I live (think Erica vs. Erika, because that’s exactly what it is). My name is in my signature, my email address, my Teams name, my proprietary chat tool name, you name it, my name is there, C resplendent in its glory. People still find a way to spell my name with a K.

      I’ve been tempted to increase the size of the C in my signature every time someone gets it wrong.

      1. Database Developer Dude*

        DO IT!!!!!!! I BEG OF YOU!!! And come back and report the results. It will be hilarious!

  30. Corrigan*

    We had a “QI Manager.” That was her title. She didn’t manage any people but she managed our internal QI process. I was one of a few “Lead Llama Groomers” who managed different processes and oversaw the work of Junior Llama Groomers but weren’t technically speaking “managers.” She took every opportunity to throw it in our face that we weren’t managers. I have no idea why. Nobody cared about it but her.

    One of the other leads had a project sanctioned by our director to update our guidance documents. QIManager wasn’t informed about this and made a big stink at a large team meeting about how only managers could update guidance and llama groomers shouldn’t be in there. Even though the director supported this project, and we’re the ones responsible for operations.

    We work remotely and at one point QIManager decided that she needed to hear every single thing that Llama Groomers said to each other because it might possibly be about work and help her do her job. She demanded that the Leads add her to the Llama Groomer instant messaging chat (which was about half work stuff and half random chitchat and memes). I told her that it was only for our team and as she wasn’t a Llama Groomer, or our manager, she didn’t need to be in there.

    I didn’t ask for this stupid game, but if she wants to play, I’ll play.

      1. Corrigan*

        Bah! I should have spelled out “quality assurance/improvement” but I like this better.

    1. I edit everything*

      Is it weird that I had the thought, “How do llama groomers work remotely?”

  31. Moira Rose*

    Team Jane! Don’t schedule meetings over the lunch hour! If she took her lunch at 1:45 or something, then she was being unreasonable, but assuming she was eating at a standard time, her desire to eat her dang lunch in peace is way more relatable to me than another manager looking at his full calendar and deciding to stomp over everyone’s lunchtime.

    1. Middle Aged Lady*

      Team Jane! I hate the half-lunch bosses offer when they call a meeting and say you can bring lunch. Lunch is not just about food. It’s about resting and recharging.

  32. Juicebox Hero*

    I accept cash for bill payments. One day, at 11:55 am, as I’m getting ready to go to lunch, one guy comes in with a grocery bag full of rolled change, several hundred dollars worth, and dumps it on my counter. I’m required to count rolled change to make sure there aren’t any foreign coins and that it’s actually the correct number of coins.

    I started counting his change, roll by roll, v e r y carefully as he’s glaring and harrumphing and whining at me for taking so long. Every time he complains, I tell him he made me lose count and I start over from the beginning, even more carefully. Eventually, he figured out that keeping his mouth shut was a good thing, but by the time I finally got done his face was beet red and you could just about see smoke pouring out of his ears.

    It was glorious.

    1. Zephy*

      This calls to mind a Tumblr post about a guy paying the entry fee for a conference in coins – presumably, like your man, thinking it would be le epic trole prank on some poor schlub who has to count all of those coins…except they of course wouldn’t let him into the conference until the coins were counted, so instead he got to stand there and hold up the line for 45 minutes, and when people complained about why it was taking so long, the conference organizers told them “some asshole decided it would be funny to pay in coins.”

      1. JustaTech*

        My friend once had someone decide to make a statement by (attempting) to pay their quarter’s tuition in pennies.
        They waited until the last day to do it as well, when the tuition office was overrun with undergrads in various stages of freaking out that they would miss their tuition payment and the world would end. Everyone was tired and frazzled, and then this person rolls up with a smug smile and attempts to pay in pennies.
        The most senior person in the office said “no, we’re not required to take pennies, you can take those to the bank and have them changed for cash or you can come back next week”. (Cash may be legal tender, but you’re not actually required to take pennies for large payments.)

    2. parking nazi*

      We have a penny policy for people who think they will punish US for their parking tickets by paying in pennies. (FYI – federal law says you’re not required to take more than $1 in coins… we checked!)

      So, the policy was to make an appointment, with me, to come in to count it all out, and I had a very scientific method of counting (stacks of 10 coins on a template page per coin size, so I could pat it with my hand to see if it was all level). Then they had to wait out in the lobby while I had it “verified”… in our coin counter. No one ever knew we had it, and that was really the point!

      Do yo know how long it takes to count out $25 in pennies when steam is coming out of your ears? I do! (about 40 minutes)…

  33. Yvette*

    OK I totally read it as “prettiest” and “pretty” and wondered what was going on until I read the part about the toilet paper.

    1. Juicebox Hero*

      Maybe the toilet paper was kept in those decorative little roll covers.

      My mother had those growing up. They lived on the top of the toilet tanks and god help you if you actually used the roll of TP that was inside the cover. We also had decorative soaps and towels no one was allowed to use.

      1. Trixie Belden was my hero*

        My mother had “regular wrapping paper” and the “good wrapping paper” for Xmas presents. However, there was never a present good enough for the “good wrapping paper” One year my sister was in a hurry and used some of the “good paper” Mom was not happy when she found out and read sister the riot act. For decades after at every gift giving event someone would ask “Did you use the GOOD WRAPPING PAPER?” It continued down to the 2nd generation and then trailed off when gift bags were invented.

      2. coffee*

        Sudden flashback to the time I visited my aunt and had to debate between extracting the toilet paper roll from under the toilet paper doll, asking if there was another roll somewhere, or just scuttling off and leaving the problem for the next person.

        (I extracted the roll and then later confessed to my dad, who was confused about what “doll” I was worried about, and then unconcerned.)

        (The toilet paper doll was like a Dolly Varden cake, except instead of a skirt that was actually cake, it was a skirt covering a roll of toilet paper.)

        1. Sharpie*

          My nan had one of those, the difference being that was the next roll.of paper to be used because there was literally nowhere else to stash a spare (her house was built in the days when it was common to have the toilet in a separate room from the bath and sink, and there wasn’t enough room in there to put ANYTHING else!)

          1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

            Wait, is that not what the toilet paper doll is for? To store the next roll to be used? I think you did right, coffee!

            1. Dahlia*

              Yeah that was the point of them!! Ours was a mouse. You just put a new one under when you use that one so there’s always a spare.

        2. Juicebox Hero*

          We didn’t have toilet paper dolls, but we did have an air freshener doll for those Renuzit cone-shaped air fresheners. The problem was, the doll’s body was glued to the top of the cone so in order to put a new air freshener in, you had to pop the cone off both the new and old air fresheners and finagle the old cone onto the new freshener without making a huge mess or (horrors!) getting freshener goo on the doll’s dress.

          You didn’t even get much scent because the skirt blocked most of it. The whole thing was just asinine.

        3. Francie Foxglove*

          Toilet paper Infantas. My grandma and a lot of her neighbors had them. No shame in taking out the spare, as long as you got a replacement from the pantry.

  34. Up and Away*

    The radio in our office gets on my nerves in the worst way. It’s too loud, and I often don’t care for whatever they have on. I’ve asked many times to have it turned down to a set level, but it keeps getting turned back up. It’s a Bose, and our CEO also has a Bose in his office; so I will often borrow his Bose remote to turn down the volume on the shared radio. No one has figured it out yet.

  35. Theatre Mouse*

    Worked in a theatre that decided to switch from allowing us to just claim hours for the shifts rota-ed, or extra hours if you explained why, which would be capped at the half hour. So stay 15 minutes late past your call get paid for 30, which is what they charged companies. New boss implemented a clock in system so you’d get paid /to the minute/ only, but you could clock in and out on your phone so long as you were in the perimeter. So when I was on lock up duties instead of going “We walked out the door on time and it took 5 minutes to lock up I won’t claim it” I’d wait to clock out until I’d locked all the doors, moved my car off site and locked up the car park.

    Petty, yes, but it made me feel better.

    1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      It sounds to me like you were not clocking out until you were done working, so…not petty?

  36. Liz the Snackbrarian*

    I worked in a public library. One woman came up to the desk to complain about the state of the restrooms and water fountain, which were actually very clean. How dare there be actual water in the bowl of the water fountain. I said “Thank you for letting me know, I will let the custodians know.” She said, “I’ve never been in this building and I’m so disappointed this is where my tax dollars are going” so I said “Ma’am, I also pay taxes.” Her response was “Do you notice these things?” and she walked away.

    Why do people think I have that many effs to give?

    1. Gene Parmesan*

      It is unfortunate that she was unhappy where $.003 of her tax dollars ended up, and proceeded to use $.005 of it telling you about it.

      On the plus side you actually made money during the conversation and all they made for themselves was grouchiness!

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        I am charmed and immediately thought of someone who would love to have it on her desk.

    2. Sharpie*

      When you are NOT at work, please look up Thomas Benjamin Wild Esq on YouTube, I think you will very much enjoy ‘I’ve No More F***s To Give’

    3. Elitist Semicolon*

      I have a friend in a related field whose response to comments like this is, “figure out what percentage of my salary comes from YOUR PERSONAL taxes and that’s what percentage of my time I’ll give you.”

  37. GardenGirl*

    Had a Asst Office Dir (AOD). who was a real piece of work. One day overheard him bragging about driving well over the posted speed limit thru a small “town” he had to drive thru to get to our office. My neighbor was a LEO, whose territory was along this road. I gave him a description of the vehicle and tag number and about what time AOD would be coming thru. A few days later AOD came in late, mad enough to spit nails. Seems he was pulled doing 15 over the speed limit and got a ticket for over $300!

    1. Beth*

      It took me a moment to realize your neighbour is a Law Enforcement Officer, not a Leo in the zodiac (although he could be both).

    2. Leo the lion*

      Not me in the UK finally figuring LEO is a Law Enforcement Officer, and not a lion or a star sign.

  38. Nusuth*

    I used to work at a nice-for-the-mall clothing and home goods store, and as any retail employee can attest, we saw our fair share of whack jobs dead set on creating the largest scene they could for an extremely nominal amount of money. I worked a lot, and often people would come in and end up yelling at a cashier near me something like SHE (pointing at me) told me yesterday I could return this!!!! (and I definitely had, but they were enraged that they couldn’t get cash -only an exchange – without ANY proof that they had actually purchased the item. You know, how stores work.) My small-time, petty move was to feign absolute ignorance that I had ever seen them before. You know, I’m sure someone told you that, I talk to a lot of people, maybe it was me but I don’t believe we’ve spoken, etc etc. It didn’t do much except make them feel crazy, which was reward enough. I should’ve gotten in trouble but usually these people were already annoying enough that managers had skipped past accommodating and were being firm.

    1. Zinnia*

      On a similar note – I used to work at a retail pharmacy in the photo department (back when 1 hour photo development was still a thing). There was a nasty, unpleasant woman who visited the store often and would complain to the managers about the cashiers often, leaning over the photo desk and getting into their faces while she was upset that the teenaged employees weren’t fawning over her and licking her boots.

      One day I was handling film in the department and Nasty Woman saw me and started to complain that I told her she could return her product (let’s call it a razor) without a receipt, the day before. Since I was out of fucks to give, I put the filmstrip down on the counter and walked over.

      “Yes ma’am, are you certain it was yesterday?”
      “YES!” she spat.
      “It was yesterday at 3pm?”
      “YES! I AM TELLING YOU-”
      “And, please pardon me, but it was this razor, correct?”
      “YES! YOU STUPID IDIOT! GOD!”

      I smiled at her and said, “I’m very sorry, but I wasn’t working yesterday.”

      “THE DAY BEFORE, THEN!”

      “No, I apologize, but this is my first day back in several days, and this was out of stock before I left, looks like we got some in while I was gone.”

      I smiled again while Nasty looked like she swallowed a lemon. My managers shooed me away.

      I still sometimes think about this encounter with pleasure.

  39. ReallyBadPerson*

    Not an employee, but a customer story. I was in line at a grocery store deli counter listening while a very elderly woman explained to the rude jerk of an employee that she needed her sliced meat placed into a plastic container, rather than a bag, because she had great difficulty opening plastic bags. Well, he wasn’t having it. He got angry, told her it wasn’t possible, but then complied anyway, very, very slowly. He practically hurled it at her when he had finished. So I decided I didn’t want the guy anywhere near my food. Instead, I raised my arm in a blessing and said: “May you never grow old enough to lose any of your abilities,” and walked off. I hope he thought I was some kind of evil witch with the power to curse him.

    1. nobadcats*

      Wow. That was just crappy of the deli worker. When I worked in a deli, “Want it in a 1lb deli instead of a bag? No problem!” Especially if the customer was elderly, which most of our clientele was.

      I think all of us at a certain age know that with the deli price label, the plastic deli bag is difficult to open and ends up in shreds. Just like standard plastic grocery bags, tie it in a double knot and for me it’s like a combination lock. I often yell, in my own bathroom, at “child-proof” caps on meds, “Someone fetch me a child of five to open this dang Tylenol bottle!”

      Well done you on the “curse”! I curtsy to you.

      1. Silver Robin*

        This does not work for all meds, but for those that come in those orange bottles in the pharmacy there is a way to close them and avoid the child proofing: flip the lid! The normal way, with the wider part of the lid facing down, is child proofed. But, many of those lids *also* have the screw cap part on the “top” so if you flip it upside-down, it just becomes a screw cap! Saved myself much consternation.

        1. nobadcats*

          Yeah, I know! I always ask for my scrip meds to be flipped to the non-child-proof side. “What? I’m an elderly spinster, is my cat going to open this bottle? No. Please stop with the child-proof cap.”

          It’s like a a USB plug, 50% chance of getting it wrong, and it’s wrong 100% of the time, and the pharmacy, 75% always the flipside child-proof cap. Just staaaaaahp it! And every child I have known, even my kids that I taught, could open the child-proof bottle in a hot second. Again, “Fetch me a child of five!”

        2. Random Bystander*

          Oooh … I am now reminded of a time when I was 20. I had had an accident ice skating (another skater grabbed me by the elbows and used me as a cushion for her fall … I did a two-point landing on my right wrist and right hip). Well, upshot of the wrist injury was that I was going to need surgery, and I had seen the doctor/surgeon who would be doing the procedure for a morning appointment, and then he said that he had an afternoon surgery opening if I wanted it (I had driven myself to the appointment), and I jumped on that, because I was in college and this was in between semesters and otherwise I’d have had to have surgery mid-semester. Well, I was given an rx for pain post-surgery, and wouldn’t you know it that they put it in the child-proof mode. I had my hand in a bandage that was almost the size of a boxing glove, and I’m right-handed, though this injury did make me border ambidextrous. No one was home when I got home, and I was sobbing by the time my Mom (first home) did get home “please open this bottle!”

          Seriously, we don’t all need child proof caps (currently, the youngest human in my house is my youngest son who is 22–the cats fortunately don’t have the capacity to open the bottles, although they have been known to treat them like toys if I forget to hide the bottle in the cupboard.

      2. Alisaurus*

        Most child-proof caps – like on Tylenol – are just a larger cap with little clips that sits over an actual screw-on cap, so pushing down on it makes it catch. If you push upward on the larger cap, it will come off of the smaller one.

        I realize that might not be the easiest-to-understand explanation, so here’s a video to explain it better: https://youtube.com/shorts/Zu0NAg5fm9Y?feature=share

        1. nobadcats*

          It’s not that I don’t understand the mechanics of the cap, it’s that it’s HARD for me to execute the procedure to open it with my own bare hands. Please understand, it’s just not that easy for some of us as we got older.

          With my San Pellegrino and other bottled liquids, I use my pliers (always on my kitchen counter) to open them since my hands aren’t strong enough for the twist off. Medicine caps, with the push/twist are a whole ‘nother kettle of fish which also involves my knees, a washcloth or dishtowel, and a sh*tload of swearing that startles my cat awake.

          1. Amanda*

            Next time you get blood work done, as if you can take the tourniquet home with you. In all likelihood, it’s single use anyway, and they are going to throw it away. They make an AMAZING bottle opener for twist tops.

            1. nobadcats*

              It’s not that easy for some of us. I’ve tried this before, and… ended up with the pliers and my nail file trying to get the thing open. People have different abilities and they often differ by age. Right now, I can’t wear over half my bracelets unless they’re bangles, the others which are gemstones with lobster claw closures, I can no longer manage to clasp at all. Something I did not have empathy for when I was in my 20s working a jewelry counter.

              1. Dahlia*

                I’m disabled, so I’m aware. But your comment seemed like you didn’t understand that they weren’t just trying to explain the mechanism. Apologies for misunderstanding.

                You can get a 12 pack of magnetic clasps on amazon for about 10 bucks, by the way. I have them for my necklaces. Like these https://www.amazon.com/Dsmile-Magnetic-Lobster-Necklace-Bracelet/dp/B01NASHR96/ref=sr_1_5?keywords=magnetic+clasps+for+jewelry&qid=1686948084&sprefix=magnetic+clasps%2Caps%2C311&sr=8-5

                I would also recommend a jar and bottle opener like this https://www.amazon.com/Opener-Bottle-Kitchen-Ketchup-Blue-Green/dp/B07NTLFXRL/ref=sr_1_10?crid=3USCRENX4O80T&keywords=jar+opener&qid=1686948090&sprefix=jar+opener%2Caps%2C154&sr=8-10

                Those are things I find very handy as someone in her 30s who’s disabled. :)

      3. Mister_L*

        I guess this employee sucked, but depending on where you are there might be hygiene procedures preventing people from fulfilling that request.

        1. Dahlia*

          I’m pretty sure they mean the plastic containers that they use for deli salads, not her own plastic containers.

  40. Mayor of Llamatown*

    An echo of the Target cashier: I worked in an upscale flower shop while in high school and college (early 2000s), as a cashier. Saturday and Sunday mornings were always busy with people picking up floral arrangements for celebrations or parties. Our checkout counters were set up in a square around a countertop work station – it added to the fancy feeling (no real lines, lots of space to wrap bouquets) but it meant that when things were busy it was sometimes a bit crowded and hectic back there. Think like a scene from a restaurant kitchen during rush with people working around each other, squeezing past one another, passing things back and forth, etc.

    One lady (stereotypical suburban Karen) at like 11 am on a Saturday came in to get some sort of arrangement she had ordered. There was of course a line up of people getting flowers. I rang up her purchase. Usually someone else would take the lead on boxing an arrangement but of course, everyone was busy. So I brought her order over to the wrapping station behind our counters to wrap myself once I was done ringing her up. Because it was so busy, none of the boxes had been made up ahead of time, so I had to build the box, and I’m having to wait for the stapler, the tape, etc as everyone else is boxing up arrangements as well. Definition of a traffic jam.

    At this point she started whining. Literally whining, like a child. About how long it was taking. Specifically saying of me, “She’s taking forever.” Implying I’m doing it on purpose. She’s whining about how the cake in her car is going to melt. I offered that if she wanted to go wait in her car to cool it down, I could finish wrapping it and bring it to her car (which was something we were allowed to do if a person asked for it, but it wasn’t a standard thing we did). She whined loudly “No, I want you to finish wrapping it already!” At this point my assistant manager steps in with over-the-top concern, just to get this lady to stop whining. I remember my manager saying “Your cake isn’t something we can control, ma’am, we’re working as fast as we can.”

    Because she’s busy complaining to my manager, and not leaving for her precious cake, I started adding tons of bells and whistles, like Mr. Bean in Love Actually. Special tissue paper, folded fancy. Ribbon curls. An enclosure card on a stake. If she’d just calmed down and taken it, she would have been gone five minutes earlier.

    I truly hope her cake didn’t melt, but I also hope whoever got that arrangement enjoyed the ribbon curls.

      1. Mayor of Llamatown*

        Thank you! I didn’t want to ruin someone’s day so I just made it extra sparkly :)

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          As someone who worked in an ice cream shop, I say that it’s her own damn fault if she didn’t plan her errands to pick up the cake last.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            THANK YOU. I get soooo many customers whining that their pies are cold, and it’s because they picked up their food and then ran fifteen errands!

          2. Mayor of Llamatown*

            RIGHT!? It was a sunny day in June. It wasn’t unseasonably warm, it was just…normal warm temps. She could have paid $7 to get the flowers delivered if she had to go out of her way to pick them up. I just had no sympathy for her.

            Truly, as the OP said, people are so mean to cashiers for no reason. You can always tell who didn’t work in retail (or who has since made so much money that they no longer have grips on the reality workers deal with.)

            1. allathian*

              Yeah, this. I’d like to think that I’m a decent enough person that I’d treat retail employees well even if I hadn’t worked in retail myself in my teens and 20s. But my experience certainly ensured that I do just that. I never blame cashiers or servers for things that are beyond their control. I’ve submitted a few complaints when it’s been necessary and done so through official channels while sticking to the facts of what happened without assigning blame.

    1. K*

      I’m a little disappointed that you’re choosing to perpetuate the streotype by calling her out as a “Karen”. It’s unnecessary. You could absolutely get your point across without that.

      1. Magenta*

        I agree, no matter how it started, it has become a misogynistic slur now and it is used to silence women, particularly older ones.

        1. Lily*

          A friend said to me recently, when I referred to someone as a “Karen”, that derisively using the name in that manner is “Just another way to tell women to shut up.”

        2. Tired*

          You’re neglecting the class aspect (and, as Database Developer Dude points out below, race)

      2. Database Developer Dude*

        Considering the six letter word starting with n that gets thrown at me regularly, and the way the moniker “Karen” started out, by the ACTIONS of some people, I’m somewhat less than sympathetic.

        Come back with your complaint when they start lynching middle-aged white women with bad haircuts.

  41. nobadcats*

    My petty wasn’t actually IN the office. I had an incredibly toxic boss at the beginning of my career. She was in charge of the word processing and proofreading department at Fancy Accounting firm. She’d choose one person to be her “pet” for a few months and drag them into her office for hours every day, telling them all her life story, her troubles and woes in her love life, her gyn health issues, really inappropriate boundary crossing and line stepping. I was too young to understand that this was so wildly out of the norm, that I just went along with it. I was her pet for about three months, my work not getting done due to her emotional bleeding for hours every day. After some imaginary offense, she’d pick a new pet.

    I quit that job with in a blaze of profanity and no notice after one too many insults to injury and being written up for, I sh*t you not, “not being nice enough to Boss.”

    Some months later, I was at a restaurant that the office would often frequent. They had a giant glass fishbowl on the hostess desk in which people would throw their business cards to get a free lunch in a drawing. I noticed that Old Boss had about 10 cards in there. When the hostess left to help another customer, I dug out every single card of hers I could find and chucked them in the bin out on the street.

    In my defense, I was left unsupervised with the bowl.

      1. nobadcats*

        “Not getting a free lunch on my watch, bitca.” Dusted my hands off, then flipped my pillow to the cool side and slept the sleep of the just

          1. nobadcats*

            You know it! Very old typo from 257 years ago, when dinosaurs walked Earth, and there was no glamour.

    1. My Name is Mudd*

      This is perfection. Actually hurts no one, and the annoying person doesn’t win free stuff.

    2. ReallyBadPerson*

      This is the ideal petty. Only you know what you did and there was no collateral damage.

  42. Amy*

    my org used to not provide plant-based milks (in 2017) and i didn’t realize as I had just started–so then the owner of the soymilk LEFT AN ANONYMOUS POSTIT on the empty carton on the kitchen counter stating it wasn’t for sharing–I was mortified and outed myself as the stealer by posting in the all-office skype chat that I put a new carton in and that I’d be happy to split/take turns in the future–no one ever fessed up and I never figured out whose handwriting it was! My office has now gone vegan so totally moot point but seriously still a mystery…

    1. Kit Kendrick*

      I used to bring in my own milk for tea and cereal in the morning because our company only provided powdered creamer. I am sure each person who put a splash of milk in their coffee thought “I’m just taking a tiny bit, it won’t make any difference,” but I was only getting to use half or less of any container I brought in. (Everyone knew that the office was not supplying milk, so it was not a matter of thinking it was communal.) I took a sharpie and drew a frownie face on the cap of my milk. I felt incredibly childish and petty, but the milk ‘shrinkage’ did stop.

    2. Nina*

      My last job, I was in the satellite office of… let’s call it a tech company, close enough, but we had an added frisson of ‘if I fuck up too badly at work there’s a very real chance someone will actually die’. Long hours. Head office decided we could have a snack budget. The snack budget was set based on costs at head office, which was in a very large and very expensive city and most of the snacks were like, fresh-made catered food.

      We were in a very rural area and the nearest place to get food was the supermarket in the village half an hour away. Our logistics coordinator was given control of the snack budget and he went absolutely nuts with it. Gallons of milk. Every kind of dairy-free milk (people had preferences!). Every kind of cereal bar and instant noodle and yogurt and soda the supermarket carried. He made a feedback sheet on the snack cupboard door (list of all items in the cupboard with boxes letting you rate them from 1-5; too many 1-star ratings and the item disappeared, enough 5-star ratings and every other product in that range would also appear to be assessed) if you put something in the suggestion box it would show up the next week.

      It was insane and beautiful and head office never said boo about it.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        I know we all hate pizza parties, but this kind of perk in a workplace does genuinely improve morale.

        In my first proper job, the office had a weekly supermarket grocery delivery. I don’t particularly remember much about it except that we always had pink grapefruit high juice (er, cordial? does a similar job to kool-aid but is a sort of syrup concentrate made with real fruit that you reconstitute with water from the cooler). Beautifully sharp and refreshing.

        1. Magenta*

          Robinsons Pink Grapefruit squash is my absolute favourite! I’m going to go make a glass right now!

  43. Cat Tree*

    This is passive aggressive more than petty, but I’ll share. I work on a sub-team of 4. We all report to the same manager but we’re fairly independent because it’s a high level job. Currently I’m the only woman on the team, although this is largely coincidental right now. The weekly group check-in meeting that a previous (female) coworker arranged expired. For months there were vague comments about “the meeting should be restarted” but nobody ever volunteered. The comments started to get more direct, such as saying them right after I talked about something else. I refused to ever pick up on the hints. It dragged on long enough that our boss started asking us when we would re-start the meetings.

    One day I mentioned something and one guy said something like, “yeah that would be really good to bring up at our weekly meeting”. And I said something like, “great idea, can you put something on our calendars?” It was hard for him to refuse after that setup so he did it and it’s not my problem now.

    1. Rainbow*

      Ohhhhh yes. When I was in grad school, someone requested me to my face to do a task, “because the last woman did it”! I, despite generally being quite agreeable, said no, due to his wording. Nobody did the task…

  44. Constance Lloyd*

    My now husband and I met as coworkers. When we started dating, we also began looking for other jobs. On his last day in the office, I made an elaborately decorated sheet cake to share with our coworkers. I’m talking intricately piped flowers, vines… and the phrase, “Good Riddance.”

    It turns out not everyone knew it was his last day. This would not have been a problem, except the previous day was also the last day of another coworker few people could stand. For the rest of the day several of my coworkers thought I had made a cake to celebrate a former colleague’s departure, AND NOBODY TOLD ME.

  45. Petty please*

    I had a manager who was petty and a micromanager. She was about two inches shorter than me, but she always wore three-inch heels and I usually wore flats in the office. On days when she was especially frustrating, I would change into heels and make a point to stand close to her so she had to look up at me. She never failed to comment on me being taller than her.

    1. ScruffyInternHerder*

      Hee hee hee

      Technically I was a willing participant in the pettiness, so it counts right?

      The characters:
      Jimbo, he with attitude and added issues of not really believing women should work (at all) AND purposefully leaning into the stereotype of a shorter man in a male dominated field.
      Me, a woman with a pretty technical job in said male dominated field.
      Willers, my supervisor with whom I got along, who had little to no patience for Jimbo’s daily chest-puffing and nonsense.
      Bert, the site supervisor; he’s not employed by the same company that Willers and I work for, but he is employed by the same company as Jimbo. He’s on the same page as Willers.

      Daily stand up meeting, I find myself frequently standing next to Jimbo. This is always orchestrated by Willers or Bert, or a combination effort thereof. I stand approximately 8″ taller than Jimbo. I don’t have to say anything, but everyone in the room can see that Jimbo is STEWING. Apparently I have some nerve, both being a woman and being not-average-height. Given what an outsized jerk Jimbo is, this daily shenanigans is enjoyed by anyone paying attention.

      1. Arts Akimbo*

        This is genius-level petty, because technically no one is doing anything at all, you’re just existing! Existing next to him, in a way that no one in their right mind could call you out on.

        1. ScruffyInternHerder*

          Added bonus that the person he’d be complaining about me existing to….was one of the orchestrators of at least half of this shenanigan!

          Most mornings after morning stand up, we’d be leaving and as soon as we were out of earshot, Willers would be doubled over and howling with laughter. It was epic!

  46. And I'm the alchemist of the hinterlands*

    My brother works for Disney World. And although they do have lots of rules and they have to be careful, they can have sneaky moments of evil with customers who deserve it. Once someone called my brother “Hey you!” and asked for directions to a specific attraction. My brother sent him out of the park instead. One of my brother’s coworkers worked for a concierge for one of the high end resorts and dealt with all sorts of nut jobs who would go to him expecting him to fix whatever they were unhappy with. Once someone was being extremely belligerent on the phone and asked him to put his manager on. The employee graciously said he would and put on a recording of Goofy singing happy birthday.

    1. squirreltooth*

      I used to work at Disneyland and was much more weirded out when people called me by name rather than “hey you.”

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have seen so many Disney cast members at the admissions turnstiles for the parks carefully not correct folks who are pitching screaming tantrums about how they shouldn’t have to wait in line to get into the park, they have reservations in 20 minutes at (restaurant, ride, or experience that is totally in a different park than the one they are waiting in line to get into that they can absolutely not get to in 20 minutes) and it makes me BEAM.

    3. FormerPizzaBoy*

      One of my former jobs was a downtown big tourist city location. Often would give directions. Nice? you get to your destination. Rude? You’re going somewhere else.

      1. Cathie from Canada*

        When my son worked at a pharmacy in downtown Vancouver, tourists often asked the staff where such-and-such was. One of his coworkers would always wave toward the waterfront and say cheerfully “Its two blocks down and to the left!” And off they went.
        It’s become a catchphrase in our family.

      2. JustaTech*

        My high school was in the downtown of a major East Coast city and one year there was a meeting of some kind of major international group (the World Monetary Fund? Something like that) that brought out a ton of weirdo protestors.
        It made the subway a mess, everyone was late for class and these people were (generally) real jerks. It was also surprising because we were many subway stops from the location of the thing they were protesting.
        So when a guy dressed as a killer GMO corn asked my friends and I for directions we were super helpful – and sent them out of the city.

      3. nobadcats*

        Not necessarily job-related, but when I lived in Seattle and worked downtown, lots of tourists would come up to me and ask where they could find the Space Needle. I’d check the map in my head and send them in any direction that was opposite the Space Needle. I mean, really, you’re holding a tourist map IN YOUR HAND, just… look up, for goodness sake, the Big Pointy Thing can be seen from pretty much everywhere if you’re downtown.

        This kind of stuff happens to me in almost every public space I enter. Walgreens, the liquor store, DMV, the vet, the library, public transit, Paris, Glasgow, Saigon, et. al., I guess I just project competence, safety, and “someone who might know things.”

        1. FormerPizzaBoy*

          The city in my story was also Seattle. Since I downtown, near the convention centers, it was usually “where is Pike’s [sic] Place?” or to Pioneer Square (I did work in Pioneer Square as well for another business. this one based in tourism so I couldn’t be as loose with directions). The good directions and the bad directions were essentially the same, with the direction changed. Nice? Take a left, walk until you hit the water, take a right. Rude? take a right first, then walk uphill for a while.

        2. FormerPizzaBoy*

          The city in my story was also Seattle. Since I was downtown, near the convention centers, it was usually “where is Pike’s [sic] Place?” or to Pioneer Square (I did work in Pioneer Square as well for another business. this one based in tourism so I couldn’t be as loose with directions). The good directions and the bad directions were essentially the same, with the direction changed. Nice? Take a left, walk until you hit the water, take a right. Rude? take a right first, then walk uphill for a while.

        3. SnappinTerrapin*

          A man drove onto the car lot where I used to work, rolled down the window, and asked me for directions to a dealership across town that sold cars manufactured by a different company. Initial response: “I’m sorry, sir, but I don’t know.”

          He raised his voice: “WHAT???!”

          I very slowly said: “I. do. not. know. where. that. business. is. And. I. do. not. care. where. they. are.”

          He got mad and started yelling about how I didn’t have to be rude about it. I walked away, wondering if he had ever gone to McDonald’s and asked for directions to Burger King.

  47. Admin Amber*

    We had a terrible human who insisted on having her phone volume turned up all the way so when she got a call everyone on the cubicle farm could hear the ringing. I used to go into her office and turn down the volume all the way. I don’t believe she ever figured it out. She was later fired for being a terrible employee. Not sorry.

    1. EvilQueenRegina*

      My coworker did that when we had our old handsets pre-lockdown, then would sit there ignoring her phone and waiting for someone else to pick up.

    2. Bronze Betty*

      I should have done that to a former co-worker from several years ago. Her phone did not actually ring, though. Its “ring” was a voice saying, “You have an incoming call. . . You have an incoming call . . . ” And she would frequently leave her desk (well, maybe it just felt like it was frequent), and we all would hear this message repeating until it finally went to voicemail. An actual ring would have been less annoying.

      1. Bronze Betty*

        Note: This was her cell phone, not her work desk phone. Back in the days before most offices required your cell phones to be on silent/vibrate.

        1. Emma*

          Ah, in my office we all know how to silence each other’s phones. It’s just one of those things – especially if you’re a single parent, which lots of my colleagues are, you can’t put it on do not disturb; so instead when you get back someone will say “so and so called you, I rejected it”

      2. Don't make me come over there*

        I used to have a coworker who would take all his calls (personal as well as professional) on speakerphone. In an office with 6 other people. I knew all about his mortgage, his dog, his nephew’s math tutor. One time he joined a webinar, with the audio on his speakerphone, and GOT UP AND LEFT THE OFFICE. I got up and disconnected the call. I don’t understand some people’s thought processes.

    3. nobadcats*

      Petty confession: with my co-irker who did this, one desk away from me (we’re all editors, so the office was very quiet–we’re all WFH now), if she was in a meeting in a conference room and her cell started kicking off for minutes at a time, I would silently get up, grab her phone and either put it in the freezer or bury it under the stacks of takeaway plastic utensils and paper plates in our kitchenette.

      It was loud enough that she could find it later. Never pegged me as the culprit. Still have no regrets.

  48. Melissa*

    I had a coworker who just absolutely hated me. (*I* think this is because I was good at our job and she was not, but she probably has a different take on it.). One time at a party there was a “guess how many beans are in the jar” thing. Fun, silly activity, that nobody took seriously; whoever guesses the closest gets to take the jar of jelly beans home. Well, I guessed the closest and won— let’s say there were 75 beans and I guessed 77. Well, this coworker made a stink because she thought the rule should be “closest guess without going over.”

    1. Narise*

      So was she closest without going over and would someone else had won? Trying to figure out why she cared so much.

      1. Melissa*

        I don’t 100% remember, but I don’t think her guess was even close! Nor did she know whose was. She just knew she didn’t want ME to win.

    2. goddessoftransitory*

      Jelly beans. Where even when you’re buying fancy ones the cost for a bag of hundreds is under twenty bucks. WELL under.

    3. Gumby*

      You can’t change the rules retroactively!

      Though I did spend much of this week playing cost proposal The Price is Right wherein the proposal rules have an upper dollar limit and everyone proposing tries to write a budget so as to get as close as possible to the limit w/o going over. But you can’t just say “it will cost $500,000” – you have to say who is working on the project and how many hours and what materials you are buying and what your indirect rates are, etc. I got one proposal within $10 of the limit by switching one hour of work from a senior llama groomer to a junior llama groomer and I am inordinately proud of that!

  49. Hannah*

    I was sent to an annual conference that lasted a few days in another city. I wanted to ask the hotel for a mini-fridge as I tend to have leftovers from any restaurant meal and I wanted to be able to save them/save a little money on meals. Somehow, I had difficulty getting my hotel phone to connect to the front desk but I eventually successfully made my mini fridge request. After I returned home from the conference, the Director of my organization informed me that my hotel bill had 1 unauthorized phone call charge of $.50 from the conference trip. Apparently, I had somehow made an external call using the hotel phone when I’d called to ask for the mini fridge. My Director called me personally to inform me I had to pay the $.50 in order to settle my hotel bill with the org’s finance dept. (in a completely different bldg). That day. He called at around 4:30pm. Speedily, I went to pay the $.50, but was informed I needed a specific form in order to do so. I asked what the form was and was told that “my director should know what the form was”. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to reach the Director/his assistant until the next day, but when I did his assistant relayed the correct form to fill out, so I filled it out and returned to finance to pay the $.50. Nope, wrong form. My Director would have to request the correct form from someone (my memory of the details are fuzzy) which would then be sent to me. Over the next couple days, both my boss and I were daily subjected to calls from the Director via his assistant asking when I was going to pay the $.50. His poor assistant understood that I was unable to pay until I was given the correct form — that the Director needed to request for me. My boss kept reminding the Director to request the correct form, but the Director still kept telling his assistant to pester me about it. Finally, I got the correct form and I dutifully paid the $.50. I still have the carbon copy receipt proving it somewhere. The worst part was that I never even got my promised mini fridge while I was at the hotel.

    1. CommanderBanana*

      JFC.

      I once got an email (the day after I had major surgery) from the head of finance asking me to repay $2.32 for a pack of gum I had bought on a trip because “gum wasn’t food” and therefore wouldn’t be reimbursed.

      This is the same head of finance who somehow didn’t catch an employee embezzling over $100K over the course of 2 years.

        1. AFac*

          At one of my workplaces, it was because they didn’t catch the person embezzling $$$$ that we subsequently had to justify all costs in sextuplicate using whatever form they deemed correct depending on the phase of the moon.

    2. goddessoftransitory*

      FIFTY CENTS. Man, those quarters should have been on his closed-forever eyes!

      1. Hannah*

        Lol – one of my friends joked that I should have sent 2 quarters to the Director interoffice mail with a note – “here’s the $.50, you handle the paperwork.”

  50. Janeric*

    I once had a deeply unpleasant coworker for fieldwork. We were compiling a plant list for an area and he INSISTED that stinging nettle was an unusual mint. He wouldn’t accept “I accidentally walked through it and know it’s stinging nettle, trust me” as an answer. Finally I said
    “Fine, grab a specimen and put it in your bag.”
    He grabbed a big handful, a pained look crossed his face, and then he agreed that it WAS stinging nettle.

    Where I get real petty is that I’d ask him what “that weird mint” was the whole rest of the season. I don’t think he ever learned to identify stinging nettle by sight.

    1. Quill*

      Oh, fieldwork.

      I will admit that I take more joy in this than I probably should, given my background in “nobody mentioned the large hole in the ground and therefore I ate dirt” type of fieldwork.

    2. Warrior Princess Xena*

      How do you get someone whose job it is to compile a plant list and not have them be able to recognize stinging nettle??? I’m by no means a plant expert but I can ID the plants that can bite back in my area.

      1. Tau*

        Maybe it’s just me but it feels like the woods around here consist to 30% of stinging nettle and even some of the parks are infested (I am in a major metropolis and had to yank a coworker from another climate zone away from danger at one point). You learn to identify that shit early, or suffer.

    3. Charlotte Lucas*

      Ok. I have to admit that I was thinking longingly of all that free stinging nettle. (A bath in hot water & it’s a tasty green for a frittata, etc.)

      1. Emma*

        Please come visit the path I cycle down for my commute sometime, one woman’s very sore ankle is another’s tea.

    4. Juicebox Hero*

      Awesome.

      When I had a field biology class in college, the first things we were taught to identify were poison ivy, ragweed, and stinging nettles because the college didn’t want us coming back with rashes, allergy attacks, or handsful of pain. It left me with permanent weed-dar.

    5. allathian*

      Stinging nettles make a great substitute for spinach in soup, pancakes, savory pies, and omelettes when you pick them young and blanch them. You can also dry them (without blanching) or freeze them after blanching.

      We lived in a fairly rural area when I was a kid and I grew up foraging edible plants like stinging nettles, as well as picking berries and mushrooms.

  51. Anon for this*

    At a previous job, I managed someone who had legitimate food allergies. The whole team knew this, so whenever we brought treats in for the team, we made sure to include something this person could eat. If we went out to lunch, we made sure it was a place where this person could order something. The director of our department (who was my manager) didn’t believe food allergies were A Thing, so she would make a point of calling out this person every single time. She was a terrible boss and an overall miserable human being for many other reasons, but this issue in particular really got under my skin.
    On my last day there, I invited my team to go out to lunch with me, but didn’t invite my manager. I made sure she knew we were all going out together and she wasn’t invited. Yes, it was unkind and I still feel badly about it.

    1. AnonToday*

      Don’t feel badly! People who ignore allergies that make people severely ill are dangerous.

    2. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Man, I can so relate – both to doing the pettiness (what a jerk! I hate it when people decide other people’s lives experiences are Not A Thing and then decide to exert some kind of authority over them) and to the guilt afterward.

      If you still feel badly about it, it might help to do some visualization or feel into that feeling, and let warmth, compassion, or whatever else seems like it would be helpful flow into it.

      Imagine apologizing to her (or to her higher self if you prefer) and her accepting the apology with grace and understanding and releasing you from this guilt.

      Just something that works for me sometimes.

      1. Lily*

        “Imagine apologizing to her (or to her higher self if you prefer) and her accepting the apology with grace and understanding and releasing you from this guilt.”
        I like this.

    3. K*

      Legitimate food allergies? Are you implying that some food allergies are lesser important? Or illegitmate?

      1. Ancient Llama*

        Assume positive intent: some people refer to things that aren’t actual allergies as allergies just because it is easier. I am one of those: I have a caffeine intolerance (per dr it is not an allergy) that gives me shortness of breathe, migraines (yes I get the irony that many migraine pain relievers have caffeine because it helps them, but not me) and other issues. It is just easier when I ask if the root beer is caffeine free to say I have an allergy than explain all this to the server.
        So assume Anon is not saying there are less legitimate food allergies, please.

        1. Zweisatz*

          +1 I have food intolerances, but they won’t kill me because they’re not anaphylactic.

          I do think it is completely okay to make the distinction between “will make you miserable temporarily” and “can suffocate you”.

          I don’t feel it implies my issues aren’t “real”.

        2. Database Developer Dude*

          If it helps, Barq’s is definitely NOT caffeine free. That’s why I usually go for it. I remember it by saying “Barq’s has bite”.

      2. Lily*

        I work in healthcare, where allergies and tolerances tend to be lumped together. We sometimes need to distinguish between a “true allergy” and an intolerance. It doesn’t mean we’re doubting that allergies are real.

  52. Barnacle Sally*

    My former boss was an extreme micromanager and as a result every staff had a petty moment or 2. Some highlights– The boss insisted on a daily morning meeting to go over the previous day, including all 30 staff members previous day. My coworker who was the assigned note taker promptly changed the Meeting Minutes title to the F/U Sheet (Follow Up Sheet)
    My first week there I realized how micro managing the boss was when I walked upstairs to use the restroom and he met me outside his office demanding to know why I wasn’t downstairs doing my job. I informed him I needed to use the bathroom and he became very deflated and flustered and began stammering “oh…of course, yes please do” while backing away (I guess bodily functions escaped him?) From then on anytime I went upstairs to use the facilities and saw him I cheerfully and loudly let him know “Using the restroom!” To which all the other managers would wonder amongst themselves why I announced it and the story would get told and the boss would be embarrassed all over again. Ha!

    1. Julia*

      I had a manager who did that to me and was never embarrassed when I said said I was in the bathroom. It ended with me having to write on the office whiteboard that I was at the restroom.

      That boss also wanted me to track my time in 15 minute increments because he was convinced that I wasn’t evenly splitting my time between two work sites. I dutifully did this and carefully noted the amount of time I was spent filling time tracking information. After 6 months of time tracking I demonstrated that I was indeed divvying up my job correctly. I asked if I could stop tracking my time. He was reluctant to let me stop because he was convinced I would eventually realize it was beneficial. I was eventually able to convince him that no I didn’t find it personally satisfying or helpful.

  53. Admin Lackey*

    At a terrible admin job I had a number of years ago, one of the more senior admin staff was a huge bully and just generally unpleasant to be around. Management knew she was a problem, but wouldn’t do anything other than give her warning after warning that never went anywhere.

    Our jobs overlapped a lot and she was a daily source of stress, but of course I had no power to push back and she knew there would be no consequences for treating me badly.

    However, I was always among the first people in the office each day. Once every month or two, after she’d been particularly bad the day before, I would go to her desk and turn off her wireless mouse. She would spend a few minutes clicking fruitlessly before figuring out what was going on. At first she seemed to think she had turned them off and then forgotten, but I think she eventually realized someone else was doing it. But she had way too many enemies at work to have any hope of narrowing it down to me.

    Pointless? Big time. But it was a small thing I could do to annoy and inconvenience her that she could never trace back to me, so I reveled in this small act of vindictiveness…

  54. urguncle*

    My first job out of college was a call center for a Big 3 auto company. Technicians would call in and get permission to change special parts under warranty in exchange for the “core” so that the engineers could study what went wrong. We had a questionnaire of 21 or so questions, but once you became decent at the job, you could skip or answer a lot of the questions without asking the technicians. Techs did not get paid for this time, so they were eager to get through this as soon as possible. My call resolution time was 6 minutes. The average for the department was 12.
    We did have an older guy, George, who used to be a car salesman, but picked this job up in retirement part time. He was very slow and loved to tell stories to the technicians halfway through the calls. 40+ minutes later, he’d let them go. There was a lot of misogyny from every direction at that job, so when a technician called up, heard my voice and let me know that he didn’t think I’d understand what he needed, I had no problem letting George know that someone was asking for him by name. Made George’s day! He was excited to get such a complicated case. A full 90 minutes later, he hung up and let me know it wasn’t complicated at all, he just had two or three claims to get through, although that guy seemed like he was in a real hurry.
    Same place, I did bilingual claims for some Canadian dealers. Lots of them loved to tell me that they didn’t like my accent, so I’d offer any time to put them back in the English line if they preferred. Magically, they were able to understand me after that.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Ha, I love routing the sexist technicians to George! The punishment fits the crime.

  55. WellRed*

    Not super interesting because my office is too nice but had a coworker who found a pink razor scooter with a bell and took to driving it around the office dinging the damn bell. I finally hid it on her.

    1. Bronze Betty*

      I have questions. Did she find it? Did she figure out that she was annoying the office? If so, did she stop doing it?

      Since I wasn’t there, it does sound fun to ride a scooter around the office, ringing a bell. Maybe before or after hours.

      1. WellRed*

        I eventually gave it back after a month or so. It wasn’t even that well hidden! She did stop riding it around however.

  56. Oryx*

    I was a solo librarian at a career college and the library was sometimes assigned as a classroom. One evening, a teacher was there with her class. The students were in there taking an exam for her class and she spent the entire time talking to another teacher. The library was a small room and they were not quiet (well, the other teacher was; I think she didn’t know how to get out of the convo). It was annoying me and I wasn’t even taking the test, so I politely suggested if the teachers wanted to chat they should do it in the hallway so the students could have a quiet space for their exam.

    She was big mad and a couple days later when she was next in there with her class she pulled me out into the hallway to tell me how incredibly disrespectful it was to talk to her like that in front of her class (nevermind she was the one being loud while they were taking a test) and I was not allowed to do that to her again.

    I just stood there, smiling placidly as she ranted, and said “I promise, that will never, ever happen again.” She walked away smirking, convinced she’d somehow “won” the conversation.

    A few hours later, I sent out an all staff “Thanks for the memories folks” email because it was my last day and she had no idea.

    1. EngineerResearcher*

      This is perfect, there’s a little part of me that hopes she wonders if she contributed to you leaving.

  57. Pangolin*

    Years ago I was working with an external contact had a name that can be spelt with or without one letter – Rachel/Rachael, Stacey/Stacy, Sara/Sarah etc. One time I wrote the wrong spelling in an email – which is, I grant, very irritating: it isn’t that hard to spell a name properly when it’s right there in the ‘from’ bar etc. When she replied, she stuck an R in the middle of my name. I replied, spelling her name correctly, and apologised for the typo. For the rest of our correspondence she spelt my name wrong, differently every time.

    1. Stokes*

      This is amazing. Spelling your name wrong the first time is great, but the commitment to keep doing it? Pure gold. Sounds like she really had an axe to grind.

    2. Ally McBeal*

      Man, if I thought I could get away with permanently and deliberately misspelling the name of everyone who’s ever misspelled my name, regardless of whether they apologized for the one-time mistake, I’d live a happy life.

    3. Not a Penguin*

      which is hilarious since in our house, Pangolin is one of the permutations of how Benedict Cumberbatch can’t say Penguin.

  58. I knew Wos*

    At a previous job in a small company, we had only one IT guy. His name was Wos (for waste of salary). Wos spent most of his time doing crazy projects he dreamed up that did nothing to help the company, while ignoring his real duties.

    One day we turned (the developers) off the laser printer for some random reason. That’s when we found out he monitored EVERYTHING and got mad it was off. So he came out and turned it back on.

    Well ‘ol Wos was a big thorn in our side, so one of the developers (Hilarious Hank) turned the printer back off to annoy him again. The printer was on the next day. Then the network cable was unplugged, that got fixed. So Hank cut the network cable, plugged it into the printer, and hid the cut end where the cable snaked under furniture so it wasn’t obvious.

    In the end Wos, who never said a word to us doing all of this, put in a nearly hidden network cable and plugged everything back in. But when Hank turned off the printer power… it stayed on.

    You see Wos had opened the printer (poorly, breaking some plastic) and bypassed the power switch so it wouldn’t turn the printer off anymore and we couldn’t mess with things.

    1. allathian*

      Ouch. Now I’m all for pettiness in the workplace when it’s warranted, but I draw the line at sabotaging equipment. Both Wos *and* Hank should’ve been fired for intentionally damaging equipment owned by the company, and they should’ve been required to pay for getting the damage fixed as well.

    2. Lizzo*

      One of my colleagues (whose role was primarily IT, but he was not in the centralized IT department) updated the message on our laser printer so that when it was waiting between print jobs it said “Insert Coin”.
      Not petty, just amusing. I still chuckle when I think of it.

  59. The Wizard Rincewind*

    It’s not as funny, but I had a coworker who would make the weirdest, most nitpicky “suggestions” when editing things I wrote. Like…clearly there wasn’t a lot to edit there but they felt like they HAD to say SOMETHING, so it would be stuff like “should we say that [Donor X] is based in Idaho if they have a vacation house in France?” or “I personally don’t use the word ‘genuine’ in this context” or “we should double check if they spell their name with an H”.

    I began to take it as a sign of pride, because the more inane the suggestions, the fewer actual issues there were with the original piece.

    1. ferrina*

      Truth. I’m in a client-facing field where clients love to provide feedback on whatever we give them. I coach junior staff that “the more petty the comments, the stronger the work. Nitpicking small issues means they couldn’t find any big or medium issues”

      1. Anonymath*

        I tell my students this as well. By the time I’m commenting on very minor issues in their papers it means that overall their paper is very strong and there is nothing major to improve.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      I went the other route with a guy like that. I’d deliberately leave a easy to fix typo or missing thing in it, then they win and it’d be something I’d want to fix anyway instead of getting bogged down in 20min discussion of whatever inane thing they dreamed up to add when there was no issues….

    3. Siege*

      I build in “the magician’s choice” now. Deliberately put something wrong into a document or a design, and then either the micromanager catches it and feels good that they did or I fix it after they’ve signed off on it, but it saves so much time in stupid conversations about “can we move the bar half a pixel to the left?” (Absolutely not a joke, I have had that conversation, regarding a web page that would display differently for different screen resolutions, so, uh, your half a pixel micromanagement can eat a bug. Every designer has had that conversation.)

      I also don’t like the people who think that because they once renovated a bathroom they can do my job (graphic design), but that goes beyond petty to “actively try to infuriate them in a way they can’t complain about,” so it doesn’t belong here. Surprisingly, you can use a lot of the kind of direct communication Alison often recommends to make people really mad, if they’re the kind of person who just wants to be mad and not the kind of person who wants to figure out how to not be mad next time.

      1. Siren of Sleep*

        Provided they’re not immediately behind you, with that half a pixel one that’s when you say “Sure!”, do absolutely nothing, then tell them later to take a look at the “revision”. Bet they start saying it’s perfect then lol.

        1. Siege*

          You can do it when they’re behind you too, if you don’t save the file. Strangely, it is then perfect!

      2. Zarniwoop*

        “actively try to infuriate them in a way they can’t complain about,”
        Examples, please!

        1. Siege*

          Once a coworker sent me two photos to use with an article. One was a headshot and the other was a group shot. I sent it to our external partner, who did what any sane person would do and ran the group shot at the top of the article and the headshot by the byline. Coworker freaked out because OBVIOUSLY I should know that the smaller headshot should have been at the top of the article, never mind that it would have looked terribly blown up to the correct size. I spent a long email exchange being entirely reasonable, and when I said “for future articles, please let me know what layout you’re thinking of so Partner and I can avoid making this mistake again,” she got so mad she cc’d our boss. Our boss then spent an hour berating me by phone and “problem-solving” my lack of communication skills (because I didn’t magically know that we were supposed to do something so monstrously stupid) and I kept being entirely reasonable and acting like this was a reasonable conversation to have and I was invested in finding a solution, and finally, when I explained my comment for the third time, she said “…oh. You really were just trying to solve the problem, weren’t you?” It was, frankly, hilarious, and had major positive knock-on effects for me and less positive ones for That Coworker, so win.

          And it just really works to go into every angry conversation (my workplace allows A LOT of bad behavior, including by me) practicing open communication and proactive problem-solving and being egoless about things that someone (my boss) is going to rewrite anyway. And if that’s a dishonest use of Alison’s advice, I don’t really care, because it works with some of the most aggressively narcissistic and sociopathic people I’ve ever met, including the person who tells everyone how terrible I am to work with because I sometimes tell her no. What I really tell her is “no, we can’t do it that way but here’s a very similar way that will get us close to those results with our available technology/brand standards/assets/time.” What she hears is “no.”

          Being aggressively reasonable, assessing where you can seek help and where you can vent, articulating your specific needs (I have AuDHD and my boss is learning to work with that, if slowly), communicating openly and professionally, and generally being extremely professional to anyone you have noted is, was, or will be a problem works. And half my coworkers are too self-absorbed to see it happening to them.

    4. JustaTech*

      I have a coworker (at a distant site) who would do this kind of thing – he had some Feelings about commas. No one would have really cared except that he would only announce his problem with your comma, or change the spelling of a word to the UK spelling (we’re in the US), *after* the document had been reviewed by 8 people and was already in our painfully complicated document control system.
      So his issue with that one comma meant that 8 people had to re-sign off on the document. Usually 8 senior, busy people, on a document that was needed in a hurry.

      So people just stopped assigning him documents that someone in his position *should* have been reviewing, because he was such a pain.

      1. allathian*

        It may have been strategic on his part. Perhaps he hated that task so much that he made it intentionally difficult for everyone else so that they’d stop assigning the task to him? If that’s the case, it clearly worked.

        1. JustaTech*

          Maybe? He’s quite senior so if he really didn’t want to do it he could have delegated it to someone else. Or he could have just skimmed and signed – for each individual it’s not that much work to sign off, it’s just when you have to wrangle 8 people to sign off on a thing that it gets to be a real PITA.

          I had another coworker (a peer) who had a similar thing about commas, but after two or three documents she started asking me “do you want a content edit, a light copyedit, or the full comma attack?” so I know it’s a thing for a lot of folks, but at least some people have the self awareness to realize that other people don’t care and it can take a lot of time.

  60. Irish Teacher*

    Not sure if this counts or not, but one of my colleagues retired a few months back and on the last day, he made a speech, as is normal, thanking us all, especially those in his department, the SNAs, etc, but then adding there are some people he really did not want to thank, including a couple of previous principals who were the nastiest, most vindictive people he’d had to deal with and how grateful he was for his colleagues who were the people who made the school run so well, despite some of the management.

    The previous principals were not there to hear this, but the chairman of the board who had been involved in hiring them was and people were wondering if he got the point or if he assumed the guy was clearly referring to principals hired before he was involved in hiring.

  61. Single Parent Barbie*

    After getting laid off from my previous job, I spent several months working as a waitress at a 24 hour restaurant that sells a lot of Waffles. There was one woman who had worked for the company for decades and claimed she was “the next in line” for a promotion (but never was because she was a witch.) She had a serious power trip and was nasty to all of the other employees.

    I have an old fashioned name (Think Gertrude) but have always gone by my nickname (Trudy.) She would always call me Gertrude and I would tell her I prefer she call me Trudy and she would say she loves Gertrude because its her granddaugher’s name and I was like yes but mine is Trudy.

    The next shift she would still call me Gertrude. Finally one day, I had stepped off the floor and was standing in the back by the doorway and she was on the other side of the restaurant and starts calling for me in her loud, screetchy voice “GERTRUDE”

    I ignored her.

    She kept yelling “Gertrude. GERtrude. GERTRUDE”

    I still ignored her.

    She probably called me LOUDLY a dozen times, and I continued to not even flinch. Meanwhile everyone else in the restaurant kind of slowed to a stop as she continued to try to get my attention.

    Finally, the light bulb went on (slowly, dimly but on) and she says “Trudy”

    I looked at her, smiled and said “yes? how can I help you”

    The best part was everyone laughed at her.

  62. Truthfully*

    I think we can call this one…the ashes. When I was a secretary I used to wash everybody’s coffee cups at the end of the day. It never bothered me to do this. I just considered it part of the job. For some reason my co-worker decided I shouldn’t have to do this, and that it should be the cleaning people’s responsibility. She was the type of person you didn’t argue with, so she spoke to someone to arrange this.
    Drinking my coffee in the weeks after, I kept commenting to her “My coffee tastes like ashes!” It finally dawned on us the cleaners were using to same rags they used to clean the office ashtrays to clean our cups.
    Needless to say I soon had this job duty back.

    1. Warrior Princess Xena*

      EW EW EW

      I get that you didn’t mind the job duty but holy crap, the cleaners should have definitely been taken to task for that. It seems incredibly unsafe.

  63. Coverage Associate*

    When I get really mad at my firm, I take all the practice guides that are my personal property home so no one can use them.

  64. "It's Katherine"*

    I worked at a university and there was a chief officer (reported directly to the president) who I kept ending up on the same committees with me. He was in general a very genial guy but from our first meeting he kept calling me by a nickname. For example, if I were “Katherine” and only used “Katherine” professionally, he would be calling me “Katie.” At first I’d say, “It’s actually Katherine” and he’d apologize and then a month later in a committee meeting, he’d say, “What do you think, Katie?”

    And then one day I was out of f’cks to give and so I nicknamed him back: “Well, Timmy, I was thinking…” And everyone kind of froze because I was about 3 levels down on the org chart from “Tim.” He was oblivious.

    And so it kept on. For years. We’d run into each other at the campus coffee shop and he’d say, “How are you, Katie?” and I’d say, “Just fine, how about you Timmy?” If it was my turn to take notes in a meeting, I’d label him “Timmy Jones” as in attendance. Once we were presenting to a faculty body and after he off-handedly mentioned me as “Katie”, I found a way to say, “It’s great to work with Timmy!”

    And when he heard I was leaving the university, he stopped by my office to say, “This place is really going to miss you, Katie.” My reply, “Thanks so much, Timmy.”

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      I am laughing out loud at this. I mean seriously, head back and just laughing in delight. Love it!

    2. backstory*

      I know people like that. He probably is patting himself on his back to this day about how folksy and in touch he was with “everyone” (extrapolating from misread interactions with ONE person) and what a great guy he was…. he has “the common touch”…. Academia….

  65. AnonToday*

    Target one reminds me of when my brother got his first job sacking groceries: “If they’re mean I put their milk on top of the bread” LOL

  66. Rose*

    Pettiness for good/as ally ship:

    My old company was mostly amazing people, but one senior member of the leadership team, Ben, was an insufferable, extremely sexist jerk. Like many insufferable, sexist jerks, Ben would always downplay or ignore women’s suggestions, and then praise men who said basically the same thing.

    One day in a team meeting, Ben asked for a proposal, I made a great one (if I do say so myself), and he said I was missing the mark and shut me down. A male coworker, Drew, who I didn’t know well and had mixed feelings about, repeated my suggestion almost verbatim. I decided I didn’t like Drew as Ben praised his idea as fantastic.

    But then… When Ben was done, Drew gave huge, a shit eating grin, and said enthusiastically “Thanks, Rose just said the exact same thing and I thought it was great, so I wanted to repeat it.” Ben turned purple with rage as Drew smiled innocently, and everyone else launched into planning my idea.

    Needless to say, I decided I freaking love Drew, and we remain on great terms.

      1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        Any other response would be unprofessional, such is the level of Drew’s awesomeness

    1. many bells down*

      I had a very similar issue with some tech volunteers that I was supposed to be managing, but they’d ignore me about 80% of the time and keep doing what they’d always done. A younger male co-worker took it on himself to just repeat everything I said, at which point they would act on it.
      Good Guy co-worker eventually left and it seemed to click at that point that I actually did know what I was doing. I counted my final victory over them last week when they asked for help setting up their new laptop because they didn’t know how to bypass the “sign in to a Microsoft account” screen.

    2. Alice Quinn*

      Love! Reminds me of a time when we were all signing into a team meeting, and some people were in the office and some were signing in remotely. It happened to line up that day that most of the in-person attendees were male and more women on the team were Zooming in (including me – I actually was recovering from Covid, which is why I wasn’t in the office). One of the men in the room, I’m sure in an attempt to be funny (and I think he may not have realized they were connected to audio), said, “Why are all the girls working remote today??” One of my favorite male colleagues replied, “Wow, what an incredibly offensive and off-putting thing to say!” Many were the virtual high-fives he received from the women on the team!

  67. Anon PM*

    Ha. I just now did something fairly petty. I sent an email to a project team member asking for the status of a task. He emailed back that he hadn’t done it because I hadn’t sent him the info he needed. So I forwarded him the email I sent him last week with the information he needed, with a “per my previous email”. So moderately petty. But real reason I did it was because about 7 years ago, at another company, both of us in different jobs, he threw me under the bus for something that had nothing to do with me, in an email that was eventually forwarded to me. Never forget!

  68. ferrina*

    I wrote a very petty resignation letter. The situation was ridiculous- I worked in a high pressure industry where I had to spend 6+hours per day in close quarters with my team. I was supposed to be team lead, but one of my team members decided she hated me. Literally did the opposite of anything I said, and repeatedly told me what a terrible person I am (nothing actionable, just my “personality” and “everyone hates you”). I’m a former conflict resolution trainer, so believe me when I say I tried every trick in the book. My boss refused to intervene or move me to another team- even though there was an opening on a team that wanted me. She wanted me to spend 6+ hours per day with someone who hated me, openly insulted me and undermined my work and “find a way to make it work”

    So I resigned. I typed out a lovely resignation letter that was very flattering (if grammatically a little odd). My terrible boss actually preened when she read it.
    But if you took the first letter of each sentence, it read:
    F*** YOU

    1. Another Kate*

      My brother did something similar in high school — he had a teacher with whom he had, shall we say, certain conflicts (in all fairness, my brother was a handful, but that didn’t mean that the teacher didn’t also suck). When he turned in his final paper, the first letter of each line spelled out something EXTREMELY rude and insulting. We don’t know whether the teacher ever noticed, but he never commented on it.

    2. Tl12*

      I have done something similar. Years ago I took an especially unpleasant standardized test with an ungraded essay section at the end. I was quite frustrated by the time I got to that section, so I wrote a perfectly coherent essay in response to the prompt, with the first letter of every row spelling or an expletive directed towards the test.

      1. Coverage Associate*

        I am thinking of a test like this, and I think the essay got scanned and converted to text or something. So you didn’t even risk your chances with any school that might read the essay.

  69. Rosie*

    One colleague marked every single one of her emails to me low priority. My boss outranked her boss; we were peers but she thought I was too young to be working at our level (I was two decades younger than her) and chose this way to make her resentment of me felt. It was very impressive.

  70. The Prettiest Curse*

    I thought of another one! Since I still have a green card, I have to pay US taxes even though I now live in the UK. To file my US tax return, I’m required to get some tax information from the pensions department at my current (large) employer. The first year I was working here, I sent the request in March and got back a super snippy email saying that I had to send the request in January so they could provide a detailed summary. (Fine, but obviously I didn’t know that, or I would’ve sent it earlier.) Turned out the less detailed information they sent me that year was totally fine. But this year, I sent a request for the detailed information on the first working day of January, and will do that every year for the rest of the time I work here. Your fault, snippy pensions guy!

  71. Gondorff*

    Not my firm, thankfully, but at my friend’s firm, one of the managers works mostly remotely from a different state, and comes into the office about once a month for a week. Every time she comes in, the batteries from her mouse and keyboard have mysteriously disappeared (assumedly from being stolen by a coworker too lazy to go to the supply closet to get their own?). The last time she was in the office, she worked late after everyone else went home. When everyone arrived the following Monday, all of the batteries from all of the mice and keyboards in every cubicle and office had been removed. No word yet on if anyone stole her batteries this time around.

  72. Juicebox Hero*

    Pettiest thing I’ve seen:

    For just over a year we had a horrible employee. We are municipal government and this person was secretary to the municipal council and administrator. It’s a very important job because there are strict state laws regarding records retention, disposal, timelines, ordinances, etc.

    She was a know-it-all who minded everyone’s business but her own – she botched up some of my material so badly (“you were on lunch! I was doing you a favor!”) that I had to read her the riot act. She never bathed and wore the same dirty clothes every day so she stunk like an outhouse full of dead skunks in August. She just loved talking about her sex life and drinking despite being told multiple times to stop.

    Our manager tends to get compassionate at the worst possible times, so she kept giving Miss PITA second chances and convincing the administrator to do the same until this past February when she finally screwed up something badly enough that she got fired. Once she was gone it turned out that she’d literally done nothing but play games on her computer the whole time she was employed – checks weren’t cashed, records weren’t kept, building permits and stuff like that were never processed – and worst of all she threw away a whole bunch of resolutions and ordinances that she never bothered to sign, seal, and file, and hid others.

    She refused to tell anyone where she hid the stuff until she was threatened with arrest, because of that whole pesky state law thing.

    Council had to redo all the ordinances and everything that were never processed properly or were missing and it took several people months to catch up on the backlog of her other work that never got done.

    The administrator got his revenge by refusing to give her unemployment and drafting a resolution naming her by name and listing all the things she hadn’t done. By law, resolutions have to be published in the newspapers before being voted on by council, so it was about the most thorough and comprehensive revenge he could have gotten.

    Thankfully, her replacement is nice, competent, focused, and CLEAN.

    1. allathian*

      Ouch! I totally understand the impulse and certainly the incompetent and nasty employee was lucky not to get arrested for breaking all those state laws, but was that public shaming really necessary?

      1. Juicebox Hero*

        Yeah, I personally felt that going that level of scorched-earth on her was going too far but I had no say in the matter.

        The pettiness was on every level in this situation.

  73. RJ*

    Team Jane! I used to be of the mindset ‘lunch whenever’, but it slowly led to some serious problems with boundaries and WLB at various jobs. I now WFH, but I take a full stop at lunch, eat away from my computer and try to go for walks several times a week. It has made a world of difference. This is a team I am proud to be on.

  74. Ladybugger*

    I was once sorta fired (the conversation ended “so you’re resigning” and I was like “uhhh??” so I don’t think they wrote down “fired” on the paperwork. Nevertheless that’s basically what it was.)

    I hated that job – I had been there just 6 weeks and my supposed manager had:
    1) chastised me for eating inside away from the group at a BBQ that was “for me” (it wasn’t, it was their monthly employee BBQ)
    2) demanded to know, when I mentioned I had run into a couple coworkers at a local sandwich shop and had lunch with them, if they had “talked about her” and told me all about how they hated her and why (no one mentioned her at all)
    3) disappeared for 3 weeks on vacation and when she came back asked me why I thought I had the authority to start writing an X Plan (I was the X Manager).

    Anyway a year later I sent her a glitter bomb envelope through one of those sites that was popular at the time. I still think about her cleaning up glitter and thinking everyone was out to get her. It probably didn’t occur to her it was the person who worked there 6 weeks and had a talent for holding a grudge.

    1. ferrina*

      I had a boss that once literally opened a conversation with “So what’s the scuttlebutt? Anything about me?”

      It was a yellow flag at the start of a red flag parade. If your boss was anything like my boss, that glitter bomb was well deserved (I’m pretending like we had the same boss, because I’d love that woman to be glitterbombed. She also desperately needed some sparkle in her life)

  75. badly semi anonymized*

    This was years ago, but I was angry about my then workplace dealing really badly with a specific unusual situation. I wasn’t the only one; the office did not seem to care, and the problem got worse. Normally I don’t do social media. But I created a throwaway account on Reddit, found an active subreddit about interpersonal drama, and lurked until I had the lay of the land. I wrote about the specific unusual situation, made sure it was badly semi anonymized, and let the post rack up more and more views and outraged comments. One night I went to a public library, printed out Reddit post, then smuggled it into work and left it in the printer pile on a Friday evening for the administrator to find. He was the most gossipy person in the office by a mile. I waited until I heard a couple of people discussing “that Reddit story” and then emailed a link to it to my boss saying, “Hey, just a heads up, I heard about this and I’ve read it now and I think it might be about our office.” This didn’t actually change anything about the specific unusual situation, which is part of why I decided to leave. My boss read the post and agreed with me that someone from our office had written it about us, but also told me – erroneously – that he had already long since addressed the specific unusual situation and it was over and I shouldn’t worry about it. (I’ve never been sure whether he believed this himself or whether he was lying to me.) So nothing much came of this effort, and I joined the many people who had left. It did make me feel a teeny bit better, however.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      May not have changed anything in the office, but kudos to you for a well-planned and well-executed stealth operation!

  76. PotteryYarn*

    One of my responsibilities is distributing our company announcements. When my colleague, who is a HUGE pain in my side, recently got promoted, their boss wrote up an announcement about the promotion and included a sentence that was probably intended to say the colleague was good at problem-solving (and if you’re only skimming the announcement, that would be how most people would interpret the statement). But the way it was actually worded suggested that the colleague is actually creating these problems, which is honestly how things generally play out with this colleague. Normally this is something I would fix before sending the announcement out, but oops, I must’ve missed it!

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Ha! When I was younger, I thought that “how do you solve a problem like Maria?” from The Sound of Music meant that Maria was a great problem-solver and the other nuns wanted to be more like her. Took a few years before I realized Maria was the problem they were trying to solve. I am imagining this announcement had similarly ambiguous wording :)

      1. linger*

        “PITA has been proven responsible for a wide variety of issues with X Department…”

  77. Put the whole ream of paper in the machine*

    We would generally keep a box of copy paper next to the copy machine so that it would be easy to replenish when it ran out. One day, a co-worker was using the machine and it ran out of paper, and there wasn’t any next to the machine. She asked where the paper was. I told her it was downstairs in the closet. She proceeded to get some paper and finished her copying job. Next time it needed replenishing (quite soon actually), I went downstairs to get paper, and saw that this co-worker did not put a ream of paper in the copier, as a normal person would do, but took out just enough sheets to finish her job, and left an open nearly full ream of paper downstairs in the closet.

    1. Rainbow*

      Next time they need the sugar refilling for their tea, I’d love to see a sugar tub with a single teaspoonful of sugar in there.

  78. Another Kate*

    When I was in college I had a job taking pictures at fraternity parties — I was the “Party Pic Chick.” (This was pre-cell phone, so if you wanted pictures of yourself dancing on the hood of Biff’s car with a lampshade on your head, you had to hope that the party photographer had caught your moment of glory and then you had to pay for a print.) Most of the partiers were nice, if a bit goofy, but I had one drunken jackass who was all “Hey, Party Pic Bitch! Over here!”

    Obviously, that would not stand, and you’d better believe that I made sure that every picture of him I took that night cut off right down the middle of his body.

  79. Human Embodiment of the 100 Emoji*

    When I was in college I worked summers at the only coffee shop in my small hometown, where almost everyone was a regular. If someone was regularly rude to me or I knew they didn’t tip, I added the extra 25 cent charge for “ice” to their order. The button on the register was of course supposed to be for people who asked for a cup of ice to-go, but I called it the “rude tax”. Only one lady ever caught me doing it, but unfortunately for her I was the most reliable employee at that coffee shop so I was basically untouchable. I still stand by it – be nice to your baristas.

    1. FormerPizzaBoy*

      In one former job, the POS system was pretty loose, where you could add charges (or create discounts) easily without any manager overrides. Since it got lost in the abbreviated jargon, customers couldn’t tell. I never did this to create charges (did use the made-up discounts though for nice people) but many of my coworkers totally did.
      At a different one, every summer we’d run a “donate a dollar and write your name on this shape to post up” sort of thing (aka a tax write off for the corporation). Many would just add this to sales to people who aren’t paying attention. Since the button to add it was right next to the ring up button, it was easy to play off the “I mis-hit the button” if anyone noticed.

  80. Catabouda*

    My coworker Peg was convinced that coworker Pete was going through things on her desk after hours. Supervisor did not believe her.

    So she got one of those joke scratch off lottery tickets that looks like a winner, but it says right on the back that it’s just for fun or whatever. She left it under several pieces of paper on her desk. As in, it wasn’t immediately visible to anyone unless you were snooping.

    Pete SENT HER AN EMAIL telling her she should be more careful about leaving such a valuable item on her desk.

    Peg forwarded the email to the supervisor and HR, asking them to address the issue of Pete going through things on her desk.

    Supervisor could no longer deny it was happening, and Pete was pissed off at getting written up about it “he was just being helpful!” Gosh, Pete was such a insert your favorite insult here. I was so happy she thought of something like that to catch him.

  81. Sundance Kid*

    I worked in a small office in a previous job. About 20 people, half architects who tended to develop nervous tics when design elements of the office are out of whack. Post COVID, the office layout was condensed to accommodate new hires. (Densification with masks on . . . great.) My desk moves so that a very bright window shines directly onto my monitor creating some nasty glare. I ask for a better shade to block the sun; denied because it wouldn’t be uniform and they won’t replace all of them. Can I move? No, all spots are taken.

    So I taped up copier paper over the existing shade, purposely seeking out the blue painter’s tape from the supply closet and making sure the seams of my handiwork were very visible. It’s very effective at blocking the sun! I come in the next day, it’s taken down. So I do it again. It gets taken down. I wish something bigger changed, but ultimately there was a polite conversation where I was asked to please just not use the blue tape so it looked nicer.

    I found a new job a few weeks later, but that’s a good news post for another time.

    1. Llellayena*

      I think they deliberately design buildings in architecture schools with serious flaws in them just to train the architecture students to look around and spot them in every building, hence the twitching. -From the person who’s architecture building had an open grate on every level including the roof immediately in front of the door you had to insert your code to enter (cue trying to keep your paper-and-wood model dry when entering during a rainstorm…)

    2. Nina*

      You and my dad would get along. His office was moved to cubicles, and then to low cubicles (that you could see over even when seated so I’m not sure what they were for). He asked for his office back. No. He asked for a corner placement away from the glare and most coworkers (he uses voice-activated software). No. He asked for opaque curtains. No. He took me and my brother into the office one weekend and we installed in his cubicle:
      – five massive bookcases taller than he was, most of them against the window to block the glare, and one in the ‘doorway’ of the cubicle so the doorway became narrow enough to block by hanging his outdoor coat in it
      – cardboard moving boxes nailed to the cubicle wall to increase the height (I was a small child and ‘helped’ by decorating the outside of the boxes with what I now know was atrociously ugly scrawling)
      – a tarpaulin over the part of the window not blocked by the bookcases
      – Road cones on top of the bookcases to fill the space between the bookcase and the ceiling.

      I’m told when the architect responsible for designing the flash new office space came to visit, the poor guy shit a brick. Dad has an office with a door now.

  82. thebadge*

    I think I was the petty one. At one office we had an overzealous guy whose role was cyber security + physical security (truly I’m not sure what his job title was and this was early ’00s before cybersecurity really became mainstream). Anyway he went on crusade for everyone to always wear their work badges. Ok, not uncommon, but this was a small office ~50-60 people. It was a bit of overkill. He was the guy who would take your laptop if not locked to the desk to the highest ranking person in the office so that you’d have to go collect it. Same with badges, etc.

    So anyway… badges. I stopped leaving mine on my desk after the first time he took it. Then I proceeded to leave it totally visible but just inside my purse. He wouldn’t go into someone’s bag or purse. Then when he started jumping around corners trying to catch me without my badge I started to carry it with me. Like physically carry it in my hand. He spent the next 2 years trying to catch me out for not having it. I spent the next 2 years carrying it with me vs. wearing it.

    I think it became more of a game than anything for both of us. He was a little uptight but an alright guy. I suppose I was more than a little contrary but technically in compliance.

  83. Jane Bingley*

    I interned at a politician’s office for a summer. There had been a professionally organized and successful sit-in at another level of government a couple of months before, and it inspired a number of people to copy the technique.

    One day, the assistant and I are working in the office while the politician is off for the day. A man comes in and announces he’s doing a sit-in for his cause, and he won’t leave until he achieves it. It was absurd, impossible, and utterly out of the scope of our politician’s work (think: I won’t leave til income tax is illegal).

    After trying to reason with him for about half an hour, it becomes clear he’s not going anywhere. So the assistant and I shrug and get back to work. He sticks around for another hour or so, loudly complaining in a very distracting manner. Eventually she sends me a text: “let’s try to embarrass him out.”

    We start a loud and very open conversation about our periods. How heavy our flows are, what different products we’ve tried, and their various pros and cons. He lasted about another minute and a half before slinking out, never to be seen again.

    1. Dr. Doll*

      I worship at the feet of your brilliance and I am so going to do that if I need to some time.

  84. Loose Socks*

    I worked in a private preschool. There was a child in my class that clearly had struggles well beyond what the preschool could accommodate. Even with his own 1 on 1 shadow, he was regularly injuring other children and teachers, myself included. I was going home daily with bruises, bleeding wounds, once even a black eye because of this child. While I don’t blame the kid, I definitely blame the director for allowing it to go on without intervening. When she did, it was to ask us to put all the incident and injury reports on one sheet instead of a sheet for each report, as the mom was complaining about having to sign so many forms (found out later that wasn’t the case, the director didn’t know what to do about him and was embarrassed, so she wanted the stack on her desk to not look so overwhelming).

    Finally, during the last week I worked there (2 week’s notice already submitted), every time this child began to get physically violent, I took him to the directors office, put him in, and shut the door. She began to show bruising and scratching. I heard the day after I left, she dismissed him (and recommended a child care facility that specialized in behavior problems. I had given the director all the information for this facility, called them to verify this was a situation they could help with, and made sure they were accepting children his age range months before this. She expressly forbid me from telling the mom about it.)

    To be clear, the child was 3 years old at the time, and I don’t hold anything against the kid. He was a great kid with big emotions that he didn’t know how to handle. We just didn’t have the training to be able to handle such physical aggression.

    1. rinathin*

      This is so sad. The kid would have thrived so much more with the right support, and the director wanted to actively prevent the mom from knowing there was a place that could provide it. At least he ended up there eventually.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Early intervention is key for kids like this. I’m glad he got the right placement, but it’s sad it took so long.

    2. ferrina*

      Good for you! We had a situation like this in a daycare where I worked, and it was awful for everyone. Our center didn’t have the resources to accommodate the kid, and the classroom only had 2 teachers (enough to stay in ratio for all the kids). One of the teachers pretty much had to follow him around all the time while the other teacher dealt with all the other kids, so the other kids didn’t get as much attention as they should have. And our poor, poor teachers should have gotten hazard pay (they were great teachers, too!)

      The parents actually asked if we were the right place for the kid, and the director talked a big game about how our center was the right place. She didn’t have to deal with this every day. Eventually the parents moved the kid to a facility that could actually meet his needs (I don’t know how it happened, but I know the director wasn’t a part of it).

      If it’s any consolation, if you were at my center, I heard the director was later investigated for being too chummy with her boss when they took a cruise together, and they found enough incompetence to force her out (we were a govt provider, and she had almost lost the government contract several times by letting her favorite teachers misbehave without repercussions)

  85. Joyce to the World*

    I was the victim in this petty parade. I was put in charge of a group of temps assigned by an external placement agency. One temp thought she should be hired on full time. However, she was late daily. We had cameras. She had to sign in manually in a notebook with her start time. Fudged it daily by about 30 mins. Then she spent all day surfing the internet. She put her window very small at the bottom of the screen, but we all knew what she was doing. She got let go after the camera feeds were viewed. She thought it was all my fault. Went to her local library and used one of their computers to sign me up for all kinds of fun things. Dating sites, hair loss, magazine subscriptions etc… Then she sent several hate emails to me directly. I had to file 2 police reports and they paid her a little visit. For years I continued to receive junk mail and emails because of her. I finally had to change my work email address to make it stop, but every once in awhile I still get junk emails. It’s been over 10 years now.

  86. debbietrash*

    In high school I worked at a gas station associated with a large retail chain (I’m in Canada — I feel like my fellow Canadians can guess the chain). Folks would be incredibly rude to us on a daily basis, so pettiness by the employees was a common coping mechanism. Some personal favourites:
    1. Whenever a customer escalated to the point of shouting and yelling in the store (this happened a lot — calm down folks!) my manager would shut the interaction down with, “you have a nice day!” in the sweetest, most cheerful tone with a jovial wave of the hand. Any time the customer started up again, he’d give them another “You have a nice day! Have a nice day. *You* have a *nice day*” until they stomped out like upset children.
    2. Anytime someone talked down to me (I was a 17 year old girl at the time, and this was most often adult men) I would just fix them with my b*tchiest resting face as if to say “I am not paid enough to deal with your BS” until they moved on and/or let me answer them.
    3. A local car dealership would refuel their vehicles at our location. The guys who’d come in to refuel the vehicles acted like they were such hot sh*t to the point that one swaggered into the store and just tossed/flicked his company credit card on the counter in front of me. I picked it up and toss/flicked it back to him, the card ended up in the candy display, and he had to go fish it out.

    1. ferrina*

      “You have a nice day”

      I’m picturing this as Lord Vetinari’s “Don’t let me detain you”

  87. NewNameForThis*

    Mine will probably pale in comparison, but I had a boss who was VERY impressed with himself. We worked in an office where fancy advanced degrees were common (think like a fancy law firm, but without the culture of hanging diplomas on the wall) and he was literally the only one who had his diploma hanging/was the only one where everyone knew where he went to school/who talked about where he went to grad school. He also knew NOTHING about my area of expertise and micromanaged me because he was clearly threatened by this.

    So, he assigned me to get speakers for an event. It was a complicated lift, and I went to check in with him about where I was in finding speakers. And he said “Oh, I went to University of Pennsylvania, so I will reach out to my contacts there to see if they have any ideas.” And for the first and last time in my professional life I said “oh! What a great idea! I will check in with my Harvard classmates and professors.”

    I felt like a pretentious snob (because that’s how ppl react. I’ll tell people I went to Harvard for grad school in normal convo, but never in this one-upping way) but it was worth it.

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Ha! This is great. My social work supervisor had a similar experience. He became a cop (to save the world), discovered that was not the way so he became a lawyer (so has his JD and can technically be referred to as doctor), discovered that wasn’t the way either, so got his master’s and doctorate and license in clinical social work.

      But he wore like t shirts and comfy khakis and looked and acted pretty unpretentious.

      So he was at a meeting with some school of social work big wig, who also had a doctorate, and he called her by her first name. She didn’t know who he was and said ‘actually, Mike, it’s Dr. Smith’. He said ‘sure thing, Dr Smith, and you can call me Dr Jones!’

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, but given the sexism women and female-presenting academics are subjected to, including by their students who call them by their first name even if they’d call a male-presenting Doctor or Professor, insisting on the title can become almost reflexive even if it may be inappropriate in certain circumstances.

    2. Catabouda*

      I got to watch something similar at play between two lawyers who were trying to boast bigger than the other and it was truly something else to see.

    3. Rainbow*

      OOH YES. I ended up at a social hangout a few years ago, where I met a friend of a friend’s partner – a man who thought he was better than eeeeeverybody else around because he had an undergraduate degree from one of the 2 unis broadly considered most “prestigious” in our country. I thought I’d better be polite, and asked him when he graduated – it was several years prior and he no longer worked in the field of his degree – although he said he was a sure shot and so brilliant at his field that he would definitely walk into a job “any time soon”. Dude kept going on and on about it, and it got to the point where people were desperately trying to change the subject.

      Anyway at one point later, I mentioned something about how I enjoyed X activity in uni. Dude’s ears pricked up. He sniffed disparagingly, “oh? And what university did YOU go to?”. I replied with the name of the other so-called “prestigious” uni (that is really bs, there are a great many great unis here and also who cares), and may god forgive me but I could not resist pointing out what type of degree I’d got (higher than his!) and that I’d since gone onto further study and then worked very happily in my field, which I truly love, ever since. The dude looked CRESTFALLEN and barely said a word the rest of the night.

      Imagine caring that someone you didn’t know had a slightly higher qualification than you, in a totally different field, when you’re in a bar for god’s sake. Brain worms.

  88. CTA*

    I’m a web developer. At a former employer, the marketing team was given access to our JIRA board (ticketing system) so they could submit requests. The company had gone through a reorganization, so the marketing team was all new folks. It was also 2020, so I hadn’t met any of them in-person or even virtually. The marketing team was given training about how to submit requests. This included some etiquette, such as don’t change your request after a developer has started work on it; ask first.

    As we approached our busy season, I noticed the marketing team was not following these rules. It was starting to get unreasonable. For example, a task that normally took 20 minutes turned into a three day task because they kept changing their mind. I tried to just roll with it because 1) I was trying to be supportive of our busy season (sometimes priorities change) and 2) my manager was on PTO and I didn’t feel like this required me going to my grandboss (a C-suite executive) about this yet.

    One day, I picked up a request that really required me to follow up because it would look weird on the website. This wasn’t my objective opinion. If I completed the task as written, it would get flagged during QA testing. I messaged the person who submitted the request. Even though our conversation was online messages, I got the feeling she was trying to shut me down because she didn’t really address what I had explained to her. I also felt she was trying to put me down because her response included talk about how “other businesses do what she is requesting.” I was also slated to be laid off in a few months, so I don’t know if that had anything to do with her behavior. Maybe she was just used to having people do what she says. I wasn’t sure if it was a shut down or maybe she hadn’t understood. We were all working from home, she was a new employee and new to our busy season, and she was also a Director and higher up than me.

    I decided to just do the ticket as requested since I had it in writing that there was nothing “wrong” with the request. I knew my work had to be reviewed and I knew it would definitely get flagged. I didn’t foresee how bad things would go down. The person who reviewed my work was my grandboss! Even though he was C-suite, he’d review the work from developers so he could stay in the loop about code changes. He followed up with this Director because he had the same questions I had. The Director tries to save face by saying she hadn’t “really looked” at the screenshot I sent her (!), she thought I was “questioning the request” when I had contacted her (!!), and that I had completed the request wrong and had changed the wrong thing (!!!). She not only didn’t look at my screenshot, she also didn’t read what I had wrote. I wrote that screenshot was of the website BEFORE her requested changes and she thought it was a screenshot of the changes she requested. So she was accusing me of completing her request wrong when she forgot what the website looked like. My grandboss had to tell her that what she was citing as “wrong” was actually the website as it has always looked.

    I had been applying to new jobs and I ended up receiving a job offer after this incident. So I gave notice and I left them during the busy season. I’m glad I didn’t have to put up with these shenanigans anymore.

  89. HannahMiss*

    My first job was a theme park photographer, where we’d take people’s pictures then hand them a claim card. Our system was set up to scan the cards, but it would occasionally hiccup and photos wouldn’t attach correctly. It was such easy to look up lost ones, but it was still an extra step for the visitors and the lines could be long at night.
    One night I was working an event with my work BFF. I was shooting, and they managed the line. The next visitor in line was excessively rude to them, and they generally had a pretty high tolerance for rude customers. As they lead the family into position, my friend just hissed at me “Lose them.” So I took perfect photos for them (no reason to complain about quality) and pretended to scan the card with a huge smile, pushing the photos through once they left so as not to inconvenience the next party. Would these people ever know why their photos were missing? No, but I hope they had fun looking for them.

  90. RedinSC*

    THis JUST happened yesterday.

    We had a pot luck on TUesday, someone brought tri-tip in for the BBQ, and was going to eat it the next day for lunch, because there was left overs (actually enough for 2-3 people).

    When he got in, the tritip wasn’t in the fridge, when asked where it went, someone pointed to an office door. When confronted, the guy who took the tritip said, I thought it was for anyone…. BUT he took enough food for like 3 sandwiches.

    On top of that, he left the dirty dish in the sink, came back to our building when we were all sitting in the kitchen eating lunch, threw half a sandwich away, and put another dirty dish in the sink and walked back to his building!

  91. Corporate Goth*

    Let’s see, where to begin…

    OldBoss didn’t like my Keurig – which was only the communal coffeepot due to a lack of plugs in my office – and kept threatening to get rid of it, so I took it home. He then complained about having to purchase coffee.

    PreviousOldBoss was such a nightmare that I scheduled a ten day vacation to avoid her going away party. I would have been expected to say nice public things about her and couldn’t do it.

    Left an organization after several decades and found out they weren’t planning a going away or anything, which was wildly against cultural norms. So I took the unit sign off the wall – my poor attempt at boosting morale, though I’d planned to leave it originally – and walked out with it as my going away gift to myself. It’s currently in a closet where it belongs, but it still provides grim yet satisfying glee on occasion.

  92. The Ammo Dump*

    I had a coworker who brought in Nerf weapons to make our department more “fun”. At random times (which seemed to be selected for maximum disruption) he would start firing one and see if anyone would get into a gunbattle with him. Sometimes my teammates would oblige.

    I found this annoying, but enough of my team was participating that I didn’t think there was any point in speaking up. So every time a piece of Nerf ammunition landed in or near my cube, I would stick it in a drawer in my desk that I started privately thinking of as “the ammo dump”. I don’t know if he ever noticed his supplies were slowly decreasing.

    Eventually he left (and I got to take the lead in cleaning up a couple of big work messes that he left behind) and took his Nerf weapons with him, and I forgot all about them. When I left, I forgot to clean out that drawer. I’ve wondered what the next person to use that desk thought when they looked through it.

    1. New Mom*

      We had people do this at a job I was at and it was really annoying! I think they thought it was playful, but we would be in the middle of something but then would have to stop and have obligatory “fun” for enough time to please the higher ups and then we’d go back to our meeting. I’m so glad when someone complained and it stopped.

      1. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

        Wait, are you serious, because if so, this is the best thing that’s ever happened on AAM.

    2. Silver Robin*

      Oh the Nerf guns bring back memories…

      I had a job with folks doing trading and their IT team way back. Sometimes they would end the day with a nerf battle. A lot of the folks I worked with in the IT team were of the same generation and immigrant background as my parents; also men while I was a young college “girl”. They all genuinely liked me (I think/hope) but there was definitely some “idealistic young lady” vs “logical STEM men” stuff going. One day I mentioned how silly the Nerf “rebelle” line was and some of the subtler sexism going on in the ad campaign.

      One of the guys was particularly obnoxious in his humor and would needle me every so often. He definitely thought my feminism was “cute”. On my last day, I came to my desk to find a tiny Nerf pistol – from the Rebelle series, of course – and on it was a note via label maker that read, “for your service at the [company] zoo”.

      I have since lost the pistol, but I have a photo somewhere and it always makes me laugh.

    3. H3llifIknow*

      Ughhh I worked on a govt aircraft program….one that started with the letter “F”. One grou of guys who worked the program were such… frat bros! They’d throw stuff at each other over the cubicle walls, and one guy would bring his guitar and just … play his guitar whilst his “fans” sat around him applauding etc… THEY DID NOT DO ANY WORK. I left after only a few months, vowing I’d never ride in one of those aircraft if given the opportunity because these guys were not exactly diligent!

  93. Anon for This*

    I had arranged an internal transfer at my previous company, and my soon-to-be manager was so positive that it would happen on a certain date that she insisted that I cancel leave plans I had for that day. I canceled the leave, trained my replacement, the date came and went and I… waited. And waited. And waited.

    About five weeks later I was told that the new position had been eliminated.

    Shortly after that, my manager wondered why I gave only 48 hours notice instead of “the professional courtesy of two weeks.” I pointed out that technically I’d given notice over a month ago and walked out the door to a better job.

  94. Beer bandit*

    I mentioned this in a “stories of revenge” thread a while back, but about fifteen years ago my boss at a small retail store decided to buy a dive bar he frequented as a “fun” side business when he learned the owner was selling it. He spent so much time at the bar (and with the bartender there he had started dating) that a lot of important work around the store wasn’t happening. I had just been made a manager and would have been happy to take care of these things, but he didn’t tell me or the other manager that they needed to happen so stuff started to pile up. A few of our best vendors were suddenly being paid late and it was my job to placate them even though I knew it was because my boss was sinking money into the bar and I was pissed off at him and didn’t want to delay payment to the vendors at all.

    I highly suspect that everyone on our small staff (maybe six folks at the time) was close to quitting at some point or another during that holiday season, as everything got more chaotic and the boss was increasingly absent and distracted and loved to talk about how he and his new girlfriend “never spent more than fifteen minutes apart for the past six weeks” and things like that. (This man was in his late 30s at the time, I believe, but talked about this relationship like he was in middle school.)

    Well, the relationship imploded after about two or three months and the bar was condemned and he scrambled to extract himself from the situation. We had a lot of space in our store’s back room and once he sold the bar, he brought all the beer to the store and kept it on a part in the back room, cases and cases of cans and bottles be said he’d do something with eventually. Some of my coworkers made jokes to him like “oh you should give us some” but he waved it off.

    I didn’t bother to ask or make jokes about it! I was in the back room most of the day, since I dealt with invoicing, ordering, etc for much of the time, and whenever it was just me back there, I’d go over to the pallet of beer and take one or two bottles to slip in my bag to take home. It was never much at a time, and honestly a lot of the beer was cheap or a kind I didn’t like, but I eventually smuggled away all the amber ale and vanilla porter and enjoyed it at home. I know I was technically stealing from my boss but I did it guilt-free as my own petty revenge for the huge amount of stress and extra work (for a few months I was coming BACK to work from 8:30-10:30 pm on Friday nights to take care of the huge mountain of paperwork he abandoned without telling the other manager and myself we needed to learn how to process it) he put me through during the entire bar saga.
    A final fun fact: the bar was called Hell.

  95. Breaking Dishes*

    This whole thread may be my favorite AAM of all time (or at least this month). It’s making my day. Funny, quirky stuff that I’d never imagine. Truly, sometimes truth is better than fiction.

    1. allathian*

      Yeah, I feel like if these stories were pitched to studio executives, at least some of them would be rejected as “too unrealistic.” Sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction.

  96. AnonForThis*

    I had a former boss (administrator for my department, not my direct supervisor) who was terrible and had a huge turnover, so he started marking everyone who left as “ineligible for rehire.” Since our institution was very large in terms of employees, this was bad as people might want to return after working elsewhere.

    I was stuck with crappy raises and no opportunity for advancement, so I sidestepped the mark on my record by applying to and getting a job in another department, thus transferring instead of leaving the institution entirely. He didn’t like this for a number of reasons, including that transfer vs. leaving entirely was increasing in frequency after word got around amongst us, plus I was in a specialized position that was hard to fill. He told me that I had to give him a letter of resignation – when I wasn’t resigning at all – so I consulted with my soon-t0-be-new manager and crafted it as a notification of transfer letter with no mention of leaving the institution or anything, and made copies to keep.

    When it came time for my departure, he made it known to the others that departmental funds or space couldn’t be used for my going-away party (claiming it was because I technically worked ‘for’ other bosses even though they didn’t pay my salary), even though I had been there for years. The bosses who actually supervised my work and who worked with me on a daily basis paid for a going-away party in their own space, out of the main office, and gave me presents and wished me well. The administrator finally begrudgingly said on my last day that the big cake – which was a decorated (but no words on it) sheet cake brought in for a monthly birthday celebration – was also for my departure as well. I took a little piece and left happily.

  97. Hiphopanonymous*

    I worked a 9-6 job that required coverage specifically during those hours. A peer of mine would frequently “forget” to take lunch because “they were so busy” (they weren’t, everyone knew it the person in question included) and would dip out at 5 even though we were salaried exempt. They were able to fly under the radar enough that our boss typically wasn’t aware. Myself and the other peer at our level were pretty damn annoyed every time it happened but didn’t want to snitch.

    One day I had a particularly crazy afternoon due to things out of my control and legitimately missed lunch because it was so chaotic. In our group chat my boss proactively told me I could leave at 5 and I responded with “Oh are you sure? I’d hate to leave you guys hanging for the last hour of the day, I know how inconvenient that would be for coworkers A and B” and they said back “It’s fine, it’s just a one-off thing and you busted your tail today”.

    The peer who always forgot to take lunch miraculously never forgot again after that.

  98. Rachel*

    I think what people don’t realize is that often your retaliation to somebody makes you just as bad as them.

    Like the graphic artist. That is a story about two annoying people. Not one.

    Everybody knows this, right?

    1. Lance*

      Sure, pettiness isn’t generally a good way to handle things… but that’s really not the point of this whole post. The point is just for anecdotes and the like.

        1. Gemstones*

          Why does the athlete guy need comeuppance, though? He doesn’t seem to have done anything wrong. He’s just a guy who’s proud of his athletic prowess…why is that so bad? Imagine if he wrote in to AAM with, “Hey, the graphic artist at our company has always seemed standoffish and a little mean, and when the company put out a post about various team members, the artist intentionally got the time on my record wrong. Is this a big deal?” It’s hard to imagine Allison not responding with a “What on earth?!”

        2. Spencer Hastings*

          Personally, I like comeuppance narratives when they’re about natural consequences…too many of the ones here are just @$$hole-to-@$$hole combat, IMO.

    2. Llama Identity Thief*

      You’re completely right.

      Sometimes, we wanna root for the villains we find justified. This post is one of those times. Despite being a workplace advice blog, not every post here is about how to conduct yourself in the most professional manner possible.

    3. LadyByTheLake*

      That’s why this is called the “petty” thread, not the “awesome” thread. The pettiness is the point.

    4. ComputerJanitor*

      There’s a difference between good and entertaining. Nobody’s holding these stories up as examples of proper office behavior.

  99. Bored Lawyer*

    I graduated from law school at the height of a recession. It was a nightmare to find jobs, and a bunch of promised jobs were rescinded. One of my friends got a lead from a professor about a paid fellowship with a professor at another school. Our professor emailed his colleague, cc’ing my classmate, introducing her and recommending her for the fellowship. My classmate responded (without cc’ing our professor) saying that she was excited about the opportunity and hoped they could find a time to discuss it. His response was incredibly rude- something like “who are you, how dare you email me, I’m going to end this conversation now.”

    Fast forward 8 or 9 years. As a bit of a side project to my lawyer job, I keep a database that is of niche interest and really only appeals to the rich and their lawyers (think like examples of variances granted by our State allowing rich people to build private docks). I generally freely hand this information out, after I built it it is pretty low maintenance to keep going and I get goodwill from colleagues and potential clients. Because this is unpaid, I tend to let requests pile up for a few weeks then respond to a bunch at once. I had written down a list of names I needed to respond to, and used my email search to find their addresses. Interestingly, one of them came up twice- the recent request for information to help in their personal appeal, and an 8 year old forwarded email of them being a jerk to my friend. Needless to say, I never responded to him and he did not get access to my database.

    His appeal was denied, too. People I provide access to tend to be successful. Don’t be a jerk.

    1. Aelfwynn*

      Yesss! Shows a lot about someone’s character if they’re willing to be d!cks to people with little to no power. I’m glad you didn’t help him. He certainly doesn’t seem like the type to help anyone else (and didn’t when he had the opportunity).

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        When I was a CSR, rude people did get their stuff resolved. But if paperwork was involved, it was done after the nice people’s.

  100. New Mom*

    When I was working abroad at a school we had a manager that was not a very nice person; very, very passive aggressive and would regularly reprimand us in front of the kids even though all the kids there spoke English fluently (English was not the official language of that country). She would act like English was a secret language and she could say whatever she wanted to us under the guise that the students “didn’t understand”.

    She was also very much a micromanager but also disorganized and she was just a nightmare to work with.

    We only had one computer for six teachers so I would come in 30-60 minutes early to get my printing and prep done. Teachers were excused at 5 on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and at 6:30 Monday, Wednesday, Fridays and they were long days. One trimester I had my last class of the day on M,W,F end at 5:45 and I was thrilled so I could leave early. Well, she forbade me from leaving early.
    She said I needed that time for prep, and I reminded her that I came in early to do that. She said I needed to be there a certain amount of hours and I reminded her that I was on site for those hours since I came in early but she wouldn’t budge but also couldn’t give me a reason for why I had to stay outside of control. When I was asking her to just talk it out with me, she let out a loud exasperated yell and just stormed away from me and this was loud enough for kids and other teachers to hear and I was stunned into silence.
    Since I had told her there was nothing for me to do, she started making up tasks for me to do that she would wait until 5:45 to assign me usually accompanied by a smirk(!!).
    One day she decided my task would be to forge the principal’s signature on these plaque diplomas they had ordered for the kids. I just wanted to go home and I was particularly annoyed that day. She did not give me a sample of what the signature should look like and I knew that was my opportunity to do something petty. I wrote the signature in a childlike scrawl on all of them and waited until I was leaving to hand them over.
    I just played dumb when she was mad, “Oh, I thought you would like them. You didn’t give me a sample signature so this is what I thought would look nice.”

  101. Corrigan*

    Oh I remembered another one. Our office manager/executive assistant (she has both roles) has been with our office forever and is kind of a petty tyrant over her domain. If you forward someone a meeting invite she gets a notification and tells you that she can do that. (It takes me two seconds and I don’t have to bother her, which I see as respectful of her time!)

    She’s especially petty about time cards. We’re salaried and exempt, but state employees so we have to do time cards. She just takes it upon herself to manage the approvals. When my new manager started he said she just did all the time cards without asking him if he wanted to do it himself (and complained if he tried to schedule his own meetings.) Long story short, what you put in the office calendar AND in your personal calendar needs to match the time you put in the time system exactly. So if you block off half day for an appointment in order to leave some buffer room, but end up needing only 2.5 hours, she’d be on you for it.

    On one of these times getting on me, she pointed out the time I have blocked off every morning. I said that this was when my daughter’s schoolbus comes and I only have it marked off so no one schedules meetings and I only end up needing about 10 of the 30 minutes I blocked off…

    And then I decided this was stupid so I just removed her access to my calendar. She can still see when I’m busy for scheduling reasons, but absolutely no details. She complained about this too, but whatever.

  102. FormerProducer*

    My horrible director Cruella was hired and immediately hated the other directors, particularly Perdida, because all of them called out her bullshit and Perdida in particular was not willing to be bullied. We had an open plan office and each division was loosely grouped together, but Cruella and Perdida sat next to each other. About 2 months in, Cruella asked the Facilities team to LITERALLY BUILD A WALL between her and Perdida’s desks, saying that our team “couldn’t concentrate with all the noise coming from Perdida’s team.” Absolute nonsense, of course, especially because we collaborated with them often and now had to walk literally 4 times the distance to get to their desks for a quick chat.

    After about 6 months, Perdida was so over Cruella’s nonstop awfulness (the number of letters I could write about her would power this site for at least a month) that she took early retirement. Literally the day after Perdida’s last day, Cruella asked Facilities to take the wall down and said she didn’t even know why there was a wall there because it just didn’t make sense and was really detrimental to our ability to collaborate across divisions. To this day I alllllmost respect the level of commitment to being petty.

  103. JustMe*

    I worked in retail at the mall one summer. My sales lead was the single pettiest person to have ever walked the earth. Once, because of some perceived slight, she made me stay late for a couple hours to clean. Cleaning up at the end of the day is standard practice at any store, but every time I went to her and said, “I’m done, can I go now?” she would giggle and say, “Oops, looks like you missed ___” and then would find new things for me to clean. I’m talking: pulling the display cases away from the walls to scrub the backs; scrubbing the floors on my hands and knees; cleaning the phone and keyboard behind the register that customers don’t see; cleaning the employee toilet not just once but twice. I ended up not being compensated for that time because the store closed at 11, hard stop, and the sales lead insisted that I was just doing what should have been completed by 11. (“They’re all the things you would do in your own home, after all.”) Quitting that job was one of the best days of my life.

    1. Turtlewings*

      “They’re all the things you would do in your own home, after all.” And that’s relevant how??? You’re paying me to do it HERE, so cough it up! Holy crud.

      1. JustMe*

        The worst part was that none of this was in the closing protocol (there was a checklist with all the stuff you had to do) and when everyone came in for work the next day the assistant manager went, “Oh my god…..the store is IMMACULATE.” Then he told me why he couldn’t pay me for making the store immaculate. I think the sales lead knew this. The worst part is that she had to stay with me in the store until 1 am while I did this, so I don’t think she was being compensated, either. She objectively just wanted to waste my time and hers.

  104. PTBNL*

    I used to make travel arrangements for out of town trial teams. The attorneys who treated me the worst always got the rooms next to the ice machine.

  105. Collarbone High*

    This wasn’t directly related to work, but I had a co-worker who always arrived with a coaxial cable in his lunch bag. I made the mistake of asking about it, he said that the VCR in his house belonged to *him* and he didn’t want his roommate using it while he was at work.

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

      That’s like my mom. She was in a very toxic, almost abusive relationship. They guy was nuts, and locked the closets in the house so that my mom couldn’t get in saying “its my private stuff in there.” But then would get mad that his clothes weren’t put away. Anyways she got sick of his passive aggressiveness and locked the computer in the desk. When he went to use it he couldn’t. He had to wait until she got home, hours later. When he asked she said “that’s my computer. I have private stuff.

  106. The Bingoist*

    I’ve never actually told anyone this story because at the very least it’s wildly unethical. I used to work at a bingo hall as a runner – when someone called bingo, my job was to run over, verify the bingo, and then bring them their money. Also, if a customer had to stand up and go someplace (like to the bathroom, or to get food, or whatever), we would play their cards for them until they got back.

    We had this one customer who was ALWAYS trying to rip us off. She would come in every evening, pretty much, play bingo, and try to scam us. One of her favourites was to order some snacks from the cart, pay with a $10, wait a few minutes, then insist she paid with a $20, so we’d wind up giving her back the money she paid and then she’d get her food for free plus whatever her original change on the ten was. And this lady was DOGGED – she would rant and roar at the hall management until we gave her her money just to get her to go away. And my understanding is that we couldn’t tell her to get lost because there are all sorts of special rules involved in booting someone out of a gambling establishment (or else we were just gutless about it and decided the number of books she bought to play with justified losing a tenner every now and then).

    At the hall, we had this game called the Accelerator, where there was a large payout if the game was won before a certain number of balls were called, and a lesser payout thereafter. So for example, if you could get a full card in 48 balls, you’d win $12.5k, but anything after that you’d get something way smaller, like $200. But every night the size of the large payout would increase, and at certain thresholds, it would get easier to win – like at $15k, it would now be a full card in *49* numbers. So the game was a big draw, especially once the target number hit 52 or 53, which were reasonable common numbers for a full card to go in.

    So one night, just as we’re starting the Accelerator, this lady decides to run her scam (she had to run it basically shortly after whenever the snack cart went by so it at least looked plausible). The woman in charge of the snack cart also decided that that night she’d had enough and would NOT be giving this lady her $10. So it escalated, and it escalated, and finally the customer decided she wanted to talk to the hall manager in her office. She asked me to play her cards.

    She was using one of our bingo computers to track her cards – we programmed the cards into the machines and then the customers just had to punch in the numbers as they came up, then locate and mark the appropriate card with ink if/when the machine told them they had a bingo. The customers loved them because they could play a twelve strip book (each strip was 3 cards, so each twelve strip meant 36 cards per game) programmed into the machine, and also play another twelve strip manually, for a total of 72 cards per game. So I’m sitting here playing her Accelerator game, and she’s in the manager’s office screaming and shouting about her $10, and the woman who was pushing the snack cart is in there *sobbing* because she’s so upset, and I’m watching this lady inch closer and closer to a full card.

    And then she gets it – a full card in 49 numbers, fifteen and a half thousand dollars, in one of her cards programmed into the computer. And she’s in the office screaming at this poor snack cart woman, and I’m sitting there staring at her computer.

    So some fun facts about the bingo computers we were using (this is foreshadowing): unless she checked to see if there was some kind of disparity between the number of numbers entered in the card and the number of numbers the caller had called, she’d be very unlikely to notice whether the number of numbers that the caller had called and the number of numbers that had been entered matched (I appreciate that that sentence is baffling). And because we only needed the customers to ink the cards if/when they got a bingo, there was no physical evidence that she’d been anywhere near to a bingo.

    So I deleted three of the numbers out of her computer. Not only did she not win the $15.5k, she didn’t even get the $200 door prize. And then she comes swanning out of the manager’s office, comes back over to the table, and waves her ten at me, grinning, and goes “Got my ten!” And she did. And it was the most expensive ten dollar bill she ever ripped us off for: it cost her $15,490.

    She wasn’t even the worst customer we ever had.

    1. Moonstone*

      This is the most amazing thing I’ve ever read! I freaking ADORE this story! I’m so glad that nasty, thieving shrew didn’t get that money.

    2. Omskivar*

      As another former bingo employee I salute you. I wish I could have gotten away with that with some of our nastier regulars.

  107. HugeTractsofLand*

    The pettiest thing I’ve ever done was go back MONTHS in a google sheet’s history to pinpoint who had changed my data. There was a big error in the spreadsheet that others were trying to pin on me since I was the original spreadsheet creator, but it didn’t seem like an error that I would make. So I went back in time and sure enough, one of the most peeved people had made a mistake. I don’t work with the most tech-savvy folks either (part of the problem), so everyone in the room visibly stilled when I said “so there’s a way of checking who did what in any google doc…”

    I promise I was nice about it, but oh! the internal satisfaction.

    1. cncx*

      Something similar happened to me where a coworker went into a spreadsheet after i quit to sabotage one of the last things i did and cried to the boss to give me a bad reference.

      IT checked it out… a Saturday at three am she had gone in and messed with my sheet. Versioning is a thing!

  108. ConstantlyComic*

    I used to work at a state historic site that had a horribly toxic work environment, in no small part due to a long-running feud between interpreter staff and maintenance staff. During my time there, the maintenance foreman, who had worked at the site for as long as anyone could remember and was a pretty spiteful fellow who was one of the strongest forces behind the feud and generally just kind of did what he wanted, retired. He somehow got the okay to have a retirement dinner in the museum’s auditorium on a day that the site was closed to the public (the dinner was specifically for him and his friends, not staff), then left the food scraps, dirty dishes, and other mess overnight, forcing the interpreter staff to frantically clean it up the next day before opening.

    (I left the job not long after that, but it did start to get less toxic after that guy retired. The new maintenance foreman was pretty nice and actually put together a couple of all-staff cookouts on the property after hours–outdoors so the cleanup was easy)

  109. Rocket Raccoon*

    I worked in a super small bakery – just me and the owner. One day a lady ordered a box of cinnamon rolls, and when she got home and opened them she decided they were too done. She called the bakery and my boss told her that’s how they are supposed to be.

    She brought them back to the bakery, asked for a refund, and complained about the rude employee she’d spoken to earlier. He didn’t say a thing, just gave her the refund using every dime in the cash box.

  110. Vienna*

    I worked part time at Walmart for a few years while I was in college in their online grocery pickup department. I was the top performing employee in the entire department, and was trusted to spend my shifts finding substitutions for out of stock items with next to no oversight. My numbers were great, and customer surveys indicated they LOVED the alternatives I gave them, so nobody ever double checked my work.

    Every few weeks, my store’s manager would pick a new metric to harp on everyone about. Despite having no knowledge in how the job actually worked, he would create new policies to “support” us in improving whatever his metric of the week was. 99% of the time these policies only served to slow us down SIGNIFICANTLY. Tasks that used to take a minute suddenly took 15 or more. Even with ample evidence that his policies were actively harming the entire department, he’d refuse to change them for at least a week. It was infuriating.

    Every time he enacted one of these new policies, I’d go nuts with the substitutions. The great value 15 pack of diapers you ordered is out of stock? Congratulations, you’re getting the name brand 100 pack instead. The trial size lotion is nowhere to be found? Cool, have a 3 oz refillable bottle and the bulk size lotion instead. You ordered a pound of our cheapest ground beef but someone just bought the last package? 10 pounds of 85/15 seems like a reasonable substitution to me! Walmart covered the difference in price if a substitute was more expensive than what the customer originally ordered. I thoroughly enjoyed the benefit of getting great customer reviews along with the sweet satisfaction giving thousands of dollars of upgrades away on the store’s dime over the years that I worked there.

      1. New Jack Karyn*

        I dunno, it says this: “Walmart covered the difference in price if a substitute was more expensive than what the customer originally ordered.”

        I’m okay with Walmart losing a few nickels like this.

      2. Zephy*

        Walmart covered the difference in price if a substitute was more expensive than what the customer originally ordered.

        What part of that is not on the store’s dime?

        1. Ancient Llama*

          One person doing this likely no traceable impact, but overall the price Walmart charges goes up to cover similar things plus shoplifting loses etc.
          Unless you think they are taking it out of C-suite bonuses.
          So Econ 101 is right, it didn’t impact THAT order FINAL price, but it does impact why an order cost what it did in the first place. So you, me and everyone else shopping at Walmart (or any company) is absorbing/covering these costs, not the company, when the final $$$ are balanced.
          But I like Vienna’s style.

      3. Vienna*

        I suppose if you want to get really technical with it, they weren’t paying the difference in listed prices, just the difference from the wholesale cost of the expensive item I substituted and the listed price of the item the customer actually ordered. Their profit margin is only 2-3% though. Walmart was definitely losing a significant amount of money from all of my upgrading, so I think that counts as being on their dime.

  111. FaintlyMacabre*

    I’ve shared this before, and while it was karma doing all the work, I got plenty of petty enjoyment out of it nonetheless!:

    Several years ago, I had a temp job in a ridiculously dysfunctional workplace. It was a large factory and I along with two other coworkers did office work there. In my head, I dubbed them Micromanager Mindy and Do-nothing Delores. (For this story, know that while she drove me insane as a coworker, as a human being I actually liked Micromanager Mindy.)

    Do-nothing Delores did not like me or Mindy, largely because we actually knew how to do our jobs, did our jobs, and didn’t cover for her when she frequently slacked off of her job. She was a giant suck up, and would bring in treats for everyone in the factory, but always mysteriously ran out before she got to me and Mindy. I could go on, but you get the idea.

    One day, Jim, the grand boss comes in. He’s holding three strips of ten raffle tickets in his hand. The office was having a raffle for charity and there were some really nice prizes- electronics and cash and gas station gift cards. Jim addresses the three of us, saying that while he wanted to support the raffle, as the grand boss it would be inappropriate for him to win anything and therefore had bought the tickets for us.

    Even as Mindy and I are getting out our thanks, Delores has already snatched a strip of tickets from Jim’s hand and walked away without saying anything. (In my memory, she goes off into a corner and hunches over them crooning, “Preciousss, my preciousss,” but that is probably not what happened?) Jim, Mindy and I exchange a three way eye roll and then Mindy and I make an elaborate dance out of choosing the two strips of raffle tickets left. “Please, Mindy, choose which tickets you’d like.” “No, no, I insist you choose.” “I couldn’t possibly take away your choice. You simply must have your pick.” This continued until Jim more or less threw the tickets at us and walked away, no doubt regretting all the life choices he had made that had led him to that point.

    All week, Delores natters on about the prizes she wants and complains that Jim *only* bought her ten tickets. Mindy and I get in some high intensity eye rolling excercises. Finally, the raffle occurs and the prizes are distributed. Mindy and I both win gas certificates. Mindy also wins one of the higher end electronics. Delores gets diddly-squat. And every time she complained, we reminded her that she had the first pick of tickets. It was beautiful! Never have I enjoyed putting gas in my car so much as when I was using that certificate…

    1. Aquamarine*

      “In my memory, she goes off into a corner and hunches over them crooning, “Preciousss, my preciousss” – I loved this story, thank you!

  112. cncx*

    I’ve done this at several jobs. People would do this thing where they would call me or interrupt me on Teams to get a small set of numbers (like literally six digits) they were just too lazy to pull off a share drive because it was URGENT!!!1. When i would gently remind them where they could find this data, even with a live hyperlink on teams, they were always like “oh hoho but it’s easier and faster to call you.”

    So every time they called i sent them the data back as a screenshotted picture. Enjoy manually typing for wasting my time.

    1. Mr Flibble*

      I’m applauding you! I had several coworkers who would ask for my help ‘because it’s quicker’. I started spotting the signs – usually when they were at a particular point in an assessment and I would disappear for a bit. Once, on my return, one coworker truimphantly told me ‘it wasn’t that difficult’. Indeed.

  113. Amber T*

    I think I told this story once before here. My real name (not Amber) is a common name with an unusual spelling (think “Alysin” compared to “Alison”). It’s in my email, it’s in my signature, and it drives me up a wall when someone who I’ve emailed back and forth with before spells it wrong. It’s right there! Just look at who you’re emailing!!

    Once or twice is annoying, but I was going back and forth with one person on an email who also had a common but slightly unusually spelled name. Because it bugs me so much, I always make sure to spell people’s names right/used preferred names, but after the 20th email where she wrote out “Alison” instead of “Alysin,” I purposely spelled her name wrong and used the common spelling when responding.

    She never spelled my name wrong again. This was at least six or seven years ago and we have a wonderful working relationship now, but every time I get slightly annoyed, I mentally (only mentally!) spell her name wrong in my head.

  114. Sparky*

    At one of my retail jobs, I had a horrible manager. She was always snide and snotty to employees. When someone had to go to the bathroom, she’d always be angry that they couldn’t wait two hours until their next break to go. Always on a power trip with the tiny amount of power she had.

    I started noticing that when she went on one of her rants, she’d sway back and forth out of nervousness. I guess she was power hungry but also a little scared. So I started standing absolutely stick straight and looked her dead in the eye when she had a rant for me. She started swaying even more. I thought she’d fall over at one point. It was petty but it felt nice to be able to intimidate her just a little bit.

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

    So I didn’t do this but a coworker did. I worked at a small grocery store. And for a while I helped in the Deli. It was just one person, Linda, who did all of the bakery orders and deli stuff premade sandwiches, salads, sliced deli meat and cheese. I covered her for a few months. and she came in a few times to help. Needless to say even in my small town grocery store this was a lot of work for one person.

    There was this was one customer who was so entitled and rude. She HAD TO HAVE FRESH CUT DELI MEAT. even if it was just cut she demanded it to be fresh. So one day Linda took the meat that was just cut, and repackaged it.

  116. clementine*

    Back when I did mall retail, I had a lady come in who was just straight up nasty and mean. She didn’t want to sign up for a store account which is fine, but when I asked her she yelled in my face that NO I DONT WANT AN ACCOUNT. I tried to give her a receipt afterwards and she yelled NO I DONT WANT A RECEIPT. I told her okay, you don’t need one, just be aware our return policy is- NO I DONT WANT A RECEIPT and stormed off. I was so mad I shredded the receipt and dumped it in the bathroom trash.

    Not twenty minutes later she comes back and wants a return and refund. She paid cash, but we can’t do cash refunds without a receipt. We can refund it to a credit card, but you need a store account for that. She starts yelling again and this time I get my manager. The customer demands that I dig through the trash for her receipt, my manager refuses, there’s some lovely back and forth during which my manager is fantastic and the lady ends up having to sign up for a store account before storming out again.

    If she hadn’t been so mean to me I would have just put the receipt in the drawer *specifically for abandoned receipts* (because this happens all the time) and she would have got her cash refund. But she was >:) that’s what you get

  117. rinathin*

    Speaking of bakeries — I worked at a supermarket bakery that offered cake decoration. I once got a call for a big sheet cake, and it was just the usual until the lady, in the exact tone you’re imaging, said “make it rainbow — but it’s not a *pride* thing.” She put *that* emphasis on pride. I was disgusted, but kept my usual cheery retail voice and said “yup, sure, of course.” When it came time to explain the order to the cake decorator, I made sure to convey how important it was that this cake not look remotely gay. Each color of the rainbow was present, but they were as out of order as possible. Think blue, red, orange, green, purple, yellow, something like that. Throw pink in there for good measure. It looked horrendous afterwards, but it certainly didn’t look like a pride cake.

    1. rinathin*

      I should note this supermarket was in a conservative town, so trying to do something about the underhanded homophobia wouldn’t have gone anywhere. My manager agreed the lady was a {bad word} but the malicious compliance was the most we could do.

      1. Kermit's Bookkeepers*

        I would have been tempted to put the most bombastic rainbow on that cake I possibly could, and pipe “But not in a gay way” on the cake in the fanciest, most sparkly font I possibly could.

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          One of those beige “aesthetic” rainbows and then “it’s not a PRIDE thing” with PRIDE in rainbow letters

          1. fhqwhgads*

            Yeah this. Too bad she said it outloud and didn’t write it on the form. because most grocery cake order forms have a big “put exactly the text you want on the cake, nothing else” box and that’s where a lot of the cakewrecks about obvious text come from. It’s not the decorator screwing up; it’s the decorator doing exactly as they’re told, and the customer screwing up.
            But yeah the best way to comply, other than what they actually did, is the write “it’s not a PRIDE thing” on the cake. She said it.

  118. Salsa Your Face*

    I briefly worked as a receptionist at a small hair salon. The reservation software on the front desk computer also had a built-in time clock that all employees used to track our hours–the stylists and other staff would pop over to my desk whenever they needed to clock in or out. I quickly learned that on my profile, I had the ability to manually override people’s clock in and clock out times. I never once abused this power–I only used it if someone forgot to clock in our out for their shifts or lunch break, and would make their times appear as close as possible to what actually happened.

    After a few months the owner realized that I had this permission on my account and revoked it. He was really mad at me, but I had no idea that I *wasn’t* supposed to have that ability, and everyone I worked with swore that I had never falsified anyone’s times.

    But guess what? This computer was running, like, Windows 95, and I realized that all I had to do to continue to manipulate the time clock software was change the time on the computer. After that, I absolutely DID abuse the power. Showed up late? No you didn’t. Took a long lunch? Nope, the computer said you came back on time! I don’t have the ability to change the times anymore so it MUST be accurate!

  119. HungryLawyer*

    During law school I clerked at a very small firm. There were only 6 people total who worked at this firm, including a junior associate who really disliked me. She thought that I was gunning for her job, which I wasn’t, and was often very rude to me. She would occasionally work from home and every time she did, I would casually walk into her empty office and fart.

    1. Regular Human Accountant*

      Of all the hilarious pettiness on this thread, THIS is the one that made me laugh out loud. Love it.

  120. Thank God I Don't Work There Anymore*

    I used to work with a bunch of women in their 40s-50s who were all still emotionally in middle school. One in particular, Judy, was particularly insufferable, and no one in the office liked her. She also happened to be allergic to coconut (among other things), but the other women in the office were convinced that she was lying about allergies to get attention, because she did bring up her coconut allergy about every five minutes. (I personally have no idea if she was actually allergic to anything but I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt on this topic because, you know, death.)

    One day after Judy had been on a medical leave for about three weeks, one of the other women in the office went to the grocery store and bought about 10 different products blatantly made out of coconut and placed them all over the office–in the kitchen, in the fridge, at the reception desk. Coconut everything, everywhere.

    It was a thinly-veiled way of saying “We hate you and wanted you to die.”

  121. ragazza*

    A coworker who was pretty full of himself and not great at his job (he used to sit with his feet up watching Netflix at work) left his offer letter for the job at our company on his desk when he left for a new job. He made…quite a lot more than I did, although to be fair I had a more junior title (I shouldn’t have since I actually, you know, worked, but that’s another story). The bosses freaked out and wanted to keep it on the down low. However, I had already told everyone in the department, so I guess I’m petty too. And then when I was promoted, I pointed out how much he had made in that position, and I still didn’t get it. The sexism at that place was amazing. I should have gotten a lawyer.

  122. not cheap, just petty*

    I worked at a very famous medical center that has a great reputation but is toxic to work for. We had a break room with a water filter attached to the sink. We were expected to contribute $10/mo to the hospital if we used the special water filter tap. This unit had a total of 200 nurses, 30 ancillary staff, 6 managers, and 50 doctors/NPs, along with countless residents & fellows coming through. There was no way that we needed to contribute that much money to maintain this water filter under the sink. I never once contributed, but I made sure to drink water from it AND fill up two water bottles to take home to water my plants every time I worked. Just so petty, but felt good.

  123. Nesprin*

    I work in a lab and had a horrible soul destroying coworker who thankfully quit. Labs run on instructions left on sticky notes and lab tape- when she left I went through and removed every scrap of her name or handwriting and replaced with new notes.

    It took me several hours.

    1. Quill*

      Ooof. I completely understand the impulse. The number of times I have found a critical piece of information labeled “Jason’s results 2003” and thanked the Jason I have never met for writing things down… At last job, I think there’s an instruction sheet for fixing the UV imager that’s named after me.

      If it’s not in a lab notebook we cannot give this person any credit! Even if nobody will ever know.

  124. Michigander*

    I once worked at a very small, very dysfunctional company. The office manager would often talk to me from the other side of the office as she walked toward my desk. (Probably a good 25 feet or so.) I could hear her and knew she was talking to me, but I pretended not to hear her until she was right at my desk. “Oh, we’re you talking to me?” Then she’d have to repeat what she said. Every single time!

  125. Not Mindy*

    I think that this kind of falls into the category of cutting off your nose to spite your face.
    When PDAs first came out I was very proud of my Palm Pilot. Unfortunately, it didn’t help me get more organized, and I would leave it overnight on my desk on a regular basis.
    One morning I came in and it was gone. So that night I put the charger front and center on my desk with a post-it that said “You stole my Palm Pilot, you might as well take this, too.”
    It was gone the following morning.

    1. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

      I feel about this story the way I feel whenever I see a picture of a cat dressed up as sushi: “oh no, who did that to you!” but also can’t stop laughing.

  126. Pam*

    I once work for a boss who acted as though every penny spent was her personal money. It was pretty painful to deal with, but we did have some small perks. One was a Christmas gift card; it was only $50, so it wasn’t going to change anyones holiday, but it was a nice treat we all enjoyed.

    The organization decided that they would do a statement outlining our employee benefits at the end of the year. Nice, but really as we are in the insurance industry, we were all pretty knowledgeable about our benefits.

    Boss apparently didn’t love it and decided that it should be paid by for the employees. Out of our annual Christmas gift card.

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      A lid for everypot. I hope she and guacamole bob live long and parsimoniously.

  127. Auld Batt*

    My brother worked for a company that provided free sodas in the break room refrigerator. His manager would take all the cans of his (the manager’s) particular favorite soda and keep them on his desk so nobody else could have them. Everybody hated this manager.

    Whenever the manager left his cubicle, my brother or one of his teammates would rush in and shake up as many soda cans as possible before the manager came back.

    The whole team would wait in delicious anticipation for the manager to come back in and to hear the “snick” of a can opening, followed by panicked yelling as the soda spilled everywhere. Apparently the manager never figured out what was happening.

  128. ragazza*

    I remembered another story from the same company. One of my bosses there was a control freak and always thought someone had been in his office because he thought items were moved, etc, and he would send out angry emails. No one had been, but people started actually moving random items when he was out just to eff with him.

  129. Not in Charge*

    I got unofficially demoted from a managing position for reasons I still have not been able to find out, and someone outside my department has been put in charge of it. I suspect this was at least somewhat that person’s idea, so while I tried to help them transition for a while, I’ve since stopped. Now I’m just redirecting all manager questions I get to him like, I know you don’t know the answer, but you wanted this so have fun! This makes no sense!

  130. RockChick*

    Many years ago, I shared an office with another girl, Brandi. Brandi had a habit of chewing gum with her mouth open and making those tiny popping sounds with her teeth at machine gun speed. I turned up my radio, but she said it was distracting her so I turned it down, noting I had turned it up because her gum chewing was distracting me.

    No change in the gum habit. SO ANNOYING.

    I bought a coffee mug that had a gimmicky thing in the bottom so when lifted it played a tinny version of “You Light Up My Life.” When the pop-pop-popping was going on, I’d hold up my mug and stare at the work on my desk, deep in thought. When she stopped popping, mug down. Start popping, mug up. She made a comment about the annoying sound in the office which I shrugged off.

    Took Brandi about three weeks to figure out the connection before she switched to mints.

    1. ConstantlyComic*

      All I can think of is the Cell Block Tango (although admittedly, Debbie Boone is a much tamer reaction than “a couple of warning shots”)

  131. TerribleAtMakingUsernames*

    My previous job involved setting up and running recurring events for the general public. I (female) was the manager for the second event of the day, with a (male) coworker (call his Bob) responsible for the first event. We had the exact same job title, responsibilities, and seniority level. The event schedule was set up in such a way that we had an EXTREMELY limited amount of time between the end of event 1 and start of event 2 (sometimes a half hour or less), to accomplish a turnaround that included cleaning, removing and putting away huge decorations and setups from event 1, and safely putting up setups for event 2 (screw guns, tying things up with cable, etc. were all involved – if something wasn’t set up correctly, someone could really get hurt!)
    Bob was supposed to help with this turnaround, and in exchange I was supposed to completely remove my stuff AND set up his at the end of my day because “Bob and his staff might not have enough time in the morning to do everything.” Bob…would not help. Bob would stand around cracking bad jokes while I was literally sprinting past him carrying a piece of plywood twice my size. Bob would only help if I physically handed something to him and told him where it went (which he should have already known), and then Bob would go back to his joke-cracking corner.
    Eventually I got fed up enough that I told my staff that we would not be setting up Bob’s event for him that night. We made sure to completely remove and store everything from ours, and left Bob an empty space so he could set up in the morning. (I did text our manager to give them a heads up and was told “I’m not going to stop you”- can you tell this was an incredibly dysfunctional environment?)
    Others who were there when Bob came in the next morning told me he was baffled and ran around like a chicken with his head cut off because, in a surprise to no one, he had zero idea how to do his own set up (even though that was part of our job), because my staff and I had been doing it for him for months. Our manager came in to show Bob what to do (mostly to make sure no one got hurt), I got a bare-bones apology, and left that job shortly after!
    (Yes, there were other many many other sexism and double-standard issues at this company!)

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      F the hell out of Bob, and good for you! I would never expect someone to do all my event setup, especially if it was that complicated.

  132. Aplatanada*

    I worked for a manager that was outrageously Type A, but only when it benfitted her. We were government adjacent and frequently had to attend events in the evening, but there was no comp time or flexibility on adjusting schedules. For example, when I was pregnant with twins, I had to frequently take my lunch hour to go to my doctor for check ups. If I took longer than my official lunch hour, I would have to adjust my schedule to cover that time. (So if my appointment took 90 minutes, I would have to stay an extra 30 minutes.) But this rule did not apply in the other direction for us saaried folks. Work a Saturday event? Be there at 8 am Monday.

    The day I gave birth to my twins I had gone to work as usual at 8 am and left at noon to go to my appointment. I unexpectedly had a serious condition and had to give birth unexpectedly. Three weeks later when I called HR to get everything in order, I was surprised to learn that I got 89 days leave (unpaid of course) not 90. The explained my manager was not counting the day I worked from 8 am to 12 pm as a work day because I hadn’t worked more than 4 hours that day. Never mind that earlier in the week that I had worked a 12 hour day because of an event- the day I gave birth I only worked 4 hours, so it didn’t count as a full work day. I complained to HR. HR said it was up to the manager, and she denied even my request to work ONE half day to compensate. So I only got 89 days leave.

    The controlling environment had been bad before, but got intolerable once I became a parent. One day I worked a 14 hr day and had not been able to pump after 6 pm because of the event. At 11 pm I told my manager I was leaving because I had not been able to pump and needed to get home, and she said, “Of course, you can skip clean up tonight. You need to rest because you have to be here at 8 am tomorrow.”

    She was shocked when I resigned 6 months later! I’ve seen her at events since then and she ignores me.

  133. Schmitt*

    I worked for an agency owned by a married couple. All of us, roughly 15 people, were not *officially* required to eat lunch in the communal dining room and partake in the communal espresso ritual, but individually it would affect how The Couple thought of you. They liked to tell prospective employees how cozy and chummy we all were, eating lunch like a big family.

    The employees had silverware from Ikea. The Couple had two sets of proper, heavy, fancy silverware. Whoever was in charge of the espresso that day was also expected to wash the bosses’ silverware by hand.

    On my last day, I shoved that stupid silverware in the very back of a random drawer.

    1. Schmitt*

      If you think I have more terrible stories about these two, you are right, but sadly there was no pettiness involved in the other stories.

  134. Good Luck*

    My friend worked for a organization in the HR dept. For some reason at this particular organization HR organized all the functions/celebrations etc for the company. My friend was usually in charge of these endeavors. One time there was a celebration that involved a taco bar. For this event HR was NOT in charge for once. The person that ordered the food, left the dirty catering trays and chaffing dishes sitting out in the company kitchen for days. Claiming she wouldn’t clean it up bc it was the catering company’s job. My friend asked her to at least rinse the chaffing dishes and trays bc the kitchen was starting to stink. The woman said again, she wouldn’t. Finally my friend picked up all the dirty dishes and placed them on the woman’s desk before she got in for the day. Somehow they magically all got rinsed and picked up that afternoon by the catering company.

    1. Peaches Peaches Peaches*

      This reminds me of that famous old Reddit story about the woman who worked in a horrible, sexist office where the few women were expected to do their male coworkers’ dishes. The women of the office finally rebelled by letting their kitchen get absolutely disgusting while they only used the executive kitchen upstairs. The men pitched a fit that their dishes weren’t being cleaned for them, and when they ran out of clean dishes, they eventually followed the women upstairs to the executive kitchen and left that one in similarly dismal shape–whereupon the executives read them the riot act and made them clean both kitchens (after previously ignoring the women’s complaints, of course).

  135. MissMaisy*

    I worked at a fast food place outside a mall during high school and college. I always worked the closing shift which meant I had a lot of jobs to get done before closing or we’d be late getting done. Since the last hour or so was pretty dead, it was easy enough to get that prep work done. There was one exception to the dead period. When the mall closed, the drive-thru would be lined up with people wanting drinks for their drive home. It was annoying enough to have to stop my work to fill a 99c orders of Biggie Pepsi but, being a petty teenager, I was especially annoyed with those ordering water. If someone came through my drive-thru ordering only water, you can bet I gave them carbonated water from the drink fountain (so it also had a trace of whatever soft drink had last been served from that nozzle). I just imagined those people would go to the McDonald’s next door next time they wanted a free drink. To this day, I never order water at fast food places.

  136. CSRoadWarrior*

    A few years ago, I had a recruiter reach out to me about a position I was interested in. Only, the recruiter botched the entire process while at the same time, I was unaware. She and her partner recruiter told me the company was interested in me. I hear back and was called in for an interview. Only, it wasn’t an interview. the hiring manager only complained to me about how both recruiters kept messing up the entire time and did not communicate properly with the company. I didn’t even get a chance to speak.

    Predictably, I didn’t get the position. Now mind you, but I was not given any details about what happened, but I was MIFFED.

    Without hesitation, I emailed the supervisor for both recruiters, and specifically told the supervisor to “Do me a favor and please fire Recruiter A and Recruiter B.” I actually used the word “fire” and that was my sentence, word for word. I hit send without hesitation. A few months later, I heard that both recruiter were no longer with the company. Admittedly, I smirked with satisfaction.

  137. Thunder Kitten*

    there was a place I worked that had you pay $4 cash for parking into a machine (no coins) If you had exact change, all was well. However if you needed to get change, it would only disburse dollar coins (which are not as commonly used currency in US as 1 euro coins are in Europe).
    However, it did not accept dollar coins as payment. Woe betide the poor souls who only had $20 bills…

    1. Gumby*

      I used to buy CalTrain tickets with $20s just so I could get the dollar coins. They made great stocking stuffers for nieces and nephews who found them cool. Sort of how we got $2 bills from our grandfather. Now it’s all card based and not nearly as fun.

  138. eristotle*

    Years ago when I waited tables, a couple that I was serving became angry and demanded to see my manager. I don’t remember what the issue was exactly, just that it was dumb and that I hadn’t done anything wrong (I couldn’t get them a beer they wanted, or something like that). So I went to my boss and explained the situation. He laughed, called over another server to watch my tables, and told me to go hang out in the kitchen for 10-15 minutes. I had no idea what he was up to, but I complied.

    15 minutes later I came back downstairs and the couple’s table is now empty. My boss then told me that they were incredibly rude to him, making demands and ridiculous complaints about me, etc. So, he looked them dead in the eye and told them that I’d caused all sorts of trouble, would be fired IMMEDIATELY, and that he was very sorry that I had ruined their night. They were horrified that they had just made someone lose their job and begged my boss not to fire me. No, he said, this is the last straw, she’s gone. Then, since I ruined their dinner, he removed their plates from their table, and told them very apologetically that he would comp their meals, since clearly I ruined the whole experience. My only regret is that I wasn’t there to watch the exchange.

  139. Tequila & Oxford Commas*

    I occasionally get racist emails from members of our client base who don’t like it when a newsletter or event panel features too many non-white people. We don’t usually respond, but sometimes one will be in the “Just asking questions” vein, i.e. semi-veiled racism masquerading as genuine curiosity.

    I love answering these in the most polite, cheery tone, taking the question at face value: “Yes, you’re right! Isn’t it wonderful that we have such a diverse community? Did you know that X% of our population identify as [underrepresented group]?”

    Or I’ll play really dumb: “I’d love to answer your question — can you clarify what you mean by “diversity”? As you know, that could refer to gender, age, race/ethnicity, belief systems, income bracket…” Surprisingly, they rarely respond with clarifications!

  140. MiddleAgeRage*

    Years ago, after dealing with toxic management trifecta: favouritism, cliqueness, no accountability – I was reaching that critical mass bullsh*t level. The tipping point was after a company wide “anonymous” survey revealed that management across the company was considered untrustworthy, unknowledgeable, and just generally terrible. The higher up muckety mucks decided in their infinite wisdom that workers needed team building exercises instead of fixing the actual problems.

    Surprise! Not…

    Anyway, during one such team building exercise meeting, the resident line manager decided to go through the room and tell us to share what vegetation we most identified with. Normally, I would quietly decline to participate with a mumbled “I don’t know” or “I got nothing” but my manager was determined to get an answer from me today.

    Coworkers said things like “Oak tree – tall and strong”, “Maple – timeless and truly Canadian”, “Strawberry – everybody likes me”, “Roses – beautiful but prickly” etc.

    After badgering from my manager, and feeling the expectant attention from my coworkers, I lost all sense of reason and blurted out “Corn – can be consumed, sh*t out, and still be productive”

    Meeting adjourned and I left the company later that year.

    1. Thunder Kitten*

      awesome answer ! better than my answer would have been : “mushroom”. though the reasons are similar. turns organic fertilizer into something productive.

      1. Nina*

        …I don’t know if it’s an industry thing or a location thing, but where I am, someone saying they felt like a mushroom would be understood very very clearly: it means “I am being kept in the dark and fed horsesh*t”.

        1. lin*

          It may be regional; I learned it in the upper midwest before I ever got into the corporate world. We tended to frame it as a complaint: “I am not a mushroom”, meaning, don’t keep me in the dark and feed me horse poo.

  141. DramaQ*

    I had a coworker who was very particular about stuff and would follow you around and complain if you didn’t do things exactly her way.

    I took great delight in using pipette tips out of order instead of by row and leaving the lid open so she’d see it.

    If you’ve ever worked in a lab you know how irritating that is.

    So worth it when I’d catch her rearranging it.

    1. Trillian*

      Totally irritating, since scanning the number of tips used or remaining in a row is a quick check on “Did I add enzyme to that tube or not?” My wandering mind would not thank you.