the deliberately terrible lunch, the vindictive daffodils, and other petty moments at work

Last month I asked about the pettiest things you’ve seen (or done!) at work. There were so many hilarious stories left on that post that I couldn’t fit them all my favorites into one column. Part 1 was here, and here’s part 2.

1. The new offices

This is a thing that I knew because I was in a very, very small department at my undergrad. Small enough that our department proper was two professors, with about six others that were technically part of other departments pitching in. (Cross-disciplinary science degree, small school, etc.)

My senior symposium was a hydrology and river ecology seminar taught by a biology and geology professor who were best friends. It was also held the year before a huge remodel of the science building on campus, so the professors were mildly obsessed with the whole process, as the building had been built in the sixties. Professors Fish and Rock were especially enthusiastic, and recruited the seniors in my department to help pack things (mostly rock samples, also a tank of invasive round gobies that Prof. Fish had removed from the environment but was too softhearted to kill) that had to be moved out over the summer. This is where my entire graduating cohort (all ten of us) learned some of the best gossip on campus.

Offices in the New Science Building were being assigned by professor seniority. If you were hired in X year, you could go down to the building office on Y day and write down your name on the office you claimed. First come, first served, with minor exceptions for people who had to be within shouting distance of their labs – mostly chem and biology. Unfortunately for Professors Rock and Fish, Professor Unpleasant, who was not at all popular with students or faculty, had more seniority than them, and took the last spot near the wet lab where Professor Fish had to be stationed to care for his fish.

Professor Unpleasant made the mistake of writing his request down in pencil, so Professor Rock Simply erased his claim, wrote himself into the office next to his bestie, and banished Professor Unpleasant to a basement storage area. Allegedly there were at least a decade of grievances involved in this decision, but academia is like that and if I’d stayed to listen to them all someone would have talked me into trying for a PhD.

Professor Unpleasant didn’t discover his relocation until the final building plan with office assignments was announced, the day of my senior banquet. My whole department got to witness Prof. Unpleasant tearing through campus looking for Professors Fish and Rock to yell at them, and didn’t tell him they were hiding under the library steps with a cheese tray, giggling.

2. The poker chip

Occasionally people in my department would need to borrow the master key for our floor from our program manager (if we accidentally locked ourselves out of our office, for example). Previously, we’d just ask her for it, use it, and bring it back.

Then another small department was moved into some empty space on our floor. Immediately the most unpleasant member of that small department created a complicated system for borrowing the master key: each of us had a poker chip that we had to write our names on, and they were kept in a special bin, and if we wanted to borrow the master key, we’d need to fish through the bin of full poker chips, find ours, and move it to the spot where the master key was kept. It took longer to find my poker chip in the bin than it took to borrow the key, open my office, and return it.

The same man instituted a bunch of other ostensibly efficient new methods and expected everyone to obey them. He had no official authority, he just decided these things and assumed we’d listen (and scolded those who didn’t). He was a deeply unpleasant man in general, and I resented his arrival on my floor.

So I stole his poker chip. My petty heart loved imagining him searching fruitlessly through his stupid bin, looking for the one with his name. Long after he retired, I’ve still got it in a little box on my dresser.

3. The pens

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.

4. The daffodils

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.

5. The nickname

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.”

6. The new technologies

I would make up technologies to mess with my know-it-all co-worker. “Oh have you heard about the new Flarbelstein video card? It’s got 15 numptytons of RAM…” and they would nod along, “Oh, yes, the Flarbelstein, great stuff.” I never let on.

7. The detective work

One time I had a student defacing my bulletin board while another teacher used my room. I spent several days trying to rig my document camera to record that part of the room during her classes so I could catch the kid in the act. Like, strategically putting it inside a box on a shelf with a small hole cut in the side levels of “spy” work. Totally ridiculous and it didn’t even work! This was NOT a problem worth so much energy but it was one of many irritating things involving this coworker so I think I snapped lol.

8. The bookstore

I worked in used bookstores for many years. Most customers were great but there were always some who were incredibly nasty and mean and who loved “catching us” out on tiny things and generally being horrible on purpose. They were usually repeat customers who we all came to know and loathe. One such came to the counter with two copies of the same book – copy A priced at $4.00 and copy B priced at $5.00. He wanted copy B, and first harangued me about our “error” (it was not an error) and then demanded that I sell him copy B for $4.00. We did not allow price changes and never negotiated with customers, which he absolutely knew. I looked over both books extremely carefully and deliberately, really taking my time. Then, while looking him dead in the eye like an apex predator, I said, “You’re absolutely right – I’m so sorry for the mistake. These books should be the same price! They are both $5.00.” and then gave him the most sincerely apologetic smile I could muster. He did not buy the book. It was glorious.

9. The lunch

I worked for a small nonprofit 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. (The association created the menu. They usually put on a good conference with a tasty lunch so this was glaring.) It was noticed by people at the conference.

The association would not return our calls after that day.

10. The sauce crime

During my brief flirtation with food service, I worked at a very dysfunctional restaurant as a busser— or at least nominally so. In reality, they were always so understaffed that I did a little bit of everything. I had two bosses (the two owners) with wildly different standards, one who very strict and the other totally lenient. My strict boss was very exacting about staff meals and their exact portions and contents, which were the same every shift. I wasn’t going hungry or anything, but it was boring, and there were many other more egregious issues which I don’t need to detail here.

The restaurant served a particular sauce (with things to dip) for free to every table, and had eight or so other sauces which were generally served in a sauce sampler. One of my jobs was assembling those appetizers and samplers. I could have the basic sauce with my staff meals, but the other sauces were completely off-limits. So naturally, I made it my mission to eat every single one of those sauces. I planned everything very exactingly, waiting for the perfect night when my strict boss wasn’t in and my lenient boss wasn’t looking to sneak into the walk-in, fill up a ramekin, slip it onto my plate, eat frantically in the corner behind the ice machine, and conceal the evidence with the rest of the dirty dishes. Slowly, over the course of that summer, I tried every single sauce— and it turned out that the one I was already allowed to eat was the best by far. I’m normally a rule-follower, but it was so satisfying to do something off-limits in that particular moment. I never got caught, even though I was always getting in trouble with strict boss for one thing or another. The restaurant has since closed and I live in another city now, so I think it can be said that I pulled off the perfect sauce crime.

11. The business cards

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.

12. The heels

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.

13. The keyboard

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.

14. The coloring books

An old job had a “relaxation station” that featured, among other little activities, adult coloring books with large, complex designs. People would sit there for a few minutes and work on the top page, so each picture was colored by multiple people. One coworker took the coloring extremely seriously, telling people what colors to use, which parts to work on, etc. He even called people out by name for coloring badly or using clashing colors. When he was out for two days, a few of us colored three pages in the most garish, awful color scheme, making sure to go over the lines of just about every section.

15. The complaining customer

LONG time ago I worked for a cable company in the Northeast. They got bought out by another cable company, so I think it’s safe for me to say it was MediaOne. Guy calls in because his internet is out and he wants a truck out thing first thing tomorrow, at the latest, to fix things. His problem didn’t qualify him for a next day service call, and the next available appointment was 4 or 5 days later. We went back and forth for a bit, with him acting like a bigger and bigger jerk each go around.

Finally he says “Can you see where I live?”

“You live in (village),” I say, (village) being the name of one of the higher income, tonier suburbs of our nearby city.

“That’s right. I am exactly the kind of customer you want. Are you telling me you can’t cancel an appointment in (town #1) or (town #2) and send the truck to me?” (town #1) and (town #2) were very low incomes towns which had a poor reputation in our state. Undeserved reputations, in my opinion, but still …

This dude’s classism and audacity knocked my barely extant sense of professionalism offline, so I just said, “Oh I’m sorry sir, it’s Bizzaro Month at MediaOne. We’re doing all the poor towns first.”

The guy lost his mind, which made me very happy. Then he hung up on me, which made me even happier. So I was feeling pretty good the next day when I rolled in for my shift, until my boss met me at the front door and hustled me into his office.

Know how at the beginning of service phone calls it says you may be recorded for training purposes? Turns out that’s true. The customer called back in, got my boss and gave him an ear full. My boss checked and, yup, they had the whole thing on tape. My boss didn’t say a word. Just sat me down and played the tape.

That done, and stifling a laugh, he said, “I assume we’re not going to have a problem like this ever again?”

I assured him we would not, and that was that. He was a great boss.

{ 412 comments… read them below }

  1. Melissa*

    Number 8 reminded me of a story (not a petty one, just a funny one). I had a friend who attended an exclusive university. He turned in a term paper, and received a grade of B. The university had a procedure wherein you could request a second evaluator re-read your submissions and assign a grade, if you felt your professor’s grade was unfair; you had to pay for this, to prevent students from doing it all the time. He submitted his paper, and then received a response that said “Thank you for submitting your paper to the university’s grade review service. Your paper was evaluated and has been assigned a grade of C. You have been charged $50 for this service.”

    1. Rainy*

      That is *glorious*. When I was teaching, I once had a student attempt to argue the mark on his final essay in front of the table where I was proctoring the final exam in whispers *while everyone else was still taking the final*. I’ll give you two guesses as to why he finished his final in 20 minutes when it took the best students in that class over two hours.

      Anyway, he picked up his final essay, walked into the hall with it, tore back in 45 seconds later, and started trying to argue with me about his mark. Luckily I had a co-proctor, so I gave him The Look and he gave me The Nod and off I went into the hallway to hear this student’s argument about why I was an unfair meanyhead that everyone hated. The core of his argument came down to this: I had not made a tick mark on his paper for each percentage point he didn’t get on his final grade. How, he said, could I take off a point if I didn’t make a mark on the specific error that caused that point removal (so that he could then try to refute it)?

      I pointed out that if he’d read my comment at the end he would see that he had utterly failed to correctly cite a single source, that his essay seemed to have been written without any reference to the prompt, and that it was 3 pages short of minimum length, all of which would be enough in and of itself to deserve the mark I had given it. He insisted that I regrade it with attention to detail. I warned him that a regrade wiped out the previous mark, and the new mark would be final and might, with the degree of attention to detail he wanted, result in a lower mark. He continued to insist.

      When I read the essay carefully I saw many more issues than I had detected on the first read through it in a stack of other marking. His bare pass became a failing mark, and because he had been so insistent on getting a specific mark on the paper for every point I deducted, I was very detail-oriented, so instead of just the percentage for a fail, which I typically did for failing essays (figuring why kick someone when they’re down), I took off every single point.

      1. hiding under the library steps with a cheese tray, giggling*

        When I was in grad school, I had a professor who told us she always offered to regrade essays when students complained about their grades, BUT warned them they might get a lower grade. For some reason, this discouraged a lot of them from continuing to argue with her.

    2. Beth*

      When I was a grad student working as a TA, we did the grading and students had the option to reach out to the lead professor for the course if they felt like their grade was unfair. But the professor was almost always harsher than we were! Almost every student who did that ended up with a lower grade.

      It wasn’t because they were being punished for asking, either. The TAs just knew the students better, and we were usually giving more leniency because we saw how the full context of their work had improved over the term. The professor, on the other hand, had 200+ students in their lectures, didn’t know most of them individually, and definitely didn’t know the details of their work over the course of the term. They just graded this one piece of work based on the rubric, and that usually meant a lower grade. It really showed me how much leniency you could win just from having a good relationship with the person reporting on your performance.

      1. AFac*

        We had this for one of my college classes. It took me two days to work up the nerve to approach the professor because there was a math error that affected my total score (they forgot to carry the one). I hadn’t done particularly well on the exam and I knew it, so I wasn’t grade grubbing.

        I explained I didn’t want a regrade, I just wanted my total calculated correctly. He looked at the page with the math error, mumbled to himself, then looked at all the other pages. I held my breath. By the time he was done, he ‘found’ me another extra 15 points in partial credit because his gray area of ‘possible, even if not probable’ was larger than the TAs, who were grading strictly by the rubric.

        I studied harder for the next exam, because I knew lightning would never strike twice.

      2. Sleeping Panther*

        We had that for the one class I TA’d, too. For essays, the other two TAs and I would compare the overall distribution of grades we’d given and review a few of the essays the others graded to make sure we were all on the same page, and if a student wanted to appeal their grade, they had to go to the professor.

        One student received a lower test score than he expected and wasn’t satisfied with my explanation of why I’d taken off points where I did, so he told me that he “knew how to get around TAs like me.” After class, he went to speak with the professor, and as I was picking up trash, I overheard the professor tell him “no, she was right to take those points off, and personally, I would have taken off more.”

        A different student received a solid B on an essay that I graded, then emailed the professor saying that she felt “cheated and lied to” because her essay grade wasn’t higher. This was a writing-intensive literature course, and she was an engineering major whose first language wasn’t English – I don’t know what grade I’d earn in an engineering class taught in my second or third language, but it’d definitely be a lot lower than a B.

        In those and every other grade dispute, the professor took great pains to not undermine us TAs while still being fair to the students. He was one of my earliest models for how a good boss behaves, and I’m very grateful for that.

    3. AcademiaNut*

      I’ve seen that one before. if you don’t do something to discourage grade challenging, you’ll be flooded by students trying it because it can’t hurt.

    4. fillyjonk*

      yeah I once had a student complain that I graded them “unfairly hard” on a research paper. (I am in a conservation-adjacent field; I have two roughly equivalent colleagues in the department, both known as pretty hardass, while I, the woman, am known as being fairly kind).

      “Okay.” I responded, “Do you want Dr. Bird or Dr. Herptile to do the regrade of your paper?”

      The student swallowed hard and said “I withdraw my request”

    5. Boof*

      Oh my; i think the only time i would have considered an outside paper audit on a B was the time i was pretty sure it was because my thesis on “lolita” was that humbert didn’t love her and the prof seemed weirdly insistent that since he didn’t hate her when she was older he did
      Idk what my Actual thesis was about. I just remember that was part of it in the comments kept going on about it.

    6. Princess Sparklepony*

      I never even knew this was an option… Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth with me and we were at college together, you took the grade that was given and that was that.

      I don’t know if I ever had an exam/paper that I felt deserved a regrade either. And if I did, I doubt I would have had the nerve to request it.

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      I was by myself in a restaurant when I read that, and surprised myself by laughing so hard and long that the tables next to me chuckled along.

    2. Reality Check*

      Made my day. Reminded me of a certain very wealthy county in a certain state in New England where I once lived…

      1. PunkArseLibrarian*

        And now I’m wondering if that certain very wealthy county happened to be in CT… :D

    3. High Score!*

      In the early 2000s, I was out of work and had to do a brief stint in customer service. Nice people got better results. Nice service people got their routes adjusted when they requested it. Jerks got screwed.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I have had so many people talk themselves straight out of extras and coupons….

      2. hiding under the library steps with a cheese tray, giggling*

        I work in a library where we are all but encouraged to bend the rules if it will help someone. Well. I am certainly happy to do it for people who are nice and reasonable, but the (many) ones who are asses get absolutely no flexibility from me whatsoever.

    1. Juicebox Hero*

      Mine, too. The sheer dedication to her craft is amazing.

      I hope she saved all the springs and keeps them in a little box somewhere, just so she can bask in the warm glow of revenge once in a while.

    2. RabbitRabbit*

      Their fault for letting their pens out of their possession – who does that in a healthcare setting, everyone knows that’s how pens walk off! (Usually in a doctor’s pocket.)

      1. Pens and Needles (and Thimbles, too!)*

        Also Tiffany’s manager’s fault for not telling that overgrown 12-year-old boy and his equally immature minions to knock it off with the deliberately annoying pen-clicking or their pens would be replaced with cheap, non-refillable stick pens. Or better yet, that manager could simply have replaced the clickable pens with cheap Bics and told the pen-clickers that they’d be treated like middle schoolers as long as they acted like them!

        Seriously, though; some of these incidents wouldn’t have happened if management had been keeping a watchful eye on the dynamics among their employees and encouraged those employees to come to them with conflicts with colleagues BEFORE those conflicts got out of hand.

        1. JayNay*

          the sheer incompentence of letting a bunch of adult men act like schoolyard bullies in a health care office, where presumable good staff are hard to find… Tiffany executed this to perfection but i would be livid at whoever managed these idiots.

    3. Your Computer Guy*

      Agreed, she out-pettied the petty.

      I am a pen clicker. It’s unconscious, I do it constantly, and I know it’s really annoying. I therefore don’t use click pens. When I started at my current job they gave me click pens on my first day. When I met with our ops person on my second day I asked about getting me regular pens so that no one would hate me from the start. I got my quiet pens and all was well. It takes real effort to be annoying, and I don’t have that kind of surplus energy.

      1. Michelle Smith*

        I like you. This is exactly the way we ought to strive to treat each other.

    1. Juicebox Hero*

      I kind of love the mental image of them crouched behind the ice machine, wolfing down their food with an eye out for the sauce police

    2. Ally McBeal*

      It’s charming as OP tells it… but what kind of wackadoo restaurant doesn’t allow servers to even taste the items they’re recommending and serving to customers? I waited tables throughout college and at every restaurant, from sports bar to high-end-for-a-college-town, we were encouraged to try every menu item (over time, not right when you start) with our staff-meal discount… and at the higher-end place we also had formal staff tasting experiences/education when the menus were updated.

      1. Esprit de l'escalier*

        Yes, but LW was a lowly busser. (Which I think makes it even better.)

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          It sounds like the meal rule applied to everyone, though.

          My dad was a “lowly busser” for a top country club back in the 1950s/60s. He refined his palate there.

      2. Rainy*

        I worked at a locally-owned fast-casual chain a million years ago when rocks were soft and I was baby, and we had quarterly staff tasting nights when the menu refreshed, where we learned what went into the new items and we all tried them and learned what to offer to pair with the new items for lunch combos and that sort of thing. Once the family who had started it sold it to a corporate chain all that stuff went away, though–no more lunch discount, no more free leftover product as a shift perk, no more free fancy coffee drink if you started your shift before 7am, nothing.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          So ridiculous. Not only are you encouraging your trained staff to pack up for greener pastures, in food service it’s essential that said staff know what they’re serving! Specials and things change SO much.

          1. Rainy*

            I left mostly because I was being pretty badly sexually harassed by my manager (no one would take it seriously because she was a woman) but partly because I could see the corporate mentality looming on the horizon like the tip of an iceberg and I knew that what had been a pretty great place to work (leaving aside the harassment, obviously) was about to become very annoying. I was full-time hourly with a set schedule.

        2. Ace in the Hole*

          This reminds me of a practically unrelated story from when I worked at a small local sandwich shop. We got a free sandwich daily with anything we wanted on it, and the owner encouraged us to try different things so we’d be able to make good recommendations.

          I was happy to help customers figure out what they wanted. But at least a dozen times per day we’d get a phone order along the lines of “I want a turkey sandwich on wheat bread with all the toppings.” Getting anything more specific was like pulling teeth, the customers would get snippy with us, no matter how politely I explained that “everything” would include six kinds of mustard, three kinds of hot peppers, olive oil, four different salad dressings – you get the idea.

          On my last day, every time someone called in an order for a sandwich “with everything,” I just said “okay” and made it…. with everything.

      3. MigraineMonth*

        I served at a place that wanted the servers to try the dishes so we could recommend them. Unfortunately, I was both vegetarian and a stickler for honesty. The best they could get me to do was, “I haven’t tried the liver today, but it looks good!” Which was true, in an abstract aesthetic sense.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I’m honest in a positive way; when people ask me about X pie and it’s got something I don’t like on it, I’ll say “I can’t eat it because [blah blah] but it’s very popular!” And it is, just not with me.

      4. BeertendingBoss*

        I just started a new job at a brewery last week and someone asked which of 2 menu items were better. I responded “I don’t know, it’s my first day and I’ve never eaten anything here!” They laughed and told me that that was a great line and asked if I use it often. I told them only on my first day and they turned red- “wait, it’s actually your first day?!? I thought you were just joking!”

      5. Aquatic*

        “but what kind of wackadoo restaurant doesn’t allow servers to even taste the items they’re recommending and serving to customers?”

        A lot of terrible restaurants if shows like Kitchen Nightmares are any indication

  2. Jiminy cricket*

    I like to think Timmy actually thought that he and Katie had a special bond, as the only ones who used nicknames for each other. I bet he really missed her.

    1. KateM*

      Yep, it clearly was not him trying to put Katie down if he didn’t mind her calling him “Timmy”. So, in some sense, this pettyness failed.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Or, it really succeeded, given that he was a higher-up. They became BFFs! To him, at least.

        1. Goldenrod*

          I see it as a success! LW turned something that was annoying her into what ultimately became a bonding experience. :)

          1. MigraineMonth*

            Exactly. No one was harmed in the execution of this pettiness, and it sounds like LW benefitted.

      2. Oh January*

        I think it came out win-win lol, Katherine got to blow off steam and Timmy got to infer warmth from it.

      3. Meep*

        Eh. You cannot cow a privileged man participating in causal misogyny. You can only get your satisfaction.

    2. Beth*

      As a bullied kid, I got any number of nicknames dumped onto me. But one kid in about fourth grade came up with one that I didn’t mind at all, and I leaned into it. It turned into a running joke between us.

    3. AnotherOne*

      He did. He totally thought it was great that she called him Timmy.

      No one else was so relaxed with him.

    4. mymotherwasahamster*

      I’m annoyed to think that! Back when I had bosses I would do something similar with older male colleagues who called me “dear,” addressing them in return as “dollface” and “sugarplum.” Obnoxiously they seemed to find it charming or something—it never got their casual sexism to stop.

      (To be fair, unlike Katherine I never had the self-confidence to just ask them to stop directly. Sigh.)

    5. YA Author*

      This story reminds me of a great short story I read once where the boss used to say one employee’s name—I think it was Sarah—in a particular way. She’d not previously been interested in her boss, but the way he said her name with a certain significance made her imagine an entire romantic future together. Turns out, his ex-wife shared the employee’s name.

  3. Jack Straw from Wichita*

    As a customer service trainer/leader–I *so* wanted #15 to end with a “Good job, but don’t say that again to a customer. We good?”

    1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      He kinda did by just saying I assume you won’t do that again.
      But I LOVED IT.

      1. ferrina*

        Yep! A manager can’t actively condone that kind of behavior. Sounds like Boss walked that line very nicely.

    2. MigraineMonth*

      I doubt the trainer was allowed to say “Good job”, but he certainly implied it!

    3. Observer*

      I *so* wanted #15 to end with a “Good job, but don’t say that again to a customer. We good?”

      That’s pretty much what he did, just using a bit of code.

  4. Gemstones*

    “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.”

    OK, I was expecting something way worse after this headline than sandwiches and mac and cheese…

    1. Juicebox Hero*

      Yeah, not super interesting, but edible.

      Unless they were sardine and horseradish sandwiches on raisin bread, and the mac and cheese was made with uncooked noodles. And the dessert was ambrosia salad made with pickled onions and Circus Peanuts…

    2. Elle*

      That’s mine! To give a little context, the usual conference lunch for this group of doctors was salad, a choice of a couple of proteins, sides and a huge dessert table (with snacks after). For our conference it was more of what a five year old would select if they had to create a menu. A total chaos menu where nothing went together. Good individually but not something you’d want to put out to impress people.

      1. KateM*

        Well, it *was* pediatric professional association – maybe that’s what they were used to offering.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          Lol. My sister asked the teachers at her son’s school what food wanted to be served for teacher appreciation day, and they requested Goldfish crackers.

      2. Meep*

        The WASP in me feels this. The mid-Western farmer in me also will never complain about mac and cheese.

    3. Ally McBeal*

      True, but as a conference/convention planner myself (menu planning is my favorite part of the job), a sandwich platter next to a big tray of mac & cheese makes absolutely no sense. Sandwiches are grab-and-go, usually paired with chips/fries/crisps, maaaaybe a side salad, fruit and cookies. You’d serve mac & cheese alongside other hot foods, stuff that needs to be eaten with utensils.

      1. Gemstones*

        True. It could have been better. But “worst lunch”? I dunno, I was expecting something else. Also I guess I’m not sure how it’s petty. Did someone do it badly on purpose? It just seems like more incompetence than anything else.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          It sounds like these were experienced conference planners who usually had spreads that were both good and coordinated well (e.g. salads, multiple meat options, tons of desserts).

          They then happened to be extremely incompetent with this one irritating partner who kept overpromising and jerked them around.

      2. WellRed*

        Or Maybe… utensils were provided! I don’t get this one either. Maybe I be been to a few to many events lately with poor food (which could have been ameliorated by omg, providiythe
        Menu in advance)

      1. Michelle Smith*

        Not at any conference I’ve ever attended or planned. I also don’t eat mac and cheese or pudding or most sandwiches though due to texture issues, so I’m also a little biased lol.

      2. sparkle emoji*

        I get the impression that this is one of those things that’s glaring to the people in the know, but everyone else is unlikely to notice or care. It certainly seems a little mismatched, especially in comparison to the typical fare OP has mentioned in the comments. It’s subtle enough that only those who knew about the drama already would put things together, which is a brilliant stroke of petty IMO.

    4. LemonToast*

      Reminds me of a conference I went to this year, that had really inconsistent food. The first day, the afternoon snack was hot items you needed a fork to eat….so everyone figured the next day’s “afternoon snack” (as it was listed on the agenda) would be similar. Nope! The next day’s snack was coffee and tea. No food, and no indication that it would be different. Then the lunch items were kind of all over the place, with the veggie options being the worst – like a limp lettuce sandwich as the only veg option, while everything else was hot plates. They were also frequently running out of food, and people had to go into the city to eat.

      I’ve heard this particular conference does a terrible job with food every year, so I’m not sure it’s worth it to attend next year (it was also a “meh” conference).

  5. Liz the Snackbrarian*

    The “hiding with a cheese plate” tidbit in letter one is *chef’s kiss*

      1. Goldenrod*

        Oh, I love this one so much! And not just the actual act (which was genius), but also that they told their entire group of students about it, ahhahahahhha!

        These stories are all amazing. I could relate to “the heels.” I’m a six feet tall woman, and I’ve had a few nasty bosses who happened to be short. Whenever they were trying to dominate me, I’d make a point of STANDING. Just standing. Even if there were no plausible reason for me to stand. Then – like the LW said – at least they’d have to look up at me while trying to bully me, which I found inwardly funny.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Honestly bullying while looking up at the person you are trying to bully pulls a lot of the power out of it.

          1. Philosophia*

            Would that it were so, but I could tell you about one very successful long-time exception in my workplace. Oh, well, I outlasted her.

            1. Giant Kittie*

              Or the kids that bullied me in grade school for being “too tall for a girl”- as if I had any control over it, or was being tall AT them.

          2. Inkognyto*

            I had a manager who was tiny. all the females in her family were.
            She would walk by the cube 1/2 walls and you’d just see the top of her head. She knew it and owned it, saying that in one job her staff wanted to give her a belt with the bicycle flag on it so they could find her.

            She has presence (and was an amazing manager). If you did things correctly and worked hard, she rewarded you.

            One day a co-worker Hugh (male) showed me his desktop. Of which was him with 2 boxing ring girls. Yep in bikini’s. My eyes got huge. “You need to remove that, it’s not appropriate for work (I am also male).” I also told him I used to work in CSIRT as a contractor, (the Security incident response team) who does investigations on anything someone would find offensive etc. HR would basically contact them to investigate.

            His response “But the director saw it and said “oh cool.” and I’m said “it does not matter”

            I got pulled into the mgr’s office at some point during a discucsion and she said she had to have words with Hugh. “Oh about his wallpaper that I told him to remove?” I said.
            She replied “You told and he still kept it?” as she shook her head.

            I asked him later how that when.
            it was something like.
            “She’s the smallest person I know, and she became a 12 ft dragon from the look alone, as she told me to remove it as it was as HR issue waiting to happen and wasn’t appropriate for the workplace”

            I told the mgr she’ll prob never had an issue with anyone again, and she said “I thought I hired smarter people than that”

    1. Ama*

      As someone who has worked either in or adjacent to academia for twenty years, so many departments have a Professor Unpleasant and it is never not hilarious when their plans get thwarted.

      1. Rainy*

        I sat in two departments as an undergrad (and did research for faculty in those two plus one more, so I got a lot of the good gossip) and one of them was absolutely banana-pants dysfunctional, including the mandatory intra-departmental feud in which it was impossible to be neutral, the side-switcher, the resource hoarding, the *actual* hoarding, and the faculty member who brought her cats to work with her.

        1. AnotherOne*

          I’m not sure anything will beat the story of two professors (in a science department) who were getting divorced. Apparently, their labs were across from each other and they would throw things at each others labs. It was apparently like toddler tantrum playground. And I guess the relevant chairs didn’t put a stop to it.

          Luckily one of them started seeing someone in a different science department who was high up enough to get their lab moved to another building.

          Academia brings out the crazy apparently…or maybe that’s the only people who stay in academia?

          1. Rainy*

            Woodrow Wilson said (an observation later reiterated by many including Sayre and Kissinger) that the politics of the university are so intense because the stakes are so small.

        2. The Shenanigans*

          Would you mind sharing a few of those stories? If you can share without giving away too much, of course. I especially want to hear about the cats. I work from home, so all my petty coworkers are cats.

          1. Rainy*

            So a faculty member would bring her three cats to campus and let them hang out in her office. She had a first-floor office with windows that opened, so *in theory* the cats used the windows to go potty in the grass and she didn’t need to have a litterbox in the office that might have clued people into the cats.

            The resource-hoarding was about library books, as it always is. When the early modernist retired, she left all her library books in her office and told the department chair to “handle it”. There were almost 2000 books, including several hundred that she had checked out the day they arrived and kept renewing in order to deny access to her sworn enemy, the medievalist. The library ended up just sending over a van and a couple of sturdy pages.

            Then there was the case of the creepy gross syllabus. I did work/study in a department office, and a faculty member asked me to type up a fresh syllabus using a copy from the last time he’d taught the course. It had a section in it that explicitly outlined the sexual acts students were forbidden from engaging in during his class, since he was a Reverend. (He apparently was? He wanted people to call him Reverend Doctor Creepo, but no one did.) I took it to the chair and said “I really don’t think he should have this in his syllabus.” The chair read it, said “Hm.” and “Aha.” and “I see.” He handed it back and said “Well, it’s not ideal, but there’s not much to do.” Not much except what he did, which was to pass it (and the inevitable student complaints) upward, at which point it was used as an inducement for Doctor Creepo to accept early retirement. (And this is why the chair was the chair.)

            1. Sel*

              I was literally working the desk at my library last month when a retiring faculty member came in pulling a literal wagon full of books and sheepishly asked where she could return all 200+ of them and get a receipt so she didn’t get fined. (That would be the Central Circulation Desk, which was not my desk, thank god.) I immediately messaged a friend of mine, a former librarian himself, albeit on a different continent from me, and said “A woman just came in with a wagon of books to return” and he replied “FACULTY HOARDERS, BLESS THEM.” They’re universal!

              1. Cafe au Lait*

                True fact: if University Libraries had to store the books faculty hoard in their offices, we’d run out of shelf space. It’s a double edge sword, our faculty hoarders.

            2. Anna*

              In the university library I once worked at, you could keep the books forever as long as you kept renewing them, but you had to bring them in once a year to show that you indeed still had them (and had not lost them). I don’t know if the measure was also there to discourage people hoarding, but I imagine it would help.

              1. Rainy*

                My next university wouldn’t let you keep a book past your next renewal date if someone else put a hold on it–even faculty! So that kind of faculty hoarding was a lot harder to accomplish. People still managed (if you reserved a book for a course you were teaching, the ordinary hold rules didn’t apply, but you also had to keep it on the reserve shelves where anyone could use it in the course reserve room, although there were also ways around that), but you didn’t see the kind of setup that the early modernist had been running for decades, I assume because that university had already had one of those.

            3. Critical Rolls*

              Amazing how many persons in higher education seem to be Unclear on the Concept of libraries.

      2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        One of my favorite Leverage b-plots (in the revival series) is where all the custodial/service staff collude to make life difficult for their particular Professor Unpleasant. When they find out Elliott is also trying to thwart that professor, they join forces.

        1. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

          yes! that was an excellent sub plot. they had a meeting and everything.

      3. TechSupporter*

        One Prof. Disagreeable was very angry that they weren’t receiving certain emails. They’d blocked our domain. They were very rude until it became obvious that it was their own doing, then became merely curt and huffy.

        1. Petty_Boop*

          I don’t know why, but now I want to see a cartoon (perhaps to replace the disgraced Dilbert?) called “Curt and Huffy”.

    2. Sel*

      I work in academia and I LOVE this one. I hope Professor Fish and Professor Rock were as beloved by their students as they clearly were to one another!

    3. goddessoftransitory*

      Anybody who rescues fishies because of their soft heart deserves a cheese tray and perfectly executed revenge.

    1. Data Nerd*

      Mine as well. This speaks to me so deeply that I wish to buy Professors Rock and Fish a cheese plate.

  6. Martine*

    The “very good dog” from the last batch reminds me of an incident, although it doesn’t have much to do with pettiness.
    My co-worker Mary had a dog named Oscar that she was not allowed to bring to work, though I think he came in on weekends sometimes when she worked overtime. One day, Oscar was not feeling well and Mary brought him in. There was a meeting everyone in the whole firm was attending except Mary, so she didn’t think it would be a problem. Mary left her office to use the copier and when she came back, Oscar wasn’t there, although he returned shortly afterward. She didn’t think anything of it until there was a break in the meeting and she heard a voice bellowing from the boss’s office: “Mary! Mary!” Now she had an inkling as to where Oscar had been and what he had done. And in fact, Oscar’s not feeling well was due to intestinal issues and he had relieved himself in the boss’s office. Mary tried to explain, “But the dog was ill …” The boss: “Mary, we had an agreement.” Mary: “But I didn’t think …” “Mary, we had an agreement.” And so on. The boss completely kept his cool, answering only: “Mary, we had an agreement.”
    This boss had and has his weaknesses, but I’ve always admired this calm and repetitive rebuttal.

  7. Carol the happy elf*

    Dry sandwiches, wilted lettuce, Mac & cheese pasta boiled too long and soft and tasteless, and canned pudding. Bin thar! At a professional conference.

    1. Panicked*

      We need a whole thread on terrible conference food. I have attended *several* that were bad, but nothing beats the time the group was served chicken on a bed of lettuce. The vegetarian option was just the lettuce. One singular lettuce leaf. The vegetarians assumed they just forgot another protein, like tofu, but no, that was the entire entree.

      1. negligent apparitions*

        I planned a conference for several years but was limited on food choice as we were at a university-owned building and required to use the facility catering, which they kept re-contracting to worse and worse (but more expensive) third parties. I let my logistics guy pick the meals.

        Now, you can’t make everyone happy, obviously. The first year I got a comment saying the food at the [neighboring state’s Same Topic Conference] was way better than our food. This was my favorite comment for years, until I got the following:

        “For the LOVE OF GOD – GO BACK TO LASAGNA and MIIXED SALAD for lunch. Kale, dried up green beans, plain pasta – completely disgusting, I was sooooooo disappointed with this pathetic lunch I may not ever come back to the conference. Who are these sick people who chose this for a meal that the attendees would enjoy??”

        I printed it with a picture of Lauren Holly’s character from Dumb and Dumber saying “Who are these sick people?” and posted it on my office door.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          I am not much of a comment writer, but I remember writing an indignant comment card to my college cafeteria when they served a vegetable with rice for almost two weeks straight, lunch and dinner. Vegetarians need protein too! I begged them to add beans or nuts, at least, if they’d decided to make all the vegetarian options vegan.

      2. Carrot*

        Be thankful it wasn’t beans! I’ve been to at least two where the vegetarian option included a double serving beans (i.e. beans were centered in both the starter and main dishes).

        It’s like the organizers panicked when trying to think of veggie options, and could only remember beans. I fear one day I’ll encounter a 3/3… bean salad, bean-stuffed bell peppers, with perhaps something like daifuku mochi for desert.

        1. Rainy*

          My office does several all-hands events per year and partaking of the catered lunch is the only perk, except that between the venue’s available lunch options and my food allergies, there is now one (1), singular of the available meal options that I am actually able to eat, and it’s the most expensive so we don’t get it very often. The rest of the options usually the only thing I can eat is whatever starch is included. Naked.

          1. The Shenanigans*

            HAHAHA. My first thought was “Well. If you eat it naked at the conference that IS one way to register your displeasure…” before I realized.

        2. Lucien Nova*

          Black bean brownies.

          I’m told they’re actually delicious and you don’t taste any bean.

      3. BubbleTea*

        I went to a conference and had specifically told them I was vegan (this was about ten years ago, when that was pretty unusual). For lunch on the first day, I was presented with a bowl of undressed salad leaves and a single cherry tomato.

        I protested, citing the amount of money I had paid to attend and the fact that other attendees were eating truffle mac and cheese, steak, and other fancy versions of actual food.

        The following day I was not willing to be fobbed off, so the chef was summoned from the hotel. He was horrified – no one had told him there was a vegan meal required. The hotel’s regular menu included multiple vegan options. I was presented with a delicious vegetable curry.

      4. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Worst conference food I ever had to deal with was the conference that didn’t think about the need to accommodate those that can’t eat seafood. Three day conference, lunch and dinner provided and every single meal was shellfish of some variety.

        No vegetarian options, no shellfish free options (though with the quantities of shellfish they were prepping I wouldn’t have trusted the kitchen anyways) – just scallops, crab, shrimp, crawfish, lobster as far as the eye could see. I had to leave for every single meal because of a lack of food.

        (At least the daily agendas gave the meal menus and my accounting person accepted that as a valid proof of why I needed to also expense meals on top of the conference charge including meals.)

        1. Giant Kittie*

          Even for those of us who love seafood like straight up fish, not all of us like or will eat scallops, crab, shrimp, crawfish, or lobster, so if sea bugs were the only type of seafood offered, it just adds another layer of “what were they thinking?”

        2. sparkle emoji*

          I currently work with someone who has a severe enough shellfish allergy that it resulted in a full office ban. I’m surprised it was included at a conference buffet at all, let alone having it be the only protein option?!

      5. Rob AKA Mediancat*

        I was at an anniversary luncheon where I requested the vegetarian option for my lunch. I got a vegetarian option — stuffed tortellini, with no sauce, ringed by wildly oversteamed vegetables (most of which I didn’t like, but that part’s not on them). Fortunately, the appetizers were good and the dessert was fine, but for the main course I think I took two bites of the steamed carrots and just sipped my water.

      6. goddessoftransitory*

        Apparently every vegetarian at the conference was assumed to be a dieting rabbit in disguise.

      7. Taco Temptress*

        There are so many things to put here as a vegan. I’ve been to multiple conferences where my food was bread and lettuce or, my favorite, “just take the cheese off” bread and lettuce (I skip those).

        This past week we had a work meeting where they were picking up pizza. The pizza place had a vegan option but also has something I’m deadly allergic to and aren’t known for their cleanliness. I think my coworkers thought I was being a picky vegan until someone else got a pesto (pine nuts!) pizza and I had to leave the room due to breathing issues.

        I’ve also been to multiple conferences where, like many other vegetarians and vegans have cited here, I’m supposed to be a rabbit that only eats vegetables. Sometimes the vegetables are delicious – roasted cauliflower steak with pickled cauliflower and cauliflower mash? Amazing. But also not very filling. I’m hungry before I finishing eating the plate. Please put some chickpeas on it or give me some bread. I don’t mind when there’s a “main” meal for people who can eat most things and the secondary meal has to cover vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free, but they can at least make it more substantial with rice or something.

    2. Elle*

      I was so happy to return to my first in person conference since 2019 and eat the sautéed chicken (mostly warm in a chafing dish), green beans and rolls. Don’t forget the huge dessert table and ongoing candy bars throughout the day. I really missed that stuff.

      1. Elle*

        I forgot to add that my worst conference food memory is a multi day conference with oatmeal and cheese danish every breakfast.

        1. Michelle Smith*

          I hate this, especially as a pescatarian (so for breakfast I’m a vegetarian). At least make some decent hash browns, eggs, a tofu scramble, SOMETHING. I am so tired of showing up to conference breakfasts and all they have is bagels, pastries, oatmeal, and fruit. I am literally diabetic. All of that stuff makes me feel lightheaded and I’ll be hungry again in 30 minutes. Give me some protein and fat options pretty please.

          1. Eli*

            The all-carb breakfast spread tells me that they’re cheaping out. It’s a shame. Giving people a more solid (but not too heavy) breakfast means they’ll probably have a more productive day.

            1. goddessoftransitory*

              Plus they’re not even cooking! Instant oatmeal packets, bagels/bread and fruit–all they had to provide was hot water and a toaster.

            2. TechSupporter*

              Hard boiled eggs are cheap & easy. They’re being cheap and they aren’t educated about nutrition. The cream cheese in the Danish isn’t enough.

          2. Giant Kittie*

            I appreciate you spelling this out. As a carb & dairy fueled person, I couldn’t understand what was wrong with oatmeal & cheese danishes.

            1. amoeba*

              As a German, this sounds like a very normal breakfast to me as well! I do see how it would be problematic for people who have to avoid carbs, but in general, bread (rolls), cheese, fruit and maybe some croissants it is. Eggs and other protein stuff – maybe for a big brunch, sure, or one boiled egg for breakfast. But probably not a buffet-styled company thing.

              On the other hand, the amount of protein and fat in British breakfast food almost kills me every time I go – guess it’s really what you’re used to!

              1. londonedit*

                We don’t eat a full English every day. In fact, for most people these days it’s a very rare weekend treat. Hotels will serve the full lot, because staying in a hotel is one of the occasions where British people will think ‘Yeah! Let’s have a proper cooked breakfast!’ but people very rarely cook that sort of thing at home. Most people just have cereal or toast or fruit or whatever, the same sort of thing as you get across the rest of Europe.

              2. Alexander Graham Yell*

                When I worked in Denmark our canteen had rye bread, cheese, and cold cuts every morning and to this day it’s the kind of breakfast that a) makes me feel the best and b) I never remember to make for myself.

                Now, working in France, if breakfast is provided at work it’s literally just bread. Different kinds, delicious kinds, but almost all sweet, and my poor little American stomach just wants some fat and protein so that I can last until lunch.

            2. Emmy Noether*

              I’m mostly astonished at actual breakfast at a conference at all. Don’t most people eat breakfast at their accomodations? And then at the conference, there’s a morning coffee break with mini-pastries and maybe fruit. I’ve never seen an actual full breakfast at a conference.

      2. Don’t make me come over there*

        I just got back from a convention. Registrants were pleasantly surprised that dinner was included Thursday night, as this has not traditionally been the case. Turned out to be sliders, sautéed chicken, and grilled (yet also chilled) vegetables. So, not a great option for the vegetarians. No starch beyond the slider buns. Also, this was an organization promoting Irish culture. As I sat down to eat, I could hear folks at the other tables saying “There are no potatoes” and “No spuds?” Gotta know your audience.

        1. Bear Expert*

          My husband is the cook of the household. I am the one of Irish descent.

          He is not nearly as potato focused as I am, so about every other week he will ask what I want to eat and I will ask for a potato variant. About once a year the potato will be delayed due to scheduling (we end up not making the potato dish, we go to a friend’s for dinner, life happens) to the point where after several weeks I will look him in the eye and say “I want A Potato.” And he will nod and say “Right, the Irish must be fed”

          Rice and pasta may sit in a similar part of the food universe, but sometimes I need the potato.

  8. Hermione Danger*

    I don’t know WHY #13 is the one that got me, but I could picture the IT guy’s death stare and even the pace (slow and even for the first 10 or so, and then just resting his finger on the key as a whole line of that letter bled onto the screen; or maybe that’s just how I would do it) that I HOWLED for a very long time at the image.

    1. Goldenrod*

      What I also love about this one is that it was spontaneous – it wasn’t planned out, it was just a couple of perfect, spontaneous acts of sabotage. And it all fell into place. Beautiful.

    2. Miette*

      I love this one so much! Every company has THAT IT guy lmao.

      A million years ago, I worked at a tech company and this was the kind of prank the inside sales and marketing teams would play on each other. Another one was taping the button down on the phone, so that when you lifted the receiver to answer it, it was still ringing… I miss a less digital age sometimes lol

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Before laser mice were a thing, you would steal the mouse ball and hide it, or roll it on the floor so it got covered with fluff and the person had to stop and clean it.

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          Or, if you’re especially… motivated, replace the mouse’s ball with one that’s slightly smaller.

      2. Sasha*

        My husband works in a small tech company, and back when Bluetooth keyboards were A New Thing, one of the devs tethered the CTOs keyboard to his own laptop while he was out of the room. And then very carefully matched the CTOs keystrokes, but obviously completely wrong letters, as the CTO tried to answer some emails.

        CTO got increasingly baffled as completely different letters were appearing on the screen as he typed. He figured it out eventually, but apparently it took him a while.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          That is some dedication to a prank!

          …It also sounds like a keylogger to steal passwords, but with extra steps.

        2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

          This sounds like all my anxiety dreams where I’m trying to do a simple task on phone/computer and no matter how carefully i type, the wrong letters appear!

        3. Charlotte Lucas*

          I once did something similar to a sibling. It involved a VCR and a game system.

        4. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          Once, when I was an immature, teenage group of hobbits, I switched the “M” key and the “N” key on every keyboard in the school library computer lab. Just those two keys, which are in the reverse of alphabetical order so it still “looks right” to a casual glance, particularly since it was done on every single keyboard and I don’t think a lot of people realized that keycaps were typically removable (back in the 90s). This meant that as long as you were touch typing everything was fine, but if you looked at the keys you’d make mistakes…

          1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

            I guess to make it better fit this thread, I should explain that two other students, both boys, had been selected as the two students who would be allowed to fix the school computers. There was no application process and I was not asked to help despite having at least as much tech experience as either of them, and having been one of the “expert” students in a previous year under a different adult when neither of them were, because it simply did not occur to the adults making the decision to ask me (and I was told that they did not need any more people to help when I pointed all of this out). I cannot prove that it was because I am a girl, but it sure felt like it at the time.

            After about a half hour of troubleshooting, I told the boy I was friends with out of the two chosen ones what the problem actually was so the computers could be fixed.

    3. Betty*

      when I read the first line of #13, I thought, “I currently have two keyboards with cables!” So, not obsolete yet…

      1. Lance*

        USB cables, though, or the old, multi-pronged (and slightly awkward) cable ports for specifically keyboards?

      2. Eli*

        My toxic old person trait is that I prefer corded everything. I feel like too many wireless things is just asking for trouble.

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            I love swappable batteries, especially standard sizes (AA, AAA, C, etc).

            What I loathe is this trend of built-in batteries. If I’m going to spend $100 on a quality keyboard, I don’t want to have to throw it away in 2 years.

        1. Kara*

          My ADHD says that I’m better off with wired peripherals. Less likely to lose them that way.

        2. rubble*

          I think things should only be cordless if there’s a direct benefit for it. so headphones are good because you can walk around without having to carry your computer/phone/tablet with you, but mice and keyboards don’t unless you’re carrying them around to use with a laptop or something like that.

  9. Emma*

    Each corridor in the school where I work has a laptop cabinet, but the departments keep losing the keys for them. My boss ordered a stock of them, but, whenever one is replaced we put a floppy disk on as a keyring, and repeat offenders get extra disks added. Some departments have very long keyrings now of 3-5 floppy disks!

  10. Really?*

    I am actually on prof unpleasant’s side for #1. It sounds like people that needed to be by their labs were placed there and fish wasn’t one of those. It was a pretty low move. I’d be mad too.

    1. Starscourge Savvy*

      It does say he needed that space.

      ” Unfortunately for Professors Rock and Fish, Professor Unpleasant, who was not at all popular with students or faculty, had more seniority than them, and ***took the last spot near the wet lab where Professor Fish had to be stationed to care for his fish.***”

      1. NeutralJanet*

        It was actually Professor Rock who took Professor Unpleasant’s office because he wanted to be next to Professor Fish–“Professor Rock Simply erased his claim, wrote himself into the office next to his bestie, and banished Professor Unpleasant to a basement storage area”. But I guess it’s okay because it was popular professors bullying an unpopular professor?

        1. Expelliarmus*

          It doesn’t have to be an okay thing to do to be petty. The collection is of petty posts, regardless of whether the OPs were in the right or not.

          1. sigh*

            Exactly. Every time there’s a fun thread like this there’s 1-2 people who miss the point.

        2. The Shenanigans*

          Sigh. No, having fun at the bully’s expense is not the same as bullying.

          it’s comeuppance.

        3. Micah*

          Ooh, I totally missed that it was Professor Rock and not Fish!

          I guess it is understandable because of: “Allegedly there were at least a decade of grievances involved in this decision“.

    2. Vice Principal Jessica Day*

      I interpreted it as the opposite – Fish needed to be by the wet lab to care for his fish, and Unpleasant took the last spot close to the wet lab?

      This is what it says: Unfortunately for Professors Rock and Fish, Professor Unpleasant, who was not at all popular with students or faculty, had more seniority than them, and took the last spot near the wet lab where Professor Fish had to be stationed to care for his fish.

      So it sounds like it was Unpleasant who didn’t specifically NEED that office near the wet lab.

      1. Anne of Green Gables*

        I took it to mean that Prof Fish had already been given a spot by the wet lab, and Prof Unpleasant took the last office near the wet lab. Prof Rock, wanting to be near their friend (which presumably would be the preference of Prof Fish as well) erased Prof Unpleasant’s name and added their own. So Prof Fish already had an office placement but Prof Rock did not.

    3. Ally McBeal*

      Not quite – Rock is the one who erased Unpleasant’s name because Rock wanted to be close to Fish. Fish already had their spot near their lab.

      I’d be mad too, but I also try very hard to be pleasant to my coworkers so there’s no need for them to do stuff like this. Grumps in academia are a special sort of people that should not be indulged too much.

      1. KLV*

        Ah! I actually missed that Fish already had a space and it was Rock that just wanted to get a room closer to the wet lab/Fish’s room. Initially read it as Fish was the one to steal Unpleasant’s room, which would’ve been more justified.

        This does bring #1 down to just regular petty edging into actual rudeness/unpleasantness, but still definitely gossip I would’ve died hearing about if I was a student in that department.

    4. Professor's Wife (& Museum Teacher)*

      Well, Prof. Fish DID need to be there (right beside the lab) – it was Prof. Rock who preferred to be there, but didn’t actually need that spot. But Prof. Unpleasant can expect a LOT more of the same until and unless he wises up and treats colleagues, students and everyone else with the professionalism, courtesy and respect that someone with a PhD should long ago have learned. (And what do you want to bet that, if he treats students and fellow professors rudely that he treats the maintenance staff AT LEAST as poorly, too?)

    5. Jiminy cricket*

      My interpretation: Fish was placed next to the wet labs. Unpleasant didn’t have priority placement next to it, but did have seniority to choose. He chose next to Fish. Rock snaked it from him. (I’d be pissed, too, but since pettiness is the whole point of these stories … )

      Wet Lab — Fish — Unpleasant Rock

    6. I should really pick a name*

      The note from Part 1:

      Note: We’re not endorsing petty behavior here (well, except the dog’s). We’re just enjoying the entertainment value.

    7. EC*

      Me too. Rock isn’t the good guy here. Fish had the office that they needed. Being next to your buddy is not a need, and screwing someone over just so you can chat with your friend more easily sucks.

      Maybe Unpleasant is just sick of people like Fish and Rock acting like unprofessional bullies.

      1. The Shenanigans*

        1) You can br entertained by something and not want to do it. Promise. The entire trope of fictional antihero is based on this premise.

        2) Comeuppance for bullying is not the same as bullying

        3) Sounds like you’re taking this personally. Instead of getting defensive maybe consider how your behavior comes across to others. If you know you aren’t acting in a way that invites pettiness, why get upset?

    8. Petty_Boop*

      Reading for comprehension is fundamental. FISH doctor NEEDED to be near the “wet lab” and Dr. Unpleasant took the last spot nearest there. He did NOT “need” to be there. He either chose it out of spite, cluelessness, or douchery. But not need.

      1. Petty_Boop*

        Well, I wish I could erase my own comment, as after reading a few other comments, I began to doubt myself and went back “reread for comprehension” and realized that Rock erased the name not Fish.

  11. periwinkle*

    The poker chip: so simple, so beautiful, so perfect, so petty.

    OP #2, please find a little shadowbox frame so that you may display your trophy in a place of honor.

    1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      I understand what OP did here. I don’t understand poker chip guy. Unless he was in charge of the key, why didn’t everyone just ignore his “system” and do what they always did.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        In my experience, those people do force themselves into the system (e.g. by keeping the key) even if that isn’t actually one of their assigned responsibilities.

        Because EFFICIENCY.

      2. Mister_L*

        As much as poker chip guy sounds annoying, there needs to be a tamper proof system to keep track of master keys. The old system sound good until somebody loses the key.
        OK, just checked. It was just the master key for their floor but everyone being able to grab it still isn’t optimal.

        1. Observer*

          Well, the “system” this idiot came up with was far from tamper proof. To the contrary, as can be seen by what the poster did.

        2. sparkle emoji*

          Surely a more typical solution like a sign-out sheet is better than this convoluted mess, yes? The OP said they were resistant to doing it because it took significantly longer to find the chip than it did to use and return the key. An efficient system for tracking who has the key would likely be good, but this was not an efficient system.

    2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Given that OP2 Mentioned he was insufferable in other ways as well – yeah, betting they went with the poker chips to shut him up on that one. Picking your battles and all that jazz.

  12. cmdrspacebabe*

    I remembered mine too late!

    My old team had a somewhat enclosed office space on a general floor, which we had outfitted with a minifridge and espresso machine. There was an extra, unused microwave sitting around in a storage space near the floor kitchen, and when no one had touched it for months, we relocated it and left a note saying anyone on the floor was welcome to come use it. Mostly, this was fine, and a nice way to chit-chat… except the dreaded One Guy Who Always Microwaves Fish. Because of our enclosed space, it would linger for the entire afternoon. We left a polite note asking that people please microwave fish in the general kitchen.

    Evidently this level of specificity was a mistake, as Fish Guy came in that very day, looked utterly offended, turned on his heel and strode away. Within hours, the building facility team had come to confiscate our ‘stolen’ spare microwave.

    1. Shiba Dad*

      I used to bring microwavable garlic and cheese French bread pizzas to work. Apparently that was an issue for at least one of my coworkers. I said to something to him like “at least it’s not fish”. He wasn’t amused.

            1. Pyrrhic*

              I’m allergic to garlic. Someone microwaving garlic bread would probably end up in me going to the hospital.

              1. Giant Kittie*

                This is really getting into “not everyone can have sandwiches” territory.

                Garlic is an extremely common ingredient in cooking, especially in traditional foods from non US cultures. It would be pretty unreasonable to ask people to never heat up anything seasoned with garlic again.

                1. allathian*

                  I actually think it’s pretty unreasonable to ask people not to microwave fish or cabbage, either, when the request is based on a simple “I hate the smell of fish/cooked cabbage.” I’m in Finland, and both fish and cabbage are staple items in our cuisine. I can’t imagine an office here banning the microwaving of either simply because of the smell.

                  I don’t think it’s okay to ban people from heating food just because someone else thinks it smells bad, unless the smell acts as a migraine/severe nausea trigger. I don’t think it’s acceptable to make other people sick just so you can eat your favorite food.

                  Similarly, if someone’s so severely allergic to garlic or any other food item that just breathing the molecules that heated food gives off would leave them requiring medical assistance, I’d be a lot more willing to accommodate requests not to heat foods containing those items.

                  That said, the big issue is that microwaves are usually located in poorly ventilated areas. The whole problem could easily be avoided if the office had a break room where the microwave was kept, preferably with a door and absolutely with good ventilation, and people would be required to eat their heated lunches in the break room.

            2. The Shenanigans*

              Eh, more likely they were cranks. If it were legit, they should have politely said so. Otherwise, they can’t expect others to a) know or b) do something different.

      1. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

        I used to work with a guy who would complain about the smell of melted Parmesan cheese. Which is, you know, one of life’s yummiest things.

        1. zaracat*

          Depends. Parmesan grated freshly off the block is fantastic. Pre-grated or powdered parmesan tends to smell rather like vomit.

        2. metadata minion*

          I adore Parmesan, but it does smell very strongly and I wouldn’t at all blame someone for complaining about it. If you love something with a strong smell, there is someone out there who’s going to hate having the whole break room smell like it.

        3. Petty_Boop*

          Except for those of us who think it smells like dirty sweat socks sooo … *shrug*.

  13. ThisIsNotADuplicateComment*

    Number 5 is fascinating! Normally diminutizing someone’s name back at them is a great way to shut their behavior down but that guy just didn’t care at all! Did he not notice? Was he socially awkward and saw nicknames as a way on bonding? Did he mistake OP5 for an old acquaintance? What was going through his mind.

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      He was probably called Timmy in other situations, perhaps even in his jobs previous to this one, and didn’t even register it was happening.

      1. Boolie*

        I think he simply realized his mistake (considering he already apologized for it once) and let Timmy go. I’ve had great-grand bosses who weren’t so stiff as to not have little inside jokes like that.

      2. MigraineMonth*

        I imagine he kept getting “Katherine” wrong because he’s someone who truly doesn’t care about names vs. nicknames, to the extent he doesn’t differentiate. Which doesn’t excuse his behavior (since Katherine did care), but at least makes it clear it wasn’t malicious.

    2. Tesuji*

      Am I the only one who read that situation as though he thought they were flirting?

      1. eggo*

        As a big time romance reader, I was hoping it would end with Timmy and Katie getting married :(

        1. nnn*

          That’s a big leap not supported by the letter. This is something that happens to men plenty too.

        2. Pot, Meet Kettle*

          Judging by your comment on the next post, you’re hardly one to lecture others about casual misogyny.

          1. PNWorker*

            Yep. And frankly “Timmy” just sounds like the kinda exec that would offer up nicknames to anyone that felt like.

        3. Petty_Boop*

          Hmmm I got a lot more “casual cluelessness” out of it than misogyny. I’ll admit to calling a Daniel “Dan” or a “David” “Dave” w/o asking and I’ve had a “Christopher” shut me down for calling him “Chris,” as well. So, women do it too. My name has a variety of associated “nicknames” and honestly it depends on the person, the situation, the relationship, the respect I have for them, etc… which if any I permit or if I insist “I prefer Elizabeth, please.”

    3. A person*

      We have a guy that either nicknames or last names everyone. He wouldn’t think anything of it if you nicknamed him. He last names me, which I don’t love but I don’t see him oft enough to make it worth trying to change and he’s otherwise a great guy to work with.

  14. Overit*

    #12 I had a boss with a raging case of Short Man Syndrome with all possible symptoms manifesting.
    He and I were the same height. On the days when I wore heels, he would go to great lengths to find ways to be taller than me. On the day after he had particularly annoyed me/treated me badly (bec he was also a raging misogynist with a BFF in HR…so untouchable), I would wear my highest heels amd find every possible excuse to stand or walk by him. All. Day. Long. Because I am nothing if not persistent.
    He would turn red every time and go nuts trying to get me to sit down. Petty but kept me from punching him.

    1. Meep*

      My former boss couldn’t stand anyone looking nicer than her, either. I started dressing more professionally and wearing makeup (the last time I had worn makeup, she had whined about it so I stopped). Apparently she complained to her boss about how I dressed because he informed me he didn’t care how I dressed and thought I looked nice off the cuff when we went out to lunch. lol.

      There are worse things we could do.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I truly wonder how people who say things like “Coworker Meep is dressing too nicely!” know how deranged they sound.

        1. RIP Blanket Fort*

          My Assitant Manager complained about the way I dressed “too professional” all the time.

    2. Knighthope*

      After interviewing me, an elementary principal drew himself up next to me and asked, “How tall are you? I don’t hire anyone taller than me!” He was serious! Stunned, I blurted out, “Well, I guess I’d have to wear flats if I worked here!” and mentally thanked him for showing me who he was.

  15. Starscourge Savvy*

    I love all of these, but as a short person, the heels story hit me right in my very soul. Well done!

  16. Where’s the Orchestra?*

    Okay – I can see a point for knowing who had the Master Key in letter 2 – but there had to be a more time efficient way of tracking it that that guy created.

    Personally ours (before we got to go remote) was the fact that the key was fixed to a small white board and you wrote your name and the time you took the key on the board. Yeah most of the time that took longer than using the key – but you knew where the key was when coworker absentminded forgot (again) to return the key.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Sorry – forgot to agree – In my office there would have been a behind the scenes fight for who took Insufferable’s chip (and any replacements he created.

    2. Lance*

      Everyone keeping their chip in their own office space would be infinitely more efficient than having to pick them out from a pile (or, well, sorting them in any conceivable way instead of just ‘tossed haphazardly in a box’).

      1. Random Bystander*

        Apparently the “efficiency” in mind was to make people take extra efforts to not need the master key. Which is silly–you’re dealing with human beings, and human beings sometimes have those things commonly referred to as “brain farts” and the master key will be needed from time to time no matter how onerous the system created.

      2. Observer*


        Which is why I don’t believe that efficiency had anything to do with it.

      3. Petty_Boop*

        Not to mention, some of the “jokers” I’ve worked with would think it was funny to put “Joe’s” poker chip instead of their own or just use a random one. So, unless someone was also verifying that the “correct” poker chip was exchanged, it was STILL a flawed system.

  17. reg*

    the poker chip is absolute bananas. when you said everyone has their own chip that they have to hand in for the master key, i assumed everyone hung on to their chips. continually having to find a needle in a haystack sounds like pointless psychological torture. i would lose my mind.

    also the pen-springs thief is an all-timer. i worship at her altar.

    1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      No, it makes sense this way* because otherwise, you’d have to have your poker chip on your person at all times. If people needed the key to get into their office, and they kept the poker chip in their office…

      *It does not make sense, what makes sense is for people to continue as they were, write their name down when taking the key or doing like people do with public bathroom keys and putting a huge keychain on it. But if the poker chip system was the system, keeping them near the key made sense.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Actually this reminds me of a legendary hall pass from my HS days.

        This history teacher had been there for 30+ years, and mostly taught seniors so was pretty laid back about hall passes. If you need it, be courteous to the rest of us while just grabbing it on your way out the door. He had laminated the paper slip and permanently attached it to an old chalkboard eraser. Big enough to be easily seen – small enough to carry along with anything else you may need to grab from a locker or take to the bathroom. But if you abused the system*, he also had another pass you then had to use – a three gallon neon pink jug in the shape of a pig. Nobody wanted to be seen with the pig – great deterrent.

        Abusing the system: constantly needing a pass every class, taking way more than a normal trip time, making a ton of noise on your way out of class, etc. And yes, he was human – if you needed accommodations – he was more than willing to work with you.

        Honestly thought he was one of the best teachers on staff – and in no small part because he showed us respect.

        1. Oh January*

          One of my HS teachers thought hall passes were stupid but admin kept bugging him about his students walking around without one. So he got one.

          It was an oar. From a rowboat. With his name written in sharpie on the paddle. It was pretty normal to go to the washroom from other classes and just see the oar leaning against the bathroom wall next to the sinks.

          1. Phryne*

            I agree with your teacher. I’ve never heard of them being used in my country and I don’t get their point. Why would you need to question what students are doing. Maybe they need the toilet, maybe they have a free period, but they are there, in the school. Surely the ones playing truant are not going to hang around in the school building anyways? Well not in my school anyway.

      2. Mister_L*

        I’m willing to bet at least some people just used the first chip they got, since it seems like he had no way to check who actually took the key at any moment.

      3. Observer*

        It still doesn’t make sense because it’s almost impossible for anyone to know who took the key this way.

  18. Happily Retired*

    #1 is just another reason why I’m so happy to have returned to school for my Environmental Science degree! I hope I can meet some professors who also enjoy sharing wonderful weirdness.

  19. Goose.*

    Poker chip guy would have made more sense if he had given everyone their chip. Otherwise I would have just put some random person’s name. Ah yes, today I will be… Timmy.

    1. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      But if you left your chip in your office, you wouldn’t have it when you needed it! I do agree that I would have picked a random chip.

  20. NoOneWillSeeThisComment*

    If people are somehow under the impression that places who say they are (or may be) recording the call are lying…I don’t know where you get that from, but ala Michael Jordan: Stop it!

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

      I remember from my call center days someone demanding that we give her the recording of a conversation she had with another rep because she didn’t belive us when we said listened to the call and the other rep did not say you could get X (or whatever the issue was.) My supervisor was like WTF?!

    2. Petty_Boop*

      Oh no they are not lying for sure. I worked at a Bank One call center while in college (“Wahhh I got a late charge for paying my bill….late. Take it off” kind of stuff). We had live monitors AND all calls WERE indeed recorded. I found that out when I thought I had put my phone on hold…and hadn’t, and one of the live monitors came over: “YOUR CALLER HAS BEEN ON A LIVE CALL LISTENING TO YOU BREATHE FOR FIVE MINUTES WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”

  21. Quality Girl*

    As a holder of a BS in environmental studies, I would TOTALLY watch a movie about #1. Prof’s Rock and Fish sound amazing.

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

      It honeslty sounds like something from old school cartoon network

  22. Too Many Birds*

    @OP #1: As a recovering academic, this part: “Allegedly there were at least a decade of grievances involved in this decision, but academia is like that and if I’d stayed to listen to them all someone would have talked me into trying for a PhD.” made me literally snort laugh. You are an excellent writer and a wise, wise soul.

    1. negligent apparitions*

      Higher ed worker (but not faculty and NEVER a PhD!) and #1 was it for me based on this sentence. I love it so much.

    2. Grilledcheeser*

      I worked for a university in a med school building. A prof emeritus stopped by my office one day and angrily said “your school stole this office from our school in 1962!”. This was 2015. And the office was windowless & the size of a water heater closet, next to the morgue. Ok dude. You nurse that grudge …

  23. Beth*

    Vindictive Daffodils is the name of my next album. Or maybe it’s the title of my next best-seller.

    1. Irish Teacher*

      If that is in Ireland (not sure if Daffodil Day is a thing elsewhere and if so, how popular it is), then…her action is even more bizarre as Day is such a big deal and daffodils are sold everywhere, so it wouldn’t be hard for the LW to get one elsewhere. It’s virtually impossible to get through the day without buying a daffodil badge or pin or actual daffodils.

      1. Coffee and Plants*

        I’m the LW and this was in the States! Daffodil Day is a somewhat big thing here (at least where I live) but it’s not *too* prevalent, so I didn’t run into anymore that day. At least it was for a good cause. Haha

        1. Irish Teacher*

          Ah, that makes a difference. Here, you’ll see pretty much everybody wearing daffodil pins to the point that there’s almost a peer pressure thing to buy them. I wasn’t sure if it was just an Irish thing because occasionally tourists or immigrants will ask why everybody is wearing daffodils.

          1. Timothy (TRiG)*

            Per Wikipedia, it started in Canada in 1957, and has spread to the USA, Ireland, and Australia, and New Zealand, but not to the UK or to anywhere outside the anglosphere, which may be why tourists query them. Also, it doesn’t seem to be as big a deal in the USA as it is here. (Wikipedia doesn’t have a specific article for the US or New Zealand ones, but does for all the others.)

              1. Expelliarmus*

                Me neither. It must be something done in particular regions of the country than others.

            1. londonedit*

              We sort of have it, in that the Marie Curie cancer charity has a daffodil as its symbol, and they sell daffodil badges for their awareness day on March 1st. But it’s not a hugely well-known thing and it’s just one charity selling badges with their daffodil logo.

      2. a tester, not a developer*

        In Canada it’s a fundraiser for the Cancer Society. I’d be thrilled that someone – anyone! bought all the daffodils that were available.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          Yeah, I’d weaponize this pettiness for good. “Gosh, I’m really looking forward to going to the benefit concert next week, it would be such a SHAME if they sold out all their tickets.”

        2. Trixie Belden was my hero*

          I am SO triggered by Daffodil Day!
          It was a March fundraiser for charity in my middle school (northeast USA) way back in the 70s. My mom was a lunch lady at the school (another trigger) and the weirdest teacher at the school bought some and gave them to my mom/the other lunch ladies. I came home from school and there was a big bunch on the table. When I found out who gave them to her, I was a mortified 13 year old who forbade her from telling ANYONE that Mr W. gave them to her. There was no romantic intention, Mr. W was rumored to be interested in his best teacher friend. Dad was cool with it, barely even noticed the flowers. Almost fifty years later and I still can’t see a daffodil without flashbacks to that incident.

      3. Petty_Boop*

        Here in Ohio, my office does a fundraiser every March selling bundles of Daffodil bulbs.

  24. Irish Teacher*

    Oh, just thought of a story from my college days that sort of fits.

    Our college was primarily a teaching college but also offered a BA degree. Anyway, there was one year when the primary teaching students had their exams early because they were out on placement for the normal exam weeks and…this being my college (and it being the turn of the millennium before widespread use of e-mail, etc), details were often poorly shared, resulting in lecturers and classes occasionally turning up to a room and finding a note on the door saying “exam in progress. Please use room whatever instead.”

    Now, one time we turned up for a history lecture and there wasn’t even a note on the door giving an alternative room and our lecturer was not pleased. Since it was May and not raining, she took us out to the front of the college and we had our class out on the front steps (there were random steps at the front of the college that went up to a door on the 1st floor – what Americans would call the 2nd floor – a door that was never opened).

    Another lecturer passed and said (in Irish, for some reason) that pre-fab 1 was free and she replied (in a bit of a mixture of English and Irish) that on principle she was remaining where she was, “like de Valera,” an Irish historical leader rather noted for never backing down.

    1. Straight Laced Sue*

      Fellow Irish person here. I like that. (Also, racking my brains to find a teaching college with steps like what you’ve described…Hmm…! Ha)

      1. Irish Teacher*

        Yeah, I was thinking it would be too hard for anybody Irish to recognise the college!

  25. CM*

    #14, the vindictive coloring, is my absolute favorite. The stakes are so incredibly low, and I love that the revenge is coloring outside the lines, in garish colors.

    1. MigraineMonth*

      I love my adult coloring book and spent ludicrous amounts of time deciding which colors go where; I’ve even used white-out to correct a completely unimportant mistake.

      I can’t imagine trying to force *other people* to care that much, though.

  26. Andy*

    I worked in a small higher ed office with a Prof. Unpleasant!
    I was hired by a Chair that P.U. didn’t like and it was his duty to make sure I knew that he did not approve of me being hired and did not consider me part of the staff. One of the more memorable ways he hammered that message home for me happened in the first month or so. So what he did was he rounded up the other staff at 11AM on a Wednesday and, in the middle of the reception area right in front of my office, announced that he would be taking WHOLE the staff to lunch. He added, really thoughtfully, that normally this would not be possible except, now that I was there, there was coverage in the office.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Did admin support in college (decades ago now), and our Professor Unbearable hated us all because he hated the Dept Chair (who had interviewed and hired all of us). Why did he hate the Chair:
      1) he applied and didn’t get the Dept Chair position when it was open
      2) Chair held him accountable to department rules
      3) Chair made him outwardly respect students (Chair didn’t try to fight for inward respect – that wasn’t happening)
      4) PU was a raging racist and mysognist – Chair was a Woman of Color (and also way, way more qualified that PU was)

      That PU eventually was pushed (unwillingly and screaming all the way) into retirement by University HR. They decided he was a lawsuit waiting to happen that they would loose.

      1. Andy*

        lol I’m pretty clueless so I didn’t realize he was attempting a Cut Direct until muuuuch later. I suppose that I probably gave him a very disappointing non-response.

  27. keyw*

    The poker chip made me laugh out loud. Sounds exactly like a former coworker, who also had to take every perfectly-functioning system and turn them into complex, time-consuming *official* processes that were actually just harder and wildly inefficient.
    Stealing his poker chip was sheer brilliance.

    1. MigraineMonth*

      “Yes, technically you could just write your name, but wouldn’t it be more efficient to use my Rube Goldberg machine? It has a hamster wheel, a springboard, and a candle that eventually burns through a rope to launch your poker chip at a pin board.”

    2. Guacamole Nob*

      I’m neurodivergent, and creating this poker chip system sounds like something I might do when in the midst of a “this world is utter chaos and I need to somehow introduce order” episode. I’m really good at solving complex problems, but I’m also excellent at overcomplicating simple processes. I really appreciate it when people tell me that I’m overthinking things, and my fancy new process is actually not necessary.

      1. metadata minion*

        Hah, me too! I remember one time a few years back when another coworker and I were trying to come up with a system for something new and making it increasingly complex. The department head asked how it was coming along and we tried to explain our Rube Goldberg machine and he asked — completely seriously, trusting that we knew this process better than he did and must have a reason — why we didn’t do Simple Obvious Thing. “….because that would be easy, and simple. Let’s do that.” we said.

      2. Reed Weird*

        Aaaagh, same! I’m a cosplayer/costumer in my spare time, and I very much rely on my mom and other cosplay/crafty friends to help me cut through ridiculous ideas.
        “Aw man, doing this tunic is gonna take forever, there’s so much embroidery I need to do for the embellishment design.”
        “Reed, it’s mostly linework, is there a reason you want to embroider it all instead of using braid or trim?”
        “… only that I forgot that braid exists.”

  28. emily*

    My husband used to work at a very well-known bookstore in a major city, the kind of place that’s a tourist destination and sells branded tote bags, etc. It’s also a store where, famously, potential booksellers are tested on their literary knowledge during the interview process.

    The store’s aging owner had passed management duties over to his daughter, who was not well-liked by… well, anyone, and was also not much of a reader. One day an actor visited the store, and she asked one of the booksellers who it was. “Holden Caulfield,” the bookseller replied, and she proceeded to brag to everyone she could that THE Holden Caulfield was shopping in her store!!! It certainly didn’t help her reputation among the staff.

    1. Felicity Lemon*

      This is awesome! (Signed, someone who also had to take a literary test to work in a bookstore and sadly could not for the life of me remember Harper Lee — but thankfully still got the job)

    2. goddessoftransitory*

      Oh, sounds like my local! I know it isn’t because of the daughter thing, but we definitely have Famous Bookstore.

  29. yllis*

    Having been responsible at times for master keys, I sorta kinda understand #2 keymaster.

    Basically, that key was worth A LOT and if it went missing, I would be the last person responsible for it. So while I didnt do poker chips, I did want something that people would come back for and that was ID or their car keys.

    Sure some faculty were ticked off but I didnt budge. I was a lowly office manager with my name on record as holder a a key that would unlock anything in the dept. That key go missing, it is my azz

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Yeah – knowing where the key is makes perfect sense – but the poker chip replacement system seemed to have superseded an already in place and functioning system. It sort of read like a guy on a power trip fixing what wasn’t actually broken in the first place.

      1. OP 2*

        Bingo. The system was running fine, but had he created a better one, then sure, whatever, I’d do it. But he created a worse one. And to be clear, his only authority came from being convinced of his own great knowledge of efficiency. This was not part of his job, he was just one of many professors in the hallway in question.

        I have no regrets. He was a jerk to the students, too.

    2. Generic Mid-Career HR Person*

      I’m still struggling to understand #2. I get that the frustration resonated with a lot of people. Is it possible that Poker Chip Keymaster never needed the key that Op #2 stole because he never locked himself out (therefore never experiencing the misery he created)? Never being locked out kind of explains why he made such a dysfunctional system.

    3. Observer*

      So while I didnt do poker chips, I did want something that people would come back for and that was ID or their car keys.

      Well, that’s the difference between you and this guy. What you did was simple, efficient and actually worked in that you always knew who was the last person who took the key and they had a very good reason to come back with it. This guys system? None of the above…

      1. OP 2*

        I also want to say that if our office manager had come up with the system, I would have done it without any pettiness (thought it was bizarre, yes, but I would have done it). Our office manager was great. But the guy who implemented this, a random professor, decided on it himself–I don’t know the details but he just arrived to the hallway when his dept was moved, and decided upon it. He just was self-declared key efficiency king.

    4. Department Admin still*

      Same! Which is why when a master under my name was recovered after being missing for weeks, I sewed a Giant Microbe fuzzy sperm to it. No one ever left it in their pocket or backpack again. I can hardly get the facilities guys to touch it, poor delicate things they are.

  30. RVA Cat*

    #11 – The boss was talking about her gyn health issues?! *record scratch*
    That’s not just boundary crossing, that’s harassment.

    1. nobadcats*

      As I said, I was quite young. It was my first professional corporate job after years of working retail. Anyone who’s worked retail knows what a cesspool of abuse and harassment retail was, back in the 80s. Still is a lot of the time, tbh.

      So, after having been well-used to that sort of environment, I thought, “Oh, it’s like that here too.” I knew it wasn’t cool. But we had no reporting system for harassment, and our HR leaked like a sieve. I was out for minor surgery for a day or two and when I got back, everyone in the office knew what it was for. It wasn’t until I quit that job and started working as a temp that I realized there were offices where that behavior just didn’t happen.

      1. WellRed*

        To Be fair, it being women’s health issues doesn’t make it an automatic fail. It’s equally a fail if we’re discussing whatever it is that men chat about the penis ( do they even?) sorry but
        If the Supreme Court needs to get in our biz, you might hear about it. Don’t like it? Fight against the politicization of women’s basic rights.

        1. nobadcats*

          To be fair, it’s not that I’m against women’s health issues and the egregious politics involved (ffs, I used to work for Planned Parenthood) being discussed and public. I’m saying, and I think RVA Cat is saying, that long, personal, detailed conversations about medical issues *in general* are not appropriate for the workplace, especially between boss and subordinate. In this day and age, I would have been able to file complaints with HR. And the main issue was keeping, not only me, but others as pets and using us as ad hoc therapists during work time, then penalizing us for not getting our work done on time.

  31. not a hippo*

    Aw I missed the call. Well here’s my story:

    I worked for a family business. It was awful. The co-owner was an absolute troglodyte and a raging asshole. He also would make up these horrible sludge green protein shakes and then leave them around. We were customer facing so we were always finding and moving his stupid cup to the back so a customer wouldn’t be finding a cup of 3-day old goo on a random shelf.

    One day one of my coworkers got so fed up that she brought it into the breakroom. She waited until he came in, locked eyes with him, and proceeded to dump drink down the drain. Then she mic-dropped the cup in the sink and walked out without a word.

    He just spluttered like the impotent worm he was.

    1. Aelswitha*

      Once upon a time in a police detachment we had a boss who was a massive and vocal misogynist. Women should not be cops, and certainly not in his detachment. He was particularly unhappy that he had several female officers who were taller than him. He was about 5’8″ and it bothered him. A lot.

      One morning he was standing at the photocopier and I could see that his uniform pants were rather short – like I could see sock between the hem of the pants and the top of his ankle boots. So I said, “Um, what’s with your pants?” He was oblivious, but as the day progressed other people mentioned his “floods”, so he went home and changed into another pair. They were exactly as short as the first pair and the comments continued. Turned out all of his uniform pants were the same length, and he assumed that he’d picked up the wrong batch from the dry cleaners. He questioned everyone in the office that could possibly have pants that length (realistically, there were only two possibilities) but everyone else had their correct pants. He questioned the dry cleaner, in case pants from another detachment had possibly been switched with his. Eventually he gave up and ordered new pants and life went on.

      Months later he became incandescent when an unmarked envelope arrived in his mail slot. Inside were the cut off ends of four pairs of uniform pants. Someone had picked them up from the dry cleaners, had them shortened, and then returned them to the cleaners. No, it wasn’t me – but man, I wish I’d thought of it.

      1. Mister_L*

        Alternative idea if you know a tailor: Have them lenghtened and also subtly widened.

      2. TechSupporter*

        This is an impressive level of commitment; this person has a brilliant career ahead of them.

  32. Aelswitha*

    To whomever submitted #2: please get that man’s address and mail him that poker chip anonymously.

        1. OP 2*

          I’m not sure I want to part with it! Every now and then I see it in the box on my dresser and feel a sense of pride.

            1. AnotherLadyGrey*

              Or pull a reverse Amelie, and send him photos of his poker chip at all kinds of wonderful or exotic locations.

  33. Mechanical Theft Robot*

    read #2, thought nothing’s gonna stop that being my fave

    lasted all the way through to #12. 12 is even better :)

  34. I don't mean to be rude, I'm just good at it*

    As I’ve gotten older, I’ve lost interest in maintaining my computer skills, but when computers were new and fun I developed many skills using Windows 3.1 that were undocumented. I had a department head who was a “genius” and could out think, out do and out perform anybody at any time.

    I wrote a small batch file on startup that erased everything he would save on the computer, unless it was saved to the documents file. It drove him crazy. A few weeks later my principal casually asked me, with a sly grin, to take a look at DP’s malfunctioning computer, so I had to restore it.

  35. Indie*

    One quirky thing about French is that you can slightly change the spelling of a name and it would still sound the same, but will appear to be of the opposite gender (like Frederic/Frederique). So I had this coworker who from the get go used a different version of my name but it not only appeared different, it also sounded different (like Amelie/Emilie). I tried to correct him a few times and he decided that he knew better than me. At some point I just snapped, and started using the female version of his name in all official documents. It took some time, but Frederique eventually got the message.

  36. Snoozing not schmoozing*

    For #1, Dang, just tell the Key Rules Dictator “We don’t do it that way” and ignore him! Why do people succumb to authoritarian people who have no actual authority?

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      In my experience – only so much capital to spend so having to pick and choose battles so as to not be seen as the office equivalent of the boy who cried wolf.

    2. OP 2*

      I don’t know why others did. But he was a full professor with an arrogant attitude and I was in a non-tenure track position, so you see my reasoning.

      1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        That’s more understandable. The letter sounded like he didn’t actually outrank anyone on your team.

        1. OP 2*

          He didn’t outrank the group as a whole, and it’s not like he was in any way my boss. But it was not worth the capital to complain about him or resist it. He’d been at the university decades longer than me, too.

  37. kctipton*

    Oh yeah, academic pettiness is the best pettiness. Second best? Customer service pettiness to deliberate jerks.

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      One of my favorite all time stories came from Reader’s Digest: a small boutique had this repeat customer who today would be labeled an Extreme Karen–just rude, entitled, demanding special treatment for everything, on and on. Employees would literally run when they saw her so they wouldn’t have to wait on her (and this was a commissions based store.)

      One day EK came in ready for a rampage, found the manager and demanded “why is it I can never get what I need in your store?”

      The manager looked right at her and replied “Perhaps because we are too polite.”

  38. tinybutfierce*

    I had a similar experience to #5 once. My birth name I went by at the time is “Annabelle”, and an older male coworker kept calling me “Abigail” no matter how many times he was corrected. One day, I’d just had enough, so in conversation, I deliberately called him the wrong name.

    Him: Oh, my name is Jim, not Tom.
    Me: And my name is Annabelle. :)

    He never got my name wrong again.

    1. MigraineMonth*

      I think that’s how we all thought the story would go, but I am completely charmed by the way #5 went. Timmy didn’t mind, and Katherine found a way to stop being annoyed by his mistake!

  39. Fejerro*

    I’m late to the show! Hope there’s a part 3.

    15 years ago at the start of my IT career, I was working as a lone-wolf IT guy for a medium-sized business. There was an older gentleman in accounting who was usually pleasant, but this one particular day he was rather upset about a computer problem and made several passive-aggressive comments while I worked on it.

    Having fixed that problem but still annoyed, a few hours later I went into our server room, found his network port, disconnected it, then waited. Within 5 minutes I received the call. “That’s weird, let me see what I can do about that and I’ll get back to you.” I went back into the server room, waited a few minutes for dramatic effect, plugged his network cable back in, then walked over to his desk to see if my “back-end server network reprogramming” had any effect. He reported that I had indeed fixed the problem and was very grateful!

    1. OP 2*

      These comments are making it all even better.

      It was so ridiculous, me making sure I wore a long-sleeved sweater so I could easily hide the poker chip in my hand as I left the main office, like I was in some masterful heist. I’m still so pleased with myself for bothering.

  40. SMH*

    Many years ago I worked in a retail big box store. One of our store managers was a misanthropic piece of work. Let’s call him “Tim.” Tim really wanted everyone to call him Timothy or Mr. StoreManager. He hated, absolutely hated, being called Timmy.

    So, of course, any time someone asked to talk to our Store Manager, we would tell them his name was Timmy. The man was nothing if not a groveling pushover to customers, so every time one called him Timmy, you could see a vein throb on his forehead as he tried to maintain composure.

  41. Anonymous Sparrow*

    I once had a coworker when I worked at a nonprofit, we’ll call her Fran. When she was hired, the CEO promised her an office to go along with her fancy (inflated) title. Well, he should not have promised that because we didn’t have a free office. This bothered her to no end. Her desk was next to mine in the free office area with the rest of the minor humans. She became obsessed with the idea of buying a cubicle wall to put between our desks so that she could pretend she had an office. She suggested this to me like it was a great idea. I said I wasn’t interested. She waited for me to go on vacation for a week and then cried to the CEO that I crack my knuckles, that she’s told me a million times to stop, and that the only solution is that she MUST have a cubicle wall between our desks to dampen the sound. This was a lie, because I had in fact asked her if my knuckle cracking bothered her (we had another cowoker who WAS bothered by it and I made a concerted effort to not do it around her), and it also would not work, because even with a cubicle wall we would still be like 2 feet away from each other. CEO fell for her story and ordered the wall. It appeared when I returned from vacation. It was delivered to Fran who denied any knowledge of ordering it. She just left the enormous box in the office and pretended like she knew nothing about it. Then she waited for me to be out of the office again to put it up. I returned to find her desk, now reduced to about 3 feet of dark, cramped space, because of the extra cubicle wall. My desk, just based on the office layout, was still pretty open and free, with the added benefit of not having to look at Fran. Cool! I went about my day. Fran was of course displeased, tried half-heartedly to get me to order ANOTHER cubicle wall for behind my chair (no idea what this would have accomplished except that misery loves company?), and then took the wall down after a week. Waste of $75 and she absolutely never owned up to the deliberate measures she took to do this behind my back.

  42. Forty Years In the Hole*

    #3 – chef’s kiss. Something I’d do…and have, tho’ with huge chains of paper clips. Like, hundreds.

  43. hiptobesquare*

    I work in IT and we had a guy come in for a corded mouse today and I was kind of surprised we had one – but we did! Different strokes, rodents, etc.

    1. M*

      I prefer both corded mice and keyboards! No batteries, no connection issues, and I only ever do my work in the one place, so no downsides to it.

      1. Aquamarine*

        Me too! I can’t deal with all the battery waste, and my keyboard and mouse are always sitting in the same place anyway, so the cords work out fine.

      2. 3DogNight*

        I do, too. But the newer systems we have to use don’t have enough USB ports, and our docks are getting that way, too.

    2. metadata minion*

      I prefer them when traveling, so the mouse is attached to the laptop and is less easy to lose (I hate using the trackpad.) It also prevents suddenly realizing my mouse is dead and I have no batteries.

  44. Safely Retired*

    I don’t think it would be appropriate for this place to offer any sort of “thumbs up” rating system, but once in a great while some stories really make me wish there was such a thing here.

  45. WonderingMe*

    I sort of have one. Back in the 90s my Dad was life-flighted to a hospital with a cardiac center. Myself and sister arrived before him and came into the large swanky waiting area for that wing, which had a manned phone desk you could use for local calls for folks trying to let family members know what had happened, or give updates, etc. We were waiting our turn and stepped into the hall to use the Coke machines, and when we came back the phone was empty…because the desk lady took the handset and left. Asking around, others in the room told us where to go down another floor for a payphone. They also said that was usual for that desk attendant to unattach the handset from the phone when it was her break, and take it with her. I admit I was miffed and asked about it when she returned an hour later, her response: “we can’t let the phone be unattended, people might call long distance!” (even though there was a sign that said the line would not call out of the area code, but you could dial 0 and do it collect). Friend who worked there later told me the woman was a volunteer, and a PITA…no idea why she was kept on. It was a position where someone could have really helped people, but this woman chose to do the opposite with her little job. (Dad recovered and did fine btw)

  46. Lolllee*

    The story about the group adult coloring books reminded me of a similar story with a puzzle table. At one company I worked for we had a high counter in our lunch room that we always had a puzzle on. At lunch or breaks or even stand up meetings, people would work on this puzzle. One guy would wait for the puzzle to get to the last little bit, then he would chase everyone away, shield the counter with his body, gather up all remaining pieces, hunch over the puzzle and complete it himself. Then he’d parade through the office loudly proclaiming his puzzle prowess. One day he did his usually puzzle hoarding routine except a piece was missing. The guy threw a fit. He started crawling around on the floor looking for it. He ordered others to look for it though he insisted that they had to give him the last piece to put it in. While this loud, obnoxious scene was going on, the IT guy walks out of the server room right next to the break area, studies the puzzle piece in his hand until everyone is quiet and watching him, then without a word, he pops in the last piece, turns, and goes back into the server room.

    1. Aquamarine*

      Yes!! Reading this story was as satisfying as clicking the last puzzle piece into place!

  47. Red Wheel Barrow*

    “In my defense, I was left unsupervised with the bowl.” <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      After I read that in the initial call for pettiness I ordered the tee shirt! Just came today.

  48. Nope, Nu-uh, No Way*

    #15 brought back a memory from my teenage years.

    I grew up in the suburbs of a major city in the southeastern USA famous for its mild climate. Around 2000 a once in a lifetime ice storm came through and did major damage to half the metro area.
    Tens of thousands of people were without electricity in the aftermath of the storm. Recovery efforts by everyone involved (all government agencies and private companies) were swift and heroic but complicated by continuous icy road conditions and below freezing temps. It took about a week for everything to be put right again.
    One of the best sources of information was a local news/talk station that broadcast entirely live 24 hours a day for several days. They had hours-long call in segments where anyone could talk to officials from many of groups involved in the cleanup.

    All this set-up is to say that I tuned into this radio station the morning after the overnight storm to get the latest news. There was a representative from the biggest electric utility in the area taking calls from the public. Most people were frustrated but had reasonable expectations regarding the nature of the situation. Some did not.
    Despite a specific explanation by the rep, 0ne caller could not accept that the electric grid of the specific area their home in was in had been more heavily damaged and was taking longer to repair. They just kept badgering the rep over and over again with this:

    I live in (enormous toney subdivision) in (very wealthy suburb). I can’t get through to (power company) on the phone. You need to resolve my problem. Half of my subdivision has power? Why do they have power and I don’t? (Much less wealthy suburb nearby) has power. Why do they have power and I don’t?

    The radio station host disconnected the call after about two minutes of this.
    The thing is that on that day I tuned into the radio twice more to hear the same caller badgering the same rep in the same manner about the same problem.

    My family’s home was without power for three days by we were fine. We had heat from a old school wood stove, ate lots of peanut butter sandwiches, and had a battery powered radio.

      1. RVA Cat*

        Don’t worry about it.
        It boggles my mind that rich people think their money can change reality. The more I read about the OceanGate CEO the more it seems he could not cope with being told “no” and just doubled down on his wrongness until it killed him and four other people.

        1. Expelliarmus*

          Yeah, his need to put innovation above safety infuriated me. Safety is NOT frivolous!

        2. Alexander Graham Yell*

          I worked in a hotel years ago that was very proud of every one of its four stars and threw big parties/events for holidays. So for New Years Eve (which is HUGE in our city), Lord SoandSo booked himself a room – well, okay, he had his personal secretary book it. And then call back weekly to ensure we had him booked in the BLUE suite, he liked the BLUE suite it must be the BLUE suite, the pink one just. won’t. do.

          So it’s NYE, nobody is working, everybody is partying, and the gas goes out in the fireplaces. We can’t find anybody to repair it (bc, you know…massive holiday) and it’s not how the room is heated, so we’re not willing to pay emergency repair prices.

          It was also a week before I had to leave the country, and 5 days before I was done with this job, and about 30 minutes before I was done with my shift.

          So we send a complimentary bottle of champagne to the rooms affected, and he calls down ENRAGED. “I am LORD SOANDSO and I DEMAND to know EXACTLY what you think you’re doing sending this champagne to me! How dare you! I can buy my own champagne!”
          “Yes, Lord SoandSo, we have no doubt of that, however we sent it as an apology for the fireplace being out. Unfortunately we’re not able to get a repairperson out at such short notice on NYE and so we wanted to send a token of our apology.”
          “I don’t NEED you to send me CHAMPAGNE, I can BUY my own CHAMPAGNE. What my money CAN’T buy, APPARENTLY, is a WORKING FIREPLACE!”
          “I’m afraid that’s correct, sir.”

          (The apology came with a 10 or 20% refund on the room, can’t remember the exact number, so it wasn’t just “Here, have booze.”)

          Like, I get that it’s miserable to book somewhere specifically for a feature that doesn’t work, and I understand that he paid a lot of money (genuinely a lot! not downplaying that at all), but man….we can’t make people appear at work out of thin air. And we really can’t make them come to work at 7pm on NYE for something that isn’t urgent. And all the money in the world can’t make it happen, or we wouldn’t have taken the hit on every room we had booked that year.

          (Do I still respond to the most minor inconvenience by declaring myself Lord SoandSo whose money is incapable of solving this problem? Yes. Yes I do.)

        3. Observer*

          In his case I don’t think it was money as much as arrogance and the need to BE RIGHT. Also, to be a “disrupter”. He took the worst of the tech bro mythology and tried to insist that you can run a safety critical enterprise that way.

          Sorry guys. Steve Jobs may have been a brilliant man, but he did NOT actually have a reality distortion field. And for the most part he knew it – none of his Apple projects, even the abject failures, actually ignored the laws of physical reality.

          But this guy boasted about how “there is this rule about not using carbon fiber” for these hulls but HE is doing it. That he’s dead honestly doesn’t break my heart. That he suckered 4 other people into paying tons of money for their suicide? *THAT* is upsetting.

    1. OP 8 (AnotherLadyGrey)*

      Mine too, TBH. It happened like 15 years ago and I still get a huge Grinchy smile whenever I remember it.

  49. Middle Aged Lady*

    I love all of these but I think the bookstore and the cable company are my favorites. So satisfying to annoy an unreasonable customer!

  50. nnn*

    #10 makes me think of when I worked in fast food. We were allowed to have as much of any drink we want while we were working, but we had to bring our own cups – we couldn’t use the restaurant’s cups.

    Then they introduced iced tea, and made a rule that we’re only allowed to have one cup of iced tea per shift.

    That inspired people to bring in larger and larger cups in order to extract as much free iced tea from the employer as possible.

  51. rubble*

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

    oh god….. is that a thing used to define a time period now? all the computers in our house, plus the library and university computers I use, still have plug in cords for keyboards and mice. it uses less batteries!

    1. londonedit*

      Yep…my keyboard and mouse plug into my laptop via a USB cable so I don’t have to worry about batteries! I didn’t realise that was a ‘back in the day’ thing!

      1. Expelliarmus*

        I think a lot of workplaces don’t tend to have that anymore, hence the “back in the day”. At my office, the only time your computer is plugged in with a USB cable is either for charging or connecting with extra monitors for more screens.

        1. Observer*

          I don’t think that’s true. If you have a workplace that uses standard desktops rather than laptops, then wired is the default because that’s what generally comes with the computer.

          1. londonedit*

            When I take my laptop into the office, it plugs into a USB thingy at my desk that connects it to the external monitor, and there’s also a wired keyboard and wired mouse that you plug in.

  52. Bruce*

    #15 is a great story, both for the original prank and for the boss’s sense of humor!

  53. Other Alice*

    #2 reminded me of a story my mum told me. A couple years ago, their department was forced to move out of their building because it was historical and beautiful and the Dean wanted it for his own office. The new building they had to move into has many issues, but a huge annoyance at the start was the locked doors. All conference rooms were locked, and if someone needed a room for a meeting they needed to go into another building to get the single master key, then immediately bring it back. At first they tried to just keep the master key but the administration made a fuss. This is a department handling millions in research grants, and they couldn’t even have the key to the room to hold meetings for their projects. If they had a meeting, someone needed to fetch the key, open the door, bring back the key, then at the end of the meeting retrieve the key to lock up. People from administration would actually stop by and check that faculty wasn’t “cheating the system” by leaving open the door of their own meeting room when it was not in use.

    Another minor annoyance was that the main entrance to the building wasn’t locked. Everyone had keycards for their own office, and only for their office. They had been used to leaving their office doors unlocked, in case someone needed to borrow a book while they were out or drop something off on their desk, but no more. It’s a small department of less than 20 people so having the doors locked up all the time was annoying in a post Covid world where they worked from home a few days a week.

    Then one morning, my mum went into the office and accidentally opened her neighbour’s door by accident. The building is all white, with no distinguishing elements, so she got mixed up. But her keycard (which was supposed to open her office only) had worked. Being a scientist, she immediately went round and started telling everyone in the building to check if their keycards opened other doors. They soon found out that each keycard could open 4 or 5 doors. And a couple of people had keycards that opened… Drumroll… The big conference room!

    I gather that someone asked if they should inform the administration of this obvious flaw in security, but they were quickly shushed. They made a secret document of which key opens which door, and they never went to borrow the master key ever again. I wonder if administration noticed that this department hasn’t had a meeting since 2022?

  54. Coffee Break*

    I’m a little late to this but I might as well add my story anyway, although I’m not sure it would be considered ‘petty’!

    I graduated at the start of the Great Recession so even after a couple of years I was still working in a neverending system of internships. One of these was an unpaid internship in a mortgage company, which I got via a government employment scheme. There were tons of red flags but overall it was a horrible place to work with very low morale, and my boss was a very patronising micromanager. For example, she would frequently ask a coworker to send me to her desk instead of just asking me directly. When I went to see what she wanted, she would tell me “Oh I don’t want anything, I just want to see if you’re here or not.”

    I became friendly with a coworker who sat near me in the open-plan office, who’s sole job was to call customers and tell them the company had lost their title deeds. This company was so terrible, they had lost enough individual title deeds to have someone delivering that news to customers full time! So naturally after I left that internship I reported the company to the banking authority in my country, who investigated them. I also reported them to the government agency that arranged the internship, who informed me they’d had complaints from previous interns.

  55. Frank de Gooner*

    Am I the only one that hates it when people use pointless fake names?

    If you don’t know them the fake name is pointless, if you do know them you will recognise the story despite the names used.

    1. Petty_Boop*

      Are you referring to the LW’s nom de plum, or their story teller’s colleagues, colleges and or companies? I find the stories the point, not the locations or whether it was “Tony Stark” and not “John Smith”. Seems a rather silly thing to get twisted about. Why such a need to know the “actual” name?

    2. Critical Rolls*

      Serious question: are you new here? Fake names are part of the anonymizing process, avoiding an identifiable detail (especially in the case of unusual names), and people have some fun with them.

  56. Mim*

    So I have a former co-worker who was always having problems with her monitor cord coming lose. It was driving her crazy, because it seemed random, and she couldn’t figure out how it was happening. We figured something was just kind of worn out or bent, so the connection was a little fragile and prone to not working if jostled. But it literally just now occurred to me, a decade later, that another co-worker might have been doing it on purpose to annoy her. I have a specific person in mind. She was kind of an ally of the monitor-trouble co-worker, but she was also a total shit-stirrer, and I could 100% imagine her doing that on purpose. Now I need a time machine so I can try to go catch her in the act. The more I think about it, the more sure I am that that is what was happening.

  57. Mim*

    My petty story:

    To this day I make it a point to eat chicken on Good Friday in honor of the pettiest co-worker I ever had, who made a religious discrimination complaint about another (wonderful) co-worker who happened to have chicken for lunch one year on Good Friday. Like, her own personal lunch that in no way involved Petty-Petty. Petty-Petty, who was a chronic over-sharer and talked incessantly about her personal life, but had somehow never once before (or after) mentioned any religious beliefs or practices. Even if one person randomly eating chicken on Good Friday could be considered religious discrimination against devout Catholics, it couldn’t have been on purpose, because we literally didn’t even know she was Catholic.

    I have thought over the years of what a good response would have been. I could have waited until Passover and then complained when she eat a sandwich with leavened bread. But it wouldn’t sit right with me to make a complaint about something as serious as religion-based harassment as a way to get back at someone. Maybe I should have just brought in a box of plain matzah and eaten it, dry and unadorned, straight from the box, for the entire week of Passover. While just staring right at her. Made her squirm. She knows what she did. It would have been fun to demonstrate that some of us can be just as petty without having to stoop to false reports. Darn it, missed my chance.

    1. Petty_Boop*

      Ughhhh I hope HR didn’t take it seriously and just did the dry “we’ll look into it” and put it in the round file, type of follow through. Or better yet told her “that’s not a legitimate complaint and you’re wasting our time,” but that feels unlikely.

  58. SomethingElse*

    Petty name things:

    There was a guy in my old office whos name was in the had one of those names that can sound slightly different if you switch out a vowel. Think like Michael vs Michal. Its one of those things that can be annoying (I have one of those names) but in an office with mixed accents I ignore slight flourishes and variation. In text sometimes people would also flip the vowels as a typo of his name as a typo, both spellings are accepted so it wouldn’t be corrected

    This guy was an asshole in general, so after a few weeks of harassing people about the pronunciation, we just changed his name. So Michael wasn’t being called Michal, but was now Mochol. It was so disrespectful, but it persisted for years.

  59. ZugTheMegasaurus*

    I went to a small alternative high school where they didn’t divide students by grade level. When I was a sophomore/junior, I was in a 2-year leadership class and we were in charge of welcoming new students the first day of my junior year; we had intro sessions to classes in the morning, and the later half of the day was a huge picnic where students could hang out and get to know each other.

    I noticed a very quiet boy kind of standing alone and decided to approach him (as someone with social anxiety disorder myself, I totally understood not putting yourself out there, and was also very aware that I was being graded and this seemed like a very easy interaction). He said his name was Brian, and for some reason, I responded by saying, “Nah, you don’t look like a Brian. I’d say you look like a George.” I then proceeded to walk him around to all my friends, introducing him as George.

    It totally worked. People thought it was hilarious and he started letting his guard down, and ended up joining my main friend group. What I DIDN’T expect is that the name would follow him for the entire 4 years he was in high school! He just liked it, I guess, and just decided to go by George. I attended the ceremony the year he graduated, and when they called his name to walk up and get his diploma, there was visible confusion among the other students who were asking each other who the hell Brian was.

  60. hiding under the library steps with a cheese tray, giggling*

    I aspire to always be “hiding under the library steps with a cheese tray, giggling.”

  61. Nate*

    Pretty sure Complaining (Entitled) Customer in #15 is from my town. You should see the fb groups going crazy when we lose power…

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