the fake union organizer, the lemon zest, and other Machiavellian triumphs at work

Last week, I asked about Machiavellian things you’ve seen or done at work. There were so many amazing stories shared that I couldn’t fit my favorites in one post. Here’s part one, and part two is coming later this week.

1. The store credit

I worked in a specialty retail industry for many years. It’s common practice in the industry to include as part of the compensation package a monthly store credit. At another store in our community, a department manager who worked at her store for years never used her store credit, just letting it accrue. When she left, she cashed it all in to basically clean out the department’s stock and used it to start a rival wholesale business.

2. The union

Wasn’t me but a guy I knew. He was a fan of certain “mind altering vegetation,” as was his coworker. He agreed to sell some to his coworker and soon became “the guy” at the auto repair place. One of the managers noticed him always having quick little chats with his coworkers and ran in the complete wrong direction with it and thought my friend was trying to organize a union and he (the manager) was going to stop that.

So my friend was terrified he was going to get fired until he realized that retaliating against him for selling pot was totally legal but retaliating against him for pro-union activity wasn’t. And so, to protect himself from being fired for being mistaken as a union organizer, he organized a union.

3. The salary hero

I was a low-level manager and was offered a promotion, and negotiated for a higher salary than offered. We agreed on the amount, but the company “couldn’t possibly give me that much money all at once” so half the raise had to wait until the start of the new fiscal year, in a few months. I had a commitment that “by the end of the first month of the new year, you’ll be at $X.”

We also did our annual raises company-wide at the start of the fiscal year. I knew that “by the end of the first month” meant they wouldn’t give me my full new salary until the very end of the month, so I hatched a plan. The system automatically included me when calculating the department’s raise budget. I knew, though, that no matter what raise I got at the start of the month, I would end the month with a salary of exactly the agreed-upon $X. So I asked my boss to give me the lowest possible raise she could without triggering a performance investigation and use the entire rest of the money budgeted for my raise, to give my team raises instead.
It worked like an absolute charm, and I have absolutely no regrets. I still have the form letter I got that year, with a bunch of boilerplate about how valuable I am before announcing I was being rewarded with a 0.1% raise.

4. The phone

The team I managed had an A/P and payroll person who loudly talked on the phone (personal calls) ALL THE TIME, while typing studiously, so she could pretend she was working. I had just gotten there, didn’t know my team or anyone well yet, but this was driving me crazy, along with everyone else. I talked to her about it repeatedly, with no change. Finally, I called a different employee into my office and said “break her phone. Don’t make it obvious, but make sure her phone doesn’t work.” He got such a big smile and suddenly she was complaining about her phone. I just said if she needed to make a work call she could use my phone. She never did. She left soon after.

5. The award nominations

I once volunteered for an awards committee with 5-6 other folks who were overcommitted and uninterested in the committee. We were all supposed to advertise the award. I carefully advertised very heavily in my department and wasn’t shy about suggesting 2 people who I thought would be great for the award. I even provided some text and info folks could use in nomination letters. These 2 people also happened to be my mentors. I even mentioned it to some external collaborators.

No one else on the committee ever got around to advertising the award and the two awards went to my mentors who got 6x more nominations than anyone else. The awards were $10,000 each!

I left the org right after the awards came in, but you better believe I got glowing recommendations from those folks! The whole thing left me with a deep appreciation for how much power someone can have when no-one else cares.

6. The lemon zest

When I worked as a baker at a small-ish independent bakery, the owners decided that we would start wholesaling our baked goods to all of the local branches of a prolific chain coffee shop. Our production went through the roof, but we were a shop known for doing everything from scratch, so some processes became absolutely ridiculous. One of these was zesting citrus fruit for flavoring our scones and muffins. Zesting became someone’s full-time (absolutely torturous) job. We went through a case of lemons and half a case of oranges every single day just for their zest. All of our microplanes were as dull as could be after a few short weeks of this, making the job of zesting even more difficult.

Our bakery manager at the time found a fancy French company that produced packages of frozen zest, but she was afraid the owners wouldn’t go for it. So she prepared two batches of lemon scones to compare the fresh zest with the frozen zest… except she didn’t. She actually used the frozen zest in both batches. The owners were amazed that they couldn’t taste the difference and agreed to switch to using the frozen zest. It saved us so much unpleasant physical labor, I think back so fondly on that manager’s actions.

7. The email

My first full-time job after high-school was in a small business where I was bullied by a much older colleague for months. One incident involved an email in which she said some awful (and brazen) things about me and another colleague in an email to our manager. Management did nothing and I jumped at the first opportunity to leave. In my exit interview, I said the boss needed to fire her (I was the fifth person to leave because of her) but he was unreceptive.

So in my final week I pulled the email up on my computer and purposefully left it for a colleague to see. Specifically, the biggest gossip in the office. When she asked me about it I asked her to not tell the others, but said it was why I was leaving. As predicted, the whole team learned of the bullying and was outraged, and my bully was made redundant within three months.

8. The height difference

I (woman, 5’10” tall) had a client (man, about 5’6″ tall) who seemed to have two completely different and opposite attitudes toward me. Sometimes, he thought my ideas were great and that I was the best thing to come along since sliced bread. Other times, he hated my ideas and looked at me as if I were moldy bread. I assumed for a while that his reaction was based on the specific thing I was telling him, but after seeing him react both ways to the SAME idea, I realized that his positive reactions always came about when we were sitting down and his negative reactions always came when we were standing up. After that, I made sure we never had another hallway conversation. I had all kinds of excuses to sit down, from needing to sit to find a piece of paper I had to show him to a bad knee that no one had known I had. It worked like a charm!

9. The recycling bandit

Early in my career, I worked in a department that recycled a lot of paper daily; as such, we had a large recycle bin near the door. People from other departments on the floor would also dump their office recycling there. One of these departments had an admin assistant who was absolutely terrible at her job and a bit odd to boot. I came back from lunch one day to find her rummaging through our recycle bin and assumed that she was looking for something she accidentally tossed. A few days later, she did it again. A few days after that, she did it AGAIN. It got to the point that she was going through our recycling a couple of times a week and spending a good 10-15 minutes digging through the bin every time. I asked her once what she was looking for and she said “nothing – I’m just looking!”

Finally, one of my coworkers and I had had enough of her snooping. My coworker wrote a note to me on the office’s official memo paper (this was back in the days before email) that said “I caught the admin assistant going through the recycling again – should we tell her boss?” I crumpled it up and stuck it a few layers down in the bin. The recycle bin diving stopped immediately, but the dirty looks continued for months.

10. The credit-stealer

I had a boss who really liked to take credit for anything she possibly could. She didn’t care if you were right there in the room, she would proudly boast about how *she* put so much time into *her* (your) work, even when she literally just learned about it an hour before.

Well, one time, I had researched, purchased, and learned some highly technical equipment over a period of about 3 months. This was equipment I spent years learning, and she barely knew what it even did. Her and I were in my workroom one day, when our director came by with an unexpected guest: a close friend of hers, the Mayor of our city. My boss immediately started trying to impress the Mayor with my new equipment. He was intrigued, and started asking questions. I happily stepped out of the way to allow her to stumble through completely incoherent answers, clearly demonstrating just how little she knew about my machines. As I watched the director’s disapproving face, the Mayor asked a final question: “What does this button do?” My boss stumbled something about it being an important part of the machine, started rambling about the many purposes the machine serves, clearly trying to come up with an answer, before she looked at me and said “Can you remind me what this button does? I haven’t used it this week!”

I smiled and said, “That’s the power button.”

{ 266 comments… read them below }

  1. Play Stupid Games, etc.*

    The union one reminds me of an issue my husband had: his work decided that, based on new provincial wording, they were not required to give paid 15-minute breaks and nobody would be paid for any breaks. They pointed to an email sent out the previous week that everybody was required to acknowledge and said the team had “agreed” to it.

    In reviewing this information, he noticed that it also said something along the lines of “no more than 40 hours,” despite them all regularly working overtime as necessary. He led the rest of the team in talking to their supervisor about how they all understand the importance of following the rules and therefore will no longer work overtime. This was ~3 weeks before inventory which is notoriously heavy on overtime to complete.

    Within 24 hours, the 15-minute paid breaks were reinstated.

    1. Elsewise*

      Well, you know what happens when you assume. You make an ass out of u, and a union organizer out of me.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        Coming here to say I would totally check out a movie or tv series with the plot of #2.

        In a way it kind of reminded me of Ocean’s 13, where two of the criminals go down to a Mexican factory to get certain parts and end up inciting a strike because they’re pissed about the working conditions and low pay. “Hell yes, we just gotta break management! They can’t keep treating us like this!”

    2. Perfectly normal-size space bird*

      Absolutely! I saved it from the original thread and have read it multiple times because it’s just perfection.

    3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I think 2 is going to prove to be one of my favourite ever AAM stories.

    4. OMG, Bees!*

      So that union organizer story has made its way around the internet already. A friend told me of it yesterday from a different website/microblog he reads!

    1. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

      Yes to No.10 becauseI once had a know it all co-worker who claimed that they could operate a certain piece of equipment. After watching them stare at it for a few minutes I walked over and pressed the power button. It was a great moment.

      1. STAT!*

        Don’t know that one! Do you have a link? (Or is this wildly well-known phrase from popular culture that has completely passed me by?)

        1. Edina*

          No, it’s a story that my feeble brain can only partly dredge up, like an inept archeologist, involving someone who was pompously pretending to be on a very important phone call, to impress a visitor in their office, and after they hung up, asked the visitor what their business was, the visitor says “I’m here to connect the telephone.” I hope someone can remember it better!

  2. Phony Genius*

    On #1, does anybody in retail know if such a perk is typically capped to prevent this sort of thing from happening?

    1. Lacey*

      When I worked retail it was usually a monthly allotment.
      Like you could get 4 tops or pants to wear each month at a steep discount.
      And anything beyond that or other types of clothing was a lesser discount.

      1. Phony Genius*

        To clarify my question, could you carry the unused portion over to the next month, or did you lose what you didn’t use?

        1. AnonInCanada*

          If it wasn’t then, it undoubtedly became the new policy after that episode. Once bitten twice shy, so they say.

          1. Reality.Bites*

            I had a friend who, in the early days of rewards on credit cards, discovered rewards applied on those “convenience cheques”
            that were really cash advances. (They no longer apply!)

            He was buying a house and needed $20,000 for the down payment. He paid $20,000 to his credit card and filled out a convenience cheque, which he got certified. So no interest charged, and he got the miles or cash back or whatever his card offered on $20,000 (back in the early or mid 90s.)

            1. AF Vet*

              I bought a car that way in 2020. :) We had a little over $10k difference between our approved loan amount and the out the door price. I asked if I could use my credit card. After some hemming and hawing, they agreed provided that I covered the processing fee.

              And that’s how I earned priority status and enough points to fund two family vacations by buying a car. :D

              (We had enough money in savings to pay the car off. This was just a much more convenient option than getting a bank draft. Well worth the extra 3%.)

              1. Fake Kirkland Coffee*

                I regularly do this for the points. Anytime we have a big purchase (new fridge last year, new doors the year before) we save up the money, pay it with my credit card that earns airline miles, and then immediately pay the purchase off. Even when there’s a processing fee, it’s usually not enough to make a huge difference.

              2. JSPA*

                Same. Geo Metro. Financed it for a good price, checked there was no penalty for early payment(s), and paid it off on the credit card the next month. They were not happy. But given that they’d been doing the whole, “Don’t worry your pretty little head about it” song-and-dance to stick me with a high interest rate, I was not even slightly sorry. (Except that the car was a lemon, so I had a paid-off lemon and a lot of miles).

            2. Reluctant Mezzo*

              We did that when my brother-in-law had to sign a contract on a house (about $10k?) with the understanding that we would break his knees if we didn’t get paid back. We did get paid back the next week, slung it back at the credit card company, and they…raised our limit.

        2. ferrina*

          At the retail place I worked that had this benefit, it was a use-it-or-lose-it thing. You got a weekly allotment, and it didn’t rollover or accumulate.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      The original poster of #1 added a few more details on the original thread (commenting name “Strict Extension”). The extra comments are pasted below:

      I’m not sure how much advance planning there was. I think not using the credit was initially because she was also aggressively courting vendors and in this industry, vendors love sending samples. I had her position at my store, and after a few years, I could ask for almost anything I wanted for free, and I didn’t chase clout anywhere near the degree she did. Combine not needing to buy any new products along with getting credit for being a team player who had the business’s best interests at heart, and not using her credit was a good self-serving move even without this final checkmate.

      Sadly, her departure was at least in part due to seeing the writing on the wall regarding the overall fate of the business. They may have had a policy change, but they definitely never hired to replace her, didn’t have much other staff in the first place, and were closed entirely within a year.

    3. Chirpy*

      I’ve only seen discounts on individual transactions (mine is 10% currently), not a balance that accrues over time. But I’ve also never worked high end retail, just a big box type store and fast food. (The burger place only allowed you to use their discount half an hour before or after your shift and during your lunch, you couldn’t even use it on your day off or at a different location.)

      1. Artemesia*

        My first job over 60 years ago was at a greasy spoon that paid horrible wages but you could eat whatever you wanted. I love hot fudge and would have about 6 or so hot fudge sundaes a day — tiny scoop of ice cream and glob of hot fudge, not full size — after a month, the usually absent owner/manager remarked on how well we were doing with specialty ice cream — must selling a lot of hot fudge sundaes. LOL.

        1. Enough*

          Decades ago when fast food gave you free food and free uniforms I worked with a guy you would eat 2 burgers (1/2 lb of beef) with topping s and a drink during his 15 min breaks.

          1. Chirpy*

            The sandwich place I worked at gave you free sandwiches based on your hours (they had to be eaten there, and I think just a normal amount of meat/ cheese but unlimited toppings) but unlimited soda, which was great. The burger place was incredibly stingy and wouldn’t even let you have water unless you paid for it on your break.

            1. Poolgirl*

              Pretty sure every workplace in the US is required to provide free potable water and restroom access to employees.

            1. Nobby Nobbs*

              A decent amount to scarf in fifteen minutes twice a day, though, so I’m still impressed.

              1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

                except that junk food doesn’t actually fill you up with nutrients, so you feel like you need more and more and more.

                1. Bird names*

                  Most of it does alright with macronutrients (fat, protein, carbs) afaik and for lunch food that’s reasonably useful

              2. Reluctant Mezzo*

                You should have seen me at the dining hall when I was at field training! (definition: shortened boot camp for ROTC cadets). I learned how to inhale a *lot* of food within a very short time. I also learned vocabulary, which alas I used around my mother-in-law once I was home, though my father-in-law (former Navy) nearly died not laughing. Sure can’t do that now!

            2. Chicken Dinner*

              When I worked as a monster in a seasonal Halloween event at a theme park, I’d eat tons of high calorie food on my breaks/lunch and still end up losing weight by the end of the run.

        2. Georgie's Girl*

          My first job was at a supermarket run by two wonderful brothers. The rule was, we could eat ANYTHING for a snack, except for crab meat, for no charge. And strangely enough, nobody ever took advantage of this generosity. A small bag of chips, a soda, a ring-ding, and we were all happy. At the holidays we were able to purchase Christmas and Thanksgiving dinner fixings for our families at cost. If there’s a supermarket in heaven these guys are running it.

      2. Reality.Bites*

        I once worked for a company whose main stockholder was also a major franchise holder for a well-known pizza chain and a well-known fried chicken chain. We were given 20% off cards for his locations. I don’t think anyone ever used them. I know for a fact that we never, ever ordered food for company lunches from either place.

      3. Jasmine*

        Forty years ago when I work at Burger King we get a free meal during a full shift. The employee who came in at not to do a thorough cleaning and took the whole broiler apart could not get a free meal of course. So after a few weeks, he came in during the daytime with his whole family at five to get free meals for all of them. The boss said no that’s not how it works but in the end let him have it.

    4. Venus*

      The places I’ve seen have a % discount yearly for up to a max amount. So for example 50% off all clothing, 20% off electronics, up to $1000 yearly. That way employees can buy discounted items for whomever they want (friends, family, to resell for profit) on anything in the store with a simple tracking system.

    5. Strict Extension*

      Hi, this is the OP of #1.

      I really wish I wasn’t too paranoid to say exactly what industry this is (it’s also very small and I may wish to go back there someday). It is relatively common but highly specialized retail work that a lot of people who are engaged in it don’t like to think of as retail. People spend their entire decades-long career in it, adopt it as an identity enthusiastically, and there is a high degree of trust that employees will always act in the best interest of the business. That combined with the fact that most employees are also insatiable in their desire for the product means most people will burn through their credit and then some every month. Think of if gourmet coffee shops were entirely staffed by accredited baristas who all feel lucky to have a job in that location and personally value being highly educated on every varietal.

      At my store, I’m not aware that anyone ever let credit roll over more than a few months to be able to afford a large purchase, but if someone’s amount was getting uncomfortable, I think one of the owners would have just asked them if they could please use some. The credit was offered in addition to a percentage discount on product (also industry standard).

      At the neighboring store where this happened, they had a much smaller staff, an owner without much business sense, and misplaced trust in the department manager.

      1. stradbaldwingirl*

        Yeah, this seems like something that should not have been allowed under company policy!

      2. transientmeow*

        This sounds like a yarn store to me, haha! I worked at one where we got a monthly credit to our account, as well as discounts on anything we wanted to buy outright. People would let the credit accrue into the hundreds, since you didn’t get a discount on the yarn “bought” with that amount, and you might need a lot for a sweater. Technically the credit was to be used on items to be worn in the store while working, so you could advertise it, but no one ever checked. I don’t think there was a limit on the amount you could accrue, but AFAIK no one cashed out like this before leaving.

    6. Carrot*

      I worked at a place previously where technically this would have been possible because of the way the credit accrued on the system (not easy to see when it had/hadn’t been used, and no cumulative metrics in place). Though the items we sold were specifically branded so you wouldn’t have been able to set up a rival store, only sell the stock as second-hand. I think a lot of places don’t consider this sort of issue until it actually comes close to happening!

      In my case, I got a sweet sweet expensive item completely free just before I left to use all my remaining credit up, which almost made up for how burnt out I was at the time. Almost.

    1. sparkle emoji*

      Yes, maybe it’s just my dating history but 8 would drive me up the wall. Good on her for dealing with it well.

    2. ferrina*

      Honestly, of all the annoying people I’ve worked with, #8 would be the least irritating. Yeah, the guy is shallow and unimpressive, but once you figure out the hack, it’s pretty easy.

      I’ve worked with several people who just refused to work with me for weird and petty reasons, and I couldn’t even work around them. One person I was supposed to supervise refused to listen to anything I said because I was younger than her. One person worked great with me for 6 months then suddenly hated me and started only doing the opposite of what I said, no matter what I said (if I said “it’s lunch time”, she would refuse to eat all afternoon). One person got furious with me after I didn’t respond to an IM for a whole 30 minutes because I was in a meeting (which she knew). I wish these people had had such a simple solution.

      Of course, it’s nice when the people do the right thing to start with and/or their managers call them out on these bad behaviors.

      1. Chicken Dinner*

        I’m a tall woman, I’ve been noticeably tall since I was 9 years old.

        I had a “little man syndrome” teacher in my freshman year who was angry he couldn’t fail me for cutting class constantly because I did all my homework & showed up on every test day and always got As on both. He was so angry at being “shown up” by a tall, slender, smart, beautiful, quiet, and eventually very weird looking 14 year old girl that he still held a grudge when he became vice principal in my junior year, and in my senior year, did everything he possibly could to keep me from graduating. Other teachers made sure that didn’t happen, so eff that guy, but I spent YEARS wondering why an adult would act like that towards a CHILD until it finally clicked what the reason was.

        So I don’t actually consider men like #8 to be merely “shallow and unimpressive”, but people whose resentments can cause active harm.

        1. Lola*

          I interviewed for a position where everything seemed to be going well until I had my final interview with the Executive Director. I’m 6 feet tall and when I walked in he was maybe 5’4″. Not only was he cold and not the least bit welcoming, he refused to make eye contact with me. Literally held my resume up to his face as if he was reading it and asked me questions through the paper. And the field I work in is very contingent on building a quick and warm rapport. I had no ability to demonstrate that since I literally couldn’t even see his face. I did my bes to remain cheerful and engaging, but he could not care less.
          I couldn’t help but think that height played a factor in that whole interaction. Needless to say I didn’t get the job.

        2. Goldenrod*

          “He was so angry at being “shown up” by a tall, slender, smart, beautiful, quiet, and eventually very weird looking 14 year old girl”

          Wow, I really relate to you! Except I wasn’t so quiet, I was more on the loud side. ;D

    3. Generic Name*

      I’m hilariously realizing that there must have been a (conscious or unconscious) bias towards short people at my last company. One of the higher ups was a dude on the shorter side, and that must have influenced the hiring because I, as a much shorter than average woman was about average height for the whole company. I switched jobs recently and I’m constantly realizing how much taller everyone is at my new company.

      1. Palliser*

        I am 5’10” and at my last job I was hired remotely. Our main office was in London and after a few months I met my new boss and some of the team, and none were over 5’3”. I remember thinking that I would never had been hired if the process was in-person, but it worked out anyway :). I was the giant American!

      2. freshly peeled lemon zest*

        The guy who founded my current company is about 5’2″. His first hire when he started was a woman (I think she’s about 5’5″, and the next one was a guy who’s close to 6’6″. Each in turn worked up to become partners. All his hires have had one key thing in common: every one of them is smart af.

        I love working for the guy. He has nothing to prove and fears no one.

        1. Lola*

          My first boss and one of the most successfuly people I know is maybe 5’3″. I’m a 6 ft tall woman, which you’d think would be awkward, but he commands any room he walks into! It’s not Napoleon syndrome, he really is that confident. Like I said, super successful and I think his confidence and command of a room has played a huge role in that.

        2. Goldenrod*

          “I love working for the guy. He has nothing to prove and fears no one.”

          And that’s how you do it. It’s all about confidence.

        3. Giantess*

          I’m a very very tall woman.

          I prefer to date (and marry) short men, because the ones who will buck stupid societal conventions about height and gender are the kind I want. Plus they’re more skilled.

    4. House On The Rock*

      I’m a shorter woman (just under 5’4″) but when I worked in offices I almost always wore 3-4 inch heels. One day when I was dealing with a strained ankle I wore flats. My boss, with whom I’d worked for years, did not immediately recognize me! I said hello to him in the hallway and he just kind of looked at me blankly until it clicked. Nothing else was different, I just read as shorter. I don’t know if he necessarily had a bias but he seemed freaked out to see my actual height!

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I remember seeing a picture of Zoe Deschanel with her trademark bangs swept to one side, and I never would have recognized her without the caption saying who she was. Nothing else was different.

        It’s amazing how much information our brain “shorthands” into one or two physical characteristics–ask anyone who’s gotten or quit wearing glasses and had to introduce themselves to everyone they knew.

        1. Awesome Possum*

          Did… did you just “prove” that Superman’s disguise is actually realistic and possible? All my comic book jokes are now nullified, curse you! ;-D

          1. Teapot, Groomer of Llamas*

            Fun fact, back when Batman V. Superman was about to come out Henry Cavill spent an hour chilling in Times Square. There was a giant billboard with his face on it and he was even wearing a Superman shirt and NOBODY RECOGNIZED HIM.

          2. goddessoftransitory*

            Hee, I’ve seen interviews with Christopher Reeve where he talked about how to design Clark Kent’s look so that Lois Lane didn’t look like an utter idiot for not cottoning on, and a lot of it was the glasses and hair parting (and of course how he carried himself physically, costume design, blah blah blah) but it really did come down to just a couple little things.

            1. Lola*

              No one did it as well as Christopher Reeve. If you watch scenes where he switches from one to the other, you totally get how Lois could be tricked. His whole demeanor and body language changes. RIP.

      2. Happy Pineapple*

        This happens to me ALL the time! I exclusively wore headscarves instead of wigs for several years, so many of my colleagues had never seen me with hair. I started wearing wigs now and then about a year ago and every single time it’s like I’m invisible at work; no one knows who I am! My partner calls it my disguise.

    5. NotRealAnonForThis*

      Absolute infuriating. Its 2024, and if a man can’t deal with ::insert physical attribute of a woman:: he can go spend some time in therapy figuring it out, not forcing a coworker to change how she has to spend her day.

      *Bleep* that noise.

  3. Coverage Associate*

    #5 reminds me of high school, when a few of us student council members volunteered to re write the student council constitution. We agreed on a day to meet at lunch, but one upper classman skipped the meetings to play pick up basketball. There are only so many weeks in the school year, and the new constitution had to be presented to the whole council and passed before elections before finals.

    So I completed a draft, presented it to a quorum of the committee. The committee passed it and presented it to the whole council. The upper classman only looked at it then. It passed the whole council because he hadn’t taken the opportunity to research counter arguments.

    I had warned the upper classman that a complete draft was ready for vote. The hot button issue was girls as council chaplain. (It was a private school.)

      1. Reluctant Mezzo*

        Miles Vorkosigan would hire him in a heartbeat. And send him to mess with the minds of the Cetagandans.

        1. Random Dice*

          I love how much Miles is in this thread.

          Though Miles is decidedly not a role model to emulate. Simon, on the other hand, is Machiavellian in a mostly sane way.

    1. My Dear Wormwood*

      It’s a non-traditional entrance to worker solidarity for sure, but a great one

  4. Not on board*

    Number 7 – nothing like using the office gossip to spread information in your favor while pretending you’d like them to not say anything.
    Number 8 – what a small man (figuratively speaking) and apparently literally too.

    1. My cat is the employee of the month*

      Number 7 – I had a coworker named Barbara who was a notorious gossip. A few people starting telling her info that they wanted spread around the company, and they started calling it B-mail.

    2. My cat is the employee of the month*

      Number 8 – I had a director who was several inches shorter than me, and I would routinely adjust my chair during meetings so my head was lower than his. Meetings and my performance evaluations went much better after that!

  5. UKDancer*

    Number 2 is brilliant and warms my trade union member heart. I just love someone accidentally forming a union. It sounds like the basis for a darkly comedy film along the lines of “Full Monty” or “Brassed Off.”

  6. juliebulie*

    I didn’t remember it in time to post to that thread, but I did have a coworker in Marketing who, when reviewing a user document, tried to get me to document a feature that he very well knew wasn’t likely to ever see the light of day, but which he had lobbied for for months. I guess he thought I was really dumb.

    Or else he though that I would be his co-conspirator in a plot. Surely, when users read about this nonexisting function, they would clamor for it, and the developers would have no choice but to implement it!

    1. MigraineMonth*

      As a developer who has had to scramble to create the feature that sales claimed already existed, thank you for holding strong! After a certain amount of mandatory overtime you start hoping that you *don’t* win new contracts.

      1. Kyrielle*

        YES. Years and years back I had what is still my favorite one of those: salesman asked if we could do X, I told my boss I didn’t know and needed a day to investigate, salesman didn’t have a day to wait, so I gave a rough guess estimate of 9 man-months to forever because I didn’t even know if it was possible. (It ended up being possible, which was likely, but very much not easy alas.)

        My boss told the salesman not to sell it please and explained why.

        Salesman did not, in fact, sell it. He threw it in as a free sweetener to close the deal.

        On the plus side, I got one of my all-time best work stories. On the other, I still want to scream sometimes when I think about it.

          1. Kyrielle*

            I actually don’t remember which client it was! Just what was done. But probably they were worth it, most of these were biggish contracts.

      2. Tau*

        oh I see you worked with the sales person at my last job. Although in that case it wasn’t mandatory overtime so much as desperately hoping the customer would overlook this feature we’d promised in the contract that was 100% technically impossible. “And we will also make your pigs fly” impossible.

        1. Grey Coder*

          Oh I had one of those — performance metrics written into the contract which the sales guy forgot to tell us engineers about until months later. Fortunately because the targets were written by non technical people, they were imprecise enough that we could come up with achievable interpretations.

    2. Might Be Spam*

      That happened to my company (we were the customer) and it ended up in court for non-performance. Also, my entire department was disbanded, even though we were the victims.

      We bought a new database program and had to convert all of our data from a ring network type database to a relational database. For some reason, our Department Director decided that I would write and install all of the job control language instead of having the vendor do it. I learned the documentation forwards and backwards and even talked to the developers about the documentation.

      I successfully got it all done so the vendors could just press the button and it would be officially installed. They were expecting it to take at least a whole day or more, but I was was so prepared that it only took 30 minutes. It was my first systems job and looking back, I wonder if I was being set up to fail. Instead, I was called a genius.

      While the vendor tech people were there, we tried to run it the way we were assured would work, and it crashed. The vendors even called back home, in my presence, and were told it would work. It was supposed to be able to run batch jobs and online updates at the same time. That was the whole reason we bought it.Surprise, there’s no way it could actually do that. So it derailed a huge project and a few months later they closed down our entire department. When I left, they were still trying to end the contract for non performance.

      At least it was a learning experience and an ego boost that I succeeded at something that someone at my level shouldn’t have been able to accomplish.

      1. Alexander Graham Yell*

        As a baby consultant, I helped a client pick a system to replace their custom built in-house system – the vendor said there would be limitations, but when asked specific questions about how the data would need to be set up and how many rules were available for certain tasks, the vendor gave a strong enough answer that the client (despite hating the sales guy on a personal level) bought the system and was told to plan for a 9 month implementation (for the first region, with an additional 3-4 months each for the remaining 2). Client said great, we need this yesterday, this is perfect. They hand over everything the vendor asks for only to be told sales had promised things that the developers didn’t have on the roadmap and couldn’t build.

        That was 4 years ago and implementation was finally finished about 2 months ago. Having been in the industry longer, I’ve slowly learned that this vendor has a reputation for doing this on a regular basis AND that the client was such a pain that internally the vendor’s team lobbied not to take the contract.

      2. Random Dice*

        That’s an amazing story of plucking success from the trash can… just to have someone else dump it all in the trash. You’re awesome!

  7. Ari*

    #8 is so awful. I’m short so I don’t have that problem but can’t women just be taken seriously?

    1. Labrat*

      Yeah, I mean I’m glad she figured out how to manage his responses, but she shouldn’t have had too.

    2. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      I’m 5 ft 10 and wondering just how many times this has happened to me without me realising it.

    1. B*

      Except they got ripped off—they should have gotten BOTH the yearly raise and the promotion bump and instead got denied the yearly raise. The company should have increased their salary to start with and then done the yearly adjustment on top to make sure they were in line with the adjustments to pay bands

      If they’re not going to get what they deserve it’s good they were able to see the budget go to others but they should have gotten their promotion AND yearly adjustment and it’s a bananas system

      1. Lab Boss*

        You’re not wrong, but I figured I wasn’t going to get my raise at all so I just negotiated for an amount that I was going to be content with (effectively building the annual raise I expected not to get right into what I was negotiating for). What I actually expected was for them to say that I would be bumped up to my full salary at the start of the new fiscal year, forcing my annual raise to be rolled into that increase. Someone had the bright idea to say “well technically we said the first MONTH of the fiscal year,” which is when I realized the timelines were going to align for my scheme.

        Is it a crappy system? Yes. Is it designed to nickel-and-dime on salary? Also Yes. For a variety of reasons that’s not enough to make me leave the company, but I’m a numbers guy and have a fairly strategic mind, so I just find loopholes that nobody bothers to notice.

    2. Filosofickle*

      I feel dumb, but I do not understand what happened here. I didn’t get it when it was posted, and i don’t get it now!

      1. JSPA*

        let’s say the computer set aside enough money for everyone in the unit to get a 5% raise.

        Because the letter writer declined almost all of their 5% raise, everyone else got (say) 6.8% each.

        And then, after 29 days delay, the LW got a pre- arranged 10% raise (relative to the prior year salary) from an entirely different pot of money.

        Otherwise, everyone would have gotten 5%, and then at the end of the month, the LW would have been bumped to the (same) 10% of prior year.

        So by the LW giving up maybe one biweekly paycheck’s worth of 5% raise, they made sure everyone else’s pay was 1.8% higher than it would have been, for the whole year (and as the basis for future raises).

      2. Sockster*

        Here’s how I understand it (using example numbers and other simplification):
        Two separate raise events are happening:
        1. OP is currently making $45k. OP has negotiated a raise to $60k as part of their promotion. This raise will be effective at the end of July.
        2. OP and their team are receiving annual raises that will be effective mid-July.

        The annual raises come from a set pot of money (let’s say, 20k) that will be distributed among the 5 members of OP’s team, including OP. In a normal year, this 20k would be distributed evenly among all 5 people, so everyone on the team would receive a 4k raise mid-July.

        However, per event #1, OP is due a raise at the end of July because of their promotion. They are currently making $45k. At the end of July, no matter what, they will be making $60k (because of the terms of their promotion).

        If OP receives the 4k raise along with their team, taking OP to $49k mid-July, they’ll still end up with $60k at the end of July (because of the terms of their promotion).

        So, for raise event #2, OP asks their manager to give them a $1.00 raise, and divide the 20k of raise money among the 4 other members of their team. This means their team members all receive a 5k raise, instead of a 4k raise, and OP is making $60k at the end of July no matter what.

        Hope that makes sense, and I didn’t just make it more confusing!

        1. watermelon fruitcake*

          Ahhhh I get it now, thank you for “translating” that!

          And good looking out, Lab Boss!

      3. watermelon fruitcake*

        Oh thank goodness I’m not alone, I couldn’t make heads nor tails of the situation, either, and I thought I was losing mind. Hopefully somebody can rephrase it.

  8. Alienor*

    #8 is so depressing, but so real. My adult daughter is about the same height as the commenter, and she says that men will lie about their height to her when they’re in person and both standing up, in some sort of attempt to save face. “I know how tall I am, so if you’re telling me you’re 6′ tall and I can see the top of your head, I’m gonna know you’re full of it” – a direct quote from her.

    1. Goldenrod*

      Same! I’m a 6-foot-tall woman and I can’t tell you how many times a man standing right in front of me has claimed to also be six feet tall when I am so clearly looking down at him!

      1. Mostly Managing*

        Oh, me too!

        You can say you’re 5’10” all you like, my dude, but I know how tall I am and… you’re not.

        And no, I’m not wearing heels. They aren’t comfortable, I can’t walk in them, and I prefer flats. But nice try. :)

    2. FricketyFrack*

      I’m only 5’3″, but my grandpa used to *insist* he was 5’6″. I think that may have been a stretch at any point, but by the time he was saying it to me, I could see the top of his head. Try telling grandpa he’s shrunk to about 5′ tall, though. He would not have it. It was kind of hilarious.

      A weirdly large number of men really will lie about their height super blatantly (see: more than one date I’ve had) and not seem to understand that people can tell. I know it’s probably partly because they get crap for being short, but just *saying* you’re taller doesn’t actually help.

      1. Salsa Your Face*

        I think for a lot of them, they truly believe it. Both my husband and my ex are in the 5’8″/5’9″ range, and both will swear with their hand on a bible that they’re 5’11”. When my husband and I had insurance physicals together in our home, he measured 5’9″ as expected and then told me later how upset he was that the doctor’s measuring tape was off. When I said “well, I measured at 5’5″ which is exactly how tall I am,” he had no response.

        1. JSPA*

          I’m AFAB, and have consistently belived myself to be “about as tall” as people 3 inches taller than me, (though I’ve never picked fights with a measuring tape!)

          Not sure if it’s attitude, astigmatism, or some strange conviction about the relative angle of faces?

          1. Aqua*

            is there a reason you specified AFAB rather than whatever your current gender is? I know plenty of trans men who are weird about their height…

        2. Distracted Procrastinator*

          My husband is on the short side and not very self conscious about his height, but he still overestimates by 1/2″. it’s like it’s hardwired into their brains.

        3. morethantired*

          I have a weird inverse thing where I’m a woman who is 5’6″ but all the time people will describe me to others as “tall” and once someone asked “what are you, like 5’9″?” And it’s so odd. My friend says “it’s because you have great posture and walk confidently” but, um, how does that matter when I’m standing right in front of someone??

          1. The Rise and Fall of Sanctuary Moon*

            I, too, am average height but people believe me to be tall. I just tell people I have a “tall affect”.

            1. d*

              I’m a 5 foot 2 trans guy and people have consistently thought I’m at least 5 foot 4. I went to a college where a lot of the guys were short and one of my friends pointed out that compared to most of the other short guys, my proportions didn’t seem “short”–my head was smaller, legs longer relative to torso length, not so much of the barrel chested look that accentuates shortness in men sometimes.

          2. But Not the Hippopotamus*

            This is A Thing. Years ago, when I was dating my now-spouse, he warned me to be sensitive about meeting his mom, who was short. Really short. In part due to medical issues, which reduced her height further. I’m 5’2″-5’3″ (depending on my posture, I think). I finally said, “how short is she that I’d need to be super sensitive?” and the reply was “really short, like 5-foot-2.” After a pause I asked, “How tall do you think I am?” I think the answer was 5-foot-6 or something. No joke he thought I was a good 4 inches taller than I am. Apparently, I have stage presence or something.

        4. MCMonkeyBean*

          It’s so weird to me because I get my height and weight measured every time I go to the doctor? Are they not told their actual height like at least once a year?

          Though now that I think about it, I was recently told by a doctor that men on average are way worse about getting in for their annual check-up, so maybe a lot of them are not…

          1. Emmy Noether*

            Huh, I think no doctor has measured my height since I was like…. 16? Maybe earlier. If they need my height, they ask and take my word for it (I’m a woman).

            1. But Not the Hippopotamus*

              Around age 40 they insisted upon measuring me. I was going “I’m not old enough to be shrinking yet” but stopped protesting me when they measured me taller than I ever had been before (I think they just rounded though).

          2. Pickle Shoes*

            I had to ask for my height to be measured a year ago and can’t remember the last time it was done before then. They do weigh me at almost each visit, though.

      2. sparkle emoji*

        I’m 5’5 and have an ex who claimed to be 5’8 but threw a hissy fit for the entirety of one miserable date because my boots made me taller than him. They weren’t heels or platforms, just doc martens with a 3/4″ sole. Should have broken up right then and there.

        1. Duck Egg*

          Oh yeah. I met for coffee with an ex, when he came to my city on a work trip. It was a few years since I’d hung out with him. Naturally, I took care to dress nice, and was a little nervous and excited to see him. We had an ok time but at one point he looked down and said slightly sneeringly, “Of course, you would wear those shoes.” It took a few moments for me to remember, “Oh yeah, he used not like it when I was taller than him!” And he seemed to think I was wearing Tall Shoes on purpose for some reason, to…thwart him??! And I realised – a bit sadly – how silly and unfair he was sometimes, in hindsight.

      3. AKchic*

        Ugh. All of my kids are tall. My youngest is the shortest (he’s 15 and 5’10” right now). My oldest is still salty that he’s *only* 6′ and his younger brother (by 2 years) is 6’2″. He will blatantly tell his brother to his face “oh yeah, I’ve grown another 3 inches since high school so I’m 6’3 now” while looking UP at his younger brother. That boy just can’t let his younger brother be “better” at anything (in his mind). It got so bad that the younger one won’t talk to the oldest anymore.

        1. StarTrek Nutcase*

          Delusion can be strong. My oldest brother is 5’6″, the youngest 6’2″. But the youngest also thinks he strongest and even back when in their 40s, the youngest would challenge the oldest. The eldest was a state wrestling & weight-lifting champ and still remains a “tank”. Usually, once every 5 years eldest resigns himself to take the challenge, and 5 mins later the younger is moping & claiming trickery. (He can’t gloat over height cause eldest has never cared or felt less due to height.) Guys!!

      4. goddessoftransitory*

        It’s like lying about having wings, or gills. I CAN SEE YOU DON’T HAVE WINGS OR GILLS, MY DUDE.

      5. Giantess*

        I think that for men, height is one of those insanely stupid societal metrics of worth that absolutely impacts their career prospects (I’ve never met a male executive under 6′ tall)… but then they internalize it as toxicity and it leaks out at women in screwed-up ways.

        A short man with brains and confidence is my personal preference. They’re rare and precious!

    3. Knighthope*

      I got asked that after an interview by an elementary school principal who followed it with, in all seriousness, “I don’t hire anyone taller than I am!” Shocked, I blurted out “Then I guess I’d have to wear flats if I worked here!” Jerk! Mentally thanked him for showing me who he was.

    4. Siege*

      I’m 6’4” and I’ve never had anyone lie to me about their height. Maybe after you pass 6 foot you become an alien species. Or men are so pre-intimidated they don’t speak to me. (It’s the second one.)

      1. TeaCoziesRUs*

        It was amazing to me how much lying stopped when I changed my dating profile height from my actual 5’10” to 6’1″. All of a sudden, men magically BECAME the height they claimed.

        1. Short and sweet*

          As a child I would read “Dear Abby” in the
          Local newspaper. So many tall women would write in about being seen as freaks and where could they meet normal men who were also tall? Apparently there are (were?) international clubs in many cities for tall people! There seemed to be a height minimum, even! Fascinating

      2. Chicken Dinner*

        I’m 5’ 11”, but I always wear big soled shoes (never heels) and usually have a hairstyle that adds an inch or two as well, so I’m very familiar with the “pre-intimidated” phenomenon. Guys who are insecure about their height don’t talk to me either, lmao.

      3. WS*

        Though my brother is 6’3″ but was very, very skinny until he was about 30 and short men always wanted to fight him and were quite aggressive to him. My other brother is also 6’3″ but has always been solid, and nobody ever wanted to fight him (though you could probably say “boo!” and win!)

    5. Spacewoman Spiff*

      This totally baffles me! I’ve had men argue with me about my height, trying to convince me I’m actually taller than I say I am, rather than accept they’re actually *not* six feet tall. It also happens a lot with online dates, where a guy is clearly disappointed when I show up and am taller than them…as if they’ve been lying about their height for so long that they really believe it and expect to tower over me. I’ve never had an example as bad as #8, but enough managers where I had to select my footwear based on their height sensitivities, which is just a ridiculous thing to have to think about at work.

      1. Sunshine*

        > managers where I had to select my footwear based on their height sensitivities, which is just a ridiculous thing to have to think about at work.

        Reminds me of Nicole Kidman divorcing Tom Cruise and saying “Now I can wear heels again.”

    6. CommanderBanana*

      Ugh, this! I will preface this by saying I do not care about height, at all, I have dated people shorter than I am, but I am exactly 5’6″ and if I am wearing 3″ heels and we are directly eye to eye and you say you are 6′, the math is not mathing.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        Dude: Short guy problems! I’m only 5’8″!
        Me (in my head): I’m 5’5″ and I look you in the eye…but whatevs

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        It reminds me of the MST3K skit where Tom Servo had “short man syndrome” and wore lifts in his hoverskirt while riding a motorcycle.

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          My favorite gag in Columbo is an episode where they say the suspect is about as tall as him (he was 5′ 6″ which is on the short side for men and on the very short side for men on TV) and he responds with “okay, so average height” and the other guy is like “uh, well, maybe a little shorter…”

    7. BigLawEx*

      OMG so mnay issues with height! My theoretical 5’9″ ex (of 20 years) did the same thing as someone below where the tape measure must have been off. (We had to get physicals for a mortgage in France?!?). Now that our son is 5’6″ – you know – measured at the doctor – he’s in a permanent tizzy. My son is like…daddy lies about his height…hmmmm.

      Every guy I’ve ever dated has lied about his height. My father was 5’10’ so I’m pretty clear on that height. Every guy claims that height. Only 1 was that height. The last guy I dated claimed he’d NEVER been measured at the doctor’s office, so didn’t know – at 40.

    8. Beth*

      Men are SO weird about tall women. I’m 6’1″ and at this point, when a man asks me how tall I am, I refuse to answer. I pretend I didn’t hear the question, or change the subject, or tell him I don’t want to talk about my height.

      It’s still always a weird interaction. Men are also really weird about a woman refusing them something they want, even when it’s as trivial as an answer to how tall she is! But at least it gets me out of the perpetual “No you’re not, I’m 6′, you must be measuring wrong, your doctor is lying to you, you’re lying to me, you’re a bitch” nonsense that answering always gets me. (Of course there are some men out there who won’t be weird about my height like that, but they generally don’t feel the need to ask me about my height. The ones that ask are always awful.)

      1. Sarah M*

        Just came here to second the “men being weird about a woman refusing them something they want”. A-men to that, sister. [sigh]

    9. DameB*

      Nod. My favorite was some dude telling me that he was the same height as my (tall) daughter. I turned and looked him right in the eye (without looking up) and smiled and nodded and then made a big show of standing on tip toe and reaching WAY UP to hug my girl.

      My dude, I’m 5’5″ and thus I know that you are also 5’5″.

      1. Shorty*

        Crazy thing is this weirdness about the height is not just limited to men.

        When I asked 2 women I knew (one was a colleague and other a friend), both short, how tall they are, they both replied to me, very confidently that they were – Five, two!

        I was speechless. I’m a five foot woman and these are much, much shorter than me.

  9. PatM*

    The union story deserves to be in a movie. But would it be marketed as a workplace comedy or as a stoner comedy.

      1. starsaphire*

        Ohhh yes. She shows up in a beam of light (or hallucination dream) and gives him the idea.

        Bonus if she’s dressed like a total hippie-grandma in Birkenstocks and tie-dye and tinted Lennon glasses…

        Someone please make this movie!!!

    1. Snarkus Aurelius*

      Probably not. I pulled a certain trick on sexist, credit stealer to humiliate him, and he fell for it EVERY TIME. It to the point that I wondered if he had a humiliation kink.

  10. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    “Packaged Frozen Lemon Zest” is available as a username here. Just sayin’

      1. ferrina*

        So beautiful!
        I’ve met quite a few bosses that didn’t understand scalability. This sounds like a perfect way to work around that.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          This, SO MUCH. We’ve had people fuss at us for not carrying, say, artisan pepperoni; the amount of pepperoni we get through makes it completely impractical.

      2. Miette*

        I briefly worked in an ice cream production facility, baking items for inclusions for all the stores. We dreaded it when lemon sorbet was a monthly special–where was packaged frozen lemon zest (doo dah, doo dah) when I needed her?

      1. curly sue*

        I’m not going to be able to prevent myself from humming “doo-dah, doo-dah,” every time I see your user name from now on. (affectionate)

        1. Wounded, erratic stink bugs*

          If it helps, anything that scans to Camptown Races also scans to Alexander Hamilton.

          Frozen Packaged Lemon Zest. Their name is Frozen Packaged Lemon Zest. And there’s a million lemons left undone, not to grate, not to grate!

          1. Chick-n-Boots*

            This might be awkward because we don’t know each other very well at this point but……I kind of love you.

            *goes off to sing the entire Hamilton soundtrack as she cooks dinner*

          2. Lenora Rose*

            Thank you, thank you! (There’s a kid in my life named Alex. The number of things I have managed to scan to Alexander Hamilton is legion.)

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          Oh, the doo dah day!

          Gonna zest all night

          Gonna zest all day!

          Bet my money on the navel orange,

          Somebody bet on the the bay!

  11. Goldenrod*

    I love all these, but especially #3 – I would never have thought of this scheme, it is absolute genius!

    I’d call you an evil genius except there was nothing evil about it!

    1. Lab Boss*

      Thanks! It’s just the way my brain works. I like finding loopholes and dodges and ways to “technically” follow the letter of the rules. Most of them are just fun mental exercises, because doing them would be ethically wrong, or just get me a bad reputation. Sometimes, the perfect opportunity comes along.

  12. Rocket Raccoon*

    I once worked in a bakery that had a contract to buy local garlic from a nearby farm. Like the lemon zest, getting the garlic peeled was a lot of work and eventually we spent an absurd amount of time on it. Everyone hated peeling garlic – except me. I would put on a podcast and park myself in the corner to peel garlic and listen to true crime for like half my shift!

    1. Donkey Hotey*

      OK, I’m dying of curiosity. Around here, one “peels” garlic by putting the cloves in a container and shaking it vigorously. Please don’t tell me you were physically peeling each clove by hand.

      1. Lenora Rose*

        I don’t know about shaking it, but I’ve seen tools that let you roll it back and forth with a bit of pressure that work (You can do this in your hands, but if you get one of the ones with a really rough bottom end it can hurt)

      2. Janeric*

        That only works with older garlic — the fresher garlic is, the harder to peel. And the shaking/squishing things work great on a kitchen scale but result in different flavor compounds if left bruised for a couple of hours. (The flavor compounds aren’t unpleasant but they are different from the fresh garlic flavor.)

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Husband dunks the cloves in boiling water for 10 seconds–skins come right off.

      3. Rocket Raccoon*

        We would use a knife to slice off the end of the clove, then roll it on a rubber mat to loosen the skin. Clove by clove. Fine when you need 4oz, ridiculous when you need 2lbs.

        Eventually we just had to end the contract and buy it peeled. My boss felt bad because he wanted to support local producers but we just couldn’t do it.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I used to work in a (sadly now closed) restaurant in my hometown with a friend of mine, and we really liked Wednesdays. That was potato peeling day. We’d set up in the back room, turn on the radio, and peel 400 pounds of potatoes while we gossiped all day. So fun.

      That place had really good fried chicken and the pies were made by hand by a little old lady. All gone now. :(

    3. Kermit's Bookkeepers*

      Is there an un-creepy way to say you must have smelled delicious constantly?

    4. Katherine*

      Liking the task that everyone else hates is true happiness: you do something you enjoy AND everyone is grateful.

    5. Lights*

      I had a garlic peeling job once. Crack open the head by bashing it with a jar, then peel every clove, then do it again. Occasionally bled under the finger nails, and dreamt all night I was…peeling garlic cloves.

    6. Chicken Dinner*

      The only time I ever worked food service was at a small mom & pop Italian restaurant and they started me off peeling massive amounts of garlic because everyone else hated doing it. Well, yeah it was boring but I didn’t mind. Then they had me fill take out orders and I burned the garlic bread EVERY time because I had severe, very undiagnosed/untreated ADHD and didn’t have the executive function skills to pull it off lmao. They shoulda kept me on the garlic.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        Oh man, I remember burning the toast all the time before I got my strategies in order. That was one of my first ADHD solves and I’d completely forgotten I used to do that.

    7. Distracted Procrastinator*

      This sounds way more fun than the year I spent peeling 10 lbs. of shrimp every Wednesday night for the shrimp scampi special.

  13. FricketyFrack*

    Ok, number 7, was her name by any chance Mundy (maybe spelled Mundie or something)? Because I worked with a woman who did the exact same thing to me, and I was the 4th person to quit because of her. All young women, and she spread similar rumors about most of us, and was just awful to the rest.

  14. pally*

    #8 kills me!
    I had a boss who like to present all kinds of grand ideas (i.e. mostly a revamping of department type stuff) every so often.

    He’d sit me down and talk for a good 15-20 minutes about what he envisioned.

    I’d then ask questions to clarify some aspect of what he wanted. He’d interrupt me with a whole rehash of his ideas for 8-10 minutes or longer. This was no help with getting the answers I’d need to implement things.

    So I’d ask again. And again, I got another rehash. This time louder and with greater emphasis on what he hoped to accomplish. In fact, he never would listen to my questions.

    Until one day it dawned on me: he thinks my questions are a sign that I object to his idea. He thinks he needs to ‘sell it’ harder to me. That’s not the case at all!

    So the next time he presented me with one of his ideas, the first thing I did was tell him that I was fully on-board with it. He was elated!

    Then I pointed out that I needed a few little things clarified. He bent over backwards to answer all my questions.

    1. Lynn*

      My husband is like this! It took multiple times of him getting upset because I “never liked his ideas” and me getting upset because “what the hell are you upset about, I was supporting you and I don’t even know what went wrong” before we realized what was happening.

      Because he’s my spouse and not my boss, we’ve both adjusted. I still don’t really “get it” but it’s a thing!

  15. RedinSC*

    I am dying to know what the Admin in #9 was actually looking to find! Trade secrets? GOssip? What would lead you to dig through the recycling?

    1. MassMatt*

      When I first read it I thought they were looking for bottles and cans to return for deposit but then realized that’s not what most office recycling consists of.

      1. Academic Social Worker*

        I figured she was just trying to waste time while looking like she was doing something important!

    2. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      Hoping to find printouts of people’s CV which means they’re starting a job search

      or any kind of financial information, like pay slips or bank statements or tax forms you might have photocopied too many of, so you can see how much people are making

      or maybe printouts of CVs from candidates, when the boss hasn’t talked about hiring anyone new

      (these are all things I’ve found in the photocopier or printer rather than the recycling bin – the CVs were for my replacement, except I was a model employee and the boss couldn’t fire me, he was just making life miserable for me in the hopes that I’d resign)

      1. Grith*

        Just this week I went to collect a printout and found a job description for a role that management were looking to create and promote someone into. Had it not been general office gossip that this was happening anyway, it would have been spicy info!

  16. Scarlet ribbons in her hair*

    I had a job where my supervisor hated anything I had to say. He disagreed with me any chance he got. Whenever I suggested something, he was immediately opposed to it. We worked at a real estate company, and he routinely received set-ups in the mail about various properties for sale or rent, but he couldn’t keep track of which set-ups were the most recent ones, meaning which set-ups had the most accurate information, because the information changed regularly.

    He finally told the guy who ordered office supplies that he wanted a date stamp thingy, so that he could stamp the set-ups and therefore know when they came in the mail. The office supply guy said that he could use the postage meter for that (after setting the amount of postage to zero, that is). I immediately said that that was a great idea, and I praised the office supply guy enormously. As I expected, my supervisor started screaming that he didn’t want to use the postage meter. The office supply guy asked why, and my supervisor couldn’t say, “Because Scarlet thinks it’s a great idea.” So he didn’t say anything, and the office supply guy said that since he couldn’t come up with a good reason, he wouldn’t get the date stamp thingy.

    Another time, the office manager, who was a real bitch, told me that maybe I should use Excel instead of Word for space surveys. She said that the surveys would look much better in Excel. She said this because she knew that I started working at the company before there was such a thing as Excel, and our company did not offer training in Excel, and she knew that my personal circumstances had not allowed me to take a night course in Excel. So people who started at the company after there was such a thing as Excel were familiar with it, but I was not. But I knew what to do. I gave her a big smile and said that I would ask my supervisor. I then asked him very cheerfully and a little bit loudly (so that the office manager could hear me), “How about we use Excel for the space surveys? I bet they would look so much better.” Since he thought that I wanted him to say yes, he screamed at the top of his lungs that he didn’t want me to use Excel. Even though I knew that everyone in the office had heard him screaming, I went back to the office manager and said “Well, I asked him, but he said no.” She said okay because there was nothing else that she could say.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Hahaha, Scarlet, that’s brilliant. But wow, I really hope you weren’t at that job for very long, it sounds like a nightmare.

    2. FricketyFrack*

      Wait, why was a date stamp that big of a deal in the first place? That seems like a level of micromanaging that…no, actually, it totally tracks with everything else you’re saying about that job. What a nightmare.

    3. OMG, Bees!*

      I have to ask, did you ever change a voiced opinion on something to see if he flip-flopped on it? Say, that you like rabbit season, so he likes duck season; then you change “You know, I do like duck season” and he then changes to like rabbit season

  17. AnonAnon*

    I forgot that I pulled a #10 on a former boss.

    I was responsible for creating the monthly report which consisted of all kinds of complicated metrics using a specialty graphing program. I would then take all the metrics and graphs and place them nicely in a PowerPoint for them to take to the VP to present how we were doing. I offered to attend these meetings in case there were any questions about the data, and I was told I wasn’t allowed to attend. I spent hours trying to train them on how to read the data (their request) and was brushed off in the training they requested.
    Come to find out, my manager had told her VP that they were the ones compiling all the data and creating these PowerPoints.
    Going forward, instead of inserting the charts directly into PowerPoint, I created screenshots with fake watermarks that said something like “Created by MyName 10-Mar-2024 13:24:02” so they couldn’t take credit for my work anymore. There was no way my computer illiterate manager would know that it was a fake watermark or even how to remove it.

    I would get screamed at via IM during these meetings to quickly explain things so they could answer questions during the meeting.

    My manager didn’t last long after that. They were demoted and sent to an adjacent group. Shortly after leaving our team, I got an IM from my former manager asking me to teach them everything I knew about the complicated graphing program because they were going to have to do something similar in their new job. I sent a link to some YouTube training and said it was impossible to teach the entire program in a couple hours but take the training and let me know if you have any questions. I never heard from my old manager again.

  18. Lucia Pacciola*

    The most Machiavellian thing I’ve ever seen an employer do is offer stock or stock options as part of the compensation package. In The Prince, Machiavelli argues that mercenaries will only work for you as long as the pay is good, and may well turn against you once the money runs out. Therefore, he says, it’s better to hire soldiers who are loyal to you and to the state, so that your interests are their interests, and they will defend them much more than mercenaries will. In a modern business environment, I think that translates to giving your employees a stake in the company.

    1. linger*

      So, the all-too-common practice of laying off staff just before their stock vests …
      more Machiavellian or less so?

      1. Avery*

        I’d say more. You get all the benefits of their loyalty from presumed investment in the company’s well-being without having to actually sacrifice any of the company stock to make it happen.

  19. B*

    Number three I’m glad you were able to make lemons out of lemonade but you should have gotten BOTH raises (the promotion and then a yearly adjustment to the new salary). It’s bologna that they asked you to do a new job without paying you for it and it’s bologna that they used that to get out of giving you the yearly adjustment

    1. Lab Boss*

      This company loves the idea “we can’t promote you until we KNOW you can handle the new job” as justification for getting people to do a higher level work for 3-12 months before the promotion and raise come in, at which point they say “you’re brand new in the role, so you get the minimum salary.” I’ve learned to just circumvent that system by negotiating salary in advance instead of waiting for the promotion date, and opening with things like “well since you will have seen me proving my skills for 6 months, of COURSE I’ll get an above-minimum wage.” The nonsense falls apart when you shine a light on it.

      And in this case I just negotiated to an amount high enough that it included both the reasonable raise and the annual raise, so in raw dollars I got to where I should be.

  20. Tom R*

    The Union one reminds me of when I worked at an (admittedly terrible) call centre and two dudes discovered that written in the provincial labour laws there was a loophole that said that the business couldn’t retaliate against people trying to organize a union,even if they were taking time away from their tasks to try to drum up support. They basically took extra long breaks from the phones to stand in front of the building, chsinsmoke, and try to sign people up for their union (but only making an effort if. managers were around).

  21. ILoveLllamas*

    In the spirit of Machiavelli, I just finished a great book. “Machiavelli for Women … Defend Your Worth, Grow Your Ambition, and Win the Workplace” by Stacey Vanek Smith (who is a producer for Marketplace on NPR. I was surprised that I already use many of the tactics she discusses….

  22. Higher Ed*

    #4 reminded me of unscrewing the handset of the phone, and removing the microphone part so when your sibling tried to use it, the other person couldn’t hear them.

  23. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

    Up above, Chicken dinner started their comment with “When I worked as a monster” ….
    I think that’s the best sentence starter I have seen for a long time.

  24. EmKay*

    Ugh, number 8 / short man syndrome.

    I once interviewed for a summer job while I was still in uni. The head of hiring was a full head shorter than me when he stood to shake my hand. He gives me a look up and down then says “I never hire a woman who’s taller than me.” My smart behind replied “Your insecurities aren’t my problem.”

    He burst out laughing then told me I was hired after a 10-minute interview. I’m still not entirely sure why he did 20 years later…

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