the summer camp cook, the cat photo, and other stories of long-running coworker grudges

Last week we talked about coworker arguments and grudges. Here are 15 of the most ridiculous stories you shared.

1. The cheesecake

I worked for a government agency a few years back and for whatever reason right off the bat, an older coworker took a dislike to me. I have legitimately no idea why. She was clearly resentful of the possibility of having to train anyone, as I heard her talk several times about how she didn’t sign up to train people and she wasn’t going to.

Anyway, her normal M.O. was just general bitterness but she seemed to take it a step further. We had a potluck and I brought mini cheesecakes. I’m not sure what she brought, but she took ISSUE with these cheesecakes. She moved them to a different table out of the way so people didn’t know they were there. She walked around the entire day telling people about her cheesecake and how she made it totally from scratch. She didn’t even bring cheesecake that day, and also, mine were homemade too so I have no idea what she was on about.

2. The couch

I had a library coworker once with a years-long grudge against … a couch.

The Friends of the Library had used some of their funds to buy decent furniture for the break room, which most of us appreciated. She felt very strongly that any money the Friends raised should have been used to add to the collection, which we already had a pretty good budget for from other sources. She retaliated by refusing to sit on that couch, ever, for years. Unclear whether she succeeded in hurting the couch’s feelings.

3. The software admin

I worked at a small company where a department was run by an awful woman. She hired her entire old team from her last company and they immediately took over and started going on a power trip. They lied, refused to actually do their jobs and pushed it onto other departments, and made up unnecessary rules that had no basis in what our business needed.

They steamrolled over everyone else and I ended up being dumped with a lot of work they were supposed to be doing. And then they made up a ton of unnecessary requirements, and when I pushed back demanding they point to the ISO line they claim was required, they couldn’t and had to give up. So they hated me and decided to freeze me out and refused to talk to me.

It just so happened I was the admin of the software tool they had to use (the previous admin left and they never hired a replacement so I was just assigned this), and I was so petty that every time they pissed me off, I reset their passwords. They would keep trying to enter their password (when it was blank) and once they got frozen out, they’d have to come to me and ask for me to unfreeze their account and reset their password. I only did it because the software didn’t log things like admin resetting password. Also they logged in so infrequently (because they didn’t do their real job) they chalked it up to them forgetting the password each time and the strict password requirements that had to be changed every few months with no repeats.

Deeply petty and I probably shouldn’t be trusted with power because I took great pleasure in abusing it until I finally left.

4. The cat photo

I once had a coworker (Clara) who was inexplicably upset by the most benign things. Years ago, another colleague (Helen) gifted her a lovely photo of her cat, which Clara pinned up in her cubicle. Every time Clara felt Helen had done something to slight her (which was often), she would take down the photo. When they made up, the photo went back on the wall. The two of them controlled the energy in the office, so everyone could tell just by glancing at the wall whether it was going be a pleasant day or a miserable one.

5. The donut grievance

My first job after graduating as an engineer was in an automotive plant. I was a process engineer working on the floor. There was a steep learning curve to the job and some of the mechanics were really helpful when I had questions about the machinery. They were very helpful and kind and in order to thank them, I brought donuts to a meeting we were having.

Other employees who were not invited to the meeting (because it had nothing to do with their work) were incensed and made a complaint to the union. They launched a grievance complaining that some, but not all, employees were given donuts. When the union rep found out that I bought the donuts with my own money the grievance went away, but the other employees continued to give me nasty looks for months and complain that they hadn’t gotten a donut.

6. The long-running grudge

I once worked as an admin at a pretty big corporate employer in New Orleans. I had a coworker, N, who initially was really nice and sweet. We talked all the time and bonded over our love of animals.

One day about three months after I joined the company, I walked into work and saw N in the corridor. I said, “Hi, N!” and she actually turned her head so she couldn’t see me and kept walking. I shrugged it off at first, but it kept happening. I’d say hi, she’d ignore me. There would be food left from one of her meetings and she’d whisper to the other admins so that they could get the leftovers, but excluded me. She was my backup and was supposed to answer my managers’ phones when I was at lunch, but she decided she didn’t want to do that anymore so stopped doing it. My managers noticed and asked me to fix the issue, but N wouldn’t even discuss it with me. She just said she wasn’t going to answer my phones anymore.

I went to our big boss and he said that in his experience women admins always ended up in feuds and as far as he was concerned we had to handle it on our own and not to bother him anymore. So I stopped answering her managers’ phones. This made one of her managers so angry she stormed over to my desk and said, “Look, my phone is ringing. You answer it since N isn’t here.” I said, “Oh, N won’t answer my phones anymore, so I’m no longer answering hers.” She screamed, “I’m a lawyer and I’m telling you to answer that phone!” I smiled and said, “I’m an admin and I’m telling you I’m not.” She went running to N’s other manager but nothing changed.

It was the custom for admins to buy birthday cards and circulate them around for their managers. So when one of N’s managers had a birthday, she circulated the card. When it hit my desk, I told my coworker who put it there that I’d better not because N wouldn’t like it. She said, “Don’t let her intimidate you. Sign the card.” So I signed it and put it back on N’s desk which was in the cube next to mine. When she came back from lunch, she saw the card and I heard her yell, “OH, NO SHE DID NOT!” and then ripping sounds. She tore up the card and threw it away because I signed it. Then she sent out an email to the whole floor saying she was buying her manager a card, but if we wanted to send a card, we had to buy it ourselves.

This went on for months and months. A new admin started and was initially nice and then she started ignoring me and I asked her why. She said, “Oh, N told me that you are a slacker and don’t pull your weight here so I shouldn’t associate with you so I can stay in good standing with my bosses.”

N had more seniority than me and her manager was more important than mine. I was called into a meeting with mine and told that N was out to get me fired and if I were smart, I should start looking for a new job. I asked them if they could help me because obviously she was bullying me, but they said their hands were tied. So I luckily found another job in the same company, just a different department. On my first day HR sent out email to my old department and my new department announcing my new job and congratulating me and wishing me luck as was the custom. N responded with REPLY ALL in 57 RED font, “OH, HAPPY DAYS! HAPPY DAYS! SHE’S GONE!” Did she get in trouble? Nope. Just got a little talking to from her boss. I was happy in my new job where no one bullied me.

About two years later, I heard that N got fired because she refused to help another admin and her boss said, “Well, either you help her or you’re out” and N packed up her things and left.

Years later I went out to lunch with the coworker who’d encouraged me to sign N’s manager’s birthday card. We were both not with the company anymore and had other jobs. We started talking about our old jobs and she said, “Okay, I’m going to confide in you now. I know why N hated you.” Well, the reason was that I brought in a Witch’s Almanac calendar one day and hung it up in my cube. It was New Orleans and the vibe there is really eccentric and pretty much anything goes, so I didn’t even think it would be an issue. The calendar did not have explicit pictures or anything. It was arty more than anything. Crows, cauldrons, stuff like that. So N thought I was Wiccan and since she was such a good Christian, she made it her mission to destroy me professionally.

7. The promotion

I was hired into an org by a department head, Sansa, to be her assistant. She was clear in her hiring of me that part of my job duty was to do all the interfacing with other departments and clients, because she didn’t enjoy it. She hated making phone calls and was generally aloof, sullen, quiet, and didn’t identify as a “people person.” Perfect, because I came from a background of client relations, and I also enjoy people and making everyone feel valued and welcome, whether that person is a client or a colleague. So I did my job, and did all the interfacing for her. I made all the phone calls to clients. I talked to the other departments. Sansa adored me for taking all that off her plate.

After a few years of rarely speaking to a client or a colleague, she realized that I had become the universally-liked face of her department. Instead of taking a page out of my book, she decided that I should become more like her and start being more sullen and aloof. She demanded I stop being so friendly to everyone, because it was making her look bad. She told literally told me I should make my tone more flat and stop “being so warm” on phone calls, and that I shouldn’t go out to lunch with coworkers when I was invited, but eat at my desk alone, the way she did. I did not.

So she called a meeting with the CEO and head of HR and demanded that they fire me for being too friendly, and explained to them that she didn’t even need me, because she was doing all the work, and I was just making phone calls and eating lunch with other departments. Instead of firing me, they promoted me to be the head of a different department, away from Sansa. When Sansa wanted to hire a new assistant, they refused, because she can make her own phone calls, as she so kindly explained to them, and she didn’t actually need an assistant.

That was a few years ago, and she hasn’t spoken to me since. I’ve also gotten another promotion since then, and now work directly with the CEO. When we pass in the hallways I still give her the warm, “Good morning!” I give everyone, and she will not respond to me. So yeah, I have someone who hates my guts for being too nice.

8. The mugs of retribution

I used to teach full-time. One of the TAs was a good-looking younger guy, let’s call him Brad as in Pitt, who was the crush object of many students and a fair few staff. “Janet” from another department particularly thought of him as Hers, although he’d never shown any return interest (she was a good 20 years older than him for starters). This was fine, if rather odd, until one of my colleagues went on maternity and Brad started covering for her. His subject knowledge was okay but he didn’t know the nuances of the topic to teach to students, so I worked with him to fill the gaps, usually after school.

Now, I liked Brad in a “he’s a good laugh and never once tried to mansplain” way but didn’t fancy him in the slightest. The students referred to me as “goth teacher,” my taste in men ran accordingly. Janet, however, was Not Amused by us spending time together, and when it turned out Brad lived on my way home so could get a lift with me instead of her, she concluded I was out to steal her man. This middle-aged woman went full scorned teenage girl. It started with filthy looks at me and betrayed-puppy eyes at him. Blanking me when I talked to her, etc. Then Janet decided that the rest of the man-stealing harlot’s time at that school would go un-caffeinated. Personal mugs would occasionally go walkabout from the staff room cupboard but they’d return the next day. Mine stayed gone. I brought in a new one. Two days later, it vanished. Then another. And another.

I was mystified until I covered a lesson in Janet’s usual classroom and discovered ALL of my missing mugs stashed in the back of the storage cupboard.

9. The summer camp cook

At one summer camp, we had a cook who made terrible food, leading to a steadily building animosity between him and the rest of the staff. It finally exploded in a screaming fight (thankfully with no campers present) when someone asked him if he needed to be reminded how to use things other than the microwave, and he replied that you “shouldn’t f*** with someone who could poison you all.” He was ultimately fired for theft but not before deliberately serving us sandwiches made with spoiled lunch meat.

10. The desk gaslighter

My toxic, bullying boss would constantly move stuff out of line of sight (and I was pretty tidy – we’re talking about moving my notebook to an enclosed cabinet next to my desk, or pushing a small potted plant into the very dark corner of the desk behind my monitor). This boss was absolutely wild in how she behaved and this was just one of the many, many things she did. Of course, she denied ever doing anything and blamed the cleaning crew (!!!). Finally, I very obviously started taking photos of my desk before I would leave and made sure she would see me doing this. That stopped her desk-related shenanigans.

It’s been over a decade now but I still have the photos in my phone and every year between January and March I puzzle at why I am seeing photos of my old desk at this old job in my Google memories LOL!

11. The sun glare

During a standard interdepartmental spat over window blinds, one of the other managers became so offended by our manager’s love of sunlight that she locked him in the building during a fire drill. Claimed the glare of the sun confused her eyes so she “accidentally” put the key in the lock. They never spoke again, communicating through runners in a “X told me to tell you” system for fire years until she was encouraged to leave after locking him in a storage cupboard.

12. The speakerphone war

We had a speakerphone war at an old job. This was back in the old days when we all used hard-wired desktop phones, just for reference. Office Manager would come in in the morning, crank up her phone as loud as it would go, and listen to her voicemail. At best there’d be 1-2 voicemails, and it was usually over pretty quickly. Other Employee, however, simply could not deal with this. Other Employee would immediately start playing back her voicemails on speaker, as loudly as it would go. They also each figured out ways to amplify the sound so it was even louder than normal. This eventually got to where they were going back and forth with it all day long. It stopped only when Other Employee was able to move to a desk in another part of the building so they couldn’t hear each other.

13. The mini-fridge

In my public library, we had a very unpopular director. He was a micro-managing mansplainer, in an environment that was 90% female. Literally everyone on staff hated him, and he either didn’t notice or didn’t care.

At some point, he decided our breakroom – upstairs from where the staff worked and steps from his office – was underutilized. To be fair, no one used it because the odds of bumping into him or another administrator was high, and nobody wanted to deal with that during lunch. His solution was to remove all the refrigerators and microwaves from the downstairs work rooms to force people to eat upstairs.

There was a mini-fridge/freezer in our youth workroom that had been there for as long as anyone could remember. Unpopular Director said it had to go, but don’t send it to be auctioned, he could use it in his office to keep water cool for VIPs. We had a Youth Librarian who had real anger issues, and a hot burning hatred for Director.

Without defrosting the refrigerator or cleaning it out, she unplugged it and left it in his office on a Thursday evening, when Director planned to be out Thursday-Monday. Over the weekend it defrosted, ruined the carpet in Director’s office and set up a lovely mildew-y smell. As far as I know, the Youth Librarian faced no consequences (Director was a little scared of her). Within three months, the downstairs fridge and microwave had been replaced.

When Youth Librarian retired, she handed out buttons to staff with a picture of the mini-fridge on it.

14. The chain email

When working for the federal government, our admin once sent out an email to the entire office that was a chain email claiming you would get a free computer if you forwarded it to X number of people. I was so annoyed! It was 2012, not 1994, so this was absurd. Several more people then did the same thing! I got so fed up with these emails that I replied all to one with a snip of the employee handbook that specifically forbade chain emails.

For the rest of my time there (two years), the admin gave me the full silent treatment. She would shut doors in my face, turn away from me if I tried to ask her a question, refuse to respond to any email I sent her, etc. Luckily, she was pretty useless at her job so I didn’t need her help with very much.

15. The Pythagorean theorem

Years ago, I worked in a math-adjacent field. One of my closest collaborators mispronounced “Pythagorean theorem” painfully and frequently. For some reason, this caused me to completely lose my head each and every time. Was this a sensible trigger? No. Could I let it lie? Heck no! I proceeded to bring in evidence that his pronunciation was not one of the accepted pronunciations in any English-speaking country. There were dictionaries. There were subject experts. My colleague insisted that he was correct and I was wrong … but as the bigger person, he would not nag me about MY misguided pronunciation.

Finally, I dragged him to our manager’s office to declare, like a petulant child, “Manager, coworker is pronouncing ‘Pythagorean theorem’ wrong!” She stared us down for a solid minute, scowled, and, in a tone of utter disgust, said, “Get out.” We left. I never won the argument, but I’m still right.

{ 354 comments… read them below }

    1. ferrina*

      #13 is the most beautiful malicious compliance I’ve seen in a long time.
      “You said to put it in your office. Not my fault you didn’t specify that it should be empty or plugged in”

        1. Goldenrod*

          “and to then give out buttons when she retired!

          that’s the coup de grace. Chef’s kiss!!!

    2. Trick or Treatment*

      I am howling at the “handed out buttons with a picture of the mini-fridge”! It’s so calculated and such a long-term grudge, but still so hilarious.

    3. desk platypus*

      Can testify that librarians are VERY fierce about fridges and microwaves. Messing with them can unleash grudges kept buried for years.

      1. A. Nonimouse, III*

        Can confirm. There was a screaming match over one between two of our librarians. It was actually almost refreshing, because most of the animosity between them was demonstrated in various passive-aggressive acts.

      2. Liz the Snackbrarian*

        Same with the coffee pot. Tampering with the coffee pot is a sure way to land one’s self on thin ice.

      3. Old Cynic*

        Yep. When I was in college our head librarian decided she liked the kitchen location better than where her office was so she moved in. After, the other librarians and staff used the kitchen facilities more than they ever had before, disrupting her day beyond belief!

      4. megaboo*

        We had a task master who only allowed insulated lunch bags in the fridge. You couldn’t have condiments or drinks on the door. It had to be in your bag. An intern didn’t know the rule and he screamed at her until she cried. Library life, it’s surprising.

    4. ConstantlyComic*

      Right up until #13 mentioned an upstairs, I thought it might have been referring to one of the libraries in my system, because until last month they had a branch manager who fit the given description perfectly.

    5. Another Academic Librarian too*

      Ah never mess with a youth services librarian with a button maker. It would surprise no one that when the union negotiated the new contract for the instructors they left out the librarians so that all of the benefits like raises and step schedules did not apply to the librarians.
      AND since that was the contract that was VOTED on by faculty (and of course the tiny percentage that were librarians made no difference) it was a three year wait until the next contract.
      For those three years every faculty interaction ended with me asking, “did you know that the librarians here are not making an equitable wage?”
      I was one of 7 union negotiating representatives for the new contract and at every meeting said, “and the librarians.” Somehow despite that, the draft of the new contract did not include the librarians.
      That Friday, I stood in the entrance to the college passing out buttons to everyone that said, “Pay Equity for Librarians.”
      I got dragged into the Finance Director’s office by the Union President who demanded I “Get all the buttons back.” (hahaha) (they were the head of the negotiations teams)
      That I had broken some rule that negotiations were confidential until there was a contract.
      The next union committee meeting was Monday.
      At that meeting it was announced that the new contract language included the librarians AND the librarians received an equity raise to make up for the last 3 years.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        You and the original Youth Librarian are my heroes/heroines.
        In nonbinary language, y’all ROCK.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        “AND the librarians received an equity raise to make up for the last 3 years.”

        I’d watch this movie and cheer.

    6. Dog momma*

      #6– not all Christians are like that, pretty poor ” Christian ” behavior.

    7. Felix Unger*

      I mis-read “Youth Librarian” as “Young Librarian”- someone about 25 years old. That made the story even better: she handed out the mini-fridge buttons when she retired 40 or so years after the event happened.

    1. Choggy*

      The only downside is they have to come to you and not have to call an offshore support desk to get the account unlocked. ;)

      1. The Other Katie*

        That just gives you the opportunity to be condescending about their habit of locking themselves out of their software _again_.

      2. Inkognyto*

        You get to give them fun passwords.


      3. Hannah Lee*

        At one job I had a particular random access task assigned to me that very few people knew I was involved in. I would just see a particular report every day that let me know that someone needed access to a certain module, report, etc. and take care of it. It took 1-2 minutes to do, no hassle.

        I was also the person who managed the company’s phone system, including voicemail and extensions, and had admin rights on our email system as backup to the IT person who usually managed it.

        There was one dept of entitled jerks who would push work they thought was beneath them onto other staff, including me. I didn’t have a good way of pushing back (it was early in my career and I struggled to advocate, assert for myself)

        After they annoyed me one too many times, I set up a “no-reply” sys admin email account, and created a canned email message from that account that I would send to anyone from that department when they showed up on that “needs access” report.

        It would provide a generic acknowledgement of their need for additional access, and instruct them to call a special Access Hotline extension and provide the details of their request, including a laundry list of “relevant” information, some of which would be annoying for them to gather “so that a case could be created for their request”

        The Access Hotline extension went to a system only voicemail box, that never rang anywhere, and that only I had visibility to. I would only check it once a week or so, and only then update their access when I felt like it… the new access for that department would wind up taking 2-3 weeks longer than everyone one else’s, but they didn’t realize that, since they didn’t deign to chat with people outside their little circle.

        Also I didn’t need to actually listen to the voicemails, I could see who had called that line and I already had all the info I needed from the report. But sometimes I did listen just for entertainment, to hear those jerks trying to say all the required info before voicemail cut them off, or they accidentally cut themselves off and had to call back again. Or when they called back in frustration, desperation looking for status of their “case”.

    2. Slow Gin Lizz*

      I really wanted to do this with my former terrible coworker but I was worried I would get caught. Not likely, given that I was one of 2 ppl who knew the system, but still….I tried to keep my pettiness on the DL. That said, I did create a report to see how many activities she was logging and how many emails she got from our website, bc after awhile I noticed she would just ignore them and she really needed to not ignore them. But again, that was mostly so I could be sure we weren’t charging donors when they asked to cancel their monthly donations and stuff like that.

  1. BetsCounts*

    Is anyone else dying to know how to mis-pronounce “Pythagorean theorem”? I mean Pythagoras is no Euler!

    1. ampersand*

      Yes!! I’m only familiar with one pronunciation (the correct one, I thought? But that story makes me wonder…) and am so curious how it was mispronounced.

      1. Rock Prof*

        I want to say it like that now, particularly with a soft g, and see how many math professors I can annoy.

        1. nutella fitzgerald*

          Not a math professor, but I did almost get in a fight with someone who insisted on calling it the Pythagoream.

          1. nutella fitzgerald*

            I can’t explain how much satisfaction that dotted red line brought me when I typed it just now. YOU WERE WRONG, TERRENCE! iOS SAYS SO!!

      2. Cease and D6*

        There is an alternate pronunciation common in Europe – something like ‘pee-ta-gorian’. Given that that’s the one I hear from native Greek speakers and Pythagoras spoke and wrote Ancient Greek, I’m inclined to take their word for it. I sure hope that wasn’t what OP was pushing back against!

        1. Reality.Bites*

          I did grade 7 in French, and history in French all through high school. As far as I’m concerned it’s théorème de Pythagore. Also, I don’t have the slightest memory of what it is and what you can do with it, but dammit, I know how to spell and pronounce it. In French. Only.

          Now, on to la Mésopotamie

          1. Tinkerbell*

            A squared plus B squared equals C squared – for figuring out the relative lengths of the sides of a right triangle :-)

            1. Margaret Cavendish*

              In my undergrad it was known as “the shortest route to the cafeteria” – ie, cut across the lawn instead of going around by the road.

      3. Enai*

        Ancient Greek does not have “thorn” (th in thick) or “eth” (th in the) sounds, though. Just two kinds of t. So, his name was approximately pronounced Pee-tuh-gor-us, dunno which syllable is properly stressed. Same goes for Thales: Tuh-las.

        Man, my ears had a nasty shock when I first had an English-as-a-first-language speaker say their names…

        1. Heffalump*

          Do tau (τ) and theta (θ) represent the same sound, or different ones? If the latter, what’s the difference?

          1. Enai*

            I don’t know! I was taught the letters are pronounced “tow” (tau) and “taytuh” (theta) (both approximately, I don’t know how to map the sounds of theta to the English vowels as they don’t _quite_ align), but the “t” sound we used (in math class in Germany, so my teachers were not particularly knowledgable about Greek) was the same in both cases. Yet it seems unlikely that the ancient Greeks had two “t” without the slightest difference, no?

            1. Ky*

              oh I know this one! one of the T sounds was non-plosive, meaning no air comes out when you say it. not a distinction English has so it’s difficult for us to distinguish

              1. Heffalump*

                If you hold a lit match in front of your mouth and say “pin,” you’ll blow the match out–the P in “pin” is plosive. Another word for “plosive” is “aspirated.” If you say “spin,” you won’t blow the match out–the P is unaspirated. A number of languages have this distinction, but as you said, English isn’t one of them.

                All these years I’ve been saying “theta” as if the TH in “theta” was pronounced like the TH in “thin.” Live and learn.

              2. Enai*

                Thank you! Today I learned a delightful fact about ancient Greek!

                Now to try to say a non-plosive “t” that doesn’t sound like “d”…

    2. Rock Prof*

      I am so curious about this, too! Which word was mispronounced? Both?
      Were they arguing over Pie-thagorean versus Puh-thagorean (both of which I’ve heard)? Was it over the right syllable to stress?

    3. Phony Genius*

      Maybe with a short y and a soft g, and stressing the wrong syllable? (pith-a-JOR-ian)

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      it was asked in the original, and as I recall, the answer was that the emphasis was on GOR – “pie-tha-GOR-ee-an theorem.”

      1. Trick or Treatment*

        My theory would be that she learned how actual Greek people pronounce the name Pythagoras (because they indeed stress the GOR part) and felt smug about it.
        But that ignores the fact that in English it’s simply stressed differently but also that the stress shifts when you turn Pythagoras into Pythagorean.

    5. FricketyFrack*

      Ever since playing Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, I pronounce it the way they did in the game (pee-thuh-gore-us, basically?) but only in my head because I don’t want to come across as a pretentious d-bag. I can’t think of anything but that and the standard American pie-thah-go-rus.

      Where is OP? I need to know how the coworker was saying it, I’m so curious now!

        1. FricketyFrack*

          That’s what I figured, so part of me is like, “we should all say it that way?” but the rest of me knows if I say everything else in my flat Colorado nothing accent and then throw out a Greek pronunciation, it’d be obnoxious.

          1. Calyx*

            You should listen to David Sedaris’s wonderful piece in accents: Innocents Abroad

          2. Annie*

            I once heard, as a Coloradoan myself, that Colorado had the most “non-accented” accent.

      1. OP #15*

        Reporting in…

        My long-ago coworker called it the “Pie-tha-GOR-ean” theorem. Of note, he was not Greek and did not attempt a Greek accent (perhaps to his credit). Current self accepts that this is technically closer to the original Greek pronunciation than either the US or UK English variants. However, it drove younger me berserk in the office. When he pulled out the pronunciation at professional conferences, I wanted to crawl under a table and die of embarrassment. [[Insert clever wordplay involving slashers and gore here.]]

        In the decades since, I’ve talked math with people from all over the world. Accents and pronunciations vary, but they all seem normal when they’re authentic. This was in a class by itself.

      2. triss merigold*

        I KNOW, I default to the (hopefully basically accurate?) pronunciations of all that stuff now: Lakonia, Sokrates, Alkibiades, etc, but I know it sounds obnoxious. Like saying Cuba correctly. It’s a bummer that trying to pronounce names in the right language makes you sound pretentious.

        1. linger*

          Not wrong; that’s an alternative to “pie-thag-or-E-an” (note, it’s the same two syllables with secondary and primary stress, just in reverse priority).

          But stress with the -ean suffix isn’t very predictable. Compare:
          EuropEan, AntipodEan, PROtean — Greek base, stress (usually) shifts onto the suffix, (usually) retaining a secondary stress on the base (but sometimes primary stress stays put, thus giving the two variants usual for Py’thagor’ean).
          MediterRANean, subterRANean — Latinate base, stress (usually) shifts to the antepenult (3rd-to-last syllable, which is now the last syllable of the base).
          Fine. But what about the many cases where the base origin isn’t certain?
          Do you say SingaPORean? or SingaporEan? CarRIBean? or CarribEan?
          And what about examples such as epiCURean, MephistoPHELean which look like they should be Greek, yet follow the antepenult rule?

            1. Leenie*

              It’s funny. I almost always pronounce it CarRIBean. But it’s modified by “Pirates of…” That is always CarriBEan.

        2. Dog momma*

          I’ve pronounced it Pith a GOR ean since I was a kid… guess I’ve been wrong for years

    6. Lab Boss*

      You pronounce it just like “Worcestershire Sauce,” you start with the first consonant and just see where the ride takes you.

      1. Pyrrhic*

        WOOs-ter-shur. Its not hard, just a little odd if you aren’t used to the way the English pronounce their town/county names.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          This made me wonder if I’ve done my children a deep disservice by continuing a really over the top mispronunciation that one of my grandparents started as a family joke. (Biffed the correct pronunciation and leaned into it to “yes, and” proportions.) Absolutely no one pronounces it correctly in our house (on purpose), and now I’m wondering if my kids even *know* the real pronunciation…

        1. Cats Ate My Croissant*

          I knew someone who always pronounced ‘ciabatta’ as ‘cabby-arta’ which annoyed me far more than it should.

          1. nutella fitzgerald*

            “Ciabatta” in general has bothered me since I learned it meant “slipper”. Whose slipper? Fred Flintstone’s?!

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I volunteer a bit of New England trivia that might be a mnemonic for you:

          Massachusetts was an English colony, and the state has both “Worcester, Mass” and “Wooster, Mass”.

          (Imagine the chaos that must cause for hotel chains with locations in both cities!)

          1. Aitch Arr*

            There is no Wooster, MA.

            There is a Wooster School in Danbury, CT.

            There is, however, a Woburn and a Waban, MA.

    7. Merci Dee*

      I don’t know why, but this portion of the comment thread reminded me of an episode of Phineas and Ferb from the Disney channel, which my daughter (and I) used to love when she was 8 – 10 years old or so.

      In one episode, the kids’ dad takes them to a museum and tells them the story of the Greek hero, whose name is pronounced “az-per-AH-gus”. When you see the pointed and rather leafy-looking hat on the hero’s head, you realize his name is just a crazy pronunciation of “asparagus”.

      On the other hand, the trip to the museum and the crazy story of az-per-AH-gus did lead the kids to do a pretty dope ancient chariot race, so that was a lot of fun.

      1. HailRobonia*

        My grandmother would pronounce dandelion “dahn-DELL-eeun” as a joke – she said it made them sound like fancy French blossoms.

        1. Enai*

          (Nerd alert)
          They are, actually! The french for dandelion is dent-de-lion (lion’s tooth) and pronounced “dahn-delleeun” or thereabouts.
          (End nerd alert)

          1. Sue Smith*

            More nerdiness: It does mean lion’s tooth, but I learned the French word for dandelion is pissenlit, which looks like “piss in bed” to me.

            1. Enai*

              I think both are correct, or so says my dictionary. And I agree that pissenlit makes me think the speaker has had an unfortunate accident in bed.

            2. Seeking Second Childhood*

              The twist here? That pretty much IS the name origin. The leaves were used as a diuretic.

        2. Carol the happy elf*

          My American midwestern grandmother would say “Motor-Sickle” for motorcycle, just to make my father’s ears bleed. Then she would turn away and grin.

          1. Project Maniac-ger*

            Ope, midwesterner here, motor-sickle is correct because bicycle is pronounced by-sickle and we had them before we had motorcycles. I will die on this hill.

              1. DyneinWalking*

                As a German whose vocabulary comes mostly from reading, I gave up on English pronunciation long ago.
                I know the correct pronunciation of the most common words and can say them in a passable, not-too-obviously-German accent and that has to be enough. If I tried to catch up on all the words that I likely pronounce horribly incorrect because I never heard them spoken out loud, that would take me ages…

                (I would have pronounced all the different -cycles correctly, but I would still be pronouncing “salmon” and “patio” incorrectly if their pronunciation hadn’t come up in the AAM comments)

          2. Katie Impact*

            Etymologically, a helicopter is a helico-pter, not a heli-copter. It sounds very weird to make the “pter” its own syllable in English, though.

          3. Tinkerbell*

            I don’t wan’ a pickle
            Just wanna ride on my mooooo-tor-sickle

            And IIIIIII don’t wanna die
            Just wanna ride on my mooooo-tor-cy

          4. Rachael*

            Oooh, that’s like Nigella Lawson saying meecrowavay for microwave and breaking the (UK) internet.

        3. goddessoftransitory*

          Ironically, it’s a corruption of the French “dente’ de leon”*, or “lion’s tooth.” (Named for the serrated leaves, not the fuzzy yellow lion’s mane blossom.) So Grandma was on the right track!

          *apologies for spelling

        4. Resentful Oreos*

          I’m one of those people who reads more than they hear things spoken, so for years I thought “misled” was “Myzled.” Upon saying it, “mis-led” was obvious, but I still look and read “Myzled.”

          1. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

            Mine was epitome – read it for years thinking it was pronounced eppy-tome.

              1. linger*

                And then there’s pub-erty in parallel with e.g. public.
                And mischievious (with a pronunciation to match) for mischievous (and less commonly, also grievious for grievous), under the influence of e.g. curious, cautious, envious, furious, serious

            1. BikeWalkBarb*

              While reading Swiss Family Robinson as a little kid I excitedly told my older sister about the al-BATE-rose, this huge bird that impressed me a lot.

              1. Rara Avis*

                I learned Price-o-peas by reading, and got a good laugh from my parents when I identified a roadside cliff as such. (Precipice)

                1. Seeking Second Childhood*

                  When I was little, I was fascinated by the Greek myths about “Afro-dight” and her son Cupid.

                  It was years before I learned “Afro-dight-ee”.

          2. Labracadabrador*

            Mine was bourgeoise, aka bore-jee-OY-zee. Young!me once told my dad I was doing some interesting reading about the proletariat and the bore-jee-OY-zee and he laughed so hard he cried.

        5. nutella fitzgerald*

          I’m partial to vegetable as “vuh-gettable” (hard G). It lends itself nicely to singing “Unvegetable” in the produce section of the grocery store.

          1. Merci Dee*

            When I was in kindergarten and first grade, we lived in New Orleans, where the natives have a very distinct accent, sort of like a mix of New York and the South. I just learned from Google that the New Orleans accent is often called the Yat accent, so that’s pretty neat. One of the kindergarten teachers was a New Orleans native and would tell us every day at lunch that we needed to eat our VEG-i-TAY-bels to grow up big and strong.

            It was like she was putting together the words veggie and tables when she said it — VEG-i-TAY-bels instead of VEG-teh-bels.

      2. Iain C*

        This is not my original thought, but I tag somewhere about pronouncing some greek origin words like you’re in the Illiad.


        etc. I can’t prevent getting old, but I refuse to grow up!

      3. Beth*

        One of the Terry Pratchett books featured a philosopher named Orangecrates. The audiobook reader does his best with it.

    8. Iain C*

      The original thread where this was contributed last week had a long debate on this, including but some greeks.

      Amusingly, OP was indeed NOT right.

    9. H3llifIknow*

      I was trying to mispronounce it and came up with maybe like “pith UH gor ean” instead of “pithAG orean”

    10. Happy*

      I misunderstood your comment at first and thought you were calling Pythagoras stupid.

      “I mean, he’s no Euler!” ha!

  2. Brain the Brian*

    Size 57 red font. Oh, how I wish I could use that in a real-life situation.

    1. AnonORama*

      Ha, I’m sure it was 57-point font but for some reason my mind jumped to Heinz 57 ketchup color. I don’t even know if they call it that anymore?

      1. Phony Genius*

        There is a “Heinz 57 Sauce” that is like a steak sauce. Other Heinz products have the 57 logo on them, but the ketchup is just ketchup.

        1. AnonORama*

          Got it — I associate Heinz with both the number 57 and ketchup, and I don’t actually like any of that stuff so I never checked that closely.

          One thing about AAM, no mistake is too small to correct.

          1. Brain the Brian*

            It was originally one of Heinz’s 57 Varieties, but I think they’ve moved away from using the 57 on ketchup packaging in recent years because the individual product is so iconic by itself.

    1. Nea*

      It does! At least it’s an either/or situation and nobody is looking to see which piece of furniture their photo has been relegated to.

        1. Wolf*

          Good grief, imagine having to work in a shared office with these two. I love them, but that would be too much.

        2. Catwhisperer*

          poor Magrat is just trying to make tea but everyone keeps interrupting to ask what the argument is about this time

  3. FricketyFrack*

    I hate #14, only because I tried multiple times to get hired in a federal job (and have worked in government my entire career at every other level) and never once managed to even get an interview, no matter how well qualified I was. Meanwhile that person got hired and kept her job in spite of being a total jerk who wasn’t even good at the job. Ughhhh it’s people like that who give government workers a bad reputation.

  4. Quill*

    Fridge buttons!

    (Confession: I have killed a mini-fridge before because I may have been ignorant of how to defrost responsibly… still didn’t leave it in anyone’s office though!)

  5. Meg*

    I worked at an office that had what I call the “Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves” meetings. We would be forced to rank our morale and those next to us and then our boss would read them and get absolutely furious and tell us we could all quit if we were unhappy. One of his attempts to improve morale was to cater lunch one day in the office. I didn’t bring lunch that day because I plan to eat the catered lunch and there was nothing within a 20-minute drive of the office. The office manager decided that she didn’t want to eat catered lunch at today so she canceled the entire thing for everyone. I didn’t get to eat. She continued to be toxic and bullied me until I quit. I thought she might get fired or at least back off when she anchored an extremely high profile client by demanding payment for bills that hadn’t even been sent out yet, but she was untouchable.

    1. Bast*

      We used to have “anonymous morale rankings” at Old Old Job which would be read allowed during weekly meetings, and the owner of the company would always have a “if you’re so unhappy here, you don’t belong here” speech ready too. If you just want people to lie and say they’re happy, and you don’t want to use the suggestions to improve, what’s the point? I’m not sure if companies like that just use those as a pat on the back for themselves or what.

      Re: the catered lunch bit, when they start announcing to people that they are going to buy lunch on a certain date, they really need to understand that people will NOT bring lunch that day and plan on having something as stated. It’s pretty nasty to just switch it up on people.

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

        One cancelled lunch over 10 years ago when I didn’t bring a lunch, didn’t drive, and delivery wasn’t a thing back then convinced me to ALWAYS bring a lunch, regardless of if I know 100% lunch is being provided (like, I’m planning the lunch and I’ve paid for it already, etc) and even though I have a car and can drive to one of the many restaurants in a short distance from the current job. It’s just better to be prepared.

        1. Resentful Oreos*

          Same here! I didn’t have a cancelled lunch, but I had a very late lunch (catered from the grocery store, with “make your own” cold cuts and sliced bread sandwiches) when an offsite meeting was held in a dear, bucolic little setting. Nothing but tap water. Now, I at least pack granola bars and bottled water.

        2. Freya*

          I’m lucky – my workplace has a full size fridge with freezer, so I have a stash of frozen meat pies for just such situations (also for when I run out of the door without my lunch, because I used to do that with distressing regularity before my ADHD got medicated). They’ve never yet been stolen, although I have offered them to coworkers who didn’t have lunch and couldn’t run out to get any.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      Whenever I’ve come across those “people don’t have to work here/ you can go elsewhere if you don’t like the deal” managers, I always wonder if they end up facing a genuine recruitment and retention crisis, or if they go bust first, or if they face no consequences whatsoever.

      1. Star Trek Nutcase*

        I worked at a state residential car facility where the administrator had that attitude. I don’t think he thought it did anything but shut people up. Unfortunately, many direct care staff were limited in job opportunities and kept quiet, but they certainly found other ways to get petty revenge. Recruitment & retention was affected more by low pay & a difficult resident population. Some of us with choices took joy in reporting anything we knew violated state or federal regs. He and his cadre survived but had to spend some effort defending actions & combating bad PR.

      2. Wolf*

        Even if people leave, these managers do not understand it as a consequence of their behaviour. They’ll mope about “people not wanting to work anymore” when it’s really “people not wanting to work FOR YOU anymore”.

    3. Herbert von Carrion*

      Direct quote from an old boss: “We don’t have a morale problem, we have a commitment problem.” THAT was a super fun workplace.

    4. Glad I'm Retired*

      Never heard of the “morale rankings” when I worked. I did work at a place many years ago where the Manager gave out an “Employee of the Month” award to a support staff worker. I was mystified because she would give awards to workers who, from my perception, were not working any harder than anyone else.

  6. Anita Brake*

    for #15, how many people googled the correct pronunciation of pythagorean theorem? I mean besides me.

  7. Myrin*

    Isn’t #11 an actual safety issue? I mean, it is in any case, but especially during an emergency drill? And good lord, was this her “thing”, locking people in, seeing how she did it at least twice with that poor other manager?

    1. Mana*

      In the U.S., I believe having a door that could potentially lock without allowing people to get out of the building would be a fire code violation.

      1. Ann Nonymous*

        Yes. The fellow would probably have been within his rights to shatter a glass door to get out.

    2. kupo*

      RE: 11
      And here I thought the coworker who sent out paragraphs about how the sunlight was a natural resource and it was wrong to deprive people of it was being over-the-top. (I would have been on his side if I could actually see my monitor when he threw the blinds open.)

    3. goddessoftransitory*

      Frankly I’m really surprised the fire department or OSHA didn’t step in. If that hadn’t been a drill…

    4. Ink*

      I mean, the vibe I got was that if she hadn’t left… eventually he’d get kicked in somewhere, but the fire wouldn’t be a drill. Very unsettling pattern of behavior!

  8. Insert Clever Name Here*

    The manager’s response to #15 is perfect. 10/10, no notes, I want to be her when I grow up.

    1. buddleia*

      Yes I loved her response too. My new goal in life is to get to that level of gives no f*cks.

      1. The Rise and Fall of Sanctuary Moon*

        I am now picturing that response delivered by the nun from Derry Girls. Makes the story even better!

    2. NotAnotherManager!*

      100% would have been my reaction, so I heartily approve. Everything we have going on and THIS is what you bring me? Nope. Not today, not ever.

  9. Goldenrod*

    LW #6 –
    “She screamed, “I’m a lawyer and I’m telling you to answer that phone!” I smiled and said, “I’m an admin and I’m telling you I’m not.””


    Also, wow, your co-worker was bonkers. I don’t think Jesus would approve!

    1. A perfectly normal-size space bird*

      That one had my jaw dropping. I can’t imagine the mindset of someone who thinks the best way to resolve that kind of situation is to destroy the other person professionally instead of having a two minute conversation. And even more bonkers because they had a warm relationship prior to the calendar’s appearance.

      Though I think it’s bonkers in the first place to base an entire assumption of a person’s religion or background because of a calendar.

      1. Certaintroublemaker*

        In New Orleans, no less! It’s a mystery how she hadn’t already expired from her sensibilities being shocked.

      2. Kiv*

        And it’s not bonkers, but actually illegal, to bully someone you deem to be of the “wrong” religion regardless of how factually true that is.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          This! I wonder if she lost her job because the next admin she bullied was really obviously in a protected class.

          1. Banana Pyjamas*

            100%, and now that they’ve shown LW who they are, I hope LW listened. My blood is boiling that this happened and coworker kept quiet.

          2. Seeking Second Childhood*

            I have to hope that the co-worker did go to HR, and that was a precedent showing a pattern when N finally got the boot.

      3. Crencestre*

        Lovely example of Christian behavior, isn’t it? Not to mention respect for others’ religious rights!

      4. Dinwar*

        It’s bonkers, but not uncommon. I don’t know any Wiccan or Pagan that doesn’t have stories like this, where a warm and friendly relationship turned frigid or hostile as soon as their beliefs became known. Destroying careers is unfortunately very much a thing that happens. And while it may de jury be against the law, de facto that only comes into play if someone is willing to prosecute–and it’s going to be tricky to find a lawyer in the South willing to defend a witch, especially if the LW isn’t in the community. Most of the lawyers I’ve worked with would have been on N’s side.

        1. Laser99*

          It’s why religious zealotry is so frightening, it’s so…rigid, I guess is the word. It’s unthinkable to even just agree to disagree, you know?

        2. Clisby*

          I kind of doubt it would be hard to find a lawyer in New Orleans willing to defend a witch. Just like I would fully expect to be able to find a lawyer in New Orleans willing to defend a voodoo practitioner.

        3. Seeking Second Childhood*

          This isn’t even defending a witch. This is defending someone against bullying behavior because of assumptions of witchcraft.

          Is it even slander/libel if the “bad thing” being said *IS* untrue but *ISNT* bad by community standards?

          1. a trans person*

            As a Pagan and a witch, I’d really prefer it if you didn’t defend it as “worse” because the LW is evidently not Pagan. Discrimination on real religion is at least as bad as discrimination on perceived religion, which is why they’re *both equally illegal*.

      5. Aggretsuko*

        I note at my new job today, I walked by a cubicle that had “The Witch Is In” pinned up. This pleased me.

    2. LCH*

      this one was the worst. being mad at someone but not telling them why is ridiculous.

    3. Hola Playa*

      Back in the (AAM) day we learned black magic was an occupational hazard. Turns out, christian zealotry is really the occupational hazard (among other places, of course).

  10. Irish Teacher.*

    Oh, I’ve thought of a story (in which it really was 6 of one and half a dozen of the other). I’ve mentioned before the supervisor when I worked retail. Well, at one point our store became a training centre for new managers, so newly employed managers would spend 3-6 weeks training with us before taking up management positions in other branches of the company.

    Anyway, there was one trainee manager in particular that his supervisor hated. And the feeling was mutual. He dubbed her “the count of Transylvania” and one time when she was in charge – our store was opposite the park and we happened to see our manager and his little girl coming out of the circus which was in the park, carrying a big balloon hammar and he was like “oh, I wish he’d come over here and hit supervisor with that hammar.”

    For her part, she would go around to everybody after his shift asking “how long did he take for his break?” “did he do x?” “did he do y?” looking for something he did wrong so she’d have an excuse to start a fight with him. Given that she did this to people who were technically below both of them in the hierarchy, this was extremely awkward. One of my colleagues told me they finally told her, “I was doing my own job. I wasn’t paying attention to what he was doing.”

    On his very last day, after closing as we were cashing up, tidying the shop, etc, she was complaining about him and I just got fed up and pretty much snapped, “well, he’ll be gone tomorrow.” She didn’t seem to notice my tone and carried on about how she was glad of that because she couldn’t put up with any more of him.

    She then remained in the office as he and his fellow trainees left rather than even coming down to say goodbye to them as everybody else did.

  11. WellRed*

    For no. 4. I’d love to see what would have happened if another employee simply took the cat photo away, thus taking away petty’s power.

    1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      I think this would have been brilliant. Or maybe switch out the photo with a slightly different cat. Could she still be petty if it wasn’t the REAL cat?

      1. BellyButton*

        HA! That would be awesome. I am now picturing the cast of the awful Cats movie.

  12. Turtlewings*

    N from #6, Janet from #8, and the camp cook who literally tried to poison people are downright frightening. They should all go work at the same place, so we can lock them in and run away.

    1. Lab Boss*

      Let me be clear, he DID poison many of us, it was just a question of how many people ate some sandwich before someone realized. A lot of us worked sick the next day because so many people were too sick to work, and the show must go on- Thankfully my two bosses hadn’t eaten the meat, but I was supervising campers between every-15-minute bathroom visits.

      1. Turtlewings*

        Oh no! From the way it was phrased, I thought y’all caught on before eating any of it. If he actually did make you ill, I’m pretty sure he committed an actual crime?!

        1. Lab Boss*

          So the way it panned out was when management went to confront him about the meat, they found all the food he’d been stealing. And proving malice with bad meat could be tough and messy and harm our reputation, firing him for stealing was easy. Camp work is weird work, and everyone involved was OK, so we just were happy to see the back of him.

          1. DyneinWalking*

            Ok, that makes sense. From the way it was phrased, it sounded as if serving spoiled meat wasn’t enough for the superiors to fire him but losing money from his stealing was where they drew the line.
            It’s good to hear that they did take the spoiled meat very seriously and that the theft was just a handy reason to get him out ASAP.

    2. Heart&Vine*

      “… since she was such a good Christian, she made it her mission to destroy me professionally.”
      This is why “there’s no hate like Christian love” is a saying.

      1. Indolent Libertine*

        “Good Christian”… She keeps using those words; I do not think she knows what they mean.

  13. Ms. Murchison*

    So LW#6’s coworker knew that N was engaging in religious discrimination and said nothing? That’s more messed up than N’s twisted idea of what it means to be a “good Christian.”

    Heaven knows what N would do if she had to work with someone like the LW who takes Halloween week off and carries a pumpkin purse and skull-themed laptop bag.

    1. MirandaTempest*

      That’s what I was thinking. If she’d known she could have gotten her own lawyer!

    2. Dek*

      Yeah, I’d be pretty pissed off about that. Hell, even if it wasn’t for religious discrimination, I’d be irritated if someone I was friendly with knew why I was being bullied and wouldn’t tell me, but when the reason is actually *illegal*…sheesh…

    3. Nea*

      What was co-worker supposed to do, considering that LW’s manager couldn’t stop the bullying and apparently nobody in the new or old (or any) office did anything about the company-wide insult spelled out in 54-point type? If HR was going to step up at all, written proof of bullying/career sabotage should have done it.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        Many HR departments that don’t do anything about bullying, incompetence, or nepotism will suddenly spring into action when a lawyer sends them a letter pointing out the amount of money they’ll have to pay out for allowing a legally-defined hostile work environment.

        Maybe they fire the problem. Maybe they transfer LW or give them a significant severance payment. I’m betting relatively few just wait for the judge to decide how much they owe.

        1. Judge Judy and Executioner*

          Can confirm, had a bully at one place of work and HR didn’t do anything to stop it, even with solid proof and the fact it happened to multiple individuals over the years. Going to HR only made things worse.

      2. ferrina*

        Bullying isn’t illegal- religious discrimination is.

        HR tends to suddenly get very invested when they realize that the company would lose a lawsuit.

    4. Dinwar*

      Nah, I get why the friend didn’t stand up. Quite obviously bullying was acceptable in this workplace, and the friend didn’t want to be a target. Can’t blame a coworker for watching their own backs. Don’t get me wrong, I would never trust such a person again, but I get it.

      The boss is the real problem here. There’s simply no way they couldn’t have known how disruptive this was, and it’s highly unlikely to me that they didn’t know what the issue was. By telling the workers to work it out between themselves the boss basically said that bullying and discrimination are fine, just as long as it doesn’t bother him personally. Which is a total failure on his part to maintain even the minimal legal requirements for a workplace.

      It’s things like this that keep somewhere north of a million people in the USA from being open about their religion (it’s impossible to know how many because it’s really hard to count people deliberately hiding their beliefs).

      1. Dek*

        The coworker didn’t need to “stand up” but she could’ve topped OP off as to what was going on.

    5. Snow Globe*

      Considering the big boss’s misogynistic views about women always having feuds (?), I doubt that information would have helped the LW, unless they were ready to hire their own lawyer.

      1. WellRed*

        Right? How would he like it if she responded “it’s been my experience that bosses will downplay this as ‘women! And their silly hysterics.’”

    6. Rose*

      In what world is not telling someone that they’re being discriminated against (in an environment where lead ship has shown that they have zero interest in protecting employees from harassment) worse than actually discriminating against someone?

  14. RLC*

    #9 reminds me of a long-ago training session I attended, two weeks long, held at a youth camp site in the mountains. Government agency clearly trying to save money with low bid food and accommodations; virtually everything the camp cook prepared was inedible (cornbread and Jell-O the two exceptions). Even breakfast cereal was not safe, one colleague asked “why are there raisins in the cornflakes? Why are they moving?” Readers, those were not raisins. Raisins do not paddle about when milk is poured on cereal.
    The cook came unhinged when he saw all the uneaten meals and accused us all of being horrible food wasting bad people. Employees accused him of trying to make us all sick.

    1. MigraineMonth*

      Raisins aren’t supposed to swim? Nonsense. Next you’re going to tell me they aren’t supposed to be crunchy!

      1. Dinwar*

        And the food this year’s improving
        All the little black things in it are not moving

    2. goddessoftransitory*

      Whatever was taking a milk swim sounded like it was eating well, Cook.

  15. Aepyornis*

    My father has one. He is a (now retired) nurse, who was fiercely loyal to the hospital/foundation who employed him for 40 years (to the day). He is one of the most determined people I have ever met and he holds few grudges, but when he does, he does. When someone who had left this hospital in bad terms and was generally badmouthing it organised a symposium – a very serious, very academic, very prestigious, very expensive affair – he just… organised a competitor symposium on the same day at his hospital. With more serious, more academic, more prestigious guests and speakers. Which more people decided to attend, therefore cancelling their attendance at the first one. In his words, you just don’t come after “The Foundation”. And yeah, nurses don’t generally organise academic symposiums, and this gives you an idea of the esteem he is held in, both inside and outside “The Foundation”. He’s now retired, and a full-time feminist taking on patriarchy with my mother.

  16. WellRed*

    Mugs of retribution: don’t leave us hanging! Did you steal them back? Ask her about them? What happened next?!

    1. Cats Ate My Croissant*

      Sadly, it’s not hugely exciting – there was no big confrontation because I’m a bit of a wimp. I reclaimed my mugs and most went home. My friend who had suffered frequent “my effing mug is missing AGAIN” moans and had noticed the not-actually-love triangle happily played along when I washed my retrieved collection in the staff room sink. “Oh, Cats, I’m relieved you found your mugs! Stuck in a storage cupboard? What an odd thing for SOMEONE to do!” etc. Janet just have known I’d rumbled her – I never explicitly said anything but she avoided my mugs after that.

      I did end up telling Brad, who was both amused and slightly horrified. He already knew Janet had a thing for him so the lesson planning gave him an handy excuse to turn down lifts. Post mug-discovery, we probably fed into her Harlot-Stole-My-Man story. Many school days ended with variations of: Janet (puppy eyes) “ready to go home now, Brad?” Brad- “sweet of you, Janet, but Cats and I have to sort out XYZ”. Janet- “I can wait…” Me-(breezily) “no need to put yourself out, I can drop Brad off. After all, he lives SO close to me.” Because I’m petty like that.

      1. Bruce*

        Oh, way to twist the knife! Kudos for keeping it completely platonic amid all this drama :-)

        1. Cats Ate My Croissant*

          If this had been a romcom, Brad and I would have faked a relationship then, after several implausible misunderstandings, realised we were True Soulmates. Possibly some lovable scamp school kids would have assisted/hindered. My life is far more mundane – I stopped teaching full-time to raise a kid of my own, and am now firmly middle-aged and suburban. Brad and I lost touch – I do know he went on to great things, hopefully Janet-free!

  17. Delliah*

    I’m a registration secretary at public elementary school in an area that is very poor, and traditionally the majority of students are POC. There’s a couple of well off (and white) families that are gentrifying the area.

    We have a program for 3 year olds and 4 year olds, but it’s based on income. Two years ago, one of the gentrifying white families harassed us into getting in the 3’s program, despite the fact that they were really high above the maximum and were labeled as having no financial need whatsoever. I wasn’t even supposed to waitlist them, they were so well-off financially, and they got in because they complained over and over. They did the same thing the second year for our 4’s programs.

    It has always left such a bad taste in my mouth that they got in after their complaints, despite the program being for those that financially need it. I purposely make life harder for them when it comes to any other forms they have to submit or anything like that than I do for other families. I nitpick everything they turn in and I purposely wait days to reply to their emails.

        1. Margaret Cavendish*

          This. First of all, f*** entitled white gentrifiers.

          And second, anon for this, you really read this entire thread and *this* is the behaviour you think is awful? Upthread we have people deliberately destroying careers, locking their colleagues inside during fire drills, and actively trying to poison people. Meanwhile, Delliah is…taking a couple of extra days to respond to some emails. One of these things is very, very much not like the others.

      1. YM*

        So glad you are here to defend the most put-upon and needy category of people, wealthy white folks who bully their way into programs for marginalized populations

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          Tbh, rude entitled people often find themselves on the bottom of the to-do list for anyone who has a customer service type role. They still get their stuff done, but it’s not a top priority.

      2. I Have RBF*


        These shitty people are abusing a program that is being run for low income people. The rich gentrifiers can afford to get their kid into private programs that the low income kids have no chance at, so their kid taking a spot in the program pushes out a kid who doesn’t have other options.

        That kind of crap is shitty, entitled, arrogant, and just plain nasty.

    1. Certaintroublemaker*

      I wonder if there’s a way to allow kids whose families are above the threshold to enroll if they pay sliding scale. Even if it means that there’s a “separate” play program that takes place in the same location at the same time. Kids … just want to play together, and a paid program could supplement resources for both.

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        It’s possible the programme is for kids who are likely to start education at a disadvantage (due to possible lack of resources at home, etc) and the point is to give them some of the benefits kids from wealthier families already have so that they all start on a level playing field.

        It’s also possible (even probable) that space is limited and that it just makes sense to give the places available to those whose parents cannot afford other forms of childcare or preschool.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          If it’s the kind of program I’m thinking of, federal funds most likely help pay for it. People with money can afford preschool. (If there’s space, I wouldn’t object to making room IF the families who can afford it pay full cost without using money meant for those who need it.)

    2. Mrs. McCarthy’s Award-Winning Strawberry Scones*

      I used to work in financial aid and one of the parents I was meeting with was furious about her child not qualifying for a federal grant. After some back and forth she finally asked “well, what income WOULD get them the full grant?” When I crunched the numbers and told her, her response was “that’s crazy, how could anyone live on that?!” Granted, the federal government is not generous when it comes to free money, but it just blew my mind that someone could be that oblivious of the dire financial circumstances so many families are living with. I hope that moment was an eye-opening revelation for her, but I kind of doubt it.

      1. Bruce*

        This is why my kids went to state schools… when we did the FAFSA form we saw we. would. get. NOTHING. And I know my sons had classmates who got grants but still had to scramble to pay for living expenses, my heart goes out to them.

        1. Bruce*

          (I realize this thread started with a “Head Start” type program, I can see some value in it being open to all comers but agree that the funding should serve the poorest people. Our kids went to a “co-op” preschool, my late wife was able to volunteer extensively with them but a lot of families struggled to do their volunteer days, often had grandparents coming in for the required days. It was still much more economically diverse than regular private preschools!)

      2. Margaret Cavendish*

        >>“that’s crazy, how could anyone live on that?!”

        She is *so close* to getting the point, isn’t she?

  18. Scott M*

    #1: Sometimes older employees are, by default, often asked to train new employees. It seems like a logical idea, since they have been there the longest and have the most institutional knowledge. However there are some problems with this:
    1. Just because you are the oldest doesn’t mean that you you have the best personality or patience for training new employees.
    2. Training takes up time, and older employees may feel they are being shunted off to training instead of more interesting and important projects.
    3. Sometimes older employees really ARE less valuable in terms of new projects, and the only value they have left is the “keeper of the flame” of institutional knowledge. They may resent being reminded of this.

    FYI I am the older employee and I could relate to all of these at some point in my career.

    Of course the older employee in this example was acting horribly , regardless.

    1. Bunny Girl*

      Ha I was the one who wrote in #1. She was never asked to train me, wasn’t in the same program as me, and I think I asked her one general question in the entire time I was there. She was just making a big deal over nothing. I ended up asking another employee about her attitude later and she apparently just decided she didn’t like people right off the bat.

    2. MigraineMonth*

      I’m in software programming, and we are always consulting either whoever has worked on this part of the software most recently (since they’ll hopefully remember details) or whoever has been working on the software longest (since they might remember why on earth it was built this way to start).

      “Why do we store information about llama health in the ‘grooming’ database table, and information about when they were last groomed in the ‘health_history’ table? Pull up a chair, that’s a fascinating story…”

      1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

        This sounds a lot like r/trees and r/marijuana to me….

  19. A perfectly normal-size space bird*

    My spouse’s boss (Colin) has an ongoing feud with the manager of another department (Angela). Colin thinks Angela is infinitely stubborn and difficult to work with and proudly declares his unwillingness to work with her. He’s always apologetic as he sends someone else in his place “to feed the wolves.” Everyone else loves Angela and thinks she’s a warm and welcoming person to work with. Spouse finally asked Angela what the issue was and she said that she once disagreed with Colin on a minor matter of which department owned the cables to a specific network switch that was being replaced and he’s never forgiven her for that.

  20. Dek*

    Soooo….#6 was literally just straight up illegal.

    NGL, I’d be pretty pissed if it turned out my coworker knew why I was being treated like that, but didn’t say anything, *ESPECIALLY* if it was for a reason like someone thinking I was the wrong religion.

    Also ffs, it’s NOLA.

    1. Molly Coddler*

      yeah, i have a really hard time with everyone seeing the bullying, knowing why it is happening, and being just fine with letting it go on. if you don’t say something when you’re in a position to – you’re the bully too. that “friend” could have told her, she would have had a lawsuit she could have won. weak people like her “friend” are just that, weak, and a bully’s dream. i say this as someone who worked for someone like that. and when i asked the other admin later, after the old regime was gone, she said yes she knew but since it wasn’t her who was being bullied she just let it go. That said, i know for a fact HR does not care about these things so maybe it is better to stay quiet.

  21. Trout 'Waver*

    OP#7 sounds like heaven. I wish I had someone acting as the “face” of my team and representing us all in a positive light.

    If you’re the leader, and you’re bad at one aspect of the job, hiring someone who is good at that aspect is a sign of good leadership. Dragging them down to your level is not.

  22. soontoberetired*

    #14 – chain emails in 2012? they were the rage in the 90s – so much so that people were threatened with consequences at my workplace for passing them on. But wow.

  23. MigraineMonth*

    For #2, I’m impressed that she stood on her principles. I mean, if you don’t stand for something, you’ll sit on anything!

  24. Bromaa*

    oh no, #15, you got smooth sharked by your coworker!

    (googling “sharks are smooth as hell” should bring this up for you; suffice it to say that I highly doubt he did not know how to pronounce Pythagorean theorem.)

      1. allathian*

        Yup, 80-220 grit smooth. Fun fact, Stradivari used dogfish skin to burnish his violins before varnishing them.

      2. Zoe Karvounopsina*

        Sharks are notoriously smooth, and anyone who says they are rough is lying!

  25. TeenieBopper*

    Resetting passwords is mostly harmless but also peak petty in our current day and age and I love it.

  26. lilsheba*

    On this one: “Well, the reason was that I brought in a Witch’s Almanac calendar one day and hung it up in my cube. It was New Orleans and the vibe there is really eccentric and pretty much anything goes, so I didn’t even think it would be an issue. The calendar did not have explicit pictures or anything. It was arty more than anything. Crows, cauldrons, stuff like that. So N thought I was Wiccan and since she was such a good Christian, she made it her mission to destroy me professionally.” a OHHHHHH that makes me so mad. I have that same calendar I use it every year. This is why I can’t stand christians for the most part, they pull stupid stunts like this.

  27. Rosyglasses*

    Oh my — #11!! Got fired after locking him in a storage cupboard??! Sounds like a plot from Fargo!

    1. Violet*

      lilsheba said, “This is why I can’t stand Christians for the most part, they pull stupid stunts like this.” That was the comment I was referencing.

  28. Violet*

    No need to hate on Christians. We’re not a monolith and we’re not all like that.

    1. Come on....really?*

      No one said they are??? The letter is clearly about a single individual. Can we not do this for once?

    2. Dinwar*

      #NotAllMen, am I right?

      I actually sympathize with you. The logic of responding to discrimination by discriminating against the discriminator is fundamentally flawed. And I am a staunch individualist, I try to base my opinion about people on the person, not on group affiliation. Group affiliation doesn’t say much about who the person is.

      That said, when you’re seeing your nth example of this sort of thing this week, and it’s always members of the same group causing the issue, it’s a normal human response to attribute that behavior to the group. And while I’m sure that there’s some Wiccans and Pagans who would abandon a friendship if the person came out as Christian, I’ve personally never heard of it happening. It’s ALWAYS the other way around, at least in my experience. And it happens often enough that it’s a very real risk for us.

      Put it this way: Maybe you’re safe to talk to. Maybe you won’t react badly if you see the pentacles and the alter and the rest. Maybe. But since if I’m wrong my career is destroyed, I could lose custody of my kids, and I may be in physical danger, I’m not going to be really excited to take that risk.

    3. Disabled trans lesbian*

      To be blunt, I find it very hard to care about “not all Christians” when the Christians who are like that are allowed so much institutional leeway (or even outright support!) at the expense of their victims.

    4. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Not all, but enough. Christianity has a serious problem, and yelling “not all Christians” or claiming that they’re persecuted is making it worse.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        “Not all, but enough.”


        Clean your own damn house before you complain about how messy somebody else’s house is.

    5. Laser99*

      It’s not even really about Christianity, it’s about fanaticism and zealotry.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        Fanaticism, zealotry, and an incredible sense of moral superiority. Their religion is just an excuse for what amounts to an individual form of fascism.

    6. Dhaskoi*

      Are all Christians like this? No.

      Are there millions of Christians who are like this? Yes.

      Do they use non-zealot Christians as camouflage? Yes.

      Do non-zealot Christians push back against zealot Christians with the same energy that they jump up to say ‘not all Christians’?


  29. JelloStapler*

    #6 when “good Christians” try to teach others a lesson by being rude and judgemental…. aka NOT a good Christian.

  30. NotARealManager*

    #6, why didn’t your co-worker just tell you what the reason N hated you was? I don’t know that you could’ve changed her behavior, but at least your work life would’ve made a little more sense?

    1. Lab Boss*

      If it makes you feel better, we assume the bad meat was intended with malice but we all laugh about it now.

  31. goddessoftransitory*

    #5 and the doughnuts: this is a phenomenon I absolutely cannot wrap my head around–I file under “you know you’re a grown up, right?”

    I know food insecurity is a huge thing, and plenty of people are forced to pretty much live on what they can get at work, free food wise (there’s been AAM letters about this very thing.) But #5 is NOT that.

    These are grown ass adults with paychecks and agency who are spending multiple days and filing union grievances about NOT GETTING ONE DOUGHNUT. Because for some reason, they have not gotten the “you can buy a legal piece of pastry just about anywhere, anytime you want, dude. You are a free adult person!”

    At any time, they can go and purchase a doughnut, or two, or six dozen. No one can stop them! It’s their money and choice! They can gorge on bear claws and maple bars and raised glazed until they see frosting stars and keel over, any time they wish. But no, they want to spend multiple hours and professional capital on bitching over not receiving one Krispy Kreme from a meeting they weren’t invited to.

      1. 1LFTW*

        I’m a steward with my union. I’m rolling my eyes at this because my workers in my shop have real problems.

        That said, a “union investigation” sometimes is a very official-sounding word for me calling up some people and saying “hey, I heard that the Spout Team gets company-sponsored snacks in the break room every day, but the Handle Team has never been offered the same benefit… oh, it was just one meeting? … and it was a personal gesture, not company funds? … Thank you, I needed to verify it because company-sponsored perks are need to be offered equally, per our contract, but it sounds like that’s not what’s going on here.”

        Things get like this when there’s a truly adversarial relationship between upper management and the rank and file. At least in my experience, when we dig in our heels over something, it’s because we’ve learned the hard way that it’s the thin edge of the wedge. (And again… the problems my workers have are not things like doughnuts.)

        1. aqua*

          Yeah, I’m a union rep and if someone put in a grievance about “unequal treatment” or similar I would check it out, realise it was a one-off meeting about donuts, and mentally deprioritise any future grievances from the same person.

          Relatedly, unions can end up representing someone we know is in the wrong. In that case I see our role as making sure that procedure is followed fairly for everyone involved. E.g. maybe they did something really egregious that definitely merits firing but they are entitled to two weeks severance in lieu of notice – we would be making sure they get that. We also can end up representing both people on either side of a grievance, in which case again our role is to support both people through the process and try to make sure it’s handled fairly.

    1. Boof*

      I’m not sure why, but this one bothered me the most. I think it was just the sheer entitlement of somebody trying to do something nice for someone who is specifically doing them a favor, and then an entire group of people basically yelling “where’s mine?!” without any justification! Truly this is why we cannot have nice things.

    2. Dhaskoi*

      If someone asked me what my biggest takeaway was from years of reading AAM, it would be this:

      ‘Free food makes people INSANE’

    3. münchner kindl*

      I see this as “The Iranian yoghurt is not the problem”.

      There were several previous Letters about small grievances – not just food – where Allison pointed out that the real problem was much bigger.

      If employees are so petty and resentful against each other, either the whole workplace is toxic – management treating all employees bad, so it unloads in toxic ways – or some employees who are toxic personalities are allowed to run free (missing stairs) because, once again, manglement fails to actually manage, in this case, by telling toxic people to stop being petty.

      1. Antigone Funn*

        Hahaha, I’m going to slip “manglement” into my vocabulary in place of “management” and see if anybody notices.

  32. NotARealManager*

    #9, I know the workplace norms in kitchens can be less stringent than other settings, but why wasn’t he fired when he was in a screaming fight threatening to poison everyone? (Especially since he apparently made good on that threat to a certain degree)

    1. Ex-prof*

      Yeah, I wondered that too, but having worked in summer camps myself, my guess would be “Because they couldn’t find anyone else willing to work for 27 cent an hour.”

      1. Lab Boss*

        Look at you, working in one of those WEALTHY summer camps.

        but yeah, head cook is super hard to replace mid summer. Plus summer camp norms really are different- a lot of young people, stressful conditions, having to live with your workers. Verbal, and even physical, fights that would be a Huge Deal in a normal work place are more likely to be worked through like “Bob was curt to Tina in a meeting” might be in the real world.

  33. Goldenrod*

    “These are grown ass adults with paychecks and agency who are spending multiple days and filing union grievances about NOT GETTING ONE DOUGHNUT”

    Omigod, I know, right??? I can never get over how otherwise reasonable adults will suddenly LOSE THEIR GODDAMN MINDS where free food is involved. My worst office experience with this involved professors. Their profound and bottomless disappointment when free cookies occasionally failed to materialize was truly amazing. I always wanted to tell them, “You’re a professor. Buy yourself a cookie!”

    1. Synaptically Unique*

      Oh, the stories I have over missing cookies…

      Truly, there’s nothing so petty as an academic without a cookie. LOL

      1. I Have RBF*

        Even non-academic staff get upset over cookies.

        I couldn’t eat the cookies that the university put out because they were made with soybean oil, and having one put me in the bathroom for an hour. They tasted great, but the cramping and crapping were not worth it.

        So I grumbled about cheap institutional cooking – the reason soybean oil is so ubiquitous even though it’s a common allergen is because it is very, very cheap.

  34. Bern Notice*

    Gotta love that the punchline to #6/long-running grudge turned out to be “she was such a good Christian, she made it her mission to destroy me professionally”. There’s no hate quite like good old ‘Christian’ love!

  35. NothappyinNY*

    If the Friends of the Library make donations for acquisitions, it is wrong to use it for a couch. I wonder what donors would think about the couch.

    1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      It sounds like the couch was the Friends of the Library’s idea.

      It never occurred to me to specify what the Friends of the Library should do with my donations. Maybe the library is trying to raise money so they can be on Saturdays, maybe they’ll buy books, or book-mending supplies, or maybe the staff need a couch.

      I’m giving them money because I appreciate the library services I use–and that’s not just the books, it includes book recommendations, and being able to borrow software, and, frankly, a public bathroom that I can use without buying a cup of tea.

    2. Loredena*

      It sounds like the Friends specifically bought the couch. And at least with the group I belonged to as a junior member (so decades ago) most of the money came from memberships and sales, not donations

      1. NothappyinNY*

        Hard to say, was it just one person or the group of “Friends” – as to coming from memberships, that can be just another name for donations. I think Not for profits have to be careful about use of funds.

        1. AnneMoliviaColemuff*

          I think you’re imagining an unlikely worst case scenario here. Occam’s razor would indicate that the FOL had discretion on how to spend their funds, and this was something they saw worthy of said funds.

        2. NotAnotherManager!*

          It literally says in the post that the FoL donated the actual furniture, including the couch. It is not the library employees’ job to police an outside organization’s use of their own funds or compliance with their own mission/bylaws. Non-profits do have to be mindful of their funds usage, but, unless their bylaws are startlingly narrow, buying items to benefit the library (which includes the people who work there, often for not much pay) hardly seems scandalous and a reason to wring one’s hands. In my experience, too, well-organized non-profits have an oversight mechanism related to purchases – and donors are able to review their high-level financials on the IRS website.

  36. Ink*

    10 is a pretty elegant solution to an absurd problem! Though I wonder if on their first day free of the terrible boss they automatically went to take a pic of the desk before leaving

    1. The Bill Murray Disagreement*

      I did not. I was DEEPLY fortunate to only be in that dysfunctional situation for a little less than 1 year and the place I went to work after that was absolutely magnificent.

    2. Kit Kendrick*

      I had a job that periodically required me to leave my desk to deliver or pick up paperwork. My manager at the time would decide that if she happened to see I was away from my desk at 10am (delivering everyone’s mail) and then saw that I was away at 11:45 to (dropping off invoices to the finance department) then obviously the only explanation was that I had spent two hours wandering the building and had done exactly no work in the intervening time. I took to setting my screensaver with “Left desk at 11:38 on errand,” so there was proof I at least had to have returned long enough to change the message. It’s not as though she could not see that all my work was getting done, or that there were not plenty of days when she did see me every time she walked past my desk.

  37. Jennie D Hayner*

    Mini fridge librarian! Please tell me you are in Alton. This has to be the same director…

    1. MeridethLibrarian*


      But 25 years in Public Libraries have taught me there are plenty of micromanaging mainsplainers to go around.

      (In a highly feminized profession, a barely competent white dude can go far)

  38. TheBunny*

    I have follow up questions for #11

    She locked him in twice? That’s just question 1.

  39. Lex Talionis*

    #13. There is nothing as satisfying as memorializing an event with a button. Especially when the graphics department director can give you a run for your money when it comes to petty. I should be ashamed to say I have quite a collection. But I’m not.

  40. Kuleta*

    #6: I’d like to hope that N’s walking out was a hotheaded, short-sighted move with long-term consequences. Over time her manager mix could have changed, and a bigshot boss who let her get away with murder left/retired/got demoted. Then the firm didn’t have to cater to her anymore.

    If N was married, what was her spouse’s reaction when N told them, “I quit my job today.”

    People like N don’t always consider that a bigshot boss’s power can include the power to get rid of them.

  41. Resentful Oreos*

    I have cleithrophobia – as distinct from claustrophobia – that is a fear of being trapped. I think if someone deliberately locked me in I’d probably muster up enough strength in my aging body to do some serious property damage trying to escape. Then I’d find a lawyer and see if I had a case for a lawsuit. Brrrrr.

    I feel bad for the LW with the witchy calendar. I’m a pagan (not Wiccan) and I’ve had some run-ins with “Christian love,” though nothing near as bad as that poor LW – and in New Orleans, yet! Honestly, I’d assume it was just a souvenir calendar! There are certain things I don’t want to see on art displayed at work (realistic gore and violence, blatant bigotry) but if someone had a calendar with Jesus and angels and what not, I’d just shrug. I can’t comprehend a mentality that wants to make someone’s life a misery in the name of “love.”

    Camp cook is giving me vicarious indigestion and reminding me of why I tend to carry a stash of granola bars and bottled water with me places. And the boss’s refrigerator reminds me of when I had to get my old one replaced after it died! I was convinced my neighbors were going to hate me because the smelly old thing had to be carried through a hallway, but, thankfully, no. Good for the vengeful youth librarian who maliciously complied.

    1. Blue Horizon*

      That WOULD likely resolve the long-running dispute.

      An actual fire while manager #1 was locked in the cupboard would have done the same thing.

  42. Ex-prof*

    “…until she was encouraged to leave after locking him in a storage cupboard.”


  43. Taskmistress*

    #8 – if he’s paired with a Janet, then he’ll be Brad as in Majors to me

    1. mlem*

      I love the subtle brilliance of the naming scheme — he’s “a Brad”-as-in-Pitt, attractive, but she — mistakenly, and fittingly cartoonishly — saw him as the Brad-to-her-Janet.

  44. Moonstone*

    My husband used to work for the most selfish, least self-aware person I’ve ever had the displeasure of knowing. One example **of many** – during the pandemic a few clients made large donations to their business with the intention of the money being shared among all employees. The owner pocketed the money, never shared a cent, and then gave out gift certificates for the donated amount and made the employees offer free services for those gift certificates whenever someone used one. The employees finally mentioned what was happening to one of the donors and he was horrified; he refused to use the rest of the gift certificate because he didn’t want to be party to costing them money.
    Oh and she screwed them all by classifying them as 1099s instead of W2s because she claimed she couldn’t afford the tax implications. So we’ve had to pay super high tax bills every year because she’s so cheap and unethical.

    1. BikeWalkBarb*

      Long story to say I’m not a CPA or tax lawyer but you should go after her for the taxes. Why I say that, shared for entertainment value and if my long-ago coworker ever wanders by this post please say hi!–

      I once upon a time worked for a guy who hired us through a want ad in the local paper for “writer’s assistants” and paid us in cash by the hour for his idea of creating an alternative thesaurus that grouped words by thematic content, not because they were synonyms. All the words related to the legal system would be grouped together, with “shyster” in big bold letters at the top because he hated lawyers.

      He was an odd guy, to say the least. He posted pieces of paper on the walls all over his house (where we worked) with the categories, stayed up all night reading the dictionary and writing words onto the category lists, then during the day we *handwrote his changes in alphabetical order onto fresh sheets of paper* so he had clean lists to work with. We were hired for our good printing and in my case I actually had relevant degrees in English and Linguistics.

      He fired one of my coworkers–a Wiccan, so she fits into the calendar story too, and she had worked for Big Beautiful Women magazine and had this great story about meeting Michael Jackson. Next he fired me–both of us because we asked questions and had ideas. My idea was to use these things called computers to type up the lists so it would be easy to add new words and sort. But no, then we could steal his idea.

      She called me to say, “He’s going to get in trouble; I reported him for not withholding taxes and treating us like contractors when we were actually employees since he provided the equipment and controlled all our work” (or something like that–she had the correct legal definition of employee status). “So he’s going to call you and try to get you to pay 50% of the Social Security taxes he didn’t withhold. But *you don’t owe this*–it’s 100% on him because he screwed up so don’t let him bully you.”

      Sure enough, he called me and started threatening me. At that point I put it on speakerphone and started recording and my husband chimed in to ask if he was threatening me. He backed down fast, which was a relief because he also liked to talk about how many guns he owned and let slip at one point that he was a convicted felon (convicted of what, I don’t know, and the system certainly convicts innocent people but somehow in his case I thought they probably got it right; there was some reason he couldn’t live in Chicago ever again or something along those lines).

      Hope you enjoy the entertainment value. I believe in paying my taxes but I definitely don’t believe in paying taxes I don’t owe.

    2. NotAnotherManager!*

      She can’t just classify employees as 1099s because she doesn’t want to pay taxes. There are specific tests to determine if someone is a contractor or an employee. Were that not the case, every cheap employer would make everyone a 1099 with no consequences.

      You can seek recourse with the IRS for unpaid employer taxes (if you are in the US, which I assume from the tax form codes). He can also file an SS-8 form with the IRS to request that they review his classification. What she is doing may be illegal, not just unethical.

  45. I've got the shrimp!*

    Sooooo, did 6s manager know the reason they were blanking OP was because of their religion? Because that is very much an issue that was their jurisdiction to manage!

  46. ENFP in Texas*

    I am pagan, with strong Wiccan influence, and I work in Corporate America. I always wore my pentacle pendant on a long chain, to ensure that it stayed within my shirt and not visible at work. It got snagged on my bra and on the neck of my shirt, but I did it because I didn’t want to make anyone else uncomfortable.

    Somewhere around 2006, I got fed up with it. I realized that my coworkers were wearing visible symbols of their religion like a cross or the Star of David, and there was no reason that I should not be allowed to do the same thing.

    I put my pentacle on a shorter chain. I had a couple of people ask about it, and I know I got side-eye from some of the folks in other departments, but I am fortunate that it did not seem to have any sort of serious backlash.

    The fact that the letter writer had somebody actively try to destroy her career because of a calendar is unbelievable. The fact that no one did anything about it despite knowing it was happening is reprehensible.

    1. DeeBeeCee*

      I used to be in a very religious MLM (still use their excellent products 25+ years on, so not completely sorry). When I attended events, often with fellow Wiccan friends, we usually hid our pendants and our ideology; but after many years, I finally decided to let the pentacle out. I got so many positive comments! It gave other people a chance to crawl out of the closet with me.

  47. MassChick*

    This post/thread brought so much joy to my petty little heart.
    I can totally see my younger self in #15. I’m still petty but more judicious about it.

  48. Ron*

    I am disappointed that the OP from the speakerphone war never left a message screeching “HELLO! HELLO! CAN YOU HEAR ME?” in the first ansaphone, followed by “HELLO! HELLO! I CAN HEAR YOU!” on the other…

  49. warm smile in your voice*

    Number 15: IDK, I don’t think this is a story one really wants to keep sharing, maybe

    1. I&I*

      Yeah, we kind of ended on a villain narrative there. I hope you’ve learned better, LW!

      1. Margaret Cavendish*

        The prompt was to share grudges perpetrated by yourself, or someone else.

        OP says “Was this a sensible trigger? No.” and refers to themself as “a petulant child.” I think it’s fair to say that they’ve matured in the meantime, and they’re telling the story now with a certain amount of self-deprecation.

  50. Trying to leave*

    Youth librarian is my hero. #4 — any tips on how to deal with that? My assistant has a year-long feud with the assistant next door. She refuses to speak to her or acknowledge her in any way, and doesn’t even use her name when talking about her (she calls her “that lady”). Based on what I have gathered, there seems to be a reason behind it, but it makes my job more difficult, because when assistant next door is out or needs help I (team lead) have to cover for her instead of my assistant. Our job isn’t super strict on hierarchy, but still, doesn’t feel like the best use of my role.

    1. basically functional*

      I assume you’re not the supervisor for your assistant and don’t have the power to discipline or fire her? Can you ask whoever does have that power to solve this? It’s not acceptable (and kind of ridiculous) that your assistant is just getting away with refusing to do part of her job and pushing her work onto the person she’s supposed to assist.

  51. Seen Too Much*

    I am a bit late to the game – I worked at a periodontist’s office as the office/HR manager. There was a front desk person, let’s call her A, who had been with them for quite a while. She was at least 30 at the time. A would get mad, for no reason, and refuse to speak to me. We sat feet apart. She had to pass by me to go to the bathroom or leave. When she decided she wasn’t speaking to me, she would leave me post-it notes. A would not answer my questions, she would wait until I left then leave a post-it on my computer. The doctor didn’t want to deal with drama, so would just tell me to handle it, and refused to fire her or reprimand her.

    Until, the office was closed for Passover. the doctor went to Israel and I went to Florida. This is important because, A and I were supposed to take turns covering the office when we were closed – getting mail, listening to voicemail. While everyone was aware that I would not be around, A decided that she was going to pretend she wasn’t aware that she was supposed to cover – you know, because she wasn’t talking to me at the time. Well, the doctor got stuck in Israel because they lost their passports and had to cancel a bunch of appointments. Since I was in Florida, A was supposed to handle it. Only she ignored everyone’s phone calls. I offered to go back early, but the hygienists went in and took care of rescheduling appointments.

    The doctor was mad enough to fire her as soon as he got back. She tried crying and saying she didn’t know I was away, but since she ignored everybody’s phone calls, he wasn’t buying it.

  52. Ex501C3*

    Oh man, this reminds me of my old boss (non profit work where I have a masters in the field and she had never worked in it but was director).

    For whatever reason she was determined to hate my writing. I made something for distribution and she ranted to a coworker about how it was garbage, didn’t she agree it was garbage? She had other people completely redo my work on multiple occasions (she got in trouble once for wasting time this way).

    She never knew I wrote, edited, or rewrote 90% of the emails, documents, and other writings my coworkers sent outside the org. She never seemed to think those were garbage…

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