let’s discuss wild overreactions at work

Inspired by yesterday’s letter about the CEO who freaked out over a very mild joke, let’s discuss wild overreactions at work. Some stories that have been shared here over the years:

  • “This was a legendary story at the first restaurant where I worked, a popular downtown brunch place. A previous kitchen manager had a strong hatred of cooking egg whites – he felt like it disrupted the entire flow of everything to stop and carefully separate the yolk from the rest of the egg. Over time, he got angrier and angrier at customers who ordered egg whites, especially during the weekend rush. One Sunday, when an order for egg whites came in, he decided he’d had enough. He took the bill and demanded to know which table had ordered it. When the server told him, he marched over to the table, slammed the bill down, and said, ‘Buddy, you can cook your own f&$@! egg whites.’ He tore off his apron, walked out, and never came back.”
  • “We just standardized our email signatures yesterday. People flipped out. ‘Why can’t I have this picture of my dog in my signature?’ ‘‘But I’ve always used pink cursive font — it’s cuter.’ ‘You’re crushing our individuality.’ Another department manager had employees who threatened to quit. I really didn’t think that having a standard email signature was that big of a deal. This is literally the only company that I’ve worked for that didn’t have one (until now).”
  • “Our organization holds an annual event where the summer interns make presentations on their projects … One year a new administrative assistant ordered appetizers from a different vendor and there was no cheese tray. A supervisor who had worked with multiple interns came in as the event was starting, looked at the food, loudly exclaimed, ‘WHERE IS THE CHEESE WHEEL?’ and then stormed out and refused to participate when he was told there was no cheese. We had to scramble to keep the interns calm and get them the paperwork they needed to satisfy their internship requirements.”

There was also a legendary response to a decrease in speed dial buttons, the person who became livid about a joke about King Charles, and a new hire’s response to cheap-ass rolls at a potluck.

Let’s talk about wild overreactions you’ve seen at work. Please share in the comments.

{ 868 comments… read them below }

  1. RedinSC*

    *sits back, pops popcorn and can’t wait!*

    I’ve seen over reactions, any new software or process at the university was met with WILD pushback. WORST THING TO HAPPEN SINCE (last new software). It’s always crazy to see how entrenched people are with their ancient applications

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      I was told that when a former company moved from a paper to an online manual in the late 90s, there was an uproar. Supervisors had to wheel around a cart to gather the (huge!) binders, and staff tried to hide copies.

      This was in a busy call center that I worked in for a little over a year. I was glad the manual was available on my computer and easily searchable. Can’t even imagine flipping through pages to track down answers.

      Aside from a couple exceptions (small ice cream shop and small bindery, where we used old school time clocks!), I have used computers at all my jobs since I started working in high school in the 1980s. Who are these people surprised by technology in the workplace? Do they also call phones “machines”?

      1. Garblesnark*

        I’m pretty techy, but I wouldn’t appreciate my binder being taken – it probably had handwritten notes and tabs in that helped me find the reference information quickly and place it on my desk, letting my use all the space on my screen to do my tasks.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I frankly agree. My work is messing around with our online manual and I despise it. It’s on a crappy, glitchy site and impossible to find anything. I used to open the handful of pages I needed and keep them ready to go and now I have to start all over hunting down the stuff I may need, plus if anyone asks a question answered in another section I have to keep them hanging on hold while I frantically paw through it.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            They would have had pages routinely removed and replaced. So, your notes would be taken away at some point, anyway. (Government health benefits 6 lots of updates.)

        2. Observer*

          Which is fine if your manual doesn’t change much. One of the reasons for using on-line files is that things change too often to keep paper manuals up-dated.

          1. Angstrom*

            Yes! If you have controlled documents, where using the latest revision is critical, old paper copies are a nightmare. Ask any quality auditor.

            1. Lisa*

              Oh yes. I am in a regulated industry and paper copies of procedures are a huge no-no. Even electronic copies are a Very Bad Idea, you always open the current effective version directly from the document repository. If you need to print one for some reason you have to write FOR REFERENCE ONLY on it and dispose of it promptly.

          2. Yes we still need faxes*

            That’s true, but my experience has been that in cases where the manual is changing constantly, it was still better to have a paper copy where a change meant sending everybody a new page, than an online manual where they would quietly change things on the back-end on the daily without a public changelog, and six months down the line everybody is using a different procedure based on what the online manual said the last time they happened to check it.

            1. Observer*

              it was still better to have a paper copy where a change meant sending everybody a new page,

              I have never seen that happen. And when these manuals are actually coming from outside our organization (eg fiscal requirements manuals from funders), that’s *really* unlikely to happen.

              1. We do still need fax machines*

                Unfortunately I’ve never seen the “notify people when you update the online manual” thing happen, myself. And with paper manuals, there was at least the basic concept that updating them required a lot of trouble, so people didn’t do it literally every day.

                There are definitely situations where an online manual is a good idea – such as ones where there really do need to be small daily changes, and the staff are all very well aware of the need to check for the changes every day. But they are a very small fraction of use cases for a “manual” (and I suspect most of those are really not functioning as a manual anymore, even if they’re still called that.)

              2. Loose leaf updates*

                Happened all the time.

                In an early job, I used to update procedures binders as the new loose leaf pages came in.

                Every week, regular as clickwork, there’d be a shrink wrapped bundle of new pages in the mail with holes already punched.

            2. Charlotte Lucas*

              We had regular update notifications. You couldn’t open the online manual without seeing them first. And in-person training on big changes.

            3. Anonomatopoeia*

              I especially enjoy the case where a limited group of people have access to the online version, BUT THEY DON’T KNOW THAT (or don’t remember it) and so they will refer people to the manual and be peeved that the manual is not being followed when the people they are referring ONLY have the printout they were given at some point, and literally cannot refer to the other one. It’s even cooler when the online one is set up so that when one doesn’t have permission, it displays a 404 rather than a notification that there’s a permission issue, so even if the person somehow got a link, they would still think the online documentation didn’t exist.

              Not that this has happened in my surrounds at least half a dozen times in the last year…

          3. Six for the truth over solace in lies*

            This is why we got rid of our physical manuals. Even when told that the online version was the definitive and that people should refer there if the print one seemed wrong, people just… wouldn’t. It hugely reduced our internal support load to take away the physical manuals.

            1. La Triviata*

              Years ago, we had printed employee manuals – we had to sign that we’d read and understood the office standards. We went years with no updates. Then, it turned out, the CFO (who handled HR matters) had been going into the files on the network drive and changing the electronic version of the manual and that the files were the definitive standards. The issue was that he never told anyone that things had changed and that the printed manual was no longer valid.

        3. Kit*

          Yeah, my work in a call center (okay, inside sales/customer service) involved an enormous stand of reference materials, including manuals, for our products, but those manuals didn’t typically change much, and the ability to make handwritten notes, add tabs, and generally know where to look faster than my (not especially quick) computer could bring up the pdfs, which weren’t even indexed… totally worth the slightly-more-than-annual need to swap out pricing sheets that I also referenced dozens of times a day.

          Then again, we sold industrial equipment – working with something that does involve more frequent changes would alter that cost-benefit analysis significantly!

        4. MikeM_inMD*

          I still have, and occasionally use, my Unix In A Nutshell book with notes and added tabs. It’s the 2nd edition from 1992 that I bought new.

          1. Spring*

            Me, too, with my ancient HTML book where I wrote my own notes for stuff that wasn’t included in the book. I finally bought the most up-to-date version, but I’m keeping the old one with my notes.

            1. Pickwick*

              Excel for Dummies from 1993 still holds up pretty well, too! Lots of new features it obviously can’t cover, but the basic rules and hotkeys mostly haven’t changed.

              I, uh, didn’t notice it was the 1993 edition when I bought it off a discount book rack in 2020.

        5. White Dragon*

          So much this!

          I work with legislation and you’d better by gumbo know chapter and verse so keeping up with the latest version is essential!

          So I actually have diarized to check the issuing authority website a few times a year to check for revisions and I download a new version.

          BUT

          I also keep the most recent print run on my desk for reference. It has highlighted areas that are frequently used as well as penciled in definitions, reference to various regulations, and cross-references to other areas that may affect how something is read. It is an invaluable resource and I don’t begrudge the couple of hours it takes for me to do an update every year or so.

          The digital version is used in various situations, usually when I have to copy and paste the actual language (frequently).

          Definitely value to both approaches!

          1. Reluctant Mezzo*

            Yes, when we transitioned to an online manual explaining our purchasing codes, I know people kept hoarding their Big Green Book of Answers. (our computers also went down on occasion, and guess who was really popular *then*).

        6. lilsheba*

          Yeah I agree with this. I used to have all kinds of binders at work for reference stuff that I could find things in easily. Now I don’t, everything is digital and it gives me a headache to find stuff sometimes.

      2. Just me*

        My first job in 1968 was tech based. Granted I didn’t have my own computer but the paperwork I did went directly to keypunch. And the error messages were on greenbar tractor feed paper that came back to us the next day.
        I love the progress we have made!
        Things get done so much faster. Except when I try to create a spreadsheet after not having done a new one in ages…

      3. Jo*

        I’m no Luddite, am very proficient on computers and I’m also certain I’d have been one who’d have hidden my printed manual. I often find printed material to be easier and quicker to access than searching digitally.
        Be careful about coming across as insulting. No need to put people down because they have different preferences.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          I love paper! But not for answering 70+ calls a day about a government benefit with regularly changing information. (I both did and trained others to do the job. It was one that definitely benefitted from an online manual. And much of the research we did was in different databases, anyway. So everyone was already using computer systems.)

      4. TiredFormerGeologist*

        Tbh, I have worked at a place where the online manuals don’t work. In my field relying on tech would get you side eyed sometimes (or bonus: you rely on the readings and the readings are wrong).

        I would always keep physical copies for note taking. I didn’t always get to work in an office (geology fieldwork isn’t conducive to desk work), but when I did have a desk job I also took physical notes. I would probably have hidden my binder too, because my version of manuals would’ve had notes in it about how to solve C, D, or E problem with the software.

        I do see how it becomes silly if the software works, but I have worked at too many places where we used buggy software that crashed a lot. Or where the digital copies were just…broken somehow.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          Maybe I should clarify that everyone also had separate training binders, and they were encouraged to keep notes in those.

      5. Abundant Shrimp*

        I did some web dev work at companies that weren’t cutting-edge tech companies in the late 90s. My impression was that development was clunky and the products were slow and unreliable. So depending on how well the online manual worked and how often it crashed, I might’ve hidden my binder too.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          It was actually on the mainframe. If it crashed, all the other systems crashed, too. (Except for one that was owned by the federal government and was separate.)

      6. ZK*

        Years ago, I ran a copy and print center. I had one company that would print, tab and spiral bind its yearly reports, full color, multiple copies of each report for each region. While I absolutely loved my bonus for that month, I always shook my head in amazement because they used Powerpoint and Excel to create the reports, so they could have just done a presentation that way and saved tens of thousands of dollars. When I left, the next person seriously screwed up just the monthly report that just the local region printed, and I heard from a former co-worker that the company finally went to just PP presentations/digital files.

        But it wouldn’t surprise me if those 10 year old books still existed, somewhere. (When I first started doing the job for my initial client, he’d bring me in copies of reports he’d had printed elsewhere as an example. And he mentioned that they all had shelves of them, the previous printer had done binders so they took up sooo much room.) I kind of wish I’d been a fly on the wall to see the reaction to going digital. The younger guys would have been fine with it, but a few of the guys I worked with probably just about melted down to not have that hard copy at their fingertips.

    2. NotRealAnonForThis*

      I kind of understand some of the pushback though, sometimes…

      ::Passing Popcorn Salt to share::

      The (non-academic) department I worked in for Big State U started a committee to improve our processes. Great! Did the committee include the correct SME for our work? No. Okay, but did they consult with them? Also no. Did they ask the SME to review their proposed process? Of course not. Did the SME even know that they were reviewing and changing processes around an activity? Of course not. The SME learned about the new process by which we were to handle (a regulated activity) the subject during the all-hands roll out presentation.

      So the SME shot their hand in the air and said “you realize that you have no jurisdiction there and that’s not how this works…right?” ::Absolute.Dead.Silence.::

      1. ferrina*

        Lol! I have seen this several times where the SME gets to find out at the public launch. I love this reaction so, so much.

        1. Good Enough For Government Work*

          Subject Matter Expert, I assume from context. (I’m used to it standing for Small/Medium Enterprises.)

          1. NotRealAnonForThis*

            Yes, this is what I meant. I’ve seen it used, and it works in context, without outing the actual department or what I actually do for a living ;)

        2. Ess Ess*

          Subject Matter Expert. It’s a pretty common business term, at least in consulting/development industry. Usually it will be a user(s) that have years of experience using whatever the system is that is being changed.

          1. Spell it out*

            “It’s a pretty common business term.” Is it though? [no. no it is most definitely not.]

            1. Your Former Password Resetter*

              I’ve seen it used regularly on this site, so at least here it is?

              1. Alice*

                First time I saw it, I was about to post the definition when I saw someone else had asked. When I searched “sme meaning” I got the “Small/Medium Enterprises” in the first seven answers.

      2. Snarkus Aurelius*

        Many years ago, I ran a communications office for a government agency, and I’ve had my fair share of people (usually men) who watch one episode of House of Cards or West Wing and think they know how to “handle the press” and I’m a moron.

        I had one such man that took it upon himself, without checking with me, to redo our agency’s entire marketing strategy ***even though we already have one complete with a team of people implementing it.*** This man has zero experience in marketing, does not do it as part of his job, and does not work for me.

        When he was done telling my boss and me what he was “going to do,” I told him, “unless you went through the public RFP process, you cannot hire your friend to do this work. You may have a hard time justifying the cost as well as I already have a marketing line item in my annual budget that I spend down every year.”

        I heard he never “forgave” me for addressing him that way. I didn’t know I was supposed to be sorry!

        1. Chick-n-Boots*

          His poor, fragile ego. It’s so funny how often the people that brazenly tread on territory that they have no business or experience to be in, are also the people with zero ability to hear “no” without melting down or having a tantrum.

      3. Tradd*

        Every place I’ve ever worked has never bothered to consult the people who actually do the work before processes are changed. The people who make the changes have had no clue how to workflow actually goes.

        1. She of Many Hats*

          We’re dealing with that in a conversion to Salesforce and the team that actually works to keep the data accurate and up-to-date for the various frontline teams (sales, billing, etc) has only been brought in 6 months before the deadline for testing and now they’re trying to get the project manager to listen to them about how these specific data points and data governance concerns are Really Important to deal with Before the conversion goes live. All that’s coming back are the sounds of cicadas.

      4. Mike S*

        Years ago Legal sent out a draft policy against doing a thing. (Say rating llamas.) One of our managers replied that we had a contractual obligation to do it (with the Feds, no less). The policy was quietly dropped.

      5. Grenelda Thurber*

        I indirectly worked with a team that decided to add a very time-consuming, onerous, automated testing process to our build processes. It was intended to be applied and enforced globally. I mentioned in the first meeting I heard it mentioned that it just wasn’t possible for our team to use this new thing as described, but got no response. Nine months later it was rolled out to a cacophony of protests from teams all over the planet, including mine. Turns out the new process was developed with input and feedback from ONE development team. One. The first paragraph of the documentation even said it was assumed that EVERY team followed this same development process?! The response to all the protests that it wasn’t possible? “We have vice-presidential approval for this project.” I really wanted to ask if Mr. Vice-President had a magic wand we could borrow. The last time I checked, vice-presidential approval has no effect on reality. The requirement that all teams use it was ultimately lifted. My team never even tried.

        1. Reluctant Mezzo*

          This reminds me of the fun we had getting all the salesmen to take their expense report money as direct deposit (as opposed to a check which sometimes ended up in their washing machine). Apparently a number of them didn’t like telling their spouses about that extra money…

        2. Anon a Fed*

          This just happened (in a smaller version) to us! My coworker and I manage a set of very frustrating boards, in my will-be-unnamed federal agency. No one knows where the deadlines for things pertaining to the boards (turnaround for meeting minutes, as an example) came from, just that the current system we have to use for documentation requires these deadlines. Turns out current system is also not secure! Enter last year, a team of contractors hired with the task to update said system.

          The contractors only asked one division how this system is used, and took off running to create an equivalent “secure” version based in SharePoint tools (vomit). Coworker and I found out there’d be a new “power [system]” 6 months later. When the contractors engaged us to find out our requirements, lo and behold they were different. These were also terrible contractors – meetings that should have been emails to answer questions that they wouldn’t provide in advance, couldn’t actually build what they needed to in SharePoint (again, vomit), etc. We had a user acceptance testing round 3 weeks before the supposed go-live date this Spring, which didn’t go well from my end (or, from what I heard, most others’ either). They cancelled their user trainings the week they were supposed to occur, 2 weeks before the go-live, and we’ve heard nothing. I checked with a colleague in another division last month, and it turns out the contractors were fired and the project is on hold indefinitely.

          I want a new version – badly! Current system sucks, horribly. But not if new version will be even worse.

          1. ScruffyInternHerder*

            Sometimes the devil you know, and know how to muddle through, is far better than an unknown demon….

      6. Love to WFH*

        Ever been in a meeting full of Scrum Leads? (historically called Scrum Masters) We tend to be unruly.

        We are VERY strongly inclined to protect our teams’ ability to define their own work processes — to let them collaborate and innovate, and enjoy getting the work done.

        A corporate trainer showed up to a meeting of over 70 Scrum Leads and proceeded to show us a workflow that all the teams would be required to follow. It was an over-the-top micromanaging mess.

        We listened in silence.

        Finally, I asked a _pointed_ question (I didn’t like working there, and was willing to burn capital). That was the pebble that unleashed an AVALANCHE.

        There had not been a single Scrum Lead on the committee that wrote it.

        1. PaulaMomOfTwo*

          The whole point of scrum and self managing teams is … self managing. Not processes sent down from on high. The audacity! I can imagine the tension in the room.

    3. Medium Sized Manager*

      We updated our processing tools last year to better prevent errors (think features like ensuring the line items and totals match), and you would have thought we were making people work for free with the volume of pushback. It was too slow, too difficult, too confusing, too unnecessary. We had even drastically lowered production requirements to give people grace for the new system, and yet there were constant complaints that they would never hit (old targets not in effect anymore).

      Fast forward: the same people tell me how they don’t know how they ever functioned under old system and the new system is far superior. My smile is never faker than when I have to pretend this statement doesn’t infuriate me.

    4. LCH*

      are you at my university? although our recent software transition did screw up some things, plus we now have files held in multiple systems instead of just one (whyyyyyy) so you always have to look in so many places to figure out where this document ended up. i just want one system.

        1. Zombeyonce*

          If a university doesn’t have dueling systems maintained by departments that hate each other and won’t combine knowledge for efficiency, is it really a university?

          1. LibraryGreeter*

            Even the small JuCos do this. IT and Facilities Operations aren’t on speaking terms here, which is so fun when installed/mounted tech breaks down.

          2. Anon Again... Naturally*

            For institutions that are supposed to be sharing knowledge, it’s amazing how many information silos they all seem to have!

      1. Eventually*

        We moved from one file management system to another a few months ago. The new system is organized by team. A key procedure used by many teams was placed in the domain of the one that happened to appear first alphabetically. We’ve been told they’re working on a way for the rest of us to be able to see it. Eventually.

    5. Artemesia*

      A state office switched from terminals to software on desk top computers. The old guard was so upset that they hired someone to create a program for their desktops that exactly mimicked the old terminals.

      1. Llama lamma workplace drama*

        I could navigate through those old ‘green screens’ faster than I can with the new software and having to use the mouse!

        1. Quill*

          Changing icons and locations of icons will slow you down for a very, very long time. If there’s more than a thin handful of options there is no way you are going to read them all: all the efficiency is in the muscle memory of “click on red square third from left at top of screen”

          1. Nightengale*

            Tell that to the people who keep upgrading our electronic health record software
            Which probably hampers me more than most people because I am great with recognizing words and very slow to identify and recognize pictures or icons

    6. Dawn*

      To be fair, sometimes there is some merit to this, lol.

      I was working for a utility locator company years and years back and we used a software that we’d been using since the place opened; it worked, it did everything we needed it to do, we all knew it in and out and we were fast – when you need to process 1,000 tree planting tickets in one night, you have to be.

      They paid to upgrade it to software on .net architecture to future-proof. Which would be fine, except that the port was a terrible job. It was far slower. Half our tools were missing. The keyboard shortcuts didn’t work anymore.

      I could go on but the takeaway is that those projects we were previously processing at 1,000 tickets a night? Dropped down to more like 200 and were massively behind schedule – and of course the company blamed us, rather than the developer they’d hired who didn’t include all of the necessary functionality in the new system.

      Sometimes ancient applications are ancient for a reason, because they’re still very fit for purpose.

      1. just a random teacher*

        Yeah, I’ve been working with computers for decades, and I’ve noticed a definite trend in recent (last decade or so has been particularly bad, although I can cite examples as far back as switching from the DOS version to the Windows version in some cases) replacement programs being worse for power users than what they’re replacing, but “friendlier” for people who have no idea how to use them. My shoulders now go up around my ears whenever we “upgrade” anything.

        For example, the current gradebook I have to use to post grades is great for someone with no idea what the possible letters grades or canned comments are. They’re all right there in drop-down menus, no need to refer to other documentation! On the other hand, tab takes you to the next field about that student (grade, fill that grade down the rest of students, 8 canned comment fields each with that same fill option, text entry field, so 20-ish tabs per student) rather than to the next student to enter a grade for, and there’s weird lag and a couple of odd bugs when trying to enter comments by numerical code rather than drop-down menu.

        I can see how this system impressed someone from the district office who does not regularly enter grades with how quickly they can figure it out starting from zero clue and get a grade posted, but when I need to enter grades for all 200+ of my secondary students and I already know which 5-10 comments from them 100+ available in the drop-down might apply to my classes, I could make much better use of a system that let me tab to the next student to enter letter grades for the whole class and then go back though and tab to enter one comment per student using a non-laggy, non-buggy numerical code, and then I could click around to enter additional comments for the two or three that actually need something custom. This is how a previous system worked, but with that system we did need a separate reference sheet for the comment codes and you had to already know what letter grades were valid to assign.

        1. Exemption Exception*

          I’m so frustrated for you. Designing for both novice and expert users is a key value in my process.

        2. ScruffyInternHerder*

          Definitely close to a thing in my industry, which is more a case of “sometimes an upgrade to the new MS Suite is going to unthinkably jack up the non MS software that you use as a core feature of your day to day work”. I need both hands and feet to count the number of times THAT has happened in my career thus far…

          1. dot*

            Ughhh yes that has happened with our main software numerous times (AutoCAD). And our corporate IT is almost entirely useless as it isn’t a program they are that familiar with, so sometimes it has taken literally a week or two to resolve, without much urgency on their end. Ok, guess I’ll just sit here and be totally unable to do my job in the meantime…

            1. I Have RBF*

              I used to love and swear by Confluence. Then they changed it to only use WYSIWY(sorta)G. It was horrible. None of my shortcuts worked, and the WYSIWYG stuff was not nearly as precise and made some really stupid assumptions. Editing anything formatted was a nightmare. I went from being able to crank in a nice, well formatted document in a couple hours to needing a week just to make the layout readable. I switched to a wiki instead. IMO, if it’s harder to use than raw HTML? I’ll just code it raw, thank you.

            2. ScruffyInternHerder*

              Oh lord, what is it with “corporate IT” not being willing to handle anything that isn’t MS based? (That’s how it is here as well…but if I have to handle ProprietaryLoggingSoftware installs, well, you’d better make sure I have admin permissions to do it so that I’m not making an appointment with the software’s IT helpdesk and then spinning both our wheels. They still push back on the admin permissions, y’all, but won’t do it either.)

        3. JanetM*

          One of my favorite acronyms is “UPGRADE: Undoing Perfectly Good Reliability And Delivering Evil.”

          1. It's Marie - Not Maria*

            Every time our HRIS Software upgrades, we get all kinds of surprises. We lose access to some things we need to be able to access, and other people get access to things they should not be able to view or edit. And the kicker? The Third Party Provider never tells us they are doing an upgrade. It’s always “What’s this weird new thing?” SURPRISE – They did an upgrade without telling anyone.

        4. Reluctant Mezzo*

          This reminds me of the time when the company who maintained our reporting software decided to do a two-week long update…right at year end. Phone calls were made. Veiled (and not so veiled) threats were issued…

        5. I Have RBF*

          … replacement programs being worse for power users than what they’re replacing, but “friendlier” for people who have no idea how to use them.

          This!

          I worked for a well known software company whose CEO changed around one of our popular apps to make it “look better” and be “easier to use”. The only people it was easier to use for were beginners. They literally pulled out all of the power user tools that (group) leaders/moderators used to run their (groups). When this was brought up internally, said CEO said that the complaining users were “just whiners” who “just hated change”. At the time, one of my friends was a power user who now couldn’t administer their own (group), and who gave me a running litany of what was now broken and useless. They ended up moving to a different platform.

          The app was eventually shut down, the change did that much damage to what had been a fairly popular app.

          The lesson? Don’t shaft your power users in some mistaken attempt to “appeal to a broader audience”. The new users might try it a few times, but won’t stick. It’s your power users that build a following on it.

        6. AcademiaNut*

          This occurs on a more personal level too. When I get a new Mac, I have a list of convenience features that need to be turned off and things that need to be set up to make it efficiently useable for someone who can do Unix style command line work with their eyes closed. I maintain that a new Mac setup should come with a quiz that checks if you’re someone who can use sudo responsibly and knows the difference between /usr/local/lib and /usr/local/bin and then gives you the power mode.

          The other day I was lamenting the decline of the old fashioned sftp server, which made it easy to transfer, upload and download large data sets or large number of files. It can be ridiculously hard to transfer big data sets between people, as cloud services tend to choke on them and institutes got rid of the ftp servers as out dated.

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

        My last company had an AS400 (that I left in 2021) and I’m not going to lie- I kind of miss it. It was simple, laid out efficiently, and if you didn’t know how to get it to do something, you just hit random buttons until it did it. (That was literally my boss’ suggestion and it was accurate.) While I like the newer website databases, at times, there are just too many bells and whistles- I just want to type and hit enter and be done with it.

      3. Llama lamma workplace drama*

        So I’ve spent 25 years as a mainframe COBOL programmer. I’m a literal dinosaur. Some companies are on the ‘COBOL is OLD = COBOL DOESN’T WORK’ kick and are implementing new systems that run at about 10% of the speed that the batch COBOL processes did and are now on systems that are easier to hack. Just because something is old doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. And yes, I still get paid 6 figures a year to program in COBOL.. I’m 50 and I’m sure I will probably still be doing this at retirement.

        1. InsufficentlySubordinate*

          About 10 years ago, all the talk was about how SQL was going away and everything was going to be NoSQL type stores and you better learn them or be replaced. I’m a 30+ year SQL user/analyst so I was very worried for a couple years but still haven’t seen a sign that SQL is totally going away before I retire.

          1. PaulaMomOfTwo*

            Lots of nosql for certain types of data indexes, but gosh, you still need to know SQL that’s the base of all of it!

        2. Reluctant Mezzo*

          Anybody here still know what Titan is? Asking for a friend…(hint: inventory program, created with flint knives and bear skins, but it still apparently works).

      4. Quinalla*

        Haha, yeah, my Dad was still using some ancient DOS-based software for his dental office cause it worked. He tried out the several versions they had on windows multiple times, but they all were terrible and slow, so he just kept his old version. He was so glad he retired before he had to upgrade. I’m surprised they didn’t force him!

    7. Siege*

      There was absolutely zero overreaction other than the request to not make the staff learn anything other than Access, but that devotion is exactly why I learned something Google (at the time) didn’t know: you can in fact run a live, PHP website off a locally-hosted Access database. The fact I got the response time down to under ten minutes is all due to the fact I had an amazing Access/databases teacher. I used everything I knew to make that setup work as well as it did.

      Mind you, it is not a good idea, but that’s a very different problem. But it’s important people not have to learn a tiny bit of MySQL when they’re all in and out of the database all day.

      1. Taketombo*

        Tell me more, or at least the secret keywords Google might know now.

        (I’m currently coordinating 400 users in a shared spreadsheet. An ill advised webpage based on an access database sounds like a step up…)

        1. Siege*

          Unfortunately that was in 2011 and I’m pretty sure anything I used them would be eliminated by software upgrades now. But I will tell you that reducing the ping meant indexing not-quite-everything. I indexed everything and the ping went to infinity; I backed it off to only indexing the key fields in each table (we had three main tables and then a zillion small tables) and that worked with an okay ping. But you have to set it up as a parallel database structure where Access feeds its data into the MySQL database and the MySQL data cannot come back to the Access database, because then you get conflicting data and Access at the time at least operated on a retain-last structure. So I’d start with access mysql parallel database setup and if that didn’t work I’d go to StackOverflow and invite someone to correct me.

        2. Quill*

          Oh god I did a baker’s dozen users in a shared spreadsheet once and I (politely) flipped out and redesigned the thing from scratch to PREVENT THEM FROM SPELLING in the first six months.

          (To be fair I got all positive or neutral because making them have to type less did not increase the time they spent in there.)

    8. Lizzay*

      OMG yes to the popcorn! I love re-reading the cheap-ass rolls story every time it gets referenced. I am so sad there hasn’t been an update.

        1. Just Another Cog*

          I just re-read those two again. I needed that today. Hilarious! People are weird.

    9. dot*

      And sometimes it’s crazy how the people rolling out the software do not work whatsoever to figure out how the previous software was being used. Going through this now; a team here has been rolling out new software for TWO YEARS, most feedback that’s been given has been met with “that’s working as intended,” there’s been no consultation on any other teams’ processes, and best of all there is no effort to port over years’ worth of released documentation to the new system, which means documents will be located in multiple places (even down to revisions made after X date will be on the new site, and all old revisions are on the old site). That’s caused a big to-do (I believe the term “hissy fit” has even been used by the manager of the team rolling out the new software). But it’s a repository that’s used by many, many people, many times a day; the software team just thought “no one used it.”

      So yeah, echoing an above commenter that there can definitely be some merit to the freakouts and that new software does not always automatically equal a better system.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        All I know is, every single time they upgrade our software the app/online orders bug out and I deal with fifty calls from people wigging out that X or Y isn’t working.

      2. JB*

        Yes. I feel like people in software upgrade/roll-out initatives sometimes deliberately ignore the fact that their shiny new program is an environment that some other people are doing 90% of our work in.

        A few years back, my company replaced our old ticket system with a new one. The new one isn’t even meant to be a ticket system. It’s meant to track sales referrals. They customized it to force it to do SOME (but NOT ALL) of the functions that we needed. Most vitally, the text box only allowed you to write maybe 300 words…this is a ticket system where, for regulatory and record-keeping purposes, we often needed to write multiple paragraphs re: how the request had been resolved. External auditors look at these resolved tickets and they need to understand what action was taken.

        The woman running the roll-out initiative was very unhappy when our department’s training day was derailed by questions about how on Earth we were going to use this program to do our jobs. (I will state that everyone was professional, but we were firm in communicating our complaints, because again – this would create regulatory issues that would blow back on the company as a whole and on us as a department.) At one point she snaps, “well, nobody TOLD me that you all need to write so much!”

        Well, why didn’t you ask us? Or – say – pull a sample of completed tickets from the existing database to see what they looked like…? It’s not like our department materialized out of the ground that very day. We were a core department for the company and one of the two primary user groups for the system being replaced.

        (They did eventually find a way to expand the text box – although it was still more limited than the old system – and also jerry-rigged some of the other features we absolutely needed, like being able to assign tickets forward to a different group for the next process stage, a function which they repeatedly threatened to take away if it was “abused”. The system was still a nightmare to work with and, for all the things I love about my current role in a different department, a top item on the list is genuinely that I no longer have to touch that system at all.)

        1. JustaTech*

          I think you’ve really hit the nail on the head with “why didn’t you ask us?”

          Sure, sometimes you don’t realize what exactly you need from a new tool, or a replacement tool, until at least part of it is implemented. But so often the people doing the implementing just assume they know what you need, without asking, and then are upset that you’re upset that you can’t do your job.

          Example: when my office was renovated the person in charge of the renovation was the COO, who worked most closely with the Operations department. The operations department has one specific set of needs when it comes to their work environment. Cool beans.

          The problem arose when the COO didn’t take into account the *other* department in the building, which has very different needs. Or rather, she only considered the labs, and not the offices. At no point did the COO or her deputy come down to the lab floor and look at our offices, or ask us what we need/want from the office space.
          So the new offices have no bookshelves.
          Except that the lab folks keep their data on physical lab notebooks, and these notebooks *must* be retained.
          “Oh, how about some file cabinets?”
          Yeah, the notebooks don’t really fit in the file cabinets in a sensible way, so years later I’ve got tons of empty (matching) file cabinets and two (not matching) bookcases stuffed with notebooks.

          The COO just assumed that everything we did was electronic or in hanging folders, because that’s what her team (doing a completely different job) used, and when confronted with reality, refused to change.

          1. dot*

            When we moved into a new building, our electrical cable manufacturing group of about 5 people was given a large room full of 20+ cubicle desks, a handful of small worktables, and no large tables that they could actually, y’know, do their jobs on. It took a couple years and the room getting flooded before that got at least somewhat sorted.

          2. Polaris*

            Or…they decide that they just know better.

            We’re in the middle of moving physical offices, and its as if a mid-aughts “how to design an office” article was consulted, rather than the individual groups. My group in particular is spitting nails, as the new digs are a SIGNIFICANT downgrade and very problematic with how we actually work. “Bullpens” of four with waist-high cubicle walls from individual offices with doors, because “collaboration”. Um, we’re all working on separate projects, under strict NDA’s, and you want me to share a workspace with three other coworkers and no privacy?

            Its going to be “interesting”.

            1. Polaris*

              And I know that the above example is more “physical space” but I’ve seen it applied to so many software and technological hardware situations that its not even humorous anymore.

      3. Reluctant Mezzo*

        I and a friend were always tasked to try out the new updates for Platinum because if we couldn’t break it, nobody could. Sometimes it’s good to be the canary. :)

    10. Yes IT department we do still need fax machines*

      Yeah, some people overreact wildly to any software changes – or, in fact, any changes at all – but if you universally get wild, over the top reactions to all new software, consider that this may be because staff have previously experienced many, many shitty software rollouts in the past that resulted in more work with objectively worse procedures for them, followed by a very quiet move to just doing it on paper or with free web apps that the IT dept never finds out about.

      Like, my office had people who hated the new requirement to have email signatures, but it was because IT had spent the past year “updating” our stuff every couple months and wiping everybody’s saved email settings and we’d all giving up on redoing our signatures every time.

      Presumably due to my tendency to complain loudly but proportionally and in ways that at least attempt to be productive, I ended up one of the token non-IT people on the team working on our current (long overdue and badly needed) rollout to new software, after several previous extremely botched or actively counterproductive ones. Yes you need to work out new procedures in advance of the rollout, and yes you need to consult with the people who use those procedures, and let them know about changes in advance! Yes, you need to tell everyone about the new procedures, not just quietly update a manual on a drive you forgot to give them access to! Yes you need issue-tracking procedures set up from day one, not start to think about maybe getting bids on a ticketing system that people can be trained on two months after the rollout when you have three hundred unanswered emails reporting issues! Yes you need to keep people informed of which “problems” are new features you set up intentionally, which are bugs you’re working on, and which are problems you can’t fix, and you need to give them actual workarounds for the problems you can’t fix! Yes, some of those weird things people did on the old software that the new software won’t do is stuff they truly needed for their jobs, and you need to get them software that will do it!

      And that’s all with our new, reformed IT department that has been working hard on building back trust and trying to be better for several years. Our old one turned out to have a director who was embezzling and several long-term staff who came to work drunk.

      Anyway. Yes, people who constantly complain to and about IT are annoying, and some fraction of people are always mad about every change or just have a weirdly intense relationship with the old software, but if your IT just takes it as assumed that anything they do will be met with universal lamentations and despair, consider the possibility that your IT are in fact doing it wrong.

    11. Zombeyonce*

      Updating old applications are the worst for buy-in.

      We had an intranet that was seriously ancient and so difficult to use. The homepage was literally just a list of about a hundred links to random things with no organizational structure, not even alphabetical. The search function didn’t work AT ALL, and the only way to find what you needed was to ask someone who had been there longer to send you a link.

      When we replaced it with a new intranet that had actual navigation, department sections, a useful search, and basic web design, people were ENRAGED. They threatened to quit over not being able to find a page they used to have bookmarked when all they needed to do was search for a word in the title and it was generally the first search result (if there wasn’t already a redirect in place).

      People complained because they “couldn’t find X” when X was still linked on the homepage, but now in a formatted and organized way rather than “18th link down the list in the 4th column from the left”, just using Ctrl+F would have found it for them. So many people hated the design, saying it wasn’t modern, when the old design was from the 90s, and “couldn’t we just change it back?”.

      The feedback was full of vitriol, and some people even left feedback with curse words to describe what a terrible job we had done updating to a new system, including their name on the feedback! It was incredible.

      1. Merrie*

        Similar happened at my work. I was still fairly new and it was an easy adjustment for me, but man how pissed people were at the sunsetting of this buggy old website.

    12. Lily C*

      My office is attempting to roll out two-factor authentication, but it’s taking forever because one staff member freaked out about having to install the authentication app on on their phone. This is the same person who needs hand-holding every time we get anything new and has downloaded viruses to our systems multiple times. The rollout is months behind.

      1. Angstrom*

        Well, on principle, I do object to having to install work-required apps on personal phones. In practice, it’s not a big deal.

        1. LateRiser*

          I refused to, but since all they required was TOTP codes I found a desktop app instead. Which IT then rolled out to everyone, later replaced with a different app, which we have now stopped using and everyone is told to use their phones, while I still quietly use my desktop app.

        2. Lily C*

          I definitely sympathize with not wanting to mix work and personal, but this co-worker’s objections would probably also be taken more seriously if a) it wasn’t holding up other steps in the process of updating our systems’ security across the board and b) they had this objection with any sort of consistency. They had no problem installing the Vonage app so they could take calls when working remotely.

          1. Enai*

            I feel that maybe the pandemic might have swayed them? I know I’m more likely to go “ah yes, a shoddy macguyvered system is okay” if there’s a world wide emergency than if the company is just like “hey, employees, please pay for our business expenses (phones). No reason, we just like money and figure we can take some of yours instead of spending ours.”

            In other words: if your system requires a smartphone with data plan, give them a smartphone with a data plan.

        3. Quill*

          In practice I’ve found that it can be a pain in the neck if your phone is not one of the top two competitors or is “too old” (Read: more than two years old) to be secure.

          And some systems that you would think would have HIGHER security needs than the one that put you through hell… just text you.

        4. Pokemon Go To The Polls*

          Agreed! Even though I already had and used the app we use for 2FA I was very annoyed that I needed to use it for work.

          Putting teams/outlook on my phone so I can answer things while I run errands is my personal choice, being told I HAVE to use my personal phone is another thing.

          Also, not work related, but some of the ways apps do authentication is beyond absurd. I just switched to a new phone and was locked out of TikTok for HOURS because it wanted me to sign in by tapping on the push notification on my old device. Luckily I still had it and it still worked, but I had to dig it out of the drawer I stashed it in, turn it on, turn on TikTok notifications, and by that point it had decided I was trying to hack my account and locked me out. That’s just not a practical authentication method for a mobile app.

      2. By the lake*

        Which is fine, until you are out of cell service and someone doesn’t have wifi texting enabled and can’t get the authorization code. This may be a moot point when using an app but I’ve when you can’t get an code it’s pretty frustrating

      3. We do still need fax machines*

        Yeah. I was the person who refused to install the authentication app on my phone.

        I told a long rambling story to our IT director about how my phone is jailbroken and I love using it to find unlocked public wifi and test apps that aren’t from the app store and download questionable files but I don’t worry about it because I don’t do anything secure on my phone, and strangely, they stopped requiring people to install work apps on their personal phones after that.

      4. anon because this is something I'm currently fighting at work*

        Yeah, I’ve been having the stupidest argument with work where I want them to either pay me the contractual cell phone stipend if my job now requires me to have a cell phone or to let me use a YubiKey or similar rather than my personal cell phone. This has now taken over a year since the last update from the head of IT and the union’s lawyers are involved.

        My current workaround is to have the 2FA provider voice call my work Google Voice number on my work laptop. I’m amazed this has yet to land me in an exitless authentication loop, and I fully intend to dump the whole thing back on IT as their problem and let the head of IT and the union lawyer argue it out while I read a book if I ever do get locked out.

        The stipend is $50/month. A YubiKey is $25/once. I really thought that $25 was a pretty good deal for getting me to shut up, but IT is standing firm and refusing to allow the use of authentication dongles even though our authentication provider allows them and my boss would be happy to spend $25, possibly out of her own pocket, to never have to hear about this again.

    13. JelloStapler*

      Yes, and it’s usually the tenured faculty. Meanwhile they are fine keeping things clunky and ridiculous that makes more work for everyone else.

    14. Salty Caramel*

      I’ve seen some bad reactions to technology changes in my IT career, but the worst was getting people to move from WordPerfect 5.x in DOS to 6.0 in Windows.

      1. Troutwaxer*

        To be fair, Wordperfect 5.x under DOS was amazing, just a complete pleasure to work with.

        1. Love to WFH*

          WordPerfect on DOS was so stable! And you could SEE THE FORMATTING CODES to finetune things!

      2. Peak perfection*

        and those objections were perfectly justified, because WordPerfect 5.0 remains the best word processing package ever.

        MS Word still can’t do paragraph numbering as well.

        1. Rebecca*

          I still use WordPerfect for personal writing. I just like not having to deal with icons. Give me pull-down menus!

    15. JSPA*

      to be fair, there are (or were) a lot of tiny niche programs that are only compatible with certain variants of common programs, or certain years of OS’s.

      When you can no longer even open 10 years’ worth of protein folding data and images, or the dictionaries of rare languages with rare symbols only opens with (say) wordperfect, it can be a blow to the entire field, and completely derailing to submission of grants or completion of degrees, to have suddenly had a change forced upon you.

      Yes, insecure machines with old programs sometimes have to be cut off from the network for safety; but giving people “a whole month” to get that done isn’t so generous when the only people who know about the conflict can be on sabbatical, on a several month collecting trip in New Guinea, or what- have- you.

      1. We do still need fax machines*

        I know someone who sent the college IT department the old hard drives full of the last remaining backup of old research data that weren’t compatible with the new computers to see if they could retrieve it for her, and instead they just destroyed them for “security reasons” without asking her first.

        1. JSPA*

          I have (unpublished) study participant data on jaz drive disks. And no working jaz drive. I do have a series of old macs dating back to…1992 or so? And a tangle of cables. So who knows.

      2. Nina*

        My alma mater’s chemistry department has a tiny room off the NMR room with the ‘old computers’ in it – there’s pretty much every Windows operating system, some of them matryoshka’d into virtual machines, at least one GNU/Linux, and one that is definitely older than me and quite possibly older than my mom, and all of them have obscure software on them. None of them can talk to the internet and all of them are critical to the functioning of the department and new grad students are solemnly told that this is the code for the door and you must never ever tell IT the code.

        1. pandop*

          We have a reminder sent out by Estates before any lengthy ‘closed period’ for the university (normally Christmas and Easter) reminding us to turn things off at the wall, etc.

          Exceptions to this include: ‘if you think it might not turn back on again’

        2. Quill*

          Keeping computers in the keycard access, chem and biohaz training required lab is the only way to save them from IT.

      3. AcademiaNut*

        And the thing is, much of the time it is possible to shift stuff over, but it requires significant expertise, labour and/or money, which is not necessarily available (particularly in academic environments). It also requires careful thought and testing.

        I will admit that sometimes the only way you can move on from a system or medium that is antiquated and *is* going to break at some point is to set things up so the old system does break and people are forced to move on.

    16. Pokemon Go To The Polls*

      As someone who has worked on the other side of accounting software implementations it’s always a BIG DEAL to at least one person that now instead of being able to make up account numbers/classifications/etc they have a set system that will actually stand up to an audit. And somehow it was often MY fault as the project manager/trainer.
      Fun times.

    17. Star Trek Nutcase*

      I love electronic versions because of easy searchability. However, hard copies allow for easier tabbing & clarifying notes (both undoable in online cause *government*). Also, in my job, government rules in effect at a specific time are sometimes relevant so having a hard copy to prove to a bureaucracy was valuable. (Not so surprisingly older online versions would disappear & weren’t considered untamperable.)

    18. Vio*

      Having just had to use a Windows 11 laptop at work (and still resenting having to give up Windows 7 on my home PC and downgrade to 10) I can kind of understand. But it’s better to figure out what issues the switch causes (eg: takes time to get used to changes and so will be less efficient until used to) and discuss those so that it can be determined a: if the upgrade is really necessary immediately b: when the best time to implement an upgrade would be (probably during a slower period or when there’s less time sensitive projects) and c: what other measures can be taken to help people adjust to the new software (often there’s settings that can be changed to make it feel more like the old).
      Fortunately my work are very good with this kind of thing, for example managing to get me an Office account that includes desktop applications instead of being restricted to the in-browser versions.

    1. ChaoticNeutral*

      The kicker of that story always to me is that OP brought Hawaiian rolls. Not saying they “cheap ass rolls” themselves but it’s not like they were homemade or anything.

      1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

        My 10 year old son has developed an obsession with King’s Hawaiian rolls. I wish he’d like the cheap ass rolls because they are getting pricy!

        1. Southern Ladybug*

          Same with my 11 and 7 year old. All they want for sandwiches. I’d love some cheap-ass rolls that would work for that.

      2. Justme, The OG*

        I always find tis story hilarious because I LOATHE Hawaiian rolls and would take “cheap ass rolls” any day.

        1. Petty_Boop*

          I use them for bread pudding and that’s about it. I certainly do not enjoy them as a savory slider. Ugh.

        2. I'm great at doing stuff*

          THANK YOU. Anthony Bourdain had lots to say about this. Brioche adds grease- hamburgers are greasy enough!

      3. Mrs. Hawiggins*

        The Cheap Ass Rolls letter will always remain epic.

        I actually put Cheap Ass Rolls on our potluck sign up sheet last year at holiday time. Everybody laughed, one person got the reference, and they all sighed with relief when they saw Pandesal laid out on potluck day. No rolls remained at day’s end.

        If you’re going to have rolls, you can’t not refer to them as cheap ass on a sign up list. It’s tradition, now.

    2. Yes And*

      I’d forgotten that the person mortally offended by the cheap-ass rolls was the LW. I wonder if they still read this site? If so, do they wince every time it comes up AGAIN? Did they see the error of their ways, or do they still think they were hard done by? Did they keep that job, or were they fired as Alison predicted?

      1. Midwest Manager too!*

        An alleged co-worker of the Cheap-Ass Rolls wrote in later – that was a fun read! I’ll post a follow-up comment with the link.

      2. Expelliarmus*

        My theory is that that LW was never a regular reader of AAM; if they were, I doubt they would have sent in such an unhinged letter.

    3. Brain the Brian*

      It is impossible for me to read that story without dissolving into fits of laughter. Oh my heavens, what a tale.

    4. Crystal Clair*

      There’s an update to that story where a co worker found the story and sent in more details.

        1. Meemur*

          oh my goodness, I’ve never seen this follow up before! I would love to hear from Cheap Ass Rolls again and see how they’re doing

        1. Tired Introvert*

          I just realized something: the coworker says they’re not 1000% sure it’s the same person because she wasn’t new, but the OP’s post says she was skipped over during introductions at the meeting because the facilitator didn’t know she was new. Could that be because she switched roles internally? If so, it lends more credence to the alleged coworker’s story!

          1. Irish Teacher.*

            My guess is that when she was new, she didn’t get an introduction, then she went into the meeting after the potluck still seething over somebody bringing the cheap-ass rolls and she heard the speaker welcoming new people and now she’s seething over the fact that she never got a welcome like that when she was new.

            But when she sat down to write to Alison, she either realised that “and they never welcomed me when I started a year ago” sounded a bit petty or else she was worried that Alison and/or the commenters would say something like “but maybe the boss only started doing introductions more recently or maybe he had a really long agenda in the meeting after you started and forgot to do them or maybe there were a lot of new people at that time and it was too many to go through” or any other things that could lead to differences between meetings when she knows it was an insult to her, so she decides to say it all happened in the one meeting so as to avoid people missing the point.

            People do that fairly often, change things that they think will send people off on a tangent or lead people to misunderstand. Sometimes it makes sense to do so, other times it’s to push an agenda or lead people to a particular conclusion that may or may not be accurate.

            I mean, that’s just a guess but…I think the two situations are too alike not to be the same and different enough that I believe the second poster (if they were making it up, they’d probably make it match exactly).

          2. Ellis Bell*

            I honestly think she considered a year and a half to be “new”, just so she could get offended by, predictably, not being considered as someone who is new. I mean, if you know you’re someone who would be miffed by someone bringing the same thing as you to a potluck you don’t bring something like…. bread; you bring something unusual. She sets this stuff up in her own head.

            1. Abundant Shrimp*

              I just re-read her glorious letter and she says her name was on the slide under “Let’s welcome the new people”, but who can even tell what it really was. She doesn’t strike me as the most reliable of narrators.

    5. SheLooksFamiliar*

      You know how, when you were a kid, you just loved hearing certain bedtime stories over and over? That’s how I am with the cheap-ass rolls story, it never fails to make me laugh.

    1. womp*

      Everybody references the cheap ass rolls but IMO the best part is the last line: “They can take Santa and stick it up their ass!”

    2. Ann O'Nemity*

      I love this story so much. Usually our LWs are writing in about other people’s bad behavior, so it’s especially entertaining when the LW is all indignant without realizing they’re the one in the wrong.

    3. Ally McBeal*

      Oh, I dunno, Duck Club is pretty spectacular. That’s the one I share when I’m recommending AAM to a friend or coworker.

  2. Shoot another shot, try to stop the feeling (on phone)*

    Flounce emails to the whole staff are always my favorite. The person doing it always comes off as a loon, and it’s excelllent gossip fodder.

    1. BellaStella*

      Where I work, in summer 2022, a temp worker who thought she was really the best at everything, spent a couple of months with us but left soon after not really gelling with her team. She left and her flounce email went to a lot of folks even senior staff and hoo boy it was something. Questioning how some of them thought they knew how to do the work and how badly run the team was. Her linked in later that week noted all the great skills she had and why she was a great hire but yeah not sure she would ever have any recommendations from her team.

    2. Baffled Teacher*

      I once, in my youth, wrote out an ENTIRE multi paragraph flounce email. Like hours of work, finding the right phrases, tinkering, what I thought were sick burns, etc. It is, to this day two decades later, one of my greatest reliefs that I somehow managed to listen to the tiny voice that said “DO NOT SEND THIS.”

      (Was I correct in my grievances? Yes. Was I a talented enough employee or writer to get away with that? Absolutely not lol)

      1. 3-Foot Tall Inflatable Rainbow Unicorn*

        This is how to do it! Get it all out of your system… and then either hit delete or send it to yourself for future amusement.

        1. JustaTech*

          Back in college I learned the essential life lesson: never send emails when you’re irate.

          The story: The biology department had yet another professor not approved for tenure. I think he was like the third in a row? And one of the tenured professors completely lost her sh*t about it.
          How do I know? Because she sent a scathing email to the entire department (including all the student workers) ranting about this other professor not getting tenure, and ended it with “I quit”.

          Oops.

          Now, if she hadn’t set that email to the students, if she hadn’t been quite so personal, and if she had cultivated *any* goodwill with the rest of the department, maybe that all could have been smoothed over. But as she was disliked by essentially everyone on campus for the way she treated them (differently, but unkind to difficult to everyone), the dean said “OK. Finish the year and you can go.”

          (Did I mention she was married to another tenured professor in another department, so was pretty much stuck in our small college town and had to take a non-tenure job at the next school over?)

          Moral of the story: never send emails when you’re angry, and if you’re that mad, write the letter somewhere other than your email program, just in case.

      2. Generic Name*

        You are smarter than my ex husband, who is in his 50s. The most recent thing he filed in family court was almost 200 pages of gibberish. I didn’t read the whole thing, but in what I skimmed you could see where he stopped working on it and then picked it back up again, because he would repeat the same grievances/arguments over and over. I’m sure he spent hours and hours on it.

    3. Frieda*

      I was on the board of a nonprofit that got a very, very aggressive flounce email from an employee who was terminated for cause. She accused the Executive Director of fraud and misuse of grant money and alluded darkly to “other things I’ve seen.”

      If I hadn’t worked with the ED in various capacities, and known several people who had been on the board previously, and had a very good working relationship with several staff members, and etc. etc. I might have been worried; the allegations were dramatic. But this was an extremely well-run organization with a very capable leader who did a great job with her staff and clients.

      I was ultimately the person who, along with one other board member, requested a meeting offsite with the disgruntled employee and informed her – per our lawyer’s advice – that if she continued to make unsubstantiated allegations about the organization, there would be legal consequences. You would have thought that, at the very least, there was a longstanding drugs, s*x, rock ‘n’ roll culture at this place when in fact it was extremely squeaky clean.

      I still can’t figure out how an employee who was rightly fired for not doing her job capably after significant coaching and a PIP thought that the best response was to try to blow the place up. Wild.

      1. anon for this*

        Nothing like the power dynamic drama of tiny, tiny non-profits!

        I worked for one in which the management (all 4 people, lol) had split down the middle, and half of them went off to form their own agency. Words like “insubordination” and “subversiveness” were flying around like confetti.

        Well, one of the “splitters” wrote to the state and got all of the first agency’s grants cancelled. Because smug revenge was SO MUCH more important than the work we were doing, of course!!!

        I worked there for two years, started AFTER all that happened, and there were still ripples from the explosion happening when I left.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        I find that for certain personality types, they themselves have “dark” secrets (or think they do) and thus assume every person/org does, and the instant response to any threat is panic and worry, not “…what?”

      3. JelloStapler*

        Usually these people are also wildly lacking in self-awareness or accountability

      4. Star Trek Nutcase*

        It seems being fired for cause & after a PIP just goes over the head of these employees. A staff member we fired under similar circumstances that drug on for years (academia + state) sued me (her supervisor), the department chair (my boss) and the college dean for discriminating & firing. The university counsel was shocked by the 5 banker boxes of documentation I provided (I had wanted her fired for over 3 yrs so had been collecting evidence the entire time). She lost easily but I’m sure she was still convinced it was racially motivated because she couldn’t accept it was her specific behaviors.

    4. GhostGirl*

      I’m reminded of a woman many years ago who, after a mass layoff, wrote an email to the C-suite calling them all “J-holes, and if you don’t know what that means, google it!” Somehow, it got around, and a lot of us actually did have to google it lol.

    5. JMR*

      I had to Google the term “flounce email,” so I learned something today! Now I am 0.000001% cooler.

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        A message board I was on years ago had an acronym for the message board equivalent: GCF, or “goodbye cruel forum.”

        1. Petty Betty*

          Ah yes, Terminal Goodbyes.

          Why? Because this is not an airport, no need to announce your departure. Just shuddup and go.

      2. Lexi Vipond*

        I feel like flouncing has actually gone out of fashion – was some time around 2000-2005 its Golden Age?

    6. Generic Name*

      I once had a coworker quit with no notice, and some of the higher ups found out about it because she posted a flounce post on LinkedIn. It’s been a couple of years, and people still talk about it.

    7. Vio*

      Never come across the term “flounce email” before, a google search shows it’s used a fair bit but there’s nothing clear about the actual meaning. Could somebody please explain for those of us late to the slang?

      1. Butterfly Counter*

        It’s an email where the person who is quitting or retiring lets out all of their true feelings that they have been holding back for (usually) years. A lot of these emails include gloriously petty issues, perceived slights, long-held grudges where the writer gets the final word, and the like.

        It brings to mind the movie “Half Baked” where someone quits by pointing to the people around him, “F— you! F— you! F— you! You’re cool. And especially, f— you!”

  3. RagingADHD*

    I just saw news of a study that correlated cheese consumption with longevity. Clearly the person who wanted cheese believed the organizers were trying to kill them!

    1. Dawn*

      I read a whole, legitimate-media-outlet news article the other day about someone claiming to have suffered a “severe cheese addiction” and went to rehab for it

      In that same article she plugged this random dude’s book (I guess he’s a doctor? I have my doubts) about cheese addiction and the news article quoted him extensively

      And I’m sitting here imagining an email like, “I need to sell cheese addiction books and you need attention, this works for both of us!”

          1. Quill*

            Seconded! I moved away and cheese is so expensive elsewhere! And no (or severely limited) curds!

        1. Dawn*

          Yeah the message was very clearly not landing and this guy seemed a little desperate to sell the idea that cheese is an addiction on par with, like, actual narcotics.

      1. adk*

        Dr. Neal Barnard wrote a book called, The Cheese Trap. Moral of the story is that cheese has something called casomorphins which are related to morphine or at least attach to the same receptors or something. It’s why cheese is so hard to give up. “I could totally go vegan if it wasn’t for cheese.”

        1. Dawn*

          Yeah that bullshit, that’s exactly the dude I’m talking about. Casomorphins are 100% a made-up issue.

          Oh, they exist, don’t get me wrong, but actual science whose goal isn’t to sell books pretty much universally agrees that casomorphins in dairy are non-addictive and do not cause withdrawal symptoms when stopped.

  4. 3DogNight*

    Cheap Ass Rolls needs to be an annual story, along with the Tiger Mike, and stories from Hellmouth. I’d love to see an annual or Semi-Annual best of the best type post!

    1. Liane*

      The saga from commenter I Work* On A Hellmouth** played out in Friday open threads. I have long wished for that to be put together into one (horrific) epic. It was one of those “the more you read, the worse it gets” stories.

      *later known as I Worked On A Hellmouth when they escaped

      **which my autocorrect insists should be “BellSouth” LOL

        1. ADD*

          Oh my goodness, I somehow had missed the Hellmouth saga previously. Thank you so much for linking to this.

        2. ferrina*

          I would love either of things to happen. The events themself are bananapants, and the writer was so talented- she has such amazing flair in her writing!

        3. Ess Ess*

          OMFGWTFYMMV…. and every possible combination of letters available. Wow! I had read the main Hellmouth post/updates but since I never read the open threads I didn’t know about the weekly updates until now.

          This could absolutely be fleshed out into a book.

      1. Cheap Ass Hellmouth*

        The Hellmouth story was one of the best things I’ve ever read, up there with Tolstoy

        1. Chauncy Gardener*

          It for sure could be turned into a novel or a movie. And the OP could do the writing too. She is a super writer!

      2. Irish Teacher.*

        I wasn’t here when that was playing out so I’ve only gotten bits and pieces and don’t know the full story.

        1. Sharpie*

          I wasn’t here when it was going down either, but all the updates have been collected, the link is above. Grab yourself a cuppa and some popcorn and settle in for an epic read!!

    2. Seven If You Count Bad John*

      I’m glad Hellmouth got out, but I really miss the weekly episodes!

      1. Abogado Avocado*

        Yes, I’ve often wondered what Hellmouth is up to. I miss her posts. I hope she’s writing thrillers that are now on the best-seller lists!

        1. Chick-n-Boots*

          Right? Her gift for storytelling is truly fabulous. I came in towards the end of her tenure on the Hellmouth. I was so happy for her to be moving on to someplace sane and semi-normal but knew the Friday open thread would never be the same…..

    3. MusicWithRocksIn*

      And the saga of the date to the workplace Christmas Party! My all time favorite! There are several fanfictions based off of it.

      1. Chick-n-Boots*

        Yes! And they are excellent too! I really like the one that’s Agents of Shield themed. So fabulous.

    4. Happy Camper*

      I hadn’t read the updates to Hellmouth and just wasted a not insignificant part of my work day reading them all so thank you!

  5. Nebula*

    Re-reading the speed dial one again, I’d forgotten that this all occurred in an organisation with oly 30 people working there. They really all thought they needed a full 20% of their coworkers on speed dial. Lol. Lmao, even.

    1. Lauren*

      And clearly a chunk of them were in the same office! Why not just walk over and talk to the people near you?

      1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        May be the need to forward calls. If you have a lot of external callers, speed dial buttons for accounting, sales, etc. can be super helpful – but this reads more like treating speel dial buttons as a friends list or popularity contest, which is utterly bananapants.

  6. Bean*

    Gary! Gary, Gary, Gary.

    Gary was a coworker I had at a retail job I worked summers through college. He was a “real adult” – probably late 20s to mid 30s. As with many retail jobs, this work environment was factional and petty. The customer service manager loved me (because I would actually upsell), which meant that Gary (tech services manager) didn’t like me, because Gary and the customer service manager didn’t like each other.

    But we got along civilly. We had to share a customer service desk and our jobs didn’t really overlap much.

    Until one day when I laughed at a comic on my phone and Gary wanted to see it. It was a single-panel comic of a hairy man reacting negatively to a woman in a sundress with unshaven armpits, poking fun at the double standard.

    Gary……. took offense. Major offense. Talked LOUDLY about how disgusting she was, about how he’d never date a woman who didn’t take care of herself, how it was a requirement for his girlfriends to be shaved, etc etc. Then he flounced off, probably to go complain about me to his girlfriend (a fellow department head on the other side of the store).

    I remember HER shouting at me all the way across the store “he’s old fashioned, he’s just like that, it’s not a big deal, I just keep myself shaved because he prefers it” etc. We were a relatively low-volume store, so there probably weren’t too many customers around, but still…

    Shortly after that I decided I was done trying to deal with Gary and I asked him to stop telling stories about his kid over the walkie-talkie (because it was distracting chatter while I was serving customers at the register) and he came over to the customer service desk and VERY angrily almost-shouted that he’d “talk about his kid whenever he damn well pleased.”

    Anyway, now whenever I sing “King of Anything” by Sara Bareilles at karaoke, I silently dedicate it to Gary.

    1. Bean*

      Edit to add: all throughout the day, whenever he’d walk past the bc store service desk, he’d swing out of his way to tell me HOW disgusted he was by that comic and how innapropriate it was for me to show it to him. Lol.

      1. Ultimate Facepalm*

        I would be finding the funniest things the internet has to offer, and showing them to people all the time. especially in front of Gary. Oh, I can’t show you Gary – I wouldn’t want you to see anything inappropriate! Poor sensitive Gary.

    2. Irish Teacher.*

      Yikes, I feel sorry for his girlfriend if she felt she had to defend their relationship like that and just…dating a man who “required” her to shave.

      1. Bean*

        Yeah, it was… not great. They both worked supervisor level jobs, but even supervisor level retail jobs don’t pay all that much. And this was an expensive part of the US.

        At some point he moved in with her, and she’d drive him to work (like 40 minutes!) even on days when she wasn’t working because he didn’t have a car. And she talked about saving up to buy HIM one!

        Last I saw they were still together and she was hosting tupperware MLM parties. I haven’t had contact with her in a long time but I genuinely hope she’s doing alright.

        1. Chick-n-Boots*

          I feel so badly for her! Gary’s Girlfriend, wherever you may be, I hope the universe managed to deliver the message that you are too good for Gary’s BS and deserve better. I hope your tupperware MLM business took off and you made enough money to run far away from Gary and his weird “requirements” and need for you to “take care of him” and find a life all your own where you could be as fab as you wanted to be, with armpits exactly as hairy as you wanted them to be, one awesome car (just for you), and no man-toddler pulling at your proverbial apron strings.

      2. Vio*

        Yeah it’s one thing to have a preference, we all have likes and dislikes. But to *insist* on something, and how many things is *she* allowed to insist on about him?

      1. Ally McBeal*

        The “funny” part is that Gary sounds like the type to call people “snowflakes” for not wanting to be victims of bigotry.

  7. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

    I wasn’t there, but this meeting became the stuff of legends in a former workplace.

    Many years ago, I worked in a store where we got paid hourly and could also earn commission for sales. Partway through my time there, the chain of stores got folded into a larger corporate structure. Senior management there decided to cut our commission three times in about 15 months. By the third time, the commission was a bit over half what it used to be. Understandably, staff weren’t happy about this.

    Not long after the third cut, there was a meeting at the regional corporate office that all the store managers attended with the Regional Manager. At some point in this meeting, one of the store managers brought up that staff were unhappy about the latest cut in commission. The Regional Manager started screaming at everyone. Like, just lost his shit. Unfortunately for him, the walls there were pretty thin and his tirade was audible up and down the hall.

    Not long after, the Regional Manager was put on “stress leave” and never returned.

  8. ChaoticNeutral*

    Ok I have one that my coworker just reminded me of. Office is not in the Deep South but kinda adjacent, where you get a few right-wingers. This is during the initial COVID wave, about July or August 2020. We are all working from home, folks are spraying their groceries with Lysol, that era. Anyway, a public agency we do a lot of work with announces they are implementing a mask mandate. If you are having a meeting with or on behalf of said agency, you must wear a mask. One coworker sends the press release concerning this mandate to everyone in the office and says “As an FYI, not for your opinion, please do not reply-all” because said coworker probably knew that somebody would have a problem with it.

    And oh boy did someone! Another person in the office responded, copied the ENTIRE office, and went on a rant about “This has gone entirely too far. In case anyone cares, I think this is a wild overstep. I will do what I please. I will start saving up bail money because I guess I’m going to need it.” Which I’m pretty sure a) was sharing their opinion and definitely was b) a reply-all. I still laugh at the gall to both have that opinion and just freely share it with your coworkers.

    1. merula*

      I kinda feel like the coworker brought this on themselves by not using BCC? I mean, assuming there’s a well-known all-office email address, the bail-money dude could’ve still forwarded it to the mass mail address, but at least it would’ve been more work than hitting reply-all.

      1. ChaoticNeutral*

        It’s funny you say that because I remain convinced to this day that the coworker who originally sent it out was TRYING to stir up drama, despite the “please do not reply” addition. They were a well-known pot-stirrer.

    2. WeirdChemist*

      I had a coworker, who in protest of mask mandates in 2020, came to work in a full hazmat suit.
      He was mad when we reacted with a “wow, thanks for being so considerate of Covid safety! We’re so glad you’re taking this seriously :)” (Even though we all knew he was just doing it to be an a-hole)

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        It’s a funny thing about these people who take such offence at things like…basic safety or having it pointed out that they are a privileged group or stuff like that: they always seem to assume everybody else is equally easily offended and that they can “make a point” by doing something nobody cares about.

        Like with those guys who object to the fact women feel safer with a bear and who respond with “well, we should do a study on whether men would rather share their feelings with women or with a tree.” Like, go ahead. Though I’d also recomment asking whether men feel more comfortable sharing their feelings with another man or with a tree, because seriously, if it finds a lot of men are more comfortable sharing their feelings with a tree than with other human beings, yes, that is a genuine concern.

        I’ve also seen it with people who really identify with a certain political party or leader and who respond to any criticism of them with “well, what if I criticised opposite political party?” when most people are like “dude, you should. Anybody in power should be criticised. Yes, they dropped the ball on X” and then they really can’t understand why other people aren’t geting defensive of the politician or party they hate.

        1. FrivYeti*

          Speaking as a man, and based on observations and my own unlearned behaviour, I *absolutely* believe that the average man would be much more comfortable sharing his feelings with a tree than with another man, and yes, it is a genuine concern (although probably not the concern the guys who started that study think it is.)

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

            have you tried sharing your feelings with chatgpt? it’s actually not bad

        2. Dawn*

          That bear thing really became a whole thing, eh? Like men just blowing up about it all over the place.

        3. Zombeyonce*

          ““well, we should do a study on whether men would rather share their feelings with women or with a tree.” Like, go ahead.”

          Yes, if more men would share their feelings at all with anyone/anything, we’d all be better off.

        4. IndyDem*

          Just don’t share with any random tree. Hardwoods don’t really listen, and avoid Weeping Willows at all costs.

      2. ferrina*

        I love this response. Love it when petty statements by petty people backfire. Sarcasm doesn’t work when the recipient refuses to acknowledge the sarcasm.

    3. lilsheba*

      UGGGGHHHH I can’t stand people who were against the mask mandates. I still mask when I leave my house and go inside anywhere. Now different states are trying to put mask bans in place which is so asinine!!! I should be able to protect my health if I want to.

    4. whimbrel*

      I had a coworker who did exactly the same thing when the requirement to be vaccinated came out. I work in gov’t. Coworker wrote back to an all-staff email from our ADM and just went off about the requirement, ‘my freedoms’, etc.

      There would have been significant career fallout for the coworker, but they never came back to the office after we went back, and eventually resigned without us ever seeing them again.

  9. Pope in the woods*

    Had a boss who had a massive problem with me for some reason. One overreaction was when I made a typo, once, in an internal email. She brought it up in my annual review and suggested I attend a remedial grammar course.
    Another time, before I knew the extent to which I needed to stay on guard around her, she asked me something to which the answer was very obvious. It was low stakes and not work related, something along the lines of whether i liked chocolate. I answered ‘is the Pope a Catholic?’, my equivalent of ‘does a bear s*** in the woods’. I am an Irish immigrant and a Catholic, and this saying is fairly common among my Irish family and friends. Everything seemed normal. A couple of days later she called me into her office and told me she’d been thinking about what I said about the Pope and she thought it might be racist. I had to talk her down from reporting me to HR for bigoted language.
    I didn’t last 18 months before I left the role because of that manager.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      This saying is also common throughout the US, as far as I know. And possibly elsewhere but I’ll let AAMers from other places weigh in. I’m the only person I know of who has questioned it and I was like seven at the time and not entirely sure who the Pope was (we’re very not Catholic). Your boss was impossibly weird.

      1. ChaoticNeutral*

        I was raised Catholic but do not live in an area with a lot of Catholics. I’ve said it before and so has my family but I’ve never heard anyone else say it. But then again I live in the South so a more common go-to for the same kind of sentiment is “oh well bless your heart.”

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

          I am definitely not from the South but have adopted, “Bless your heart,” and “Thank you very much!” as standards in my vocab to mean the exact opposite.

        2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          I reconsidered the phrase when I considered how the conversation would go if someone answered “no.” It’s almost impossible to avoid going down a path of accusing Catholics of hypocrisy (or worse) afterwards.

      2. dulcinea47*

        When I was a kid (I’m genX) we said “Is the Pope Polish?” (which, John Paul 2 was indeed.) Half my family is Polish so it def wasn’t supposed to be insulting.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          It was a Big Deal in my neck of the woods, where there were many, many people of Polish descent or extraction.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            And, yeah, we said both. Not offensive, because the Pope is, by definition, Catholic.

            1. Frieda*

              Right! The only possible thing I can think of that might make this rhetorical question offensive is if someone was suggesting seriously that whomever the Pope is at the moment isn’t the right kind of Catholic and is ergo not Catholic enough and perhaps not Catholic at all.

              But that seems like *such* inside baseball that absent lots of very specific contexts you’d have to stretch yourself all out of shape to read it that way.

              1. Curious*

                Well, Archbishop Vigano says that he isn’t, and has just been charged with schism by the Vatican.

        2. Two Dog Night*

          Before that, it was, “Is the Pope Italian?” Because up until John Paul 2, the Pope was always Italian.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            >always Italian
            Apologies for a tangent but I can’t resist. Before Italy became the default, many popes were born elsewhere. Offhand, I remember France, England, Syria & Judeah, even Northern Africa.

            1. Quill*

              Not to mention the Antipopes, for that period of time when France decided to do its own thing.

        3. Beth*

          I remember that one!

          The real question is, is the Pope Catholic in the woods? And would he rather meet a strange man or a bear?

      3. amoeba*

        It’s known in Germany!

        (Also, how on earth could that be construed as racist? I mean, the meaning is pretty clear and… has nothing whatsoever to do with race, nor is it insulting to anybody?)

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I don’t think that boss knew what racist, or indeed many words, actually mean.

      4. Resentful Oreos*

        LMAO. I’ve also heard (and used, though not at work) the more vulgar version of “does the Pope [defecate] in the woods?”

        “Is the Pope Catholic” is a very well known saying even with people who aren’t Catholic, or even Christian or religious at all.

        1. Lucien Nova*

          I’ve heard that version too!

          In fact, there’s three I’ve heard – “is the Pope Catholic”, “does a bear [defecate] in the woods”, and [is a frog’s [bum] watertight” – which my family, because we are all silly gremlins, like to purposely mix up. So you get:

          “Does the Pope [defecate] in the woods?”
          “Is a bear’s [bum] watertight?”
          “Are frogs Catholic?”

          That last one could spawn some interesting discussions, honestly. :)

          1. Menace to Sobriety*

            For some reason that reminded me of anytime one of us would say “if xyz” and my Dad would say “and if frogs had wings they wouldn’t bump their ass when they hop.”

          2. ICodeForFood*

            I went to high school with a friend (who has since passed away), who used to follow up “Does a bear (defecate) in the woods?” with “Do porcupines piss on flat rocks?”
            I’ve never heard anyone but him use that second question…

          3. Snatland*

            Ironically given frogs absorb water through their skin, their butt almost certainly is *not* watertight.

        2. BubbleTea*

          I like the implication that the Pope might be a bear. Would women choose the Pope or a bear, I wonder? Is the bear Catholic? Does that change the women’s choices?

            1. Clisby*

              Their choices don’t depend on Catholicism. Assuming you’re talking about adult women, they can choose anything they want.

        3. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

          I’ve heard the one about the Pope in the woods too, usually paired with “Is a bear Catholic?”

      5. used to be a tester*

        My late grandmother didn’t have many Spoonerisms, but the few she had were great. She used “Does the Pope sh!t in the woods? Is a bear Catholic?” fairly often.

    2. Pequod*

      I’ve had bosses like this! Down to the “I feel like I need to discipline you” meeting that they thought was appropriate to have with me. An advantage was that I could just say “no, you don’t.”

      Just utterly clueless at managing, and mad about it.

      1. anon for this*

        Once I was, say, doing maintenance on the Llama brusher. There was an annual maintenance thing due and I had been run through it verbally.

        I had the directions. One of the steps was, say, pull the llama eyelash curler all the way to the top. That’s exactly what it said, so that’s exactly what I did.

        To my horror, I broke the llama eyelash curler so badly that the whole grooming station was down.

        Turns out “Pull all the way up” meant “Pull to an arbitrary level that is not all the way up but kinda close.”

        Rather than my supervisor listening to me and another person who found it confusing, and change the manual, I was told angrily that I “Always do this” and that I had to be completely retrained on the whole grooming thing.

        Then a line with an ANGRY NOTE was out on the machine with “Don’t pull past here!!!”

        I was also, at the same job, sent an angry email about how I didn’t know how to do my job because X thing happened. And when I calmly responded that a) I did not do the thing and b) it had already been handled, I didn’t get an apology.

        I left that job during the pandemic and have many bananapants stories about THAT.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Back during the “three Pope” era this STILL wouldn’t make sense! And that was when actual wars were being fought over this stuff!

    3. Brenda this time*

      Our Catholic family blends the two sayings (only at home, only among adults) … “does the Pope sh*** in the woods?” Because we blend all cliches. “It’s not rocket surgery.” “The early bird gets her cake and eats it too.”

      1. Panicked*

        Malaphors! So fun to use, as long as you’re in the company of people who KNOW you know the right way to say it. Otherwise, you get some strange looks.

          1. PhyllisB*

            Or, as one of my children’s friends used to say, “We’ll fall off that bridge when we get to it.” Even my 8-year-old had a huh? reaction to that one.

            1. Ultimate Facepalm*

              I can be counted on to fall off a bridge when I get to it. I totally get that kid. lol

          2. Bananapants Circus with Dysfunctional Monkeys*

            Can you? I don’t know I’m not a rocket surgeon.

            (That’s a personal favourite)

          3. Zarniwoop*

            As the late great Senator Kennedy used to say “We’ll drive off that bridge when we get to it.”

        1. Not Jane, I hope*

          If someone doesn’t know the “right” way to say the phrase, that’s just a bridge I’ll burn when I get to it.

        2. Lucien Nova*

          That’s what those are called! Malaphors! I couldn’t remember, thank you for jogging my memory.

      2. Resentful Oreos*

        My decidedly pagan, Unitarian, agnostic (take your pick) circle of friends uses the one abou the pope excreting in the woods a lot! Along with “are bears Catholic?” Not at work, naturally, but, among friends, yes.

        I’ve also used “do bees buzz?” I wonder if that boss would accuse me of being bee-ist? Or bigoted against hornets?

      3. Siege*

        I have a y-shirt with a picture of a man doing surgery on a rocket that says that. Those switches are not uncommon.

      4. Random Biter*

        Had a co-worker who’s other half was famous (infamous?) for his malaphors. My favorite, and I use it to this day, was, “That’s the way the cookie bounces.”

      5. Anonymel*

        We say “he smokes like a fish” and “drinks like a chimney” a lot. We also say “six of one half, a dozen of the other” because my kids misunderstood it when young. That one throws people for some reason.

      6. Aitch Arr*

        I am fond of paraphrasing Biff’s malaphor: “let’s make like a tree and get out of here.”

    4. Irish Teacher.*

      I’m just trying to figure out how that could even be racist. Like…what race did she even think it was insulting? I guess she meant Catholics, but a) Catholics aren’t a race and b) there is nothing insulting about implying the Pope is very Catholic. It would be more insulting to imply he wasn’t. I…just don’t get her logic here.

      1. Warrior Princess Xena*

        It was bigoted language, which is a broader category, but no less absurd! It would be significantly more insulting to imply the Pope wasn’t Catholic, surely. Maybe that’s what she thought it was?

        Realistically, it’s more likely she was the sort of person who thinks that any comment whatsoever on someone’s race/religion/gender/etc is somehow bigoted and inappropriate, no matter how neutral. I’ve met a couple people like that and they are the sort of person who make “ally” a bad word.

          1. Warrior Princess Xena*

            Sorry, I phrased that badly! The boss complained that it sounded like bigoted language (which it was not, because calling the pope catholic is not bigoted). The poster above me was trying to figure out how it was a racist comment (which it also wasn’t, but calling it racist makes even less sense because not a race was mentioned).

            1. Warrior Princess Xena*

              And now I realize that I misread OP’s comment too, making me doubly wrong. Apparently I need more coffee today!

              Anyway, Boss is a loon and should not be joked with, is my takeaway here.

        1. Siege*

          How is it bigoted to call the Pope Catholic when being Catholic is literally one of the two major job requirements? It isn’t questioning the Pope’s Catholicism, since it’s a well-known phrase that means “my answer is an enthusiastic yes.” What bigotry is being displayed here?

          1. Boof*

            I am also scratching my head here; is it some flavor of taking the lord’s name in vain or idolatry? (I mean, the pope isn’t the lord, but I guess it isn’t showing proper somber reverence for their position…?)

          2. Admin of Sys*

            The only thing I can think of is that either they thought it was an insult to catholics (sarcasm towards the pope) or she thought is was exclusionary (someone not catholic would think it was meant to exclude them somehow).

    5. The Space Pope*

      It’s such a common expression that Futurama made a joke about it. “Is the Space Pope reptilian?”

      Also I imagine the Pope himself wouldn’t be offended by that saying.

    6. Old Person Here*

      This was actually a joke on the old Mary Tyler Moore Show. Someone says “Is the Pope Catholic?” And Ted Baxter responds “I don’t think so, but the last one was.” Classic TV!

    7. Miette*

      As a recovering Catholic, born and raised in the northeastern US, I can say unequivocally I have heard that phrase used A LOT, by Catholics and non-Catholics alike. I’ve heard it on television and in the movies, seen it in print in books and magazines. Your boss pretending not to have heard it is simply remarkable.

      1. Nina*

        Today I had a coworker pretend not to know what the phrase ‘above my pay grade’ meant.
        Jane. I-am-not-authorized-to-do-that. You know this. Stop asking.

    8. Galadriel's Garden*

      Lol, they did a bit on “is the Pope a Catholic?” and the tabloids having a meltdown over it in the Spice Girls movie. In 1997. I’m glad that this is still a thing people freak out about XD

      1. Bast*

        Is it bad that that movie is actually the first thing that comes to mind when I hear this phrase? I remember the Spice Girls movie so clearly as a childhood favorite and I believe that was my first exposure to that phrase, so it stuck. Not that I understood it at the time, but I sure remembered it.

      2. The Gnome*

        I read the comment and legitimately pictured that scene in my head. I’m so glad I’m not the only one. XD

    9. HelenB*

      I mean, if you had said “Does the Pope s*** in the woods?” I could almost see why someone could take offense. But a Catholic saying “is the Pope a Catholic” is innocuous.

    10. ferrina*

      One overreaction was when I made a typo, once, in an internal email.

      I had a boss try to fire me over a typo. It was an external-facing typo, but crucially it had gone through Editorial and they missed the typo. It was literally not my job to catch that typo.

      The boss did not get to fire me, but only because HR turned the firing into a layoff. HR knew me (small organization) and they knew I didn’t deserved to be fired, but they couldn’t make this boss keep me. So I got a small severance and unemployment.

    11. Ellis Bell*

      Loads of Catholics say this, it isn’t in the least disparaging of the pope. When stuff like this happens I always pray for the presence of mind to say “which race do you mean?” or “Which bit do you find to be an insult; being the pope, or being Catholic?” but generally this kind of thing makes me goggle in amazement.

    12. Observer*

      She brought it up in my annual review and suggested I attend a remedial grammar course.

      Sounds reasonable. NOT.

      It reminds me of the manager who made one of her staff do a remedial math course (someone with Master’s level math in her background) because she’d made a mistake. (It was, as the LW who wrote in noted, just one example of the many issues with that manager.)

      she’d been thinking about what I said about the Pope and she thought it might be racist.

      Huh? Sounds like she was trying to weaponize legitimate anti-discrimination rules.

    13. Ess Ess*

      Ironically the saying USED to be “Is the Pope Polish?” which was used to signify a negative response because for centuries only Italian cardinals would get the votes to become Pope. So when there was finally a Polish Pope in my childhood, that saying ended up disappearing and changed to the new version.

    14. Chick-n-Boots*

      A joke about Catholics and the Pope was……racist? Does she know what the word “race” means?

      People who are just determined to get pissed/offended about stuff are so baffling to me!

    15. Scrooge McDunk*

      My father had a long list of these, and they were all very much NSFW. Some highlights include: “Does Howdy Doody have wooden n*ts?” and “Does Raggedy Ann have a cotton cr*tch?” and “Does Rose Kennedy have a black dress?”

    1. Pippa K*

      Yep, Alison referenced that one above. And I try to just enjoy everyone’s delight in that story, but surely I can’t be the only curmudgeon here who could happily go to the end of time without ever hearing it again? Argh. Not a week goes by….

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Nope, I would love it if people would just make like Elsa and let it go. It wasn’t that funny the first time, let alone the seven million, four hundred thirty-nine thousand, six hundred fourteen times since then.

  10. Cat*

    I (as a manager) made a seemingly innocuous general comment about needing employees to adhere to a work standard, and one employee (who wasn’t even present in the room) came back from their break and berated me loudly for 10 minutes in front of the rest of the staff for “talking shit” about them (I never mentioned their name). I have since left that job, but I still hear stories about how unhinged and unkind that person is.

    1. Curious*

      This makes me think of the allegory “Who moved my cheese” about organizational change.

  11. Jen MaHRtini*

    A managing director recently told me that our change in dental providers was “the worst thing that had happened in the history of (company).” I did not ask her if it was worse than when the IT analyst died suddenly of COVID in February 2020.

    1. HR Jeanne*

      First, your poster name is amazing. Second, I know exactly how you feel when someone comes to you and says something so ridiculous, and they are so righteously indignant about it. It almost takes your breath away.

    2. Jess*

      I get this. I have stopped saying anything is “a nightmare” because omg. EVERYTHING is a “nightmare” to some coworkers. The least little minor inconvenience is “a nightmare”. Enough already lol

  12. Snarkus Aurelius*

    I’ve posted many times about this boss at my first internship. (She was the one who would intentionally sabotage people’s projects by throwing papers off people’s desks so projects would never reach a completion date. She’d come into the office late at night to do it so no one saw her except my coworker who caught her red handed when he forgot something.)

    My boss hosted a mandatory seven hour meeting (SEVEN WHOLE HOURS) with the entire staff to discuss a flight time change to her upcoming trip. She was headed to a conference, and the airline changed her flight so she was traveling through a different connecting airport and arriving two hours later than originally planned.

    But I was young, naive, and flattered that the boss convened a seven hour meeting with all of us to discuss the “ethics” of her going. Yes, she used that word because she wanted to make sure she was always available to us no matter what (this was in the days before cell phones) and she wanted to “do right by [her] staff.” She wanted to hear from me!!!

    What if the flight was late? What if she missed it? What if she missed her connection? What if she got stuck somewhere? What if there was an emergency landing? What if the conference started a day earlier? What if traffic made her late to the hotel? This flight change “disrupted” all of her mental plans, so she needed staff to “band together” and brainstorm as many ideas as possible so she would be prepared no matter what happened. She needed our help because she didn’t know which choice to make! Every time we came up with a plan, she’d start up with “Maybe I shouldn’t go at all. Can we talk about that? What would happen if I didn’t go?” Then when we exhausted that topic, she’d start up again with “Maybe I should go then. You all make a great argument. Can we have a reset on that conversation?”

    The punchline? Her assistant missed that seven hour meeting because she was sick. When I told the assistant about it, she laughed and said, “Seven hour meeting? Rebooked flight? Brainstorming? What? Boss had me cancel her travel plans two weeks ago. Her stepdaughter is in town so she wanted to spend time with her instead. She was never going to go to that conference!”

    That’s how I learned that Boss looooooooooooooooooved to be babied and fussed over. That was the real purpose of staff meetings. Today, that Boss is dead, and I am so not upset over it.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Yeah, I had to read this like six times to even be sure that what I thought was happening, was happening.

      1. Snarkus Aurelius*

        No joke. When I read the book soon after that experience, I had to pause for a couple of days before I could continue. Some parts were really upsetting to me!

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Wow. I don’t feel it was a coincidence she picked the day her assistant was out to do this. No chance of assistant spoiling her plan during the day.

    2. MikeM_inMD*

      How much money did she burn in employee-hours during that meeting? How many projects were delayed a day? How much overtime was needed to catch up on missed work? That women is/was insane.

    3. Formerly in HR*

      As I just saw the movie the other day, this is Anxiety taking over Riley’s brain, with brainstorm included. Big ideas!

    4. Chick-n-Boots*

      My chin has dropped through the floor and is hurtling towards the earth’s molten core.

    5. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

      I was at a very small engineering firm, the owner was very… umm… hands on (I privately referred to him as “Not a micro-manager, but a nano-manager”).

      Anyways, we were at our booth at a trade show, me, and him, and another engineer. And it turns out we’re using a version of our software written in language X. He had wanted it rewritten in language Y. Never mind that this directive had come down maybe a month previously, an the rewrite would have taken 4-6 months minimum. He decided that right then and there on the trade show floor was the perfect place to chew out the other engineer and me.

      I was thinking, “Dude, there’s a time and a place for everything, and this is NOT it.”

      I started looking for a new position almost immediately after that.

  13. Football fan*

    I was in a planning meeting for a special edition of a magazine where I worked. The owner’s brother, who was an executive there, freaked out when my turn came and I started discussing budgeting, how and when we’d pay freelancers, etc. This was my job, and it was one reason I had been asked to participate. He became agitated and raised his voice and weirdly shut me down. I pushed back, but eventually I had to let it go. Later, he demanded an apology and continued to berate me. “You NEVER should bring up money in front of other people!” Huh?! He resigned for other reasons a few weeks later, and we discovered that he had been embezzling from the company to support a heroin addiction. I’m no longer in touch with him, as I didn’t know him well, but I saw him recently and was happy to see that he is sober, but I’m afraid that he is quite physically disabled due in part to his heavy drug use. Even though he was publicly mean to me (a young woman then) occasionally, I take no pleasure in his difficulties.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      At first I thought he was getting work etiquette and social etiquette confused. But covering up embezzlement also tracks.

        1. Quill*

          If anyone tells you that your career is the wrong place to talk about money, there’s money not going where it should.

    2. Resume please*

      I had a crazy co-worker (and I say “worker” lightly, as she had a severe truancy problem that HR and my terrible manager didn’t want to deal with) freak out because the after-hours cleaning staff threw out some of the office supplies that she was hoarding. She kept the office supplies not in a drawer, but in an additional TRASH BIN UNDERNEATH HER DESK. With a little sign that said “Don’t throw away” taped to it. She would scavenge empty desks and keep excess supplies in there.

      It should be noted that we both worked for a large company that was never in a shortage of anything, with well-stocked supply rooms.

      Anyway, the morning that her second trash bin/supply hoard (that she never touched, by the way) had been emptied, she had a full-scale meltdown. Screaming, crying, and got the Head of Facilities to come to her desk and calmly explain to her that mistakes happen, and maybe she shouldn’t store random pens in a trash bin. All of this went over her head, as she had a sign to not throw away. I wish I could say that was the craziest that she had ever behaved, but it was one of her biggest overreactions

      1. Resume please*

        Oops, that was not meant to be a reply but a standalone post. My bad.

        But since I’m here, the “never bring up money in front of other people”…when the topic is the business’s money, in a business meeting about budget…is absolutely wild.

        1. Zombeyonce*

          If no one’s allowed to talk about money, no one can put together inconsistencies and find the embezzler.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            Reminds me of the Mimico Newsomes on Murdoch Mysteries, who find it “vulgar” to discuss money. This means they have been ripped off and reduced to penury several times.

          2. Observer*

            Exactly!

            So, in sense not an over-reaction. But in most contexts a stupid red flag.

  14. Nameless*

    Former coworker got extremely upset and offended (like, threatening to go to HR) because another coworker said “Fire in the hole” while tossing a folder to someone. No idea why they were so upset over that phrase, maybe they thought it was sexual or too violent?

    1. Student*

      Your last sentence strongly suggests that you have no idea what that phrase’s common usage is. It indicates that something is about to explode inside a confined space, as a last (and sometimes only) warning. It has industrial and military applications where explosives are in play, and it indicates something very dangerous is about to happen.

      In the white-collar, folder-tossing world, the other co-worker was using it as a metaphor to liken the folder’s contents to a grenade that he was tossing at someone.

      If your former co-worker once held a job where that phrase is used earnestly, then I could see getting upset about hearing it unexpectedly in a white-collar setting. Either from PTSD, or due to years of needing to be ready to respond very promptly to hearing that phrase at a very different kind of work to survive and avoid injury.

      1. Foxy Hedgehog*

        Yeah, was also going to suggest a PTSD angle here–“fire in the hole” means, basically “imminent nearby explosion.” It’s an instruction to keep your head down and protect your ears, at the very least, and if you don’t you might be at risk for permanent injury or death. People who had to develop an instinct to protect themselves quickly when hearing that phrase might not appreciate hearing “Fire in the hole” shouted as a joke.

        1. Anonychick*

          Yeah. I’ve never even been in the military, but if someone called that out in a semi-public place (as opposed to, like, intheir own living room, referring to the dog farting…and yes, that has happened), I would probably dive for cover…and then be both absolutely humiliated that I had done so when their was no threat, and REALLY ticked-off at whoever thought that was an appropriate thing to yell in an office.

      2. Ellis Bell*

        I took it to mean that Nameless themself understood the expression as a metaphor, but assumed the offended colleague had misunderstood it as being sexual or to do with maliciously violent threats (as opposed a warning of danger) I take your point about PTSD though.

      3. Ess Ess*

        Agree with this. Using phrases casually that normally convey life-threatening warnings is really not appropriate.

      4. Chauncy Gardener*

        Yeah, this. Don’t EVER say “fire in the hole” to me while tossing something in my general direction.
        Nope nope nopeity nope nope

      5. Joron Twiner*

        I’ve definitely heard this phrase be used casually/jokingly/clearly not in a real dangerous context, like “incoming” or saying a project is “dead in the water” or a coworker is “missing in action”.

        Fire in the Hole a Steely Dan song from the 70s. I think people acting like this phrase is likely to trigger many people are being a bit precious…

        1. Never Knew I Was a Dancer*

          Yeah, I hear this phrase used pretty regularly, and never to refer to the use of a live explosive. It’s long been a figure of speech outside of any military setting or where dynamite is being used, and is about as literal in everyday life as someone talking about beating a dead horse (i.e. not at all).

  15. Definitely keeping this anonymous*

    At my company, we used to use paper cups at our cafe (where we get lattes for 50 cents). When we switched to reusable cups, it was OUTRAGE.

    The announcement post on our internal social media page about the change got 153 comments, about half of which were along the lines of: “But then the mugs will get mixed with water mugs, and our water will always taste like coffee! Is your plan for employees to dehydrate on company premises?” “But paper is important for carbon sequestriation!” “The real issue is the plastic salt grinders! What are you doing to get rid of those?” “What we really want is sparkling water!” “You removed our Mentos last month, and these were critical for cleaning my teeth. What are you doing to fix this?” “Every time we have a birthday in the office it breaks my heart to see people blowing up balloons.”

    It was…a lot.

    1. Galadriel's Garden*

      “Every time we have a birthday in the office it breaks my heart to see people blowing up balloons.”

      OMG, company intranet is a gift – I cannot stop laughing at this!

      (Yes, I understand the perspective on unnecessary waste but…man the things people get worked up over at work)

    2. PurlsOfWisdom*

      “Is your plan for employees to dehydrate on company premises?” genuinely made me spit out my sip of water.

      1. Zombeyonce*

        I hope it was water from a paper cup and not a mug that *gasp* might make water taste like coffee. (Did they think mugs wouldn’t be washed?)

    3. Zombeyonce*

      This makes me mourn a second time for my company removing the ability to comment on posts on the internal social media kind of site. I miss all the irrational responses to changes and the people losing their ever-loving minds over the most trivial announcements. I’m sure it was a pain to moderate, but it was entertaining.

    4. Dawn*

      Ok, wait.

      Wait wait wait.

      Did someone actually say that Mentos were critical for cleaning their teeth?

      1. ferrina*

        Right?! I got to that line and had to re-read it several times. Just when I think I’ve seen peak stupidity….

  16. Prorata*

    Well, I heard about this law firm where a paralegal cries whenever she gets a new assignment……..

  17. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

    I wish our company had a standard signature. I work with someone whose signature takes an entire printed page because they have their entire CV and links to all their published articles in their signature. It is obnoxious especially when we get long email threads. Or when I have to save the whole thread as a pdf for documentation purposes.

    1. Putting the Dys in Dysfunction*

      Employee: I’m quitting unless I can keep my custom email signature.

      Manager: Don’t let the door smack you in the ass on the way out.

      1. Space Needlepoint*

        I hated it at first because my first experience with was dictated by the marketing department, so it would change a lot–like anytime we had a new product. Generally, I see valid reasons behind it.

        In other places, having standard signatures is the usual, but it’s not enforced. This meant when I lived in the southern US, I got a lot of email with unwanted New Testament quotes at the bottom.

      2. Spring*

        I wish our standard signatures were actually standard. Each department has it’s own standard signature, so not really standardized.

        1. NothingIsLittle*

          I work in local government and going from having semi-standard to fully-standard has caused huge confusion for parks and libraries (among others)! Half the staff has the same title and because of the title structure it’s not obvious which location they’re associated with. Plus they have their own websites and social media (necessary for their marketing) and instead the signature links for the umbrella accounts…

    2. Zombeyonce*

      The sheer amount of information people think belongs in email signatures is amazing. I’ve seen multiple quotations in a single signature that have nothing to do with the job or company, giant pictures of random things, cursive names in colors that people with low vision would never be able to read, a listing of their contact info plus multiple backups, upcoming vacation dates with more detail than anyone needs, etc. My company has a standard email signature but it’s not enforced, so it’s a mixed bag.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Has anyone in the history of time ever read through one of those things? It’s the electronic equivalent of having that band from Monty Python and the Holy Grail follow you around!

    3. Duchess Socks*

      I used to work with a woman (now retired) who used an email signature (in her personal email) that listed every dog she’d ever owned, their pedigree name and show titles. And she had had a lot of dogs.

    4. Strawberry Snarkcake*

      Better than my coworker who has no less than 35 bible quotes and a gif of a sparkly kitten in their signature.

      1. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

        Is the sparkly kitten at the top or is it a reward for reading all the quotes?

  18. gingersnap*

    I used to work in a quasi-legal setting where we managed case files. Our office manager was extremely frugal and after a case was closed and archived, he’d reuse the cardboard folder. These folders had been reused for decades and were slowly disintegrating but he claimed there was never money to replace them. Add to that, these were old style legal case folders with a fastener at the top so you had to flip pages up to read them and it annoyed us all.

    Well, shiny fancy law firm was getting a new corporate headquarters and donated a bunch of their old furniture and supplies to our entire org. I was perusing the conference room where office supplies had been left for departments to take, and I discovered cases and cases of three ring binders and printable tabs. With my boss’ blessing, I devised a whole new file system to go along with the anticipated digital software upgrade we were getting.

    Everyone loved the binders, it was Christmas morning in our office. No more using staplers to hold the files open to the page you needed? No more ancient fasteners scratching our desks? Being able to reorder briefs without taking apart the entire file? What fun!

    Except the office manager. He was decidedly not pleased. Now that he couldn’t use his budgeting excuse, he had to find another legitimate reason to torpedo the switch. He grumbled around for days getting increasingly upset over the binders as we started to transition case files. Finally he came up with a reason to dislike them! What if, he pondered, a party submitted physical evidence..like A VHS??? How could my fancy binders handle that?

    Seeing as there wasn’t a pocket for VHS tapes in his old folders, I asked him what was the current procedure for non-paper evidence? Realizing he hadn’t thought that far ahead, he sheepishly admitted we had a locked evidence drawer and he’d add a note to the file that there was evidence in the drawer. I replied that we’d probably continue that practice. Given that he was weeks away from retirement, his resistance to the change was so bizarre – he would never have to adapt to the binders!

  19. Bird Lady*

    In the Spring of 2022, I caught Covid while representing my organization at a community event honoring one of our board members. While I tried to mask for the event, I was really hungry and the dinner served was excellent, so I removed my mask to eat. Sure enough, the person sitting next to me had an asymptomatic case of Covid.

    Most of my colleagues were really understanding about helping me out while I was sick. I had the worst migraines while I was sick and could not work remotely from home. I couldn’t be in the light it was so painful. One colleague decided that I had been irresponsibly reckless and a danger to everyone in the community, so she shared not just my personal health information but that of my husband as well. Obviously, HR came down hard on her.

    So she retaliated. Everything she could do to sabotage my work, she did. She lied about me to board members. She continued to share my health information with museum guests. She refused to work on projects that I managed. When I confronted her supervisor with the issues, he shrugged his shoulders and said that had I not wanted to have this person retaliate, I should have just let her continue to say wildly inappropriate things about me.

      1. Bird Lady*

        No, I left shortly after that incident. We had a leadership change not too long after, and the new ED had staff members spying on other staff members, vanished for weeks at a time, and refused to hire new staff claiming it “wasn’t her job”. I just couldn’t do it anymore. Our previous ED really did try to combat a lot of the crazy toxic behavior, but the new one only created more of it.

        Now my former colleague is a director of a department, but I’ve left the industry entirely and am so thankful to have a boring but normal work environment.

    1. JelloStapler*

      I think I know why this person felt she had the right to do so- clearly, her boss feels the same way or is scared of her.

      1. Bird Lady*

        It wasn’t that he agreed with her or was afraid of her. He hated me because, as a married woman deeply in love with her husband, I was not going to hold his hand, flirt with him, or give him kisses.

  20. AnnieO*

    The blue spoon abduction of 2005. I worked with a woman who was always known for being rather peculiar. Our company did not stock the kitchen, so we all commonly pitched in or brought things from home. One employee had brought in these blue plastic spoons leftover from a party they had hosted on a weekend. Just cheap plastic disposable spoons, nothing fancy. In due course they were used up, by this woman “Jane” kept her dark blue spoon and would reuse it. Fine, nobody cared. Well, one fateful morning we arrived to find her in a full blown rage demanding to know “who did it?” She finally clarified that “her” blue spoon was missing, nay, TAKEN by some dastardly villian. She interrogated us one by one, challenging us to account for our whereabouts the previous afternoon. Desks were searched. Drawers emptied. She even insisted we would show her our bags (no).A few of us pointed out that perhaps the cleaning crew, rightly considering a used disposable spoon garbage, threw it away. She got very still and hissed “THEY. WOULDN’T. DARE.” Her inquisition lasted a solid 3 days before management, determining just how much company resources were being devoted to a blue disposable spoon, shut it down and replaced the missing plastic spoon with a package of assorted white disposable cutlery. This sent her over the edge. Nobody, and she means NOBODY, will make her use a white spoon. Also, plastic knives? Who would deign to bring that in…nobody wants that!! She would rather quit than work in “this lawless hellhole, where people think stealing is okay.”

    She didn’t follow through on this promise (oops, I mean “threat”) and just sort of gave us all the silent treatment for the next couple of weeks. We were in the process of digitizing decades worth of files, which were stored in the basement. During one shift down there, a coworker and I were moving new stacks of boxes towards the staging area. Lo and behold, what should fall off one of the stacks but the wayward spoon. My coworker and I knew no good would come from being caught with the contraband spoon, so we stashed it out of sight in the ceiling tiles (by this point Jane was daily checking everyone’s garbage in case Spoon’s corpse was being disposed of…or possibly for trace evidence, I don’t know). It became a running joke, a Tell-Tale Heart of the sound of spoons coming from the basement. I left the company about 6 months later. Jane left about a year later. My old coworker reached out to tell me: as a parting gift, he came in early and slipped the spoon back into her desk drawer all the way at the back. He said watching her empty out her desk just to discover it was priceless. He said she looked around surreptitiously, slid the spoon in her packed box of belongings, and never said a word.

    I hope Spoon is happy, reunited with its devoted mistress.

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      Hahahaha that is absolutely perfect! The telltale spoon in the ceiling, slipping it back into her desk when she was emptying it out, the fact that it was just a plastic spoon – all amazing.

      1. PhyllisB*

        This reminds me of a post I read on Facebook. A woman’s mother-in-law was reading The Exorcist. MIL got so outraged at what she was reading she took the book to the dock and flung it out in the ocean. DIL bought another copy, ran it under tap water and stuck it in her nightstand drawer.

    2. The OG Sleepless*

      OMG I laughed out loud at planting the spoon in the drawer. I wish I had that kind of mind.

    3. You saw me standing alone*

      If I said the blue spoon story might be in the running to supplant the cheap-ass rolls story, I might be causing the kind of uproar this post is eliciting; but I can say I’m hoping it makes the top of the list of favorites that Alison chooses!

      1. Epsilon*

        I think the only way it could supplant the cheap-ass rolls is if Jane came on here to tell Alison about a time someone in her office stole her spoon, and what should she have done?

        1. Alex*

          “This happened to me several years ago, but I think about it daily and am interested to hear your take”.

    4. Sparkles McFadden*

      Thank you for this. I think I will revisit this post whenever I am having a sub-par day.

    5. CoffeeOwlccountant*

      I have watched MANY movies that were neither as thrilling nor as emotionally satisfying as this story. Bravo, I say, bravo.

    6. Cookies For Breakfast*

      This wins the comment thread, and the mystery reader in me has so many questions about how the spoon would have made it to a stack of boxes in the basement.

      1. New Jack Karyn*

        My guess is that Jane took it down there herself, like she needed to get something out of the storage area and went down there with the spoon in her coffee mug. She pulled the spoon out to drink the coffee, absently set it down, and then forgot it entirely when she found what she was looking for and walked away.

        1. AnnieO*

          You would be correct (sort of): she did indeed go down there. Not to work, mind, but rather she would stop in while we were digitizing and clearing out to complain that we had to do it at all. She frequently brought her friend Spoon because she would stroll around with yogurt. I’m guessing she set it down, forgot, and then poor Spoon was the victim of neglect, not kidnapping.

          1. Abundant Shrimp*

            Taking Spoon out on walks to make sure it gets exercise and a change of scenery, what a responsible utensil owner.

            1. 1LFTW*

              I have to disagree here. While it’s tempting to allow our utensils to live a “free” and “natural” off-leash life, there are just too many hazards in even the most peaceful office setting. It would only take a moment for Spoon to be run over by a vacuum cleaner!

              1. Abundant Shrimp*

                Good point. At the very least, she should’ve microchipped her Spoon so it could be easily found and brought back to her if it’d broken loose.

                1. C*

                  Just a reminder, microchips aren’t GPS. They only store a single piece of data, an ID number, which has to be entered into one or more databases in the hopes that the pet owner has kept their information up to date.

      1. Abundant Shrimp*

        There were 19 more spoons in the box, but this, this was the One spoon to rule them all.

    7. Juicebox Hero*

      This is delightful. I was hoping so hard that the One True Spoon would turn up amongst Jane’s possessions after all that sturm and drang, and lo and behold it (eventually) did.

        1. JazzyB*

          Some would have taken the spoon on holiday and sent back pictures from NYC, London, Paris…

    8. ConstantlyComic -> Blue Spoon*

      This is amazing. So amazing, in fact, that I think it’s gonna be my username now.

    9. Nina*

      In all honesty, I kind of get it. Not the incredible overreaction and making it everyone else’s problem, but the being a bit upset that a spoon you really liked had disappeared.
      I am the kind of person who has a favorite cleaned-out coffee jar that is my primary drinking vessel (and also a favorite spoon). I would be upset if my jar got thrown away. Like, I would have a quick look for it and then get a new one and be okay about it and not institute a search of the premises, but I would be upset, and if someone asked me what I was looking for I probably would say ‘my favorite jar has disappeared’ and would not be super happy to be given a jam jar as a replacement.

    10. lurkyloo*

      The beat of the lonely blue spoon…haunting up from the basement. It’s a wonder she couldn’t hear it calling for her.
      Oh wait. She couldn’t hear it over her bananacrackers behaviour.
      Well done. You get a gold barbie! lol

    11. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      This belongs in the AAM Hall of Fame, alongside such gems as cheapass rolls, the Christmas piano date and the boss confronting his employees on Wednesday.

  21. Llama Growers of the World*

    Worked for a small association (think Llama Growers of Medium Size State). My boss would often blow up at people for small things she had misunderstood. She was also notoriously late to meetings, so she would miss context and become enraged about something she didn’t hear right. So we’re in a meeting, she is late, comes in when I’m mid-explanation and is clearly peeved. But we’re at a large meeting, where we will be for several days. It quickly becomes apparent that she is mad at me, but will not explain why. She ends up screaming at me in public that I have been lying to her for months and she’s tired of it. I have no idea what she’s talking about and she won’t explain further. The meeting ends and we go our separate ways. And then she refuses to speak to me for six weeks. Like, won’t return phone calls (we were 100% remote), answers emails in one or two word replies. After six weeks, we agree to meet with a mediator so she can tell me all the ways I’m a terrible employee. At one of the meetings, I get the opportunity to ask again “why were you so mad at me??” And she finally tells me: She walked in to the meeting late and heard part of the conversation, which she completely misinterpreted as me talking about her behind her back (I was not). Plus, she doesn’t like it when I use the phrase “my plan.” As in “my plan for the day is to brush the llamas.” She thought it was exclusionary and I wasn’t including her. The mediator had clearly already heard all of this and just sat there looking embarrassed. I finally left that job a year later. On my last week, she desperately tried to get me to teach her all the things about my job that she’d refused to learn earlier. I told her it wasn’t my plan to do that.

    1. Ellis Bell*

      Please tell me you turned on your heel immediately and there was a sunset for you to walk off into.

    2. goddessoftransitory*

      This is the verbal equivalent of walking away from the exploding building.

  22. goofball*

    My former boss was really into YouTube docs. Topics covered included the Mayan calendar, Mesoamerican astrology, secrets of the pyramids. It all bordered on the cusp of conspiracy, but with a History Channel flavor. Boss would either have them playing on a second screen or watch them intently during his lunch break. This was an open office so we could all see, but not hear (due to headphones) them playing.

    One day I was taking my lunch and he insisted I watch this video on the golden ratio. I tuned in for a few minutes, but it really wasn’t my thing, so I closed it and went back to reading a music blog.

    You would have thought I kicked his dog. He immediately started challenging why I didn’t like the video, what my relationship to the golden ratio was (??), and generally chastising me for dismissing his recommendation. We worked in tech sales and none of these topics had to do with our job. He then proceeded to give me the silent treatment for the rest of the week. A month later, he was fired for poor performance.

    1. Observer*

      A month later, he was fired for poor performance.

      Not THAT sounds like it was not an over-reaction at all!

      It wouldn’t really matter what the content was, he was being bonkers. I can imagine he wasn’t getting results.

  23. Stuart Foote*

    At my first corporate job out of college, I changed the name of a folder in the share drive to the correct name. This enraged a co-worker (who worked at the same level as me, although he’d been at the company about ten years longer) so much he started yelling “You’re on the list! You’re on the list!”, then turned to a crony to continue yelling “He’s on the list!” We were in agreement that the name was wrong, but he felt like the folder should continue to be mislabeled and should not be corrected.

    Apparently “the list” was his imaginary list of people who would be leaving the company soon. He turned out to be right in my case since I left as soon as I possibly could.

    1. NameRequired*

      This is honestly somewhat terrifying. Under no circumstances do I want to be in the same city let alone the same building as someone who has created a “List” of people who have wronged him. Congrats on getting out!

      1. Anon for This*

        I worked with someone who found out about Nixon’s “enemies list” and thought it was a great idea. She created on of her own. (I think it helped her process her feelings.) I still remember the day she put her (now ex-husband’s name on – twice!)

        I still occasionally meet up with her and others from that job. That brand of chaos can be entertaining if you only have to deal with it for a few hours a couple times a year.

        1. Zombeyonce*

          I had a coworker who kept a list of “bad customers” and posted it on their wall. While this was clearly less than professional, what drove it over the line was that our customers were all internal customers and could have seen it if they visited our department (which happened from time to time).

          1. LaurCha*

            We have a “no fly list” at my office. Mostly previous clients, but a few who came in for consultations and were clearly not people we’d take on. I do intake and put this no-fly list together after a particularly egregious former client called, my boss saw her name on the caller ID, and FLEW up to my desk to say “never. never ever. I absolutely will not work with that woman again.”

          2. Warrior Princess Xena*

            Yup, this is one of those things that may be good for external customers but is a complete no-go for internal customers. Those are your coworkers. If you’re having problems with them, you need to talk to your and/or their manager, not just ban them from talking with you.

      2. Living That Teacher Life*

        Agreed. I once overheard students talking about adding me to a list, and brought it to the attention of administrators. It was a hit list. Administrators confirmed that they had access to weapons; it was not a joke. They were arrested and never returned to my classroom. I would not respond well to this guy yelling about putting me on his list!

    2. Ess Ess*

      Changing a folder in a shared drive, if the folder is used by others, is actually a potentially big issue. If it is used by others, that action would have broken bookmarks and any drive mapping shortcuts on other employees’ computers, and possibly broke links in other shared documents that pointed to that folder. Not joking.

      1. Quill*

        “If you rename this I will haunt you” was a line in some instructions I had to type up for some shared spreadsheets with automatic data export.

      2. ildrummer*

        The way to get around this is to rename the folder and then create a shortcut to that new, correctly-spelled folder and give it the old name. that will preserve old links and references.

  24. Rhetorical bathtub*

    I used to work for a public library. It was a pretty old building with a run-down HVAC system that faltered pretty frequently. One day it broke down entirely; it was a relatively mild day, so it wasn’t too bad, but it got pretty stuffy and warm in there, and customers and staff both started to complain. So Mac, one of the librarians, opened the windows– they were about ten feet off the ground and needed a pole to open, and that helped a lot. Like I said, it was mild, not cold, maybe in the upper 60s. Five minutes after he opened them, though, the other librarian, Jon, got up, got the pole, and closed the windows. Mac opened them again and told Jon that the customers and most of the staff wanted them open; Jon said he didn’t care, he was freezing. Mac offered to let Jon off the desk and go work elsewhere in the building that didn’t have windows; Jon refused. Mac patiently said that the windows were gonna stay open, so Jon stormed away and came back a few minutes later wearing a heavy winter coat, scarf, hat, and gloves. He refused to take them off and was very surly for the rest of the day, occasionally saying things like “Well, I guess I’LL help you find this BOOK you want because MOVING AROUND is the only way to STAY WARM.” Once the HVAC got fixed a couple of days later he asked very loudly if he could close the windows; once he had done so, he took off his winterwear while very smugly looking at anyone who’d make eye contact with him.

    1. Miette*

      Sorry for being off-topic, but I worked at an old library in high school with the same kind of window-opening pole! It was always so satisfying to use-I loved it!

  25. Marketing Ninja Unicorn*

    I have one!

    One, my then-boss, who was director-level at our organization. He went into the weekly directors meeting (held on Tuesdays), announced he was quitting (with nothing else lined up), and that his last day was the following Thursday (because our office is closed on Fridays Memorial Day to Labor Day and this was mid-July).

    He then took two vacation days (Wednesday, Thursday), we were closed Fridays, and he was off-site Monday and Tuesday for a pre-contracted thing. He came in on Wednesday to begin packing up his office and decided to peel all the tiny barcode labels off ALL his equipment (laptop, monitors, keyboard, docking station, etc.) and throw them away, then put his computer equipment in different drawers and cabinets in his office, all separate. I have no idea why he did this, because his beef was with the executive-level people and the people he screwed over with those actions were our help desk people, most of whom were summer (paid) interns.

    He also factory-reset his work-issued phone, then set it back up with a passcode just to screw with people.

    Then, having done ALL of that on Wednesday, he sent an email to our executive director that was time-delayed to be delivered AFTER he’d returned his access badge in which he told her, ‘I’ve turned in my badge, cleaned out my office, and I’m leaving at 130 forever. Don’t try to contact me, don’t try to reach out to me, forget you know me.’

    Which…overdramatic, yes. But also–we work in an industry (education) with mandatory reference checks from previous places of employment because most of our staff has state-issues professional licenses that are tied to employment.

    After he left, it came out he and the director of HR, whom he oversaw, were sleeping together and later got married. She quit the week after him and when he was hired at another institution she misrepresented that she was still working here, provided the reference checks, he got hired, and then it came out that he had lied and she had lied, and he got fired.

    It was WILD.

    1. The Rise and Fall of Sanctuary Moon*

      WOW. Do I understand correctly that his references would have been fine if his leaving actions hadn’t been so odd? So he basically sabotaged his references, lied about his references, and got fired? Talk about manufacturing drama out of thin air!

  26. J_crane*

    I never understood why people would want to change the font and color of email. It always hurts my eyes when I read anything other than black on white background.
    PS. a case can be made for the reverse.

    1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      I’m reading this with white text on black background – I find white background glaring after about 10 mins, but I do have carp eyes.

    2. NothingIsLittle*

      I do our org’s marketing and it makes me outrageously happy to use our brand font in emails! It’s a very readable sans-serif, not one of the outrageous decorative ones. (Alternate colors though *shivers*)

    3. GasketGirl*

      I’ve set my emails font color to a dark blue, which for me is a little easier on the eyes. It’s dark enough that it’s almost black, but ever so slightly less harsh. It also goes along with the company branding which has navy included.

  27. PNW Planner*

    At a previous job it was very common to take items off the copier and set them on an adjacent counter for the sender to pick up later. Waiting for something I sent, I moved the previously copied documents. The sender comes up, slams her hand down and says something to the effect of you can’t look at those, don’t touch them!
    It’s the first time I remember raising my voice back to someone at work. I guess they were confidential personnel documents, but just wow.

    1. Dawn*

      Perhaps if they’re so confidential, you shouldn’t be leaving them on the public copier.

      1. Observer*

        Exactly this.

        If it’s sensitive, either don’t send them to a shared printer. If you don’t have a choice, get to the printer AS SOON as you hit the send button.

        And it makes me nuts when organizations refuse to provide private printers for people who are running sensitive documents.

        1. Dawn*

          If I’m remembering those old-school printer spoolers right, you could also schedule a document print for exactly this reason, back in the days when most offices couldn’t afford more than one, or maybe one per floor.

      2. NothingIsLittle*

        Some of the places I’ve worked, the copier was far enough from some of the desks that this could reasonably happen. The one job that had seriously confidential documents, though, you had to unlock your print/copy jobs at the machine so confidential docs couldn’t meet the wrong hands on accident.

  28. PoupeeMojee*

    I used to work at a library and summer reading time meant that we often had a prize case of items purchased specifically to convince kids to read. Read this many books, get this prize, etc. One year our department purchased a stack of fluffy mini Emoji pillows from the Oriental Trading website. Think ice cream, dog, cat, smiley face, etc. What wasn’t apparent with the online advertisement, which simply said “Emoji’s received may vary”, was that included in our package was a stack of poop Emoji pillows as well. We arranged the gigantic pile of mini pillows in our display case, and watched as kids came to register for summer reading, saw the poop Emojis, laughed very hard and planned to try and win one by reading. Kids think poop is hilarious. Mission accomplished.

    About a week of this went by until our director finally strolled into the building one day. She was never around, was very old, and she did her once yearly walk through our department during summer reading just to see the decorations and keep up appearances. She saw the kids crowded around the display case, peeked over their heads to see what they were laughing at, and immediately went white as a sheet. She pointed at my boss, “You. Office. Now.”

    I do not know exactly what was said but I do know that A. she made my 6 1/2 month pregnant boss ugly sob about it, B. the poop Emoji pillows were spotted in the dumpster the next day, C. all future purchase orders for our department for the next FOUR YEARS until the director’s retirement needed to be scanned by her for any poop related content prior to approval, and D. the very first thing our department did once this woman retired was buy a stack of various poop themed books, both fiction and nonfiction, that my boss had been keeping on a list waiting for this inevitable moment. When I left, some of them had the highest circulation of any of our nonfiction materials.

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      That’s a bummer, the idea was to entice kids to read, and the poop emoji pillows did exactly that! It’s pretty harmless, plus you didn’t specifically order poop, it was a random assortment! Sounds like your former director was a real thick stick in the mud, I’m sorry your poor boss got reamed out for it.

      I like to imagine some kids discovered the pillows in the dumpster and had a field day.

    2. BlueberryGirl*

      This is actually really sad, because anything that gets kids excited about reading is a good thing. Plus, poop is just… well, poop.

    3. Juicebox Hero*

      Not just kids. For my birthday one year my coworkers got me a pen with the poop emoji on top, and when you pressed it it made a variety of fart noises. I use it to sign letters to people I don’t like.

      1. LaurCha*

        When I went to see a doc about a colonoscopy there was, you guessed it, an enormous poop-emoji stuffie on top of their christmas tree. I wanted to take pics, but, you know, medical office.

        1. Bronze Betty*

          A group I belong to has an annual Naughty or Nice Christmas ornament exchange. One year the ornament I brought to exchange was a poop emoji. Everyone thought it was hilarious.

    4. NothingIsLittle*

      The only emoji I’d have a genuine concern about is the eggplant and I’m someone who finds the poop emoji pretty tasteless (just as a preference, no judgement). I’m sad they went to the trash instead of being spirited away to a secret closet for stealth reading rewards.

    5. ISingTheBodyElectric*

      This is wild. I work at a library and we recently had two programs from the “Poop Museum” which is a lady who just… talks about poop. They were fantastic. We called the second one “part deuce.” Our youth librarian was reciting poop facts for weeks. In our supervisors meeting she announced that bees don’t poop… they just pee and fart.

  29. H.Regalis*

    This is from an ex-boyfriend of mine, and is not an uncommon restaurant story:

    Boyfriend was a waiter at a restaurant in a large city. A customer ordered a steak, and then sent it back because he didn’t like how it was cooked. The chef came out from the kitchen and tried to fight him. The front of house staff somehow got the chef to go back into the kitchen and they had to comp the customer’s meal.

    1. just here for the scripts*

      I think we might have eaten there…
      Hubby likes well-done steak. Waiter said the chef at the very fancy French restaurant wouldn’t cook it that way. Hubby asked him to ask the chef…waiter said no because he didn’t want a fight with the chef.

      We left without ordering anything.
      Little did I know how close we came to slug fest than right now!

  30. FashionablyEvil*

    Actually, the comments thread about the King Charles joke was also a whole ‘nother level of flouncing. It was, frankly, amazing.

    1. FashionablyEvil*

      The opening salvo:

      King Charles “joke”: Not only is it not “mild” but it’s utter falsehood. He’s had a job for 50+ years: the CEO of this little corporation called “the Duchy of Cornwall” with land holdings of 135,000 acres to manage. Anyone who thinks he has been sitting around on his arse is just showing their utter ignorance about the Royal Family and what they do.

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        But isn’t that why it’s a joke? Otherwise it would have been a simple statement of fact. It’s just hyperbole pointing out how King Charles started a new job significantly after most people in the UK had retired.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          Yeah, I don’t really tell jokes about celebrities, but I know when I hear one that it’s probably not going to be a balanced retelling of factual details. Like no one’s going to say “Ohh Zsa Zsa Gabor had a lot of weddings but she was with her last husband for a very long time and it was lovely how he scattered her ashes”, it’s going to be more like: “Well, that apology she eventually gave me was shorter than one of Zsa Zsa Gabor’s marriages”. There are conventions to jokes! No one expects a joke to be accurate, or fair. People don’t expect anyone to take this stuff literally, or to be passionately defensive of someone they don’t even know. I don’t think it was a fair thing to say about King Charles and it wasn’t really funny, but getting in a snit about it is ridiculous.

      2. Good Enough For Government Work*

        Lol, anyone who thinks he actually works on that and doesn’t have staff… well, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

      3. Sharpie*

        The Royal Family are incredibly hard-working. It’s just that their work doesn’t look like our sort of work, and nor should it.

      4. Actual British person*

        this is possibly the funniest thing I have ever read

        i work with landed gentry (duchy estates etc) and let me tell you… it’s not a meritocracy

      5. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

        I couldn’t believe how many royal family simps there were on a site full of left-leaning, pro-labor folks. Those people wouldn’t deign to spit on a subject if the subject were on fire, unless the fire were on the verge of spreading to royal property.

      6. Martin Blackwood*

        Hey, look on the brightside: people making mean jokes about him (or any other royal) on the internet wont affect his employability at all, because their work doesnt look like our work! He will earn money regardless of what anyone on the internet does. Chill out.

      7. Zarniwoop*

        “ showing their utter ignorance about the Royal Family and what they do.”
        I live in a country that had a revolution specifically so we wouldn’t have to care about what royalty get up to.

  31. Not A Girl Boss*

    Many moons ago, I was an intern who really valued sleep, working at a factory with a start time of 7am. Timeliness was an ongoing battle for myself, as well as one of my (non-intern) coworker, and it drove my former-military boss crazy. I was subjected to many speeches on the disrespect but they didn’t really penetrate my sleepy brain.

    On month 3 of this, I was walking in late holding the fresh iced coffee beverage that made me late, and ran into my coworker making coffee in the lobby, also late. I stood around and chatted with him for an extra 10 minutes, and we strolled into the office a full 20 minutes late.

    My boss grabbed my iced coffee out of my hand and threw it at my coworker. It exploded all over him in spectacular fashion. Boss then went on a long rant about how coworker was teaching me bad habits and not setting a good example, and he wouldn’t stand for this kind of behavior from either of us any longer.
    I was never late again, although I did once fall asleep in our 7:30 production meeting.

    Looking back on this story, I’m actually very grateful it happened, as my new-found ability to show up on time has made honestly a rather large large impact on my career success.

    1. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      It’s a good lesson, but the assault and battery method of teaching was probably uncalled for.

    2. Bill and Heather's Excellent Adventure*

      The assault and the screaming were extremely unprofessional. But being already 10 minutes late to work and then coming in even later because you stopped to chat? Many bosses would pull their employee up on that.

    3. Goldenrod*

      Wow, this story had a surprise ending! I guess sometimes overreacting actually works.

  32. Nebula*

    Oh I actually have a story here which is along the lines of speed dial, kinda, in that it was a collective overreaction.

    I used to work for a government body where we had 32 days annual leave + 8 public holidays, so 40 days holiday leave total (I’m in the UK, so sick leave etc is not counted in that). There was a lot of travel involved in many people’s jobs as well, and we got time off in lieu for all hours spent travelling, as well as for any work outside usual hours. You could also roll over leave indefinitely – until you couldn’t.

    When they, very sensibly, instituted a policy that unused leave had to be taken before the end of March of the following year, all hell broke loose. There were people who travelled so much they barely used any of their actual leave, and had been building up a nice little nest egg to be paid out in the event of their exit for years (almost certainly the reason they changed the policy in the first place). People also complained a lot about the March deadline – only having three months(!) to use up their leftover leave – because the school Easter holidays are usually in April. It was seen as an inalienable right to be able to use the previous year’s leave for the Easter holidays, for some reason. It got brought up at every staff meeting, usually framed as being unfair on parents – this in an organisation which had many family-friendly policies (e.g. wfh, flexible working, paternity leave as well as maternity leave, job shares right up to the most senior levels) before they were all that common.

    When I left that organisation, five years after this policy change, at the end of each year and in the lead up to that March deadline, there was still much wailing and gnashing of teeth about having to use up leave. I never understood it.

    1. NameRequired*

      If people had saved up tons of leave then using it in a meaningful way within three months would actually be pretty hard! Some trips need planning a full year in advance and I would certainly be annoyed if the leave I had saved up for a family trip was suddenly required to be used before that trip.

      That said, talking about it 5 years later is a bit much.

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        Agreed! I’m guessing these people had weeks if not months of vacation time accrued, three months is a real short turnaround to use it in, especially early in the calendar year.

        5 years of griping about it is too much, also agree on that.

        1. Nebula*

          This wasn’t first announced suddenly in December or something, during the first half of the calendar year it was like “This is how we are going to be doing things from now onwards, you will not be able to carry all of your leave over to next year”, so people didn’t have just three months to use it up, they had the whole rest of that year and the first three months of the following year. I think there may have been some kind of negotiation with people who had years and years worth of leave banked, not sure as I actually used my leave as intended and so it never came up for me.

          1. NameRequired*

            Ah okay, having a year to plan for it definitely means that complaining is a bit ridiculous, let alone continuing to talk about it 5 years later.

      2. Hlao-roo*

        It’s not clear to me how long people had to use up the initial amounts of banked leave. I think the “three months to use up leftover leave” might mean leave accrued in calendar year 2024 has to be used up by March 31, 2025. Hopefully the policy was put into place earlier than December!

        (For context, I worked for a US company that let us “roll over” up to 5 days of leave but the roll over leave had to be used by March 31 of the following year, to prevent people from building up large banks of unused leave. That’s why I’m interpreting Nebula’s comment the same way.)

        1. NameRequired*

          I was taking “only having three months(!) to use up their leftover leave” to mean that it was instituted and all leave accrued in prior years now had to be spent in 3 months, but on a year-by-year scale 3 months for a prior year’s leftover leave isn’t bad.

          Also I’m pretty sure that unused leave is a liability that finance departments have to account for, so having huge amounts becomes a problem.

        2. Nebula*

          Yes, the policy was announced in the first half of the calendar year, for accrued leave to be used up by the end of March of the following year. And then going forward, any leftover leave for the year had to be used up by the following March.

    2. MagicEyes*

      We can keep up to a month of vacation leave, but anything more than that will be converted to sick time. The problem with this is that this happens at the end of June, so it’s at the start of summer when most people take vacations. It doesn’t even line up with our fiscal year, so there’s no good reason for it to be this way. It would make more sense for it to happen at the end of the summer.

    3. bamcheeks*

      tell me if this is a large post-1992 university in the north of England because, uh, I think I might have worked there.

    4. BellaStella*

      Where I work we have this policy to use it or lose it, too, by March and can only cary over 10 days I think. This was instituted because the former director of a team never, I mean NEVER, in 20 years, claimed vacation time. They traveled a lot for projects and partners and just took days off in lieu, etc. 20 years of holiday time was about 100K of money give or take when they retired. HR had to take this as a hit on their books because it was their policy. And the policy changed soon after this happened.

    5. Nina*

      I used to work in a company where they allowed unlimited leave rollover, and also unlimited time-in-lieu accrual, because they had to. Everyone was so overworked all the time with no opportunity to take any leave. If there had ever been a ‘thou shalt burn down thy leave balance to x days’ the whole company would have ground to a halt for upwards of a month. I left after two years, and got paid out for 7 weeks of annual leave and 11 days in lieu. I had already sold two weeks of leave. By the company’s standards, I had ‘not that much’ leave owing.

    6. Part time lab tech*

      In Australia, annual leave is considered part of your compensation and so has to be paid to the employee, as is long service leave. I would guess an employee could be made to take time off but it would be illegal for the leave to simply dissolve.
      Also, why wouldn’t they just change the end date until the end of Easter Monday week? That seems petty on the part of the employer.

  33. Maple*

    Oh man. Do I have some to share about my current job…… but those will have to wait.

    Several years ago, when I was still working in food service, I worked in a small coffee kiosk in a law school. Most of our customers were the students—the amount of caffeine they consumed was downright dangerous!—but once in a while we served the professors. There was one in particular, a shriveled old lawyer, who was absolutely incorrigible without his… decaf. And our decaf grinder had broken long before my time.

    But you see, we were the pet project of a Non-Profit, there to make extra money for our parent company. Our single customer who craved his $3 cup of decaf was not enough of an incentive for anyone to get that grinder fixed. So every week or so that Prof. Lawyer came by, we told him the same thing: “Sorry! We don’t serve decaf! The cafe in the other building does, though!”

    He would grumble and gripe that the second building was just so far out of his way, he only had so much time, etc. He took it as a personal offense that we were gatekeeping him from his decaf! One day, after weeks of this, he came to ask if our grinder had been fixed yet. It had not, and was still collecting dust.

    Mr. Professor Lawyer had had enough. He loudly announced to the lobby that he would Be Taking This To The Dean!! The dean of the prestigious law school would hear ALL about how we were denying this man his decaf!! I politely told him that he could do that, but that it wouldn’t help, as we were not affiliated with the school. We were merely contracted by another company. So Sorry! Please try the cafe in the other building for decaf.

    We never saw him again! And it was a tiny school!

    1. MsM*

      I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: people go absolutely insane over coffee. I’ve done so, so many shifts at the registration desk during conferences just listening to people’s complaints about why it’s only available for free during morning breaks, or not in every single meeting room, or…

      1. RNL*

        Listen, I was just at a conference where they straight up ran out of coffee the first morning like 45 minutes before the plenary, and I, like many people, have a caffeine addiction and also showed up 15 minutes before the sessions started, and in order to get coffee I had to leave the conference centre and wait at a coffee shop and miss half of the opening plenary which my boss wasn’t thrilled about (but luckily it was improv so I actually missed nothing).

        So anyway, I was a captive caffeine addict unable to properly attend the conference because of the coffee shortage, and at home I have sorted out how to get coffee in a way that doesn’t interfere with my work but did not have the luxury at the conference…

        I made zero fuss at anyone but it was not ideal!

    2. Festively Dressed Earl*

      (⊙.⊙(◉̃_᷅◉)⊙.⊙) I thought drinking decaf was grounds for disbarment?

  34. Mrs Vexil*

    I worked at a college bookstore in the 90s. We were having a reception for a faculty member who’d published a book. My boss had ordered corsages (!) for bookstore staff, but I declined to wear mine because I wasn’t really part of the event and was wearing jeans and a tee, working out on the sales floor shelving books, pulling returns, etc. My boss brought my “corsage refusal” up on my annual review months later, as example of my lack of teamwork. Amazingly she and I are friends, all these years later! She says she was told she had to mention some negatives in reviews to justify whatever lousy raise they’d pre-determined, and I was such a good worker it was hard to find many.

  35. Construction Safety*

    Circa 2012-14, an independent pulp & paper mill was acquired by a global papermaking giant. The giant required everyone to have direct deposit. People (long-term people) quit rather than get paid that way.

    1. Artemesia*

      One little known fact about direct deposit — what can be deposited can be removed. Had a colleague who was sent a duplicate expense check — so she sent it back, but the company decided to go ahead and take it out of her account where her regular check was direct deposited. This caused her bills to bounce all over town since she had now paid back the overpayment twice. She had not realized that having given permission for DD that the company could also take back deposits.

      1. PDB*

        Likewise, electronic payments can be reversed as well. People think Venmo and the like can’t but, believe me, they can be.

    2. Nina*

      In my country it’s on the statute books that the default mode of payroll is ‘money’, defined as banknotes and coins, and that any other payment type is strictly by mutual agreement between employee and employer… and that any employee can withdraw that agreement at any time and the company must pay them in money on their next-but-one payday.
      I haven’t personally done it, but I have known people who – usually as a protest against payroll dicking them around, usually when they’re already planning on leaving – have submitted, the day before payday, a written request for wages in money. And payroll has had to figure out how to get up to several thousand dollars in cash delivered and handed over securely.

    3. JustaTech*

      For at least a decade my in-laws insisted that they could not possibly move their small business to direct deposit because direct deposit could only be done bi-weekly, and they paid their staff weekly. “There’s no way that they could survive the switch, missing a week’s pay!” “So don’t do it at the end of the month.” “Front them the extra week in advance.”

      “No, no, they want to get paid weekly!” And then have to rush to the bank to deposit it, resulting in longer lunch breaks on Fridays, which the in-laws did not like.

      The thing that finally got them to change was when my MIL, who was the only one who knew how to work the payroll system, had a (thankfully mild) heart attack on a Thursday, and wasn’t able to cut the checks. My FIL ended up paying everyone from his personal account, and my husband got direct deposit set up the next week. Oh, and those employees that couldn’t possibly survive the switch? They were thrilled.

      1. Deborah*

        My company didn’t do direct deposit for years, also citing the weekly paycheck thing. Well they must have finally found a company that could do weekly and switched over sometime around 2010! One time my dog ate my paycheck and my rallying cry for years was “DOGS CAN’T EAT DIRECT DEPOSIT”.

  36. Bookworm*

    Mild mistake, my fault. Owned up to it but this seemed to open the door to my co-worker screaming down the phone at me at how I needed to listen, listen, LISTEN. This person had a short fuse and no ability manage: if someone did not respond or respond accordingly via email, it resulted in a long lecturing email in reply, of 5-6 lecture in paragraph form.

    The place was run by, (and I do not use this term lightly because I’m aware of the connotations), a Karen. She let this co-worker do this, never spoke up, AFAIK, to get him to dial it back down. So I never told anyone about the screaming incident. The only time she’d intervene, to my knowledge, was to basically tell me to calm down, but never him.

    I won’t ignore that there were certainly ways and times I should have handled it better but in retrospect I walked on eggshells around him in particular. My tenure there didn’t end well and I really do wish there was some sort of recourse for people who absolutely, positively should not be working with other people.

    1. Love to WFH*

      I worked with a man who would periodically throw tantrums. We walked on eggshells.

      You can imagine my eye-rolling when I him telling someone that he didn’t really have emotions.

      I really, really wish someone would tell men that Anger is an emotion!

  37. fitnesscoach*

    When I was in college I worked as a group fitness coach for a boss who would nickel and dime us for everything. One week we were asked to work at a local fundraiser on a Sunday, so I emailed my boss to see if we were going to be paid our normal hourly rate or time and a half for the event (our contract stipulated time and a half pay for work on Sundays). I had a final exam on Monday morning, so I was weighing extra pay vs extra study time. My boss responded that this was a volunteer event — a.k.a. we were not going to be paid at all to attend. I responded that I wouldn’t be attending the fundraiser because I had to study for an important final exam and couldn’t afford to lose the study time if the event was unpaid. My boss really didn’t like that answer and proceeded to remove me entirely from our company’s revenue sharing program. Because I said I wouldn’t work for free.

  38. Bubble Bubble*

    At our Town Halls, our CEO would bring out the dreaded bubble machine. Some people liked it, some people hated it. One day, the bubble machine died mid-award ceremony and my coworker caught a photo of the CEO looking absolutely heartbroken while holding it.

    Another coworker on the CEO’s personal comms team thought it was hilarious and asked ChatGPT to write a funny obituary for the bubble machine and sent it as well as the photo to the executive support team only, as well as the CEO. Everyone else thought it was hilarious, but the CEO decided to send a several paragraph email explaining not why this was unacceptablem how to set up the bubble machine correctly, and criticizing my coworker for spending time creating it. The CEO then proceeded to purchase several new bubble machines to ensure such a travesty never ever occured again. It was awkward watching the CEO explain in excruciating detail later that week how each of the bubble machines worked to the comms team lead.

        1. The Rise and Fall of Sanctuary Moon*

          I guess he was a little…DEFENSIVE about the bubble machine.

          I’ll see myself out.

        2. Dawn*

          ok but what was it FOR

          WHY was there a bubble machine

          what purpose was it in service of

          I…. this is breaking me. This is so nonsensical that your company has multiple bubble machines for meetings for no reason I can fathom.

          1. Bubble Bubble*

            **Deadpan** to improve morale.

            Real Answer: CEO would hold it up above their head while coworker took photos of people shaking hands with the CEO after winning either formal or funny awards. It’s pretty divisive. I’ve known people who found another job pronto after winning their first award and walking away covered in bubbles. Others, love it and use the bubble machine for their own internal meetings. . . Like, internal work meetings . . .

            1. Dawn*

              Are we absolutely sure this isn’t another “we put hallucinogens in the water” thing?

    1. Retroiscool*

      Ok so bubble machines had their time in the popularity spotlight, like fog machines, and other gimmicks. So thinking maybe back in the 80’s or 90’s or even early 2000’s.

      What makes this gold is getting to the part of “asked ChatGPT to write a funny obituary” and I realized – Oh, this is VERY recent!

  39. AnonForThis*

    Not a tantrum but a delusional finish to a job.

    I worked in a hospital in medical research, and saw another division hire a new research coordinator who I had doubts about from the start. He had some medical-ish experience (I think in medical office patient registration or something) but it wasn’t uncommon to recruit people who didn’t have direct experience in research as it’s a little bit niche and you can train them.

    He worked for his dad on the side(?) as a rental property manager but began not-so-covertly taking those calls at work.

    He was the type of person who was superficially charming but rang immediate alarm bells for me after some interaction. We had met a couple times and ended up on the work shuttle bus together; he began essentially cross-examining me about my personal life and hobbies, like he was trying to speedrun a personal connection. (Essentially like how unrealistic video games treat learning about someone you just met and they happily spill everything to you.)

    I didn’t work directly with him but from feedback I got from colleagues he tried similar “speedrun” tactics in his work.

    Every research study basically requires a certain level of certification training modules geared towards your role, and he intentionally picked the ones for the study doctor, later saying he wanted to show his level of knowledge and capability. OK, sure, but you have no medical qualifications and didn’t show you understand what role you need to do (both by taking the wrong courses intentionally and by not taking the correct ones).

    He also wanted to sit in to watch the surgical procedure involved with the study he was working on, which is frequently allowed for research staff, but he tried to harass his way into getting a much more “involved” level of surgical gear that was reserved for people actually taking part in the procedure, rather than the simpler “observer” gear.

    He would also pipe up in meetings and in general about his observations and generally how he knew better about topics that he was definitely not educated in, down to research study construction.

    Finally the department he worked for decided they’d had enough of him and let him go, coming down to the wire at day 89 of the probationary period. I don’t know what happened during the meeting, but he did have access to his email that day yet, and he found time to type up a goodbye message cc’d to nearly the entire department, not directly addressing that he was being fired but more sounding like he was grateful for the opportunity yet disappointed with those he had worked with, and managed to wrap it up with statements about how *God may someday forgive them all*.

    We were NOT a religious institution. And yeah, that was out of the blue, so basically stating that they had committed something that caused that level of offense was mindboggling.

  40. D Jones*

    I worked for a telecom in the 1990s that was one of the most toxic workplaces I’ve ever been. It was my first job out of college, so at the time, I didn’t realize how awful it truly was.

    Most of us in the department were young 20-somethings, so within a 6-month period, 3 of us had weddings (myself included). The manager of our department was a horrid, toxic person who made it clear that she absolutely hated all of us, but particularly those of us getting married (apparently she was just 29, and recently divorced from another department manager. Very toxic!!!). Company culture dictated that for weddings or new babies, the manager should get a cake to share on the employee’s last day before the wedding or maternal/paternal leave. So for me, the first one to get married, we got a cake in the breakroom, and minimal participation from Evil Boss. Next month, the next employee got a cake that was obviously an unclaimed bakery cake, because it said “congratulations ” on it. She did not even stick around to eat any or give any good wishes. But for the 3rd employee, a few months later: She literally walked by his cubicle, dropped a cake onto his desk without breaking her stride or saying a word. But the was that it was a black cake, with “My condolences” on it- someone’s unclaimed funeral cake. Amazing.

    1. Dawn*

      Ok so honestly I would find a “my condolences” cake for a wedding very amusing, but I’m odd like that.

      1. Bronze Betty*

        Hubby and I received a sympathy card from friends (a couple) for our wedding. We found it mildly amusing, but someone (can’t remember if it was a friend or family member) was appalled.

  41. PRE*

    I work at a university lab. Around a year ago, when they were revamping the website, they offered an OPTIONAL opportunity to get headshots taken of all staff so each employee could have a nice photo on the website.
    This prompted someone to go into slack and complain that is was absolutely ridiculous that the lab was requiring staff photos, that we would be giving the university our image, and that if we weren’t careful, all our pictures would end up on the side of a bus as part of a large advertising campaign by the university.
    It was deleted within a few hours and we got a scolding email about how we need to be nice in slack and to our coworkers. Working with scientists can be… fun.

    1. ferrina*

      I would love to have an optional professional headshot opportunity offered by my company. My headshot is terrible, and I’d love to have a good one.

      1. JelloStapler*

        We have tons of them offered periodically throughout the year; our Career Center also has one of those headshot booths.

  42. D Jones*

    I worked for a telecom in the 1990s that was one of the most toxic workplaces I’ve ever been. It was my first job out of college, so at the time, I didn’t realize how awful it truly was.

    Most of us in the department were young 20-somethings, so within a 6-month period, 3 of us had weddings (myself included). The manager of our department was a horrid, toxic person who made it clear that she absolutely hated all of us, but particularly those of us getting married (apparently she was just 29, and recently divorced from another department manager. Very toxic!!!). Company culture dictated that for weddings or new babies, the manager should get a cake to share on the employee’s last day before the wedding or maternal/paternal leave. So for me, the first one to get married, we got a cake in the breakroom, and minimal participation from Evil Boss. Next month, the next employee got a cake that was obviously an unclaimed bakery cake, because it said “congratulations ‘random person’s name’ “, not our employee’s name on it. She did not even stick around to eat any or give any good wishes. But for the 3rd employee, a few months later: She literally walked by his cubicle, dropped a cake onto his desk without breaking her stride or saying a word. But the “chef’s kiss” was that it was a black cake, with “My condolences” on it- someone’s unclaimed funeral cake. Amazing.

    1. Random Bystander*

      Hope the funeral cake flavor was at least something good like “Death by Chocolate”.

  43. Pillow Fort Forever*

    “You are a draconian monster and should be fired” – an IT managers response to finding that the performance review online form limited the response to a y/n question only allowed for 50 characters.

  44. Dawn*

    I think I might have told this story here before, but at my last job I moved (was promoted to) a department responsible for responding to all outside feedback – that includes reviews and issues. Sometimes we’d get a feedback form requesting a response that had no comment on it, so I’d pull out our canned response which said something like, “Thank you for your feedback, we appreciate it, if you require further assistance please feel free to reach out to us.” And not long after I joined, the senior employee went on mat leave.

    So it ended up just being me and someone who had been there for maybe two years, with whom I didn’t always see eye to eye (she liked to leave her coworkers with the tasks that she just didn’t like doing, among other things.) And one day when I was going back through my actions looking for something, I noticed that in several cases, she’d sent another email to those “no comment” customers after I had responded to them, with substantially the same content. For the record, I’d been in this role for I think half a year at this point.

    But it was only a couple of times, so I let it be; but I did keep a closer eye on them and when she did it a third time I gave her a call and asked her, basically, what was up. Was there something I was missing?

    And she thinks about it, and then she says, “Well, you keep sending out responses to these that say, ‘Thank you for your feedback,’ but the customer hasn’t actually provided any feedback because there’s no comment. So I sent them an email correcting that.”

    And I paused, and I sighed, and I said to her, “Thank you for letting me know, I don’t believe it is a significant concern and I am using our canned response there. I do think that a number grade counts as feedback, but I also doubt the customer is reading the response at all as the most likely scenario is that they just accidentally requested a reply from us, but please let me handle my own work, and if someone complains that I used the word ‘feedback’ I will absolutely take responsibility.”

    She ended up in quite a snit about this, but, do you know what? Amazingly, no customer ever complained that I had misused the word ‘feedback’.

    1. Mighty K*

      What was she writing!?

      “Hi, sorry for the previous email which erroneously stated that you left us feedback although you didn’t actually leave us any comments. Sorry again, company X”

      !!?

      1. Dawn*

        So honestly, it was basically the same email I’d written; it didn’t even acknowledge the previous email which might have been sent several hours prior, up to a day or two.

        I don’t remember exactly how it was phrased but it was substantially the same; it just very carefully avoided the words “feedback” or “comment” or anything of the sort.

        I wish now I’d saved one or two of them, but none of us was expecting the company to be shut down by our parent org.

  45. Anonymous for this one, please*

    The year is 2003. My office is responsible for coordinating an annual meeting for all staff that has traditionally taken place off site. This year, for various reasons, we try a new site that none of us has been to before, but has a decent reputation and comes well recommended.

    The day of the meeting arrives. All is in readiness. But! The coffee is…subpar.

    Disaster! EVERYONE is talking about the crappy coffee. The company director MENTIONS THE CRAPPY COFFEE IN HIS WELCOME SPEECH. People are coming up to me all day, griping about the coffee. Post-meeting evaluation forms start rolling in: “Site was okay, presentations were great, coffee sucked.” And I mean, not just one or two. I mean, like, most of them. “Please, let’s never go back there. The coffee was so, so bad.” Fifteen years later, I was STILL getting complaints about That Year When The Coffee Was Bad from my fellow old-timers.

    We no longer go off-site for our meetings, but I guarantee that there are people here who, if you asked, would remember 2003 as the Year of the Bad Coffee. Thing is, I had the coffee! It was…not great, but drinkable. Like, I’ve had much better, but it wasn’t the complete bilgewater my esteemed colleagues made it out to be. I guess I’m just surrounded by people who take their coffee very, very seriously.

    1. MsM*

      I mentioned my own misadventures with coffee at meetings above, but this sounds more like the time a lawyers’ association my friend is part of held their annual convention in Salt Lake City, and the complaints over the complexities of obtaining alcohol were so detailed and plentiful that they never went back.

    2. bamcheeks*

      It’s so funny when you spend fecking hours preparing content for training or a meeting, and get evaluation forms back and they’re all, “the coffee was bad”, “didn’t like the biscuits”, “room too hot”. Like, I’m not saying these things aren’t important, but I spent HOURS working on that content and the whole thing is eclipsed by the fact that we had custard creams instead of bourbons? C’mon man.

      1. Knighthope*

        Large, three-day, highly regarded convention of reading educators at a major hotel. All planned and executed by volunteers, so a TON of work.
        Evaluation form comment: “The shelves in the bathrooms are too small.”
        In the lodging rooms? In the lobby? What???

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          I hate it when event attendees write comments about things entirely outside the scope of event planners to change or control. Yeah, I’ll just take a freaking tape measure with me the next time I tour a potential event venue to make sure that the bathroom shelves match up exactly to your preferred yet unstated dimensions. And if they’re not big enough, I’ll just have a colleague bring along some power tools and a selection of spare shelves so we can install some new ones, because the hotel will absolutely let us do that. In fact, I’ll make the shelf size the deciding factor in my event venue selection process, just to keep you happy.

          This is in the top 5 most idiotic pieces of event feedback that I’ve ever seen or heard – and I’ve had a few weird ones in my conference career. Write it on a hotel feedback form instead. FFS.

      2. Sharpie*

        You should know to make all biscuits bourbon. Why serve custard creams at all when you know everyone is going to go for the chocolate biscuits?

        1. Lexi Vipond*

          There’s nothing chocolate about bourbons, they’re just… randomly brown. Custard creams any day!

  46. Margaret Cavendish*

    Cheap-ass rolls has become a bit of a meme around here, but honestly the letter about the speed dial buttons is one of my all-time favourites. So many fully-functioning adults, completely losing their shizzle over speed dial buttons!

  47. Anon today*

    Let’s not get into the weeds on this one please, but a federal employee I worked with quit his job over potential mask and vaccine mandates (potential as in, he quit before any decisions were actually made). He was very close to hitting the magic number for years of federal service and forfeited a comfortable early retirement. It would have been one thing if his quitting was in response to genuine concern about mandated vaccines, but it was very very clear that this was more of a “this will show Joe Biden!” Also this workplace wasn’t enforcing any covid safety anyway, because *he was the site safety manager!* He went around bragging about sticking it to the man by quitting over this. No one admired him for it. But he was also an asshole, so no great loss.

    1. Meep*

      My Mom and FiL worked for the same company (my mom has since retired; though a good decade younger than him). She was in HR and he was a computer scientist. He also became very, very close to quitting over the vaccine mandate, because he was on the side that was convinced it wasn’t fully vetted and might’ve believed the tracking chip nonsense (despite me giving him all the vaccine trial info – both my dad and I were on the Pfizer and Moderna trials and had the shot for 6+ months at this point out of pure luck).

      Fortunately, when he sucked it up and got “the jab” (both times) anyway, I was relieved because obviously, your mother being part of the decision to fire your FIL isn’t great, but I always wanted to know how that would go down. It was real close to being a family feud situation.

      (It was a pharma. company to boot!)

    2. goddessoftransitory*

      Man, too bad he didn’t have more noses to cut off–I don’t think he got enough spite on his face!

    3. Quill*

      Safety guys are always either very safe or very unsafe. There is no average safety guy.

  48. A Nonny Nonny*

    We had an employee who quit over timesheets. She claimed she hated our timesheet software. Folks, we had just switched from the most cumbersome timesheet software on the planet (think 30 minutes per timesheet just to populate all the fields). She hated the new, more efficient timesheet software. Her “compromise” was that she wanted to not track her time.

    We work in an industry where it is standard to bill clients for our time. Not tracking time was a non-starter.

  49. Juicebox Hero*

    Back in my retail days I briefly had a coworker. She was nice and efficient, but she was unfortunately also dirty and smelly. Her hair was stringy and unwashed, her clothes were dingy, her finger and toenails were filthy, and she just smelled like dirty hair and dirty clothes.

    When the department manager called her on it, her excuse was that her husband was allergic to fragrances. This manager was a wimp and didn’t pursue it further.

    Then she either burned her wrist on the oven pretty badly and had a big gauze bandage wrapped around it, which she didn’t change, so it quickly became a dirty, grimy, peeling, nasty bandage.

    One day soon after, she didn’t show up for her shift. The manager said someone had complained, and had tell the coworker that they do make unscented detergents and soaps so as not to bother her husband’s allergies, but she had to clean up and do something about the bandage. And she got so offended that she quit on the spot.

    1. Juicebox Hero*

      This same manager didn’t like me and once gave me a written warning for coming back late from a break when another employee in the same department never took less than 45 minutes.

  50. brjeau*

    Somehow I’d forgotten that the legendary cheap-ass rolls incident was reported by the accuser herself, and not a coworker who had witnessed someone throwing a tantrum. I guess (?) it’s mildly better that she held it together long enough to write in, rather than actually complaining out loud at the potluck, which is what I always picture!

    1. Beth*

      Kind of like the guy who not wrote in about how he didn’t get a job after he insulted his interviewer . . . and then provided an update about how he STILL wasn’t getting jobs after his campaign of harrassing the former interviewer.

  51. Pokemon Go To The Polls*

    I worked for a very small company where the owner was very into recycling. One day at lunch time, he noticed an empty plastic yogurt container in the trash rather than the recycling and decided to berate the 75% of the company who was in the kitchen eating lunch at the time and made a big show of going through the trash for any other missed recycling. I understand wanting to save the planet but this man owned multiple houses at that point which seemed a tad more wasteful than tossing out a yogurt container.
    Not employment-related except he is a business owner, but when Obama was elected my grandfather mailed all of his grandkids page-long letters that said, to paraphrase, because of the impending tax policy I won’t be able to afford Christmas or birthday checks anymore.

  52. Al*

    I had a wild overreaction. My office was next to a conference room, with my desk unit pushed against the shared wall between the two. The conference room was being upgraded, which meant that my office would be out of commission on the day they did some rewiring. I was notified well in advance of this impending minor inconvenience.

    I came in to work one day and found my desk moved a few feet back from the wall and all of my things gently piled around the space. It was one day before I was expecting it to happen, but again, I knew this was coming.

    I had a total meltdown. I was manically mad, I think I was crying? The workers present were obviously not responsible but I was demanding answers from them. They slowly backed away and ran to the office manager. I remember it was just a full on retreat from me, the wild, angry woman in the hallway. Someone ushered me into a different space and a bunch of people moved my computer and things into an exec’s office far down the hall, and said I could just use this space until ALL of the work on the conference room was done. I was left alone to manage my gulping sobs. No one ever spoke to me about the incident again.

    For YEARS I wondered why everyone had been so reasonable when I was clearly overreacting. The spoiler is that I was VERY pregnant with my first child at the time. Like, waddling and out of breath pregnant. I was also very stressed trying to wrap up a huge project before my baby was born (mission not accomplished) and I guess the stress & hormones came together in this majorly out of character overreaction.

    I look back on it now as an act of managerial mercy. My boss knew me, and knew I didn’t think that behavior was acceptable. People knew it wouldn’t happen again. I’m just a story of a crazy pregnant woman for many people now, and while I don’t love contributing to that narrative, I’m grateful for their understanding.

    1. Margaret Cavendish*

      Honestly I think the narrative about pregnancy hormones should get *more* visibility, rather than less! It’s the word “crazy” that’s the problem here – it implies that women are irrational and oversensitive, rather than having a completely normal reaction to completely normal changes in their bodies. Collectively, we’re starting to be more open about the impact of periods and menopause – this is all part of the same conversation.

    2. The Rise and Fall of Sanctuary Moon*

      Yes, it was an overreaction, but one that falls into the Human Having a Difficult Time category, and not the Human Being an Entitled Jerk category, unlike many of the stories people are sharing. I’m glad your coworkers recognized that and helped you out instead of bearing a grudge.
      I have never been pregnant, but I know that when I am ill any unexpected hiccup in my plans is the worst thing that ever happened to a human being, so I can relate. I try not to be around people much on those days, and just explain the terrible injustice to my partner from my bed in a faltering voice like a Victorian consumptive.

      1. Meh*

        This. My roommate and I both got fairly mild cases of COVID in January/February 2021, and I had an absolute meltdown that we had no instant noodles in the house, because my poor addled brain and stomach would only accept that as food. So we got ahold of a friend to do a grocery run for us, and the first store she went to was out of instant noodles.
        My roommate, who is both very wise and a very good friend (and, of the two of us, had better cognitive function due to my being autistic and not doing well with out-of-routine at the best of times), decided at this point that the best course of action was to make me go to bed.
        The friend who got groceries for us arrived about an hour later, having found instant noodles at the second store she looked at, but I was none the wiser until the next morning. When I promptly ate instant noodles for breakfast, lunch, and supper that day, because that was the only food my brain and stomach wanted.

    3. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      I had a few meltdowns over relatively minor things when I was pregnant. It happens. I’m glad you worked with kind and understanding people – the people in my life, namely my then-husband and my parents, were super uncool about it and not understanding at all.

      1. Oi!Phoebe!*

        I full-on sobbed at Panera because they were out of roasted vegetable soup but hadn’t taken the sign down. I foolishly kept pointing out to the poor young person behind the counter that “it SAYS on the SIGN that you have it!”

        I was 8 months pregnant

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      My response to this was to cuddle you like a little hurt kitten, and I would bet your coworkers’ was the same. It would be different if that was your default mode or something, but when somebody has a huge emotional reaction that’s the opposite of their usual self my first reaction is “oh no, what’s wrong?”

  53. FuzzFrogs*

    I work at a public library. Library work often attracts strong, and somewhat antisocial personalities. This mostly works out okay, EXCEPT when we have trainings, or all-hands meetings, where the floor is opened to questions. This is always, ALWAYS when people lose their minds. The best examples:

    -a sensitivity training with case studies. If there was a woman in the story, this one woman in the audience would defend that woman’s actions. Repeatedly, insistently, while talking over others, no matter if it contradicted her opinions on the previous case study. She got to the point where she was clutching her purse to her chest and saying it was racist to assume that the white woman was being racist. “But she WAS being disrespected!” The trainer even tried telling us to start over, assuming the white woman was a white man, but this coworker KEPT TALKING about the white woman, and how unfair everything was. For the white woman.
    —The woman who started shaking and pacing during the all-hands meeting about the brand new, completely free, employee health clinic we were getting. She got into a minutes-long, circular argument with the clinic management about why they wouldn’t buy an MRI machine. The fact that they couldn’t afford it or house it and it didn’t make any goddamn sense didn’t affect this woman. She also discussed a LOT of personal health issues in front of literally every employee.
    —The voluntary “money smarts” training where a part-time working broke down sobbing because she couldn’t afford to live without a roommate, which devolved into her needing to be personally soothed for ten minutes by the presenter.
    —the “how to deal with a person in a mental health emergency” where many, many coworkers sulked, refused to answer questions, and argued with the presenter that they shouldn’t have to deal with mentally ill people in any capacity, ever, at any time.
    —The HR person who used the term “lifestyle choices” to refer to LGBTQ+ people in a large meeting, and was rightfully called on it. She lost it. “I will give respect [to LGBTQ+ people] when respect is given to me!” (She is still employed!!!)
    —and my favorite: our director, in a call to our 30+ person office, lecturing us about how we were FORCING her to close by being SO UNREASONABLE and TALKING BEHIND HER BACK and COMPLAINING that we were worried…about Covid. In March 2020. (She’d been working from home for a week by then. Meanwhile, we are open seven days a week, and people love using used tissues as bookmarks.)

    1. H.Regalis*

      Library work often attracts strong, and somewhat antisocial personalities.

      This is something I don’t miss. When I was a page, one of the librarians would pretend like she couldn’t understand anything I said. We were from the same place, spoke the same dialect of the same language, and she had no trouble understanding anyone else. It felt like some weird powerplay where she thought I was so beneath her that she literally couldn’t understand the words coming out of my mouth.

      And then there was the boss I had, who was polite and very pleasant to everyone . . . but told me he thought Food Not Bombs shouldn’t exist because he thought all homeless people should starve to death.

    2. PhyllisB*

      I don’t work in a library but visit our local one regularly. There are a lot of patrons (including me) who like to read the area newspapers. There are a couple who enjoy working the crosswords puzzles. One day some woman buttonholed one of the workers and had a complete meltdown because “her” crossword had been filled in by someone else. He (the worker) was totally speechless for minute, but finally he told her some version of these papers are anyone to use and enjoy and if you want to do the crossword, get here earlier in the day. I’m sure he phrased it more politely than that, but I was just stunned that someone who have such a REACTION to missing a crossword.

      1. Seven If You Count Bad John*

        I’d you feel that strongly about it, make a photocopy. (Admittedly there’s a special tactile feel to doing the crossword in actual newsprint. And I have Views about what kind of ballpoints are best.) honestly I think it’s uncool to write in library materials because yeah, other people need them too?

      2. Ess Ess*

        NO ONE should be vandalizing the library’s copy of the newspaper by writing on/in it. She should have been told off and a sign made over the newspapers informing all others about that too.

        1. PhyllisB*

          I actually agree with both of you about defacing library materials, but this library doesn’t seem to care (or they’ve decided it’s not worth the battle.) I also understand not making a photocopy because I believe it costs a dollar to make a copy there and these are mostly people on limited incomes.

  54. Heffalump*

    20-odd years I reported to the engineering manager at my company. I sensed that he could be a bit irrational at times and I’d need to manage up to keep on his good side, which I was able to do.

    And then one day I heard that he went on a rampage in the front office–something to do with trying to find a phone list. He was punching the glass partitions with his fist, and people were afraid he’d punch clear through the glass.

    Next day he called a quick meeting of the engineering department and said, “I’ve been fired. Cecil Mongoose is the new engineering manager.” I don’t know why he wasn’t summarily fired the day of the incident, but he wasn’t. I heard that the higher-ups told him he needed to get anger management counseling.

    1. FuzzFrogs*

      Oh god, this reminds me of another overreaction that led to a firing. And also not the day of!

      I work at a public library. I had one coworker who was beloved by the community and also, a total fucking mess. Before I met him, he had been caught buying fentanyl on the work computers. He was sent on unpaid leave to a rehab place, managed to complete the program, and came back to work. He told me all this. At length. Shockingly, the fentanyl was not among his only problems. He also had a huge problem with our teenaged regulars; this was a problem, because they were black and he was a large white man. It didn’t help that both our manager and our other senior coworker also hated the teenagers (to a lesser extent, but again, all white people acting snippy and mean with black kids, not thinking how that looked).

      One night, coworker and the senior coworker were working and they managed to piss off a group of teenaged girl regulars. One of them called coworker a cracker. Senior coworker decides to call the police, the teenaged girls run out into the parking lot. Coworker runs after them (supposedly to get their license plate number, but…). One of the girls, seeing a large white man storming up to her in a dark, empty lot, right after she’s pissed him off? She punches him, and breaks his glasses into his face.

      The only good thing coworker did in this situation was choose not to press charges. Because he got injured on company property, though, he had to get a drug test. He tested positive for marijuana. (Progress?) A few days later he tells me all this, plus the fact that he’s going to get a medical marijuana card, so management “won’t be able to do anything.” (In the US, even if marijuana is legal where you live, you can still be fired over it.)

      Management told him that all would be forgiven if he could stay sober long enough to pass a rescheduled drug test. He told them he would not and they could not make him. THAT is when he was fired.

  55. Cookies For Breakfast*

    I worked at a place that had an extremely casual vibe and was big on using staff pictures for marketing. Professional headshots and photos of employees appeared in several places around the office to show visitors just how much fun we always had.

    As a joke on a Friday afternoon, a group of people took down the headshot of my teammate (their close friend) and took it on a trip around the building, which they documented by taking photos and sharing them on Slack. Like the world trip of the garden gnome in the film “Amélie”, only that in this case, the photos were of Teammate’s face on the stairs, in the kitchen, at a random desk, and similar places. The idea was for Teammate to try and claim his picture back by getting to it before it changed location again. The final picture was taken in the toilets.

    A colleague took great exception to the toilet picture, went to management, and complained that the game was unprofessional and offensive. The people involved got a talking to (management couldn’t find a better angle than telling them that taking down the photo was damaging company property) and the joke ended there.

    Teammate was totally bought in and was having great fun. He held a low-key grudge towards the person who complained, and never again mentioned her name without some variation of “that tattletale” in the same sentence.

  56. sparkling octopus*

    setup: tech startup in Europe

    As many tech startups do, we were using Slack as our internal messaging tool, which enables to “react” to messages with emojis, both default/common ones and *custom* ones… and that’s where there was a mess.

    At first and since the beginning of Slack, any employee could add custom emojis, and they were harmless ones (memes, food items, celebrities…) and other harmless ones but with pics of coworkers (like, the portrait of the CTO was used to react to something “approved by CTO”). At some point, an unknown former employee decided to invoke its image rights/GDPR to have their emoji removed after their departure, and contacted the HR department.

    HR got into a panic, removed the possibility to import new emojis (hence, drama, complaints), then removed all emojis with people on it (even celebrities), the topic was brought up during the meetings between the workers’ representatives and the top management, we got a generic wall of text from the CEO implying that “the culture of the company had to evolve”, then more drama, then ~1 month later it was again possible for anyone to add custom emojis

  57. Miette*

    At long last I have a good response for one of these lol.

    I was a marketing manager at a software firm in the 1990s. Our audience were database admins–the nerdiest of the nerds. We were launching a new lead generation campaign–integrated promotions across print ads, direct mail, events (no digital marketing back then!). Nothing was out of the ordinary–the campaign had been reviewed by my entire chain of command, all the way up to the CEO. And then the VP of sales got a copy of it and FREAKED tf out.

    This guy went on a tirade at my boss for the better part of ten minutes because of the OBSCENITY in the headline of the mailer. He was deeply OFFENDED–how COULD we think this was acceptable? My boss was shocked–how had we have missed something like that?

    The headline was something like, “Oh gosh, the boss just threw a wrench into your project… how will you keep everything on time?” He objected to the word “gosh” because it is a word used in lieu of taking the Lord’s name in vain, therefore he viewed it as basically the same as taking the Lord’s name in vain. Listen, I had been afflicted with 12 years of Catholic school and catechism, the nuns had not prepared me for anything like this.

    We had to bounce the entire job and reprint it, delaying the rollout by more two weeks at a cost of thousands of dollars (which our ad agency graciously offered to eat half of).

          1. Heffalump*

            This may not be what you meant, but in the 1920s “wowser” was a slang term for a sanctimonious do-gooder. Supposedly it was an acronym for “we only want social evils remedied.”

    1. Miette*

      I am wheezing with laughter. You are all naughty persons and shall be flogged with a wet noodle forthwith.

  58. ET2*

    This one was my own personal freakout:
    When I was at my first duty station in the US Navy, all of the technicians had to learn all the systems at our site and know what to do if there was a malfunction. We had to qual first as Assistant Duty Tech and then later, added responsibility as Duty Tech so we could be part of the overnight watchstanding rotation. There were two different groups of technicians, a larger and more specialized group and my smaller, but more generalized group.
    My shop supervisor felt that our group shouldn’t have to qual on the systems the other group had gone to extensive training for. Our group was given the choice to stand a different watch in lieu of getting qualified as Duty Tech. At the time in my life, imposter syndrome was very real for me. So me, being terrified at being the “senior” person in charge of millions of dollars of specialized equipment in the middle of the night, chose sentry duty.
    I went from having duty every eight days (overnight, but you could usually sleep for part of that time, and got the next day off) to every six days, and was usually assigned the midnight to 0800 Rover duty (up all night, and no day off the next day). It entailed walking alone around a cold, dark, foggy, and desolate base every hour on the hour. Nothing worth this torture ever happened, unless you count the time intruders* were lurking around the galley (Did I mention I was unarmed?!)
    I think my Div O and the Master at Arms were on to me though, because my last three watches as Assistant Duty Tech meant I had duty three weekends in a row (Friday, the next Saturday, then the following Sunday), and as Rover I had Sunday, then Saturday, then Friday. So I went six weeks without a true weekend to recuperate.
    Still worth it to me, though to not have to out myself as a fraud!
    *The intruders turned out to be raccoons, but still scared the shit out of me in the middle of the night.

    1. Dawn*

      I’m sorry, could you please explain what “qual” is for those of us without a military background? It’s probably something obvious I’m missing but my brain isn’t working it out.

      1. Sharpie*

        Qualify, going on context. (I’m ex-military but I served in the British forces not the US!)

        1. Dawn*

          Ok yes that does make sense, thank you.

          I’m in the middle of studying horticulture and nothing sticks that isn’t Latin binomials right now.

      2. ET2*

        Yes, sorry about that. Qual means to qualify. I was trying to capture the military jargon, but slipped a bit to far in that direction.

  59. Keyboard Cat*

    I was coming up on my one year review and joked with a coworker in what I thought was a very mild and obvious manner that “Wow, I made it a whole year and I didn’t manage to get fired yet.” I previously thought we had a friendly relationship. At my review a few days later, my boss told me that this coworker shared with him that I was deeply unhappy at work and in constant fear of losing my job. I quickly learned not to share any personal information in that office because gossip and crossing boundaries were a huge issue.

  60. H.Regalis*

    This is peak Upper Midwest:

    I had an office job where I worked with a bunch of other admin support staff. All of our desk were in one big room. Jane washed her coffee cup and left it in the breakroom dishrack to dry. It was a plain, ordinary coffee cup that looked like all the other communal ones that lived in the breakroom kitchen, so another employee, Bill, not realizing that it was Jane’s cup, took it to use. Jane noticed this and was angrily venting to me and the other admin support staff. One of them, Molly, was like, “Why don’t you just tell Bill that it’s your cup? It was an honest mistake and I’m sure he’d give it back.” Jane did not want to do this and said she’d just wait until Bill washed it and then would grab it before he could use it again.

    At some point later that day, Molly told Bill that it was Jane’s cup and not a communal one. He washed it out, brought it back to Jane, and apologized for inadvertently using her cup. After Bill left, Jane BLEW UP at Molly and they were yelling back and forth at each other while I was on the phone with a customer. It was so loud that I could barely hear what the person on the phone was saying. By the time I got off the phone, Jane had stormed off to somewhere else in the building. She came in the next day like nothing had happened, and we never talked about it again.

  61. NMitford*

    I think I’ve told this story here before, but….

    I worked at a job where the IT director was deeply wedded to having only one server for the entire company which resided at the corporate headquarters as well as to not letting anyone save anything to their individual computer hard drives. This meant that all the files for any proposal I was working on were stored on the main server in a different city where I was located, and, let me tell you, this was almost 25 years ago when the internet wasn’t nearly as fast as it is today. If I had to print a 100-page proposal in my office, it could take 30 minutes to spool. I’d hit print, go out and pick up my lunch, and come back hoping that it had started to print. Any entreaties about badly his system impacted our ability to do work on a timely basis fell on deaf ears.

    When the CEO left, the board decided to promote someone internally rather than search for someone from outside. She had had it up to the eyeballs with how long it took to do certain tasks based on his one-central-server school of thought and immediately ordered him to put a server in every office. She also told him to give everyone access to the hard drives on their individual computers.

    He quit on the spot, but not before sending out a flaming company-wide email announcing that he’d decided to go become a missionary in Africa for his church and calling all of us, but especially the new CEO, a bunch of godless heathens.

    A couple of months later, after the new IT director had put a speedy server in my office and moved our office’s files onto it, there was a short power failure where the lights and everything went out for maybe five minutes. Over the cube walls I heard a coworker say, “It’s what everyone in Africa has been praying for.”

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Then the power comes back on and God’s all “just messin’ with ya!”

  62. Tom*

    I was an intern in IT at a company and one of my fellow interns Stan got hired on in a temp to hire role at our company. When a permanent role opened on another team we both applied, but Stan was more qualified so he got it. So that left his old temp for hire position open and he recommended me for it and I got it. No big deal right? No. Here is a list of things that happened with my new manager Carl:

    — Carl would refer to Stan as a traitor and tell me how he values loyalty and that I wouldn’t leave him
    — Whenever we continued work on a project that Stan had been working on Carl would make side remarks about the quality
    — When I wore a blazer to work to dress up a graphic tee Carl demanded in front of everyone in an open floor plan office for me to tell him where I was interviewing at. Luckily my old manager was nearby and confirmed that I do in fact wear blazers sometimes.
    — When I went to the dentist Carl told me that my teeth better be sparkling white when I got back. I decided on getting him a letter from my dentist rather than a inspection when I got back.
    — Carl would put stop work orders on tickets coming from Stan’s new team to punish them for taking him.

  63. Jonathan MacKay*

    At a previous job, the day I walked out, my boss started aggressively throwing boxes around because I couldn’t understand what he meant by “Two-Stepper” – trying to get clarification of what he meant led to an argument. What he meant was a folding step stool. Two steps. Literally.

    I commented in response “I’m starting to think that maybe today should be my last day.”

    That was taken as an immediate resignation, and I’m still thankful it was!

  64. Abogado Avocado*

    Back before cell phones and CNN, I worked as a reporter at a major metro daily with a City Editor who had a hair trigger. A small television set (with an antenna) stood on the city desk and usually was tuned to the leading local TV station. The City Editor and his assistants monitored it and the police scanner so they could send reporters out on breaking news stories.

    One morning, the City Editor came in, tried to turn on the TV, but it didn’t work. It apparently had died, sparking a white-hot fit of rage in the City Editor. So, he grabbed the TV, ran to the nearest window, and tossed out said TV, which plummeted to the sidewalk three floors below and promptly exploded into millions of pieces. If you were a fan of Gallagher, it was kind of cool. Then we all went back to work.

    Except for the newspaper’s general manager, who officed on the first floor next to the sidewalk where the TV landed and who was a by-the-book guy. He wrote a three-page, single-spaced memo for distribution to the entire building that detailed why throwing television sets out the newspaper’s windows was A. Very. Bad. Idea.

  65. The Space Pope*

    Awesome Colleague and I came across a relatively low-stakes change in the system that was maybe 75% likely to be an error, but rather than correcting it immediately we decided to wait and ask New Boss (who had stepped out of the office) if the change had been made on purpose. Think a change to the spelling of a client’s name that could have been a typo but might have been a genuine correction.

    New Boss freaked out on Awesome Colleague when she asked about it and accused her of passive-aggressively rubbing the error in her face. We were shocked, but what can you do with someone who takes normal interactions and sees non-existent mean little digs? Leave. It was one of the first signs that New Boss was deeply anxious and didn’t know how to get along with others.

    None of New Boss’s direct reports work there anymore, but we are still friends with others at the company and they report New Boss is just the same as always. I’m just glad I don’t have to live in her headspace.

  66. Keymaster of Gozer (She/Her)*

    Sent out a Microsoft security update (tested and approved) to all machines in the company. It’s routine and hits over 30,000 PCs.

    One time though we got a complaint here in IT afterwards from a member of staff in another office who said that we hadn’t obtained her written permission to alter or access ‘her’ computer. There was a whole load of ‘breach of privacy’ stuff and ranting for about a page about how we’d violated her.

    Over a standard Microsoft weekly update. Sheesh.

    1. Leslie Santiago*

      I’m guessing that the login window she signed into every day specifically said the company had the right to do that

      1. Beth*

        And I bet the company manual also had specific language stating that the computers at work do not belong to you, nor do their contents.

  67. Longbranch Pennywhistle*

    Not a specific instance but I once had a coworker who would semi-regularly return to his office from a difficult meeting, close his door and proceed to throw a full on toddler tantrum. Kicking things, throwing things against the walls, and screaming cuss words loud enough to be heard down the hallway. Nobody batted an eye and said simply “that’s just Craig”.

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      I mean, I’m not going to deny that I’ve ducked into the bathroom a time or two to kick the wall and mutter invective after a particularly trying customer, but it is certainly not a regular thing!

  68. dropitlikeitsnot*

    I used to work for an apartment leasing office that had an old school fax machine – the kind that used thermal paper rolls. Our manager was also a real estate broker and regularly used the fax machine for that work. She insisted on using that particular machine, despite its age and many other issues, because she was familiar with it, and she didn’t trust other people to fax about her real estate transactions. One fateful day, she was working on a very important transaction and the fax machine was giving her problems. It wasn’t sending, it wasn’t receiving, there were paper jams and cutter issues and error messages. After literal hours of working on this, she screamed in frustration, picked up the machine and yanked the cord out of the wall, then walked outside and threw it in the community hot tub that was just outside our office. The rest of us had a nice laugh and gave her a round of applause.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      From the archives department and our INTENSE HATRED OF THERMOFAX PAPER: Thank her for us!

  69. HonorBox*

    The pens.

    Had a coworker who loved the pens we got and she handed them out to “her” customers regularly. We had a new shipment come in, and when I went to the warehouse to grab a couple for a meeting I was attending, they weren’t there. Coworker had stashed all of the pens under her desk because the money for them came from “her” budget (reader: it did not… it was divided evenly among departments even though she used the majority). I told her I needed a few of the pens and that they were there for everyone. She refused. Again… “her” budget.

    Not too proud to say that I told her it was bull shi*t and stormed out of her office. Called my boss on my way to my meeting and told him the scenario and what I had said. He was upset. Not at me, but at the pen hoarding. He came back from lunch and forced coworker to move the boxes of pens back to the warehouse.

    Did I overreact? Yes.

    Was I justified? Also yes.

  70. MPerera*

    I had a couple of coworkers who enjoyed bubble tea. They found out I’d never had bubble tea, and one of them, Ruth, treated me when they both ordered it. I thanked her and drank it, but I didn’t want to have it again.

    The next time they decided to order bubble tea together, they asked me what I wanted. I said thanks, but I didn’t want any.

    The other coworker, Janice, got upset and said it was rude of me not to join them. I said all right, I’d get an apple juice if they wanted us all to drink something together. Janice insisted that I have bubble tea, and that if I refused, it would be like refusing to go to a coworker’s baby shower (how this was relevant, I have no idea). Then she said I’d drunk the bubble tea when Ruth had bought it for me, so apparently the only thing that was stopping me now was that I had to pay for it myself. I said I hadn’t enjoyed the bubble tea so much that I wanted to drink it again, and she said, “How do you know you won’t like a different type of tea? You didn’t look at the menu.” I told her I had looked at the menu, and she said she hadn’t seen me doing so.

    By now this had turned into a full-fledged voices-raised argument, but when Janice threatened to talk to the manager, I realized the whole situation was so ridiculous that I just ignored her. She calmed down eventually, but to this day I don’t know why she started Bubble-gate (though she had some mental health issues, so that might have contributed to it).

    1. WellRed*

      Trying here to imagine what the actual complaint to the mgr would have sounded like.

  71. CreatorMundi*

    Remember when Microsoft Outlook went from yellow to blue? So. Much. Bellyaching. You’d have thought that in-house IT had stolen someone’s firstborn, or had anything to do with Bill Gates’ design team.

  72. Lily Rowan*

    My job has an annual holiday party for 400ish people. Basically during business hours (maybe it used to go until 6pm?), mostly an awards ceremony. The buffet of food historically included a mashed potato bar. Until in 2015 or 2016, someone decided to switch things up. The entire staff REVOLTED. This was actually before I started, but as a group, we remain obsessed with mashed potatoes to this day. In 2020 when we only had the award ceremony over zoom, there was a whole skit about mashed potatoes, by new employees! They hadn’t even had the in-person party, never mind the one from years earlier with no potatoes! Needless to say, the mashed potato bar has been back ever since that one year.

      1. dbc*

        I’m guessing a station with mashed potatoes and a variety of toppings available? Sour cream, gravy options, bacon crumbles, cheese, etc.?

  73. Garblesnark*

    Can I submit the manager who, when I disclosed I had cancer, declined to ever meet with me 1:1 again, hired my replacement while I still worked there (people in my same position did not get replaced for much longer leaves than mine), was so ridiculous to them that on my first day of continuous FMLA leave they quit on the spot, did my work so poorly in that person’s place that when I returned I got a nastygram from another department saying “Your vacation cost this company money and reputation!”, put me on a PIP for advising the other department that I was on medical leave, hired my replacement a second time, and finally fired me… all because she couldn’t stand to meet with a person who had cancer?

    (Don’t tell me to sue unless you have personally sued an employer, kthx. I am highly familiar with my options.)

    1. ScruffyInternHerder*

      I’m not going to tell you to sue, I promise!

      What in the actual hell was wrong with your manager? Did she think you were having a cancer diagnosis AT her or something?

      1. Garblesnark*

        She chronically thought everything was done at her. Like, this noteworthy human being would corner people who had been in meetings that didn’t include her for too long and ask why they were conspiring against her during those meetings. (Wild regardless, but the meetings didn’t include her for reasons like, “I am not asking [manager] how to handle this obscure procedure because she neither knows how nor knows whom to ask.”)

        She once yelled at me for eating too many vegetables.

    2. The Rise and Fall of Sanctuary Moon*

      I have flames, flames on the side of my face about your boss! Also that other department is extremely uncool. It was on your boss to make sure there was adequate coverage while you were away, whether it was vacation or medical leave, not on you! People take time off work!

    3. Goldenrod*

      Yeah, if someone criticized me for my “vacation” when I had been actually dealing with cancer, my response would NOT be pretty.

  74. They Call Me Patricia*

    I work in a criminal law firm. By definition, our casework involves some unsavory topics. We had a (non-attorney) employee who was deeply offended by the content of our cases. If they heard us discussing any case-related details, they ranted loudly about how such “inappropriate and offensive” things absolutely cannot be said in the workplace. They demanded managers write up employees for discussing “obscene” topics (aka their own casework), and reported people for printing “obscene materials” (aka police reports, crime scene photos, etc.) When that didn’t work, they threatened to report us to HR for…discussing our own cases. Unclear why they accepted a job in a criminal firm, or how they thought we were supposed to work on cases without mentioning the charges, or the conduct alleged, or the evidence… Needless to say, they didn’t last more than a few months.

  75. Factory Adventures*

    At a factory I worked at, we reached a safety milestone (think one year without major incidents), so the company catered lunch for all of us grunts. We got to choose sandwich, salad, soup, etc. from a small menu. Cobb salad was one such option.

    This one guy gets the cobb and starts in on a rant about the salad dressing (we got a vinaigrette instead of bleu cheese) is WRONG and this isn’t a true Cobb Salad and spent about twenty minutes griping about it. no one appreciated it.

    Dear reader, he ate the whole thing, except for the dressing.

  76. Meep*

    Ok. #3 is not an overreaction. If anything he was polite about it. Give the people their cheese! /s

  77. PropJoe*

    I’ve altered the details in this story for anonymity & to make the inappropriate language palatable for this site. It’s been close to two decades since this happened so some of it is fuzzy anyways.

    In an industrial blue collar setting, there was a giant maintenance group with many sub-groups underneath it. The facility had several gigantic teapot manufacturing buildings, and there was a maintenance dept assigned to each building to ensure that the teapot manufacturing equipment was in good working order.

    There was also a maintenance department that had responsibilities throughout the site: a section of welders & machinists for structural repairs to teapot equipment; a forklift shop for maintaining the dozens of forklifts required to ship dozens of truckloads of teapots every day; a maintenance planning shop which coordinated and tracked the paperwork for all maintenance activity and had insanely complicated planning (seriously – if I never see another gantt chart for the rest of my life, it will still be too soon), and some other shops whose name & purpose escape me.

    The manager for this odds & ends group left the company for reasons that I don’t remember and aren’t relevant to the tale. In short order, the welding & machine shop supervisor was promoted to the managerial position – a good choice since he was well regarded throughout, knowledgeable, and good at working the company bureaucracy.

    A month or so in, he’s starting to change processes that needed changing. Among these, is an every other week meeting of supervisors to discuss common problems they’re facing, pending work, company plans, etc.

    The morning of the first such meeting, an hour or so before it starts, he asks one of his supervisors (who were all men) to take notes. There was no admin assistant type person in his department, so someone was going to draw the short straw. The supervisor he asked happened to be the only one with a degree instead of a GED and had by far the best computer skills of any of them. He (supervisor) was definitely the least worst option available.

    With how the supervisor reacted, you’d think the manager had admitted to unspeakable acts of depravity & barbarism.

    Supervisor shouted at him for a solid couple minutes. “WHAT THE F—-? AM I A F—-ING SECRETARY? DO YOU WANT ME TO START WEARING A F—-ING SKIRT TO WORK? ARE YOU F—-ING R———D? F—- YOU I WON’T DO IT!”

    Manager did an admirable job of being calm while receiving this tirade. He kept a neutral expression on his face. As I watched this unfold, I wondered why he was just sitting there listening and not saying anything.

    Then I realized he was giving supervisor enough rope to hang himself with.

    Sure enough, I didn’t see supervisor in the office at all for a couple weeks. Next time I did see him, he’d been transferred to the warehouse as a night shift forklift driver.

  78. Anon-E-Mouse*

    The Spiteful Cookie Spitter

    This happened to my dad. During a recession, the fortunes of the small consulting firm he worked for got shaky and my dad was fortunate to land a job with the large, leading firm in his field.

    His manager (Grumpy Boss) wasn’t a big fan of my dad to begin with (threatened by my dad’s competence and ability to connect with people) and got even more hostile once my dad announced his upcoming departure (with a 4-week notice period).

    At the start of his last week, my dad brought in a couple of cases of delicious Peek Frean cookies to share. These treats had been been part of the company’s daily snack offering but had been eliminated due to budget constraints.
    The cookies also had a special meaning for my dad, because they were his recently deceased mother’s favourite cookies.

    When the coffee lady brought coffee and cookies to Grumpy Boss in his office, he took a few and immediately bit into one of the delicious Bourbon Cream cookies. But just before he chomped, he asked her if the company had restocked the cookie supply.

    The coffee lady explained that the cookies were a gift from my dad as a thank you to the office.

    Grumpy Boss immediately spat the mostly masticated Bourbon Cream into his garbage can and threw the uneaten half cookie and other cookies after it, swearing that he wasn’t going to eat that traitorous @$&h$le‘s cookies.

    Of course, the coffee lady told my dad (and most of the office what happened). My dad, being the bigger man, said it wasn’t a big deal and after all everyone was under a lot of stress.

    A few months later, my dad got a call from the CEO at one of his previous employers – one of the largest companies (Big Client) in the industry his new (and former) consulting firms served. Grumpy Boss, who had been let go during the recession, was in the final stages of interviews with Big Client and the CEO wanted to know what my dad thought of him.

    My dad hedged and said he’d only worked briefly (true) with Grumpy Boss so wasn‘t in a position to offer an opinion.

    A day later the CEO called my dad back and said he was sorry to push my dad but he knew that my dad went out of his way to say good things about people. His silence was concerning, Grumpy Boss was being considered for a very important role and the CEO really wanted to know what my dad thought.

    My dad told him the cookie-spitting story.

    The CEO said there was no way he was going to hire someone that petty.

    Grumpy Boss remained unemployed for another year.

    1. Phony Genius*

      Yesterday, AAM published burnt bridge stories. In this case, the bridge was made out of cookies.

  79. Lalaluna*

    At a previous job, we had a coordinator who did not like me for various reasons (mutual). Mostly, she was not great at her job, and disliked that I had the gall to follow up with her when she dropped the ball. No one on my team (or honestly anyone on any team she worked with) thought she was competent and avoided communicating with her, but some of the people she coordinated would report to me for various projects, so I couldn’t completely ignore her.

    One time while were in the break room, the coordinator walked in, and, in an effort to be cordial, I made bland small talk. The coordinator mentioned that she was waiting for someone new to come meet her at the branch where we were currently located; she had just gotten word that the person mistakenly had shown up at the main location instead. I lightheartedly said, “oh, that person must have gotten the wrong end of the stick.” and the coordinator made non-committal noises. End of bland small talk interaction.

    A day or two later, I got called into a meeting with the Assistant Director, the coordinator, and my boss; the coordinator had accused me (to the Assistant Director) of disparaging the main location/staff when I used the phrase “wrong end of the stick”. The Assistant Director had to look up the phrase to learn the meaning – she brought a print out of the definition she had found online to the meeting. The Assistant Director condescendingly assured me she now understood the meaning of “wrong end of the stick” and that it wasn’t “disparaging”, but it was definitely an “obscure” phrase. I then was subject to a 45 minute lecture on how I “shouldn’t use phrases/idioms other people might not be familiar with.” My boss thought the whole thing was nuts and just looked incredulously at the assistant director and coordinator the entire time, while I tried not to make any faces that would lead to another lecture.

    I later joked with my boss that the coordinator and I “got off on the wrong foot with one another”, but that I guess I could never tell her that in case she misconstrued my meaning.

  80. Tradd*

    At the beginning of the pandemic, a week or two before lockdowns started, I was at work at the freight forwarder where I’d been for 13 years. My very toxic manager went out at lunch to the grocery store to look for toilet paper for home, taking the supervisor with her. A big wig from another office called looking for the manager. He was a nice guy, with a very weird sense of humor. I had dealt with him for years on many projects and he always said how much he appreciated what I did. After one big project, I got a huge basket of Godiva chocolate from him. Anyway, I told him the toxic manager was at lunch and hunting for toilet paper. He laughed at that. When she gets back and talks to him, he told her I told him she was looking for TP for the office. I had not said the TP was for the office.

    Toxic manager told me I was unprofessional for telling this guy she was hunting TP and she threw a temper tantrum. Dang near foaming at the mouth. I got laid off a couple of weeks later when they were cutting staff, which was a huge relief.

    Another one from the same company, from late 2018. A coworker handled all air freight and went to a holiday party thrown by one of the airlines. A very entitled coworker who I called Princess was invited, but had other plans and didn’t go. The coworker who went to the party won a pair of airline tickets, good for anywhere in the US, including Alaska or Hawaii. Princess was FURIOUS. She told him he won HER tickets and he had to give them to her immediately. She threw a fit. It was pretty funny to watch.

  81. Garlic Microwaver*

    Decades ago at one of my first thankless marketing agency jobs, I worked with a catty bunch. One colleague, who was notoriously unpleasant already, went to the fridge to get her lunch one day, declared it missing and wrote a company-wide email along the lines of:

    “I hope the person who stole my pork chop is happy and thoroughly enjoyed my recipe. I was very dismayed to open the fridge and see the lunch I was looking forward to, missing. I just hope whomever consumed it does not get trichinosis from the slightly undercooked pork.”

    What a …. (choice word.)

    1. Perihelion*

      Unless the email was a lot angrier than you made it seem, that seems like a pretty reasonable reaction to having your lunch stolen.

      1. Garlic Microwaver*

        An email to the entire company though? And the trichinosis comment? I guess I should have specified that the fridge was always crammed so it was highly likely it got shoved to the back. lol.

      1. Garlic Microwaver*

        The post called for overreactions. The whole office felt she overreacted with the trichinosis comment

  82. AmberFox*

    I have told this story before, but the “black box” incident still ranks high in my personal chart of wild overreactions.

    A colleague of mine from another division and I were arguing about the intersection of what I supported and what he supported, and whose jurisdiction a certain problem might fall under. Without setting up an entire trail expedition into the weeds – a file from my side passes through a program that calls his side’s software, which verifies the user’s connection/login and renames the file, and it then ends up somewhere else, when the process works; in this case, it was having an issue somewhere during the call to or verification by his software and the file wasn’t showing up correctly at the far end.

    He maintained this was my problem. I was pretty danged clear it was NOT. We went round and round and round, until I finally expressed that this process was “a black box to me” – which it was! I send stuff in, a file comes out on the other end; I don’t know or need to know exactly what’s happening in the middle. I continue on to explain why, but he stops me.

    “What do you mean, black box?”

    So I back up and explain again.

    “No, I really don’t understand what you mean by black box and I don’t care about the rest of your explanation; you have to explain what black box means.”

    I will admit, I 100% accidentally let slip the tiniest of awkward chuckles as it dawned on me that he didn’t know the phrase at all. The tiniest, barest huff of a chuckle. And I said, “Black box? Information goes in, information comes out, and you don’t know what’s happening inside? Like when they talk about airplane recorders after a crash – that kind of black box?”

    This apparently made him very, very mad. He chewed me out for several minutes, about such diverse topics as how I seemed to think this was all a big joke, how I was clearly making fun of him for not knowing what a black box was, how was ANYONE supposed to know what a black box was, how dare I insinuate that it was his software that was causing the issue we were dealing with, how dare I suggest that I didn’t know what was happening in that middle part because it was his software when in his opinion it was my software, how dare I suggest that what was happening in that middle part was a secret when he believed it was my software, how he was going to escalate to his MANAGER because how dare I use the term black box and tell him lies.

    I ended the call at that point and went to talk to MY manager, just as CYA – and never heard another word about it. To this day, I still do not understand why the term “black box” made him so mad. This pre-dated any sort of move at our company to get rid of terms like blacklisting and whitelisting by like… a decade. We even looked up “black box” on Urban Dictionary and that didn’t make any sense either.

    (And for the punchline: I asked the client to re-install this guy’s software. Magically the whole process started working…)

  83. Khatul Madame*

    Sometimes overreactions are scary.
    An employee was fired for cause. He suspected someone of reporting his wrongdoing and slashed the tires on that person’s car. The building management had to create a second security station at the back entrance after that.

  84. Zipperhead*

    I worked in the communications division of a large university that decided to normalize the branding across our websites — all major webpages on the site had to have standard branding. There were exceptions made for professors’ personal pages and for some lower level pages where the branding wouldn’t work great, but for the most part, you had to have a standard header, logo, fonts, etc. And of course, some people freaked out that, for instance, the chemistry department would have to include the university’s logo instead of the department head’s alma mater’s logo, or that the math department’s site would no longer include photos of the dean’s cats, etc.

    We did something similar at another university I worked for, partly standardizing our branding, partly making sure department sites weren’t full of useless natter, but we mostly didn’t get much opposition there, because we anticipated some of those questions and had good responses ready to go.

    Some divisions wanted to put all the journals where professors had been published, or had pages that were jammed full of academic jargon, and we told ’em their main pages were visited the most by prospective students and parents, who really didn’t care about advanced research and didn’t understand the jargon at all. We moved the journals, research, and jargon sections deeper into the websites, and everyone was happy.

    The truly fun bit was when we got to the Astronomy Department’s site, which was designed fully in vintage 1990s site design, complete with starfield backgrounds, MIDI music, Comic Sans and Papyrus fonts, site counters, and moving “Under Construction” gifs. Most of us had designed our own websites during the ’90s, so it was simultaneously horrifying and beautiful. Luckily, they didn’t complain at all when we offered to redesign their site.

    1. Smurfette*

      “the math department’s site would no longer include photos of the dean’s cats” – I vote for the cat pics to stay

    2. SemiAnon*

      It was about that era when I was in grad school and my Astronomy department’s initial reaction to the realization that one student’s personal web page consisted entirely of links to porn sites was to ban students from having personal websites. Fortunately one of the faculty spoke up at the meeting to point out how ridiculous this was and they switched to simply checking the websites for content.

  85. Lady Ann*

    Several years ago, I moved to a management position in a place where a timeline for documenting certain work had changed. While at one point the rule was “this must get done by the end of the month,” it changed to “this must be done within 72 hours of x happening.” I don’t know when the change happened exactly but the 72 hour rule was in effect when I started working there. I managed one employee who insisted she forgot things had to be done within 72 hours because “it didn’t used to be that way.” Three years into my tenure there, she was still saying that. I think it stopped when I pointed out it had literally been that way for YEARS.

    This same employee once refused to take direction from a new manager we’d hired because “I don’t even know who he is” after he’d worked there for three months. I guess adapting to change was not one of her strengths.

  86. mariemac*

    The nonprofit where I worked received a lot of grant funding over the years, but not a lot of money from individual donors. When I started, we had one major donor who supported a specific project and was talking with leadership about another major gift, this time to fund a special new initiative that was his pet project/early retirement idea. It was a massively dumb idea, didn’t serve the community that my nonprofit served, and had no data for community need (because there was no need for this). Why yes, if you’re wondering if this donor was a middle aged white man whom no one said no to while going through a mid-life crisis, you are correct.

    I was assigned to project manage the development of this concept. I sat in hours and hours of meetings with me, my VP boss, another VP, two program directors, and our CEO, all with this dude and sometimes one of his friends. Those meetings had to have cost us thousands of dollars each time we met. I spent probably 25% of my time on this stupid, stupid project for 18 months. Because my nonprofit didn’t have experience with individual donors, leadership didn’t realize that this 1) is really problematic major donor management, and 2) was Not Done in other organizations. All because this man *might* *someday* give us a multimillion dollar gift. I felt like I was in bananapants town for being the only person who thought this was an epic waste of time. I can report that no, no he did not ever give us a major gift. That first one was his largest, unless you count the gift of time we spent cradling his fragile midlife crisis.

  87. NMitford*

    I have another one….

    Years ago, during my first career in college/university fundraising, I worked at an engineering school in New York City. I reported to a new director of alumni relations who’d replaced someone who’d worked for the school since the dawn of time. For the homecoming banquet that year, my boss decided to hold it on the school’s new satellite campus on Long Island rather than at the mediocre banquet hall in Queens where the previous guy had held it for the past 20 or 30 years. The idea was that the alumni would get to see the shiny new campus, go on a short tour of the facility, and then attend a banquet in the school gynasium.

    The custodial staff at the new campus worked their asses off making sure that the new campus looked great. As were showing alumni around the beautiful new classroom/lab building, however, the president of the school threw an absolute screaming fit that there were trash cans in the halls of the building. You know, it’s a school building…. there were trashcans for the students to drop in their, you know, trash on as-needed basis. Did he think they were supposed to put it in their backups and take it home? And, none of the trashcans had anything in them. The custodial staff had emptied them all and put in fresh bags. To the best of my knowledge, none of the alumni had an issue with seeing trashcans in a classroom building. They were all very complimentary of the new facility.

    In any event, the president of school grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me till me teeth rattled. Then he ordered me to remove all the trashcans from the halls, so I had to run up and down the halls dragging trashcans into any unlocked room I could find.

      1. NMitford*

        Yeah, I was so young and inexperienced then. It took me a few years to realize that I’d basically been assaulted.

      2. Samwise*

        Proper response: scream (literally), then scream-yell “stop TOUCHING ME!” over and over.

        Highly effective in my experience

  88. Anonynon for today*

    I (a woman) was in my early 30’s and had successfully managed a statewide conference planning committee with involvement from dozens of agencies. I had a reputation for being very inclusive and enthusiastic with the committee and passionate about building the program. I had a general session one year that I discovered was going to be a negative Hot Take that would offend at least half our audience, so I worked with a subcommittee to place it right before the reception instead of opening the conference with it and pissing everyone off from the start.

    This was before we Zoomed for every meeting, so we were just on a telecon line. I had a respectful disagreement with a near-retirement gentleman over the conference call but held firm to my reasoning. He didn’t say anything for the rest of the meeting. I found out afterward it was because he was so mad that he hung up and wrote a scathing email to my boss, quitting the conference committee, ranting about how I was making “unilateral decisions” and “why do we even have a conference committee.”

    My favorite parts of this story: he meant to copy me on the email but erroneously copied someone from his agency and had to forward it to me, and the conference was to be held at the end of March 2020, so it was canceled anyway.

  89. Change Manager*

    A lot of these issues highlight why robust Change Management for bigger changes become so important! It helps prepare impacted employees for these changes and helps mitigate the pushback!

    1. I Have RBF*

      Yep.

      Since I’m one of those people that doesn’t like surprises that scramble up my work, I try to get on the change management committee where I work so that a) I can know why a change is being made, and b) so that I can have input on the timing and considerations that go into the change. It’s the best way I know of to avoid “breaking changes” to what are often fickle systems that I administer. A meeting once a week is much better than a surprise phone call on the weekend.

  90. anotherfan*

    Don’t know if this would qualify since it wasn’t like anybody’s pay got docked or anything, but we had a publisher who one year was made the head of the United Way giving campaign in our small town and he made a huge deal about how bad it would look if anybody refused to donate to the campaign in our newsroom and we even had a chance to have our donation taken out of our pay on a monthly basis. Well … not everybody was able to do that especially the reporters since we were making pretty substandard pay (and some of us would qualify for the services the UW offered). He just went completely nuts when the results came in about our participation, we could hear him in his office and he sent a particularly nasty letter (this was before email) to the entire staff ‘thanking’ us for our ‘support for his leadership’ and suggesting that ‘anybody who has a project you’re working on that you care about, feel free to hit me up for a like donation’ or something along those lines.

  91. Not quite "cheap ass rolls" but about bread*

    My very first day at a new job 20 years ago, the staff held a catered lunch to welcome me to the office. The food was from a local sandwich place where the office ordered from regularly and was (still is) beloved by locals for its freshly baked bread. The director’s admin assistant had passed around a menu where everyone circled their orders and noted any customizations – no onions, sauce on the side, etc. Totally normal stuff. Lunch arrives and we’re all having a great conversation getting to know each other and enjoying the awesome sandwiches (still, to this day, best sandwiches I’ve ever eater). The director is held up at some meeting so she walks in about 20 minutes late and opens up her sandwich and proceeds to have a total melt-down and shouts at all of us – “Who ordered this sandwich? Who brought this here? I don’t eat WHITE BREAD. I haven’t eaten WHITE BREAD in 20 years” – for about 15 minutes. No one knows what to say or do, and a quick look at the circulated order confirms that the bread type is VERY CLEARLY NOTED on her order. She demands that her admin go get her a new sandwich, ON NOT-WHITE BREAD, and stalks out. Perhaps not surprisingly, I left after 2 years (despite the job being one of my very favorite) due to her unique approach to staff on-boarding and supervision.

  92. Christmas850*

    I was a new employee doing data entry in an office. One day I needed a pad of Post-it notes so I asked the woman in the cubicle next to me where I can find some. She gestured to a filing cabinet that was situated a couple feet behind “Ruth”. Ruth sat in a cubicle near the managers office, and behind her was a narrow aisle, and then the file cabinet up against the wall of the office

    I figured it was convenient to have a cabinet of office supplies so centrally located! I walked over there and the moment I reached my arm toward a drawer, Ruth exploded!! Everyone stopped and stared as she shouted about how she’s “so tired of people coming into her cubicle and taking whatever they want.”

    I was stunned speechless. I was so taken aback that I even raised my hands in the air! She continue to shout at me about “what were you thinking, coming over here to take MY things?!”

    I assume my cubicle-mate forgot to tell me that I need to ask Ruth for permission before I get any supplies out of that file cabinet. With my hands still in the air, I loudly told her “Don’t worry; I’ll never go near you again, I assure you.” She finally ceased her rant, and we all awkwardly went back to work.

  93. Dittany*

    As part of my job, there’s a very, very minor administrative task I typically perform at a certain point. Think… selecting a few line items and then clicking a button. It takes all of fifteen seconds to complete and requires no skill other than being able to use a mouse and see the color blue.

    Anyway, at one point management decided that certain people who had not been performing this task would also start doing it, and you would not BELIEVE the wailing and gnashing of teeth. Speeches were given about how they couldn’t POSSIBLY be expected to take on this new and complicated task (which, again, consists of 1) identifying a few items on a screen that are blue, 2) selecting said items, and 3) clicking a button) and we had… five, I think? separate meetings about how to navigate this INCREDIBLY FRAUGHT SITUATION.

  94. Galadriel's Garden*

    I was forwarded an email from a distraught sales rep, who got an absolutely batshit insane email from a rep at one of our distributor partners. My job is to basically be the traffic circle between our distributors, our internal functional teams, and our sales teams, so I see a lot of weirdness, but this email takes the cake. I redacted as much industry jargon as possible to keep it vague and added a few notes, but it will not surprise many of you that this takes place around higher education:

    “First, do not ever contact the store manager for an order. All information must go via the [specific team] team, of which I am representative assigned to cover [institution]. The store managers do not handle ordering and I have told you this repeatedly. (fun fact – this is actually false, and store managers do their own ordering all the time!)

    Second, as I have also told you repeatedly, stores will not order these [specific products]! We are only using [other products] now. So I need the product information by end of day today! (another fun fact – also false! They absolutely can and do fulfill the specific product, but just don’t like doing it)

    And if it’s [product info] on website list, then that won’t work because it has not been sent to the national [distributor] database by [my company’s] corporate. So if there is not another [product info], then you need to get with your database people and get that pricing file sent over. (fun fact #3 – there is a well-documented process in place for these folks to request the products they’re looking for, so this is 100% his responsibility)

    If you cannot do all of that, then I need the name and contact email of your supervisor, today. I will be contacting them to demand they get it done and filing a complaint as well.
    Don’t attempt to try to call me by phone either. I will not answer as I will be on the phone trying to calm down an upset [customer] and his bosses as the campus is looking at laws being violated by this change of title and the price increase after products started getting purchased” (fun fact #4…yeah there were no laws violated here, my guy, and just…lolwut)

    Basically: this guy was looking for a product in his system, couldn’t find it, and *rather than going through the specific and well-documented request process his company has set up to request it*, he proceeds to write an absolutely insane screed to a green rep and scare the hell out of her with vague lawsuit threats (!!).

    This ended up getting handled at the distributor corporate level, as I forwarded it over to our contact there like…hey, yeah, #1 most of this is patently untrue, and #2 you need to get your teams in line, as this is completely unacceptable. It remains the most unhinged email I’ve seen in quite some time.

  95. The Intern's Grandboss*

    My last job was a small department that operated fairly independently of a larger organization. We were a pretty casual group and everyone was the lead of whatever function they’d been hired to do. I supervised the office staff and approved one of my newer staff, Riley, to hire an intern. The intern was off to a slow start, but to be fair, Riley also struggled with completing their work/understanding assignments.

    Fast forward to a meeting where we’re discussing a proposal/plan for the main function of Riley’s job. Riley is making it more formal than it needs to be and seems pretty stressed. Suddenly, out of the blue, intern says “I miss Bob.” (“Bob” being the director of the dept, who had gone on vacation two days earlier.) Riley goes visibly pale, asks the intern to step outside for a moment, and returns without them.

    That afternoon Riley is in my office apologizing profusely for the interruption and requesting to fire the intern. All for a non-sequitur that was really kind of amusing.

    1. Bookworm in Stitches*

      Any chance Bob and Riley were secretly seeing each other and the intern knew it?

      1. The Intern's Grandboss*

        That would have been the juiciest, most wonderful addition to this story, and I will laugh imagining it until I die. But I can confidently say no, they were not.

  96. Anne Of Mean Gables*

    I had to run a booth at our community college job fair with a coworker who had a reputation for being very reactionary over little things. I wasn’t thrilled that we got paired up for this but it beat sitting in the office all day. Every time someone came up to our table she was on them like a leech, trying to get their contact info, trying to get them to fill out an application (four pages, front and back and all our applications were online as this was 2019), shoving a goody bag of cheap pens and stale candy at them, being loud and kind of round-about-badmouthing the company. By mid-morning people were giving us a very wide berth. She started calling to people across the cafeteria things like “hey, you in the green sweater, come here!” The fact that we got almost no people stopping was bad, as we were one of three major employers in the area.

    She got rebuffed quite a few times, the last time being when someone didn’t want to stand at our booth and fill out four pages front and back of a job application she yelled “well just F*ck me then!” and stormed off and left. She had driven us there. I was stuck finding a way to get our boxes of materials and folding table back to the office. She wasn’t written up per se but she was pulled off any and all outreach and recruiting projects. HR also made her apologize to me for leaving me there and not answering my calls.

  97. TechWorker*

    My company moved from a proprietary, old and fairly buggy version management system to git a few years back. Yes, the old system worked fine if you’d worked there 20 years, but it had a tonne of problems, and whilst git is not the MOST user friendly thing ever, it does generally make sense and if you don’t know how to do something, you can google it because it’s standard.

    Some colleagues definitely took this as a personal afront.. one guy in particularly takes any opportunity available to complain about it (yes, it’s hard for you because you’ve spent zero effort trying to learn how to do it) YEARS later. He also takes every available opportunity to complain about having to unit test his own code, because he much preferred his previous job at a different company where they employed more testers & idk software engineers could just throw crap out there because the testers would probably find it? Quite a long way out of sync with.. the industry…

    1. Anonymous Pygmy Possum*

      For a second I thought you might have worked for my last company, but they are JUST NOW making the switch to git. My partner who still works there is now complaining about it, when 5 years ago, when we both started, he was upset about having to learn this new system!! (I think it’s because he & his peers think new management wants to track people by lines of code, which tracks, but that’s more indicative of problems with the new management.)

    2. I Have RBF*

      … laughs in Perforce administrator.

      The worst version control system I ever used was a combination ticketing, bug management, QA and versioning system I used around the 2002 timeframe. I think it was Clear Case, before IBM bought it.

  98. Anon for this*

    Ooh I have one!

    The software we give our customers has some metadata, which includes the username of the person who did the build. This is an internal username, it doesn’t mean anything outside of the company and it usually indicates someone on the build operations team – they are not personally guaranteeing the image or anything like that. Some changes were made so that if the customer themselves built the software, their (Linux) user would appear, which was a customer requested feature.

    Someone on a customer facing team was tasked with building an image for the customer, which they did, but they were APOPLETIC that their username appeared in the software metadata. To this day I have no idea why… it wasn’t their name and they were already the one emailing the customer so it’s not like the customer didn’t know they were involved. They pulled in multiple layers of management and got zero response because.. no-one else cared..?

  99. Not my usual handle*

    A colleague at another organization is notorious for being…eccentric. A micromanager, but also an oversharer who is confident in her (exaggerated) self-importance, among other things. Colleague is also known to be brutal to summer interns. (I have proactively discouraged students I know from applying to intern at her organization because of her history of mistreatment.)

    Colleague’s birthday falls in early summer, coinciding with a major annual programming initiative. It Is Known that interns are required—but not specifically instructed—to throw her a birthday party as part of the program, and to make a Big Freaking Deal about it. This directive is generally passed down from intern to intern, or passed as a tip from another staffer who doesn’t want to see the poor intern roasted. Well, 10 or so years ago, an intern was fired—2 weeks into a 10 week internship—for not sufficiently celebrating Colleague’s birthday. As part of an official function of the organization, which had goals and an agenda not focused on marking staff birthdays. (I happened to know the following year’s intern and tipped her off on how to not get fired. I was not in the first dozen people to do so.)

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      This is a scenario where the school who is referring these interns needs to be aware that this may not be a reasonable placement. And maybe dismiss the employer from the program unless supervision is improved.

  100. Llama lamma workplace drama*

    We were all going into a conference room for a meeting. Often times this room got full and some people would just sort of hang out along the back wall. There was a seat open next to me and I said (in a very nice tone) to someone ‘Larry, this seat is open if you want it.’ He flipped out and yelled ‘DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO!’. My manager walked in right as it happened and pulled me aside afterwards to fill him in. I ended up having to write up an account of what happened and I had to sign and date it. My manager filed it away in his drawer in case ‘Larry’ ever tried to accuse me of ‘telling him what to do’. I was in my early 20s and this guy was in his 50s and it scared the crap out of me having someone yell at me because I offered them a seat.

  101. Owl-a-roo*

    This one is subtle: on my previous team, a woman who had worked on the team for several years and left for Position #2 came back after Position #2 was eliminated. Because I was hired right after she left Position #1, I was new to working with her. Her relationship with the team was a little weird – we work in information services, but she says she’s “not a computer person” and nearly always has to involve a coworker when resolving routine issues or completing routine system maintenance. Despite this causing some tension on our generally high-performing team, we all stayed friendly with one another. She was chatty and often shared details (sometimes TMI) about her personal life.

    One day, during a team meeting, she asked us to bring her our empty wine bottles because she was working on a personal project. When we asked what she was doing with them, she completely shut down and coldly said “that’s not an appropriate question”. She glared at us for the rest of the meeting and didn’t talk to anybody for the rest of the day. The hilarious thing is that we all knew (thanks to her usual chattiness) that one of her children was getting married soon, so we all assumed it was going to be for wedding decor and were just asking about it to be polite! To this day, I will never understand why that ONE topic was off limits.

    1. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      I wonder if she was planning on filling the bottles with $2 Chuck (the cheap Trader Joe’s wine) and serving it at the wedding as a more posh vintage.

  102. Prudence and Wakeen Snooter Theatre for the Performing Oats*

    I worked in the laboratory of a food manufacturer. When supplies were delivered, they would be dropped off at the front desk and the receptionist would give the lab a call to let us know they were delivered. Because our tight fisted owner didn’t think we needed another person in the position, we often would be very busy and not get supplies until after the receptionist had gone.

    All of this was fine, until we got a new receptionist. She called and left a message that we had supplies. Cool. Super busy, not a priority for me that day. However, because they were refrigerated supplies and I hadn’t picked them up and she was about to leave, she called again. I was working on some lab tests that require precise timing, so nope, not answering the phone.

    The new receptionist is worried at this point and loops in the owner, who, given his general life outlook, decides this means I’m slacking off. He loads up a cart with the supplies and also brings the receptionist (to teach her a lesson on how he treats slackers, I guess?). He storms dramatically into the lab, slamming the door open, saying, “Well, I guess YOu’Re just to bUsY to pick up yOUr lab supplies!”

    And then he looks around the corner of the lab to where I am knee deep in testing and yes, too busy to pick up the lab supplies. At this point, he’s still in a rage but realizing that things are not quite what he thought, he huffily proclaims, “Well, I guess wE’Ll unpack these fOR YoU.” And dramatically throws open the door to the lab refrigerator, which, because he bought it used with no input from us, didn’t come with shelves, was much less useful than our previous multiple fridges, and currently is filled with towers of lab supplies jenga’d in every which way.

    With the tact and subtlety of a rhinoceros, he decides he is not going to touch the fridge situation with a ten foot pole, says, “Well, I hope you aPpReCiaTe that we brought you YoUr supplies,” unloads the cart and huffs out of there.

    This poor new receptionist starts to apologize, but I tell her it’s no big deal, explain how we pick up supplies later than other people, and then spend the next hour of testing dodging the boxes the owner thoughtfully left scattered around the lab floor.

    1. Anon for This*

      Where I live, that’s a valid question. (We have a thriving cheese industry. It’s pretty great.)

  103. Hole In The Wall*

    My department director kicked a hole in the wall after being told he had to make his existing employees perform and he couldn’t just hire is brother-in-law (who wasn’t licensed or credentialed). The same department director wrote me up for “parking too close” to his new truck.

  104. ExistentialCred*

    Many years ago, I word as an executive assistant to a very self-important minister. I have MANY stories from my time at that job, but my personal favorite to tell is the time he threatened to fire me for…not wearing lipstick.

    I joked with friends about how I should show up with nothing but lipstick on, but of course not in earshot of my then boss. In the end I think I wore lipgloss for a week and went back to nothing after.

    I did eventually quit that job—that story may have been a good one for the burning bridges call the other day. No regrets.

  105. Goldenrod*

    The worst boss I ever had was moody and unpredictable on the daily, and you never knew what would trigger her – but there was one incident that really stands out in my memory.

    Our department picked a charity once a year and then held a month-long drive to raise money for it. We were encouraged to come up with creative ideas. I have a friend who went to art school and was an excellent painter – for her own amusement, she once watched a Bob Ross video and completed the painting from his tutorial. Since she’s a talented painter, it was actually quite nice – a mountain/river scene. I bought it from her, stuck a frame on it, and held a raffle to bid on a chance to win it.

    When my boss – let’s call her Cindy – read my email promoting the raffle, she was LIVID. She immediately called me to chew me out over it. I was absolutely baffled. Some of her complaints were “it’s not a REAL Bob Ross, is it?” and “who would want to buy it?” I was mystified.

    Then her Chief of Staff called me right afterwards to apologize but could not explain Cindy’s weird outburst. She did say, “I knew she would hate that.” When I asked why she overreacted so much, she said, “I don’t know, I’m not a psychologist.”

    The Chief of Staff then committed to promoting my raffle, but she actually removed my boss from the distribution list every single time I sent an email about it, to avoid triggering her again. This tells you something about the dysfunctional culture of that office.

    I will never understand why Bob Ross – someone known for his gentle and mild-mannered demeanor – triggered so much fury.

  106. Constance Lloyd*

    One of my coworkers started dating a guy on a team right next to ours in a sizable cubicle farm. One day, office boyfriend was off work to close on a house. His teammates were chatting blandly, “Oh, that’s so exciting for him. Any idea which area it’s in? Oh good, that’s a much shorter commute.” Very mild, very normal small talk. Well my teammate apparently took offense to not being consulted, and after about a minute of two she stood up and loudly announced, “You know, I JUST LOVE when you guys talk about MY BOYFRIEND like I’m NOT EVEN HERE!” before storming off for an early lunch break.

  107. Lab Boss*

    Summer camp story:

    We hired someone who applied to be a lifeguard only to learn that he was a weak swimmer. Not just “struggles with the lifeguard test,” but couldn’t swim well at all. When he was told he couldn’t be a lifeguard and was going to be transferred to work in the kitchen, the only place we still had openings, he absolutely lost it. Screaming obscenities, took a swing at the manager who told him, ran outside and picked up a hammer to start smashing things and swinging it at people who approached him. We tried waiting for him to calm down but he kept working himself further up until a few of us took it upon ourselves to tackle him and take the hammer. Needless to say, we considered it his resignation, but at least he didn’t have to work in the kitchen.

    1. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Hammer absurdity aside, how does someone get fully hired as a lifeguard without doing any kind of swim test? Surely that would be a reasonable request.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I assume that since it’s camp, getting everyone to the same location with a pool might have been challenging.

        Also, who applies to be a lifeguard if they aren’t a strong swimmer? (I know, the same person who threatens people with hammers.)

        1. Lab Boss*

          That’s basically it. We ask people if they’re confident in their swimming ability. It’s not a generic summer camp that hires people who already have Red Cross (or whatever) life guard certification, putting them through the training and certification process is done as part of start-of-season training before campers ever arrive. I can count on one hand the number of people who couldn’t get certified (all but him could swim well and just not quite pass life guard testing), and they just get moved to work in a different area.

          Ultimately when you’re hiring mostly high school and college students scattered across a few states, for a job that lasts 2 months, there’s not the same ability to do deep interviews and skills testing that you’d do for a “real” job. We’ve also hired someone to work on a climbing wall who had the rope skills but realized he didn’t like heights- you just move them.

          1. 1LFTW*

            When I worked at camp, life guard certification had to be supplied with your application. Not everyone who can swim well can pass the lifeguard test on the first try.

            1. Lab Boss*

              What I’m saying is, the organization runs its own lifeguard certification program- previously certified people do exist, but there’s not a reliable way for first-time camp staff to come in already being certified, it’s done in pre-season training. I can’t speak to the exact training since I’m no lifeguard, but the failure rate was miniscule- people have a realistic idea of whether they can pass a lifeguard test, and few think they can somehow fake their way through it.

  108. First-Time, Medium-Time*

    This is not so much funny as “mental health stigma is super real and if I had had both the resources and the inclination, I may have had a decent discrimination/wrongful termination suit on my hands”, but it is by far the largest overreaction I’ve ever encountered at work:

    I was a temp, working with an agency, for the first 6 or 7 years of my working life. About 15 years ago, I was temping at a very, VERY small office (I was one of 4 people total), that was a property management branch of one of the largest commercial real estate firms in the state. This office managed a small, failing shopping mall. (The office was located in one of the storefronts in the mall, that gives you an idea of how small, and how failing, the place was. Anyway.) I was working front desk & doing entry level office work with one other person, along with graphic design projects for marketing. The other two people in the office were managers, one for the custodial and maintenance staff, and one for the two of us.

    The job was stressful (not so much the work as the office climate), and having to listen to the same 3-hour song rotation from the mall’s speakers for 8.5 hours did NOT help. And one of the worst contributers to the stressful environment was my manager, Sam (not her real name).

    Sam was an…interesting person. And by that I mean after working with her for 2 weeks I had concluded that she was both a terrible manager and an egomaniac. She NEVER stopped talking about herself. About once a day she played aloud a jingle for the mall that she had commissioned several years prior and made everyone stop and listen to it and then semi-yelled something like, “That’s my song! Isn’t it great?” (She didn’t mean it like, “that’s my jam”, she was literally claiming credit for the song.) She wore like, comical, sitcom-level amounts of makeup. Her desktop background was a picture of her own living room (I swear I’m not making this up), which was decorated a bit like an Egyptian temple (Sam was a white lady from the Midwest, I have no idea why she wanted Anubis statues flanking her sofa, but whatever, her interior design sense isn’t really the point). And on top of all that she gave nearly no direction or instructions on projects she wanted done. Assignments were like, “Create a llama display.” with literally no further details and then she’d come back with feedback like, “I don’t like that, make it better.” Again with no details. Follow up questions did not help. (“I don’t know it’s just missing something, y’know? I’ll know it when I see it.”)

    So, I’m a fairly emotional person, but typically very professional. I had been going through a VERY difficult period in my personal life, and was therefore a little more emotional than usual. So one day I was trying to copy something and the printer started acting up, as printers do. I felt myself getting frustrated and realized I was going to cry. Rather than just burst into tears in the office, I opted for sucking it up, setting the printing aside, informing my front office mate that I was taking my break (which it was about time for anyway), and going to cry in my car. When I got back (within the 15 minute break window, I might add), Sam called me over to her desk.

    She asked me what was going on and said my front office mate told her I “stormed out” which honestly seems like a massive exaggeration to me, but maybe I was more obviously upset than I’d realized. Whatever, it happens. I had no interest in giving this woman my life story, so instead I apologized for the abrupt break and explained that I was feeling a bit emotional and had decided to remove myself from the situation rather than make a scene. She seemed genuinely concerned and asked if there was something wrong. I told her I was out of sorts that day because I hadn’t been sleeping well lately (which was true). She asked why and I, not wanting to get into too much detail and thinking that it might be reassuring to know that I was getting things prefessionally handled, said, “I’m not sure, my therapist and I are trying to figure that out.”

    That was the WRONG thing to say. Sam’s eyes went incredibly wide, the color drained from her face, her jaw dropped – you would have thought I just threatened her, she literally looked terrified. She sat like that for a moment, apparently speechless, and then leaned in and muttered, “How long have you been…goin’ to…erm…y’know?” like she literally couldn’t bring herself to use the horribly dirty, inappropriate word, “therapy”.

    Now completely unmoored from the normal flow of casual conversation, I shrugged and said, “A couple of years?”

    She regained her composure, frowned and said, “Well can you go, like, today? Because I need you to have your shit together.”

    I had no idea what to even say to that. I’m sure I said something in the affirmative, she dismissed me, and I went back to my desk thinking yep, Sam is super weird and rude, par for the course. Sam avoided me the rest of the day, and I put it out of my mind.

    That was a Thursday. First thing Friday morning my agency called and said the employer did not need me back, that the assignment was over. This is extremely standard practice for temping, but it was weird that they didn’t even want me to finish out the week, so I asked why. The agent said they said I wasn’t a good fit. I actually agreed with that sentiment and thought nothing of it until I was a little more awake. Then I remembered the conversation I had just had with Sam and went, “…oh.”

    I called the agency back and explained the incident, if for no other reason than to make sure my own record wasn’t harmed. I told them, “I’m pretty sure I was just fired for being in therapy.” The agent, flustered, said, “Well it’s probably not a good idea to talk about that kind of thing at work in the future.” And that was the end of that.

    I mean, I likely wouldn’t have accepted a temp-to-hire there even if it had been offered. Even if I could have afforded it, I wasn’t going to attempt a lawsuit over a like, $11, maybe $12/hour job that I hated. But still. Sheesh. To this day I wonder if Sam was so afraid of therapy because she probably could have used it.

  109. Kay*

    My first job out of college was a fellowship/internship position in a department at the college I had just graduated from. Toward the end of my time there, I was given a very large project to manage and maybe about halfway through it we had a meeting with the vendor creating the end product for us. I asked a number of questions in the meeting, and – I was 22, so maybe I was a little cocky and/or not reading the meeting as well as I could have. But my boss got progressively more angry during the meeting until it became uncomfortable for everyone, and then after the vendor left he dragged my coworker into his office, slammed the door, and screamed at her about how disrespectful I had been for a solid hour. He thought my questions were designed to show how little he knew about the project. He didn’t speak to me for days, then sought me out for a sobbing apology. I was then, and am still, baffled by the whole thing.

  110. Orange stacks*

    I used to work in the produce department of a grocery store. I think there must have been something in the air there because overreaction was the name of the game.

    1. Customer got upset that we did not have a broad and deep selection of sweet potatoes. As it was, we were low on sweet potatoes and only had a few of one variety, which was not the kind she wanted (and she wanted to pick from a LARGE pile, not a small one). After giving me the third degree on our potato-sourcing procedures (of which I had no part) and berating me for not having an adequate solution to her problem, she screamed at me that it was just so difficult for her to find any food at all. (In a grocery store. In an upper-middle class area with many grocery stores.)

    2. One day, our banana delivery hadn’t come, so we had no bananas for the entire day. This upset many customers, as bananas were always our #1 seller. One customer in particular stopped me to ask why there were no bananas. I informed him that the banana delivery hadn’t come that day and we were out. He screamed “FUUUUUCCCCKKK!” and stormed out of the store. I have to assume he was experiencing a life-or-death banana emergency.

    3. Lots of people may not notice, but the reason modern grocery stores can carry pretty much every produce type year round is because they are globally sourced depending on what can be grown in what climate. This means that at some times of the year, the same item will come from a different country than it does at other times of the year. One woman was extremely angry when she found that her asparagus (bought mid-winter) was sourced from Mexico. She hadn’t noticed until she got home, when she called the produce department and berated me for having the audacity to stock produce from Mexico. Before she hung up on me, she screamed “I’m going to go THROW THIS IN THE GARBAGE NOW!” Because obviously that would really hurt my feelings?

  111. PeachesAndScream*

    At my last job, we frequently had groups in for training and my organization provided breakfast or lunch to the attendees. As such, leftover pizza, takeout, bagels and cream cheese, fruit, and pastries were common and staff were free to partake of the leftovers once the training was complete.

    One evening, one of my coworkers, who came in later and left later than the rest of the staff, bought a pizza for her dinner and put the leftovers in the office fridge. The next morning, someone took a slice from her pizza box for breakfast. When she came in several hours later and discovered a slice of her pizza was missing, she sent a blistering three or four paragraph email to the entire staff, berating whoever had stolen her slice of pizza.

    The executive director quickly sent an email to all assuring everyone that he knew we didn’t have a rogue fridge thief on staff and that the pizza was likely not taken in malice, but on accident due to the frequency of free-game leftovers in the fridge. He reminded everyone to label their food and to respect labeled food as off limits – and to make the situation right, he was going to treat the entire office to pizza on Friday on his dime. Her response? She didn’t want free pizza as she’d already eaten pizza that week.

    She sat at her desk and worked while everyone else enjoyed pizza on Friday.

  112. Doozie*

    First day at a new job – although I was an internal transfer in a very large company.

    A former coworker came over to see my new cube space and to wish me well. He and I chatted for a few moments and during the chat, I leaned one arm against the cube wall of the big boss’s administrative assistant. Said Admin flipped out and went to my new team’s admin and ripped her a new one because “ your new person was deliberately leaning against MY CUBE WALL”. Apparently our admin was almost in tears. She came to me to just give me a warning to steer clear because now I was on this person’s Sh$&@ List.

    I thought it was a joke, and that they were playing a prank on the new person. Wrong. The cube wall “owner” never spoke to me for the two years I worked in that department, would go out of her way to avoid walking near me and would never give me my mail.

    (Of course the company paid for the cube wall, but that’s not how she saw it!)

  113. Lucy P*

    Many years ago our company VP was in charge of all things budgetary and had to approve all purchase orders, even for the smallest of things. They believed in reusing items as much as possible. When we ran out of file folders and went to order more, they denied my request. I was to clear out all of the old files, shred the contents, and reuse the folders.

    One of our engineers needed folders and complained that they couldn’t find any. I showed them the stack of old folders. They were livid and insisted that I must provide them with new, unused folders. Then they reported me to the company President, who spoke to the VP, who told me to buy a box of new folders just for that engineer. The rest of us had to use the recycled folders.

  114. pagooey*

    Is it weird that upon reading to the end of the post, I began chanting CHEAP! ASS! ROLLS! in my head like I was at a stadium sports rally?

  115. FrontlinER*

    I worked at a hospital once where they decided to make a very small change in the electronic medical record. It literally was changing the color of mandatory fields from pink to blue. That’s it. No workflow change, no extra work. But you would think they implemented a whole new EMR. People were throwing tantrums and there was even a picket in the hospital lobby to change the color back to blue. And for months afterwards in the quarterly town hall, there would be a passionate person always asking if the color could go back to pink.

    1. Gullible Vengeance Umpires*

      Hospital staff are second to none when it comes to panic over change!

    2. Owl-a-roo*

      I work in healthcare IT and feel this in my bones. We had a project to standardize the colors of surgery status tracking board updates, and it took MONTHS of planning because every hospital and surgical area (we have quite a few) swore their way was best and they wouldn’t be able to function if Surgery Start was light green instead of dark green. After the project finally went live, our team got a ton of tickets about the new colors despite all of the surgery leadership preparing their areas for the change. My favorite was the user who said that PACU 2 being brown reminded her of poop, which wasn’t appropriate because she didn’t work in GI.

    3. Dr. Anonymous*

      Several people in our organization reported visual disturbances and headaches when Epic added a pink box around the three-asterisk wild cards. Oh, they suffered!

  116. Owl-a-roo*

    Another one: my first healthcare job (15 years ago, wow) was as a medical assistant at a private practice pain clinic in a wealthy suburb. It was a pretty big clinic, with 10+ care providers in various specialties and 10 medical assistants. The MAs all sat together in a big, open hallway where we had, among other creature comforts, a shared snack cabinet.

    The physician who founded and owned the clinic believed in a mind/body approach to pain management. This meant he and the other providers prescribed a wide variety of medications that were not (at the time) generally associated with pain management, which attracted A LOT of drug reps. Drug reps arranged catered lunch for us literally every single day of our four-day week; and sometimes, they’d even do a 4:00 snack for us since the clinic was open 8a to 7p.

    Since we were gatekeepers to the providers, the reps would often bring the MAs our own boxes of cookies from Panera or other local cafes. We’d store them in our snack cabinet and munch all day. The doctors knew about our snack cabinet and would sometimes partake if they had a particularly rough day.

    One week, Dr. Owner decided to go on a diet, which greatly affected his mood and thus all of us. After a particularly bad morning (pain management is rough for a variety of reasons), he entered the lunch room in a bit of a fury. He was greeted by a drug rep with a tray of Chik Fil A. He proceeded to rant and rave about how much junk we all ate, ripped the tray out of the poor rep’s hands, and threw the entire plate of THE OFFICE’S LUNCH in the trash. He then stormed down to the MA hallway, raided the snack cabinet, and threw three boxes of cookies in the trash can that we used to discard used urine test containers. He swore that he was going to start monitoring our lunches and snacks to make sure we didn’t have a cabinet of sugar anymore.

    Of course, the drug reps still brought us cookies, so we put them in a different drawer and were quieter about it. Several weeks later, Dr. Owner sheepishly came to us to ask for a cookie. Of course we gave him one.

  117. Rachael*

    i used to have a job at an entity with two main departments that generally never interacted with each other. I was in the department of cats, whose employees were generally all in building A. however, due to space issues, my specific office got moved to building B, where the department of dogs employees worked. so now you had dog employees and cat employees all working on the same floors and sharing the same public facilities. the dog employees there seemed generally pretty unhappy with the cat employees’ presence. at one point, a dog employee informed me “because more of you cat people are opening the refrigerator doors now to use them, the refrigerators aren’t staying as cold.” I, confused, nodded and made “yes, I believe that is how refrigerators work” noises until I could leave.

    the most entertaining reaction was when a dog employee put a note over a toaster oven saying “I paid for this with my own money. I decide who uses them. DOGS ONLY.” (Notably, none of us cat employees had used the toaster oven). It caused some drama for a while, with various notes going up and being taken down. (i perhaps slightly contributed to the drama by putting a note on our new microwave which said “this microwave is for everyone, yay!” with little stick people holding hands under a rainbow).

    The funniest thing? Pretty soon after this, we all got emails about how toaster ovens weren’t allowed in the building anyway due to fire hazard concerns, so everyone lost their toaster oven privileges in the end. /sad trombone/

    1. JustaTech*

      Oh, I have a toaster story!
      My company used to have two buildings in our city, but due to shrinkage, everyone was consolidated into our building. This was a serious comedown for the folks who had been in the 40-story modern office building downtown, being stuck in our little building off to one side of the city center.

      Not long after they moved over, my coworker comes up to me all frazzled – where is the toaster in the lunchroom? She ate peanut butter toast for breakfast every day, but suddenly the toaster was gone!
      I didn’t have much going on that day, so I go check and not only is the toaster gone, but so is the panini machine, which I know was the personal property of another coworker. In fact, all the food-heating devices except the microwave are gone.
      That’s an odd theft, so I ask the head of facilities. “Oh, I removed them, they’re illegal.”

      The heck? I had just re-written our building safety documents, so I knew that toasters in the lunchroom weren’t against any internal rule.
      Now, like I said, I wasn’t very busy that day. And there’s something about people claiming things are against rules that don’t exist that really gets my back up.
      So I searched the fire codes for the state, the county and the city and, shockingly, toasters were not “illegal”, even in office buildings.

      After an unpalatably cold lunch (I too had planned my meal expecting the toaster to still be there) I wrote to the head of facilities, and cc’d the safety officer, saying that I could not find any fire code anywhere that said we couldn’t have toasters, could he please show me the correct regulation?

      The next day all the toasters were returned.

      (How was this an over reaction? The best explanation anyone could figure is that in the old, 40-story building toasters were banned by the building management, to prevent accidentally setting off the fire alarm. Someone from the old building thought that this was a universal rule and mentioned it to facilities who over-reacted by just taking the toasters rather than checking the actual laws and regulations.)

  118. Project Maniac-ger*

    I had forgotten Cheap Ass Rolls was a first-person tale; now I feel a little bad because we shouldn’t discourage LWs from being honest by making fun of them…. But this person was a bit unhinged.

    1. Bast*

      Those people will never see that they are in the wrong — sort of like the LW who wrote in about how they are never wrong, and the LW who wrote in about they couldn’t understand how their employee “overreacted” about not getting paid on time, multiple times.

  119. Dawn*

    Oh yes, I also once had a teacher in high school who went purple in the face and very nearly fainted and/or had a coronary episode shouting at me….. my younger sibling’s name, whom he’d taught the previous semester.

    I knew who he wanted, but I wasn’t about to respond to my sib’s name. And I was rather interested to see if the teacher was going to stroke out before he recalled that he could just walk over to my desk.

    He did eventually figure out he was calling the wrong name, but I think it was a pretty close call.

  120. Irish Teacher.*

    OH! I’ve got one. I only heard this second hand, but I heard it from a number of people so the odds are it’s true. Our school shares its campus with two other schools and we share a sports field with one of those.

    Now, one day, one of our teachers took his class for a walk up through the field. Well! The principal of the other school went bananas. He called up our principal, Chairperson of our Board of Management and our Home-School Liaison teacher (no idea why he’d call the last; I’d imagine he just had his number since he does sometimes liaise with other schools if students who need support have siblings in those schools also in need of support), complaining that students who weren’t in P.E. gear were up on the field and we were only meant to use it for P.E. classes.

    Now, they hadn’t interrupted anything; it wasn’t like his school were having a P.E. class or anything. They weren’t even using the field and nobody is even sure how he knew our teacher and students walked through it. We were joking he must have CCTV on it or something.

  121. I’ll bring the cheap-ass rolls*

    I once worked with someone who was part-time and had been for years. A full-time position opened up and she applied for and got the position. I was shocked she wanted the job as the pay and benefits were terrible and she was nearing retirement anyway. She also didn’t ‘need’ to work full time as money was a non-issue. Well after about 6 weeks of working full time she realized 40 hours a week and two weeks vacation time a year is the worst and put in her resignation. Her boss emailed all staff letting us know that she had resigned along with a thank you for her years on staff. Well that was all it took. Co-worker completely disintegrated, sobbing and raging about the email and then stormed out of the building never to be seen again.

    1. Petty_Boop*

      I feel like I need to buy a vowel here. Why on earth would that email be offensive? Was she hoping for something more effusive? A party? A gold watch? Them begging her to stay? “So and so is leaving the firm with our warmest appreciation for their X years of service” is pretty…standard I’ve always thought. This woman sounds like a loon!

  122. Warrior Princess Xena*

    This was at church, not at work, but still remains one of the more absurd things I’ve heard of. We were were doing a service one specific way. One of our parishioners was constantly, constantly kvetching about how the service was not being done in its original form, how the original form was so much more elegant, how the new version was done to accommodate new-fangled notions. To be clear: this was not any sort of bigoted complaining or something that he should have been rightfully called out on. If I recall correctly it had to do with a specific set of hymn melodies that had become less popular as a different composer became preferred. It was a truly minor thing. One day I asked him casually when the change had happened.

    Dear readers. The change happened in roughly 1400 AD. He was complaining about a change that had happened SIX HUNDRED YEARS AGO.

    1. Gullible Vengeance Umpires*

      If this doesn’t make the round-up list, I am going to overreact in ways this commentariat has never seen before.

    2. The Rise and Fall of Sanctuary Moon*

      To be fair, this would be all of my conversations if I were immortal.

      1. Warrior Princess Xena*

        I can confirm that the person in question is, to my knowledge, neither a vampire nor a time traveler, just a history buff.

        1. The Rise and Fall of Sanctuary Moon*

          “To my knowledge” is juuuuuust big enough a loophole for me to keep my preferred headcanon about that guy, Xena.

  123. Gullible Vengeance Umpires*

    I got reprimanded at my first job out of college because I was setting up for a board meeting, alone, and the CEO walked in and offered to help. My boss found out he helped me and reamed me the next day for wasting his time like that. He…offered?

  124. Ciela*

    We were going to be without bosses for a few days, which meant as the person with the most “manure awareness” (I know my sh*t), I was de facto in charge. This NEVER sat well with the owner’s brother. He was employed for solely because of that family relation.
    VERY late Thursday night a customer called and wanted something couriered to them first thing Friday morning. I explained the cost, and they were happy to pay. I arranged the courier for Friday morning, and left a note for a sane co-worker about it. He was normally the first one in.

    Boss’ brother was the first one in on Friday, and he lost it. Screaming, ranting, raving, about how we should not have a courier deliver the order. How I should have told the customer they needed to come pick it up themselves. Note: we typically couriered 5 or more orders a day. He had me cornered in the tiny kitchen, punched the wall, and was yelling so loud, that the other 4 guys working that day all had leapt up to see if they needed to protect me.

    He worked here for another year, until the day he got into a physical altercation with a co-worker, cussed out the owner that was not his brother, and then quit.

  125. Saraquill*

    I’m the LW of “My Boss Laid Me Off, Then Emailed My Mom.” Here are two of the more memorable overreactions that happened during the bullying period.

    One, my desk was next to Boss Wife’s. I received notes from a coworker in order to complete a task that was my main role for 6 years. Boss Wife took a look at the coworker’s notes and wanted to know why I couldn’t work properly. If I Couldn’t shape up according to Wife’s undisclosed standards, then Wife would take over my job and do it much better than me.

    I don’t remember all of what happened next. Wife kept screaming in my face over how incompetent I was, and changing the reason for my incompetence every few sentences. She eventually decided I was in the wrong for following instructions Boss asked my coworker to tell me. Boss walked in to say I should have been following instructions he never told me.

    This lead to me getting phased out of the roe specially created for me, that coworkers and third parties praised me for. Boss never told me I was out of the role. He posted my position on Indeed without telling me, and advertised it as a minimum wage, intern level job. He never told me about my replacement, and had them work remotely so we’d never cross paths. Said replacement did the work in the same style that provoked the lengthy screaming fit.

    Overreaction number two also came from Wife. For the past few months, she had been getting angry over the way I walk past her. Waiting for her to clear the doorway triggered her ire. Moving past her in the narrow walk space prompted a mini lecture in the open plan office.

    One time, she was blocking the door yet again. I said “Excuse me.”

    She moved, but also started screaming at me. She kept screaming as I finished my errand, walked past her again, and returned to my desk.

    Boss didn’t react, despite the small space and her volume.

  126. Brian*

    I once had a principal cuss me out in front of a playground full of elementary students because I’d complained earlier there hadn’t been toilet paper in the school for a long time. He was later fired for bringing a gun to work.

  127. PhyllisB*

    I don’t work in a library but visit our local one regularly. There are a lot of patrons (including me) who like to read the area newspapers. There are a couple who enjoy working the crosswords puzzles. One day some woman buttonholed one of the workers and had a complete meltdown because “her” crossword had been filled in by someone else. He (the worker) was totally speechless for minute, but finally he told her some version of these papers are anyone to use and enjoy and if you want to do the crossword, get here earlier in the day. I’m sure he phrased it more politely than that, but I was just stunned that someone who have such a REACTION to missing a crossword.

    1. ConstantlyComic -> Blue Spoon*

      Library patrons are weirdly possessive about the newspapers. I got snapped at once after telling an elderly patron that she couldn’t cut out the coupons that were part of the actual newspaper (we had all the ones from the inserts up for grabs in a basket) because other people might want to look at the text on the other side of them.

  128. hellohello*

    This is bad management/ownership overreacting, a fun double whammy: in high school I worked at a local ice cream chain. There were maybe a dozen of the shops in the state, and they were, frankly, deeply awful places to work for a bunch of reasons. (Minimum wage, no breaks, “on call” shifts where you didn’t get paid unless you were actually called in to work, etc etc.) Once, a small child asked for a chocolate milkshake made with chocolate milk. When the teenager working a part time job who was waiting on them said we didn’t have chocolate milk, the small child threw a massive temper tantrum.

    The reason I know about this is someone at corporate (aka the family that owned the chain) decided the best response was to email every single employee of the ice cream chain detailing how the poor teenage server (full name of the employee included for maximum public shaming!) had messed up and shouldn’t have said the objectively true fact that we didn’t stock chocolate milk, and instead should have instinctively known to use chocolate syrup to *make* chocolate milk just to blend it into a milkshake. Again, this went out to several hundred employees from managers down to part time seasonal hires, and it called the poor teenager out by full name and store he worked for.

  129. Annon*

    I worked with a woman who had very newly become a manager, and due to circumstances beyond both of our controls the business critical system I worked with regularly “fell over” and the departments affected wanted a smoother process to be put in place to mitigate the effect this had on them. My manager and I talked it through, and my manager claimed the task of going to the various department heads to approve the new process.

    She did nothing. Instead, a couple of months later it fell over again, and when I was being asked by the other department members why we weren’t following the new process I said: “I’m sorry, Manager has been very busy with (a new project) and hasn’t had the opportunity to chase for the approvals”.

    She disappeared for two hours, leaving me completely unable to do my job because I needed her sign off, and I found out that she was in a meeting with her own manager talking about how to put me through the disciplinary process for what I’d put in the email. She then berated me publicly for not going throughly all seventeen meeting rooms to find her for the approvals (instead of emailing, texting and phoning while actually doing the job), told me she had anxiety and felt I was always judging her, and it was absolutely unacceptable that I had said she was busy.

    I stayed an hour late being spoken to like I had committed the most heinous crime, that I was useless, that I wasn’t a team player, that I was rude and unprofessional – you name it. All because I said she was busy, when in fact she was too lazy and, looking back, likely too affected by her anxiety to chase for a signature or two.

  130. House On The Rock*

    I used to work with a woman who took everything about work incredibly personally. She was over-dramatic, wildly inappropriate, and boundary-stomping. But of course that was “just how she was” and “her heart was in the right place”. She was a classic broken stair. Most of her reactions were over-reactions, but one of the worst was when she broke down crying, became uncommunicative, then walked out of the room when she learned about a delay to a project that was expected, out of the control of everyone in the meeting, and was being managed. Basically we had to pause to get input from our security and compliance group about sharing data with an outside vendor, which was absolutely the right thing to do, but for some reason she couldn’t accept that. She was in no way seen as responsible for the delay, I still have no idea why it caused that level of upset!

    The Coup de Grace was when someone asked her if she was ok (before she walked out), she made a choked, kind of sobbing/shrieking noise, waved her hands, and then left.

  131. SusieQQ*

    I used to work at a laundromat, and one of my co-workers Carrie was… just very odd. One of the oddest things she did was to take grave offense to the phrase “fyi” (spoken, not written). Unfortunately there was another employee, Jane who was a total sweetheart and happened to say “fyi” frequently. Things like “fyi, this customer called and said they’d come in to pick up their dry cleaning this afternoon” and “fyi, there are two blankets drying in the back row.” She spoke pleasantly and there wasn’t anything wrong with it.

    Except that Carrie absolutely hated it. I still don’t know why. It’s like she thought equated a casual, pleasant “fyi…” with a very haughty and snotty “for your information…” One day while I was relatively new and Jane was training me, Carrie overheard her tell me “fyi there’s extra scent-free detergent in the back.” She interrupted our training to pull Jane aside and berate her for using that language with me. (Carrie is not Jane’s boss.) I tried to step in to smooth things over and told Carrie that I didn’t mine Jane using that phrase. Carrie just gave me an icy look and told me it’s a rude thing to say. She had gone to the boss many times over it.

    FWIW I had my own issues with Carrie. For whatever reason she just seemed determined to interpret everybody’s words in the worst possible way.

    1. Illogical*

      Oh man, I once had a (perfectly fine) coworker who had a bug up her butt about “ducks in a row”. Which would have been fine for normal people, but I talk about my ducks A Lot. Ducks in a row, not in a row, in a column, out on assignment, etc. Fortunately (except for purposes of this post’s topic), we handled it like adults.

  132. Llama face!*

    This story is hearsay from employees who were there when it happened, but I once started work at a company and then discovered they didn’t allow staff to have a microwave. Why? Because a former employee who was a bosses’ favourite had started a retirement business operating a soup cafeteria in the building. Apparently she found out that someone had brought in a microwave for the staff room and had a dramatic tantrum with tears about how she would lose her business if employees were bringing in leftovers to reheat. So the bosses got rid of the microwave. There *were* two microwaves in the cafeteria but they were for reheating purchased cafeteria food only. Some employees had individual sized crockpots at their desks. The alternative was to eat exclusively cold meals. And this was in Saskatchewan where we have very long cold winters with temperatures down to -50°C. Did I mention this employer also paid low wages? I did not stay at that workplace for long!

  133. Abundant Shrimp*

    The audacity of this former employee.

    If you lose your business because your former coworkers have an option of bringing in their own meals and aren’t forced to buy all their lunches from you, then imo you deserve to lose your business. No soup cafeteria for you!

    1. Abundant Shrimp*

      Nesting fail, this should be under Llama face!’s comment about the soup racketeer lady.

      1. Llama face!*

        That was my thought! But nobody was willing to make waves. This was also a workplace where we had to pay to dress casually on Fridays even though we were not customer facing and only our coworkers saw us. And the dress code hadn’t been updated since the late 80s/early 90s and included gems like skorts being forbidden but culottes* being permissable.

        *I think this term means something else in the original French context but this was talking about an old fad for what were basically extremely wide flowy capri pants that looked almost like a skirt at first glance.

  134. Still Peeved*

    I was the head of a nonprofit when I found out the program lead at a sister organization was signing my name to fundraising asks going out to hundreds of people, some of whom donated to the organization I ran. I knew the program lead had minimal nonprofit experience (the program was his side project), so while I was irritated that he’d used my endorsement without my permission, I figured he’d made a mistake out of ignorance and a polite email from me asking him to remove my name from his ask going forward would take care of the issue.

    Not only did this guy refuse to stop signing my name to his ask, but he lit me up with a vitriolic screed (which he copied his boss on) where he called me ignorant and arrogant, and then accused me of trying to horde donor dollars for myself. He also asked me repeatedly why I hated his program and the low-income people it served. It was only after I sent him a second polite email, this time with my boss copied, too, that he responded: “Fine, I took your name off the ask. Happy now?”

    This guy made me feel so small for wanting to have control over my own name. I learned I was not the first female staffer at the nonprofit to get berated by him, and even though his boss admonished him for his nasty emails to me, it became obvious that the people he worked with (and reported to!) just accepted his bullying as an unfortunate part of his personality. The whole thing ruined my opinion of the organization, and I jumped ship not long after.

  135. Buni*

    I did all the stationery ordering for my last office, from one provider in particular. One day I log in and see that they’ve hooked up with a national points system (basic spend-money-earn-points, viable at many large national chains). I ask my boss if we have an ‘office’ Points card, she says no, asks if *I* do, and when I say yes says something like “Knock yourself out! Perks!”. So I register my card.

    Office Sue finds out. Office Sue is incensed. I’m ‘earning’ something no one else is (I’m the lowest paid person there….). We’re a registered charity, and every year we have to submit public accounts and mention any staff that ‘benefit’ (it was not unknown for staff / family members to access our charity). At the meeting with all staff and the external Accountant present we’re asked the Question and Sue leaps in to loudly declares that “Buni is PROFITING from the stationery order!”. The Accountant says okay, all good, starts to write an extra line on his spreadsheet, asks me how much? I ask how much the total stationery spend was last year, from the same spreadsheet, as it’s so-many-points-per-pound.

    Reader, I had profited by £12.50. In an entire year. The Accountant was silent for a second then dead-eyed Sue as he firmly drew a line through the whole entry. Nothing more was said.

  136. Audiophile*

    I once received ire from a senior leader over a chair—this was a chair I had been sitting on for several months, since I started at the company. I was accused of stealing the chair when I took it with me when moving into a new office. Again, I had been sitting in the chair since I began the job. My stealing the chair resulted in the senior leader going on a rant in the lobby and sending a long email to several other senior leaders where the incident was referenced. I still contend I didn’t steal the chair in the first place, it was in the office I was assigned, and I naturally took it with me when I switched offices.

  137. Brain the Brian*

    I shared this once before in a roundup of potluck / picnic stories, but I missed the cutoff for inclusion in the list. I’ll do so again here, because it is truly awful and an example of a vast, vast overreaction.

    Here’s my (actually awful) story, which resulting in someone getting fired. One of our senior managers (now retired) liked to be “the grillmaster” (yes, he had an apron printed with this) for our annual summer office picnic; the company catered parts of the meal, but he would grill hamburgers, hotdogs, and veggie versions thereof for some odd reason that long predated my employment.

    But, plot twist: the park where we had this picnic every year had no grills. So this Very Senior Manager used company funds to buy a set of five portable charcoal camping grills, and then he would require someone from his department to go to the park two hours before everyone else each year to set up the grills and make sure they were hot and ready for cooking by the time Very Senior Manager arrived. Well, one year, the designated employee didn’t get the setup *quite* right (something about the flame being wrong and the food taking too long too cook — I digress), and the employee was let go mid-picnic. Poor sap was escorted to his car by HR and told to go home and expect a severance check. Really put a damper on the games of badminton and the annual water balloon fight, I must say.

  138. Totally Hypothetical*

    We had a company scavenger hunt during our spring company expo last year. For various reasons, one of the teams was smaller than the rest (people had other commitments and couldn’t attend). It was raining and I ran to grab a jacket. While I was gone, the organizer asked the team if that was everyone and they were sure no one else was joining. For some reason this rubbed a coworker the wrong way and he stormed off ranting about how he didn’t have to stay and be talked to like that. I was gone for less than a minute. He didn’t come back for the rest of the event.

  139. Jane Gloriana Villanueva*

    At a former job, the department admin sent out multiple emails reminding folks of the upcoming quarterly-ish fridge clean-out. It was very clear, if you bothered to read even the subject header, that unlike other fridge cleanouts, the goal of this one was zero items in the fridge. Dates on unexpired things would not be honored. Get your stuff out before the deep clean, or it will be gone. On the day of cleaning, my then-boss, a flouncy over-reactor to e-ver-y-thing, brought her lunch and put it in the fridge. The cleanout was completed in the morning, so when she went back at lunchtime, the fridge was completely empty, as promised. She found her thermal lunch bag in the trash and hit the roof. I would have sympathized that it was not great for them to throw the whole bag away, but for her extended tantrum. Please note, her food was still perfectly consumable, protected from the rest of the trash. Her bag was not labeled at all, and the emails had clearly warned of this situation. She brought her bag to the admin’s desk and started yelling about her “trashy lunch.” Admin was calm and repeated the content of the emails, but boss refused to listen and kept yelling. Admin was getting a little steamed, so she said something to the effect of “Everyone has to abide by the rules. We couldn’t make an exception.” and boss escalated it way too quickly, screaming, “Well that didn’t work out too well for 1930s Germany, did it?!”

    It was so out of line that the admin never spoke to her again, about anything big or small. Unfortunately, it did not generate any other poor consequences, and my boss lacked self-awareness or retrospection…

    1. Goldenrod*

      “and boss escalated it way too quickly, screaming, “Well that didn’t work out too well for 1930s Germany, did it?!””

      Aahahahhaha! Wow.

      Among other reasons, this is why I hate office kitchens.

  140. Event Planner in NYC*

    The following is a true story: A few years ago, in between event jobs, I took a temp executive assistant (EA) job at an investment firm. It was supposed to be for 2 weeks but multiple assistants were going on vacation and then quitting that they kept me on for months to fill in for various vacancies.

    One day I was trying to schedule a meeting between one of the people that I was assisting and another executive and, of course, going through that executive’s EA. We booked a time/day but then about ten minutes later, my exec shot a note as she had remembered that she had a personal conflict that wasn’t on her calendar. No biggie, I thought, I just moved it a half hour later and I thought that was that. Suddenly said EA popped up at my desk literally screaming at me that I could not continue to change appointments and ‘WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO DO? MAKE ME LOOK LIKE A FOOL???’ He then stormed off in a huff leaving me to say to myself “no, dude, you don’t need any help” ;) When I related this story to others on staff, everyone had a story where this guy would throw a literal temper tantrum when he didn’t get his way. I left a few weeks later when I found a FT perm role much to my relief.

  141. No Direct Reports*

    I used to work for a fairly big company that had accounting shared services, so our floor was 85ish accountants, with a very stereo-typical cheap boss. We have unlimited sick time, and the company is usually pretty chill about people using it. Then maybe 6 years ago a genuinely terrible flu swept through my area (the southeast), so we’re talking out for two weeks, multiple doctors visits, prescriptions, bedrest, the works, and a few people got it more than once. The flu really came through in February, and to show how bad it was, one of the days that February we realized there were only 16 people in the office out of 85. My afore-mentioned boss even let me order lunch for the whole department because there were so few of us.

    Once everybody mostly recovered, later in March, there was a meeting to tell us that sick time was still unlimited, and we were still encouraged to stay home if we were sick, but so many people had missed three weeks in February, or five, or that a several people had already used 3 sick days before they missed three weeks for the flu, could we please be very judicious in how much sick time we used for the rest of the year. Not we couldn’t take any more, but to please be aware of how much we had already taken. One person rage quit that day, and two others had quit by the end of the following week. The first lady, Beth, slammed doors, loudly complained about the unfairness, How dare the company try to limit our sick time!?! I had never had more than 6 days of sick time at any other job I’d ever had, and I had certainly had jobs where you