Share your work horror stories!

Do you have a story about a crazy boss, co-worker, or customer? What is the most ridiculous moment you've ever experienced at work?

Don't suffer alone! Share your work horror stories in the comments section for a chance to win your pick of the following prizes:

Before they got their wonderful blogging gigs here at Wise Bread, our bloggers had to suffer through terrible jobs just like you. Here's what they have to say about the terrors of working life:

Philip Brewer

Philip BrewerThere's really no way to guess how long it will take to fix a software bug, until you know what's wrong--at which point you're usually 90% done. The fact that it's often impossible to provide a useful estimate for bug fixing brought out the worst in management at once place I used to work.

They'd always want an estimate of when you'd complete your analysis. That's not completely unreasonable--after all, however much the engineer's estimate is a wild guess, it's still a better-informed wild guess than the manager would make. But these guys would compound their barely reasonable request (that the engineer estimate the unestimateable), by wanting continual updates to the estimate. "Yes, boss. The almost, but not completely random guess I gave you yesterday is still the best guess I've got today."

They wanted daily updates for every problem, but for hot issues they wanted updated estimates two or three times a day. For a really urgent problem, I would literally be spending more time reporting my current status than debugging the issue.

The few people who could just work on something used to get a lot more done.

Paul Michael

Paul MichaelThis one sticks in my mind the most. I was part of the creative department at a rather unsavory place and was basically responsible for the look and feel of the brand, products, marketing and so on. I was paid a fairly healthy salary, approaching $30 per hour, and many of the people around me earned even more. But the CEO was insane.

He was tired of coming in to work and seeing things like the occasional coffee ring on the kitchen counter, or paper towels on the floor. But instead of hiring a cleaning crew (or person) to buzz around doing the cleaning during the day, he launched the SHINERS. Every two weeks, 5-8 people were nominated from the 40+ management crew to do not only their regular jobs but clean bathrooms, the kitchen, pick up litter, dog poop and cigarette butts (I don't even smoke!) outside, and the list goes on.

Not only was it demeaning (I graduated college in the top 1%, had an esteemed career in London) but it made no financial sense. Why have us stop doing our job and clean up on our management salaries when he could pay much less for a professional cleaning service?

Not only that, but morale (which was already in the gutter) sank even lower. The place had gone from being a nightmare to work for to something beyond hellish. I left. I still pity the poor folks who have to do double duty at work, creating million-dollar deals in the morning and picking up trash and crap in the afternoon.

By the way, does anyway out there know if this violated any kind of work ethics or standards? It certainly wasn't what any of us were hired to do.

Linsey Knerl

Linsey KnerlWhen I worked in food service, I often would supervise the "back of the house," or kitchen. One day while talking to my friend in food prep, I watched her put a dozen chicken necks into a roaster pan and set it in the oven. Confused, I asked her when we started serving chicken necks.

She told me that while we didn't use the meat for anything, the drippings were used in our famous spaghetti meat sauce. "So THAT's the secret ingredient", I thought. I had been a big fan of the stuff until that day. It was just too much information. I never found out what the neck meat was used for (even though I asked quite a few times!)

Jessica Okon

Jessica OkonMy first job was at Showbiz Pizza. I had to wear a plastic top hat, clip on polyester bow-tie, and polyester vest. Not to mention at the time I had full-on teased 80s bangs and a rat tail! All the employees had to take turns being "Billy Bob" which meant donning a big furry bear suit. Initially it was an exciting thing to do, then after a week or so, the novelty wore off.

Since I was, and still am barely five feet tall the suit didn't fit me very well, but that didn't keep them from making we wear it. Our only rule regarding the donning of the bear suit was that you were not to speak, and the children should not see you come out of the suit. One day as my co-worker walked me out to a waiting table of kids, Billy Bobs head fell off and there I was with my big 80s hair, and all the children started freaking out. Talk about a party pooper.

The kids got their revenge. I was brought out another day to a birthday table of 8 year-old boys.
"Give Billy Bob A Hug" said my co-worker.

"Pow!" I was punched in the stomach through the bear suit, mind you I was in the mountains of NC, "I ain't given Billy Bob no hug! I ain't no fag!"

"Yeahhhh" screamed the other boys as they walloped me through the bear suit.

It was definitely an interesting place to work, from running a token racket, getting my first kiss in a Pole Position game, to almost getting beat up by a toothless redneck who accused me of smiling at her toothless husband. I still stink at video games, but I can fix the hell out of Punch-Out. Good Times.

Justin Ryan

Justin RyanOkay, so I can't even come close to matching most of these, but I used to work for a nasty old lawyer who I think had mixed up Machiavelli and de Sade. His idea of "good business practices" was to torture me.

The only winter I worked for him, I had to commute an hour in to work. Temperatures got down below zero, and the heat in my car went out. I ended up bundled up to the eyes and wrapped in blankets to drive to work. Mr. Lawyer Man insisted that I had to be at the office at 8:00 AM exactly - no mercy for accidents delaying my commute or a full parking garage.

To make things even better, he refused to trust me with a key to the building, so I had to wait for him to show up every morning. While he was obsessed to the point of insanity with my punctuality, he wasn't at all concerned about his. Most mornings he arrived around 8:30 (though he would show up at 7:45 some mornings to be sure I was getting there at eight sharp), but at least twice a week he would turn up around 9:30 or 10:00.

But, it gets better! I had to park in a garage a block away, and he refused to allow me to sit in my car and wait for him. I had to wait - in below zero temperatures - on the street, a street lined with tall buildings that acted like a wind tunnel. So, there I stood, on the street for anywhere between a half-hour to two hours, with the temperature below zero, and the wind nearly blowing me into the next zip code. If I wasn't standing at the door when he walked up, he would refuse to pay me for the time I'd been waiting, on the grounds that I "really hadn't been there at all."

Eventually, after about three weeks, other attorneys in the area found out about it (from passing by me every morning and finally asking "What are you doing out here?") and it started to get around town. He finally - begrudgingly - gave me a key, but he called in every morning at 8:00 (by his watch, of course). If I didn't answer, he'd call back every five minutes until I did, at which point he would respond "Good afternoon."

Needless to say, I found another job as soon as I could - one located in an office tower with a doorman.

Julie Rains

Julie RainsCorporate Doublespeak

When my employer was acquired by a competitor, I attended a managers' meeting with my boss (the corporate controller) and co-workers to get a briefing on the acquisition. Among other things, we were told not to worry about our jobs. As we were leaving the meeting and walking to our cars, my boss said, "when they tell you not to worry about your job, you need to start worrying about your job."

At an employee meeting, we were told that two things would not happen: managers would not have to wear uniforms (a quirky but interesting requirement of this company; the CEO wore a worker's uniform with his first name stitched on front) and the brand name would stay intact.

The first two things that happened? Managers wore uniforms and the brand name on packaging kept shrinking until it disappeared.

My boss provided me with some nice insight into interpreting corporate-ese.

Will Chen

Will It was Valentine’s Day, 2004. It was a Saturday and I was stuck reviewing documents in a tiny conference room. I was kind of sad about having to review documents on Valentine's Day, the holiest of all made-up Hallmark holidays. Working insane hours hasn't exactly given me a whole lot of time to develop personal relationships. The only people I see are lawyers, and trust me, they are not a pleasant bunch of people.

But my personal woes is not what made 2/14/04 the worst day ever at work. The worst part of it is that I wasn't alone. Sitting across from me was this very nice partner (we'll call her Jill). She just got married recently and I'm sure she would prefer to be spending Valentine's Day with her husband. We worked until eleven that night. Our only salute to V-day was us polishing off a whole box of See's candy we stole from my secretary's desk.

When I said goodbye to Jill that night, I realized something: There is no end to the misery of a lawyer. Someone once said that making partner means more money but also even more work. That's like winning a pie eating contest only to find out that the first prize is more pies.

Sorry Jill. No amount of money is worth that.Andrea Dickson

Andrea Dickson

So, I used to work as a secretary for this really handsome lawyer, but I eventually had to quit when he kept STEALING MY SEES CANDIES.

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Guest's picture

so I'll tell hers.

My wife worked for a daycare about 30 minutes from our house. She graduated from college with me at the same time, and only got into child care because it was (quite literally) the only place that called her back for an interview - the job market sucked where we live. As a "bonus", though, she made $1 more per hour than a normal employee because she had a 4-year degree - bringing that grand total per hour to $9. Those of you who have kids, worked in the child care industry, or have been within 100 feet of a daycare center know what kind of work she did, and what she had to put up with.

One Saturday night, we're at home, and she keeps rubbing her eyes. I ask what's wrong, and she says her eyes are itchy, but she's fine. An hour later, her eyes are leaking goo and they're all red and nasty - a sure sign of pink eye (which is rampant among daycare centers). Of course, it's a Saturday, so both our doctor and urgent care is closed, so we head into the ER so she can get some antibiotics. After the typical long wait, we're taken to the back. The second the doctor steps in the door - a good 8 feet from where she's sitting - he says "You've got pink eye, I can see it from here!" - and not just in one eye, but both. He writes out the prescription and tells her not to go into work for 48 hours, since she works with kids.

Fast-forward to Monday morning. At her daycare center, the first chance an employee has of calling in is when one of the managers arrive, about 30 minutes before the center opens - and my wife's supposed to open. She explains the situation and that she won't be coming in, and the conversation goes a little like this:
Manager: "No, you're opening today, you're coming in - we can't spare you."
Wife: "But I've got pink eye, I'm infectious, the doctor said I can't work today."
M: "Well, your doctor's wrong. You're only infectious for the first 24 hours - only kids are infectious for 48 hours. Your doctor's wrong. Come in or don't come back at all."

She was furious but needed the job, so she went in. She left only a few hours later to see our regular doctor about an earache - it turns out, on top of the pink eye in both eyes, she had an ear infection in both ears. The daycare did let her stay home the next day, and I can assure you it wasn't long before she left there.

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Rashers Tierney

I worked for a lunatic in New York for about six months. Among other things: I found him rolling around on the ground one day asking the ceiling why he was cursed with the company; he ate nothing but three bags of microwave popcorn most days; he abandoned the car, with me in it, in the middle of Sixth Avenue rush hour to run across to a fruit stall and buy the entire stock of peaches (a box full); he lost it on the phone with a subcontractor and threw the type of screeching tantrum that any two year old would be proud of - on the street; and he had the staff so stressed that we'd leave by jumping over a delivery counter in a storeroom at the rear instead of walking past his office to go out the front door.

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Without a doubt, the worst situation I had was about 15 years ago- working as an office nurse for a practice affiliated with a large public hospital.

I am a registered nurse and had an extensive history of working with cancer patients. The physician had a speciality in gyn-oncology, or "female cancers." He was 5 feet tall and maybe 120 lbs soaking wet- I was (and am) 5'10" and 250 lbs on a good day- so I am easily twice his size. He became very Napoleonic, often touting his power over me on dumb stuff. He loved to leave flyers about weight loss programs on my desk- but that's not even in the top 10 of terrible things he did.

One Christmas Eve, our department was "open"- some doctors in other offices had a few appointments, then let everyone go for the holiday. Not so in my office. Our doctor was busy in surgery during the morning and we were to restock rooms, file charts, etc- all busywork that could be done any time. He was back in the office at noontime and we all expected to be let go home. Nope. He instead came up with more busywork. At around 4 pm, my girlfriend at the time was ready to go to her folks and wanted me home, wondering why I was still there since every other physician office in the hospital had closed (she worked in one too). At 4:30, he came into my office and said I could go home early- when 5 was the time our office closed anyhow. Man was I mad!

The kicker was when he decided he wanted to go into private practice. His patients were not really his- they are a part of the hospital program/network. He wanted me to start ordering more stuff from the hospital dispensary (supplies, etc) and began making arrangements for renting a private office across town. He was talking about coming in one evening and basically stealing everything, including the patient records, for his practice. That's when my sense of ethics had to kick in and I left the job. You can jerk me around on a power trip and if I have to, I'll smile and get to payday as best I can. But don't make me break the law as well as potentially burn any bridges possible with the biggest hospital/employer in the area.

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My first job immediately after graduate school was truly the most horrifying place I'd ever worked. For approximately 3 hellish months, I was the indentured servant to the CEO of a really small (6 employees) pharmaceutical consulting firm. My official title was "project manager/analyst" which is totally vague for the very reason that I ended up doing everything from analyzing laboratory data to interviewing industry experts to being an annoying telemarketer-type who had to randomly call up people and beg them to participate in our stupid surveys.

The boss was a raging workaholic who thought nothing of working 12-hour workdays. At first, since I was the newbie, I felt obligated to keep up with the boss. Yes, I was the type who tried to show up at work before my boss and who tried not to be the first to leave. My boss at first admired my work ethic but then as she piled more of the responsibilities upon me, my coworkers took this as a blessing and skipped out of work earlier. Thank god I got paid by the hour!

But, here's the kicker. My boss one day comes in around 7PM and tells me to come practice our presentation. Since that would be a block of 3-4 hours, I asked her if I could run out quickly to grab something to eat. She blinked and appeared genuinely confused. I jokingly said, "You know, eat?" but she didn't seem to get it. Then she asked, "Why do you need to eat?" I could not reply and started choking on laughter, but quickly staunched it when she started glaring at me. "I'm hungry," I told her, "I just want to get some food."

I swear, she still didn't get it. I then offered to order takeout, so I wouldn't have to leave the office, and then asked if I could order her anything, too. My boss says, "I don't eat." The way she said it, it was like she thought that was the norm. I ended up running next door for some horrible greasy pizza, and while I was eating it, my boss made so many faces that I ended up throwing it out (to the dumpster outside the building) half-eaten. So I was still starving, and when we were still burning the midnight oil, she kept hearing my stomach growl and GLARED at that incursion! I think she must be a robot because that woman seriously NEVER ATE. Never took lunch in her office, never joined the rest of us when ordering lunch, never was seen to take snacks from our office supply. Even when she took us to dinner for a celebration, she didn't order anything. Crazy.

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I was working on a small team of phone-based tech support for a financial services company. When I started, the pool of customers was small enough that we could verbally describe cases, and there wasn't a perceived need for call-tracking. As the team was growing, one manager left and a new one was hired. It was apparent from the beginning that the only reason he was hired was that he was working cheap. No management skills, much less leadership ones, no desire to become familiar with the software we supported, and he hired people who had no business even touching a keyboard.

After a failed attempt of implementing some call-tracking/knowledge-base software, we were instructed to start keeping track of our calls in Word, unless anyone came up with a better idea. Since I wanted to get into software development, I came up with a small program in Access to let us track and share cases. Very crude, but better than nothing (or Word).

I started working on an improved version, to make things even easier for us. At one point, this gem of a manager took me aside and told me that he had his own company (he had incorporated in a past career), and suggested that he and I join together. I could finish the application, and we could sell the improved software to our company, splitting the money. While I was thinking of the best way to get out of the dilemma, he took me aside again, and suggested that I make it "work, but not work too well." That way, we could sell upgrades to our company.

After finding my backbone, I went to his boss and reported both conversations. He was gone before the day was out, and things at the company improved dramatically.

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I nursed my son after he was born, and planned to continue after I went back to work. My job wasn't willing to provide me a place to pump, but my coworkers were happy to let me use their offices. One of my female coworkers let me sit behind her while she worked, out of her view. I usually remembered to lock the door behind me, but one day I forgot to. Of course, on that day, the office manager stormed in looking for her. He stood there, stunned and terrified, before he nearly fell backwards out of the door mumbling at the sight of me topless and cyborg-like. But the weird part was, he actually came back in, announced, "I came to borrow this", removed a book from her shelf and left. After that, the office allowed me and another mom to pump in a meeting room - but it was the room where the office's soda machine was located, and so we nearly had the door kicked in on us by soda-craving coworkers while we shrieked in terror. It was like a horror movie!

Guest's picture

My horror story is on going. I'm working on a website redesign project with my boss. We are adding open source frameworks into the application so that we can have core parts of the application that are well-tested and reliable (which is much better than the homemade code currently in place). We had to learn the new frameworks and how to use them, basically by reading the documentation, what there was of it, online.
My boss does not really know or understand java technologies well. He knows just enough to be dangerous. I was hired because I know them quite well. I worked in developing real-time java applications, client-side and server-side, in telecom for 6 years.

Upon trying to troubleshoot some bugs in my bosses' code, I was forced to tell him that his code was not working because the application design decisions were flawed (basically, you could not do what he was trying to do the way he wanted to do it). Upon hearing that, my 40+ year old manager went into a temper tantrum that would make a two year old ashamed. That tantrum lasted for THREE WEEKS.

Now, I can see design flaws in our web application but am so averse to invoking another tantrum of that magnitude, that I am forced to turn a blind eye to things that are inefficient or just plain wrong in order to try to maintain some pleasantness in my office, as I now know my manager's ego can not withstand any form of criticism (constructive or otherwise) or questioning.

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It was the summer of 1996. I had just finished high school and was about to head off to college, but in between I took a summer job working for the university where my dad taught. The school hired a lot of children of faculty sort of as a favor to the faculty, so it wasn't like anyone working over the summer was necessarily qualified or even that our jobs were valued or valuable.

They put me in the help desk providing computer tech support to faculty and staff. There was no training, and there were two full-time guys in the help desk already who took care of 99% of the calls. One of these guys was never around because he was working or goofing off elsewhere. The second guy was an exchange student who was infatuated with Top 40 country music. The one genre of music I absolutely cannot stand. He kept a clock radio in the office and it was always tuned to the country station. When he left the room, which he did infrequently, I'd change the station, but he'd always change it back. To this day, if I hear a country song I know the words to, I know that it was popular in the summer of '96.

Speaking of the office, it was a small, windowless room in one of the campus buildings. The room also housed the servers and other computer equipment, so it was kept at about 60 degrees to keep that stuff from overheating. I was going to work in wool flannel pants and heavy wool sweaters. In August. In St. Louis.

The other summer worker was kind of a surly thug whom I had nothing in common with. We had no work to keep us busy, so we alternated playing solitaire on the office's lone desktop computer, which was running Windows 3.1 (it wasn't powerful enough for Windows 95). Sometimes I would make sculptures out of Post-It notes and paper clips. The highlight of the summer was when I befriended the people working in the student computer lab, and I started sneaking away to play Doom and CivNet against them on the lab computers. The country-music-loving exchange student eventually tracked me down and reprimanded me and made me come back to the help desk, even though there was nothing for me to do there.

Of course, this was just a silly summer job and I knew that I didn't have to take it seriously. Also, the fact that it was temporary helped me deal with it. One thing I did learn from the whole experience is that I'd far rather be overworked than underworked.

Guest's picture

I used to work for a company that gave me a couple dozen horror stories a month to share, but I'll go with the one that made me decide that a great job wasn't worth a crappy environment.

Even though my title was receptionist, I was actually an office manager/accounting support employee (they didn't want to give me the office manager title since they would have had to pay me more). At any rate, this company was ludicrously disorganized and I came up with systems that made the company run more smoothly. Or, they should have, had people been able to follow basic instructions, the most important of which was to never, ever refile something if they wanted to see it again. Another was that I had a LABELLED cubby-hole system for incoming and outgoing mail and I briefed my manager about where to go to find outgoing mail if he decided that something shouldn't go out after all (cue in horror music).

One day I came in to find my desk looking bizarre, with papers scattered all over. I suddenly realised that some of those papers had been in my LOCKED filing cabinet. Said cabinet's locks had been smashed. Some of the papers on the desk were PRIVATE papers from my PRIVATE and LOCKED office desk.

I thought we'd had a break in. Then the manager called me into his office.

He'd come in over the weekend and was looking for some mail he had given me Friday afternoon to mail out. It had been too late to go to the post office, so I had put it in the out going mail cubby.

Is first instinct was to check the top of my desk where I had a few neatly organized piles. When he didn't see his mail there, he felt that the only option was to check my filing cabinet, so he broke the lock and went in. There, he messed up all my files, but, of course, didn't find his letter. So, he went to the workshop, got a hammer, and used it to break into my desk. Needless to say, he didn't find his letter there, either, but he did find private papers (and my stash of tampons, but that's neither here nor there)....

The reason he called me into his office was to ream me out about my lack of organization....

With my jaw somewhere around my knees, I marched him back to my desk, pointed to the credenza with the neatly labelled cubbies, and pulled his mail from the hole marked 'mail--outgoing.' He said that he didn't realise the credenza was there and that I should have told him about my mail system....

He didn't apologize and I started a new job (paying 10K more) three weeks later.

Guest's picture

Like the lovely previous poster, I am a nurse. The worst job horror stories I have is from working in small doctors offices. I have two incidents.

The first was in a gasteroenterology office. One of the docs was notorious for his temper. Case in point, I was getting a chart when he came out, screamed incomprehensibly, and chucked a chart (giant, plastic bound and heavy) at the wall. It was the wall I was standing at. I managed to duck in time for the chart to slam against the wall, and burst open, showering me with pages from someone's medical history.

I was told, to deal with it, and duck faster next time by the office manager. I quit. Ten years later, I still see that office has a constant hiring ad for nurses in the paper.

The second was a mistake of choice by me, to work in a one doc office. At first it was fine. Later, I was to find the doc was a pill popping drug addict, and had just gone to the hospital for an OD. The first two months I worked there he was sober. It was great. I was the only nurse, and I worked for the doc and PAC. Very cool.

Then the doc started getting weird. Writing scripts that didn't make sense. Mixing meds for restless legs with meds for heart issues. I mean, in three weeks I went from a great work environment, to insanity.

At one point he even handed me some real estate flyers, and started screaming that those needed to be filed. I caught him in the dirty instruments that were to be autoclaved, trying to use a bloody set of something or other to remove stitches from a different person. I have never ripped anything out of someones hand before. I just handed him the still packaged sterile pair sitting on the counter.

It got to the point, where the pharmacy was calling back on almost all his scripts because they weren't making sense. I ended up quiting, and a few days later heard from another nurse that the state was looking into him for some stuff. I am normally a facility nurse, I didn't know some procedural bookkeeping stuff, was out of wack.

I also found out a study that wasn't running while I as there, but months before, wasn't really a study. I was told that he had once been a part of a study before I was hired. I was told he was doing a study on growth rates of children. It turns out, he was using it as an excuse to take naked pictures of kids. I swear, I always felt he was creepy. I wouldn't stay late in the office unless my husband was there, but I didn't realize he was a pedophile.

I called the state, and turned states evidence against him. The other two nurses that worked for him after me, refused to discuss it. I learned they were both on a lot of pain pills, like super high oxycontin doses, and the doc was providing scripts for it.

My conscience demanded I testify. I think he has lost his license, finally, and gone back to Canada where he has previously lost his license.

That last story, the whole time I worked for him, I felt sick. Next time I will trust my instincts. I can't get an office job anymore in this small town. I am sure no one wants a nurse that will testify against her doc. That's cool. I prefer facility work like hospitals or nursing homes. I am not sure I ever want to work close to another doc again, given my only experiences in that.

Guest's picture

Hey, this story isn't mine so it can't qualify for any amenities but it's still worth mentioning in your list (I think)... Check it out..
If you don't laugh out loud after you read this you are in a coma! This is even funnier when you realize it's real! Next time you have a bad day at work... Think of this guy, Rob, a commercial saturation diver for Global Divers in Louisiana. He performs underwater repairs on offshore drilling rigs. Below is an E-mail he sent to his sister. She then sent it to radio station 103.2 on FM dial in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, who was sponsoring a worst job experience contest. Needless to say, she won.
Hi, Just another note from your bottom-dwelling brother. Last week I had a bad day at the office. I know you've been feeling down lately at work, so I thought I would share my dilemma with you to make you realize it's not so bad after all.
Before I can tell you what happened to me, I first must bore you with a few technicalities of my job. As you know, my office lies at the bottom of the sea. I wear a suit to the office. It's a wetsuit. This time of year the water is quite cool. So what we do to keep warm is this: We have a diesel powered industrial water heater. This $20,000 piece of equipment sucks the water out of the sea. It heats it to a delightful temperature. It then pumps it down to the diver through a garden hose, which is taped to the air hose. Now this sounds like a darn good plan, and I've used it several times with no complaints. What I do, when I get to the bottom and start working, is take the hose and stuff it down the back of my wetsuit. This floods my whole suit with warm water. It's like working in a Jacuzzi.
Everything was going well until all of a sudden, my butt started to itch. So, of course, I scratched it. This only made things worse. Within a few seconds my butt started to burn, I pulled the hose out from my back but the damage was done. In agony I realized what had happened. The hot water machine had sucked up a jellyfish and pumped it into my suit. Now, since I don't have any hair on my back, the jellyfish couldn't stick to it. However, the crack of my butt was not as fortunate. When I scratched what I thought was an itch, I was actually grinding the jellyfish into the crack of my butt ... I informed the dive supervisor of my dilemma over the communicator. His instructions were unclear due to the fact that he, along with five other divers, were all laughing hysterically!!!! Needless to say I aborted the dive. I was instructed to make three agonizing in-water decompression stops totaling thirty-five minutes before I could reach the surface to begin my chamber dry decompression. When I arrived at the surface, I was wearing nothing but my brass helmet. As I climbed out of the water, the medic, with tears of laughter running down his face, handed me a tube of cream and told me to rub it on my butt as soon as I got in the chamber. The cream put the fire out, but I couldn't poop for two days because my butt was swollen shut.
So, next time you're having a bad day at work...Think about how much worse it would be if you had a jellyfish shoved up your butt.
Now repeat THIS to yourself, "I LOVE my job, I LOVE my job, I LOVE my job."

Guest's picture

We worked 6 hours from 6 AM to noon - watching news programs and writing notes. If a piece mentioned a company's name, our company would try to contact them and sell them the video and transcript.

One morning we showed up for work and our keys to the office didn't work. The owner/boss owed I don't know how much in back rent and the landlord changed the locks on the doors. And he owed us 2 weeks pay. We were both still in college in the 1980s.

Knew it was too good to be true - getting paid to watch TV, I mean!

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She Who Has No Name

These are great stories! I just thought of a few:
*There was this total douchebag manager at the drug company I worked for. He truly was not friendly to anyone, was very haughty, and obviously fancied himself hot s--t. He had a collection of monkey and gorillas stuff in his office, including a large stuffed gorilla. One day, a co-worker was walking by his office and there was yelling at the gorilla and punching it in the stomach!
*At the same office, there was this group of executives who apparently were getting down with each other and wanted to get down with me! I suspected there was some sort of liasion going on with several of them via rumour mill. I started getting weird emails inviting me to swingers get togethers, and stuff like "1 oclock parking lot do you think it is ok to make out?." I was pretty freaked out once I realized it wasn't spam, and no one else had gotten the message, plus there were details about my office in the email, but the IT dept said they couldn't do anything about it, at this point I didn't realize it was from the top brass until I finally confided someone who told me it was from this group. Oh and they'd all sit together at lunch every day, and they ate nothing but soup! BTW, only one of them was reasonably good looking, had I considered to join their soup and sex cult.

Guest's picture

and I wasn't even working that day!

I worked for small company (6 employees) and my bosses wife was nuts. I mean, banned from entering the premises(occasionally) nuts.

As part of our "perks" each employee was given a cell phone to use for business and personally. Basically, it drove my boss nuts that he couldn't reach me 24-7. (His nutso wife even called me while I was in the hospital giving birth to ask when I'd be back in. She called three times because I didn't answer the phone. But that's not even the WORST day!).

On Labor Day weekend, my son was having some problems so I used the phone to call a nursing line (provided through our insurance). However, due to the holiday weekend, I was bumped to the 'emergency coverage service' which, it turns out, is the mental health line.

Well, there must have been some kind of mixup in the nursing line office, because a few hours after I got off the phone, the office manager called me to tell me the police were on the way to my house.

It seems that the nursing line tried to call me back, but the number on file as emergency contact with the cell phone provider was my bosses' number. His wife answered the phone, blew everything out of proportion, added some of her own drama thinking the 'crisis' involved our office manager, whom she hated, and ended up calling the police telling them my child was holding us hostage with a gun. (The office manager had an 8 year old daughter, and her husband was a police officer with a service piece).

The police finally made it over to our house around 1 am.

When I went back to work on Tuesday, my boss had the gall to ask me if I'd had a good weekend!

Guest's picture

>>Not only was it demeaning (I graduated college in the top 1%, had an esteemed career in London)<<

Since when is cleaning a demeaning job? I smell a bit of conceit here...

Paul Michael's picture

Please, work through college for 4 years, take an entry-level job with low pay while paying off a ton of student loans, work-14 hour days, spend 6 years in one of the biggest rat races in the world getting to a decent position and then go to a job that asks you to pick up cigarette butts and dog crap during your already busy day. If you're telling me that's not demeaning, I'd love to know what your defintion of the word is? I'm all ears. As far as I know, demeaning means humiliating and undignified, and at that point in my life that's exactly what that job was. From Office Space...

Peter Gibbons: Our high school guidance counselor used to ask us what you'd do if you had a million dollars and you didn't have to work. And invariably what you'd say was supposed to be your career. So, if you wanted to fix old cars then you're supposed to be an auto mechanic.
Samir: So what did you say?
Peter Gibbons: I never had an answer. I guess that's why I'm working at Initech.

Michael Bolton: No, you're working at Initech because that question is bullshit to begin with. If everyone listened to her, there'd be no janitors, because no one would clean **** up if they had a million dollars. 

Guest's picture

In high school, I worked at a local pizzeria. For the most part, it was a pretty good job, even if the pay wasn't great. One of my co-workers was the owner's brother, a man in his late 40s who wasn't exactly the brightest bulb in the box.

Every night, right before we closed, one of us had to mop the floor. That night the boss' brother ended up doing it, so he filled the bucket and started mopping while I washed the utensils and dishes. A few minutes later, my eyes started to burn and my nose clogged up. It felt like an unusually severe version of my typical seasonal allergies, so I blew my nose and tried to ignore it. Unfortunately, it just got worse and worse, until I stepped away from the sink-- and the bucket-- to get something. Suddenly, I started to feel a lot better. "What did you put in the bucket?" I asked him, suspicious.

"Just some bleach and ammonia," he answered.

I quickly took the bucket outside, dumped it, and then explained to him why that combination of chemicals was a bad idea. The worst part? About a month later, on a night when I was off, he did the exact same thing....

Guest's picture

About six years ago, I was working as an agency recruiter supporting one major client and a bunch of smaller ones with tech, accounting and admin staffing. We got a call from one of our biggest client's hiring managers with a bit of a delicate situation. Apparently, one of the folks I placed had a problem with flatulence. He was working in a room with about 12 other people and they were just dying.

I have a background in counseling and a (mostly) calm, collected demeanor, so invariably I got the "special" cases. The call came in on a Friday evening and they were going to let the guy go if the problem wasn't resolved immediately, so I asked him to come in to my office on Monday morning. Incredibly, he took the news extremely well and assured me that the problem wouldn't happen again. Thankfully, it wasn't a health issue, he just didn't think anyone had noticed...

Guest's picture

Note on those neck drippings, I actually don't find that unappetizing at all. I'm Chinese, and we eat duck necks and think nothing of it. The meat is a little sparse and stringy, and it takes a good amount of effort to gnaw it off the bone, but its still meat. Go figure

Guest's picture

We had this project a month ago. It was my first time working with this manager. She would require everything planned out as she wanted, especially the format. How would I know this? Because she ignored my first couple of reports, when I asked her how she thought my approach to the problem, she responded, "well, I only remember that I didn't understand the way you approach the problem. But we usually do this way. Here is a workbook with the format we use..." I tried to explain my method, but she was not interested. Well, why can't she focus on the content? I think this is a bearable case. Here is something unbearable:

Once, she asked one of my coworkers to repeat some process with apparently flawed logic and design. My coworker's reaction surprises me: no objections, no asking for explanations, no arguing. He just responded with many "yes".

"So you think it is right to do this way?" I asked
"No." ---Coworker
"Then why did you say yes without evening reasoning with her, or at least asking for her reasoning?"----Me
"Because she said so and she is the manager."---Coworker.

Well, what can I say?

Guest's picture

When I worked at Robeks one summer I encountered many customers of varying degrees of annoyance. Some customers are allergic to certain fruits or don't like it, so they will substitute the fruits. That is perfectly fine, but there are some customers that will substitute without reading nor listening to the fact that their desired smoothie is on the menu. This was the case with one customer. I was working the cash register when I received an order for a smoothie. She said that she wanted a Strawnana Berry (which has apple juice, non-fat yogurt, strawberries, and bananas) but wanted the apple juice to be replaced by orange juice. Even after I explained that that is the Infinite Orange smoothie (which has orange juice, non-fat yogurt, strawberries, and bananas), she was still adamant on having the Strawnana Berry without the apple juice. I would have put Infinite Orange in the computer to make it easier for the co-workers, but she wanted to check it. Later I whispered that it was an Infinite Orange but to call it out as it says on the receipt. We all laughed after her departure.

Guest's picture

I hope you don't mind, but I noticed your posting and that you had worked for Robeks. I am considering opening a Robeks store on the east coast and wanted to know if you could share some of your experiences as an employee.
Feel free to email me and I will follow up. Thank you for your time.

Guest's picture

After my interview with this guy I left feeling grateful to finally be wrested from the clutches of the food industry. He told me I'd be doing various office work-type things at his insurance agency, such as filing, answering phones, greeting walk-ins, etc. He also told me that I'd be getting a salary of 1300, to be raised to 1500 after a month's time (which isn't too bad here in Texas for a 19-year old kid). This certainly seemed like a blessing to me at the time as I was barely able to pay my bills, taking daily meals of stir-fry chicken and rice at the deserted restaurant I waitressed at.

As time went on and I became more acquainted with my boss and the work he required of me and began to question what I'd gotten myself into. He developed a creepy paternal attitude towards me, criticizing what I was wearing, asking personal questions about what I spent my salary on, how many times I went out for lunch rather than bringing my own. He stopped coming into the office for more than a few hours, leaving full responsibility of writing and managing insurance policies on my shoulders.

However, he refused to give me even the simplest instructions on how to write these policies. He wanted me to call the companies and have their unerwriters explain it to me. This was quite stressful as you're supposed to be licensed in order to even take payments for insurance policies from customers, and I certainly wasn't. I tried to be optimistic, promising myself that I'd eventually become certified and taking some pride in the fact that with little experience I had managed to keep the office running, maintaining accounts, wrote policies, and kept track of all of our expenses while my boss spent his days lingering at "meetings" with his buddies.

Eventually, things became unbearable.

-my boss kept forgetting my name, along with any item of relevence on the agenda that I wasn't capable of handling myself. Every single day.
-his son, a few years my senior, started hanging around the office and giving me insinuating winks/making comments that made me uncomfortable
-on the rare occassions that I took my lunches in the office, he would raise hell if I was caught reading things that weren't relevant to the insurance business (because an employee that took genuine interest in her work would keep working the entire time she was in the office, on the clock or off)
-demanded that I start working weekends as well, though I was on a fixed salary and wouldn't be paid overtime)
-demanded to know why I never worked evenings
-continually pressured me to start producing business, though how I was supposed to do this while single-handedly running a business I still can't understand (this was definitely never mentioned when he described what I'd be doing there during my interview)
-requested that I keep a daily log outlining every single thing I'd accomplished that day.. considering that I was generally doing about 3 things at once, this was surely an unnecessary challenge
-convinced me to file a DBA for "tax purposes" which he never explained to me.. in hindsight, I now understand that this provided him with certain legal advantages should anyone sue him for insurance malpractice (making my 'business' liable for any mistakes)
-threatened to fire me when I asked to take a week off to go on a much needed vacation (a meditation retreat to gain some spiritual perspective) after working for him for over 6 months, rarely taking a day off.
-did I mention that I got no health insurance? He hired me as a 'contractor' so that he wouldnt be bothered with cumbersome things such as health benefits, vacations, and taxes.. he threw a fit any time I had to take a sick day, too

I could see trouble was afoot when he hired a new girl (who probably agreed to work for a lower salary) and told me to "teach her everything" I know after I'd been there nearly a year. He invited me to a private 'meeting' a few weeks afterwards and informed me that he'd been assessing my work, and I just wasn't producing as much business as he was expecting me to when he hired me. Then, he told me he would need to cut my pay by a third.. from $1500 monthly to $1000. He refused to allow me to cut my hours accordingly so that I could get a second job to make up for the severe monetary issues this would cause. Needless to say, I have no regrets about walking out on that POS.

I got a much less stressful job in an office the next day that not only provides health insurance and paid vacations, but also gives me (and even ecourages) ample time to surf the wisebread site! :D

Guest's picture

I once worked for a major consulting firm (pre-Enron, when I think it was one of the "Big 5"). My boss was, shall we say, *unusual* and his boss was even worse. Cases in point:

- My boss and I had a shared calendar on the computer system, in addition to our own personal calendars. He and his wife were attempting to conceive and every time they had sex he'd make the notation "sex" in our shared calendar. One day it was "sex, but no penet." Yum.
- He was furnishing his 1950s era house with period furnishings that he'd bid for on ebay. He'd often send me the links to the auctions asking what I thought of this chair or that table or whatever. I'm sure he wasn't the only one cruising auctions during work because one day there came a memo from IT letting us know that ebay'd been blocked from the firm's computer system. He forwarded the memo to me (although it was a firmwide distribution) with the note, "Thanks. I guess you clicked my links too often and now what? If I lose an auction because of this I'm coming after you. Are you prepared to buy stuff for my house?"
- When we shared a "collaboration desk" (read: extra wide desk with drawers on both sides) he'd be on the phone with his wife and they'd talk about the quality of the most recent activity he'd placed on the calendar.

And then there was his boss, who was less eccentric but more toxic in terms of my career:
- The year I was pregnant and received ALL "exceeds expectations" from my peers, subordinates and immediate boss, he refused to sign and finalize my performance review, stating, "You're locked in for at least a year, don't look at me for a raise when I don't have to do a thing for you - you're knocked up!" He was later the target of an EEOC action.
- At a time when I was routinely working 12-14 hours days as part of the team putting together the S-1. Once I was away from my desk for 15 minutes to take my laptop to the help desk to exchange it for another (had to pull MAJOR favors in to get a new laptop without going through channels) since mine had some problem he happened to ring. When he didn't get me he spent 20 minutes calling everyone he knew that I knew at the firm asking if I was at those peoples' desks. When I finally reached me at my own desk - with new computer in hand and ready to get back to work - he conferenced in HIS boss to listen to him yell at me about not pulling my weight.
- Took my name off of a document to hand it in to the CEO as his own. I had the last laugh on this one, though, because although he took my name out of the footer he hadn't thought to check for a watermark. The mark on that baby had my initials, cube number and a date. Man, he was furious. So worth it, though. I quit the next week.

Oddly, both these men were stunned into silence when I quit. I think they must have thought that I'd take it forever.

Guest's picture

I was getting my master's in library science and working the circulation desk at one of the university's libraries, just to get a little experience. There was a clerk there...she was a low level manager, who refused to do her job and treated everyone like garbage. I had been working there for three days when she went on a three hour long lunch, leaving me to run the library. She regularly stole the library's dvd's. She complained about how the Indian employees had "robotic movements." There was a shelver there who had neglected to put some books away before close, so she turned off the lights and made the shelver put the books away in the dark, using her cell phone as a light. Additionally, she refused to come to the circulation desk whenever a manager was needed. I had worked in retail so saw the signs of the assistant manager type who couldn't handle their position, so I documented what infractions I saw her make and dates and times. The day she went around telling everyone she was going to fire them (again, she was a clerk. Her job was to manage the interlibrary loan) I submitted a copy of my list to our department heads and the dean of library's, who I knew since I was in school to be a librarian. Needless to say, she got in quite a bit of trouble. There are some things here that I learned from other jobs. The first is to recognize when someone is assuming more power than they have, and the second is document everything. You look scarier to people when you're highly organized. Now I'm a full fledged librarian and love my job.

Guest's picture

Retail anyone??

I worked for a major retailer for 18 years. It was quite enough. When I look back on the whole experience, I know I need a shrink. During that time I worked in 5 different locations. I worked my way up from flunky sales person to (as my store manager said) the "ONLY female manager for my box of business in the district". At S*ars it was known as 700-7 and consisted of hardware, lawn and garden, paint, sporting goods, and a wealth of seasonal shops. I worked my butt off to get that job and I knew a good 90% of what to do when I was promoted. What I did not do well was suck up to men who were intimidated by me.

There were no less than 1001 incidents in those 18 years that gave me nightmares, depressed me or somehow ruined my physical and emotional health. I was smashing glass ceilings all the way to area manager as if it were a trek to be president of the company or CEO. It was bad enough I had to put up with the store manager and the district manager (boo for vertical management). The store manager told me I should be ashamed because I made more than the other 26 area managers who were all men. Uhhhh excuse me! I WORKED to earn the salary I was paid. I brought home all the awards for the district, met all the goals, had the highest employee retention in the entire store AND had the best inventory out of all the other areas. That equals bonuses for me and him but he would rather have seen me fail than to earn him a bonus too. I did it all honestly and without playing with the books. He hated me because I was not a liar.

Following my divorce he had the audacity to tell me I needed to work longer hours now that I did not have a family to go home to anymore. He demanded that I work 70 hours a week because I was salary. He was notorious for changing my days off and the one weekend off I had every 9 weeks. Like the rest of you, I finally had a gut full and left, taking a demotion and relocating to a store 250 miles away all at my expense.

Now let me tell you of some of the customers....

- The woman that brought in a large zip lock bag full of dead newborn puppies. She slammed them on the counter and yelled at me that her brand new A/C had gone out in the hot August sun. She ran a kennel. I called in an emergency repair call for her and got word back that the A/C was clogged up with pet hair. I did not refund her money.

-The man who ran over a stump with his new lawn mower who came in drunk to THROW it at me. I told him the sign over the door did not mean he could assault me. I had him banned from the mall.

- The drunk sitting on top of the ladder one Saturday night in the Electronics department. He crawled up there to yell he needed help even though he could clearly see my co-worker and I each had a line of about 10 people each making their Christmas purchases.

-The man who came to buy his wife a sewing machine and pulled a stack of bills from inside his shirt and under his arm pit. EWWW!

-The cross-dresser who filled out a size 13 woman's shoe easily, wore gloves to cover his huge hairy knuckles and had on the same Aunt Bea dress every time he/she/it sauntered through the store.

- The whistler who walked the store daily for exercise and never ever stopped whistling.

-The man who had such foul breath we all decided he was rotting on the inside.

-The incessant line of men over the years that wanted to see the MANAGER. When I arrived in a business suit and asked what I could do for them they demanded to see a MANager. I told them I was it. &"W-o-MAN-ager"! Oh please, did I really look that ignorant? I know how to size up a well pump for a well, a water heater, tell you about the welds or the transmission in a lawn tractor! Anyone that thinks working retail is easy needs their heads examined. Retail is not for the faint of heart. I dare anyone to clean a paint machine, uncrate a semi-load of lawn tractors and assemble them in 6 hours and a host of other things like inventorying 900 pages of hand-written items w/ 36 items to a page, work 14 hour days at Christmas and walk the store to the tune of about 10 miles a day dressed in pantyhose and high heels.

Yeah, smile. You ARE S*ars. Where America Shops for Value. Laughing

Guest's picture

I'd worked my way through art college temping for offices, so by the time i graduated with a double diploma, i was a pretty decent secretary. In my spare time, i volunteered as a workshop leader for a small but thriving non-profit that took industry refuse and 'recycled' them into art materials that they sold in horribly expensive lunchbags. The workshops were to show people how to use the materials.

Well, being a volunteer was fun but i was even more delighted to be offered a job working there as a 'manager in training'. This position was funded by the gov't as part of their 'get stay-at-home moms back into the workforce' program, with a grant going to the non-profit to hire five different people as 'managers in training'.

Having been part of gov't employment initiative programs before when younger, i knew that this title meant i'd probably just be doing joe-jobs around the office; but, given that this organization was doing so very well financially and had only a small permanent staff of six, i had to like my (office-heavy)career's chances of becoming part of their overall development in the long run.

However, i noticed something strange, after being hired and shown around to the rest of the staff; my desk was full of small personal items... sunglasses, shoes, a purse, umbrella etc... that nobody ever came back to claim. This alone should have been a red flag, but the hunched shoulders and whispered monosyllables of the staff was of even more concern to me. These people were obviously being abused by their manager.

As things played out, i quickly learned that there was no real work in this position; the n.p. had merely obtained the grant money to fund the running of their warehouse. The office manager, an accountant who had been elevated into a position she could not perform well in, took her frustration out in what could only be called sociopathic verbal attacks on anyone within screaming distance. Constantly. And we all worked in the same room.

Three of the 'managers in training' did not last the first week. Another (a male posing as a working mom!) attached himself to one of the other men in the warehouse and became his assistant. That left only me, desk to desk, face to face with 'the vixen', who, to top everything off, decided to exacerbate her already poisonous personality by quitting her chain-smoking habit.

She would rail at me for hours, sometimes just because 'she didn't like the way my face looked today'. She assigned odious, humiliating jobs to me whenever she could think of them. I was not allowed to take breaks from my non-job; my job was to politely sit at my desk and be yelled at. It was obvious that she wanted to take the gov't's grant money without fulfilling the terms of actually employing somebody, and that her callousness was designed to make me quit.

Being of a calm nature, she failed to make me upset enough to leave. It was then that she called in a friend of hers, another accountant, to sit with her and scream abuse at me. They sat and insulted my appearance, family, food, clothing, personality, and anything they could think of. Nothing doing. Finally they had to fire me (in the last week of the grant) for 'non-compatibility'. They couldn't think of anything else, as i'd done whatever they'd asked me to very well.

I was not allowed to gather my things to leave. Even so, i managed to claim almost everything except one pair of sneaks before getting almost brained with a flying wastebasket.

They went out of business within the year.


Guest's picture

Back when I was in college I worked part time as an office assistant for a delivery company. The company was run by one guy so when he hired me, it was just the two of us.

The first week was fine and we got along fairly well but then his normal questions like "what did you do for the weekend" started going down a personal path. He asked me if I had a boyfriend and what did we do for the weekend... he asked if my boyfriend stayed over night with me... then one day he started asking me about my menstrual cycle. He started asking me how long did it last, what time of the month did I have it...etc. CREEPY!!!!!!!!!!!

Because I couldn't afford to just quit my job, I started to feverishly look for a new job and every day dreaded coming in for fear of what he would ask me.

Then a few days later, one of the drivers came in (a woman)and she and my boss started arguing. The next thing I know, my boss lunged over his desk and he and the delivery woman were all out having a physical brawl on the floor.

I called 911, the cops came and arrested him. Needless to say, I never went back.

Guest's picture

I work for an education institution. I treat with my job with respect and I always ensure that every student has a memorable learning experience on campus. Unfortunately I have a my boss who does not give a hoot about the students. Once I told him the school messed up the graduates' records and would be issuing an old degree to the graduates. The graduates would be coming for graduation ceremony in two weeks' time and we weren't even sure if the Registrar office would agree to re-issue them a new certificate. I told my boss I had to call up the graduates to tell them the news and prepare them for the shock. It wasn't right to keep them in the dark and pretended that the problem didn't exist. I told the graduates we would fix the problem as soon as we could but we couldn't fix it in time for their graduation ceremony. My boss chided me for alerting the graduates. He said I should have kept quiet about it and let the graduates find out the surprise themselves. He said I should have found some ways to push the blame to the graduates. After hearing him, I knew it was time for me to start looking for a new job and have a new boss.

Guest's picture

When I was 19 I punched a kid in the nose at work. He had been harassing me and I had enough. I stormed out, fully expecting to get a call from my boss saying I was fired. He did call, but instead he said, "It's about time someone did that to him." I think I broke his nose, lol.

Guest's picture

My former boss could have been a partial inspiration for "The Office"'s Michael Scott. Let's call her Michaela.

Michaela owns a small software company. Aside from her controlling nature, Michaela's worst attribute is her inability to separate her personal life from her business. During company meetings she'd brief us on how the construction of her second home was progressing. Once she called a meeting to tell us how her sister was injured in a horseback riding accident.

Inappropriateness jumped to outright insanity when Michaela broke her leg. She broke it spectacularly enough to warrant surgery. Despite my loathing of the woman I didn't wish that sort of pain and weeks of physical therapy on her.

Most everyone was shocked when her son-in-law* announced that Michaela would recoup IN THE OFFICE. She had a hospital bed delivered to the small, one-floor office building. One employee was moved out of her office to convert the room into Michaela's new bedroom. To my astonishment some of the employees that weren't family members helped set up Michaela's room. Although I wondered if my non-participation in the proceedings would come back to haunt me, I refrained.

My jaw hit the ground when one non-family employee went from office to office asking for food donations to stock the kitchen for Michaela's recovery. I refused.

Michaela arrived with much kowtowing and wringing of hands. Everyone visited her hospital bed with get well wishes. I made sure that I was one of the last. After all, I deliberately hadn't helped set up her convalescent room or stocked her pantry.

Michaela's cat also moved into the office. This didn't bother me a bit. It did bother the employees with allergies. The allergy-suffering employee who dared to protest the cat's presence was accused of "trying to form a union." The matter was dropped. I'm amazed that no one sued.

As luck would have it my office was on the opposite side of the building from Michaela's new bedroom. The employees on the same side got to hear her wails of agony when she started physical therapy.

People started quitting during this time. Coincidence? I think not.

* In the few years that I worked there Michaela hired her husband, daughter, and son-in-law.