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  • Too Early For Proper English
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    A Toxic Work Environment

    | Seattle, WA, USA | Bosses & Owners, Crazy Requests, Health & Body, Theme Of The Month, Top

    (I work as a janitor at a dairy bottling plant.)

    Boss: “Hey, [My Name], we found a problem, We need you to clean it up.”

    Me: “What is it?”

    Boss: “Someone graded the loading dock pavement wrong. Come take a look.”

    (I go and look. There is a pond of black sludge 30 feet wide by 40 feet long under where they until just that day had three semi-trailers as extra loading dock storage. The boss hands me a scrub brush, a garden hose, and a pair of the sort of rubber gloves you wash dishes with.)

    Me: “You must be kidding! I’d need a pressure washer, a hazmat coverall, and a respirator to go in there, The fumes alone are toxic and that sludge is an active biohazard! Call the City!”

    (It’s true: milk fat is an ideal bacterial growth medium. Fat and sugar runoff from tankers spilling both while unloading had been running down to feed the sludge for at least TWO YEARS.)

    Boss: “Legal says we shouldn’t let the City find out or it would be very expensive for us. As for the respirator, I’m sorry but OSHA regs say we can’t loan you a respirator you’re not trained on, the pressure washer hose won’t reach, and the hazmat guy took his suit home with him.”

    Me: “Look, I’ll buy a respirator out of my own pocket, okay?”

    (Boss goes away, consults with legal, and comes back.)

    Boss: “Sorry, it would be illegal to let you buy safety gear out of your own pocket. You’ll have to make do without it.”

    (That was the day, the very minute, I quit that job.)

    Finally Independent From Them

    | UT, USA | Bad Behavior, Bosses & Owners, Crazy Requests, Theme Of The Month

    (I suffer a concussion at work. I have a splitting headache and vision problems, but didn’t really think it was bad until two days later. That’s when I answer every question by telling the person how to call Mexico City in Spanish. I ask to be able to get off early and my boss gives me permission. After the ensuing weekend, I get called into the manager’s office. The union representative who’s there to make sure I’m treated fairly is there.)

    Manager: “Have a seat. We need to talk about your attendance.”

    Me: “Sure. What’s going on?”

    Manager: “You left work early the other day. This is completely unacceptable.”

    Me: “I asked [Boss] for permission because I was sick.”

    Manager: “It’s still not acceptable. You committed to working your full shift and damaged the reputation of the company by not living up to your promises.”

    Me: “Excuse me. Because there was a fault in your chairs in the break room, I got launched head first into a brick wall. I have a concussion. I was too mentally disoriented to tell which language I was speaking at the time. Would you have preferred that I stay around to confuse everyone more?”

    Manager: “The union is here to witness that this is your final warning. If you ever call in sick again, that’s grounds for termination.”

    Me: “Even if my boss—”

    Manager: “You WILL BE FIRED if you are this lazy again. This is an at-will work state and we’re doing you a courtesy by giving you a second chance instead of terminating you immediately.”

    (Three work days later, I wake up vomiting excessively. It was a two-hour commute on bus to get to work, so I called to let them know I need to ask my boss about getting the day off or coming in later. The manager got on the phone instead.)

    Manager: “You knew what this would mean if you were ever sick again. It’s been nice working with you, but you’re done here.”

    (He hung up immediately. Two days later, the same manager calls me up at home.)

    Manager: “I know you called in sick for the last three days, but I need to make sure you’re going to be covering your shift tomorrow.”

    Me: “Excuse me?”

    Manager: “It’s the 4th of July and one of our busiest days. We can’t afford to have you out sick. Are you feeling well enough to come in?”

    Me: “You fired me when I called in sick.”

    (There was a long pause.)

    Manager: “I think that was a misunderstanding.”

    Me: “You told me that I had been terminated for calling in sick excessively. What part of that was a misunderstanding?”

    Manager: “I’m not unreasonable. Even though you quit, I’ll let you have your job back if you work on the 4th of July.”

    Me: “No.”

    Manager: “I didn’t fire you. I just—”

    Me: “For six weeks, you have scheduled me on split shifts so that I didn’t have time to get home and back between my shifts and got off of work too late to get home at all. While working for you, I’ve been sleeping in the armchairs in the break room and bringing changes of clothes for the week. I’m paying rent for an apartment that I’ve only been to once in two weeks. I brought this up several times a week since the day it started and was told that you yourself had made sure I would stop being scheduled at unreasonable hours. I’m not working another day for you and your sense of ethics.”

    (Needless to say, I didn’t ask for a reference.)

    Genial About The Genie

    | Kent, England, UK | Bizarre/Silly, Bosses & Owners

    (This is a conversation I overheard between two of our managers.)

    Manager #1: “…and we really don’t want to let that genie out of the box.” *pauses for a moment* “Bottle. Genie out of the bottle. Why would a genie be in a box? It could escape out of the cracks. Anyway…” *goes back to the conversation*

    (Five minutes later and Manager #1 has been sitting in silence with a thoughtful expression.)

    Manager #2: “You’re still mulling over the genie situation, aren’t you?

    Manager 1: “Well, it was a homeless genie…”

    An Internal Decision

    | England, UK | Awesome Workers, Bosses & Owners

    (The manager in our store usually works the shop floor on weekends when we’re busy as if she were a normal staff member. It’s worth noting that she is always running around, never standing still. She comes into the lab where I am sorting orders, stops still, and smiles at me.)

    Manager: “You know sometimes you get really mean, rude, horrible patients?”

    Me: “Yep, all the time.”

    Manager: “Well, the one I’m with is as bad as I’ve ever seen. She waited for five minutes to get her glasses, and so now she wants something for free.”

    Me: *confused* “Well then, what are you doing in here?”

    Manager: “I told her I’d ask the manager.” *giggles* “I think I’m going to say no!”

    The Butt Of The Joke

    | CA, USA | Bizarre/Silly, Coworkers

    (I am the host at a popular chain restaurant. It’s a busy Friday night and I am the controller in charge of the wait list, telling the other people where to sit guests and perform other duties such as cleaning with two other hosts. The other two hosts are off either seating guests or cleaning. The phone rings so I answer it.)

    Me: “Thank you for calling [Restaurant]. This is [My Name]. How can I help you?”

    Caller: “Hi. Um… I’m so sorry. This is embarrassing. I’m in your bathroom and, um… there’s a problem…”

    Me: “Oh no! Is there a toilet overflowing? Which bathroom are you in? I’ll send someone in right away.”

    Caller: “No… well… I’m in the men’s bathroom…”

    Me: “Okay, what seems to be the problem?”

    Caller: “I’m stuck in the bathroom.”

    Me: *extremely confused* “What’s wrong?”

    Caller: “There isn’t any toilet paper, and… well… I just went… you know… number two…”

    Me: “OH! Oh, no, I’m so sorry. I’ll send someone in, but the other hosts are away. It might be a few minutes, so for the time being, would you be able to get some from another stall?”

    Caller: “I tried… and, well… I can’t stand up. I don’t want to make a mess all over your bathroom! Please send someone!”

    (The caller hangs up and sounds really upset. I can’t find my hosts, so I feel I have to abandon my post and grab the first male server I can find. I explain the story to him and he stares at me, eyes wide and mouth agape.)

    Server: *laughing* “That is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.”

    Me: “Please, just bring some toilet paper in to the bathroom because this poor guy is just sitting there!”

    (The server came out of the bathroom and back up to my host stand.)

    Server: “There is no one in there. There is feces all over the walls and floor. Since you should have been sending your hosts to do bathroom checks more often, it’s now your job to clean it.”

    (I have an awful gag reflex and almost started crying picturing the horror I was about to see, when all the servers in the area just lost it and started laughing. Turned out the server I grabbed to bring toilet paper to the caller WAS the caller playing a prank on me. After that day, he and several other servers would call almost every shift with some ridiculous request. Since I’m oh-so-obliging, I almost always fell for the pranks.)

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