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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Friday, March 31

Gapers Block

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Andrew / October 27, 2008 11:49 PM

Question suggested by Joshua, who said in entirely, "ow bout as follow up to the good/bad/ugly roommate question and flip it to the work place?
what are the good/bad/ugly office stories out there--whether they be professional or personal, in the office or out, so long as office people were there?"

Greg / October 28, 2008 8:43 AM

In one temp gig I had a boss who:

1. would play the sick-child card to play hooky whenever his director was traveling (this happened far to often to be coincidence)
2. then attempted to turn stuff around on me when the work he didn't do (and which I wasn't authorized to do) went undone;
3. moved my workspace on a whim to mess with me
4. was finally fired after two temps he sexually harrassed came forward,
5. apparently didn't tell his wife he'd gotten the boot, as she left voicemails looking for him for days hence.

I should note that this all occurred within a Human Resources department.

special k / October 28, 2008 10:56 AM

Dipping the pen in company ink, fishing off the company pier, shitting where I eat for a good year. This includes multiple co-workers and co-workers' siblings. Some times on business trips, some times on personal time. Some they knew about, some they still don't (God help me). It got messy but damn it was fun at the time. Needless to say, I no longer work there. Lesson hopefully learned.

Andrew / October 28, 2008 10:58 AM

Toward the end of my time at a firm, the partners brought in an old friend whose own company had recently dissolved. He was instantly a vice president and put in charge of clients with whom other people already had longstanding relationships... and proceeded to foul things up.

He instituted new accountability practices to show clients -- who were happy with our work -- exactly what they were getting for their money each month. Which would have been nice if they were new clients, but we'd been working with them for years, and now they could see how much -- or, more accurately, how little -- we were doing for them each month. Great idea.

He was frequently observed surfing eBay or playing solitaire on his computer for hours, while we all toiled to produce these shiny new reports that our clients didn't ask for. He was the last nail in the coffin for me leaving the place; I was gone within three months of his arrival.

R / October 28, 2008 12:21 PM

Me and Lisa #1, a coworker, didn't get along and were constantly pitted against each other by my boss, also named Lisa (aka Lisa #2). One day Lisa #2 asked me to write a long detailed account of all the bad interactions that Lisa #1 and I had over the last several weeks, as Lisa #2 was going to use it as a case to fire Lisa #1. I was asked to add in sentences like "I'm concerned for my safety in the presence of Lisa #1." Lisa #2 worked off her home and office email accounts, and when trying to forward my (coached) email testimony to her home account, accidentally forwarded it to Lisa #1. I transferred to nother department soon after that.

Also, Lisa #2 asked me to pray with her in her office once to ask god for harmony in the office (much which she had caused, inadvertently or not). Shaken by the freakiness and discomfort of this, I went home and cried.

sb / October 28, 2008 7:33 PM

i was once given the title "director of interactivity" at an ad agency. my new office had a giant globe in it. kind of like this one. i didn't know what the director of interactivity was supposed to do, and neither did anyone else, so i sat in my office and spun the globe. around and around. it had a weird center of gravity - when i spun it seemed to wobble. one day, maybe the second day, i accidentally hit a hidden button on the side of the globe. the top flipped open and then the whole thing crashed over onto the floor, spilling out a wet bar, which is why it was unbalanced. the bottles were secured by a velcro strap on the inside, but there were more on bottles one side which made it spin unevenly. it was obvious that i wasn't going to keep the job, so i loaded up the liquor into my backpack and left. this was 1996. i was 26. probably the best decision i ever made. check their web site. check the "big ideas" section. see? better to get the liquor and get the fuck out.

jennifer / October 28, 2008 11:14 PM

I worked at an office for two years before leaving to go to grad school abroad. upon my return, I came back to the same office, knowing that I would only be there for a year before going back to grad school. I made this decision despite working for the boss before (micro manager, overly friendly with female employees, belittler of smart people) and knew the working conditions (i.e., late nights regularly, weekends regularly, and low salary.) I had convinced myself that I could make it through another year at the place, thinking that I had negotiated my own terms of pay and working hours.

those negotiated working hours and pay deals were brushed aside within months. while this angered me, I liked my co-workers and just wanted to focus on getting into grad school. the final nail in the coffin came the morning that I was supposed to go on a business trip with the boss. received a call from him two hours before our flight left, telling me that I had to stay in chicago and not go on the business trip, though he was still going to go. the reason I had to stay in the city? because his small son and daughter were sick with the flu, as was his wife. someone needed to take care of the kids.

out of shock, I agreed. the answer of who should be home with his sick family came when I found his little son lying on the bathroom mat after puking on the floor.

once he got back from his trip, I calmly explained how his asking me to stay and take care of his sick family undermined the position of project manager that he wanted me to play in the office. after telling me that his personal life was central to the office and that taking care of his life was part of my job, I realized that he would always be a prick.

my two weeks notice was placed in his mailbox the following day. while I may have had to work some crap temp positions before going to grad school, I have never regretted this decision. the only thing that I regret was that I didn't do it sooner.

HR / October 29, 2008 9:45 AM

My current boss has the uncanny ability to be a total basketcase, although she is widely-respected and known in the City. Every couple of hours I either have to feed her parking meter, or get something validated at a store, then pull her car out of the parking lot, look for a parking meter and if I cannot come across one pull her car back into the parking lot, only to start the vicious cycle all over again.

Gaigen / October 29, 2008 11:06 AM

Worked at a newspaper a long time ago and one of the regular visitors was an elderly woman who showed up every day in her capacity as head of one of the paper's charitable arms (an honorary title only but she took it as a regular job). One day her colostomy bag fell and broke in the newsroom. End of story.

Shad / October 29, 2008 12:15 PM

I worked for a woman who got her job completely on charm and a recommendation from a friend who worked for the company--she had no prior experience in the industry or transferrable skills, other than being a complete ass-kisser, which goes over very well in the company. She was a disaster. She had really bad listening skills, memory problems, and couldn't work a computer. Every day I would have to come into her office for a three-hour meeting where she asked the same basic questions over and over again (as if I knew, I was new as well), and then I'd have to show her how to reply to email messages. It was like the movie "Groundhog Day." When it became apparent that her staff was far more qualified to do (learn) her job than she was, she gave us all her work to do and spent the days talking on the phone to her kids or organizing church group activities. She furiously berated me if I got anything wrong--we were doing our work on top of hers, of course we were likely to make mistakes. She's still working there and I have no clue how she's lasted.

K. Richard / October 29, 2008 1:08 PM

I once entered a stall in the men's room and found that I had stepped into a puddle of semen.

A woman started a fist fight with another female employee. Both were fired. The woman who started the fight sought workman's compensation for injuries she suffered in the fight which she started. She lost.

Christmas party. Late in the evening. The company president (white suburban middle-aged soccer dad) is mad drunk, and lovingly tells some black co-workers "you're all my niggas!" Nobody corrects him because it's the boss and he's drunk as hell. A few people resign after the holidays. Those who don't quit refuse to small talk with him (permanently), much to his befuddlement.

Hal / October 29, 2008 2:16 PM

I had to explicitly come out to my boss after a year of working for him when I realized he didn’t know. I thought I had been pretty clear about it in the interview process. He was a nice guy, but there was a healthy dose of rural Wisconsin cluelessness. However, once I cleared the air on that point, I became my boss’ go-to man for all things gay.

He once asked me, “My wife and I just saw Priscilla, Queen of the Desert last night. You ever see that? What’d you think?”

Groaning inside, “Fuck, here we go again,” I answered honestly, “I actually liked it, in spite of my political issue with drag.”

“Political issue?”

“Yeah, well, I think there’s a lot of truth to the position that drag is ‘gender blackface.’”

“Oh.” [Pause] “So, what’s wrong with blackface?”

Recognizing a lost cause, I changed the subject and excused myself.

Anon / October 29, 2008 2:45 PM

I used to work for the public schools in a large midwestern city. At the time the main office was located in an old warehouse south of the downtown area. There was a guy who was incredibly creepy. He would never go home. Seriously, he lived in the back which was used as storage for old standardized tests and some school desks and other stuff. Most people thought he probably slept in the lounge in the women's restroom which completely freaked us out. Anyway he was laid off much to everyone's relief---but he continued to live there. I left shortly after that, so I don't know if they ever got rid of him before the whole office moved to downtown.

corinna / October 29, 2008 4:11 PM

I dated a coworker and after we broke up, became good friends with a friend of his who also worked with us. I noticed he and she had stopped hanging out, but he was trying to get back together with me and she'd been hitting on me right after the breakup (nothing happened.) Six months into my friendship with her, come to find out they had been sleeping together right after the breakup, yup--after which both continued trying to get in my pants. Now none of the three of us are friends, and we all still work together.

Gaigen / October 29, 2008 5:04 PM

This episode of "Melrose Place" is brought to you by...

Jill / October 29, 2008 8:52 PM

Every office has that ONE person, doesn't it? Mine couldn't get to work on time (9:00), so her start time was changed to 9:30. She'd show up late, and eventually got a 10:00 start time, which she also couldn't make. Most of her day seemed to be complaining to supervisors about workers she'd hired for various home improvement projects, doctors, and to her husband, "the Bear." It got so bad that I'd leave the room when the Bear called because I couldn't handle the good-bye of "love ya bunches," followed by a smacked kiss into the phone.

She competed for some time with the woman who only worked 15 hours a week, but whose job really didn't take that long because she spent part of the time staring off into space or asleep at her desk.

And that's rivaled by the crazy boss who one time came into our work area waving around a piece of paper with all these little strips of paper attached to it. She was thrilled she had figured out how to "cut and paste."

annie / October 30, 2008 10:36 AM

My work place is bad and ugly, the only good that comes from it, is being able to remove myself from the craziness and laugh at my co-workers. I have so many stories and if I had more time I'd blog. My favorite co-worker "Scarry" (real name Sherry) is so out of her mind, she once told me that she lined the entire inside of her home so "they" couln't hear her conversations. She also needs about 10 lamps in her cube b/c she believes the flourescent lighting we have is insufficent, a few of those lamps are hallogen and not to long ago her computer set on fire and she just sat there waving her arms. Oh and her cube mate hated the lights so much that she pitched an actual tent over her desk to shield herself from the heat and light. Also, her brother who lived the later part of his life in an institution died months ago and she couldn't deal with it, she just had him buried last week??? how is this even possible? Speaking to that, another co-worker's husband (of 4 months) died on Sunday and she's been to work everyday this week..which is actually a record for her and she went car shopping Tuesday night...hmm. I could go on and on.

Bill V / October 30, 2008 11:09 AM

We have a rather unattractive woman that wears a see-through shirt once a week. It's reason not to have breakfast in the morning.

zoenotcool / October 30, 2008 3:56 PM

One temp assignment I had included taking the blood pressure of one of the VPs.

The only highlight of my current position is the copious amounts of free fatty foods available nearly every day.

J / October 30, 2008 9:58 PM

you want ugly? my first job out of high school was at papa john's pizza. everything was a nightmare at my one unfortunate blue collar experience. the manager had me drive his (3rd) wife to therapy once after learning he contracted herpes from her, which she didn't have when they got married. that stands out as the worst.
but hearing about my one-armed manager having a lesbian affair with a delivery woman IN FRONT of her husband (yes, the act itself) was a close second.

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