At work, people are supposed to be professional, right? That's not always the case. Sometimes, co-workers stick around because they know how to do their jobs well or they've just been there a while. Regardless of why it can lead to behavior that just shouldn't happen in the workplace. These situations can be awkward for everyone involved and sometimes, lead to people being fired. Read these stories and see just how unprofessional these co-workers can get.
Outside The Scope Of The Job
“I had to pick up Tylenol-1 for an employer (now former employer) from a pharmacy. It was not a job where it was appropriate for me to be doing errands like that. It was an office job. I’d like to say more, but I can’t. I went to the pharmacy once per week for several months. Eventually, the pharmacist asked me if I had an addiction problem. And yes, this was in Canada, where you can pick up Tylenol-1 without a prescription.
I told my boss that this had happened, and they said, ‘Well you weren’t supposed to go to the same pharmacy every week! Of course, they’ll figure it out if you do that.’ It had not occurred to me before that point that my boss might have had a problem with opiates.”
Waking Up In An Ambulance
“One Saturday night this past summer, I woke up in an ambulance. Apparently, I had been attacked while walking home from a wedding near my house, but I have absolutely no memory of it at all.
I called out of work on Monday because I was super hurt (stitches on my face, black eye, REALLY bad concussion, the whole deal) and my boss (a woman, younger than me) immediately started grilling me, ‘How much did you drink? Do you get blackout often? What were you wearing? Are you going to the news about this?’ She went around to all the bars in the area – it’s a small town – to ask if I had been there that night.
The harassment about it was worse than the actual event because it lasted for weeks. She kept asking for more and more and more doctor’s notes to ‘explain’ what I’d done, and taking away my responsibilities because I ‘couldn’t be trusted.’ At one point she told me, ‘I want you to bring back a doctor’s note that says you need to be put on light duty’ even though 1, I didn’t need to be on light duty and 2, my job was sitting at a desk.
According to her, I should have been able to remember what happened and since I didn’t, it was obviously my fault.
My doctor told me how illegal it was and asked if she could scan a picture of her middle finger and send it to my boss. I think she was serious (she’s about my age and awesome!). I said no at the time but now I wish I had said yes.
After about a month, I had to quit because I couldn’t go into work without having panic attacks. It sucks because I LOVED that job.”
A Request She Couldn’t Fulfill
“I worked at a reproductive health care clinic. I believe my director had some mental health issues. Her mood changes could be terrifying. I was the youngest supervisor in the clinic and it seemed that this woman liked to target me in some very negative ways.
I quit work the day she came into my office with a surgical knife in her hand and asked me to cut her ear. When I declined, she sliced it herself. I fainted.
Apparently, she had a torn earlobe that she wanted to be repaired. Her insurance denied her claim as she was not medically indicated. They did tell her it could be repaired if any further damage occurred. I refused, she Van Goghed.
If she wished to do this, she could have done it by herself. There was no need for her to come to a junior staff member requesting assistance mutilating her ear. I still don’t know why she chose me. The clinic had many other medical staff, nurses and doctors on board.”
A Crazy Old Boss
“My old boss was insane. One time, we had a meeting with a representative from a new payroll service and he asked me to sit in so I could learn how to use it. In the middle of the tutorial, he interrupted the poor guy, pointed at the two of us and said, ‘You two would make beautiful babies. You should ask her out!’
I excused myself and later heard the guy ask my boss if we had an HR department and suggest to him that we hire someone for that. My boss was too stupid to realize that he (the rep I mean) was almost certain I would inevitably sue him, which I did not because he was beyond broke. He regularly did things like this, and worse things, but that was the first one to pop into my head. I have a million more stories that were actually scary. Like, he threatened to kill people, pulled weapons on people, pulled a tooth out that wasn’t loose out of his 10-year-old kid’s head with a pair of pliers, and much more.
He also pulled a weapon on a pizza delivery guy who went to the wrong door. He threatened to beat a debt collector with a wrench. When DFCS got called on him and his wife he went nuts, called me, and told me he was going to shoot up the place. The only reason I didn’t take him seriously was that he was out of state. I did change the code on his safe, though.
After I left the business, he beat up his wife and she got a TPO (temporary protection order) against him but dropped it. He gets out of everything. I haven’t heard anything about him recently as I’ve made a concerted effort not to, but I agree. The dude belongs in prison.”
The Co-Worker Who Didn’t Understand Boundaries
“I had a co-worker that was a great employee except for one thing. He was a toucher. He’d walk up behind girls that worked with us (mind you, this was a professional office setting), put his hands on their hips or shoulders and just, rub them, for lack of a better term. It didn’t stop there either, he’d lean in and whisper in their ears. Not only was he an Uncle Touchy Time, but he was also a ‘close talker’ (to the girls). He’d lean in as far as he could trying to see how close he could get his face to theirs. What made it even worse (if that’s possible) was that he was in his late 40s and a lot of the girls he was doing this to were in their mid-20s.
One girl went to our boss and told him he needed to reign this guy in. She didn’t want to make it a big deal and didn’t want to go to HR, but she really wanted him to stop. That put my boss in a bad spot because he didn’t want to get this girl involved (because she asked not to be) but not reporting something like this to HR could really backfire on him. He took our co-worker aside and told him he needed to cut it out, STOP touching and stay away from the girls unless it was a work-related conversation and even then, to be very cognizant of their personal space because this is something that can affect his career. Of course, this stupid schlemiel just can’t understand what our boss is trying to tell him and maybe three weeks after their conversation he leans over the back of this girl’s chair and starts to whisper her name while his lips are right on her neck (we got that detail after the carnage was done). She stood up, screamed in his face to get the heck away from her and marched into HR.
HR investigated (it took like three days) and they told my boss he needed to fire this guy immediately because once this girl lodged an official complaint, they started interviewing all the girls on the sales floor and in customer service. HR told him almost every one of them had a story for her about this guy’s ‘hands-on attitude.’ My boss said she was loudly flipping pages over in her notebook while she was talking to him to illustrate just how many accounts there were. So my boss tells his boss, ‘We need to let this guy go because if we don’t and he does it again (and everyone was sure he would), the lawsuits would put us out of business.’ So, he gets fired and genuinely cannot understand why they were letting him go. In a weird way, I felt bad for him, but he wouldn’t listen to anyone when we’d see him do this and tell him it was a really bad idea.
Oh – and a bonus thing that was really gross: there was a very attractive girl that worked in sales and when she left her desk to do whatever (lunch, go home etc…) there was a couple of disgusting mouth breathers that would go into her cube and sniff her chair.
In case you’re wondering, that place went under in like 2005.”
Keep Those Calls Private
“I worked in a big office space in the financial district of a big city. They had a very professional work culture. I was there as a co-op student. I was working when I heard a woman stomp past my cubicle, huffing and puffing. She started getting louder as she got closer to the stairwell, which was about 15 feet from my desk. I looked and she’s on the phone. She opened the door to the stairwell but instead of going in, she just stood there with the door open. Then she started going OFF to whoever she was talking to on the phone. I’m talking full blown screaming, calling this person every name in the book, swearing like no tomorrow…the whole office could hear her. People started standing up. People were often on the phones at this place with important clients…
Someone told her to stop and take it outside, that this was a workplace. Queue her second temper tantrum. Then she stomped into the stairwell and we could hear her going off about how everyone on the floor was a ‘stupid idiot.’
I never saw her again after that day.”
The Worst Smelling Co-Worker
“I was a seasonal salesperson at Sharper Image, so several people got hired around the same time. One of the new people was…odd. To start with, he smelled intensely like B.O. all the time. He tended to ramble when he talked. He’d talk about really inappropriate things in a louder than normal voice all the time. Like, one time he started telling me, while we were on the sales floor, about his intimate preferences. He said he liked it really rough, liked to ‘really give it to her.’
I’m a woman and while I didn’t take him talking about this to be intended to harass me, some of my male colleagues who couldn’t help but overhear were very uncomfortable with him talking to a woman about that. And obviously, that was just inappropriate to be talking about on the sales floor anyway. So I and a couple other salespeople talked with the manager about it, who had a serious conversation with him. But the last straw was when he told me that he had a ‘policy’ of drinking from any open beverage container that was left out in the back. So if you had a drink open in the break room, he drank from it. Every time. He told me this after he’d been working there for a few weeks at that point. We all had open drinks in the back pretty much every day. I immediately told everyone to get rid of their drinks and told the manager about it. He didn’t come back after that.”
The Former Executive Chef
“I work at a senior ‘independent’ living home as a server. We HAD a new executive chef (HAD) who was growing a garden and his tomatoes had grown but he didn’t wanna go pick them. Anyways, a co-worker and I were talking or whatever and the new chef came out and said to my co-worker, ‘Since you’re a guy, and Mexican, go pick those tomatoes for me, ok?’ Then he handed him a bucket and just walked back through the kitchen to his office.
My co-worker and I just stood there, so stunned that someone could actually say that. He and I went to pick them and it took a few hours but the chef got mad at ME. Why? Because I’m a ‘girl’ and I’m ‘white’ so I ‘shouldn’t have had to do that.’ What?! BYE. My co-worker and I both still work there, the garden is pretty plentiful but the residents love to garden to it now. The chef was fired a few days later.”
No Means No
“I have two separate coworkers guilty of the same crime and I find it incredibly unprofessional.
One of them works a different shift than I do and comes in on his days off to sell food. A lot of my other coworkers like his food and buy it regularly. I’ve tried it a few times. It’s okay, not great. Not something I’m going to spend my money on. I’ll just bring in my own lunch. So he’ll come in and say, ‘I made beef and noodles today! Come buy!’
I’ll say, ‘No thanks, I’m good.’
He’ll say, ‘Why not? You’ve bought my food before! Come get some today! I made beef and noodles!’
I say, ‘No thanks. I brought my own lunch today.’
He’ll say, ‘Save it for your supper and have beef and noodles for lunch!’
I’ll tell him, ‘I didn’t bring any cash today, so I can’t pay.’
He replies with, ‘You eat it today, you owe me tomorrow!’
I’ve told him straight up, ‘No! I don’t want it!’ And he left it on my work table and the next week demanded the money I ‘owed’ him. Dude! I said NO. NO MEANS NO!
I told him I hadn’t asked for his food and I hadn’t eaten it so I wasn’t paying for it. He laughed it off and said I could owe him until next week. He came to me every week (sometimes a few times) asking for the money I ‘owed’ him. I kept repeating that I hadn’t asked for his food and I hadn’t eaten it, so I wasn’t paying. Thankfully that entire time he ‘refused to serve me any more food until I paid my outstanding balance,’ but he was still hassling me for money every week.
I eventually paid him the $8 just to get him to leave me alone. Unfortunately, this put my ‘account’ in good standing and now, he pesters me to buy his food again every week. But he hasn’t just left anything at my workstation again like he did that last time. I’ve told management that I don’t like being harassed by this guy and that I’m not obligated to buy his food and it makes me uncomfortable, but it doesn’t appear that anything has been done about it. Unless, of course, management talked to him and that’s the reason he’s not just leaving food behind and trying to force me to pay for it later. He does always try to guilt me though, saying, ‘I made one just for you! Are you my friend? Or my enemy? Help me out! Buy my food!’ Still no!
My other coworker brought in these spicy off-brand Cheetos. Ghost pepper flavor. He offered me some and I politely declined.
Me: ‘No thanks.’
Him: ‘Oh, but you HAVE to try these! They’re so good! You’ll love them!’
Me: ‘I don’t like spicy things (not strictly true, but it seemed like a polite way to get out of eating the Cheetos).’
Him: ‘Oh, they’re not that spicy. They’re really flavorful. Just try one.’
Me: ‘No thank you, I’m really not interested.’
Him: ‘Come on! You have to try at least one!’
Me: (getting peeved) ‘Actually, no I don’t. I’m an adult and I can make my own choices.’
Him: ‘You’re not living your life to the fullest. It’s really sad. I’m just trying to help you. Just eat one.’
No! No! NO GOSHDARNIT, I SAID NO!!! I’m trying so hard not to throw a tantrum but for God’s sake, how many times do I have to say no to these people?!”
A Prejudiced HR Manager
“Our office manager and human resources person was making a very loud and very problematic impression of Asian people while several Asian clients sat in the waiting area of our office. Basically, 20 feet separated them and the phrases, ‘Me love you long time’ and ‘Ching Chong,’ were said repeatedly. What’s worse is that we work in employment law.
We actually had a running joke that she was the female Michael Scott. I was compelled to make a video of all the things Michael had said that was similar to her but never got around to it.”
“Let’s Talk About The Guy We Fired”
“I used to work at Netflix and everytime somebody was fired, the department bosses would call a staff meeting and tell everyone on the team why ‘so and so’ was let go and would go around the room asking everyone to unload any dirt on the ex-employee. Even before that, managers would organize team lunches and have everyone at the table say what they don’t like about their co-workers who were sitting right next to them. It was very awkward and very unprofessional.
While we did get a lot of freedom and compensation to do our work, the cutthroat culture was just toxic as heck. This wasn’t just a few departments but it was company-wide. There’s even a Wall Street Journal expose on this.”
The “Real” First Aid Kit Wasn’t So Nice
“I worked at the YMCA for a while as an after-school counselor.
My immediate supervisor, D, would show up to work late and hungover. He’d skip appointments with my coworkers to go out drinking. When we’d have staff meetings to talk about the (many, many) problems at our site, he’d throw you under the bus in front of everyone and say stuff like, ‘Well, I never saw that problem.’
He didn’t hold interviews for new people, so we were constantly understaffed, then he’d give us heat for not being in the ratio (there was literally nothing we could do about it if we didn’t have enough counselors).
But the one that beats it all: he was responsible for maintaining the site first aid kit. There were two: the one that we showed the inspectors when they showed up, and the ‘real’ one that we actually used. The real one was typically empty.”
“When I worked as a hostess in a restaurant, our manager would try to give us back or neck rubs in front of customers. He also would come up behind us and grab our sides, trying to surprise us. He also hid my phone one day and thought it was hilarious. Supposedly he had been fired before for banging a waitress near the dumpster during a Christmas party but for some reason, he was hired back. Another one of our managers liked to wipe flour off my butt and joke about making out in the freezer and told me all the time he wanted to mud wrestle with me.
Now I am an accountant in a professional office setting. I had a co-worker who loved to spit seeds loudly (and would spit them on the floor), put his feet up on his desk, shout at his wife on the phone, and chew out random customer service people.
I also had another coworker who came up to the above-mentioned coworker and told him, ‘I just have to kill something RIGHT NOW or I’m going to go crazy.’ He was really into hunting.”