Rules are made to be followed, and should usually be, as they are put in place for a specific reason. It's always important to do so, even if they sometimes do not make sense. People can get annoyed with this, because they don't see the rationale behind the policy. This sometimes doesn't end well; add food in the mix, and it makes everything a whole lot worse.
Workers reveal the rule about food at their job that did not go so well. Content has been edited for clarity.
"I worked at a very famous fast casual restaurant. The manager declared that after closing, the front door would not be unlocked to let people in for any reason.
Two creeps that had been in my section (who manager refused to deal with) were waiting for me in the parking lot at like 2am. I tried to go back inside and he reminded me of his rule and would not bend to let me in. The rest of the closing staff quit on the spot to walk me to my car. He had to beg us all to come back the next day otherwise explain to corporate why he had no cooks or servers during the holidays."
"My work punished me for not taking my lunch. This was in Utah, one of the states out there that doesn't even require you to give your employees lunches so this makes it even more absurd. The problem was they didn't want to cross-train others who were there to cover my role of loading up trucks with gasoline product. So I was busy as heck non stop with no backup, and often didn't even have time to stop for lunch. It was either that, or I'd get put back to work about 20 minutes into my lunch.
All of a sudden one day, they are looking at causes of overtime and how to cut down on overtime spent. As I was looking at my timecard for the pay period, I noticed it has been cut back to reflect all these hour lunches I never got. I argued about this, pointed out it was illegal. They tell me there is no reason I can't take an hour lunch every day.
They regretted it when I'd lock myself up in my little outside shack for an hour and refuse to open it or come out regardless of what trucks showed up if I was already on lunch. And once that became a big issue, I simply just left and stayed gone for an hour and refused to answer my phone. About several months into getting sick of ignoring my phone for a whole hour, I found it to be a great source of amusement answering it and telling them sure, hang tight! I'm heading back in to work right now! And then I would proceed to sit there and not bother returning to the property until an hour lunch was for sure well over while they all waited eagerly, thinking I was on my way back right now."
"At the company I used to work for, we had a couple big trade shows per year that we went to, where most of the staff attended. For a long time, the rule was that you could be reimbursed up to $30 per day for meals - you just had to turn in receipts afterward.
Well, inevitably somebody (let's call him Mike, since that was his name) decided that he would spend his per diem every day for a week on fancy drinks, and turn those receipts in. He got reimbursed, but there was a new policy implemented: From there on out, you could only submit two 'drinks' per day for reimbursement. I think you can probably figure out where this is going...
Some fought the rule by simply going to 'dinner' late, getting their check before the clock struck midnight, then opening a new tab, allowing them to have more than two drinks on the company in a single sitting. But that was for amateurs, since the rules didn't specify your receipts had to be from some kind of restaurant, as people would often go to the grocery store to buy snacks, protein bars to nosh on during the day if they couldn't grab a lunch, and whatnot.
Turns out that you can get two big 1.75L plastic bottles of Canadian Mist at the store AND order off the Value Menu at the McDonalds drive through for less than $30... so we had a lot of fun with that rule."
"I used to work at a fast food place where the owner made employee meals discounted 10% instead of how they were at all the other stores in the area, free. There was one store about an hour away that wasn't free but their employee meal was discounted 50%. When I started working there, I was not willing to pay for the food so I would just make it, eat it and not ring it up. Everyone started doing it.
Eventually the owner assumed that was happening so he said anyone who works has to leave a receipt in the register at the end of the shift with their employee discount on it, to prove they paid. He literally thought he could force us to eat every shift.
Easy fix, every shift I would give some random person my employee discount and I'd still eat for free. Once again, everyone else started doing this.
Owner was later fired when the franchise found out that he wasn't using certain food he was supposed to, he'd buy it cheaper from local grocers. I guess there was an anonymous tip to corporate... Shortly after I quit on bad terms."
"At my old job, some people abused lunch by staying out too late, so they made a few of them text in when they started and finished lunch. One guy specifically would text the start time, the place he got food, his order in detail, the address, price, what the uniform of the place was, everything. He did this even when he bought a snack while out. That stopped a week later."
"My job has a policy where employees who smoke can't have a smoke break while at work because it's 'Against the company values.' Due to the fact my store in particular will hire anyone that breaths, we have a lot of smokers; myself induced before I quit. So people started smoking in the bathroom. It is also worth noting this is a very popular restaurant, Cracker Barrel to be exact.
Years went on and this practice continued until corporate caught wind, due to the fact the bathroom was covered in yellow residue. After this discovery, they told the general manager he would get fired if he couldn't handle this problem. So now we have smoke breaks, which is against company policy, but is a good fix I guess. OR you could hire people who aren't inclined to feel like they need a smoke every time they feel they are stressed. So if you are at a restaurant and smell smoke, it's probably an employee smoking in the bathroom."
"I used to work at a large chain supermarket with something like 500 staff. It was more like a knock on effect of selfishness/cheapness/rule making frenzies that caused issues.
So first, we had this rule that if you bought something to eat for your lunch from the store, you had to keep the receipt and get a supervisor staff member to sign to say they witnessed you purchase it. This was to prevent people stealing food, although I'm not sure if this had ever actually been a problem, or if the rule even helped. The whole process took half your break sometimes, since the supervisors were always busy and didn't even have a pen half of the time. So people would just buy their lunch and get whoever checked them out to promise to back them up if they got called out.
Then we got a new supervisor from another store. She decided that this would now be strictly enforced with security guards at the foot of the stairs up to the staff areas, searching everyone's bags. This led to queues for EVERYONE entering or exiting the staff area. It meant that lots of people got penalised for being late to clock in to their shift, back from break, etc. and anyone who did follow the rules and get their receipt signed would not have time to eat whatever they bought.
Security were even sanctioned to randomly search lockers for possible stolen food/goods. They had to pull you off the shop floor for this too, and some supervisors even tried to get the affected members of staff to clock out for the process (which turned out to be pretty illegal, so it turned into a whole thing).
Some people started getting really upset with this, and did one of two things:
They went to the McDonald's opposite the store on their break. They often had to queue, and there was no discount, but at least they'd get to eat. Management didn't like people leaving the store though, since it made things difficult in case of a fire and any other emergency. Plus there were now burger wrappers and stuff clogging up all the bins. So they banned people being able to leave the store on their breaks. This led to parking tickets because people couldn't move their cars (max 4 hours stay, with no special provisions for staff). It also led back to the stairs queue, and people to get disciplinary actions taking against them if they left to go to their bank or take a phone call outside or whatever.
People brought their own lunches. This lead to even worse problems:
A) Most people who worked there also did their grocery shopping there due to the 10% discount. Even if they didn't, the security guards searching bags didn't have any proof that people weren't just buying/stealing food from the store than throwing them in a lunch box. So people either started doing exactly that and just taking an empty lunch box to work with them to fill, or they would start bringing their grocery receipts with them to work. Security were forced to go through the receipts and check off the items on them, so more queues.
B) Previously, the only people bringing a packed lunch had been human resources and management, so there was only a single large fridge in the break area. Now all the checkout and floor staff were bringing packed lunches, there wasn't enough room for everyone. Since management and human resources typically worked 9-5, and floor staff could start work any time from 5:30am, this led to outrage, since management/human resources felt they they should have exclusive access to the limited space. So rather than buy additional fridges, they moved the fridge into the human resources office. This office was locked until 9am when they started, and which regular staff weren't allowed to enter without a 'valid' reason. This peeved a lot of people off, naturally, but worse than that, since this all began in the summer months, people that brought a packed lunch started getting sick. Turns out that storing things such as yogurt and meat sandwiches in an unconditioned locker room under everyone's coats and bags, RIGHT by the radiator is not such a good idea. People were calling in sick with food poisoning or diarrhea. Which lead to...
More absences from food poisoning and diarrhea meant management decided to crack down on calling in sick. The new rules were that all sickness absence had to be accompanied by a doctor's note, no matter what. Since food poisoning tends to last only a day, and the National Health Service wait times are more like two weeks for a doctor's appointment, people were getting disciplinary hearings for not bringing notes.
Additionally, there was a three-strikes policy on calling in sick. Basically, if you called in once and took a week, it was the same as calling in for a day. So even though there was no sick pay, a lot of people took multiple days, or even multiple weeks off, since they would get the same punishment anyway, and a lot of staff were college students who didn't care that much. So they were ending up with less instances of calling in sick, but higher rates of absences overall.
So management decided supervisors were now going to be sent on home visits to repeat offenders to ensure they were actually sick. Luckily, this only got as far as day one. One of the first people visited happened to be in the union, which most of us hadn't joined due to the cost. She was super sick from dialysis treatments and absolutely furious, she called in her union rep and recounted everything that had been happening (along with a bunch of other stuff I haven't mentioned).
The union came in, and boy, did they have some things to do. A ton of management got moved around/sacked, thousands were spent on new break room stuff, including fridges and vending machines, and most of the previous rules were overturned. Even the store manager got replaced. The three-strikes rule remained, but home visits were no longer allowed, and no doctors notes were required for calling in sick for less than three days. There was an exception with diarrhea since we worked with food, where you would have to get a doctor's note regardless, so most people would just lie about what their illness was.
Basically, one power hungry supervisor that decided to start over-enforcing a rule nobody cared about caused a huge conflict."
"My town did a revitalization project and made main street into a cool spot full of bars/clubs/restaurants that has a pretty awesome nightlife.
How it worked was bar goers get taxi rides home and leave their cars in the lot until the next morning. Local businesses complained about all these extra cars in 'their' lots. Town implemented paid parking. Didn't stop anyone from leaving their car there, but now employees/customers had to pay to park.
No surprise, they complained about that too. So, the town implemented a 'No Parking From 4AM-6AM rule' (the bars close at 4, businesses open at 6, this is the 'dead time' when no one has a reason to be there). The idea was that it would provide incentive not to park, and if you did, not to stay. If you did, it gets towed. Problem solved, right?
Well, if you tell bar goers that their car is impounded unless they drive it home, they're just going to drive it home. This led to a spike in hammered drivers in the area. That led to more cops and checkpoints. Between the costs, threat of impound, and checkpoints, people just started going to other towns where none of those hassles existed.
Just a few years after the revitalization brought it back to life, it's dying again. For the first time in years, there's empty shops and places closing."
"A buddy of mine told me about a Happy Hour promotion at a bar close to his campus. Apparently, the special was something stupid, like 50-cent drinks that lasted until the first person went to the bathroom.
As he tells it, the first few weeks went without incident. But once the promotion got more popular, people were going to extreme lengths to not be 'that guy' including wearing adult diapers. Once people tried to covertly pee in corners and trash cans, the bar cancelled the promotion."
"I worked maintaining a salad bar at a chain restaurant that very proudly advertised its salad bar. On really busy shifts, like Saturday dinner or Sunday lunch, they'd have two people working on it. With so many items and people, we quickly determined that the best way to handle it was to have one person in the kitchen making as many dishes of ingredients as possible, and the other person taking them out as they emptied on the salad bar. At peak times, this would keep both people constantly working and barely keeping up.
Well, the boss got a bit upset and told us one person had to stay up front at all times, in order to help customers and help the place look maintained. So instead of two workers rushing around and struggling to keep the place barely maintained, you'd have one guy just standing by the salad bar and smiling. Even as things ran out and people started asking about them.
And because the only radios we had weren't clear and picked up the messages of a nearby restaurant, there was no way to tell the person in the back what was missing. Items would run out and there was no guarantee when it would be brought out. We didn't even wait for the boss to get mad at us for not 'staying at our post' and just settled for ignoring his advice."
"I used to wait tables in college. It was a very popular hangout for business professionals, movers and shakers, etc. The restaurant/bar was always very busy and the 'in' place to be. After work, the staff would frequently drink in the bar. We paid full price for drinks and any food we ate. We shared tables, danced and socialized with the patrons and everyone was happy.
Except the owners.
The owners decided we were cluttering up the place and 'reserved' a special table for us. Our table was upstairs behind the dirty laundry pickup station. So we all decided we really didn't need to spend our money there if we weren't wanted, so we moved to another bar for our after-hours fun. And we took all those movers and shakers with us.
The restaurant went out of business about six months later."
"My middle school wanted to create a 'trash free environment' due to all the leftover trash after a lunch period.
To fix the problem, they removed the trash cans from the parking lots, halls, and cafeteria. Then just told the kids to 'toss your trash when you get home or in a classroom.'
The amount of litter skyrocketed overnight, after a week or so they brought back the cans."
"I'm a retail manager and managed a small corporate chain (mall stores with clothing/memorabilia/whatnot that I won't name) a few years back. The store was very oriented towards a certain subculture, and we hired people who looked and fit the image. This lead to a lot of the employees being friends outside of work. Most of them were good kids and none of them I would consider to be 'big partiers.'
At one point, one of them found a section in the employee handbook stating: 'An employee of the legal age can have no more than two adult beverages on a break or within four hours of their shift starting time.'
We're in a big mall with multiple bars/restaurants, and one of the bars in the mall offered a birthday boot in the tradition of those German glass boots people drink out of. It was massive and kind of a gimmick probably weighing in around a liter or so each, and although it was a birthday item you could purchase one for like $15 or something. A few of my employees found this out and took it upon themselves to see if they could slam two on their breaks to add some spice to the second half of their shift.
Soon enough, my entire staff were taking their breaks in sync and trying to drink each other under the table all in a 35-minute time span. The restaurant was making bank on all the boots, and started encouraging them/offering them incentives for buying multiple boots. Being a giant corporate retailer who's still in almost every mall, there was little I could do to change the company policy and to this day, I'm pretty sure that is still included in the employee handbook."
"A fast food joint I used to work for moved into a strip mall with limited parking for the company (probably 5 spots) but there is a huge lot for the strip mall. The owner of the joint contacted the owner of the strip mall to complain about parking. He told the strip mall that if any of their customers parked in his limited parking, he would tow them.
The strip mall replied, 'Fine, but if your customers park in our lot we will do the same.'
For the past 10 years, the strip mall has had a guy sit in the lot and boots anyone that parks in the strip mall and walks into the fast food joint. Almost every week, the fast food joint gets a bad review because their customers walked back to their car to find it booted. A $7 meal turned into a $75 fine."
"There was only one Chinese buffet in Jacksonville, Arkansas when I lived there (well, there were two for a short time, but one closed). The Air Force base where I was stationed was right down the road, so we used to visit this establishment (the restaurant, not the base) for lunch quite often.
At one point, a sign was posted in the bathroom that tissues must be thrown in the trash. What they intended was for people to stop throwing paper towels in the trash, but what happened was people started throwing their poo-covered toilet paper in the wastebasket. Later on the 'tissue' was crossed out, and 'paper towels' was written in pen as replacement. Going in to use the toilet and finding the trash can full of poop was quite eye opening."
"I work in a preschool and at lunchtime, we tried to implement a rule where the children don’t eat their dessert first (seems reasonable, right?). Except every day, we spend debating with 3-5 year olds exactly what is a dessert. Since we don’t have 'hot lunch,' it’s not universal what the kids eat for lunch. Sometimes kids come with a sandwich and a chocolate. Other kids come with pasta and fruit. Others come with just pretzels, chips, and yogurt. And every day, the kids police each other on eating dessert first.
So we hear stuff like, 'JANE IS EATING HER DESSERT FIRST.'
Except her 'dessert' in this case is yogurt, because she had a sandwich and veggies for her main lunch. But for someone else their main food is the yogurt.
The other day, I actually argued with a preschooler that his pasta was not dessert even though it was sweet. He was only eating pretzels and hummus and refused to eat his pasta because it was sweet, therefore his dessert.
We’ve basically given up because it’s just turned into a disaster where everyday I have kids asking me if can they eat their food because they think it’s all dessert, or just arguing with preschoolers about what is 'healthy.'”