Many of us have had the displeasure of working a dead end job. Ya know the one with the lousy hours, nagging boss, and starvation wages. Frustrating jobs are the worst but sometimes they push people to the edge like the folks in these stories. These workers just about had it and walked off the job. Content has been edited for clarity.
"I started my first job at 15 as a dishwasher for a friend's family's new Korean restaurant. They were my neighbors.
My typical workday was 4:00 pm-9:00pm on the clock. Afterwards, I was expected to stay and help close shop and instead of getting paid for those extra three hours I was given a meal for compensation. To be fair, there are laws prohibiting minors from working too long or too late and honestly I didn’t mind it as the food was incredible.
After about a year, I’m now 16. Due to the minimal wait staff, I was expected to work as a waiter/busboy in between dishes. Fair enough, I was getting sick of the same old-same old anyways. I came in during the week to start training and since they knew I was already familiar with the menu they just had me on my own and winging it. I made a mistake i.e not remembering soup or salad so I went back upstairs to ask and when I returned with my answer I was insulted by my manager for not taking this seriously enough.
A couple months go by and I’m waiting tables and dish washing all while being micromanaged by my manager. Well, one weekend a Mardi Gras parade was being held downtown where the restaurant is located so it’d easily be one of our busiest days that year. I was scheduled for 4:00pm-10:00pm, but they asked if I’d come in that morning around 8:00 or so. About an hour or two into my new shift, there was a mountain of dishes I was being expected to maintain while also waiting tables. My manager walks into the back where I am and the dialogue goes like this:
'Hey, what are you doing?'
'Go ask table six if they need refills.'
I walk out the back and to the front of the store while she’s tailgating me and pick up the pitcher of water. As I pick it up she asks, 'Do you even know what you’re doing?' At this point I’m pretty fed up and kindly respond with, 'Yeah, I know how to pour water.' She didn’t like that and told me that I need to LOOK at her with respect and that if I didn’t like it here I should just leave. So, I left them with mountains of dishes and thirsty customers.
Know your worth."
"I tried to take three days off for my boyfriend and I to go on a trip for our anniversary. I wrote it down on the request calendar a month and a half before we were to leave.
I come back to double check that I requested the right days and the owner scribbled my request out and wrote 'New store opening. No requests.' I was ticked off and didn't see why we couldn't request time off when the other store was an hour away and none of us were asked to be there for the grand opening, but whatever. I rescheduled the hotel for three weeks later, lost a deposit, and spent my anniversary working a 12-hour shift.
The kicker? The owner didn't have his permits straight so the grand opening was delayed by almost two months. I rescheduled my vacation for a lousy reason and that lousy reason was rescheduled.
I left shortly after."
"I interviewed for a corporate accounting role because public accounting was much less pay and a lot more hours. I was told in the interview that it was show up between 8-9, leave between 4-5. There’d be no more working late nights, or having to work on weekends, which was great.
I took the job and within two months realized they were lying through their teeth. First off, there was absolutely no training on their processes. I was given enough work for three people, with no direction on how to do it. My manager was so scatter brained, he could never give me any help when I asked. No one talked for 8 hours a day and it was just an unbelievably bad work culture.
I’d get to work usually at 8:30, and leave at 4:30 while eating lunch at my desk. I came in one day and was told 'Since you’re leaving so early, I can only hope you’re working from home.' Then the next week, we were told we have to come in for a full day Saturday because we had New Years Day off that Monday. My final straw was when I left at 2:30 one day for a doctor's appointment. When I came in the next day, my manager pulled me into a room and said that I didn’t have enough accrued PTO to do that and he was going to dock my pay (in a salaried position). I went in the next day, told him it wasn’t working out, and put my two weeks in. On my last day, he told me I could leave at 11:30, so I did. When I got my final paycheck, he docked my pay for the remainder of that day.
Luckily, the recruiter who got me the job followed up to ask what happened. I was completely open and honest with her. Apparently, that manager has a very high turnover rate for the position I was in and the recruiter told me that the CFO is looking into replacing him."
"I worked in a Greek restaurant. The owners spoke very little English. Once I was making that tzatziki and the owner started talking to his wife behind me in Greek. Then his daughter joined in. Eventually, the owner got my attention and started off talking to me in Greek with his daughter translating.
It gradually went from talking to yelling. Both of them. One in Greek, the other in English about how I’m messing up the tzatziki. This went on for about 5 minutes.
I’m just standing there listening to this, not being able to get a word in until I just snapped.
'JUST SHUT UP FOR THE LOVE OF GOD' I shouted.
They surprisingly stopped and looked at me like I just killed their goldfish.
'Yeah. I quit,' I muttered and I just walked out.
The chef followed. We went to a local bar and drank and talked about how absolutely nuts they were."
"I worked a part-time minimum wage job at a Philly cheesesteak restaurant in a strip mall while I was trying to stack cash before a vacation.
I cooked for two days while my manager screamed at me for taking too long, using too much meat and for not letting the steam cook the skin off my arms. He apparently felt no pain and would demonstrate how little scorching hot steam hurt him. What a freak. Naturally, he thought I should also have the same level of pain tolerance. Makes sense. Sure.
I endured this lousy stint until the third day. He handed me a shovel when I clocked in and told me to clean up the dumpster outside. I took one look inside and the thing was CRAWLING with maggots! I'm talking to the point where the whole pile of filth laying around the outside of the dumpster just wriggled and crawled like one giant organism. It looked and smelled like there was a dead body decomposing in there. I had to stop myself from puking. I walked back in and handed him the shovel and told him I wasn't going to do that. My manager flipped his lid and yelled in my face, but that wasn't gonna make me go out to that dumpster again any time soon. Nope, a hard pass for me. I apologized to the other crew working that day and bounced. Forget that noise.
I've since wondered how much money it would take before I would have dug in and handled the mess. Maybe $500 in cash, under the table? Probably $1,000 before I would do it happily. $4.25 per hour minimum wage in 1998 dollars was not getting it done though..."
"I served in the military, after your time being active there's an underlying contract where they can call you back to serve (in a few years, if there's a need). Around 2009 there was less of a need, but I cut a deal to serve in National Guard around two years and be exempt from recall.
Reserve and National Guard units were being deployed pretty regularly, so my unit was on constant threat of deployment. At least, according to our upper leadership. Never saw orders, never was convinced. After a year and a half, I knew it was a load of bull.
A few months before I was set to be done, we had a drill weekend where they tried to have us prep for our never-coming deployment. PT test, inventory equipment, sit down with your supervisor, all that jazz. I know I'm nearly done, and I didn't make a secret of my time running short. I still went through the motions, because what else could I do? If they actually had orders, they could stop-loss me.
The supervisor meeting was priceless. I sit down with my SSG, who praises me and thinks I'll get a promotion for sure.
Then he asks 'Are you ready to deploy next year?'
Sarge, I ETS in two months.
'Yes Sarge, I'm getting out.'
He looks at my paperwork, looks at me, paperwork, then me again.
'Well, do you want to deploy?'
It took a lot to not shout 'Heck No!' in his face."
"I was volunteering in a local charity shop on the weekend. As it turns out, most of the non paid volunteers were conscripted from unemployed job seekers or community service. These people had to turn up to get their welfare payments etc. I on other hand was just there to volunteer my spare time. Anyway I'd been there about six months, was hard graft at times moving sofas round the shop, up and down three floors.
It was a nice sunny day and I was taking my lunch break out the back sitting on a sofa at the loading bay doors in view of a parking lot. Just sitting there eating a sandwich with my feet up on the railing. All of a sudden some woman who I've never seen before starts waggling her finger at me like I'm a naughty kid, then shouting at me in a disgusting tone, 'Get up young man, how dare you.'
She kept ranting on and just wondering who the heck is this person? She can get lost. Annoyed, I get up and take my lunch inside.
Turns out, this nagging lady was the area manager. She ticked me off so bad. I didn't really have an issue with what she was asking, it was the way she was speaking to me I had a problem with. Just completely uncalled-for and elitist. I think she thought I was the typical conscript who could be abused without recourse as they had to stay there and take the abuse in order to get their welfare payments. Just awful. Some customers in the shop heard how she spoke to me and they backed me up so I knew I wasn't the only one who thought this lady was nuts.
I told her she could stick my volunteering hours where the sun don't shine and I got the heck out of there. Never went back. It made me think why should I give up my free time to help this hag on a fat salary hit her targets? I doubt she had a charitable bone in her body. I wrote a two-page letter of complaint to the head office but never did send it. I kind of regret that."
"I used to work for Toys R US.
In the summer, it's pretty common for people to purchase those big wooden fort/swing sets for their kids (the ones that go in your backyard). The problem is, the box is SO big that even a massive truck can't fit it. You would literally need to rent a U-Haul to get this thing home, so it was pretty customary for us to open the box and pull the contents out. The driver might make two to three trips back and forth from their house, and eventually they'd get it all home.
Well, one of our employees had the bright idea to leave the box perfectly inline with the rest of the boxes. Now, you have to understand that these boxes are about 3 feet wide and 7-8 feet tall. You can walk inside them with zero issues.
Instead of disposing of the box (which was a task in its own right), the employee closed the box back up and left it there, only to later return with tons of books from the kids section, those small foam chairs that kids sit in while watching TV, and some candy from the birthday section.
This employee would sit in here for huge portions of his shift and eat candy, read children's books, and sleep. This probably went on for a few weeks.
One day, the manager called him into her office. She was livid. She was screaming that he was never around, that he was going home on his shift and returning later, that she was going to fire him unless he could prove he was on-site.
Well, like a smug idiot who knows his goose is cooked, but can technically prove he WAS there, he decided to go out in a blaze of glory and took her and the rest of the managers to his hideaway, which he had now dubbed 'Fort Keith' (his name was Scott...so I never understood that). Since I was lucky enough to be there for what happened next, I can tell you with perfect memory the events that followed.
Scott opened the door to Fort Keith and the inside looked like a hobo shelter with a significant amount of merchandise and food wrappers. The manager's face turned red, and right as she was about to step inside, Scott put up his hand to stop her, and in the best non-verbal 'I quit!' moment in history, he pointed to the sign he had written in crayon that read 'No Girls Allowed.'
I think I nearly peed my pants laughing. He was immediately terminated, and on his way out, he had the biggest devilish grin I've ever seen."
"I did this at a structural engineering firm. What I did doesn't even make sense to me now, but I know I had been under stress at all hours of the day for 2.5 years. My decision to leave without telling anyone wasn't really out of spite, I just went home and had a breakdown.
When a very understanding coworker broke through to me after a couple days, I managed to drag myself out of bed and go into the office. The CEO found me as soon as I got to my desk and told me he'd have a decision on my future by the end of the day. He wasn't interested in hearing anything I had to say. Later in the afternoon, I was summoned down to the CEO's office to hear my fate. I sat as the CEO told me he just couldn't understand why I would do it, and that he had no choice but to fire me. My manager sat silently in the meeting, unable to open his mouth as he knew he was the cause of my stress and my breakdown. Finally, the CEO demanded I explain myself. I couldn't begin to put my experience into words, and I just stammered and felt my eyes burn. I told him I didn't have anything to say.
I had been one of the rising stars at the firm, but once on that path I quickly realized I was on the path to burnout. I was a 1-year engineer in charge of design of a 9-story office building/parking garage. My only teammate on the project was a Principal at the firm, who had no time to oversee my day-to-day work. I had no one to ask questions to on my team, so I would bug other teams intermittently to help me figure things out. My manager only provided stiff expectations and judgement, very little help managing the project. So, I had become an unlicensed engineer managing a project and going to meetings and feeling very over my head. I expressed my concern over this countless times, but the reality was I was producing an OK product.
After two years of that project, I was scrambling to get things done one Friday, and I just knew I wouldn't come back to work. All those things that should have kept me from doing it didn't matter anymore– the social judgement, the career repercussions, the loss of a great shiny reference letter, the lack of prospects going forward with absolutely no plan. I could recognize that just stopping would be a bad idea, but at that point I felt like the stakes were way higher than my career.
With perspective, I wish I could have done it differently, but I still don't regret that I did it this way. I'm a little ashamed to admit that I relish the image of my idiot manager having to pick up the pieces of a project that I only understood, and that the company surely lost some profit having to deal with the mess of me leaving. In a karmic sense, the project went exactly the way it should have gone based on how they set it up."
"I got a summer job in a downtown retail store on the scuzzy part of town. The work seemed simple enough, I was just repainting the wooden fence around the store parking lot. The pattern of the fence allowed you to see through the other end of it, so it had slats throughout all it. While I was painting this random guy walked up on the other side of the fence and started peeing on my handiwork. A stream of urine almost splashed on my head. I yelled and told the guy to get the heck out of here. He continued to pee and then dropped a squat to take a #2. Mmmm...nope!
I got up, packed up the brushes, and went inside for a break. My boss looked confused and asked what I was doing back already since the fence wasn't completed. I just shook my head and said 'You don't pay me enough to get peed on, buddy.' I handed him his supplies then walked right out that door."
"I was 20 and had been working in a call center for just over a year. I was promoted to an assistant manager with a new compensation structure that was identical to the other assistant manager. Basically you got your wage, a very small % of the total office revenue, and then 10% of your own revenue from when you worked on the phone. My immediate manager and office supervisor gave me this without confirming it with the regional manager who was on a two-month vacation in the Dominican Republic.
When I got my first check after being promoted there was no bonus, I was told it would be corrected soon. When I got my second check after being promoted there was no bonus, I was told it would be corrected soon. When I got my third check after being promoted there was no bonus and I was told we had to wait for the regional manager to come back and authorize it. I was being paid weekly and worked another 4 weeks under the premise that I would get a lump sum when the regional manager returned. The problem was that I sold significantly more than the other office manager. The back pay had grown to such a large amount that when the regional manager did return he questioned why the office manager had given me this structure as he considered it to be too much money.
On my next check, there was no lump sum and I was told that they were figuring out a new structure. My following shift I stayed home and got a frantic call from the Office Manager asking me why I wasn't at work. I told him I couldn't afford to go to work. He said why can't you afford it? 'Because I have been getting ripped off for two months, call me back when you have my money or don't call me at all.'
I never did get paid."
"After taking a few days off work while my father was having a brain tumor removed (and still checking emails and attending conference calls from the hospital), my boss gave me a new project. On Thursday afternoon, she gave me a Monday morning deadline for a project that would take a whole week to complete. I worked 16 hours a day to get it done. When we met on Monday, she asked how my weekend was.
'I worked all weekend,' I sighed. Then she asked if I got to visit my dad in the hospital to which I replied 'No, I didn't get a chance because I, you know, worked all weekend.'
A couple weeks later, she pulled me into a meeting and said, 'I feel like you were resentful because you had to work and I feel like I was really good when your dad was sick, maybe you're just tired. Are you tired?'
She'd also make comments when I would leave the office on time - not early, on time. 'It's great that you just get up and go when your day is over, like I have to go because I have a daughter, but you don't have any kids and you just leave at the end of the day.'
Um yeah lady, I don't live at my job. I don't go home and sit in a dark room counting the hours until I get to come back here. I'm also not curing cancer, nothing we do here matters to anyone outside of here. I give you 100% when I'm here, but when my day is done, it's done. Long story short, I no longer work there."
"My wife has one. Her boss suddenly became obsessed with bringing in as many new people as possible. Oddly, he seemed to forget about retaining his current workers. Many, like my wife, were very experienced at this point. You would think that they’d be considered the most valuable employees of the group.
My wife had settled into a nice M-F schedule with good hours (10-5). Suddenly, her boss pulls her in for a meeting and says 'Most of the new employees can’t work nights or weekends due to personal conflicts. I’ll need you to switch to a 1-9 schedule and work Saturdays.'
My wife was caught off guard and responded 'When you hired me, I told you that I had conflicts in the evenings and weekends, and that I would be able to work within that schedule!'
The boss got all serious and said 'Listen, I think I’ve been more than generous and accommodating of your schedule needs. I think it’s time for you to show us some of that same flexibility.'
My wife started crying immediately and stormed back to her desk. She called me and said that she thought she needed to quit, but wanted to make sure she wasn’t crazy. After listening to what happened, I said that boss could go take a hike and she should never look back. She took her free water bottle and never returned."
"It was my first job– working at a little BBQ place with a drive thru. My manager calls me at 8:30 am (30 mins before we open) on my day off saying she doesn’t feel good and needs me to open. I rush in and end up working all day. 5:00 pm rolls around, manager comes in with the owner of the business, who she’s dating. They were at the fair all day and completely forgot they lied to me about her being sick. I bite my tongue and ask if I can go home, they say no and keep me until close (9:00 pm).
At 9:00 pm I took my shirt off, handed them my keys, and said 'Today was my last day' as I walked out the door shirtless.
The best part was when I got home, my dad was ticked off that I quit my job. I told him what they did and said I wasn’t making enough money. He looked at my pay stubs and saw they hadn’t been paying me over time the entire time I worked there! He made me go back in and demand my overtime pay. When I came in with the pay stubs the manager started crying and gave me cash out of the register to cover my overtime and then some. They called me the next day making sure I wasn’t going to report them to the BBB.
I didn’t, but my dad did."
"I was at a job for three years, consistently in the top three of my department in terms of performance. I asked my supervisor repeatedly if I could be recommended for advancement/promotion and he always told me he was trying his best to get me new opportunities. I found out from a friend in a different department that I'd been considered a top candidate for four different promotions and each time my supervisor had blocked it.
When I confronted him with this information, he told me it was true and he did it because 'I could never find someone who does what you do without paying them a lot more.'
'Forget this,' I thought. I quit and found a new job within three months. I took all my PTO and on the day I came back, I quit two hours into the day leaving him high and dry at a peak time. That company sucked."
"I worked as a cashier for a small chain of pharmacies briefly back in 2006. Because I was so easy going, they scheduled me with the nastiest hag they had because I mean, why would you fire someone when you can just ignore the problem and pass it off to someone else?
She had me running her personal errands for months. She demanded that I cash her checks and pick up her dinner. Heck, she even tried to make me buy her breakfast on my way in. One day, she sent me out at the start of our shift to pick up her dinner. I didn't buy anything because I always ate halfway through my shift and I refused to alter that one singular break I got for her.
When it came time for me to pick up my own food, she refused. She claimed that the break I'd taken right after I clocked in to fetch her dinner also counted as my break. She eventually relented and said if I wanted to get my own food I could clock out, which I was told I'd never have to do and that I'd always be paid for my 15-minute break.
I was so furious that I called my mom and said 'I want to quit. I hate this job, I hate this troll, my boss is almost as bad as her, I want out.'
'Then quit,' she said.
'You mean right now?' I asked,' Or put in a notice?'
She said, 'Do it, you're young. It's a lousy job to keep you busy before college. It's not your life; just quit.'
So, I did. My mom was so angry that she said she was coming over, too. She walked right up to my supervisor and said, 'My daughter doesn't need this lousy job or your lousy attitude. She's leaving,' and we both walked out.
She was left alone mid-shift at like 7 pm with no staff willing to fill in, so I'm pretty sure the boss had to get off her butt and fill in as cashier herself."