Have you ever worked with someone and wondered: Do you even want this job? Humans are far from perfect, but some of us seem to have a better grasp of common sense than others. In these stories, people share the crazy things they witnessed someone do that got them the boot.
All stories have been edited for clarity.
“A friend of mine used to race tunnel boats. His was getting old but he didn’t have enough money to replace it.
At about two o’clock one Sunday morning, his boat ‘disappeared’ from its spot at his apartment complex. He reported it to the police who unfortunately never found it. My friend filed his insurance claim and all was good.
Except for one thing.
The company we worked for had a huge trash compactor. When the next trash pickup day came around the company maintenance person discovered the crunched-up boat in the trash compactor, and reported it to the office. My friend was BUSTED! That boat was squished so small that I had no idea how anyone could recognize it but someone did. Obviously, he got fired.”
“I worked in a liquor store in Downtown Chicago. I was referred to work there by my roommate whose uncle owned the store.
Within a few weeks of working there, all of a sudden, money kept disappearing from the drawer. The guy I was working with was a so-called manager. He often let the title get to his head.
One night, my boss asked me about the missing money. He said the other manager was very quick to accuse me of stealing money despite not being accused himself.
I said I had made sure all the money was accounted for but had no idea what he was talking about. After all, it was the manager who counted ALL the money in ALL drawers at the end of the night, not me.
It was also the manager that stupidly forgot to report there was money missing. I told my boss that working for an honest day’s pay would get me further in life than stealing money from him since I was looking to have a summer job. I then told him that was not the kind of person I was nor would I take advantage of my roommate, his nephew, getting me hired there.
The manager thought he was slick but stole from the drawer on a day I was off. I think he must’ve been doing it so much that he forgot and lost track of the days I worked. On that night, he had actually been the only one there that night WITH the boss. When the drawer came up short, the boss instantly knew I wasn’t the one stealing the money.
The manager was fired the next day.”
At What Cost?
“This woman I knew was an American Engineer and Project Manager working for a German industrial technology company.
She was finishing up a large energy project in China. As she was leaving for a trip home with a couple of coworkers, they were all detained by the government.
They told her she had to explain her company’s designs and the basis of design to Chinese Engineers in order for them to be released. In other words, turn over underlying Intellectual Property.
She complied, but actually lied about key aspects of the project’s design to protect the company. Unknown to her, the Chinese had told the company that she was being held for ‘trying to leave the country with state secrets’ and they needed to turn over the same things they were asking of her.
When the Chinese figured out she was lying to them, they went back to the company with more demands for information before releasing all of them.
She was fired via phone call the moment she set foot back in the US for jeopardizing the company’s businesses in China and for risking the lives of her coworkers.
The Chinese had threatened to execute them all for espionage because she had tried to protect the company IP.”
“My boss had an employee who was prone to exaggeration.
One day my boss caught her in a lie about a task she didn’t complete, but she would not admit it. They quarreled very loudly in the hall about this for nearly an hour. My boss sent her home early and said they would continue the discussion after the weekend.
Over the weekend, the employee came in and cleaned out her desk. Then she logged into the computer systems and attempted to erase two years’ worth of her own work. Fortunately, she used a command that only removed the file names from the directory, so we were able to retrieve it all quite easily.
She also stole a number of books from someone else’s desk. Luckily, she did this poorly as well, as we found them all at her boyfriend’s desk.
She was terminated and security was instructed not to allow her on the premises.”
“A former co-worker of mine, ‘Sophie,’ took a low-level management position in a large corporation with a branch near her city. They put her in a group office with several other people. She had a management title, but she didn’t actually manage anyone. She did, however, feel she should have her own office because ‘managers’ have private offices.
She noticed many empty offices in the two-story building where she worked. So Sophie asked her manager, ‘Tom,’ if she could have one, pointing out that there were many empty. The manager replied that he was aware of the empty offices, and to stay where she was. This is when we learned Sophie wasn’t the type who took ‘no’ lightly.
She decided to press on by showing them she should have an office by sitting in one. A psychological trick I saw someone else play, to no avail. You know, ‘See it, be it.’ So, one day for lunch she went and sat in one of the empty offices. Tom asked her what she was doing in there.
‘I need a quiet place to eat lunch,’ she replied sweetly.
‘Eat at your own desk,’ he replied.
‘It’s too noisy in that group office,’ she whined, ‘Everybody is always on their phones! I need a change of scenery. Who wants to sit in the same place all day?’
‘Go eat in the cafeteria, then,’ Tom said plainly.
‘The cafeteria is just as bad! Too much noise!’ Sophie continued as if she was getting anywhere.
‘Go back to your desk,’ he said. ‘This isn’t it.’
So she got up unhappily and moved, but tried it again in a few days.
‘I thought I told you to stay in your office at YOUR desk!’ Tom snapped.
‘I need a break!’ she basically cried, ‘What difference does it make? Nobody else is in here.’
‘It’s not your office!’ he replied sternly, ‘I don’t want you in here!’
Here’s a tip, everyone: if your boss tells you to do something, do it. But she did it again. This time, two important things happened:
She wasn’t caught. Tom wasn’t around.
She discovered that the phone in the office she was squatting in was live.
Now, she was encouraged: she could sit in the office, sending out the ‘promote me, I deserve to stay in the office reserved for those with higher titles’ vibe AND make personal phone calls.
So, over and over, she would sit in there and make personal phone calls to her boyfriend. Whenever she heard someone coming, she’d hang up quickly, but never quickly enough. Over and over, she would sit in the vacant office, insisting the “peace and quiet” improved her productivity, and make surreptitious phone calls. Over and over, but not every time, because Tom had other things to do, she would be told to stop using the phone and using the office.
Of course, the temptation to make personal phone calls quickly overran ‘lunch’ and she was ducking into different empty offices at every opportunity to talk to her boyfriend.
Guess what? She got fired.
If you’re told by someone who has the power to fire you not to go into an office that isn’t yours, don’t do it.
If you’re told by someone who has the power to fire you not to use a phone that is not assigned to you, don’t do it.
And don’t argue with someone who has the power to fire you. You will rarely win.”
Putting On Airs
“We had a gentleman transferred to our group at work. On his first day, he brought in a basket of baked goods in for everybody. We thought it was a little odd, but we figured being odd with food was an acceptable affliction.
But we soon learned that he simply refused to listen to others. He acted as if he had some sort of secret superior knowledge and wasn’t interested in others’ opinions. But we figured that maybe it would take a while for him to settle into the group.
Then he started visiting our vice president. He would just walk in, sit down, and start talking. Now our VP at the time was smart with tons of knowledge, but a gentle soul. He would sit there and listen to this guy for a while and then he would mention that he had a meeting to get rid of him. Alas, a couple of days later he showed up in the VP’s office again, just to chat.
Starting to get fairly confused, the VP called our manager and asked, ‘What’s with this guy? He just keeps showing up in my office.’
Our manager was dumbfounded and called the guy in. He told him blatantly not to visit the VP. If he had something to convey, tell him and it would be evaluated and then perhaps relayed to the VP. My manager thought he got the message across.
Apparently not. Another call came from the VP to our manager not too long after. The guy had stopped by again. This time our manager explained in no uncertain terms to the new guy that he could not go visit the VP. If he did so he would be subject to dismissal. He was told that the VP was complaining about his visits.
Guess what? The guy showed up in the VP’s office again to discuss the reasoning behind his prohibition to visit him. And of course, there was another phone call. The guy was fired immediately.”