Be Careful Bending The Rules
“I worked at a shoe store and a lady asked for our special cancer awareness shoes. My grandma died of this same type of cancer so I wanted to help her.
We didn’t have the shoes so I ordered them from another store in another district. The shoes were going to be directly shipped to her house. I’m not allowed to do this, but I bent the rules for this lady. She bought the shoes but didn’t seem happy. She complained about the price because Kohl’s had them cheaper but not in her size.
Two hours later she comes back with a friend and wants an immediate refund. The way ordering shoes from other districts works means I can’t refund her. Basically, you buy a gift card for the price of the shoe and send the info to the other store who uses it to buy the shoe there. Our system didn’t let us refund or return gift cards.
So I have to call my district manager and explain that I broke the rules and ask how to fix the issue. Meanwhile, this lady is smack talking me with her friend the entire time. Calling me stupid and lazy. Saying young people just don’t know how to do anything. She gets her return and continues to smack talk me. This is during a busy Saturday.
I still had her address… so I mailed her an anonymous glitter bomb.”
Four Chances Too Many
“While working as the director of a mental health agency, I had an employee who was a former addict who had been having performance issues for about 6 months. He was on his fourth written warning and had just no-showed for work 3 days in a row when I realized I had no choice but to terminate him.
When we met with his direct supervisor who is also my subordinate, he acknowledged he was going through some difficult times and agreed he was messing up big time. Deciding to be kind, I offered him the option of resigning in lieu of termination so he could save face and be eligible for rehire once he got his act together. He thanked me profusely for the opportunity to be able to come back at a later date and take on a less stressful job in the meantime. I verbally accepted his 2 weeks notice and he agreed to give me a letter of resignation within the next 24 hours.
The next day, I hadn’t received his letter and called him into my office to ask him about it. My supervisor, the company vice president, happened to be there, and the problem employee acted totally confused as if the conversation had never happened. I pulled in his supervisor who was present the whole time we had the conversation, and he still vehemently denied that he had agreed to resign and said that we were making it up. He proceeded to file formal grievances against both me and his direct supervisor saying that he was being discriminated against.
The company launched a full investigation and it was a total nightmare for everyone involved. In the end, he was able to keep his job even though he kept no showing for work and was totally neglecting his basic responsibilities because the company was too afraid of a lawsuit. Sadly, my takeaway was that I needed to show less empathy and just do everything by the book when it comes to HR matters.”
“We Tried Everything We Could To Help Her”
“I met a girl at work and we became friends. She was pretty chill. We got along pretty well and my fiancé liked her as well. She ended up on some hard time, and we basically let her live in our guest bedroom for a few months. We didn’t charge her a penny for anything. We housed and fed her, gave her rides to work, etc. She was also an aspiring artist. She painted.
I loved her work, and my fiancé and I ended up purchasing quite a few paintings from her. We proudly displayed them in our home. She eventually moved in with another friend, and it seemed like she was getting her life together. There were a couple of times she was low on money, and my fiancé and I would bring her groceries and stuff to help get her by. We really tried everything we could to help her.
At some point, she came to me and told me she had an art show coming up but was wondering if she could borrow the paintings we had purchased from her to display at the show. I totally supported her artwork and wanted her to succeed, so of course, we let her take them. She said she would have them back the next week.
We never did get our paintings back. She ended up getting into hardcore substances pretty bad. I cut communication with her, after several failed attempts to get our artwork back.
She ended up texting me a good 6 months or so after taking the paintings, telling me that someone was interested in purchasing one of the paintings she had sold to me (it was my favorite of the pieces we had purchased, and the most expensive one) and she wanted to know if she had our permission to sell it to this person. She didn’t offer to pay us the money that we had ALREADY paid for the painting, she just wanted the money.
I never responded. I told my fiancé to tell her to do whatever she wanted, but I was done.
I haven’t talked to her since.”
Returning The Phone Wasn’t Worth The Trouble
“I found a cellphone at a job when I was like 19. I opened it up and went to contacts, looking for anything like mom and dad. Nothing there. I went to recent calls and called the number that appeared the most times. I call them and let them know I found the phone, the person on the other end said they knew how to reach them and will get them to contact me soon.
10 minutes go by and I get a call on the phone and answer it. Almost instantly I’m getting yelled at by some woman about how I shouldn’t go through someone else’s phone or answer it and that she is going to make sure I get fired. She yelled that I had acted unprofessionally and along with some other choice words.
I politely let them know, ‘I don’t appreciate being spoken to like that. I found this phone and I wanted to make sure it got to its owner.’
It didn’t matter. I’m still getting yelled at and at this point they are yelling racial and inappropriate slurs at me. They tell me they are on the way to pick it up and get me fired. I said okay, that’s fine. They hung up.
Jokes on them though, they never asked me where I worked. When they tried calling back, I didn’t pick up (you know, you shouldn’t answer someone else’s phone).
I just let it ring until the battery drained.”
“Don’t Employ Friends!”
“I’m self-employed and a childhood friend was looking for a job so I employed him for 30 hours a week (that’s all he wanted anyway as he had bad knees). He worked for me for almost 2 years and was a pretty good worker and we had a fair few laughs on the job.
I paid above average wages and gave him a few decent bonuses in cash (totaling in the thousands) to help him and his struggling family out. I’d also buy him birthday presents and loan fairly large amounts of money to him so he could buy vehicles. I also bought him lunch regularly. To add to this we gave him an apprenticeship on full wages.
I loaned him my pushbike as he’d sold his latest vehicle and he told me he was going to get fit again, so he rode it to work the first day then home again and that was the last I seen of the trusty old pushy. He then bought another car and only had it for around two weeks when he decided he was going to sell it. I offered to buy it (for almost double what he’d paid, to help him out) so he used the proceeds to buy another temporary vehicle and we got a new little delivery car.
After a couple of weeks, he sold his latest car and was again without a vehicle, so I offered him the little delivery vehicle I’d bought from him to use as much as he wanted and I’d still pay for fuel. I think it was around this time that we’d either paid him a bonus or bought him a birthday present. I received a long email from him telling me that my wife and I were the greatest people ever and no-one had ever treated him so well, so he was forever in our debt. Nice email, great to hear and I was happy that we were helping another family out.
Now our little business was going strong and we really depended on this guy, but our own personal financial situation had taken a bit of a dive due to taxes and home maintenance. So fast forward a few weeks from the email. I get a call on a Saturday afternoon (while I’m a friends 40th birthday party) to tell me that he was taking a new job. I was okay with this but the pressure will be on for him and myself to get someone new trained up, my wife was a full-time mum at the time so it was only myself and him.
Here in Australia, you’re supposed to give at least a weeks notice per year of employment prior to leaving. So I asked him how long he could give me and the answer was ‘Sorry, they need me straight away.’
Crud, I couldn’t deal with that right there and then so I said come in Monday morning for an exit interview and I’ll deal with it all then.
Monday morning arrives, he’d already dropped the little car back on Saturday. He and his wife and myself and my wife sit down for a chat. I thanked him for his work over the last couple of years and we gave him his severance package which is all that was owed, but by our labor laws, an employer can withhold some of the owing holiday pay if no notice is given. So we do this as it has suddenly turned our lives upside down and we’d have no one to help train the new employee. There was a bit of a grumble but it was accepted and he left for his new job.
We stayed in touch for the next few weeks, then it came. A speed camera fine in my wife’s name: a photo of his face in the little delivery vehicle on his way to work in the morning. It was taken a couple of days before he quit. I sent him a text message to say that he was responsible for the fine and the points. He never replied and that was the last contact with him ever.
He blocked me and all of our associated friends from Facebook and even badmouthed me to one of my best mates when they ran into each other.
In the four or so years since I’ve never been able to get over it. I probably wasn’t a perfect employer, but I think I went above and beyond for him, just to be kicked in the guts.
Don’t employ friends!”
Choose Friends Wisely
“When I was in college back in the ’80s, I was a teacher’s assistant for an independent study class (just free-for-all app development).
I had two years of real-world dev experience at an aerospace company and was the first to interview at this ‘dream’ startup my senior year. Four other students also sent in their resumes to the company.
At the end of my interview, the company CTO told me ‘we normally only hire people with masters degrees, but with your experience and expertise, we’ll hire you.’
He then asked about the four other guys who I was TA-ing with. He said ‘none of them have any experience at all, and don’t look too good on paper.’
‘No, they’re great, very creative, very intelligent,’ I reassured him, fibbing a fair amount. I thought it would be cool to know four people in this new company 400 miles away. They were hired.
After graduation, I married my college sweetie, but the four other guys immediately left for the new job.
When I got up there three weeks later, ALL OF THEM snubbed me. Like I didn’t exist. We had all been thick as thieves before graduation. We were all very friendly. I went over and above helping them with their projects. I got them their freaking jobs, and they ditched me at every company party and social gathering.
Two of them are still there to this day, very high up in the company. I never told anyone what I did for them and never threw it in their face, so to speak.
For reasons still unknown, they all decided to go against me while I was on my honeymoon.
It was my first job out of college, and it really made me think twice about sticking my neck out for anyone professionally for decades.”
It’s Nothing Personal; It’s Just Business
“I worked for this new, but growing tech solutions company. Although I didn’t have any specialized skills, I had enough basic knowledge in many things that I became the office handyman.
A few months in, my boss has a special request for me. One of his friends’ company had a dilemma: their marketing team of four people for various reasons were unable to complete their project and the deadline was swiftly approaching.
I naturally have no hesitation with helping people out. Additionally, my boss assured me I would still be paid and more.
So I spent two whole days working at it, from 7:00 in the morning till midnight. The pieces were there, they just needed to be put together. I managed to finish it and send it off. I knew it wasn’t perfect, but it was a whole lot better than nothing.
Long story short, I was fired by my boss with the reason being ‘negligent of the job.’ I found out through colleagues that the ‘friend’ didn’t like my work and to save his rear (my boss), he put the blame on me, fired me, all because he wanted a future business relationship.”
They Saved Her Job…But Was It Worth It?
“I work with a convicted child abuser (the kid in question was 15, which doesn’t make it right, but I would’ve reacted very differently if it was a 5-year-old). Anyway, I was unaware of this person’s past until one day someone fax-bombed all the offices in our building with her photo and info. My subordinate and I always came in early. She knew all about the case and filled me in. I considered what to do and concluded that since Ms. Child Abuser had already made whatever restitution was required by our legal system, and her job would never, ever, put her in the company of minors, it was no one’s business. I directed my subordinate to scoop up all those faxes and I disposed of them myself before our co-workers could see them.
I never told Ms. Convicted Child Abuser about this but sometimes I wonder if I should have because she’s been a passive-aggressive witch to me for most of my career, undermining me, sabotaging me and saying ugly things behind my back. One of us will be retiring in the next few years, and I’ll be telling her how I once did her a great favor early in our careers and still kept my silence even though she’s done nothing but talk down on me. It will be interesting to see how she reacts, if at all.
If you’re wondering why I didn’t return her witchy favors by telling on her, it has never been relevant to her work, so I’ve tried to be the bigger person. She still does not work with minors, and considering the type of work she does, she never will. If she had ever gotten a job in which that might have been a possibility, I would’ve blown the whistle, no matter what our working relationship.”
“I Wished Him The Best, But He Was Putting Everyone In Danger”
“I worked with a guy that was a recovering junkie. He was pretty bad at his job at first and my boss wanted to fire him. I felt bad for him and respected what he was trying to do (I had previously worked with quite a few junkies that made no effort to get better). So I talked the boss out of it and told him I’d be responsible for him.
I pulled him aside and give him a pep talk. I told him I believed in him and wanted to see him do good. It was a pretty good job and paid well. I took the time and trained him as best as I could.
Eventually, it became time when we had to put in some real work. They were 12 hour days and it took everyone pulling their weight. He was slow. I’m pretty sure he had relapsed. He ended up falling asleep standing up in the middle of a particularly dangerous job. My boss looked at me and I nodded like, ‘yeah, that’s enough.’
I pulled him aside and told him we couldn’t have him around like that and he had to go. No hard feelings, I wished him the best, but he was putting everyone in danger. I was genuinely sorry.
He yelled at me for a bit. He collected his things and left. When I finally got off work after pulling his weight the rest of the day, I realized he stole my wallet on his way out.
Hope your doing better Jimmy, but eff you, man.”
Suspended For Doing The Right Thing
“This was a colleague couple years back.
He works as a teacher and one time he took his class on a week-long work experience that involved stripping out a big old office building. It required heavy duty labor.
On the second day, he noticed a girl not eating when they had a lunch break. He talked to her and discovered her parents neither gave her food nor money to buy food. She hadn’t had dinner the night before or breakfast and didn’t expect to eat that night. So being a good guy, he ran down to the shop, got her a sandwich, a bar of chocolate, a drink etc. She ate and they crack on with the work.
The next day, he found himself suspended as the girl’s parents found out he fed their daughter (that they were too lazy or uncaring to feed themselves) and claimed he was trying to groom her.
He was put on a 2-week suspension for investigation. He was completely exonerated and came back to work, but has since said he’s hurt because now he’ll never be able to do the right thing again for fear of that happening.”
He Wouldn’t Take No For An Answer
“I’m a social worker that assesses people for housing first programs. I also have a tiny say in who is lucky enough to get housing through the system.
Well, I assessed a person who I thought would never be successful living on his own due to his behavior and social skills. He has some cognitive impairments due to a brain injury, and I didn’t think he would be able to interact with landlords to find his own place, etc. Given the complicated case, I decided to put my name out on the line to advocate for him to get a housing placement. The Placement Committee flat out told me no, he does not fit their current criteria to get housed in a program. I tried to plead the case so hard but was shut down in the worst way I’ve ever been shut down at that committee.
Well, I had to take the bad news back to him and let him know it was time to explore other options because getting him into a program might not happen for a long, long time if at all.
Long story short, he began coming to my office every day, twice a day for a solid week to intimidate me and harass me about getting him housing and then filed a grievance with my employer about how awful I am at my job because no one handed him housing.”
“I Left A Month After The Incident Because Of The Hostility”
“I basically saved the entire company, but all I got was a lot of hostility from my coworkers.
I worked in IT for a telecommunications equipment company. They were close to making their first quarter’s bonus, so to push it over, they bumped their bi-annual purge of junk returns so it would go out on the first quarter’s income. They sold their trash to a company that salvaged stuff, counted the ‘sold’ product as profit, and wrote off the rest. It always sounded fishy, but I was in charge of their servers, not accounting, so I have no clue.
Anyway, when the order was put together, somebody made a mistake on the NumPad. Inventory 4 was the ‘Trash’ inventory, and Inventory 1 was the ‘New’ inventory. This big Trash order was set to use Inventory 1 and set to automatically pull items instead of being manually entered.
The order dropped at the beginning of the first shift, and I worked second. When I got in, I noticed that all New equipment was on hold for a single order. This was strange so I looked into it. The problem was obvious, so I put a hold on it and let the order processors know so they could fix it.
But because it had already been live for a good 10 hours, there were over 100 pallets of inventory to put away. Putting things back is much more time-consuming than picking. It took about two days. To top it off, the hold on the items couldn’t be cleared until every last one was put away and the order was cleared.
This meant that actual orders were on hold until everything was put away. Since orders had to be shipped for the money to count, this caused them to miss the cut-off date to get their quarterly bonus.
Pretty much everyone decided to blame me, as if I had caused the mistake. Even the person who set up the order, who had mis-typed a 1 instead of a 4, was mad at me. I left a month later due to the hostilities over it.”