It is a common misconception (promoted especially by sitcom cliches) that the big bosses has no conscience when it comes to giving an employee the shaft. In reality, even when the person was let go over a punishable, a manager worth their salt despises firing workers. Part of the reason why is based on fear... for their lives. Just ask these people.
Managers looked back on their most memorable stories of having to terminate someone's employment and shared to Reddit the people who absolutely took it the worst. Content has been edited for clarity.
"I caught an employee stealing one day after a tip-off from a customer clued me in to watch the security footage. He opened up a brand new car stereo amp and receiver kit and removed a small plastic package of wire from inside. It was just a little bit of wire, but now I couldn't sell the kit as new due to missing parts. The boss wasn't on site at the time, so it was up to me to fire him. He begged, pleaded, whined, and cried until finally, I got him to leave.
Later that night, he came back with his girlfriend to beg for his job. His girlfriend wigged out and started threatening to kill herself, and stormed out the door. I had to go after her while the boss handled the thief. Ultimately, for whatever the reason, the boss hired him back. Like, huh?
One week later, I caught him - again - on the security cameras loading some subwoofers into a trash bag while cleaning the shop. He took the trash bag around back and gingerly put it in the dumpster for later recovery. When he came back in, I told him he was fired and that he needed to get out. Now.
His response? I had it in for him, that he didn't do anything wrong and that the footage (recorded five minutes earlier) wasn't him, and that I set him up. He started screaming and raising cain, flinging stuff off the shelves, and smashing things. He only stopped when two HUGE bodybuilder-type guys came in the shop. I guess he thought I had called them because he took off running like a bat out of you know where. I never saw him again.
The first guy asked me, 'What was his deal?' I told him I didn't know. The guy then told me he was there to buy a new stereo for his boyfriend (the other guy) who then piped in with a 'Heeeeeeeey y'all!'"
"My boyfriend had a guy fired at his job a few months ago. He doesn't technically have the ability to fire anyone, but he makes the recommendation to his boss, and then the person is gone. His boss would always default on his recommendation as he's the person in direct supervision of them.
The guy apparently kept coming to work wasted off his rear end. My boyfriend tried to let it slide, and the first few times made comments like 'Starting the weekend a little early?' but then it got to the point where it was happening more regularly and he flat out told him that he had to stop drinking on the job, or he was going to get fired. The guy was inebriated AGAIN a few weeks later, so he was fired.
This guy, wasted, started screaming about how it wasn't fair that he was being fired for being inebriated because my boyfriend does coke all the time and is clearly always stoned and that he should be the one getting fired and a whole bunch of crap. My boyfriend does none of that, and offered right away to go take a pee test, to which his boss responded that it wasn't necessary because the guy getting fired was obviously just ticked off. Then, the guy started to threaten my boyfriend's life.
He did know where we live. My boyfriend walks to work most days and they had been friendly before he started coming in wasted all the time, so it had come up in conversation. He told my boyfriend that he'd be waiting outside for him one day and that he would regret having him fired. He also knew which car was my boyfriend's (it's parked right outside our window) and threatened to damage that. The guy was an ex con who had gone to jail on assault and illicit substance charges, and had mentioned having previous connections to shady people in a town nearby that is known for its gang activity.
They sent my boyfriend home that day, and his boss actually gave him a ride so he didn't have to walk the half mile alone. They sent the guy home, but he came back a few hours later and took a microwave and a blanket from the warehouse. My boyfriend speculated later that he was living there part of the time."
"I once worked at a foundry where we poured iron. It wasn't a glamorous job, but it paid decent enough. It was part of my job when someone got injured or had a near-miss, no matter how small, to take them off site for a substance test. One evening someone wasn't paying attention, and one of the induction furnaces overheated and molten iron breached the lining and streamed out on the floor. Well, before I got into the car with the guy, I looked at him dead in the face and said, 'Man, if you are on something lets just forego this whole afternoon and just get this over with and just fess up.' He swore up and down that he wasn't, so we went to the hospital.
He went into the back and, 10 minutes later, he calmly sat down back in his seat. Well, the nurse came and handed me the results. Then, out of nowhere, he jumped up in this quick motion and grabbed the chair he was sitting in and then just went nuts on the door which lead back to the lab, ramming the legs of the chair into the door. He was screaming, 'LIARS LIARS LIARS!' He turned to me with this look of panic, and said 'Tell them I am not using substances. I need this job!' I was like, 'Hey, he isn't on substances.' I mean, who wouldn't? No one wants to be pummeled with a chair. Security came and, about 10 minutes later, so did the cops.
His test was negative, by the way. HR let him go anyway.
I never knew what happened to him. I felt sorry for him, but I am glad I moved to another job years after the fact."
"I once fired a guy for having lied about an MBA on his CV. I also fired the HR rep who cleared him. The guy who lied about the MBA didn't do anything drastic other than making some smart aleck comment about having gotten about $70,000 out of the company before we found out. He was a solid asset to the firm and made money for us, but I don't tolerate liars. The HR rep, however, went ballistic. He went into my office, whipped out his junk, and peed on my desk right in front of me."
"My boss had been telling me for months that he was going to fire one of my subordinates. He called the guy in his office, talked to him for 30-45 minutes, and the guy walked out. Next morning, I saw the guy at work in another area. Boss told me we were going to try him out in another spot. A few weeks later, the boss told me he was going to fire him again. He said this time he wanted me to be a witness. I should have known this was trouble.
Boss told the guy that it was not working out and we just needed to part ways. The guy looked straight at me. Boss told him that he needs to leave the building. Guy lost his mind. Started screaming at the top of his lungs at me, 'YOU DID THIS, JERK! YOU SET ME UP TO FAIL, YOU JERK! THIS IS CRAP!!'
He must have picked up on my utter look of amazement.
'DON'T ACT LIKE YOU DIDN'T WANT TO GET RID OF ME YOU PIECE OF DUNG,' he said. 'YOU MOVED ME TO [other department] SO THAT I'D FAIL. GET STUFFED, JERK. I KNOW YOUR GAMES. GET STUFFED, YOU PIECE OF DUNG!!'
Unfortunately, the uniform company had delivered a big stack of shirts on hangers that day. The dude picked up the stack of shirts by the hangers and threw the entire stack at me. They flew over my head and knocked all the stuff off the wall and shelves behind me. We had these ultra heavy duty staplers that you use with one hand (almost like scissors, but way heavier). I reached over and grabbed the one on my desk and was ready to knock this dude out if he came close to me. He saw me grab it, stood up, grabbed the door handle, and, on his way out, he looked at me and said, 'YOU BETTER HOPE I DON'T SEE YOUR BUTT OUTSIDE!!!'
As he walked out, he tore a bulletin board off the wall and destroyed two desktop computers and monitors on a desk. One employee had just ordered business cards, and they come in a box of 1,000. The box was on the desk. He threw it across the room and 1,000 tiny rectangles went everywhere. We were still finding them underneath things months later. As he reached the back door to walk to his car, an unfortunate employee with no knowledge of this situation thought he was just leaving for lunch and said, 'Hi!'
'GO STUFF YOURSELF!!!!!!' he replied.
Out the door, he went. I looked around and saw employees rushing for the doors and locking them. One of them came to me and told me, 'You know he carries a .38 on his ankle every day, right?'
I called the cops, told them what happened, and walked out to the front to make sure I saw his car leave the parking lot. A few minutes went by and I saw nothing. I felt a tap on my shoulder and nearly pooped myself when I turned around to see him standing there.
'Hey man,' he said, 'no hard feelings, OK?'
I was floored. I told him the cops were coming and he should leave. He shook my hand and off he went, never to be seen again, until about three months ago. I was in a weapon shop browsing, and I heard my name. I turned around and guess who works in a WEAPON STORE now and is walking around with a weapon on his hip? The dude approached me like we were best friends. He asked what I'm looking for. I kinda kind of some chit chat and used the excuse that I was on my lunch break and had to go. I got back to my office, and there was a message on my voice mailbox. I checked it and it was him.
'Hey man,' he said on the message, 'it was good to see you today. Glad you are doing well. Let me know if you need to order anything. I'll let you use my discount. OK, man, take care. Come by the shop and hang out sometime. Later.'"
"My dad has been a 'boss' for most of his career. He supervises bus drivers for a living. We used to live in a rural area. My mom used to joke that it was 'the last stop before Alaska' (for crazy people).
One winter, my dad had to call this big, burly, young bus driver into his office to fire him. This guy had used racial epithets against some of his riders. These were elementary school kids, mind you. It had happened more than once, he'd been warned, and now my dad was going to cut him loose.
My dad told me that he was pretty sure this dude was going to come across the table at him. The guy was red in the face, barely had a lid on his rage, made some vague threats my dad, of course, can't remember. My dad was legitimately shaken up when the guy finally left, but got on with his day.
That night, back at home, my dad was out working in the garage with the garage door open. We lived WAY out in the sticks and across from our front yard was a big field with trees scattered here and there. Dad was working in the garage, when all of a sudden, he heard a huge BANG, like a weapon going off. Dad dropped to the ground and remembered the kid he just fired that day and started to flip out. This idiot was across the street taking freaking SHOTS at him.
Dad held still a few minutes and heard nothing else, so he crawled over to the side of the garage and pulled himself up using the handle of a drawer on his workbench, ready to go in and call the cops.
As he stood up, he opened the drawer he used to pull himself up, and realized that the BANG he heard was actually... a can of soda pop in the drawer that had frozen and exploded in the frigid midwinter night."
"My father worked at HP for 30 years. He knew Bill and Dave, was a head manager, and was well known around the company. One day he was working in a cubicle, and was approached by a female co-worker distraught about how one of the men would look at adult content while at his desk and at one point she caught him pleasuring himself. In his freaking cubicle. Keep in mind, my father has no privilege of firing anyone in his building.
So he walked up calmly to this guy's cubicle, and stood there unnoticed while this sick dude was watching the kinky stuff. Finally, he smiled and said, 'Hey Dave, whatcha lookin' at?' So, the guy immediately closed the browser and became nervous and responded, 'Oh, nothing, Jim, just going over some documents.'
'It'd be a shame if this got out, wouldn't it?' my dad said.
So, the guy apologized and promised it would never happen again. So, of course, it happened again, as my father caught him in another act of watching some chicks taking turns on a dog. My dad reported him and the guy went batty, threatened him, cussed, the usual.
Jim, my father, being a high blood pressured Italian, called him out on it, and the dude walked off. So, as my dad was out having a smoke, he got approached by this ticked off lunatic in the parking lot. He put out his smoke, thunderclapped this guys (it's where you take your hands and clap someone's head as hard as you can right in their ears; if you do it the right way and cup your hands, it can knock the crap out of someone), and then punched him in the stomach.
The guy walked off (barely) back to his car and drove away. Later, they found out he had a bunch of vile content stored away on his hard drive."
"I witnessed my boss firing someone and it was super awkward. I work at a coffee shop and this girl would literally sit on the counters and eat muffins, complaining that she had cramps and couldn't work. She was so freaking lazy, and super annoying too. However, my boss is a huge softie and felt bad for her because he knew she had a rough life, which is very sweet.
One day, she came in two hours late and he pulled her into the back and explained to her that if that ever happened again, he would have to fire her. So, she got up and opened the door and laughed SUPER loudly in his face.
'Fire me?! FIRE ME?!' she screamed out. 'Yeah, FREAKING, RIGHT!! You don't have the freaking balls to fire me. I freaking dare you, you freaking coward.'
My boss got up, walked to the doorway where she was then standing and replied, 'Get out, you're fired.' She honestly looked stunned, actually surprised that he did it. She began to walk through the store and knock stuff down until my boss walked over to her calmly and said, 'No, no, you walk through the back door and get out of here or I call the cops.'
We never saw her again after that, thank God."
"I let a girl go for stealing $400 out of my wallet while I was outside on a phone call. We had security cameras in my office, but she didn't think they recorded. I asked her for the $400 back, she denied taking it. I showed her footage, and she leapt for the DVR and started smashing it. She gave me the biggest poop-eating grin and said, 'Good luck firing me now, and I am calling and telling him I caught you doing substances, and you broke the DVR to cover it up.'
So, she was standing there staring me down. I turned on my monitor and opened the saved video of her opening my desk and taking my wallet out and money. She lunged at the computer trying to break it, at which point I pinned her on the ground and called the police. It ended up being such a huge issue, and the crazy thing is she wasn't even immediately fired. We had like three meetings with her making up loads of nonsense to get me fired. It caused a lot of drama for me.
They ended up terminating her, and in that phone call, I told them I quit and that the company that hired me was hiring me on directly and cutting them off as a contractor."
"I had about five write-ups on this girl at work. She consistently had a crap attitude at work, would wander off to make long, painfully detailed personal phone calls, was confrontational and volatile.
My documentation was impeccable, and I wrote down, verbatim, every single one of our check-ins, verbal warnings, constructive criticism conversations, etc., and I let her know this, every time. The day that we sat down with our director to tell her she either needed to move to a different position in a different location or leave the agency, she sat stone-faced while the director read off the exquisitely detailed and specific (with dates and times) incident reports, then asked if she recalled any of those incidents.
She stood up and started a slow clap. She looked me in the face and went, 'Oh, Bill, brilliant. Well played! You got me! How proud of yourself are you? Amaaaazing. Fantaaaaastic. Good for you. Good for you. Are you happy with yourself? This is just great.'
I sat there and stared at her until she stopped. She sat back down, cleared her throat, and said, 'I had no idea this is how you felt about me, Bill. I wish you had come to me sooner.'
She started blubbering like a baby about how 'fragile' she is and in the next sentence claimed I hadn't been 'direct' enough with her and just needed someone who 'wouldn't hold (her) hand and would just man up and tell (her) what to do.' Our director looked at her dumbfounded and said, 'Well, no one has ever called Bill a hand-holder before, but if you insist.'
So our director then placed her in a location with a high turnover rate and the hardest boss to work for in the agency. She quit soon after marrying one of their staff on a whim. FUN! Also had a woman burst into tears and tell me I was firing her from her entire life. I informed her that if her job was her life then maybe she should think about taking up some hobbies.
Hand-holder? I think not."
"Yes, I've fired someone and had them freak out.
His branch manager loathed him with the intensity of one thousand suns, and when she got word that I was coming down to terminate his employment the next day, she couldn't help herself and told everyone in the office. Naturally, word got back to him about three seconds later.
I showed up late the next morning and as soon as I hit the door, he stood up from his desk and said, 'You're not going to fire me' and pulled a .45 out of his briefcase (this was back in the day when people still carried briefcases and kept all their work in them; in other words, pre-laptop days). He chambered a round, turned it around, tried to pull the trigger, but the palm grip safety was blocking him.
Like a nitwit, I jumped on him and tried to get the piece away from him, but he was so slick with sweat I slid off him. He finally figured out where he went wrong, put the barrel up to his chest and blew a small hole in the front and a really, really big hole in his back.
"I had to fire a secretary once, and she flipped out on me. It was awkward as she did not work for me, but I was her official supervisor as she was on my department's payroll (my department was profitable and the department she worked for was new and not yet profitable). Even more awkward was the fact that although she was being fired for extensive tardiness, the real reason was that she had recently gotten herself addicted to speed, including allegations that she used at work.
On a Friday morning, when she bothered to show up late again after about 10 warnings, I asked her to meet with me in a shared office. When she entered, she noticed that my boss was there as was the head of the department she worked for, and we had the company's general counsel on the speakerphone. She knew what was up and got combative immediately, but she appeared to give in and started to cry, so she asked to used the ladies room before she left. A friend of hers followed her in, and we heard a commotion to discover the fired woman was taking speed when her friend came in. There was an argument, and the woman slammed her friend's head into the mirror in anger. We called the police, and she was removed, but her friend refused to press charges.
Fast forward a month, and I get a letter from the state unemployment office stating that she had applied for unemployment and an administrative judge would have a hearing on her eligibility. I participated in the hearing by phone with the judge asking about what happened before firing. The assault in the bathroom was not considered admissible as it occurred after the firing. After I walked through the warnings that led to the firing, the judge announced her ineligible for unemployment, which led to her screaming obscenities over the phone at the judge and her lawyer.
I don't know what happened to her after that, but I hope she got help for her problem."