What makes a miserable work environment even worse? Bad managers. In Sunny's case, his manager, Mike, might be the actual worst. What was supposed to be a summer gig between college semesters turned into the worst work environment Sunny could have imagined. But, luckily for us, he knew just how to get revenge.
Content has been edited for clarity.
Summer jobs can either be the best or worst experience for young teenagers and college students striving to earn some money for themselves. That dedication to having their own income can make them stick in some sucky situations longer than they should. I’ve been there. So has Reddit user, Sunny. Sunny had a great experience working at a grocery store previously, so when he was needing a summer gig, he figured “why not?”. However, the one Sunny worked at for one summer in college was iconically dubbed as ‘The Bad Place’.
Let’s set the scene for our dear friend, Sunny. It was back in 1994 at a chain grocery store with a truly awful manager, Mike, who was straight out of business school. He was also conveniently the regional office director's son. So anything that went wrong got pinned on an assistant manager and/or hushed up at the regional level. Manager Mike already sounds sleazy and shady with his “high-up” connections. But to make matters worse, Mike had somehow managed to get his mistress hired as one of the assistant managers. Sunny only saw her in the store twice, and both times she was shopping. One of the times she didn't even pay. Typical.
In the true makings of a horrid manager, Mike also paid little to no attention to his employees time constraints. The store had a bunch of teenagers there who were attending summer school. He didn't care. He’d schedule his employees however he wanted and left them to swap shifts among themselves. Sunny personally saw him tell one girl she'd have to miss school because he needed her on shift and she couldn't find coverage. Crazy illegal.
Another shocker, Manager Mike didn't care about legalities. Mike’s belief was that if the computer would accept it, then it was fine. It was the early days of computerized payroll, so the system would take literally anything with no checks. He made the teenagers work hours they legally couldn't. If they complained, he threatened to fire them. That was his answer to everything, and work wasn't easy to come by in that area. There were teenagers in tears because he wouldn't let them take time for family vacations or they were being forced to miss tests at school. One guy was fired because he went to his sister's wedding. He'd warned Mike about it months in advance and it was a holiday weekend, so nobody could swap.
On top of all his amazing management qualities, Mike was very rarely, if ever, in the store his entire shift. He'd clock in, get the few really important things done, then leave. He'd come back in the middle of his shift to do the bank deposits, then be gone again until it was time to clock out. He assigned all his work to the latest “fall guy” assistant manager or other random employees. If he was the only manager on duty, he'd leave his badge for overrides on the desk in the office so Sunny and other employees could grab it when needed to override register errors. SURPRISE! All of this was massively against company policy.
In addition to Manager Mike being the way that he is, Sunny and his coworkers also deal with “mystery shoppers” who, let’s face it, are just the Karens of 1994. These shoppers would constantly ask for price checks and cause chaos for the grocery market’s staff. Oh, then they’d go complain to national headquarters which made everything much worse for the staff at the store that received Mystery Karen’s complaints.
To recap for clarity, Manager Mike straight up sucks and “mystery shoppers” are prehistoric Karens.
ANYWAY. After months of being treated unfairly by Manager Mike and Mystery Shopper Karens, Sunny and some of his coworkers had enough. During his last week before he headed back to college, Sunny spotted a Mystery Shopper Karen, complete with note pad (honestly, iconic). Mike had bugged out shortly after open, his mistress was probably busy fooling around with him, the other assistant manager had been fired for the last colossal mess up Mike had pinned on him, and the only other cashier on shift was at lunch. So, Mike was alone.
The store itself was pretty dead then, as it was late morning, except that Sunny decided now was perfect time for Mike to get reported for the terrible things he had done. It was the ultimate opportunity for sweet, sweet revenge. So, when Mystery Shopper Karen came up with her price check item, Sunny "forgot" to hit the price check button and rang it up for real. Whoops! Poor Karen! Sunny excused himself to get the manager's override badge. He overrode it. Then he tossed that bad boy so hard it went all the way across the managers desk and down into the sea of cables behind it in the corner. Double whoops!
While Sunny was in the back, the other cashier, Jenny, got back from her lunch break. Sunny informed her that it was about to get real and that she might want to go home sick if she wanted some cover. But ever the trooper, Jenny giggled and wanted a front row seat. Who wouldn’t?
Soon, the Lunch Rush was approaching. Sunny and Jenny started to get the lunch rush and more of a crowd by the time another Mystery Shopper Karen made it up to Sunny’s register to check out. Of course, she needed him to “un-ring” something for her checklist after seeing the price. So he flipped on the “help me Obi-Wan” light.
Sunny called for Mike over the intercom by his full name, so customers knew who was supposed to show up.
Jenny caught on real fast and realizing how she could help, told Sunny to just go get the badge from the office. She continued to add that Mike must be busy doing the money drop or something. Sunny pointed out to Jenny, out loud and in front of Karen #2, that it was against company policy. Jenny rolled her eyes and told Sunny that's what Mike had said to do.
Now, where was that override badge? Sunny headed up to the office and made a good show of looking for it. He called down to Jenny asking if she had it. Nope. Jenny abandoned the big order she was ringing up and came up to the little office to give a cursory look around.
This is where the whole story took a turn neither of the cashiers predicted. See, Sunny was just going to give Mystery Shopper Karen a very bad visit with many violations to report. That would have resulted in an embarrassing reaming from national and possibly even an investigation. Jenny had other plans. Jenny was going nuclear.
Jenny apologized to the Mystery Shopper Karen, but she was going to have to get in Jenny's line now. Sunny couldn't void the transaction or login to two registers at once, so he was going to help her pack it up and Jenny would get to Mystery Shopper Karen as soon as she could. Now, this is somewhat bull. While true as stated, the cashiers all knew how to unplug the registers to get them to reset and log us out. It was a dumb hack, but it worked. Thing was, there was almost zero chance Mike or Mystery knew that.
Mystery Shopper Karen must have loved her mystery shopping gig because she was the most cheerful customer you ever did see. She smiled, assured the two everything was fine and scribbled in her notebook the whole time. Literally while Sunny was loading up Mystery's cart at my register, Jenny "accidentally" rang up a gallon of milk about six times. Whoops! No override cards. No manager. No head cashier with any power either (cost-saving cuts there the Mike made early in his days). Things simply were not going there way this day! Customers were starting to get more and more agitated, and although that was a lot to deal with, there was no going back on their plan now.
The two cashiers apologized profusely to the customers, but explained they had no idea where Mike was. They offered to check in the back, sent a bagger out to check the lot in case Mike was on a smoke break. No joy. As this fiasco rolled on, they had a lot of very unhappy customers on their hands (and the downright giddy Karen who stayed to the bitter end). They were demanded to call a manager. They tried all Mike’s known numbers to no avail. Next up was regionals but employees were not allowed to call them. Very strict instructions (true, and very against company policy) from Manager Mike, but they could give customers their number! So, they directed the customers to the pay phone and many took advantage. The two also got yelled at a lot, but in spite of some sympathy for the customers they were loving every second of it.
Regional took about two hours to get somebody down to the store who could clear the registers. Nobody else in the store had permissions on that system. Mike still hadn't shown up. Regional Dude, Bill, overrode the registers, but by then the damage was done. The two devious cashiers had missed the whole lunch rush. No hot food was sold. The metrics for the day were going to be unbelievably bad. Bill was on the phone frantically trying to figure out how to cover this mess up for his boss (Mike’s Father), and decided to blame it on a computer outage. Sunny believes they intentionally broke some equipment to help sell that story. Mike finally rolled in after Sunny clocked out, but he was told Regional Dude was still there doing Mike’s job.
Mike was unbearable for the next couple days, but luckily, Sunny had a foot out the door. Jenny, it turned out, simply didn't care because she'd been doing the work of a head cashier without the pay. It took a few weeks for the fallout to happen, and Sunny kept in touch with Jenny to find out just what their chaos caused.
A few weeks after the incident, an audit team from national came down to investigate the store. The Mystery Shopper Karen story hadn't lined up with the computer outage story, and something was obviously sketchy. They dug into the books and found all the labor violations for minors working overtime and too early/late. Interviewed the employees and found out about the scheduling during school time problems. Manager absenteeism. No vacation being allowed. Also, that the store was constantly short-staffed. Finally, that an assistant manager was on payroll full time, but nobody had ever seen her work. She clocked in and out within seconds of AM every shift he worked, but was never there. The dots ain't hard to connect here, people. Finally, things were starting to turn around. The light was shining upon them. Every over worked and mistreated employee was seeing the sweet end of the tunnel: freedom from Manager Mike.
Sunny doesn’t know if they were able to have covered up all the labor violations or not (probably; that would have caused massive fines). He feels bad that he was too young to know to report them, but ultimately he still sought justice for himself and his coworkers. The cherry on top of this revenge story was that Mike, his father and his mistress all got fired or resigned quietly. The store reportedly went back to being pretty functional after that. Jenny got a better job and left within the year. Sunny never worked retail again and Mystery Shopper Karen actually ended up saving the day.