Etiquette Hell = Where the ill-mannered deserve to go


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Bad, Bad Bosses

I once worked briefly for a small 'mom & pop' motel. They hired me to be a desk clerk. The work was easy enough, though the people were a bit strange at times. One day, the husband actually told me that he wanted me to tell his wife that he left with male friends to go fishing for a couple days, but he was actually going to be out of town with a female friend somewhere else. (A fact I'd rather have not known!) He left no emergency number to be reached at, and I was too shocked to think to ask for one. After he left, I found a note his WIFE had left me saying SHE was going to be out of town 'with a sick friend' and to please tell her husband to take care of everything at the hotel for the weekend. She probably had a date, too!

Anyway, I worked for 2 1/2 days straight without a break, trying to keep the motel open, answer the phones on the old fashioned switchboard, and just generally make the best of a bad situation. I even cleaned rooms when the housekeeper couldn't make it for part of her shift.

When the husband got back first and I told him what had happened, did he thank me for my sacrifice? Why no, he got flustered and fired me on the spot, so that his wife would never hear about it. After getting a full day of sleep so that my brain began functioning again, I went back. After all, the creep had forgotten to PAY me, and he owed me for about 60 hours straight, in addition to my previous week's hours. Took me awhile to convince his wife that I worked that many hours but she finally got the message. I'll bet HE got a message when HE got back to the motel that day, too, ha! That was the only job I've ever been fired from, and I was only about 20 at the time so it really upset me...even more so when the wife seemed more mad at me for asking to be paid, than at her philandering husband. Guess money meant more to her, since she was probably off doing the same thing HE was anyway.

You know, after that weekend in motel hell, it would have meant a lot if one of those low-life's would have at least said 'thank you'. It drove me crazy that they actually FIRED me for saving their motel business though.   Boss0106-03

I worked at a restaurant this Christmas where the boss was unbelievable. One night she announced that we were going to have a Secret Santa gift exchange. She then began writing every employee's (even those who were not present) name down on a slip of paper and having us pick from a hat. This forced everyone, including those not present to participate in the Secret Santa whether they wanted to or not. She then told us that the price limit was $25. All of us struggling waitresses thought this was rather high for a gift for a work friend. She further breached etiquette by telling us all how she had better get a really good gift from us! I quit soon after and never got a chance to see what gift, if any, the employees got her. I don't think it ever occurred to her to get her employees gifts.    Boss0117-03

Every year, my company hosts the ubiquitous holiday party. Even though I work for a fairly large company, it is mainly family owned and the HR manager who handles the invitations is also the owners daughter. The company mails out a beautiful invitation, which is then followed up by a mass e-mail from the HR manager/daughter to the effect of: "If you RSVP please make sure you attend. The company spends a lot of money on this party each year, so it is very important that you attend as otherwise we will have to spend money for nothing, etc." (Maybe these people are not aware that this "unwanted" food would be gladly accepted by some of our shelters for the homeless or abused. The company owners are certainly very wealthy and civilly minded, constantly pointing out how important it is to assist the less fortunate.)

I can sort of understand the emphasis placed on the importance of following through with a RSVP, but the emphasis placed on "all the money the company spends" seems tacky. A little akin to, "I bought this present for you, I spent a lot so you'd better use it." I have never attended one of these events, but from what I have heard my gracious company significantly under-orders on the dinners since they just assume most people who RSVP will not show up (which has never been the case, there has always been a large turnout, but why I will never know). As a result there has been a shortage of food at the company party, year after year.     Why bother?    Boss0205-03

I work in a large machine shop, and used to have a lazy supervisor. "Woody" would never answer a question about a blueprint or problem, and would pass the buck to someone (anyone) else. If he made a decision, he was putting HIS neck on the line if he wasn't right. Instead of answering to an inquiry, he would make a joke or fart. Really. 

At the yearly Christmas party, another guy and I got together and played a joke on him... We gathered the whole department around and handed Woody his Christmas presents to open in front of everyone. He turned beet red and looked right at me when he opened his large box of Gas-X tablets... He never did answer questions, but the farting stopped around me at least.     Boss0208-03

When I first graduated college with an Associates degree, I accepted a position as Office Administrator for a small, privately-owned moving company. I stayed there less than 3 weeks. The boss, besides being arrogant, rude, and very unprofessional, had a mistress. He would tell me he would be out with her, and expect me to lie to his wife when she called. The last straw came when he was getting ready to meet his mistress at his house while his wife was at work. His 11 year old daughter's school called saying that the daughter has a 103 degree temperature and needed to go home. This jerk tells the school his assistant will be picking her up shortly. He then handed me a $1 bill and told me to pick up his daughter from school, buy her aspirin and 7 up, and have her lay on the couch in his office for 3-4 hours while he and his girlfriend "get together". I did so strictly for the daughter's sake, but quit the next day. The jerk was offended that I quit and said "You can't quit, I just fired you". I was just so happy to get out of that stressful place. I was hired elsewhere within 2 weeks.      Boss0211-03

Love the web site! I didn't think I had anything to contribute, but after reading the workplace stories, I remembered this one:

A few years ago I worked at a county courthouse. I had been there for over a year when I decided to leave to continue my education. My supervisor presented me with a gift on my last day and everyone was proud to tell me they had all chipped in for it (there were about 25 employees). Imagine my surprise when I opened the gift to find a lovely watch, which had been featured in a department store ad that very weekend as FREE when you purchased a certain brand of perfume! No perfume, just the watch. Apparently she took up the collection for my gift, bought the perfume to get the free watch and then kept the perfume for herself. I didn't say a word to anyone and I had a good chuckle over it at the time. I really did like the watch and wore it often, but later I realized she had basically stolen money from my co-workers who were just trying to do something nice for me.


I don’t know if these are necessarily etiquette or just plain mean - ness (is that a word?). But I will leave them up to your expert opinion:

My 2nd job out of college was working with a large non-profit as their communications director. Our executive director (Donna) was either afraid of the secretary (Vera) or something because she definitely got better treatment. Vera could have all the visitors she wished but the one time my boyfriend stopped by I got blessed out. Once we were having a function at the YMCA. Donna and Vera had ridden together in the same car and parked it 3 blocks away in a questionable area. When the event was over Donna told me I had to go get the car because Vera had seen a cat and was scared. Donna couldn’t be bothered to go. So I had to walk 3 blocks in the dark by myself to get their car. Did they thank me or offer to give me a ride to my car? No - of course not.

Then in the winter our pipes froze (we were in an old house that had been converted to offices). Instead of Donna walking next door to use the bathroom she made me fill up gallon jugs of water at the office next door so that she could flush the toilet.

The final straw was the day before my first trip to Disneyworld. I was the first in the office that day and I noticed a piece of paper on the floor by the copier. I picked it up and noticed it was the agenda for the board meeting to be held while I was gone. The first item was "discussion of elimination of the Communications Director position". That was me. I didn’t say a word and went on my vacation and had a great time. The day I got back Donna called me in to her office at the end of the day and told me they were eliminating my position but that I could stay until they hired someone for the new position. You could tell she fully expected me to cry and make a scene. But I was so calm. She was clearly shocked. I ended up leaving before I had to because it was too uncomfortable. Waiting in line at the unemployment office was wonderful compared to the treatment I received from Donna and Vera.

Before the big company meeting, Le Grande Fromage of the company invited us to submit anonymous questions, to be answered at the meeting. The workforce was a broad mix of races, and roughly equal numbers of men and women. The company directors were all white men. One of the anonymous questions was, 'When will there be a woman on the board of directors?' Le Grande Fromage read it, paused, murmured, 'I can only assume that this is a joke' and moved on to the next question.

I worked in a drug rehabilitation center that was 100% drug free. The new boss, who can best be described as 'primitive', wanted to hire one of his pals. The only hitch was that the pal was an active addict of methadone, an opiate that is a heroin substitute. When I asked how hiring a methadone user fit with the center being drug free, the boss loftily informed me that I was discriminating against people who use methadone. He only backed down from hiring his friend after I suggested that we should also stop discriminating against people who want to jack up heroin in the cafeteria, and stop discriminating against people who are violent towards staff.

The same boss was fond of butchering the English language. He drank skinned milk. If everyone voted the same way, he described it as anonymous. He warned me not to be distracted by a red heron. He threatened to fire a shot across someone's bowels. But I can't complain, because as the boss once said, 'The world is your lobster!'.


I worked for the US government for 7 years and the first 5 were totally miserable because of the witch I had for a boss. She was not actually a supervisor (special classification for civil service people) but was the one who I received all direction from although it was her boss who was my supervisor on paper and who did my evaluations. There was not a single person working there who could stand the woman. She gave new meaning to the term workaholic and looked down on me if I left on time. She also was a bit of an anorexic and weighed maybe 90 lbs. and still thought she was fat, so never ate lunch. I was overweight which was bad enough and I wanted to eat lunch which infuriated her. The only compromise I could make that shut her up was to go get take-out and eat at my desk while I worked. And forget about the two 15 minute breaks we were supposed to get. In addition to her workaholic ways, she also had a very nasty temper. The slightest thing would set her off yelling and screaming obscenities at whoever had angered her. All the managers there were terrified of her and did nothing to try and make her keep in line. You may wonder how I managed to stay so long, but I had to as it was the only job in my field in the area and so I had to make it work. Even the most patient and tolerant of people eventually reach a breaking point, and I finally did.

After years of saying how she hated working there and felt she was unappreciated and her talents were going to waste, but yet never trying to get a different job, she finally did get an offer from a major corporation who her husband already worked for. They wanted to transfer him and offered her a job in the new location so she would let him go. She spent 4 months preparing to leave and rubbing it in on everyone how great her new job would be and how much more she would get paid by this company. That whole time her temper and tantrums got worse and worse. I had to go to her boss and tell him that I just couldn't take it anymore and was going to quit. He told me to take some time off until she left instead as he didn't want to lose me. So I went ahead and had a knee surgery done that I had been putting off so I could be out on sick leave until she was gone. I was back for her last week and on the day she left she just walked out the door and didn't even say goodbye to anyone. There was not a person in the building who wasn't glad to see her go. She had no going away party as she refused to attend if one was thrown, so we all got together after to celebrate that she was gone. After she left, my job was so much better. People actually started to talk to me and asking me to go to lunch with them. Before, I was pretty much ignored or avoided because I worked for her. I was later told people were afraid to associate with me as it might make her mad or that I might report back to her things they said (which was the last thing I would do!).

The really funny thing is after just a couple of months, she called her old boss and asked if she could come back to her job. She was unhappy in the corporate world where she couldn't control things like she had there and definitely couldn't throw her tantrums. He said "No" citing the fact we were under a hiring freeze with only internal transfers allowed, although the real reason was there was no way he wanted her back and at least 10 people had said if she came back they were quitting. I think she tried to return at least 3 other times. I even heard she applied for her old job when it was advertised despite the fact it had been downgraded but her application wasn't considered because of the freeze and the fact she was no longer a civil servant.

I left there to get married and move to another city where my fiancé lived but still correspond with some of the people there. I never heard another word from her although I know she called a couple of people there to try and pump information from them about what was going on after she left.      Boss0311-03

This is the story of how I quit a job over a band aid and a set of keys. I went to work in the marketing department of a medium-sized shopping mall. My boss, whom I'll call Veronica, was quite a piece of work. I should have known on my first day of work that there were going to be problems. On that day, Veronica sat me down and told me that we needed to watch out for the Accounting Department. She said that they were against us. Sure enough, the Accounting Manager and Veronica had a feud. The Accounting Manager wouldn't speak to me when I said hello to her even though I had absolutely nothing to do with this feud.

Veronica used to get the mall security guards to spy on us. One evening, I had to come back to work to pick up something. A friend was with me. Evidently security was spying on me. The next morning I got chewed out for bringing someone into the office after hours. Never mind the fact that all the office doors were locked each evening. Never mind the fact that my friend stayed in my sight the entire time. And never mind the fact that security was obviously watching us.

Our department was in charge of the Customer Service desk located in the center of the mall. Because it was the holiday season (malls and Christmas--Ugh!) and Veronica didn't have the foresight to add enough staff, I spent a good part of my day working at the Customer Service desk. Of course this meant that all the work in my office wasn't getting done. One Thursday afternoon, Veronica walked into my office and told me how she had gotten extra permission for me to come in over the weekend and make up my extra work and wasn't that just great? Like she was giving me a present or something. Keep in mind that I had worked late every day that week--sometimes until 10 p.m. and she didn't bother to ask if I already had plans for the weekend. Plus, the extra work I had to do was something that could have easily waited until January.

The next thing that happened I call "The Great Band Aid Incident." At the customer service desk we kept a variety of supplies, including a first aid kit. One especially busy day, we were all working the desk, including Veronica. A lady came up to me and said that she had cut her finger. She asked if we had a band aid. I walked over to the first aid kit. As I did, Veronica leaned over to me and says "I just told her she couldn't have a band aid." I responded, "I just told her that she could, so I guess I have to give it to her." After the customer left Veronica chewed me out for giving her a band aid. She said that I made the mall liable for providing medical attention. My comment was that I thought it was preferable to letting the woman bleed all over the mall! The final incident, the one that made me quit, was over my keys. I had miss-placed me keys 2 days earlier, so I asked security to let me into my office. Once again they tattle taled. Usually I don't lose stuff, but it was the week before Christmas and had been extremely hectic. I was working at the Customer Service Desk three days before Christmas. Our credit card machines had gone down, and the line to buy gift certificates stretched halfway across the mall. In the middle of all this, she calls and tells me that she knows I lost my keys. She starts grilling me about where I've looked for them--in my house? in my office? in my car? In the middle of this I'm trying to help mall-weary customers buy gift certificates. At one point she tells me that they're going to have to change all the locks in the office and take the cost out of my paycheck. I told her, " go ahead and do that!" and I hung up on her. That was the last straw.

Later I found out that she had a series of assistants quit. She was forced by the corporate offices to go to counseling after the last one left. (Guess it didn't work!) She had also been in an abusive relationship in the past. (Which is no excuse for spreading the abuse.) The only sad thing is that the Customer Service Manager, who was a sweetie, had to keep working for this B***C because her husband was sick and she had to have the health insurance.    Boss0418-03

Let me preface this story by saying that I live for equality and opportunity. I strive to treat everyone the same way regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, or any other factor. This is the tale of one woman who made me wonder how far we've actually come in the past 40 years or so.

When I was in college I used to temp during school breaks and over the summer. It makes a lot more money rather quickly and I'm a very professional and polite individual, and quite skilled around the office as well. Another part of the draw of temping was that I could work in different fields and while not learning everything about it, certainly get a feel for it. I've temped at a lot of places and learned so much about myself, others, and the 'business world.' There has only been one time when I didn't enjoy it, not even for a second.

Temp positions aren't the most challenging, or glorified. I live in a city with plenty of temp positions to fill. When I temped at financial companies I was the punching bag for the over-worked, over-stressed. When I temped at a small print management company, I was needed and automatically adopted as one of their own and given as much autonomy and responsibility as any of them. I temped at a certain, large insurance company three different times on three different occasions. The first round was data entry (mind-numbing to be sure, but my supervisor was great!), the second time I worked for the same supervisor reorganizing some things and just generally making her load a little lighter for a few weeks. The third time I was sent to the indemnity arm of the company where I was to be a "front desk receptionist with *light* clerical work" OK cool, at least I'm not waiting for a phone to ring all day, right? WRONG. I walk in and the first thing I notice (and I don't think it's racism so much as simply what you're used to seeing all the time, especially in a business dominated by middle-aged white men) is that nearly everyone in the department is African-American or Hispanic and they're aren't many men. The head of the indemnity was an African-American female. The woman that trains me walks out with a shopping cart of files that need to be 're-tagged' with the new renewal dates and the renewals placed on top of all the other papers in the file. What this actually entails is pulling staples all day and putting stickers. I'm 'efficient' so within about 3 hours I have completed the shopping cart, satisfied that I am done with pulling staples for the day. Wrong. Boss Lady walks out with another shopping cart full of files to be re-tagged. Undaunted and perhaps a bit naive, I blow through that cart as well. When she comes out with a third cart at about 4:30 I meekly ask if these have to be done by the day's end. Boss Lady tells me that she is "impressed by my speed but I shouldn't whine so much... she bets she can pick cotton faster than me because she's sure that it's in her blood. And no, they don't have to be done by the end of the day." Yes. That's what she said. Although my jaw was on the floor for a minute, I shook it off (you meet characters as you go through life and I don't let many things bother me, besides, she had only just degraded herself and why would I be offended?) Boss Lady was very specific about nearly everything and when I spoke to her at all (keep in mind, I never complained only asked questions). This company's building is huge and it has a mammoth courtyard in the middle. It was August and beautiful... I took to getting food at the cafeteria and positioning myself in the sun during my lunch hour. Meanwhile, I had smartened up and learned not to go through the re-tagging carts as fast as I could but paced myself. I came back upstairs and Boss Lady is chatting with the other temp who covered me during lunch (she was Latin American, by the way). Sally* goes back to work and Gloria starts this:

"Uhm, Sarah... why were you out sunning yourself in the courtyard?"

I'm confused as she knew I was on lunch and wasn't late returning. On top of the fact that most people look like tiny dots in the courtyard from our floor and vantage point. "I was on lunch, from 12:30 to 1:30." I glance at the clock and it's 1:28"

"But you weren't eeeeeaaating."

"I eat fast. I get an hour for lunch though, right?"

"Yes, but I just don't know why if you weren't eaaating you didn't just come back upstairs and get back to work. It's not like it's that challenging."

I'm seriously dumb-founded and cannot find words at this point and I don't even know how to respond anyway. I pretty much stare at her in silence for a moment when she says,

"Well, whatever. You people all think you're privileged anyway," and walks away.

It was about 5 minutes after that when I made a forbidden personal phone call to my temp agency and told them that they needed to find someone else, but I would stay until they did. Their response? Would I like an official complaint form? Without saying a WORD about what happened they knew because they had trouble finding temps black, white, or purple to work for this lady for any length of time. Although she was particularly harsh on the Caucasian ones and I found out while talking to a co-worker that the temp agency, for fairness purposes asked her to stop stating her racial preference when calling for a temp.


OK, first off I will admit I was spoiled. I worked for a wonderful company with great co-workers. I would still be working there but the company went out of business.

When I went to work for this new company I was hoping I would be able to develop the same rapport with my boss and co-workers.

The company was privately owned by a very close knit orthodox family. When they hired me we had an agreement that if I was able to clean up their receivables in 3 months they would raise my salary to what I was asking. I agreed. Well three months came and went with no review. During this time I had endured Halloween where the owner of the company was dressed in a towel and a cowboy hat (I was told he was wearing shorts under the towel but I didn't stick around to find out) and this same owner hiring a stripper to come in for his nephew's 25th birthday party. This nephew was the VP of Marketing and had an office in the center of the building with a half wall window, so everyone on the sales floor could see what was going on.

Now, as I mentioned before this family was very orthodox, which is fine by me I respect all religions and had quite a few interesting conversations concerning differences in our two religions. This entire family would leave work on Fridays before sundown in accordance with their religion, again no problem, I admire their dedication but you would think they would be a little more tolerant of peoples needs. At my sixth month mark they finally give me my review. They not only do not give me a raise after I have surpassed the mark we had set months ago but they have the gall to mention I had come in late 3 times. When I say late, I mean by a minute or two because the road were particularly icy that day and I was driving 30 miles one way. I sat there with my mouth almost hanging open. Each time I had been even a minute late I stayed later to make up for it, plus there were several times I had worked through lunch on some special project. They also mentioned that I had left one day without checking to see if anything needed to be completed before I left. Well excuse me, my mother had just had a heart attack and was on her way to the hospital. Needless to say, I turned my two week notice in at the bottom of that review form.


Our company needed to change software. All of the top managers where pulled in from across the nation to set standards and review the available systems. Several demonstrations were made, and a list of the top 3 was selected.

One software package kept getting the boot. It was not user friendly (the presenters could not even use it) and it was not compatible with anything else. But it was "The Software" of "big" business. We were required to review it two additional times, and on the last demo they gave, they were cut short and asked to leave. It was so dysfunctional, we could not believe they had it demo'ed to us again - and so poorly!

September 10th, we flew to review one of the finalists software packages. Needless to say, Sept 11 occurred the first day of the presentation and they never had a chance to show us.

It was announced several weeks later that the software we had thrown out 3 times was selected "by upper management" as our best solution. "The best business decision" was made. First implementation was in three months. THREE MONTHS.

Well, we were a month late, and went live anyway. No testing was completed. April 1st, in fact, was the day. Ironic. Still, a year later, we can not get the books to balance. The facilities using it finally quit bitching, and they wait with great glee to see who goes live next.

A comment was made that only the people accustomed to the old system were having any problems with the new system. Interesting . . . . Considering the company takes great pride in low turnover . . . .


A new administrator had been hired in the organization in which I work as an administrative assistant and he was to be temporarily housed in our office until construction was finished on the new building that he was to supervise and that would contain his office.

One of the first things he did when he arrived was demand new office furniture as the existing furniture was apparently beneath his dignity, even temporarily. There were also several filing cabinets in his office which were intended to house confidential files (files which were to be kept not only in a locked cabinet, but also in a locked office). When he started making noises about getting rid of these filing cabinets, I politely and helpfully told him that he probably didn't want to do that for two reasons: 1) he would need the filing cabinets down the line as he accumulated sensitive files (employee evaluations, applications for employment, etc.) and 2) since filing cabinets were in short supply, if he got rid of these, he wouldn't likely be able to replace them any time soon -- especially with nice looking ones like these with locks that worked and keys that hadn't been misplaced. (We deal with set budgets that have very little in the way of discretionary funds; any furniture purchases have to come out of a separate capital outlay fund, about which all I have to say is "good luck!")

He very politely (and at great length) thanked me for my advice which he said was "just what he needed" because he was new and he didn't know all the ins and outs of our organization. He further praised me for taking the long view and looking out for his welfare and interests. He said that was the hallmark of a good administrative assistant and that he had seldom been blessed with an administrative assistant with foresight and the will to speak up when she saw that he was heading for a misstep of some sort and he really appreciated those qualities in a person. Five minutes later, right in front of me, he called another administrator in our organization asking her if she could use some filing cabinets as he wanted to get rid of the ones which were "cluttering up his office."

Because of his fussiness and persnicketyness (not to mention his "my way or the highway" attitude), planning for the building into which he was supposed to move suffered delay after delay. Eventually, he moved into another temporary office and evicted all the filing cabinets from that office as well -- except this time, he had them moved out into a hallway, blocking access except for persons who are fairly agile and nimble (completely disregarding the fact that we have a sizable population of disabled persons here).

Right before he moved, he told his administrative assistant who was also sharing our office (we were pretty cramped for a while) to select and mark for moving any of the large pieces of office furniture which she wanted to take with her -- furniture which belonged to OUR office. Well, she at least is a reasonable person and she immediately told him "But it's not our furniture to take!" This was doubly ridiculous in view of the fact that the office into which they were moving was also already furnished.

He's leaving our organization in a couple of months because his contract is not being renewed and everyone here is breathing an enormous sigh of relief.


I recently graduated from a college and was staying with my parents until I was able to get a place of my own. I got a job just to pay the bills at the time being at a restaurant in a small hick town as a waitress. The restaurant was owned by a husband and wife and they had just purchased it not too long before I had started working. One day the boss came to me to ask me why I had performed certain tasks in the manner I had, like closing a few moments earlier when the restaurant was completely dead or vacuuming while there were people in the restaurant. I had informed her that another waitress and her boyfriend, the cook, had informed me that it was all right as long as I had asked the customers that it was okay. Well, the boss politely told me that she did not want me to do that anymore and I agreed because I thought it was rude and only did it because I was pressured by the cook or the waitress to get things done so they could get out of there.

Well, the next time I was working I got there early, like I always did, and would sit and chat with the regulars in the restaurant. While I was at the counter talking with the customers, the waitress came up to me and began to yell at me for telling the boss what I had said. Needless to say I was very upset that the boss had told her that I was the one to tell her and then to yell at me in front of customers. The boss asked me again about things I was doing and I said that this was the way that the other waitress had told me to do. Well, the boss goes and tells the waitress again about it. This time when the waitress confronted me, it was away from the customers, but the cook decided to include himself in the discussion in front of the husband boss and he did nothing about it. In this discussion, the cook told me that it better not happen again or else. The hardest part for me was that, I had to work with the cook by myself that night. I made one mistake during the night and he swore and yelled at me up and down. I called my Mom because I was scared that he was going to hurt me, he got that mad.

Well, thankfully I had the next day off and I was going to go into work and tell the boss that if this happened again and I was yelled at by either one of them that I would quit, but when I got there it turned out they had called me at home and wanted me to come in and have a meeting with the boss, the waitress, and the cook about this problem. First of all they held the meeting in the area where customers are, while there were customers still there. Then they all when on to tell me all of the complaints and stories that they had heard about me, most of which I never remember happening. The boss finished this off by saying that the waitress had been here for so long and was either related or knew everybody and it was the same as the cook and she didn't want to have to fire either one of them. So, I said, "Well, I'll make it easy for you then, I quit." I walked out the door and only returned to get my check.


I was transferred, right after college, to manage one of our company's retail stores in New England. Retail Management not being what I had a degree in, I looked around the area for an entry level start. I landed the position of Public Relations Assistant to the General Manager of a national company that owns night clubs. I demoted myself to Assistant Manager at the trendy retail store so that I could handle the PR position during the week and the MGR position during the weekends.

The General Manager, my new boss, was quite a character I was finding out so it didn't surprise me when he got engaged after three months of dating this cocktail waitress. The fact that he proposed after only months, is twenty years her senior, shares the intimate relationship information with me while, over steps employer boundaries when seeking my relationship advice and is still dealing with a seedy past with his x (or I am considering I handle the calls) I have no qualms about. Even though I have a very traditional view of courtship and marriage I am willing to forgo my ethical values to participate in others' happiness. What right do I have to enforce my values on others? But to put it in perspective: he is a southern redneck going through a mid life crisis and her (and I hate this term so please forgive me) 'trailer trash' looking for some sort of rescue i.e. money from her sordid life. The majority of my fellow co-workers were disgusted by the who thing but kept their true feelings about this thrown together charade of a marriage under raps.

Luckily, the day of the wedding I had to go into the store... I had managed to go without invitation due to my hectic schedule and proud of it although rumors were floating that they were calling co-workers at random the past couple of days to invite them to the ceremony. For good reason too! The bride was just a horrible spiteful person, had alienated her family by participating in marrying my boss and my boss's family was not that much happier but was too far away to travel under such short notice. How else were they going to fill the seats? If I had received a call I wouldn't have been able to say no fully aware that I may be the only co-worker that will tolerate her. None the less, the majority of guests consisted of randomly plucked co-workers afraid to not be present in fear of hurting their working relationship with my boss. The DJ for the reception was even quilted away from working at one of the clubs only five hours prior to the wedding.

It didn't matter if I was at the wedding or not... I was in the middle of changing over a display when I notice the high traffic store had become rather quite. From my ladder I could see my employees all staring off at white fluff bouncing around the boutique. Here my boss's bride to be was in my store with crown and full veil to the floor shopping an hour and a half before the wedding. The kicker is that she is with my boss's daughter from a previous marriage who is only a year younger then she. I get closer to the sweatpants, tevas, plaid pull over, lacey haired cake topper and come to find out she had had her hair done over an hour ago in one of those cookie cutter salons in the mall and had decided to get in some last minute shopping. Now I fully support being an individual and the notion that the wedding day is the bride's day to do what she wishes but our rather close minded snobbish town cannot handle a veil popping in and out of FinishLine, Express, Pottery Barn and Macy's on a sunny mid summer Saturday afternoon. To me, grabbing a soda, running into the GAP for a pair of jeans and making sure that the veil doesn't get caught on a hanger just demeans the whole purity aspect of being a bride. I had to keep myself out of hysterics when trying to hold up her angelic veil while she was trying on numerous low cut and tight black catsuits that you would easily see in a rap video. Not exactly new wife to a professional forty year old and mother to his two teenage children type clothing.

The whole idea that the wedding was a charade wasn't alleviated when three days later my boyfriend, the head of our company's security, is called out of work and to my boss's house. Little does he know it's to serve as a witness to the couple's vows. For some reason their previous wedding vows weren't adequate. My boyfriend is thoroughly upset by the time he gets home that he had to take part in anything involving them and their 'mockery of marriage' he says. According to him, neither my boss or his bride looked at each other the entire time they recited vows... the bride was actually balled up in a kitchen chair with her chin on her knee wiping dirt off the bottom of her bare foot and inspecting her toes.

It didn't surprise me when my boss buzzed my desk three weeks later asking me how long annulment took in the state we live in. Silly me asked if he was ok only to get an ear full of how she is already cheating on him with an x. Now left to deal with numerous phone calls from two psycho x's I rethought my purpose as an employee and got the hell out of there!    Boss0428-03

After reading this site I thought I couldn't top the horror stories about wedding & rotten kids, until I got to the rotten etiquette stories about work. I have a doozie! I had just moved to a major metropolitan city & had acquired my dream job with a prestigious publishing firm right out of college. Everything seemed great until I realized my supervisor "Clarence" was the Devil...literally. He seemed ok at first, but I came to find out later he susses out all the new employees to figure out which ones will be a good suck-ups & stooges for him, then he treats the others like crap. Before I came along my office-mate "John" was Clarence's whipping boy, but I was "promoted" when I made a crucial mistake...a week or so after I started, Clarence (my boss, remember) was telling me about all my new co-workers, ostensibly to familiarize me with the staff, but he soon went from basic job descriptions to editorializing about everyone's lifestyle, fashion sense, personal hygiene, and "crappy attitudes." He also used some curse words to describe a few. He was especially down on John, whom I'd found to be a nice person who was dedicated to his job. I said, "Oh, I don't know, John seems like an ok guy to me." WRONG thing to say. Clarence went on to trash John to me more vociferously, to which I responded, "I'm sorry but I feel kinda uncomfortable with my supervisor saying such things about my peers. I feel this is an unprofessional conversation." BIG it's ME, not John who is #1 on the s**t list. I spend the next 4 months overhearing Clarence bad-mouth be to anyone who will listen, my co-workers, other supervisors, even his boss. Thankfully his boss told him to knock it off. Apparently Clarence's higher-ups were aware of his pattern of abusing the low-man-on-the-totem-pole but they tried to ignore it as Clarence did the work of 3 people for the firm, and crossed their fingers hoping they wouldn't get sued for allowing him to do this. Clarence begins "checking up" on me 10-15 times a day to make sure I'm "not goofing off at work." I wasn't but it was just an excuse to come into my office a lot & make snide comments about anything & everything. Company policy allows us to make personal phone calls on our lunch break, but Clarence told me I could no longer do that as my conversations were "disruptive to the office" even though EVERYONE makes calls at lunch, all the while he's spending up to 2-3 hours a day discussing his plans for baby adoption with his significant other on the phone where everyone can hear him. One day I actually counted up that he made 7 of those calls to his s.o. & spent 4 hours 34 minutes talking about it. He brought his dog to work & when it crapped under my desk he told me I had to clean it up. I put it in HIS garbage can in his office & said it must have been the cleaning crew. He took 2-3 hour lunches, and often went home to take a nap in the middle of the day, not telling anyone, and t    Boss0430-03

After spending two months helping a performer arrange his songs, change some lame-oid lyrics [an example involved singing about a hard-on--um whatever], and generally try to help him get to the "next level", his current one being hopeless amateurism, I discovered that said performer was harboring a secret grudge because I didn't tell him what he wanted to hear about his romantic issues. I told him the truth; "Get real, make a list of what you want in a relationship, have your partner make a list, see if they match. Don't get lost in drama, decide to make it work or not."

Fine. Then after spending about 15 hours digitizing and uploading music for his other project; and pulling every string in the business to garner a place on a major avant-garde recording project, and arranging a Friday night show at a hip venue, it comes time for Gig #1 at a local theatre. This doesn't count the time I spent registering the domain for the band, scanning pictures, and making promotional materials.

Sound check. Mr. X is obviously uncomfortable and nervous. Some good-natured ribbing which he took to be "baiting" served as an excuse for a 20 minute diatribe, in front of stage manager and promoter about his suicidal tendencies [um, see a counselor, I can't help you there], relationship problems, the main point being that I was a problem because I was not "compassionate" about his personal drama. Further, all the things that he had willingly agreed to do for me (errands etc) became fodder for the diatribe. I did this this and this and YOU have no compassion for me.

This was followed up my attacks on my personality. I was "bitter" for giving advice he didn't like; all his friends agreed [um, ok...] I was not compassionate. Because I would not tolerate out of control outbursts which included his punching the walls at the previous rehearsal, I was unfeeling, and didn't recognize that he was human. I was "just like" his dad, who never admitted wrong and never said he was sorry. Because my tone of voice on the phone was not cheerful enough, I was a "damsel in distress". This from a person I have known for a grand total of two months.

Because I prefer truth to tact, which is actually important in the music business (you can't tell someone their lyrics are brilliant when they are juvenile; it's false feedback and a waste of everyone's time) I was also denounced. I was denounced because, as far as I can tell I "didn't take care of" him emotionally--a job I was never asked to do and which I thought was best reserved for girlfriends and moms.

This was neither the set nor setting for the diatribe, which included a phone follow-up emphasizing that I was "unfeeling". Gosh, I thought my job was to be a musician, not a therapist. His behavior was completely insecure, out of control, beside the point, and out of place at a sound check for a performance. If there is an etiquette hell for musicians, this guy deserves the seventh level. Being a musician means you show up and do the job, not air your laundry in front of the staff.    Boss0620-03

I worked as a gallery attendant for a museum in a large, southern city. (A gallery attendant ensures the safety of the art by making sure people do not touch the displayed art.) The museum employed a diverse mix of people, with mainly students as gallery attendants. There was one employee, "Arthur," who was over 70. "Arthur" had worked for this museum for over ten years as a gallery attendant. Although a bit crabby at times, he was pretty much an institution. The director of the museum was unfortunately a person of little sensitivity, especially to peons such as the gallery attendants. She was responsible for lowering the salaries to minimum wage (bear in mind this job requires standing up all day on a hard wooden or concrete floor) and treated all the attendants like dirt. (In my opinion, she is a snob.)

"Arthur" was working in his garden one afternoon, fell off a ladder and broke his neck. He was taken to the hospital. Despite his advanced age, he looked likely to recover. The security head planned for the museum to send a bouquet of flowers to his room, wherein the director of the museum agreed, adding, "We'll take up a collection among the gallery attendants." As college students of modest means, we could not possibly have done as beautifully a job of obtaining flowers as the museum, which had a regular florist. Perhaps not an etiquette blunder, but I feel strongly that the museum should have shelled out a measly $100 for a nice arrangement for a faithful employee. "Arthur" later died, hopefully never knowing the utter insensitivity and skinflint-attitude of the director.

[Funny side note: one gallery attendant, leaving work one day, was driving behind the director when she flung her cigarette carelessly out of her car window. The cigarette flew in through the attendant's open window and hit him in the face. It was almost as if she'd done it on purpose. Not only is she crass enough to litter, she manages to hit one of her own employers in the face with a lit cigarette!]


When I was taking a year off between undergraduate and graduate school I was trying desperately to find a job that paid enough so that I wouldn't starve, but that was not a real career so I wouldn't have trouble leaving. I ended up landing a job as an assistant manager for a major shoe store.

The manager had been there for 13 years (probably should have been an indication of her lack of intelligence already). She routinely tried to quiz me on arbitrary items from our employee handbook (i.e. what is the tax rate in Montreal while we lived in Ohio). This was just the tip of the iceberg. I found out I had been awarded a scholarship to graduate school, allowing me to return to school much sooner than I thought I would. Conveniently, another branch of this shoe store, close to my selected university, was in need of an assistant manager so I assumed perhaps I could transfer. I had just received my 90 day review and had gotten a 95% a rating of excellent. I asked my manager for a transfer and she informed me that I had no integrity and that despite my excellent job review she would not recommend me for transfer.

Oh, it gets worse. Along with routinely spying on me, and sending me to pick up her food, she also cut my full-time (40 hours a week) hours down to 12 hours a week. Well rather than just take her crap I filled for partial unemployment costing her company money in unemployment insurance. Then she pulls me into her office (where she routinely sat for 3 or more hours chatting on the phone to friends) and proceeds to tell me she is demoting me to a regular part time sales girl. When asked why she says it is because me sales were not high enough (they were higher than hers and another assistant managers combined).

Fine, I figure I'll just work here for a couple more weeks until school starts and then I'll be free. But then she proceeds to hire the most incompetent person for my job, who on his 30 day review receives a 45% (final warning). This little evil woman made my life a living hell, and unfortunately, because I lived in Ohio, I had no legal recourse. The sick part is that my district manager was behind her 100% despite me never meeting her in all the time I worked there. I continue to boycott this company to this day and I can only hope that karma is currently dealing her a heavy blow.


I thought you might like to hear about a fast food restaurant I (unfortunately) worked at for 6 years. The only excuse I can make for staying that long is that I was young and too shy to try for another job. Almost everyone I worked with there was an etiquette nightmare.

I had one manager who not only asked us about our sex lives on a regular basis, but also got her kicks by poking us in the butt with a broom!! Another manager also liked to talk about sex CONSTANTLY! She asked us sexual questions all the time and would not keep us in her "clique" if we didn't answer her. She cut my hours all the time and gave them to her pals, because I wouldn't participate. One time I brought my infant son with me to pick up my check and she was there. She started with saying reasonably normal things like how he was cute and that she liked his outfit. Then she proceeded to talk to him in a baby voice saying, and I quote, "You're such a big boy. Do you have a big penis too?" !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The two employees that stick out most in my mind are "Shannon", who would make an entire meal and put it in her pocket and go eat it in the bathroom. She was also never seen washing her hands in between her "snacks' or her smoke breaks and going back to prepare food for customers. "Lorrie" was also big on the sex talk, but she disgusted even the managers! She had a never-ending stream of stories about her sordid sex life...a new man every day, a new "act" that I had never heard of and wish I never did. It was rumored that she performed one of those "acts" in the bathroom with a male employee!

I was wrong. This was not an etiquette problem, it was a nut house. And I was the craziest of all for sticking around as long as I did.    Boss0707-03

Page Last Updated May 18, 2007