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In my last job, I was the head of a department for a small company; my department consisted of 7 people, including myself. We got along well, for the most part.

Every time someone had a birthday, the person who had the last birthday was in charge of buying cake and a card for the next person. So, if my birthday is in January, I'd buy cake and a card for the person whose birthday is in April. This worked well . . . with one notable exception.

For three years, I bought cake and a card for "Dorothy." I'd always thought Dorothy was nice, and I actually felt somewhat sympathetic toward her--she'd not had the easiest life, and I tried to go out of my way to be nice to her.

A day or so later, she came into my office and said she knew what kind of cake she wanted. "Great!" I said, glancing up at her and smiling. Her birthday was still an entire month away, so it wasn't much of an emergency. I thought.

She was still standing there.

I looked up at her. "What kind of cake would you like?" I asked. This was obviously what she wanted.

"I'd like a Jeff Gordon photo cake!"

"Okay," I said. I wasn't surprised--her entire cubicle was plastered with NASCAR paraphernalia, specifically Jeff Gordon, so this wasn't a shock. I'm not a NASCAR fan, I don't know ANYTHING about it, but I knew she liked it.

"I have the picture I want and everything."

"Okay, great," I said.

Weeks passed. Dorothy came in and gave me the picture. I said thank you and that I'd take care of it. Then she said that another co-worker told her that, because the picture came out of a magazine and wasn't a photo, that there might be copyright-infringement issues. I said that hadn't occurred to me, but the other person might have a point, so we should pick out another cake, just in case.

We went to the store's website, she picked out the cake she wanted--a general NASCAR cake. I said I'd take care of it.

I went to the store after work, and, sure enough, they couldn't do the picture cake. I was disappointed for Dorothy, but at least we had the backup cake. When the person at the bakery asked if I'd like a particular car on the cake (there were little Matchbox-type cars on it), I said to make sure one of them was a Jeff Gordon car.

On Monday, I told Dorothy that I was sorry, but the picture cake hadn't worked out. She was very, VERY upset, but I assured her that I'd ordered the other cake. I went back that afternoon to pick it up . . .

No Gordon car.

Knowing how upset Dorothy had been about the other cake, I asked about the car, pointing out that the invoice said, very clearly, "Jeff Gordon car." The bakery lady shrugged and said, "Guess they just didn't do it." I asked if they had one--she said no, they didn't put the cars on there.

Frustrated and flustered, I left in a hurry. I liked Dorothy, and didn't want to disappoint her. She was already upset about the other cake, and this was just one more thing.

As soon as I got back to the office, I apologized repeatedly for the incorrect cake. She seemed QUITE peeved by it. I showed her the invoice, which obviously called for the correct car.

We all gathered for cake, everyone remarked on it. Dorothy had calmed down by then, and talked about how cute it was, and how she appreciated my getting it. Everything was fine. To make sure, I apologized one more time--she said it was fine.

We started eating cake, and suddenly, it hit me:

In all the flurry of the wrong cake, I'd walked right out of the store without buying her a card.

"Dorothy, I am SO sorry," I said, genuinely upset, "I completely forgot your card. I feel terrible."

She stopped in mid-bite and just STARED at me.

I had not expected that at all.

No one noticed, they just kept eating and chatting, and I apologized again. For the cake and the card.

Later that day, she came into my office. "That was a really good cake," she said.

"I'm glad you liked it! I'm just so sorry that the picture cake didn't work out, and that they screwed up the car."

"Oh, that's okay," she said. "It was such a cute cake."

"Yeah, it was," I agreed, feeling relieved. Things were okay after all.

"But it really would've been nice to get a card," she snapped.

"I'm sorry," I said, feeling bad again.

The next day, she was eating some of the leftover cake, and she remarked, again, on how good it was. I said I was glad she'd liked it. She said, again, that she thought it was really cute. I agreed.

"But it really would've been nice to get a card."

"I'm sorry."

Later that day, eating cake again. It's cute, so delicious . . . "But it really would've been nice to get a card."

In order to make up for my mistake, after work I bought her a bottle of wine and a blank card. I wrote a heartfelt message on it about how I was so sorry that I'd forgotten her birthday card, it wasn't an intentional slight, I just forgot because I was so upset about the incorrect cake, blah blah blah . . .

I left it in her chair the next morning.

She came in with the wine and card and hugged me. "Thank you so much. That was so sweet of you," she said. I told her she was more than welcome, that I just felt bad because the cake had been wrong and then I'd forgotten the card because I'd been upset and distracted. I asked how her birthday had gone, she said it was really nice, that she'd loved the cake, that it was cute and delicious . . .

"But it really would've been nice to get a card."

It took all I had to keep from using the card I'd just given her to slice her jugular open.



I have a coworker who is textbook OCD. Everything has to be a certain way (her way) at all times, or she totally goes to pieces. She offers completely unsolicited advice and opinions wherever and whenever. When I was pregnant, I read out loud (at home) whatever novel I happened to be reading at the time to the baby. When I once mentioned in front of her that I'd read "The Stranger Beside Me" (about Ted Bundy), she completely freaked. She still mentions that often, and baby is now 9 months old!!!! She has two sons and both have serious mental issues, I don't think she's in line to be the next Dr Spock. I told her the baby would respond to my voice, he's not going to have a clue what I'm saying, but she still just thinks that's horrible that I'd read such a novel to my baby. I didn't mention that the next book I read was "In Cold Blood" by Truman Capote. Hey, my mom read Harold Robbins novels to me when she was pregnant, and I didn't turn out to be a raving lunatic (although I do have a serious addiction to murder mysteries and true-crime novels). She also told me she wouldn't give me a gift for the baby until he was born because her sister in law had three miscarriages, and she thinks it's bad luck to give gifts before the baby arrives... like a pregnant woman wants to hear that! 

Tonight I came in to a sign on the office corkboard "Please clean up your messes, if you drop it lean over and pick it up." I'm sure that's in response to the kernel of popcorn I dropped in the floor last week. Excuse me for leaving a single kernel for housekeeping to pick up. The boss told us we could have the office painted however we want. Her idea is to alternate red and white on the walls. I draw the line at having my office look like a freaky McDonald's. It's bad enough that I have her over my shoulder telling me how to do my job, one that I've done for two years longer than she has.



Earlier this year my company downsized its staff.  Those of us who were aware of the company situation were expecting it to happen at some point.  It still stunned us when it happened but it wasn't a shock.    Ultimately my boss and one of the salesmen were let go.  I was promoted (even though I hated using the term) to newly created position while my co-workers were merged into another department.  While I never admitted it, I was thankful that I wasn't the boss of my former colleagues.    Three days later, they re-hired the salesman, "Brian," who had been let go.  He hadn't been apprised of my new position and I knew that he wouldn't take it well as he was VERY close with our boss -- almost a "father/son" style relationship.  Our boss had shielded Brian's failure to meet his sales targets on a regular basis as well as Brian's lack of skills when it came to managing his clients and their expectations.  His errors alone had cost us thousands of dollars.  Now I was sitting in his/ our former boss' office doing the production side of his job.    

As part of my job required me to devise the production budget and set pricing on booth spaces, I had to sit down with Brian shortly after his return to go brainstorm on ideas and what we could do.  The tension was palpable but I was determined to ignore it.  Brian, however, had other ideas.   "Just so you know this whole experience is still raw for me -- being fired then rehired.  And I just want you to be aware of the fact that I don't know if I can accept you in this job or sitting in this office and I don't know if I ever will."  With that being said, he jutted his chin out me as if he was daring me to say something.   "Brian," I started off, since I was pretty stunned by his comment, "to be a bit blunt, I don't care.  We have to work together regardless of how you feel and I will continue to treat you with the same professionalism and respect I did before you were let go.  If this is going to be a problem for you, I suggest you rethink whether or not you want this job."   With that said, I attempted to get our meeting back on course.  However, Brian stood up and left my office.  No more than two minutes later his boss called me asking me what I had said to Brian because he just quit on the spot and walked out the door.    I guess it was a problem after all.



In early 2006 due to health complications I went to a doctor for the first time in years; he put me on a diet (among other things) and because I stuck to it, I lost weight; roughly 70 pounds.

Now, I had been very open about being put on a diet and why I had been and various other things connected to my health, but figured boasting about weight loss was tacky, so I didn't. Many of my co-workers noticed, and were complimentary.

Except for "Brenda", which really didn't surprise me as our different schedules meant that we saw each other about 10 minutes a day, and our uniforms were baggy enough that it wasn't easy to tell weight loss or gain, so I wasn't hurt or miffed or anything. She noticed about 6 months after I lost the 70 pounds, and said "Wow, you've really lost weight! Now that you've lost weight, are you going to get a boyfriend?" I was completely stunned; how is this an appropriate comment to make?



To give you a background, I work in a government office in Melbourne, Australia. This co-worker (who I’ll call Busy Bee) was originally hired as a temp, while she was working with us she frequently went for interviews at employment agencies with no success.

Her work attire is pants, ballet shoes and a tee or shirt. During a couple of the interviews she was asked if she would consider wearing more “office attire” type of clothes i.e.: skirts or dresses. BB flatly refused and complained that they asked her a question like that. The positions she was applying for were of an admin type.

She asked her co-worker one day why she dressed up, the area they work in they only deal with other office staff, what’s the use in dressing nicely? When she was offered a job within the office, she asked for a much higher salary and was told that she accepted what they offered or she could leave. Needless to say, she accepted their offer.

I’m the kind of person who looks for the good in people, with this woman it is a struggle. As an example of what happens when you speak before thinking:

• Patting the stomach of a co-workers wife to ask when she was having baby number 2. She wasn’t pregnant, she has a slight belly. • Asking another co-workers daughter each time she phoned how she was going with IVF (they had many sessions before falling pregnant), and reassuring her that she was “thinking of her” and she would get pregnant soon. It got to the point that the daughter spoke to her mother and asked her to stop discussing their private life with BB. • When this daughter called into the office with the baby BB asked her if she had started on the next one yet, “It will be much easier this time around”. • BB has no children, her and hubby own two cats that she treats as surrogates. • BB is a large woman, in the year she worked in our office she got bigger. There is often food left over from meetings, left in the kitchen area for people to help themselves. She would wrap it in a napkin “to take home for hubby”. • When she is dieting she will hover over the food, pointing out which ones she likes and demanding to know what you think of it, while telling you how much she would enjoy it but can’t because she’s on a diet. • After going on a severe diet she dropped a lot of weight and started going to the gym. She was looking quite good, didn’t eat any of the free food on offer and kept to her strict diet. This lasted for about six months. • The weight has come back even though she tells anyone who will listen that she goes to the gym 3 times a week, and how far she “walks” on the treadmill. • BB told me that her husband has a “computer room” that he spends a lot of time in and she is not allowed in there unless he joins her. He was out of work for about a year before he picked up a job. She would phone him every day to find out what she needed to pick up before she got home from work. • BB enters into competitions in magazines, one prize she won was a hammock, it caused much amusement picturing her or hubby trying to get in or out of it. She got a little annoyed with me when I told her I had won two competitions through the company that runs our train network. Apparently I didn’t tell her I was entering them, she missed out. • Was introduced to a new staff member (he was red-haired with blue eyes) she asked what ethnicity he was? The silence was stunning, he broke it by saying he was Australian. (His name is the same as an animated devil). • Gets annoyed when she hears some news in the office and demands to know why she is only hearing about it now. • BB Looked up the hotel I was to stay in at the beginning of a tour I was planning overseas and told me that it was very nice and she was sure I would like it.

People have been telling me that I have to remember that “she means well”. That’s fine, but I’m a fairly private person and don’t feel comfortable sharing every facet of my life with people. Even what I consider my good friends within this office don’t know everything.

Another friend “Pat” made the mistake of talking to BB one day about some issues she was having with her husband. Big mistake! When BB sees Pat walk into the room she bombards her with questions about her ex hubby, her new boyfriend, her step kids, her diet, it goes on and on. Pat does all she can to avoid BB as much as she can during the day.

The funniest thing is BB is totally clueless that she’s doing the wrong thing. She has been pulled up a couple of times, she gets very upset and the next week she’s back to the same routine again.

And let’s not forget, ignorance covers both sexes. A male co-worker told a female co-worker that announcing you are pregnant when you are 12 weeks is not a good idea, she should have waited until she was 26 weeks just incase she lost it. He told her this knowing that she had lost a baby at 10 weeks earlier in the year. She told me she left for the day worried that she had done the wrong thing



At my favorite stockroom job, I had this one co-worker who thought that customers- I mean guests, sorry!- were only there to make her live miserable.  Every single one of them, I mean, not just the crazy or nasty ones.  Every time she would come into my stockroom to load up on merchandise, she would be ranting.  "She was asking me where to find that princess dress, and I'm like, hello!  It's right on the shelf in the room you just came from!  Ain't you got any eyes!"  Or, "They're always stopping me to ask questions!  I'm busy trying to stock the floor!  What's wrong with them?"  (At this job, you were supposed to drop everything you were doing to help a customer.  Guest Service is one of their most famous qualities.)

Anyway, I had this phone in my stockroom, and if somebody on the floor needed something, say a different size, or a shirt they had seen somewhere else that we might have, they could just call me and I would look for it.  The stockroom was quite a trek from the floor, so this saved a lot of unnecessary trouble.  Although you wouldn't believe how many times I got the same call three times in a row because the customer didn't believe them the first time and they went to ask the next closest employee... who calls the very same person, yours truly.

This phone didn't have any fancy call-waitings or answering machines.  Nope, it was just a phone, with a clock on it, but a phone none-the-less.  So if I was on the phone, then if another person tried to call they just wouldn't get through.  Because of this, I learned how to respond to each call in less than a minute, if it was a standard request.

Nasty co-worker didn't quite get this, though.  Every so often she would come up, complaining to me about how I just can't leave the phone alone like that, or if I'm going out to get someone to watch it.  How rude I was to ignore the phone, making her come all the way up here.  She told the managers on me, but they knew how the phones worked.

I really feel sorry for her.  I heard later that she had some tumors on her foot (not cancer tumors) that caused her a lot of pain to walk, but she couldn't cut back her hours or wear different shoes.  She was just in physical pain, and she was also exhausted emotionally.  I hope she gets better and is happy again.


Okay. I guess first comes a little background story. I have (with a certain amount of glee, I admit!) told this story to a few friends who I do not work with, and have found myself having to explain the entire work situation for them to fully appreciate just how poetic the justice was in this instance.

I work in a branch of a national department store (in the UK, specifically in London) and in my branch team, there are perhaps 20 people. Given the nature of the job (shift work, varying in hours and patterns), I had worked there probably six months before I had worked a shift with each person and accordingly, discovered that we all, without exception, shared the same feelings about one particular co-worker, who I will call Jenny (not her real name, don't worry!). When I first began working for the company (who sell furniture and home accessories), she went to great pains to tell me that she was a senior colleague, implying that she had supervisory authority over all others except the manager (who only worked part-time). It was a week before I realized that she was talking rubbish, and the only dubious claim she had to seniority was that she had happened to be at the company for more than four years (i.e., longer than anyone else), and that at no point during her time there had she ever held a position of authority. I felt sorry for her to be honest. She had a husband (second marriage) and two kids (13 and 15) who always seemed polite when they came into the shop, and I think she felt like, at this point, she deserved to be considered for promotion. In principle, I felt for her because she had been there longer than the rest of us, but it didn't take me long to realize why she hadn't ever been given power. It also didn't take long before my colleagues started to warn me about her. Apparently, they all had the same treatment from her when they had started with the company.

The long and the short of it is that Jenny had made my working life uncomfortable and stressful pretty much from week two onwards. I saw no apparent reason for this. I don't want to blow my own trumpet, but I'm a pretty nice person, friendly to all, and was willing to help out and start my shifts early in order to fit in with my colleagues. I am a hard worker and simply wanted my employers to realize that I was dependable and that they'd been right to hire me. To me, this is a decent thing to do when you start in a new job. I was complimented by my boss on this, and I quickly made friends with my co-workers.

Jenny was having none of it. She evidently didn't seem to like the fact that I was liked by the people I worked with and apparently couldn't understand why they didn't feel the same about her. We have an upstairs storage area where the furniture etc is always put, but unfortunately for us, the staff room is also located there. The CCTV cameras were trained on all parts of the shop, including the door leading to the stairway up to the storage room. Consequently (and I'd be surprised if some of you didn't see this one coming), Jenny would spend most of her time in 'the storage room' but more often than not the staff room, sitting on her fat behind, but if one of us was to head upstairs, she would see this on CCTV and spring into action so it looked like she was sorting through customer orders. Apparently our boss had not seen fit to reassign her duties and ensure she was in the shop or, at the very least, supervised for some of her time upstairs. Anyway, I digress....

On one particular day, I had come in early (apparently undetected by Jenny on CCTV watch) for work to have lunch there, something I had done on numerous other occasions. I had gone to sit in the staff room and was quietly reading a magazine I had brought with me, and munching my way through a salad, when I heard Jenny's dulcet tones outside the door. She was talking on her mobile with her husband, and, amongst other things, she was telling him how lazy I was and how she had to pick up after me and my colleagues because, if we weren't watched at all times, we would stand around and do nothing. Set aside the fact that this was NOT TRUE AT ALL, but the ironic thing, of course, is that this is exactly what Jenny had been doing herself. Sitting around, doing nothing, while the rest of us slaved away, trying to make up for the fact that we were one colleague down because of Jenny. All this while, the manager, who must have had a jelly brain, had still not noticed the truth. To her credit, she hadn't accused any of us of not working, she just hadn't noticed Jenny's incompetence either.

Now, I am not a gossipy person, I will not malign a person just because I can, but on this occasion, I just couldn't help myself. When I went downstairs to start my shift, I spoke, albeit briefly, to three colleagues who had also noted Jenny's behavior. I had specifically heard her badmouthing every one of them by name, although I refrained from telling them this as I didn't want them to get upset. I told them that I'd heard her slagging us all off in general, and that she really ought to turn her judgments on herself. Anyway, about an hour later, I had made a pact with myself that before I left that afternoon, I would ensure I had the telephone number for our HR department in order to report her for anything I could get her in trouble for. This probably gives me bad business etiquette, but I was so angry and upset, I wasn't thinking about my own morals at the time. I can't honestly say for sure that I would've accused her of anything she hadn't done, to be fair, she had done enough on her own that I could be truthful about and get her officially reported.

However, by the end of the day, retribution was mine and HR was not needed. In a supreme act of karma (what you give out comes back to you three-fold and all that), about 40 minutes before I was due to leave (complete with complaint already filed in my head), I heard a massive clattering noise from the stairway. I shot over and opened the door and the sight I was confronted with warms my heart to this day. In a crumpled heap at the bottom of the stairs, was Jenny. She had evidently slipped down the stairs and was, while not injured other than a graze to her knee, in a position which exposed her thong clad backside to the doorway. Bare in mind here that Jenny is at least 50-60lbs overweight, so this was not a pleasant sight to begin with, but by this time, having been startled by the noise, the six colleagues also on duty that day hurried over with me to see what the commotion was. Additionally, several customers had also swanned over for a peak and proceeded to cackle with delight at what they had seen. Jenny got to her feet, went bright red, and muttered something I couldn't understand, and hurried back upstairs. Five minutes later, she came back down and told us all that she was going to leave early. To this day, I don't know how we did it, but all of us managed to hold the laughter until she had left the shop. Once she was safely off the premises, we cackled solidly for several minutes, and upon repeating the story to other colleagues who had arrived to take over on the next shift, they did the same as us.

Before this day, I was not a great believer in Karma or any associated spiritual 'come-uppance' stuff, but you have to wonder if somehow she wasn't getting her just desserts for the way she had been treating us. From that day onwards, she was a whole lot nicer, probably in the hope that the thong-ass story would be forgotten (it never has been). I never did report her to HR, I guess I figured that what happened that afternoon was more than enough to satisfy my desire for revenge!



I work in an office at my university in the business school as a student assistant, and last semester a co-worker got fired after months of extreme rudeness. When I started working in the fall, there were two senior girls who had worked there for three years, one senior guy who had just started that semester, and three new workers learning the ropes, including myself.

One of the senior girls, "Tania," had gotten the senior guy, "Andy," her boyfriend for about two years, the job at the office. Andy, unfortunately, was a huge immature idiot.  The people at the office didn't realize it until a few weeks after he started working.

Now the job itself was pretty easy.  There were daily administrative tasks and handling the front desk.  It had a flexible schedule since the workers were students, so there was shift-switching from time-to-time to accommodate tests and interviews. Tania didn't want to work one Friday and told our boss "Sally" that Andy had agreed to cover her shift.  Friday rolled around and Andy never showed up. 

There was a big conference that needed setting up that day,  and they were depending on Andy to be there.  Sally called Andy, called Tania, left them messages, e-mailed them -- no response.  Sally's boss was extremely pissed off that Andy never came in to help ad ordered her to fire him.

Sally had never fired anyone before, and since she couldn't contact him she had to do it over e-mail.  Hours later Andy storms into the office, gets up into Sally's face and starts screaming at her about how he didn't deserve to be fired and that she was incompetent.  (Remember, Andy is still a college student and Sally is an older lady -- where's the respect here?)  Sally told him that she had no choice in it, that she was sorry, but that he had to be let go.  Andy claimed that they were not legally allowed to fire him for not showing up (they are).

Andy then said "Well, it was Tania's shift, so SHE should be fired, not me."  Yes, he had just told them to fire his girlfriend instead of him, even though he had agreed to cover her shift. THEN he went to the lawyer in our office to ask for legal advice.  He was asking the lawyer, who worked for the school, for tips for suing the school.

Later, Tania came into the office and quit to "support her boyfriend," even though he told the office to fire her (and had said previously that 'she's just good to have around and get stuff done.')

Sally was pretty shaken up by all this, but later told me that she was reluctant to fire him even though of all the stuff he had done in the past, including:

1.  Andy would go into the back and eat people's food.  The fridge has a sign that says "Please don't eat other people's food."  One time he actually took a lady's half-eaten wrap (with a bite mark out of it!) and ate it.  Sally would offer him money to go buy his own drinks and food but he would just go back to the fridge and steal food.

2.  Our job requires taking students to the offices in the back for career advising.  Andy had taken a student back, but the adviser was on the phone so he waited outside.  The adviser heard Andy ask the student, "So what did you need to ask?"  The student said he needed to cancel a last minute interview but didn't know how.  Andy told the student "Just lie to them and tell them you're sick or something."  Our business school is pretty prestigious, and the ONE THING you never do is LIE to a recruiter, much less tell somebody else to.

3.  Andy would lie to get off work.  He'd tell our boss, "Sally," that he had an interview, but she would walk outside and see him sitting at a table with his friends.  (Sally didn't understand why someone would ask off work and then go to the place he worked at...he wasn't too bright.)

4.  The one dress code rule in our office is no belly-shirts for girls and no caps for guys.  Andy would, right before he got into the office, put on a cap.  I don't know why.5.  He had filled out a survey for the office to enter for a raffle to win a free printer.  He won the printer, but they noticed that his survey had fake information.  He had put his phone number as "123456789," for example, and for "Further Comments" he had written "You should be fired."  He never corrected his survey and kept the printer.

Andy graduates this semester, and Sally sees him around from time to time.  She said that every time he sees her he gives her the finger, but she just blows him a kiss. I don't understand how this kid could have gotten a job, but I don't see his professional career going far.



Until recently I worked for a large grocery chain part-time as a cashier, stocker, general dogs-body.  It was great fun, really nice people and we all worked hard but still managed to have a good laugh.  As if usual in these situations some of these jokes were a little sexual but only very mild stuff like calling people sweetheart and pointing out unintentional innuendos.  Nothing crude or offensive, nobody ever complained about this until this new guy came along.  He made several tasteless jokes and management had a couple of chats with him after a few girls complained that they felt uncomfortable working with him.  Didn't bother me much, I have a pretty high tolerance for tasteless humor.  One day he just went too far.  He was on register and I bent down next to him to restock his bags.  He turned to face me, put his hands on either side of his groin then thrust it about three inches from my face while saying "while you're down there..." in a suggestive tone.  I was livid and told him he went too far and that I'd report him to police if he tried that again because it was basically sexual assault.  He backed off and apologized so I mentioned it to a manager that I was friendly with but told him I didn't want to make a formal complaint, just wanted him to know.  Some months later the jerk was promoted and took it upon himself to try and give me the worse jobs possible including trying to make me lift some 50lb boxes after another manager had excused me from heavy lifting that day due to a sprained wrist.  I was planning on leaving that job anyway but he sure made it easier.


Page Last Updated September 15, 2008