Etiquette Hell = Where the ill-mannered deserve to go


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Co-Workers or Cow-Orkers

or Co-Irkers?


I have a story about a former co-worker, let's call her Leila. She was getting married to her long term, live-in boyfriend. The wedding planning went on forever and she was constantly discussing it at work. We worked in a printing office, and this was a small workplace, only 6 staff. In the preparations for the wedding, Leila used to get the rest of us to do her favors, run errands etc. She also stole from our employers, by organizing printing for free for her wedding vendors in exchange for a discount on her wedding costs. This meant stealing supplies and stealing other staff time (graphic designer, printer, etc). She even asked me to work late to finish a job she was doing 'off the books' for her dressmaker! (In a side note: yes, I did report her, but the employers had figured out what was going on anyway.) What made this worse was that our employers were already very generous to her, giving her expensive wedding invitations and buying her a $300 wedding present.

As if getting others involved in criminal behavior wasn't enough, she was greedy in other ways. I saw her registry list, full of expensive presents, including Royal Doulton china, lamps, bed linen - which seemed pretty grasping given that she and her fiancé had been living together for several years and already had a fully stocked house. The kicker came when she told me and another co-worker that we would not be invited to her wedding (the others in the office were invited), because she couldn't afford more guests. I thought this was pretty rude given the amount of effort she had expected us to put in for her. She went on to say that she would be holding a barbecue after her honeymoon, for all the friends that had not been able to be invited to the wedding. Nearly a year later, she left for maternity leave, and that barbecue had never happened.

A postscript was that all of us in the office had put in money to buy her a leaving present, when she left to have the baby, and sent her flowers in hospital. The baby was born in October, and she came back in to the office in December to get the Christmas presents we had bought for her (!!), and told us she hadn't got anything for us because she had been too busy. Never saw her again (she never came back from maternity leave), but I heard she got divorced after a couple of years, because her husband ran off with another woman.   cows0116-03

Okay, now for my story--file it under Employee from Hell. His name was "Leroy" (name changed to protect the guilty). He worked at an art and craft store I worked at...and lasted exactly TWO days. He appeared to be a bright, capable, intelligent adult in his 20's So why does he have the fastest termination record, you ask? Here's some reasons:

1) He picked up every bottle of paint we were putting away and asked "Can I drink this?"

2) He used large, $30-40 tubes of paint as mini baseball bats. He also liked to juggle EVERY bottle within reach--when told some bottles are glass he said "I never drop 'em".

3) He slid down the banisters of our main staircase after being told repeatedly NOT to do so (even when threatened with termination),

4) He was caught balancing with one foot on top of a ladder yelling "look at me!!!!" (Lucky fool--he could have been killed--proof that God DOES protect idiots)

5) He singled out one male employee and shook his hand EACH and EVERY time he passed this person.

6) He bummed 10-15 dollars total from a bunch of people HIS FIRST DAY, claiming it was "for lunch" (No---we don't talk to each other, we couldn't find out he was doing this--DUH!!!!)

7) He shamelessly raided the refrigerator (which has become a no-food zone b/c of previous thefts)

8) He harassed ANYTHING female, verbally and with gestures.

9) He used the U-boat carts as his own private demolition racer/skateboard/stepstool, and crashed into EVERYTHING. Including our store managers ankles.

10) We found out he'd had FOUR previous jobs since LAST NOVEMBER....(Gawd would I love to hear their stories) ...and WHY did my store hire him?

10) He just plain STUNK. Mighty B-O He claimed to be a Bible-thumper, but apparently missed the expression "cleanliness is next to Godliness". Guess showering and deodorant are against his religion.

11) He offered a "lap dancing lesson" to a male employee.

12) He told male employee "A" that MALE employee "B" was thought he was hot, and vice versa. Just to see what would happen. Yes, both "A" and "B" were straight. Unfunny nonetheless. 13) He asked EVERYBODY if they play an instrument, and regardless of the response, he said "I play my skin-flute." Loud.

14) He asked if he could take off his shoes during our night crew (pity I didn't know he was getting canned the night he asked, I would have said "Only if I can shove them up your @$$ sideways") He was finally fired for playing with a cargo elevator's controls--a fireable offense since the area is clearly marked OFF LIMITS TO EMPLOYEES.

This cretin made two days seem like two YEARS--he was going to last three days, but mgt. finally chose to let him go--much to the relief of everyone who worked with him.


Hi, Miss Jeanne, I've got a dilly of a work story.

We moved to a large city a few years ago and I got a job as a legal secretary for a firm I'll call Dewey, Cheatem & Howe. It was a strange firm -- I was hired to be the secretary to the managing partner, Mr. Dewey, yet once when he had gone out of town (without telling me -- he made all his own travel arrangements and was very secretive about them) and called in to the office and I asked him when he would be returning, his response was a very suspicious, "Why do you want to know?" I answered politely, "So I can let clients know when they call asking for you." Duh hey.

Anyway, I'd been there for less than a month when a part-time employee, who I'll call Grazilda, who only worked evenings appeared in the office one afternoon wearing a perfume, Eau de Swamp, that was simply nauseating. It was so strong that the aroma quickly filled the entire (small) office, and I had to walk around the office for quite a while to figure out where the fragrance was coming from because it was clear very rapidly that I was allergic to it.

Unfortunately, I was so allergic to it that in less than two hours, I had a full-fledged asthma attack, the kind where the receptionist had her finger on the "911" button. My husband happened to walk in the lobby as I was sitting there turning blue and frantically gasping for air, so he took me to the hospital.

Well, wouldn't you think that if one employee has a violent asthma attack, requiring a trip to the hospital due to another employee's perfume, Mr. Dewey, wanting to avoid a lawsuit -- especially being a lawyer -- would request said employee to maybe not wear that perfume because it's causing a serious health problem for a fellow employee? WRONG! I was informed by the boss that it was a "hygiene" issue, not a "health" issue. Excuse me??? Since when is not being able to breathe a matter of hygiene????

Anyway, I was so horrified by this that I complained to the receptionist about his response -- who it turns out was probably sleeping with the boss; she totally defended him because Grazilda had worked there for several years and was very popular, which apparently meant she could endanger my health without effect. And the receptionist promptly reported my complaint to everyone else there, and next thing you know I am being ostracized. I mean, they simply stopped talking to me. At all. ALL DAY LONG. The only time anyone spoke to me was if I asked them a direct question, and then it was the minimum they could get away with.

But I got my revenge. I realized immediately it was going to kill me (literally!) if I stayed there, so I went to an employment agency, got sent out on interviews, and two weeks later was "forced" to take a new job that had far better benefits, far better hours, and a 20% pay increase. Turns out they'd been underpaying me badly because they figured I didn't know what salaries for legal secretaries should be in their city, having come from a small town. And the doctor I went to see about the asthma -- since I'd never had an attack before -- was horrified, and assured me that I needed to find another job, fast. Since he was recommended by another lawyer in that firm, Mr. Cheatem, I'm hoping that he mentioned to Mr. Cheatem what a risk they put me in for my health, too!

I'm still kicking myself that I didn't go to OSHA and file charges against them for a dangerous workplace, but at the time I just never wanted to see them again. Fortunately, the new job turned out to be wonderful, and I spent three very happy years there before my husband's job was transferred again. But this isn't a site to talk about NICE lawyers, is it? :-)


I have an office mate who I have worked with for several years. When she came to our office, the two of us who were already there made it clear that we did not exchange gifts for birthdays or holidays… cards only…and we didn’t want birthday cakes, either. We all agreed on this, and everything was fine. No one was obligated or expected to produce a gift or bring the cake. Eventually, personnel in the office changed, and so did the holiday agreement. The person in question took the opportunity to start buying gifts for everyone in the office, for every occasion. This was not discussed with anyone else, and put us all in the position of having to get her something in return, even if we didn’t want to.

The worst (and tacky) part about this is that each year she "reminds" us when Chanukah is, and actually states what she would like for a gift! Also, it’s OK to get her a Christmas gift, since both are celebrated in her home. She also makes sure we know when her birthday is coming up, which unfortunately is two weeks before mine. This gives her the opportunity to buy me a gift and bring a cake, so then I feel that I should get her something when her birthday comes around. I should also mention that she is a cheapskate, and the gifts she buys usually come from a mark-down store and are not something you’d want. I once received a box of hot chocolate mixes that came from Pic-n-Save. I have also received a pot holder and dishtowel, and a plastic bracelet. If it’s "the thought that counts" this tells me that someone is buying me a gift because…because why? There is no "thought" involved here.

Well, this year I have promised myself that I will no longer be roped into this silly ritual. Even if she gets me a birthday gift, she will receive only a card or a verbal "Happy Birthday" from me. And no Chanukah gift, either. I am hoping she will get the message, or at least be so pi**ed-off that I didn’t get her a gift, that she will never buy me anything again!


There's a girl in my office I quietly refer to as "Minnie Mouse." I work as a desktop publisher/graphic designer for a company involved in real estate, and as an incentive to our real estate agent clients, we offer flyer and brochure printing services. Minnie is one of several marketing reps, one working at each branch. I deal with all of them, but Minnie happens to be the rep for the branch where my office resides.

Every morning I am greeted with Minnie barging into my office with a high-pitched, squeally voice screaming, "Good MORNING sunshine!!!" Every morning! All the other reps must make an appointment before visiting my office. Unannounced visits are just plain rude anyway, but the company policy is very strict in this regard as well. Oh, but this does not apply to Minnie Mouse! She busts through the door, closed or not, every time. If it's locked because I'm under deadline or in a client consultation, she knocks loudly saying, "You in there, kiddo? HELLO?!" I've even put signs on the door, but they don't help. Nothing works. That squeaky voice prevails through the closed door and over the steady hum of my printing machinery. And if she uses my equipment (I had to make her start asking permission), she loudly sings made up songs while she works, usually consisting of the lyrics, "LA LA-LA, LA-LA, LA-LA!" She's in her mid-30's and acts like a three-year-old!

The real clincher was when I overheard her with a client referring to me as "HER graphic designer." I work with 9 reps! AS IF! She's gotten in big trouble with the VP for trying to get me to do her work. He had to tell her straight out that "Ms. So-and-so (myself) doesn't work for you or under you." I have worked happily for this fantastic company for several years, and at first very much enjoyed Minnie's enthusiasm and charisma. However, consider me a grouch, but Minnie's antics are not only unprofessional, they are very grating on the nerves. I have seriously considered quitting over it!

Here is a change-of-pace story regarding wedding showers. I work for a great company and the co-workers are all very nice. You can count on a shower for every person who is either pregnant or about to be wed. But the nice thing is that in our 100+ department, people are genuinely happy to donate (actually, they are probably all relieved that THEY don't have to organize it (hahahaha)). Anyway, an e-mail is sent out via a distribution list, and if you're interested in donating for a gift or for the cake, then you're instructed who to contact. And the e-mails are worded nicely - - "if you would like to contribute for a gift or towards the cake, please drop by . . . blah blah blah" - - . So, if you are friends of the person or in the same group they are in, you usually contribute - - but there is no pressure. I was fortunate enough (hahaha) to be asked by my manager to organize a baby shower and then a wedding shower. I was also asked a few times to help out on other

showers. In any event, I sent the note and a follow-up. I was amazed at how much I collected! The annoying part of the whole process was that it would never fail that the people who didn't contribute - - and believe me I could care less who gave what - - would be the first people in the room and the first on line for a piece of the cake!!!! I only began to notice this when I was organizing the second shower. Later, when asked to help out with others, it would always be the same people. I think it's pretty tacky that you can't cough up $1, but you are practically camping out next to the cake, cookies and coffee!!!! Gheez, if you can't spare a dime, then at least wait until the end of the party to get cake. It's disgusting, the same people every single time!!!!!


Page Last Updated May 18, 2007