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The Watercooler: Tales from Your Own Office


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#1

Pixel

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Posted Feb 10, 2006 @ 7:25 PM

I hope someone other than me is interested in this topic.

#2

UfungusAmungus

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Posted Feb 10, 2006 @ 7:37 PM

Excellent call, Pixel.

What's your vision here? Is this a venting thread...or a who's-got-the-most-funny/disgusting/illegal office story? I want to check before I vent. Otherwise I'll take it outside and yell. It's been that kind of week.

#3

Kalbear

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Posted Feb 10, 2006 @ 7:44 PM

Oh, vent away and/or tell horrifying stories. They're both relevant to this show. And if there's one thing I've learned at TWoP, it's that other people's suffering is always relevant and funny.

Edited by Kalbear, Feb 10, 2006 @ 7:44 PM.


#4

UfungusAmungus

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Posted Feb 10, 2006 @ 7:56 PM

I had a boss a lot like Todd F. Packer once, back in the oil business. He was overwhelming and overbearing, and probably would have sex with your mother and brag about it the next day. But anyways...

This guy like to find the "thing" about someone so he could tease them mercilessly. The Fire Guy, The Crossword Guy? My coworker was the Big Ears Guy. He was 23 and from rural Kansas and had big ears...on his second day at work, he looked up from his desk to see that "My Packer" had given everybody in the office Spock ears, and everyone was wearing them, and pointing at my friend and laughing. This poor kid, who looked a bit like Clay Aiken without the warmth (and with some HUGE FUCKING EARS), almost started crying.

I became the Hairy Ears Guy my first week at work. It's not as bad as it sounds. But I was so shocked at this--I had never noticed I had those little hairs on my ears--I decided to shave my ears that night, sans shaving cream. Didn't really think that through. Anyways, five minutes into it I was covered in blood and in a blind panic about showing up to work with horribly slashed open ears.

I was able to stop the bleeding, and I was relieved. But the next day "My Packer" came up to make fun of me, starting asking where the hair went...and for some reason my left ear started bleeding profusely.

I was 24 at the time. Nine years later, I have not recovered.

#5

Kalbear

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Posted Feb 10, 2006 @ 8:10 PM

I...wow. Hee! I now want this to be an episode. Especially the spock ears.

And don't feel bad about the hairy ear thing. It's not that uncommon, honest. I use my beard trimmer. No fuss, no muss, no blood. :)

#6

UfungusAmungus

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Posted Feb 10, 2006 @ 8:13 PM

Oh, I got pretty goddamn proficient pretty quick at keeping them groomed. Without scarification.

Edited to say I really, really hope I did not set the bar too high or low (as the case may be). Surely someone can top this. Please, someone top this.

Edited by UfungusAmungus, Feb 10, 2006 @ 8:14 PM.


#7

Kalbear

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Posted Feb 10, 2006 @ 8:23 PM

Sorry, UfungusAmungus, I can't even remotely come up with anything. I think you win the internet with that one.

#8

Pixel

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Posted Feb 10, 2006 @ 8:27 PM

My vision is anything ridiculous, funny, or infuriating that happens in your workplace. So by all means, vent away!

ETA: Wouldn't it be cool if someone from the show saw our real stories and got ideas?

Edited by Pixel, Feb 10, 2006 @ 8:28 PM.


#9

Eirik

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Posted Feb 10, 2006 @ 8:37 PM

As a teenager, I used to work for a large drug store (now folded into a different one). The original manager was a bit of a Michael Scott type, a bit more sociably adept but bad at business. On his authority, they massivly over-ordered for the first Christmas this store was open, about 4 times the amount of merchendise that they should have. And it was mixed stuff, cameras, pot and pan sets, Christmas cards, etc.

Cut to about six months later, and the district manager is coming for her first visit since the store opening (we were a *really* isolated store in the chain, over 150 miles from the nearest other store). The manager realizes he's going to catch hell for the huge overstock. So he does the sensible thing: He marks it down to almost nothing. Vision cookware sets sold for about $3-5 (retail $30+). Good 35mm cameras for $20(retail $50+). Etc. Some of the employees go hog wild and buy carloads of the stuff because its so bloody cheap, they plan on giving it as gifts later. What he can't dump in time he manages to store in an autoparts store next door to hide it.

So, after dumping about $10,000 worth of merchendise to hide its existance, the DM shows up and starts to ask where it all is. She's already known about the overstock, exactly how much he'd over-ordered, and now he had to tell her that he'd dumped most of it for nothing. The off-site warehouse is apparently expressly forbidden and is considered one step from theft by the company.

He was out on his ear by lunch.

I didn't have much sympathy for him. While I'd started out likeing him, he was personable after all, I'd grown to hate his guts. He'd once accused me of stealing of bottle of throat spray that he caught me using in the restroom. Thank God I'd used my employee discount (the company logged all employee purchases). Never liked him much after that.

#10

heid3ster

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Posted Feb 10, 2006 @ 8:45 PM

As I am sitting here typing this, one of our managers is down the hall telling one of our saleswomen, "See, here's how the Navy Seals do it, they send in ops first..."

I didn't think our office had a Dwight, but maybe we do.

#11

ksquared

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Posted Feb 10, 2006 @ 8:50 PM

In my former life, I was a journalist (then I had kids and the 24-7, 365 thing of journalism became a problem, so I switched to PR). Anyway, I had worked at my newspaper since I was 18, through college and everything. I was hired full-time the night before I graduated from college. My office practically watched me grow up -- most of them were invited to my wedding, stuff like that.

I had been working there full-time for almost 10 years when I became pregnant with my first child. Most of the women there knew that Mr. Ksquared and I were trying to have a baby, so I'm sure my boss had heard that I wanted to have a child. Anyway, around 10 weeks, I went to my boss to tell him that I was pregnant, but planned to continue working after the baby was born. His response?

"Why is everyone telling me bad news today?"

I made it through the pregnancy without incident. When I had my ultrasound at 20 weeks, everyone knew that I was having a boy. Our editorial staff was only about 30-40 people and I was the only pregnant person. I had a baby shower that was partially financed by my boss. A few weeks after Ksquared Jr. was born, I had to go up to my office to take care of a few things and I had the baby with me. He was wearing a blue baseball-style outfit with a baseball cap on. I mean, even if you didn't already know he was a boy, you could tell he was a boy. Anyway, the boss came by to say hi to me and looked down at the baby in his infant carseat and said, "He's tiny. It is a 'he,' right?"

When I was pregnant with Ksquared-ette, my annual evaluation/raise came up. He told me that because I was pregnant and they didn't know what I'd be doing when I came back, he wasn't going to give me a raise.

The stupidest part is that I worked there for almost 15 years before I really got fed up.

#12

UfungusAmungus

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Posted Feb 10, 2006 @ 9:03 PM

Not my boss, but a high point this week was a buddy sticking his head in my "high-walled cubicle" (basically a big cube with windows and doors so you feel like management without the cost of hard walls!!!) saying:

"Hey, Ufungus, is [your japanese coworker] in town? Some Oriental was walking around your office."

I said, "Hey, try to at least refer to them as Asians."

It turned out later to have been a [Chinese] temp who's been working for me, coming over from another part of the building. Thankfully he didn't hear the "Some Oriental" bit.

Edited to say hooray! I

win the internet!

This week was not a total loss, just took dredging up a humiliating story!

Edited by UfungusAmungus, Feb 10, 2006 @ 9:08 PM.


#13

NicoleMN6

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Posted Feb 10, 2006 @ 9:06 PM

Morale was so bad at my office, my boss decided what we really needed was a "Hero of the Month" award. (Kind of like Employee of the Month, only HERO -- remember Dwight's definition of that word? Yeah.) He spends weeks and weeks promoting this idea, asking everyone to e-mail or leave notes with nominations, gets the graphics guys to design big posters for all over the office featuring SpongeBox SquarePants in an Uncle Sam-type "We want your nominations!" scenario. On the day of the award-giving, he dispenses noisemakers to everyone and, while we are on deadline trying to get a project done, makes us stage a parade from the cubicles to the breakroom for the big announcement.

The award winner was his secretary -- deservedly, the most put-upon office worker, for sure. She was also in charge of putting in the request from corporate for her prize -- a gift certificate to a restaurant, and a plaque that would have her name and the future winners' on there.

He had neglected to get permission from corporate for these expenses. The next month, the award went to a warehouse worker -- a really random guy that no one knew, but I think the boss had a random Ryan/Stanley onesided affinity for -- and we found out the secretary still hadn't gotten her prizes. The following month, the award went to the guy just below my boss (kind of the Dwight, only more self-aware), despite the fact that three other employees had really gone above and beyond on a project that time ... and here's the paraphrased speech my boss gave at the break room ceremony: "So, great job, and I think we're going to make this a quarterly thing instead from now on because we've run out of people to give this to."

Ironically, he never realized that, like Michael Scott's big "surprise," it only makes morale worse to try to raise it without actually having the goods to deliver! (Meanwhile, we probably would have been happier just to have the free break room snacks every month, without the parade and award.)

It's a year later. The boss has since been let go ... and no one ever got their awards. The SpongeBob posters are still up everywhere.

(I've got great stories from his farewell speech to departing employees and his own event, but I'll save that for another day!)

Edited by NicoleMN6, Feb 10, 2006 @ 9:08 PM.


#14

jerusha

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Posted Feb 11, 2006 @ 2:27 PM

Picture it. Sicily. 1932... (sorry)

Staff meeting in a company of 30+ people-- there's a new guy in the office, Noel.
Head of HR: "Everyone, we'd like to introduce 'No-el'..."
Head of the company: (exasperated)"It's 'Nohl', not 'No-el'. Only girls are named 'No-el.'"
Noel: "It's No-el."
The head of the company blew it off instead of apologizing.

Another time, my PM and I were in a meeting with clients at a local junior college, where we were presenting the design for their new science buildng remodel. We indicated that a wheelchair lift or ramp would need to be installed, as the building started at grade-level and stepped down to about 5 feet lower at the center (auditorium seating in classrooms). The dean of the department said, "But students don't need to get to that part of the building. Only teachers." We said, "But what if one of your teachers is in a wheelchair?" He said, "We'd just not hire someone in a wheelchair." After recovering from that, we said, "What if one of your existing teachers breaks a leg?" He said, "We're not spending the money on it. File a hardship if you have to." Cut to two or three months later, I'm walking across the campus to look at a different project and run into the dean. He's in a wheelchair, after having torn his Achillies' tendon. It restored my faith in instant karma. I was only sorry I didn't have a camera.

#15

almostlunchtime

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Posted Feb 11, 2006 @ 5:07 PM

Love and simultaneously hate this thread!

I work for a small (fewer than 25 F/T employees) marketing company. The owner of the comp has held onto it for about 10 years and I have no idea why. He is not a nice man. And yeah, I'm aware that being nice has never been a prerequisite as far as heading a small business but behaving rationally is a big one, last the business class textbook said. Owner took almost as many vacations as Pres Bush did last year, no exaggeration. His employees get significantly less off-time, of course. A few months ago, owner delegated phone duties to me while the regular office manager is at lunch b/c the person who was taking care of that "doesn't really speak English that well." Last I checked, that person has an accent but can be understood. But more importantly, that person is another employee and you just don't disparage your employees in front of their co-workers. But it gets "better": When the office manager took a few days off, it was never explicitly stated that I would take over phone duties in his absence. So I go about doing the work I actually get paid for not caring that the phone is ringing until owner comes up and demands to know why I'm not answering calls. I hedge, tell him I wasn't sure the office manager was gone, so the owner asks if o.m. told me he would be away. He did but I say I couldn't remember. The owner's response? "Asshole."

#16

Aimee Myers

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Posted Feb 12, 2006 @ 9:32 PM

I used to work in the service desk of a smallish grocery store. In the 4 1/2 years I worked there we probably had at least 6 store managers and countless assistant managers. I worked in the office but I wasn't an office manager. Sometimes I would come in on Sunday mornings to open the office so that the 2 office managers could have a Sunday off. Cut to 2 weeks after manager number 6 starts at our store. He's giving performance reviews (like he knows any of our names, let alone how well we are performing in our jobs). He gives me the absolute worst (and total bullshit) review I have ever received before or since. He said I didn't know how to open the office correctly, which I did once every six weeks and as a favor. He said I was tardy (HA, not any worse than anyone else) and the straw that broke the camel's back was he said I didn't "keep my workstation neat and orderly" I was the only person who ever cleaned the office. I said so and he actually changed it on my review. At this point I was so enraged that I told him that he also didn't know how to do his job. I pointed out that he had no clue how to send a western union (which at that time only managers were allowed to do, even though all of the office girls knew how to do too) to which he responded that I had a bad attitude and my comments bordered on insubordination. I refused to sign the review sheet.

By now I was starting to become sick of the job anyway and I decided to take a stand and the next day I handed in my two weeks notice on which I stated that my last day was to be (wait for it)...February 30th. Yep! I'm stupid. He even called me on it when he read it and I still didn't get what I had done. I realized it about a day later. 10 years later, it still pisses me off that that fucker had the last laugh.

#17

swestworld

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Posted Feb 12, 2006 @ 10:33 PM

Never mind...

Edited by swestworld, Nov 4, 2006 @ 7:14 PM.


#18

BrahmaGirl

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Posted Feb 13, 2006 @ 9:25 AM

Ooooh, I have a billion of these...

I work at a large aeronatical engineering firm, and while they are well-intentioned, there are a few folks here who never quite grasped the concepts of propriety or sociability (or overall human emotion).

When I first started working here I shared a cubicle with my lead and another coworker. While on vacation, my lead's wife had experienced some internal bleeding and was hospitalized, causing him to also be out of the office for several weeks. Upon his return, our cube was beseiged with people inquiring as to her health and giving their best wishes, which was bothersome at best, but didn't pose any real problems.

Until our group's Dwight/Michael stopped in. A puzzled expression crossed his face as he listened to the gory medical details, and when the story was concluded, he said, "Oh...see, when you said internal bleeding, I was thinking...something else." My lead replied, "Yeah, well we were very fortunate that it was able to be caught early enough."

The guy continued, hesitently: "Yeah, I mean...when you said internal bleeding, I thought you meant like, a female problem. Like she was bleeding...from the vagina."

Edited by BrahmaGirl, Feb 13, 2006 @ 9:27 AM.


#19

Layla71

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Posted Feb 13, 2006 @ 10:19 AM

I have tons of office stories which I wll share later, but I just have to shoehorn the following into this thread, because it's too funny not to share and won't fit anywhere else.

A couple of weeks ago, I was flying home from Atlanta after a week-long training for my job. The lady next to me on the plane just happened to be from Scranton, PA. She was a very nice lady, who was well aware of the show, and we had a nice chat about it.

What struck me was her demeanor was so similar to many of the characters, so calm and even. She revealed that she was in the tourism industry. I asked her what I and my family could do on a vacation to Northeast PA. She started with the disclaimer that it would be difficult to take a vacation there unless you already knew someone there who could show you around, which I found to be all kinds of funny, but I didn't laugh. She mentioned the Poconos (tm Pam), then she started talking about how the area was famous for coal mining and I could take a tour and go down into an actual coal mine like the miners would. Juxtapose this, her monotone explanation, and the fact the governor of West Virginia had just shut down all of that state's coal mines two days before because people keep dying down there, and I began to have the surreal feeling that perhaps I was unwittingly participating in an Office episode. This woman was very pleasantly suggesting that I take my young children down a coal mine for some family fun. You cannot make this stuff up. I will never forget that lady, and I will always understand why NE PA is not the vacation capital of the US. Who needs Disney when you have coal mines?

#20

grumpybunny

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Posted Feb 13, 2006 @ 11:18 AM

I used to work with a boss that was a bit clueless. Nicest guy in the world... but a bit clueless. He was the kind of guy that would sit in on a discussion of, say, a new policy on filing reports, and listen and nod his head and seem to absorb the topic. Then five minutes later, once we had moved on to something else, he would raise his hand and say "So, do we FILE our reports when we are done with them?"

One day we had an off-site staff meeting that was held at a co-workers house and we all decided to work outside since it was a nice day. He made the entire team sit in a circle on the grass, and then proceeded to read an inspirational poem that he had written for all of us. It had sections that addressed each member of the team, and was delivered with deep, meaningful, sustained eye contact - "Thank you, Grumpybunny - for phones answered... for letters typed..." It was all anyone could do to keep from laughing out loud in his face... I thought my head would explode from holding it in...

That meeting also included a motivational talk on working with staff that included this little gem - "We tell people "good job", but what does that mean really? Well, it means... good...job..."

Uh huh.

#21

jennifuh

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Posted Feb 13, 2006 @ 11:44 AM

My office has always had between 20-50 people in it, most of the them men and, at the time of the story, around 7 women. Most of us at the time were single. In comes a new account director, all slick and sales-like, who proceed s to sexually harass all of the women. All of us. He told me once that he dreamed about me in the shower the night before. Not wanting to give him the satisfaction of having gotten to me, I mumbled something about having better things to dream about. He then responded with, "Yeah, two of you in the shower." Then every time he passed me after that he'd hold up two fingers.

We reported him. Five years later, he's our managing director.

#22

stoogeswoman

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Posted Feb 13, 2006 @ 11:55 AM

I've had a bad cough for about a week now. Last Friday my boss asked me to change the toner cartridge in one of our printers. I was concerned about breathing the toner dust if it should happen to spill on my hands (which it almost always does because I'm clumsy) so I asked her if she would mind doing it for me this one time, and explained my reason.

She sighed heavily and said, okay, go out of the room for a few minutes and I'll do it. Now let me explain - normally when we replace a toner cartridge, we remove the new one from its box, then take the old one out of the printer and put it back into that same box, and return it to the mailroom for recycling. And also let me explain that it's more likely you'll encounter "toner dust" from the OLD cartridge than from the new one.

So - when I came back into my room, she had indeed changed the toner, but had left the OLD toner cartridge sitting out on top of the trash can, NEXT to the box, so I would have to pick it up and put it in the box myself - thus negating the whole reason I had asked her to change it for me in the first place. And as she walked past me, she said very snarkily, "There's not THAT much dust in it, you know!"

Cough .... cough ... cough ... ahem!!!

#23

Irma in Green

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Posted Feb 13, 2006 @ 12:19 PM

Long ago I was the lead presenter at a college symposium. I was the sole female, and was only a college intern myself. My nerves were pretty evident prior to the event, and the project head (who was a dick) thought that he would rattle me further by saying,

"Hey, Irma, look around. This is a male dominated environment. You ever had penis envy?"

I replied, "No, Jody. Have you?"

This totally cracked everyone else up and calmed my nerves. Five minutes later, Jody finally joined the symposium, amidst a lot of smirks from the rest of the group.

He later tried to keep me from getting the college credit for the internship, by telling my prof that I was unprofessional and difficult to manage, but could not pinpoint any particulars.

He did not last much longer at that job. I can only imagine that he is selling "devices" to the envious among us.

#24

Shalamar

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Posted Feb 13, 2006 @ 1:08 PM

A while back I worked for a company that was the Canadian version of its sister U.S. company. My office was in Winnipeg. We kept hearing rumors that the Winnipeg office was going to be closed or relocated, which made us all very nervous. In an effort to raise morale and put the rumors to rest, one of the bigwigs from the States came to our office for a visit.

She started her presentation by showing a map of North America with all of the company's offices represented by a red dot. There was just one problem. The Winnipeg office wasn't represented.

When someone pointed this out to her, she stuttered, turned red, and muttered something about an oversight.

As it turned out, the Winnipeg office was never closed, but that visit didn't do much for morale.

#25

fleurdelis

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Posted Feb 13, 2006 @ 8:44 PM

Ok, I've got one.

I can't believe this was almost 10 years ago but here it is. I was the administrative assistant to the president of the company. We got along fine but he had a (deserved) reputaion as a ladies man and a couple of my predecessors had allegedly succumbed to his charms. Did I tell you he was married?

Anyway, he was in the middle of a bitter divorce (big surprise) and going on a business trip. He asked me if I would take his car in for an oil change while he was gone so I said sure. I paid for it out of pocket and then submitted a reimbursement to the finance dept. So the boss comes back and we're going over what happened while he was gone. I told him that I took the car in like he asked and he says "Did you get your money back? Because I wouldn't want to stiff you. Well I would want to stiff you but not out of any money".

A couple of beats go by while I'm staring at him and a bazillion thoughts are running through my head. Then I couldn't help it - I laughed. And told him if he ever said that again I'd go right to human resources. He turned a whiter shade of pale, but he did laugh and it was never brought up again.

#26

Shalamar

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Posted Feb 14, 2006 @ 9:24 AM

Oh, Lord, office sexual games .... I used to work for a company on weekends. One Sunday afternoon, Mrs. Married Accounting Clerk came in to work. Twenty minutes later, Mr. Married Boss (with whom she was rumored to be having an affair) came in. Five minutes later, they left together - but not before she told me "If my husband calls, tell him I've gone for lunch." They never came back. A short time later, rumors were flying hot and heavy, and they both indignantly denied that they were involved. Riiiiight.

Edited by Shalamar, Feb 14, 2006 @ 9:24 AM.


#27

Miss Yooper

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Posted Feb 14, 2006 @ 2:43 PM

I have a happy tale from my own office: I have a Phyllis! She's in her fifties, and actually looks a lot like a blonde Phyllis. About three months ago, she started dating someone new, and they're absolutely crazy about each other. It's like they're in high school.

During the course of the day (Valentine's Day), my Phyllis has received two bouquets, a necklace with a heart-shaped pendant, and a phone call where he started singing their song as soon as she picked up. I figure the giant teddy bear will come through the door any time now. This guy is giving Bob Vance, Vance Refrigeration a run for his money.

Edited because "Phyllis" falls under "sometimes 'y'".

Edited by Miss Yooper, Feb 14, 2006 @ 2:46 PM.


#28

lids

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Posted Feb 14, 2006 @ 3:47 PM

I'll just share a few of mine because I have TONS!

-I posted this on the old Office thread but yeah, my boss lost his briefcase and had all of us look around to find it. He was truly incompetent to the point of losing everything and locking himself out of his office all the time. And yes, he was the kind of person that if he lost something, he would berate you for not keeping a copy "for him."

-We had a sexual harrasser in the office. He was so bad that we just began refering to him as Sexual Harrasment (person's name). We would send emails to each other as he walked down the hall because he would just come down the line of cubicles harrassing each of the women along the way. Some gems I can remember of the top of my head, "You're looking good today from the front, now let me see you turn around." "Let's go! Why we have not had kids yet is beyond me!" And then the usual grunts and groans whenever a woman would bend over or something. It was actually pretty creepy because he would get turned in to HR ALL THE TIME and nothing happened.

-My boss asked me to let him know beforehand when I was going to take a sick day. And then asked me if I was really sick whenever I took them. I just said, yeah, that's why I call in sick. And he was like, Yeah, I always wonder. It was very much like an Office episode.

That's it for now.

#29

frenchtoast

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Posted Feb 14, 2006 @ 3:59 PM

I love hearing stories like that, Miss Yooper.

I'm a stay-at-home mom right now since it makes more financial sense to not pay for day care and a commute so that I can work. Maybe in a few years, but right now, I'm home.

The last place I worked was the US office of a small French pharmaceutical company as an administrative assistant. It has since been purchased by a larger pharm as I predicted it would when I quit. For the first few years, I enjoyed my job and loved my boss. The office was small, only 5 or 6 people. My "department" only had 3, 2 of those being me and my boss. Said chief was great at managing people. He respected me, was patient enough to teach me most of my job and always explained a lot of the science stuff to me. (I was in the Clinical Developmetn/Regulatory Affairs dept.) When we got a new president, he introduced me as his right and sometimes left hand. He used to love to say BFD, too, so that moment in "Booze Cruise" was so surreal.

I feel so incredibly lucky to have had at least one experience with a great boss. And I still keep in touch with my colleague who is just a few years younger than my mom. I know I'll probably never have such an excellent boss again. I quit when I was promoted to work with for the president of the "company". Actually, thinking about it, the biggest difference between those two was I worked with my old boss and I worked for the newer one. I quit my job when the new boss wanted to know the travel information for his effing girlfriend while I was in the hospital with my then year and half old son. He couldn't wait until I got back to work, even though the trip was weeks away, oh no, he had my colleague ask me when I called to explain that I would be out two days since the kid was going to be staying overnight. I was driving an hour each way to be at this job. As I said when I handed in my letter of resignation, I can be treated like crap closer to home.

#30

jodypow

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Posted Feb 14, 2006 @ 4:30 PM

Today is definitely a "run out the clock situation" (tm Stanley) for me. Besides the lack of motivation, and the juicy stuff on the forums, the burnt popcorn in my trash can is making me nauseated.