Tell me about your worst coworker and win a prize!

by Evil HR Lady on January 17, 2012

The wonderful people at Lovesac Slippers have generously donated the above pair of slippers to one of my readers. They look warm and comfy, don’t they?

  1. You must leave a comment describing your worst coworker. Please don’t write anything that would identify that person.
  2. I will pick the winner by using a random number generator so as to be fair.
  3. Lovesac can only ship to US addresses, so sorry!
  4. Please put in your email address when you leave your comment. I’m the only one that can see it and I’m way too lazy to spam you, but that way if you win I can contact you.
  5. Contest ends at 12:00 noon East Coast time on Tuesday, January 24.
  6. I may well use your answers in an article be published somewhere.

{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

msgogo January 17, 2012 at 10:21 pm

We had a classic drama queen admin-personal issues galore, crying at her desk every day, door slamming, sighing, micromanaging, lashing out- you name it. I’ve got a million stories, but a favorite involves the time they gave her an intern to help ‘take some pressure off her’. The first task she gave her intern was going around with a big box of dead batteries, throwing away a few in every trash can. Because she heard ‘it’s ok to throw batteries out, you don’t need to recycle them. but you should only throw away a few at a time.” So she then scolded the intern for only throwing them away in office trash cans, saying she meant ALL the trash cans in our building. She then followed our intern out into the museum to supervising the throwing away of batteries into every trash can in our building,… which were then recollected and thrown in the same dumpster at the end of the day. I never thought I’d survive her.

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Tony January 18, 2012 at 4:49 pm

You are joking right?

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msgogo January 18, 2012 at 8:15 pm

Oh, Tony, i wish I were. It’s been long enough that i can giggle about her antics now, but oh my did she make it hell to come to work.

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EamonnD January 17, 2012 at 10:25 pm

A guy was in an informal afterwork basketball group of co-workers. One day he came up to me to let me know that he couldn’t make it that evening because his hemorrhoids were bleeding really badly.

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CB January 17, 2012 at 10:36 pm

I worked for a small privately owned staffing company. My manager was the owner’s daughter. Yes, this was a “Recruiter”. She was a mess. And I’m fairly sure on drugs. She would come in late and ask me to lie to her mother – who called every morning to make sure we were there on time – about where she was. She would claim to be really tired and lie under her desk, which was literally up against mine, wrap herself in a blanket and take naps. She would bring her daughter to work with her and, make me lie to her mom about it, or worse, make me entertain the kid while she and her mother had drag out fights on the phone. Within the first 2 weeks I knew all about her abortions, hectic relationships, bowl issues, and details of her mother’s sex life I never wanted to know. She also claimed I was “luckier” than she was and would hand me handfuls of change (pennies, dimes, and nickels) when I left for lunch so I could buy her lottery tickets. Needless to say, I was out of there in less than 6 months and surprised I lasted that long.

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Lori J* January 17, 2012 at 10:38 pm

My favorite was the co-worker who would bring her “dates” into the office every Monday (which would be whatever guy she met over the weekend) and introduce him to everyone.

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Interviewer January 17, 2012 at 10:39 pm

I once worked for a law firm that had a bankruptcy attorney on staff. After reorganizing, one co-worker was very upset to be moving from a remote location to the main office. Gave us all sass & attitude and snubbed everyone in the main office. About that time, the federal laws were changing to make it harder to declare bankruptcy, so there was a huge rush of work that summer and early fall ahead of the deadline to file as many as possible. Some of our internal paperwork was shoved aside to “catch up on later” when things slowed down. This lady was responsible for collecting the retainers from clients who came into our office to file bankruptcy. She was supposed to give the cash and the new matter info to the accountant to deposit and credit in our system. Because she didn’t have time to do the new info paperwork, and because her new desk did not have a lock, she took it upon herself to be the keeper of the money – the retainers went home in her purse each day. Yes, instead of giving the money to the bookkeeper to put in our firm’s safe, instead of putting it in our trust account, she decided to tell no one about it and took all home. Once our mild-mannered attorney who never questioned anything finally got fed up with asking about the status of her catching up, and got up the nerve to ask what the heck was going on with his monthly collections, she had 4 months worth of cash at home – about $20K. We got every single penny of the cash back after an afternoon’s adventure worthy of a documentary film, and I won the unemployment appeal hands down. She had a big fancy wedding while all of this was going on, and to this day you can’t convince me that she wasn’t paying for some of that stuff with retainers.

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Belinda January 17, 2012 at 11:27 pm

I work with 2 girls that act like girls from high school. They both act all fake-sugary nice to my face, which is already annoying and then throw me under the bus when I’m not there. They conspire to make stuff up that I’m not being helpful on, pass off their work to me, tell our superiors that I’m not easy to work with, etc. One was actually my mentor and she relished the fact of putting me down in closed door meetings and never gave me any positive feedback or action steps. The other has manipulated more resources for her to be successful and taken resources away from me and then blames me for not having what I need to do my job. I’m just glad that both of them are not in my direct department and that my boss knows what is really going on!

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LadyTL January 23, 2012 at 8:01 am

I honestly don’t get this thing of acting like work is back in high school. It rarely helps get work done, often gets in the way and punishes people who just come into work for work. Why do so many managers like this attitude?

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Z January 17, 2012 at 11:35 pm

I can’t compete with some of the stories already posted, but I need new slippers. At my last office, there was a guy who made no effort to conceal his time wasting ways. We had an open floor plan, but he kept his personal laptop on his desk, next to his company computer, and openly played online games for most of the day.

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Jay January 17, 2012 at 11:36 pm

The absolute worst co-worker was the receptionist we had for a couple of years. If she was assigned a special task by one of the Execs she would make a big deal about she was “on it!” and then she would mysteriously have an allergic reaction to something, her “cleaning lady” notified her that her daughter’s hamster died so she had to rush out and pick her daughter up from school to tell her and explain the circle of life, she would claim that her blood sugar dropped and then we’d find her sleeping on the floor of one of our conference rooms (she was hung over). The excuses got more and more ridiculous. She conveniently had food poisoning over lunch after being reprimanded earlier that morning for yet another late arrival or for not completing regular duties by the deadline set. She would stop employees, guests, etc. when they walked by her desk and tell them in great detail about her therapy sessions, weekend parties, her daughter’s escapades and cute quotes. We all eventually learned how to avoid the front desk completely until she was finally let go. She was perfectly healthy as long as she didn’t have to do anything other than answer the phones and show up 30 minutes late and take extended lunches. She was also notorious for blaming her lack of quality work on others and was often found sobbing in a manager’s office about how terribly she was being treated by the other employees and that’s why she couldn’t work.

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Jeanne January 18, 2012 at 1:37 am

I had a doozy of a co-worker. She had multiple issues bu this was the worst. In a shared office, someone arranged the pushpins on a corkboard to make a smilie face. She went to HR claiming that out west some serial killer had used smilie faces to show he was the killer so now she knew the guy who played with the pushpins wanted to kill her. It caused a lot of problems.

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Jen January 18, 2012 at 1:46 am

Mine was actually my boss and the site supervisor. She was employed at our location for 8 months before she actually came to work for the full five day work week. In the 18 months she worked at my location, she had jury duty three times, 17 root canals, over 40 migraines, and about three dozen “meetings” that no one else in the organization seemed to know about or need to attend. As second in command, I was tasked with trying to answer for her missed deadlines as well as get my own work accomplished. It was awful.

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John G January 30, 2012 at 4:42 pm

17 RCTs?? I had 4 last month and I thought that was a lot! 🙂

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Lisa January 18, 2012 at 3:16 am

The worst coworker that I ever had was when I was 18 and working at a fast food restaurant. The coworker, also 18, had gotten fired from her other part-time job for stealing. She then needed more money and decided that I should lose my job so she could have my hours. She took money from my cash drawer so it would look like I had stolen, told managers lies about me, and defaced a work safety sign and blamed it on me. Given that I’d gotten 2 performance raises in 6 months and had never shown up drunk like she had, management did not believe her and she was fired.

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Cate January 18, 2012 at 4:05 am

I had a co-worker who came to work one day and told me she was an alcoholic and needed help. I walked her up to HR (assuming they would want to help her), only to be asked by the HR manager to take her to her doctor so she could be admitted to rehab at the local hospital! She was released after 3 days. Nothing changed. Her admission explained a lot about her work habits and not remembering things.

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Greg January 18, 2012 at 4:37 am

Wow, and I thought I had it tough.. My worst coworker tried to horde information for job security. He actually refused to co-train because he ‘owned the information’ about the system he was trained on during company time and on the company’s dime! He was not reprimanded and is still there to this day!

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ReceptionistChick January 18, 2012 at 5:16 am

I’ve had many coworkers I wasn’t fond of, but the only one I can say I hated was a saleswoman at a carpet store where I was employed for a few months. I worked in the back office scheduling cleanings for the service attached to the store, but often had to sub for the receptionist up front.

The saleswoman was so nasty I hated to go up there. She would tell me to take messages for her when she was with customers, but then complain that I didn’t page her. She pinched other people’s customers (assignment was on a rotating basis), yelled at me in front of a customer that I hung up on her daughter (I didn’t; she hung up after 30 seconds on hold while I paged her mother), and made rude remarks about my clothes, my hair, etc.

Other employees warned me about her when I started that job. Someone told me she had harassed a new salesman so horribly that he walked off the job after a couple of weeks, never to return. Not long before I quit, her sister was in a horrible car accident and nearly died, which meant she was out for a while. I felt really bad for the sister, but I was so happy I didn’t have to see that evil harpy that I actually volunteered to cover the desk while she wasn’t there!

She was a main reason that I quit. That, and I wasn’t supposed to work the desk more than one day a week instead of three or four. This was a family business and she was married to one of them, so there was no way they would ever fire her. No wonder the receptionist was out “sick” so much!

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Anonymous January 18, 2012 at 5:18 am

I worked in a sporting goods place where a coworker lectured us in the break room on racist subjects and dry fired the guns at the women on the staff. (This was potentially dangerous since occasionally returns had rounds in them.) The boss couldn’t do anything since the guy had threatened to beat him up if he did.

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Dawn January 18, 2012 at 5:48 pm

The boss sounds like a total wuss and the co-worker a psycho path.

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ReceptionistChick January 23, 2012 at 9:35 pm

Cripes, I would call the cops if one of my coworkers did that to me!

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Gillimmott January 18, 2012 at 9:37 am

One of my co-workers showed me her bare chest (after a full 5 days on the job!). it wasn’t even sexual, I’m female too and she kept bragging about how she was accustomed to sleeping with male co-workers and customers. Not surprinsingly she turned out to be severely unhinged – manipulative, bullying and an outright liar. I left that job because of her. To this day I don’t know why she never got fired – maybe she showed her chest to our boss too?

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leslie January 18, 2012 at 4:01 pm

At my first job out of college, a coworker insisted to management that he needed all kinds of pricey, high-end software to do his job, especially video- and photo-processing tools, even though his job did not entail either creating videos or manipulating photos. (But it was a new position and he came highly recommended, and the management didn’t really know what he would need, so they approved everything.) When IT came to install the software on his work computer, he always told them that he was in the middle of something important and that he would do it himself later. They would leave the installation disk and key, and he would take it home & install it on his personal computer. I found out when he offered to let me take one of them home for my own computer.

He would also spent most of the day on the phone with tech support, I assume for one of these software packages. He would loudly curse at them, make racist comments, and complain about their accents. We were in a large cube farm, so everyone from 3 departments could hear him.

When he was finally fired, management discovered that he had, of course, done none of the work he was hired to do.

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Heather January 18, 2012 at 4:04 pm

I have two winners that come to mind.

The first, while I was waiting tables in college, my aunt unexpectedly passed away. Since the funeral was going to be several states away, I called my manager to let her know that I’d be gone for a few days, and arranged for another server to cover my shifts. With all the loose ends tied up, I left, having recieved the ‘ok’ from the manager.

When I returned and reported for my first scheduled shift, I found out I’d been fired by the owners. Turns out the manager had told them she had no idea where I was, and that she had had to cover my shifts herself! I later found out that she had told my replacement to not bother coming in, and to this day, I think she covered the shifts for the extra money, and justified it by lying about my absence.

The second involved an admin woman who, in my first month on the job, named herself a ‘senior’ person on my team and immediately started doling out work (work that should have been hers), and putting herself in a position of authority on a number of matters. It wasn’t until she returned a ticket I had reserved for a work-trip, leaving my to scramble for a last minute ticket, when I followed-up with my direct manager about it, that I even realized she had nothing to do with our project! Her actions were, very sternly, addressed by our boss, and she left shortly thereafter. BUT – not before she gave me some last-minute (and I mean at 8pm) work of hers that was due the next day – when my family was in town, visiting!

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Dawn January 18, 2012 at 4:08 pm

There’s been a few doozies, but the one that stands out the most is the regional branch manager who could never be found. We would be calling and calling her cell phone, but her voicemail was always full. We would send emails that went unanswered. We would call the other branches and they would say she left two hours ago. Finally, she would show up about three hours later, clothes disheveled (shirt buttoned wrong) and hair a mess. She was clearly visiting her boyfriend during working hours. Not to mention her van was her “rolling office.” When she opened the door all sorts of papers and stuff would fall out onto the ground.

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Anonymous January 18, 2012 at 5:16 pm

I once worked with a woman who was supposed to be part of my ‘team’ but was anything but. This coworker would intentionally try to throw you under the bus to our Team Leader by sabotaging your work. She would complain to each teammate about another teammate and spread rumors among the team to turn people against each other. She would also undermind your work in meetings or to other coworkers causing distrust and fear. She’d also let clients know that she didn’t think your work was up to par and they should be switching their account to her. I was floored by this behavior in a work place. To top it off, the Team Leader found it amusing and got on board with it. The coworker was allowed to spy on their ‘teammates’ and report back to the Team Leader. When I was going for a promotion, the coworker went through my desk to see if I left out any information she might use as she also wanted the position. My tipping point was when I found out the coworker was spying on my outside of work by driving by my apartment or sending a friend to drive by and see if I was home. Apparently, she wanted to see if I was ‘hanging out’ with other coworkers or what I was doing on sick or vacation days. Complete invasion of privacy but the Team Leader said nothing could be done as it was an outside issue and the only proof to be had was another coworker’s word. When I left the company, the Team Leader promoted the coworker to her assistant.

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Juni January 18, 2012 at 5:47 pm

The data entry staffer who I supervised (but did not hire) was very good at his job but smelled like cigarette smoke more than anything I have ever experienced before, worse than a 60’s airport lounge, worse than the worst old-man bar you’ve ever walked into. His eau-de-nicotine was so strong that I had to ask him to move his workspace to an unused office. When I did, he shrugged and trudged off to his new workspace without a peep, because he knew. He knew!

He was laid off about three months into the job, because we restructured our department. His being laid off had nothing to do with his job performance – which was frankly very good. Though I could barely get through a 10-minute supervision with him without gagging. His work was good, he rarely made mistakes, and he had a pleasant attitude. But when he left, we had to fumigate the workspace and actually had to throw out all of the equipment (chair, desk) because no one could get the smell out. It even permeated his computer. We had the IT guy take it apart to try and clean it, it couldn’t be cleaned, so we tried parting it out as spare parts, but everything smelled so bad that we had to drill them and recycle.

I still haven’t figured out what do say when someone calls me to give a reference. I can talk about his excellent work but I’m not sure I can allude to his foul foul odor.

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Dawn January 18, 2012 at 9:18 pm

OMG I want to gag right now.

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Rhonda January 18, 2012 at 6:31 pm

I’ve had a number of co-workers who were awaful, but one of the worst was the guy who sneaked into my locked office to use my phone to call his drug supplier every day. He somehow had keys to every facility on campus and mine was a separate building. Anyway I came in and foung him ordereding an “eigth ball” and thought, “how nice, he plays billiards”. Someone else clued me in and I began to notice things moved, missing, ajar every day, My credit card was stolen from my purse in my desk and used at a music shopm tatoo parlor, gas station and mini-mart all in one day. I filed a police report and fraud report, but nothing came of it. The worst is that he was actually nice, but a rotten, drugged up theif.

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Dark Lord of Marketing January 18, 2012 at 7:39 pm

I have to pick just one co-worker? Well, one of my favorites is the guy in Merchandising who gave me the a SKU for an item he wanted me to make a promotional sign for, proofread the sign and decided that I should make color changes to it (to give it more “pop”), and complained about how long it would take our production lab to get the signs to the retail stores. A few days after the sign hit the stores he came to my office complaining that I had put the wrong item on the sign. Turns out he had given me the wrong SKU (which I proved by showing him the email request he sent me), but it was still all my fault because “I should have asked him if he sent me the wrong SKU”. During our…slightly heated conversation about it, he proclaimed loudly enough for the whole office to overhear that “he would be a better graphic designer than I was if he only knew how to use the graphic design programs” and then stormed off. I’m still not sure if he heard me or not, but I asked the next person waiting in line “Was it just me, or did he basically say he’d be more skilled than me if it weren’t for his lack of skills?”

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Kelly S January 18, 2012 at 8:23 pm

Wow. You all have had some very awful co-workers. I have two I’ll offer up.

First, there was the co-worker who was on the other side of my cubicle wall. I was heading back to my desk when my supervisor intercepted me and led me a few aisles over. Turns out the co-worker was disgruntled and had claimed to have brought a gun with him to work. He was in the process of being interviewed by security before being fired and escorted from the building.

Second, a different co-worker but still on the other side of a cubicle wall had a tv put in her office and I noticed often as I passed her office she’d be watching soaps while playing solitaire. Must say, it impacted my motivation.

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EG January 19, 2012 at 12:06 am

My worst coworker was newly-hired a director at our tech company. He had no technology skills and even less willingness to accept that everyone younger than him was not necessarily his subordinate. Some highlights:

When I was explaining to him how to use his office computer to access information on the intranet, he rolled his eyes, sighed, and replied, “My computer doesn’t have the internet. Just do it for me.”

He tried to order a same-level but about 25 years younger than him coworker to do his work for him. When the coworker declined, stating that he had his own work, he bellowed across our open-concept office, “What work? What do you even do here? What do you tell your mommy and daddy you do?”

He accused my department of sabotaging his department. I told him we did not, to which he yelled at the top of his lungs, “You’re lying! You’re a liar! Liar!” When I asked him for an example of what he interpreted as sabotage, so I could correct it, he backtracked, “Well, I’m not saying it happened, but it could!” And then he huffed off.

HR got involved and he was no longer allowed to directly speak to or email any members of our department – all communication went through our VP first. After confronting another coworker about the situation in the elevator, he also was prohibited from riding in the elevator with us. I can’t understand why the company decided to hang on to him. He may still work there – I’m not sure because I made the decision to leave shortly after the “liar” incident, and over the next several months the rest of my department followed.

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ReceptionistChick January 23, 2012 at 9:44 pm

What a gigantic @$$. WOW. I’m afraid I would have gone into his office, shut the door and given him the tongue-lashing of a lifetime. On my last day, heh heh.

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Jackie January 19, 2012 at 5:46 am

I had a coworker that would lie about everything regarding work and even her personal life. She once took a couple of days off work because her sister was in the hospital. She said her sister was brain dead. When I asked how her sister was doing a week later she replied, “Oh, she fine.” Later that day her sister called her on the phone. So I guess the sister made a “miraculous” recovery.

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Amy January 19, 2012 at 3:13 pm

I worked ina very small bank branch, there were 5 of us tellers behind the line in a confined space. I had a coworker who, as HR put it, had a ‘slight flatulance problem.’ Every day, all day. I have to say it did get a little better once HR met with him.

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Student January 19, 2012 at 5:01 pm

So, I’m a US grad student, and I was working with a couple of other US grad students with a German boss at an American nuclear physics lab. This was on a college campus.

We were doing an experiment (for the business readers, experiment = huge important project), which require 24/7 coverage for about a week. I was on an evening shift, and one of the guys on the night shift comes in and brings with him… beer. Not a beer, but lots of beer. I tell him it’s a Bad Idea (TM) and that he shouldn’t drink on shift. I know, and he knows, that this is in fact not just a Bad Idea (TM) but illegal in our particular place of employment (the college has strict, and enforced, drinking laws). I also tell him that hiding beer on a college is like hiding steak in a dog kennel – doomed to spectacular failure.

The guy with the beer brushes off my complaint and my warning. He proceeds to hand out beer to all the other people working shift (another woman and I turn him down, but everyone else happily starts getting their drink on). Now, this is bad, but I know the boss will be arriving very soon. I figure that the boss will be angry that this guy is drinking at work and encouraging everyone to goof off instead of focusing on something that is incredibly important to our (and the boss’s) continued employment. So, I wait until the boss arrives.

The boss shows up. The guy with the beer immediately presents the boss with an ice-cold brew. The boss, being German… drank the beer and complemented the guy on his choice of some special import, and asks for another. Now, I’m in a pickle. My options are: (1) put up with it for now, talk to the boss later in private when he doesn’t have a beer in hand, (2) talk to the boss’s boss, who is also German, or (3) call the cops.

I opt for #1. Perhaps the boss will be more reasonable when I explain why drinking at work is a terrible idea in America, and how this is .affecting our productivity. After all, the boss only had two beers, but the American students had MANY beers and were actively shirking their job responsibilities to drink (they had brought multiple cases of beer, not just a six pack to split among the group). Option #2 has the potential to blow up in my face, because the guy is also a German who is fond of his booze. It also has the potential to get our entire project shut down (read: lose my job) on the off chance that the boss’s boss takes me seriously, since this is illegal and the potential newspaper headlines are not very flattering to our organization. I can picture it now: “New twist on a DUI: Scientist caught driving nuclear accelerator while drunk!”
Option #3, involving the cops, seems very extreme when I haven’t given the boss a chance to shape up yet in person. It was more of a realistic option right up until the boss decided to join in the drinking.

Now, I am not thrilled by this choice, because drinking and dealing with nuclear-anything is clearly unsafe. There was no threat to the public, though, mainly to the drunk co-workers. I was also not thrilled that all the work was falling on my shoulders and on the other woman who wasn’t drinking, but the two of us arranged it so one of us would always be around to keep an eye on the drinkers and make sure things didn’t get too far out of hand.

So, I leave at the end of my shift, entrusting matters to the other woman for a while. I come in the second day, and I ask how the experiment was going. The guy who had brought the alcohol was already in at work (he kept very extreme hours). He looked at me, and his very first comment was, “Someone stole our beer last night!” I laughed, relieved that the drinking-at-work problem was resolved for now, and told him that was pretty inevitable with all the college students in the area. He was grumpy about the loss of beer, but then he suddenly cheered up and said, “No worries though, I went out and bought more beer for tonight!” I face-palmed, and had another evening much like the first day.

Near the end of my shift, we get a call. One of the drinking guys answers it. I hear him say something like, “No, I don’t know what you’re talking about. We’ll check around. We weren’t involved!” It turns out that the guys had been storing the majority of the beer outside, in the snow, and in one of their treks to get beer, they had accidentally left the door propped open.

In a normal place, perhaps no one would care about a door being propped open. In a nuclear physics lab, if the door is propped open for too long, then the cops get called automatically. So the cops had shown up, found the door propped open, and found the cooler full of beer. The cops confiscated the beer, but they were too afraid to poke around in the nuclear physics building to actually investigate, which was the only thing that saved the guys from getting arrested. Instead, the cops go contact our building manager. The building manager was unaware that the guys had been drinking on shift, so he tells the cops that he doesn’t know what happened and he’ll look into it. The building manager knows darn well that the propped door and the beer were found right next to our experiment, and that we’re the only people in the building, so he called us up angrily to ask about it and the guy who answered the phone tried to plead ignorance. Immediately after the call, the guy who had brought the beer walks outside to check on his stash, and comes back to tell us angrily that the cops had “stolen” his expensive, imported beer and the cooler. We managed to deter him from calling the cops to try to get it back. Many more face-palms were had. I left for the night, and the guy decided not to bring more beer during that specific experiment, but vowed to do so during our next experiment.

So, time to follow up with the boss and put a stop to this nonsense. After the cops got involved, it became clear to me that I really, really needed to demand that this stop or quit the job. If the cops showed up again and found out who was responsible for the beer, then they would certainly detain everyone who was present, regardless of whether or not I was actually drinking. It would go badly for me, for my boss, for my co-workers, and for my place of employment. It was also clearly causing a lot of lost productivity during the experiment, and generally making the two of us who didn’t participate miserable.

I bring it up during the experiment follow-up meeting (everyone present was already aware of the drinking-at-work thing, and the boss was there). I said it was a bad idea and disruptive to work and asked them to restrict their drinking to hours where they were not on shift. The boss responded with, “I rather liked this, actually. The beer was pretty good. We’ll continue it.” It became clear to me at this point that the guys had not told him about their near-miss with the cops, and that he might not know that this is actually illegal here (it is common to drink at work in Germany, but they usually do it with some sanity and restraint instead of getting wasted during important projects). So, the guys laughed at me, and I shut up for the rest of the meeting.

Afterwards, I made sure that the boss understood that this was, in fact, illegal and likely to cost him his job if it was discovered. I also made sure he understood that the students were so very inept at drinking-at-work that they had, effectively, called the cops on themselves and had a near-miss, and that the building manager surely knew and wasn’t likely to keep our secret if the cops came by a second time. Finally, at the next group meeting, he announced that drinking at work is illegal and it should stop immediately, though he was quite grumpy with me about the whole thing.

They never brought beer to an experiment again… while I was on shift.

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Morgan January 19, 2012 at 6:38 pm

While working in a restaurant, I had a terrible boss. He was the assistant manager of our store, and we had a decent working relationship (outside of his ridiculous antics). When one of my co-workers received a call that her mom had collapsed, been rushed to the hospital and would need open-heart surgery, my co-worker asked to leave her shift early to be with her mom. He refused, saying that we needed the coverage. Hearing that, another co-worker offered to stay and cover the rest of her shift so she could leave immediately, but the manager told them that he did not approve the schedule change, and then wrote up the co-worker with the sick mom for taking a personal call on the store phone! She left anyway, and he told everyone that he was going to ask for permission to fire her.

Long story short, this prompted a huge investigation into his working habits and relationships. Our general manager made him apologize personally to the woman who left, as well as everyone else on the shift who had witnessed the situation.

When he was eventually fired for using drugs at work, I moved up into his position. Upon hearing the news, he called every manager in our system, as well as my boyfriend, to let them know that I would “crash and burn.”

It’s been over a year since he got fired, and people are still talking about this guy and how ridiculous he was. Oh, and in case you were wondering – I didn’t crash and burn. In fact, I just got promoted again!

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Sky January 20, 2012 at 6:22 pm

Ugh. The worst coworker ever was a lady who was right about everything…everything! Even when she was wrong, she was right! She started every single sentence off with “Well, you know…”. She didn’t like me because I was young and actually knew what I was doing. She likes explaining to people not only how to do something but the history that item, how it was used previously and why it’s used the way it is now. O.M.G. I know it doesn’t sound all that bad, but it was. Oh, it was.

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Celeste January 20, 2012 at 7:16 pm

My worst co-worker was an Executive Assistant with an ego of a CEO. She would argue with every single thing anyone said, including our CEO. She stomped down the hall in designer heels, slammed the kitchen cabinet doors louder than anyone else I’d ever heard, and sang to herself. Talk about starving for attention! She was begging to be noticed, but if you tried to make conversation with her, she would just argue and put you down. I think the last straw for me was seeing her clean her fish tank’s gravel with the strainer with which other coworkers used to wash fruit. Disgusting.

I do feel lucky after reading the other comments, I realize it could have been much much worse. But still, she definitely left a lasting impression on me, and I dreaded seeing her in the hall. And….those slippers look nice. 🙂

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Kim January 27, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t really understand what the huge deal is here? I mean, wearing designer heels to work is not illegal, slamming kitchen cabinets is… bad, I guess, but I don’t know that I would even notice, and if she cleans the strainer after using it, like everyone else presumably does, what’s the problem? It’s not like fish poop forever sullies something in ways you can’t wash off. I mean, maybe there’s something I’m missing here, but if the best you have is that she had a bad attitude, that’s like half the people that everyone works with. 🙂

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the celt January 21, 2012 at 2:58 am

I’ve had many bad coworkers, but the worst was a guy in a government office I temporarily worked in. He would come in to work after everyone else, shut his door part of the way, and then proceed to fall back to sleep. We’d be working with customers in the outer area, and they’d hear his snores and ask, “What was that sound? Did you hear that?” Of course, we had to play dumb and ask what the sound was, etc. The bad part was that we were dealing mainly with people who had mental disabilities, so pretending to not hear something they were really hearing could have had some bad effects on our customers, and I always felt terrible that our supervisor told us to do this.

Then one day, his assistant walked into his office to look for some files that were missing (customers’ files were always going missing in his office, and we eventually discovered he was shredding anything that he’d had for a week and hadn’t picked up to work on. Those who had been lucky enough to be looked at within a week actually received the services they were there for), and she discovered a small suitcase under his desk. Assuming it might contain files (it could have been a large briefcase), she opened it up — only to find hardcore, violent porn magazines. This woman had another assistant verify what she saw (so the managers couldn’t sweep it under the rug, as they had other things) and then went to the supervisor. The supervisor called the head office of the state I was in, and the state supervisor for the department came out to meet with this guy a few weeks laer. They went into his office, and five minutes later, we saw the worker come out with the suitcase and put it in his trunk. He then came back in, they shook hands and patted each other on the back, and the state supervisor left. (We lived two-and-a-half hours from the capital, so he drove that long just to give the guy a pat on the back.) The assistant refused to go into his office the rest of the time she worked there (she retired two years later), because the magazines he had were pretty disgusting and violent.

There are a ton more stories I could tell about this place and this guy specifically, but there aren’t enough web pages in the world to hold all the ludicrous events I witnessed there. Ugh.

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ReceptionistChick January 23, 2012 at 9:51 pm

Wait, WHAT??? The state supervisor didn’t fire him!? Oh my gosh.

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Carolyn January 21, 2012 at 10:21 am

OK, this wasn’t actually MY coworker, but I had a friend who worked at the local Federal Building, and he had this coworker. I’m not sure whether the building had AC or not, but this one guy, when he got too hot, would go to the bathroom, take off his shirt and soak it in the sink, put it back on, and go back to work. I guess his coworkers should just be glad he didn’t just remove his shirt at his desk!

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RileyLeah January 21, 2012 at 8:35 pm

The worst co-worker I have ever had was a major liar and everyone knew about it, but would not do anything about it due to her seniority. She was also a major ‘diva’! She would tell her bosses what she would and wouldn’t do and they would simply allow it to happen. There was only one boss who would occasionally reprimand her, but he eventually stopped because he saw that it would do no good.

She would also terrorize employees or blackmail them – she would pick certain types of people, usually people who did not like conflict. I learned of this through other people and soon, she selected me.

She would withhold documents that I needed to do my job. When I tried to talk to her about it, she would yell and curse as loudly as she could until I would leave her desk. If I complained to the boss about her, she would act ‘sweet’, as if she did not do anything and would say that I was the ‘aggressor’ who was “harassing her”. In an effort to keep things ‘even’, the boss would then reprimand me due to her allegations, even though he knew that I was not the aggressor.

Finally, one day, the co-worker actually tried to attack me physically and another worker stopped her. If the other worker was not there, I’m not sure what the outcome would’ve been since I’ve never been even close to a fight before. I complained about this, and guess what? She lied and said that I was harassing her, even though there were witnesses who saw at least part of her attempted assault. Furthermore, because we were on secured property, if she had succeeded in fighting me and if I would’ve had to tried to restrain her in self-defense, we both would’ve possibly spent the night in jail. She continued to threaten me until I eventually quit the job.

Even now, if I see her in the supermarket, she rolls her eyes at me! I hope that she moves out of the area because I never want to see her again except in the case that she is willing to ask for forgiveness and start over.

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PublicSectorWorker January 21, 2012 at 8:35 pm

Does this qualify? One of my subordinates filed a police report alleging that I had held him hostage since I had a private performance discussion with him in a closed office. He’s still working for the agency.

Your tax dollars hard at work.

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Operations Analyst January 22, 2012 at 1:00 am

My coworker with much less experience refuses to work more than 40 hours, (including lunch!), while everyone else works 45-55 hours. He doesn’t like talking to people so ordered equipment to be installed at 20 sites but didn’t tell any of the building managers someone would be coming, so we had to pay the installer for a full day driving around confused! Anytime there is a problem, it sits. As a result, the accounts he works on make about 1/2 to 2/3 of their potential for their first few months until I analyze how to handle them and actually talk to the clients, solve their problems and complaints, and work very hard to change their behavior, services, etc. He wants the $ I have, but simply wants to process the easier spreadsheets – doesn’t realize the $ comes from dealing with difficult things! We constantly butt heads, because he wants to deal with me with the authority of someone who has as much technical knowledge and business acumen, but clearly puts alot less effort into everything he does. We used to be friends, but after watching him leave month after month at 5, when I was staying as late as 930, and avoiding every single uncomfortable or difficult situation (and we have alot, being a startup in a regulated business), I lost respect for and the patience to deal with him. When I complained about workload, he tells me I need to learn to prioritize and automate processes. I could have punched him. I know how to write macros in excel, but that doesn’t mean I can automate everything! My boss approved 2 new hires trained by me I could delegate work to (even though i am not their manager), and this coworker couldn’t understand how I “coxed” my boss into getting 2 workers “to do my job.” !!!!!

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LadyTL January 23, 2012 at 7:56 am

My worst was from my last job. When I was hired I let everyone know that I had Asperger’s and might occasionally react to things differently from how one would normally expect. This is because sometimes I cannot tell what I am expressing. At one point I was hurrying to get something for a customer and said excuse me to the female co-worker I guess in a bit brusque manner (I am not sure exactly of how she received it.) After that though she started trying to pick fights every time we had a shift with me, started getting more of the other female co-workers to do the same and eventually got the company to force me to quit. All this because she didn’t want to believe I had Asperger’s even after I told her so. I guess she thought I was being rude to her or something and way over reacted.

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Nora January 24, 2012 at 9:23 am

First, it’s important to know that I work in a laboratory where we study infectious diseases. Most of the technicians are there to gain experience before going on to graduate or medical school.
Then they hired Cranky Old Man Manager (COMM). COMM had never worked in a laboratory before, but he had worked in hospital administration. He had never held a previous job for longer than a year. We soon learned why.
COMM was incredibly unpleasant to everyone, demanding “respect” (which meant, essentially, jumping to attention and dropping whatever experiment we were running when he wanted us to do something) and speaking to us in rude, abrupt tones. He was insanely territorial, freaking out (“Who do you think you are?!”) when anyone else, say, signed for a delivery.
He owned two companies unrelated to the lab, one of which was blacklisted by the state we live in; government-funded projects were not allowed to use his business. When we Googled him, we found that he had falsified credentials in applying for a professional license. He spent most of his workday on his cell phone, running his shitty businesses on lab time.
He made weird, arbitrary demands, like insisting that all glassware be placed on the floor in a narrow dishwashing area because things on the shelf were a hazard, as they could be knocked down and could shatter (?).
The worst part was his insane, dangerous incompetence. COMM claimed to have a PhD, but he had no idea of how to work safely in a laboratory environment. He handled carcinogens with bare hands and transferred them by touching other things, like door handles, so the rest of us were also exposed. He poured a neurotoxin down the sink (sorry, municipal water system!). He decided there were too many chemical waste receptacles (we keep things segregated for a reason!) and combined them for “efficiency”, generating toxic fumes. He’s lucky nothing exploded.
And for some reason, it took about six months to get the bastard fired.

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Lawrence January 27, 2012 at 4:49 pm

I hired an acquaintance and things went well at first. Then he decided he wanted my job – his job was a term one. He started telling the receptionist to move my clients to his calendar because I was having a really bad day and I was in a bad mood and they all needed to pull together to help me. Of course, when I came out to see why my 9, 9:30 and 10:00 appointments were no shows, the anger part was a self fulfilling prophecy.

Then he started calling support staff and asking what I’d said to them during the day. They would gripe, as all people do about their supervisor. Then he would take a “hostile work environment” claim upstairs. All the employees denied they described work that way and individually apologized to me.

There was a full investigation over an allegation that I’d falsified my time cards. Fortunately, I’d kept all the e-mails related to flex time for working on the weekends. But there was still a formal investigation by an outside agency into the charges.

Although I knew he would like my job, he didn’t begin the character assasination and plotting until after I’d asked him not to tell me any more stories about his girlfriend since I knew his wife and had dinner with them as a couple with my wife. That set it off. Management was afraid to fire him, so they bumped him upstairs in a different office. He never got a permanent job and left shortly thereafter. My friends used the term ‘gaslighted’ since he was nice to my face while he maneuvered the conditions in the background. Machiavellian spider that he was.

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