the document bonfire, the dragon video call, and other amazing work moments — Ask a Manager


One of my favorite things about running this site is getting to hear people’s mortifying stories from their pasts.

In lieu of any more posts today since it’s Thanksgiving, here are some of my favorites from the last 12 years.

•. •. •. •. •.

“I work from home, and since my job doesn’t require much video calls, I used to dress pretty chill when I was at home. Then, my friend bought me a Kigurumi, aka that one piece pajama shaped like an animal, with the hood that is shaped like an animal. A dragon, in my case. A sparkly dragon.

Well, it was comfortable and warm, and one day I was freezing, and I decided to wear it while completing a project. Then our server crashed, all my team panicked, and the boss called. I was panicking, trying to remember if I had made a copy of the project, I forgot what I was wearing and I accepted the video call.

His face was priceless. Still forgetful of my outfit, I asked him to wait a sec while I was going to fetch my second laptop. I stood up giving him a full view of my dragon pajama, complete with a shiny dragon tail, of course. I realized it when I heard him choking laughing. He laughed so much he almost cried. Now I keep the dragon pajama just for sleeping, but the boss still calls me ‘the dragon manager’ from time to time.” – 2019

•. •. •. •. •.

“I had a coworker named Joaquin. At the time, I spoke exactly zero Spanish, and didn’t know how to pronounce it. I didn’t make the connection when other coworkers talked about ‘Wakeen.’ For MONTHS, I honestly thought I had two different coworkers, Joaquin (pronounced JOE-a-kwin) and Wakeen. In my head, I assigned them different personalities and areas of responsibility and everything. I sent emails saying ‘we should get Wakeen to look into this’ and talked about what Joe-a-kwin had been working on, and no one said anything, including poor Joaquin. I wanted to DIE when I finally put it together.” – 2013

•. •. •. •. •.

“Listed in the ‘interests’ section of a managerial candidate’s resume: ‘shitting.’ Candidate called us shortly after applying, apologizing up one side and down the other because he’d just realized that his teenage son had made an unauthorized edit to his resume.” – 2016

•. •. •. •. •.

“I was in my early 20′s and working with a placement agency to find that perfect job that would take me out of food service. My agency contact had set up an interview for me for my dream job, the day after my birthday. Being young and not much of a responsible drinker, I partied like it was 1999. I showed up at the interview not just hung over but still drunk. The person conducting the interview asked me if I was sick, and if I was we could reschedule. I answered, ‘Nope, not sick, drunk.’ … 
I was not hired.” – 2013

•. •. •. •. •.

“My first job after college was a very straightforward clerical job, 8 am – 5 pm. Many of friends had jobs that were structured differently, with later hours or less predictable hours. So, at 5:01 pm when I was ‘off the clock,’ I would hang around at work, because I was waiting for my friends to get out of their jobs, and it seemed pointless to go home just to go out again later. AT MY DESK, which was IN THE C-SUITE, I would put my make-up on, do my hair, call all my friends (loudly) to ask important questions like ‘do you know if the hottie bartender is working tonight?’ or ‘I was going to wear my black boots but do you know if Tami is wearing her black boots because in that case I would wear my silver pumps but tell me if you think they look slutty because if so then I could wear my red sandals unless it rains in which case maybe my Mary Janes etc etc etc etc.’ I would bring projects to keep myself occupied, like plugging in a hot glue gun to work on a Halloween costume, or (this is real) frosting cupcakes that I was bringing to a party later on that night. Even though I was finished at 5 pm, there were still plenty of people still working, or wrapping up for the day, including senior leadership. I am dying thinking about it now.

Finally, the office manager started hinting that if I wasn’t actually working, I didn’t need to be at work. And I was so clueless, I earnestly wanted to know if there was a policy against it, because sometimes I saw Reginald reading a magazine at his desk while he was waiting for his ride to pick him up, or a lady who was taking an evening class one night a week would sometimes do her reading in the break room between work and class. It was a friendly, casual office and all sorts of people sometimes spent some non-work time at their desks doing some QUIET and LOW-KEY personal business, but I could not see how there was any difference between someone occasionally reading a magazine while waiting for carpool, and me turning my desk into my Own Personal Rec Room several times a week. What was I thinking?” – 2018

•. •. •. •. •.

“When I was first starting out in nonprofit fundraising, I worked at a small and dysfunctional organization that had a decent sized silent auction. One of our donors gave us a bunch of time shares for the auction. The ED asked me to handle all the legal paperwork for transferring the deeds and titles and whatnot. The process was incredibly confusing, and no one at the various county governments was helpful, only advising that we hire a real estate attorney to do the paperwork. The agency refused to do so, saying, ‘You’re smart, just figure it out!’ When I asked for help, I was ignored.

I spent about two weeks trying to figure out what to do, but each county was different, the timeshare companies were unhelpful, and I had zero knowledge about quitclaim deeds and titles and all that stuff. After a bunch of reading and studying, I mailed off the documents only to have them rejected for legal reasons I didn’t understand. I tried again, only to be rejected a second time. After about a month of intense anxiety, insomnia, and occasional stress-vomiting, I told the director I was going to the post office to mail all of the various legal packets to the counties for what should be the final approval. Instead, I drove down a dirt road, pulled over, threw all the documents in a big pile and set them on fire.

About a week later, I contacted the original donor and purchasers and explained that there must have been a snafu with the counties, because the transactions weren’t being processed correctly. I told them I would try to get their donations back, but they all graciously declined and said we could keep the money. The original donor was pleased too, surprisingly, because her new husband liked to travel and she had regretted giving away the timeshares.” – 2014

•. •. •. •. •.

“I once asked my manager if I could take the afternoon off because I was feeling hateful. Yes, those are the exact words I used.” – 2018

•. •. •. •. •.

“I had a coworker who could not tell the difference between a spam email and a real email. She was constantly getting viruses on her computer. Our IT director finally told her she had to call him before opening any new emails from people she didn’t know. Shortly after, she went to call him, but accidentally clicked the ‘all page’ button on the phones, so broadcasted to the entire office was, ‘I just got this email and I don’t know what to do. Do I want to blow the biggest load ever?’ – 2019

•. •. •. •. •.

“When I as an intern, the HR people responsible for orienting us and organizing events and all that jazz constantly bragged about how much the company values its perks like yoga classes, Spanish classes, all of the onsite ‘work-life balance’ stuff that they use to make sure you never have a reason to go home. At the time, I didn’t know that those HR people were basically responsible for marketing the company as a workplace – I wasn’t technical but it was a tech company and those love to coddle their engineering interns.

So I would freely sign up for those classes or skip off to a lecture or presentation without asking my bosses if it was okay. I would just tell them I was going to be at an event today from 2-3 or from now on I’m going to have 2-hour lunches on Mondays and Wednesdays for Spanish class or hey, I’m going to yoga this afternoon. I thought this was GOOD because look, I was showing interest in all of these things that the company really values! I’m such a great fit for the culture! (I did get rehired there for 4 internships but I didn’t get a FT job – they weren’t exactly handing out functional entry-level jobs in 2010.)” – 2015

•. •. •. •. •.

“Our bank was in the process of merging with another bank. During the merger process, all the teller managers had to attend meetings with people from other banks going through the same process. During the first meeting, I did my best to get to know the other teller managers and branch managers (I’m an introvert and was very shy at the time).

I started talking to the woman who was running the meeting. She was the equivalent of a district manager and was around my age (early 20s). I was really impressed with the fact that she was at this stage of her career at such a young age, because I was aspiring to rise to the same level. I asked her how she got started, what were her responsibilities, etc. During our talk, she mentioned how she was thinking of going back to finish up school (she said ‘school’ not ‘degree’). Stupid me asks, ‘Oh? High school or college?’

Thankfully she just said ‘college’ and moved the conversation to another topic. Even though she didn’t acknowledge my gaffe with so much as a blink, I still was praying a sinkhole would open up below me.” – 2012

•. •. •. •. •.

“This was quite a few years ago. I was working in a call center at the time. I needed to ask a senior member of my team for some clarification on what a caller was calling about and for some reason instead of saying ‘let me place you on hold,’ I said ‘let me hold you.’” – 2019

•. •. •. •. •.

“At my first job after college, I knew nothing but was full of enthusiasm. I attended a meeting where the sales team spoke in a slew of acronyms and things I didn’t understand, but I was too shy to ask anyone for clarification. The CEO then stops me in the break room after the meeting, and asked, ‘Get some great ideas at the meeting?’ and I responded with an enthusiastic ‘Yes!’ As he waited for me to elaborate on what those ideas actually were, I froze. The voice in my head kept saying ‘say SOMETHING’ but I couldn’t think of a thing. He waited a few minutes, then sighed and shuffled out of the break room. I ran into him a few years later, after I’d long left that job, and he said ‘Hey, have any ideas from that meeting?!’ Yes, it really was as bad as I had remembered.” – 2013

•. •. •. •. •.

“Today as I was arriving at work, I got to the door of the building just before the CEO. I was holding the door for him, and he reached over me — I assume to take the door and hold it open for me. I’m a woman, and I don’t know … chivalry? Anyway, my brain interpreted this as him going in for a hug. The reflex to hug back came quicker than the realization that greeting coworkers with a hug in the morning is not something people do. We both just pretended it hadn’t happened and made small talk as we walked towards the elevator.” – 2016



Source link