The office can be a mixed bag when it comes to interactions with coworkers. Sometimes, employees can learn a lot from their coworkers and have a lot of fun talking to them, but other times, talking to coworkers can be like pulling teeth. If it's the latter, more competent employees may feel like they are surrounded by... well... idiots. There may have even been a specific moment that they realized this was the case. Read on to hear the stories of employees who had just that experience: one moment that revealed to them that they were working with idiots.
“I worked at a pet store for a long time. We had a Cyanobacteria outbreak and were bleaching individual tanks (once separated from main sump) and then dechlorinating the tanks and testing them before putting them back in with the main sump system.
We had been undergoing the process for about a week at that point, but apparently Ole Red hadn’t been paying attention at all during that time period.
She reattached a tank half-full of bleach to the main tank system. As I walked into the store (it was my day off; I was just there for lizard food), I just see the majority of the fish moving around listlessly. Then they started death-spiralling. I point this out to my coworkers and they start freaking out. One of them starts dumping bottles of dechlorinator into the system.
Meanwhile, Ole Red fishes out her favorite fish, blood parrot cichlids, and starts blowing into their gills, trying to do some bad approximation of CPR. She ends up throwing them into the separate sick tank in hopes of saving them.
Anyway, she killed 99% of the fish and I had to help shovel out their corpses while crying the entire time.
She didn’t get fired and never took responsibility for the event.”
Outer Space: Real Or Fake?
“I once had a coworker we called Brah the Carpenter (we call him that because he only refers to people as BRAH really loudly) who just embodied stupidity for me.
So, I’m a pipefitter, which means I work on any process piping in commercial and industrial set ups, so like fuel lines, steam lines, etc. anything that isn’t sewer basically (thank god). Currently, I’m working at a BP oil refinery, which has a whole lot of trades working in tandem together to finish jobs. One of the main trades we work with are the carpenters, since they build and change up all of the scaffolding in the refinery, which is crucial to reaching certain areas.
Anyways, the other day we had one come out and help us with some scaffolding changes. We started just chatting up in the pipe rack while we waited for the new pipe to be flown in. He started saying a bunch of profoundly stupid stuff. Just a whole list of dumb stuff that I don’t want to try to remember because I’m afraid it’ll kill my own brain cells:
Sandy Hook and Las Vegas was the government killing us to take away our 2nd amendment rights.
The world is flat because he ‘just didn’t understand it in school when he was told the Earth is round. Flat sounded easy enough, so I just went with that.’
That he doesn’t believe in outer space since it’s a construct made by the 1% to keep us from leaving.
That was the straw that broke the camels back. I had to leave after that one.”
It’s Just A Drink
“Bartenders have a ‘pour count’ so they know how much of the good stuff they’re putting into a drink. Bars will have a standard shot pour (usually anywhere from 1-1.5 oz) depending on what the owner wants.
I’m two weeks into a new bartending job, and our manager lets us all know that we’ll be having a pour test soon. No sweat.
Sofia, one of the younger bartenders who’s worked there for a year, comes up to me privately and asks, ‘What’s a pour test?’
I assume she simply hasn’t been tested before at this establishment or at any other bars, so I explain, ‘We’ll be given an empty glass and a bottle of water and someone will ask us to pour 1 oz, 1.5 oz, 2 oz, etc., and they’ll see if we’re consistent by measuring it all out.’
‘Like, he’ll measure it out what we’ve poured and see if we’re pouring the right amount of ounces’
‘But what do you mean by ounces?’
‘…yeah I don’t know what you’re talking about’
‘Sofia, when someone asks you how to make a gonic, what do you do?’
‘I fill up the glass with ice, then fill up the glass halfway with the fun juice, and then top off the rest of tonic.’
‘What do you do when someone asks for a double?’
‘I fill it up almost all the way and then do a splash of tonic.’
‘Jesus Christ. What do you do when a group of people ask for, I don’t know, six green tea shots?’
‘Oh that’s always really hard. Usually I just mix everything together and give them what ever is left over.’
‘So you don’t have a pour count?’
‘What? No. And how would I even know how many ounces I’m pouring into a glass?’
How this girl got and KEPT a bartending job for that long was beyond me. Turns out the manager finally started keeping track of the how much bartenders were pouring and realized it was way off on certain days. So he wanted to figure out who was pouring incorrectly through a pour test. Needless to say, she didn’t have a job long after that conversation.”
There Are Idiots Outside The Prison Too
“I worked at a small rural jail and we had a guy from out of town brought in from the freeway. He had all sorts of gang tats and a laundry list of priors, all incredibly violent. Naturally I put him in isolation and was like ‘nobody let him into general population holdings, he’s dangerous.’ General population (aka Gen Pop) just had a bunch of guys in for dumb stuff like failing to pay fines and public intoxication and doing stupid stuff, and I knew this guy would tear them apart.
I come into work the next day and there’s Mr. Baddie in the gen pop pod with everyone’s stuff piled in his cell watching TV while the local idiots who got caught being stupid mill around sheepishly in the corners. I demand to know who made that decision and the chick who I was changing over from cheerfully said ‘he’s too cute to be guilty of all that stuff!’ and left to go home.
I called facility admin and she was like, ‘Well, all of those offenses occurred in another state,’ like that somehow changes the fact that he’s got a violent record a mile long. I call the sheriff and he’s like, ‘So, just move him back.’ Just move the 6’5″ 250 pound gang banger with 15 counts of assaulting an officer back. Alone. Right. Sure thing boss! I’ll get right on that!
So I hang up the phone, sigh heavily, knowing I now have to go extract king psychopath from his new empire completely by myself. I hear ‘YOU’RE GOING TO DIE BEE-OTCH BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM!’ echo down the hallway and look up to see Mr. Tall Dark and Felonious pounding a hippy’s face off the armor glass window.
Long story short, I quit a while after. I basically ran a jail by myself for 18 months and dealt with the most witless, unqualified, and careless people ever on a daily basis. The facility closed 2 weeks after I quit due to ‘budgetary issues.’
So yeah, just keep in mind that maybe the only thing keeping your local jail open and lord psycho in his isolation cell is a single fed up guy only making $12 an hour.”
How Do I Do My One Job Again?
“I work at a doctor’s office. Our office is always getting in trouble because we have the lowest rates of physicals booked, despite being the biggest office within the system. We also have had a huge problem with follow ups not being booked, etc etc.
So one day, at a meeting with all of the front end workers, the boss made a comment about how we need to be checking patients out properly.
One person, who has been there NINE YEARS. N I N E years sitting at check out goes, ‘How do you check out a patient?’ Now, this wasn’t a clarification question such as, ‘What would you like us to do differently,’ oh no no no. This woman meant exactly what she asked. She didn’t know there was a check out button, OR how to schedule a follow up. She’s been there nine years. She sits at check out! I don’t get it.
Anyway, so the other check out women during this conversation told her that there is a check out button but doesn’t know how to tell if they need a follow up. She’s worked here two years.
When you click the button to check out it says, ON A FULL SEPARATE PAGE (that you have to acknowledge in order to complete the check out process) come back in 1 year for physical, needs follow up 6 weeks, etc etc.
I looked at my manager in complete understanding and I banged my head on the table.”
You’ve Got To Focus On Presentation
“I was fresh out of culinary school and was interning at a fancy hotel.
One of the chefs I didn’t normally work with asked me to peel some asparagus. Gave me a bunch of asparagus and a plastic container. I peeled them and laid them in the container. As I was about to finish, he came over to check. Upon glancing at the peeled asparagus, he had this ‘ugh’ reaction. I was surprised, how could I mess up with something so simple? I asked what was wrong. He goes, ‘Um, nothing, it’s okay. It’s just… you put them all upside down.’
I looked at the container. I put the asparagus with the heads pointing towards me. At this moment, i’m seriously wondering if he’s trying to pull some mess with the intern stuff, but no, he’s serious.
The container is a perfect square. It is completely clear. There are no marks or anything on it. There is no up or down.
He then reached his hands inside the container, with extremely exaggerated movements as if to make sure I understand how much trouble I’ve caused, and gathers all the asparagus between his two hands. And then he proceeds to bend his hands in a messed up way while keeping them together to be able to place the asparagus facing the exact opposite way in the same container.
I looked at his face to make sure he’s serious, then pushed the edge of the container to flip it 180 degrees. The asparagus is stem side up again. He looked shocked for a second, then took the container and left.”
You’re Just Printing It One Sheet At A Time?
“A coworker and I were at the printer, her printing job was behind mine and I was printing several copies of the document. I should note, there is no separate copy machine at my office. It is one machine that copies/prints/faxes. For what it’s worth I will also add that I actually was using the copy function, but it really doesn’t make a difference, as there is only one machine. I work in a relatively small office, we don’t have more than one machine. None of us ever print these reports double-sided. My actions were well inside the bounds of normal expectations given the context of the work I do. We are a small office, there isn’t a long line for the printer, just sometimes, since there is only one machine, you might have to wait a second to get your stuff if one of us is trying to print, but the machine is currently doing something else. So it was taking a bit of time.
She is standing there getting impatient and says, ‘So, you’re just printing it out one sheet at a time?’
I really don’t know what she meant by that, I just told her yes and she walked away.”
It’s All About Priorities
“At one of my first jobs out of college, while teaching me a complicated process for my new job, my boss told me not to take notes because it meant I ‘wasn’t paying attention.’ In fact, he didn’t think I should be able to take notes during training because I should just remember it, but he did want me to write down his freaking lunch orders for the office. A month later, I was called to his office and this exchange happened:
Boss: You should always bring a note pad with you whenever I call you to my office.
Me: Oh! Sorry, I didn’t bring one because the last time, when I asked to get a notepad, you didn’t want me taking notes so I’d be paying better attention.
Boss: That was for training. You should bring a notepad otherwise.
(It should be noted that he didn’t tell me any reason for calling me to his office at all, just that I should come.)
Me: OK, well I’ll go grab one real quick and be right back.
leaves and comes back
Me: Alright, what can I do for you?
Boss: I need you to pick up my lunch. I’d like a ham sandwich with tomato soup.”
Pet The Cats At Your Own Risk
“I used to volunteer at an animal shelter as a teenager. I volunteered regularly and was basically there whenever I didn’t have school, but most of the younger volunteers were only there for a few weeks in the summer because their parents made them go. The issue with a lot of the younger volunteers is that they only volunteered so they could play with the animals, not so that they could, ya know, actually take care of them.
There was one summer I was training some of the younger volunteers on how to care for the cats and how to properly clean their areas and whatnot. They usually work up front with the healthy cats that are up for adoption, but that day I was told to take them to the back and show them how to take care of the cats there. The back is where they hold the sick cats, strays, and kittens and moms in the nursery. Obviously they weren’t ready for most of the cats there, so their job was to learn how to care for the healthy kittens.
Now, every kennel in the back is CLEARLY labeled right on front on whether they’re sick or a stray, if the cat is aggressive, whether or not it’s been vaccinated, what medications it needs, all of that stuff. So of course that’s the very first thing I teach them, to be aware of the labels and to come to me if there are ANY cats they’re afraid to work with or any labels they don’t understand.
So like 20 minutes pass and I’m busy mixing one of the stray’s food with its meds when from the nursery, I hear:
‘What does feral mean?’
‘Who cares, I wanna pet it. Open it up.’
I rush in just as this juvenile cat screams and lashes out, trying to scratch them. Of course, NONE of them had gotten rabies vaccines but luckily they’d all jumped back in time to avoid getting scratched or bitten. I had to close the kennel and drape a towel over the door to help it calm down.
I couldn’t believe I had to explain what the word feral meant to a bunch of high schoolers, AND scold them for not following the rules and trying to play with aggressive, unvaccinated strays. I can’t stand it when people treat animals like toys, and disregard their emotions and needs.
Luckily, none of them came back to volunteer.”
So When You Say A Pair
“I had a girl working for me. Her job was to put earring and price tags on cards for retail sale. Now, I should note, she had already done many a strange thing that cost money, but she was a long legged blonde woman who really knew how to sell jewelry to men at Christmas time. I had hired her for just the holiday season, but kept her on because of the tears. This was the final straw. I was writing/putting tags on the cards, she was to poke holes in the cards and put the earrings in the holes. After about 30 minutes of working and chatting along, I look over and to my shock see that each card has only one earring on it right in the middle.
‘Dawn! How many earrings are in a pair?’
‘Why have you only put one on each card?’
‘You didn’t tell me not to.’
‘Um. You’re fired.'”
You Gotta Be Flexible
“My wife and I relocated for her work a few years ago. I landed a job as an accountant at a large brokerage firm (Fortune 500) that is headquartered in our new city. During my first week on the job, a couple of coworkers were complaining that not everyone was following the same steps while conducting a process causing each employee’s outcome to be different on a given day depending on what process they followed. I asked to see the process documentation and they said they didn’t have one written up. I made the bold suggestion of writing a process for employees to follow and was scoffed at. When I asked why there was resistance to documenting the process, I was told, ‘Well, then we would all have to do it that way.’
Excuse me? What problem were we solving?”
Can You Send Me The Magic Link?
“I had a boss that wrote everything (and I mean everything) down in journals. It was a little strange at first, then it got stranger. He’d go through notebooks a lot since he was writing everything down. So if he needed to reference something from a previous meeting he’d have to go through multiple notebooks because they weren’t organized well.
But then it got weirder. He’d frequently ask me questions so basic about our company and our job that I started to think he had some sort of brain injury and couldn’t remember things, and that is why he had all the notebooks.
So our company hosted websites for people to order one hour photos from home to pick up in store, or have fancy photo gifts shipped. So he’d ask ‘What is .jpg?’ or ‘What is resolution?’ ‘What is pixel?’ ‘What is Chrome?’ ‘What is aspect ratio’ etc. He was in charge of the freaking customer/technical support department. He was supposed to do trainings, and help with difficult customers. But he had no clue. After one of his stupid questions (and he couldn’t figure out how to google it) I used a ‘Let Me Google That For You’ link.
He LOVED it. Any question he had, he’d say ‘Can you do the magic link thing for me again?’ So pretty much his entire job turned into me typing in his stupid questions and sending him ‘magic links.’
He was horrible at his job, but we had gone through 7 bosses of this department in a short time, and the company didn’t want to signal to clients that we messed up again, so they kept him around despite not being able to do anything.
That is until he was in a meeting with our CTO and CEO and he asked a question in the meeting and added ‘Oh! Can you send me it via the magic link that Jade sends me?’ They were like WHAT?! And he shared with them the email exchanges he and I had.
He was fired on the spot.”
Sometimes It Doesn’t Pay To Be A Man
“I had a boss tell me that I was responsible for all the heavy lifting in the office because I was ‘a big strong man.’
I had just got an office job and was the only man in my office department (moved from a production floor). The department was full of women that were average. They were not weaklings but anytime anything had to be carried, they bothered me about it.
We had a rotating schedule to fill the stock room when we got our delivery. Normally three people would stock but when it was my turn, I had to do it myself. When I asked my boss why she said it was because I was ‘a big strong man’ and therefore it was easy for me.
One day I had a big workload and was behind schedule. I was told by three coworkers to stop working and fill the stockroom because I was ‘big and strong.’ Since it was not my day to do it, I told the three to stop being lazy and misandrist and do it themselves. They tried to argue and I pointed out that they always brag about being strong and independent so they should prove it and do their jobs without a man’s help for once. This was a big mistake.
I was called into HR within the hour. I was written up for harassment and having derogatory attitudes toward women, demoted back to the floor, put on an off shift and given a pay cut. I quit a few weeks later.”
Gas Station Befuddlement
“Back in around 2003 when the lottery first hit $500 million or so, I was working at a gas station. Of course, it was the topic of the day with all our regulars. I made some comment like, ‘I wouldn’t even know what to do with that much money, give me $10 million or so and I’ll live in luxury for the rest of my life.’
One of the other cashiers looks at me and says ‘$10 million isn’t enough. I’ve got kids, and when you’re rich like that, you can’t get health insurance. What if I had a million dollar surgery?’ I probed her a bit and she really believed that if I gave her $10 million, she would have to keep working because it wouldn’t be enough for her to live off of. All I could say was, ‘You make $9 an hour, even if you only got 5% off of this money, that is still 25 times what you make now.’
She didn’t get it.”