It's always annoying when someone gets a small taste of power or authority and immediately lets it go to their head. Whether it's a mall security guard on a power trip, a meter maid overstepping his bounds, or a coworker who gets a promotion and suddenly thinks they're all that, everyone knows at least one otherwise normal person who got weird and controlling after they were put in charge.
Sometimes karma finds a way and these people end up stripped of their power after making fools of themselves or just not having a clue what they're doing. Other times, they don't get their just desserts and we're left to quietly seethe and wonder, "Why, oh why can't they be put in their place?" In either case, the tales of these people's reigns of terror, however brief, are always tragically hilarious, so enjoy some of Reddit's best stories about people who truly let a tiny bit of power go to their heads. Content edited for clarity.
"A guy I used to work with was made a manager; not a people manager, but a manager of processes. The same day he received this promotion, he came to my desk and asked me to tell him everything about my job, who I am, etc. I was busy so I said, 'If you have questions, maybe we can book a meeting and you can let me know why you need all this information.'
He said, 'Look, I'm a manager now, ok? I'll ask and you'll answer.'
I said, 'I'm also a manager and you're talking out of your hat.' He lasted five months after his promotion and quit because his half-million dollar project proposal was shot down over a request for better information. He was universally hated but sucked up to his managers like a little sycophantic punk.
My greatest satisfaction was when his boss and I had an impromptu lunch meeting and he came in groveling, asking if he could go grab lunch for his boss and I made him take my lunch order, too. His barely controlled indignity was glorious."
"I used to work at a tiny little family owned cafe. All the staff were happy, everyone got along, and it was an awesome place to work. Then Cam showed up. Cam was probably in his 40s and could hardly string together a comprehensible sentence, so God only knows why the heck the owners hired him.
He would refuse to work alongside us and would say, 'I am manager!' as he cut peoples' hours, which made them quit. So we were low on staff and I was one of two people in the kitchen busting my butt, running food when I could and helping with the dish pit. Cam wouldn't do so much as clear tables or empty trash cans. He would come back to the kitchen during a rush and order one of the cooks to go help out up front.
Everyone hated him and the owners knew it but refused to do anything. My seething hatred for him got worse when I learned he was him tipping himself out as a manager (a big no-no, especially since he wasn't actually doing anything).
One day, we had a $900 catering order and the guy picking it up tipped 40%! Guess what? Cam cleared the transaction and pocketed the tip. I told him to go eff himself when he pocketed everyone's time cards and TOOK THEM HOME to avoid people clocking in and not doing work/clocking out early. This was 12 years ago but I'm pretty sure what he was doing was straight up illegal. He did all that stuff but he was just the manager of a tiny family owned cafe."
"I work for a private investigation firm and we once got hired by a large chain supermarket company to run an investigation on employee theft. First thing we do in those cases is infiltrate someone as a false employee (with the knowledge of who's hiring) who then tries to uproot leads.
This job fell to our 21-year-old newly hired assistant. As soon as the kid found out he was going to be acting as a 'spy,' he went off the rails. Three days into the job, he was showing up to the store dressed like Jason Bourne. Then on day five, the contracting company reported that he was actively interrogating employees of the store, trying to determine 'who runs the crime ring,' to the point where he locked a manager in a rec room and engaged in shout-interrogation.
While getting pulled out of the job because the fact that there was an investigation became blatant, the kid proceeded to scream at my other PI about how we were 'getting in the way of justice itself.' You can't make this stuff up."
"This was the team lead in a department with like 8-9 other team leads. He decided to take it upon himself to make sure employees on other teams were always perfectly behaved. He tried to get the girl next to me in trouble with our supervisor for being on her phone, without knowing whether or not she was on a break, and without looking at her daily stats to see if she was slacking. She was always a high performer for stats, so my team lead basically told him to sod off and worry about his own agents.
Then he suddenly felt entitled to eat other people's food without asking permission. He'd just take stuff. He also meddled in my friend's divorce. My friend's wife let this guy sign into her email and send a message to my friend pretending to be her. That's a real long story, but it still didn't get him fired.
What got him fired? I told a friend, who was very aware of all the drama, that he stole my team lead's slice of our friend's birthday cake without asking, took a bite, said it tasted bad and threw it in the garbage. She overheard me, came over, asked me to repeat myself, confirmed for herself there was a piece of her birthday cake in the trash with a single bite missing, and excused herself to go to her office. Before I knew it, he was demoted to a regular agent and taking calls from the inbound call queue. He quit within a week. The feeling of revenge was sweeter than the cake."
"I used to be the supervisor for the city of Surrey parking bylaws. We weren't actual city employees because the city decided to contract out their parking enforcement so they could pay less. So keep in mind, we weren't even city employees.
Before I was the supervisor of the place, I was on the road finding people to ticket for parking violations. We weren't meter maids unless we wanted to be and usually, the meters were for the new guys because they were easy. The experienced ones stuck to the good tickets: people too close to fire hydrants, blocking driveways, and things you'd actually get ticked off at if you saw.
One guy I trained stood out to me. For sake of this story, we'll call him Vern. Vern stood out to me because he was enjoying the job a bit too much. Well, after his training we let him hit the road on his own. We all got to drive a Prius, which is possibly the most unmanly car there is, but that didn't stop him from flicking on the beacon light on top of the car (used if you stop in an illegal spot to write a citation) and PULLING PEOPLE OVER to give them talks about their driving.
Obviously, we do NOT have the authority over ANYTHING that isn't parked or stopped in an illegal zone. It took us months to find out he was doing that because no one reported it. It probably looked pretty official from the person getting stopped until some dirt-stache kid started lecturing them about their driving.
Sadly, they let him stay and he worked his way up to supervisor alongside me. I left shortly after because there was nowhere else to go at that job unless the manager quit, so we were capped at $15.75/hour for a dangerous job where we were basically waiting to get our butts kicked in a crime-ridden city."
"I used to work in an American branch office of a large Japanese company. One of the staff was a portly salesman we'll call 'Scott.' Scott hated the fact that he was just another salesman. He wanted to be in management so bad he could taste it, like a large supreme pizza. He decided that doing was being, so he started bossing around anyone who wasn't in management. It didn't work on me or my coworker; we would insult him to his face and send him back to his cubicle.
In his desperate bid to be important, he begged for new job descriptions, very much like Dwight's 'Assistant to the Regional Manager' thing. He harped on it so much they gave him some kind of title like 'Director of NW Regional Sales' or something. No bump in pay.
He used this to bully the other regional sales guys. The established ones told him to bug off. The new guys, however, were afraid for their jobs and did what he asked, which usually involved doing his scut work (updating contact databases and the like). One by one, the new guys would quit.
After they quit, Scott had to focus all his energy on the receptionists. He'd load them down with scut work, most of it unrelated to their duties. One receptionist after another quit. Finally, we got one who was terrific. Scott pulled his drama on her so I took her out to lunch and explained that Scott is a non-entity. He has zero authority and if she didn't want to do his work for him, she needed only to appeal to our vice president. She did, got off his scut work, and was assigned new work building relationships with our vendors, which she excelled at.
One of the vendors was a German software developer. She was so smart and so charming, they hired her away from us. She got a great salary and world travel. Scott was humiliated and tried to write it off as 'I guess they needed to hire more women or something.'
In the end, Japan closed down our office and moved operations to Los Angeles. Most of us took severance and a few moved to LA. Scott somehow stayed on. For all his incompetence, he knew how to sugar-coat management. They kept him on and let him work from home. After a few years, they gave in to his demands for a management position and made him 'Director of National Sales' or something, and let him push around the other regional sales guys. They all quit. Somehow, he's still there. I have no idea how or why. Just like Dwight, no matter how much he messes up, they keep him on."
"I worked at a popular sandwich shop/greasy spoon when I was a teenager. We had to memorize something like 80 sandwich combinations by number and it was a pretty fun job. They had one position at the head of the line where a guy would do nothing but toast bread and pass the toast and order slips down to his right. One day, one of the end-of-line guys was moved to the toast position and he assumed it meant that he was a manager, or at least in charge of the rest of us. He began calling out orders like a chef, getting in our faces for perceived slowness, dictating when we could take breaks, etc. He became so bad that at least one person walked out.
Toast Guy was finally put in his place by a regular customer, an old man who came in every Sunday, read a newspaper for two hours, and ate the same sandwich (triple-decker Reuben on wheat toast with three hardboiled eggs on top, side of cottage cheese). At the height of Toast Guy's mania one busy Sunday, the old man simply got up, walked around behind the line, gently took the toast from Toast Guy's hands, then gently turned him toward the toasters. The old man said, 'Watch me: no talking or yelling,' and pulled an order slip.
He pointed at the slip and calmly said, 'Order in. Three slices white. Look, it goes into the toaster like so. Next order. Six slices marbled rye. I put it in the toaster. I pass the white toast to my right. I keep my mouth shut. Marbled rye is ready, I pass it over to my right. I keep my mouth shut. Can you do this without embarrassing yourself?' Then he just looked at Toast Guy for a beat and nodded, waved at the rest of us while he turned, went back to his seat, and kept an eye on the Toast Guy for the rest of his shift."
"A guy who used to work at my job as an usher was offered a chance to start training to work for house security. He was a pompous buffoon who annoyed everyone and was perpetually bitter that he hadn't been promoted to assistant house manager as some of the other ushers had if they showed initiative and good problem-solving skills. He hated being directly supervised by those who had been there a shorter time than him. But at the time, we were struggling to find security people and he had the availability we needed. Management asked him to keep it lowkey and not make a big deal about the training opportunity.
He paraded himself around on his singular training shift as if he had just been given a golden key to the city. He'd been loaned a red security windbreaker for the evening and he draped it around his shoulders and with a grey newsboy cap like Sherlock Holmes on the case of Who Gave This Schmuck Any Responsibility? He told literally everyone he could find that he was the new security guy and would not shut up about how he'd be the best security guy of anyone who worked there. Management didn't invite him to have any more security training shifts....imagine that."
"It was the beginning of the school year and we had to go to the annual HR meeting where they give us updates on our benefits, insurance, and the like. To cover their butts, they needed us to sign in to state we attended the meeting and got the information. Not super fun, but it's important information.
It was a huge auditorium filled with a large group of people and there wasn't a systematic way to sign in. They were passing the sheet around but people were seated everywhere, so it kept getting lost. Some rows never received it, so people were constantly pausing the presentation to ask for the sign-in sheet (probably so they don't have to attend this meeting again).
One HR rep lost it and yelled at the entire group that if everyone didn't stop what we were doing and turn in the sign in sheet, she was going to suspend our pay. This was a mid-level benefits specialist at best, possibly even an hourly employee, and she was trying to threaten a group of principals and director-level executives. I was more embarrassed for her than anything else."
"I live in a small town in West Texas and our mall is like 50 stores at most. There are about 7-8 security guards there, and all but one of them think they're the sheepdog uber-warriors that protect the flock from the eternal darkness that is occasional petty theft.
Almost all of them are severely overweight or malnourished, and nearly illiterate. They have serious authority issues, without having any real authority. I've been yelled at for sitting at a food court table without buying food. When I refused to get up, he put his hand on his holster (they don't carry weapons, it was his cell phone) and spittled into his radio for 'immediate strike team backup.'
They're just absolute whackjobs who will call each other names like 'Reaper' and 'Delta' over their little walkie-talkies. The one who isn't a total freak is a chill guy in his 50s who's covered in tattoos. He's super chill about everything and will ask if you need help if you seem lost or you're carrying a lot. Everyone loves talking to him, but the rest just glare in sullen silence at the crowds they think they're 'protecting.'"
"I worked at a movie theatre/restaurant place for a few years as my first job. The runners/bussers were split into teams on weekends so we could turn around theaters quicker and stay on top of getting food out. Each side of the building had a 'runner lead.' It was really a glorified closing position as that runner and the other one on the other side of the building would be the two that would close and help the servers reset the theaters after the last showings were done (everyone else normally got cut and would leave as the last showings were starting). The benefits were obviously that you'd get a couple more hours on the clock and a free meal. However, it was necessary to have to tell the runners on your team where to go and when to clean theaters. But that was the extent of their authoritative power (people in that position would typically be promoted to servers after a while).
There was this one guy that took it to the next level. He'd be yelling at runners not even in his team to do things they really shouldn't be doing. Whenever his team would go to a theater to clean it, he'd go all out Seal Team 6 style, screaming, 'GO, GO, GO!' and barking out orders as they'd turn the theatre. It was as if he was trying to speed run everything, which more often than not led to his theaters not being cleaned as well.
I honestly think he thought of himself as the owner of that place. To be fair, he showed no shortage of initiative and drive in his work, which is not a bad thing in theory, but this guy had it all wrong. Everyone hated him, even the servers. The fact that he wasn't afraid to get into the nitty-gritty and do the dirty work no one wanted to do kept him in good graces with management, but he got skipped several times for the server promotion (I made it past him eventually too).
One day he showed up and was FINALLY going to start server training, much to the ire of the waiting staff. Apparently, one of the server leads (same kind of position but for servers) pulled him aside and said he wasn't gonna be pulling any of the bullcrap he did as a runner. In one ear and out the other. His first shift, he was giving other servers the business while they were trying to help their guests. And since he was technically above all the runners, he started REALLY giving it to them. He was essentially the center of all drama in that building for months.
Management eventually caught on and put the guy on a leash. Everyone else wanted him GONE and we constantly kept looking for reasons to get him fired. Fortunately, he turned out to be a god awful server. He had to be demoted eventually because his leash got shorter and shorter until he lost a guest's credit card. He got demoted back to run-lead and didn't hear the end of it for months. He was STILL was being a jagoff throughout the whole process, constantly belittling the runners with stuff like, 'When I was a server...' or 'What I learned as a server was...' as if we hadn't just watched his dumb self got demoted from that position at this same theater.
No lie, this guy eventually convinced management to put him back up as a server. We were like, 'God, make it stop!' The guy just had this biggest ego and couldn't let anything go. He eventually got into it with one of the server leads (this chick hated him the most). They got into a shouting match in front of guests. Though she was wrong for that, too, he was calling her dirty names in front of guests. They both were reprimanded and he got moved back to a runner, not even a lead. He was told that that was it for him; they weren't going to move him back up. I left shortly after for a restaurant closer to my place, but apparently, this guy who was told that he was essentially working a dead end job with coworkers who all hated him continued to work there for months until he just kind of quietly put in his two weeks and left.
My current roommate is a long-time buddy who worked with me at that place. He apparently saw him waiting tables at a nearby Applebees. A different waiter waited on my roommate, and when she got to him he asked her, 'So how is it going with [the prick's name]?' He said she just let out a deep sigh and rolled her eyes."