Unfortunately, bullying doesn’t end in high school. It even happens at the workplace. Folks share the time they reached a breaking point with their workplace bully. Content has been edited for clarity purposes.
Things Got Physical
“Years ago before I was a manager at Casey’s, I worked in the kitchen making pizza. There was a guy back there with me who’d been there longer than me and he didn’t like the fact that I was faster and better at the job than him. He made a lot of underhanded comments about me sucking up and whatnot. I ignored most of them.
One day, I was making three pizzas at once while he was standing around doing nothing. I mentioned I could use some help and this must’ve ticked him off. He came over and started dumping sauce on the pizzas.
I started yelling at him, asking, ‘What the heck are you doing?!’
But he just kept mocking me, saying, ‘You are gonna take the fall for it.’
As I tried to start a new pizza, he knocked the ingredients out of my hands. I lost it and shoved him into the stack of boxes. Before he could get up, I grabbed the sauce bucket, got on top of him, and poured it on his face. Now he was blinded by the sauce, I gave him a pounding.
Finally, both the manager and cashier came running back after hearing his screams. They pulled me off and sent me home. I thought for sure I’d lost my job.
A couple of days later, they called me in saying, ‘We have reviewed the footage and it was clear, he was the instigator. He has been fired and you’re able to get your job back.’
Thankfully, he never spoke to me again.”
New Lady Thought She Was The Boss
“About a year ago our company’s junior partner hired a woman to be the new office manager when our faithful matron retired after 32 years with us. Apparently, the new recruit had wonderful letters of reference that proclaimed her as a gift from above. Indeed, so lucky were we to land her as our newfound guiding light.
This all took place on a Monday morning during a week when I was off. As I walked into the main office the following Monday, I heard an unfamiliar and angry female voice yelling at somebody about being totally useless and incompetent. Looking about, I saw this rather tall, slim, 40ish woman with short brunette hair whom I didn’t recognize. She was in a rage and yelling at our purchaser, Louise. She looked up, saw me, and went from enraged to ballistic in less than a second.
‘What the heck do you think you’re doing walking in here at a quarter past seven?’ she shrieked.
‘Walking in here at a quarter past seven. Next stupid question,’ I snapped back.
‘We start at seven am exactly, not quarter past!’ She exclaimed.
‘I start when I get here, and stay a lot longer than the other. Comprende, Señora?’ I said.
Before she could reply, I continued, ‘Actually, I’ll ask the next question. Who in the heck are you and what makes you think you can come in here and lose it on Louise, Lady?’
The woman came completely unglued on me. Nearly hysterical, she screamed, ‘Don’t call me ‘Lady’, I’m the office manager! And you just got yourself fired. I don’t put up with anyone’s nonsense.’
Turning to Louise, I asked, ‘Is this nut job always like this?’
‘All day, every day, to anybody and everybody it seems,’ Louise grumbled.
Angered now, I leveled a cold glare at Whacko Woman asking (through clenched teeth), ‘You’re that Darlene woman that Mike hired last week?’
‘Yes, I am. And just who the heck are you, prick?’ She demanded.
‘I’m the lead product designer and senior partner here, Darlene. You know, the ‘prick’ who signs your paycheck. In fact, I’m about to sign your first and last paycheck right now,’ I said.
The silence was deafening.
Darlene suddenly became very subdued and began to explain (on the fly) why I should give her another chance, but I just glared at her to silence as I’d already made up my mind on the matter. I waved her over to my desk, checked the spelling of her full name, and wrote her up a cheque for exactly one week’s pay. I then told the now-shaking woman how she had exactly ten minutes to collect her things and get the heck off the property. I also added how if she ever set foot on the property again, I’d have her arrested for criminal trespass.
As a final dig, I turned to Louise and asked, ‘Would you please see to it that Miss Psycho-wench packs up and leaves within 10?’
With her biggest smile, Louise nodded, saying, ‘It will be my pleasure.’
And she did just that, too.”
“It Started With Him Being All Nice And Fake”
“One day, a new vice director was appointed from the outside. He was straight out of the Navy. No idea what he did there, but it was clear he had no experience in the mechanic’s field or warehousing. I was the best warehouse coordinator in my department and he needed to discredit me for all my accomplishments, so he could be the hero and save my department. It started with him being all nice and fake about how I was doing such a great job.
Two weeks later, he made his move. He went ape crazy about how the warehouse was all messed up, and how he had to personally come and fix what I was doing wrong. He would constantly scream and yell. Then calm down randomly. He was the kind of hothead who always looked like he would escalate to a fist fight if he was responded to.
Months went on and it became hostile and unbearable. He was finding new ways to make life miserable. I was excluded from projects, given impossible tasks to complete, constantly harassed about performance and he got so confident he would degrade me in front of other co-workers and joke about it. I documented everything, but I didn’t want to go to the director knowing full well he was the one who brought him in and would back him.
After four to six months, I wanted to quit, but my job search was not going well. A co-worker then told me to go to HR.
His exact words were, ‘This isn’t the 1800s, you can’t just treat people like garbage.’
That gave me the courage to go to my HR and hand in all my documentation.
Turns out, he had similar complaints from multiple people at that point. Before the hammer hit him, he was getting so confident with the job, he was bringing his girlfriend in from work, showing off all his hard work and everything he was setting him. Then what happened next was beautiful. He apologized and offered a gift, claiming he didn’t know he was bullying. Total lies.
I was also looking into joining the National Guard at the same time. It was time to do something that would let me grow some balls when I came back. Days were counting down and I was gonna leave this toxic work environment. And just to put the nail in the coffin to ensure he never recovered or came back to his position of power, I fixed my department back to standards prior to his arrival and made improvements he could not do. I had been in the warehousing and logistics industry for nine years at that point and completely destroyed his credibility to ever come back since I was a simple low positioned warehouse coordinator.
Last I heard, he was transferred to another department and was not allowed to step foot in the mechanics or warehouse department ever.”
“Once I worked with a woman who was very dishonest. She was my supervisor at the time. Other staff members and I had just started within two weeks. And during that time, this woman hit another employee’s car and left. I told her she needed to tell the other employee about it. However, instead, she went on to lie about things.
A couple of months into things, she started bullying me, but I wasn’t gonna put up with that or tolerate that. Since I had lots of ammunition about her lying, I had somebody else who could verify my story about the vehicle. When this woman started lying about me, I had enough of her and I went straight to Human Resources.
Human Resources asked me, ‘Why didn’t you come forward about this earlier?’
My response was, ‘Would you have believed me? I had only been there two weeks when this happened. This employee was such a good manipulator and con artist. She has everybody fooled.’
When Human Resources spoke to her, she finally admitted to doing it but she would not offer to pay the other employees damages or anything. She was a total turd. She got fired and rightly so.
I have never regretted for a moment turning her sorry butt in. People like that are a disgrace to the company and like a poison to other employees.”
Old Man Vs Young Man
“Several years ago, I was working at a place that dismantled computers and computer monitors. The big monitors looked like old-fashioned TVs. Heavy as heck and with lead on their screens. A dirty, dangerous job.
There was a new kid who didn’t have his feet on the ground yet and didn’t have a circle of friends or anything. One of the guys who worked on the screen smashing line was picking on him in the break room like it was all in fun. Everybody there could tell it most definitely wasn’t all in fun. Most of the guys left. The kid also left. There was just me and the bully.
I quietly told him how the kid didn’t like what he was doing and he was going to quit.
The guy said, ‘Or what?! What are you going to do about it, old man?’
I told him fighting on company property was against the rules and would get us both fired so I wasn’t going to do anything and neither was he.
He said, ‘I’m not afraid of you! You might be bigger than I am but I can take you any day of the week!’
I quietly agreed with him and said, ‘You are probably right, I am 55 years old and you are about 25. I am 6′3” and about 240 and you are about 5′8″ and 165. You are a lot younger than me and would probably win any fight. The point is, you will know you have been in a fight when we get done. Not sure you want to do that. Being afraid of each other has nothing to do with it. You messing with him when he doesn’t think of it as fun is not OK and I am going to make sure it stops. I don’t think you are a bad guy, just need to be straightened out a bit.’
The guy got a bit of a shocked look, and said, ‘Well, just watch yourself when you leave work today!’
I told him I would watch myself but I wasn’t going to go looking for him. If we had a fight, it was going to be because he started it.
After work that night, I made sure to put on my jacket and hat before leaving the building for extra padding. It was a warm spring day, but better to be safe than sorry. I also filled my thermos with water and stuck it in the bottom of my lunch box for added weight as a swinging weapon. Then sauntered outside without a care in the world show.
The guy was nowhere around. I hung around in the parking lot for 10 minutes or so, sitting on the tailgate of my pickup watching the birds. He never showed. He also never picked on anybody after that.
We got to be sort of friends. I still see him around town once in a while and say hi, though I have forgotten his name.”
Greedy Boss Got A Reality Check
“My boss was the bully. I was in my early thirties and had just left a job working for the factory Porsche/ Audi racing team. I parted under friendly circumstances, as I had just recently become married and all the travel was becoming quite a strain on my marriage.
Having worked at dealerships for years, I did not want to get back into the cutthroat office politics of dealership life. So I took a job at a private repair shop, and with my knowledge and skills, it did not take long for the shop owner to start taking on highly technical and specialized repairs on high-end sports cars. Which of course were all sent to me.
Trust me on this, it takes a lot more time to replace the cam chains in a Porsche than in a Ford Mustang. But the boss had no idea about the technical end of the business, he only cared about the profit margins. He knew I could repair four or five American vehicles in a few days, and he expected I could do the same when working on Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and Porsches as well. His goal was for me to do one a day, five days a week. Forget the fact that on some of these cars you had to darn near disassemble half the vehicle just to gain access to the engine or transmission. So he would constantly yell and scream at me to stop ‘lollygagging’ and ‘get my arse to work.’
You must remember that this time, in the mid-1970s, repair shops were charging about $15 an hour of labor to repair standard American manufactured vehicles, but exotics were much more expensive, like $40 to $50 and even more per hour. So all he could see were the dollar signs in his eyes.
I had taken on a job of rebuilding an engine for a Lamborghini. The customer and I had an agreement I would work on it as time permitted and special order parts came in. And the estimated time would take between four to eight months depending on shipping speed and availability of parts and machine shop time. The total cost for parts was about ten thousand dollars in parts and materials, and when finished, the job would cost the customer a little over thirty thousand dollars.
As time passed, I continued to work on whatever came in the door as the parts collection grew for the engine job. Any mechanic will tell you that you don’t build an engine over six months. You collect everything you need, have all the machine work done, and then build the engine from start to finish. Now, the customer was paying for all the parts and machine work as they came in, so we did not have a dime invested in the job at all, but the boss somehow believed it was costing him money by waiting for everything to arrive. Once again, all he could see was the $20,000 profit that he could not hold in his greedy little fist.
I was grossing about 30 grand a month for the greedy little prick since the day I arrived, which was about a 100 percent increase in his annual income revenue, and all he wanted was more. By the time everything had arrived and it was time to assemble the engine, I had cleared every other repair ticket in the shop and was prepared to spend a few days building the engine. There were no appointments scheduled for the next three days. However, on the day I had prepped the shop and began to work on the engine, here came the boss, who had just returned from a five-day deep sea fishing trip in the Bahamas on his new boat.
He came storming into the shop, tearing down the plastic sheeting I had put up all around the repair bay to keep it as close to a clean room as possible.
‘Where the heck are the cars?’ He demanded.
‘There are none, I cleared the ticket list and scheduled the next three days so I could build this engine,’ I replied.
It was at that point he literally lost his mind. He went off on me. That was the last straw as far as I was concerned.
He stood there with his fists balled up, red-faced and shaking, knowing if he took a poke at me I could swat him like a bug. By the way, I’m 6”4″ and he was about 5′5″.
I walked up to within inches of him, half hoping he would take a swing at me.
Then I calmly smiled and looked down at him and said, ‘I quit.’
I turned to walk away. He unleashed a tirade of four-letter expletives in English and Italian, half of which I still don’t understand, at me and stormed out of the shop and drove off in his new Corvette. I called the customer and explained what had just happened. He told me he would have a truck sent over to collect all the parts and bring them to his own garage and I could build the engine there if I still wanted to do so. I agreed.
About an hour later, the truck arrived with a two-man crew. We carefully loaded up all the engine parts and my massive collection of five huge tool boxes and equipment and drove away.
It was the second day after I had quit before my old boss found out where I was. He came screeching up into the customer’s driveway and jumped out screaming how I was a thief and how he was going to have me arrested and hauled off to jail. Well, since he had no claim to any of the parts or work that had already been done, since the customer had paid for it all, and since I did not steal so much as an old tire patch, he was going to have a difficult time making any of his accusations stick. The customer just happened to be a very wealthy Italian celebrity and he was watching the entire situation and smiling like a Cheshire cat. Once my boss spotted him, he decided he was going to go off on him as well. He began cussing him out in Italian and the customer actually broke into straight-out laughter.
A few minutes later, the police showed up and the customer’s private security guards took my former boss out to meet them. I think his biggest mistake was when he went off on the cops. They handcuffed him, tossed him into the patrol car, and hauled him away.
The customer came over to me and asked if he was like that very often.
I told him, ‘Only every day all day long.’
Then he asked me if he could hire me for a few months to work on some of the other cars in his collection. He explained how if I was his employee, he would have a much stronger legal footing to deal with my old boss. I couldn’t have cared less about my old boss, but the idea of working on his fantastic collection of exotic cars was quite exciting. So I agreed and for the next six or seven months, he paid me fifteen thousand dollars a month to get all of his cars in top condition.
In the meantime, my old boss ended up in court defending himself against trespassing charges, assault, slander, and illegal exploitation of employees. The customer, who shall remain anonymous, explained to me how he was not trying to have my old boss placed in jail, but instead to cost him tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees and court costs instead.
‘The best way to teach a greedy man the value of a dollar is to see that it costs him his wealth when he bullies others,’ the customer said.
His plan worked, as my old boss lost his boat, his Corvette, and eventually his shop and was reduced to what he should have always been, a pushy little used-car salesman.”
He Was Not Lovin’ It
“When I was 19, I worked at a McDonald’s. It was an awful place, just full of bullies, including the management. However, I needed the money badly so I put up with it.
One day, the manager put me in a position I had never worked in before in the middle of a lunch rush. I was frantic and she kept yelling at me in front of the customers. Finally, I snapped. I took my headset off and threw it at her and immediately quit.
Well, she tried verbally abusing me at that point. However, since I had always held my temper previously, she had no idea how strong and loud my voice could get. Once I screamed back at her, she immediately shut up. When I told her off, I then left the store with half the customers leaving too and applauding me.
My friend worked there too. He was in the drive-thru when everything went down. So once he saw me leave, he quit too.
No job is worth anyone bullying you.”
“This was during my retail years, probably in my seventh or eighth year in this particular supermarket. I had noticed one of the managers, let’s call him ‘John,’ had developed a habit of choosing an employee, usually a young male, to pick on for a few weeks before moving on to a new one.
In the last few weeks, John had been picking on a young lad in my department. It was never overly serious, but he was constantly on this employee’s arse, nitpicking the most pointless things on jobs that had been done perfectly well suddenly weren’t good enough, etc. Thankfully this was the type of guy who wasn’t really fazed by anything, so he just took it in his stride and laughed about it. I, however, am not that kind of person.
Once he grew bored of having no reaction, I noticed how John was starting to niggle at me a little bit. He’d be asking me how many comps I’d worked, when I was planning on tidying a certain thing up, what time I’d come back from my break, etc.
‘Hmm’, I thought, ‘Let’s see where this goes,’
The next day, my job before morning break was to stock the sandwich delivery, so that was what I did. There wasn’t much; we’d clearly had a small delivery of only a few boxes, so it took me next to no time.
So John called me over and led me to the sandwich fridge. He had a smug expression all over his face.
‘What’s wrong with this?’ he asked.
‘It’s a bit empty, isn’t it?’ I responded. By this point, I could see where this was going, and my mood was darkening. The mist was most definitely descending.
‘So where’s the rest of the stock?’ He asked.
‘That’s all we had. It was a poor delivery,’ I said.
This was perfectly plausible. It had been this way for the last few Saturdays.
‘Yeah. Well, I think you’ve hidden it all. So where is it?’ He claimed.
Well, that was it. It might not seem like much, but I flipped my lid.
‘Is Louise in?’ I asked.
Louise was the personnel manager, and generally the person through whom grievances were raised.
‘She is, yeah,’ he replied.
‘Then I suggest you get her, because I want you downstairs, with her, in the office, now,’ I shouted.
He started to look around for support.
I continued, ‘Did you not hear me? In the office! Now!’
So we got downstairs, and he asked me to sit in the office. I stepped aside to let him in first (my attempt at establishing control), but he refused to be in there with me, on the basis that I might attack him. He had about a foot and 150 pounds on me.
‘Alright,’ I said, ‘We’ll play your little games.’
I stood outside the office with him.
When Louise turned up, she and John entered the office, followed by myself. Then we all sat down.
John, grinning, said, ‘Right, so-‘
‘No,’ I stated, ‘You haven’t brought me in here, I’ve brought you in here. You’re going to shut up and you’re going to listen!’ I demanded.
What followed was a good 30 minutes of me dismantling John in front of his boss, bringing to light all his terrible conduct, casting aspersions on his ability to do his job. I was told to calm down by Louise a few times, which I did. Throughout the whole thing, John’s body language changed from confident and open, to closed and terrified. It got to the point where he was refusing to even look up from the table.
Once it was over, I left them to it. John didn’t speak to me again. A week later Louise caught up with me and asked if John had been okay.
‘Of course, he has, we scared him witless,’ I said.
A couple of months later, he stepped down as manager to be a regular employee. A couple of months after that, he was committed to an institution. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer bloke. I like to think I had something to do with that.”
“Don’t Get Smart”
“In 2001, I was part of a software development team for a company that did not do software development. That company had hired a consulting firm/development shop to do the core software development and build the websites and applications. As part of this professional services arrangement, my company had an employee ’embedded’ with each of their software development teams by area of expertise and practice. For example, one person was responsible for working with their security engineers, another worked with their website developers, and I worked with a group that largely created the middle-ware components, etc. We did this on their property, from their workspaces.
The consulting firm’s office manager was known for being difficult. Even though she was a paper tiger and everyone knew it, she would still bark orders and spread unpleasantness throughout the place.
To me, she seemed something of a conundrum. She kept many of the non-essential office functions running, such as making sure the trash was picked up and there was coffee for the coffee makers, but often disrupted the essential functions, such as interrupting design meetings and ordering developers away from their computers to tell them the importance of keeping the refrigerator clean.
One particular morning, my team was called in early for a C-level briefing on our application. We’d paid for caterers to bring breakfast and place it outside of their main conference room. She made sure it was there and set up on time.
When my team showed up, we helped ourselves to a plate and chatted outside the room for a few minutes. When my CTO (chief technology officer) joined us, we continued our discussion.
She descended on us and took one of my team member’s plates from him and told him, ‘Don’t take the customer’s food.’
She put his plate on the table and then took the plate from my CTO’s hands.
It seemed like an honest mistake.
My CTO said, ‘We are the customer. We’re here for a meeting.’
Her reply to him was along the lines, ‘Don’t get smart.’
She was looking at the rest of her company’s employees when she said that. It was obviously a mistake.
He told her, ‘We paid for this. We’re here for a meeting.’
She looked at him with disgust, and started to say, ‘Well-‘
But then left and threw his plate in the trash.
He made himself another plate and I honestly would be surprised if he gave it more than a few minutes’ thought. The guy had much bigger concerns in his life than a testy office manager.
The consulting firm had a round of layoffs a month or so later. They asked us the day before not to go to their site that day. They did assure us that our project would not be impacted.
She was among those let go.”
His Partner Was Also His Bully
“Six years ago, I was working for a small construction firm. My boss was a bully, but he was rarely around. The real bully was my foreman. I’ll call him, ‘F.’
You see, this was a small firm — employees usually worked in pairs. My partner was also my foreman, F. I’m not a skilled worker, but I desperately needed money. F took full advantage of this.
It was back-breaking work and we had to be quick. If I wasn’t quick enough, F would out of the blue shout, ‘HURRY THE HECK UP!’
He would do this at irregular intervals. F was a big drinker, so he would frequently be hungover and/or in a bad mood. When this was the case, he would threaten to hurl hammers and tools in my direction. Just generally a miserable man.
I am known for being hot-tempered, but I can keep it in if I absolutely have to. And I did, for six months. After a difficult day with F hounding me non-stop, something popped into my temple. I screamed back and stood up against my bully. It was then I realized F was a coward, as he immediately retreated back to his car. He honestly looked like a scared dog.
After this, he wouldn’t harass me for a few weeks, but he would always start again. Rinse and repeat. He eventually got the message. After working for that disaster of a company for 10 months, I found something else.
I still see F, occasionally. He knows I despise him, but I still approach him for a wee chat. It makes him extremely uncomfortable, and I relish every moment I get to talk to him.”