Dear Clusterflock: Do you do bad things at work?

A few years back I was between jobs and took a job that was just me and my boss. There was no fun in her, but I managed to stick it out until I found other employment. I had to have some fun and as she liked 2 sugars in her tea it got me to wondering how much sugar could a person take in one cup of tea and not notice.

I increased her sugar intake by one spoon at a time and generally left a couple of days in between changes. I kept going until I was bored. I guess part of me wanted her to notice, but she never did. Not even the amount of sugar we were getting through. Anyway, I eventually got her up to 23 spoons of sugar in a cup of tea – yeah, 23! She never said a word and always finished the cup.

The oddest part was, when I got bored and stopped I returned her to 2 spoons over night and she didn’t say a thing. It set me to wondering what our threshold for sweetness was and did 3 spoons of sugar actually taste no different to 23?

Have you ever been bad?

93 thoughts on “Dear Clusterflock: Do you do bad things at work?

  1. t.edison

    A director I worked with didnt get on well with one of the producers but they had to share an office, so whenever the producer was out of the room he would set the default start site on the guys web browser to some satanic cult homepage…
    And then tried not to laugh next time he booted up his browser

  2. Purposefully Anonymous

    Two pranks come to mind:

    I had a former boss who was sort’ve gross. He was creepy and geeky. You could always hear him making throat clearing noises.

    One day he had a sneezing attack. From all the way across the building you could just hear the wet spray that SURELY had to be filling his office. One sneeze. Two sneezes. Five sneezes… at around nine people out in the cubes started chuckling and making quiet comments. I had time to walk to the front of the building, retrieve my umbrella where I’d left it, open it up and parade it through the office (to the amusement of all) and then prop it up over the top of my cube (which was in the theoretical line of fire) before the sneezing stopped. I left it there for months.

    He commented on it later on, saying he was glad that I would do something quirky like putting an umbrella up in my cube and told everyone, “We need more personality like this!” The laughter was barely contained.

    The second comes from my days as a waiter. We had an absolute prick of an executive chef. He would come in once every three or four months, throw his weight around and generally let everyone know that he was in charge.

    Towards the end of the night he’d always get a glass of wine and keep it underneath the line. He stepped away for a stretch and, seemingly spontaneously, a coworker (about 6’4″, 230 pounds), reached down his pants and slid his fingers along his general crotch area.

    He proceeded to rub the “substance” on the rim of the glass and we all stood around as the chef polished off the glass throughout the remainder of the evening.

    We called it “The Nemec” named after the chef, although we spent a long time debating whether we were naming the act or the substance.

  3. Liz

    I used to work the night shift in a petrol station (gas station, for you US peeps!). It was really boring, and between about 2am and 5am there was literally NOTHING to do. After a few weeks of this job I was slowly going out of my mind, staring out of the big window where customers can pay through, when I saw a cat walking across the forecourt. Without hesitation, I pressed the loudspeaker button that lets you talk to the whole forecourt, and barked as loudly as I could for about five seconds. The cat nearly had a heart attack and just bolted off looking like it had got an electric shock. I laughed for, literally, hours. It was the best fun I ever had in that job.

  4. melissa

    from my days as a server…we had a regular female customer that was a real pain in the ass and generally a snob. she always had special requests for the chef (can he add this? not add that? etc.) her requests were always accommodated and she always expressed her appreciation but in a less than genuine way.

    she usually ordered dessert with a decaf cappuccino (really. what’s the point?) because otherwise she “would be up all night.” we took great pleasure in serving her that cappuccino – fully caffeinated.

    to quote from the movie “waiting” : don’t FUCK with people who handle your food.

  5. greta

    Once, on the way to lunch, we went up to the computer of the head sales jerk and typed “format c:” as a joke, thinking the PC was off. It wasn’t. Only the monitor was. So we confirmed with a “Y” and went to lunch. The howl that went up when he got back to his desk was priceless.

  6. June

    Where to start…I once had a job at McDonald’s. Worked the closing shift with a bunch of teenage boys. They all went downstairs one evening, leaving me all alone at the counter. I twisted a straw wrapper to look like string, wrapped part of a napkin around it, and it looked like a tampon. I dipped it in a ketchup packet and tossed it on the table where they assembled the burgers. Straw wrapper, one cent. Napkin, two cents. Reaction of said teenage boys? PRICELESS! Oh, they were horrified, to say the least.

  7. June

    Covered a co-worker’s desk and the floor out around it with little Dixie cups half-filled with water.

  8. June

    Set a small kitchen timer for 3 minutes and slipped it into the hood of someone’s hoodie and waited. Don’t do this to anyone with a heart condition.

  9. June

    Kidnapped a teddy bear from a co-worker. Sent ransom notes made with cut out letters. When my demands weren’t met, I photo shopped a picture of the teddy into a random family photo from the internet and included it with a letter explaining the bear had been placed with a different family who were better able to keep track of his whereabouts. I eventually did allow him to go back home.

  10. Phil Bebbington Post author

    More police tales:

    A friend once strapped a dead fox to the engine of our sergeant – he didn’t discover it for weeks, by which time it was firmly welded to the engine block – he was trying to trace a strange smell.

    Also a couple of little ways to get criminals back if you were unable to get them in custody.

    In the winter pee in their radiator – the use of the heater becomes rather troublesome. and if you really want to get someone who is being troublesome – under the cover of darkness slip a few metal balls into the oil filler cap – the engine goes BANG! Of course, that is criminal and I would have never taken part in such activities.

  11. June

    Thanks, Cindy.

    Phil, Phil, Phil. I sure hope that’s not your real name.

    Sent a marshmallow peep through a laminator. Melted the marshmallow, leaving a 5 foot pink sugared streak. I don’t recommend this, because laminate is expensive, and people tend to be cranky about it being wasted.

    Also copied a peep on the copy machine. It squashed and stuck to the glass. Messy, messy, messy.

  12. June

    Thanks Cindy, that’s awesome! I’ve seen Lord of the Peeps and various peep experimentation and observations, but that’s the first time I’ve seen the peeps doing the research.

    It’s entertaining to microwave them, but it’s really difficult to light one on fire. Freezing them and hitting them with a hammer only works if they’ve been dropped in liquid nitrogen. Same goes for freezing them and dropping them off the roof. If it’s raining, they stick to cars very securely.

    And yes, these are all things I have done at work. In the name of science, of course.

  13. June

    Well Phil, you might be safe as long as you didn’t take any photos of yourself while you were creatively expressing of your feelings about your job.

  14. India

    I’m sad to say that, being such a goddamn square, I’ve never done anything worthy of being in this thread. The only kind of troublesome shit I can recall having done at work has consisted of writing obsessively researched, strongly worded letters and memos that help get people who are pains in everybody’s ass fired. But I haven’t cared enough about a job to do that in years. Depressing.

    At my first bookstore job, in Sacramento, some guys at another Tower store poured a couple thousand of those biodegradable packing peanuts over another guy’s—their manager’s?—car after it had become wet with rain. Biodegradable, yes, but easy to wash off? Apparently not. IIRC, they got kind of fired.

    There was a book that came out around then, Sabotage in the American Workplace, which I probably still have a copy of somewhere; it was full of these kinds of stories, and it was wonderful. Maybe I should read that again, to get inspired.

  15. Cindy Scroggins

    But, India, didn’t y’all play Sexy Motherfucker as mood music in your bookstore? I would say that counts for something.

    Let’s see, my bookstore days. Hmmm, what did I do back then….

    I reached down a co-workers pants one day, convinced that he had socks in his crotch. He didn’t, but he also didn’t mind my reaching in there, so it was a wash.

    A co-worker and I staged fake fights on our lunch breaks in the mall, loudly accusing each other of heinous acts and each demanding a divorce. That never got old.

    I spent the better part of an afternoon in a glass display case.

    My friend, Steve (of divorce fights above) autographed all of our Pat Boone books, as well as any he found in other bookstores. (I realize that this is not, technically, something bad that I did at work, but since I was a manager and did nothing to stop him, I think it qualifies.)

  16. Jonathan McNicol

    My friend, Steve (of divorce fights above) autographed all of our Pat Boone books, as well as any he found in other bookstores.

    After everything everyone has said here, that’s my favorite little anecdote out of this whole thread. It’s just genius. I may just have to take up Steve’s cause here in cozy New England. Do we think bookstores still carry Pat Boone books, though?

  17. Cindy Scroggins

    Jonathan, I’ve wondered if there are any left (this was 1979 or 1980). I do know that a lot of people think they have genu-ine autographed first editions of A Miracle A Day Keeps The Devil Away, though.

  18. Sheila Ryan

    I still wonder about my G. Gordon Liddy book with the author’s purported signature and the obvious Nietszche quotation.

  19. India

    But, really, Cindy, nobody cared that we were playing “Sexy M.F.” in that bookstore.

    I guess . . . so, okay, we had this thing where we could transfer any book from store to store by just putting a store number on it and a person’s name. So at the second Tower Books I worked at, in Seattle, I had the cookbooks section, and I was going through it, surveying my domain, shortly after I arrived, and I found a book called Variety Meats that was, as you’d expect, about unpalatable organs. So I sent it to the vegetarian assistant manager at the store I’d just transferred from. No note or anything; he knew who it was from.

  20. Mitch Wright

    It has been a while since I’ve pranked anyone — this article has motivated me to rectify that situation. That said, here are a couple I’ve pulled in the past.

    Back in 1988, the NASA installation I worked at had just gotten a new phone system that gave the, now, normal electronic sounding rings. The first thing I did was record the ring tones and upload them to our fileserver. I was then able, with the help of NFS, to remotely log into office mates workstations and play their ring tones which, obviously, came out of their workstation’s built-in speaker. It proved quite interesting how many consecutive phone calls with nobody on the other end it took to get someone peeved.

    After the above prank lost its luster, I discovered an undocumented feature in the new phone system. It allowed you to dial an extension and rather than have it ring it simply output the sound through the speakerphone speaker of the phone. It was, presumably, to be used to be able to do announcements and alike. I started with quick scratchy type sounds and worked up to the infamous “help me, i’m trapped in your phone” voice. My favorite was screwing with an office mate by making a clicking sound every time he hit a key.

    Lastly, as an IT guy there is the old favorite of going to someone’s office on a Thursday, clipboard in hand… nose around a little and they’ll eventually ask why you are there. Just say something to the effect of “I need to get your phone jack number”. Almost certainly they’ll either look puzzled or ask why, just look at your clipboard and apologize with something like — “crap. sorry, I’ll be back tomorrow”. Probably not a recommended prank in this economy and reactions vary.

  21. Jason

    I found a USB extension cord and plugged it into the back of the computer of the girl who sits opposite me at work. I then wound that extension cord through the mess of cords that services three adjacent desks. At the end of it I attached a wireless mouse receiver.

    For the following two months, I had the mouse by my feet (if I was in danger of being caught, I would kick it under my set of drawers), and nudged it, moved it, clicked, etc. whenever I felt like it. Sometimes I wouldn’t do it for days, other days I would do it all day.

    She KNEW it was me. She knew it, but she couldn’t prove it. One time, she nearly caught me out. She noticed the symptoms (usually tiny nudges or clicks – just enough to annoy the hell out of someone) stopped when I left my desk. She asked me to come and look. It was a test I passed by quickly putting the mouse in my pocket. The natural walking movement was enough to convince her.

    She had ridiculous theories, and began recording when it happened in an attempt to find patterns. I think she thought it was some sort of GhostWriter type of mischief. I didn’t see it, but someone told me she had a spreadsheet. Occasionally, I’d leave it with another in-range colleague.

    She unplugged everything and plugged it all back in. After a few weeks of this, she began to think that it wasn’t me at all. She called I.T. at least twenty times.

    At this point, I played the double bluff, i.e. I came clean and apologised, and explained exactly how I did it. She didn’t believe me.

    I.T. sent someone to investigate. He found nothing, and of course, I stopped the symptoms while he was standing there, and started them again when he left. He concluded she was crazy – the job remains unresolved.

    After two months I grew bored, and unplugged it. Some weeks later I innocently asked her if her mouse problems had gone away, and she claimed that they were still pretty bad.

    I can’t explain that.

  22. pedro

    When I was a soldier, I was bored at the range. While looking through my binoculars I saw a group of wild pigs. I instantly got on the radio and said pigs in the open 150 meters. Basically I called indirect fire on some wild hogs who happened to be crossing the range. The Sergeant Major was really interested in who was calling for indirect fire on police officers. I have since grown up and would never kill a defenseless animal in that way.

    Another time, when the entire battalion was working together a group of friends and I decided to steal another company’s RSOV’s (Ranger Special Operations Vehicle) and hide them on the other side of the building that company was staying in. This company retaliated by urinating on our seats. The night before we left we escalated and crapped on some of their seats.

  23. Phil Bebbington Post author

    I did work for a book store for a while. I was kind of in charge of goods in and out. We had access to those security tags that are sometimes placed in books of high value – I used to hide them in bags and coats of co-workers so that they set off the alarms as they came in and out of work.

    Juvenile, but, I have always loved juvenile!

  24. Sheila Ryan

    I used to do something of the reverse, Phil. I was Curator of Manuscripts in an academic library for some years, overseeing original documents penned by everyone from Albert Einstein to James Joyce to Ulysses S. Grant. Some evenings as I waltzed past the library staffer charged with halting thieves, I would say as I passed through Checkpoint Charlie, “Missed that Presidential autograph, didn’t ya?”

  25. Cece

    My first house in D.C. was a rental located in the high cotton — a few blocks behind the U.S. Supreme Court. People loved to walk expensive breeds of dogs and talk about them. I had a white mutt who was a mix of lab, German Shepherd, who knows what else. After a while, I started telling certain people as a lark that he was a “Viennese Salon Hound.” A surprising number of people claimed to have heard of that breed, which of course was entirely made up.

  26. Mark Jaquith

    Working in a doctor’s office as a teenager, the older female staff were always yelling at me for clearing paper shredder jams with my fingers. There was no danger, my fingers were not nearly small enough to reach the blades. One day, I reached in to clear a jam, and then switched the machine from “AUTO” to “ON”… I stood there yelling and convulsing as if the machine were eating my fingers. Then I pulled my fingers out, and held them up. I’d colored the tips red with a marker, of course. They screamed like in horror movies.

  27. BaileyThePirate

    When i was in school, i would log on to library computers and edit the AutoCorrect preferences in Word. I would tell it to change the school initials into naughty words, “marketing” into “wackadoo”, and perhaps the most excellent of all, Santa into Satan. I don’t know if that last one was ever employed, but I really hope so.

  28. Smedly McFakename

    Hmm. We make a computer product that plays videos. On April 1 all the videos it played were “Never gonna give you up.” We rickrolled the entire company.

    I edited the /etc/hosts file on a colleague’s computer so that every time he went to or or a host of other sites, he’d get rickrolled.

    Back when I was a night security guard, I came to work drunk one night (I was in college) and basically spent my entire 8-hour shift passed out at my desk.

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