It’s Monday, which means it’s time for the next installment of Readers’ Revenge, the weekly feature in which we turn Grantland over to you, the unpredictable reader. This week’s topic was most fireable offenses, and the response was awesome. And also, terrible. (It’s always disturbing to read about workers at a popular fast food joint putting dead rats in the fryers and urinating in the lemonade bubbler — thanks for nothing, guy.) But mostly awesome.
I apologize in advance for anyone who sent in a great story but wasn’t included. Sorting through so many e-mails, I’m sure I made some dumb exclusions. This could easily be a top 50 list without missing a beat, and you’re all winners.
Below are the top 15 e-mails. The topic for next week will be: your worst encounter with an animal. Send your story to email@example.com for a chance to make the list and become a hot Internet celeb. Special consideration given to stories that are terrifying and/or hilarious. They can be about you or someone you know, and anonymity is allowed. In today’s edition, names have been erased to protect the guilty.
15. From the time I was 14 until I left for college, I was employed by the local Little League as a member of the grounds crew. By the time we were sophomores, my buddy Bill and I were the “crew chiefs.” Bill took this title (and the 50 cents an hour raise that went with it) to mean that he could do whatever the hell he wanted while he was on the clock. He would sit around, steal food, take absurdly long dumps, and force me to light baseballs on fire and pitch them to him so he could hit them with a flaming bat. (We went through a lot of lighter fluid.) I, on the other hand, would typically be very diligent while on the clock, but took advantage while off the clock. The garage where all our equipment was kept was connected to the main building of the Little League complex, where the league offices and concession stand were located. Anytime I was hungry at night, we would open the garage, climb over the concrete wall into the ceiling of the building, remove the drop ceiling inside, and chow down.
The place also became a haven for any activities we wanted to engage in without our parents knowing. Many a beer, blunt, and blowjob were enjoyed in that place. If we were ever caught, not only would we all be fired, depending on what we were doing we could have potentially been arrested, and certainly would have been rawhided by our respective parental figures. But the best part of all this was the night we thought we had killed the golden goose. We sent a buddy over the wall to grab some food, and he fell THROUGH the drop ceiling. He unlocked a door and let us in, and we began to hurriedly try to clean up the debris and fix the massive hole. After a few panicked minutes, we heard someone in the back room near the treasurer’s office. Horrified, we bolted for the door until we realized whoever it was turned the lights off back there and was trying to be very quiet. A bit confused but emboldened, we went to investigate. We found the VP of the Little League in the process of cooking the books and pocketing the cash. We had stolen hundreds of dollars of food over the years, but of course we took the moral high ground and ratted this guy out as quickly as possible. And with that scandal exploding, no one really cared about the hole in the ceiling and some missing sodas.
14. The back story: When I was in high school I worked for my dad, who was the “food service director” at a Christian children’s summer camp. I got all my friends to work for him too, so work amounted to us basically doing a whole lot of nothing all summer. True, we did work, but mostly messed around doing all sorts of things that could get anyone fired on the spot and in most cases, arrested. One of my friends would do almost anything for money. (I say “almost” because he has not yet turned a bet down, but may in the future, so there’s that degree of uncertainty.) As we worked in an environment with lax supervision and ample things to get him to do well, we stayed busy, but not always with work. It all started with getting him to eat stuff for money. (For the record, that included a half cup of mayonnaise, a whole stick of butter, the contents of a plate that can only be described as “mystery item,” questionable cottage cheese, and the coup de grace — a spoonful of the grease trap.)
Eventually, we had to up the ante. Our next bet involved him being naked in the walk-in freezer for five minutes. This was during work hours, as in, men and women, boys and girls coming in and out of the kitchen. He didn’t care. In he went, off came his clothes and the clock started. We told him we’d keep watch but we left as soon as the door was closed. About two minutes in, dad decided he needed something from that same freezer so to it he went opened the door, sat silent for a second or two, and had the following conversation:
Dad: “You doing this for money?”
Dad: “How much?”
Dad: “Hmmm, how long you have to stay in there?”
Friend: “Five minutes.”
Dad: “How long’s it been?”
Friend: “About 2 minutes.”
Dad: “If you go 10, I’ll double it.”
Dad proceeds shut the door on him and walk off. Now let’s recap. We have a teen boy naked in a freezer, with the knowledge and complicity of his boss, in an environment that small children could easily have seen something they didn’t intend to see at Christian summer camp. By my estimation, that’s (depending on who saw what and how litigious the prosecutor would have been) wrongful confinement, indecent exposure, and — depending on who might have seen him — sexual harassment. If found, dad definitely would have been fired, my friend relegated to counseling, and me left being the son of the guy who let teenage boys go naked in his freezer. Best part is, my friend made it all 10 minutes and doubled down his (now) $40 by sitting in the Dumpster to warm up (albeit clothed). To this day, my dad is the best boss I’ve ever had.
13. For two summers in a row during college in the early 2000s, I had a mind-numbing job of sorting through a few decades worth of old paper medical files from an orthopedist’s practice and scanning them into a computer to create an electronic database of patient records. I was in the main office the first summer so shenanigans were scarce, what with all the doctors, nurses, patients, and administrative types lurking around every corner. Still, it was an easy way to make a buck and I had my evenings free. The second summer they had me in a satellite office that was only used once a week by the doctors. The rest of the time, I was entirely on my own. I suck at math but was able to pretty quickly determine that if I worked to my full capacity, I only had enough files to last me a month, tops, in the smaller office. I calculated how many files I would need to scan each day to make them last the whole summer — approximately 20, which would take about an hour to do.
I knew I couldn’t milk 20 files for an entire day on the Wednesdays the doctors were in, so I rationed myself to about five each morning on the other four days. The rest of the time was spent alternating between reading (I was an English major, so I read a lot), sleeping, taking three-hour lunches, tossing paper balls into trash cans from ridiculous distances and/or angles, rolling around the office in a wheelchair, masturbating, masturbating in a wheelchair, and sending obnoxious short stories via fax to friends at their more rigorous workplaces. I’ve slacked off at a lot (let’s be honest, all) of my jobs since then, but this was probably the closest I ever flew to the sun without the wax on my wings melting.
12. In 1984, while a student at Michigan State (go Sparty), I got a job as the supervisor of a cleaning crew at the state Capitol in Lansing. Cool job — just gotta make sure things get done, and I had full access to all the state senators’ offices.
The Tigers were in the World Series so I would “take advantage” of my access and catch the games on TV in the various offices. My sister had just graduated and moved to Texas and I thought it would be funny to write her a letter (1984, people) on Senator (later Governor) John Engler’s letterhead. I describe in detail how cool it is to kick back and watch the Tigers at this huge desk and poach sodas, all while getting paid!
To make a short story long, between the time I sent the letter and it being delivered, my sister moved. On a Saturday morning a week later, my roommate wakes me up to tell me there are “two guys in raincoats and sunglasses” at the door to see me. I throw on a robe and stumble to the door to meet Special Agents Half and Nit (two of the wit brothers) who shove my opened letter in my face and let me know how displeased Senator Engler is at the misappropriation of his official government property. They then threaten me with charges for stealing a stamp and left after telling me they will be in touch.
About 10 minutes later, I get a call from my boss letting me know my services will no longer be required.
P.S. I got the letter back but they kept the envelope for “evidence.”
11. I worked in medical records at a hospital on summer breaks from college doing the yearly purge of old records with four other guys in the same boat. We had a system set up where two people worked, one person read the newspaper and two people slept. If that wasn’t enough to get us fired, then this was.
The only time all five of us were awake was when we played a game we called Ball Tag. BT involved five of the foam balls the blood bank would give donors to squeeze. Everyone had five outs and it was like dodgeball — get hit you’re out, catch it and you’re good. The entire office (on top of shelves, under desks, in the files) was in play.
We made jerseys out of the “I’m a blood donor” shirts that were given out as a thank-you gifts. We had a daily newsletter sent between the five of us keeping track of who won the days event and a YTD record of all participants. We were never caught and the balls remain hidden someplace in the office.
10. One day there were three of us working inside the dairy box of a major grocery store chain, whose nickname may include the word “paycheck.” For those unfamiliar, this walk-in refrigerator has to be kept between 30 to 40 degrees and ours was about the size of a decent one-bedroom apartment. Due to the cold, we didn’t get many visitors from other co-workers or our supervisors. Generally, the deliveries we received and stored consisted of only dairy products specifically, so when we opened a unfamiliar box and saw that it was a large case of cold cuts, we should have walked it over to the other side of the store, to the department it belonged in. Instead we created “Sandwich Day!”
Considering there were cameras watching every inch of the store (except inside our dairy box, oddly enough) we needed to be discreet in collecting our ingredients. Our first move was to call one of our friends in the bakery and see if what we could do about bread. Preferably something freshly baked and of course, over-priced. Next, there was a particular sauce from the meat department that everyone loved. We also gathered some fancy cheese, condiments and some chips, with people from all the respective departments pitching in to help (except the deli, as they would probably have preferred for us to not steal from them/the store).
After setting up drop zones around the store via text, particularly places it would make sense for people from so many departments to actually go to, each person left their contribution. We methodically collected everything in a way that would make Mike from Breaking Bad blush. After clearing out an entire shelf in our dairy box to form sort of a sandwich line, we invited our fellow conspirators to our hideout for a feast. The festivities included music and a few cute chicks working as cashiers, who liked to hang out in the back with the dairy guys (it was a complete high school atmosphere at that store, with the cashier babes being the cheerleaders and the dairy guys being the jocks). We ate, we danced, and we all had a ball. Until the one guy in our department who didn’t work that day came in the next morning and saw that we left all the evidence laying around like idiots. He held that over my head for a while, until I got fired for something completely unrelated a year later.
9. When I was in college, I worked at a hardware store near Buffalo. One exceptionally hot summer (contrary to popular belief, it’s not a frozen wasteland year-round), management got the idea to sell bottled water along with the standard paint, gardening supplies, and other assorted miscellany. Unfortunately, our drinking fountain broke and the manager refused to fix it. My coworkers and I, being a particularly competitive and vengeful group, decided to create a game called “Who Can Steal The Most Water?”. The only rule was that the water had to be consumed in the store. It was clearly the lamest theft ring ever. After a while, we stopped keeping score (1 point per bottle), and just wantonly grabbed bottles. The “game” stopped after a post-inventory meeting in which we were advised to keep an eye on our customers because more than $500 of water going missing. (It cost 39 cents per bottle. Do the math.) I consider myself lucky that I escaped the summer without going to jail or doing permanent damage to my bladder.
8. When I was in college, I took a low-paying temporary job during the summer at a local call center just to help cover the bills. The center was the corporate equivalent of a prostitute and provided cheap labor for any company that was willing to pay. There was a guy that worked in the cubicle next to me named Brad who was an outspoken drug abuser and came in stoned nearly every day. After upper management made yet another change of affiliates to represent, we found ourselves taking calls for an old credit card company. (It may or may not sponsor Phil Mickelson.) However, something strange happened when we switched our phone queues for the new company, and Brad was now only getting about two calls per day. This was perfect for the guy, as he was out of his mind for the majority of the day anyway, and went unnoticed by the bosses for several weeks. (Calling the brass of the building incompetent would be a vast overstatement.) He actually came into the building, sat in front of his computer and pretended to work eight hours a day for four entire months. I’m not sure if he eventually just got bored, or if he was super high or what, but one day his typical two incoming calls started going something like this:
Brad: [In the most extremely helpful tone of voice.] Thank you for calling XXX my name is Brad how can I help you?
Customer: I have a late charge on my statement, this is unacceptable. I made my payment on time!
Brad: You’re right, that is unacceptable. You’re one of our preferred customers and I’m going to take care of this for you.
Customer: Really? Thanks man, I really appreciate it!
Brad: Just kidding, go [expletive deleted] yourself jerk. [Phone hangs up.]
This was immediately a hit among everyone who sat near him and the highlight of the day was when Brad’s phone rang, as we all gathered around to listen. Regardless of the situation, when his phone lit up, we all made excuses, put our customers on hold, waited for Brad to mercilessly berate some poor regular Joe and followed it up with high-fives and pure elation all around. He thrived on the newly gained attention and his fortitude only escalated call after call as his responses to customers grew cruder and cruder. He practiced his various insults at home and a slurred “I got a good one today boys!” was his typical greeting upon entering the facility. He was the unanimous office hero and the main reason I woke up and went to work every day. I can only imagine the reactions of the unfortunate hardworking people who happened to call their bank and were unlucky enough to reach this guy. Somehow, this all went unnoticed and Brad was still employed when I had to quit and return to school in the fall.
7. A few summers back, I managed to get an internship as a Legislative Assistant at the North Carolina state legislature in Raleigh. As you might guess, writing memos to old white folks and stuffing envelopes for campaign fliers is less-than-compelling work, so a few of the other interns and I decided to spice things up a bit. One of my fellow interns had a handheld breathalyzer (which is always a bad idea to introduce to a group of six 20-something males), and naturally, our competitive juices began to flow, so every Friday for the rest of the summer, we held Black(out) Friday in our intern office. The rules of the contest were simple: highest BAC by 5 p.m. had free drinks bought for him at happy hour, and highest single-day BAC in the summer won $100. Final tally: $540 in damages to various items in the office (walls, chairs, desks, stolen staple removers), six public intoxication charges (expunged), two bans from bars (not expunged), and one registered sex offender for urinating in the corner of a bar while the speaker of the house sat five feet away discussing education policy with the governor. Best summer of my life.
6. My buddy Griffin worked at an Abercrombie & Fitch in Boston about a decade ago, and called me one night in tears about a co-worker of his. This girl he worked with had tickets to a concert one night, and forgot to ask for the night off. She couldn’t get anyone to cover, and the boss refused to let her go, so after she showed up for work at 5 p.m., she shortly went to the manager and said she had crapped her pants and would have to go home to change, and didn’t think she could make it home, clean up, and be back in time for close. While everyone knew she was lying, how could they make her produce evidence of it? The manager had no choice but to let her go with no penalty. However, a month or so later she did the SAME EXACT thing, and this time the manager told her she would have to bring a change of clothes to keep at the store for future “accidents.” She refused unless other employees had to do the same because she felt embarassed, and so they fired her for (allegedly) repeatedly pooping her pants.
5. I worked second shift at a factory for a large manufacturing company in my hometown from the time I was allowed to work there until I got real internships in college. For those who haven’t worked in a factory during high school, it absolutely murders your social life. In at 2:30 and off at 11:30 isn’t conducive to pool parties and movies (at least that’s where all the babes are). So by the end of my second summer, I was done with that whole charade.
My brother and I decided to go out with a bang on our last day. We went to Walmart over lunch and picked up a king-size Twix. Just before the end of the day, we started chewing them up a bit and kind of melting it all in our mouth. After the last break ended (so as not to have anyone come in on us), we went into the men’s bathroom by our workstation and got to work. We put a few chunks of the melted chocolate deliciousness on the sink and more around the toilet. I really saved the best treatment for the mirrors and urinal though since they smear better. We didn’t stay around too long to admire our work and got back to work and waited.
The first poor soul to go to the bathroom was a guy on our team who was really friendly and goofy and just generally a great guy. He sauntered over, went in, and came back sprinting toward our area. “DO NOT GO IN THE BATHROOM! THERE HAS BEEN A TERRIBLE ACCIDENT!” he screamed.
I never saw the ramifications of my achievement. But I ended up not getting a job offer from the same company upon graduating from college. Security cameras may work wonders.
4. So one summer in (community) college, my buddy got me a job at a golf course he had worked at the summer prior. It was apparent from both his comments and my observations that this is an incredibly poorly-run course. It is a nine-hole course with a driving range and a mini-golf course that no serious golfer (let alone a serious mini-golfer) would play. Anyway, my disrespect is not important here. But what we quickly found out is that no one ever really kept track of anything around there. So, for example, if they bought a box of 50 Snickers bars to sell for $1 a piece, when they only brought in $40, no one had a clue. Naturally this was even more applicable to more abstract things like the number of golfers who use the course. So, we decided that instead of ringing in golfers, carts, club rentals, candy bars, driving range buckets, etc., when a paying customer came into the club house we’d simply hit “No Sale” on the register as if we were giving change.
The money went into the register, and the golfer was none-the-wiser. Friends played free. But we were not as dumb as we looked. We also knew that hitting “no sale” too many times was a giveaway should anyone actually look at the register tape. So we kept a tally on a piece of paper so we knew how much to take out of the register at the end of the night. Ideally you rang a person up for a round of golf (a legitimate sale on the tape), but pocketed the cart fee (thereby leaving no trace of a “no sale” on the tape). It was so funny to watch the pizza delivery guy from Gumby’s come by with a $12 large pizza. We’d open the register, take out a $20 and tell him to keep the change. (Don’t we at least earn points for being philanthropic toward our fellow poor college students?) A typical nightly take was usually a net of at least $25 for each of us (plus “free” pizza/dinner and candy).
Not really “fireable,” but we also enjoyed removing the speed governors on the gas-powered carts (not at all difficult on this model) and having races around the course at night. A golf cart over dark ground going 30 mph can be a dangerous thing, especially when trees and ponds are nearly invisible in the dark
3. I’ve always been immature for my age, I’m 23 and just now starting to act like a semi-responsible teenager. So as a 17-year-old kid, I behaved about as well as a 7th grader off his Ritalin. I did, however, manage to get a summer job as a warehouse hand at a (very poorly run/managed) company that sold stupid As Seen On TV shit — think Billy Mays, who I actually met there and got an autographed picture from that summer. (“Stay Oxi Clean, Richard.” Alas, if only he’d done the same.) Anyway, when I first got there they gave me fairly important jobs. But the longer I worked there, they could see that I just couldn’t handle things like making sure orders were filled correctly, and I was demoted to more menial tasks.
One day they ask me to break down a bunch of boxes. I think: This is going to be boring, there are too many boxes, how can I speed this up? A box cutter! And not your run-of-the-mill sort of box cutter, talking heavy-duty, industrial-strength style. I’m slicing and dicing and I go for a particularly spectacular slash when I feel it, not pain, but a warm sensation all over my hand. I look down and there is a gaping hole on the top of my hand, inners clearly visible and blood’s gushing like faucet. Fast-forward through all of the drama that was taking me to the ER, and it cost me 16 stitches and about a gallon of blood. I was off work for two weeks — two weeks that I was paid fucking workers comp!
I should have been fired from that job a long time ago, but that was the death knell for me and the As Seen On TV warehouse as I was promptly relieved of my duties upon my recovery. “Richard, the summer’s almost over so it’s probably best if you just stay home.” At least they never found out about the doughnuts I did in the company vans, the forklift races I had, or the roughly 200 unused florescent light bulbs I shattered just to hear the explosion if you haven’t tried that, you’re seriously missing out.
2. I’m 18 at the time, and housesitting for a single dad with two sons. (OK, OK. It was more like babysitting, but one was 13 and one was 10, so it was more like making sure they didn’t burn the house down. and housesitting sounds slightly manlier.) In any event, I’m driving them home after picking them up from school. The 10-year-old is in the back seat and the 13-year-old is in the passenger seat. The 10-year-old has a tennis ball, and thinks it’s a lot of fun to throw it at my head while I’m driving. Despite not being safe (like 10-year-olds care), and despite my protests and empty threats (What can I really do?) he won’t stop. I’m driving a manual so I can’t really stop it myself, and he spaced the throws out far enough I wasn’t about to stop the car to try to take the ball away (which would have been a huge hassle). Even his brother is telling him to stop, but the kid is a persistent bastard.
I’m getting very annoyed and borderline pissed. I warned the kid thoroughly to stop, but he doesn’t. So eventually, I just sit there plotting my revenge. After this is going on for about 15 minutes, the last five of which i’ve been silently plotting, I finally time it well enough to turn and catch his throw. Playing it cool, I finish the drive and park right in front of the house. The kid, knowing some retribution is coming his way, immediately gets out of the car and starts running. I jump out as well, and take aim at a small-for-his-age 10-year-old running full speed, who is already a good 20 feet away from me. Honest to god, I didn’t really intend to hit him squarely. maybe hit his leg, or glance him. But having played baseball my whole life, as an all-star center fielder, my natural instincts took over.
I nailed the kid at 25 feet in the center of his back with a tennis ball I threw as hard as I could. The force of the throw knocked him over and he ate it on the sidewalk. His 13-year-old brother had the kind of reaction where something that could have been really funny turns out to injure someone horribly and you just go Oooh I kind of glance up toward the house as a reaction, and guess who’s standing on the porch? The father. I literally said “Oh shit,” but luckily, I kept it quiet enough that the kid’s screams covered it up. Did I get fired? No, I honestly don’t know why not. I think he was desperate, and the older brother backed me up and said the 10-year-old deserved it. I also said “I didn’t mean to throw it that hard, I swear,” like that would matter, but I guess it did. It was always a little awkward after that, but hey, money pays.
1. So, back a few years ago, I worked at a wholesale supermarket called BJ’s. (Pause for chuckles.) This was by far the best three years of my life. I worked with all of my friends from my neighborhood at this place. We literally took over the social circle of the work place and even got in good with the managers and supervisors.
After starting off as a cashier (the lowest of the low in the BJ’s ladder) I was promoted, if you will, to work in the DDR (damage defective returns) department. Here we handled all the merchandise that was opened, damaged, and returned to us and try to repackage it and make it good enough to put back on the sales floor. (As a side note and word of caution, don’t ever, ever, ever buy things like cereal, boxes of candy, or even fruit from wholesale supermarkets trust me.)
Anyway, my buddy was my supervisor and we ran this department flawlessly. Until the release of the PS3, Xbox360, and our store starting to sell iPods. These items, when returned to our store, were left in retail limbo. The manufacturers of these products didn’t want to take returns from a third party. They wanted the returns to come directly from the customer. So after a few months, out stock room was filled with these electronic goods that worked fine, but just couldn’t sell. So after decorating our offices with returned flat screens, gaming systems, and laptops, we devised a scheme to make a profit.
All food that we have overstocked, we donate to local businesses and charities. We update our system every few days with new people who come to pick up our overstock things before they expired. So my friend and I made one up for our own (since our managers never checked this). We scanned in fruits and vegetables, but in the bags we gave the driver (another friend not working at the store) were PS3s, Xboxes, iPods, laptops, and food, too. We literally wiped the place clean. Since we got returns of this stuff so frequently, nobody ever knew the difference. At the end of that summer, I was able to pay for a semester in college, 12 pairs of rare sneakers to add to my collection, courtside Knicks tickets, and a trip to South America. My friend didn’t have to worry about his rent for more than a year. Maybe more. We lost touch after our eventual firing.
We didn’t get fired because we got caught, we got fired because I rung him up on my register when he bought a $5 rotisserie chicken, and he gave me a $5 coupon to scan. After getting the free lunch, he tried to return it because it was under-cooked. Manager saw the receipt and the coupon scan. We both got canned an hour later.