Office Confessions: What Really Goes On at Work


Daniella, 40

I’ve been a high school teacher for about ten years, and I consider my boss both a mentor and a friend. We see eye to eye and can talk frankly about just about anything work-related. Plus, he respects my personal life and understands that as a mother of two, I have to stick to a very strict schedule. When I had my children, my boss not only understood but encouraged me to stay home, rest and be with my family. I’m totally devoted to my career and to being there for my school “kids” as well as my real ones, and my boss’s attitude toward the work-life balance makes me actually want to carve time into my crazy schedule for after-school activities and tutoring. It’s a nurturing, give-and-take dynamic that consistently works for both of us.

Farheen, 25

In my previous job, I had a co-worker who I knew for a fact had a crush on me. He was cute and I actually liked him a lot, but for various reasons I wasn’t really in a place to be dating anyone–he and I hung out a lot, but I refused to call it “dating.” Anyway, I ended up leaving my job to go to grad school, and towards the end of my time there, I started to feel a bit carefree. One day as he was leaving (I always stayed late), he convinced me to get on the elevator with him and make out all the way to the first floor! I’m still a bit ashamed, but I have to say: It’s a memory that warms me during long nights in the library.

Kate, 38

When I decided to ask for a raise while working an entry-level job in my second career as a magazine editor, I didn’t really know what I was doing. (I hadn’t read success stories like these.) I told my boss that I just couldn’t live on my salary and he replied, “That’s the one thing that you never say.” I always remember that because he was right (even thought it was just so true!). To me it made total sense to ask for more money because I needed it; it’s just a practical issue. To him it was a faux pas. Your boss’s only concern when considering you for a raise is what you’ve done for the company–whether you deserve the raise based on merit, not your lifestyle needs.

RELATED: A Guy Confides: I Earn More Than My Female Co-Worker

Elle, 37

I once temped for a summer helping an office receptionist. We were in Ohio, which is one state over from Indiana, and she once yelled at me after I labeled an envelope because, as she put it, “Indianapolis is the state and Indiana is the city.” Another time, she had me create a set of hanging folders labeled with the letters of the alphabet. She then came over to “check” my work and got angry because I’d messed up–”F doesn’t come after E,” she told me. I’m happy to report that ever since, I’ve worked for people who are a lot sharper.

Simone, 32

I once had a boss who I think was quite possibly was the worst in the world. If I dressed up for work, she’d stop me and say, “You look nice today. Do you have an interview?” (How are you supposed to respond to that?) She once left an editing note on a recipe story that said: “Please be specific. Do you have to peel the egg before you boil it?” (Think about it.) But the only time I’ve ever cried at work was the morning that I found out that a young woman I’d interviewed for a story had died. The story was about her and her twin sister, and one had been diagnosed with lung cancer—at the age of 19. When her twin called to tell me that her sister had passed away that morning, I lost it. I emailed my boss to tell her what had happened, and to ask if I should order flowers on the magazine’s behalf. She emailed me right back and all it said was: “Did you get the story in time?”

*Names have been changed.

  • Natalyam80

    I relly cryed every night or dy, because of crisis i don,t want to have. Anyway it came uexpectedly.natali

  • Deanna

    My last boss was probably the worst that I have ever had.  She was very demanding, but at the same time she wanted to challenge me and help me learn from my experiences.  I knew much of this before I changed departments to work with her and it was the challenging aspect that made me take the leap of faith for the reassignment.
    Toward the end of our time together (she was given the chance to pursue other opportunities), she was mostly demanding with little to no challenge.  We were going through a VERY busy time and I was constantly being assigned tasks of all sizes to complete.  It got to the point that I was writing everything down on the huge whiteboard in my office so that she could see what I was working on.  Multiple times a day I would evaluate my tasks and prioritize what needed to be accomplished.
    One morning she came into my office to check on me and we got to discussing my priorities for the day.  She stared to get very pushy and critical of me as we were going through the list. Finally she told me that I was keeping my to-do list wrong and that I needed to change it so that I could get more accomplished.
    Just a few weeks later she was let go and I’m still here.

  • LivedinHell

    I had a boss who would take things off my desk and hide them and then asked for them. She would then write me up so she use it against me. I went to her boss but she did not believe me. I was #9 in the job in 11 years.. Why the corperation kept her is beyond me.

  • Anonymous

    My last boss threw temper tantrums on a regular basis.  She was very hot tempered.  I once went into her office to ask a question and she threw a yogurt cup at me.  Later she claimed she was trying to throw it in the trash.  The trash can was behind her, not near the door where I was standing.  She also made it a regular basis of threating to fire me.  About 1 month after I had started I had to take time off to visit my eye doctor.  I had broken a contact lens and mine were the gas permeable kind, not the kind you can just run to Walmart and get a replacement.  Therefore my doctor wanted to see me before he ordered a new pair.  I was informed by my boss and the office manager that I needed to find a doctor closer to work.  Of course nothing was said to my coworker who was diagnosed with cancer and went for treatments at the Mayo clinic a few months later.  I was continually reprimanded for the exact same things my supervisor did while I was there.  Finally in August I was fired because one of our vendors was not open at 7:30am and I wasn’t able to get an answer to a customer’s question.  I was never given the opportunity to follow up when their office opened at 8.

    • Mandy

      Wow! That’s crazy. We had a similar experience when my fiance fell off a ladder at work and shattered his elbow. He had to have an 8-hour surgery to replace his elbow and correct severe nerve damage followed by moths of extremely difficult physical therapy. His boss not only rushed him back to work (against his surgeon and physical therapist’s advice), and then harassed him to find a physical therapist closer to work even though his surgeon recommended the therapist he was seeing. He lost a lot of movement in his arm permanently because of this accident, and all they cared about was getting him back to work immediately. He got worker’s comp. which covered everything, fortunately.

    • Marthadotkomm

      I was written up for work not getting done while I was out on medical leave.

      • Bobbih

         yikes!  time for HR department-

  • WorkerBee

    Daniella makes me want to vomit. Women like her make it much harder for women in generally to be taken seriously in the workplace.

    • LKM

      Really? What is wrong with having an understanding boss? Why is her ability to have a balance between home and work affecting you?

    • Tania

      I don’t understand. She’s a working mom who also takes her job seriously who talks to her boss rather than whining behind his back. The boss also understands that to keep good employees, there needs to be respect given to their personal lives as well. As a manager, I have supervised many working mothers and found those that establish boundaries and open lines of communication were also quite effective and efficient.  Did you get her mixed up with another story or were you really offended by this?   

      • WorkerBee

        She is going to be in for a rude awakening soon. There are 300+ million people in the US and not nearly that many jobs. Work life balance is going to become a thing of the past very soon. The people who will be employed will be the ones who don’t need an “understanding” boss because there will be hundreds of just as qualified people lined up behind people like Daniella who don’t need any special accomodations.

        • Putnambeth2001

          I think WorkerBee is sooooo wrong. Replacing people is expensive and hurts productivity and morale. There may be 10 people waiting in line for the job, but the one doing it now is trained and productive.

          • Tania

            Agreed.  I’m a manager whose team has to make very tight deadlines.  In my experience, I’ve worked with many working mothers who got the job done within deadline because they absolutely needed to in order to manage their family and work life.  They didn’t procrastinate or waste time on the job being unproductive because they couldn’t.  Flexibility on both the supervisor and the employee can be a win win situation. To me, Daniella’s blurb said that she gets her job done although she is allowed some flexibility. It didn’t appear to me that she was asking for an unusual amount of accomodation.  It does depend on what type of work you do.  Some jobs are line shift so you have to be there, others can allow a flexible schedule and still get what needs to be done within deadline.  She’s a teacher, so I’m assuming she’s there during “office” hours and she mentioned carving out time to put in additional as well.  I read nothing in her blurb that indicated she’s doing less than her counterparts.

        • DC

          I respect your work ethic, but I disagree with your references that most likely come from political scare advertisements. 
          There are MORE jobs than the available workforce in the US, which is why the US maintains a work visa immigration policy. Unemployment is the inefficiency of matching labor with jobs combined with the comfort of welfare that delays people from working or accepting a wage that is less than they were making. 
          There is an estimated 100 million available in the workforce, the rest of the population consists of children and elderly.

  • LKM

    My first boss out of college was wonderful. He challenged me and didn’t let me get away with ship shod work because he knew I could do better. Another recent college grad thought he was awful and nothing was ever good enough for him. As far as I can tell, he treated us the same — it was our perspective that was different.

  • kbear

    I usually keep to myself at work because the office gossip is rampant at my job. I fear it’ll make me paranoid – particularly when I pass two coworkers whispering to each other at one of their desks. I’ve even had my boss warn me to stay away from it, because it usually blows up every six months or so and someone gets a talking-to. No thanks, I want a clean job record!

  • Anonymous

    I work for a small family-owned company, and things get so crazy at times. The 2 bosses (husband and wife) have huge fights in the middle of the office all the time – yelling / swearing / etc. It makes the work environment unbearable at times as does the constant micro-management. They pay pretty well, but even so, most new employees are gone within a month. 

    • Guest

      Ugh – I know the feeling! I work for a family owned business, and I have never worked with less professional people in my life! After this job, I will never work for a small company again!

      • Kmegan222

        I completely giggled as I read this, only because I too, work for a small family owned business…my family! Luckily all of our employees are actual family, or may as well be. I can’t imagine someone who wasn’t oriented with us already working in that office. It’s fun to be able to spend extra time with my grandparents and Dad though, for that I am thankful.

  • Michele

    My first biotechnology job out of college was working for the molecular biology team in research.  My boss considered himself a DNA “cowboy”.  As the only woman on the team, I soon learned that meant I was to turn a blind eye and deaf ear to any kind of sexual harassment. He use to spout slogans like, “Chicks are for kids.”  To reward his team for working long hours to meet goals, he would take everybody out to the local stripper club. I would opt to stay behind and work.   My male coworkers would come back to the lab all liquored up and then proceed to ask me, “What I’d do for a dollar?”  I was naive back then and thought I needed to stay on a job for at least a year or else I would look like a flake to my next employer.  I think back on that environment and just shudder. 

  • WTH?

    I just quit a job with a small family owned business where I worked for over a year. My boss would frequently not pay me for weeks on end because he “forgot” or “was writing the checks and then leaving them on his desk”. He also seemed to have severe memory loss and would have to be reminded multiple times about simple things but would then still forget them. This made my job (which was a relatively simple job) hard and caused resentment towards him. I finally left last week and am beginning to rebuild my life again…. lol

  • Mhernandez

    Prior to graduating college (mid-2009) I thankfully received a job offer to work for a small to mid-sized financial institution. After graduating I had all these pre-conceived notions of what my job “should” entail because I just graduated with a degree in finance. I was some hot sh!t!!! I was in store for a rude awakening. I didn’t feel like my position was living up to my degree and it showed in my attitude. I felt like I was entitled for…something better. Hell, I earned a degree so that must mean something, right? Wrong! After six weeks my supervisor sat me down for a review and basically told me that I was replaceable and that my attitude was shitty and to basically shape-up or ship-out. I needed the job and even though I felt I was over-qualified for the position, I stayed. I plastered a fake smile on my face but eventually that smiled turned into a real one. I’m proud to say that after 3.5 years I am still with the company which is very surprising considering my rocky start. I stayed in my first position for 2 years at which time they promoted me within the company. I worked my a$$ off for that first year to prove to my supervisor that I wasn’t some punk kid and that I deserved a second chance. I thankfully was given that second chance and I’ve also come to the realization that sometimes you have to pay your dues. I was in it for the long haul and the two years spent in my first position was not a waste as it helps me everyday in my position now. I don’t feel like I am entitled anymore and I’m very ashamed to have thought that way to begin with. I’ve learned my lesson though. My supervisor has told me many times what a valuable member I am to the team, so I know all of my hard work has paid off. I continue to work hard and give it my all because I know how easily it could have all been different. I’m glad my supervisor was straightforward with me in the beginning as I didn’t realize that my distain was so apparent to others. I love my job, love the company I work for (they treat their employees well), and love love my co-workers.

  • anonymous

    One of my old bosses was completely incompetent for the job assigned and would try to make my work look like his own all the time. And bringing me a coffee mug from your fabulous vacation does not replace a raise, for doing my job and yours.

  • Marthawebber0406

    I used to work for a funeral home as a sales executive, what I hated the most form that place is to see the general manager hour after hours days after day talking and discussing her employees lives, she will destroy somebody’s reputation in a matter of seconds.  Every single time she had a private meeting with an employee minutes after the meeting she will sit down outside the funeral home with the office personal discussing everything that was said in the “private meeting”.