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, self-aggrandizing rich people, 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.
"I was on a Boy Scout camping trip. One kid was put in charge of the fire; not even tending to the fire, just filling the water buckets in case of the fire spreading. He was given the title 'fire marshall.'
My friend and I got bored between badges and decided to make a hobo stove out of an Arizona iced tea can. We started the fire in the fire pit next to a bucket of water with an adult nearby. Everything seemed kosher, the hobo stove worked, and we were boiling water when we heard the fire marshall shriek, 'WWWHAT, WHAT ARE YOU GUYS DOING?!'
Then this kid came over and kicked the BOILING POT OF WATER onto the ground with me and my friend next to it. I jumped out of the way as fast as I could and so did my friend. This kid then tried to lecture us on fire safety, after basically kicking a pot of boiling water onto us.
Funnily enough, we were older than this kid and a higher rank so we were in charge of him and shut it down. Sod off, Sampson."
"I work in a very affluent area where the money makes the citizens legitimately go crazy with their perceived power. The bad behavior from some of these people towards service workers is astounding. It's typically the stay at home parents being the worst offenders. It isn't uncommon to go to the grocery store at lunch and witness a customer berating an employee for something dumb.
The most outrageous was the woman who was screaming and rammed her cart at an employee because they were going to start selling rabbit meat. 'I HAVE A RABBIT, THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE!' as her cart was full of other meat.
There was also the time the person had a fit because the employee didn't offer to bring her bags to her car. She had one bag. Another time a man just stood in the checkout area with his items on the belt of a closed lane and was yelling, 'COME HERE! COME HERE!' over and over.
For additional craziness, there's someone across the street in this huge house that complains about people shining lights in her windows. The houses were built after the office building and her complaints are about people's headlights as they are leaving work. She seriously wanted us to make a rule for no headlights in the parking lot.
We had another complaint about parking lot noise when people lock their cars and they beep. We also have a walking path around the building that connects to the neighborhood's path. We had a complaint that people were on the path, so we investigated it because we have told people to stay on our property. She was complaining that people were using the walking path on our property while she was using it and she thought we should restrict it for employee use only, 12 PM to 1 PM. 'It isn't safe for me to be walking with those people also out.' Lunacy.
"I used to work at a tiny little family owned cafe. All the staff was 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 owners hired him.
He would refuse to work alongside us because 'I am manager!' He cut people's 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. Everyone kind of did everything when crap hit the fan, but 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 tipping himself out as a manager (big no-no, especially since he wasn't actually doing anything). One day we had a good $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. All that crap for just being the manager of a tiny family owned cafe."
"For me, it's the ticket checking people on public transportation. The ticket checking people sometimes barge onto the bus at certain stops and they're not even authorized personnel employed by the bus company---they work for some third party company which sends people bulldozing onto buses with their ticket readers and then they forward the data to the bus company so it can use it for whatever.
Anyway, these people are human cockroaches. Seriously. You can't even say, 'Oh, they're just doing their jobs,' because they take such perverted glee from harassing people they catch without tickets. I've seen these 'controllers' insult people, attempt to search people's bags for their personal ID's, threaten an elderly lady (who honestly seemed senile enough to not even realize she was riding a bus) by snapping a picture of her with their phone and telling her they'd send it to the police, physically try to manhandle people they find without a ticket off the bus, and stop entire buses from leaving the bus stop until the person who didn't have a ticket gave them their ID, creating massive traffic jams in busy streets.
The kicker? These people are NOT AUTHORIZED to do any of this. They're not the police and they're not any kind of state official. They're civilians who work for a private company that has this weird agreement with the bus company to send them data, so it's completely within your legal rights to tell them you didn't have a ticket and refuse to give them your ID so they can't write a ticket. But the way they act you'd think they are some holy warriors sent from the heavens to fight the evils of unpaid bus tickets.
I pay for my rides because I'm a responsible person, but I like to mess with them. I waste their time until they start insisting I get off the bus, then I give them the ticket and enjoy seeing their faces fall as they realize I did pay for my ride and who knows how many people fled the bus while they were fumbling around with me. Up yours, ticket checking jerks!"
"I used to be a locomotive engineer for a for a small class 3 railroad. Every year around Christmas we would run holiday trains from just after Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve and take people from an old station to the 'North Pole.' It was a super big hit.
The company didn't have the personnel to man the coaches with actual employees so they would look for volunteers from the local rail fan club which associated themselves, unofficially, with our railroad. For those not familiar, 'rail fans' are people that love trains and everything associated with railroading, and often take time photographing trains as a hobby. These guys would jump at the opportunity to work on the trains every year.
One year they gave one of these guys a radio so he could communicate with the train crew about any problems in the coaches and to help line up the train for loading and unloading the coaches at the station. The moment he received that radio he immediately started barking orders to the other volunteers and even tried ordering the train crew on how to properly run the train (again, he is a volunteer with no actual railroad experience).
He must have keyed the mic on that radio every 5 minutes for everything from 'Be careful not to rock the coaches' or 'It's warm in coach b,' to 'Someone just walked from coach a to b.' Nothing he said was important or necessary and he was actually starting to interfere with my ability to do my job safely.
The final straw was when he ordered me to slow down in a curve so he could lean out of a side window to take a picture. I immediately told him to stop interfering with the radio and the train, and to turn the radio off until the trip was finished. When we got back to the station I told my manager and he took the radio away from him. That guy got to pretend he was king of the railroad for all of 90 minutes."
"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 crap 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 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.'"
"My freshman year of high school we read Lord of the Flies. To really drive the point home of how quickly things can devolve into chaos in a group of unsupervised, crappy kids, my teacher decided she would leave us alone so we could experience it!
We walked into the class not knowing what was happening. We all sat at our seats and waited for class to start while she basically ignored us. After a few minutes, she walked to the board and wrote the activity and how long we had (around an hour). We thought it was kind of interesting and figured we were getting a free period. We descended into chaos.
We created a government and decided how our island would be run. Then the government dissolved into a monarchy, the monarchy and their subjects got into fights, we kicked people out of the classroom, they would come back, and we'd force them 'off the island.' When the people we kicked off reminded us we weren't on an island, we began to create an island out of desks and chairs. All while our teacher was sitting at her desk watching us! We honestly forgot she was there.
She eventually shut the experiment down when we started stacking desks to create a fort and other students were getting upset. As far as I remember, she never repeated the activity again after our class."
"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 step 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 like crap and threw it in the garbage. She came over, asked me to repeat myself, confirmed for herself there was a piece of friend's birthday cake in the trash with a single bite missing, excused herself to go to her office, and 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 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 crappy 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 we 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 get demoted from that position at this same theater.
No lie, this guy eventually convinced management to put him back up as server. We were like, 'God, make it stop!' The guy just had the 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 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 2 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 (jerk's name)?' He said she just let out a deep sigh and rolled her eyes."