Every workplace has its secrets. No organization in the history of organizations has ever run free of any issues. Unfortunately, some businesses choose to sweep these issues under the rug and refuse to address them rather than simply handling things the right way. Little do they know, they aren’t fooling anyone. Especially their employees, who are going to share some of the dirt with us today!
All content has been edited for clarity.
Yeah That’s A Health Code Violation
“When I was at University in London, I worked part-time at a bar near my place of residence. It was a really busy spot, I poured around 200 pints of Fosters a day in addition to other drinks. Along with this, I was hired to clean, heat up food, work the till, and listen to people talk absolute nonsense.
All this for £6.25 an hour – I thought it was good pay because I was a broke student.
The owner of the bar was a stingy, miserable-looking guy, who, trust me, was incredibly rich. He drove a brand new S-Class if you’re wondering how rich.
He was really good to me until one day. The day I started questioning the practices of restaurants and bars.
We got a usual order of Lamb Rogan Josh, which I had to take from the fridge and heat in the microwave. I was taking off the cling film, which was taking a little extra time because it was stuck to the ceramic. The owner saw this, took it from my hand, and threw it into the microwave with the cling film on for FOUR MINUTES.
The plastic melted into the Rogan Josh. He took it out, gave it a little stir, mixed the plastic with the curry, and served it to the customer in a new bowl.
Sure I needed the money, but this was ridiculous. I quit after I got paid the next day and moved to Papa John’s, which was very, very hygienic.”
Karma Always Wins
“The assistant manager at my first job was a substance-abusing creep.
My first job was at a movie theater in Downtown Berkeley at age 17. My best friend and I both filled out and dropped off applications at the box office on Wednesday, then went back on Thursday to check in about them (something I was taught to do so the management can put a face to the application).
When the assistant manager, Grant, looked for our applications they were both missing. He had us fill out new applications on the spot, looked them over, and hired us both. I found out a couple of weeks later that the other manager, who I’ll call Bob, threw our applications away in the normal trash can right after we turned them in. (California law requires employers to keep the applications a minimum of 3 months and then shred them so the applicants’ personal information is kept safe.)
Bob lived in the building right next door to the movie theater on the 2nd floor, you could see his living room from the street. It was known to everyone as ‘The Blue Room’ which is where he and his live-in girlfriend held massive parties. The number of substances flowing through these parties was ridiculous, but Bob was a well-known cokehead to everyone who worked there so it was almost par for the course.
Bob was 27 and his girlfriend was 17 at the time I started working. They had been dating for 4 years. Let that sink in for a moment.
After about a year our old GM got transferred (she was kinda biased, didn’t do her job, and the entire place was losing money due to internal shrinkage she happily ignored), and a new GM, David, took over. Half the staff was fired for theft, Bob voluntarily transferred before he too got fired, and the theater became a great place to work. We even explored the building and found the catwalks, marquee, and 3 floors of dressing rooms from when the building was a REAL theater in the 1930s.
David would use the bonuses he got from meeting the per capita concessions sales quotas and throw the staff a pizza party. We would have ‘Iron Thanksgivings’ for the staff who had to work that day. Everyone would bring a dish to share, but like Iron Chef it had to include the theme ingredient which was drawn from a hat. One year it was coconut, the next year it was jalapenos. It was a caring and fun environment.
Fast forward 4 years and David left to move to Japan. Regal Cinemas has bought the company, and Bob returned as the new GM. He HATED the fact I still worked there and had been promoted by his hated rival. He brought a bunch of people from his previous theater with him and proceeded to make everyone’s life a disaster. I was fired for fixing the glass-mounted speakers in the box office which I originally installed, even though the security camera shows his buddy employee tearing out wires after I left work.
He was furious that I told corporate about seeing him do a line of coke off of his desk 2 weeks before. Whatever, I was glad to be out of there.
About a year, after I left I ran into our projectionist, Ricky. He told me Bob wasn’t working there anymore and regaled me with one of the best schadenfreude stories I’ve ever heard:
Bob was walking above the suspended ceiling in theater #1, a small 70-seat theater located behind the main 340-seat theater. It has a suspended false ceiling and, like all the other theaters, a chandelier in the center of the 25ft ceiling. The catwalk above that theater consisted of loose wooden planks placed on the main crossbeams. The false ceiling was made of those cheap cardboard tiles you find in office buildings.
Bob decided to change a lightbulb in the chandelier from the catwalk instead of bringing the chandelier down on its chain. He left the catwalk and the lowering mechanism and walked across the crossbeam. He missed his step and his body dropped through the ceiling to land on the theater seats below.
While in the hospital for a broken arm and fractured spine, the hospital informed the company that his blood tested positive for large amounts of coke and special K. He was summarily fired before he was discharged from the hospital and became responsible for all the medical bills.
Last I heard his girlfriend dumped him and he moved back in with his parents.”
The “Chicago Way”
“During my time as a manager for a chain auto parts store in Chicago, our corporate office decided to turn our store from the Chicago hub to the regional hub. Basically, they increased our inventory two-fold (we had plenty of room even after that), and they increased our fleet of delivery vehicles so we could deliver parts to all six Chicagoland counties. By the time it was all over, we had 25 delivery pick-ups in our fleet.
Some of the neighbors complained. Our store was zoned for retail sales, and it was being used more as a warehouse. Our delivery drivers frequently took side streets and cut through alleys to save time. Some neighbors threatened legal action.
That’s when the ‘Chicago Way’ kicked in. Our District Manager made a donation to the alderman in that area, and, quietly, our business was re-zoned as ‘mixed-use’ or whatever was needed to make what we were doing legal. Complaints to the city about our delivery drivers suddenly fell on deaf ears until the complainers finally gave up.”
I Wonder What Was Going On Here
“I used to work for a subsidiary of a steel company in Jamshedpur, India. In my case, the MD of my workplace was unfortunately the biggest prick. Here is the list of ‘productive’ things he did.
A lady working in another company, who used to book the MD’s travel tickets was hired by our firm on the MD’s recommendation. Even though she had no qualifications, a vacancy was generated in the HR department, just for her. Oh, and by the way, she is now the head of HR there. She jumped from manager to assistant general manager while other managers didn’t get a promotion.
The same lady when she was a manager, ‘discussed’ her compensation with the MD, her salary was raised by 20k rupees – no questions asked. Seeing this, other employees who had joined with her, tried to renegotiate their compensation too, to which the MD’s reply was, ‘I have many contacts in other firms, and if you want I can recommend you there.’
To sanction a release of funds from the directors, for opening a new plant, he took the entire board and senior management to Singapore which cost the company around 4.5 million rupees. The money was eventually released, and the plant was opened. Here’s the catch, no market research was done before opening it. The general manager was a guy who had no experience in the field (he was an existing manager who was given additional duties). The manufactured products were either outdated or did not match the requirement because the equipment was so old. Eventually, the plant collapsed and the company suffered huge losses of as much as 160 million rupees. The lower management’s bonus amount was heavily reduced all because of the leader’s blunder.
A senior guy was transferred to our plant. He was equivalent in designation to the MD. So what does the MD do to show that he was still the boss? He increases his salary by 1.5 million rupees a year.
A senior management guy’s daughter was given a job in our firm on her dad’s recommendation. Totally acceptable. Here’s what broke the morale of the existing employees – she was promoted 2 times in 1 year, never in the history of the company had it seen such an extraordinary employee. She leaves the job after 2 years and joins the main office. Turns out that she joined our plant just because she needed experience for the job her dad had already reserved for her, so our MD took her in.
19/21 GETs, fresh out of college, that joined the plant, leave in 3 years. The MD didn’t even pay heed to such high attrition.
Even though you work for the full financial year, and then quit before your appraisal (which by the way, happens randomly in any month after march 31st.) you will get only approximately 10k rupees fixed, which is about 10% of the maximum bonus you can get. Yes, that’s about 1month worth of bonus even after working for a full year. Happened to me.
This isn’t a ‘secret’ per say, but just shows the hypocrisy of the MD. The dude’s bungalow is hardly 100 meters from his office, but he still comes by car. Totally fine and deserved. But he walks to the office on world environment day. Thanks for the favor, Captain Planet.
The list isn’t complete but these were some of the blatant misuse of his ‘power’ and how he corrupted the entire culture there. Unfortunately, the guy is still there and keeps making blunder after blunder. I feel sad for those working hard there, as their hard work is futile, I’m sorry to say.
Some of you might have already recognized the company, it’s not very big, but it’s very incompetent, to say the least.”
You Played Yourself
“They left their network completely unprotected for months after I left. And if I hadn’t checked, they never would have found it.
I was the network administrator for a really paranoid group of attorneys. They were convinced that the opposition was actively trying to break into our network, despite being easy to detect and just all the illegal.
Eh, whatever. I’m pretty good at what I do. I had implemented an intrusion prevention system (IPS) with egress filtering and all our web servers were junctioned through a single computer. One computer had a public-facing IP address and nothing could be accessed without a username and password, which was logged on that computer. Every connection was logged. Nothing happened on that network without my knowledge or approval.
In short, it was secure.
And not just because I said so. We hired an outside firm to perform penetration testing on at least a yearly basis. The first time they ran their tests, I received a frantic call in the middle of the night. They were certain they crashed our network and wanted to let me know so I could bring it back up. I checked, but everything was fine. They were caught by the IPS. As soon as it detected the attack, it started dropping all packets from that source, as it was designed to do. They were forced to use a different IP address to try other attacks, which quickly became untenable.
So for testing to continue, I had to whitelist their IP addresses.
With the deck stacked in their favor, what do you think they found? Nothing useful. They couldn’t even accurately fingerprint the OS, and I was so fastidious with the updates that the chances of a successful infiltration using random attack vectors were basically nil!
Despite keeping their network safe for over a decade, the office manager didn’t like me much. She had a friend from high school that convinced her that they could save money by outsourcing my job and, what a coincidence, he happened to work for a company that did that kind of work! She bent the ear of my boss and they took advantage of things going on in my personal life and started conspiring with this company without allowing me to vet them first.
When the day finally came, I turned over all the documentation about how the network was designed and washed my hands of the whole thing. I had more important things to worry about, after all. My wife had just left, and I was now a full-time single parent. I continued programming for them for another six months, but the new company coincidentally never could seem to get my code to work!
They didn’t renew my contract when it expired.
A couple of months later, I was getting ready to start my new job when I learned about a new search engine for security flaws so I decided to run the old URL through to see if I had done a good job.
Every computer had been given a public-facing IP address and the IPS was no longer active.
There was no protection on the network at all. And there hadn’t been for several months, according to the security site. They didn’t run a security audit that year, for reasons that I cannot imagine. All their data was online and easily accessible, with practically no accounting!
Even though they got rid of me to save money, I didn’t want to see everything I worked toward for over a decade go to the gutter, so I called my old bosses and warned them that the network was wide open. Unfortunately, the boss wasn’t there — they were out of town at a seminar.
Later, I found out that the new company blamed me for the breach. They claimed I put a backdoor in the system when I left, and that I was just using it to make them look bad!
So my dirty secret? The incompetence of my former bosses quite nearly led to a data breach that would have utterly destroyed the organization, had it been discovered by almost anyone but me!
All because they apparently thought ‘outsourcing’ meant ‘never having to run a security audit.'”
A Complete And Utter Disaster Waiting To Happen
“My dirty workplace secret is from a few years ago but it’s a big one.
A veterinary clinic, in a large town in New South Wales, Australia, intentionally/knowingly, left massive volumes of controlled substances, huge numbers of needles, and syringes freely accessible to the public.
The substances were left in the backs of invariably unlocked – or for one vehicle, unlockable – utility vehicle rear compartments.
The vehicles – sometimes more than one at a time – were left parked overnights and weekends, within a parking lot that was completely and easily accessible from the main road through the town. It’s also a road very near a major motorway. The town is basically on that motorway, and one passes through it or extremely close to it when traveling to a nearby major city.
There were essentially no security measures – no locks/unused locks, no alarms, no cameras, no fences, and no gates. Barely any lighting.
Within one kilometer are a large primary school (5 to 12-year-olds) and a high school. There are also playgrounds, sports grounds, recreational areas, and a lot of houses.
Anyone could have walked up, opened the back of a vehicle (or backs of vehicles) without needing a key, opened a drawer or two, and helped themselves to enormous volumes of extremely dangerous, addictive, and restricted substances.
The law was (and, I imagine, remains) that these substances needed to be locked up – for many, within a safe. For barbiturates, at the very least locked up indoors. Though it’s far preferable to lock them in the safe too, or at least within a secure cabinet.
I started to notice this appalling behavior soon after beginning employment there as a veterinarian. I promptly advised the practice owner that it was not acceptable. Then, repeatedly told him and other veterinarians to not do that over the course of ~3 months.
When it continued, I began going back there each night to remove the substances from the vehicles and lock them indoors/in the safe.
I got fired for ‘leaving the work vehicles unstocked’ but it was the magical age of cell phones. So I had a lot of videos.
After losing my job, I of course laid complaints with Police, the Veterinary Board, the workplace health and safety bureaucrats, and the Health board. Included were many videos, all with spoken dates/times, of the practice doing exactly what is above and of me walking in off the road, and easily accessing the substances without a key. Plus vehicle registration numbers, the names on the brass plaques on the front door, logos, and so on. Oh, and a video of the restricted substance register into which other people had altered entries I had made and signed. The only surprising thing is that I didn’t ever manage to capture a literal smoking weapon.
The punishment for the perpetrator? A warning from the veterinary board. As far as I know, that’s all.
I often think of crying havoc and letting slip the hogs of war. Just making the whole lot of them public on YouTube, sending to the media, etc.
I have actually uploaded them to youtube, except they’re private. For now. Also held by some trusted friends. And of course, the agencies listed previously. I figure it’s best for keeping them ‘well behaved’ to have the threat of them going public rather than actually making them public. Though I’m not sure about that. And I do often wonder. This is essentially as public as I’ve gone with this.
But that’s one heck of a workplace secret I know, right?”
This Probably Happens More Often Than You Think
“I used to be a Bagel Baker in my hometown, the place was pretty dirty. There was gross white buildup along the drain to the bagel boiler. Fruit flies dominated the place and laid eggs in every little crevice. We had soda cans that were past their expiration date, but one thing topped all that. The butter. I still wake up in a cold sweat sometimes thinking of it.
So one day, I got so good at making bagel dogs, we’re talking 60 bagel dogs an hour here, that I had an extra hour of work left before my shift was done. Being the industrious and hardworking soul I am, I decided to clean the walk-in cooler.
As I lexicographically scanned and sorted the deepest and darkest crevices of the cooler, I found it. The butter. I had found twenty lbs of the moldiest butter in their walk-in refrigerator! I didn’t even know butter could go bad. My expert calculations (the expiration date) led me to believe the butter was at least 5 years old. It was blackened through and through.
When I showed it to the wife of my boss, Hao, she said ‘Use it!’ In her shrill and super gnarly voice. She then proceeded to remove the moldy wrapping with her hands and toss it into the rest of the butter to coat our bagel dogs with. Then she left me to my work.
So there I was. Just me, my bagel dogs, the moldy butter, and my conscience. I knew I had to make a choice. Suddenly, a little Asian devil appeared on my left shoulder who looked just like Hao. ‘Use the butter, embrace it,’ he hissed, ‘If people eat things that are unsanitary or poisonous it’ll just make their immune system stronger.’
I waited for my fun-sized angel to appear, but he didn’t. I realized it’s because angels don’t enter bagel shops. Ever. It’s never been disproven. Realizing this, I stepped outside.
The choice was easy in the end. I threw it away. And you know what? I got fired the next day. Good riddance.”