When you’re just trying to get through the work day in one piece and someone asks you to clean the rafters by being lifted 20 feet in the air on the forks of a fork life, it’s time to reevaluate your career trajectory.
Here are twenty-nine of the wackiest things people have been asked to do at work.
Many thanks to all the Redditors who responded. Check out more answers from the source at the end of this article!
1. You’re being a big help, pal.
I’m in the navy and I had to sweep water off of the pier as it was raining…
2. Pulling weeds is never fun.
Pull weeds in Iraq before a congressman came to visit.
3. I’m not sure that’s how that works…
To work for two months without being paid, as a “trial” to “see what kind of an employee I would be”, before he decided if he was going to offer me a paid job or not.
He was somewhat surprised when I declined the offer.
4. This one is just sad 🙁
I was asked to layoff a group of employees for another manager. She begged me to do it, and I initially refused. This manager selected and approved the list of people being let go – and was 100% responsible for even needing a layoff. She over-hired in her area because she misrepresented her projected needs and let her group’s performance fell below standard.
No one wants to be part of a layoff on the receiving or giving side (unless you’re a total sadist) – AND I really believe if you are laying your people off you need to have the courage to do it yourself. Period. I wound up doing it, because everyone in the building already figured out something was happening based on her behavior and it seemed excessively cruel to postpone things since everyone was on edge.
I felt like the Angel of Death that day, people couldn’t even make eye contact with me as I walked the halls because if I stopped at someone’s desk they knew they were losing their job. My people were terrified, and I still feel terrible about how that day went down because I couldn’t say anything until it was done. 🙁
Layoffs are horrible, and this manager hiding from their responsibility made it even worse. Fortunately my boss agreed and he fired her for it.
5. If you can’t be in two places at once I just can’t bother to pay you…
Worked at a grocery chain as a courtesy/utility clerk. The vendor for 7up and Dr. Pepper screwed up stacking their pallets, so they all fell over, creating a nice pile of broken glass, sticky soda, and wet, messy cardboard.
Boss made me clean it all up and told me not to leave it even for a second. Got it all cleaned up in about two hours. Not bad save for me nearly getting shanked by some large glass shards on the floor.
But where it became unreasonable was the very next day, I got called into the office and written up. By the same boss. Why? I had failed to do floor inspections. He expected me to be able to be in two places at once.
That was fun to contest…
6. Please. PLEASE JUST STOP!
Got asked by my boss to go to the building site next door and ask the builders to stop construction as they were being too loud. Not for a specific length of time, just to stop working. I had to ask him what he thought that would actually achieve.
7. The discount makes all the difference.
Years ago when I worked inventory at the local BestBuy, a lady released a blood storm in the bathroom and I was chosen to clean it up. It was like someone combined The Shining and Twister in there. I did get a super discount on my next TV though. Won’t do that again.
8. Odd, but I’d probably just do it…
One time, a customer asked me for all the money in the registers. Since he had a gun, I didn’t feel it was that unreasonable at the time.
Looking back, it was a bit of an odd request.
9. How was it there long enough to dry up?
My first job was in retail. Smelled something funky near my break room. Went to check it out and found dried up diarrhea on the ground and went and told my manager. He asked me why I was telling him and not busy cleaning it. Turns out everyone knew but didn’t say anything because they didn’t want to clean it.
10. I got people to feed!
A manager asked me to wrap my arm up in a bin bag and stick my hand into a toilet to try and unblock it.
I was a waiter/barman, taking food out to customers. Highlighted this to him and he insisted that I do it.
I promptly told him to “Eff off” and mentioned health and safety.
He ended up doing it.
On a side note he was fired two weeks later for making inappropriate comments to female staff members. He was a Douche-bag.
11. Let me pay you for your work this week next week, then move next week to the following, etc.
I was asked to do this quality assurance thing before the weeks end. When I asked if she wanted me to wait until next week because otherwise I get into overtime, she responded by saying
“Do it this week, but put it in next weeks payroll”.
Ummm… no. It made me so angry.
12. I swear it’s true!
Bartender. On good Friday at 9 pm a lady had the nerve to ask me to tell another customer to quit swearing because it was good Friday. I told her as nicely as I could that we’re all adults and that I simply wouldn’t feel ok with telling another paying customer to stop swearing.
My boss saw the conversation and me walking away while she had a sour expression on her face. He asked me what that was about so I told him. He actually had the nerve to tell me that I needed to go tell the guy to watch his mouth. Now keep in mind my boss was a cool guy so I could speak openly to him. Not the best bar manager, he was a banker before and got the job because he was the owner’s friend and just got tired of banking.
So I responded to him like I wish I could’ve responded to her. Which was something along the lines of “I literally will walk out of this job right now before I impose her will on another customer because of her beliefs.” To which he said “good point.”
13. Those emails went straight to the top!
Back when I was the manager of a movie theatre I had just got done working 14 hours because someone called in sick, tried to submit payroll to accounting, the fax wouldn’t go through, asked the accountant to go to the office (about 2 blocks from her home) and see if she could fix it. She said she was too tired, and that I should instead drive the 50 miles to hand deliver it.
I ended up doing it, because if I didn’t then my staff wouldn’t get paid, but there were about 8 nasty e-mails I sent afterwards to various higher ups. A few weeks later I quit that job to become a bus boy. Single best career move I’ve ever made.
14. That’s just inhumane!
To not have to go to the bathroom. Dead serious here. My boss recently told all the employees there will be no more bathroom breaks. Considering we already don’t get a second break, and some of us don’t get a lunch either.
15. “Better to destroy it and get nothing in return.”
Not as horrifying as some of the others, but in the early 90s I worked at [a well-known US depot for office supplies]. One time, for reasons I never understood, an edict came down that a certain class of inventory was to be destroyed and discarded.
That meant that perfectly good merchandise including office furniture, lamps, computers, printers, copiers, fax machines, and some other random bits were to be taken out back and literally smashed to pieces with a hammer, then thrown in the bin.
The most amazing part was that under no circumstances was this stuff allowed to be given away, sold, or otherwise allowed to survive and benefit anyone. Several employees begged and pleaded to be allowed to buy some of the things but nope. Better to destroy it and get nothing in return. It wasn’t a huge number of items, but it was easily $10,000 worth of stuff.
16. I feel like we jumped from A to B on this one…
I was working as a Deskside technician for an IT company a couple of years back and when one day it was quiet and we didn’t have much to do, my boss had me pick grapes from his plant at his house.
17. Good on you!
I was asked to teach an ESL class in the closet of the library. The librarian did not clean out the closet; the custodian merely shoved a few desks into it. When there was another class in the library proper, I had to close the closet door. We could hardly breathe with all the dust and lack of ventilation. I quit shortly thereafter and reported the school to the Office for Civil Rights for discriminating against non English-speaking students.
18. I hope that they actually went…
I was once “asked” not to go to my uncles funeral. I was told, and I quote, “Well, he won’t know you’re not there.”
Quit very shortly thereafter and reported the “manager” to executive management. Jerk.
19. Well, things worked out in the end.
My OWN review. My boss was too lazy to do my department’s reviews so he told me to do all of them. I told him to mess off. He said he would take me to HR. I told him I would bring the email where he asked me to review my coworkers, which was his job.
I got a great review and he bought me lunch. 🙂
20. Nope! Not doing it!!!
When I was about 16 I got hired to do cleanup on a paint factory that was over 100 years old. They had big varsol (paint thinner) tanks on a hill behind the plant that were gravity fed into the factory and had clogged.
The boss wanted us to physically climb down into the tank which was waist deep full of varsol, and remove it all with 5 gallon buckets.
This was a while ago back in Newfoundland and safety gear didn’t exist on the island yet. We all refused, and after that spent most of our time smoking on the roof. We all got fired a few days later, although some of the other stuff we did there will probably show up as some strange form of cancer at some point in the future.
Train a guy, who was making more than I was, to be my boss.
22. That sounds amazing!
Once a week my boss makes me to go Carvel and get an ice cream cake and sit and eat it with her. She says she can’t fit into her clothes. I guess she wants me to not fit into my clothes either…
23. And then…?
I used to work in a food processing plant when I was in high school. The job sucked, it was hot on the lines, and the place smelled horrible. I got told by my boss that I had to go outside and pick up cigarette butts from the sidewalk where the other workers went outside during breaks to smoke.
I wasn’t a smoker, and I was pretty pissed at first, but being outside picking up nasty cigarette butts was actually more enjoyable than working inside on the lines. I had a serious self re-evaluation of my job that day.
24. Ugh, I wouldn’t be able to stand it!
When working overtime or even a regular 8 hour day, our break is still 15 minutes, which is timed, and we are expected to use the bathroom during our timed breaks. Running back and forth to the bathroom isn’t a break!
25. All of them?!
I was once ordered to rake up pine needles. “All the pine needles”. At a camp. A camp named ‘Pinewoods’. Aptly named.
26. You wouldn’t get me up there for a million dollars!
Told to get onto a forklift that had a piece of plywood thrown on the forks, without a harness, and an air hose put into my hand, and then lifted about 20 feet into the air and told to clean the rafters of the wood shop up.
After about 5 seconds of spraying, the dust cloud got so thick you could barely see.
27. “I have an unpleasant job for you to do, but you have to do it.”
I used to work in a restaurant that was above a pro shop (golf). Across the street was a ski area (Bear Mountain, CA), and the guy that owned the restaurant where I worked also owned the seasonal snack bar/restaurant in the chalet at the bottom of the ski slope.
He had a big chest freezer in the chalet where he kept a bunch of meat, and some doofus turned off all the electricity (including that going to the freezer) when the ski slope shut down for the season. My boss didn’t discover it for almost two months.
He told me, “I have an unpleasant job for you to do, but you have to do it.”
When he lifted the lid on the freezer, the shock of how bad it smelled literally made me vomit right there on the floor. I could tell my boss was close to hurling as well, but he’d already been exposed to the horror once already, so he was prepared.
He told me to put it all in garbage bags and tote it out to the dumpster (bin bags and wheelie bin for you Brits).
He told me that dealing with the smell and the slime was really nothing more than “Mind over matter”.
He looked me square in the eye and told me, “I don’t mind so it don’t matter.”
I was 14 years old and living on my own. I needed that job. I did it.
28. The audacity!
“Hide” my breast milk after it’s pumped. I had the audacity to carry it from the room I pumped in to the freezer as if it wasn’t a bag full of shame milk.
29. The customer is NOT always right.
I had a customer ask me to fill their propane tank in a thunderstorm…with no power. They were absolutely perplexed when I politely told them that I could not. They got mad and told my manager, who looked at them like they had three heads and a death wish (they met one of these criteria), and after much arguing promptly told them to leave. He was awesome.
30. That’s messed up.
I was making $12/hr as an office temp at a government office. My boss filled a box full of pepper spray, flares, and flashbangs. Then she labeled it “toiletries” and told me to take it to air cargo and send it on a passenger flight to one of our sites. I didn’t want to go to jail for causing a mid air accident so I took the stuff for myself and distributed it to other projects within the same government department.
A few weeks went by as they tried to determine what happened to their stuff. Finally my boss came into my office and said “This is theft over $1,000. We’ll have to get the RCMP (Federal Police) involved.” I told her “You can’t do that without implicating yourself in a worse crime. You should just forget about the whole matter.”
A week later, they canceled my contract with the temp agency and hired me directly at $24/hr (plus benefits).
31. Pretty sure it doesn’t work like that…
Retired paramedic. I was told to IMMEDIATELY place a freshly delivered newborn back inside the mother. She delivered in a transport ambulance en route to Weil Cornell and lost it that her baby wasn’t born in a hospital and further not born in a good hospital.
The mother told me to “hold the baby in with your hand”. I explained it wouldn’t work and that we were having this child on 3rd ave. In the middle 50s and she flipped! So she and I had a agreement I would say the baby was still inside her body till we backed up at the hospital. I guess this satisfied the requirement of being born at a hospital vs. next to a dry cleaners on 3rd ave.
So as far as that kid knows she was born in the Weil Cornell ER ambulance bay.