I spend three minutes every day choosing a TV channel to leave on for my dog. Then I go to work, and people take me seriously as an adult.
I spend three minutes every day choosing a TV channel to leave on for my dog. Then I go to work, and people take me seriously as an adult.
After football fans in Philadelphia were treated to a particularly excruciating loss earlier in the season, a man phoned a sports-radio talk-show host to say, “Everyone should call in and give one word for that game.”
“What’s your word?” the host replied.
“Bored out of my mind,” said the caller.
From Sports Illustrated
Librarians may be shy, but their patrons aren’t. Look at their oddball requests:
A patron offered me $100 to steal a cactus from somebody’s yard.
A patron wanted me to find a book to teach her dog German.
A patron on his way to the casino asked to rub my red hair for luck.
A patron once asked me for my home phone number so she could call me with reference questions when I wasn’t at work.
Roz Warren, from womensvoicesforchange.org
For Martin Luther King Day, I asked my fifth graders how they’d make the world a better place. One said, “I’d make potato skins a main dish rather than an appetizer.”
Jessica Castronovo, Manalapan, New Jersey
Scene: A radio newsroom.
Caller: I just wanted to let you know you’re off the air.
Host: Yes, we know. The engineers are working on it.
Caller: It would be nice if you put something on the air that says that.
Source: Overheard in the RADIO Newsroom
When my coworker answered his phone, the confused woman on the other end asked, “Who is this?”
“This is Steve. With whom did you wish to speak?”
After a pause: “Did you just say whom?”
“Yes, I did.”
The woman replied, “I have the wrong number,” and hung up.
Gilding the lily is a job seeker’s birthright. Here are a few doozies, where the applicant claimed …
… to be a former CEO of the company to which he was applying.
… to be fluent in two languages—one of which was pig Latin.
… to be a Nobel Prize winner.
… to have worked in a jail when he was really in there serving time.
… he was fired “on accident.”
A welsh politician asked the government for information about UFO sightings and if it might fund UFO research. Officials wrote back, “jang vIDa je due luq … ach ghotvam’e’ QI’yaH devolve qaS.” Which means, “The minister will reply in due course. However, this is a non-devolved matter,” in Klingon.
Here’s some advice: At a job interview, tell them you’re willing to give 110 percent. Unless the job is a statistician.
Comedian Adam Gropman
I sent a reminder to a client that it was time to visit the eye doctor. He called back to inform me that he would not be coming in because, as he put it, “I have a new obstetrician.”
Sarah Parchert, Hoschton, Georgia
A man called, furious about an Orlando, Florida, vacation package we had booked for him: He was expecting an ocean-view hotel room. I explained that was not possible, since Orlando is in the middle of the state. “Don’t lie to me,” he said. “I looked on the map, and Florida is a very thin state.”
My ESL students try so hard and are so appreciative. One student paid me the ultimate compliment when she said, “You teach English good.” Another assured me, “I will always forget you.” And a third insisted, “I thank you from the heart of my bottom.”
Ellen Israel, Alamo, California
New York Times writer Amy Chozick giving an example of what it was like working for a fashion magazine: “A girl got on [the elevator] with a Birkin bag, and her friend goes, ‘Oh, my God, I love your bag; is that new?’ and she goes, ‘No, I got it, like, a week ago.’”
The James Bond film Spectre opens in November. Writer Peter Anspach explains how he’d improve his odds if he were a film villain.
• I will not fly into a rage and kill a messenger who brings me bad news just to illustrate how evil I am. Good messengers are hard to come by.
• My vats of hazardous chemicals will be covered when not in use. Also, I will not construct walkways above them.
• If I’m eating dinner with the hero, put poison in his goblet, then have to leave the table for any reason, I will order new drinks for both of us instead of trying to decide whether to switch with him.
• My ventilation ducts will be too small to crawl through.
• When I’ve captured my adversary and he says, “Look, before you kill me, will you at least tell me what this is all about?” I’ll say no and finish him off.
Gauging from these exam excerpts, my college dance students had better stick with pliés.
“The costumes were vindictive of the style of dance.”
“I commend Bill T. Jones for his acts of true kindness and selfishness.”
“Dancers must have long limps.”
“At first, I had a hard time understanding and interrupting his movement.”
“Savion Glover’s purpose is to cross all racial and ethical barriers with his dance.”
Kathy Dubois, Onalaska, Wisconsin
During college, I worked on
a conveyor belt. One day, I was
on a blind date, and she asked me about my job.
“I work at the end of a belt,” I said.
With an ebullient smile, she asked, “Are you the buckle?”
Skip Parker, Reno, Nevada
Client: We need you to log in to the YouTube and make all our company videos viral.
“Has your son decided what he wants to be when he grows up?” I asked my friend.
“He wants to be a garbageman,” he replied.
“That’s an unusual ambition to have at such a young age.”
“Not really. He thinks that garbagemen work only on Tuesdays.”
Client: The blue looks OK, but it would be great if it was a little more orange. Like “blorange.”
I phoned a local restaurant to ask if it was on the north or south side of Main Street. The person on the other end answered, “That depends on which direction you’re coming from.”
Patricia Thompson, Shawnee, Kansas
“Halt!” shouted our drill instructor. He had noticed that, for the umpteenth time, a recruit kept going to his right on a left command. Our instructor approached the directionally challenged Marine and stomped on his left foot… Read More
My son was born while I was serving abroad, so he was three before we met. When I got home, I decided it was time for a little father-son bonding time. I bought him a toy razor and invited him to “shave” with me. In the bathroom, … Read More
One of the most popular questions asked at our family restaurant is “What’s good tonight?”
Now, we would never serve anything we didn’t think was good. So I braced myself one Saturday night when I heard the dreaded question … Read More
I’m a dog trainer. Before I met with a new client, I had her fill out a questionnaire. One question asked, “Why did you choose this breed?”
My client responded, “I often ask myself this very same question.”
Cindy Mauro, West Milford, New Jersey
What are the wildest things national park guides contend with? Questions from tourists, like these:
• How much does Mount McKinley weigh?
• Would the lightning be faster if it didn’t zigzag?
• What do you do with the snow when… Read More
I was in a couple’s home trying to fix their Internet connection. The husband called out to his wife in the other room for the computer password. “Start with a capital S, then 123,” she shouted back.
We tried S123 several times… Read More
My daughter Amy was holding down two jobs: The first was as a manicurist at a salon; the other was raking leaves for a housing development. One day, she came back from lunch at the raking job to find a note. Her boss, who didn’t know … Read More
A client called my help desk saying she couldn’t send an e-mail. When I was done troubleshooting the problem, she interrupted me to ask, “Wait a minute, do I type @ in lower- or uppercase?”
Swati Khatri, New Delhi, India
Any time a person with a journalism degree writes a story about a celebrity getting bangs, Walter Cronkite punches an angel.
My granddaughter was graduating from college, so I asked about any plans she had for the future. She hadn’t any, but she did know this much: “I certainly don’t want to sit in one of those cubicles and think all day.”
B. O., via Internet
…was spotted on a billboard ad for the law office of Larry L. Archie: “Just because you did it doesn’t mean you’re guilty.”
• “I have to make payments on my BMW and iPhones.”
• “You are too wrapped up in the whole concept of ‘money. ’ ”
• “So … you’re talking to me only because the rent’s not paid? Is that all I am to you? A tenant?”
Source: the Landlord Protection Agency (thelpa.com)
An applicant for an open teaching job submitted a résumé. Under the heading Qualities and Skills, she listed, “Impeachable character and integrity.”
M. O., via Internet
“Now hiring,” read the classified ad. “Cemetery superintendent. The ideal candidate must be able to supervise in a fast-paced environment.”
A. S., via Internet
My favorite game is “Professional Dog Walker or Crazy Person?”
We were making leaflets for a local church, and the client wanted a logo designed with Earth being shielded by the hand of God. I sent the client a proof. Shortly thereafter, I got a call.
Client: The hand looks too human. Please … Read More
Try an internship! Internships give you all the experience of a summer job without the hassle of a paycheck.
Being a lifeguard is a weird summer job for a kid. Ninety-nine percent of the time, sit and do nothing. One percent of the time, SAVE SOMEONE’S LIFE.
Jake Weisman (@weismanjake)
L.A. public pools don’t have lifeguards—[they] have life coaches. If they see you struggling in the water, they say, “Are you happy with the decisions you’re making?” and give you a pamphlet for a yoga studio.
I got my first full-time job, but I could have sworn I was making more money in college, working for my parents as their daughter.
If you were an auto insurer, would you have paid these actual claims?
“In an attempt to kill a fly, I drove into a telephone pole.”
“I didn’t think the speed limit applied after midnight.”
“The car in front hit the … Read More
My husband was at a dinner with colleagues, and one of them had too much to drink. Feeling drowsy, the poor man sank back into his chair and said, “I don’t feel good. I’m going into screen saver mode.”
L. Y., via Internet
While teaching at a veterinary college, I ordered a few books for our library. One was George Orwell’s Animal Farm. When I went to take it out, I discovered that the librarian had placed the book in the section for dairy and poultry.
Jacob Cheeran, Thrissur, India
A friend of mine works at a tattoo shop. A client walked in and got a sentence tattooed on his back. A few hours later, the customer called, demanding a refund.
Client: You did my tattoo backward!
Tattoo artist: It’s backward?
… Read More
My boss was watching a video of his son. I heard a voice in the background and asked if it was Elmo. It was his wife.
A last-minute filer walked into our state income tax office and handed me his returns. Just as he did, a peal of laughter could be heard in another room. Glaring at me, he grumbled, “What are they doing back there, counting the money?”
William Umberson, San Diego, California
When my husband, James Rowles, was in the seminary, he was invited to preach at a small rural church. However, the man who was to introduce him to the congregation had trouble pronouncing his name. So James offered this verbal clue: “… Read More
Sometimes I like to sit my dog down for a performance review, just to remind him who’s boss.
Religion is generally a verboten topic for everyone at work, except for Larry. Recently, after he steered yet another conversation toward the subject, a coworker whispered to me, “That Larry—he always has to put his two saints in.”
Mark Latessa, Brownstown, Michigan
Scene: Inside a Best Buy store.
Customer: Can you help me? I’m looking for a shredder.
Coworker: We have all types of shredders. What will you be shredding primarily?
Customer: Collard greens.
Jessica Smith, Peachtree City, Georgia
Colonoscopies are important medical procedures that have saved lives. And yet they’re as popular as, well, a colonoscopy. Here are comments purportedly made by patients to physicians during their procedures.
“Now I know how a … Read More
Request from a client: “For the ad, use a stock photo of a woman or a person.”
Looking for a job? Here’s one posted on Craigslist:
“$40K a Year to Attend Harvard University as Me.” Requirements include a 4.0 GPA in high school or a 3.5 GPA in college. Only males need apply, since, as the listing tells us, “I … Read More
While taking stock of our products, I read aloud the final numbers to my boss. As he entered each one into a calculator, I deleted it off my mobile device. Only after I’d finished did we realize that he had entered the numbers on… Read More
Employee #1: I wouldn’t eat caviar. That’s fish eggs!
Employee #2: I’d try it. After all, I eat chicken eggs.
Employee #3: You eat chicken eggs?!
Thinking of skipping work? Don’t try these real excuses—they didn’t work the first time.
• My false teeth flew out the window while I was driving down the highway.
• I quit smoking and I’m grouchy.
• My favorite football … Read More
I feel like I would enjoy getting out of bed more if I had to do it only three times a week. This every-day thing is overkill.
My teenage patient’s mother was concerned. “He must have a temperature,” she said. “He hasn’t taken our motorcycle out all day.”
“Let me ask you,” I said. “Do you have a thermometer?”
“No,” she said. “A Kawasaki… Read More
“Why did you choose a college so far from home?” I asked my British student.
She explained that she’d fallen in love with the American West by watching Westerns. So when it came time to apply for colleges, she Googled “Western … Read More
Professionals at the staffing agency Robert Half International have seen a lot of peculiar résumés. Here are some favorite gaffes, followed by wisecracks from the pros:
• Education: “I have a bachelorette degree in computers.” (The… Read More
The office Christmas party is a great opportunity to catch up with people you haven’t seen for 20 minutes.
I tried to explain to a client why I couldn’t help him with a project that was written in a program code that I didn’t know.
“Let’s say you’re asking me to write something in a specific language. Now, I’m fluent in English and … Read More
You’re sending me something via fax? What is it, an important document from 1993?
At the age of 55, I finally got my bachelor’s degree and set out to become a substitute teacher. One day, a seventh grader asked if I’d been teaching long.
“Actually, I’m brand-new,” I told him. “I just graduated.”
… Read More
From a passenger of the Vacaville, California, public bus company:
I would like to commend driver Lea Schroeder for the following reasons:
1. She frequently doesn’t stop for me when I’m waiting at the bus stop, but she … Read More
As I entered the elevator at our hospital, a disheveled- looking man rushed in behind me carrying a ceramic blue baby bootie filled with carnations.
I smiled knowingly and asked, “Does he look like you?”
“I hope not,” he … Read More
A student seeking a job at our university was handed an application. He dutifully filled out his name and address. When it came to the entry “length of residence,” he wrote: “Approximately 30 feet.”
Fred Karn, Kearney, Missouri
Scene: My client telling me what was required for the project.
Client: “We want a total of eight languages—English, French, Spanish, Canadian …”
Recently I heard the former mayor of Reading, Pennsylvania, recount some funny stories about his time in office. One happened while he was running for reelection; he was in a bar and paid for a woman’s drink. She thanked him but … Read More
A woman called the Colorado State Division of Wildlife regarding a snake in her backyard. “Can you tell me what kind it is?” she asked.
“Can you describe it?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said. “It’s long and thin.”
Charles Loeffler, Monument, Colorado
One of our interns asked another if she was planning to sign up for the company’s 401(k).
“I’m considering it,” replied the second intern.
Later, the first intern approached me looking concerned.
“I did the math,” she said… Read More
Boss to underling: “When I told you that you smelled like bacon grease, it was a compliment.”
The British foreign office helps Brits traveling abroad. Here are some odder requests they’ve fielded:
• A man who was hospitalized in Cambodia when a monkey hit him with a stone wanted assurance that it would not happen again… Read More
Right now, I’m at work, using the Internet. But in my mind, I’m already at home, using the Internet.
We all make mistakes. Some are just more public than others, like these real newspaper typos:
“Here the bridal couple stood, facing the floral setting, and exchanged cows.” Modesto News-Herald (California)
“It took … Read More
Scene: Me driving by a Taco Bell.
Sign: Now Hiring Managers.
[Two weeks later …]
Sign: Now Hiring Managers. Background Checks Required.
Our boss asked the new mail-room guy to make three copies of an office key. The guy returned ten minutes later with the copies … which he’d made on the Xerox machine.
Gordon Knight, Stamford, Connecticut
Shane works in the deli department of a large supermarket chain, where he often finds himself in trouble. Just look at the notes management has supposedly written to him:
“Shane, stop putting Some Assembly Required stickers on the … Read More
Think the comments on Internet posts are tough? See what happened when the Washington Post asked its readers to write intentionally angry letters to actual headlines:
Headline: 20,000 Pound Pavement to Help Homeless
Response: “Are you … Read More
We’ve been over this before:
Stupid doesn’t play well on job interviews. Hiring managers wish these
job seekers had gotten the memo.
• Applicant acted out a Star Trek role.
• Applicant asked for a hug.
• Applicant popped out… Read More
While serving jury duty, I noticed that the defense attorney seemed a bit nervous. At one point, he picked up a piece of evidence and asked his client, who was on the witness stand, “I see an acronym on this receipt. What … Read More
When a zoo’s gorilla dies, the zookeeper hires an actor to don a costume and act like an ape until the zoo can get another one.
In the cage, the actor makes faces, swings around, and draws a huge crowd. He then crawls across a … Read More
The note left on the office refrigerator was addressed to “The culprit who ate what you thought were two peanut butter ice cream bars.”
We’ll skip over the details and go straight to the signature: “Love, Constipated-Dog Owner.”
Scene: Our break room. Coworker #1 pulls out a bottle of vitamins.
Coworker #2: What’s that?
Coworker #1: Vitamin D.
Coworker #2: Why do you take that?
Coworker #1: Because we live in Ohio, and we never see the sun.
Coworker #2: Wait… Read More
An irate patient called our pathology group, demanding that I explain every lab test on her statement. “Of course,” I said. I brought up her bill: “Number one, urinalysis …”
She interrupted me: “I’m a what?!”
When my customer ordered iced tea, I asked, “Sweetened or unsweetened?”
Her answer: “What’s the difference?”
Ruth Anne Pluckhorn, Moorestown, New Jersey
If a company’s most valuable resource is its people, how come the employees aren’t locked up, but the toilet paper is in a reinforced steel box with a lock, bolted to the stall?
Mark Severin, from humorlabs.com
The late comedian Mitch Hedberg said that he would write jokes by sitting around his hotel room thinking of things that cracked him up. “Then I go get a pen, and I write it down,” he said. “Or, if the pen’s too far away, I … Read More
Working for a news organization is a tough job, as these world-weary tweets suggest:
• News reporter: “The computer erased all the apostrophes in my story. Apparently I’m too possessive.”
• Copy editor, as group of Cub Scouts … Read More
Today, my 808 area code phone number has yet again been mistaken for a 1-800 number. I’ve been getting phone calls at three in the morning from people on the East Coast trying to return their shoes. Even worse, they end up wanting to … Read More
“So what’s that brush for?” the new hire asked.
“It’s used to clean toilet bowls in the lobby,” said the first manager.
“Actually, it’s for scrubbing deep fryers,” said the second manager.
“Well, I’ve been cleaning … Read More
I’m pretty sure the dinosaurs died out when they stopped gathering food and started having meetings to discuss gathering food.
I bragged to my boss that I didn’t need painkillers after a major surgery. His response: “This time, your evil superpowers came in handy.”
Patricia Speilburg, Port Huron, Michigan
The only qualification for working at an airline is making a confused face at a monitor.
Comedian Julius Sharpe
I spent four years in college. I didn’t learn a thing. It was really my own fault. I had a double major in psychology and reverse psychology.
B. J. Novak, who says he was hired as a writer for The Office on the strength of the joke above.
My favorite part of the conference call was the first 20 minutes of “Who just joined?”
Faculty at our university had to file an explanation when they gave a grade of Incomplete. One semester, a professor’s report read “Student #1 contracted mononucleosis. Student #2 contracted pregnancy.”
Bill Spencer, Cullowhee, North Carolina
A customer walked up to my bank window and asked me to cash a check.
“Of course,” I said. “But I’ll need to see ID.”
She dug though her purse and handed me a snapshot.
“That’s me in the middle,” she said.
Deborah Berkley, Yakima, Washington
One of my insurance customers faxed over the police report from an auto accident. Several weeks later, she called asking for information from that report.
“Didn’t you keep the original copy?” I asked.
“No,” she said. “I … Read More
“How many times have you
“Were you alone or by yourself?”
“Was it you or your brother who was killed?”
“Without saying anything, tell the jury what you did next.”
“Was that the same nose you broke as… Read More
Not the people who posted this sign at a bookstore that was going out of business: “Sorry, no public restroom. Try amazon.com.”
Source: Consumer Reports
One of the joys of working is
the opportunity to expense stuff you need. But did employees go too far with these items?
• Lottery tickets
• Pet food
• A tepee
• Hot tub supplies
• A fine for crashing into a tollbooth
Source: Robert Half Management Resources
Haircuts are great because I did none of the work but get all the credit.
@ludwig (Ludwig Pettersson)
Graduate school students spend a lot of effort writing their thesis papers, often in arcane, smarty-pants-speak. However, a few deigned to simplify their findings:
• “Some mice lick one foot more, and some mice lick the other … Read More
I was alone in an elevator when a girl stepped in with a phone pressed to her ear. “I have to go,” she told the person on the other end. “There’s a cute guy standing here.” Before I could react, she turned to me and said… Read More
• Waitress wanted. Must be 18 years old with 20 years’ experience.
• Piano player wanted. Must have knowledge of opening clams.
• Now hiring cashier. Cannot look like “Skeletor” from “He-Man.”
• Cab drivers wanted. Must… Read More
Tired of referring to your bosses with the same old, sorry expletives? Try some from abroad:
Chinese: “Your mother is a big turtle.”
Yiddish: “May you lie in the ground and bake bagels.”
Bulgarian: “You are as ugly as salad… Read More
Spotted on a restaurant’s website: “Glutton-free menu available.”
Emily Payne, Greenville, South Carolina
Seen on a New York City subway poster: “Se habla Español/Russian.”
Aaron Fernando, Richmond Hill, New York
Read off a … Read More
Question: Now, to the best of your knowledge, did your internal bleeding stop?
Answer: I hope so.
Diane McElwee, Norfolk, Massachusetts
• I work in IT. A customer asked me if a string of numbers I’d read off was upper- or lowercase.
• Someone once asked, “Is this the museum?” I work at a pool.
• A few of the things customers have asked for at our art-… Read More
A mother complained to my wife, a schoolteacher, that other students were stealing her daughter’s pencils.
“It’s not the money—it’s the principle,” she insisted. “My husband took those pencils from work.”
Roger … Read More
A lawyer e-mailed a client: “Dear Jennifer: Thought I saw you on the street the other day. Crossed over to say hello, but it wasn’t you, so I went back. One tenth of an hour: $30.”
The China National Tourism Administration has created tips for its citizens when traveling abroad, including:
• Don’t steal life vests from airplanes to give as gifts.
• Don’t leave footprints on the toilet.
• Don’t dry your … Read More
Heard over the plant’s paging system: “Will John Porter please return to where you were before you went where you are.”
Irene Onorato, Plymouth, Massachusetts
Journalists and editors on deadline make the occasional error. Some are funnier than others:
• NBC reported that American students rank internationally at: “26th math, 21th science, 17th reading.”
• Britain’s Sky News showed the… Read More
Scene: A man applying for credit at a department store.
Clerk: What do you do for a living?
Man: I’m a tree trimmer.
Clerk: What do you do after Christmas?
Ruth Sadeckas, Joelton, Tennessee
Recently, a man stopped at my desk at the library asking for help: A woman had breast-fed her infant and forgotten to “tuck herself back in.” I walked over to Lady Godiva and said, “Ma’am, I’m very sorry, but we don’t allow … Read More
• Were Moses alive today, the Ten Commandments would be known as the Ten Best Practices, presented in PowerPoint and followed by 40 years of status meetings.
• The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that … Read More
While at a convention, Bill, Jim, and Scott shared a hotel suite on the 75th floor. After a long day of meetings, they were shocked to find that the hotel elevators were broken and that they’d have to climb all the way up to their room… Read More
Me: I have a Roundup Multi Purpose Sprayer that is defective.
Customer Rep: Ma’am, we’ll need the exact name of the item. Do you have the box?
Me: No, but it’s the Roundup Multi Purpose Sprayer.
Customer Rep: Ma’am, we’ll need … Read More
Three guys are fishing when an angel appears.
The first guy says, “I’ve suffered from back pain for years. Can you help me?” The angel touches the man’s back, and he feels instant relief.
The second guy points to his thick … Read More
Who wouldn’t be inspired to hire this young man? If his cover letter is to be believed, he’s eager to light a fire under the most recalcitrant colleague:
“I am a motivated, self-igniting person.”
Scene: The office
Me: We have to submit a form to every state.
Coworker: All 51?
Coworker: Whatever. I’m not good at geometry.
—Jill Lloyd, Bexley, Ohio
Scene: office cafeteria line
Friend: May I have pepper and salt?
(Counter guy looks confused.)
Friend: Sir? Pepper and salt?
(Counter guy grabs a bell pepper.)
Friend: No! Not that pepper. The pepper and salt …
Me: You know, like … Read More
After interviewing a candidate for an open position, I got a thank-you e-mail, stating, “It was a pressure meeting you.”
—Michele Davis, Onsted, Michigan
Phlebotomist: I’m here to draw some blood.
Patient: But I just received blood yesterday.
Phlebotomist: You didn’t think you’d get to keep it, did you?
—Rebecca Shafer, Springfield, Missouri
There was a period when our company’s ownership was constantly changing hands, resulting in a new name for the business each time. After the latest regime and name change, I said, “We’re going to need a new company sign out front… Read More
As a flight attendant, I wear a watch with two faces: one set for the time in our departure city, and the other set for our destination city. One day, a passenger asked me for the time. Looking at my watch, I told her, “It’s 9:41 in … Read More
A client walked into my design studio with a black-and-white flyer.
Client: Can you make a color copy?
Me: Do you have the original?
Client: No. Just this one.
Me: Sorry, I can’t make color copies unless I have the original color … Read More
A doctor sent this note to our medical clinic: “Patient needs a referral for your office from me. I saw her for her ankle and would like you to run over it.”
—M. P., via e-mail
These office drones know exactly what you’re thinking at work:
• No one likes hearing “agree to disagree.” Why don’t we just say, “You’re wrong, but I don’t feel like fighting about it right now”?
• Sorry, I don’t … Read More
Supervisor: This project isn’t something we can finish off quickly. It’s like an onion. It has layers that we have to peel away, one by one.
Coworker: And it will make us cry a lot.
It’s Winter break time, and a lot of people will be traveling. Which means it’s also a great time to be the person who gets to approve visa requests, like these handed in by travelers to England.
• “I want to be closer to Elton … Read More
My cousin once called in sick to work because of a “death in the family.”
I was her boss.
Our business relies heavily on abbreviations. For example, I called a customer the other day. Reading from my printout, I asked, “Are you still a fun director?”
After a pause, he replied, “I’m a funeral director.”
Susan Ladd, Coatesville, Pennsylvania
I just set my e-mail’s auto-response to ‘I’m looking into this now. I’ll let you know.’ I literally never have to respond to e-mails again.
One of my fourth-grade students told me he had trouble with math. His explanation summed it up well: “The guy next to me always gets ten out of ten on his quizzes, and I get only ten out of four.”
Noelle Bidwell, North Battleford, Canada
Doing your best not to join the workforce? Just act like these job seekers did while meeting hiring managers:
• Candidate said he had to quit a banking job because he was always tempted to steal.
• Candidate said he didn’t want … Read More
From an ad for an acting job: “When we finish the commercial, it will be shown on screens in over 200 supermarkets. It’s a great opportunity for you to expose yourself in front of everyone!”
Yvonne Mikalopas, North Brunswick, New Jersey
If you’re a freelance graphic designer, the only thing worse than no clients might be these clients:
“You think it’s right to charge us for things just because we don’t have the ability to do them ourselves?”
“Make everything … Read More
Comedian Daniel Tosh is no fan of the expression “The worst day of fishing is better than the best day at work.”
“I’ve watched The Deadliest Catch on Discovery,” he said. “I’ve never once been at work, … Read More
In New York City, if you have a complaint or a question, dial the city’s 311 hotline and you might get it solved. We doubt these callers did.
“Who won American Idol?”
“Can you check to see if my boyfriend is married?”
“… Read More
I recently ran into an old student of mine, who said, “I always liked you. You never had favorites. You were mean to everyone.”
Lois Henry, Farmington, Maine
Scene: Me at our auto dealership, cold-calling customers.
Me: Hi, I’m calling on behalf of…
Customer: Is this a recording?
Me: No, I am not a recording, sir. May I please speak to…
Customer: I don’t believe you!
Going in for a job interview? Don’t mess it up with questions like these from real candidates:
“Can my husband finish the test for me?”
“Would you consider going on a date with me?”
“Can I place my desk near the cafeteria… Read More
Mike went into work an hour late, his face scratched and bruised, his glasses bent.
“What happened to you?” his boss asked.
“I fell down two flights of stairs.” Mike said.
His boss was aghast. “That took you a whole hour?”
I could barely understand my client due to a lousy phone connection.
“Sorry,” he said. “I have the AT&T every-other-word plan.”
Sam Cohen, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
When I interviewed for a job six months after my 70th birthday, I was asked my age. With nothing to hide, I replied, “I’m halfway to my 71st birthday.”
The interviewer looked skeptical. “No offense,” he said, “but you look … Read More
Here are actual comments bosses made to employees during their salary reviews:
“I’ve got great news. You managed to avoid a salary decrease.”
“No, we don’t promote family members first. It’s just coincidence.”
“Before … Read More
An accountant is having a hard time sleeping and goes to see his doctor.
“Doctor, I just can’t get to sleep at night,” he says.
“Have you tried counting sheep?” asks the doctor.
“That’s the problem. I make a mistake and … Read More
Reddit.com asked workers: What is rule number one in your profession? Here’s what came back:
Plumber: “Don’t chew your fingernails.”
Roofer: “You are fired before you hit the ground.”
Camp counselor: “Don’t lose the kid… Read More
My boss gave me a generic birthday card. It read “Happy Birthday, Greg!” with the word Greg crossed out and my name penned in above it. Greg was fired last month.
From the news: “Bob” was considered a star at the computer company where he worked. He made a six-figure salary and routinely received excellent performance reviews.
And now we know why: Without his boss’s knowledge, “Bob” had … Read More
Suit: Do you have what I call a Sharpie?
Secretary: … What you call a Sharpie?
Secretary: … You and no one else?
Suit: It’s like a felt-tipped pen.
Secretary: Oh, I know what it is.
Suit: Well, do you have one… Read More
Today, my boss fired me from my job at a local family-owned business. Thanks, Mom.
Yesterday, a guy came up to me at work and said, “How are you ever going to get a job with all those piercings?” I’ll say that again. A guy came up to me … at work … and asked, “How are you ever going to get a job with all those… Read More
We asked prospective job applicants at our business to fill out a questionnaire. For the line “Choose one word to summarize your strongest professional attribute,” one woman wrote, “I’m very good at following instructions.”
A graphic designer on the phone with his client.
Designer: Hi. I’m just updating the copy for your form and was wondering if you meant to say “programs” for the third question.
Client: No! What I sent along was completely accurate. Just… Read More
My brother delivered prescriptions to people too ill to go out. Since the neighborhoods he visited were often unsafe, he decided to get some protection."Why do you need a pistol?" asked the clerk at the gun shop. My brother had to… Read More
When you’re interviewing for a job, you want to make an impression. Hiring managers report that these people made one—just not the right kind: Applicant hugged hiring manager at the end of the interview. Applicant ate all the … Read More
To show his appreciation, a newly hired Japanese office worker bought his boss chocolates. But when he found the box unopened, the insulted worker went ballistic, destroying 22 computers. "I wish the company president had cared a … Read More
A job applicant was asked, "What would you consider to be your main strengths and weaknesses?" "Well," he began, "my main weakness would definitely be my issues with reality—telling what’s real from … Read More
A truer tweet has never been tweeted: "4:30 is to meeting as water is to boarding."
Job hunting is stressful enough without having to answer these interview questions posed by hiring managers: "Rate yourself on a scale of one to ten how weird you are." "How many basketballs can you fit in this room?"… Read More
A candy company’s sales team was promised a trip to sunny Hawaii this past winter if they met their sales quota. They missed their mark and instead got the consolation prize: a vacation in Fargo, North Dakota, where the temperature … Read More
Meetingboy.com invites viewers to gripe about their jobs. Some of the best responses: "No, I wasn’t playing devil’s advocate. I really think your idea is stupid." "Getting an excellent performance review but … Read More
My sister Angela was impressed by a job applicant’s confidence. "How will you gain your coworkers’ respect?" she asked. The reply: "Mainly through my misdemeanor."
After receiving the umpteenth late-night communication from a business associate in Asia, I grumbled to my son, "Don’t ever work for a global company!" A reservist, he said, "I already do. It’s called the U.S. … Read More
Someone advertising on Craigslist said she was well suited for child care. After all, she had plenty of experience in "CPR and Choking Children."
When a woman applies for a job at a citrus grove, the foreman asks, "Do you have any experience picking lemons?" "Well," she answers, "I’ve been divorced three times."
When asked her opinion on punctuality, an applicant for an office job assured me she thought it was extremely important. "I use periods, commas, and question marks all the time," she said.
My friend had been pounding the pavement in search of a job with no luck. Frustrated, she asked her dad to look at her résumé. He didn’t get much further than the first line of her cover letter before spotting the problem. &… Read More
"Why did you leave your last job?" "It was something my boss said." "What did he say?" "’You’re fired!’"
Applicants for jobs at the company where my friend Diana works are asked to fill out a questionnaire. Among the things candidates list is their high school and when they attended. One prospective employee dutifully wrote the name of his … Read More
My go-getter coworker asked me, "Andrea, why put off till tomorrow what you can do today?” I replied, "On the chance that I get fired this afternoon and don’t have to do it at all.”
Workers at the Carlsberg brewery in Denmark walked off the job after losing a prized perk: unlimited beer at work. They now have to settle for three beers at lunch. A worker told the Wall Street Journal that wasn’t enough: "I … Read More
We know you’d never do it, but some people concoct crazy stories so they can skip work. Here are a few, collected by hiring managers: • Employee said a chicken attacked his mom. • Employee had a hair transplant that went … Read More
When a Middletown, New Jersey, police officer retired, he cited low morale. But he didn’t leave quietly. While walking the beat on his last day, he wrote 14 tickets for expired inspection stickers … all to police patrol cars.
Posted by the Illinois Valley News: "How bad do you want to be a reporter? Bad enough to work nights and weekends? In exchange for your long hours and tireless efforts, you will be rewarded with low pay and marginal health insurance.&… Read More
I just saw an ad for a position I feel completely qualified for: "Wanted: bartenders. No exp. necessary. Must have: legal ID, phone, transportation, and teeth."
The Twitter account @MeetingBoy invites viewers to gripe about work. Some of our favorite responses: Hey, everybody! My boss is running a special on poorly thought-out, unworkable ideas today. The discount code is YESSIR. Making up new … Read More
The toughest part of applying for a new job is having to explain why you’re no longer at your previous one. Here are rationalizations from cover letters that did no one any good: "My boss thought I could do better elsewhere." &… Read More
Cops had no trouble tracking down a woman who allegedly shoplifted from a Toronto-area store. A few minutes earlier, she had interviewed for a job there and left her résumé.
Clientsfromhell.com was established by freelance art directors and graphic designers who have seen the dark side of their clients … and survived. Client No. 1: So it turns out you were right about me wanting a colon instead of a … Read More
While I was assigned to the space shuttle program, my job included ordering supplies. One of the engineers requested a new dictionary. Following regulations, I asked him why he needed it. I expected his answer to be "My old copy is … Read More
Need a reason for being late to work? Don’t try these—they didn’t help any of the workers who actually used them. My deodorant was frozen to the windowsill. My car door fell off. I dreamed I was already at work. I had an early-… Read More
September is Be Kind to Editors and Writers Month. As these quotes from overheardinthenewsroom.com prove, we need all the sympathy we can get. First editor: "They just sent in a correction on the obit." Second editor: "Is … Read More
During her retirement party from the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office, coworkers told stories about my less-than-worldly mother. My favorite came from her supervisor, who recalled one of the first arrest reports Mom had created. … Read More
I called a temp agency looking for work, and they asked if I had any phone skills. I said, "I called you, didn’t I?"
Going on a job interview? Take pity on the poor hiring managers, who filed these reports: "The applicant smelled his armpits on the way to the interview room." "The candidate told the interviewer he was fired from his last … Read More
Humorist Phil Proctor does a lot of radio voice-overs. But his favorite part of the job is reading the character descriptions in the script: • "We’re looking for the voice of God, but not a goofy God, a real God." • &… Read More
I opened the refrigerator at work to get my lunch. Instead of my dessert, I found this note: "IOU one banana cream. Sorry, it was an emergency. Sharon."
When my boss returned to the office, he was told that everyone had been looking for him. That set him off on a speech about how indispensable he was to the company. "Actually," interrupted his assistant, "you left with the … Read More
One read through this man’s résumé and it was no wonder he was looking for a new line of work: Under "Previous Job," he’d written, "Stalker at Walmart."
A job application made me do a double take. After the entry "Sex," the applicant had written, "Once in Florida."
I won’t be hiring this assistant soon, even if her résumé boasts, "I’m a team player with 16 years of assassinating experience."
While auditing one of our departments, an assistant asked me what I was doing. "Listing your assets," I told her. "Oh," she said. "Well, I have a good sense of humor and I make great lasagna."
An employment website boasted that it provided training, counseling, and placement services. What’s more, “many services are available in Spanish, and we arrange interrupters.”
A friend had a waitressing position open at his diner and asked job seekers to fill out an application. Under "Salary Expected," a woman wrote "Friday."
A job interviewer asked me where I wanted to be in five years. I said, "Ideally, suspended with pay."
I had an inauspicious start as a dog groomer when one of my first clients bit me. Noticing my pain, my boss voiced her concern. "Whatever you do," she said, "don’t bleed on the white dogs."
Our daughter took the afternoon off from her job at the funeral home to visit her daughter in preschool. When one of the kids asked what she did for a living, my granddaughter answered for her: "She sells underground furniture."
Before leaving my assistant job for greener pastures, I was asked to reply to applicants hoping to replace me. "Very smart and intelligent," my boss had written on one of the applications. "Too good for this job."
How do you get human resources to remember you? Try pulling some of these actual interview stunts. Balding applicant abruptly excused himself and returned a few minutes later wearing a hairpiece. Applicant asked to see the reviewer&rsquo… Read More
During a conference, I was pleasantly surprised to be seated next to a very handsome man. We flirted casually through dinner, then grew restless as the dignitaries gave speeches. During one particularly long-winded lecture, my new friend … Read More
How do you get hiring managers to hire you? Don’t pull these actual, creepily creative stunts: Applicant put up posters of himself in the company parking lot. Applicant announced his candidacy with a singing telegram. Applicant … Read More
According to careerbuilder.com, a full 15 percent of workers admit to getting to the office late at least once a week. And here are some of their excuses: I have transient amnesia and couldn’t remember my job. I was indicted for … Read More
Here’s a job to avoid: hiring manager. See what you’d have to contend with? The candidate answered his cell phone and asked the interviewer to leave her own office because it was a "private" conversation. The candidate told the … Read More
I input a junior manager’s self-evaluation, which said in part, "I have been on the job for three months, and I finally feel as if I’ve accomplished something." I made one mistake, however. I replaced the word job with John.
What’s the finest example of fiction today? The résumé. Here are some classics sent to bemused hiring managers. Candidate listed military service dating back to before he was born. Candidate claimed to be a member of the … Read More
Johnson, who always shows up for work on time, comes in an hour late, his face scratched and bruised, his glasses bent. "What happened to you?" his boss asks. "I fell down two flights of stairs," Johnson answers. &… Read More
Looking for a job? Try to avoid these résumé bombs, collected from bemused hiring managers: Candidate specified that his availability was limited because Friday, Saturday, and Sunday was "drinking time." Candidate… Read More
After my daily jog to work, I found a colleague standing outside our building, puffing on a cigarette. Seeing that I was sweaty and out of breath, she became concerned. "Just how far away did you park?"
Conversation at our business lunch turned to illegal immigration. “I read an article that said 60 percent of Americans are immigrants,” commented one of my colleagues. “That can’t be true,” another said.
“No,” agreed a Native American co… Read More
We know you’d never do it, but some people concoct crazy stories for skipping work. Here are a few, collected by hiring managers: Employee didn’t want to lose his parking space in front of his house. Employee said he had a heart … Read More
When I phoned my employee to find out why she hadn’t come to the office, I expected to hear a sob story about how sick she was, blah, blah, blah. Instead, her excuse was pretty plausible. "When I was driving to work, I took a wrong … Read More
How not to become a member of senior management: During a meeting, our bosses held a contest to name a new project. As members of the management team read through the entries, our CEO picked one out and asked, "Who knows what a … Read More
"’That’s a great place to work!" shouted my 16-year-old brother after coming home from the first day at his first job. "I get two weeks’ paid vacation." "I’m so glad," said my mother. "Yeah," added … Read More
A waitress at our restaurant had a change of clothes stolen from the break room. Making matters worse, she"d planned on wearing them to the Christmas party. As a brand-new employee, I didn’t know any of this backstory, so I was a bit… Read More
The brave new memo about the company’s revised travel policy read as follows: We were no longer allowed to buy cheap tickets via the Internet. Instead, we were required to use the more expensive company travel department. Furthermore, to … Read More
One Saturday night my boss and her family came to our house to play cards. As they were driving away at the end of the evening, I discovered that she had left her purse in a corner next to the dining-room hutch. I was about to call her … Read More
Who says companies only care about the bottom line? Ours is socially conscious and offers employees fun outdoor activities throughout the complex.Both of these admirable elements were driven home one day when a voice over the loudspeaker … Read More
Problems with my laptop required calling the dreaded company help line. The service rep, based in another country, did not speak English very well. So I tried to explain it as simply as possible:"I can’t get the computer to work."… Read More
Although desperate to find work, I passed on a job I found on an employment website. It was for a wastewater plant operator. Among the job requirements: "Must be able to swim."
A fellow cop from our precinct had only a few months left on the job, and he could always be heard ticking off the weeks, days, hours and minutes. Our chief was not amused."I’ve been on the job for 43 years, and I’ve never counted off … Read More
In Hong Kong on business, my friend Rocky was in a cab, and the driver pointed to some Asians on the sidewalk. "They are Americans," he said."How can you tell?" asked Rocky."They’re fat."Pointing to his gut, … Read More
Even though it was warm outside, the heat was on full blast in my office at the hospital. So I asked our nursing unit secretary to get someone to fix it. This was a one-man job, so I could not figure out why two guys showed up — until I … Read More
When my daughter was preparing for her school’s "career week," a time when career options are discussed and often led by representatives of different professions, we talked about my job as an airline customer-services … Read More
When employees of the restaurant where I work attended a fire-safety seminar, we watched a fire official demonstrate the proper way to operate an extinguisher. "Pull the pin like a hand grenade," he explained, "then depress … Read More
A New York retail clerk was suffering from aching feet. "It’s all those years of standing," his doctor declared. "You need a vacation. Go to Miami, soak your feet in the ocean and you’ll feel better."When the man got to … Read More
On the afternoon of Administrative Professionals Day, my co-worker and I finally found the time to get gifts for our secretaries. While at the store, my colleague noticed my disappointment when I discovered the shop didn’t provide gift … Read More
I was delighted to discover that I could play compact discs in the new computer my company had given me. One morning I was enjoying one of my favorite Beethoven pieces when an administrative assistant stopped by to deliver a stack of papers… Read More
Our copier was on the fritz so I put a note on it: "Service has been called." When the technician told me he had to order parts, I added a second note: "Parts have been ordered." During the next five days, when we had to… Read More
Everyone at the company I worked for dressed up for Halloween. One fellow’s costume stumped us. He simply wore slacks and a white T-shirt with a large 98.6 printed across the front in glitter. When someone finally asked what he was supposed… Read More
Anytime companies merge, employees worry about layoffs. When the company I work for was bought, I was no exception. My fears seemed justified when a photo of the newly merged staff appeared on the company’s website with the following words … Read More
Our office building’s only elevator was acting up. When I rode it to the lobby on my way to lunch, the door refused to open. Trying not to panic, I hit the emergency button, which triggers an automatic call to the repair service. Through … Read More
Some of my co-workers and I decided to remove the small, wooden suggestion box from our office because it had received so few entries. We stuck the box on top of a seven-foot-high metal storage cabinet and then promptly forgot about it. … Read More
One of my pet peeves as a musician in a symphony orchestra is trying to follow the erratic beat of famous guest conductors. I didn’t realize how strongly the rest of the musicians felt until we were talking to someone from a university … Read More
My husband, Daniel, had been promoted to a newly created position. He was eager to find out what his official title was, so when his business cards finally arrived, I was surprised that he seemed reluctant to show me. After some persuasion… Read More
During the latter stages of my pregnancy, I brought a cushion to work to make my chair more comfortable. One afternoon I returned from lunch to find my chair had been pushed to the far side of my work area. "Looks like someone’s been … Read More
Overheard: "Yesterday I got my tie stuck in the fax machine. Next thing I knew, I was in Los Angeles."
A female attorney in a law office found a typewriter on her desk with this note: “We are short of secretarial help and need your assistance.”
Recognizing that this was yet another prank by her male colleagues, she quickly typed a response … Read More
When I was a rookie police officer, I was flustered by citizens who got upset if I gave them a traffic ticket. They would accuse me of trying to complete my quota for the month. Then a veteran officer gave me some useful advice.
The next… Read More
A friend and I used to run a small temporary-staffing service. Our agency did mandatory background checks on all job candidates, even though our application form asked them if they’d ever been convicted of a crime.One day after a round of … Read More
In honor of my brother’s retirement from the police force, my sister-in-law decided to throw a surprise party for him. Plans made in secrecy over a two-month period included catering and entertainment decisions as well as travel … Read More
The clinic where I work promoted a co-worker to head the payroll department, or Payment Management Systems. The title on his door now reads "PMS Director."
Our local newspaper ran several stories about a study that tied male obesity to a virus. One evening my brother came in exhausted from a long day at work. "Did you read the paper?" he asked."I won’t be going in to work … Read More
An acquaintance of mine was hired as a research assistant by the physics department of a West Coast university to investigate the thermodynamic properties of wood. Two weeks after starting work he was approached by an encyclopedia salesman … Read More
It was our new receptionist’s very first job, and it showed in the way she dressed—her revealing clothes screamed "college" more than "office." As diplomatically as he could, our boss sat her down and told her that… Read More
When a fellow piano tuner was ill, I took over his assignment of tuning a piano in a girls’ boardinghouse. While I was at work, several of the girls strolled casually through the room in various states of undress. The climax came when a … Read More
I was working as a short-order cook at two restaurants in the same neighborhood. On a Saturday night, I was finishing up the dinner shift at one restaurant and hurrying to report to work at the second place. But I was delayed because one … Read More
The boss placed a sign directly over the sink in the men’s room at work. It had a single word on it: "Think!"The next day when the boss went to the men’s room, he saw another sign had been placed immediately above the soap … Read More
Being the office supervisor, I had to have a word with a new employee who never arrived at work on time. I explained that her tardiness was unacceptable and that other employees had noticed that she was walking in late every day. After … Read More
Another man and I share a locker at work. Noticing that it needed a new combination lock, my partner said he would pick one up on his way to work the next day. It occurred to me later that I might not see him in the morning. How would I … Read More
Hard to believe, but many of our customers at the bank still don’t know how to swipe their card through the ATM card reader. Because of this, my fellow tellers and I often find ourselves having to explain how it’s done. One teller … Read More
My brother Jim was hired by a government agency and assigned to a small office cubicle in a large area. At the end of his first day, he realized he couldn’t see over the panels to find his way out, so he waited until he saw someone else … Read More
The company where I work provides four-foot-high cubicles so each employee can have some privacy. One day a co-worker had an exasperating phone conversation with one of her teenage sons. After hanging up, she heaved a sigh and said, "… Read More
My nephew, a flight attendant, split the back of his pants one day during a flight. To save embarrassment, he decided to work in front of the beverage cart, facing forward.
The arrangement worked perfectly until he got to the last row … Read More
I was halfway through a meeting with a photocopy salesman, when he suddenly mentioned his wife and children, and how contented he was. I was puzzled, but let him continue. It was only when I glanced down that I understood his reason for … Read More
Each year our company holds a training session in the conference room of the same hotel. When we were told we would not be able to reserve our usual location, my secretary, Gail, spent many hours on the phone trying to work out alternative … Read More
My husband works for a high-tech company that uses a sophisticated robotic mail-delivery system. The robot makes mail stops by following a clear painted line on the hallway floor. Recently the line had to be recharged by applying special … Read More