People Share the Most Epic Work Meltdowns They’ve Witnessed
We’ve all had awful jobs, and we’ve all fantasized about telling it like it is. The shouting match with a boss, the meltdown directed at an annoying coworker, or the episode where you can’t resist cursing out a rude customer. These fantasies absorb us because they’re such an alluring solution to the drudgery of work.
Of course, we can’t actually go out and do these satisfying things…unless we want to lose a job and burn some bridges, of course. So the only solution is to keep these feelings bottled up (and maybe give that cocky boss a glare as he passes by; he won’t notice).
To help soothe you and quench that urge for workplace justice, we went and collected some of the best stories of workplace meltdowns that people had to offer. May you feel vindicated.
The Bald Poodle
I used to work at a pet grooming salon. One day, one of my coworkers made a joke about “liquid lunch” and tried to get us all to join her in downing a bottle of vodka at 1pm. We naturally refused. She then proceeded to shave someone’s standard poodle entirely bald instead of giving it a haircut.
Then, suddenly, she just left, never to be seen again. The groom shop owner’s face was just priceless! Reddit User: [redacted]
Don’t Curse at the Kids!
My 9th grade physical education teacher was an intense woman…and by intense I mean that she could have effectively motivated people in a military boot camp or on an Olympic track and field team. Unfortunately for her, this was not an appropriate way to deal with tiny high school kids trying to make it through a mile-long run.
She would scream curses at us to get us to work harder and run faster. Obviously some of the kids complained to their parents, and she got fired. Oops! Reddit User: [redacted]
Back in high school, I used to work at a Taco Bell for a little bit of extra spending money. One of the college-aged kids who worked with me seemed pretty normal, but he was always a bit quiet, and I wondered if there was more under the surface. Then, one day, a woman tried to order, and he simply refused, stating “I’m a dinosaur.” Then he roared loudly at the customer.
He got fired later that day, but I always wondered what possessed him to reveal his inner “dinosaur” at that precise moment. Also, I wonder what kind of dinosaur he thought he was! Reddit User: Nathann4288
The Cabinet Incident
I just graduated from an education master’s degree and started working in a low-income school. My coworkers like to tell a story called the “cabinet incident.” Apparently, the year before I got to the school, the principal had a meltdown, chucked a ream of paper out of a window, and locked herself in a small cabinet in her office.
It took hours for the teachers to coax the principal out of her office. She never returned to the school, and rumor has it that she even checked into a hospital for a few days to undergo psychological evaluation! Reddit User: MysteriousPlatypus
Is Money Real?
I never expected to be drawn into serious philosophical speculation about the nature of money in my old job writing financial accounting software. One day, the coder in the cubicle next to me (a kind, middle-aged man) just started sobbing at his desk. When I asked what was wrong, he turned to me and said, “It’s all so pointless…money doesn’t mean anything!”
At first I thought he was complaining about his salary, but then I realized he was talking about something deeper. Why do we put our faith in currency anyway? Isn’t it all just made up? Whoa! Reddit User: downvolt
I work at a pretty normal company; we do social media marketing for online brands. One day, a coworker of mine walked up to another person who works with us and gave her a playful slap on the shoulder, saying, “Wake up, lazy!” I think it was a joke, but the person who got slapped let out a scream, jumped on the slapper, and put him in a chokehold.
It was some serious, UFC-in-the-office style fighting! Obviously both of them got fired, but boy did it put the office on edge for a couple of weeks. Reddit User: Xecron050
Pickle Juice Everywhere
I was working in a warehouse as a summer job and saw a forklift operator, not really paying full attention, make a wild turn and spill a palet of pickled eggs everywhere. The stench was awful (sulfur, vinegar, and pickling spices), and it was clear that it would stick around for a while. Our shift manager just started screaming in this awful, guttural way.
Nobody really got punished, since it was clearly an accident. But that scream was burned into our brains forever and was probably punishment enough. Reddit User: MicolashCaged
Don’t Dirty Up the Pool
I was working on a team cleaning out suburban backyard pools for rich families. One day, my coworker saw a text on his phone, loudly cursed, then grabbed one of the tables next to the pool and just threw it in. We were almost done cleaning too, but then we had to wade in and drag a heavy metal table out. I was angry.
Apparently his cousin had texted to say he was “borrowing” my coworker’s N64. I mean, I’d be annoyed too, but have some respect for your work, dude. Reddit User: Deathisrebirth
Can’t Deal With This
My boss at work (a pretty bland design agency) was always very put together and seemed to have her life in control. She was also super nice to all of us. I guess one day she simply snapped. I walked into the office bathroom around lunchtime and saw her crouched on the floor of a stall just smearing poop all over the floor!
I immediately got one of our coworkers…you know, the empathetic one…who talked our boss out of the bathroom and into a cab home. She took the week off, came back, and nobody ever mentioned anything. Reddit User: melesana
I Love Some Good Written Feedback
Once, when I was in college, I was taking a statistics class with a well-known professor. It was a pretty large class, and the professor did most of the teaching by handwriting proofs on a projector so that the whole class could see. One day, without explanation, he started crying and writing down his complaints about how students didn’t care.
Everyone felt really bad for the guy; we liked him, even if we actually didn’t care about the material. There was a lot of silent fidgeting and clearing of throats, but at least nobody walked out! Reddit User: [redacted]
This Is Orchestra Rehearsal, Not Dodgeball
The conductor of the orchestra I play for once had a terrible meltdown when we were rehearsing for an international competition. The cello players kept delaying things by chatting and goofing off in their little section. Without warning, the conductor shouted and threw a metal hole puncher into the cello section!
Luckily nobody was hurt. One of the players had a broken bow, but the conductor was a good sport and even paid to replace it! Reddit User: SpammityCalamity
Walmart Doritos Meltdown
I’m a cashier at Walmart. I can tell you that people do not treat us properly, and it’s a source of constant annoyance. But if you want to keep your job, you just have to take it silently. One day, a customer was yelling at my coworker for not price matching his bag of Doritos, and my coworker just lost it, with devastating consequences.
I think he shouted something like, “No, I won’t do that; you’re so fat you don’t even need those Doritos.” Needless to say he was fired; you just can’t be offensive like that, no matter how annoyed you are. Reddit User: darklight33
Don’t Let Daddy Get Involved
I was working a pretty basic summer retail job when one of my coworkers, a high school girl, got fired for smoking cigarettes in the parking lot on her breaks. The very next day, her father comes into the store shirtless, smelly, and sunburnt all over and starts screaming at our manager to reinstate his daughter.
I have a lot of respect for my boss after what he did. He just calmly stood there and explained, over and over again, his reason for firing the girl. And he refused to go back on his decision. Reddit User: Dr_MaxiMoose
You Want a Pizza Me?
I used to deliver pizzas with a guy who had a bit of a temper. We both drove motorcycles to work in order to pick up the delivery car. One day, he arrived and saw that a new guy had taken his favorite parking spot. Rather than talk to the new guy, my delivery partner calmly pulled out a monkey wrench from his bike’s saddle bag and whacked the new guy in the head.
The fight pretty much ended there, and obviously my delivery guy got fired. I was pretty happy about it, because I sure didn’t relish the idea of ending up on the business end of that wrench. Reddit User: [redacted]
Get Away With Anything
I used to work at an IT company responsible for pushing new software to big firms’ servers. The guy in charge of fixing complicated deployment problems just stood up one day, pushed his three monitors off his desk, and smashed his keyboard before calmly walking out of the office. He showed up the next day like nothing happened.
Obviously management was angry about the ruined equipment, but the guy was really good at his job, and we were in the middle of a few projects, so nobody punished him at all. Seems right to me! Reddit User: MeltdownInteractive
I work in a pretty big office that is just a floor full of cubicles. There’s this one guy who is hard of hearing (not his fault, I know) and who blasts his radio at a high volume all day, every day. We’ve all complained about it multiple times. One day, another coworker just stands up, rips the radio off the guy’s desk, and smashes it on the floor.
Everyone was a bit terrified at the violence of the act, but we were all pretty happy too. I think the radio’s owner realized this, since he never complained, and everyone just went on with their lives. Reddit User: [redacted]
It’s Chuck E. Cheese
I used to work at a Chuck E. Cheese in college. One day, a coworker of mine who was known for being exceptionally lazy at work got fired in the middle of our shift. He responded by taking a pocket knife out of his pants, making a small cut in his palm, and going around wiping blood on all of the walls.
We eventually convinced him to leave and stop causing trouble; he was actually a very fun fellow, and we all liked him. Our manager basically just stood there in shock the entire time. Reddit User: goavsgo1988
Can You See the Moon?
I used to work in a mall kiosk with a woman who liked to wear clothes that were maybe a bit too revealing for the job we had. Specifically, she wore very low cut jeans that would show a significant amount of her lingerie. One day, when our manager called her out, she just shouted, “If you like looking at my butt so much, here it is!”
She then mooned him, me, and all of our customers before storming out in a huff. She never came back, but honestly part of me appreciates her standing up for her right to express herself with her clothing choices. Reddit User: ooo-ooo-oooyea
The “Silent But Deadly” Approach
Not all meltdowns are the screaming kind. I worked in a call center for about a year, and while I saw plenty of shouting matches, both with customers and management, I most respected the silent walkouts. This one guy had finally had enough one day, hung up on his caller, calmly handwrote a resignation note, left it on his desk, and walked out.
I never heard from the guy again. I like to think that he moved on to bigger and better things. I’m pretty sure he made the right decision either way. Reddit User: xgonegiveit2ya
Quit Before You Get Fired
I was working as a bagger at a local grocery store when I gave the best advice of my life. The bagger who worked next to me was super slow and kept slacking. We all knew he was going to get the boot. I told him to quit first since it would be better on his resume. I guess he did, since he walked out of the boss’ office without his uniform and just said, “I took your advice.”
He then walked down the row of baggers and calmly said thank you to each employee and cursed out each customer. Then he walked away into the sunset. Reddit User: makeitwork1989
My boss at the grocery store where I worked decided to fire one of the other cashiers one day. Unfortunately for him, he chose this stubborn old lady who had been working at the store for almost 15 years, and she did not take it well. After their shouting match ended, she walked out to her pickup truck, got in, and used it to ram the boss’ car.
We were all struggling to hold ourselves back, but when we saw the collision, nobody could keep a straight face. At least we didn’t openly cheer in support of the cashier; then we might have all been fired. Reddit User: BoxBopChallenge
Video Store Epiphany
I worked in a Blockbuster back in the day. Do you even remember what those stores were like? Mind-numbingly boring for 80% of the time is what; can you imagine having to sit through the total emptiness of midday there? Anyway, my buddy at the store came in for his shift one day and seemed like he’d been drinking. The rest is history.
He sat at his cashier booth and just ate chips for 4 hours without saying a word. At the end of his shift, he stood up, said, “I think I’m done here,” and left, never to be seen again (at the store). Reddit User: properfoxes
I was shopping at a Publix once and heard the most hilarious conversation between a manager in the hot foods section and one of the employees. The manager was trying to reprimand the fellow for eating on the job, and the employee was downplaying it. Basically the disagreement was over how many wings the guy had eaten.
As I listened, it became apparent that, while stuffing wings into the takeaway boxes, he’d been eating one for every wing he transferred: one for the box, and one for me! That’s so brave. Reddit User: sweaty_obesity
Race to HR
I got into an argument with my boss one time about the dress code in our workplace. As the back and forth heated up, it became apparent that neither of us was going to give in, and that HR would have to mediate. We both realized at basically the same time and proceded to race, full speed running, down the hallway and stairs to the HR office.
I ended up getting there just before he did, and it was great. He had to stand there in the waiting room for 30 minutes while I made my report. Can only imagine the look on his face. Reddit User: [redacted]
At my old high school, a bunch of us worked at the local corner deli. One of the girls, I think she was in 10th grade, got a cushy cashier job because her dad owned the store. Anyway, she got caught stealing from the register and selling drugs by the doors, and when the cops came to take her away, she full-on melted down in the parking lot.
She was rolling around on the ground screaming and crying and demanding to see her “daddy.” None of us could stop laughing. Reddit User: Blackbeyond
Swordfight in the Streets of Chicago
I was walking with my wife around Chicago sometime last year, and we saw two furniture movers get into a tiff as they were unloading their truck. I thought they’d eventually calm down, but they didn’t, and I’m glad that I stayed to watch. They basically started fighting; one of them had a floor lamp and the other had a metal bird bath, medieval style.
It was basically like a broadsword fight out of Braveheart. Couldn’t pay for better entertainment if we tried. Happily, nobody was seriously injured. Reddit User: stevieracine
Now That’s Karma
I once worked with a really spiteful dude who got fired after a few years at our firm (doing sales). He took the company car, an old Saab, into the most dangerous part of town and left it open with the keys inside, hoping it would get stolen. It actually ended up being returned to the office by a good samaritan, which warms my heart.
He, on the other hand, had no way to get home after he left the car and ended up walking in the dark. Of course, he got mugged and beaten up, which we found out the following week. Reddit User: [redacted]
An All-Nighter…at McDonald’s
I was working as a franchise manager at a McDonald’s a few years ago, and basically all of my employees called in sick one day. The result was that one of the day shift workers ended up staying for 24 hours (I didn’t insist on it, but she wanted the overtime). The following day, she was so tired she just curled into a ball by the fries machine and fell asleep.
I had to try everything to get her to get up and go home, and eventually I just ended up carrying her out to an Uber and paying for her ride. Made me feel terrible. Reddit User: stumbler1
Suit Guy Rage
I work in a business casual office, but there’s one guy who comes in every day in a suit. We call him “suit guy” for obvious reasons. He also drinks a large coffee, a Monster energy drink, and a can of Mountain Dew every single day and is currently going through a divorce. A few months ago, he just started screaming into his cell phone, then snapped it in half with his bare hands.
That level of rage is pretty terrifying. I don’t know what set him off, but he came in the next day as if nothing had even happened. Reddit User: BromanJenkins
Beat the Camera
I was interning for a local ABC news station a few years ago, and the craziest thing happened. Right before the news switched over to the weather, the weatherman walked in, looked at something on his computer, and then just screamed, “THIS IS OUT OF CONTROL, ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” He then stood up, straightened his tie, and walked calmly over to the green screen.
I’ve always admired the self-control it takes to be a live presenter. I guess that was a bit of a view behind the scenes. Reddit User: [redacted]
Let Them Eat Cake
I work in a bridal supply shop that, among other things, creates custom wedding cakes for wealthy clients. As you can imagine, we deal with a lot of entitled people. One day, a bride-to-be walked into our store without an appointment and demanded a cake consult. We said no.
Naturally, the woman melted down. She even ran around taking bites and handfuls out of the demo cakes and throwing them across the room. Jeez. Reddit User: ImjustShae
Flower Power Strike
I work in a public garden, and most of the professional flower arrangers are kindly older folks who are incredibly polite (some of them are even from Britain). One day, the garden manager informed them that they were not allowed to park their cars on the grounds, and the cars were about to be towed.
The next day, the arrangers had formed a picket line, complete with radically pro-union signs, and marched around refusing to let anyone into the garden. Fight for your rights, I guess. Reddit User: imakindainsectoid
This one isn’t exactly work-related, but when I was a kid, I competed in spelling bees. I remember one time, a contestant who went to the podium right before me got a word wrong and literally refused to leave the stage. She just kept screaming “it’s not fair,” even though it appeared to be totally fair.
I was very young and still baffled that anyone could act like that. I remember asking my mom after the bee if I could do the same thing when I lost; her shocked expression said an emphatic “no!” Reddit User: emperordodotine
Parental Supervision Fail
I work at a movie theater and have to refuse to sell R-rated tickets to minors without parental supervision. I did this once, even though the kid promised his dad was coming (and was just parking the car). Of course, the father then comes storming in and screams at me for making them late to the movie.
He used so many curse words in front of his son; I imagine that it was worse than the R-rated movie anyway. Talk about a fail. Reddit User: [redacted]
The Home Depot Chainsaw Massacre
I work in a hardware supply shop, and one day, a guy came in to get his chainsaw fixed. Since the store was about to close, we refused to do it that day. He flew into a fit and started storming around threatening people with the (non-operational) chainsaw, finally throwing it at the help desk guy.
Luckily he didn’t injure anyone, but he’s still not allowed back in the store. I wonder if he ever got the saw fixed? Reddit User: Nuclearsquirrel
Mop THIS Up
I work at a Stop & Shop where the manager is a bit stringent about cleanliness. Like, not stringent in a reasonable, please-the-health-inspectors way. One day, the poor kid assigned to mop up the floor for the 5th time finally cracked, picked up the filthy mop, and wiped it all over the manager’s shirt.
There was no coming back from that one. Not that the kid wanted to; he just shouted “I’m free” and walked right out the door! Reddit User: LunickDrago
Airport Check-In Gone Awry
I was waiting in line to board a flight back from Turkey once when I saw the gate agent get into a heated argument with one of the would-be passengers. They kept gesticulating wildly in the direction of the “no hazardous items on board” sign, so I imagine it was somewhat serious.
Eventually, the gate agent just slapped the customer across the face, kicked over the sign, and stormed away. Needless to say, the flight was delayed. Reddit User: [redacted]
Don’t Anger the Mason
I saw two stone masons get in a fight once when I was doing odd jobs on a construction site. I was working on some electrical wiring, so I was out of harm’s way, but I saw the whole escalation. Less than 5 minutes after the initial dispute, one of them threw a hammer at the other.
It connected and shattered the guy’s cheekbone. The cops came, took statements, and we never saw either of them again. Reddit User: devildunkard
There’s Blood Everywhere
I work in a blood bank and have this awesome coworker named Dan. He works super long shifts, up to 72 hours at a time, and never complains about anything. Anyway, one day, at the end of a grueling 50-hour week, I look over, and Dan is on the ground having a seizure.
The part that makes the story totally crazy is that, since we work in a blood bank, there were burst bags of blood everywhere, and Dan was covered in the red stuff. It was a horrifying sight, for sure. Reddit User: Dayleedo
Finishing the Job
I was working on a construction site as a carpenter when one of my colleagues totally lost it. He was tired after working an exceptionally long shift, and I guess he made a mistake with a bandsaw and cut the tip off of one of his fingers. He looked at it and calmly said, “Well why not take the rest too?” to the saw.
Before anyone could stop him, he just took his hand and swiped it across the saw, losing the rest of his fingers in one fell swoop. I can’t even imagine how far past his breaking point the poor guy was. Reddit User: Optibane