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Author Topic: Burning bridges at work
CaySedai
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Slight language warning:

I work at a newspaper. I copy edit and do paginating (news page layout). One of our paginators, known as "Kid," has been there for a couple of years.

Kid got another job. His last night at work was Thursday. It didn't occur to me or anyone else that he might take advantage of it being his last night to pull a rather nasty prank.

Kid did, among other pages, the comics page Thursday night. He printed out a proof sheet and I copy edited it. It looked fine. The person who was in charge Thursday night saw the page and told Kid to send it. Apparently, he then made some modifications to the page.

I didn't find out until I was at work Friday afternoon and the news editor asked me to come into the office. She kept saying, "you're not in trouble." Then our publisher came in and the news editor explained what happened.

Kid bolded certain letters in a "syndicated column" to spell out a message: "Carol is a fat stupid bitch." In case you were wondering, I'm the only Carol in the newsroom, and as far as I know, the only Carol at work. So, yeah, that would be me.

So, the fur is flying. The publisher is livid. He had to talk to the head of the company that owns the paper and we printed a correction in Saturday's paper (basically saying a former employee put an unauthorized message in Friday's paper). Our managing editor is on vacation - she'll be back Tuesday. I think she had a fond spot in her heart for Kid, but I don't think that will be true any more.

I think that if his new employer gets wind of this "prank," he might be looking for another job fairly quickly. I think his new job involves creating ads for a publication, so it's fairly important that he doesn't add anything "unauthorized."

I don't know if the paper will take legal action or contact his new employer or anything. I've blogged about it and I'm nearly done with it. I think.

But I bring it up here to invite people to post recollections of when others have burned their bridges at work. Have you or someone you know done some stupid prank on the last day of work? Feel free to share.

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TL
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Yes. I was a teenager -- or maybe 20 or something -- at the time, but "Muppets In Space" came out at the movie theater where me and my friends worked, and a girl put "Muppets On Crack" on the marquee for opening day.

The next morning the assistant manager badly overslept, and when he finally showed up at the theater the next morning, he faced a crowd of extremely angry parents (about 75 people, I think), who had had to spend the last half hour explaining to their kids, I guess, what was meant by "crack".

Unrelated to the story: I miss that girl. (She did something kind of offensive and pretty darn stupid, but unrelated to that specific act -- she was a terrific girl. I mean I'm sure she still is.)

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CaySedai
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In a related story, I also saw an AP photo of a movie theatre marquee with three current movies listed, in this order:

Mr. Brooks
Knocked Up
Nancy Drew

I wonder if anyone suffered job-related ramifications from that.

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AvidReader
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Depends what you mean by burning bridges. I've never left a job before I was ready to go. I've never had any desire to go back, and I've never been comforted by the thought that I could.

I've never done anything deliberate as part of my last day, but I've had discipline problems in general with lousy managers before I left. (I've learned that I get cranky when I hate my job, spend my day bored, and don't respect mymanager. I'm working on that.) I consider every bridge behind me thoroughly burnt.

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Icarus
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I definitely had a bad attitude before I left school for the summer this year. I didn't curse anybody out or pull any pranks, but I was slow about getting checked out, among other things, because I didn't really give a crap, because I fully expected not to be back. And then--surprise!--I will be. Go figure.

-o-

(((Carol)))

That really sucks. I don't think I'd handle that nearly as well as you seem to be. I hope Kid gets what's coming to him.

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Brinestone
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My dad tells a story of a woman he used to work with. She got a new job, so the department took her out to a nice restaurant as a sort of farewell party. She ordered the most expensive thing on the menu. Then, when the waiter came with the bill, she said, "I'll have another one exactly like that, to go."

Then, six months to a year later, she somehow lost her new job and came crawling back to my dad's company, wanting her old job back. They didn't hire her back. Go figure.

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Dead_Horse
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I had an intern who did nothing but view porn all day. When he left, knowing that I was to inherit his laptop, he left me a nice picture of an extremely large nude woman in a shower stall. I think the nasty little boy had a crush on me. He didn't do a very good job of cleaning up the other porn, either, although he did delete any useful work files. Or maybe there weren't any. Needless to say, when his name came up as a candidate to fill a permanent position, he was vetoed. Ultimately, it was lucky for him. That was a crappy place to work anyway.
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brojack17
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I try to never burn bridges. The only time I leave companies is for better/more paying positions. There have been a couple of instances where an old manager told HR something different than what actually happened.

I don't expect to have to go back to an old company but I think all but one would hire me back.

I try to leave the company in better shape than when I got there.

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CaySedai
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Kid also is in a band. We used to gladly mention the band on our weekly entertainment page. I think that will be a thing of the past. "Oh, I'm sorry, we forgot to put that in."

I can't say for sure, but it's possible the paper might even refuse to take advertising from his band. There is precedent - a person started a Web site that trash-talked certain people in the city, including our managing editor and publisher. He tried to place an ad in the paper directing people to his Web site. I saw the ad on the page and told the managing editor about it and the ad was pulled.

But the burning bridges thing - I guess I've lived too close to the edge for too long. I once worked at a Burger King where in the middle of the rush, the manager ran up to me and practically screamed that I was doing the pickled wrong. "The pickles aren't supposed to overlap or touch!" I hadn't gone through the regular training, just watched people do the sandwiches, so I didn't know that. I sooo wanted to walk out, but I've got children to feed and bills to pay. So I stayed. When I did quit (quite some time later), I gave proper notice and worked out the remaining time.

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CaySedai
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I think that Kid has burned bridges he hasn't come to yet, and I wonder how long it will take before he realizes it.
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Dead_Horse
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Perhaps someone ought to anonymously mail copies of the prank to Kids new employer?
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Kwea
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Why anonymously? Call and tell them you were the target, and are considering legal action.

You did (just now), and decided against it, but they don't need to know that.


Or call and tell them about the complaints about the issue without telling them it was about you.

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Humean316
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quote:
Or call and tell them about the complaints about the issue without telling them it was about you.
Isn't that kind of petty though? I mean yeah he completely over-stepped and burned that bridge, but getting back at him will only make you feel good for a minute. And then, especially if you are a good person, one better than him, you might even feel badly yourself. Especially if you cost him his new job or cause something really bad to happen.

If it were me, I would let it go. I know what he did was wrong, but I think retaliation or vengeance is wrong too. YMMV..

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Kwea
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Not for me....it is about ethics, and his employer has a right to know that he has no business ethics at all, and that his prior job performance was highly unprofessional.

He could place them at risk of a lawsuit next time.


He IS a risk....he might do the same if something happens at his new job.

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Tstorm
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When I worked at Pizza Hut, I knew one of my co-workers performed a couple of nasty tricks one evening before closing. Here's the short version.

First, he oiled the floor near the entrance, so the manager who opened up wound up landing flat on her butt. Second, he put oil on the pasta burner, so it burst into flames when turned on.

I don't believe he worked there after that. But I could be wrong.

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Icarus
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quote:
Originally posted by Kwea:
Not for me....it is about ethics, and his employer has a right to know that he has no business ethics at all, and that his prior job performance was highly unprofessional.

He could place them at risk of a lawsuit next time.


He IS a risk....he might do the same if something happens at his new job.

*nod* It might not be your motivation, but you certainly would be doing a future employer a favor.
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rivka
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Some of y'all know about how unhappy I was at my previous job. When I gave notice, it would have been all too easy to burn some bridges . . . but I know some of the people there socially. And it just seemed like a bad idea, and one with no upside. So I held my tongue (I'd had lots of practice at that there anyway) and left without incident.

There was one issue after I left that was slightly bridge-burning, but that was a matter of principle, and I made it extremely clear why I felt I had no other choice.

They called me last week to see if I was interested in working there again . . . .

It was nice to be asked. It was even nicer to be able to say, "Thanks, but no thanks."




As opposed to my newly-former co-worker, who was asked to work out the two weeks after she was fired. (Which I think was a dumb idea on my boss' part, but that's another story.) While I don't blame her, she did a fair bit of bridge-burning during the week she stayed (she didn't actually stay the second week). In each case I could see where she was coming from, and why she thought she was just protecting herself -- but it just fueled the boss' perceptions of her as someone who was incompetent and unwilling to work. (Which I don't think is true, but my perceptions are not all that relevant.)

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Kwea
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It might even be a part of my motivation, if I cared about the type of work we published. [Big Grin]


Since at least part of the reason he was hired (probably) was the fact he had worked for my company, I would have no qualms about reporting something like this to his new employer...providing my current employer allowed me to do so.

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CaySedai
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I'm not planning to try to contact his new employer. It's a small world here, and I think that his employer will probably find out anyway. Plus, I don't want to defend my actions in court if Kid tried to sue me for defamation of character or slander or something.

I guess I'm content to let him go down in flames on his own. I've got more important (to me) issues like will I have enough gas to last until payday and will I be able to buy a car when my husband gets an expected check in a week or so. (Both our cars developed very expensive mechanical problems - more costly than the cars were worth - and we were without wheels for awhile. We're currently driving an 86 Blazer that he bought for $400. Not the best MPG.)

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Samprimary
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quote:
Isn't that kind of petty though?
If I were an employer who learned of a former employee pulling this prank on his last day, I would consider it ethically irresponsible of me to not inform his employers of his informal treatise, entitled "I have no work ethic," published on his last day.
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KarlEd
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quote:
Originally posted by Tstorm:
When I worked at Pizza Hut, I knew one of my co-workers performed a couple of nasty tricks one evening before closing. Here's the short version.

First, he oiled the floor near the entrance, so the manager who opened up wound up landing flat on her butt. Second, he put oil on the pasta burner, so it burst into flames when turned on.

I don't believe he worked there after that. But I could be wrong.

See, to me that is beyond a "prank" and bordering on assault. If an employee of mine did that he/she would be facing legal action.

If someone had slipped and gotten hurt, or burned in the fire, besides the fact that a random victim was injured or killed, the store would at the very least be open to an expensive lawsuit.

I would press charges to the fullest extent I could if an employee knowingly and maliciously put my facility or my staff/customers in danger through some stupid prank.

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Phanto
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Ditto.
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Tstorm
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I'm sure that as a restaurant owner you'll face decisions like that. Hopefully not very often. Just so you know, I'm not making that up; I am leaving out a ton of details, though. Good luck. [Smile]
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krynn
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i can see this thread turning into one of those "Caught On the Job" TV shows...

This story is about my friend Roger. he worked at a tex-mex restaurant called On The Border. his store was a MIT store, Manager In Training. this location got visited by higher ups often i suppose. so in order to keep the staff looking busy they made the waiters clean out the sugar caddies and then refill them with the sugar packets. Roger decided to write obscene messages little pieces of paper and put them under the sugar in a lot of caddies. things along the lines of "This job sucks *4-letters*," and "I hate my *4-letters*ing job." needless to say he was fired soon after.

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Qaz
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There was one job when I left I had to go around to various departments and get them to sign something saying I hadn't stolen anything from them. This was SOP. I'd call that a burned bridge.

I have also worked at places where they fired a bunch of people with 1 hour's notice; and knew someone who found out he (and everyone in his division) was fired, when he arrived for work and the building was locked.

A local company did something nasty. It moved its operations, but offered locals a deal: we can get you on with this other company doing much the same thing, and you can carry your pension with you to the new company. The workers who took that job were fired 1 day after being hired, and lost the pensions.

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Farmgirl
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I haven't done anything malicious when leaving a job, but I did, in my youth, have a habit of going in the last day and telling off my boss (verbally) and pointing out everything wrong with his/her management style.

I have since learned, and I try to teach my kids: NEVER burn your bridges like that. Kansas is a small place -- you may need to interact with these people again, and what you say/do WILL come back to bite you in the butt.

FG

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CaySedai
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Farmgirl: that's my point about Kid. He's 20-something, supporting his children and everything. I was shocked that he would pull such a stupid stunt. Especially since this is a fairly small market for this type of work.
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ketchupqueen
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quote:
A local company did something nasty. It moved its operations, but offered locals a deal: we can get you on with this other company doing much the same thing, and you can carry your pension with you to the new company. The workers who took that job were fired 1 day after being hired, and lost the pensions.
Was that really nasty on the part of the first company, or just the second?
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Sterling
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I've been tempted at times. The closest I've ever come to such a thing was quite flatly telling my supervisor that if a particular former employee came back to our office, I was resigning.

(Said employee came back for a spot of temp work and achieved what seemed to be a marvelous rate of efficency... By marking all the files they were to work on as "flag" (as in, "someone else needs to look at this") and then going out for an extended smoke break.)

It sounds like you're handling things pretty well, Cay. While I wouldn't seek legal action, I'd be sorely tempted to call personally and ask for an apology. It may have just been stupid and someone's poor idea of humor rather than true malice.

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by ketchupqueen:
quote:
A local company did something nasty. It moved its operations, but offered locals a deal: we can get you on with this other company doing much the same thing, and you can carry your pension with you to the new company. The workers who took that job were fired 1 day after being hired, and lost the pensions.
Was that really nasty on the part of the first company, or just the second?
I suppose that depends what the first company knew, and when they knew it.
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DeathofBees
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My husband had a job for a while as a grill chef where he was forced to work alongside several extremely racist guys. Racist comments in general are bad enough, but they were saying things about my husband's people directly to his face. He spoke several times with the managers about the really hurtful comments made by these co-workers, to no avail, before finally walking out in the middle of a shift saying "screw this!" The head manager was livid, but the other two managers wanted to keep him on because he's such a good worker. He never went back.

Unfortunately, the ironic result is that the experience has been one more that has darkened my husband's opinion of a certain racial group, as all these co-workers happened to be of the same race. Not that he would treat anyone as they did him, but it seems he keeps falling into situations displaying the underbelly of this people group. He's a really caring man, open to learning from anyone, regardless of race, but there's only so much abuse a guy can take, so he has begun avoiding speaking to people from this group. I hope in future we will meet someone who can better his opinion. Racial relations and harmony among peoples weren't exactly notions taught as necessary in his home country. His family is still fighting a border war with a neighboring town. I think, in view of his history, my husband is handling his migration and adjustment fairly well.

As for myself, I didn't actually burn the bridge, but I did do something I feel only slightly guilty about. I worked in a sweet little card shop with a fantastic crew and an upbeat, understanding manager--a real personable gal. She got fed up with the corporate headquarters and quit, and after that our team fell apart. She was replaced by a total incompetant who, among other atrocities, insisted on playing the same CD of pop music over and over instead of allowing the morning crew to choose from among our varied collection (all corporate-provided, including the pop one), as had been our custom previously. So one afternoon as I was unloading a shipment, my box knife happened to gouge a huge scratch in the offensive CD. When questioned about the scratch, I said I did once drop the CD on the floor. I left soon after, though not solely because of the background music--that was just a straw in the load.

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Joldo
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So far I don't think I've been in a situation where I would do such. It just seems lacking in class and unprofessional to burn any bridges on the way out, and I usually end things on good terms.

Every single place I've worked at so far has told me if I ever need a job of that sort again, there'll be a position open for me. Every single place has offered glowing references. I see no point in jeopardizing that.

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Omega M.
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Carol, can you sue this kid for what he did?
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ketchupqueen
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quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
quote:
Originally posted by ketchupqueen:
quote:
A local company did something nasty. It moved its operations, but offered locals a deal: we can get you on with this other company doing much the same thing, and you can carry your pension with you to the new company. The workers who took that job were fired 1 day after being hired, and lost the pensions.
Was that really nasty on the part of the first company, or just the second?
I suppose that depends what the first company knew, and when they knew it.
I agree. I was kind of curious as to the facts of the story.
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CaySedai
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Omega M.:

I don't know if I could sue him. I'm not sure if the paper can sue him. They would have to prove he did it, of course. He was the one who did the page, and it was changed after I OK'd it - we have the original proof page with my initials. He might try to claim that either he didn't do it or he didn't mean me.

It just occured to me to wonder if the paper is worried that I might sue the paper. There was an incident several years ago - well before I worked there - when a person in sports put the words "sucks (something)" after a person's name in wrestling results, I believe. We had a newsroom meeting today where the publisher mentioned the incident, and I think he said it cost the paper $100,000.

I'm only mildly upset by this, more puzzled, actually. And, like I mentioned before, I've got more important things to worry about.

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Joldo
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Look, there's every reason to contact his new employer. He's just shown extremely irresponsible, unprofessional conduct that could be repeated in the future, possibly financially damaging another publication. They deserve to know. Your paper has no duty to this guy to be charitable whatsoever. It does, however, have a duty to make sure that his future employers know to watch out. It sounds harsh, because this basically means he's sabotaged himself professionally for a long, long time, but he financially endangers any publication he works at.
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Nighthawk
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At my former employer we use to have a person in the testing department that would enter test data using either names and addresses with profanity in them or, on some occasions, the name of Citibank employees he didn't like followed by further derogatory statements. It took about a week before someone let him know that a copy of every test record is sent to Citibank corporate headquarters in New York. Didn't take long after to that to send him his merry way.

In my line of work, as a computer programmer and network administrator, it seems like past employers pretty much *expect* me to burn bridges. I've been treated reasonably nicely when I'm let go, apparently because of their fear that I can turn around and vaporize their entire network infrastructure in a heartbeat.

I've had some employers in the past that have screwed me, and could have very well done what I describe and take them down for weeks, but I don't because (1) it's not my nature to do so, (2) doing so will have serious ramifications to my future, and I'd be unemployed for a loooong time.

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