Everyday office horror stories that still keep us up at night

Halloween is an annual opportunity to scare yourself. Some of us mark the tradition by donning masks and watching spooky films that keep us up past our bedtimes. I would like to mark Halloween by sharing office horror stories that may not contain supernatural evils, but are an employee’s nightmare.

Throughout my career, I have experienced minor, everyday office horror stories (that do not include traumatic events like layoffs and workplace harassment, which are actual horrors). My horror stories are more like PG-13 psychological thrillers that still raise the hairs on the back of my neck.

There was the job where I was seated next to a guy who chewed with his mouth open, day in, day out. The memory of hearing his lips smack and his molars gnash up food still brings a shudder up my spine. There was the time I could not figure out how to turn off the volume to my work laptop, so I subjected my entire corporate office to two minutes of my bubblegum pop music. Just last week, I experienced the fear factor of 100 unread emails after returning from vacation. It’s too easy for me to recall all the incidents that make my heart race!

I can take comfort in the fact that I am not the only one who remains haunted by the ghosts of their office boogeyman. When you’re an employee, every day can become Halloween.

Here are your (mildly) terrifying office horror tales:

1) A spellcheck suggestion gone wrong

Weldon Adams told CBS a cautionary tale about why you should always check what your spellcheck automates. Adams was working in a buttoned-up office as a Certified Public Accountant when he needed to apologize to a big client about the delays in processing. Except in his rush to write the email, he misspelled “inconvenience.” Spellcheck helpfully offered a word suggestion of what it thought he was trying to write. 

“I clicked accept without double-checking. And I ended up sending the client an email saying that I ‘apologize for any incontinence,'” Adams said.

Sorry for my inconvenience!

2) The wrong dress code memo

Dressing up for Halloween only works when everyone joins you, as one employee who dressed as Star Wars‘ Darth Vader to work found out.

“I went to our meeting room, threw open the door, and marched in with this loud dramatic music,” the BuzzFeed community member, meigana wrote. “Only to realize my meeting had been moved to another room and another department of very serious people I didn’t know were staring at me like I was insane.”

Cue the Darth Vader scene: Nooooooooooooooooooo!

3) An email that infected an entire company with viruses

A job seeker who chose to remain anonymous told Resume Edge about an email that tanked the applicant’s chances of getting a job as a technical writer (it will soon become clear why the job seeker is anonymous):

“I sent a digital resume and cover letter via email to apply for a position as a technical writer. Within a few hours, a message from the director in charge of hiring came via email. Full of anticipation, I opened the email to find a terse message: ‘your resume is infected with a virus and has been quarantined.’ A person cannot recover from an infected resume. I did not pursue the position further.”

This isn’t a career-ending mistake, but if this had happened to me, I would renounce my name and kin, and become a hermit in the woods. For at least a month.

4) A toilet paper roll that stuck

Spencer told Business Insider that when he was working as a dishwasher at a for a popular Italian restaurant, he experienced one of the most embarrassing moments of his life. After returning from the bathroom on one of his breaks, he noticed that people were laughing and whispering at him.

“Eventually, I came to the realization that I had a string of toilet paper flapping out of the rear of my pants the entire time. It was so long that it was literally dragging on the ground behind me,” he said. “That was when I first started, too, and so the others workers never let me live it down. I continued to work there for another two years.”

Workplace shame is your co-workers never forgetting who you used to be.

5) The sick co-worker who refuses to go home

“Currently working with a person who has had a sinus infection since November 2016. That’s right: wet, chunky coughs, nine hours a day, five days a week, for going on ten months,” Reddit user 84th_legislature wrote. “She does not leave the team area for coughing attacks, she just retches up whatever it is and gulps it back down.”

Although the Redditor noted that their workplace was “very flexible with working from home for people with health issues,” the sick co-worker refused to see a doctor or work remotely. Loud coughing is the kind of mundane yet annoying background noise that drives many an employee up the wall.

6) The picky boss with a specific request

Andrea Meno told Cracked.com that her boss “used to tell us to wear specific colors on specific days. There was no reason for it. It was just so that she knew we were ‘listening.'” This request is one of those nitpicky demands that show a lack of trust in one’s team, and is an everyday nightmare many of us experience.