Have you ever woken up in a cold sweat over a nightmare you’ve had about work, relieved to find out it didn’t actually happen? Imagine if your nightmare wasn’t a nightmare after all, and all you could do was wish your alarm clock would sound to jolt you back to reality. That’s been the case for a few unlucky souls, whose workplace horror stories are enough to make you appreciate a case of the Mondays.

A dramatic exit

David* recalls watching a scene unfold that looked like something straight out of a soap opera.

“Our two secretaries were always bickering with each other, but everything came to a head that day,” he says. “One called the other incompetent, and she retaliated by shoving her. They shoved each other back and forth until the shoves turned into an all-out physical fight and my co-workers and I had to pull them apart. I took a couple of hits in the process.”

Nothing says professional like a workplace shoving match. Physical fighting probably isn’t what the boss had in mind when he listed “problem solving skills” as a job requirement.

I’m the boss—that means it’s mine

Laura’s* former workplace was far from boring, to say the least. “I can’t think of any workplace situation I’ve been in that compared to the shenanigans there,” she says.

She described an incident in which a co-worker brought some food to the office for all to share, when her boss—yes, her boss—spit-sprayed all over it just to ensure he’d get the leftovers.

A little job interview lovin’

Steve* thought he was prepared for his job testing session of the application process, until something happened that made him realize there was nothing he could have done to give him an edge over his competition—except for maybe marrying his interviewer.

“One of the other candidates was greeted in front of the rest of us with a hug and a kiss from what appeared to be his ex-wife,” Steve says. “He had a binder full of study material that nobody else had. The rest of us looked at each other like ‘Why are we bothering?’”

The bluffing boss

Janine’s* ex-employer is an ex for a reason. Her “psycho boss,” as she refers to her, heard from upper management that Janine met with them to discuss her boss’ behaviour. She called Janine into her office and asked her what her concerns were, then bluffed that upper management had already informed her what she had told them.

“I froze but recovered quickly,” Janine says. “I knew upper management would not tell her the gory details in this situation. I walked out of her office and back to my own desk…minutes later the boss swooped into my doorway and with a voice full of venom she said, ‘Nice move’—then she walked out of the office mid-day.”

A very exposing interview

Breanne* has seen a thing or two in her time as a recruiter that is sure to make you glad you weren’t one of her interviewees.

“I was interviewing a woman when the button flew off her blouse right in the middle of the interview,” she says. “We both paused, then burst out laughing. At least she had a good sense of humour!”

Cheaters never win—or get the job

Another interview involved a man who wanted to work two provinces away, but only from Monday to Friday.

“So you’re willing to relocate, then?” Breanne asked the interviewee.

“No, I’d like to commute,” he replied.

After much prying, the man confessed that he had a girlfriend in the other province and he didn’t want his wife to find out—which Breanne promptly recorded on his file.

While some work horror stories can be avoided, remember that bad days get the best of all of us—and if you can’t pull the covers over your head and go back to sleep, at least you can take solace in knowing that one of these work horror stories is (likely) not yours.

*Names have been changed at the request of the witnesses in question.