Tales of Workplace Terror

Every office seems to have one. But when it comes to meanness, vulgarity or just plain social cluelessness, some rude workmates definitely cross the line.

Take Mel, a 25-year-old paralegal outside Kansas City, Kan. Her office manager has apparently become the terror of her workplace, exercising her power to dock pay as if it were going out of style.

According to Mel, the manager once docked a woman who left early one day because her husband had just died. And on Sept. 11, she even tried to dock the entire office when the workers left early — despite the fact they worked near a major terrorist target.

But Mel sucks it in, and hasn't transferred or quit.

Another rudeness escapee is Nita, a legal assistant at a law firm. The attorney she worked with was notoriously impolite to the point he generally worked only on weekends and after hours, when others weren't around. He met at least one client dressed only in his boxer shorts.

But the worst for Nita was the lawyer's severe hygiene problem — and the fact that he would stand directly behind her for two or three hours at a time while he dictated memos.

"He'd burp and belch into my hair," she said.

The little rudenesses added up, and Nita prepared to leave the firm.

"I felt psychologically beat up just because it was so demeaning to work for him," she said. "He had no regard for anyone but himself."

But Nita didn't have to quit. The lawyer was asked to leave because of his many problems.