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Office Talk: What’s the meanest thing anyone’s ever said to you at work?


When I was 17, I worked weekends (the only days my parents would let me) as a Starbucks barista. This was before there was a Starbucks on every street corner, and the one I worked at would get really busy because it was across the street from the mall and stayed open until midnight (now its open 24 hours!) One of the best parts was that I got to work with my cousin Nathalie who was also a barista. We invented secret code names to use for when cute boys would walk in, and we’d experiment with making our own fancy drinks behind the bar.

Of course, it wasn’t all fun, and I remember once waking up at 3:30 in the morning for the 4:15 opening shift. It was during one of these painfully early mornings that I had a run in with a disagreeable customer. We were short-staffed, the line was out the door, and it felt like I couldn’t ring people up fast enough. I was already feeling frazzled from all the death stares everyone in line was giving me, when this man left his spot in line, walked up to my register, and looked me square in the eyes. In a thick, angry accent he said, “You are the definition of slow.” He genuinely sounded disgusted with me, and at 17, I felt shocked and wildly offended. Now, ten working years later, I look back on that and I laugh because:

1) talk about a brash thing to say to someone! can you imagine going around whenever you felt upset and calling people the definition of non-flattering things?
2) I wonder if I’m ever that crazy before my morning cup?

All these years later, and it still takes the cake for the meanest thing anyone’s ever said to me while I’ve been at work. Do you have any memorable quotes of things you can’t believe people have said to you?

(Images by Jill Greenberg)

Last modified: January 10, 2019