30 Disturbing Things That People Saw And Experienced While At Work
It's usually pretty clear what you sign up for when starting a new job. But there are always circumstances that are out of our control, and even if you do everything right, something could always go awry. It's disturbing, it can put you into a fight, flight, freeze, or fawn, and it can give you paranoia for a long time. Being at work doesn't protect you from life just happening.
Since we spend a lot of time at our jobs, it's not that unlikely that something bad can happen. Reddit user u/ThePugMan123 asked people what the creepiest/most disturbing thing that happened to them at work was, and people were eager to share their stories. Hopefully, they can be learning moments for others, so there's at least some good coming out of these awful things happening.
Almost 1,000 replies later, Bored Panda selected the creepiest accounts from people, some of whom are lucky to have lived to tell their tales. Upvote the submissions that resonate with you the most, and feel free to share any unsettling stories of your own in the comments. I hope you don't get too freaked out.
Bored Panda also reached out to Dr. Rebecca Cowan who is a mental health practitioner in Virginia, specializing in trauma and recovery, to get a better understanding of what to do in case of a traumatic event.
I worked 4pm to midnight at a mill in a small town. Very physical work so there were way more men than women.... One night there was a guy from the department connected to mine who would stand in the doorway closest to my machine and just watch. After a few nights of this happening I told my manager. The guy didn't watch me for about a week and then I noticed he would frequently walk by or linger by other machines. I would do my best to ignore him and stay aware of my surroundings. Well after a month of asking for management to do something about and them not this guy approached me and asked me for a ride home. I told him no and asked him to stop coming near my job bc he was making me uncomfortable. A coworker would walk me to my car each night just to be safe and wouldn't ya know that same guy was leaning up against my vehicle. He walked away when he saw my coworker with me. A few days later this happened again when I was alone (coworker wasn't there) so I walked back in the building to find someone to walk with me. The next day while at the local grocery store this man pulls up behind me and blocks me in. I lock my doors and rolled my windows up. My vehicle is 2003 so no electric windows or locks. My 2 kids were with me so I grabbed my work scissors from my console and he came to my window claiming someonthing was wrong with the back of my vehicle and I needed to get out to see it. I told him no and to leave and started honking my horn to draw attention. Then he left.
Fast forward two weeks, the creepy man was arrested for kidnapping, assaulting and torturing a woman from the next town over. Him and his brother were caught and arrested. They held her for 3 weeks before they were caught
If you ever get into an emotionally disturbing situation, Dr. Cowan suggests seeking mental health help right away: "Look for a therapist who is trauma-informed and has experience working with trauma survivors. Therapeutic modalities such as Cognitive Processing Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing are best."
Sexually harassed and ultimately fired after complaining. I was a 16 year old high school student (and male). This was in 96-97 and no one cared until I told my mom and she told me it was sexual harassment. I now know why women keep that stuff secret. The shame and embarrassment I felt was insane. Thanks for helping me, mom!
I remember working as a security guard for a hospital. I watched certificate of need patients. These were patients from our local asylum who were completely out of their mind. I did my third shift ever for that company watching a guy who had picked up some pencils and stabbed a worker with it a couple times before turning a fresh one on himself and stabbing his own stomach six times. I took the third shift 7pm to 7am.
All I did was sit in the hallway outside his door in a mostly dead wing of the ICU. I maybe saw one person an hour. It was just me in a chair in the middle of a dead hallway for 12 hours of the night. I'm freshly 18 at this point and had little experience with anything like this. I made it to about 3am before passing out in my chair outside his door. I was awoken by the guy I was watching himself. He had broken his own wrist to slip out of the handcuffs keeping him on the bed. He ripped his catheter and I.V. out. He tapped me on my shoulder to wake me up. I turned and looked at this man who was completely naked and bleeding from two places holding his wrist and he just said "I need to pee"
I decided to try and play it off like everything was normal as to not escalate the situation. I walked him to the bathroom and immediately called my CO while he was inside. My CO got there before he got out and we used restraints to put him back on the bed. Nurses came back in and set him back up. My CO, not knowing that i fell asleep, said I did the right thing and that I'd do great at the job. He said he needed more people like me who didn't panic in situations like that and make things worse. I thanked him and then left at 7am.... I never came back to do another shift for that security company. I'm so lucky he didn't use his I.V. to stab me in the neck while I was sleeping.
She also said joining a support group is a good idea: "If the individual experienced a mass shooting, there are survivors groups that have been formed throughout the U.S. and virtually, such as the Rebels Project. These can be good to get plugged into as it helps to be able to connect with others who have had a similar experience."
When I was 15 I worked in retail and an older man (probably 40s) was following me around sizing me up. I seriously did laps around the store just to see if he really was following. Eventually fed up I said (politely) “can I help you with something”, and he said “maybe. What time do you get off work?” I laughed thinking it was a joke and just dead stared at me, “what time do you get off? Will it be dark?” I told him it’s none of his business and he said “well you want to help me don’t you?” And he wrapped his arm around my waist. My co-worker, a man around his age, saw what was happening and “assaulted” the dude, punched him in the face and swore him out of the store. He wrote the guys license plate down and said he didn’t hear the conversation but I looked scared, and he asked if I wanted the cops called. I was freaked out and didn’t want to acknowledge it even happened so I said no. Regret that every day. Who knows how many people he did that to after
When I was about 22 (F) I worked at a group home for developmentally disabled individuals. The house manager was a man named Mark. Mark had some kind of god complex. He was mad that I had my time off to visit family in Oregon approved by the main office - he didn’t want to find someone to cover. He had weeks to plan. He told me I couldn’t go. I told him the time was approved and I WAS going to go.
He wordlessly picked me up and slung me over his shoulder like a rag doll, walked quickly to a client’s bedroom, and slammed me down on the bed. He stared into my face for a few seconds, then got up and left the house.
Worst part? I never told any higher ups, and only told my boyfriend years later after it was far, far too late. Why? I still wonder why.
We also wanted to learn what others can do to help people who've been through something traumatic. "There will be people in the survivor's life who do not understand the recovery process and expect it to be quick," said Dr. Cowan. "It usually takes some time to recover from being involved in such a traumatic event. Knowing what to expect and being patient with the survivor is critical. Help them to get connected with a trained mental health practitioner that can help them throughout the recovery process."
I worked at Home Depot and a guy came in looking frantic and desperately asking us how to get a LOT of blood out of concrete. Took him a bit, but he finally explained that he did not in fact murder someone. He was a contractor working on a house nearby and one of his guys had tried to rip a 2x4 down the middle and had instead ripped his hand and a good portion of his lower arm down the middle. The guy was carted off to the hospital and the contractor was desperate to get it all cleaned up before the homeowner got back.
There were pictures, both of the guy's arm and the general carnage of the scene.
So I work for a company on the second floor of the building. There's an elevator in the lobby, but you can't get to the second floor without a code. There's a Ring camera & guests can buzz up to the receptionist to be let in.
One day, the receptionist goes out for lunch & she asks me to watch the Ring for her while I'm out. I say okay.
During my watch, the Ring goes off. I answer & it's a gentleman in his mid-30s. I ask him how I can help. He asks if he can speak to someone in management. I ask what about - he mentions he has a complaint about one of the stores our company owns.
Rewind to a few days earlier, I happen to have spoken earlier in the week to that store's manager who told me a story of a guy they had to kick out for being creepy around kids... I won't go into detail, but I'll just say what he was doing was technically legal, but still very creepy. Anyway, I'm curious about the guy so I do a little sleuthing, figure out who the guy is, and look him up on social media.
Back to the visitor downstairs at my office: it's the same creepy guy - I just happened to recognize him since I'm a nosy SOB. I stall for time, telling him I'm locating the appropriate management to meet with him, and while I'm watching him on the Ring, he turns just right so I can see that he's got a gun of some sort tucked in his waistband. I call 911. Cops arrive immediately. He does have a concealed carry permit, but we do have a "no firearm" sign posted out front, and the cops ask him what he's doing bringing a gun to an office building.
In the end, they sent him on his way and nothing really happened, but it makes me wonder what would've happened if I hadn't been answering the Ring that day.
Dr. Cowan noted that it's also important to "help the survivor learn and utilize stress management techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation and deep breathing. You can find videos of these techniques for free on YouTube."
About a year ago I was at work, it was early, like 5AM and we were setting up to open. There was a new maintenance guy going around, changing empty trash bags, mopping random spots that didn't need it. After a couple hours the police showed and arrested him. He had murdered 2 people in the middle of the night was thought he could dodge arrest by pretending to be a maintenance cleaner.
14 years or so ago... A newer temp employee made a foolish mistake and mildly injured himself while damaging property. He got fired. He showed up the next day with a rifle and went berserk. One shot was fired, nobody was injured. Police arrived, he surrendered. I was in my office when it happened and had no clue what was going on. I didn't find out until I was walking down one of the halls and noticed everyone was giving "finger guns" and laughing it up. I inquired. Everyone moved on pretty quickly from the incident.
20 years ago, a regular customer arrived, as usual, on a Saturday morning. He was an older guy, maybe in his late 70s, early 80's. He handed my coworker and I a box and said "they wouldn't accept this at church donation, so you can have it." He then left. We looked in the box. It was all Disney movie sleeves, but the VHS tapes had hand-written titles with dirty wordplay playing off the original title. My coworker took it home for "sampling." He came back the next day, horrified, and told me what it was. It was Nope-territory, bad. He said he burned every tape. Probably should have handed it over to the police but he was too scared to be implicated. We never saw that customer again. Yes, this happened.
Working in some bad neighborhoods at a previous job and while speaking with a crew foreman heard gunfire break out. Happened fairly often so we just casually sat down behind the equipment and kept chatting until the offending vehicle drove off. I looked up and asked if everyone was ok and saw a young girl (10-12 I'm guessing) laying on the ground with her mother staring in shock. The girl had been hit with 3 rounds so I grabbed my trauma kit and went to work while the foreman called 911. She took a hit to the femoral artery so I applied a tourniquet, one graze on her arm and one to the lung so she had a sucking chest wound. I applied chest seals and just kept talking to her as calmly and casually as I could while another crewman talked to her mother. The look in her eye of fear and confusion has really stuck with me, I hope she made it but I've honestly been too afraid to follow up in case she didn't.
I work for a tv/internet company and we had a guy who would say that he would only allow women technicians in his house. At the time, we had very few working in my area and we certainly weren't going to send one out anyways. We did have a manager tech who was a woman who called him and said "sure. I'll be right out." (She's tough in general) Still wasn't leaving anything up to chance, so I rode out with her as her "trainee" for that job. He was none too happy.
After a traumatic incident, hypervigilance is common and is a sign of post-traumatic stress. Dr. Cowan pointed out that "if the survivor is distressed and this is impacting their ability to function (e.g., unable to leave the house, unable to go to work), they should not try to cope on their own and should seek the support of a mental health provider."
This doesn’t really compare to most, but I’m from and lived all my life in TX. I moved to Boca Raton, FL for a year to get clean when I was 18. I was working at an assistant manager at a party city. Some Karen New Yorker reached across the counter and grabbed my shirt and pulled me forward because she was pissed off about something and she “wanted to see my name tag.” I could not believe it. Nobody would do that from where I was from and not expect trouble. When the shock wore off, I calmly told her to get her hands off me or I would beat her unconscious. She looked at me like I had ten heads.
I’m a realtor and showed a creepy old 19th century Victorian home (think the Addam’s Family house) on Halloween night. It was one building but originally two units which had since been conjoined so it was a real maze. Multiple kitchens and living rooms, easy to get turned around. It was a foreclosure with no power so we only had our phones to light the way.
Foreclosures always have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors chirping away due to low batteries. But this house had ones that said “low battery” in a mechanical voice. But the battery was so low it came out like “llllooooowwww baaaaaattttteeeerrryyy” in a dying robot voice.
So there we were, three of us on Halloween night inside a dark home that’s creepy at noon in July getting all turned around then somewhere we hear “llllooooowwww baaaaaattttteeeerrryyy.” Man we f****d out of their quick.
2 guys over at Saint Rosh Technoglass where both moving a large glass window sheet by hand because it was to big for the crane.
Than it snapped one guy managed to throw the part he was holding away from him self the other guy got the bigger part and could not hold it and dropped it slicing his body and right arm from his right shoulder down to his left hip.
I could literally see his hearth beat in the blood that was pulsing out of him
Was working for the day in a government building I hadn’t visited before. Our company had one floor in it that I was told was the last floor in use. The company were planning to vacate at the end of the year. At lunchtime I decided to explore and got off the elevator on a random floor. It was an open plan office. All the desks still had work on them and a large table still had the remains of a party. Paper plates and food. A lot of the desks had slices of cake sat on them untouched. A party banner was still up that said CONGRATULATIONS. One office was open and the walls were covered with X-ray slides of different people. Every surface covered with more on the floor. To my untrained eye they all seemed to have large shadows growing in them. Weird. This was years before social media or camera phones so I had another quick look around and got back in the elevator. When the doors opened on my floor I was met by an armed police officer (this was London and seeing an armed cop was very rare)who asked me why I’d been on the other floor. I told him I was just curious and on my lunch break and he warned me that I was only allowed access to this floor and to not break protocol again. No one in the office I was visiting knew anything about it. No one had ever seen police there or ever explored the other floors.
There was a dude I was supposed to meet up with from fetlife. Years ago.
*Spoiler; f**k that site*
I got real creepy bad vibes from just his texts, so I said no two days before he was going to be in town. He was pissed.
Took on a shift that night at a store I worked at and during the whole day he sent me texts trying to convince me to meet up with him.
He texts me, "Wow you look really great in that orange dress!!"
I never told him where I worked. Never even saw him because I was working.
I called him out on it and threatened to have security called on him if he got any closer.
Then tried to convince me to meet him at a local WALMART where he was hanging out with his little NEPHEW for a few hours because he didn't have a car and his brother drove him!!
So many red flags!! Never agreed to ANY of this.
Had security walk me to my car after my shift. Never saw him again (that I know of).
Blocked him after I drove home with countless ridiculous detours.
There was a dad from my son's school who found out where I worked, what car was mine and that I was going through a divorce. He asked me out and I said no. After I said no, (I said no and gave absolutely no hope for any future dates/conversation/contact. I said NO) he started showing up at my job to see me and cornering me so I couldn't get away. A couple work friends would see him coming and send me off to the staff room to get me away from him. He left flowers on my car while I was at work. I was incredibly creeped out and a single mom with young children. I got a guy from work to stay by my side as often as he could and after awhile of seeing work guy around me, stalker guy started to leave me alone.
I worked at a bank. We were giving kids a tour. One of the parents was in the lobby and played a “prank” on me. He passed me a note and pretended he was robbing me.
I hadn’t seen him before he did this, and for about 10-15 seconds I thought we were being robbed with a boatload of children behind the counter.
I'm on the scene of a house fire with a girl that's like 5ish years older then me. The whole time I'm getting orders from my captain she's giving me the "take me eyes." I get placed on crowd control until hose lines are set up. That whole time this women WHO'S HOUSE IS BURNING is flirting with me saying things like "Can you put out that fire for me big strong fire man" Jesus I was so creeped out. I told my captain who took scene command that we might want to call police down for a drug test on her and I asked him to keep me as far from her as possible.
Police actually came and tested her. She was clean. Nope! NOPE! I'm out. This girl flirted with me while her house burnt and she is 5 years older then me.
Next day I'm on station duty mostly just chores and EMS calls and guess who shows up that lady. She is just staring at me while I organize the trucks a bit better. I ended up calling my chief to ask her to switch shifts with me due to the lady. After I left she followed me home then when I went back on duty she got arrested when one of my fellow firefighters asked her to back off for me and she hit him. Lots of paper work to say the least
A loud, boisterous man often came into the Whole Foods I used to work at, requesting only I make his sandwich the way he likes it. Overtime his interactions with me got creepier. He would film me, call me his little Filipina sandwich lady, flirt nonstop with me, even as my boyfriend worked right next to me. He was extremely aggressive and rude to everyone except me. I tried to tell my supervisor but she brushed it aside, got security to like….stand there lazily for a day but that’s it. I finally lost him when I quit.
Older male customer slid his hand down my back and squeezed my butt when I was answering one of his questions (I was a minor at the time). Then started talking about how women are servants to him. His wife was two aisles down from us. He read my name tag and always asks for me whenever he comes in.
I was living and working at a commune, a farm and restaurant in one.
I had been there for quite some time, and the owner started insinuating that I was castrated,
and that the whole world was some kind of sect that functions around prostitution.
He also started hinting towards cannibalism at this place, and that human meat was to be compared to pork...
There was "someone" of his "acquaintances" that, during one of the dinners, started talking about how "traditionally" pigs are castrated because of how the testosterone made the meat taste "bad".
They also kept on talking about guns, and they kept bringing guns around to the area.
I did not feel safe there.
One day I was tired and fell asleep on my desk at work. The next day I got a picture of me sleeping and a text from an unknown number to leave a $50 under my desk or they will send the picture to HR.
I work for a school.
3 active shooters response events. Only one turned out to be an actual immediate threat and the guy was arrested before anything bad happened.
But the atmosphere was rather eery. The campus was deserted with the exception of a couple dozen cops in full gear looking for the suspect and helicopters overhead.
I had a man come in for an interview who was obviously in the middle of an intense episode (either dissociative or psychotic I'd say). He was talking out loud with no-one else in the office, got the date wrong by two years, didn't know what city he was in. He looked very disheveled. He also admitted to being very edgy and was close to snapping at me at one point.
I felt very sad for him, but also unsafe at that moment. I know how debilitating mental issues can be. My supervisor didn't help me at all: she let me stay with him and handle it all on my own. She didn't call anyone to help or warn emergency services. She just said we weren't going to deal with the problem and there were no measures in place to deal with those situations anyways, they just happened sometimes and you waited for them to be over.
I worked stocking cheese and deli meat at a grocery store. Not the worst job I’ve ever had. I was stocking and this older woman, prob sixty, walks by and says “I love my men on their knees.” And just kept walking.
She was a cashier, on the clock. Imagine if the situation was flipped and I said that to her? I was honestly so shocked at the entire situation that I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t bring it up with my boss right away so I figured no one would believe me over a kind older gal who worked upfront and wouldn’t hurt a fly.
Situation still gives me pause sometimes as I still work in retail. People have little aversion to inappropriate touching I’ve found. Why anyone in public would try to touch a stranger without their consent is just weird to me but…it happens a lot.
Caught someone recording/photographing me under the bathroom stall.
I worked gy in a hospital pharmacy…and it was just me and one other running it for the hospital and we’d like to turn off like 80% of the lights because hospital lights are offending to the eyes especially during hours your body normally would want to sleep… well I came into the pharmacy after delivering something and I saw my coworker in the medication pick area… which was enclosed and only had one way in or out.. and I was talking to him about something that had happened on the floor literally seeing him like look at the medications as I was talking but then my coworker goes “What?” And he poked his head out from all the way in the back of the pharmacy… and I looked back and there wasn’t anyone in the med pick area.. I 100% saw someone standing there and talked to them for a few min… the pharmacy was located in the basement… along with the morgue… and it’s locked.. only pharmacy employees have access to the hospital pharmacy… not even security has access…. Scariest experience I have had… I told a coworker about it when morning shift came in and she told me a week prior her water bottle started moving from a dead standstill.
Got sent a 12 page essay with someone confessing their love for me and how they liked XYZ that I wore on XYZ day.. turns out it was an ex boyfriend from 9th grade!!!!!!!!!! I was in 9th grade in 2011 it was very disturbing