Flopping Around

Story Sent in by Adam:

Susan and I had just met, and had started a walk to a restaurant together for our first date when I asked her how her workday had been.

"Crummy," she replied, "I almost got fired today."

She worked in a big accounting firm, and had been there for just under a year. She had previously sung its praises to me about the benefits and how well the company took care of its employees, so this was a matter of some concern.

"What happened?" I asked.

"It's actually your fault. They found out that I was writing to you from my work email account."


"Now they're saying that I have to make up the time that I spent writing to you on company time, and I got into a fight with one of my bosses today about it. I'm in huge trouble now, so thanks."

She gave me a big eye roll, a sigh, and forged ahead a bit faster. I hurried up and said, "But it was your choice to message me from your work account. You could've written to me from your personal account or—"

"They don't let us use our personal accounts on work time. They log usage and my boss regularly checks the logs."

I didn't know what else to say, so convinced she seemed to be that it was my fault. Then, she added, "So if I get fired, guess who's coming to your door with a shotgun?"

I laughed. She didn't, and she went on, "Who's the one who feeds the fish in the office tank? Me, that's who. If I'm fired, then who's going to feed them? If I'm fired, then living creatures might die. Because of you."

I said, "If they were going to fire you, wouldn't they have done it by now?"

She said, "It has to go through multiple levels. Sometimes it could take over a week to be officially fired, because my boss has to submit paperwork, her boss has to submit paperwork, his boss then has to, and so on. Those poor, poor fish, though."

"I'm sure you'll be okay, especially as this was probably your first transgression, right?"

"Those poor, poor fish."

I took her to a sushi place, where many other poor, poor fish had gone. Strangely, she wasn't as concerned with the plight of her meal as she was with the goldfish tank at her job.

She said, "I know one guy, he works on another floor from me, and we see each other in the elevator once or twice a week. I guess I could ask him to feed the fish, but what if he says that he can't? I'm really worried about this, here." She downed a tuna roll.

She offered to split dinner with me, but I insisted on paying for both of us. After dinner, we left the restaurant and she said, "I'm going to have to deprive you access to my chest, tonight. Sorry, but I have to prepare a statement for when I'm called on the carpet tomorrow. About you."

I joked, "Do you need a witness? You can call me if you need to."

She replied, "That's all I need, to call you in to corroborate the charges. If I'm using anyone in my defense, it'll be the fish."

"I'm sorry?"

"The fish. In the office tank. I spend time feeding them and sometimes cleaning out their tank a little, so that has to count for something. No joke, no one else does anything for them, and it's not even part of my job description. I can probably tell my bosses that I spend just as much time helping the office fish as I did writing to you on company time."

"Good luck with that. Let me know how it goes."

She got fired the next day. I know because she wrote me the following email from her work email address:

Dear Adam:

I am writing to inform you that as of 10:11AM (effective 10:00AM officially) I am no longer an employee of Weston and Wilkes. Seems like I'm the only one who cares about the plight of sea life. Anyway, it will be best if we are not in touch anymore for two reasons: one: I don't need you jeopardizing my future employment situations (again). Two: I am likely being watched. Thank you!


Of everyone's well-being in the entire scenario, is it wrong that I'm still most concerned about the fish?


  1. I feel no sympathy for those who misappropriate their employer's time, especially when they then feel the need to be a jerk about it... I'd like to think that "I not only wasted that time, but I also wasted at least as much time on our fish on a consistent basis" worked more against her than for her. Sorry, lady, you can't justify wasting time by wasting more time...

    I do hope the fish end up okay. I'm sure some other employee with a heart will waste a few minutes on them, and have the presence of mind to not go bragging about it...

  2. Seeing as she didn't mention setting up the fish tank herself, there is probably someone else taking care of it. And since when are goldfish sea life?

  3. If they fire me, how will I pay my bills!?

  4. ok, am i the only one here wanting to call her (cough) bullsh*t on getting fired? i've worked in an office before, and if they fire you, they have someone standing there with you while you get your things out of the office (i've seen it before), so how was she able to email him from her office account? either she needed an excuse to ditch communication with OP, or....she needed an excuse to ditch communication with him.

  5. ^ couldn't she have proxied her work account from a home computer?

  6. ^ this, and not everyone gets stood over when fired (I've seen it before)

  7. I guess you can fire people on the spot in the US? Up here if you've worked more than 30 days but less than a year you get a weeks notice unless they decide to pay your wages for that period and let you go immediately.

  8. Yes, in most states and most jobs, you can be fired on at a moment's notice and with or without cause. I think state or federal employees and elected officials are the only real exceptions, unless you have a contract. Where do you live, that actually cares about workers' rights?

    1. Union jobs are also an exception, and as you point out, a longer notice period can be written into an employment contract.

      I confess that I don't like the idea of giving notice when someone is being fired for cause. Why keep a disgruntled employee on the job with access to company stuff? (When I've been fired -- and in the volatile IT job market, it does happen -- it's been immediate. However, when they simply say "you've done a great job, but we can't afford to renew your contract", that has a week or two notice.)

  9. I work in IT and at the two places i have worked, when we would let people go we would disable their account while they are being let go. When they got back to their desk their computer would be locked and they wouldnt have access to the network, email or their files. All of their personal files would be sent to them on a disk. I highly doubt she was let go if shes still emailing from her account.

  10. Yer, most places will have you watched as you pack your things, but not all will, and some don't deactivate your account the moment you get the message.

    As for the notice thing, if there is notice to be given, the company just needs to pay for your time. In my line of work it's common for people to be put on "gardening leave" if they're going.

    I bet if she did get fired, she did because she's wasted a lot of time sending personal mail - no way would a company fire on a first offence, unless you're messing about in your first week of the job.

  11. @Ankh

    Manitoba. When my wife quit her second-to-last job her boss decided not to deposit her final paycheck. So we contacted Employment Standards and once an agent was assigned to her case and my wife gave her the records of her hours and she went after this guy on our behalf.

    We didn't have to do a thing until a cheque from him showed up at our house. Even then, it wasn't the total amount owed so we contacted her again and she got him to send the rest of it.

    It probably helped that he already had 6 CURRENT open cases against him for various things, so they weren't very sympathetic to him. Not to mention we already had witnesses and previous employee testimonials lined up in case it went any further.

  12. Is it a defining trait of shitty people that everything bad that happens to them is never their fault, but always someone else's?

  13. She's probably lying and manipulating you to stop contacting her.


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