Professional Pet Peeves
October 26, 2006 2:55 PM   Subscribe

What are common pet peeves for different professions?

Every different job category I've worked has had a different set of pet peeves that most employees shared. For example, fast food workers will often complain about overly picky special order requests. What are the most common pet peeves for your profession?
posted by pembleton to Work & Money (105 answers total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
engineer: uhhh, when other people screw up their job and I get stuck with the blame/the chore of fixing it?

But that applies to every career.
posted by muddgirl at 2:56 PM on October 26, 2006

Academic: when politicians give speeches talking about how college professors only work 6 hours a week.
posted by medusa at 2:59 PM on October 26, 2006 [4 favorites]

If it were me I'd try and keep in mind the mindset of the person professing the peeve. Some things which people would think of as a pet peeve of theres might actually be reasonable requests on the part of their customers or users. Other's might be actual pet peeves.

To use your fast food example, I don't think special order requests are that picky. But I don't know to what level of pickiness you are referring.
posted by dgeiser13 at 3:00 PM on October 26, 2006

Telephone tech: People assume you're here to fix the computer.

Computer tech: People assume you're here to fix the phones.

(So far that there's even a covert toolkit for phone guys so they don't get asked to fix more stuff while they're already on a call!)

Home inspector: People confuse with code inspector.
posted by Myself at 3:07 PM on October 26, 2006

Any technical profession that deals with end users: "the server is broken."

Gah, no it damn well isn't broken. What were you doing? What was the error message? Is it turned on?

Worse is an urgent call about a crucial problem, technician runs to fix it only to find a sticky note: "Out to lunch, fix the server by the time I get back."

(head exploding noises here)

I guess more generally, completely information-free communication.
posted by Skorgu at 3:12 PM on October 26, 2006

Advertising creatives:
No matter how big the logo is, the client wants the logo 30% bigger.
Clients who say "I don't know what I want, but I'll know it when I see it."
Ad campaigns that are just about to launch until an intern/the client's wife/mistress/brother-in-law "doesn't get it"
The random "I don't get it" after an impassioned presentation
Account execs ("suits") who tell clients that you'll work through the weekend
People who blame you for every bad ad ever created, particularly at cocktail parties
People who expect you to know every single ad that's ever run
People who want to tell you their idea for a great ad that actually sucks
If you're a copywriter, people who think you know all about "copyright" without understanding the difference

Teaching grad art school:
The "kid" who thinks he knows everything because he's "worked in the real world" except his work sucks
The fact that every single person thinks they deserve an A, except the kid who deserves the A.
The worst, most obnoxious grade grubbers are always the B+ students
The student who hits on you, thinking it will get him a better grade
The adminstration is a bunch of evil screwheads who don't want to make your job easier, nor the lives of the students better
You can't discuss your job with other people without hearing a grading/teacher horror story
Meeting a friend's new girlfriend only to realize she's a student at your school and this is now socially awkward

Being a stay-at-home mom:
Not getting weekends off
People who ask when you're going to go back to work/have another kid
Having to justify your "free time" because people can't believe all you do all day is just clean house, care for the kid and grocery shop
People with and without kids who want to give you their random opinion on what you should or shouldn't be doing re: sugar, TV, tofu, cotton, plastic toys, etc.

Everyone thinks they can write as well as you do
Everyone has to futz. No one can just leave the words alone!
People tell you about their novel/short story/sitcom script without you asking
People who want you to make their bad writing make sense
People who ask you grammar questions as if writer=proofreader, when you know your grammar is hideous
People who say "You must have a huge vocabulary"
posted by Gucky at 3:19 PM on October 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

Financial/Marketing Analyst: "I know we haven't had systems with reliable data since the last merger, but we've got a high-pressure operations review coming up tomorrow. Sorry I forgot to mention in the last staff meeting. So, can you pull some numbers out of your ass & plot them on a graph a third-grader could understand -- you know, numbers that make it look like we don't suck as much as we really do? Thanks. And can you make one for all 150 sales territories? I'll need them all first thing in the morning so I can review them on the plane. I don't know if we'll actually get to use the slides in the review, but they'll be nice to have if someone asks a question. Actually, do you think you can have them done by 5? I just of something else that I might need you to pull together after I leave the office."
posted by treepour at 3:25 PM on October 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

web developer: Microsoft Internet Explorer
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:26 PM on October 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

Teaching a computer art class.
Everyone outside of my department thinks that since I teach computer class I know what is wrong with their computer and can fix it. They seem to be upset or think I am stupid when I can't or tell them "no".
I can teach you how to use Photoshop... I can't figure out why word suddenly won't work on your computer.
Some people also assume that I must know every program on the planet and can tell them or their cousin/mom/uncle/nephew/daughter how to use it in 5-10 minutes. They are also not happy when I can't. Sorry, I have never used access and don't care to learn.
I also get people that think that I can scan and fix their photos or make them a graphic "right NOW". Hello? I am teaching all day. I don't have time to make you this "quick" little image.
posted by nimsey lou at 3:28 PM on October 26, 2006

I would think that, for many professions, the two worst peeves are:
a) can you just give me (free) advice on....
b) amateurs who think that they can do it as well as you and can't
Plumber story (IANAP):
Homeowner has funny noise in boiler. Calls plumber. Plumber comes and whacks boiler with hammer and noise stops. Charges $100. Homeowner says "$100 for hitting with a hammer? I could have done that." Plumber replies "No, $5 for the hammer and $95 for the years of experience so that I would know where to hit." That's why we pay professionals.
posted by TheRaven at 3:36 PM on October 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

Signmaking: clients who want a gigantic, 5' by 20' banner with full color graphics, and give you a 32kb .jpg file to work from. Or a file from some proprietary desktop publishing program they bought at a clearance sale 7 years ago. Or they want a paragraph worth of text in 9" tall letters on an 18" by 24" sign, and don't listen when you try to explain that's not possible.
posted by cathodeheart at 3:40 PM on October 26, 2006

Video game publisher: When you're paying good money to have a game developed, and they're not implementing a few key "bullet points" that marketing is noticing are emerging as Big Things that will sell games in the coming climate. For the money, the game should be great, not mediocre.

Video game designer: When the publisher starts making design change suggestions part way into production, and expects them to be implemented, without full regard for the knock-on effects to gameplay.

Video game artists and engineers: When the designer tries to implement changes to things that were already art (or code) completed, when there is no time in the schedule for the changes, and other things must be rushed or cut.

Video game publisher: When the game ships late and buggy and not as polished as was promised on the orginal schedule.

It loops and feeds itself :)
The industry seems to be growing out of this though (thankfully :)
posted by -harlequin- at 3:42 PM on October 26, 2006

Consultants: people who ask for free consulting advice

- "All marketers are airheads"
- Anyone can do marketing
- Marketing is intuitive.
posted by acoutu at 3:44 PM on October 26, 2006

From my personal experience, and from discussions with friends in the retail industry--being told to "Smile, it's not that bad." OMG hate.
posted by saucy at 4:06 PM on October 26, 2006

A couple of journalism peeves:
* Being told the media is biased by people who don't even know what they mean by "media." I could rant about media bias claims for years.
* "Can I see a copy of your story before it runs?"
posted by croutonsupafreak at 4:12 PM on October 26, 2006

-People who say "I'm looking for a book, I don't know the author or the title, but the cover is blue."

-People wanting "That book that was on TV/the radio/the newspaper" without any further info.

-People who want to photocopy/scan the books rather than buy them.

Also you might be interested in reading the Customers Suck discussion; more peeves from more professions than you can shake a handheld scanner at!
posted by Rubber Soul at 4:16 PM on October 26, 2006 [2 favorites]


- Spelling mistakes and generally dodgy English in the original text, often written by someone who should know better.
- "My cousin spent two years living in Spain. Do you think he could get work as a translator?"
- "We need this back by tomorrow morning" (tends to happen at six o'clock in the evening, and generally involves large documents).
- And my absolute favourite: "Your translation is crap. I checked it against the one I got from Babelfish, and the words do not match".
posted by doctorpiorno at 4:19 PM on October 26, 2006

Sales (some pet peeves specific to high-tech sales, some more general):

* Customers who have no qualms about using you as a free consultant in terms of analyzing their needs, providing product recomendations, etc., and then giving the actual order to somebody else who did no pre-sale work because they offer the product or service for $.50 less.

* Customers who believe that because they read a magazine article or saw something on a website one time they are now experts in your field and know as much as you about an industry you have been in for a decade or longer. Seriously, why did you even bother to call me if you already know so much?

*Clients who take FOREVER to place an order for a product/give the ok to start a job that you quoted on months and months ago and then get all in a huff if you can't deliver/start the job right away. I guess this could go under the general heading of clients who don't realize that no, they aren't the only customer in the world and that you do actually have other responsibilities at work besides sitting by the phone all day on the off chance that they call.

*People who believe that if they ask the same question over and over again your answer will change. (Example: People who don't understand that if I don't have a product in stock, they can't have it by this afternoon no matter how many times they may ask).

*This is a big one - people who don't understand that the highest end product in a particular category has a different price than the lowest of the low end product in the same category and that you can't just give them the highest end product at the same price as the botton end.
posted by The Gooch at 4:20 PM on October 26, 2006


Staff - You knew about it a week ago and just now, along with 5 other arseholes, you've dumped 3 hours of urgent photocopying on my desk.

Client or staff - yes, you have a qualification (or are getting one in another field and I just got where I am through earning a living) but that doesn't mean I have an IQ lower than my body temperature. You needn't speak so slowly, or look so obviously for alternative words that are less than two syllables long.

Client - you are not the only person to ever come to this counter. I'm sorry, I can't remember you from the 300 other people I saw this week.

Colleagues: Will you keep the bloody noise down? This may be your socialising time, but I'm trying to talk on the phone - to a client! Oh and while you're at it, do you really need to take 3/4 hour for morning tea every day, and turn up 20 minutes late to relieve me for lunch?

(Ooh, that was carthatic)
posted by b33j at 4:20 PM on October 26, 2006

Newspaper Reporter:
--People who want to see a story about them before it's run.
--People who threaten you with violence for putting a blurb about a relative committing an act of violence in the crime blotter.
--People who call up an claim you misquoted them/screwed up numbers, when you have a digital recording of them saying exactly what you printed.
--People who don't understand "fifteen hundred" = 1,500 and not 15,000. And then get mad when you print the correct interpretation.
--Having to run a correction because of any of the above, even though you weren't wrong in the first place.
--Backstabbing, gossip and perceived self-worth vary inversely with power of political office.
--The fact that every paper has its own take on AP conventions.
--Having to do a fluff piece to assauge an advertiser.
--Small township meetings with two things on the agenda that run 5 hours long.
--Big city/school board meetings with 500 things on the agenda which are passed as a whole or decided on behind closed doors because of some loophole in the open meetings act.
--Having to do feature stories about local artists/musicians who are terrible.
--Seeing an error (spelling or grammar) that was edited into a story.
--Seeing an error (spelling or grammar) that was your own damn fault and wasn't caught. There are approximately 5 of these per story.
posted by JeremiahBritt at 4:22 PM on October 26, 2006 [2 favorites]

Heh. How about some really esoteric stuff? Here's what bugs me as a boxmaker:
  • People who call and ask for a box using only one or two dimensions. "I need a 27-inch box." or "I need a box that's a 12 by 12 square." I'm sorry. Boxes, exist in a three-dimensional universe, actually have three dimensions. I'm shocked at how many times I have to ask, "What's the third dimension?" only to be met by baffled silence or by an "I don't know".
  • People who call wanting a price quote, but who do not have a pen to write the numbers down. These are the very same people who call two weeks later swearing that I've quoted them a much lower price. I have a hardcopy of every price quote I've generated. Write the prices/specs down!
  • People who need their boxes in a rush (which is everyone), but who then say, "Oh, can I pick those up next Wednesday?" Or worse yet, people who make me rush to make boxes but then are slow to pay.
  • People who want me to be able to manufacture a box to tolerances less than +/- 1/8 inch. I just had somebody request something in 64ths of an inch yesterday. Dream on.
  • People who complain about price increases. Paper is a commodity. Its price fluctuates all the time. I have no control over that. I'm not jacking up prices to rip you off. My prices go up when my costs go up.
  • People who call up the day they need to ship their Whatzit to Aunt Madge. "It has to be to the post office by three." Well you should have called earlier, then. I can't violate the laws of physics.
  • People who have to tell me their life story in order to convey what sort of box they need. I don't care about your cousin Billy. Just tell me what size of box you need and how many.
Really, I think if you work long enough at any job, you'll develop a list of mind-boggling things that your customers do...
posted by jdroth at 4:25 PM on October 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

- dealing with clients who think they are architects.

(same can probably said for other professions - going to a doctor and trying to diagnose yourself)
posted by comatose at 4:27 PM on October 26, 2006

Many of Gooch's complaints about high-tech sales also apply to boxmaking, actually.
posted by jdroth at 4:29 PM on October 26, 2006

Bartender here, speaking for the wait staff as well:

- Obviously bad tippers, not worth elaborating
- Making me make extra trips. When your friend orders water, think to yourself, do I want water, too? Waiting until I return with the water to say "yeah, I'd like one too" just doubled my workload.
- We all know how generous you are, that's why you told the whole table that dinner and drinks are on you. Now that everyone at the table knows how generous you are, this seems to give you license to stiff me. If you pay the tab for the table, let your friends leave the tip.
-Customers on cell phones
- Customers who order bizarre cocktails and they don't even know what goes in it.
- Customers who order very time-consuming drinks when the bar is packed (mojitos and blended drinks at the top of the list)
- Customers who act like I killed their first-born because we don't have their brand of vodka/beer/tequila. Sorry sir, I know you're from Milwaukee, but nobody drinks Miller in Seattle

Jesus Christ, there are so many in the service industry it would take hours to scratch the surface.
posted by vito90 at 4:29 PM on October 26, 2006

Web Designer / Graphic Designer:

No, I can't get you a mouse/fix your computer/tell you what's wrong with your email. Ask IT.

No, you can't use my color printer. If you needed a color printer, you'd have one.

Tell me it needs to be done in 1 day when I already said the turn around time is two weeks.

Require something be done at the end of the day when the printer takes 3-4 days.

(Freelance) Trying to "sneak" in additional pages or changes from the original quote. Acting mortified when you say you can't/won't do it without additional charges.

Time frame given based on starting when requested materials are submitted. Materials aren't submitted until day before deadline, then pretend they didn't know the deadline was dependant on when the material is submitted.

Expected to know everything about the subject matter you are working with. "No, I didn't know these technical specifications were incorrect - I'm not an engineer!!"

Just because its on the web page doesn't mean I'm responsible for the content.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 4:32 PM on October 26, 2006

Psychologist - When they find out were a psychologist, they ask if you're going to start analyzing them.

"Why yes, I would love to analyze you, instead of having a simple conversation. And I'd love to do this for months on end, for free!"

Another pet peeve is the depiction of psychologists in movies, especially comedies. It's not that I can't take a joke, but damn, enough with the foam-covered bats. Think of some new material...

Both were pretty much the pet peeves of my psychology cohorts. Thankfully, I'm no longer in that field.
posted by Cog at 4:35 PM on October 26, 2006

Oh, one more. Marketing and Sales people that think they're graphic designers. "No, you do not need adobe creative suite. You need to make a sign with an arrow? Word can do that."
posted by [insert clever name here] at 4:38 PM on October 26, 2006

film director (independant):
actors telling stories/wasting time between takes
people who want to solve any problem by throwing money at it
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:38 PM on October 26, 2006

Knitting Shop:

- "How many balls of wool does it take to make a scarf?" THERE IS NO GENERAL ANSWER TO THAT QUESTION.
- People who think I know their friends/family better than they do. "Is this a good colour for my nephew's girlfriend?"
- People who think I have an encyclopedic knowledge of every knitting pattern ever printed and can spit them out upon demand. "I'm looking for a copy of a Patons pattern for a sweater. What did it look like? It was red. And nice. Don't you have any patterns for nice sweaters? How old was it? Oh, at least 20 years old. Whaddaya mean, they don't print those anymore?!"
posted by web-goddess at 4:38 PM on October 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

Retail -

- Coming into the store five minutes before closing time on a Saturday to return an entire shopping bag full of clothes that you bought 6 months ago. No reciept, of course.

- Customers tearing up an entire table of shirts / jeans / sweaters that I just spent an hour meticulously folding and sorting into easy-to-understand piles according to color and size.

- Taking out your soiled maxipad / tampon / babydiaper and leaving it on the fitting room floor, thanks very much.
posted by brain cloud at 4:43 PM on October 26, 2006

I'm an editor. The assumption that we're nothing more than glorified human spellcheckers who just weren't good enough to become writers (or, in the case at my workplace, art historians) is suprisingly prevalent.
posted by scody at 4:49 PM on October 26, 2006

Archaeologist. I work part-time at a hospital. Doctors ask me what I do. I'd tell them, "I'm an archaeologist."

"Oh, my kid loves dinosaurs!"

I hate that. I apparently visibly fume.

Another type of person assumes it means you can identify any object they dig out of their yard - or point out in a museum - just by glancing at it. And that every object they dig out of their yard is properly old or what have you. They don't want to hear, "Why yes, this is from a bottle of Thunderbird, circa LAST WEEK."
posted by cobaltnine at 5:00 PM on October 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

What cathodeheart said about 32kb files and off-brand publishing software.


"But it (the color, the fonts, the layout, the resolution) looked good on my monitor."

Ahhhhhh, who am I kidding? I (and most prepress folks) hate designers.
posted by lekvar at 5:19 PM on October 26, 2006

overworked and underpaid.
posted by randomstriker at 5:24 PM on October 26, 2006

  • Opposing counsel
  • People who think all lawyers are ambulance chasers
  • People who think the old lady at McDonalds simply "won millions for spilling coffee on herself," naturally without ever having read about the case
  • More generally, anyone who favors tort reform based on one verdict they heard about on TV one time (there are some good arguments but the fact that one jury one time was full of idiots does not qualify)
  • The assumption that there is only one "law" in the United States; complete ignorance of dual sovereignty and state-to-state variation in laws
  • Unsupported statements that "it's illegal to..." or even better, that "it's a crime to..."
  • Famous or "expert" attorneys who endorse any of the above misconceptions on TV
  • News stories about a recent court decision that don't cite the court name, party names, or any other information that would allow me to find the holding my damn self ("A federal judge in Texas held today..." -- each state has several federal courts and each one can have over a dozen judges!)
  • Questions that, if answered, would violate attorney-client privilege or other ethical duties to clients. To be fair, a lot of people don't know how extensive these rules are, but still, it's annoying
One non-peeve: lawyer jokes! Lawyers hate all the other lawyers as much as everyone else does.
posted by rkent at 5:27 PM on October 26, 2006


When I tell people that I'm a composer they say "Like Andrew Lloyd Webber". I hate that. I always want to be very sarcastic and occasionally when I can't be bothered I just say yes and leave it at that...
posted by ob at 5:28 PM on October 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

  • Bad tippers
  • Customers that take forever to order
  • Customers that expect you to be available at a moments notice, no matter how many other tables you have
  • Alternatively, customers who are annoyed at your very presence and mistake attentiveness for overbearingness
  • Customers that go out to fancy restaurants, order all the specials, then have a Coke with it
  • Customers who yell for you, or worse, snap their fingers
  • Customers that think sniffing the wine cork makes them sophisticated connoisseurs instead of plebian baffoons
  • Customers that come in 5 minutes before closing and order the special
  • Customers that expect five people to be seated and fed in five minutes, regardless of how many people are in the restaurant
  • Customers that take their anger at mistakes from the kitchen out on the waiters, like they actually had a hand in cooking it
  • Customers that demand substitutions
  • Bad tippers

    posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:31 PM on October 26, 2006

    I do freelance editing and writing and agree with scody's statement. I'm also part-timing in vintage retail, my first experience behind a counter since high school. Holy god, I'd forgot how crazy the unedited public can be:

    1. People who want deep discounts on very reasonable marked prices. Telling me how you saw the same thing at a garage sale for a third of the price makes me think you really ought to have bought it there when you had the chance.
    2. Asking questions about various merchandise for hours but never buying anything. I love browsing too, but I don't expect dinner and a show with it.
    3. Visiting things in the store. Meaning, there's something you want, but you don't have the money or you can't make a decision but you already think of it as yours. So you sit with it, say things to me like "Oh, I can't really afford it, but oh I love it so, oh it would be perfect in my living room, but oh I really shouldn't..." and I couldn't give less of a fuck if fuckonium were the rarest element on earth and sold for 10 billion per microgram. I want things I can't have too so we'll just have to walk through the storm with our heads held high.
    4. People who shop with small children but don't watch them as they prance among the china.
    5. The stinky.
    6. The tweaked.
    7. The bitter.
    posted by melissa may at 5:32 PM on October 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

    Working for Government:
    - "I'm paying your wage".
    - "Lazy government workers".
    - The assumption that I don't pay taxes. I pay the same as everyone else, thanks.
    - People who hear where you work then decide to regale you with horror stories of the last time they dealt with a department you've never worked in, expecting you to answer for the actions of every other employee ever.
    - People who call to tell me they don't like the particular law or bylaw I'm enforcinng, and when I tell them that only their elected representatives can change the laws they insist there is no point in talking to them. Then the customer proceeds to tell me - again - how awful the law is and how I should get it changed, even though I've already told them who has the power to change it.
    - Elected officials that take credit for an entire system or big change in the government under them, without giving any credit to the dozens/hundreds of workers who are out busting their butts actually DOing the work, DELIVERING the service.

    I'm sure there's more, but I had a good day today, so I'm not going to think to hard about the ones that really piss me off.
    posted by raedyn at 5:36 PM on October 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

    Another less common job: Dog-walker/Pet-sitter:

    - I know you think you're doing wonderful things by throwing your old bread out in the yard for birds. You know what? Birds are doing just fine. Fuck off.
    - (Not specific to my job and really just common courtesy, but ugh) seriously, pick up after your dog. They *really* enjoy smelling each others shit, and my arms are only so long.
    - Remember...outside cats, statistically, have half the lifespan of indoor cats. Keep Mittens inside, please.
    - If you're interviewing multiple sitters and make up your mind after an interview, please call and cancel the other interviewers (I was on the flip-side of this recently, and even though we got the business, it kind of peeved me off).
    - Chicken bones belong in the trash, not on the sidewalk.
    posted by Ufez Jones at 5:41 PM on October 26, 2006

    Commercial translator:
    Doctorpiorno nailed pretty much everything I was going to say except for one - clients who think they speak my native tongue better than I do, and CORRECT my translations, and actually make mistakes. My blood pressure goes up just thinking about it.
    posted by msali at 5:53 PM on October 26, 2006

    More for writers:

    - People who think the proper response to "I sold a story/screenplay/book!" is "Really? For how much?"

    - "Hey, I know! I'll tell you my idea, and you can write it, and we can split the profits!"

    - Watching a movie you wrote and being surprised at the terrible, nonsensical ending. (We changed it during production to make it more blammo, did we forget to mention that? Oopsie!)

    - Family members with life stories. Long life stories. 500,000 words of life story, single spaced, typed on both sides of the page.
    posted by headspace at 5:56 PM on October 26, 2006

    For screenwriters:

    Having a egomaniacal director completely rewrite your entire script without so much as telling you first.

    Having relatives (mostly grandparents) who really believe, on some level, that the actors make up all their own dialogue.

    That being a female means you can't write action, comedy, or horror.

    Having people (especially in LA) think that if you call youself a "screenwriter" it actually means you're unemployed, (unless they have seen your movie.) Which then forces an uncomfortable conversation about how you actually do quite well, because of x, y, z and yes then you end up telling them how much you get paid in self defense. Which makes you look shallow and vain.

    Hopefully I will get over all these eventually.
    posted by np312 at 6:05 PM on October 26, 2006

    Phone sex operator:

    It's frustrating when guys call and say they don't know what turns them on and they have no fantasies. Sometimes they just say they want something kinky, and then they clam up. Really, that's not helpful.

    One of my callers wants me to turn into she-hulk and grunt and growl as I suck his cock. I think that's pretty kinky. So unless you want me big, green & vicious, you should consider elaborating.
    posted by diamondsky at 6:33 PM on October 26, 2006 [3 favorites]

    (First I should say that I love teaching and really enjoy interacting with students; these are just pet peeves and apply to a small fraction of students.)

    -"Philosophy class is easy; there's no wrong answer."

    - Students who think that an idea or puzzle is simple -- beneath them to think hard about -- because I have presented it in a very clear way.

    - Relatedly, students who think that their half-hour of thought on one of humanity's Great Eternal Questions should be about enough to earn an A on their essay.

    - When they don't get their A, students who complain that I marked them down because I disagreed with their position. (Surely not because their writing was bad and their arguments were unsound or absent altogether.)

    - Cheating. Cheating stupidly and lazily. The assumption that I won't catch it.

    - Students who try to make a sentence sound more impressive by arbitrarily choosing a synonym from the thesaurus in Word, when they don't know what the synonyms mean.

    - Students who come to my class with their underwear deliberately showing as part of their "look". Very intelligent female students who go to all their classes with writing on the ass of their pants.

    - Teaching at a university means constantly seeing students who are wasting opportunities like the ones I wasted when I was in university... but not being able to stop them from doing it. This aspect of the job is like purgatory; I get older but the students are perpetually the same age and level of inexperience.

    - People at dinner parties or on planes who ask what my research is on. They mean very well, and I appreciate the question in one way, but my research is super-esoteric and hard to explain even to very smart people. This always bums me out. And they want to help! Maybe their idea will finally crack this highly technical puzzle that I've been working on for years! Sigh. (I do the same thing to other academics, though.)

    - "Hey, you're a philosopher? So, when a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound?"
    posted by LobsterMitten at 6:37 PM on October 26, 2006


    People who ask me "couldn't you have picked the flute?"

    Wedding clients who expect their musicians to play outside in the scorching sun or the rain.
    posted by purplefiber at 6:44 PM on October 26, 2006

    Very intelligent female students who go to all their classes with writing on the ass of their pants.

    This really needs to stop.
    posted by myeviltwin at 7:08 PM on October 26, 2006

    Medical (I work for a cardiologist):
    -When someone else calls on behalf of the patient. I get a lot of "he's having chest pain" Me: "How long has this been going on" Them: "I don't know" Me: "is it a sharp pain or a dull ache?" Them: "I don't know" Me: "Can you please put the patient on the phone?" Them: "Oh no, he's at work. He told me to call because he's too busy" Arrrgh!
    -4:50 pm calls on Friday afternoon: "I've been having chest pain since Monday, but I didn't want to let it go over the weekend” You had all week to let us know so we can do something about it, and now I'm going to sit in the office waiting for you to fight Friday afternoon rush hour traffic to get to the office so we can check you out.
    -People who get angry when the doctor is running late because he's stuck at the hospital in emergency surgery. These people also think that he's really at the golf course. Of course, these are the same people that pitch a fit if they are having a problem and it takes him 10 minutes to get to the ER. Apparently the ER doc is good enough to treat everyone else, but they want my boss, and they want him now.
    -People who think that being a doctor is a 24/7/365 job. My boss is incredibly dedicated, but he has kids and a wife. I think he's entitled to take off an afternoon once a month to watch his kid play soccer. Some of his patients don't. It's not like he doesn't have a nurse and partners who can handle anything that comes up. People think that he needs be available to them at all times.
    -People that seem to think that they shouldn't have to pay their co-pays or deductibles because "all doctors are rich" We have an ultrasound machine that we purchased (with a major bank loan) for $500k. Average insurance reimbursement is $500 per ultrasound. Considering that we are paying interest on the loan, we have to do over 1000 ultrasounds before we make a dime. He also has to pay a staff (nurses aren't cheap), and overhead before he can pay himself.
    -Internet self-diagnosers. I had someone call who wanted to be seen immediately because they had congestive heart failure. This was someone we'd never seen before with no prior history of CHF, or any indicators. But because they read on "the internet" that difficulty breathing and weight gain due to water retention were a couple of the symptoms, they were certain it was CHF. The difficulty breathing turned out to be a nasty chest cold, and the "water retention" apparently happened very slowly over a period of several months. It wasn't water, it was fat. I also get a lot of truly sick people who decide to go off all of their meds because "the internet" said garlic is good for the heart. So they're just going to eat a lot of Italian food. Ok, no problem, we'll just add you to the transplant list.
    -And finally, my personal favorite: "My regular doctor said I need to make an appointment with you” Me: "Ok, what are your symptoms?" Them: "How should I know? You're the doctor!" I swear this happens at least once a week.

    Ahhhhh.... That felt good.
    posted by deedeep at 7:17 PM on October 26, 2006

    First off, you guys have awesome jobs, even if they annoy you.

    Camera retailer (at a smallish chain):

    -customers that complain about the quality of their image after a best buy/target/wal-mart salesperson told them how many images they'd get on the lowest setting

    -color correcting images shot with the wrong color balance setting for hours and then being asked why the colors are so dull and weird (because I had to take out virtually all the blue)

    -watching a coworker lose a very large commission because the customer believes her 4 MP point and shoot takes better pictures than a digital SLR

    But you do get customers so bad they're hilarious, like a woman who asked us not to drop her film because "a pharmacy did that once and knocked them all out of focus"
    posted by ztdavis at 7:18 PM on October 26, 2006

    Help desk worker--

    1. "What happens when I click this?"
    Just frikkin' click it and see!

    2. "Why can't I find/do/see X?"
    Um, 'cause you're stoopid? The question you mean to ask is, of course, "How do I find/do/see X?"

    3. And the big one for me, since I work at a large government web site: "Why are you hiding X"?
    It can't possibly be that it's there, but you just can't find it, can it? We must be hiding it from you.
    posted by MrMoonPie at 7:25 PM on October 26, 2006

    (I'm a graduate student.)

    People who, the night before a test, email me a list of 10 incredibly detailed questions about the material, apparently expecting me to spend all night typing up the answers for them. These are the same students who never, ever, ever come to office hours.
    posted by myeviltwin at 7:27 PM on October 26, 2006

    (I no longer have any of these jobs:)

    - The thing is, sir, I'm already aware that I've got a shitty job.

    Telephone poll-taker:
    - No, seriously, I'm not a telemarketer.

    Used record store clerk:
    - Sir, I'm unable to accept that item for either cash or a trade--not only is it something that is, to put it kindly, unlikely to sell, but it looks like somebody drove over it with a truck full of sandpaper.

    Adult movie theater clerk:
    - That money wis wet.
    posted by box at 7:42 PM on October 26, 2006

    Advertising copywriter:

    ---Having the design people look down on you and always cut your copy!
    ---Endless rewrites because the copy director/art director/CEO doesn't know what he/she wants but "will know it when (they) see it."
    --Endless rewrites because sales are down; eventually they settle on something very much like what you first presented.
    --Spending an 8-hour day coming up with names for a handful of shoes--and having them all scrapped by the copy director.

    Administrative Assistant

    --Having a very disorganized boss who's also a control freak...every project takes twice as long because he changes it at every stage.
    --Having people look down on you because you're "just an admin."
    --Having people tell my boss, "Have your temp do it." I'm not a temp and I have a NAME!

    Pet Sitter (most of my clients are really nice BUT...)

    --Client who agrees to drop their keys off on a Friday night at 8pm and then "forgets" to show up and doesn't answer their cell phone. I end up staying home because I'm waiting for them.
    --Clients who make their initial contact with you 24-48 hours before a major holiday. If you meet with them you feel obligated to take the job because they have no one else. Met some wacky folks this way.
    --This one particular preppy couple whose entire apartment reeked of Crate & Barrel, Pottery Barn and Martha Stewart Living who acted like I was a low-class person because I was a pet sitter. Of course, they never tipped!
    posted by mintchip at 7:42 PM on October 26, 2006

    Clients who say their teenage nephew could make a better website/application.

    Yeah? Then why the hell are you paying us to do it, jackass?
    posted by jesirose at 7:48 PM on October 26, 2006

    -- People who assume you do what you do simply because you love to draw and you're having fun all the time doing they don't understand why you want to be paid for your work.
    posted by Thorzdad at 7:49 PM on October 26, 2006


  • People think that all we do is check out books/read/shelve books/surf the Web all day.
  • "Why can't the library be more like Borders?" Because Borders is a disorganized crapbox, that's why.
  • Me: "I'm a librarian." Them: "Oh, I remember the Dewey Decimal System!" Me:*punches Them*
  • "I'm looking for that book with the red cover. Where is it?" or "I'm looking for a book but I don't know what it's about or what the title is, but I know the author's wife is named Marion. Can you help me?" (A colleague of mine actually had this question the other week.)
  • "Wow, you work in a library? Why? Isn't everything on Google now?"
  • There's a special ring of Hell reserved for people who write or *shudder* use a highlighter in a library book.
  • People who eat in libraries.
  • (This is very specific to my library, which has shelving units that move with the touch of a button): "Hey, anybody ever get crushed in these things?" I hear that at least twice a week.

    And, finally, there's this: People have little respect for libraries. They think everything they need is at Borders/Barnes and Noble/Chapters, and that if it's not there it's not worth looking for. If they happen to actually make it into the library building, they think they know how to find things and don't need my help. Then, of course, they think the library is annoying and hard to use when they can't find what they think they want in 30 seconds. They think call numbers are weird and pointless ("Why don't you just have them all in alphabetical order?"). They don't read. They're functionally illiterate when it comes to finding information, and they don't even realize it.

    (I had a much longer "cheer for libraries" post, but I edited it out, because I think one of the big pet peeves of library users is librarians who answer their questions along with ten others they didn't ask!)

  • posted by arco at 8:01 PM on October 26, 2006 [7 favorites]

    Public Defenders:

    "I want a "real" lawyer!"
    posted by falconred at 8:22 PM on October 26, 2006

    Web Developer:

    Client asks: How do we get to #1 on Google, after we've had the "talk."

    Friends/family: Can you fix my computer? It doesn't work.
    posted by pedantic at 8:22 PM on October 26, 2006

    engineer (female engineer, more specifically)

    Not being taken seriously because I'm a woman in a male-dominated field (I brought one of our interns to a meeting with me this past year and all of the questions were directed at him, despite the fact that I had been working on the project for a year and he had been working on it for about a day and had two years of college compared to my degree + experience). AHHHHHHHHHH it makes me crazy just thinking about it!
    posted by jengineer at 8:29 PM on October 26, 2006

    Managing editor, production editor, copy editor:

    * No, when you turn things in late, you can't have them back early. Yes, it takes a long time to make a book. No, I can't make the printer go faster.

    * When other people (acquisitions editors) make impossible promises knowing they can just have you be the bad guy.

    * Writers who think their words are precious and that their unorthodox comma usage is integral to the text. There is a reason I get paid to do this and you do not. (I swear, if most people saw what their favorite books looked like as manuscripts . . .)
    posted by dame at 8:31 PM on October 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

    Legal Assistant/Paralegal:

    Clients who call constantly wanting to know why my boss hasn't returned their call/if I actually gave him their message/why I can't tell them when they'll be receiving money.

    Having a project dropped on me 2 hours before it must be done and served, despite the fact that my boss/co-worker KNEW it was due today, and had all the relevant information for it at least a week ago.

    Abusive clients who call in drunk/high/insane and insist on talking to a managing or senior partner because (insert ridiculous expectation here).

    Managing or Senior partners coming down on me/us because drunk/high/insane clients complained about something either unavoidable or simply untrue.

    Having clients tell me that they are thinking of taking their case to another attorney. (Please.. you're calling me day in and day out when you know I have NOTHING to tell you. We're waiting for discovery, or for word from the insurance carrier, or some other perfectly valid reason. But you insist on attempting to make my life a living hell because you think if you only call often enough that some magical news that I've been keeping from you for who knows what nefarious reason will suddenly be forthcoming. And you think that your telling me you're thinking of taking your case to another firm, should there be one so stupid as to accept you and your case, is a threat? May the gods of all overworked support staff smile upon me and whisk you right away from me.)

    Opposing counsel having papers hand-delivered at 4:54 on a Friday (Some of you KNOW I'm addressing you). Extra points for pulling this on a 3-day weekend.

    Clients not coming forward with required info until days after the pleading should have been drafted, finalized and served.

    Opposing counsel using flirtation, tears or sob stories to sway the judge into allowing them to bend the rules.

    I could go on for pages. What's the gig? Writing a book on the downsides of potential careers?
    posted by Meep! Eek! at 8:32 PM on October 26, 2006

    First off, Civil_Disobedient, the part about going out for a fancy dinner and ordering a soda? Sorry dude, some of us just don't drink. A family history of RAMPANT alcoholism means that I pretty much order soda when I go out. But you know what? I'm not cheap otherwise and I tip well, so don't worry about it too much.

    Now then:
    I'm a consultant who works as part of a company

    --Our sales people "Oh, yes, of course, he's got a lot of experience in Java!" Umh, I do?

    --Clients who aren't prepared for us "Oh hi, welcome. It'll be about a day or two till your computer is ready, you can just look at this empty binder until then" Sure... but I'm billing

    --Why yes, I actually DO have some idea what I'm doing, that's why you're paying my rather hefty billing rate, so having me do simple staff supplementation is really not a good use of your money.

    --Our management refusing to train us "Oh no, don't worry, we'll train you AFTER we get clients using that tech"... Ya see, the deal is, they aren't going to hire us if we don't know what we're doing already!

    --Crappy work settings. Seriously, is there some rule that says that consultants should be stuck on card tables in rooms with no windows but 32 fluorescent light fixtures and 15" monitors? Gee, thanks, I'll just use my laptop...

    --Oops, sorry, we ran out of money, guess we don't need you anymore. Yeah, actually you do, plan better!

    --Clients who expect me to be experts on their systems after a few weeks with no training and no documentation working on a system that is byzantine in the extreme.
    posted by KirTakat at 9:14 PM on October 26, 2006

    Tech Support, specifically user security:

    Users who insist on telling you the 10 minute story of their weekend and why it caused them to forget their password. Really, we don't care (and have heard it already anyways). Here is what you should say when calling: "Hi I'm Foo Bar, user id fbar. I forgot my password please reset it."

    If policy dictates you have to provide your student card to get your password reset I can't make an exception, even if you insist I know you. I see 50-100 students a day, the only way I know you is if you're a horrible pain in the ass. In which case you are definitely going to need your ID because you're most likely the kind of dumb ass who would complain to my boss because I didn't follow procedure and someone could have hacked your account.

    Tech support, general:

    Letting me sweat away for 20 minutes before telling the complete story. "Oh ya, my interweb stopped working right after I installed Kazaa." or "I don't know if it's related but my office stopped working right after I installed that cracked version of CS."

    "How do I connect to the new network printer?" Oh I don't know, how about any one of the three ways outlined in my carefully worded memo sent out yesterday to the whole department when I set up the print queue? "Oh, I never read e-mail unless it's sent directly to me. It's never actually for me." Except here you are calling me you twit.

    Complaints about password policy. I don't set password policy (good for you because current policy is ridiculously weak) but I don't really think expecting a adult human to remember a new password every 45 days is really that much of a chore. I some how manage to remember strong passwords on half a dozen systems that I change every fortnight surely you could remember one that enables you to do your job. Especially since you could use a pattern like Password1, Password2, Password3, etc.

    brain cloud writes "Taking out your soiled maxipad / tampon / babydiaper and leaving it on the fitting room floor, thanks very much."


    Civil_Disobedient writes "Waiters:
    • Customers that go out to fancy restaurants, order all the specials, then have a Coke with it

    Why is this a problem? Are you not supposed to have Coke with the special?
    posted by Mitheral at 9:43 PM on October 26, 2006

    -- People who assume you do what you do simply because you love to draw and you're having fun all the time doing they don't understand why you want to be paid for your work.

    I get this as a musician, too. It's probably pretty common to a lot of the creative fields.
    posted by Sangre Azul at 9:45 PM on October 26, 2006

    T.V. Production - people who don't understand the structure of t.v. production are invariably at the top, and will invariably hire the person they like most without any regards to his or her (usually her) competence. This will sound sexist, so I'll tread carefully, but if you're a woman, you've got about a 100% better chance of being hired onto a production team than a man does, no matter what your resume is. Now, most of my friends are women in production, and they're my friends because they work their asses off and absolutely deserve their success, but it was definitely easier for them, and they'll admit this freely. The problem has little to do with gender diferentiation (that's just another peeve of mine, which certainly goes the other way in most other industries.) The problem is that television tries its damndest to be as laid back as it can be to counteract the frantic crisis-a-minute pace of the work, and because nobody knows what the production team does, they figure that it's a perfect place to dump whoever they want to hire but who possesses no actual skills.

    In one of my favorite shoots (really) I was working under a production manager was hired simply because her boyfriend was a good camera operator. That was her entire set of qualifications. She hired her best friend as coordinator, and then spent the entire shoot ordering things off of Netflix and eBay and yelling at subordinates for asking her questions. For those who've never worked on a shoot, the production manager's job is to run the team and make sure they have all the supplies and information they need, so answering questions is about 90% of the effort required. Then she'd go home with her boyfriend at the end of his ten hour day (the rest of us were working 16 hour days.) Thankfully, her friend rose to the occassion and ended up being a bad-ass, but even she was wanting to kill our P.M. by the end of the shoot.

    I wish I could say she was the worst I've ever worked with, but this situation is disturbingly common, becasue nobody, including, apparently, the producers themselves, has any idea what the production team does, which brings me to my biggest peeve.

    Nobody knows what the hell we do, and thus nobody respects it.

    People understand the talent, and the director, and the sound-guy, and the camera operator, and the designers, but, as Dustin Hoffman said in "Wag the Dog," nobody knows what we do.

    Essentially, we do everything you never think of. The shoot needs cars and trucks - we're the ones who get them for no money. The shoot needs catering - we're the ones who forego our own meals to make sure that the crew can eat for the lowest budget. Somebody gets in trouble with the law - an inveitability - we're the ones who smooth it over. Permits, records, construction, accounting, P.R., releases, shopping, counseling, hand-holding, crowd-control, traffic-control, props, driving, inspections, scheduling, and finally, the actual stories and script finalization. And being the whipping boys. If the designer forgot her swatches, it's your fault for not being there with them already. If sound gets disrupted by a plane overhead, it's your fault for not changing air-traffic patterns. If talent is late getting in from make-up, it's your fault for not hurrying her; if she's on time and it isn't to the director's liking, it's your fault for rushing them.

    And you get paid a small fraction of what everybody else makes, because you're not skilled. (This term is thrown about with vicious abandon. What it really means is that the person saying it would cause more of a crisis if he or she quit, so they threaten to do so early and often to ensure several raises within, say, a month long period. Then they'll brag about them to you, saying how if you were "skilled" you'd be able to do the same. I've heard this almost daily from people on their first jobs.)

    One of the ostensible perks is that the P.A.'s work for the Exec, and as such can weild some very specific power over everybody else not also on the production team. This rarely, if ever, works out in paractice. You can yell and scream until your lungs are sore about how something needs to wrap, but the crew works for the director, and won't obey you, so you get your reprimands from the exec for not making them wrap. On the rare occassion that the director actually respects your orders, there's usually a clever system of multiple execs set up to make sure that the other one reprimands you for giving the order at all. WIthout this system, the director will run to the exec, who will claim that they weren't there, and didn't know the situation, and then fire you to save face.

    It's damned if you do, damned if you don't at every possible moment. I could go into a thousand more peeves, but I think I've written enough.
    posted by Navelgazer at 9:48 PM on October 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

    Ex-discount department store clerk:

    1a. If I said I couldn't do something: "But [direct competitor] will do it!" Then go shop there.

    1b. If I said I couldn't do something: "But the grocery store does it!" This isn't the grocery store.

    2. People who return things they shouldn't. If it smells like pee, don't return it. If it smells like smoke, don't return it. If it has body lice on it, for the love of God, don't return it.

    3. People who go shopping immediately before an event, then ask/demand that you please hurry up because they're late.

    4. People who feel the need to talk up how much money they're spending. For one, it's a discount store. If you had as much money as you act like you have, you'd go to Neiman Marcus. It's ten minutes away. For another, you're not impressing anyone. The staff knows who the real high-rollers are, and you ain't it.

    5. I'm a human being. "Hi" isn't going to kill you.

    6. People who talk on their cell phone during the entire transaction.

    7. [This goes for my restaurant experience, too] Hearing the same two dozen songs over and over and over again, eight hours a day, four or five days a week - it's no joy.
    posted by anjamu at 9:55 PM on October 26, 2006

    Racecourse Usher/Ticket Seller/etc:

    People assume me to know what the hot tips are. I'd be lucky if I could name one horse that was racing that day.

    Most of the time when people ask me if i've got any tips I tell them not to eat yellow snow. Some get it, most don't.
    posted by cholly at 9:59 PM on October 26, 2006

    School Bus Driver

    "If the garage door is open, that means he is riding the bus this morning, just blow the horn," and wake up the neighbors in a 1/2 mile radius.

    Parent, "You didn't see (insert here) happen?" No, do you really think the kid is going to do it in the nano second I'm able to glance in the overhead mirror? I do have to look out of the windshield at some point to see where I am steering this 28 ton bus filled with 65 kids under the age of 10.

    Teachers, "You all have it easy, you just have the kids for an hour or so, we have them all day!" Is that with your back to them???? While driving down the interstate??? How many students in your class???
    posted by JujuB at 10:08 PM on October 26, 2006

    expect me to know the tips, dammit.
    posted by cholly at 10:39 PM on October 26, 2006

    Tech support:

    Users who insist they didn't do something and their problem must be the result of malpractice on the part of the server operations team rather than the the result of their own action.
    posted by Mitheral at 10:40 PM on October 26, 2006

    Also: Screenwriter. First of all, I live in NYC, which is my own choice, but nobody seems to take you seriously if you don't live in L.A.

    - Screenwriting groups. Often times filled with great ideas and connections, but more often led by someone who is jealous of and/or simply has some unknown reason to hate your ideas, and will lead any discussion away from constructive criticism towards telling you why your ideas suck and will never work. Also, people with connections tend to hoard them like Gollum.

    - You'd expect the first question of any outside-the-industry people you meet to be, "What are you writing now," which would get tiresome enough on it's own, but no. Invariably, the question is, "How many scripts have you written?" First off, any question with a numerical answer is bad conversation. Secondly, I've been writing since I was in Elementary School, so I really don't know what kind of answer you're looking for.

    - Working with a friend who's new to screenwriting to make her script idea playable, and then working even more diligently with her on the next one. (No, if it's a love story, they shouldn't fall in love in the first five minutes and then have no complications for the rest of the film.) Then, having her score an agent out of nowhere when no one will return your calls. Honestly, I adore the person I'm talking about, and she's my oldest friend, but damn.

    - Even worse, Ghostwriting for someone who then gets a deal with your work. This is the sort of thing that can simply make you cry, especially if, again, no one will return your calls.

    - I could talk for hours about paid collaboration jobs, but the one I'm in is with someone who can't write a word on paper, who is so spectactularly incompetent that he makes me want to take up Yoga before every meeting just to keep me from grinding my teeth so much. Every meeting he'll repeat my own ideas to me and then ask me what my ideas are. He literally e-mailed me a list of every idea that I'd worked out with him, and then asked me for an equal list of my own ideas. Despite his anti-social ineptitude, he's a producer for a very famous network (even more frustrating as he's the same age as me and seems to have avoided every ounce of education available even to the homeless.) I don't want to mention any more, for fear of indentifying myself and him, but suffice it to say that he's going off to direct a shoot in a tropical land while I scrape for change in Brooklyn. And my schedule is the problem.

    I finally decided to go into law several months back, which I'm much better at anyway. None of my fromer professers would give me an academic letter of recommendation, seeing me as a traitor. I love film and television, and have wanted to work in it since I was seven years old, and have directed my whole life that way. Now, well, I'll be happy to give a big Fuck You to the entire industry. I know that law can be and is just as bad, but at least I'll enter into it "skilled," and the pay will be a lot better. I don't have a problem with the workload - I like work - but rather with charming incompetence being such a valuable commodity as to cloud all other judgment, and egos being unnassailable on account of nothing other than being egos. Seriously, does no one in these positions realize how shitty they are?

    Catharsis done, hopefully.

    I'll add one universal peeve, however, that I really believe trancends any line of work: Any product made by Microsoft. Really. WTF?
    posted by Navelgazer at 10:57 PM on October 26, 2006

    Web designer:

    - clients who bitch at you because their site isn't ready although the site is done - it's just that all the content sections on the pages are blank because you are still waiting to receive the content from them, and have reminded them every week for the last 3 months about it

    - clients who want their site to have fantastic imagery - yet are shocked when you tell them that photographs cost extra

    - clients who claim they need their site done ASAP when you are trying to schedule reasonable deadlines

    - clients who forget who they registered their domain name with, who they host with and consequently can locate no usernames or passwords to access either

    - clients who contact you when they are having a computer problem (I'm very patient and understanding when tech questions are related to the internet and so on - but I draw the line at doing computer tech support as well)


    - disagreeing with you because their nephew/partner/man they met in the pub told them something different, even though that person has no experience in the field

    To be fair though I know that there is something about me which peeves some of my clients too. I hate talking on the phone. To the degree that I very rarely answer my phone. In fact all my phones are set to silent. I like all dialogue to take place either by email or in person. Really it goes beyond just my personal loathing - I've been burned by changes being made over the phone before. Email is good because both people have a copy. Plus when you are in "The Zone" it's really disrupting. Most people are OK with the alternatives I have in place - but they find it hard to abandon the urge to call "just to tell me something".
    posted by gomichild at 11:05 PM on October 26, 2006

    Federal Law Enforcement: in adition to raedyn's comments...

    -People that expect me to know everything about every aspect of federal law in every area particularly in areas that have absolutely no connection to what I do (no, I do not know what the FDA regulations are about red dye #6)
    -People that become irrate and accuse me of laziness or incompetetance because of the above
    -People that ask my advice on how they can more efficiently break the laws I'm tasked to enforce
    -People that are Nazis that expect that I am a Nazi too
    -People that are Liberals that expect I'm a Nazi
    posted by Pollomacho at 11:11 PM on October 26, 2006

    Analytical Chemist

    Scientists I work with:

    The belief that there is one instrument that will test everything, and all I have to do is find the right button.
    That said instrument never ever breaks or needs preventative maintenance.
    That when said instrument fails, we can just call up our trusty handyman who can fix the thing in an hour. (I wish)
    That just because an instrument can theoretically do something, I must obviously have the time to order all the new parts required, get them commissioned/working and then do the method validation for something you only want to do once.

    General Public:

    TV’s depiction of analysts: No you can’t work five different instruments straight out of Uni. It’s a surprise I know. Being smart helps, but doesn’t replace experience. We also don’t have to wait for printouts, we label containers, and our software doesn’t have such sexy interfaces.
    Chemistry face: This is the face people pull when you tell them you do something that they hated in high school. Physicists and Mathematicians have the same issue, but generally get more respect because of the “mad genius” cliché.
    posted by kjs4 at 12:22 AM on October 27, 2006

    People coming in during the lunch/breakfast rush and saying they need their meal "in a hurry", even though you have 10 meal dockets ahead of theirs. Manage your time, idiots!
    People ordering a certain thing, then sending it back because "I didn't want cheese with that", even though they never told the wait-staff in the first place. (but will swear they did).
    posted by lazy robot at 1:39 AM on October 27, 2006

    Forgot one!

    - people who report errors by just throwing their hands in the air and saying something like "Doesn't work on a Mac/PC/their computer" and providing no other information whatsoever.
    posted by gomichild at 3:05 AM on October 27, 2006

    I've had a lot of crappy jobs.

    Video store clerk:

    - people who don't know what they want, and come in as you're closing. Famous people are ALWAYS doing this... Judge Reinhold, Val Kilmer, why yes now that you ask I did live in Santa Fe (see also, book store, art gallery)

    Art gallery:

    - people who come in, see the prices, and proceed to tell you they could have made the art themselves. How nice it must be for you to be so overwhlemingly talented

    Book store:

    - authors who come in, look for their book on the shelves, then tell you to stock more/turn around and walk out (Tony Hillerman, Murray Gell-Mann, Kary Mullis)

    - surprisingly, I didn't mind people who came in asking for something they couldn't quite remember. I'm well-read, it was my *job*. What I really hate is other people working at bookstores who don't bother trying to help

    Forensic science:

    - medics who can't tell the difference between a human bone and a horse bone, thereby wasting your time having to generate a report for the coroner about these "possible human remains"

    - police who can't do the same

    - anyone who moves shit around before you get to a scene

    - anyone who starts up a conversation about CSI/crime novels


    - a supervisor who has never written a program in his life, who asks you to "whip up some code" (usually to do something that has never been successfully solved by the world's greatest mathematicians/physicists)

    - other programmers who can't be bothered to document their work, or put comments in their code

    Restaurant kitchen:

    - prep cooks who come in ten minutes early so they can sign off all the easiest jobs

    - customers who don't understand that MARINARA sauce CONTAINS FISH (the hint is in the name)

    - customers who try to order off menu because "you have everything back there, right?" and the wait staff who don't stop this from happening

    - dishwashers who live in a parallel universe, where they're running the place and know exactly how everything should be done

    - no complaints about bakers. The bakers rock


    - fucking CLOWNS
    posted by methylsalicylate at 3:44 AM on October 27, 2006

    Doctor -

    Patients with certain kinds of severe personality problems can tax the patience of a saint. In general, these folks make up about 5% of my patient base, yet dealing with them consumes about 30-40% of my time.

    There's nothing to be done about it, though, except maybe have an eye-roll with our colleagues at the end of the day.
    posted by ikkyu2 at 3:57 AM on October 27, 2006

    Grapic Designer:

    PCs. No, they really do suck.


    Microsoft ANYTHING.

    "You work on computers right? Can you fix mine?"
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:11 AM on October 27, 2006

    Disability services management, in government and NGOs (the peeves are the same):

    - not enough resources
    - too much paperwork
    - families with nothing better to do than ride your arse about trivial issues
    - families who enable/encourage challenging behaviour
    - senior management making crappy decisions
    - constantly cleaning up after other people's mistakes
    - the fucking phone just won't stop ringing!
    posted by goo at 4:12 AM on October 27, 2006

    Translator (quite a few of us on here, it seems) but these are probably relevant to all freelancers:

    Me: This invoice is overdue. Please pay it.
    Client (translation agency): Oh, our end client hasn't paid our invoice for this job yet.
    Me: Not my problem. You are my client. I did the work for you. Pay me.
    Me (inwardly): if you are in sufficiently dire financial straits that you have to hold off paying a supplier until one of your clients pays you, you won't be in business for long. I busted my arse to deliver your translation on time, now bust yours, suckers. hate hate hate

    Client: your English translation contains 10% fewer words than the French does. We know because we did the wordcounts. You must have missed a bit. Please fix.
    Me: [lecture about relative concision of English and how it is possible to say the same thing in fewer words in English]

    What msali said, too:
    clients who think they speak my native tongue better than I do, and CORRECT my translations, and actually make mistakes. My blood pressure goes up just thinking about it.
    posted by altolinguistic at 5:01 AM on October 27, 2006


    Clients that you spend hours with designing their piece, teaching them about stones, to only have them walk out after saying "I can buy this for 30% less on the Web".

    Customers who expect that a jewelry repair lasts forever. I had a woman who marched in screaming that her stone had fallen out three months after her repair, and then admitted after I looked at the mangled ring under the microscope that a window had closed on her hand, crushing the ring.

    People who come in with grandma's jewelry that they're sure is a priceless heirloom, ask you to use your expertise to appraise their piece, then call you a hack and a liar when you tell them that the stone is synthetic - and, here's the best part - refuse to pay you for the time that you spent carefully analyzing their piece.

    Last, my personal favorite, and an annual Valentine's Day tradition: "I'd like a piece of jewelry for my girlfriend, but no diamonds/not too serious/not too expensive - I don't want her getting any ideas hahaha." Arrgghh! I always wish I could get girlfriend's number and play that one back for her.
    posted by Flakypastry at 7:01 AM on October 27, 2006

    To all of you customer service/bookstore/library people - I hear ya on the "so, where's that book that was on tv a month ago" questions. Ugh. I also hate it when people won't at least attempt to find the books themselves. I can't tell you how many times, someone would come in, walk directly up to the desk, and ask for whatever book was featured on Oprah two days ago. Meanwhile, they've just walked by a huge pile of 500 of them in the front of the store since we've been expecting you, asshole.

    We actually had a list of "stupid customer questions" in a notebook behind the register. When I left, it was up to 850-ish questions. I wish I could get my hands on that thing today.

    a woman who asked us not to drop her film because "a pharmacy did that once and knocked them all out of focus"

    Ha! HAHAHA! I'm studying photography right now, and these are my peeves so far, since I can see them extending into my professional life...(gah, I'm not even officially working yet!)

    1. "So...are you going to be a wedding photographer or something?"

    2. "Yeah, I was gonna hire a real photographer to do [pregnancy portraits/my wedding/pictures of my brat/headshots], but why don't you just do it? That way, I won't have to pay, and you can use them in your portfolio." No, no I will not do it, and I can guarantee you that my senior thesis will NOT BE PREGNANCY PORTRAITS.

    3. People who actually hire you, and you rearrange your schedule to fit their event, and you've rented a nice medium format camera and already bought all the film you'll need, and you've reserved time in the lab to scan and print the film, but then they decide, 12 hours before the event, to have their brother-in-law do it with his point and shoot digital. Guess what? You still owe me for the film and my time, thanks. Just because I'm technically still a student doesn't mean my time and effort isn't valuable. Have fun getting your wedding pictures printed at Walgreens.

    4. When you teach a friend how to use their point and shoot digital, and how to download pics to their computer, and where to go to get prints made, and what settings will make their pictures better, etc...and then they promptly forget everything and you get a phone call a week later asking you to explain everything again.

    6. People telling you what would make a great picture, and I should go shoot it. If its so great, you go shoot it!

    7. Friends requesting new prints of black and white photos I gave as gifts two years ago. First of all, its not my fault you took it out from behind the uv-resistant glass I framed it in and put it in a "cute" ikea frame in direct sunlight. Of course its all yellow now! Second of all, I'll get to it when I get to it, I'm not in the biggest rush to get back into the B&W darkrooms right now. Even if its "just one picture" the whole process could easily take up to 3 hours.

    8. People who think that art school isn't real school. You wouldn't last a week where I go.
    posted by AlisonM at 7:03 AM on October 27, 2006

    This line should have been in my first paragraph: I worked at a bookstore for several years.

    Sheesh. I'm leaving out whole lines now!
    posted by AlisonM at 7:05 AM on October 27, 2006

    Web development:

    This piece was flying around the web a few years ago and pretty much sums up the pet peeves in this industry -
    If Architects Had to Work Like Web Designers.

    It begins...

    Dear Mr. Architect...Please design and build me a house. I am not quite sure of what I need, so you should use your discretion. My house should have somewhere between two and forty-five bedrooms. Just make sure the plans are such that the bedrooms can be easily added or deleted. When you bring the blueprints to me, I will make the final decision of what I want. Also, bring me the cost breakdown for each configuration so that I can arbitrarily pick one...

    posted by hsoltz at 7:15 AM on October 27, 2006 [1 favorite]

    Here's one I forgot, as a reporter:

    Dealing with gifts. People are always trying to give reporters freebies -- here's a memory card for you to write about, keep it when you're done; here's a $40 bottle of wine, thanks for the awesome story; if your paper doesn't have the budget to send you to this conference, we can bring you out here ourselves; etc. For ethical reasons, I can't accept any of these gifts, which stings twice: 1-- Turning down a gift feels incredibly ungenerous, and explaining that it would be unethical to accept feels rude; 2-- A lot of the stuff I have to say no to would be really awesome to have.

    Also tough: explaining to much older men why I have to either pay for just my lunch or pay for both our lunches, but I can't allow them to buy my food.
    posted by croutonsupafreak at 7:24 AM on October 27, 2006

    Retail Sales in the Lingerie Department (years ago):

    "I want to get a sexy bra for my girlfriend. No, I don't know what size she is . Yeah, she's about your size."

    Yuck. Happened more than a few times.

    posted by otherwordlyglow at 7:37 AM on October 27, 2006

    Oops. Forgot to add the leering, once-over glance at me as the potential bra-buyer considered relative sizes. That was the yucky part.
    posted by otherwordlyglow at 7:40 AM on October 27, 2006

    From a cashier at a LARGE store, assuming I know everything and have tons of influence. Assuming that yelling at me will have any effect whatsoever. Expecting me to know what 200 things are on sale this week, and for how much.

    Also, from my bosses: IF YOU SEND OUT 10,000 COUPONS FOR $10 OFF, MAKE SURE THEY SCAN CORRECTLY. Please. Same with the stupid 10% off ones. And when you advertise something as on sale, CHANGE ITS PRICE IN THE COMPUTER. Then you wonder why no one seems to have warm fuzzies and trust your store despite how much you give back to the community.
    posted by dagnyscott at 7:40 AM on October 27, 2006

    Oh, and old guys who think they call me names like "hon" and "sweetie". If I wanted that, I'd be a prostitute, that pays better.
    posted by dagnyscott at 7:41 AM on October 27, 2006

    Marinara sauce contains fish? Really? I swear I have never heard that and my google-fu fails to confirm it.

    At a 24 hour Video Store...

    - Kicking teenagers out of the back room. Did you really think we don't have a camera back there?

    - Customers returning their late porn and getting upset that we called their house (usually their spouse answers...) and explained that Honk If You're Horny 17 was overdue. Just return it on time!

    Working as a hotel dishwasher...

    - Servers who throw all the garbage and crap right in the bus bin when they have a garbage can right on the cart. Now I have to sort through gross napkins and crab legs just to cut myself on that glass you broke. Thanks!

    As a pizza delivery driver...

    - No, I won't pick up smokes for you unless I am guranteed a good tip. This means minimum $5.

    - Ditto for beer

    - No, I don't have "extra coupons" that I can give you.

    - People who DONT HAVE MONEY when you get there. I have ended up driving people to the closest ATM. Apparently they were unclear on this concept on ordering goods for home delivery.

    As a programmer...

    - A good comic to back up what holtz was saying...
    posted by utsutsu at 8:04 AM on October 27, 2006

    Marinara sauce contains fish? Really? I swear I have never heard that and my google-fu fails to confirm it.

    It's only in the US that it doesn't. It's from alla marinara, meaning sailor style, with seafood. I don't know where the American version came from, but the resulting confusion when they think they've ordered a plain tomato sauce and get seafood tomato sauce instead is always funny.
    posted by goo at 8:46 AM on October 27, 2006

    As a biology graduate student (so, semi-professional):
    • Remember how you helped me realize I wasn't going to be a real doctor? Yeah, so stop pestering me with your medical problems. And, no, I don't know anything about the medication you are taking.
    • Yes, it really is going to take me 5+ years. I'm not getting an MBA from the University of Phoenix, I'm doing original research.
    • Just because you read about it in a book written by a convicted con artist doesn't mean that you know better than me when it comes to the supposed existance to an "all natural" cure for the disease I work on. And don't ignore me when I try to explain how that "all natural" cure either wouldn't work or would kill you.

    posted by The Bishop of Turkey at 9:25 AM on October 27, 2006

    Service Industry:

    The ones already listed of course, as well as:

    - People that think its ok to let their children run around the restaraunt, and expect the servers to make sure nothing happens to them. We are not a babysitting service.

    - While speaking to table #2, table #1 starts telling you their oh so important request and get angry when you politely suggest they wait until you are finished with table #2.

    - Being given a 5-10% tip along with a comment about how you are the 'best server ever!'

    I could go on forever, Im sure.

    Car Dealership Service Dept:

    - The large percentage of people that either dont know what an oil change is, or think they need just pour oil in the dipstick hole every couple months, and then when their engine blows up its our fault.
    posted by trishthedish at 9:57 AM on October 27, 2006

    oh one more.

    Hostessing at a restaraunt:

    - bribes for better tables, quicker service. I dont care who you are, you just walked into a busy restaraunt and you are no more special then the dozens of people in front of you, wait your damn turn.
    posted by trishthedish at 10:00 AM on October 27, 2006

    * any Indiana Jones comment (Indiana Joan gets you a beer)
    * what cobaltnine said
    * have you found any gold yet?

    * students who come in the day before the exam or before the paper is due and are shameless about not having done one iota of work towards it. I mean, I'll help you anyway, but it is decent to acknowledge that you just wasted three months
    * students who read novels, pass notes, etc in class. Seriously, you are adults and you are paying and I am actually a pretty damn ok lecturer by most accounts so if you don't want to be there, just don't come.
    * students who make no effort to prepare for a meeting with me on some subject -- I mean, if you make an appointment to come and talk about X, then how about you find out some rudimentary facts about X so we are not starting off at a grade 10 level.
    *Deans and administrators who come to Departmental meetings and show fancy graphs of how much your bums to seats ratio have fallen or whatever, clearly not appreciating that their audience includes professional "liars through statistics" who see through your bullshit. Its an insult. Just pull rank, for chrissakes.
    * Deans etc. who come and say its all about the student experience when you have been begging for months for a new overhead projector that actually, you know, lights up.
    * Colleagues who assume just because you use some program more expensive than MS Word that you are just the person to re-install spybot.
    * students so unaware of the concept of grade inflation that they are unhappy with a B fucking plus. Seriously, want to know what you REALLY got? A C fucking MINUS.
    * Graduate students who are unprepared for meetings. Bad graduate student get bum letter reference.
    * Anyone - student, grad student, colleague, admintype, who emails me in the vening or the weekend and expects a quick reply. Fact is, I probably did get your email, and I am probably working, but I am not necessarily going to respond until office hours. You don't expect any other service to be open 24/7.

    (I do love my job,all said, and I do try to be super approachable and not arrogant and be very helpful and collegial and all but sometimes by god I could I could just grab one of the fucking foot long spear points off my shelf and ram it down your fucking throat)
    posted by Rumple at 10:05 AM on October 27, 2006

    People who go shopping immediately before an event, then ask/demand that you please hurry up because they're late.

    These people must be related to my favorite (!) customers when I was a floral clerk:

    Sir, that you are coming in at 5:45 pm on Valentine's Day, pissed that you can't get exactly what you want to take home to your wife, is no one's fault but yours. We don't actually grow these out back and yes, all we have left are those yellow carnations.

    Ditto to you, Little-Miss-Calls-ON-Mother's-Day wanting a bouquet delivered. Your failure to plan isn't my emergency, not when hundreds of other people got their orders in timely.

    Political campaign consulting:

    - "Ha ha, guess you sold your soul, huh?"
    - "Do you have any juicy gossip? Seriously, I'm sure you know tons of dirt."
    - "Yeah, like that's 'work.' You just go to black-tie fundraisers all the time, right?"
    - "So, even though you're actually out of the office for a rare night off... give everyone your take on all aspects of every candidate in the upcoming major campaign, including ads, op-eds, polls, districts..."
    - "I like to read [insert wildly partisan blogger name], and therefore I am a really informed citizen and amateur political analyst. Here's why you and your candidate/org are totally hosed..."
    - "So, who are your clients? No, you can tell me. I understand that it's a job like any other. No, really! You can tell me! ...omg, THAT douchebag? You are an evil disgusting person clearly supporting the Axis of Evil, NAMBLA and the NRA. Have fun rotting in hell."
    posted by pineapple at 10:05 AM on October 27, 2006

    wow, i'm suppposed to tip a dog walker, who has no boss, no overhead, and gets paid in cash (presumably) under the table?

    freelancer: payment terms of NET +30 days
    posted by kamelhoecker at 10:17 AM on October 27, 2006

    someone should print this out and send it out in mass mailings all over the country.
    posted by trishthedish at 10:34 AM on October 27, 2006

    box office manager for a tiny live theatre/dance/music venue:
    -latecomers, period. When we tell you on the phone that you won't be admitted, it's not my responsiblity to tell your girlfriend that too. Oh sure, and yelling at me is extremely likely to convince me to "slip you in the back way" (there isn't one).
    -almost latecomers. Show starts at 8pm. If you show up *at* 8pm to pick up your 25 group tickets and hand them out to your friends, you make everyone else who showed up on time wait!

    non-profit arts management in general:
    -artists who can't respect deadlines, or who think the arts are exempt from professional standards or courtesy.
    -overworked, underpaid
    -people who call and think you are able to rent/give them a performance space for a two-week run starting in two days. Of course, we never plan our season more than 2 days in advance!?
    posted by MissSquare at 10:56 AM on October 27, 2006


    Don’t call in and ask for John or Bob unless you know for sure that there is only one John or Bob working here. Don’t get huffy if I ask for a last name or department. (We actually have 3 Johns and 6 Bobs).

    If I correct your pronunciation of a coworker’s name, don’t get huffy about it. I know you probably don’t know – I am trying to help you.

    No matter how much I want to, I can’t wrestle Bob or Mary over to a phone so s/he will take your call. No, I can’t just leave a message on his/her desk – Bob is 3 buildings away and Mary works in another state. This is what voice mail is for.

    I don’t care if you hate voice mail.

    The big beige or black box on your desk is not a paperweight. It’s not going to bite you. Please go live in a cave if you can’t perform basic computer functions.

    I don’t care who jammed the copier, ‘broke’ the printer, or screwed up the intercom system. I just want to fix the problem. The longer you spend telling me you didn’t do it, the more I’m going to believe it was, in fact, you.

    Toll Taker:

    Stop peeing from a moving vehicle.
    posted by jaimystery at 1:43 PM on October 27, 2006

    My work experience has been pretty well covered here, so I'll give you one you don't have yet: what I know of my husband's work, sound engineer:

    Obviously, when all is said and done, the sound is supposed to be great - that's why you have a sound person, yes? Good sound? So director, don't get huffy with the sound person when they tell you you have to wait a minute for that roaring jet plane overhead to pass, or the loud motorcyle, or the group of yelping school kids, or you have to reshoot or re-record a bit of conversation because one of those things intruded mid-scene. (I know we're on a schedule, but maybe if you hadn't shot the last scene five different times because you couldn't decide on camera angles/lighting/whatever, you wouldn't be in crisis over an extra 60 seconds.)

    Don't say you'll fix all this stuff "post-production"; you really don't have the money or the time to pay someone to edit every single scene to fix all the stuff you were too impatient to deal with during the shoot, and when the bad stuff is left in, people are going to wonder what I'm getting paid for, and your sound is going to suck.

    Entire crew: just because your bit is over with right now doesn't mean you can turn your cell phone ring on and start taking calls and having loud conversations... we're still shooting over here, right?

    Theater and TV station tech people: If it's Dolby, you need to configure your equipment to play Dolby, otherwise it sounds like shit. How can you not notice that the sound is completely fucked?

    Producer/director: You've known me and trusted my expertise for six years, all my work has been excellent, and the last two films we shot together won awards for sound, right? So why do you suddenly believe the post editor you've never worked with before who says the sound is awful, and he gonna need two extra weeks and and thousands more dollars to "fix" it. The same guy who doesn't have 15 minutes to spare to see me and show me exactly what the problem is? Could it be because there is no problem, hm?

    heh. That was fun. If it was really my husband writing this, I'm sure there'd be a lot more, but these are some highlights. Re: talking/making noise while scenes/ambient sounds/whatever are still being recorded: The crew of one production my husband worked with bought him a gift once: a T-shirt that says "You have the right to remain silent... SO SHUT THE FUCK UP!" :)
    posted by taz at 2:31 AM on October 30, 2006

    Are you not supposed to have Coke with the special?

    I should have clarified, because there are some people who are either allergic to alcohol or have a bad history with it, or some other perfectly valid reason.

    What really irked me were the culinary connoisseurs trying to impress their buddies/date by ordering specials to show off their sophisticated palate, then ordering a coke to go with it.
    posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:04 AM on October 30, 2006

    I think we're using the word special differently. To me a special is the discounted meal advertised on the board at the door. When I was eating out everyday because of work I used to order the special 9 times out of 10 because it was always different and it was often the fastest meal as the kitchen had it on tap. It sounds like special to you means an order that is out of the ordinary or prepared with extraordinary instructions a la Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally.
    posted by Mitheral at 9:54 AM on October 30, 2006

    I think you're right. The place I worked was a Mr. Fancypants restaurant, and the special was a chef creation instead of the same items that are always on the menu. It typically cost almost twice the price of the most expensive item on the menu, and always took longer to prepare.
    posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:49 AM on October 31, 2006

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