People expect to feel safe when they're at work. It's one of those assurances that all companies should give their employees, no matter how much it may hurt the bottom line. But sometimes that's far from the case.
A Reddit thread recently asked people to share their scariest "we need to go NOW" moments, and there were quite a few responses related to workplace drama. Whether it's being preyed on by creepy senior partners at a law firm, followed by car on a late-night security watch, or realizing that you actually work for a cult, each of these stories give a whole new meaning to the word intense. All posts have been edited for clarity.
"My team used to work fairly closely with the company's legal counsel, who used to be next door. After the company went through some rounds of layoffs, the lawyers got relocated to the other side of the building that was pretty dead in terms of foot traffic. I'd worked with the senior lawyer for about five years and really thought I could trust the guy, especially since he was good friends with my old boss and our group would often socialize together at a number of events.
Also due to the layoffs, my office was pretty decimated and during the height of the holiday season, it so happened that I was the only person working that day. A situation came up and I picked up the phone to call counsel. He suggested I come by to see him at his new digs and run it by him in person.
I didn't give it a second thought but it turned out to be a huge mistake. He was all alone, aside from his bored secretary out front. As soon as I walked into his office, he closed the door behind him and swept me up in a hug. I'm on the smaller side for a woman and he was a big guy. I was so taken aback, all I could do was wiggle my way out of his hug and immediately took a seat at his visitor's table, directly opposite from him, putting as much distance as I could between us. He was undeterred and sat down next to me, and as I started talking about work, he began stroking my hand and my leg.
I bolted right up and RAN out of his office and out of the building. I just wanted to scream. I think I spent the next hour in the women's room until I could stop shaking from being so angry.
He kept calling me non stop for a couple weeks after and I never took his calls and refused to deal with him again. Fortunately, I'd already started looking for jobs and got an offer soon after.
I didn't report him for a few reasons. One, he had been with the company for decades and had an impeccably established reputation, was well liked and trusted by all of upper management. He was also very good friends with my old boss, who I was using as a reference on my resume. My main fear was that I wouldn't be believed. Heck, I wouldn't have believed it myself until it happened.
The second reason is that the company's HR was utter crap. And my new boss (after the restructuring) was a useless flake and a female misogynist to boot. I was more angry at the betrayal of trust and abuse of authority. Could I have handled it differently? Probably. But I was already looking to leave and wanted to minimize the already stressful environment for myself as possible. Reporting it upwards at the time seemed more trouble than it was worth."
"A few years ago, I decided to try out WWOOFing (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms), which is basically a work exchange thing and a really cool and inexpensive way to travel.
Well, the farm I went to was a large compound that ended up being a legitimate cult. I was an idiot and didn't do my research before I went. I was supposed to be there for two weeks, I lasted five days. The breaking point was when a woman I befriended pretended to hug me and whispered in my ear, 'Don't trust anybody.' That was my biggest 'I need to get out of here' moment.
It was a religious, 'end of days' kind of cult by the name of the 12 Tribes. In a nutshell, they believe that everything outside of their community is 'of the devil' and evil and that the second coming will occur when everyone joins their community.
The woman that I befriended had only been there six months, but she had already been inducted. She was a middle-aged woman who had no family in the world, had lost her job, and had nothing. The 12 Tribes is a honey trap. They promise to take care of you and love you and give you a family if you'll stay with them and work for them. And then they slowly break you down and brainwash you, convince you that you're worthless and that if you leave, your life will be misery and you'll spend eternity burning for your sins. She said I was the first sane person she'd spoken to in six months. She said she was trying to get out and but wasn't sure how. I told her I'd drive her anywhere she wanted me to - I really wanted to help her, but as a broke college student at the time, I was limited in what I could do. She refused. I gave her information about women's shelters, and she just refused all of my help.
As far as I know, they never physically harmed anyone. The woman I befriended told me that if they thought you were hiding anything, they ripped apart your room and screamed and berated you. They would punish you by having every single member ignore you (imagine--a community of 100+ people and all of them ignoring you), and then when it came time for the service, they'd stand you in the middle of the circle and berate you. For hours. They treated their WWOOFers much nicer than everyone else, as they were trying to lure me in, so no one even said a mean thing to me. Manipulative, sure, that was constant, but not mean. If I had spoken up, I'm not sure what would have happened. I imagine they would have told me just to leave. I essentially put on a happy face until I was gone.
I still feel like maybe I did something wrong by not reporting them. Here's my reasoning though: They would have known it was me, and they knew that Marie (cult name Chassidah), was my closest 'friend' there. They get scary and violent if they know that you have any sort of dissenting opinion or thoughts. I didn't want to risk that. Also, I was never in physical danger, that much I'm sure of. They weren't going to hurt me. And, as I said earlier, Marie said I was the first sane person she'd spoken to in 6 months. I tried my best to help her, and while she wouldn't let me take her anywhere, she said that confiding in me and having my support gave her more hope than she'd had in a long time. If WWOOFers weren't allowed there anymore, the chances of one of the members connecting with a sound minded person and getting help will decrease. I couldn't help Marie, but maybe the next WWOOFer can. They're already a known community, so doing something like going to the cops wouldn't have done anything. I still think I should get in contact with someone, but that's my reasoning for not.
I hope to God she's not still there, but I have no idea. They did not try to stop me from leaving -- they knew I was a temporary worker. They did, however, question me on every aspect of my life while I was there to try to find a weak spot that they could dig their claws in to. I'm thankful that I had a good head on my shoulders and a good support system of family and friends, that I KNEW that what was going on was wrong because they really do try their best to make life look idyllic to outsiders, and I could see someone who maybe felt a little lost in the world buying into it, just like that woman did. I left by calling my cousin and having her pick me up. I picked a farm close to where she lived, as it was my first WWOOFing experience and I wanted an easy way out if I needed it, and I'm thankful I had enough forethought to plan that out.
It was by far the weirdest five days of my life."
"I landed in Kuwait for work and was in the line for a visa when the little kid next to me sneezed. My brain was on autopilot after a long flight, and without thinking, I said, 'Bless you.'
It was at that exact moment I wanted to leave. Soon after, I was interrogated by Kuwaiti police and had all my belongings searched, just to make sure I wasn't in the country to spread Christian literature. I wasn't sure if I would ever make it home, but I'm glad I did.
I never went back."
"I started working as a maintenance manager at a rehab center, and out of the gate, something always felt a bit off.
A few weeks in, I started to notice that the same five or so people never acknowledged my presence, never said hello, good-bye, or anything.
It was late summer/early fall and I was working with the maintenance team outside a lot, oblivious to what was happening inside. As the season began to wind down and we moved our daily focus inside, things started to get weird.
Our team had some new housekeeping materials and cleaning supplies coming and we sought areas in the facility to store new mop stations and chemical storage. The facility wasn't all that large, but it was spacious. There were 40, four-to-six-person dorm rooms between male and female areas, five large classrooms, six counselor offices, eight staff offices, and your standard common areas. Each of the large classrooms had two smaller closets and one of my maintenance folks asked about converting one into a janitor closet.
Great idea! We started sorting through the closet and found boxes on top of boxes stamped CoS/Hubbard Books. Oh, that's interesting. Sounds like L. Ron Hubbard. I heard that guy wrote a lot. Well, the bottom box was open and we saw a book titled, 'The Way To Happiness' by L. Ron Hubbard. My maintenance guy said, 'Oh? This is like a self-help book?'
It wasn't but a few days later my wife and I watched the documentary, 'Going Clear' on HBO about Scientology that I had my awakening.
We were laying in bed when the show started The people were talking about life in the church and all I kept thinking was, 'Oh, that's weird. They say that at work a lot,' or, 'They have a similar system at work.' It wasn't until a bit later in the show when a lady used the phrase 'Ethics' that it hit me.
Like a runaway semi-truck, think Hitchcock's patented 'Vertigo' shot. 'I WORK FOR SCIENTOLOGY!' My face went full deadpan, my wife looked at me and I had a genuine and sincere emotional and mental breakdown. It all started coming sharply into focus. Things that seemed a bit off suddenly made sense.
The discipline program was called an 'Ethics Cycle.' The counseling was carried out by sitting across from each other facing one another and expressing your issues. They got intake processed by evaluations similar to the auditing but without the meter. Energy drinks and medications were frowned on in the facility. Mental health processes were ignored in favor of Hubbard's teachings. They continuously made them recite their fears and weaknesses.
It was all rushing forward and I looked at my wife and said, 'I can't do this. I have to get out. I work for Scientology. Baby, I have to quit. I can't do this.'
I walked in the next day, conveniently the payday, and without saying a word, left my keys, badge, and access card on my desk and never returned."
"I am a paramedic. I once ran a call where a middle-aged man had called for us to transport him to a mental health facility. The guy was depressed and handed me a suicide note to read that said, 'I (his name) would like to apologize for killing these two EMTs found here with me. I know these two and myself will be in a better place.'
I stopped reading the letter and told him I had forgotten my glasses and couldn't read the letter. I told him that I needed to run back to my ambulance and get them. My partner was standing at the door as I walked by, motioning him to follow me. As we walked out and radioed for assistance, we heard a shot, and when the police arrived, we found the guy dead of a single shot to the chest.
The guy was going to kill us and then himself. The suicide note was two pages long. Had I not stopped and falsely walked out to get my glasses (That I didn't have), my partner and I would probably not be here today.
My partner gave up EMS three days later after seven years in the business. My colleagues, as a joke, nicknamed me 'Genius' after the event, and it stuck. They should have named me 'Lucky.'"
"Last summer, I worked a job on a college campus (taking classes, they paid for my housing). A few nights a week, I had to do security rounds outside, checking doors, making sure windows were shut, and that kind of thing.
For whatever reason, that summer, we had more females than males on the team, so doing security rounds with another female was a fairly normal occurrence, one that never really bothered any of us. I always felt safe on campus, it's very well lit, we have our own police department, and during the regular school year, you'd be hard pressed to be more than 20 feet away from another person, even outside at 2 am.
Well, this particular night, we started rounds around midnight. About 15 minutes in, we walked by a parking lot and there was a car with its engine running facing the opposite direction. We thought it was a little odd, but not much else. The next part of our rounds included going inside facilities to check on public spaces, so we walked through and emerged out the back end of the building, super close to the street. The car was now stopped at the intersection next to us facing us and didn't move.
Normally, at this point, we would walk a large square loop around this residence hall and along the street, and then do a slightly smaller loop around the courtyard inside. We opted to turn around and do the inside loop first. We did an extra half of a loop so we didn't have to start with that street but eventually came along this road again.
The car was now in a parking lot on the other side of the street, the engine was off but it was too dark to see if anyone is in there. We quickly finished that road and turned down another, away from them. We heard a car start from behind us, it had to have driven the wrong way down the one way we were just on. It zoomed past us and stopped at the street light at the corner we had to double cross. We stopped at the crossing as their light turned green. They didn't move.
We were thinking they were high at this point, we could clearly see two men in their late 20s. Definitely locals from the nearby city. We looked at each other, they were staring at us and waved us on. I shook my head and waved them on. The second guy (driver) saluted me (no, literally like an army salute) out of his window. The two of us were pretty weirded out at this point and just wanted to be done, so we started walking diagonally.
We made it across and started heading down the main road for maybe 30 seconds toward our next building when we heard their engine rev. They floored it. I looked back and could see that they were now driving on the wrong side of the road and getting dangerously close to us. We just started full out sprinting. There was a drive into another parking lot between us and our building. As we ran across, they pulled in and I was a foot away from getting hit by the front of their car. I didn't care and kept going. My coworker kept pace. We heard their doors open, I think at least one of them ran a few steps.
I don't know why they stopped to this day. Maybe they could see lights on in the lobby and thought more people were inside. We swiped into one of the locked doors and immediately dialed 911. We ran to the main lobby, where we were pretty far away from the street on the second floor but could still see everything. We watched as they drove REALLY slow up the street, a bit past the building. They made it another block when three police cars surrounded their vehicle.
I have to say, I was extremely shaken and didn't do rounds without a male staff member after that."
"I was about 23 years old and my coworker friend of mine, who was 21, invited me over to basically 'chill.'
This was the first time I'd ever gone to her house mind you. As I was walking in, I noticed a 12-gauge on the mantle being displayed. I passively said, 'I hope it's not loaded.'
She responded with 'It's always loaded, my dad likes to keep loaded weapons around the house in case of emergencies.'
I wasn't thinking with the right head at the time and didn't think anything of it. We went to her room and started messing around; we were both half-naked, and she was in the middle of giving me head when we heard the front door slam shut!
We both panicked and she quietly told me to get into the closet and not say a word. I grabbed what I could of my clothes and went straight to the closet. My heart started beating like crazy, and sweat started to pour out while I was standing in the closet with only an undershirt and boxers on, and my pants, shoes, and shirt in my hands.
I heard her dad walking the hallway yelling at my friend's mom, calling her a cheater, and telling my friend she better not end up being loose like her mother. At this point, it was very obvious that he was wasted. This went on for about 20 minutes. I thought he was going to kill me if he found me.
Suddenly, I heard the buzzing of my phone that I accidentally left on her dresser. I snuck out of the closet and it was her texting me, 'Get out, now! He's in the bathroom!'
I dashed out of her room, passed her and her mom in the living room, and ran out the door and down the street in my t-shirt and boxers. I got into my truck and took off."
"A tenant died in an old apartment building I managed. He died on a Friday night one August and wasn't discovered until the following Monday, so he was already well decomposed.
We found him laying on the floor, nearly naked. I called the police, and they sent the coroner to pick him up. The two men from the coroner's office required me to stay in the room as a witness. I stood there gagging the whole time, and every time I tried to leave the room, they called me back in. I was in my early 20's, and had no idea what they could or couldn't demand. I wasn't very assertive in those days either.
All of the fluids in his body had pooled at the lowest points in big blood blisters. When they picked him up, they broke all over the floor. I turned around and puked in the hallway. I always suspected they were pulling a prank, but they insisted they had to have a witness to make sure they weren't accused of stealing anything. He had nothing to steal, but there you go."
"I worked as an engineer for an American consultancy in Iraq one summer. The project we were working on was in a pretty unsafe city called Kirkuk, but we were based about two hours away in Kurdistan where things were a bit safer. I was told in my induction that in Kirkuk, as a white British guy, there was a pretty strong chance of getting kidnapped so I wouldn't be going there, and if any taxis tried driving out of town, I should just get out and run when they slow for the speed bumps. When my bosses went to Kirkuk, they had a security team to take them, and they'd go straight to the US base.
The weekend came and I decided to go to the amusement park with a Kurdish guy I'd met through a friend. I thought there was a World Cup game on or something. I met his cousin who also lived in town. Afterward, we went to the cousin's to hang out, drink tea, and watch TV. I tried my best to follow what was being said, but most of it was in Kurdish and going over my head. Then in walked two big guys, one in a suit and one in traditional Kurdish formal clothes. This was the cousin's brother, and his friend, who had been in the Kurdish capital, and were on their way home to Kirkuk (the risky city).
At some point, my Kurdish friend went home, which I wasn't expecting, leaving me in his cousin's house with his cousin's family. They persuaded me to sleep over in their lounge with thing #1 and thing #2, but thanks to the tea, I couldn't get any sleep. I was just sitting on a foam mattress in a room with two muscle men from Kirkuk. No one else knew where I was.
In the morning, they made me a traditional breakfast, and thing #1 and thing #2 told me that I should come with them to Kirkuk for the weekend. My mind was racing for ways I could politely decline.
I explained that I needed to feed my boss's cat every day over the weekend, which was completely true. I was housesitting for my boss, and I had to take care of his disobedient, neurotic housecat. Either they accepted my lame excuse or they just realized I was pretty worried about leaving the city, because they stopped pressuring me, and gave me a lift back to my apartment on their way to Kirkuk.
In hindsight, I think they were sincere, just naive about how dangerous their city was for white people, but I had definitely put myself in a risky situation. Still, I probably learned more about Kurdish culture that night than in the rest of the summer."
"One day, a student who I hadn't seen in over a year gave me a call. I was happy to hear him and learn that all was well in his life. He was calling me up to see if I would want to get coffee, which was unexpected since I hadn't heard from him or his wife after they stopped attending lessons out of the blue and went no contact without reason; but why not, they seemed like genuinely good people and I wanted to hear what they're up to.
Just before leaving for the coffee, I called him up to arrange where, and he told me to go by his office. I arrived at the office expecting to go for coffee somewhere in the building. I got a warm welcome and was offered a drink by his wife. Other people were arriving too. I asked him regarding the office, it seemed like a land developer's office. It belonged to his dad who was no longer working, and they had switched to another type of business since taking it over.
I was taken to a room with a large conference table with a few other people sitting around casually. I didn't know how or why, but I discovered that it was some kind of pyramid scheme. Everyone was super nice while we waited for the seminar to start, so much that it started to weird me out and so I got up to leave. I told myself that I couldn't go on with this. I felt like I was being taken advantage of.
I forced my body to get up and go to my former student, and I said, 'I'm going. Good to see you.'
He replied, 'Why don't you stick around to see what this is for, you don't know.'
'I came for you guys, not for this,' I said as I was leaving.
Once I left, I felt really relieved and proud of myself for my courage. I can't put into words how difficult it was to get up and leave, but I did it. It's beyond me how people fall for crappy schemes and sacrifice friendships all for a line of products."
"Years ago, my wife started a new job and started making new friends and decided to go out to some parties with them and do some drinking. She had never been interested in drinking before but whatever, I was cool with it, go party.
But I was not invited to these parties, I just drove her there and back or she would get a ride back. Then it came to light that she was sleeping with her old lesbian co-worker. We were 24, the coworker was 60.
So ok, that's weird. She wanted to work things out and go to counseling. Fine.
A couple of days before we went, she started crying randomly. I asked her what was wrong and she said, 'I'm afraid you are going to hold me down and violate and kill me.'
Whoa! I had no idea where this was coming from. We rarely fought, it was NEVER physical. Our love life was always pretty plain. I had no idea what was going on in her head, so I assured her I would never do something like that, but to make her more comfortable I got up out of there. We met a couple days later at the shrink and I bring this up because it was a big deal.
Yeah, she said she never said that and had no idea where I was getting this all from.
That's when I knew for sure I had somehow married a crazy.
I left and moved back in with the parents for a bit and we got divorced. To this day, I have no idea if it was some bipolar thing or the drinking messed her head somehow.
I still remember that conversation so clearly, though. It was the weirdest thing."
"I work at a consignment shop where we don't have sensors on anything in a part of town where smack and speed are pretty rampant. Over the last three years, my boss has drilled it into me to not let people steal and to treat the store like it's my baby.
A few weeks ago, a guy threatened to kill me at work because I wouldn't let him steal a pair of jeans. Today, I got in trouble from my boss because I wouldn't let a lady use her phone as collateral to take a shirt she hadn't paid for out of the store, and when I explained that the killer guy weeks before made me suspicious of people trying to pull that kind of stuff, my boss told me, 'That was two weeks ago, it's time to move on.'
The thing that got me was that I'd been trying to follow what I thought was her policy for so long and then she tells me it's not right. But that happens a lot with her, she changes the rules all the time
I'm not the type to let stuff bother me, so if it's upsetting me, then it's pretty bad. It's time for a new job. This whole experience in the last couple of weeks has really opened my eyes."