Thursday, February 2, 2012


We're All Murderers Inside Our Own Heads, or The Time My Boss Wanted to Kill Me

It's eight years ago, and I'm sitting in the student housing office located in the administration building of my college campus. I'm meeting with Emily, my supervisor, to ask her if I can still have my job after I return from studying abroad in England for the summer. I love my job. I work as one of those people who sit at an information desk and answer random questions from students and visitors. Once, an old lady called the desk to ask me if she could donate her husband's body to the university for scientific research, and in the background, I could hear a man shouting, "I'm not dead yet!" I also get to walk backward and give tours of the freshmen dorms to prospective students and their parents.

Emily is the best boss a college student could ask for. I am 20, and she is 26, which seemed so much older at the time — a chasm of an age gap — but in retrospect is barely a difference at all. She's a former sorority girl who likes to share self-deprecating stories about her undergrad days during staff meetings, like the time she crapped her pants while running a half-marathon. At our end of year staff dinner, she sneaks me a few sips of her beer because I'm "practically old enough anyway."

"We don't normally save jobs for students if they're going to be away for several months, but we all really like you, so we'll make an exception," Emily says to me.

But when I return from my trip abroad, Emily will have been already promoted and moved to another office across campus. She has been replaced by Rick, a 29-year-old transplant from Kentucky, who upon meeting me for the first time says in a slight Southern twang, "So, I finally get to meet the tour guide everyone keeps talking about." He smiles at me. "We should get to know each other."


I think I ask a little too much about Emily the first couple of weeks I'm back at work, because Rick comes up to me and requests some weekly one-on-one time with him. He makes me take long walks around the campus with him in an attempt for us to bond.

"I know you miss Emily," he says. "But you can always come to me for anything you ever need. Everyone around here really likes you, so it's important to me that we become friends too."

"Oh, I'm sure everything will be great," I say, because I don't know how else to respond. Because your boss making you have one-on-one walks with him is weird, right?

Rick goes on one of my tours and laughs along with the 25 or so parents and high school students as I recount a story about this time during my freshman year when I planned a midnight birthday party for two of my dorm mates, accidentally set the cake on fire with trick candles, and ended up hurling it off the second story balcony of our residential hall just as a firetruck arrives.

"You're a really good tour guide," he says to me after the tour is over.

"Thanks," I say, and then blush and run away, because I'm one of those people who can't handle compliments.

"Hey, I feel like we're not clicking like we should," he says later, bringing both hands together and criss-crossing his fingers as if to demonstrate to me what clicking means. "Want to go for a walk and talk about it?"

Things just sort of go downhill from there. Rick realizes that the one-on-one walks are making me feel uncomfortable, so he doesn't ask me to go on them anymore. We're all having lunch together, and I bring up a discussion I had in a biology class about how closely a human fetus resembles a shrimp 30 days after conception. Rick pushes his salad away, and gets up in disgust.

"You're being inappropriate," he says sternly.

"I'm sorry," I tell him. "I didn't know that was going to upset you."

"You need to be careful about what you say," he says. "You don't know what people have been through."


I learn everything that Rick has been through one day during the second semester while I'm sitting at the information desk, which is located just outside of the student housing office in front of the registrar's office. After spending a few hours answering questions and referring people to different departments on campus, I call the office and ask if there's a staff member available to man the desk while I take a quick break. The office is busy, so Rick volunteers to sit at the information desk while I run off to grab a snack and go to the bathroom. I thank him when I get back, and he gets up without saying anything.

The computer screen is blank because Rick has closed my browser while I was away. I pull it back up, and go through the browser history to retrieve all of the tabs he closed. The browser history also includes everything Rick was looking at in my absence, and that's when I discover it: Rick's blog.

While most students on campus are using Livejournal or Xanga at the time, Rick is using Blogger, and by the number of posts he'd written, he appears to have been using it for quite a while. I start from the beginning, and go through each post one by one, falling into a rabbit hole of Rick's life. I read about his encounters with gay men, which most people would have gobbled up, but which I gloss over because sex makes me blush. I read about his struggle with drugs. I read about how he gets himself clean. And suddenly I'm reading about me.

Mike really needs to watch his mouth. I hope he chokes on some shrimp and dies. If we were alone, I  would just sit there and watch him choke, grasping at the air for help.

I immediately think: "Oh my gosh!" (because I don't like to swear).

I hit the command-F keys to find every post that includes my name. In another vivid post, he imagines taking me for a walk and luring me into a basement, where he somehow manages to lock me in a tank of water. Rick stands there quietly and watches me drown. There's a few more posts where he writes about not understanding why people find me likable, and then a third fantasy post about my death: I'm choking again while having dinner with him, and then my face turns blue and hits the table with a thwack. In each of his homicidal fantasies, I am suffering, flailing, and he is silently watching me die, unmoving, unfeeling.

I sit there stunned for a while, because my boss has fantasies of me dying. Instead of feeling angry or scared like a normal person, I think about what I might have done to push Rick to wish that I was dead. What exactly did I do wrong? Should I not have talked about fetuses during lunch? Was I not nice enough? Too nice to others and not to him? And then I realized what an idiot I was because I was validating my boss's fantasies of me dying. I should probably be trying to figure out whether or not fantasies lead to actual murder. I mean, I'm working with someone who may actually murder me in real life, so I should probably do something about that.

When my shift is over, I clear the browser's history, and walk into the housing office to grab my backpack. I avoid making eye contact with Rick, because I'm afraid that if I do, I'll scream. I feel his eyes on me anyway, watching me as I shuffle out the door. Outside, the light is fading, and I'm walking so fast I'm practically running to get into my car and drive to the off-campus apartment I share with my roommate, Stef, who also works in the housing office.

If this were a horror film, I would find Stef tied to a chair in our living room when I get home, and Rick would be standing there waiting to drown me in the bathtub. He would totally overpower me, too, because I'm a miniature five feet seven inches and weigh a buck twenty. Instead, Stef is sitting on the couch watching a rerun of Friends on TV. I tell her I have something to show her on my computer, I pull up Rick's blog, and she reads the parts I highlight with my mouse and gasps.

"What are you going to do?" Stef asks. She collapses on my bed, and stares up at me in amazement.

"I'm going to print this out," I say, and I do, every last word of it — the sex, the drugs, everything. We watch a stack of paper pile on my desk. "I'm going to need proof if he deletes his blog."

I stand up and pace the room while the rest of the pages print, and wonder if there's enough ink in the printer. There is.

"Now what?" Stef asks.

"I'm going to call Emily," I tell her. "She'll know what I should do."

When I get Emily on the phone, she's stunned. She tells me that she's sorry, and that I should set up a meeting with the director of the housing office, Kim, immediately. Kim is Emily's former boss, and Rick's current boss. She tells me to call her again if I need anything, and that she'll call me again tomorrow to check in on me.

"Do you think he'd actually do any of that stuff?" Stef asks me after I get off the phone. I consider it for a moment and shake my head.

"I don't think so," I say. "Each of those scenarios involve me being alone with him, and that's never going to happen. Besides, everyone knows now. He'd never get away with it."

I e-mail to Kim telling her I need to meet with her about something important, and she replies right away. Kim says she's out of town, but will be back in two days to meet for coffee.


Kim and I are sitting outside at a table in front of a coffee shop across the street from the University. Kim is in her mid-thirties and kind, and she loves the students on campus. She'll often come on tours just to hear the guides gush about college life. Sitting on a table is a box of salt water taffy she has given me — a little something she picked up while she was in Salt Lake City. The small talk is winding down, and she puts on a serious look because she knows I would only meet with her if I had something serious to talk about.

"It's a long story," I say. "I'll just show you." I zip open my backpack, pull out the stack of papers and hand it to Kim. "I've highlighted the most important parts."

She looks immediately concerned. "I can't believe you've been sitting on this for two days!" she says. "You should have called me. I would have come back right away. Does anyone else know about this?"

"I called Emily and asked her for advice. And Stef knows too."

"What do you want me to do?"

"If you're asking me if I think Rick should be fired, then I don't know. That's why I wanted to talk to you."

"I'm going to have to meet with my boss and some other people in the administration," Kim says. "And then we're going to meet with Rick, and I'll let you know what happens."


Kim and I stand up, and she hugs me. She tells me that I didn't do anything to deserve any of this, and I nod and tell her that I'm fine.

I get a call from Kim later that day telling me that I don't have to come into work for the next week, but I'll still be able to collect my usual paycheck. I realize that the administration is afraid that I'm going to sue the university, which hadn't even crossed my mind. I sit at my desk and try to pull up Rick's blog, but I get a message from Blogger saying that the account has been deleted.


Homicidal fantasies are actually pretty common, according to a recent episode of Radiolab.

Fourteen years ago, a psychology professor named David Buss at UT-Austin taught a human nature seminar that included a session on murder. He asked the students to complete a questionnaire asking, "Have you ever thought about killing someone?" If the answer was "yes," the student was asked to elaborate on what triggered their homicidal thoughts, and what they fantasized they would do. Buss was stunned by the number of homicidal fantasies his intelligent, mostly middle-class students disclosed to him. He went on to expand the study to more than five thousand individuals across six different countries. After all the data was in, Buss found that 91 percent of men and 84 percent of women have had vivid fantasies of killing someone. In 2005, Buss published some of his findings in a book called The Murderer Next Door. Here's one of the case studies:

CASE #278, male, age 23.

What caused you to think about killing someone?

There were so many things. I was young, and had a background in martial arts, and so was defiant. I was a dork, a big one, and everyone knew it but me. There were always big kids around my locker, popular ones, and I was an easy target. I hated them, and they hated me. One of the times, the guy "accidentally" dropped his books on my head, and all his friends had a good laugh. When I stood up to confront him, they closed my locker, and ripped my backpack from my hands. They scattered its contents, and started pushing me and making insulting comments about me and my mom. They asked me what I was going to do, and I said nothing.

What method did you think about using to kill this person?

Wow, OK. Which one should I tell you about? The most sadistic? The quickest? I have a very vivid imagination, and these fantasies were my only escape from the hell that was my life. One of the more frequent ones was where I broke both his legs so he couldn't run, and then beat him until his insides were a bloody pulp. Then I tied him to a table and dripped acid on his forehead, Chinese water-torture style, so that it would run into his eyes. Eventually, the dripping acid would bore a hole into his head and melt his brain, but not until he had been driven crazy with pain.

What prevented you from killing?

God mostly, and morals, laws, the actual disgustingness of the way I killed him in my thought. Perhaps it was my lack of capability.

What could have pushed you over the edge to actually kill?

I don't know, it's been so long ago. Maybe if I were to have had a gun with me at the time, and he did something extra-horrible, like stab a girl. Probably nothing short of physically harming a girl in front of me, or trying to kill me first.


Kim and I are sitting in her office with the door closed. She tells me that after a series of meetings with Rick and some administrators, they've determined that although Rick exercised poor judgment by writing about me in a public blog during a period of time when he was upset, the student housing department has decided not to terminate him — that is, unless I want them to. Essentially, the decision to fire Rick is up to me. I find this unfair, but I'm firm in my response.

"I could never do that to anyone," I tell Kim. "I won't let it be my decision, so if you think Rick should keep his job, then I guess he's going to keep his job."

"You're upset."

"I don't see how I could not be. I don't want anything to do with him after all of this."

"If you want to continue working here, you'll have to deal with Rick being around, too. But if you ever need anything, you won't have to talk to him, you can come talk to me. We're all keeping a close eye out on him. And honestly, he's a little humiliated, and he needs this job."

Kim gets up and opens the door to bring Rick in so he can apologize to me. It must be difficult for him. I imagine what it might be like for him to have his personal blog — his diary, essentially — exposed to everyone at work. Everyone outside this office door is on my side, and there is no one on his.

Rick comes in, and he's wearing a guilty expression that quickly changes from somber to pitiful.

"Kim told me what you said to her, and I'm really thankful," he says through tears. "I'm so sorry about all of this. I didn't mean any of it. I could never, ever hurt anyone like that." His face is in his hands now, and he's sobbing.

I don't feel bad for him. I sit there silently until he is done, and then I get up and leave.


Every time I tell this story to someone they usually gasp, then laugh, and then ask, "Why would anyone want to kill you? You're so nice!"

I also get a surprising number of people who reveal to me their secret homicidal fantasies. Apparently, a lot of people have had some very vivid fantasies of murdering someone! I've certainly thought, "Oh, I could kill him/her for this," but nothing beyond that — and I always feel bad about it afterward. So the whole "my boss wanted me to die incident" has become something I've come to understand as something people do sometimes to vent and work through their feelings so that they actually don't murder people in real life. Except you shouldn't vent out these homicidal thoughts on your blog. Because I will find it.

Mike Dang's boss at Longreads has never considered murdering him.

235 Comments / Post A Comment

The Lady of Shalott

Holy shit, holy shit, HOLY SHIT. I think you automatically win a lot of Worst Boss pissing contests.


@The Lady of Shalott Absolutely needs to go in the next bracket competition.

Faintly Macabre

Woah. This was really good! How was work after you two kept working together?

Also, do homicidal fantasies count if they're about Dick Cheney?


@Faintly Macabre I confess to elaborate fantasies about puking on Dick Cheney. Because it would be so HUMILIATING and he would have to live with it, you know? Also I wouldn't get in trouble because "Oops I just felt nauseous and then..." Fantasy thoughts on this subject include ways to get into close contact and choice of meals beforehand for maximum impact.

So basically when someone asks what my superpower would be, I say the ability to puke at will just by thinking about it.



@dokuchan - So, during college, which was during the Bush Administrations early days, we would play the usual sitting around drunk "If you could have any one superpower, what would it be?"

A friend of mine came up with the best response ever. He wanted the power to, using only his mind, make anyone punch themselves in the crotch.

It would even work over vast distances. He could just be sitting on the couch, watching the State of the Union Address, and Dick Cheney, sitting behind ol' Bushie 2, would just start punching himself in the junk.

He was right. That is the greatest superpower imaginable.


@dokuchan That is oddly specific and gross.

Toby Jug

@dokuchan This has nothing to do with superpowers, but FOR YEARS I have fantasized about getting to a place in life that would place me at the same fancy black-tie soiree as Dick Cheney, nonchalantely approaching him, flirting VERY briefly, then throwing my huge dirty martini RIGHT IN HIS FACE.

After the ensuing legal and press tsunami, my only comment would be, "He knows what he did."

Faintly Macabre

@leon.saintjean I always dreamed about having a superpower to give people a conscience. So people like Cheney, horrible CEOs, etc, would be sitting in their private jet and suddenly be completely overcome with guilt and horror. (And then either make the world a better place or go live in a tiny mud hut somewhere, yay!)


@Faintly Macabre No. It's not murder when you're dealing with the undead.

dracula's ghost

@dokuchan I have so many similar fantasies about various members of the BushII Administration that it is EMBARRASSING. As you know I have a secret family connection to the very heart of that Administration and I can not tell you how many times I have wished I would, like, walk into my parents' house and you-know-who would be sitting there, and then I deliver a glorious, eloquent, impassioned rant right to his face and he is SHAMED and begs me for forgiveness and I say "I can not forgive you. Only God can forgive what you've done. And there is no God, so you are going to HELL." And even though that doesn't make sense he's still devastated and leaves and gives all his money to Planned Parenthood and I am thrown a parade


@Faintly Macabre Only until you have to battle aliens who don't have genitals.


@Megan Patterson@facebook Or whose genitals aren't in their crotch.


@Faintly Macabre Everyone in this thread is the best and I love them. One day I will have lots of money and connections and I will throw a party for you all and your present will be Dick Cheney. And food fountains!


@dracula's ghost "If Jesus existed he would be SO BUMMED WITH YOU, DUDE".

I have thought a lot about your secret connections into the heart of darkness and it humanizes them, a little (Cheney excepted, he is a vampire with no heartbeat). But alas, it doesn't make all those policy decisions not putrescent. I am envisioning you with a Tom Haverford/Leslie Knope-style powerpoint presentation, which instantly reduces him to tears.


@Toby Jug This plan is so elegant and brilliant. My fantasy takes place at a black-tie charity dinner as well.


@dracula's ghost These are the best fantasies ever and I love them. I simply dreamed of snubbing a chance to talk to Bush, in such a way that he would see I was TOO GOOD TO TALK TO HIM. I never gave it any more elaboration, and I regret that. And why wasn't Cheney in my fantasy?


@whateverlolawants Come to think of it, I used to have elaborate fantasies of doing something AMAZING and being introduced to John Howard, in front of a whole heap of press. Whereupon I would refuse to shake his hand, sneer slightly, then simply turn and walk away. Of course the press would go crazy and this would be in all the papers, about how someone so fabulous and important to the nation (me, obvs) clearly disdained the Prime Minister.

Bus Driver Stu Benedict

Some people just feel really strongly that ontogeny does not recapitulate phylogeny, you know?


@Bus Driver Stu Benedict Signing in specifically to thumbs-up this is not enough. I laughed a lot.


@Bus Driver Stu Benedict: Wilhelm His, is that you?


Oh my gosh. Swimfan!!

I can't believe Kim was like "Poor little guy needs this job!" I hope you didn't work there for too much longer.


@likethestore Seriously. What the hell, Kim? You do not let people with elaborate "I want to watch you die" fantasies about students they supervise that they post publicly online continue to supervise students. Or work around students. Or be around students on your property. This is not rocket science.


@wharrgarbl Yeahhhhh that is a pretty terrible thing to leave up to a person who has been basically threatened. i don't understand how there could be any leeway on that? You write about killing your employees? You should not be in charge of those employees anymore. End of story.


I actually think "If you want to keep working here, Rick will be around too" really is legitimate grounds for a workplace lawsuit. The onus is put on the harassee, not the harasser? madness.

oh, disaster

@likethestore The pity for Rick was the worst part.


@redheadedandcrazy "Oh, really, Kim? You want me to decide whether or not to fire the guy who writes novels about killing me, who's already formulated a plan and settled on a method? The guy who, as my supervisor and murder-fantasist of over a month, has had ample time to get my home address, my parents' home address, my phone number, any vehicle registration the campus has on file. The guy who has a drug problem. The guy who now feels that I have humiliated him. The guy who is desperate to keep this job. The guy who was graphically spite-wanking to the mental picture of me slowly suffocating to death when our relationship was still normal and I hadn't actually done anything to him. This is the guy you want me to take responsibility for firing. You should have told me what a terrible person you are, Kim. I'd have gone to your boss right off the bat."


@wharrgarbl You should write horror movies D:


@redheadedandcrazy I went through a similar issue (sans death threats, as far as I know!) while dealing with a man who was harassing me in the dorms. The woman in charge of discipline in my building basically said that even though it was clear I was being victimized by him and his group of friends, he wouldn't be kicked out of the dorm, but I was free to leave.

To loosely quote Michael Bolton in Office Space, "why should I change when he's the one who sucks?"

In the end I stayed, and did my best to make sure any women who were remotely interested in him knew he was a creep.


@likethestore At a company I have worked for, someone wrote something nasty about someone else on facebook (as well as saying things to her face) and the offending employee was told he could quit or be fired. Death threats are beyond unacceptable and he should have been fired on the spot.


@redheadedandcrazy "So, Kim, just out of curiosity, what would he have to do before you actually decided that it was inappropriate, no matter what my feelings, to keep this guy on as a student supervisor? I get that vividly-imagined scenarios in which he engineers my suffocation and then sits back to admire his handiwork as I die aren't that big a deal around here. I do. I appreciate that he really needs this job. Not enough to not create public-consumption snuff-fantasies about the people it's his job to manage, but still. More than enough to justify me continuing to fear for my life. But, like I said, curiosity moves me. How much, exactly, can he get away with before fear of a negligence suit kicks in and it becomes important enough for you deal with yourself?"


@wharrgarbl "Come on, give the homicidal maniac a break. He really needs this job, you know? Just last week he was all panicked because he couldn't afford tarps and carpet cleaner."


@LornaLoo I think it is actually way easier for people to excuse actions by people they know than people here are tending to accept/see here.

Like, when it is the person standing in front of you, your coworker, and this thing is revealed about them, and you sort of think, 'shit, that's crazy. I never would have thought that about them.' (and probably a small part goes: and can they really be that bad if they never show it?) And then you go, well, you know, they really seem normal, and they are sorry, and look how pathetic and sad they are, and it, just, like, a mistake, not a big deal, it would be SO MEAN to fire him, I'm sure it's just, who knows why they did it, but, you are fine, and it'll just be fine if we just let him keep working. He's a good worker, I know him well, I'll be able to do something if I just keep on eye on him, it'll really be better than just letting him loose, on people who don't know. And it's really normal, I mean, we've all thought bad things, I'm sure it's just because of the internet, and GOSH isn't this whole culture of the internet bad for people? Nobody would have ever known if he just kept a diary at home like the good old days.

I got harassed at a summer job, very different, but...nothing happened, and you don't even really want anything to happen, because than you are that person who can't even deal, who ruined someone's life, and, come on, was it really that bad? is it really a problem? are you afraid for your safety? be cool about this. And people get away with a lot of awful shit, which is also justification: well, his boss didn't really DO anything, he was never really in danger, how bad is this really, on the scale of things?

I'm just saying, can't you see yourself doing this? Can't you feel how seductive it is? It's good, I think, to be able to put yourself in the shoes of good people making bad decisions, so you can understand how it happens, how to stop it, where to draw the line. It's amazing to me how little grey people see sometimes. It's not going to be this obvious when it is happening in front of you. You can see it happening to the HR person he went to: the first time she sees it, "My god! How could you waste two days! I should know immediately!" and by the time it comes right down to it: you can probably work with him indefinitely, nbd.


@Marzipan This is such a great point, that last paragraph in particular.

Earlier this week, I complained to my boss about how I'd been treated by a relatively senior person who was pointedly condescending to me in a meeting. My evidence was pretty compelling (other people noticed it and the guy followed it up with some even more egregious behavior one-on-one). But, when I told my boss, he really, really didn't want to acknowledge it.

The thing is, my boss is passive by nature and entirely terrified by any kind of confrontation. So, really, his best bet when I take something like this to him is to just not see the problem. I mean, it's better all around, right? It means 1) he doesn't have to admit that a senior staff person (a guy my boss admits he admires) is a jerk (and maybe a sexist bully) and 2) that he doesn't have to take any action. The only hiccup in this plan is, of course, me and my offended sensibilities.


@Marzipan For sure. It's not the same, because he's not a safety risk, but at my office there's this one guy who's really rude and patronizing and bad at his job and gets in the way of US doing our jobs and keeps chasing away admin assistants and if we let the bosses know everything he does he'd get fired but none of us want to get him fired even though he makes our life hell. It just goes around and round like "but he did that nice thing for me? And what about his wife and kids? But I can't stand him. And then he did this shitty thing! But he's such a douche he won't be able to get a job anywhere else." So I understand the impulse to just ignore it because no one wants to be the person who makes that decision.


@MilesofMountains Yes, but eventually you do, as a boss, have to suck it up and fucking fire the dude who spends his off-hours indulging in idyllic, soft-focus murder rituals of the student employees for whose performance and welfare he's responsible. The behavior detailed in the post isn't "kind of shitty," it's deeply worrying.

And I get that it's easy to look the other way when you've known someone for a while and there's nothing too big on the line. It's easier to sympathize with the juicebox whose wife is so sweet than the admin assistants who you've just met and also need the job, and don't deserve Juicebox's crap, but you don't know them as well and human nature is what it is. We've probably all refrained from saying stuff about people because it didn't seem like that big a deal.

But then again, there are plenty of Ricks to run across, too. Not that we generally catch them writing haikus about our death-rattles on company time, but you know. The guys who finally pull psycho, beyond-the-pale shit and get fired, and everyone breaths a collective sigh of relief because somebody needs to excavate that dude's basement if they can sit there behaving normally for a year and then pull something like that. I mean, let's all take a second and think about how comfortable we'd be pulling 40 hours a week with a dude who's writing that shit about someone who didn't do ever actually do anything to them, even if they'd always acted nice around us. This wasn't stuck to the office door with a bloody hunting knife. There's no reason to think this guy isn't harboring ridiculously disproportionate grudges against half the office. Like, you're sitting there whining at the wronged party about poor Rick, he should keep his job, and Rick is fantasizing about beating you to death with a sack full of oranges.

Judith Slutler

@Marzipan Yeah, my mom had a business partner of hers go completely around the bend - like COMPLETELY, leaving weird self-incriminating messages on her voice box, attempting to steal records from cases they'd worked on together, saying bizarre paranoid shit - and you'd be surprised how long it took her to completely write him off. She'd worked with him for almost a decade before he snapped, and she was just constantly like, "oh that's just Mike being Mike" until things got truly, truly craycray.

As human beings we just don't tend to think the worst of one another. Even when "the worst" is pretty much true.


@wharrgarbl spite wanking! brilliant.


@wharrgarbl You're completely right that bad behaviour and dangerous behaviour are worlds apart. I would definitely feel differently if a coworker were a threat to my safety. However, it's not as simple as "people will protect their coworkers because they know them more than the strangers who are on the recieving end." To use my workplace example again, I AM one of the poor admin assistants on the receiving end who needed a job. The only difference between me and the others is that I stuck it out longer and made myself difficult to replace so they promoted me when I had enough. Even at the height of "I can't stand this" I still started out sentences with "I don't want him to get fired, but..." Maybe it's just not wanting to be "mean" but I think it's the idea that since they can't imagine thinking/doing something so horrible surely the offending person wouldn't either and so there must be a misunderstanding somewhere and if everyone just agrees to get along we can fix it and it'll all be sunshine and puppies and lalalala!


@MilesofMountains Let's just beat your horrible coworker with a sack full of oranges. I mean, not to death or anything. We don't want to pull a Rick. Just until the oranges are slightly juiced.


@wharrgarbl I may never stop laughing about that comment.


@wharrgarbl I would really be good with that, I think.


@LornaLoo When I was about 7, my parents invited this guy up to our house for a day. (I promise this is relevant). He was a volunteer at their work, and he was physically and mentally disabled. So he got invited up to our place, where he sexually abused me. It was fine, I told my parents and as far as I was concerned it was over. Thank you, excellent sex ed that meant I knew it wasn't my fault and it wasn't ok, and when he said it was our little secret I just though 'yeah, whatever'. Anyway, turned out he'd done it a bunch of times, and I was the oldest kid he'd done it to, and no one else had wanted to press charges because it was too traumatic. So I took him to court, and he took a plea bargain, and he went to jail for some number of years - he was out by the time I finished high school, I believe.

ANYWAY, when he got out of jail, he went back to the place where my parents used to work, and volunteered again. Most everyone had moved on since then, and there was only one person left who was there when this all went down. She told her manager that she didn't feel comfortable being left alone with him, and explained why. She was basically shunned by the office for telling mean stories about the poor disabled man, and ended up leaving because she was being bullied about it*.

This is my life lesson in 'just because someone is a minority, doesn't mean that they are not ALSO a creepy fuck, if your instinct is to be far far away from them, it's ok to listen. Just be polite while you leave the room.' (This came in handy recently, as I avoided someone at my last workplace who I later found out had assaulted someone else.) And also in 'people do not like when bad things happen, and will try real hard to avoid believing them.

*I'm not saying that he should necessarily not have been to allowed to volunteer or whatever. Just that she shouldn't have been bullied for not being comfortable around a repeat child molester.


@wharrgarbl: Is it really "deeply shitty"? The whole point is that it's really really really REALLY common for people to have fantasies about killing others - but NOT common for people to act on them. What Mike did was essentially read this guy's private diary. Yes, Rick was stupid to not clear the browser history, but really - Mike is at fault for prying into what this man almost certainly believed was something no one else - and certainly not his coworkers - would ever read. RICK NEVER DID ANYTHING WRONG. Nothing. Not one thing. In fact, as Mike points out, Rick went out of his way to be nice and try to connect with him. There is no reason to believe Rick would actually do the things he was accused of. Of course we all know that blogs are out in the public sphere, but many many many people use them as personal diaries. Mike never mentions if this is a searchable blog, if his boss used full names, if if if. And Mike, pruriently, for all his handwaving and "my goshing" about it, has to mention that the guy is gay and has a drug problem. I can completely see why they didn't fire him. And Mike comes off like kind of a douche for gossiping about him - in public - years later, especially after being given the choice to have him fired and saying no. Certainly this post could much more easily lead someone to find Rick and harass him than that blog could have.

As a friend is fond of saying, "If you play in the dirt, you get dirty." Don't read someone's private journals if you don't want to read something disturbing/shitty. God forbid anyone find some of the things I've written. So let's not get all hypocritically lynch-mobby here.

Ester Bloom@facebook

@likethestore Whoa, buddy. Mike didn't sneak into his boss's bedroom and steal his diary. Mike read his boss's public blog where Rick displayed spectacular bad judgement: writing about Mike, his own employee, using his real name. Sure, we can't be held accountable for every stray impulse. We can, however, be held accountable for what we *do*, and what the boss did was, indeed, deeply shitty.

In short, the lesson is, if you don't want your private thoughts -- in this case, villainous fantasies -- read, DON'T PUBLISH THEM ON THE INTERNET.


@Rugs Yeah, I sort of feel the same way. Obviously, I can understand Mike's discomfort and horror at finding the blog, but it was like finding Rick's diary. We all have shitty, terrible thoughts, and we're entitled to have them. It doesn't make us all terrible or creepy.


@Ester Bloom@facebook Exactly. Rick's thoughts might have been personal and intimate, but they ceased to be private when he published them on his publicly accessible blog. Like you said, this was a huge error in judgment.

@meetapossum I agree that we all have terrible thoughts but there's a moral difference between having terrible thoughts and airing those thoughts, and the larger the audience you air them to, the greater the chances that you'll be held accountable for them. What Rick did is, to my mind, less like writing in a private diary and more like shouting from the stage of a darkened theater then later discovering that, in fact, the theater wasn't empty. In the former instance (i.e., the diary), the would-be reader has an obligation to NOT read the writer's private thoughts. In the latter scenario, I'd argue that the people who happen to be in the theater have no obligation to remind the speaker that he's in a public space.


@Rugs Yes, it really is deeply shitty. I get that people think about murdering each other. I get that it's common. If I murdered someone every time the desire flitted through my head, overpopulation would not be an issue (86% represent, yo). The fact that Rick had murder-thoughts is not really what bothers me about this.

What bothers me about this is the persistence of Rick's murder-fantasies (this is not a one-off post), the detail into which he went (repeatedly), the consistency of the ideation, the apparent lack of any real cause for the animus (the narrator is not harassing him, bullying him, fucking with someone he cares about, this was not immediately after a big fight, etc.), and the way in which Rick seemed to have been nursing his intense dislike for the narrator, all while he doesn't seem to have been making any real attempt to put some space between himself and the object of his murder-worthy annoyance.

This is before we get to "dicks around on murder-blog on murder-target's workstation during what is known to be a brief period of before murder-target returns." Before we get to "these posts were not obtained via hacking or keylogging, these posts were public." So, yeah, not exactly stalking Rick and swiping a diary out of a backpack, and not exactly run-of-the-mill shitty, terrible thoughts.


@Craftastrophies I'm sorry that happened to you, and I'm really glad you were able to tell your parents about it right off the bat and had the support you needed to take him to court.


@wharrgarbl Thanks :) It was about as non-traumatic as that kind of thing can be, I consider myself very lucky.

I sort of feel like, if Rick had had those fantasies in his own head... I wouldn't be HAPPY about that, but whatever. It's his own head, you know. It's the talking about them in a public space that is the firing appropriate offence. Like when I get a racist taxi driver. I wish they weren't racist, but I'm actually more offended that they think that's an ok topic for casual conversation. If he was badmouthing the institution on his blog, would that not be a firing offence, as opposed to just thinking bad thoughts about it or talking about it with his friends?


Whyyyyyyyyy did he keep asking to go on walks with you?!


@SarahP I get the impression that somebody had a sick and twisted crush. Maybe? Am I reading into it weirdly? Probably.


Party Falcon

@SarahP That's an HR tactic here. To connect with employees out of the work environment. So maybe creepy-almost-murderer knew he was super awful and was trying to do what he'd been instructed to do?



@redheadedandcrazy That was sort of my first impulse. But wouldn't that have been on the blog, too?

I want to read the blog.

Stefanie J@twitter

What what what what! You ARE nice. TOO nice. How long after did you work there? That's terrible that they didn't fire him.

tea tray in the sky.

@Stefanie J@twitter Are you the Stef from the story?! It's like being at Disneyland, fictional characters coming to life.

Not that you're fictional. Or dead, "coming to life", or whatever. Not that I'm fantasizing about you being dead. Oh God. I'm sorry.


Oh my god. That is so scary! Did you leave after that? Why did he have such a problem with shrimp? This is so crazypants.


@ylime I got the impression that maybe he had a tragic miscarriage or abortion story in his past? Like fetuses are traumatic for him?


@teffodee It's shrimp themselves. His least favorite brother choked on a shrimp right in front of him, only he didn't have the presence of mind to calmly watch him die and performed the Heimlich instead. That childhood moment of panic has haunted him ever since.

Any One Ninja Plot

@ylime Yeah, I have so many questions now, but the main one is the shrimp/fetuses.


@wharrgarbl But it wasn't Rick's fault! Shrimp cocktail is just too delicious not to eat quickly.

Also, not to have confirmation bias or anything, but 100% of people named Rick are weird, and someones step-father.


@teffodee He was abused by a fetus.

Dr Clownius

@teffodee hey, his MOM was a fetus!


@ylime My dad's name is Rick. He's pretty normal. Maybe he's the only one? The other Rick I knew was a little weird.


@hodgmina *except for hodgmina's dad, obv.


@hodgmina The only Rick I've known was someone I could totally see being the Rick in the story, so yeah. Don't name your kids Richard, parents.


@ylime Thanks. I'd rather not think of my dad as a psychopath.


@hodgmina I know a really great Rick! For what it's worth.


@ylime: Also except for Rick Astley.

Party Falcon

Who totally nailed the tone and dialect of the long-term (non-teaching) University Employee?

This dude.

Personal and caring, full of lots of 'We' statements and upchucked Stephen Covey-isms. And mostly a complete and utter lack of agency or responsibility.

Party Falcon

@Party Falcon BTW - not a hate statement about LT(NT)UEs I just believe in knowing thyself, if you know what I mean.

(I mean, if that's okay with you? Do you have any input? I just want to make sure we're all winners here. NOT that this is a contest, of course. But it's important to me that everyone get their actionable items on the table. Why don't we move to Break service, have a snack and reconvene on this?)


@Party Falcon Oh, ugh, yes, this. All of those meetings. All of the "you should have called me right away" protestations. All of the concern. And then the resolution: make the victim (also, not incidentally, a guy who's the likely one of the most junior and youngest members of the staff) decide what should happen to the perpetrator. That's just a complete abdication of responsibility on the university's part, not to mention every single person in that chain-of-command.

Daisy Razor

@Party Falcon My first job out of college was working at a university for a guy who'd just come over from the private sector, and I totally remember him saying to me, "People talk so strangely around here." The HR people especially baffled him.

Party Falcon

@Daisy Razor It is just so weirdly specific and emotion-focused.


@Party Falcon This is so true! I worked in a University department while I was an undergraduate and I really struggled with the language, particularly when I was being reprimanded - 'You're very good at [thing]! By the way, just recently we've noticed you've been possibly terrible at [completely unrelated thing]. Do you feel we can do anything to help you be less terrible? How was your weekend? Get back to work.'

Party Falcon

@AudreyStapina It is so bad, we actually had a person in our department get fired, not really realize it, finally kind of figure it out and refuse to leave anyway. And is STILL in her job to this day.


@Party Falcon It's because academics nurse grudges like a mama bear nurses her cubs.


@Party Falcon What? Why doesn't somebody make her leave? I don't understand this, do they still pay her?

Party Falcon

@miwome Honest to Bald Eagles, I don't know. Momemtum? Lack of momentum? Raging case of not-my-job-itis? Somebody forgot to show up for the HR presentation entitled "Termination Real Talk: How to say You're Fired and the Paperwork It Takes To Make That Happen"?

Basically, she was brought in for a talk, was supposed to get fired. No one ACTUALLY said that to her, you know, out loud. Instead, they crossed their fingers and hoped it would take when it was suggested that she could no longer be successful in the department and she should look for other employment. She straight up choose to ignore the hint.

Yes, she still gets paid. If she sticks it out a year or two more, I'm pretty sure she'll be vested in the pension.


@Party Falcon Well that is one of the most weak-sauce things I have ever heard. And I am a huge wimpo in so many ways.


@Party Falcon
There's so much misplaced fear in some people. How are people scared of SOPA but not NDAA? How are people looking at who's allowed in what bits of the military and not who's featuring in so many leaked military torture/murder videos?
Did they just decide it was easier to be afraid of offending a Rick than to be afraid of, and acknowledge the full existence of a Rick itself?
It takes guts to be afraid of big stuff. They're so scared they act like it's not even real.


@Inkcrafter Great pains have been taken to make sure a lot of people never hear about NDAA, TPP, ACTA, etc.

I guess maybe it's possible that avoiding offending a Rick might keep your name off the Rick's Wall of Murder-Hammers, but eventually you're still going to have to deal with the Rick in question.




@Party Falcon My last job was in community services, and it was so exactly like this. Slowly, all the people who fixed stuff left. Then, the people who got on with their own job (this is my). Now, it's all just people who create messes and then flail around in them, and they will never leave because they are just incapable of doing anything mean like firing or even reprimanding anyone. And also, they couldn't get work anywhere else because they are useless, so it would be CRUEL to fire them. Something something community and compassion. Etc.


@Party Falcon You are dead on. I worked in University administration for about 5 years, not directly with students, but still. I have so many stories of people who could never get fired, people being harrased, ridiculous people etc. My favorite is still a former co-worker who had been there for 15 years and took a 4 hour lunch break EVERY DAY. No matter what anyone did to get her fired, it never happened. I think they sent her to HR workshops on basically being less of an asshole, like 5 times! Also, bosses who hate you because you're actually good at your job and therefore show up how sucky they are about thiers, but who are very passive aggressive because "hey, we're all really NICE here, right? We're a big family, RIGHT?!" ugh.


Wow. This is such a creepy story! In the horror movie version, he would have killed poor Emily because she was the former boss you liked better (which is probably what set him off in the first place), then kidnapped your roommate and tried to drown you in your own tub.
So really, it could have all been much worse.


So... In this case snooping was a good thing?


@Xaxa I think this doesn't count as snooping. Looking at someone's browsing history on a public (at least, public as to employees) computer sounds legit to me - no expectation of privacy there.
And... whoa.


This is not at all how I would have reacted.

ayo nicole

@ilikemints Yeah, this guy is way, way, way nicer than me.


@ilikemints I know, right?! The not firing thing, but also the not gobbling up juicy, personal sex blog entries thing.


@ilikemints This actually is how I would have reacted and I totally empathize with having the thought "but how is my anger going to make this terrible person *feel*"

It's a big problem! I wish I was less nice sometimes, because it's very difficult for me to stand up for myself in various situations. I've had super insane horrible bosses and catered to their terrible whims because I didn't want to get into a fight about it. Ugh. I need some backbone training wheels.


@roadtrips I've (partially) trained myself out of that reaction by replacing the word "nice" with the word "passive" in my own head, and also the word "mean" with "assertive." That way, when I'm wondering whether I should say something to Juicebox Du Jour, instead of thinking, oh I don't want to be mean! I think, oh, I don't want to be assertive! and then I realize how stupid that is and say something.

I mean, it's a process. But try it, it really helps!


@a.nicole I don't think "nice" is the word I would use. Perhaps "naive" or even "stupid."

(I know, I know, easy for me to say from the perspective of someone 10 years out of college - but seriously my parents would have been all over him being fired).


@Mira This is excellent advice. You can still be the nicest person ever while also not putting up with ungodly amounts of bullshit from the toxic fuckers around you and expecting your own needs not to get sidelined for no reason.


@Mira Thank you! Yes. It's kind of amazing, isn't it, how hard it is to separate those two things when you've gotten so used to conflating them. I am definitely going to give this a shot.


@theguvnah My parents would have been all over rolling HIM up in that tarp.


@ilikemints I am really amazed this guy didn't sue the university. That whole "oh, it is up to you if we fire him, hint hint there is going to be some hardcore retaliation up in here" bit is infuriating. One of my biggest pet peeves is how indifferent universities are to labor law.


@wharrgarbl Thanks! It actually makes it easier to be nice because I'm not stuck in a fermenting stew of resentment and passive-aggressive anger.


@Mira Yes. Once I learnt that I could set boundaries and keep them, I became MUCH nicer. I didn't have to make people avoid me right away, as a defence mechanism! I could wait until they were arseholes, and THEN deal with it! And most of the time they aren't! Yaaaay!


84% of women have fantasized about killing someone?! Really? I'm pretty heartless, so I keep going through my memory because I'm SURE I'm not one of the most moral 16% of women in the world, so surely I must have sometime. Other than occasionally thinking "I wish he'd just go off and DIE" I honestly don't think I have.

Also, that story is terrifying. I would never even be able to be in the same room as him again.


@MilesofMountains Except maybe if me and my ex-boyfriend were swimming in the sea? And he got a cramp just a little ways from me? Then if he yelled he was going to drown, I might get dressed and go to town.

So there's that.


@MilesofMountains I have wished that people would spontaneously combust (it's more common that I will just wish someone a happy life that is far, far away from me, like, somewhere in Idaho), but I think that doesn't count? I'm pretty heartless, too, but I can't think of ever fantasizing about murdering someone.


@MilesofMountains Yeah, I think the word "fantasise" must be an overstatement. I have had anger flash so hot I just want to throttle someone but actually turning that impulse into a drawn-out scenario has just never happened. It's just a quick burst of anger and then it disappears like half a second later.


@MilesofMountains I was shocked by that, too. I am that person that spends 60% of my day grumbling about how awful most of humanity is and people are so terrible, and I hold a grudge like whoa. And yet, I have NEVER wished death on anyone, let alone thought about doing the killing myself.

Faintly Macabre

@themegnapkin When I see an awful, reckless, driver, I often hope they'll crash into a tree and die, but I don't dream about sabotaging their brakes. So maybe I'm just in the 99th percentile of passive-aggressiveness/cowardliness?

Ms. Take

@MilesofMountains Yea, I really cannot think of a time that I've imagined killing someone, let alone legitimately wished for someone to die. In my revenge fantasies, I meet the offending party and say something so soul crushing and bitchy that they doubt their entire existence, which is maybe creepier? I don't know.


@Ms. Take Ha! Your revenge fantasy is why I wish I was more like Veronica Mars. Her quips could take down a corrupt government.

Ms. Take

@olivebee But it never works in real life! Most often I come off like George Costanza rambling on about a "jerk store calling."

Princess Slayer

@MilesofMountains I've had elaborate fantasies about ruining someone's CAR, but LIFE? Oh, I've also thought about how I might hire someone to beat the shit out of this guy who was harassing my dad. But no murder fantasies! Huh.

femme cassidy

@MilesofMountains I don't think I've ever had fantasies like that. All my revenge fantasies revolve around me being INSANELY AWESOME, and having my picture in the paper for, like, curing AIDS and writing a best-selling book about it, and then the girl who was mean to me in sixth grade sees it and it preys on her mind when she goes to work at her terrible, soul-deadening job. Also, I have great shoes.


@MilesofMountains I had the same reaction. I can't remember ever wishing death on somebody, let alone fantasizing about it. And there are plenty of people I dislike and I'm not that great of a person. My revenge fantasies are so much more...bland. Like..."I hope a bird poops on you and also that your metabolism slows down!" territory, not MURDER territory. And I'm a big fan of reading all about murder, true crime, murder mysteries, serial killers, the list goes on. And yet, no murder fantasies?


@MilesofMountains Yeah, I'm stunned by this. I veer toward the misanthropic but, still, my fantasies run to imagining my adversaries getting totally humiliated (not killed and certainly not by me).


@MilesofMountains Seriously! I can't remember ever plotting anybody's murder, or even wishing abstractly for their death, and I'm a self-described misanthrope.

[TW suicidal ideation because yeah]Now, my own suicide, I've imagine countless times in a variety of ways, but that's because I have major depressive disorder and spent many, many, many hours sitting in church with nothing to do but listen to a sermon, or imagine wading into Lake Michigan with rocks in my pockets. (Don't worry I'm going to therapy and am taking lovely drugs that make me feel awesome now.) But it didn't even occur to me to imagine the deaths of other people.

Now I feel like even more of a freak, weirdly.

femme cassidy

@yeah-elle Whenever someone cuts her off or is otherwise douchey in traffic, my partner says, "I wish you many ungrateful children!"


@MilesofMountains Yeah, I was racking my brain for this too, and I've really never fantasized about killing someone. HUMILIATING someone, sure, or "I wonder what would happen if X died" but never killing.


@femme cassidy Ahahaha that is the BEST/WORST curse I have ever heard! So terrifying! So much more statistically likely to come true compared to other wishes!

dracula's ghost

@thebestjasmine You guys really??? I fantasize all the time about someone attacking me (breaking into my house, attacking me on my walk to the car, etc.) and me successfully fighting him off and then killing him. I thought this was a super common woman-thing, my self defense teacher told me it was normal. Like you're envisioning your worst fear and then also envisioning your triumph over that fear or whatever.

I've definitely had deep elaborate fantasies about humiliating all sorts of people, but the only actual murder fantasies I have are the above. I can't imagine fantasizing about killing an actual person, even someone I hate and whose death I would feel nothing about.


@femme cassidy Buuuuuuuuuuurn.

I've never fantasized about killing anyone, either...the thought of so many people thinking in detail about ways to murder other people is terrifying. I have a hard time believing it's so common.


@femme cassidy Our "revenge" fantasies are the same. I am awesome, they are not. And occasionally the future bashful offending party says something to the future awesome me like "Wow, you've done such amazing thing!" and I say something back that is secretly scathing but sounds nice, like "Oh, nonsense, you have your ant farming hobby. I'm sure that's just as rewarding."


@femme cassidy I wish twins for you! Twins who never call!


@yeah-elle "I hope a bird poops on you and also that your metabolism slows down!"

Trufax: I was driving somewhere with a former roommate when a jerkwad cut us off. She waved her fist at him and shouted, "I hope you have a thoroughly unpleasant evening!"

Y'all are cute. And creative!


@themegnapkin This is my revenge fantasy too - though I'm not sure if it actually qualifies as a "revenge" fantasy. My husband's ex-girlfriend was harrassing him for a while (100 texts/hr, threatening to burn down his business) and I briefly fantasized about burning down HER house but mostly just hoped that she would be happy and find someone else who would love her and help her to deal with her craziness. Sending positive energy out into the world - so much better.


@wharrgarbl I'm just going to add to this thread that I, too, have never fantasized about killing anyone. I heard the Radiolab episode this week and was like Er? Maybe the students in the class felt compelled to give that data to the professor because he'd talked about violence? But really, 86% of women?
Lastly, Kim sucks.

a small sea

@Mira Yeah, the DETAIL of those fantasies made it a zillion times crazier for me. I mean, LIKE EVERYONE ELSE, I've gotten frustrated and probably thought/said "geez, I wish s/he was dead" or whatever but I've never had an elaborate daydream about dropping acid into their eyes/onto their forehead until it seeped into their brain. If that is common... well, dang, I don't even know. I guess if significantly more than half the population does this, it's a darn miracle we're all still here.

@dracula's ghost I've thought of being attacked and me successfully getting away/thwarting the attack but never of killing the perpetrator. It's less a fantasy/empowering vision of triumph and more of an "okay, if this happens, what will I do to get out with the least damage to myself*?" but I guess there's a subnote under that that says *short of killing the person.

@bitterblue [TW] Yeah, I've only thought of death in a detailed way in regards to myself. I don't consider myself depressed (or even fascinated with the macabre or something) but I do think of scenarios like that pretty often (but there's no intention - just a thought, you know?)


@MilesofMountains I really do wonder what they're counting in that statistic. For instance! I never get murdery when I'm angry. However, once in a while, I find myself imagining killing someone, but I wouldn't call it a fantasy. It's never deliberate or pleasant, more like the feeling you get when you lean over a railing and realize nothing is stopping you from jumping.

Canard's brain: "This thing would be technically possible, right? We could theoretically do that, right?"

Canard's regular self: "Well, sure, brain, I suppose if we really wanted-- Hey! You quit that. You are disgusting."


@Canard Ha, truth! Virginia Woolf addresses this in Mrs. Dalloway. She has Clarissa imagine killing this random baby in a stroller or something, and then Clarissa's like WHAT, brain, stop it. As someone here said before, "Brains make thoughts like butts make poop." Truer words...


@Bitterblue I am so so glad to read that you're doing better and getting help, and I wanted to tell you that there are lots of lovely 'Pinners in Chicago, so if you're on OUR side of Lake Michigan, we are always here for you.


@themegnapkin I don't wish people to die when they piss me off, either. I wish them a long life full of self-inflicted misery. (and thanks to Jane's google-fu how to, I now know that comment will be linked with my username FOREVER.)


@MilesofMountains i'd agree. i really sat down and thought and the closest 'murder fantasy' i've
ever gotten to isn't even murder. more just punching and humiliation in front of normal humans.

anyway. yeah. other than the dude who turned out to be a rapist i really don't harbor all that much hate, let alone elaborate murder scenarios that include emotional details.

Michaela Daniel@facebook

@MilesofMountains The only times in my life I was prone to fantasies of murder, I was also severely depressed. So, y'know. There's that.
In fact, fantasizing about murder and suicide fit well side by side.


@Canard I used to have this thought about my dad all the time when we'd do the dishes together. I'd be drying a big knife and I'd think 'I could just stab him, right in the back'. It was TERRIFYING.

I have also wished death on three people, two of whom are still sort of in my life. All men. All basically the SAME man. And I recognised that thing Rick said about just standing there, not feeling anything. I wouldn't ever ever CAUSE anything to happen, but if they drove into a ditch and died, or similar, I would feel not a single moment of sorrow or remorse. I would feel guilt about not feeling sorrow or remorse, though.

This was the moment when I knew I had to dump my ex, incidentally. The first of these men, who was his friend, was basically harassing me. And he left, and I was upset, and my boyfriend asked what was wrong, and I told him that if M died in a car crash on the way home, I wouldn't be sorry. Then my ex cried because he was upset that I was upset, and I had to comfort him. That was some bullshit.

Also, my new one is 'I hope you grow tastebuds on your sphincter'


@Craftastrophies " I used to have this thought about my dad all the time when we'd do the dishes together. I'd be drying a big knife and I'd think 'I could just stab him, right in the back'. It was TERRIFYING."
I have had these thoughts on and off for pretty much as long as I've been an adult, directed to me or to others (mostly me, though). Mostly they were rare and I brushed them off and tried to ignore them as much as possible. For me, when they got much more intense and frequent and started getting directed at other people more than me, (SUPER scary, btw) it was a sign that I was actually pretty depressed - I've never felt worse in my life.

So, it's not just you, and doesn't mean anything terrible about you. I was scared for months I would snap and turn into a serial killer, which I was later reassured was not something I needed to worry about.


Wow this was amazing and scary! I don't think I took a breath the whole way through! I really was expecting it to take a kind of horror story turn for a minute.

The part that gets me is how Rick was all "you're a really good tour guide (and I wish you would die slowly in front of me.)" Wha-?


mean anything terrible about you. I was scared for months I would snap and turn into a serial killer, which ..backless prom dresses


aaaaaaaaaaahhhh I would have never been able to continue going to work knowing that he was at the same place.

I don't think I've ever had a fantasy about killing someone? But when I was in elementary school, there were these two girls who bullied me for years, and I had this fantasy I'd kill myself and leave a note that said how awful they were to me, and then they would feel SO BAD. Which is kinda fucked too, I guess, even though it was never something i would've actually done? I never wrote about it in a blog though...


Housing departments attract weirdos? I'm so sorry you had to go through this!


@fleurdelivre True dat.

oh, disaster

And everyday the world finds a new way to horrify me. I cannot believe he didn't lose his job.


So I guess the lesson we have to learn is: fantasize all you want, but never put it on the internet. The most important lesson for these technologically advanced times.


Whoa. That's terrifying. Seriously, if something like that had happened to me and the administration hadn't come down like a ton of bricks on that COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOUR I would have made some kind of formal complaint against the department. Their response was... not safe.

I wonder what constitutes a "killing someone" fantasy, though? Like, there have been times when I've been so angry I wanted to be violent, potentially to the point of killing someone, but it was always far too fleeting to be considered an actual fantasy the way the ones described in the article are--far more emotion than plan. Nothing specific, and no-one specific. Repeated desires to harm one particular person, who hasn't even harmed you? That's severely messed up.


@glitterary I've had an overwhelming desire to punch someone in the face, and repeatedly fantasized about it, but to be fair it was my sister's ex-husband and she was a heartbroken mess at the time. I would never actually act on it because I am a wimp and also, hitting is wrong. But lengthy, detailed fantasies about murdering someone for no good reason? Dude.


This was enjoyable to read BUT HOLY SHIT I can't believe he was still allowed to keep his job? "he needs his job"??? Kim should have been like "you need to not be afraid of getting murdered while at your job!" Sooo crazy.

Also, I dunno, that one example from The Murderer Next Door (CASE #278, male, age 23) was disturbing. I can safely say I have never indulged a murder fantasy.


murder fantasies. every evening in traffic. seriously.


Who ARE these oh-I-hain't-never-fantasized-o'-murder goody two-shoeses? Murder fantasies all the time, sometimes strangers, sometimes enemies, sometimes dead and imaginaries, just all the time murder just in CASE, okay, just to be prepared.

Sometimes the person whose body you'd eat afterwards, sometimes all the times that person.


I'm guessing at the time frame here (using the popularity of Livejournal and Xanga) that this was in the early 'oughts, pre-large scale incidents of students (and occasional faculty) losing their shit on-campus. I'm hoping universities would have WAY more sense of liability now, however, and wouldn't have left the guy's firing up to you.

(Also, if this were, say, pre-2003, "doocing" had yet to catch on in the vernacular... God, I hope people are more discrete now. Although I think it speaks a lot to the guy's mental state that he would have a public murder-fantasy blog that named real names...but the bit about him SITTING AT THE INFORMATION DESK, replacing you, knowing you'd be back in a few minutes...that's straight-up screenplay material.)

How much longer did you work together?


@ladyfriend@twitter Columbine was '99.

This reminds me of the time an exboyfriend left a message on my home answering machine during a break-up fight screaming "I will fucking kill you!" repeatedly, and when I finally said something to the school liaison officer got blow off because a month had passed.
This was well after the introduction of "Zero Tolerance Policies" and the time he almost got expelled for writing a "hit list".

Now the government trains him how to kill people. Good times.


@ladyfriend@twitter As a former private University employee (until late 2011), I can say that the policies may have changed, but change at any university is glacial, and there was some wierd shit going down the 5 years I was there.

Reginal T. Squirge

Come on folks, I think the real lesson here is private browsing. All the time. No exceptions.


Speaking of elevated heart rates...



Did anybody else listen to that Radiolab podcast?

I was completely disturbed about how Fritz Haber (of the Haber Process, nitrogen fixation and what not [I'm a chem major]) created the method for the deadly chlorine gas dispersal into the trenches during WWI and then reveled in how easy it was to kill the enemy with it!? And he was Jewish and the Nazis used one of his formulations (Zyklon A) and modified it to make Zyklon B which was used to gas millions!?

That blew my mind.


@Lady_Terminator I know. That was such a sad story. Radiolab is so good though, in that it has the ability to simultaneously make and ruin my day.

Judith Slutler

@Lady_Terminator I listen to... all the Radiolabs, and seriously, the Fritz Haber part was horrifying.


Slightly off-topic, but I had a supervisor once that denied me a raise because of my Jewish heritage (which prompted me to quit and storm outside and then have to wait for my mom to pick me up from the curb out front because I was only 15). "This is a Christian nation and your people don't belong here" were her specific words. I imagine if she kept a blog, it would be fantasies about a white-washed, fundamentalist society where bibles grow on trees.


@olivebee Go 15 year old you!!


I happen to be one of those super cool people who works on college campuses (I've done a number of years in housing, coincidentally), and that situation was handled all sorts of wrong by the administration. I know that this only happened 8 years ago, but I really don't think this shit would fly today.


@giraffelegs Psychotic staffer chokes beautiful grad student to death days before her wedding, stuffs corpse in crawlspace. Body not found for days.


@wharrgarbl For serious???


@giraffelegs Also: Jerry Sandusky, anyone? Terrible shit is happening all around you, constantly, and don't you forget it.

Ugh, I'm a bummer today.

Daisy Razor

@giraffelegs At Yale: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_Annie_Le

They found her body on what would have been her wedding day.


@giraffelegs http://abcnews.go.com/US/raymond-clark-pleads-guilty-murder-yale-grad-student/story?id=13158057

acid burn

@wharrgarbl Yeah, as much as I was "hooooooly shit"ing through reading this whole thing, I have to say as somebody who also spent some years as staff at a college, I totally would not be surprised if this was handled similarly today. Especially if it was a state school. It is nigh unto IMPOSSIBLE to fire people at those places. :-\

But on a nicer note, I feel safe in saying that most employees at colleges DO NOT harbor secret homicidal fantasies against their student employees! I assume! I certainly didn't, and I had some really bad student employees.


@giraffelegs I'm surprised you didn't hear about that. The media could not stop drooling over how pretty she was once it was clear she was a Sexy Dead Lady instead of a Run-away Bride. They kept having weird, creepy retrospectives every time anything happened with the case.

@acid burn It's shockingly easy to get fired from a state college if your awful bullshit is directed at an HR staffer, though. /cynicism


@wharrgarbl Oh yeah, I remember that case. But I was referring to threats being made and addressed, not ACTUAL cases of murdery death traps.


@giraffelegs There were at least initial reports once he was identified as a suspect that there were complaints about his behavior in the past. I don't know how accurate they were, but Le's mom is suing the school to get them to step up on Title IX issues. The DKE frat incident needing to be caught on film before Yale would act barely a year after that kind of backs her up on that point, too.


@giraffelegs Yea I worked at a VERY well known University until last year, and the shit that went down while I was there was cray-cray. Things like OH, even though we're in a major metropolitian area, and have 20,000 students, we're not going to do background checks on any new hires until ~2010! Oh and btw, your ID card gets you into ALL THE DORMS. Another one, we had a guy who was studying here as a grad student, even though he was on work release from prison from another county, for statuatory rape.... Or the professor who's wife's body was found in his ceiling or some shit but he was still teaching here for awhile. Fun times.


I couldn't help but use the Powers Of The All-Knowing Internet to confirm that this was UC Irvine, just because it kinda sounded like a staffer at my old school...

The more you know.


I once worked for someone who, I was later told, choked out the dummy in our company CPR training class pretending it was me.


@isavedlatin D: D: D:


@isavedlatin I'm sorry, that's terrible, but I laughed so hard after reading this! And I'm sneak-reading in class, so it was kind of awkward ... :)

Holden Cauliflower

that's horrible, but also i love your username!

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

A couple of things:
1) Perhaps the author should have told an authority outside of the university about this; university employees don't want bad press about their school, like, say, "Housing Director Taking Care of Your Precious Spawn has Serious Murder Fantasies About Innocents."

2) Is it weird that I immediately wanted to find the blog and read it?


@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose Your user name is too good to not have an avatar. Let me help you with that: http://www.princess-emily.com/albums/DontTellMomTheBabysittersDead/JoannaCassidythen.jpg
(Rose modeling General Apparel West's latest look)

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@isavedlatin Oh my, so beautiful! Thank you!


"You have to decide whether he keeps his job, but you should know that he kind of needs it, and oh, he's a pre-homicidal maniac, so he'd probably be a little angry if we told him that you'd decided to have him fired." Yeah.


@Alixana The frozen yogurt store where I worked in college was robbed one night when I was working alone, and eventually the DA asked me whether I wanted the guy to go to prison for a few months or to drug rehab for a long time (the robbery had been for drug money). I guess in retrospect that this was probably part of a plea deal? In that case, having some agency returned to me was a really helpful part of the healing process. I never did hear how he did in rehab, though.


@Alixana My ability to reply to previous thread is broken, for some reason ? But I wanted to say thanks!! And that I will have to get up the guts to come to the next Chicago-based Hairpin-up.


Holy crap! Why oh why didn't you go to the police??


@Maria I thought he was pretty prescient to print the entire thing out. As a 20 year old, I would have probably just quit. Hindsight is 20/20.

tin can phone

Um...why didn't anyone call the police? He sounds seriously messed up in the head, and kind of like he actually wanted to kill you? I don't understand how the administration a) thought it was cool that he should keep working with you and b) that if he were to be fired that the target of his twisted murder-fantasies should be the one to do it? Wouldn't that give him a concrete reason to kill you? So many questions? But yeah, the police.

Bon Vivant

I hope he finds this and reads our comments. Then I hope he reads my comment, where I say "Boo. BOO. I hope you're in fucking therapy, jerk-off".
I'm sorry that you (A kid!!!!!) had to go through this. How awful.


The problem with the administration's response is that it disregarded the fact that Rick did something objectively wrong. Once the author brought it to the administration's attention, frankly, it really shouldn't have mattered how the author felt about it. The administration should have responded to Rick's offense (threatening a colleague in writing) and should have proceeded from there, period.


I can understand why he didn't, really -- I remember being 20 (it wasn't that long ago) and your perspective is so warped, and college life is so enclosed and kind of myopic. You still trust the authority figures in your life to make decisions for you, right decisions, or so you assume. They're grown-ups. They're in charge. That's what they do. Going to the police with it would never have occurred to me either. And I went to NIU (before the shootings, though.)


@Bitterblue However, how the people actually in charge of this fuckery reacted? Totally not cool. They should have known better. Make them all into shoes.


@Bitterblue I got my MA at NIU! Before the shootings too - they happened a year or two after I left.

sceps yarx

@Bitterblue Make them into shoes...is that a Jim Moriarty reference???


@sceps yarx Indeed it is! I knew that someone at the 'Pin would get it!!

sceps yarx

@Bitterblue hmmm, i think we should be friends. :-)


@sceps yarx =D Okay! I am all up for acquiring BBC-loving friends!


Did anyone else just stop and lol hysterically at the burning cake story?


It reminded me one of the not-entirely-legit-sounding stories that RAs tell when you're naive enough to go to the first floor meeting. It's thoughtful and cute and there's a little non-human danger, but everything worked out, I guess?
(Perhaps because the campus I attend is nothing (at all) if not suicide-proof, and if I had to toss out a cake through the tiny sliver of openable window, it'd be slice by flaming slice.)

Mike Dang

Oh wow, there are a lot of comments on this story! So, I ended up staying at the job for two more months, and then I graduated and moved across the country. Honestly, the last two months were great! I turned in my senior thesis and mostly hung out with my friends until graduation. I wanted to stay because I was really close to the other tour guides, and Rick just sort of sheepishly crawled into a hole and hid every day. He was obviously really mortified. And it quickly became this story everyone told and laughed about a lot. And poor Kim. We had a lot of conversations about it later, and it was pretty clear that if it were up to her, Rick would have been out the door, but you know: ADMINISTRATIONS. Always defending pepper sprayings, and not reporting abuse cases and such.


@Mike Dang I enjoyed reading your absolutely horrifying story, but I can't decide if you were merciful or just stupid in letting him continue working there. I guess you're a better person than I am, because I would have gotten the dude fired, then probably torched his home. I'm glad things worked out ok, because, DAMN, what a crazy story!

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@Mike Dang Out of curiosity, why wouldn't you go to outside authorities on this? The university looks like they cared more about saving face than saving your popular-with-your-coworkers-but-apparently-that's-not-enough-to-risk-bad-publicity life.

a small sea

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose: Unrelated but I read your comment as "@Mike: Dang, out of curiosity...." and then I read the one above and said to myself, "wow, how interesting that two different people in a row would start their comment off with a 'dang"!" I even noticed how you capitalized the O in "Out of curiosity" but still. Dang.


@Mike Dang Seriously though, do tell us about the shrimp thing, if you ever figured out why that flipped his switch. It's so weird I'm just going to keep thinking about it.


@a small sea Same thing. It was a very O.o moment.

I'm guessing most people in the same situation wouldn't think to take it to the cops after it had been deemed not even a firing offense by trusted bosses.

Hannah Flaherty@twitter

@Mike Dang Hello Mike! I am Hannah, Tom's girlfriend, and it is very nice to see you here on the Hairpin! This story is crazy, and you told it so well. Just wanted to say hi, and hope to see you on here again!

Viembre Tran@facebook

@Mike Dang Are you guys from Vietnam? Your family name is quite prevalent in my home land. I'm Vietnamese. Really glad to meet you!!


I have never fantasized about killing someone. I didn't know this was a thing. And now I am uncomfortable knowing this is a thing.


@SarahP you know. it feels super uncomfortable to admit this, but my (mental issues used to see a therapist but now refuses) ex was seriously that person. murder fantasies in great detail. one of the many many reasons i dumped his ass.


I can't believe that the administration didn't fire his ass. At my school, first thing first Rick would have been suspended from working and the police would have been notified. He would never, ever be able to return to working at the university. I can't believe that things were handled so poorly. That man is sick. It is one thing to have crazy thoughts but to write out elaborate plans in your blog... about your college aged employee... that is ridiculous. Ugh.


Holy freaking hell, that is a scary story! My god, I cannot believe the school just let it slide. "Yeah we decided not to fire this guy, you cool with that?" Cheesus Crust! For fuck's sake! I also can't believe that many people have thought in that much detail about killing someone. I haven't. Have I wished that a professor would crash the motorcycle he parks in the handicap space? Of course. But that level of detail, holy cow, that is sick. People are sick.

Man. I used to work at the housing department of my university, and now I'll always wonder if one of those people fantasized about killing me. I know my current boss does -- or rather, my current ex-boss, seeing as he harassed me for seven months until I finally bitched to HR. (Their response: He didn't do anything wrong, just go back to working for him. I said no, and now here I am, still employed at the same company, but with no work to do. They've been paying me to read The Hairpin since early November. Suckers?)


I'm sorry but I can't fathom a story like this that doesn't end with him being fired. I refuse to accept that.


My last boss used to tell me every day that he wished I would kill myself. Once someone mentioned me (in regards to vacation time) and Christmas and he said, "Oh, [she] won't be here that long," and when they said, "Wow, you're going to fire her?" and he said, "No, she'll have offed herself by then."

I tell this story to people and they go, "Why didn't you quit so much sooner?" and my answer is, "After quitting I'm still unemployed three months later, so."

But it's cool, that asshole only has one person out of the 4 working there on his payroll, so when tax season comes I look forward to him getting audited (my friend still works there and I get sick joy out of her "that place is going to shit" stories).


@Nutmeg Your boss is a terrible person, and I hate him. May he be afflicted with piles, and may Preparation H afford him no relief.


@Nutmeg Do you have records of this stuff? It might be worth talking to a lawyer about.


GAAAAAADZOOOOOOOOOOOKS! Mike does sound way too nice to be murdered.


@werewolfbarmitzvah I love that you said "Gadzooks!" I associate that exclamation with the Disney The Sword and the Stone forevermore and I love it.

evil soyling

Did this happen at a certain Orange County, CA campus? I heard about a similar situation like this from a certain person when I was in high school (which seems to fit with the xanga/live journal thing.


@evil soyling


The bottom line is that guy should have been fired. While he seemed to be trying to keep a handle on things at work, he still threatened violent acts against you in a public forum. This is totally unacceptable.


I find it really admirable that you handled the whole situation calmly! Or, at least, you sure described it that way. I think I would have panicked my ass off in a similar situation and would not have even thought of something as basic as printing the damn thing out.


As the seemingly-lone Hairpin representative of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, I am contractually obligated by my love of this state to say that WE'RE NOT ALL CRAZY MURDERERS, I PROMISE. Really! Most of us are really nice! (Mike, I am so sorry on behalf of this entire state.) Gotta say, though, that the southern drawl can hide a lot of crazy.


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher

The Kentucky people I know are wonderful, crazy non-murderers! And that includes a sexy ex who can pronounce Louisville.


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher
Thanks for pointing that out. As another representative of the Commonwealth, I have to say that I didn't take another thing the author said seriously after he put that bit about Rick being from Kentucky in there.

Viembre Tran@facebook

Is Mike Dang from VIETNAM. His family name is Dang which is prevalent in Vietnam


It must have been really disturbing for my teacher to find 9 yr old me had drawn pictures of her dying in different ways in the back of my exercise book.

Sorry teacher!
(But never criticise my handwriting again.)


84% of women? Really? I feel like there's something wrong with me now for not having them. I just tried to have one right now and I immediately jumped out of it. Ope . . . did it again. I can't do it.


@gladfanny Right? I really just can't. I am wracking my brain, trying to figure out who I've killed in my mind, but I just don't think I have the ability to even fantasize about murder.

I'm actually kind of disappointed in myself now.

Frankie Consoli@facebook

This sounds to me like Rick wanted to suck Mike's dick and was offended when Mike didn't pick up on his advances. Everybody in this story needs to sack up.


I'm sorry but am I the only one who thinks it's interesting that the roles were in the end - reversed? ...after rejecting Ricks efforts to befriend him, plastering Ricks history (not JUST as it pertained to Mike remember) all over campus and apparently relishing the fact that 'no one in the office was on Ricks side'....psychologically speaking it was in fact Mike that sat and watched Rick 'die' while feeling no remorse...

Now I am in NO way condoning Ricks writing in such detail about hurting Mike (he should get counseling, seriously) - I also find it interesting that Mike seemed to enjoy his suffering so much. And - according to the narrative - firing Rick was suggested by Mike FIRST (not management) even though he is so magnanimous as to not insist on it - in doing so he condemns Rick to a friendless cold and miserable employment....I'm not sure Rick is the only one I'd suggest therapy for

Shu-Chip Tho@facebook

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Shahzaib Soomrow@facebook

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