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Our Disgusting Colleague Constantly Broke Hygienic & Etiquette Rules – We Found Way to Teach Her a Lesson

Just when Ashley thought her office life couldn’t get more chaotic, along comes Karen, turning every rule of workplace decorum on its head. With Karen’s disruptive behavior peaking, Ashley plans a birthday surprise that could mend fences or alter office dynamics forever.

A woman sitting around table holding a tablet | Source: Unsplash

A woman sitting around table holding a tablet | Source: Unsplash

Hi everyone, I’m Ashley. I have a story about office life quirks that might sound familiar to many of you. So, buckle up, and don’t hesitate to chime in if you’ve ever found yourself in a similar situation.

Three office workers chatting and laughing | Source: Unsplash

Three office workers chatting and laughing | Source: Unsplash

I work at an advertising firm—a place where no two days are the same. Some days crawl by, while others whiz past so fast you barely have time to catch your breath.

A group of cheerful multi-ethnic colleagues having a party after work | Source: Pexels

A group of cheerful multi-ethnic colleagues having a party after work | Source: Pexels

Last-minute surprises? A regular feature. But despite the chaos, I genuinely enjoy what I do. I’m surrounded by awesome colleagues, and the workplace vibe is top-notch. Well, it was top-notch, until Karen came along.

A woman in a red sweater leaning on a table while working | Source: Pexels

A woman in a red sweater leaning on a table while working | Source: Pexels

Now, I’m all for welcoming new faces. Newcomers stir things up, bring fresh ideas and skills, and generally pump new life into the team. But Karen… well, she’s a different story. It’s not that her work is bad, per se—it’s just that there’s a lot left to be desired, particularly in the ‘attitude’ department.

Dirty glasses and plates by the sink | Source: Pexels

Dirty glasses and plates by the sink | Source: Pexels

So, Karen was quite the character. She had this habit that drove all of us up the wall. Every day after lunch, while the rest of us made sure to clean up our dishes and keep the kitchen tidy, Karen would just leave hers in the sink. Not a care in the world, just her dirty plates piling up.

A female office worker relaxing with her feet on the table | Source: Pexels

A female office worker relaxing with her feet on the table | Source: Pexels

And if that weren’t enough to test our patience, her favorite pastime during work hours was napping. But not just any napping. Picture this: Karen, sprawled out in her office chair, legs thrown up on the table, shoes marking the surface with all kinds of dirt. It was a sight.

The snoring was the worst part! It was like having a freight train running through the room. Every. Single. Day.

An indoor swimming pool | Source: Pexels

An indoor swimming pool | Source: Pexels

But it gets worse. Once a week, we would head to the pool for a relaxing break from the daily grind. Except Karen decided it was the perfect place to… file her feet. Right there in the shower area while we were all around. Gross, right? Super disgusting.

A woman filing her feet | Source: freepik

A woman filing her feet | Source: freepik

Then, there was the lunch incident. Imagine sitting at a restaurant, trying to enjoy your meal, and there’s Karen, at the same table, flossing her teeth. Not discreetly, but openly.

Two women having lunch outdoors | Source: Pexels

Two women having lunch outdoors | Source: Pexels

One time, a piece of whatever she had for breakfast shot out and landed smack on my friend’s and my face. We were mortified. That was it. The absolute last straw.

A woman holding a dental floss | Source: freepik

A woman holding a dental floss | Source: freepik

My friend, I, and nearly all our colleagues were fed up. So, we came up with a plan. Karen’s birthday was coming up, and we figured it was the perfect opportunity to clue her in on her less-than-charming habits. It was high time for a lesson, and we were just the folks to deliver it.

A group of people talking and looking at a laptop | Source: Pexels

A group of people talking and looking at a laptop | Source: Pexels

So Karen’s birthday rolls around, and we decide to go all out. The whole department comes together, balloons floating everywhere, a big cake sitting proudly on the table, and of course, a special present just for her.

She walks in, sees the setup, and her face lights up. “Oh, guys, you shouldn’t have…” she exclaims, genuinely surprised.

Happy young women holding stacked presents | Source: Pexels

Happy young women holding stacked presents | Source: Pexels

As she begins to unwrap her gift, we all gather around, watching eagerly. The moment she pulls off the last piece of wrapping paper, her expression changes dramatically.

A woman looking at a white paper in her hands | Source: Pexels

A woman looking at a white paper in her hands | Source: Pexels

There, in her hands, is a huge poster framed beautifully but the content? Not so beautiful for her. It’s a list of etiquette and hygiene rules we all felt she desperately needed to follow.

A woman unwrapping her birthday gift | Source: Pexels

A woman unwrapping her birthday gift | Source: Pexels

Her face turned a deep shade of purple as she read the list aloud: ‘Wash your dirty dishes, no sleeping in the office, stop the loud snoring, and please, for the love of God, stop filing your feet in the pool shower area and flossing your teeth at meals.’

The room fell silent for a moment, everyone holding their breath. But we didn’t stop there.

A fondant cake on a stand | Source: Unsplash

A fondant cake on a stand | Source: Unsplash

We made sure these new ‘rules to live by’ were impossible to miss. Each rule was also plastered on the cake and written on each balloon floating around the room. We wanted to make sure our sweet Karen wouldn’t forget them anytime soon.

A shocked woman covering her eyes with one hand | Source: Pexels

A shocked woman covering her eyes with one hand | Source: Pexels

The mix of shock and realization on Karen’s face said it all. This birthday, she got a gift that would keep on giving—hopefully, a nudge towards better office etiquette.

Balloons beside a white wall | Source: Pexels

Balloons beside a white wall | Source: Pexels

Now, before you jump to conclusions about why we took such a drastic measure when we could have just had a simple chat with Karen—trust me, we tried.

Work colleagues having a conversation | Source: Pexels

Work colleagues having a conversation | Source: Pexels

And not just a casual mention; we really sat down with her and laid it all out, super politely. We told her how her habits were affecting the office atmosphere.

A woman sitting alone next to a birthday cake and presents | Source: Pexels

A woman sitting alone next to a birthday cake and presents | Source: Pexels

She nodded, promised to be more considerate, and everything seemed like it was going to be okay. But, alas, nothing changed. It was as if our conversation never happened. So yeah, we went with the drastic step.

Why her birthday, you ask? Well, it’s not a day one easily forgets, right? And we figured it would make the message stick.

Photographs lying beside a birthday cake | Source: Pexels

Photographs lying beside a birthday cake | Source: Pexels

Plus, we made sure to document the whole thing. Pictures, videos—the works. These weren’t just for laughs; they served as a kind of proof, something to remind Karen of her promise in case she slipped back into old habits.

After unveiling the gift, there was a tense moment. Karen was visibly upset, a mix of anger and embarrassment coloring her features.

A brown-haired woman with confetti in her hair | Source: Pexels

A brown-haired woman with confetti in her hair | Source: Pexels

She wasn’t expecting to be ambushed with a ‘hygiene intervention’ in front of everyone on her special day. Honestly, it took her a moment, but once the initial shock wore off, she agreed—again—to follow the rules we’d laid out.

This time, though, there was a serious undertone to her agreement. Maybe the public nature of the intervention made the difference.

Office workers doing a high five | Source: Pexels

Office workers doing a high five | Source: Pexels

What about you? Have you ever dealt with a ‘Karen’ at your workplace? How would you have handled the situation? Would you have done the intervention differently, maybe more privately, or not at all? Drop your thoughts and let’s chat about the wild world of office dynamics. I’m all ears!

A woman enjoying a drink while working on her laptop | Source: Pexels

A woman enjoying a drink while working on her laptop | Source: Pexels

Take a look at another interesting story below:

I Served a Woman Who Mocked Me throughout High School & Finally Got My Revenge after 20 Years

Under the soft glow of the evening lights, the restaurant buzzed with the cheerful din of a successful night. Yet, as I moved between the tables, careful not to bump into any sharp table corners, a familiar and unwelcome face caught my eye—Karen.

An interior of a restaurant | Source: Pexels

An interior of a restaurant | Source: Pexels

She hadn’t changed at all. Even after 20 years, the same haughty expression adorned her face, a look that had tormented me throughout my school years with her cruel taunts about my lisping and stuttering.

Suddenly, I was taken back to high school where my lisp was at its worst, making me second guess speaking.

An angry woman with folded arms | Source: Pexels

An angry woman with folded arms | Source: Pexels

School speeches were the worst part of my entire schooling life, where girls like Karen would begin laughing from behind their hands and end up hanging off their chairs, tears streaming down their faces.

I would escape to the library and spend every free moment there, just to escape the taunts.

Teenagers taking a selfie | Source: Pexels

Teenagers taking a selfie | Source: Pexels

I remember the one incident where I was clutching my books tightly to my chest, trying to make myself smaller, trying to blend into the gray of the lockers as Karen navigated the sea of students, in her impossibly high heels.

I could feel Karen’s gaze like a spotlight, singling me out from the crowd.

A row of gray lockers | Source: Pexels

A row of gray lockers | Source: Pexels

“There’s Lisp-Lily, boys!” Karen’s voice boomed, drawing a circle of laughter around me.

“Give us a smile and a speech, Lily,” she said. “Show us that stellar s-s-stutter,” she mocked, her words stretching out with malicious exaggeration.

A girl sitting on a chair |  Source: Pexels

A girl sitting on a chair | Source: Pexels

I remember wanting to cry myself to sleep that night. I sat in the kitchen with my brother, Alex, and I told him all about the events of the day and how Karen had lost it.

“You should give it back to her, Lily,” my brother said, spooning ice cream into a bowl for me.

Two bowls of ice cream | Source: Pexels

Two bowls of ice cream | Source: Pexels

“If I could, I would,” I said. “But the moment I open my mouth, you know what happens.”

My brother went off on a tangent about how I should never allow anyone to make me feel less than myself.

“You’ve got to stand up for yourself,” he said.

A smiling young man | Source: Pexels

A smiling young man | Source: Pexels

And I did. In my own way.

Click here to find out what happened next.

This work is inspired by real events and people, but it has been fictionalized for creative purposes. Names, characters, and details have been changed to protect privacy and enhance the narrative. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.

The author and publisher make no claims to the accuracy of events or the portrayal of characters and are not liable for any misinterpretation. This story is provided “as is,” and any opinions expressed are those of the characters and do not reflect the views of the author or publisher.

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