The 9 Worst Employee Freak-Outs in History

You’ve probably felt the urge to throw your computer out of your office window or give your boss a piece of your mind. Don’t worry; we’ve all been there. Offices and certain jobs can really start to wear on a person. Unfortunately, some people actually follow through with their impulses, with sometimes amusing, sometimes tragic results. Whether the stories are funny or horrifying, managers and office workers can learn lessons from these nine crazy employee freak-outs.

  1. Jetblue pilot has to be held down by passengers

    Flying is scary enough without the person piloting the plane having a nervous breakdown mid-flight. Luckily, this flight had a fully capable copilot who handled the freak-out as well as anyone could. On March 27, 2012, JetBlue captain Clayton Frederick Osbon began rambling incoherently mid-flight, discussing “the sins of Las Vegas”, Nevada and saying “we need to take a leap of faith.” The copilot locked him out of the cockpit and passengers subdued him as he yelled about 9/11, Jesus, and terrorists. The plane made an emergency landing and the pilot was taken into custody where he is facing criminal charges for interfering with the airline crew.

  2. Yoga store employee kills co-worker

    You might think that the workers in a yoga store would be totally zen, but that wasn’t the case with Brittany Norwood. In November 2011, a jury found her guilty of the murder of a co-worker at Lululemon Athletica, a sports apparel shop in Bethesda, Maryland. Norwood and her fellow employee Jayna Murray got into an argument when Murray apparently confronted Norwood after hours about stealing from the store. Murray had at least 331 wounds when her body was found. Though Norwood originally staged the scene to look like a robbery, evidence pointed to a serious workplace freak-out.

  3. Going postal

    The well known term “going postal” has been used since at least 1993 to describe someone snapping at the workplace, and for good reason. There have been several incidents of postal workers losing it in violent ways. One especially terrible incident occurred in 1986 when part-time letter carrier Patrick Sherrill got sick of receiving criticism for his poor job performance. He came to work one morning with guns and ammunition packed in his mail bag and went on a shooting spree, killing 14 of his co-workers at his Oklahoma post office and wounding six others. When the damage was done, he killed himself. Another notable day for “going postal” was May 6, 1993, when two separate postal worker shootings took place states apart. One Michigan man killed one person and himself at his post office and later in the day, a California postal worker killed two coworkers and his mother.

  4. McDonald’s cashier beats customers

    If there’s one McDonald’s in the world that you probably don’t want to visit, it’s this one in Greenwich Village in New York. They’ve had three recent fights there, including one that involved an employee. In October 2011, a YouTube video captured the brawl between two customers and a McDonald’s cashier. Two women had come into the restaurant and started arguing with Rayon McIntosh, the cashier, with one of them slapping him. One of them then climbed over the counter, so the cashier ran and got a medal rod and started beating the women, hitting them again every time they tried to get up. Though it was a brutal response to dealing with unruly customers, he was eventually cleared of felony assault charges because he was defending himself.

  5. Flight attendant takes emergency exit

    Steven Slater is hailed as a hero by similarly fed-up employees who wish they could quit their jobs, and as a nutcase by most everyone else. As a flight attendant for JetBlue, an airline that should probably screen employees better, Slater hit his breaking point when he was hit on the head with a passenger’s carry-on luggage or the overhead bin door. He then made a speech filled with expletives, grabbed some alcoholic beverages, and opened up the emergency exit. After throwing his bags down, Slater slid down the inflatable slide and went home. He was of course arrested later and charged with criminal mischief, reckless endangerment, and criminal trespass.

  1. Janitor sets fire over late check

    We laugh when we see the abused office worker in Office Space burn the building down, but if he had done that to a person, we all would’ve been horrified. One violent janitor in California did just that in 1993. Upset that the company he worked for was late paying him $150, Jonathan Daniel D’Arcy went to the building, poured some flammable liquid on the bookkeeper, and set her on fire. The woman died nine hours later from the burns covering 95% of her body and D’Arcy was convicted of first-degree murder. The bookkeeper, it turned out, had D’Arcy’s check on her desk ready to give to him.

  2. Fired worker trashes cubicle

    An employee of Credit Suisse freaked out on a co-worker’s desk in April 2010. The person had apparently been fired and came to the office drunk late on a Friday or over the weekend to get his revenge. He trashed the cubicle, knocking everything over, throwing things off the desk, and pulling cords out of the wall. It was definitely a much less crazy and less criminal act of vengeance than some, but we bet it felt good.

  3. Software tester shoots colleagues

    The day after Christmas in 2000, software tester Michael McDermott went to the Edgewater Technology offices where he had stored weapons the day before and started shooting. The motivating factor may have been his anger at the company for taking back taxes from his paycheck by order of the IRS. He was found guilty for seven counts of murder for the seven employees he systematically shot and killed.

  4. Christian Bale freaks out

    You probably remember this ridiculous rant. It made the rounds on the Internet in 2009. You may not think of Christian Bale as a typical employee, but actors are hired like anyone else to perform a service. And this freak-out on set is just unacceptable in any workplace. When cinematographer Shane Hurlbut walked on set during a scene to check a light, Bale went ballistic, dropping dozens of F-bombs and threatening to quit if Hurlbut did anything like that again without being fired. It’s hard to tell if Bale is just another conceited actor or a stressed-out employee.