[Editor's Note: A couple of months ago we asked readers to (anonymously!) send in a 500-word essay on why they think they're the "Worst Person in Portland" with the winner receiving a $300 grand prize. What we got was an outpouring of self-loathing, passive aggressiveness, and misguided narcissism... in other words, so much fun! However, it made us contemplate what it actually means to be "the worst." Is it the obvious evil that humanity commits against each other—robbing old ladies, kicking puppies, and the like? Or is it the common, everyday evil that each of us hides within our souls? While you ponder that philosophical question, check out the winning essay in our "Portland's Worst Person" contest, as well as the runners-up, who will each get a nice consolation prize. (Well, nicer than they deserve, anyway.) Take it away, terrible people!]


How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?

by RetailHell666

I came to Portland and landed a high-profile, extremely well-paid job running a multimillion-dollar business. I worked hard and sacrificed everything for this company. My salary jumped, as well as my official title and responsibilities. The business I worked for has stores in over 37 countries, a net worth in the billions, is shopped at by most women, and fiercely loved by those who do. Over the years I was with this company, I slowly began to understand the term "evil corporation." I also became a part of what made it so greedy and heartless.

We were encouraged to hire young kids who'd never had a job before. They said it was because people with no work history were the best to mold to our unique business model. It was actually so that the company could bully them, bend rights and regulations... knowing full well that these kids wouldn't know any better and would be less likely to sue. For a long while I was able to appease corporate, while making the best working conditions I could for my staff. That's how I slept at night.

Then one of my sales associates got pregnant. She was 18 years old, the dad dropped her, and her religious family cut her off. She was scared, but comforted knowing she had a full-time job with the company. She let me know she intended to work as long as she could. I promised I would accommodate her in any way possible. I'll call her Maria. She was about six months into her pregnancy when my scheduled routine visit from the corporate bigwigs occurred. They did their usual two-day audit of all operations, personnel, and costs. Two days later, my district manager had a meeting with me. She told me I had to "get Maria out of here."

I said I didn't understand. Maria was not the smartest, but she was a hard worker. She was reliable and customers seemed to like her. There was no reason for her job to be in jeopardy.

"Keeping Maria isn't cost effective and she's a financial liability. You are to write her up, file enough documents about her performance to human resources, and then fire her."

I understood what she was saying. I was to fire Maria because the company didn't want to pay benefits for the birth of her baby.

At first, I didn't do it. After a week, I got a phone call. I was told if those documents didn't start coming in, my district manager would start filing them on me. I stalled another week, and an official document against me was filed. Something completely made up. It was résumé suicide. I got scared. I filed approximately seven documents on Maria and fired her. She didn't deserve any of them, and she was seven months pregnant.

I am a fucking coward.


  • Andrea Tsurumi

The Worst Thing You Can Do

by Bad PDX Mama

The worst thing you can do is take something that's not yours. If the 10 Commandments can be reduced to just one thing, it's that stealing is wrong—whether it's a piece of candy from Plaid Pantry or someone's main squeeze.

I steal from stores all the time... locally owned ones, too (those with all their green practices and PC ethics—the ones I tell everyone I believe in). I also steal from the co-ops I belong to. (Could be borrowing... but, since I never return it, it's not.) I use my menopausal invisibility to fill up the cart and head on out. The risk of getting caught is my adrenaline thrill and I've never been arrested.

But my theft isn't limited to stores. I take things from neighbors and folks I really like. I don't just borrow stuff without returning it (which I'm also guilty of); I take things from their yards and homes. I know several alarm codes, given to me in trust before their vacations, and after feeding the kitties and watering the plants, I peruse their medicine cabinet for anything fun (including flatware, food, and alcohol). Sometimes, I dig up their plants and replant them in my backyard.

But my sins don't stop there.

Have you ever driven while inhaling from a can of compressed air? In a school zone while the kids are leaving? I didn't forget to pick up my kids; I just decided not to. After all, I don't want to endanger the lives of my children, just those of other people's. Then, I "parked" the car in the bushes after running over a neighbor's big green bin and dragging it down the street. I didn't get in trouble because I lied about it. I'm a really talented fabricator and some of my lies are glittering works of fiction. I lie to my kids, neighbors, friends, family, and pretty much the entire community about anything and everything when the mood strikes me.

But the cherry on top is my two-faced attitude. I tell my children the world is harsh, but can be saved; encouraging them with platitudes about recycling, ethanol-powered vehicles, organic gardens, volunteering for things you believe in. But as for myself, I do none of these things—and in fact, I often do the opposite of what a normal person's moral compass would point to. I throw my trash into someone else's bin. I leave dogshit on lawns—the more manicured the better. I campaign for the school art tax, but refuse to pay it. I tell my daughter's teacher I'll chaperone an overnight trip, but bail at the last minute. No call, no notice—just a busload of students waiting for their adult, delaying the trip, ruining the schedule. (Did I mention I was responsible for the medication management?)

But what makes me really bad, truly awful—is that I'm complicit. I'm not ignorant Eve in Eden before the apple; I've ripped that pretty red globe from its branch, lapped up every juicy stolen bite, and smiled. Because at that moment, I knew the knowledge of evil... and thought it good. Stealing, lying to children, driving dangerously, avoiding responsibility, hypocrisy, and a severe lack of good deeds make me the "Worst Person in Portland." (Thank god I'm an atheist!)

  • Andrea Tsurumi

I, Landlord

by "Henry"

I'm an on-site landlord for a major property management group here in town, and have been running seven small (15-44 unit) buildings in Southeast for more than 15 years.  

I used to be really happy with my job. It was challenging sometimes, and I had to be creative with marketing promotions, unit turnover, advertising—all that crap. But it was a fun job and kept me occupied and relatively happy. 

Then things changed. I got bored, basically. Every Craigslist ad I posted advertising an open studio apartment got 50 phone calls in the first hour—and my job became pretty much meaningless. A monkey could lease out an apartment in this town. I lost all interest in apartment management, and life in general. It was affecting my family life and soon I sank into depression. 

Sometimes people are born the worst, and sometimes people have worstness thrust upon them. I think I'm more of the latter. 

So I decided to make my job interesting. This was right around the time when housing discrimination was becoming an issue, so I wanted to see what I could get away with. At worst, I'd get fired. At best, I could get my life back. 

At first, it was pretty harmless: If a top-floor apartment at a certain building came vacant, I'd only rent it to someone from Minnesota. And—sure enough—I felt better about my life when the top floor of that building was mini-Minneapolis. 

My next target was transgender people. Portland being what it is and the rental market being what it is, I filled up the entire east wing of a building on SE Stark with transfolk in less than three months. I could feel my depression being whittled away.

In 2012, I got cocky and tried to populate a small apartment complex on Burnside with only black people. And 11 out of 19 units ain't bad if you consider Portland's demographic.

But this is why I might be the worst person in Portland: Last December I decided to fill up an entire building with women who were under 5' 6" with short brown hair, bangs, and glasses. I had to give out a few evictions, but here I am—less than seven months later—with a 21-unit walk-up in SE completely inhabited by clones of my high school girlfriend. And I've never felt better!   

I know I'll get caught someday, and probably deserve it. I'm willing to screw with people's lives for my own mental well-being... and that can't last forever.

  • Andrea Tsurumi

My Heart Is Full of Gratitude

by One-Percent Millennial

I remember a time before food carts, the indoor smoking ban, and before the first Whole Foods Market opened in Portland. Yes, I'm a native Portlander, and I'm happy to see our creative city thriving with rich newcomers.

The metro area employment rate was dismal when I graduated from my top-25 liberal arts college, but thanks to parental connections I landed a great starter tech job. While working hard and prioritizing long-term goals in my early career, I was able to afford a dream car and move from an efficiency apartment in Tigard to homeownership of a nice one-bedroom in the Pearl District.

A few years later, a hot date with a hedge fund manager from NYC developed into a serious relationship. My long-distance partner decided to retire from the stressful Manhattan lifestyle and move to Portland. We both care deeply about climate change and sustainability, so when the time came to move into a bigger condo together, we found a perfect two-bedroom in a contemporary high-rise with LEED credentials, high-end appliances, and floor-to-ceiling windows.

On a typical weekday, I bike to work in the Central Eastside. It's a rough part of town, but I feel safer now that the urine-soaked tent camps have mostly moved away from the business district. Tech startups are thriving in this neighborhood, and I have a busy morning of crushing code ahead.

I return to the Pearl for lunch with my partner, and then we decide whether to drive the S2000 or the Boxster to our afternoon CrossFit session. Fitness is a central component of my health goals. After working through the IT rat race, I've learned how important it is to take time during the day to go outside, away from computer and phone screens. Downshifting, in life as well as the six-speed supercar, allows me to maintain optimal traction and enjoy the ride.

Post-workout, we might sip craft brews while dining on ethically sourced sushi, or get vegan dolmas from the Mediterranean deli to share with friends over a bottle of Cabernet Franc from our wine club. You won't find me standing in line for fancy ice cream; I disapprove of waiting for things, and also obesity.

My heart is full of gratitude to the hardworking people who have come to Portland following their dreams. So thank you: I'm so happy you're here, increasing the value of my investment property.

Why I'm the Worst Person in Portland

by Live Through That

I have a large, poorly rendered tattoo across my back. Of Courtney Love.