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This is a question Stupid Colleagues

Godwin's Lawyer tells us: "I once worked with a lad who believed 'Frankenstein' was based on a true story, and that the book was written by Shirley Bassey." Tell us about your workplace dopes.

(, Thu 3 Mar 2011, 15:34)
Pages: Latest, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, ... 1

This question is now closed.

That Office Moron? I am He.
From the dark dingy depths of IT support, a young wax chewer had moved into a new, shiny department. A high profile area, in a high profile bank. Surrounded by intimidating keen-eyed people, corporate and thrusting. People who never left the office, even when they hand gone home. Investment bankers were wont to stalk through the gleaming open plan office, doubtless looking for their missing 'W'.

It would be easy to fade into the background in such an arena, and I'm a chronic fader. I decided I needed a shtick, just like all those Succeed in Business books suggest - a banner to proclaim that I was not just a suit - dedicated, but still possessing humour.

A prior colleague had had two little wooden manikins that he would put into different karate poses each week - even people who didn't know his name would call him The Karate Guy. I would shamelessly copy this idea - my mother had bought me a stress ball thingy as a little gift - a googly-eyed rubber ball that could be moulded into different face shapes. I would make this my 'thing'. I'd have a different face each week.

I also didn't read the packet my stress ball came in.

A few weeks, I was reading some dull report, and idly stretching my stress ball out wide, to give it two huge cheeks. And it broke. Or maybe I should say 'erupted'. It was not filled with gel; it was filled with flour. FLOUR.

I sat rigid in shock as a mushroom cloud of flour enveloped me at my desk, the broken rubber flinging some non- aerial clods of flour as dusty doodlebugs, spinning spectacularly across the office.

A packed, open plan office.

I had to stand there, red-faced, and be hoovered clean by the sniggering Puerto-Rican cleaners. I emitted clouds of dust whenever I sat down. My training partner still wets himself whenever he hears the word 'flour'.

I am known as 'the flour guy'.

Yes, of course there were photos. Damn camera phones. No, you can fuck right off.

To compound it all, when I had escaped the scene of my humiliation, I dumped my clothes on the bathroom floor and jumped straight in the shower. You know what you get when you mix flour and water? Oh, you do? Well, thats probably why your clothes weren't glued to the floor with cheap gooey paste, you smart-alec.
(, Mon 7 Mar 2011, 16:05, 17 replies)
Hostile Takeover
OK - there's a bit of backstory to this. I used to be the managing director of a company. (The actual owners had a very hands-off role.) This company was pretty big, but it had been bigger - huge - in the past. At some point, long before I arrived, it had had a range of subsidiary companies, most of which it had got rid of. As my company shrank, one of these ex-subsidiaries grew, to the extent that it was now the biggest in the market by quite some way, and would frequently contract work out to us. Let's call this other company "Company 1", and mine "Company 2".

Got that? Right. The CEO of Company 1, whom I'll call G, had a long-running dispute with the guy who ran what I'll call Company 3 - a guy called S - and was on the lookout for any way to fuck him over. And, eventually, the opportunity arose. G needed my help with some of the details, but basically, the idea was to launch a hostile bid against Company 3, force S out, fill the board with G's own guys, and control that part of the market like an aggressive toad in a garden pond.

My board didn't much like the idea, but I could see some sense in it; and I thought that it'd be an easy way for us to mop up some of the leftovers from G's little enterprise. Through sheer force of personality (and, I have to admit, a few white lies), I managed to get enough support to force the contract with Company 1 through. We were ready to go.

Unfortunately, I hadn't banked on G being such a monumental chimp. Though he launched takeover proceedings with brutal efficiency, it turned out that he hadn't done due diligence - and had taken business advice from people who were, frankly, crooks. (This made things hard for me; I've had to tell a few more white lies since...) Not only that, but the management team he parachuted in was woefully underprepared. Finally, though he sacked almost all the guys from Company 3 pretty quickly, he forgot to ensure that they no longer had access to Company 3's resources: a good number of them simply filled vans with company equipment and vanished into the willing arms of other competing organisations. They were angry with us, and determined to undermine our increasingly-rickety enterprise at any opportunity. There was quite a lot of blood on the carpet.

The whole thing was, frankly, a very expensive disaster.

G lost his job in 2008, and is now a farmer of some sort. Company 3 remains a mess, and probably will be for a while yet. As for me? Well, I'm working freelance as a consultant, and on a much better wage. Get in!

Your pal
(, Tue 8 Mar 2011, 14:23, 11 replies)
Airhole A-hole...
Barney was a decent, nice-but-dim sort of guy - but also stupidly gullible and stupidly... well... stupid.

One afternoon were talking about whales (as you do) and he seemed quite suspicious when I told him they weren't fish and they breathed air.

- "Ok then, so how to they breath underwater water?" He asked bluntly.
- "You know when they come up to the surface and squirt water in the air? Well that's them breathing out." I said, as uncondescending as I could.

He looked at me like I was an idiot, then started laughing in my face.
- "That's not breathing!" He laughed. "That's them FARTING. Their bums are on the top and they come up to fart! Didn't you even know that!?"
- "Um... I'm pretty sure they're breathing." I replied, slightly stunned by this new information.
- "Think about it..." He added slowly, so I'd understand, "... if they didn't come to the top when they farted, their arseholes would fill up with water and they'd sink."
(, Mon 7 Mar 2011, 13:36, 7 replies)
We once sent a colleague out for some tartan paint!
But he had the last laugh, as he returned with some paint... and a PROSTITUTE!!

We all laughed, including the prostitute.
(, Fri 4 Mar 2011, 13:35, 4 replies)
Karate! James! Kidnap! Oblivion!
One of my former colleagues was the proud owner of a two foot tall James Brown model which he kept perched upon the edge of his desk. Unfortunately he was in the habit of pressing a little button that would cause James to scream, then launch into a colossally loud rendition of 'I Feel Good'. This was irritating, particularly as it was something that cost me money. I work selling ad space to directors of major companies across the globe. It is vital to come across on the phone as professional and knowledgeable, while being persuasive and approachable. This requires concentration. Neither the appearance of professionalism nor concentration is aided by a loud toy being activated behind you. The issue was raised, requests for James to remain silent during sales hours were ignored, and his singing became more regular, just to annoy everyone.

Clearly something needed to be done. As much as I wanted to throw James from a window, I didn't. I nicked him instead.

I had planned to hide James for a day or two before returning him to his owner with a note requesting future silence. However, I went to the pub in the meantime and as so often happens, things got a little out of hand.

A livejournal account was set up (As this is 5+ years back the exact name used escapes me, something like where's james, I think). A hotmail account was set up, and an email was sent to his owner, from James, explaining that he was fed up of being disliked by his owner's colleagues and he was going away for a while. This was reproduced online and was accompanied by a photo of James with a suitcase, standing at a taxi rank. The owner hit the roof, and over the next three weeks went straight through it. This was because James kept posting pictures and blogs detailing his adventures. By this point the whole company was reading the blogs and were thoroughly enjoying the owner's discomfort. Whilst very angry, however, James' owner was also suppressing his amusement. Had someone else been the victim he would have been enjoying it immensely.during these few weeks, James was photographed in bars and clubs, with drinks, cigarettes and the odd line in the toilet. He had kisses from girls documented, and then we got ambitious. Postcards arrived from across Europe and images of him at customs and on a plane were posted, as my friends got involved.

Then I ran out of ideas for adventures. However, I was enjoying the peace and quiet and wasn't ready to return him. So things took a turn for the sinister as James was kidnapped..

A letter arrived with James' owner a few days later, with each letter cut from a newspaper or magazine in the time-honoured style. Ransom demands were made (assorted foolish tasks, for instance, wearing his shirt inside out, odd shoes etc). These ransom demands were not met, so I was left with no alternative but to carry out my threats of mutilating James. I bought a duplicate doll (£40!!!!!) and every couple of days a hand, or limb, or nose would arrive with the owner, all sent by recorded delivery. His anger and frustration boiled over. Threats of violent retribution were made, complaints to the MD were made, and laughed out of the office, and finally the owner promised that if he got him back, he'd keep James quiet.

Another recorded delivery letter arrived the next day, containing a cryptic clue; the first of several in a treasure hunt leading to James, the whole, undamaged, unblemished James. On finding him, his owner shed a little tear of joy, placed him back on the desk and kept him mercifully silent during working hours.

As a post-script, James died soon afterwards. I left the company about a month after returning James. A week after this, the owner returned to his old ways and another colleague karate kicked James into oblivion.

RIP James
(, Thu 3 Mar 2011, 15:46, 3 replies)
I am a stupid colleague
We've got this new internet conferencing thing, and i called into a meeting yesterday from my laptop with some people in the states.

In the bottom corner I could see 4 squares; three of them were black, and in the fourth there was a video of a person's head. He was picking his nose. I thought "oh my God does he realise everyone can see him?! He's not going to, is he, surely not.... omfg he did, he ate it!!"

Then i realised that person was me.
(, Fri 4 Mar 2011, 14:22, 1 reply)
Dear Japanese Coworkers,
This is a memorandum to remind those who wish to write English business correspondence to offshore programming teams that the opposite of the English word "increment" is not "excrement". Please make a note of it.

Thanks awfully,
(, Wed 9 Mar 2011, 1:58, 13 replies)
Who let the bunnies out?
The receptionist had just been away for a romantic weekend in a log cabin in the New Forest with her boyfriend, but returned concerned and angered. "They were just running around everywhere, on the road and everything" she complained, oblivious to the howls of laughter around her. "You'd think people would take more care of their rabbits."
She couldn't get her head round the concept of wild rabbits once it was explained to her either. "How did they get there? What do they eat? Where do they go at night? IN A HOLE??? Shut up, don't be stupid, they would die."
I dread to think what would happen if she saw Watership Down, her head would probably explode.
(, Sun 6 Mar 2011, 11:27, 4 replies)
A colleague of mine was sent to attend a conference about some new cancer drug trial...
We asked him who the Keynote speaker was and he replied 'Some African guy'. It turns out that he had read the name 'John Charles MBioChem' and assumed that MBioChem was his surname, as it sounded 'kind of Nigerian' All this despite the fact that he was himself a 'Master' of BioChemistry and had exactly the same letters after his own name. He has since gone on to achieve a PhD and noone knows how.
(, Fri 4 Mar 2011, 11:31, Reply)
I work in court at the Old Bailey
A few months ago one of our ushers was about to bring a judge into the courtroom but had misplaced his door knocker. It was to his detriment that he decided to use the ill-advised substitute of a packet of Polos, which promptly exploded and showered down around them both like painful minty confetti.

Another time he accidentally fell asleep during a fairly tedious hearing. Upon waking he mistook a pause in breath for the end of the day and in his loudest and jolliest voice stood up and announced 'COURT RISE!' right in the middle of the judge's ruling.
(, Thu 3 Mar 2011, 22:57, 5 replies)
I like the stupids.
My favourite work place dope is this bloke. There’s hardly a day goes by when I don’t wish he was still my boss.


The most recent was a guy who arrived at work with a killer hangover. He soldiered on for the morning, then took himself off to the un-used parcel packing room for a crafty lunch time kip. He laid out a huge sheet of bubble wrap and rolled himself up into a massive sausage and fell asleep, and act of near genius.

The ‘near’ part of the genius being that he over-heated and further dehydrated himself to the point where he was found later in the afternoon in semi delirium and had to be carted off to the hospital. It’s now de rigueur to sneak up behind him and pop bubble wrap.
(, Thu 3 Mar 2011, 17:24, 1 reply)
I used to
work in a record shop with a guy called Dan. Obviously he wasn't happy with the pittance of a wage he used to recieve, so decided to start nicking shit. He got caught and was promptly known as Steely Dan from that day forward.
(, Tue 8 Mar 2011, 9:32, 10 replies)
I used to work in a call centre in a small Scottish town on the West Coast
Minimum wage job mixed with small town mentality meant I had loads of 'interesting' colleagues to keep me amused.

Many instances stick in the mind, but one in particular beggars belief. It involves L, one of those ditzy blonde kind of girls who always look slightly puzzled at everything, like a labrador being taught how to read.

Anyway, one day a few of us were out in the smoking shelter, whiling away the blessed minutes spent off the phone by committing slow suicide, when the discussion turned to the weird shit you can buy online. Someone mentioned that Christina Aguilera's bath water had been sold over ebay, and we were discussing how easy it would have been for the seller to rip someone off (I mean, it's not like you can test for this kind of thing) when L pipes up with, "Yeah, they probably just sent them some black guy's bath water"

Hands pause in the middle of lifting cigarettes to lips, and all eyes turn to L as we try to digest this.

"Uh...why a black guy, L?" I ask.

"Well, she wears a lot of fake tan, right? So, it would be better if it was a black guy..."

"Fake tan...L, you do know black people don't dissolve in water, right?"

L's look of slight puzzlement turns into outright confusion. "But fake tan comes off in water, so I just thought so would the blackness..."

The poor girl had went through life thinking that every time a black person takes a bath, they slowly dissolve.

(, Tue 8 Mar 2011, 22:42, 18 replies)
Working For A Canadian Telecoms Company

We had a global video-conference call with the Asia/Pacific team (all Ozzies), the Europeans (my team) and the Americas (all Yanks). We were doing the introductions when the boss introduced me.

"And this is Legless. He's from the North-East, near the Scottish border"

One of the Yanks chimed in:

"Scotland? I love Scotch whiskey! Could you bring me a couple of bottles over when you're next over here?"

"No problem" I said "But is it OK if I filter it through my kidneys first?"

Europeans and Ozzies cracked up. Americans look confused.

"Yeah - that would be fine. Just as long as it gets here."

(, Fri 4 Mar 2011, 11:09, 73 replies)
Turkish Delight
A long time ago I was working in a research unit at a prestigious British university while doing my PhD. We all used to use a single printer which involved saving your work on a floppy disk and walking over to the machine with the printer attached. One weekend I wired every PC in the lab to an automatic switch box and connected it to the printer.

Monday morning I send a print job from my machine at the other side of the room and the printer magically bursts into life. A young Turkish student who was visiting had his desk right next to the printer, he jumped up from his chair and wanted to know what was happening. I told him it worked by infra-red waves and he had to move out of the way so the signal could get through.

For six months everyone in the lab made the guy stand up and move every time anyone wanted to print something. People from all over the university used to come to watch this ...
(, Thu 3 Mar 2011, 20:53, 2 replies)
You know, I go to this place sometimes, it's like a public forum.
And whenever someone suggested the week's task, there was always a group of people that would stand at the back of the room, shaking their heads sadly. As the week went on, the suggestions were met with more derision, more scorn. But never once did the people in that group suggest something different, or try to make the most of what they saw as a bad situation. After all the years I went there, I always looked back and thought... wow. Those people kept showing up, year after year, just to shake their heads and complain? It's amazing how stupid some of these people can be.
(, Thu 3 Mar 2011, 16:55, 15 replies)
Fat Bastard
that I used to work with was recalling a holiday: "Whats that big rock, bottom of Spain, loads of monkeys...wassname...errr?' A few minutes of head scratching and intense thought passed. He rolled a ciggy, lit it and then suddenly blurted out

"Travolta!! Thats the fucker!"

He sat back in satisfaction while the rest of us shook our heads, walked away and tried not to collectively wee with laughter as soon as we were outside. We had previously managed to convince him that Sugar Diabetes was a welsh boxing legend.
(, Fri 4 Mar 2011, 8:57, 5 replies)
Thick and slightly racist
I know there will be a lot of IT related posts, but I still feel the need to share.

A woman I worked with in my last job was, without a doubt, the most useless person I've ever worked with, especially when it came to anything IT-related.

A couple of times a day, I had to show her how to print from Word "click on the icon that looks like a printer. no, left click. Click with your left mouse button. Look at your mouse, there's two buttons, press the left one. No on the icon that looks like a printer. No, not that one, THAT one! Now left click on OK. No, LEFT click..."

We had to password protect all our documents, because she couldn't grasp the difference between copy and paste and cut and paste. Or why she shouldn't save a document she had cut massive chunks out of.

One of our systems was designed to be used on touch screens, she never could work out why she couldn't use the touch screen functionality on her ordinary, non-touch screen monitor.

She couldn't work out emails. At all. She would reply half a doxen times to each email she got. Normally with blank emails, because she would click reply, then send - reasoning that she wanted to send a reply. When the email "disappeared, she would do it again.

She regularly had problems when she "ran out of mousemat" and couldn't get to the edge of the screen with her pointer.

A couple of times a day, she would panic about what she was doing and switch her PC off by holding down the power button. Then moan when she had lost what she was working on.

We were given encrypted pen-drives. She taped a post-it note to hers with her password written on it, preceded by "password:"

And her job? IT Trainer.

Her non-IT stupidity included: believing the binmen only work one day a week, since her bins were only collected on a Monday, claiming to be vegetarian but eating chicken and bacon, because they "don't count" and referring to a colleague as "coloured", despite me pointing out that the correct term would be "black" - her response was "black is a colour, isn't it?"

When I started there, she asked me where I was from, when I said "Liverpool", she said "you don't sound much like Cheryl Cole!"
(, Mon 7 Mar 2011, 11:29, 3 replies)
My first job out of sixth form (I only completed one year) was as a labourer for my uncle’s building company. It was only meant to be short term whilst I sorted myself out, but I ended up working for him for two and a half years. One of my fondest memories of my time working with my uncle was when he employed the local ‘weirdo’ for a couple of weeks to help with a particularly big extension we were building. Keith was his name, and before I go into the ‘stupid work colleagues’ part of my post, I’ll give a bit of background as to how I knew of Keith and the type of person he was.

When my group of friends and I were in our early teens, there was an 18 year old bloke that always used to be in the local park on his own, listening to heavy metal music loudly on his Walkman. Scary to look at, we avoided him as much as we possibly could. During one summer holiday break we got talking to him, and although he was quite strange, we would hang around with him despite protests from all of our parents. This man we were meant to be avoiding was Keith.
Keith was a loner, but he looked out for us once we’d ‘made friends’; giving us money he’d stolen from his mum so that we could buy multi-packs of Chewits and numerous packets of stickers for our sticker albums. He would let us try his cigarettes, and sometimes, if he was in a good mood, even give us a can of beer.

To say Keith was unhinged would be an understatement; I’d seen him flip out and go mental on numerous occasions; be it at someone who had told him to pick up his rubbish, or at one of us for taking the piss out of him too much. Despite this, we grew to like Keith, and a lot of the time made a concerted effort to laugh with him, rather than at him. Sometimes though, it was just too hard not to, for we witnessed some truly spectacular Keith events. In no particular order, these are some of the wonderful things Keith did during the time I knew him:

- After getting fed up with his life, he tried to hang himself from a tree in the park with his old school tie. When in the tree we begged him not to do it, but he jumped anyway. The tie snapped. A month later he tried the same thing with one of his dad’s ties and the same thing happened, the tie snapped again.
- We made a small bike ramp over an old tree stump which we were riding over. Keith came over and asked to have a go. After taking an almighty run up, he hit the ramp, crashed, and broke his collar bone.
- From my mate’s kitchen window, we saw Keith coughing and spluttering outside during a hail storm and called him over. He could barely talk and it looked like he was struggling to breathe. He then started rubbing his throat frantically and after about 30 seconds said, “Ahh, that’s better”. When we asked him what had happened, he told us that he’d swallowed a hail stone the size of a golf ball and it had been stuck in his throat, so he had to melt it by heating his larynx up.
- He had a (not serious, but rather ugly) cyst removed from on his face, between the top of his nose and the corner of his eye. The cyst was about the size of a malteser. It grew back, three times.
- When the resident of one of the houses that backed onto the park told Keith off for being too loud, Keith started trying to climb over the high wooden fence to get to him. When he realised that he couldn’t get over, he picked up his own bike and threw it into the man’s garden in a fit of rage. He never got it back.
- He actually had a girlfriend for a brief period, a large girl by the name of Sarah. Quite disgustingly, he would get his todger out, hold it between his thumb and forefinger, and then waggle it at her saying, “Come and have a play”.
- He would climb onto the church roof and sing heavy metal songs to the empty graveyard, as if he was in concert. He once did this on a Sunday morning, when a service was on. Inevitably, he got told off, but Keith responded in the only way he knew how to; by running into the church and shouting ‘GOD’s NOT REAL’ over and over again.
- We built a rather impressive base in the woods, complete with roof. We went back the next day to find that Keith had demolished the whole thing in a drunken rage, and taken a poo on top of the debris.
- When he got really angry, or when trying to impress the younger kids, Keith would see how many times he could wrap a swing around the top support pole in one push, and then walk away with his hands in the air, fingers pointing skywards, nodding his head enthusiastically.

There are plenty of other anecdotes I could mention, but, I’m rambling. My uncle offered Keith some work; he wasn’t a bad lad, just a bit ‘different’ shall we say, and we needed an extra pair of hands to help with knocking up cement, moving bricks etc. My uncle had got to know Keith through various conversations in the park when he walked his dog and felt a bit sorry for him if truth be told.
Now all of the following happened in one single day to Keith at work. He’d been doing the job for a few weeks, with a few minor incidents, and he did continue to work for my uncle afterwards, but never lived this day down.

First, I was helping Keith to dig a soak away (a two metre deep x metre x metre hole for rainwater to drain into). We were shovelling the mud into a small dumpster type vehicle and then once full, driving it to the skip to empty. Keith liked driving the dumpster, but upon returning to where I was digging, he got out to walk to me, lit a cigarette, and fell straight down the hole. This made me laugh, and when I looked down at him, he just looked up at me and said, ‘ I forgot we’d dug that’.
Then, after lunch, my uncle asked Keith to cut down a small tree that was in the way of where some foundations had to go. He (scarily) gave him a chainsaw and left him to it. He returned a while later to find Keith trying to cut down the tree with a chisel and hammer, explaining that he was a bit scared of the chainsaw. My uncle asked why he hadn’t used a handsaw, to which Keith responded, ‘it’s a bit sharp’. Stifling laughter, my uncle then moved him inside to help insulate a loft. First Keith somehow managed to get wedged in the loft hatch. When he finally got into the loft, he fell through the ceiling after missing the rafters. He was told to go home for the rest of the day, and try and chill out a bit.

Keith, what a hero.
(, Fri 4 Mar 2011, 14:15, 2 replies)
I once worked at a popular national sandwich chain.
I came into work one sunny summers day to find two of my colleagues peering into a paper cup. Intrigued, I inquired as to what they doing, whereupon they beckoned me over, and showed me what they were so fascinated with.

It was a single coffee bean, floating in hot water. They were waiting to see how long it would take to dissolve.
(, Thu 3 Mar 2011, 17:47, 4 replies)
My colleague was an hour late this morning....
"Oh, I'm sorry I'm late, but I got confused. I saw that it was 7:21 on Daybreak this morning, so I assumed that the clocks had gone back last night so I changed all mine and came in later. Turns out I'd been watching ITV +1..."
(, Tue 8 Mar 2011, 17:07, 1 reply)
One of my workmates
a late teens girl doing A-levels was doing a crossword. The question was, what is a female dog. She thought the answer was cat.
(, Fri 4 Mar 2011, 20:10, 3 replies)
big numpty prick
My missus was asked to run her eye over a friend-of-a-colleague's CV that wasn't getting much in the way of responses, despite plenty of experience. Turned out his previous position had been with the Banque Nationale de Paris, and said CV was littered with references to his previous work with the BNP.

Apparently, even when it was explained to him, he still didn't quite get it.
(, Sun 6 Mar 2011, 20:42, Reply)
That explains it
I knew Dan for a while anyway but we briefly worked together so he counts as a colleague.

In our late teen years, we were at another friend's parent's house (who were on hols for a week), enjoying the rare treat of being able to get shtoned in a nice living room with a big telly.

Flicking through the satellite channels, we came across a Robert Redford film dubbed into German. "I didn't know he could speak German!" says Dan. I looked at him with a grin, thinking he was being witty. He wasn't. Smirking like the little smartarse I was, I said "yeah, all major films are shot in multiple languages, so they can sell them overseas. They do the scene in English, then start again in French, German, Japanese and so on".

While the others supressed their giggles, Dan let this rattle around his vaguely canine mind for a few moments. Taking a deep toke, he held it in and treated us to "that's probably why films take so long to make then", before exhaling a large plume of smoke, nodding sagely and turning his little beady red eyes back to the screen.
(, Sun 6 Mar 2011, 12:25, 1 reply)
Has It Got Power?
A repost, but more on topic this time, I think.

Barry was an asshole. Everyone except Barry knew this, and only the fact that he was far senior to most of the shop kept him from general ridicule and rebuke. Our shop fixed medical equipment for a large hospital, and Barry had a habit of turning up at your shoulder asking the most insulting and basic questions:

Is it plugged in? Has it got power? Did you check the fuse?

After a safety inspection, we were all issued new lighting for our workbenches. However the lights came without switches or power plugs, having been designed for permanent installation on remote circuits with wall switches.

This didn't present a problem to us, we had plenty of plugs and switches. All of us wired up our new lights without difficulty - except Barry.

Barry managed to wire his switch so that it was a direct short. When he flipped the switch, the switch went up in smoke, the wires in the conduit rattled, and the circuit breaker for half the building tripped with a loud snap!

Cue the general cries of "Hey, Barry - Is it plugged in? Has it got power? Did you check the fuse?"

Too funny. Then we helpfully pointed out that he'd wired the switch backwards. He rewired a new switch, and this time he confidently called out: "Let there be Light" before he threw the switch and plunged us into darkness yet again.

We laughed so hard we all cried. Months later a call of "Let there be Light" would reduce us to a puddle of laughter.
(, Fri 4 Mar 2011, 18:56, 1 reply)
The coal mine
I used to love spending time with my granddad. I'd sit down in the lounge and listen in rapt attention as he regaled us children with the stories of his life. I recall a few of his stories were from his days working as the operations manager at the Witbank coal mine in what was then called the Transvaal in South Africa.

He said that the mines weren't as safe back then as they are now and accidents were more frequent. Injuries ranged from minor things like a cut finger to death. As the operations manager he was acutely aware what went on at his mine. One particular year he said the accident rate shot up dramatically. Mostly because they had a large influx of new personnel in an extended part of the mine they had opened up. In fact there were so many injuries that the authorities started to ask questions and when that happens heads can start to roll. If they start sniffing around they can and sometimes do shut the mine if they aren't happy. Then the unions got involved because they said safety standards at the mine were starting to slide and if they weren't improved then they would call a strike. The whole debacle was turning out to be quite nasty. By then the whole sorry mess was getting quite a bit of coverage in the local press and granddad was taking a lot of flack.

The cherry on the cake for his awful year was when granddad's mine was voted the worst mine to work at in South Africa by Mining Weekly, the industry rag. Grandma said she recalls the day he found this out because he stormed into the kitchen after work, threw down the paper and shouted "Who gives a fuck about these stupid coal leagues anyway!!".
(, Fri 4 Mar 2011, 15:59, 7 replies)
Dangerously daft...
Part of my previous job was renovating council properties. Part of this involved ripping up the kitchen and bathroom floors and installing a new surface. In order to do this to a decent standard (unlike the council's own workmen) the floor needed to be screeded. One morning as I was about to head off from base I was informed I was to take a young guy, fresh out of school, who had recently joined us on a kind of apprentiship and show him some basics. He'd been around for a few weeks already but I hadn't really talked to him or tried to get to know him because he was still in the grunting teenage caveman stage and I couldn't be bothered with it.
So I tried to be as friendly as possible, guessing that he must be very unsure of himself and a bag of nerves. I double checked the van's inventory with him, running through what we'd need for the job. Not a word of aknowledgement in return. It was going to be a stimulating journey for sure.
Anyway, we get on site. I start ripping up the old floor and ask him to set up the equipment we'll need outside. A couple of buckets, a mixer, extension lead and three bags of screed with liquid. Off he goes. Much effort and sweating later and I go outside for a breather and see how he's getting on. He's leaning up against the side of the van, smoking a cigarette.
'Van was locked' He grunted.
Exasperated, resisting temptation to be nasty or sarcastic I open the van for him, why he didn't just ask me for the keys I don't know. Anyway, I start setting things up, trying to instruct him on what to do and he moves at a snails pace, successfully dropping and splitting open a bag of screed. I can't make my mind up if he just doesn't want to be here, is completely disinterested or is just slow. Or all three. So to try and get him more involved I offer to let him mix the screed with the big industrial mixer (basically a very large, powerful whisk). After all, everyone likes messing around with power tools. So everything's plugged in and ready.
I pour the liquid latex in to the bucket and nod at him to prepare to start mixing while I see to the powder. Like anyone with a new mechanical toy, he gives it a few revs held in mid air...failing to comprehend that doing so whilst waving it in front of the power lead will result in the lead being caught between the two blades and getting cut...which is exactly what happens. The live end of the lead makes contact with the metal blades and a massive BANG rings out. Luckily the chassis and handles of the mixer were plastic. I jump back, having very nearly shat my pants, and quickly rush inside to isolate the power, rushing back out to see if he's alright.
He's stood over the bucket with the mixer, pressing the button.
'It's not working...' He grunts.

Definitely slow...
(, Fri 4 Mar 2011, 1:44, Reply)
Many years ago while working a temp job for the DSS
one of my fellow workers had a book in his hand as he arrived in the morning. One of those huge, oversized american horror-writer type books.

"Woah - that's a big book," exclaims one of the duller chaps in the office, "Have you read the whole thing?"

- "Well, no - I am about three quarters of the way through. I just read a bit on the bus every day."

"But, it's so big. How can you remember all the stuff from the beginning by the time you get to the end??"
(, Thu 3 Mar 2011, 22:52, 1 reply)

One of my workmates has rather a vague (but kind of endearing, really) grasp on English idiom and vernacular. His gems include:
"That guy's not the brightest button on the penny"
"Oh yes, the company's new vans are much faster. They shit like a shovel."
And, in reponse to someone who he wasn't sure was joking or not:
"Are you taking the giraffe?"
My other colleagues and I so look forward to his verbal creations that we almost forgive him for being fucking useless at his job. Almost.
(, Thu 3 Mar 2011, 18:57, 2 replies)

This question is now closed.

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