Since childhood most of us are taught that the number 13 is a harbinger of bad luck. Many old buildings skipped the 13th floor when they were built; one place I worked at built the floor but closed it off and bricked in the windows.
Probably the most notorious superstitious use of the number 13 is Friday the 13th. Whether you cater to this belief or not, it’s still as good a reason as any to take advantage of the end of the week to reminisce about unlucky (or lucky), funny, strange, unusual, or just plain creepy work stories. So, without further ado, here’s a few ancedotes to get you started:
- “The CEO of one of the agencies I worked for had meetings every week at 9am — and always had a bottle of wine at each one.”
- “While working at the Los Angeles Times as well as other smaller newspapers I experienced numerous cases of rain induced office flooding. Whenever the forecast called for rain we would pull out the plastic sheeting and trash cans (used to funnel water into). Many a computer and project were lost.”
- “An infamous user called to say, ‘My laptop is dead because my cat spilled soda on the machine while it was turned on.’ When the machine arrived for repair, the keyboard keys were melted together. When asked what caused that level of damage the user stated that a hairdryer was used to clean up the soda but that s/he had forgotten it was on for several hours and by the time the user remembered it was too late.”
- “Once a coworker on the 3rd shift tech support was so mad at our boss that he left a little yellow rain notice that he quit on her desk the next morning.”
- “One Christmas everyone was on vacation but two of us, and two trolleys of marketing material came in for one of our coworkers. We walled his cubical in with the boxes.”
- “I used to work at a vet clinic that also had a pet store. Someone’s adorable child decided to let all of the iguanas out of their cages one day while our clients were dropping off and picking their dogs up.”
- “I’ve been locked in the elevator when the lights have gone out (I clung in fear to the closest co-worker — thankfully she was an understanding co-worker and didn’t mind), the lights used to go out right at 8 p.m. (I’m deathly afraid of the dark, so you can only imagine my response), I have fallen down the small hill in the parking lot MULTIPLE times, and locked myself out of the building.”
And my personal favorite:
- “As a manager presenting workshops and activities for my team, I had this glorified image in my mind of how I could inspire my team to greatness. Halfway through my self-proclaimed Oscar-worthy performance, I started to notice that those seated began making tortured faces; their eyes darting indiscriminately across the room. Not exactly clear on what may be going on, I made a point to begin walking around in order to recapture their attention. Bad idea… Now I’m not exactly sure what I expected was going on, but I was not wholly prepared for the nose hair burning mushroom cloud I stumbled into along the way. Let it be known that although I realize that flatulence is a natural body function and is often regarded with great humor, this was a weapon of mass destruction. “Silent but deadly” was a gross understatement as whatever this was could have killed a donkey.Not wanting to embarrass anyone and not exactly sure what to say (“What are you people eating?!”), I did what any professional would do — I ignored the problem through teary eyes. The only issue with that strategy was that it happened every single time I presented for weeks after. I did everything I could think of. I hid room deodorizing spray under the table and discreetly pulled the trigger when another shock wave rolled in. I even tried to be the martyr and sniff out the root of the problem to no avail.
Soon enough it became too obvious that this “situation” was bigger than me, so I sought outside guidance for a plan of attack. I took a long, hard look in the mirror and told myself that if I can’t put a lid on this, the terrorists win. And I gave another speech. I employed my best oratory skills and addressed the problem head on. When I took the job, I never imagined I’d give a speech about that, but a part of me thinks they were inspired to greatness that day. Regardless, I only wanted two things to happen: 1. that it never happens again, and 2. that they didn’t think it was me. “
Feel free to share any unusual or funny stories that happened to you over the years, and look for more stories in the future!