The working world is always full of odd folks doing strange things while on the job. Spend a week in any office where you’re surrounded by cubicles, and you’ll quickly realize how strange people can be. While your co-worker clipping his toenails at his desk might not be newsworthy, sometimes weird workplace incidents do make the news. Although nothing was quite as scandalous as 2011’s Anthony Weiner Twitter debacle, this year’s stories were no less strange or noteworthy.
Here are the weirdest work stories of 2012:
“GSA chief resigns amid reports of excessive spending”
Why it’s weird: A government employee (the chief of General Services Administration) threw a conference on the Las Vegas strip and hired a clown and a mind reader — all paid for by taxpayers. That’s not including the reception that cost nearly $32,000.
Source: The Washington Post
“Lynnae Williams: The CIA spy who Tweets”
Why it’s weird: Gone are the days when a disgruntled worker would vent about her old boss over a few drinks at the corner bar. In today’s digital world, a former CIA trainee can decide to air her grievances with the notably secretive agency by posting somewhat sensitive information on Twitter. Williams also decided the 140 characters of Twitter weren’t enough space to blow off steam, so she started a blog devoted to her CIA gripes.
Source: The Daily Beast
“At U.S. State Department, kids get sex scandal primer”
Why it’s weird: Like many proud parents around the country, federal employees and Capitol Hill reporters took their children to work for April’s “Bring Your Child to Work Day.” Although the State Department’s spokesperson, Victoria Nuland, began her daily briefing with a warm welcome to all the children in attendance, she still had a job to do, and so did the reporters. Eventually the conversation turned to the ongoing controversy about whether Secret Service officers hired prostitutes while working in El Salvador.
“This week in Internet outrage: 22-year-old ripped apart for having a job, I guess”
Why it’s weird: A 22-year-old recent college graduate lamented the fact that she had a steady, well-paying job shortly after entering the proverbial Real World. She had romanticized dreams of living in New York City as a struggling writer barely scraping by. Instead, she was offered a lucrative job many graduates would dream of and was bummed she didn’t get to worry about living paycheck to paycheck. So she wrote about it on The Huffington Post. As you can imagine given today’s economy, readers were not amused, and they let her know.
Source: Thought Catalog
“Cleaning from cubicle to cubicle”
Why it’s weird: Water-cooler talk and happy hours have been replaced in some workplaces with group cleanses. Co-workers are bonding by going on liquid diets together. Apparently team building now involves discussing your digestive system at the office.
Source: The New York Times
“Unemployed profs write essays for cash”
Why it’s weird: In most schools, academic dishonesty is grounds for discipline and possibly even expulsion. Yet, some unemployed Canadian professors are making ends meet by writing academic papers for students. What’s even stranger is that the professors are the ones bidding on the writing assignments and hoping students pick them.
Source: United Press International
“NASCAR driver fined $25,000 for Tweeting from car during race”
Why it’s weird: By now everyone should know not to get on their smartphones while behind the wheel of a car. That’s especially true if you’re a famous driver with thousands of followers. It’s not a debatable topic when you’re in a race car on a track filled with other motorists. And even if you’re sitting in a stopped car on the track while the crew handles an accident, you shouldn’t tweet a photo of the burning car with the caption, “Fire!”
“Anderson Cooper goes blind for 36 hours, keeps being charming”
Why it’s weird: Apparently we should all be scared of sunlight. When “60 Minutes” reporter Anderson Cooper was on assignment in Portugal, he made the seemingly innocent mistake of not wearing sunglasses. After hours of sunlight reflecting off of nearby water, Cooper went temporarily blind for 36 hours. Luckily he regained his vision and was able to keep tweeting.
Don’t think the working world is only full of strange people and happenings. For a bonus, here are three stories that prove genuinely good people still exist in this world:
“N.J. woman swam from home to get to ER job after Sandy”
Why it’s noteworthy: Marsha Hedgepeth, an ER technician in New Jersey, didn’t let the flooding water of torrential storm Sandy stop her from going to work. She instead swam for a half hour to get from her home to the hospital she works at to help her co-workers and patients in need. As USA Today reporter Dustin Racioppi notes, her aquatic journey was approximately the length of two football fields.
Source: USA Today
“A thankful Bemidji grocer shares his success with his employees”
Why it’s noteworthy: In a rough economy where workers are worried about losing their jobs due to downsizing or mergers, one Minnesota business owner decided to prioritize his employees over his wallet. Rather than sell the business to the highest bidder or close up shop, the owner is letting his employees take charge. As Larry Oakes writers, “On Jan. 1, Lueken’s Village Foods, with two supermarkets in Bemidji and another in Wahpeton, N.D., will begin transferring ownership to its approximately 400 employees through an Employee Stock Ownership Program (ESOP).” Not only are his employees now co-owners, but they don’t have to pay for their stakes in the company. Not to mention they’re still employed.
Source: Star Tribune
“Family fulfills deceased man’s dying wish: Purchase a pizza and give the server a $500 tip”
Why it’s noteworthy: When Aaron Lewis died, he left behind one special request: Order a pizza and then tip the server $500. So his family did just that and caught it all on film. Most waiters and waitresses worry patrons won’t leave them tips. This lucky waitress was fortune enough to benefit from Lewis’ wish for a random act of kindness. Plus, the Lewis family continued to accept donations and surprise workers with generous tips.