*I’ve protected everyone’s identity in these…
I love awkwardness and things that make you cringe. Awkwardness, doesn’t really hurt anyone.
Awkward situations at work are brilliant mainly because you have a ready made crowd or ‘audience’ in most cases; each member of staff add some value to an awkward situation by just being present.
I’ve had more than my fair share of jobs by now and have worked in many different situations with a wealth of brilliantly varied personalities. Approximately, I reckon you can spend nearly 1400 hours a year surrounded by the same old faces and hierarchies. I most cases, everyone will put their heads down and work, but with staff dos, budding friendships, behind-the-back-resentment and hey, the odd flings that can happen, an awkward situation is always so nicely, just around the corner.
Here are five of my all-time awkward situations I’ve experiences through work:
Drunk MD Hangs Off HR Woman and Breaks All The Rules
Technically, no rules were really broken. Technically, this happened on a staff do which was off premises.
At the start of the ‘do,’ at the office, the MD put a comforting arm around me and encouraged me with ‘if ever you have an idea, Bazz, just go for it.’ This was nice, because I’d barely spoken to him before. He has quite a presence about him, commanding yet gentle on the ear.
Within an hour of this pleasant exchange things changed. The normally strong figure was now crashing in to the walls of the offices and this was when everyone was heading to the pub.
At the pub, everyone around me went from, normal to either, crying or being involved in underlying, office based dramas which had all now surfaced with a fuel of real ales, alcopops and wine. I was sober. I had to drive home that night.
‘Give us a song, Bazz!’ screamed the MD, now being propped up by the HR lady of all people.
‘Yeah… I’m not gonna do that’ I smiled back.
He then grabbed my cheeks and said ‘I wanna rugby tackle you.’
I’m not quite sure why he would have wanted to do that but I know it was some form of ‘macho’ affection thing. I just so happened to be standing next to a younger colleague who had a more junior role than I.
‘We’re giving you a promotion.’ He slurred in her face. At this point, the HR lady reigned him in, literally, physically whipped him back like an unruly horse.
That’s when she reigned him in… Not the declaration of the desire throw himself horizontally through the air with the sole intention of bringing down a colleague… No… it was telling my colleague she was getting a promotion.
A promotion I’m pretty sure she still hasn’t been given yet and if she has, it was a very long time coming.
MD Physically Attacked by Neighbour who Loses Shoe in the Process
Working in an office which was really the back room of a house… that other non-members of staff lived in was always going to be a challenge.
Sure, the room was kitted out with two computers, a phone line and a radio but as the MD once told me off for under-performing on a work task whilst wearing his dressing gown… it was very much a house.
It was very much a house with very real neighbours who for some reason, had it in for the MD and eventually the MD’s business partner who came to work and stay for a while whilst an almighty, revolutionary business plan was worked on. No sarcasm, what these guys didn’t know in their respective fields was not worth knowing.
I can’t remember how, but I had some what earned the respect of the grumpy old neighbour, I guess I have good rapport building skills and I took on board his complaints one day and reassured him that the noises he was hearing couldn’t have been my bosses and that I’d ‘have a word’ just in case. Every time I nipped to the corner shop and we saw each other, we exchanged a friendly ‘Hello.’
On one occasion when I nipped to the shop, I came back to what was a raging argument happening between the MD and the old neighbour. The old neighbour, quite a burly man, was accusing the MD of causing disruptive noises, which, the MD denied.
‘Are you calling me a liar?’ The Neighbour demanded to know.
‘Yeah you’re a liar, mate.’ Spat the MD.
So… I watched in absolute disbelief as the neighbour ploughed through the door frame, taking the MD with him into the lounge, scuffling all the way.
The MD, by no means a weakling, somehow, managed to flip the old boy over the couch who had now lost his show underneath said couch during the altercation.
I walked in and surveyed the sprawled men and the MD’s business partner brandishing a frying pan, I think he had also called the police.
‘Just stop’ I said.
‘I’m not going anywhere!’ the neighbour shouted at my MD after being informed the police were on their way.
‘Listen,’ I said reassuringly, ‘I understand you feel you have a right to complain, but if the police get here and you’re still here, it’s going to look worse on you.’
The old man thought for a beat and calmed down.
‘I’ll take that from you,’ he said respectfully and hobbled over to the couch to retrieve his missing shoe before exiting the house, he had gone from trusty grandfather type, to bull in a china shop, to granddad within a mad 5 minutes.
Nobody ever figured out what noises who could hear to get so wound up.
Funny Posters of Colleague Backfire When He is Fired
We’d been out at the weekend. I’d taken pictures of him playing on one of those dance games in an arcade which makes you dance on it like an idiot and we all had a good time.
For some reason, as I made it in early to work on the Monday, I thought it would be funny to print the ‘offending’ posters out and stick them at intermittent points along the journey my colleague, who worked a couple of desks away but in a different department, would take to his desk.
What I didn’t know was that my colleague was being ‘let go’ on this particular morning and his boss was just waiting for him to get in.
As he got to his desk I waited with baited breath to gauge his reaction to the ‘oh so funny’ photos of him I’d plastered to the walls.
His dismissal was quick and as I watched him clear his desk out, I subtly, crept around, gently removing the photos I’d put up.
The last one was near his desk and as I peeled it off, noticed he was getting agitated with his now former boss.
He was my mate and I didn’t want him to lose any more pride and in a very real show of solidarity made a point of stating I will walk out of the building with him to prevent a security escort and proceeded to walk side by side with him out of what now seemed the longest office in the world.
The problem about where we worked, is the social life was, if you were in the general demographic of 18-40, really good. Getting fired from that environment meant you lost such a great set of people to work with. He was part of the very vibrant sales team
As we made our way through reception, my now broken friend had tears in his eyes.
‘You’ll be ok’ I said, trying to comfort him.
Before we parted ways he asked, in desperation to remain part of the community he loved:
‘Can you put my name forward for the job going in the post room, please?’
‘Millionaire’ MDs Leave Us with Bar Bill
We knew, and we got it, the MDs were ‘self-made’ millionaires and as such, would either try and brain wash people into becoming the same or tell us stuff like ‘I have 60 shirts, when I’ve worn them all I dry clean them all and start again, of course, you guys wouldn’t do that because…’ Because what? We’re not millionaires? We know how to work a washing machine and an iron?
I hated working this job and I found the millionaires laughable in their desperate attempt to condition us all; Getting us to learn and recite the company values, telling us how to dress and expecting us to be on call 24/7.
For the record I’d skim read the values before every meeting and hope I may be called on first so I could say a word someone else hadn’t said.
I once just said the word ‘cheese’ when I couldn’t think of anything. That didn’t go down well. This wasn’t me being immature. This was me showing contempt… by being immature.
I also didn’t conform to the style of shirt required, mainly because… I’m an adult and unless there was a uniform provided… one of the MDs tried to give me one of his shirts… I politely declined, adding, ‘I don’t want to be labelled as your bitch…’ That didn’t go down well.
I was expected to be on call over the weekend and received a call which I missed because I was at a family wedding. That didn’t go down well.
Every Friday we were expected… forced… to go to the pub before the end of the day, whether we wanted to or not.
On one particular occasion, a whole round of drinks was ordered and naturally, we thought one of the two millionaires, who ordered us there, would dip into their savings and pay the bill. Why wouldn’t we think that? We didn’t really want to be there. You can’t make someone go to the pub and then expect them to buy drinks when they had no other choice.
The men-child MDs eventually left before everyone on this occasion and slowly, everyone filtered out after them.
One of them left in their weirdly, shared Ferrari, which was among their visual key success factors.
Why not just brand a normal car with your logo..?
So as me and my closest colleague finished our drinks and began leaving the barman shouted over, ‘You’ve still got to pay your bill.’
By that time on a Friday, no one was in the office and pretty much at home. My colleague reluctantly paid the bill whilst I embarrassingly had to declare I didn’t have enough money to cover everyone’s drinks.
We never went back to a Friday drink again.
Swearing Banter Reduces Line Manager to Tears
Sometimes the humour backfires.
I’ve spent my whole life trying for the laugh or the smile and sometimes, it really does backfire.
I’m a surrealist at best and at worst, I like to say things close to the bone or so ludicrous it can’t be true but could be…
My male colleague and I spent good portions of our days alone in one part of the building. We were free to talk about anything and the language, naturally, would get a bit… well we’d swear a lot without having to pay attention to our surroundings.
We share a love of catchphrases and speaking in the American accents of the fictional characters we loved, simply because it amuses us. So on one particular day, when the line manager was with us, in our sweary safe haven, we… OK, I… decided to include him in our banter.
The banter, I have no idea why, was stating, ‘Hey, f*** you, man!’ in the style of a movie gangster as a term of affection.
‘Hey, f*** you, man!’ I bellowed at my colleague. He retorted in kind.
‘Hey!’ I was now staring the Line Manager in the face, ‘F*** YOU, MAN!’
Just as lunch started, the Line Manager found me on my own.
‘Bazz, if you swear at me one more time, I’m going to have to issue you with an official warning.’
‘Huh? Are you serious?’ I replied. Blokes call each other foul names as ‘banter’ all the time. I had, previously, been called a Bastard by the same Line Manager in faux jealousy when I told him I’d secured good seats at the next Jay-Z gig. I didn’t take it as offence, I took it in the spirit it was intended.
It was here that I noticed, his eyes were filled with tears.
‘You know what I have to go through with the others.’ He was right. Everyone disliked him and he knew it. The trouble was, he failed to endear himself to anyone to overturn it, which was his prerogative and I guess, you don’t have to be part of the ‘hipster crowd’ at work.
‘I’m sorry’ I said, slightly bemused. I followed it up with an official apology by email, stating that I was attempting to include him in the banter as opposed to be disrespectful.
I had judged the scenario and got it wrong. I added that I didn’t realise he was so sensitive to foul language.
He didn’t respond.
I mean that affectionately.