The Catalog Of Workplace HumiliationYesterday we told you the nightmarish story of NBC's pooping intern. It was perhaps the perfect embodiment of a mortifying day at work. But we asked you, our employed readers, for your own stories of humiliation on the job, and you obliged. We've picked the five best (worst), which are printed in order of increasing terror. After the jump, read why you should never touch scissors at a library, make fun of hobos, joke about speed, pass out on a plane, or try to catch your boss' towel: 1. The Case Of The Clean Scissors [The following is an email sent out to employees at a library]:
Hello [library], I just wanted to pass along a little reminder – not that anyone needs it – regarding our policy on offering the use of library scissors to the public (based on a little experience I had yesterday). In short, our poicy is: if a patron asks to use scissors, please tell them that they may use them only at the (Ref. or Circ.) Desk. Never, ever, ever let them take the scissors away from the Ref. or Circ. Desk. The importance of this policy came home to me yesterday: a man (one of our "regulars" – the fellow whom we've had to call the ambulance for several times recently) asked me if he could use the scissors, and I said he could use them only at the Desk. He asked me several times if he could take them for a few minutes, even offered to leave I.D., and I continued to say no. Finally, I asked him why he needed to take them with him, and it turned out that he wanted to go to the Men's room and cut the tip of a catheter bag that he was wearing so he could drain it. I told him no, we can't let him use our scissors for something that involves bodily functions, but that I would call the rescue squad to help him if he liked. He declined. I don't know what he did about his catheter bag. And, yes, in over 20 years of library work, this is a first for me. Thanks.
2. The Case Of The Non-Hobo
Just a couple of months ago this happened: I have Hodgkins Lymphoma and am undergoing chemotherapy treatments. I've been holding up really well and still work full time. However, a medication given to me in addition to chemo made me very suddenly ill out of nowhere. I held it together enough to call my brother to pick me up, since I knew I would throw up all over the el or a taxicab (I work at Michigan & Wacker in downtown Chicago.) My boss caught me leaving and in a very trying-to-be-helpful way insisted on waiting with me on the corner for my brother to drive up. So, I'm standing there, with my very well-intentioned boss, trying to make conversation, until I said, "Excuse me" turned away, and vomited all over the sidewalk, right next to the entrance where tourists go for boat tours on the river. A boatload of tourists was coming up the stairs and were completely disgusted, naturally. I shouted, 'I'm not drunk, I have cancer! Repeat, I am not a hobo!" and continued to vomit. Then I had to stand next to my puddle with my boss, who was too embarassed/shocked to say anything or move, until my brother FINALLY pulled up and I jumped into his car. When I went back to work a couple of days later, my boss accidentally spilled some coffee on my desk, and I said, "don't worry, I've spilled worse in front of you!"
3. The Case Of The Unfair Race
i was an intern at a nonprofit art space in houston many, many years ago. during a fundraiser all the staff were wearing shirts with the name of the space, and an artist i barely knew came up to me and asked me where he could buy one. i told him they were not for sale, that you had to work at the place to get one, so he jokingly said "then i'm going to take yours." i blurted out "try and catch me!" which was when i remembered he had a prosthetic leg and walked on crutches. i immediately apologized. he was cool about it, but he was clearly not amused. i can still feel my face heat up when i remember the story.
[From commenter unutterable] 4. The Case Of The Xanax Fantasy
This is my favorite work story EVER. So, my friend gets a new job and on his first week has to fly from NY to Minneapolis for a mtg - and this guy hates to fly. So, he squeezes into his middle seat, pops a xanax and passes out. Next thing he knows he wakes himself up in a bit of a contorted position, almost moaning, and realizes he either had a wet dream at the age of 31, or indeed was jerking off in his sleep. His suit pants are a mess, his seat mates won't look at him and the flight attendants are hysterical. He can only surmise that his actions were, uh, obvious. One more hour in the flight, with turbulence, so no getting out of his seat to clean up. They land, and by this time his pants have dried, and we all know what that looks/feels like. He has to spend the rest of the day in crunchy stained pants with his briefcase in front of him. This happened 4 years ago - I cannot get on a plane without imagining this happening to every sleeping person I see.
[From commenter trustynails] 5. The Case Of The A-List Genitalia:
I used to work as the assistant to a very famous, award-winning A-list actor and his family. During my brief, but relatively long tenure (a marathon run in the celebrity assistant world), I experienced a number of awkward incidents. Some involved bodily fluids (delicious), some involved confusing his actor friends with other actors, which of course is a huge no-no (oh well, they were old)... But, I'll save those stories for my book. The most awkward experience I had while at the job, however, involved my fingers, the tits of my boss's mom, a towel, and a camera. Sound sexy and scandalous? It wasn't. It was as awkward as fucking shit, dude. It all happened one summer day, the last day of camp for my boss's boys. The actor in question wanted me to take some pictures of the boys to add to the warehouse of manufactured memories this busy dad keeps of his family. I obliged (duh). So, as I was waiting to go get the boys from camp, I heard my boss shout at me from his office. He needed to get me his precious camera and also wanted to be sure I understood how to use it. While waiting outside of his office, the door to which was slightly ajar, I decided to take a closer look at one of the paintings in the hall. One that hung right outside the door to his office. It was a gestural painting, line-based, of a woman. Think: Caveman-like. It was painted by my boss's deceased father, and the woman is presumably my boss's mother. Having been an art student, I was fascinated by the composition of the piece. I could easily tell by the strokes (heh, strokes) of the brush used that the artist began the image at the nipple of each breast. From that point, a line swirled around and created the breast and then went on to finish each side of the body, respectively. I was fascinated that the artist chose the breasts as the starting point, because artists usually draw people by beginning with the feature they find most important to the rendering an accurate image. Most will start with the head or the eyes if drawing a human, or will sketch the outline of a body or form. This guy started with the boobs. "What a fucking perv! How interesting!" I thought as I began to trace one of the breasts with my finger tips, just to get a sense of the artist's process (no really, I swear). And just as I was doing that, the door swung open, and there was my boss. He must have just been in the shower, because he was only in a towel. My fingers became paralyzed, hovering over the left teet of my boss's mom. Completely stunned, my boss dropped his camera, and as he reacted, his towel dropped as well. Being the genius that I naturally am, I decided to try and catch the towel, but I caught a lot more than that. And there I stood: My boss's junk in one hand and the painted breast of his mother at my fingertips. Mortifying.