I hate when people do this, so I apologize in advance. But I REALLY wish I could talk about what’s been going on at my job. The last two days have been a couple of the craziest ever. And I’m not talking about office politics, or boolshit like that. This is some real Very Special Episode stuff. But, I’ve probably said too much already.
Today I’d like to talk about our most memorable workdays ever. I know this might shock you, but I’m playing beat-the-clock again. So, I’ll briefly tell you about a couple of mine, and turn it over to you guys. Sound good? Good.
The Brogan necktie episode
When I worked at a super-shitty grocery store in Dunbar, WV many moons ago, there was a co-worker there named Brogan. He was a stocker like me and my friends, but was at least ten years older than us. He’d had a high-paying job at the Volkswagen plant, and lost it somehow. So, he was spiraling down, down, down.
Almost every night he’d go to a dump of a bar called Smiley’s, drink himself into oblivion, and have parking lot sex with 45 year old divorcees, and whatnot. Then he’d come to the store, park his customized van there, and pass out. When it was about 15 minutes before he was supposed to start working in the morning, one of us would have to go bang on the window of the van, and wake him up. A little while later he’d come dragging in with his hair pointing in every direction, and a strong smell of stale liquor following him around.
One day the managers told us we were going to have to start wearing neckties, and Brogan threw a fit. He told them he would never wear a tie, and they said he had two choices: wear one, or find another job.
So, he came in wearing a very fashionable tie the next morning, but no shirt. The managers were not amused, and they made him clean out a disgusting room on the back of building full of maggots and disease-water and rotting vegetables. He was out there with a snow shovel, Van Halen cranked up, and working without a care in the world. This bugged them, of course, so they told him to turn off the music.
Brogan did as they asked. Then he grabbed a soiled part of a store display that roughly resembled a picket sign, and started walking up and down the sidewalk in front of the store, chanting, “Higher wages! Better working conditions!!” He was shirtless, in a tie, covered in filth, and making a giant spectacle of himself. Needless to say, he was ordered off the property, and none of us ever saw Brogan again.
I have no idea what happened to him, but he provided me with one of my most memorable workdays ever. The man’s a legend in my mind.
The Tape Man at Peaches
During the mid to late 1980s I worked at a great old record store in Greensboro, NC called Peaches. Many crazy things happened there, mostly having to do with shoplifters gone wild. But this one is something else entirely.
One night a guy called and asked if we had a specific classical album in stock. I hated dealing with the classical customers because they were often haughty and demanding, and I didn’t have a lot of knowledge in that area. But, I happened to take this call, and was forced to deal with it.
We had a few back and forths on the phone, and I finally located an album that was to the guy’s liking. Thank god! It felt like I’d dodged a bullet of sorts. But things took a dark turn.
He asked if I could hold the record for him. Not a problem, I said.
“OK, can you put it inside one of your plastic Peaches bags, and tape it up? Really tight, and everything?”
“Then, put that inside ANOTHER Peaches bag, and tape that up? Make sure you use lots of tape, and keep the plastic pulled very tight. I can’t have it loose!”
Yeah, I guess. (WTF??)
Before he hung up he reminded me again about not being stingy with the tape, and to be sure everything was pulled real tight. He’d be there within the hour, he said.
I tried to do what he asked, and had his little freak bundle ready for him when he arrived. He looked like Howard Dean, nicely dressed and respectable. I handed it to him, and he appeared to enter a state of ecstasy. He started rubbing the plastic and tape, and his eyes rolled back in his head with pleasure. What the?! I don’t know it for a fact, of course, but suspect he was rock hard.
While he was paying for his record, he made a point of pulling up one of his shirt sleeves, and revealing six or eight short strips of Scotch tape stuck to his forearm. He showed it to me, without a word, and took in my reaction. Which was probably abject fear, by this point. Then he left. And how’s that for weird?
There was also the night some hick pointed a gun at me, because my convenience store co-worker told him to turn down his car stereo. And the time four or five masked men came into the grocery store where I was working, carrying shotguns and shouting demands. Scary!
And the time a highly-paid sales manager farted up one entire end of a large office building, causing a group of black ladies to parade around spraying Lysol and shouting, “That’s NASTY!!”
And the time a guy went to Pizza Hut on his lunch break, drank a pitcher of beer by himself, came back and got into a full-blown fist fight with a co-worker in the warehouse of a record distributorship in Atlanta.
And the time I got to spend a couple of hours with Paul Westerberg in a bowling alley.
And the time some giant hurricane came up the east coast, and Toney and I drove to work anyway: past downed power lines and trees everywhere. Only about six or eight people showed, and we all ended up having breakfast together at Waffle House, the only place with electricity, for some reason.
Oh, there have been many memorable days. But I’m going to turn it over to you guys now. Please tell us your stories in the comments section.
And I’ll see you again soon, real soon.
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The Waffle House Index for hurricanes. http://www.marketplace.org/topics/business/when-disaster-strikes-fema-turns-waffle-house
Swami Bologna says
Hey, what’s with the fleeting reference to bowling with Paul Westerberg? I’m pretty sure you’ve never told that story before — I do believe I’ve read every single word of The WVSR from the beginning, and I would have remembered that one. Come on, give up the goods.
Waiting tables at a bar in Harrisonburg, VA, 5 p.m. There’s been a trio to redneck swilling Bud longnecks and shots of Jack for an hour, and they came in drunk (ah, the ’80’s). The birthday boy is the loudest, drunkest, most staggeringly out of it of the group. He downs about his 4th beer, and turns toward me with ‘the look.’ You know the one, when you just know what you put down there is coming back up?? Well, I was pinned at the service area, which was right next to the bathrooms, toward with he was lurching, and there was no good place for me to go. His eyes (and cheeks) were getting bigger with each step, he was about to blow! At the last second I had an epiphany, pushed the 55-gallon rolling trash can (into which we threw all the beer bottles once empty) at him, and he upended in that sucker with the force of a thousand pitbulls. It seemed neverending, until it wasn’t. Very little splatter, surprisingly. That ol’ boy had good aim.
I get some free drinks (gin and soda!) after that while the barback took care of what was in the barrel.
Some days are unforgettable. And not in a good way.
Trio OF redneckS.
The Divine Miss E says
Well, there was the day a giant thunderstorm, complete with high winds, blew through town. It knocked out power for a lot of people, including the store where I work. The store has a generator to keep the essentials up and running, but people got a little too comfortable with the generator and overloaded it, causing sparks to shoot out of an electrical box. That caused a lot of people to come in on their evening off, a lot of firefighters to show up, and a terrible smell to permeate the air. On top of all that, the building was struck by lightning, and the Internet connection has always been a little wonky since then.
There was also the day someone crashed into a gas main with a Hilo, and they had to evacuate the building, but that was my day off.
Remember when we used to put that guy who was obsessed with Elvis on speakerphone and broadcast his end of the conversation over the store PA system? Kevin was his name, right? Good times…
Back in the late ’70’s (ya, I’m fucking old) I got a job at warehouse for a high end boutique type of store chain. As I was walking across the parking on my first day, I started noticing all this black ash stuff on the snow. Turns out it WAS ash. The place had had a pretty extensive fire that night and I figured that was it for this job.
Not so. Ten minutes later I was 25 feet up on the racks hurling really expensive bolts of fabric down into the sooty water while other guys where picking them out and putting them back before the insurance adjusters got there. Probably wrecked about a million bucks worth of shit that morning.
I should have asked for a raise…..
Joe T. says
I’m 16 years old and my job is opening up and closing a dress factory in town. The closing part of my duties (after school) involved cleaning up the plant, rest rooms included. One day I’m cleaning up the ladies room and in the stall, on the floor, beside the toilet, was a log of shit. A perfect log, unbroken, in full crescent form, about 10″ long.
I couldn’t believe it, and called all of my superiors, informing them that their high school $3.75/hr. worker had to somehow pick up someone’s shit and drop it in the toilet. It was a gagfest, and new dustpans had to be purchased, but that’s my most memorable day at work.
Wisey in Ttown says
Somebody wanted you to clean that up………
I;ve been around a few vacuum storage tank fires (where your wood shavings get sucked into) with flames billowing out the top hatch.
I’ve been within 20 feet of an industrial electrical panel exploding in a cascades of sparks and smoke. Can’t remember the capacity, but they doubled it from what it was. (it started out as a few hundred amps, 3 phase, as we built telecom equipment that had 1200 amp fuses in them and had to test those. Those high current monsters always got your caution up a notch. One transformer I was testing had an open winding induced current of about 600 amps. The warning notation on the print for that one was in fine print, and nothing outwardly obvious. THe leads of that damn thing where right next to another widing you had to clip a load onto during live testing… The senior guy I worked with, wasn;’t lying when he said to this young whipper snapper, you get a taste for high voltage shocks, after the first one, you will actually start to like them. Was true, after the first zap at the test bench (1200 volts through my left middle finger, still have one scar left from that. After that, everything else was meh. Carry on.
This is a long post, and if you’re in a hurry, the best story is the last one.
There was the day of 4 crashes when I was working at a car dealer. One was a roll-over and another was a no-brakes-hit-the sign-out-front wreck.
Same dealership had a large awning over the driveway that had about a 15′ clearance so the car haulers could get through to drop off new vehicles. That’s enough room for the trucks as long as the drivers remember to put the ramps back down after they’ve pulled cars out. One driver left a Van roof sitting about 15’6″ and peeled the roof off from right above the windshield (which stayed intact) to just behind the door like the lid of a sardine can.
Lately it’s all gross stuff or life and death stuff. Like the hospital patient who was shooting street drugs into his IV. I got called to check him and he denied everything until I found his stash hidden in his dinner tray.
Or doing CPR on a guy in the CT scanner while a surgeon sticks a giant fucking needle into the sac around the heart to try and pull the blood out that’s pooled there while a dozen people are yelling for stuff, pushing drugs, and trying to figure out what to do next.
Or being third into a fight when a patient cornered a nurse and started punching her in the face.
Or the guy hollering in the ICU after trying to kill himself by taking a frying pan, heating it on the stove, putting some butter in the pan and then tossing in a handful of bullets and holding his face over the pan waiting for them to cook off. I guess he had some issues with the gun. one went off, but all he got was a little nick on his lip and a ride to the hospital. I love the part where he added the butter.
Everything is better with butter.
Surly Shawn says
I can’t believe it’s NOT butter.
Whenever this topic gets posted by The Man – I have to take the fifth. I remember the story about the van guy.
I only have a couple, and they were disappearances.
The first was the day Small Paul went to lunch and never came back. He was never heard from again. The second was when Adny was absent from the job site one day; he didn’t call in, nobody knew where he was. A few days later his wife came looking for his paycheck. About two weeks after that, he showed back up at the job site and resumed work as if nothing had happened. Any questions were met with “I don’t want to talk about it.”
Wait, one more: the day the earthquake came (this is Virginia) and the concrete warehouse floor was rolling like the Long Island Sound in a brisk wind.
Of course it could be that Small Paul got rained on by his own calzone.
And nobody flinched or played the trombone
And the tuberculosis old men at the Nelson wheeze and cough
And someone will head south until the calzone cools on off
Because Small Paul got rained on by his own calzone
Yeah, Small Paul got rained on by his own calzone
I am slightly embarrassed that, forty years later I can still sing “Invitation to the Blues” word for word, note for note, and that I don’t quite remember the names of all my nieces and nephews. I think the cognitive psychologists call it Preferential Memory Allocation, but I might not be remembering THAT right either.
I worked in an inner city ER. Saturday lunchtime the drunks start rolling in. This older man is wasted and screaming he wants dick, there are two security guards with him; one trying not to laugh and the other saying , ” man, you sick.”
So I get his paperwork filled out, blood drawn and IV started when one of our docs comes by and offers to hang the fluid bag on the hook. In order to do this, you need to lean up against the stretcher, at the level of the patient’s hand. I just told him I would do it since I didn’t have anything the patient wanted. Doc looks perplexed and walks away. A few minutes later Doc returns and pulls me into an exam room to thank me for saving him from a potential “situation” one of the other docs explained my comment.
I think we must know some of the same people
Worked for a Las Vegas lounge Icon and the other trumpet player had turrets. He stood next to me to my left. Into the second or third tune on my first night, I’m standing there, waiting to play when the chart says to and all of a sudden he jerks his head left, almost looking behind him like someone was sneaking up on us. I look and there’s no one there while he acts like nothing happened. Does it again a little while later. And then again. At this point I think he’s fucking with me. Then, a short time later when our entrance is about to happen, he jerks his head skyward and makes me think something is about to fall on us out of the light well or from the stage rigging. He put his horn to his face and we played our three or four bars and went back to counting measures until our next entrance. He did this off and on the rest of the set and the next show too. I haven’t said a thing but begin thinking as to what’s happening here. The third set…same stuff but added with him quickly opening his mouth as wide as possible for a couple seconds and then back to like nothing happened. That’s probably a trumpet player thing because his chops were getting tired and this was his turret body’s over-response. Great guy, decent player and we became friends over the two month gig.
I know this is terrible and I feel horrible about it but this made me laugh like a hyena! He was probably lucky the word “fuck” didn’t fly out of his mouth when he had it gaped wide open. I became good friends with a guy that had Tourette’s and he had the same symptoms…the head whipping. He was a handsome man and had a great job; I always wondered how his subordinates reacted to his head-whipping during staff meetings, etc. On the other hand, I know there are many that have the symptom of shouting obscenities and they have no control over it. Man, that’s got to be tough.
Yeah…. no vocal stuff. He said he took meds off and on but he didn’t like them so mostly off. He was more of a fan of recreational remedies. Cool guy. And tanks for spelling it right for me. Had no idea I left that like that.
Wisey in Ttown says
Somebody needs to track down Brogan. This dude sounds like a piece of work. Seriously, he sounds like he is destined for greatness.
Surly Shawn says
A friend of mine used to work overnights in a local grocery store and has some awesome, and hilarious stories. I’ve been trying to convince him to write a book, but he won’t do it.
I don’t think mine are awesome, but I did enjoy a similar job.
Pallet truck races (riding like scooters) in the store.
Jumping from top of the warehouse onto cushioning pallets of toilet paper.
Spreading frozen peas over the floor of the freezer room, then taking a run at it and seeing how far you could “ski” in.
Eating stock all day.
I was once sent home by the FBI. That was a fun day at work! It all started around 9:00am when a man entered our offices and said “take your hands off the keyboards, and step away from the computers. This is the FBI.” Slightly confused, and questioning the veracity of the man’s statement, I looked to my co-worker and asked “is this you?” I had just TP’d her cubicle not two days before, and I was wondering if this was a return prank? Not waiting for her to answer, the man flashed his badge and moved his jacket to expose his gun. He was indeed FBI. And I did take my hands off the keyboard and back away from the computer…
I was then herded, along with my co-workers, to a conference room to wait. And we waited. And they passed out water and snacks. And we waited some more. At lunchtime the FBI sent me home; I was an uninteresting worker bee. They retained the head honchos for further review.
It seems that a re-statement of earnings timed right before a major corporate takeover made the SEC take notice of the company I was working for, so they called their friends the IRS and FBI and had a trifecta party at my workplace. Fun times!
Needless to say, I no longer work there, but it was the MOST interesting day at work to date.
I’m not positive, but I think the “Tape Man” at Peaches turned out to be an English professor at a nearby university. I took an English Lit class under him (if it was the same guy) during a summer term and he turned out to be a pretty good instructor. At least he made a survey class interesting … without the use of any tape, I might add.
Very dry wit. Most of the students didn’t catch his jokes.
I suspect he later consoled himself in the privacy of his office with a roll or two of quality Scotch tape.
Memorable work days… hmmm
Circa 1980. McDonald’s. 3 of us sent to the ER – 2 with burns from the fryer, me from slamming my thumb in a cabinet. They had to drill my fingernail to release the blood. That was horrific.
Circa 1988 – Law Firm – doing lines, drinking champagne and playing boggle all on OT while we did the monthly billing overnight. Sue, where are you?
Circa 1995 – Ad Agency – 3 partners taking us across Long Island Sound on the company boat.
January 2015 – downsized and shat out by Big Blue after 16 years of service.
Today – looking for a job.
Alright, back at the Surf Report.
I have a lot to catch up on. But first:
I played bingo for the first time last night.
I don’t know what to call it; professional bingo? uh, church bingo? whatever.
I played a marathon session of 63 hours.
My wife says I was only in there for 45 minutes, but what does she know? She does this willingly.
That is what I imagine factory workers doing for 15 hours a day in 1896.
I was spent. I felt depressed. I listened to some Cure on the way home, but that was a little too jolly. So I just turned off the stereo and rolled down the windows. Wednesday night desert wind matched my somber mood pretty well.
I don’t really know what else to say.
When I’m old and don’t have anything else to do; if you hear me consider spending time at the bingo hall, don’t let me. If I can’t upload my brain into a robot by then just, – just leave me at home to get bed sores. Don’t let me go play bingo just because my dying brain doesn’t know what it’s doing.
I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. That was on a fairly typical day in the funds business in the ’90s.
Skippy in WV says
I worked in a furniture factory, we had various implements of death, including but not limited to, table saws, routers, circular saws, etc…
One day I watched the floor manager take the first digit off all 4 fingers on one hand.
I saw the aftermath of a guy that cut his hand in half. (The blade went between his index and middle fingers all the way to the wrist.)
I personally have a matching set of scars that resemble a “greater than/less than” symbol on my left hip, and a 1″ scar on my finger that almost required surgery. Not to mention the 1/4″ drill bit scar on my hand, or the flat spot on my finger from the 9″ wide, 6′ long (looped) belt sander. Or that I only have a partial finger print on one because I cut it off.
Yeah, I’ve had a few interesting days.
Jesus….Where you required to wear blindfolds?
Skippy in WV says
The digit and hand episodes were completely their fault. Either not using a push block or makumg dure the bkade was stopped before reaching in to clear the ribbons out. Every scar i have from working there is completely my fault for not being more cautious.