A funny thing happened

Work does not sound like fun, but it offers plenty of comic relief. We need to find moments to laugh at ourselves to break the monotony. Here are few true stories to earn a grin or chuckle.

Two people I knew at a client were arguing over an issue. The funny thing is without the other knowing, each one called me to ask for my input on the argument. Through this process, I was able inch them closer together to see the other’s point. “You know Fred, Andy is making a reasonable point.”

A colleague was looking into a past precedence on a process a client was using that did not make much sense. He shared with me what he found in the archived files. I asked “Who would ever give such advice?” He showed me the email, “You did.” Oops.

This story ended well, but it offered an opportunity to tease a demanding colleague who had a high sense of self-worth. Our senior consultant was meeting with a client who had traveled from London. He was a heavy-set man and began to profusely perspire and get red-faced during the meeting. Our colleague felt he was having a heart attack and called the ambulance. The client turned out to be fine, but it was scary. Our colleague was a perfectionist which made him a good consultant, but a demanding one. After this episode, when he was extra hard on us, we would feign a heart attack in front of him acting like comedian Redd Foxx would on “Sanford and Son.” He did not find this amusing. “Elizabeth…I’m coming to join you!”

When I went to work for one of my clients, we had a greatly appreciated employee wellness program including mobile mammograms and health screenings. The woman who ran the program shared with me all the upcoming wonderful plans for Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. As I described it to my boss and a few others, I left off the word “cancer” by mistake. She slowly corrected me, that would be Breast CANCER Awareness Month.

Our firm bought another with some highly paid consultants. My boss, who I have written about before, looked over the compensation data and uttered one of his folksy sayings. “We sure are peeing in the tall grass with the big dogs now.”

Finally, I had a colleague who was getting final quotes from various insurance companies for a bidding process for a client. He had not heard from one, so he called around 6:30 pm to see if they wanted to improve their quote. Apparently, the night janitor picked up the phone. After listening to my colleague explain what he needed, the man uttered, “I told you as much as I know when I said hello.”

Let me know of some of your funny stories at work. Please change the names to protect the innocent. I might throw in a couple of more in the comments.

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7 thoughts on “A funny thing happened

  1. I absolutely LOVE this post! Great stories! I especially liked you “oops” moment, and the “Breast [Cancer] Awareness” one! Thank you for a genuine laugh tonight, my friend.

    To your beginning line, the one about ‘work’ not sounding like much fun. I interviewed a woman once for a position as an accounting clerk. I was Comptroller for a small company that was only about a year old, understaffed and all of us overworked, but the camaraderie was great. So, I gave this woman my usual spiel about how we all work very hard, sometimes long hours, but we get along well and have a lot of fun. She responded without so much as a smile, “If work were meant to be fun, it wouldn’t be a four-letter word.” Needless to say, that interview was over right about then!

    • Jill, good call on the candidate. When you work hard, you need to like the work, the mission, the customers and/ or the colleagues. Otherwise, it does become a four letter word.

      I just corresponded yesterday with the woman who corrected me on the “cancer” omission. She now has her own business advising companies on wellness and health advocacy. We had a lot of fun at work, so she had a dramatic way of correcting my omission. Keith

      • I agree … how many people go through life hating every day that they have to go to work. And the saddest thing, that you hear about all too often, is when somebody works hard all their life, finally retires and dies within a few months.

        It’s nice that you’re still in touch with former co-workers. I am also, though I’ve been retired since 2008 … wow … 11 years! It doesn’t seem that long at all. I worried at first that I might be bored and miss working, but heck, I work harder now than I did when I got paid for working!

      • Jill, I am glad you are staying busy in retirement. I need to stay more in touch with my old colleagues. I heard back from several with my recent email. Keith

  2. Note to Readers: The consultant who we teased with faux heart attacks when he added extra stress on our workload, is actually a good friend and mentor. Our group was big on teasing and he gave as good as he got. Jill’s comments reminded me of how we tried to make work fun. If we had a meeting up I-85 north, we would celebrate our meeting stopping at Dairy Queen on the way back to get a Heath Bar Blizzard.

    When I went to work for one of my clients, we would periodically go down to a local pub and get some “wheat.” That was our word for a beer. While I don’t drink anymore, we had a great time after work.

    Ironically, neither that Dairy Queen or pub exist anymore.

  3. Here is a true story from recruiting for a tech company, long ago.

    English was obviously a second language for many job applicants.  One who had built something as part of his PhD work went with the common convention of forming an acronym from the first letter of each word in his system’s name.  The first few words in the name “(Whatever) … (Whatever) System” have long since been forgotten, but the acronym “FARTS” was memorable.

    • Too funny. I had a client who would use acronyms to define voluntary severance programs. As an example, they came up with Limited Period Severance Option or LPSO. It backfired as the employees called it LiPOsuction. Keith

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