HR Strange But True!
March 06, 2008

All we can say is, "Wow!" You responded to our transparent work-avoidance ploy by showering us with funny, scary, and puzzling--but always strange--workplace tales.

The volume of submissions requires us to parcel them out in batches grouped by a few recurring themes. In coming weeks, we'll print your stories about why HR may really stand for "hazardous responsibilities" (e.g., subject to physical and verbal explosions), and about another topic that struck a chord with many of you--larcenous employees and applicants, some of who couldn't make it past the first interview without satisfying their urges.

That's fair warning. Now put on your writing shoes and send us your best tales. True, we may have a few in hand at the moment, but warmer weather is coming, and we don't plan on hanging around the office after the boss heads out for his 4 p.m. tennis game.

This week's theme: "The wheel is turning but the hamster is dead," otherwise known as "A few fries short of a Happy MealTM." Our first submission is a doozy:

"I had asked that the administrative assistant in our HR Department to type up a letter (this was back when typewriters were still being used). I had given her a handwritten draft and noted on the address section the addressee's name and under that wrote in, 'look up address.'

"A little later my assistant presented me a beautifully typed letter with the following address:

Mr. John Doe
Look Up Address
Atlanta GA

"She could really follow instructions!"

For whatever reason, many of your submissions seem to revolve around the reception area. For example:

"This particular incident occurred at my husband's place of business. They had hired a temp to work as a receptionist, hoping to possibly hire her permanently. The employees complained that she wasn't the sharpest knife in the drawer, but the owners had the opportunity to see it first hand! She decided to make about 100 copies one afternoon. When the owner of the company asked her what she was making copies of, she happily replied, 'My blank scratch paper!' She didn't understand why she was let go."

And, finally, this submission from "HR in Illinois":

"I was conducting interviews for the Accounting Department and set one up with a woman who had been very well-spoken on the phone. She called me the morning of the interview and told me she would be a little late. I told her it was fine and we would see her in a bit. She arrived nearly two hours later! She filled out her application in our waiting area.

"The receptionist brought it back to me with an envelope that contained references. I opened the envelope and a wave of stale cigarette smoke came out with the references. I went up to the front area to get the applicant and opened the door. A woman in high-heeled, leather biker boots, acid-washed jeans, and a sweatshirt was standing there talking to the receptionist. I took a second look to find my applicant before I realized that she was it! She then apologized for her coat (a leather, fringe-covered coat)--she had given away her 'good one.'

"I brought her into the interview room to a shocked manager. We spoke with her for several minutes, but it was clear that she was not truly with it, so the manager told her she did not have what we were looking for and thanked her for her time. The manager left and the applicant asked me if she could do a quick change. I figured she wanted to put on her coat or take off the sweatshirt, but she proceeded to remove her sweatshirt and another shirt under it to reveal a patch-covered leather vest.

"She put that on over the sweatshirt and explained that she had one of the patches as a tattoo and asked if I wanted to see it. I politely refused, wondering how long this was going to continue! She then asked me if we did background checks. I replied that we did on all new hires, to which she told me that she wouldn't have passed it any way because she just spent a year in jail.

"It was the most bizarre 'interview' I have ever conducted! It just goes to show that you never know who will show up, even if you do a telephone pre-screening!"

Source: Our generous and thoughtful readers

TGIF - It's HR
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