HR Strange But True!
December 14, 2006

'Tis the season to either get into the holiday spirit, twist it beyond recognition, or just plain trample it into the ground. You know we're right -- you can't open a newspaper these days without seeing a story that fits into at least one of those themes.

It's the Thought that Counts

Take the story of Richard Perez of Lake Station, Indiana. It seems that Perez wanted to impress that special someone by giving her a 42-inch plasma television for Christmas. But it seems he didn't want to actually pay for the TV.

Police say surveillance cameras at the Radisson Hotel where Perez works -- make that worked -- as a security guard caught him entering a room with an empty luggage cart and later leaving the room with a full luggage cart covered with cloth -- and leaving the room minus its 42-inch plasma TV and Sleep Number® bedding system (a system for adjusting mattress position and firmness).

Merrillville police went to Perez' house with a search warrant Friday and found the Sleep Number® system hooked up to his bed and the television carefully wrapped with holiday paper and placed under a decorated tree in the living room.

A card attached to the TV said: "Mom, Honey Bunny from Big Papa, Daddy."

"I'm not sure if he's the Grinch or I'm the Grinch because I'm the one who took the items back," Merrillville Police Detective Donald Toth told The Northwest Indiana Times.

Police charged Big Papa, er, Perez with theft.

Baubles and Binmen

England seems to have more than its share of Grinches, so much so that The Sun newspaper has launched a "Kick 'Em in the Baubles" campaign to rescue Christmas decorations (baubles) and celebrations that have been nixed.

In one instance, the manager of 17 South London unemployment offices banned Christmas decorations in the offices because he didn't want to upset unemployment benefits claimants who might not have their own.

"It's about considering the feelings of people who might not to be able to afford Christmas," Chris Nicol told The Sun.

But workers in the offices didn't feel the same way. "The irony is that our long faces aren't exactly cheering up the unemployed," one worker said. "In fact, most people have complained about the lack of decorations. The twinkling lights and tinsel always seemed to lift people's spirits. Now we are all glumly sitting in the dark in case someone takes offense."

[Update: The Sun later reported that Nicol has reversed what the newspaper had described as his "barmy ban."]

In another case, the city council of Kingston upon Hull, England, banned trash collectors from wearing Santa Claus hats while making their rounds.

The council said that the hats did not create "a professional impression of the council," and that there could be "health and safety implications should hats get in the way of dangerous machinery operation," The Sun reported.

"It doesn't look like anyone can escape the PC brigade this year," said one angry trash collector, known in England as binmen.

"Our Santa hats have always brought a bit of festive cheer to local households," he told The Sun. "We loved seeing the faces of excited kids watching us from the window and laughing at our hats. It's been a Christmas tradition for years -- but not any more."

Where Do I Apply?

One company that went to the other extreme this holiday season was Americas Generators, a Miami-based generator company operating in North and South America.

Instead of merely throwing a holiday party to express its appreciation, the company invited employees -- plus guest -- on a 3-day Caribbean cruise that featured a team-building exercise on Nassau, Bahamas -- a contest patterned after "The Amazing Race" television show.

More than 60 people were split into several teams designed to build professional camaraderie as they raced around the island completing tasks and reaching various checkpoints. Each checkpoint was filled with questions geared to help employees get to know one another better, and the tasks were engineered to illustrate business model obstacles so that each employee would better understand how the company could be even more successful moving forward.

"As a growing company, we are constantly adding to our staff and this was an excellent opportunity to get to know everyone on a deeper level," said Carmen Garcia, executive assistant for Americas Generators. "This type of an event truly helps us become a stronger company since we can focus on our communication skills and learn how to continue our success in a fun and productive setting."

"With productivity levels at an all-time high, it is easy for companies and their employees to forget how to focus on team chemistry," said Eric Johnston, senior vice president of Americas Generators. "In an industry where customer service is the most important element of success, we want our employees to feel like they play a significant role in the company's growth. We want to show them that their personal success is a direct result of the company's overall success."

Each team member received trophies and American Express gift certificates for their participation in the event.

Sources:, The Sun (1), The Sun (2), PRNewswire

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