Any white collar worker claims to have had an Office moment, as in the sitcom The Office. People call out the "Dwights" or "Jims" or "Pams" at their office, or even compare their own boss to Steve Carell's Michael Scott or Ricky Gervais' David Brent, if you are a fan of the original UK version. Most often, these Office moments are the claims of superfans on their seventy-third binge of the series whose obsession subconsciously enabled them to exaggerate what was, most likely, just a strange occurrence at the workplace to sitcom-level absurdity.
These stories, however, are too absurd to even be imagined. The following are from employees who had a genuine Office moment and shared the experience on Reddit. The only thing missing from these stories that make them ripe for a slot on NBC's Thursday night lineup would be an uncomfortably nosy film crew.
Good News, Bad News
“In 1998, a manager at my company at the time called in all of his staff.
‘There’s some good and bad news,’ he announced. ‘The good news is I’ve been promoted to head up finance at head office. Unfortunately, we’re centralizing all the accounts departments and your jobs are to be made redundant.’
I always like to think one of his ex-staff members went on to be a script writer for The Office. There was one cynical accountant who certainly fits the bill.
Among other stories I have, there was once a director who bought the biggest Christmas tree possible without first checking the ceiling heights in our office. Or the time the IT department persuaded the new IT help desk officer to hide in a big new printer box to surprise the accounting department. Instead, they wheeled him to the atrium, where he jumped out in full view of 500 members of staff.
Then, there was the time when the office fish tank burst, flooding the floor and into to the server room, taking down all network services. But to cap it all, the receptionist saved most of the fish in a bucket and poured them into the tank in the offices above. There was a piranha feeding frenzy and fish skeletons kept floating to the surface for the rest of the year.
I could go on. I’ve had 30 years in a corporate environment. The Office, both UK and USA, are funny because they are so true.”
The Real-Life Toby
“I am a pretty young consultant and, because the number of desks on the main floor is limited, I was moved to the upstairs portion with the interns. I’ve been forgotten multiple times from meetings, to drinks, to the occasional event in which I would be told to ‘Wait for the phone call,’ only to go down to check and notice everyone has left and I had been waiting for nothing.
Some of my co-workers, I haven’t seen in days, if not weeks for some people. I took two weeks off recently AND NO ONE NOTICED. I’m trying to secretly get a laptop assigned to me. That way I can work from home and pretend I was there the entire time.
What is even funnier is that my name, actually, is Toby.”
A Nice Gesture From The Receptionist
“On my very first day on the job, the receptionist had made some strawberry cookies and she was really excited for me to try one. I really don’t care for strawberries and I wasn’t in the mood for a cookie, and she was so sweet that I didn’t want to hurt her feelings, so I told her I was allergic to strawberries.
She threw them all away immediately, a whole tray. She dropped it right into the trash and told everyone not to bring any strawberries into the office. I’ve been pretending to be allergic to strawberry for three years now.”
We Suppose Bathroom Quality Is Important
“In our monthly meeting with the entire office staff, there was a serious discussion which lasted for 45 minutes about the sort of toilet paper that should be used – single, double or triple ply. One argument used was that you don’t need double ply, as you could simply fold two single ply pieces. Two ladies went into details how it feels when using single ply versus double ply. Some staff members felt that their vote should count more as they had a weaker bladder or had bad digestion.
It was beautiful but also cringeworthy and 45 minutes was just too long. We ended up using double ply.”
It Is Not Like She Had A Garden In Her Office
“My husband decided to bring me flowers at work for our anniversary. The majority of my co-workers came into my office and complimented my flowers. Almost all of them noted that the flowers had no smell. Then, after the flowers had been sitting on my desk for four whole days, this lady, whom I will call ‘Barb,’ walked down the hall to my office, and saw my flowers. She came running into my office, sniffed the flowers, and started screaming at me.
‘I knew it!’ she exclaimed. ‘Your flowers are causing me to have an allergic reaction! Get them out of here right now!’
I freaked out, apologized, and told her I would put them in my car until the end of the day. She ran out of the room. As I went outside, I saw Barb standing by my car. She was clearly waiting for me to see if I had put them away. I did, went back inside, and spent the rest of the morning getting chewed out by my mangers for ‘almost killing Barb,’ despite the fact that they had all seen the flowers and said nothing to me prior to this incident.
When I asked her about it later, she said that she wasn’t allergic to the flowers specifically. She is just ‘very sensitive to smell’ and the smell of the flowers was what had set her off.”
She Was Not Fit To Plan A Birthday Celebration
“We had a single, terrible HR lady. She had two jobs: make our lives crap and get cakes for birthdays. Halfway through the day, one of my co-workers asked her when she was bringing out the cake for my birthday. She had completely forgotten to put mine on her list.
Since she was ‘perfect’ and ‘incapable of making mistakes,’ she first accused them of lying. Repeatedly. For free cake. Finally, she stormed up to my desk and asked me, sarcastically, if it was my birthday. I told her it was. She was momentarily taken aback before demanding to see my drivers license. Lo and behold, it was, in fact, my birthday.
But, it was raining and she didn’t want to run out and get a cake herself. She threw a few bucks at my co-workers and told them to run to the grocery store down the street and pick one up. Well, she did not give them enough money for a cake large enough for the office. They were also not getting paid enough to chip in for a decent cake, so they grabbed the last small cake left.
That’s how I ended up with an office birthday cake that said, ‘Congrats On Your Birthday!’ But, before ‘Birthday,’ the words, ‘Baby Boy’ were crossed out.”
Treating Failure Like Death
“My office had a terrible year. We were a small family owned licensed distributor for a large national brand of industrial products. It’s a niche market that falls under the industrial automation category. Sales were down, morale was low, and turnover was looming. Instead of listening to the employees’ concerns, management held a funeral in our warehouse.
We were instructed to air our grievances on paper and then we ceremoniously marched up to the front and put our papers in a shredder. The shredded paper was then put into a cardboard casket and carried out to the dumpster by pallbearers, followed by a manager dressed as the grim reaper. The CEO proceeded to give a eulogy on a Power Point presentation that included a lot of Kid Rock musical interludes.
It was the most awkward experience of my career. Also, it didn’t work. Most of us don’t work there anymore.”
A Friendly Little Game Of Basketball
“There is a guy in our office who has problems controlling his anger, especially in a competitive environment. Naturally, he was in charge of the little office games/tournaments we have. This time, we played basketball. The little arcade basketball game.
His team made it to the final game and he lost. As all of us were congratulating the winners, we heard the sound of a ball slamming against the rim. I turned to see a ball flying at my face at high speed. I raised my hand and, luckily, deflected the ball away. But, I was standing a solid 10 feet away and it still stung my hand.
‘This dumb game!’ he exclaimed after throwing the ball.
We all just stood there, awkwardly, not knowing what to do as this 30-year-old man-child threw a fit about losing. Needless to say, HR got involved and he is no longer in charge of the office games.”
A Few Cultural Misunderstandings
“I worked for a company in the US South in the late 90s. Sales were tanking, clients were leaving. They laid off around 35 people the week before Christmas. After the new year, the CEO hired some expensive fung-shui ‘guru’ who went around and hung crystals all around the large, two-floor office building. Well, some folks there were proper Christians and didn’t take kindly to this ‘Eastern-woo-woo’ stuff, so they hung crosses and crucifixes next to all the crystals. They took the crystals as an affront to Jesus.
Then, some guys in the art department printed out pictures of cartoon characters and hung those next to the crystal-cross menageries. Within 24 hours, all the crystals, crosses, and cartoon characters were taken down never to be spoken of again.
At this same place, pretty much the entire company was white as a snake’s belly except these three guys – one Chinese, one Japanese, and one from the Philippines. I was in a large executive level meeting when one of the senior executives referred to one of the guys as ‘Chingo.’ His name was not ‘Chingo.’ When someone corrected her, she said, ‘Whatever, one of them.’
A few days later one of the guys (not sure if it was ‘Chingo’ or one of his Asian doppelgangers) hung up posters titled ‘Asian Men You Should Know,’ with Jackie Chan, Confucius, Bruce Lee, General Mao, a bunch of other famous Asians… and the three Asian guys who worked at the company.”
“I Was Smart Enough To Just Get Up And Leave In The Middle Of It”
“The company I worked for started cutting every possible cost they could. They reduced benefits and salaries and completely stopped doing anything nice for the employees, such as buying lunch. Then, they started rolling out an entire propaganda campaign about how great a place to work it was. They even held a contest to name the new propaganda mascot.
Once everyone was beaten down really badly, they started coming up with random slogans as part of the propaganda campaign. They introduced a new slogan, ‘Have a sense of urgency!’ during one meeting, which ran 90 minutes over its allotted time. It caused everyone to get an extremely late start on the day and ended up causing people to have to stay late to get their work done.
Fortunately, I was smart enough to just get up and leave in the middle of it. I got everything done and left at the usual time. But, of course, people kept coming up to me that morning and asking why I left the meeting.”
It Was A Very Unique Sales Pitch Idea, At Least
“Our advertising department wanted to pitch to MINI, as in MINI Cooper. They brainstormed all kinds of ideas and decided to send an invite to come in and chat, but still needed a hook. Someone suggested having it delivered by a little person, because, you know, MINI. Inexplicably, everyone loved it.
It took our own ‘David Brent’ to finally utter the immortal words: ‘Can we just pause a moment to consider whether the midget adds to or detracts from our pitch?’
I don’t feel too bad for the little person who lost the gig. They booked him to be delivered in a box dressed as an evil clown and jump out with a meat cleaver the next Halloween.”