NBC’s hit show “The Office” has featured some outrageous behavior and situations over its four seasons on-air. And while TV comedies make you laugh and wonder out loud, “Could that really happen?” there are plenty of us in the work force who know that real life often tops The Office when it comes to unbelievable behavior and events.
Let me share a few “true life” events that could surely qualify as plot filler for The Office.
1. As creative director for an ad agency it was my responsibility to design a mascot suit for a telecommunication company. We designed the character around one of their telephones, then sent the image to a company that makes costumes. The design came back as a vinyl suit. There were no written instructions on how to put the suit on, and it was built in two parts. The upper side had a weird looking hole the back. Someone volunteered me to be the first to try on the suit. “Here,” someone said. “You put it on. It’s your concept. You should get the honors.” I put the top part of the suit on. There was trouble right away. The oxygen started to run out pretty quickly unless you turned on a fan that was supposed to be mounted to the back on that weird hole. No one knew how to do that. I panicked. My breath formed a mask of condensation on the clear plastic mouth shape in front of my face. “I’m gonna die in here,” I thought. I dove to the ground and tried desperately to scrape the suit off like I was a lizard shedding its skin. At that moment the account manager came out of his office to see what was going on. He helped me peel off the suit and could not help but see the fear in my eyes. I was out of breath and sweating. “I bet if you had a knife you’d have cut your way out of that thing,” he laughed. “You’re darn right,” I said. “I don’t care what that suit costs. I wasn’t going to let myself die in there.”
We hired a temp to wear it to the first event. But not before we wrote the company to get proper directions for use.
2. The Nipple Shadow Incident
One of our ad hoc meetings to discuss account strategy was held in a conference room where the air conditioning was always cranked way up. The temperature in the room was down around 65 degrees even though sun streamed in the room. A row of staff members perched on a shelf by the window to try to keep warm. One young women was wearing a gauzy top through that allowed her apparently large, erect nipples to stand out in pronounced fashion. The sun struck her chest at just the right angle and cast long shadows reaching from her chest to her hips. No one in the room–even the women– was able to concentrate very well. The meeting ended rather quickly.
3. The Fake Porn Rental Stunt
While on a business trip to make a pitch to a new client, I decided it was time to play a joke on the President of our company who was known for playing impromptu pranks. We were staying at a posh hotel where I had my own room for the night. After dinner the President made a couple jokes about behaving myself while I was alone. I knew he reveled in making these insinuations because he viewed me as religious fellow who was not prone to business trip dalliances at the bar. I decided to use this reputation to surprise him. When the time came to turn in my key at the front desk the next morning, I asked the hotel clerk to print me up a list of the skankiest porn films they offered as she printed out my bill. Over breakfast I handed the fake invoice to the President and said, “I hope you don’t mind. I had to entertain myself last night.” He stared at the bill for a moment and looked up at me. The movie bill came to $230.00. I smiled and shrugged. “Hope you don’t mind. I just really like porn.” The rest of the table was in on the joke and burst out laughing. By comparison, the $14.95 I spent on room service for a couple late night beers looked light by comparison.
4. The Time Warp Test
At one of the companies where I worked it was my job to visit all the satellite offices across a 5 county area. Over time I noticed that our company’s employees had a bad habit of accumulating old junk and left it lying around for weeks, months, even years. I started taking old, useless things like Kleenex boxes and placed them in places where they seemed to have some sort of utility…but really didn’t. Then I’d check on my secret Time Warp objects every couple of weeks to see if anyone moved them or threw them away. Not one object got tossed for many years. One box of old posters sat in a coat room for more than four years. People walked in and out of that room every day but apparently assumed there was some reason why those posters had to be there. Finally someone threw something out one of the things I’d planted in a regional office: a plant that died. Someone decided to put the thing out of its misery and toss it out. Somehow that made me proud.
5. The Top Floor Screwfest
The last True Life “The Office” incident is just plain juicy. One of the companies where I worked did not do its due diligence on the property it purchased for the corporate office. Turned out the top floor could not be used for office space because the concrete in the floors (which are someone else’s ceiling, of course) did not pass inspection. So the 5th floor became a “catch-all” for all that corporate junk; old desks, lighting, files and crap that companies accumulate when they’re too busy or lazy to throw anything out. The 5th floor also proved tempting for some lusty employees who turned it into their personal paradise for screwing. A few got caught, but not before rumors of moaning and true confessions came out that the 5th floor was a very good place for employee morale. The company banned all employees without a key from going up there. But I’m sure they just sound somewhere else to have their fun.
That’s it. 5 true stories that would make excellent plot lines for any episode of The Office.