The Weird Workplace

A collection of unusual and quirky stories from across Canada and the world

The Weird Workplace
The Vatican’s Swiss Guard, a mini-army that helps protect the Pope, hope to have cooler heads now they have swapped their ancient metal helmets for ones made by 3D printers. Credit: omnimoney (Shutterstock)


VATICAN CITY — The Vatican’s Swiss Guard, a mini-army that helps protect the Pope, hope to have cooler heads now they have swapped their ancient metal helmets for ones made by 3D printers, according to Reuters. The new headgear is made of thermoplastic and looks almost exactly the same as the previous versions. But the force of 110 men should find the covering more comfortable because the helmets won’t heat up like the metal ones, according to spokesman Urs Breitenmoser. The previous versions also weighed two kilograms while the new ones, made in Switzerland, weigh 570 grams.


GUELPH, ONT. — A group of co-workers has hit the jackpot — big time — by winning $60 million. The nine colleagues at an automotive parts plan worked the same shift on an assembly line in Guelph, Ont., and had been buying lottery tickets together in the last few months of 2018 as the prize grew bigger, according to the Canadian Press. Eight of the workers describe themselves as immigrants, with some saying they plan to buy new homes or take a family trip to Disneyland. Another wants to open an Ethiopian restaurant and yet another hopes to travel through Canada. “I’ve been in Canada for less than a year and so far, I’ve only known work,’’ said Bassam Abdi. “I’m excited to explore the country.’’


SOLIHULL, U.K. — A Jaguar Land Rover worker who thought it would be funny to pose in a fake suicide vest at work has, not surprisingly, been suspended. The individual was photographed wearing a vest complete with Nerf gun bullets, wires and foil-wrapped boxes meant to resemble a bomb, and asked colleagues if he should “pull the string and blow it up?” according to the Daily Mail. The company said it was taking the incident “extremely seriously” and investigating. But another worker was unhappy it took so long for action to be taken, saying the incident was reported before Christmas and not escalated until January: “Shop floor banter has got to this stage and it is a regular occurrence... If you don’t deal with an issue, then it will keep raising its ugly head.”


VENTURA, CALIF. — An on-duty firefighter actually started a “fire” recently as part of an elaborate marriage proposal in Ventura, Calif. Zach Steele placed six smoke machines in the attic of a house he shared with his girlfriend and then went off to work, according to the Huffington Post. He set the machines off remotely and soon tons of smoke began spewing out of the house. His girlfriend’s mother — who knew about the prank — then called 911, so Steele and his fire crew came to the rescue. He took off his oxygen mask and proposed — as seen in body camera footage from a colleague. “I was so confused and I honestly could not sort through my emotions enough to really comprehend what was happening,” said fiancée Maddison Ridgik. “When he got down on one knee, I was so emotional. I was still shaking and crying, yet so excited… It was truly the best, most indescribable moment of my life.” 


SASEBO, JAPAN — The world’s first robot hotel has decided humans, for the most part, make the most sense when it comes to staffing. Japan’s Henn na or “Strange” Hotel opened to much publicity in 2015 but has since “laid off” half of its 243 androids, according to the Wall Street Journal. “It’s easier now that we’re not being frequently called by guests to help with problems with the robots,” said one staff member. One guest, for example, kept being woken by a doll-shaped “assistant” in his room because it mistook his snores for queries. And there were no phones in the rooms because “Churi” was meant to answer all questions from guests. The same was true for concierge robots who could not answer many of the guests’ questions. And two robot luggage carriers are no longer being used because they could only reach two dozen of the more than 100 rooms. “They were really slow and noisy, and would get stuck trying to go past each other,” said guest Taishi Mito. However, a mechanical arm that moves luggage in and out of storage boxes is still being used. And Hideo Sawada, president of the travel company that owns the hotel, said he has learned some valuable lessons: “When you actually use robots, you realize there are places where they aren’t needed — or just annoy people.”


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