The Weird Workplace

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


TORONTO — Considering the risks, trust is hugely important among firefighters. But that creed was broken last summer when a Toronto firefighter apparently stole from his colleagues — using false alarms. Fire crews received calls about fires and responded accordingly, but when they arrived, there were no emergencies. Returning to the fire station, they discovered their cellphones, watches, jewelry, credit cards and iPads were stolen, according to the Toronto Star. On one occasion, the district chief returned to the fire station early and “caught the person in the act of leaving the station,” said Toronto fire union chief Frank Ramagnano. A 10-year veteran, Joshua Pittarelli-Bucks has since been charged with three counts of break-and-enter and false alarm of a fire, along with public mischief and possession of crack cocaine. Already on leave at the time of the break-ins, the firefighter was ordered to reside with a surety and attend a residential treatment centre. He was also ordered not to attend any fire hall in Toronto as part of his bail conditions.


WILLOUGHBY, AUSTRALIA  — The difference between on-air and off-air can be quite revealing, as an Australian newscaster found out recently. Moments before a show was set to go live, leaked footage showed newscaster Amber Sherlock of 9 News becoming annoyed when she realized her fellow journalist, Julie Snook, and their guest, psychologist Sandy Rea, were all wearing white, according to the Daily Mail. Sherlock demanded Snook put on a jacket, saying she had asked her to do so earlier: “Come on, I told you two hours ago.” The two went back and forth on the issue, and at one point, Snook offered to leave: “I can just head on out and get back to work. I’m flat chat. I genuinely forgot.” Despite the heated exchange, the two women were all-smiles when they went on air — with Snook wearing a black jacket.


GROTON, CONN. — A United States company is offering extreme survival classes to boost team morale, according to the CBC’s As it Happens. Workers can participate in a fake airplane crash into water, for example, complete with thunder and lightning. Participants are buckled into a simulator that goes up in the air before falling into a tank of water and going into a full inverted position. They then must find a way out. As for those who fear being labelled not a team player, the rest of the group helps them get through their fear, said Maria Hanna, president of Survival Systems USA. “It doesn’t force them to participate but actually pulls them into the group even more. They were actually, in some ways, looked at in a slightly better light because they were willing to verbalize their fears.”


CALLAWAY, FLA. — A funeral home in Callaway, Fla., was a house of horror recently when 16 decomposing bodies were discovered there, according to the Washington Post. Six of the bodies had been kept in the main part of Brock’s Home Town Funeral Home while 10 more were decomposing inside a cooler set at 16 degrees Celsius. None of the bodies had been embalmed, said the Bay County Sheriff’s Office. Funeral director Gregory Dunphy and the mortuary’s manager, Felicia Boesch, were charged with six and 10 counts of unlawful preservation and storage of human remains, respectively. But Dunphy blamed Boesch. “A couple times she said, ‘I’ll be in tonight, I’ll do cremations and make those remains go in the proper temperature-controlled area.’ And I have to rely on her as a person of integrity to live up to her word, which obviously she did not… I said, ‘My God, Felicia. It’s hell down here. We’ve got to do something.’”


SAN DIEGO, CALIF. — Unhappy that NFL team the San Diego Chargers have decided to relocate to Los Angeles, several moving companies in San Diego are just saying no, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. More than 25 local movers have pledged on the website that they will not help the football team make the switch. “Dear Chargers, we won’t move you to Los Angeles. Love, your local San Diego moving companies,” announces the website. 

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