The Weird Workplace

A collection of unusual and quirky stories from across Canada and around the world
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 04/17/2017
Dog
Credit: Napat (Shutterstock)

SNIFFING FOR TROUBLE

MODESTO, CALIF. — Knowing they are more likely to get some form of cancer, firefighters in Modesto, Calif., are hoping to get some peace of mind — from dogs, according to KXTV, a news station in Sacramento, Calif. CancerDogs of Canada uses specially trained beagles and hounds to detect the odor of cancer in a person’s exhaled breath. Firefighters breathe for 10 minutes into surgical masks and then mail them to the lab in Ottawa. “When we receive masks, we transfer them to pill bottles. The pill bottles are presented to the dog and the dog will systematically sniff each sample. If they smell cancer, they’ll put their paw (over it),” said CancerDogs founder Glenn Ferguson. It’s then recommended a dermatological test and blood test is done for further confirmation. The method has a 95 per cent accuracy rate, according to Ferguson.

TOXIC TALK

GATINEAU, QUE. — Talk about conflict. A government office in Gatineau, Que., faced such discord that the public services director, Katherine Green, was told her staff wanted to kill her and eat her liver, according to the National Post, citing a recent decision by the Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board. “There have been two common denominators in this disputatious and disruptive environment: Ms. Green and Mr. B,” read a 2014 report prepared by J. Simkins and Associates, cited in the ruling. “Indeed, several present and former employees declined to be interviewed, a situation that we have very rarely encountered in our casework over the past 25 years. The reasons expressed included fear of the consequences, a reluctance to become involved in the seemingly endless saga of complaints, counter-complaints, grievances and threats of legal action, and apprehensions that, if they did speak up, they would not be defended by human resources and senior departmental management.”

NO NEED FOR ROMANCE

UNITED STATES — Members of the National Basketball Association (NBA) have apparently figured out how to excel in their jobs — by using Tinder. Instead of having to hit the nightclubs, and wasting time wooing potential dates, the players are finding sexual partners through the popular dating app or Instagram, according to the Bleacher Report. As a result, the sports professionals are performing better on the road and getting more sleep. While the addition of chartered flights, instead of commercial flights, has also helped, many players are also drinking and partying less because they don’t want their images splashed all over social media.

BIDDING ADIOS

JUAREZ, MEXICO — In a true case of occupational health and safety, a newspaper in Mexico has decided to shut down because the killings of journalists in the country have made it too dangerous to go on, according to the Guardian. “Adios!” wrote Oscar Cantu Murguia, editor of Norte, in a farewell letter on the paper’s front page. At least 38 journalists have been killed in Mexico since 1992 for motives related to their work, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in New York, while 50 more were slain for reasons that remain unclear. “Mexico is clearly going through a deep, full-blown freedom-of-expression crisis,” said Carlos Lauria, senior program co-ordinator for the Americas at CPJ. “It’s affecting Mexicans, not only journalists, because the fact that a newspaper closes is depriving people of information that they need in order to take informed decisions.”

FILTERED FOREST

BEIJING, CHINA — Various companies are vying to ease the smog-filled existence faced by many Chinese workers. Sanqin Forest Industry, for example, is selling cans of fresh air bottled in a forest in western China. Each bottle, costing $6.95, is good for two minutes of uninterrupted use, according to Reuters, and the first batch apparently sold out. Another firm is selling necklaces with micro-air filters priced at $135, while yet another is selling leg stockings and cosmetics said to protect the skin from toxic smog. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang recently said air pollution must be brought under control and blue skies should never be a luxury.

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