The Weird Workplace

A collection of unusual and quirky stories from across Canada and around the world
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 05/15/2017
Unicorn
Starbucks’ limited-time-offer Unicorn Frappuccinos did not go over well with some of the chain’s baristas. Credit: Irina Adamovich (Shutterstock)

NOT SO MAGICAL

COLORADO — They may have been considered sugary delights by customers, but Starbucks’ limited-time-offer Unicorn Frappuccinos did not go over well with some of the chain’s baristas, according to Reuters. One Starbucks employee called the colour-changing frozen beverage a “Frap from hell” while barista Tina Lee of Florida wrote: “Just know that every time you ask me to make this, a part of me dies.” Nineteen-year-old barista Braden Burson probably made the biggest waves, with a 100-second video rant on Twitter: “Please don’t get it. I have never made so many frappuccinos in my entire life. My hands are completely sticky. I have unicorn crap all in my hair, on my nose. I have never been so stressed out in my life. It has been insane.” Starbucks claimed the drinks had seen “tremendous positive feedback” from customers and employees, but also said it would reach out to Burson to talk about his experience and “how to make it better,” according to the Toronto Star.


GRAMMAR FIGHTS BACK

PORTLAND, MAINE — The placement of a comma can have definite ramifications, as seen recently in a case involving dairy drivers in Maine. They were looking for more than four years’ worth of overtime pay, claiming some of the work they did should not have been covered by exemptions, according to the New York Times. “For want of a comma, we have this case,” said judge David Barron in his 29-page court decision in the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. At issue? The Oxford or serial comma. In Maine’s state law, overtime rules did not apply to: “The canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution of” certain products. If there was a comma after “shipment,” it might have been clear the law exempted the distribution of perishable foods. But the court sided with the drivers, saying the absence of a comma produced enough uncertainty to rule in their favour.

DRIVE-THRU HERO

HARBORCREEK TOWNSHIP, PA. — A quick-thinking McDonald’s employee helped police nab a killer recently in Pennsylvania. After taking an order for chicken McNuggets and fries, the worker recognized the driver of the white Fusion from news reports, according to CNN. The customer was Steve Stephens, the suspect in the murder of Robert Godwin in Cleveland, who posted a video of the killing on Facebook, leading to  a nationwide manhunt. The McDonald’s employee called police and to delay his departure, Stephens was told his fries would take a few minutes. Not keen to wait, he drove off, but was surrounded by police. He later died.


PLAYING IT COOL

KANSAS CITY, MO. — Also playing it cool was a cashier at a sandwich chain in Kansas City. Jimmy John’s employee Tuker Murray was taking a customer’s order when the man suddenly pulled out a gun and pointed it at him, demanding money. But it felt like “amateur hour,” said Murray, in talking to the BBC. “I just looked at it and looked back at him. And he cocked the gun and told me to open the drawer quietly, whispered it to me. And I just stared at him. And he said it again, he’s like ‘Open the drawer quietly.’ I still just stared at him. That’s when he put (the gun) in my face and told me to ‘Open the f---ing drawer.’ I honestly didn’t want to do it… but my manager was behind me, he was like ‘We’ll give it to you, we’ll give it to you.’” Fifty-four-year-old suspect Terry Rayford is now facing a sentence of 10 years in prison, having allegedly committed several other robberies.


HUMANS FIGHT BACK

UNITED STATES — With delivery drones and self-driving cars, fears about robots taking over the world have multiplied. But humans may not let it happen without a fight, according to CNN. That was seen recently when a drunken man allegedly tipped over a 300-pound security robot in Mountain View, Calif. Knightscope, maker of the tall, egg-shaped robot, said it’s had three bullying incidents since debuting its first prototype three years ago. One person attempted to tackle the robot and another tried to spray paint it until the robot sounded an alarm (and captured the culprit’s licence plate on camera). And in 2014, two Canadian academics sent a robot on a hitchhiking adventure as a social experiment, but when it got to Philadelphia, “Hitchbot” was badly mangled. With robots coming out of factories and joining the public, makers of these machines will have to figure out how to protect their automatons.

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