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Strange Tales From The Employment World

In the latter half of 2007, as expected, weird things continued to occur in the employment context. Here are a few of the stranger events.
 
In Australia, Durex was seeking testers for its condom products. Durex’s advertisements posed the question, “Got what it takes to be an official condom tester?” next to a photograph of a busty woman in a revealing uniform. The advertisement went on to say, “With this job on your CV, it really will be a chance to brag to your mates about the special skills you possess, not to mention that your new role will work wonders with the opposite sex”.
 
Durex’s so-called “bed-testing” positions were unpaid but participants were eligible for free packs of Durex products and a chance at a bonus prize of $1,000. Testers were required to report back on the “feel” and “performance” of Durex’s products.
 
In Sao Paulo, Brazil, working at scavenging discarded metal and selling it for profit can be a risky venture. A 19 year old man was caught sawing the arms off a bronze statue of national soccer hero, Pele, and selling them to a scrap yard. He had previously stolen the bronze replica of the World Cup trophy (which Pele’s statue had been holding above its head).
 
The hapless scavenger was turned in to police by homeless people in the vicinity who were enraged by this affront to one of their national icons. The scavenger was charged with theft and faces up to 4 years in prison as a result of his failed caper.
 
In Staten Island, New York, employees at a Burger King were outside feeding bread to a peacock which had wandered into the restaurant’s parking lot. Their peaceful interlude was interrupted when a man appeared and began attacking the bird. The attacker seized the bird by the neck, hurled it to the ground, and began kicking and stomping it.
 
The peacock was beaten so fiercely that its tail feathers fell out and it had to be euthanized. One of the employees described the attacker, saying that he “was going crazy”. When asked what he was doing, the attacker replied, “I’m killing a vampire”. 
 
In Berlin, Germany, Dr. Hans Behrbohm (an ear, nose, and throat specialist) has occasionally performed brain surgery to remove bullets from shooting victims and glass from car accident victims. Recently, he faced a new challenge, performing a difficult operation to remove an 8 centimetre-long pencil which was lodged inside the skull of a patient. 
 
Dr. Behrbohm was able to remove almost the entire object, which had been in the woman’s head for 55 years. The patient was four years old when she fell while carrying the pencil, which pierced her cheek and entered her brain. The patient recalled that the accident “hurt like crazy”.
 
From Amanda, Ohio, we were handed further proof that there is no end to the inexplicable events involving teachers. Parents of students were outraged after their children were subjected to a fictitious gun attack staged by school staff.
 
The sixth grade students were on a week-long class field trip to a state park when the mock attack occurred. Children were told it was not a drill and, according to one parent, were left in a dark room hiding under tables and begging for their lives from their attackers. 
 
A school vice principal (who led the trip) described the incident as a “learning experience” for the students.  The school principal later admitted the situation “involved poor judgment”.
 
In the Philippines, a judge who was ejected from the bench due to his belief in elves was attempting to regain his former employment. 
 
After his removal, the judge threatened an “ungodly reprisal”. And, it appears that a number of related people and places began to experience calamitous events (including a fire in the Supreme Court’s session hall and numerous mysterious car accidents and serious illnesses). 
 
The judge, however, insisted he was not behind these incidents and that the responsible parties included “Luis”, “Armand”, and “Angel” (a trio of invisible elves apparently bent on cleaning up the corruption in the Philippines’ legal system). It seems that Luis (whom the judge described as an “avenger”) has been a very bad influence on Armand and Angel.
 
If you think New York’s streets are tough, you should check out the beaches at Coney Island.  Recently, the arrival of a sand shark circling off the New York beach caused a panic and resulted in a bloodthirsty attack.
 
The attack, however, was on the shark. It seems that a group of swimmers, freaked out by the shark’s presence, proceeded to grab and beat it, some of them striking it in the head.
 
The lifeguard leaped into action, rescuing the shark from the angry mob, cradling it in his arms, and backstroking out to sea where he released it. Said the lifeguard, “I wasn’t going to let them hurt the poor thing”.
 
And, finally, in the spirit of the season we have two heartwarming stories of life working as a Santa during the holidays.
 
In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Santa was being airlifted by helicopter to distribute gifts at a party in the Nova Mare neighbourhood. On the way, the helicopter had the misfortune of passing over the Vila Joao shantytown. 
 
As it flew overhead, drug traffickers below (who apparently control the slum) opened fire, causing the helicopter to have to reverse course and head back to base. Santa was not injured, although bullet holes were found in the helicopter’s fuselage.
 
Apparently the snipers believed Santa’s ride was part of a police raid on their turf. Santa eventually made it to the Christmas party in Nova Mare, by car.
 
In Danbury, Connecticut an ersatz Claus got a little more from one of his visitors than he bargained for. A woman was charged by police after allegedly “taking liberties” with the Santa. The assailant was charged with sexual assault and breach of the peace as a result of the groping incident. 
 
Santa, who is 65, was shocked and embarrassed by the special treatment he had received, and felt badly because children were lined up waiting to see him. A “Santa trainer” commented that it is not unusual for women to want to sit on Santa’s lap, but that he’s never previously heard of such an incident.
 
More strange tales will be forthcoming in 2008, I’m certain.
 
Robert Smithson is a partner at Pushor Mitchell LLP in Kelowna practicing exclusively in the area of labour and employment law. For more information about his practice, log on to http://www.pushormitchell.com/.