Surviving Work Disasters Bitterness

How we survive Work Disasters.

How we survive Work Disasters.

There have been a lot of big disasters lately.  Floods in Colorado, a government that is so lazy that they are making excuses about why they can’t “come in to work today” (something about their healthcare, IE faking sick again) and the ending of Breaking Bad(I heard it was a show about chemistry.  Uh, wow that sound sooo interesting).  I know I should be more concerned about all these things, but I am trying to fight the good fight on more pressing things.  There are disasters that have happened at work that just take way more time and energy.

You have no idea how much trouble a coin in one of these machines can cause.

You have no idea how much trouble a coin in one of these machines can cause. Make sure you are prepared.

You may not remember the Coin in the Ice Machine crisis of early May or June, (it was such an ordeal that I can’t remember when it was), but I do.  This disaster started when someone….how do I explain the complexeties of this matter in a way that makes sense…someone dropped a coin in the ice machine.  This caused all kinds of stress and questions.  The supervisor was called in to handle this delicate, yet very frustrating matter.  So many questions were floated.  Should we call our building maintenace? How about the police?  Would the Fire Department be a better choice, so they can use some of the fire they carry around to melt the ice?  Many issues were discussed in detail, so much so, that co-workers had to put actual work aside so we could make it through this crisis.  This disaster was much bigger than us.  After much kvetching, and with the wisdom of the supervisor, a decision was made.  We would place a sign on the ice machine, alerting other employees not to use it, and then the contents of the ice machine would be emptied.  It was a tense time, having to wait out the hour before the drastic measure would be taken.  Drinks of water just didn’t seem as cold in that hour, but we soldiered on.  Just as we were about to excavate the ice to find out if the coin survived its harrowing time deep inside its ice tomb, the coin was discovered, nice and warm, in the pocket of the person who supposedly “lost” the coin.  Disaster averted, but not before some tense time of avoiding work.

The toxic coffee spill was this bitter.

The toxic coffee spill was this bitter.  How could I not underreact?

If that wasn’t bad enough, there was the Mid July eruption of Mount Coffeespill in Kitchenatwork, Washington. I remember exactly where I was when it happened.  I was sitting at my desk, avoiding work as usual, when the annoying voice of my co-worker rang out.  This was not the normal neurotic paranoid voice I was used to hearing.  It was a slightly elevated whine.  “There has been a spill in the kitchen.  Coffee is all over the floor.  What do we do?”  Somehow, the little hole of the coffee pot was slightly out of line with the drip line of the coffee and the person responsible left their responsibility.   My co-worker did the right thing coming to us for help.  You never want to attempt to clean up a spill by yourself.  A scientist would need to be called in, to test the toxicity of the coffee before any animals could be caught in the toxic sludge.  The supervisor was again called to the scene to ascertain what could possibly be done.  I was sitting in my cubicle, shirking duties as normal, when the call came.  “Ben, could you go into the bathroom and find the mop.  When you find it, could you bring it to me…in the kitchen.  We must, at all costs, find a way to clean this up!”  But what about all the chemicals?  Was it safe to clean up, when the scientists haven’t tested the coffee levels?  I’m not normally a brave person, but I leapt to action.  (By leapt, I mean after I did a quick eye roll safely behind my computer, then I stood up slowly like I always do.) I went into the bathroom, and bravely walked into the janitor’s closet, pushed aside all impeding obstacles,(stupid, evil garbage can) and grabbed the mop(by the handle, like a boss).  It seemed as if I was walking from the bathroom to the kitchen in slow motion (because I was) and I handed the mop to the supervisor, who proceeded to clean up the mess(without dying from the toxic ooze).  We survived the day, but we were never the same again.

The tense moment between when the computer turned off and when it restarted.

The tense moment between when the computer turned off and when it restarted.

This was nothing compared to Strange Thing showing up on Computeracalypse. Oblivious to other people’s problems as usual, I was working when I heard from the other side of the half wall, a co-worker complaining about something that was showing up on their computer “that just wasn’t right”.  After years of hearing disasters and crisis, I have become numb to “warnings” until it is almost too late.  So when I heard about that disaster, I just ignored it, until it was 3 hours later and the “weird thing” was still there.  It seemed that this was at such a critical level of making her uncomfortable that she just couldn’t concentrate on a mundane task like entering an order.  Something had to be done.  But what? Should IT be called in?  Should Microsoft’s CEO be called home from his vacation on his own island?  Should a special committee of the world’s greatest computer minds be called onto the scene to decide what must be done with this “weird thing” that was preventing any normal work to be done? I was about to think really hard, but decided against it, because that would hurt since I’ve never really done it.  It’s kind of like trying to lift a 200 lbs. weight when you’ve never lifted things in your life.  My mouth got the best of me though, and before I could control what came out of it, I said something I knew I would regret.  It was too late though.  Now everyone would know what a fraud I have been my whole life.  “Did you try to restart your computer?” I said.  IDIOT!  That never works!  Why would I ever say something so stupid!  All eyes locked on me.  It was over.  I started packing my stuff up to leave.  But the most amazing thing happened next.  They actually tried it. And it didn’t blow up our whole building.  Tense minutes later, it was discovered the that thing that “just wasn’t right” was gone.  Obliterated.  Although the anticipated ticker tape parade was cancelled because of weather(there was a light drizzle outside), celebrations of “Oh, I guess it worked” were thrown around.  I will never forget the day I saved that particular program from distracting a person from entering that $14.00 order.

I’m pretty bitter because those big disasters are the ones that get all the press and coverage, while the little disasters toil away in obscurity, hoping that someday, someone will tell their story.  But no one ever does and the disasters go about their day, every day doing what they do without any recognition except from the one or two people that lived through them.  And to the disaster, that is all that really matters. (Not really.  They want a parade.)


Bitter Disaster Ben





82 thoughts on “Surviving Work Disasters Bitterness

  1. Oh my god. I was going to write a similar post a few months ago! It’s amazing how easily distracted we can all get in an office just so we can not work for 5 minutes. Hilarious!


  2. In the offices where I used to work, the Disaster Response Team was comprised of the admin assistants. Guess who was an admin assistant (she writes bitterly)?

    It only goes to show how bad it was because I have been a stay-at-home-mom for 10 years.


  3. I lost it over the coin in the ice machine. Really? Really? The dude didn’t check his pockets before he freaked out?



  4. I work with the public. And I have co-workers. Double bitterness. I have complete strangers coming up to me and asking for stuff. Sometimes they’re smiling and that makes me wonder what they’re up to. Usually it’s something l don’t care about, like correct change or I made the wrong order. They aren’t smiling when they leave though…and neither are my co workers. (bitter smile)


  5. Pingback: In case you missed Bitterness as much as you missed the Government(ie not at all) | Ben's Bitter Blog

    • Are your sure about that? I kind of thought word 42, 96 and 142, were kind of lame. And 582. And 456 wasn’t my best. And some were only mediocre. In fact, the only good ones were the ones that started with b and ended with itter.


  6. We had a great drama at our office the other day when SOMEONE over-watered the orchid at the front desk, resulting in its untimely demise. The (crazy cat) lady tasked with taking care of the orchid sent out a highly passive aggressive e-mail to the entire office warning us that sh*t would GO DOWN if anyone tried to mess with her precious plants again.


    • I have a few drama queens I work with that freak out about the littlest things. I’ve written down more than these three incidents that are the apocalypse for them that I could use for future Work Freak out posts.


  7. I almost called in the SWAT team this morning because someone came into the kitchen to get a glass of water at the same time as me, and we only have ONE water dispenser. I ultimately decided to just go back to my desk and wait until after lunch.


  8. Ahhh, Bitter Ben, The Guru of Bitterness saves the whole damn company and what does he get? A mop handle. A coupla colleagues who responded with rancid bitterness to your snuck-out-before-I-could-control-it oral SBD “suggestion.” Bitter Ben, this is why we go to work: To ensure our bountiful bitterness is dependably replenished yk, “in case of emergency!”


  9. Bahahaa! I literally LOL’d. You’ve got MAD Skillz (pun intended) with writing. That was the most captivating coffee spill and computer crash I have ever come across. So bitterly refreshing! 🙂


  10. I hear your office bitterness, BB. Being an entry level flunky, i usually get the equipment that never works and/or the filing system so over-grown and inaccessible nobody can use it… so ze job, she is always a trouble, no? Good thing i know how to talk like a boss to sulky machines…


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