News & Politics

Great Places to Work; “He Fell Asleep While Smoking a Cigar…”

And other tales of Washington office life—from the colleagues who did it in a videoconference room to the one who put her underwear in the office microwave.

In our survey of 16,000 area employees we asked: What’s the most outrageous office behavior you’ve seen in Washington?

Here are some of their tales.

Sweet Dreams

A common complaint was coworkers who sleep on the job.

■ “Someone who worked with me would often fall asleep sitting up at his desk after lunch. If one of the bosses came in, he would open his eyes and say, ‘Amen.’ ”

■ “We had an employee who would often take naps at his desk. He was a very heavy sleeper. One afternoon, we rolled him out into the elevator. We convinced some acquaintances from the floor below to allow us to stick him in a cubicle in their sales department. After he woke up, it took him ten minutes to realize he was not at his desk.”

■ “A government employee I once worked for fell asleep in his chair after lunch while smoking a cigar. The cigar touched the papers we were working on, and they caught on fire.”

■ “A guy who was going through a divorce had very little cash, and we found out he was living at the office. He was bringing women back there from the local bars.”

Party On

Many employees told of drunken colleagues, most often at holiday parties.

■ “An executive forced supervises to shotgun beer out of her shoe, which she had been wearing, at the office Christmas party. It was not a new shoe.”

■ “A female coworker at a holiday party, having overindulged at the open bar, climbed on a table in front of her supervisor, lifted her skirt up over her head, and said, ‘Take me on, big boy!’ ”

■ “Years ago, the company I was working for held a toga party after winning a big contract. The president of the company got his toga caught on a doorknob, and it came off. He didn’t have anything on under the toga.”

■ “A colleague went back to crash on the office couch after a long night at a beer tasting. In the middle of the night, he walked into the hallway to go to the bathroom. He forgot his key. With no choice and nothing on but a pair of tighty-whities, he curled up on the floor outside the office door and went back to sleep. Our accountant discovered him in the morning.”

Sex in Washington?

Many respondents had stories about sex between coworkers. Here are two tales.

■ “A couple was using a videoconferencing room’s table to get intimate, and while they were doing so, the room activated a remote connection to another videoconferencing room—which happened to have people in it.”

■ “One time after work, I decided to take the stairs instead of the elevator, and I happened upon a couple who was very much into it—she perched on the railing, he doing a delicate balancing act on the step. In my haste to hurry down the steps, I bumped into him and he lost his balance and tumbled down the first flight of stairs.”

Hygiene Hijinx

■ “I worked with a person who kept an iron and ironing board in his office. He would take off his shirt at lunch and press it so it looked crisp for the afternoon.”

■ “I had a coworker who would use a paperclip off your desk to clean his ears while talking to you.”

■ “A coworker (no longer working here) once was caught microwaving her underwear in the office kitchen.”

■ “Someone washed out her pantyhose in the office’s kitchen sink.”

Baring All

■ “A colleague took a nude picture of herself sitting at her desk and posted it to her MySpace page.”

■ “We had an employee who stripped down to his chest at work one day. When confronted, he said, ‘I was too warm.’ ”

■ “I was leading a meeting, and my icebreaker question was ‘If you were to get a tattoo, what would it be and where would you put it?’ We were going around the table, and we got to a young intern who proceeded to stand up, raise her shirt above her head so that her chest was exposed, and began to show us all her tattoo.”

Mind Your Manners

■ “This individual would bring in peanuts in the shell and drop them on the floor of his cubicle. The cleaning crew loved him.”

■ “We have a colleague who must have a raw-onion sandwich every morning for breakfast. He microwaves it, so the office smells like raw onions until about noon.”

■ “When I was temping for a legal firm after college, the senior-partner lawyer, who made tons of money, would sneak into everyone’s desks and steal food.”

Office Life

■ “One of my colleagues was supposed to feed another colleague’s fish while he was on business travel. She forgot, and the fish died. She found a picture of a similar fish on the Internet and taped the picture to the outside of the bowl.”

■ “One of my coworkers likes to substitute one of those large exercise balls for her chair. One day she was be-bopping on the ball listening to her music, and all of sudden there was this loud ‘pop’ followed by a thud of her falling on the floor. It seemed that a tack was under her exercise ball.”

■ “An organization preached integrity, yet management started a betting pool to see who could hire the ‘hottest’ assistant.”

■ “A coworker at a previous job would arrive in the office and make sure everyone knew he was there—making the rounds and saying hi. Then he’d ‘go get coffee,’ but in fact he went to the clothing store in the complex next to the office to be a salesman all day. At the end of the day, he’d show up in the office and shut down his workstation. He fooled people for more than a month saying he was in meetings, out to lunch, etcetera. Then one day, a manager went into the clothing store to buy something.”

Editor in chief

Sherri Dalphonse joined Washingtonian in 1986 as an editorial intern, and worked her way to the top of the masthead when she was named editor-in-chief in 2022. She oversees the magazine’s editorial staff, and guides the magazine’s stories and direction. She lives in DC.