Before I got fancy and moved to Germany (“fancy” here means “I spend my entire day in the S-Bahn and climb a lot of stairs”), I did data entry for a few years.
Data entry is hard for most people. Your entire job is to sit alone in a cubicle and type. Even if you need to ask someone a question, there is very little human contact. You might have a short conversation, and then you go back to your desk and type for another few hours. My shift was from 3:30 to midnight, which meant when I got out of work, the streets were empty and all of my loved ones were asleep.
I fucking loved this job. It’s the perfect place if you’re an introvert with the social skills of a coconut that’s been set on fire. If you time your bathroom breaks just right, you don’t even have to look at another human being.
*Image by Lisa Natalie Baker via Twitter
The people running this place got pretty into the holidays. They put up decorations and had events at the company for almost everything. But my favorite was what they did in October. Every week leading up to Halloween there were costume contests with different themes.
For one week, the theme was zombies. There was even a prize for the best costume. I was so excited.
It’s not like I was unhappy with they way I had to dress for work. The dress code was extremely casual there, so people typically wore jeans and T-shirts to work. I loved it, but I also love costumes.
My coworkers, apparently, did not. The day of the costume contest looked like a normal day at the office. Everyone was wearing the usual T-shirt and jeans, exactly the same as every other workday.
Which was a shame, because I showed up like this:
As I lurched through the office and looked at all of my costume-less colleagues, I thought, “Are you fucking kidding me?” In the time it took to get from the parking lot to my desk, I decided: there is a severe lack of Halloween spirit, and it’s my responsibility to make up the difference. Never fear, dear coworkers. Hedgehog is here to punish you for being boring!
What ensued was probably the most fun I have ever had while on the clock. One of my coworkers hadn’t seen me yet, so I snuck up behind him and waited for him to turn around. When he did, I snarled and lunged at him. He screamed as he jumped away from me. I think I almost gave him a heart attack.
I did feel a little bad about this.
But not bad enough to stop.
Every time I left my desk I would lurch around, flailing my arms and growling at the people near me. If someone crossed my path, I would chase them back to their desk.
The best part was my lunch break. As I was on my way to get my lunch, I noticed that someone made the mistake of leaving their office door open after they had left for the day. The office was situated in the hallway between the breakroom and the main building.
Then I got an idea. An awful idea. Hedgehog had a wonderful, awful idea.
I poked my head inside, peeked back out into the hallway, and thought, “I’ll take it!”
For the rest of my lunch break, I hid inside the empty office, waiting for people to walk by. When someone was about to pass in front of the door, I would jump out in full zombie-mode, screaming and clawing at the air. These innocent people went from taking a peaceful walk to the breakroom to cowering in terror in front of me.
The important thing to note here is: there were security cameras all over this building. I’m pretty sure someone was watching the whole thing. I’m also pretty sure that people throughout the building could hear what I was doing.
So why didn’t anyone stop me?
I’m sure what I did was very wrong. What kind of lunatic would do something like this? Does this count as workplace harassment? When I came to work the next day, I fully expected to get called into HR.
Instead, I got an email. “Congratulations!” it said. “You won the costume contest! Please come to the main office to pick up your prize.”
I had won a gift card to Walmart.