Note to self: Don’t insult a hand-to-hand combat instructor

Warning: This post is supposed to be humorous. If you are not experienced with humor, you might not get it. If that is the case, here’s the IRS website. Feel free to read some of that really exciting stuff over there. Why humor? Because we’re HR professionals, darn it. If we don’t get some measure of humor our souls wither and die.

Today I’ll tell the story of when I accidentally insulted someone during new hire orientation.

And not just any someone.

This guy’s dream (as he’d already told me several times) was to own his own firearms and hand-to-hand combat training business, so he was a pretty tough dude.

So, I’d been recruiting this guy for a few weeks, but we hadn’t been able to talk very much since he was overseas at the time. He was taking a remote position with us, and the group he was working with was actually in town on the day he started, so he came to the home office for his new hire orientation. Simple enough, right?

Well, we are sitting in the orientation session and I pause to talk about the different pieces of the company and what all we do. I mentioned a recent proposal we had submitted to do some work for the government, and his temper went from zero to sixty in a heartbeat. He was on his feet, pacing back and forth, and growling about how dumb the decision was. I’ve never actually seen someone “gnashing their teeth,” but I’m willing to bet that was about as close as you can get.

They make you take psychology classes in college when you get an HR degree. You also take things like communications, public speaking, etc. Basically, you should know how to talk to someone. Heh. At the time that was the furthest thing from my mind.

This guy is a trained killer, and I just made him angry. If he smashes the computer and chairs, I’m the next biggest thing in the room for him to take his frustrations out on. Unless he used the computer and chairs to smash me. That seems pretty efficient, and I haven’t seen anything inefficient about the guy since I met him. Crap.I’d rather go out in a blaze of glory. Beaten to death with a faux leather office chair was not in my top five ways to die. 

Agh. Why didn’t I sit closer to the door? I could at least get it halfway open before he snaps my neck like a twig. I wonder if I could distract him. Too bad I don’t have a red cape to wave in his face or something. Or a bazooka. That would probably be intimidating, except for the fact that I have no idea how to use one. Sigh. College was such a poor way to spend my time. 

At this point he’s started to calm down a little after circling the room a few times. I’d like to say it was at that point that I took control of the situation and moved on with the orientation.

But I didn’t.

Wow. His hands look really big. I wonder if he could wrap them all the way around my neck. I wonder where he’d hide the body. It’s a small room. But he’s probably inventive. He could stuff me in the ceiling tiles and be out of the building before anyone realized I was missing. Why didn’t I take the extra optional life insurance package? Darn. Wait a minute, what if I play dead? Will he still attack? Oh, wait, that’s for bears, not people. Stupid Discovery Channel. Why don’t you tell us how to survive people? I have yet to see a bear from three feet away, but I’ve been that close to plenty of crazy people… Wait a minute, he’s looking at me again.

By this point he was sitting in his chair, staring at me as if I was the one who had nearly just blew his top. I stumbled and stuttered through the rest of the slides, made an excuse to leave the room, and breathed deeply of the fresh air that filled my lungs.

I had survived.

I’d like to say there’s a grandiose lesson here, but I can’t think of one. Just make sure you sit near the door if you are ever alone in a room with a former special-forces-trained-killer and there’s a chance you could make them angry at you.

Anyone else have a crazy new hire orientation story?