?This was the second TR contest I’ve had the privilege of judging and I have to say that you folks didn’t let me down in the slightest. Not that I had any doubt, but you guys are all such incredible nerds that it warms every fiber of my jaded, surly being.
That said, it was kind of a tough contest to judge. From awkward tales of revealing your nerdiness to indifferent co-workers to just plain awesomeness, there were a lot of entries that seemed like they may just claim a TR prize. Eventually though, I settled on two entries — one from the best category and one from the worst — that I felt best represented that triumph and tragedy that can result from geeking out in the workplace. I’ll get to those in a bit, but first, after the jump are the honorable mentions (really though, you peeps are all superstars in my nerd-loving eyes).
To be fair, when picking the honorable mentions I tried to weigh best and worst entries together without placing a bias on one of the two categories. Thus they are presented as you see below (some best, some worst). After all, one person’s awkwardness is another person’s lolz. That said, here we go.
I think I used: ‘Its the filing system we deserve, but not the one we need right now..’ the other day..
A Dark Knight-centric reference that still is a valid commentary on the mundanities of office life. Very nice indeed.
El Fez said:
Being a software tester, I am often surrounded by
geeks and nerds of all stripes. Some into Anime, other like sports – but
we all had our field of nerd expertise.
That is, until I worked on a project without a single nerd in the
building. It was hammered home just how alone I was when the team went
out to dinner after work one day. We were talking about past gigs and
what we had done in our lives, when one fellow mentioned that he served
in the US Navy, on board the USS Enterprise.
I, of course, without missing a beat I asked “So, how’s Captain Kirk?”
Dead silence. You could hear a pin drop. Nobody got what I was
talking about until a few moments later with the round of polite
chuckles and a quick change of subject. Seriously, how the hell do you
serve on the Enterprise without knowing about Star Trek?
This one makes me weep for humanity a bit.
Da Bearon said:
I work in the data processing unit of a State
Department of Corrections. (Unofficial motto:”Our Governors make our
About ten or fifteen years ago we had a youngish, inexperienced Unit
Manager. For whatever reason he decreed that we would be allowed to wear
Halloween costumes to work.
You can see it coming, can’t you. 😛
I was a member of KAG at the time, so of course I showed up in my
Klingon Battle armor, minus the weapons. I also left off the headpiece,
since it’s hot in my office, and I have longer than shoulder-length hair
and a full beard.
Naturally I was the only one in the office in ANY kind of costume. Need I say more?
There’s a joke to be made here about prison sex and Klingons, but I’ll leave it to you.
I’m a twin, so I have a color picture of
Tomax & Xamot hanging on my wall by my desk. I’m also a manager, so
whenever new customers, employees, or others in my industry come to our
office they are always introduced to me. On several occasions I have
had to explain who the heck the picture is and then I have to explain
why I have it there. I refuse to take it down regardless of the
embarrassing looks I get after I explain it to them, or even the looks
of shock when they first see it.
The best part? I don’t feel any shame before, during or after the ordeal. My twin does, though.
The only thing that would make this any better is if braineek began shouting “COBRA LALALALALALALA!” at his co-workers for no reason.
One of my co-workers (TJ) was having trouble with his laptop, and he claimed he threw it across the room with 100 Gs of force.
That lead to a forty-five minute discussion, including much internet
research, about whether it would throw a standard laptop with 100 Gs of
force. Forty-five minutes of company time, making customers wait, while
we chased that particular rabbit.
After much debate, including charts and diagrams, it was determined
that it would be theoretically possible for a man to throw his laptop
with 100 Gs of force… just we didn’t believe that TJ (who is built
like a shorter version of Martin Short) could do it.
Nerdiness and property damage is clearly the new chocolate and peanut butter.
Part of my job is writing scripts (small functions or
programs within programs) and as part of this, I get to name them and
make the icon for them. Most every script is either a play on words or a
reference to geekery. I’ll also put geeky references into the status
text that flashes by.
Back to the Future reference for a time-scaling script. Icon is the flux capacitor.
Indiana Jones for a virtual object swap script. Golden Idol icon.
Iron Man references galore for an inverse-kinematics solving script, with Iron Man as the Icon and credits to Stark Enterprises.
More Star Wars references than I can remember. A time-measurement tool mentions converting from parsecs to seconds.
HAL’s eye is the icon for a script that removes unnecessary
dependencies. It also looked at the user’s home directory and, if their
name was Dave or David, shot out a quote. There was one guy in our
office named Dave who was a complete screw-up.
Well done, Quixotico. I’m both impressed and a bit terrified.
I remember one meeting where we spent 30 minutes talking about Jennifer
Garner’s ass and it was a completely legitimate business discussion. I
work for a company that makes animation software and one of our
customers used it to “enhance” Jennifer Garners behind in Elektra. We
ultimately decided not to make a press release about it, but we sure did
have fun making up headline.
“Completely legitimate business discussion,” huh? Sure it was.
During my 20 years in the military, I worked a great
deal of time in the Intelligence field. When I worked at a Major
General’s HQ in the Operations and Training section, our office had
numerous posters about “Possible Aggressors” with photos/drawings of
Soviet/Chinese/North Korean equipment and uniforms.
Behind my desk, I had several pictures all with the captions
“Possible Aggressors”. Darth Vader, Klingons, Godzilla, Mojo Jojo and I
believe Harley Quinn.
The few times someone raised an eyebrow, my boss (A Sergeant Major)
would shrug his shoulders “He’s an Intel Guy. You know about them.”
Ed’s completely right, we should totally be monitoring Mojo Jojo’s actions at all times.
Lotus Watcher said:
During a night of heavy drinking with my coworkers, who are from all
walks of life, we all decided to rename our company’s software to sound
Japanese, then we assigned everyone a power ranger to operate zoids that
combine into an ass-kicking giant robot by that name. I’m the Fucking
Fuschia Ranger, but we have a Green Ranger, a Transparent Ranger, and
even a Gingham Ranger. When a new coworker establishes themselves we
allow them to choose their new ranger and post on our super secret
company forum under their ranger name. We also put together a roster
page with poorly photoshoped ranger pics and short biographies of each
I’m more of an Ultraman guy, but I see how this can be fun.
I am a partner at a small law firm. We handle criminal and civil litigation.
The younger associates I manage occasionally complain that the motion
or opposition I have assigned them to draft, or the oral argument I
have sent them to make, is not winnable. By now, they all know that if
they offer that complaint, I will respond with an extended Kobayashi Maru
reference. In fact, all I have to say now is “Kobayashi” and they shut
I am a librarian and for Black History Month last month, we
created this fairly sweet poster (which is still hanging up because it’s
awesome and we don’t want to take it down): http://www.flickr.com/photos/swfclrc/5518102957/
That poster is awesome and inspirational, well done. But is Storm on there twice?
When I was in Desert Storm in 1991 (did I just give my age away?), my
troop was patrolling through some destroyed vehicles. As we walked among
them, talking about various details, I saw a small piece of scrap on the
ground. I picked it up and said to my platoon sergeant “Look sir,
droids!” Most of the guys got it, but my sergeant just gave me a
Skrag was being nerdy while IN A WAR. Impressive, no? And why do I suspect that the 2112 is a Rush reference?
Big Jim Slade said:
Well, when I was younger, I was a HUGE X-Men fan. I was such a big fan
that many of the important things in my life bore some sort of reference
to significant X-Men comics. In fact, it still transfers to today. We
password protect some items at work. During a somewhat recent
presentation, the person running it opened up one of my files in front
of the room. I had to give my password. “0248,” I answered. I got a
lot of questions as to where I got this one. Fellow fans might know,
but for most of the people in my company, I had to explain. “I used to
collect comic books, and my favorite was Uncanny X-Men. My favorite
artist was Jim Lee, and #248 was the first issue of X-Men that he drew.”
Let me just say that I didn’t impress any of the managers in the room
with my juvenile obsession still making its presence known in my
professional life. I’ve now changed the password to 0266, the first
appearance of Gambit.
Oh the secret shame of nerdy passwords. I think we’ve all been there.
Junkyard 22 said:
A friend of mine told of a test they had to took the
day before Thanksgiving in college. The professor really didn’t wanna be
there but was required to give a test. Here was the test:
1. What is your name?
2. What is your Quest?
3. What is your favorite Color?
My friend was the only person to get it.
Secondhand nerdiness or not, this is still a great story.
PopeAwesome XIII said:
For my own personal favorite: getting on the intercom system at (name of
retail chain deleted by author) after closing, and demanding that the
manager shut down all trash compactors in the detention level. Do you
hear me? SHUT DOWN ALL TRASH COMPACTORS ON THE DETENTION LEVEL.
Nobody got it.
The Pope here felt that the contest was skewed towards office workers, but I have to respectfully disagree. If I was in a store and heard someone do this, I would not leave until I met, shook the hand of or frenched whomever was responsible for such a display of greatness.
The rest of the honorable mentions and the winners are on the next page!
I work at a convenience store. My best: Killing time between customers wandering the store reciting the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, from memory.
I actually used to do the exact same thing at my first job. Yay us!
I work for manufacturing company so production is essential.
One day we were in a meeting talking about how to prevent production slowing down.
So I said “The spice MUST flow”.
Jaymus Yawsley said:
I work at a day care, and every Halloween we’re allowed to dress up.
However, we can only dress up as “community helpers” or animals.
Considering everyone dresses up as a nurse/doctor or puts on some animal
ears and goes as an “animal,” I always… go the extra mile and stretch
the bounds of what a community helper actually is.
In order, I’ve gone as Magnum P.I., Chuck Bartowski (with incredibly
detailed Buy More and Nerd Herd badges that a friend made for me), Bob
Ross (as in “happy trees”), Batman, my grandpa (long story), and Rocky
Balboa. Dressing as (mostly) nerdy characters to buck the system? I’d
say that’s something to be proud of.
As for worst, it kind of ties in with the best: I tend to stay in
character no matter who I dress up as. All day long. Fellow nerds may
not think much of it, but not everybody understands that if I’m dressed
as Batman, then I am going to talk like Batman. Which includes solving
every problem by saying “I’m Batman.”
Best and worst all mixed into one delicious stew of geekery. My hat is off to you Jaymus.
Puzzled pagan said:
Last Sunday I asked off for work, claiming it as a
religious holiday, because march 6th is the “Day of the Dude,” a holy
day for the religion called Dudeism, which follows the wise teachings of
Jeffery “the Dude” Lebowski. Upon having to explain the holiday, I got
into a long conversation about Dudeism, and ended up converting three
coworkers to the Church of the Latter Day Dude. And I got the day off.
The Dude abides.
I don’t know where Puzzled pagan works, but it’s got to be the coolest job around, no?
I work as an Operating Theater Technician. Few years back I had to go
into the storeroom and set up a GPS, which is a device that responds to
radioactive particles (they inject you with this stuff, it collects in
your lymph node, they remove the lymph node) Anyway, The storage case
they keep it in looks exactly like the storage case of the Sentry guns
in Aliens. Thinking I’m alone, I then start doing Hicks speech when the
Sentry guns are introduced (“This is absolutely everything we could
salvage from the APC wreckage. we got 4 Pulse Rifles, with about 50
rounds each etc etc”) Now I’m not only saying the lines, I’m acting the
dialogue as if I’m Hicks talking to Ripley. As I finish the speech and
setting up the Machine I hear someone clear their throat behind a
storage stack. I look to see the Head Technician (my immediate boss) and
the Unit Manager (my boss above him) looking at me with horrified
expressions. Long story short, I got sent to the Company Psych and a bad
reference do to my “threatening and delusional Behavior”
Ahh, the perils of staying frosty.
Pervy McDirty said:
I work for a porn company. One day at work someone put a paper cut-out
of Pedo Bear in my cubicle. The next day I wore my Tick T-shirt and
proudly pointed out to everybody, Pedo Bear in the steely jaws of my
There’s so much awesomeness in the above sentences that I can’t handle it.
Not exactly the nerdiest, but still a nerdy impulse with some very bad consequences:
I was doing hired yard-work over the summer and I was moving some
very large sections of a log at the top of a very large hill (50 meters
or so) . Since it was really tiring to keep picking them up and I
thought it’d be funny, I yelled “This is Sparta!” and kicked one. It
ended up going crooked and down the hill at such a high speed that it
destroyed two newly-planted saplings and crashed into the house at the
bottom. I then had to carry it all the way back up the hill.
If this had been filmed, you would be a YouTube superstar.
I was working as an EMT. I named my ambulance “Ratchet”.
Does that count?
Yes. Yes it does.
I used to work in a mailroom for a small health
insurance company. The room we were in had once been a server room, and
thus required a keycard badge to enter (which made a loud enough beep
from the outside to give us enough time to look busy, should someone
As such, it was business-as-usual for each workday to devolve into a paperclip-throwing free-for-all.
On a slow Thursday, after being hit in the head one too many times by
my annoyingly-accurate coworker, Larry, I spent over an hour building a
detailed model of Darth Maul’s ship (the Sith Infiltrator) out of heavy
cardboard and invisible tape. I added a special compartment that held a
large handful of jumbo paperclips in the nose, so that when it hit him,
it would also deliver its payload of paperclip death. I was quite proud
When I got the opportunity, I heaved it over the cubicle wall,
pleasantly surprised at the fact that it glided rather gracefully. I
peered around the wall in time to see it hit him square in the back of
The explosion of paperclips was spectacular.
Unfortunately, I had made it so sturdy that I may as well have
drilled him with a ream of paper, and it actually made him cry. The Sith
Infiltrator effectively ended the fun and games with Larry for a long
It looked pretty sweet, though…
Remember, kids, nothing involving the prequels doesn’t hurt.
The Nerd Princess said:
I used to work for a call center for a major pizza delivery chain. In
our tiny center, members of management sat on a dais so that we can see
everyone else on the floor in case they need help. Well, the head
manager was such a Star Trek geek, he often would refer to the dais as
The Bridge. Any time someone would ask him permission to do something
(have a smoke break, use the restroom, etc) he would say “Engage!” And
his crowning moment occurred one day when he needed to leave the center
for about an hour. He turned to the assistant manager and, I shit you
not, said, “Number One, you have the Con.” Now I’m a ST nerd myself. But
wow. He took it to levels I never thought possible.
Yeah, levels of AWESOMENESS.
The Chu said:
Our HR rep was visiting for her annual insurance
benefits update, and it was my first with the company. She was going
over a long Powerpoint presentation about how upgrading from one plan to
another plan was better overall and comparing different ones on the
screen. There was a premium plan at the bottom of the current chart
highlighted because it was the most popular plan out of the choices.
I quickly did some maths in my head, a simple price comparison like
you might at the grocery store. When she paused after hyping up the
plan, I said, “It’s a trap!” in my best Admiral Ackbar.
I meant to say it just to the people around me, but there was a
coincidental lull in all sound at that precise moment. But because I
work in games, everyone got the joke and started laughing… except for
the benefits lady… who clearly didn’t get the joke, and glared at me
because I obviously made fun of her in some way.
This is my entry for both the best AND the worst example. I endeared
myself to co-workers, but you should never piss off two important
departments, HR and IT.
Another simultaneous best and worst entry. Anything with Ackbar is pure gold as far as I’m concerned.
I’m a cook at a pizza place. One of the other cooks
and I were bored, so we came up with diner lingo/short ordrer nicknames
for the pizza toppings and specialty pizzas. I’ll list the nerdiest
Pepperoni and Italian Sausage became Mario and Luigi respectively. So
a 14″ pizza with both is a Large Mario Bros. One with
Pepperoni+Sausage+Mushrooms is a Super Mario Bros and a
Pepperoni+Jalapenos is a Fire Flower.
Also we couldn’t think of a sensible nickname for Ham, so we took to
calling it Optimus Prime. (A Ham+Pineapple is a Megatron because
pineapple on Pizza is evil corrupting the other toppings).
Pizza and Super Mario rank amongst most TR readers favorite things, so an honorable mention is merited for you — you magnificent bastard!
My husband is a big Sliders fan. One day, one of his
co-workers went out to buy lunch for all the supervisors, and he came
back with White Castle. My husband picked up one of the hamburgers and
said, “Hey look! Ssssssssssssliders!”
And yes, he whispered it just like in the beginning titles of the
show. Needless to say, very few people got it, and regarded him as a
creepy weirdo from then on.
I suppose that I must be a bit of a creepy weirdo myself, cause it’s something I thought the first time I ever heard of cheeseburger sliders.
I was placed on a “Personnel Improvement Program” for wearing my Topless Robot shirt to work on casual Friday.
Dude, if you didn’t already have a shirt, you would have won one for this.
Josh H. said:
Best: I had put in my two weeks and it was my last
day. Our uniform was black dress pants, black dress shoes, and a button
up white dress shirt. I went out and bought tearaway black pants and a
thicker shirt and black boots. At the end of my shift, my boss is
wishing me good luck at my new job, and I interupt him and put my hand
to my ear. “What? Lois is in trouble!” I then rip off my uniform to
reveal a full superman outfit (Minus cape sadly) and dashed out the
Worst: Having to go back inside to get the car keys that were still in the pants.
Josh, your story of leaving your job in the nerdiest manner possible is hilarious. To follow it up with such a soul-crushing postscript sounds like something that would happen to Charlie Brown. It was my second favorite story, one that was trumped only by the best example of sticking it to the man I’ve seen since Empire Records. Which brings us to the winners! First up: The Best:
Forgetful Man said:
Until recently I worked for a very straight-laced
company in the planning department. Part of my job was to update
emergency procedures handbooks, which I was convinced nobody read.
So I added sections on what to do in case of Zombie Apocalypse, Alien
Invasion, Godzilla Attack, Skrull Invasion, T-Virus Outbreak, and
Raptor Release. All with detailed instructions referencing source
It was approved by the board of directors w/o review.
At this time senior management is completely unaware that their staff
will soon possess the condensed knowledge of Ash Williams, David
Levinson, Daisuke Serizawa, Reed Richards, Dr. Lisa Kaplan, and Robert
On May 25th it will be automatically emailed to every staff member
with instructions to read it carefully as it will be discussed at the
June full-staff retreat.
This is some next-level style culture-jamming shit here. Forgetful Man is the Banksy of Topless Robot. All hail and fear him. Also, let’s hope he puts a scan of the handbook online so we can all enjoy his big FU to authority/possible nervous breakdown. I am humble before you sir. Now, the Worst…
At an Indie Record Store I worked at, we had a computer brought in
with internet access so we could look up new album releases and whatnot.
Of course, everyone in the store used it to dick around on since there
was a lot of downtime since the industry is dying. I was no exception,
cruising all my usual sites and playing flash when I was really, really
Being that the store was family owned, my boss’s son would
occasionally help out on Fridays. He was only 14, and didn’t care if I
did my usual computer thing. It just so happened on this fateful Friday
that I was on our very own Topless Robot. I was showing the kid around
the site since he had been reading a LEGO article over my shoulder. He
seemed pretty interested in the site, so I let him browse around a bit
while I helped an old woman find where Tony Bennett’s section was
located. “I’ve done my nerd deed of the day,” I was thinking right as my
boss walked in.
I wasn’t particularly worried, since I’m sure the kid could have
gotten away with anything, but it was the way he asked, “What are you
_reading_?” that got me nervous. “Oh, something Travis showed me,” the
kid replies. By this time I had finished with the old lady and was
heading up to ring her up when I caught what he was looking at. I was
THE FFF HAD BEEN POSTED.
I had completely forgotten the terrors that were unleashed Fridays.
My boss had come in, and saw his son reading a story of Maria Figueroa
helping Elmo explore his sexuality — one that he said I showed him.
So, yeah. This all happened at a record store where I worked (heavy emphasis on the past tense).
Wow. Just WOW. People, I can’t emphasize enough. FFF is a threat to the youth of America. You think J. Jonah Jameson thinks Spidey is a menace? My mind can only comprehend what his reaction would be to a TV-inspired story about a man and his car giving into their most filthy desires. FFF stories should never be left where young eyes can see them. I think Travis dodged a legal bullet here for corrupting a minor, so that is certainly worth a T-shirt. Wait, he wins a TR contest because of a FFF story? The whole situation is so borderline meta that I need to lie down for awhile. Now, he doesn’t explicitly say that he was fired for this incident, although that is majorly hinted at. (Travis, if you were, feel free to discuss exactly what went down here). And for the rest of you, remember, Topless Robot is not for the faint of heart.
Thanks to everyone who entered. And if you didn’t win this time, there’s always next week!