8 of the weirdest work stories from 2011

Charlie Sheen's meltdown caused him to lose his job with "Two and a Half Men."

Story highlights

  • This year's selection of workplace tales ranges from ingenious to inspiring to just plain weird
  • Charlie Sheen losing his "Two and a Half Men" job tops the list
  • The owner of a chain of Iowa convenience stores hosted a contest to see who would be fired
As the year draws to a close, it's not the promise of a new year that brings us the most joy. No, it's the chance to reflect on the past year's most memorable work stories that gives us the most delight. This year's selection of workplace tales ranges from ingenious to inspiring to just plain weird, but they all left their own special mark on pop culture.
So without further ado, we present you with our roundup of the weirdest and most notable work stories of 2011.
1. His "winning" remarks caused him to lose his job
Over the past several years, actor Charlie Sheen has made headlines for his destructive behavior, short-lived marriages and alleged substance abuse. Yet despite the steady drum of rumors and allegations, he continued to show up and dutifully film his TV show, "Two and a Half Men." That is until he had his meltdown. While the seedlings of chaos began to sprout at the end of 2010, things took a turn for the worse in early January, when he was rushed to the hospital for "stomach pains." From there, Sheen became the center of media attention, making news for his bizarre behavior, crazy rants and admittedly addictive catch phrases. There was constant speculation over whether the show would drop him, and he was eventually fired after blasting the show's creator. While Sheen has since cleaned up his act, those few months of insanity are ones we won't soon forget. [Source: People]
2. Rubik's cube expert, prom king and other ways to stand out in your cover letter
There's no shortage of advice on how to develop an effective cover letter, but job seeker Roanald took some of that advice to the extreme. Yes, a cover letter should be attention-grabbing, but using profanity and listing one of his qualities as honorable because he is "the son of a librarian and a Capricorn" may be pushing it. Needless to say it's an entertaining read, and it impressed the cover letter's recipients (Chicago bar The Aviary) enough to get him a job. [Source: The Huffington Post]
3. The homeless man with that "golden voice"
What started as a videotaped interview of a homeless man by Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch videographer Doral Chenoweth soon turned into a widespread Internet sensation. The man in the video, Ted Williams, had a voice any radio or TV announcer would kill for. In fact, earlier in his life, before falling on hard times, he'd attended school for voice acting and did some work in radio. After the video went viral, Williams began receiving job offers and even appeared on NBC's "Today." Yet the sudden media attention was too much for him to bear, and he reverted to drinking and other destructive behavior. While the hoopla has since died down, the homeless man with the silky smooth voice won't soon be forgotten. [Source: The Columbus Dispatch]
4. Playing around on the Internet really can get you a job
Sure, you've been told to "follow your dreams" and "do something you love," but it's never really that easy, right? For one Philadelphia native, it was. The Philadelphia 76ers launched a voting contest to name the team's new mascot but didn't use social media to promote it. So self-described "social media sponge" Jerry Rizzo took it upon himself to create Twitter handles for the three mascot finalists. At first, the team shied away from the extra social media help, asking Rizzo to hand over the Twitter handles and back away from Twitter. But the CEO soon realized there was a real opportunity to grow the team's social media presence, and ultimately offered Rizzo a social media position with the team. He gladly accepted. [Source: Mashable]
5. A cop who didn't want to be late
Miami police officer Fausto Lopez led other officers on a high-speed chase, all in the name of getting to work on time. While Lopez's dedication to punctuality is appreciated, one can only assume his employer would have preferred he arrive 20 minutes late over getting arrested. [Source: The Huffington Post]
6. Oops i(Phone) did it again
In last year's roundup of notable workplace stories, we included the tale of the iPhone 4 prototype that went missing after its owner left it at a bar. Clearly no lessons were learned from that gaffe, because another Apple employee made the same mistake with the iPhone 5 prototype, losing it at a Mexican restaurant. And at least the iPhone 4 was sold for the worthy amount of $5,000. Allegedly the iPhone 5 archetype raked in a measly $200 on Craigslist. Hopefully the next iPhone iteration will be kept under lock and key. [Source: CNET]
7. Gossiping about your co-workers? Use personal email
We've all had those days when we've needed to vent to a fellow co-worker. But doing so continuously, and over company email, may not be the best move. Three Iowa employees learned that lesson the hard way after their boss discovered thousands of their gossipy interoffice emails. Within these emails, the employees in question trashed their co-workers and expressed their general disgust for their jobs. After the disparaging emails were exposed, the employees were fired for "excessive use of the commission's computer system for emails of a personal nature." So the next time you need to let off steam about your workplace, stick to doing so via your personal email account. [Source: MoxieBird]
8. The wrong way to engage employees
Finding fun and creative ways to engage employees is a good thing, right? Not if that includes hosting a contest to guess the next employee to get the boot. The owner of a chain of Iowa convenience stores did just that, encouraging employees to predict the next cashier to be fired for a chance to win a whopping $10 in cash. Do you think any of the employees guessed themselves as the next victim? [Source: On Deadline]
There you have it -- your 2011 workplace year in review. Here's to hoping 2012 brings even more crazy workplace tales. I have a feeling we won't be disappointed.