Coworker Suicide Fails To Shatter Office

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Vol 38 Issue 47

Fact Repeated As Urban Legend

BREWSTER, WA—An actual occurrence passed into the realm of modern folklore Tuesday, when actor Robert Reed's 1992 AIDS-related death was repeated as urban legend. "Dude, this guy I know told me that the guy who played the dad on The Brady Bunch died of AIDS," said Jeff Gund, 16. "Can you believe he believed that?" Gund went on to tell the equally implausible tale of a woman who cut off her husband's penis and threw it in a field, only to see the man surgically reattach it and become a porn star.

How Was Local Man To Know Carol Channing's Niece Was Around?

SAN BERNARDINO, CA—Well, Jesus, is area resident Richard Pauling, 43, never supposed to crack jokes about anyone at a party because, by some freakish coincidence, their niece might actually wind up being in earshot and get pissed off? "All I did was make a humorous remark about actress Carol Channing's advanced age that involved speculation regarding the dryness of her nether regions, and suddenly I'm Hitler," Pauling said. "Shit."

FBI: Six Dead Not Really 'Mass' Murder

WASHINGTON, DC—Addressing reporters about the ritual slaying of six cheerleaders at a Frankfort, KY, high school, FBI director Robert Mueller clarified that the body count does not seem high enough to qualify as "mass" murder. "I don't know if there's an official minimum, but I always imagined 'mass' was more like 15 or 20," Mueller said. "Charles Whitman, now there was a mass murderer." Mueller added that in spite of their modest scale, the killings "were still pretty bad."

Man Always Insists You Toss Him Keys Rather Than Just Hand Them To Him

LITTLE ROCK, AR—Area resident Russ Squirek insists on having his keys tossed to him rather than handed, sources reported Monday. "It's always, 'Yo, here we go, long bomb, send 'em over, going deep,'" friend Craig Green said. "I think he thinks it's cool." Green said Squirek also insists on hopping into convertibles whenever possible rather than using the door.

Barnes & Noble Staffers Mock Orson Scott Card Crowd From Back Of Room

RALEIGH, NC—Employees of the Crabtree Mall Barnes & Noble used a Tuesday book-signing by science-fiction author Orson Scott Card as an opportunity to mock those in attendance. "'Excuse me, Mr. Card,'" cashier Randy Feig said to coworker Ian Rose in a derisive, pinched "nerd" voice. "'In Shadow Of The Hegemon, why was Ender Wiggin so reluctant to return to Earth after the Formic War?'" Feig then urged Rose to "check out the huge dude in the cloak" in the second row.

Woman Who Visited Kenya Once Struts Confidently Into African Store

SKOKIE, IL—Amanda Wyner, 23, who in 1998 spent a week vacationing at a Kenya resort during college spring break, strode confidently Monday into Harambe, a Woodfield Mall store specializing in African art and collectibles. "This is a tribal mask," Wyner stated authoritatively to her sister while holding an Ashanti war mask. "The Africans wear these during actual ceremonies."

Frequent Flyer Knows Out-Of-The-Way Airport Bar That's Never Crowded

ATLANTA—Savvy, experienced business traveler Donald Meyers, 46, knows a great out-of-the-way bar at O'Hare Airport's "B" terminal that's never crowded, the frequent flyer said Monday during a layover in Atlanta. Meyers, a project manager for Motorola who is on the road an average of 150 days a year, discovered the Windy City Pub during a three-hour layover at O'Hare in May 2001. He said the bar is one of his top 10 frequent-flying treats.

Iraq And The Nuclear Option

Last week, President Bush said he would not rule out using nuclear weapons against enemies wielding weapons of mass destruction. What do you think?
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Man Commits To New TV Show Just Hours After Getting Out Of 7-Season Series

UNION CITY, NJ—Recommending that he give himself the chance to pause and explore the other options out there, friends of local man Jonathan Gember expressed their concerns to reporters Wednesday that the 29-year-old is already committing to a new television show just hours after getting out of a seven-season-long series.

Coworker Suicide Fails To Shatter Office

WORCESTER, MA—Last weekend's suicide of Sentinel Management Solutions employee Tom Blundell has failed to shatter the management-consulting firm's office, sources reported Tuesday.

"It's truly tragic, and our hearts go out to his loved ones," Sentinel Management Solutions president Karl Steig said Monday. "In the wake of such a shocking and violent event, however, it's important for life to go on as normally as possible. That's why we decided to keep the office open today."

The Sentinel Management Solutions office not rocked by the death of Blundell (right).

Found dead in his apartment Saturday from what investigators determined to be a self-administered gunshot wound to the head, Blundell had worked at SMS for nearly three years as a data-entry clerk, with occasional weekend duties assisting the customer-service department. Though only two other data-entry-department employees surpassed him in seniority, Blundell was recalled by coworkers as a "recent hire" whom they never got to know particularly well.

"As hard as this has been on everyone at SMS, this has to be even harder on his family," human-resources coordinator Carol Wiese said. "Assuming he had a family, that is. I'm honestly not sure. If he had a wife and kids, he never mentioned it. And he had no dependents on his health insurance. On his employee record, he lists his father as his next of kin, so hopefully the police have contacted him already."

According to Steig, the suicide was wholly unexpected.

"We had no idea he was troubled," Steig said. "He kept to himself a lot and didn't really interact with coworkers much. Maybe if he'd reached out to us more he would have felt less alone, but sometimes that's hard for new people."

Jon Hanschel, a customer-service representative who occasionally worked alongside Blundell, tried to recall the last time he saw him.

"It was two Saturdays ago," Hanschel said. "Or maybe the one before that. I could check the November schedule. No, forget it—that got thrown away. Anyway, whichever Saturday it was, I'm pretty sure he was here that day, because I could see the back of a guy's head from my desk, and I'm almost positive it was him."

Hanschel was among the few SMS employees willing to speak publicly about the suicide. Most declined comment, preferring to cope with the tragedy by immersing themselves in their work.

On Tuesday afternoon, Steig spoke with SMS office manager Joseph Chen about the possibility of retaining the services of an on-site grief counselor to help workers deal with their bereavement.

"Karl asked me, 'How's everyone doing?' and I said, 'Pretty well, considering,'" Chen said. "Actually, very well. I told him hiring a grief counselor probably wouldn't be necessary. A couple of people who worked directly with Tom were kind of shaken up Monday, but they all seem much better today."

"Maybe next week, the shock will finally start to sink in," Chen said. "Sometimes with these things, there's a period of numbness and disbelief before the pain starts. Then again, maybe the shock of this suicide will never be felt."

Determined to soldier on in Blundell's absence, SMS has decided not to cancel or even postpone its holiday party, which is scheduled for this Friday—the same day as Blundell's memorial service. An office-wide e-mail written Monday by Chen reflects the company's determination to move forward.

"Employees who wish to attend Tom Blundell's 5 p.m. memorial service may do so without punching out, but the office holiday party will still start at 6 p.m. sharp," the e-mail read. "Sentinel Management Solutions: providing effective, affordable management consultation for businesses large and small since 1984. Do not reply to this message."

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