I had very high expectations about the good doctor. I’d been told he was a pretty big deal in technology – he’d once been in the running to lead a very successful, well-known international company (I won’t name it, but I guarantee you’ve heard of it). He had a trail of degrees after his name.
I’m sure I wore both my glasses AND an argyle sweater the day I knew Dr. Balls was going to be in the office, because what else do you wear to meet such a genius? That’s Intellectual Chic 101.
About 30 minutes before Dr. Balls was going to show up, a somewhat unkempt old man wandered into the office and started roaming around. This wasn’t unusual. Our office was in a part of town with all sorts of colourful characters walking about. For example, at lunch one day, I came upon a man walking around with no pants and no underwear.
That's right, I saw a stranger’s junk at lunchtime.
Oh, and it was also in the middle of winter: i.e. not flattering. That’s a story for another day, but all that to say, riff-raff materializing in our workplace was no big shock. But what happened next was.
“I’m Dr. Balls,” the man said.
“Oh! You’re a little early for the meeting…” I stammered and struggled to get my glasses on, minimize TheSuperficial.com tab in my browser and summon something intelligent to say in one motion.
“It’s OK. I’ll wait,” he announced and proceeded to make himself comfortable in a seat somewhere behind me. No chitchat, no small talk. Just silently sitting and smelling weird. The office was immediately filled with that oppressive awkward vibe that can only happen when it’s just you and one other person in the room and nobody wants to talk.
This was not what I was expecting at all. I had been picturing a pipe, some houndstooth and elbow patches, and perhaps the faintest scent of cigars. Not a dirty Raiders coat and the smell of mouse droppings. Maybe he was an eccentric genius?
My colleagues came back from wherever they had been (thank Jesus), and Dr. Balls was ushered off into the meeting room to discuss his big idea. Those of us working in the open-concept office could overhear snippets of the conversation (which was mostly one-sided), but some of the gems included hooking up with “five-star hotties”, the fact that his site needed a “porno button” (We later figured out that he just meant a button that says "Enter here"), and a LOT about football.
But the standout moment, while he was describing the design for the app he wanted us to build, we all heard, clear as a bell in complete seriousness:
“The most critical part of this website will be my gyrating balls.”
One of my coworkers made a strangled sound that was a bit like a choking emu and got up and ran out of the office. I didn’t dare make eye contact with anyone. Our CEO later told us he had to excuse himself to the bathroom so he could shit himself with laughter and then walk back in with a straight face.
We’ve got a modern-day Einstein in the other room talking about his balls gyrating with a straight face. Only he was referring to a venn diagram and not actual testicles, in a linguistic blunder of Tobias Fünke proportions.
A week or so later, Dr. Balls hovered over my shoulder for an impossibly long time, making me edit the contract word by word, then go back and change words in the document that I was convinced meant we were all signing our lives away to a madman with spinning testicles.
By this point I had given up on him being an eccentric genius or even a misunderstood quasi-genius. I thought he was a sexist idiot. I finally clicked ‘print’ with a sense of mixed trepidation and relief – trepidation that I was going to be managing a project spearheaded by someone who describes calls-to-actions as "porno buttons" and relief because he was finally leaving and I could breath through my nose again.
Things with Dr. Balls progressed for a while, until eventually the project fizzled out and he took his twirling gonads elsewhere, parting ways on relatively good terms. But long after Dr. Balls’ departure, our office quote board bore the immortal words:
“The critical part will be my gyrating balls”.
Attributed to Anonymous, of course. Just in case he happened to wander back in.
What about you? What was your strangest client experience? I want to hear your comments!