“It may feel like just another day at the office, but occasionally life feels more like an action movie than reality.”
So begins the Alabama Department of Homeland Security’s newly released training video, called “RUN HIDE FIGHT.” The clip simulates a workplace shooting to teach potential victims what to do should they find themselves in a situation like the ones in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo.
The video, despite its worthy, timely message, is a jarring mix of the graphic and the corny. “Sometimes bad people do bad things,” warns the narrator, as if providing a voice-over for the trailer to a bad ’80s action flick, before a shooter dressed in back begins spontaneously executing employees in an office building. As its title suggests, “RUN HIDE FIGHT” simulates various scenarios faced by people encountering a mass shooting, showing petrified individuals hiding in copy rooms, weeping workers scrambling to escape the shooter, and a break room full of people wielding chairs and fire extinguishers in an attempt to take the gunman down. Complete with stilted dialogue and cringe-worthy background music, the whole thing would be laughable were it not so terrifying.
The instructional clip joins the canon of bizarre workplace training videos released over the years. Absurdly gory, shoddily made, and sometimes unintentionally hilarious, these are so outlandish it’s hard to imagine that anyone ever took them seriously.
‘It Only Takes a Second’
The series of vignettes in “It Only Takes a Second” illustrating the calamitous effects of absentmindedness—tripping over a filing cabinet drawer, falling off a shelf, crashing into pedestrians with your car—plays like a real-life recreation of a Looney Tunes episode. All that’s missing is a banana peel and a cartoonish “whoosh!” when someone slips on it.
‘Will You Be Here Tomorrow?’
Work safety video or the trailer for the next Saw film? This 1998 clip, ominously titled “Will You Still Be Here Tomorrow?,” is essentially a scare-tactics montage of catastrophes in a warehouse: a man accidentally hammers a nail into his forehead, a worker is impaled on a pole after falling from a ladder, someone’s finger is severed when he falls. Fake blood abounds, cartoonish “argghhs!” are wailed, and impassioned confessionals on how “I knew better” are offered by employees with amputated limbs. Safety first.
‘Understanding and Selling to Our Expanded Audience’
“We’re aiming an exciting new promotion at an entirely new breed of consumer, a segment of the species that remains a mystery to over 50 percent of the population today,” says an excited executive for the video game retail franchise GameStop. “Join me on an amazing journey, as we reveal the truth about one of the world’s most fascinating creatures.” Who are these mythical, otherworldly beings? Women! GameStop’s video trains its male employees how to overcome their fear of cooties in order to sell to female customers, offering tips on how to recognize a woman (lack of ratty T-shirts), why they are valuable consumers (they buy things for their children), and a reminder that they probably know absolutely nothing about video games (because they are women, remember?).
‘Shake Hands With Danger’
Yet another safety video titled as if by Lifetime Movie Name Generator, “Shake Hands With Danger” is a film from 1970 warning of the risks associated with working with heavy machinery on a construction site. The over-the-top acting and pitiful effects are nothing—the winner here is the theme song, performed by a Johnny Cash-soundalike. “Shake hands with danger / meet a guy who oughta know / I used to laugh at safety / now they call me three-finger Joe.”
‘A Reaper’s Guide to Occupational Health and Safety’
When a construction site manager starts lecturing his charges on the importance of workplace safety, one eavesdropper listening from a distance is not pleased: the Grim Reaper, of course.
‘Chuck E. Cheese’s University’
When it comes to the employees Chuck E. Cheese trusts to don the costume of its pizza-gorging rodent mascot, the company doesn’t play around. The Chuck E. Cheese “University” guide to maintaining the furry outfit and properly portraying the character is almost implausibly exhaustive, specifying every detail down to the brand of cleaner that should be used to scrub the costume each night. “Warm up before you begin your magic as Chuck E. Cheese,” the video advises, before showing absolutely precious footage of a man dressed as a giant rat dressed in a tuxedo doing calisthenics in an empty Chuck E. Cheese dining room circa 1991.
‘Selling Is Service, Service Is Selling—A Musical Training Video’
Glee, eat your heart out.