Mess with the Bull, Get the Horns

We all know workplace violence is no laughing matter. All HR professionals should be well versed in the laws applicable to weapons in the workplace at all of your organization’s locations. Each state has its own twists when it comes to restricting weapons (especially firearms) on private property. For instance, my state of South Carolina sets out the requirements in minute detail. The following is no joke—you really have to check all of the following to prohibit a licensed concealed weapons carrier from bringing a concealed weapon onto your premises in this state:

Source: Johnny Adolphson / shutterstock

  • You must post a sign stating, “NO CONCEALABLE WEAPONS ALLOWED,” in black, one-inch uppercase type at the bottom of the sign centered between the lateral edges.
  • The signs must be posted at each entrance to the building.
  • They must be at least eight inches wide by 12 inches tall.
  • They must be clearly visible from outside the building.
  • They must bear the black silhouette of a handgun inside a circle seven inches in diameter with a diagonal line from the lower left to the upper right at a 45-degree angle from the horizontal.
  • The signs must appear not less than 40 inches and no more than 60 inches from the bottom of the door.

That’s just one state, and the other 49 will have their own quirks.

Sugar Bowl Showdown

Even though the subject is no joke, this week’s Sugar Bowl reminded me of one of the few humorous categories of “workplace” violence: fights between sports teams’ mascots. The Georgia Bulldogs and the Texas Longhorns were preparing to tussle in New Orleans, and most college football fans are familiar with each team’s mascots. Georgia’s spirit animal is “Uga X” (U-G-A, “Uga”—get it?), the tenth in a series of purebred English bulldogs to accompany the team on the sidelines. Texas counters with Bevo, a hulking longhorn steer emblematic of the state (I can’t tell you where the Bevo name comes from and, having been raised in Missouri, I frankly don’t care).

Anyway, both animals were at the Superdome for the game, and someone thought it would be a grand idea to get them together for a picture on the field. What could go wrong? Actually, a lot. Uga’s handler led him toward a temporary enclosure where Bevo was being tended by several handlers. A gaggle of photographers followed, eager to capture this historic meeting between a cow and a dog.

Like many Texans, though, Bevo had other ideas. He surged past his handlers’ grip, pushed aside the temporary metal rails around his “pen,” lowered his massive horns, and made a beeline for Uga. The paparazzi scattered, students in fake Stetsons tried to corral the beast, and Uga took off—mass hysteria!

To be fair, Uga isn’t new to such antics, and he’s been the aggressor before. Back in the ’90s, Uga was hanging out on the sidelines during a game against one of Georgia’s main rivals, the Auburn Tigers. Auburn ran a play toward the Georgia sideline, and one of its players stepped out of bounds near the seemingly docile Uga. The mascot shed his gentle exterior and sprang into action. To the delight of Georgia fans everywhere, he lunged for the Auburn player and took a bite. Thankfully for the shocked Tiger, Uga’s teeth only crunched down on air.

Violent Sideline Tale of Yore

Now don’t make the mistake of thinking that this vicious epidemic involves only our animal “friends.” We humans are fully capable of primal behavior in the sporting arena. Take, for instance, the melee several decades ago between the Cal and Stanford mascots. Cal’s mascot is Oski the Bear (obviously, a student in a plush bear costume), and the Stanford Cardinal feature a guy dressed up like a California redwood tree (well, at least a small part of the evergreen segment).

Oski was doing his thing, cheering on his Bears and taunting Cal’s cross-bay rivals, when the Stanford tree decided he’d had enough. He charged, he tackled, and the world was treated to video of security personnel and law enforcement straining to control a scrum between a tree and a bear.

Happy New Year, folks, and be sure to check those signs and policies—you never know who or what may shatter the peace and goodwill of the season!

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