August 5, 2008 ( - We all have them: those front-line experiences that are inevitable when one deals with the variety and sensitivity of issues associated with human beings and critical life events. Sometimes those stories are tragic, sometimes they are bizarre, and sometimes-admit it-they are just plain funny.

Whether it’s because there are lessons to be learned from every problem; misery loves company; or we all just need something to help us keep these very challenging jobs in perspective, readers of PLANSPONSOR have generously shared their stories with us.

Here are some of the more interesting ones pulled from those submitted to PLANSPONSOR in the past year.

Open Enrollments?

Many years ago, my benefits technician sat at a desk in an open area of the office-not the best of locations since, even before HIPAA, etc., we tried to protect “private” information. On a particular day, two blue-collar employees, A and B, came into the tech’s “office”‘ along with spouses A and B. Employee A dropped Spouse A from all benefit plans and beneficiary designations and then proceeded to add Spouse B. Employee B dropped Spouse B, and then picked up Spouse A. They all came in together and left together. I have often wondered-but then decided that I really didn’t want to know.

First Place ?

I just filled out an online job application at a company, and it would not let me proceed past the first page. My name is Donald First-but, every time I tried to input that in the appropriate space, it kept on saying no Nicknames. So, I changed my last name to Goldberg on the application-and was able to proceed.

Mouse Catcher

A few years ago, while working at a large hospital, we were going through our annual enrollment, which required all employees to positively re-elect all benefits each year via a Web site. As a large population consisted of environmental services and custodial employees, we set up a computer lab where employees could gain access to the Web as well as receive help in completing their enrollment.

One afternoon, I was working with an obviously inexperienced employee who was becoming frustrated at my instructions about how to move around the screen and where she needed to click. When I finally told her to “just move your mouse on the screen,” she actually picked up the mouse, held it against the monitor, and began moving it from side to side.