Happy Halloween! 10 Scary Stories from WordStream

September 19, 2017


In honor of the spookiest holiday, I thought it would be fun to forget about marketing for a day and tell some scary stories instead. So I asked a bunch of WordStreamer’s:

What’s the most terrifying thing that has ever happened to you at work?

Their answers are below – don’t read them alone or in the dark! I also took a page from Google’s book and commissioned a special Halloween version of the WordStream logo from our extra-awesome UX designer, Tara DiMaggio (thanks, Tara!).

Larry Kim, Founder and CTO

The scariest thing that ever happened to me at work was getting a warning of unnatural links from Google.

In SEO-terms, it’s the equivalent of a death sentence – Google usually de-lists your website within a few weeks of giving the notice.

I felt so sick to my stomach. Couldn’t breathe. Here’s what that the notice looked like.

Unnatural Link Warning

Fortunately (strangely?), the next day, Google said they were just kidding and rescinded the execution order. That was probably one of the most wonderful things to happen to me at work.

I felt free like a bird. I had a big smile on my face. It was quite an emotional roller-coaster. In summary: Let this be a reminder to all that SEO isn’t forever and that channel diversification is key! :)

Kathy Lamphier, Global Marketing Communications & Lead Generation Manager

At one job one of the sales guys turned out to be a violent criminal.

Nice guy at work – used to talk to him about his girlfriend, grandmother, mom.

But in fact he was beating and raping prostitutes in NH on the side.

Someone finally identified his truck, police came to the office – but he hid in the men’s room then ran down the side stairs and took off out of the parking lot in his car – the police had the entrance to the driveway blocked so he ran over the grassy area to get away.

He eventually turned himself in and was sentenced to time in jail.

Was like a Ted Bundy-ish experience. Really seemed like a nice guy – you just never know.

Here’s the news article. True story!

The company even had a crisis counselor come to the office for a day so employees could schedule time to meet with him/her if they wanted to.

Matt Lampkin, Account Executive

I had a co-worker with a short temper and an aggressive demeanor.  We were in a team meeting and under a tight deadline, and another team member made a remark that upset him. He thought it was me, whipped a pencil at my face and jumped onto the table to try and grab me. This happened in the blink of an eye. He was twice my size and it scared the living crap out of me. He was held down by another individual before he could make it over to my side of the table, and was quickly let go from the company.

It later turned out that he was an ultimate fighter that had competed at the semi-pro level years prior. Needless to say I was happy he didn’t make it across that table .

Vanessa Marcotte, Customer Service Specialist

Once when I was doing the late night webinars around 9 pm all the lights in the office shut off and I couldn’t tell if anyone was still around!

Victor Pan, SEO and Web Marketing Associate

The Hilton was on fire and black smoke billowed eerily across like a toxic cloud – streets were closed, cops were stationed, and 7 fire trucks were spotted all around our office building.

And of course, internet was down the next day. [The horror!]

Sergey Rusak, Pay-Per-Click Strategist

Diego set the kitchen on fire.  (Diego: I’m never gonna live that down, am I?)

Adam Shain, Product Manager

At a former job we did a lot of web design and generally hosted a lot of the web sites that we created on our servers. One night, oh a whim I was showing off one of our sites to a friend and discovered that our server had been hacked! Instead of the website loading it was a picture of a red-eyed woman with some evil laughter in the background.

Hacked Website

I immediately called the server farm and my boss. For the following 72 hours we utilized four different layers of backups to get all of our client sites restored (which we finally did).

It was definitely scary and in the end turned out well as our clients were almost universally supportive and appreciative of our  effort to get everything up and running.

Tony Testaverde, Paid Search Strategist

One of the maintenance guys was here once, and he got electrocuted in the cube next to me.  A flame shot out of some of the electrical work under Leigh’s cube…

He was OK…but it was pretty crazy!

Matt Ward, Account Executive

The day of the earthquake, Steve, Brian, Tim and I sprinted down all 16 flights of stairs and then ran another half a mile or so away from the office … and then had to go back in and realize that not one other person had left. Michael didn’t stop giving us shit for weeks.

8-23-11 Never Forget

And as for me …

The most scared I’ve ever been at work is while interviewing. I may work in marketing, but marketing myself is not my strong suit and I get crazy nervous during job interviews! Here’s hoping I don’t have to do that again for a while.

What about you?

What’s the scariest thing that ever happened to you on the job?

Elisa Gabbert

Elisa Gabbert

Elisa Gabbert is WordStream's Director of Content and SEO. Likes include wine, karaoke, poker, ping-pong, perfume, and poetry.

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