EDMONTON, Alberta – In a shocking twist of irony, what appeared to start as a harmless argument about what constitutes conflict, quickly escalated into a heated debate which lead to a full-out, no holds barred professional wrestling-like brouhaha.
The ensuing mayhem at APEGA’s fall 2013 offering of its Conflict Resolution course warranted the presence of the Edmonton Police, Fire, and EMS services as chairs where thrown, projectors bashed out of the ceiling, duo-tangs used as ninja stars, not to mention a small fire in the coffee room trash can.
I’m pissed off, ya know, and apparently so very tired. I was hired to teach a 1-day course on turning conflict into cooperation, but I didn’t get 3 slides past the intro when things started to go sideways.
An engineer and a geologist couldn’t seem to agree on the definition of the word conflict. One of them said something rude to the other, I think a pencil case was thrown, and before long it was pandemonium. – Nadine Fatigue, P.Eng. – professional mediator
According to surveillance footage that caught the entire event, the geologist was overheard telling the engineer that a story on Proved Plus Probable about a daughter liking rocks was about his kid. The engineer then lost his mind and threw what appeared to be a rather substantial calculator and the geologist, but he missed, and it hit a 250lb field operator in the back of the head.
The over-tired field operator, who was in no mood to take any crap from anybody, turned around to see a few people laughing at him, and that’s when things broke loose. Even two administrative assistants, seeing what was going on in the training room, decided to get into the action.
Police and ambulance were dispatched to the scene, where 7 people were arrested and charged with aggravated assault, one with arson, and three people taken to a local hospital with miscellaneous injuries.
I’ve never seen anything like this before during my 19 years on the force. This event was supposed to be about learning how to resolve conflict in the workplace. But I suppose this is a natural outcome if you put engineers and geologists within the confines of a training room without supervision from senior executive. I’m actually quite surprised we don’t see more fights like this break out at oil and gas head offices here and in Calgary.
In light of this event, APEGA has decided to cancel the very popular and long-running Conflict Resolution course, and instead offer a brand new course called “Engineers and Geologists – Can’t we all just get along?”