Man Used Potato Chip Bag to Skip Work For Two Years: Genius or Slacker?

How far would you go to avoid doing your job?

If you are like one reportedly clever though deceitful Australian electrician, the answer is pretty far. The electrician managed to fool his employer into thinking he was working way more often than he actually was. For two straight years.

How? With an empty potato chip bag.


Called Out By An Anonymous Letter

Sixty-year-old Tom Colella, a senior union delegate, had worked for the same company for 20 years. It wasn’t until an anonymous letter called him out, claiming that he had left work to play golf at least 140 times over the last two years, that he got busted.


Apparently, Colella used a 180-year-old scientific discovery to make it seemingly impossible to track his whereabouts during work hours. The scheme: He stored his personal digital assistant, a device that acts as a GPS, in an empty foil packet of Twisties, a puffy cheese-based snack that is the equivalent of American Cheetos.

A Faraday Cage

In the science world, this trick is known as a “Faraday cage,” an enclosure that blocks electromagnetic fields allowing Colella’s location to go undetected for years. The cage, named after British scientist Michael Faraday, was discovered back in 1836 when he noticed that the covering of conductive material — i.e. anything metallic — could be used to block the electromagnetic fields.

Here’s an example of a Faraday cage in action, below:

faraday cage photo
Flickr | alexhealing

As an electrician, it’s not too much of a stretch to imagine Colella would know about such things.

Hypothesis aside, the evidence is clear: Records gathered from the golf club and his workplace’s electronic gate showed that he had not been to work in a very long time.


The Outcome

Australia’s Fair Work Commission, a workplace tribunal, agreed that Colella was rightfully fired and that he indeed was “deliberate in trying to hide his whereabouts and deceive his employer,” said Bernie Riodan, a commissioner at the tribunal, according to Yahoo.

Now the real question is: Was Colella a genius or simply a slacker? And how was he able to update his job information enough so that he could fool everyone into thinking he had been completing his assigned tasks? Isn’t it more embarrassing that his employers didn’t notice for two years and may have never found out about his Faraday cage trick had it not been for that anonymous letter?

Colella is now reportedly an Uber driver. That job might be a little trickier to slack off on.

uber photo
Getty Images | Spencer Platt