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Woman Hospitalized After Coworkers Accidentally Trigger Her Severe Latex Allergy With Balloons

woman in front of balloons
SementsovaLesia/Getty Images

The road to Hell is paved with good intentions, right?

Sometimes people only have the best planned, but the outcome turns into a total sh*t show.

When it does, are they an a**hole even though they intended only good things?

A young man struggling with that question turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for feedback.

Kevinplas asked:

“AITA for giving my co-worker an allergic attack and getting her sent to the hospital?”

The original poster (OP) explained:

“So I (22, male) and my co-worker Lukas (23, male) decided to surprise our co-worker Lily (25, female) for her first year anniversary.”

“With permission from our boss we decided to fill up her entire office with balloons. Normally we start working at 9AM but for this we came in 3 hours early at 6AM.”

“Together we spent around 50$ worth of equipment to do this. We finished this within 2 hours and started waiting until Lily came to the office.”

“After 45 minutes she arrived and she went up to her office. Once she got to her office, she opened the door and the entire room was filled with balloons.”

“But since there were so many, a lot of them escaped the room and fell onto Lily.”

“She suddenly started screaming and backed off really quickly.”

“We went out of hiding and surprised her. Then she said she was very allergic to latex, but I didn’t understand.”

“She explained that balloons are made of Latex, and that I should’ve known that she was allergic to latex.”

“After 30 minutes the allergic reaction became so severe that she had to be rushed to the hospital.”

“I didn’t mean to do this since I thought balloons were made out of rubber. It’s been 2 days and she’s recovering at home since returning from the hospital today.”

“So Reddit, AITA?”

The OP summed up their predicament.

“We got her sent to the hospital. She got hurt because of it.”

Redditors weighed in by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

The majority of Redditors decided there were no a**holes here.

“NAH—unless there was a ‘no balloon’ order from HR. But their boss gave them the go-ahead.” ~ dishonestgandalf

“My company puts balloons up pretty frequently honestly, 2-3 times a year I’d say. Hopefully she fully informs workplaces in the future. NAH.” ~ austine567

“I think this falls pretty squarely into a harmless prank that seems to be culturally the norm in the company.”

“I say this as someone who HATES pranks and have literally told people to not prank me because they freak me out even IF harmless.”

“I’d even say doubly so because they didn’t do this unilaterally, but specifically asked their boss.”

“Ultimately, I’m leaning NAH unless something else comes to light.” ~ MusicalNerDnD

“OP claims they didn’t know balloon rubber is latex.”

“Being a dumba** doesn’t make you an a**hole, it just makes you a dumba**.”

“If there was 0 ill intent then NAH.” ~ Cararacs

“I’ve been in workplaces where something like the balloon prank was common and welcomed. If folks said in advance ‘please don’t’, we’d just have a cake or other treat, based on the preference of the employee.”

“Everyone would help clean up, more or less. The pranks were always intended to make the target laugh, and you always knew SOMETHING was coming.”

“It was normally a very stressful environment, so doing things like that were a nice break. NAH.” ~ OrphicLibrarian

“NAH. For everyone here, mylar balloons exist. Always get those, they last longer and can have fancier print.”

“They also have the benefit of being expensive enough that no one will have the idea of filling an office with them.” ~ Desirsar

“NAH—Normally, it would be funny. However, learn from this.” ~ Irrasible

“NAH. It was an unfortunate incident with really good intentions.”

“All the people saying you trashed her office or it was a bad idea don’t know what they are talking about.”

“We would always decorate desks and offices for birthdays, sometimes doing things like this balloon one or filling an office with rubber duckies.”

“People loved it. Breaks up the monotony of corporate job life!”

“I highly recommend deep apologies and like her favorite dessert or something to try to help make up for it.”

“You won’t actually be able to make up for it, but doing some nice things (that don’t cause allergic reactions) would be ideal!” ~ a_vaughaal

But OP wasn’t off the hook with everyone. 

Some felt he and his co-conspirator were the a**holes (YTA).

“YTA—Twice it’s mentioned that her ‘entire office’ was filled with balloons. Despite whatever money spent and the time put into this, and taking the allergy part out of it…. that is straight up not a nice surprise.”

“Close to no one wants to get to work first thing in the morning just to be greeted with an office they can barely enter. That’s a project, not a present.”

“And hey, what do you know? She also happens to be allergic to latex. Awesome…”

“Consider it a lesson learned. She may’ve worked there for a year but y’all are co-workers, not friends—which is blatantly apparent considering what happened.”

“In the future, if celebrating your co-workers hiring anniversary is really that important to you—which to be honest is a whole other topic of being kinda over the top in it of itself—take the time to think of something actually nice that says ‘hey we appreciate working with you’ making extra sure that whatever y’all do doesn’t send them to the ER.” ~ No-Classroom-9939

“YTA. Latex is rubber. You knew she was allergic to latex but didn’t think about the balloons or just pick an easy celebration like pizza and cupcakes, or a gift card.” ~ citrushibiscus

“So you didn’t verify whether or not the thing you were going to fill her office with is made out of a material she’s allergic to? 10,000% YTA.”

“While not all rubbers are latex, latex is in fact a rubber and that’s what balloons are made out of.” ~ mo_tarantula

“Yeah OP is definitely YTA. I am anaphylactic to latex. I told everyone I worked with.”

“When I eventually had an office, I put a sign on the side of my cubicle, then when I upgraded on my door. OP saying ‘I thought they were rubber’ means they knew the coworker had this allergy and didn’t care enough to think this through.”

“They are actually CALLED latex balloons. It doesn’t take much.”

“Also, no one finds these ‘pranks’ funny. Like what, his coworker gets to spend the day cleaning up a mess then catching up on all the work she’s now behind in?”

“Fantastic, I’m sure she’d be thrilled.” ~ Dusty_Bunny_13

“RUBBER LATEX!!! Gosh, I am allergic to latex, too. Trying to explain to people that rubber and latex are the same things is frustrating.”

“There is a reason why hospitals take latex allergies so seriously. I went in for surgery a few years ago and had 2 bands on my wrists with ‘LATEX ALLERGY’ and every board in the room had a notice of my allergy.”

“It is that bad, and most people don’t take proper precautions.”

“I hope she sues. This is completely negligent on your manager’s part, and without taking proper steps to take care of the balloons, then the company will be negligent.”

“Oh, and YTA.” ~ camebacklate

“YTA for the surprise in the first place, because who wants to spend their day cleaning up balloons?

“If the plan was to just leave it for custodial staff, YTA, too.”

“Anyway, it just sounds like more work for everyone than it’s worth, but that’s not the question at hand.”

“HR needs to be more mindful of allergies and ensure notice is given to employees. I’ve been in offices that ban fragrances, peanuts, etc… because of severe allergies.”

“Employees don’t need to know WHO has the allergy, but they need to be aware that it exists. The boss needed to be more mindful of people’s allergies.” ~ blackivie

“YTA because it’s an annoying thing to do, period.”

“Nevermind the latex should’ve/couldn’t have known part.”

“If I came in and saw that sh*t in my office, I’d walk right back out and say ‘Call me when it’s cleaned up’.” ~ OldManSpeed

“YTA. This is why I hate stuff like this. Leave people alone. They’re your coworkers not your buddies.”

“You didn’t even know her well enough to know she has a life threatening allergy.”

“I’d bet dollars to doughnuts that you failed to look up proper disposal of those balloons and haven’t offered to clean her office, have you?” ~ Rebelo86

“How is filling someone’s office so full of balloons they fall out when the door opens something nice for them? That’s a huge mess that will take a lot of time to clean up.

“What if there were urgent things she needed to get done or find? The balloons probably knocked around stuff on her desk and in the room, possibly disorganizing her work.

“This was an annoying prank, not something nice. YTA.” ~ umadhatter_

It seems people were divided over whether OP’s intentions were good.

Does a prank make for a good celebration or gift?

Written by Amelia Mavis Christnot

Amelia Christnot is an Oglala Lakota, Kanien'kehá:ka Haudenosaunee and Metís Navy brat who settled in the wilds of Northern Maine. A member of the Indigenous Journalists Association, she considers herself another proud Maineiac.