“In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things laughter finds its morning and is refreshed.” ~Khalil Gibran
I worked at Mrs. Field’s Cookies when it first opened and I was in college.
That was where I learned the value of playing at work- a skill I think all leaders should consider developing for the sake of their team’s morale.
I perfected mixing and baking boatloads of cookies, and was dubbed “The Cookie Doctor” because I knew how to fix hot cookies that had cracked and were destined for the scrap bag. It was a bad thing for a cookie to be relegated to that bag because the weight of it reflected a part of our performance for that day.
So, that was what I did for fun until I learned about“Dead Man” Jokes. They aren’t really jokes. They’re riddles. I became a master at creating them while baking cookies, keeping my coworkers entertained for hours. If you ever want to get in good with me, you’ll learn how to stump me with one of your homemade Dead Man Joke.
Then came Halloween night at the store- the night that changed how I experienced work. All of the employees were required to dress up in a costume of their choice and wear it while working their shift for that day. I’d had a long day in classes and an even longer bus ride to work and I was in no mood to play that game
I had no idea that there was a back-up plan for nonconformers
When I arrived without a costume cheers erupted. I guess because everyone had been waiting to see who would have to wear “Super Chocolate Chip Cookie.”
I was lovingly taken to the back room and handed the costume and resisted putting it on as long and as hard as I could until I was told that I couldn’t punch in until I got the chip off my shoulder and onto my body.
Head down and forlorn, I shuffled to the front of the store.
Carrie, the first of my coworkers to see me, gasped, slammed herself against a nearby wall, doubled over, and started laughing. She’d been in the middle of waiting on customers- one of three long lines of them. Her laugh was contagious and in seconds we were all useless. We were done. It was impossible to work. The customers were perturbed, but it was the best day at work ever.
I really appreciate that day and what my boss provided for us even though I’m sure he didn’t think it would get so out of hand. I loved seeing him cry with laughter as he joined in on the fun. He was very wise to find a way for us to play at work, to grow closer and feel joy in the mundane tasks we’d all signed up for.
Play is different for each of us. The type of play that you find stimulating says a lot about you.
“We are never more fully alive, more completely ourselves, or more deeply engrossed in anything, than when we are at play.” ~ Charles Schaefer
I don’t like board (bored) games. They aren’t spontaneous enough.
I like practical jokes. They require a certain kind of intelligence, cunning, and poker-face skills.
I could go on and on, but I won’t… 🙂