When I thought more on my last story “Just for Fun” and letting go, I realized there was more I could add ― a lot more. So, here is Part 2.
I want to tell you about 3 incidents and people I worked with who knew how to be loose and let go in a fun way similar to my grandmother but more removed with no attachments.
It was fun and they were a joy to be around with events ironically happening in the work place where most of the time the atmosphere is competitive and serious.
I think that’s why they stand out and I vividly remember them so well with a warm heart.
1 – Just for Fun Story
My first is a story with Mr. Janz, Human Resources Manager for the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel District in Virginia.
He was a tall, lean man always with a smile on his face. I was just 19, shy and
easily intimidated at the time and I remember interviewing with him for my
first secretarial, office job (man! that was a long time ago).
He reminded me of the actor Dick Van Dyke in the old “Dick Van Dyke Show” pulling little practical jokes to lighten things up. You always had to be on your guard when he was around and he was always the first one in work before anyone else.
A couple of months passed, things were going well and I had settled in my job. One morning I arrived to start my day. I walked in the office, put my purse on my desk and opened the closet door to hang up my coat and there stood Mr. Janz. I gasped with a jolt and staggered back.
He just smiled with a twinkle in his eye and said, “Good morning” and lumbered off as if nothing happened. It was his way of checking to see what time employees arrived in the morning.
2 – Just for Fun Story
Flash forward about 20+ years with a different company and halfway across the country for the second incident. It is of a co-worker named Derrick, a young and tall, lean, black man, married with a new family. When he first transferred into our department his reputation followed him of an intelligent, hard-working employee but also of his playfulness.
I had gotten to know him through working closely together on a company-sponsored charity fundraiser where he donated CD’s and another MS Walk event with my husband and his wife. He was into music and dreamed of being involved with radio broadcasting promotions. He sure had the jovial, vibrant personality for it with his joking nature and a smile that lit up his face.
One day at work, out on the floor, as I panned out over desks facing each other (before cubes), frenzy of phones ringing, co-workers shuffling paper, hustling back and forth in search of a supervisor, I noticed Derrick. It was not uncommon for him to be up to something.
Suddenly, he stood up and shouted something like, “Stress Break, Stress Break!”, and fell on the floor. Then, right away he jumped up, arms out wide turning full circle, laughing, saying, “That’s better.” You couldn’t help but notice him and laugh amidst the chaos and, for a brief moment, things stopped and I could take a breath and carry on.
Derrick never seemed to take himself or life too seriously and I would cautiously get on the elevator with him for fear he would jump and down again. That’s what I loved most about him ― his free spirit and fresh outlook.
3 – Just for Fun Story
Things were tough at the turn of 2000, especially in the stocks/bonds industry where I worked for a major brokerage corporation. Upper management was feeling it being more directly involved in the struggling market. It would come at us from the other direction in servicing brokers, branches and their clients’ accounts not to mention software issues bringing systems down routinely. There was stress from the bottom all the way to the top and back down again.
A couple of months after 9-11, after our company lost employees and friends, our country and the New York Stock Exchange were still reeling in an even more volatile state and management decided to throw a big, ice-cream social for everyone.
A date and time were set for the ice cream social to be held in a conference room cleared out with just two lines of serving tables at each end of the room opposite each other ― tables at one end were for ice cream and tables at the other end for toppings. Upper management, managers and supervisors were decked with colorful, plastic hats and aprons at their stations poised to serve everyone as they came in. Supervisors on one end serving the toppings and upper management at the other end serving ice cream. (You can probably see where this is going ― and please remember this was all in good fun.)
As I came in, the plan was to go down the line of tables for ice cream then cross over to the other side and go down that line of tables to get toppings. I knew something was about to happen when I saw this particular supervisor carrying in a bucket of ice for the ice cream. I could just feel something was up knowing this fun-loving, prankster boss.
And then it happened. All it took was for one supervisor to throw an M&M over at one of the managers, specifically my manager, and all h― broke loose with food flying back and forth across the room. I escaped without get slammed with flying ice cream and, engrained in my memory, the last thing I saw was my CEO crawling around the floor under the table looking for more M&M’s and nuts to throw.
I went back upstairs to my desk and settled in to eat my ice cream and not long after my manager came up, hard hat, shirt and tie soaked ― he had survived the “battle zone” barely (laughing). He would have quite a story to tell when he went home that night.
Building management complained to upper management about the mess and humble apologies were given with an explanation that went something like, “our people needed to blow off some steam and have some fun and would gladly pay for all cleanup expenses.”
Yes, we can really get down and let loose sometimes. When there’s no malice intended, it’s fun to release those inhibitions and let them all go. Can you tell a story of a time when you let go like this or knew someone you were so comfortable with that it was pure pleasure just being around them?
~~ Pat from the ol’ kitchen table