Got those old 21st-century, corporate-office blues?
Is life in your workplace suddenly dull and meaningless? Do your co-workers seem like two-dimensional cardboard cutouts?
Office ennui can strike just about anywhere other than a carnival funhouse and the condition is rarely permanent. Fortunately, there are a variety of efficacious cures which may be undertaken by employees to breathe life back into their offices and cubicles.
(Did I hear somebody say “water balloons?”).
Yes, whether you decide to juggle a half-dozen rubber alligators in the middle of your office or fax everyone in the place copies of the Portuguese national anthem for no apparent reason, you’ll be helping to chase away the dullness that has invaded your work space.
One of my favorite office revival techniques (in my spare time, of course) is to cruise purposely through the building like a restless hammerhead shark, traveling from desk to desk, telling the same barely comprehensible joke again and again to create an atmosphere of benevolent befuddlement among my hapless colleagues.
Here’s how it works: Find a relatively new joke or amusing anecdote, revise it so it sounds like a true story about a fellow employee and then recount it in the presence of the aforementioned fellow employee and at least one other co-worker (the more gullible, the better).
I recently used an anecdote from Denver’s popular Modern Drunkard Magazine to get the ball rolling. The story dealt with an obnoxious tavern patron who got so out of control that the bartender politely asked him to leave.
“You wanna get the hell out of here?” asked the barkeep.
The overbeveraged patron didn’t exactly understand what was being asked and responded with a cheerful “Sure! What’s in it?”
To wake up your workplace, simply approach two dull, lifeless colleagues and begin to tell the story as if it had happened to one of them just the weekend before.
Keep doing this until you’ve hit everybody in your office at least twice. Before long, at least a third of your co-workers will believe that this really happened to one or more of their number.
Another third will be trying to figure out the punchline and a final third or so will be forcibly escorting you to the door suggesting you take a couple of “mental health” days.
However this shakes out where you work, your office will no longer be dull and lifeless. There will be bright eyes, witty repartee and, perhaps, just a smidgen of maniacal laughter.
(Note: If some of your colleagues begin arming themselves with scissors, broken bottles and pieces of furniture, you may want to consider a return to rubber alligator juggling or “knock-knock” jokes until you’ve got a more sophisticated audience.)
Originally published May 9, 2004