I count myself pretty lucky, in the grand scheme of things.
My job will never put me in the line of fire.
Nor will it ever involve my arm mangled in factory machinery.
Nor will it ever involve putting me in front of angry bulls.
So yeah, I’d say my office job is pretty kosher. The only thing I have to watch out for is the occasional paper cut. To an outside observer, especially if this outside observer is a Chinese person who’s not in the upper tiers of that society, I’ve got it beyond easy. And, as I’ll begrudgingly admit, I am getting paid during a recession and am thus – as my Dad keeps telling me – very lucky.
However, I am also American, and thus I have an extraordinary sense of entitlement. What this boils down to is that I believe that I should be entertained, constantly, while working.
(NOTE: I don’t actually expect that.)
However, it turns out that my employer does not include video games and/or board games in their benefits plan, so I’ve had to find alternative methods of having fun at work. You know, when I’m not being a diligent and committed hard worker, dedicated to the Goals and Aspirations of The Company, ensuring that the Company is the Best It Can Be and all of its Employees are happy.
Method 1: Spinny Chairs
As anyone who works in front of a desk for more than an hour straight will tell you, there is no siren song greater than that of the spinny chair. In fact, it took me one hour to write that sentence, because I would break in between words and spin for a few minutes before continuing.
The spinny chair, it is estimated, is the savior of the sanity of ninety percent of office workers in the United Kingdom, eighty percent in Canada, and 50% in the United States (where thirty percent lack sanity to begin with by virtue of listening to morning drive-time radio broadcasts). On any given day, I spend upwards of six in-office hours spinning around in my chair. The way I understand it, by spinning around for those six hours I am
- Burning calories and exercising.
- Seeing the world in a different way – namely, spinning.
- Giving my coworkers ample evidence to eventually have me committed.
But, basically, it’s a way to delude myself into believing that I’m a kid again, and that, just because I hold two degrees from kinda-sorta prestigious institutions, that doesn’t mean I have to act professional. (Of course, there is a plush squid toy tied to twine and hanging from a thumb tack on my bulletin board, so there’s no real danger of me being deemed professional.)
So, if you work in an office that doesn’t have the Internet (you poor bastard), or one that doesn’t have computers (in which case you work for the Forestry Department?), hopefully you’ll still have a spinny chair.
Method 2: Sing
It is a Proven Fact* that singing at work makes you 90% more likely to be the most popular person not only in the office, but in the entire building. It’s worth remembering that the louder you sing, the more popular you are. This goes double for show tunes.
*Not proven by any scientific studies.
As someone who’s worked in various industries including retail, accommodation, health care, the multi-billion dollar a year zoo industry, elderly care, and the publishing industry, I can tell you that any workplace is improved by the
hideous cacophony lovely, day-brightening music made whenever you howl away croon your favorite Michael Jackson or Frank Sinatra song.
Why, just the other day, I was sitting around the office, having broken my spinny chair from four consecutive hours of spinning, and I thought, “My, it has been a long time since anyone has spoken.” So, faced with the options of continued silence broken only by the click-click-click of keys or livening up the office by belting out the Welsh folk song that had been stuck in my head for three days, I went with the obvious choice.
“Gwcw fach, ond wyf ti’n ffolog,” I sang.
“What?” asked the lady in the cubicle across from me.
“Ffal di ral di rw dw ri ral tai to!”
“What the hell’s going on?” asked the woman in the office adjacent to my desk.
“Canu ‘mhlith yr eithin pigog,” I continued, serenading the office with the beautiful sounds of the sheep-enthralled Welsh.
At this point, people started crowding around my desk. I took this as a good sign and deepened my breath, singing straight from the diaphragm as my singing coach had taught me. “Ffal di ral di rw dw ri rai tai to,” I continued.
And that’s about the time I was given a demerit for causing unnecessary disruptions to my coworkers. (It doesn’t happen often, despite what you may think. Only when I spin in my chair at, roughly, thirty miles an hour and fly off when my legs hit up against a box, wall, or child that someone’s brought in for the day.) But, you should realize that you probably won’t be given anything negative for singing at work. I’d just recommend singing a song that’s in English, so everyone else can follow along. Most people, I reckon, don’t know “Y Gwcw Fach,” and so they felt left out from my merry singing.
Method 3: Decoration
That’s right, my friends, decoration can be a source of amusement all to itself.
Normally, I’m not a fan of thinking about decoration beyond “Do I really need a bed?” In fact, I’m planning on going neo-homeless with my next move and constructing everything from plywood found on the side of the road or on construction sites, and pizza boxes. But, when I started my new job, in which I have my own desk and computer and everything!, I found that I needed some sort of decoration.
The corkboard was full of stuff already. A map of Tennessee with all of the counties outlined; three year-old listings of office telephone numbers; a list of “major” cities in different counties (when one city is called “Cumberland Furnace,” I refuse to think of it as major); an e-mail to an unknown person from 2007; a list of holidays; an inexplicable snowman pen-and-pencil holder; and a bizarre printed-out picture of a Girl Scout troupe. Clearly, something had to be done.
I took my Halloween costume–a plush squid, dark orange with black spots and a yellow underbelly that I placed upon my head–tied some twine to it, and hung it up from a thumb tack. A couple people were freaked out by it, one person laughed, and another person walked by and said, “Hello, brother” to it before walking away. I view this as a successful addition to the office decor.
But don’t let my choices influence you. If you want to eschew sea life, and instead put up, say, a plush tapeworm, then go for it. Or, heck, you could go maverick and not put up anything plush at all. You could go for posters. I personally recommend a poster from the Demotivators catalogue, but others might not find that as funny as you or I.
One thing I’m considering is putting up a six-foot tall poster of C’thulhu. I think of it as motivation. “Do a good job,” I’d think, “or they’ll feed you to the Elder Gods.”
Method 4: Soundproof a Room
Ever work in a place with one or two really loud people? If you live in a city, and you work in a business that has more than four employees, you probably have. The worst part about it is when these loudniks are in the same room, screaming for no reason. “MAN, IT IS COLD OUTSIDE,” they shout. You can’t do anything, because duct tape over someone’s mouth looks bad.
Well, there’s hope to be had, my friend. If the loudniks are in a room unto themselves, then all you have to do is collect a staple gun and a bunch of egg cartons (not the Styrofoam ones, but the paper/cardboard ones). Make sure the staple gun has plenty of ammo, and cover the walls of their room with the egg cartons. It’s best if the people are inside the room, that way, when they ask what you’re doing, you can respond, “Making life bearable for everyone in the office.”
They’ll undoubtedly respond, “Weren’t you singing in tongues earlier?”
To which you’ll reply: “That was Welsh, you insensitive [redacted].”
But it’s okay. Soon, you won’t be able to hear them when they’re shouting down the phone about health care. That shall be the burden of the egg cartons. As the Good Book says, “Whensoever a man shouts in your face, throw egg cartons at him.”
Method 5: When All Else Fails, Unleash The Badgers
NOTE: AaronCSimon.com and its affiliates, including the Manic Enthusiasm Media Network, do not advocate techno badgers, eating mushrooms, or African snakes at work.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go spin around in my chair for a few hours.