Having dog food in your mouth probably doesn’t sound appealing enough to be the highlight of any kind of day. I wouldn’t even classify my day as a bad day, and I can spot a bad day when I see one. There has been a lot of tension at my work; the kind that can only end in a toxic explosion of one faction or the other with tragic and hilarious consequences. I am not involved in either side of the imminent explosions, but that doesn’t make it less uncomfortable to work through. It drains me little by little throughout the day, and today I realized that it had been a long time since I had fun at work. We used to laugh have fun working with each other, and now it feels like there is a poison in the air.
But everyone has work drama, every field, every job, every level. We all just have to figure out a way to stay sane, focus on what’s important, and get through the day. I work with animals, helping them heal when they are sick, which is the greatest job I’ve ever had. I love what I do and my coworkers and I take a lot of pride in doing our job well. We run a pretty tight ship, and keep our performance standards very high. Often that is the only thing I have in common with the people I work with, and certain combinations of people get along better than others. Such is life. With the recent drama and tension in the air, however, I had come to accept that I had to just keep my head down at work and do what I need to do since the laughter and fun seemed to have been suspended. Being who I am, though, does not allow me to work in an environment of total seriousness without any fun. I even have trouble making it through serious conversations, even ones where I am in trouble, without finding something to laugh at.
This afternoon, I had a handful of dog treats, a gift which a small poofy dog rejected (no class), and I walked back to the main work area where all my coworkers were. One of the doctors was standing with his mouth open, so I took one of the dog treats in my hand, aimed for his mouth, and threw it, just missing and hitting him in the cheek. Without missing a beat he said, “Oh, it’s on,” and grabbed a handful of dog kibbles. In the same breath he said, “Here are the rules, you have to stay behind this line,” pointing to a floor tile 8 feet away, “and here is my line. We get three tries at a time. How many rounds should we go?” He needed fun as much as I did. Our coworkers were looking around nervously in case clients or administrative buzzkills or God was about to get us in trouble.
“We play until someone eats dog food. I’ll go first.” He assumed the position very solemnly, hands behind his back, tongue out, and I aimed for his uvula. I hit his ear. Second shot hit his neck. On the third shot I concentrated very hard, but hit his ear again. My turn was over. I exposed my uvula and it was his turn to throw. I glance to my left to see all of our coworkers gathered, watching in suspense.
His first shot hit my left boob. Second shot bounced off my right boob. “Too bad we’re not playing to hit boobs, I’d be winning,” he said and I laughed too hard to keep my tongue in my mouth. The audience to my left began to inhale nervously as he wound up, and let out a big, “Gaaaw!” when he missed. It was becoming quite the spectator sport.
In the next round my shots got more accurate, with one actually bouncing off his lip. The next round he hit the middle of my forehead with two kibbles. The third shot landed directly on the center of my tongue before being immediately spit on the floor. He had won, and I had an aftertaste of kibble. There was laughing and cheering from the sidelines, and two people had their cell phones out, video taping. Then, as suddenly as the game started, we were back to work as before.
I openly admit that we are an easily entertained group; it doesn’t take much to entertain or delight us. We are a bunch of highly intelligent, specially trained dorks. It was special only because of how badly we all needed to do something stupid to break us out of the rut. We brought out cell phones to record that moment, when we were totally absorbed in something so silly that we forgot where we were, so we could later remind ourselves nothing is so important that we have to abandon all fun. Moments like that remind you that, whatever it is, it’s not that bad. The tension will pass, there will be good days, there will be bad days, life will go on. In fact, next time you’re having a bad day, grab a handful of dog food and throw it at someone near you. If you get some in their mouth, you’ve won at life.