Category Archives: work

On Being Funny in Unfunny Places

I will retire in 2021. I set as my goal for the next three years to be as appropriately funny at work as I can.  I love my agency.  We have had a rather rough time over the past couple of years. We are understaffed and stretched to provide mental health and addiction services to an increasing number of people. There are new service initiatives and an  electronic health care  record system that will  start soon. Change is always difficult in government, even when it is positive change.  To complicate matters, in the past two years, five employees have been summarily  escorted off the premises and ordered to not return. This included our top administrator, two senior supervisors, someone from my department, and an administrative assistant.  It has been a little grim. We need cheering up.

I find that pointing out the absurd,  the silly, and the comically sweet  goes  over quite well.  I never tease or get personal. I  find that humor seems to liberate people and makes them bolder.  We need our staff to not be afraid of being leaders in their daily work.  No one seems to be annoyed with me yet. I alternate humor with serious discussion and sound advice.

How do use humor in your daily life? When does humor work the best? When doesn’t it work?

HUH!?

Today’s post comes from Ben.

Down by the barn is a small, 75 gallon water tank with a tank heater in it. And by ‘Tank Heater’ I mean it keeps the water just warm enough to keep it from freezing. I’ve never tested it, but it might be 34 degree’s for all I know.

I’m doing my chores one morning. And while I’m doing my chores, I put the chickens water buckets that have frozen, in that tank and leave them for a few minutes.
Then usually the ice around the edges has melted just enough that I can knock it out of the buckets.

This one particular morning while working I notice a smell from the tank. Kind of stinky, like sewage. And I thought to myself, “Huh! That’s odd” and I go about my chores. A few minutes later I’m back with another bucket of ice that I put in the tank and then I go around back to the pole barn and get a bucket of straw for the egg boxes. And when I get back, this bucket of ice has melted about half an inch all the way around and I thought “Huh! that’s interesting.”
And I dump out the ice and refill the bucket and continue my chores.
A little bit later, I’m in the tractor working down there and I notice the tank is steaming more than usual.
And I think “Huh! That’s weird.” And I go about my way.

Ah–  but then I come back and take a second look. And I put my hand in the water and it’s like a hot tub! A dirty, stinky, hot tub but still; way hotter than it should be.
Evidently there is something wrong with this tank heater.

Got a new one and all is well. And I thought to myself, “Took ya long enough to pick up on those hints.”

What’s the last thing that made you say “HUH!”?  

Chew

I work on a college campus that is designated “Tobacco Free”.  That means not just smoke free, but free of  all tobacco products.  It is hard to enforce. My agency provides a variety of addiction and mental health services, and many of our clients smoke.  Most are pretty good about not smoking,  but a few disregard the  rules.  It is pretty common to see clients (and some staff)  smoking in secluded spots outside the building, or sitting in their vehicles with the windows rolled up, puffing away.  As long as I can’t smell it, I don’t have much of an issue.

I  have problems with folks who chew, though.  I imagine smokeless tobacco is more a problem out here than in urban areas.  It is pretty common in the oilfield and in the rodeo community.  I usually have a pretty iron stomach, but just knowing that someone chews and has a wad under their lip makes me feel nauseous. The other day I saw a guy in the waiting room with a little cup full of  brown spittle that he kept emptying in the water fountain. I knew he was about to leave soon, and the circumstances were such that I didn’t want to make an issue of it. I had to ride the elevator with him to the first floor, and it was hard not to gag.

A local entrepreneur has started a company that sells tobacco-free chew made mainly with caffeine. I am dismayed, since it would be perfectly legal to have in our building. I will not allow myself to be thwarted  by a technicality, and anyone who comes to see me will leave their tobacco-free chew in the parking lot.

When have you been vexed by a technicality?

A Poverty of Imagination

My agency,  like most of the  Human Service Centers in my State, is understaffed.  We can’t seem to find any psychologists or psychiatrists or other mental health professionals  to come and work for us.  The problem is state-wide, even in the more urban areas.  There even is a paucity of private-sector mental health professionals in the western side of the State.

We certainly have tried to attract people, what with student loan forgiveness, great benefits, and competitive salaries.   No one wants to work in a rural state. My husband and I think people seem to have a poverty of imagination of what life could be like here.  I turn to the Baboons for suggestions.

How would you entice people to move to a remote, rural area to live and work?  What do you think are people’s misconceptions about rural life?  How would you speak to the realities of rural life?

Bah…..

This is hard to write, but I’m thinking my troop of baboon friends can help me out.

I am not a Christian, but I love Christmas. I can massage almost every Christmas tradition into something meaningful for my Yuletide/Solstice beliefs.  I love the feeling of hope and redemption that comes with the season.  I love having a tree filled with lights and ornaments, I love making gifts for my friends and loved ones.  I love baking holiday cookies, I love cookie exchanges.  I love getting cards and reading people’s newsletters.  I love holiday movies (although I will admit I like older stuff better than current films) and I love holiday music.

For decades I have listened to my holiday CDs at the office during December. For many years I played them using my computer but these days I have a little teeny radio/CD player.  I tend to the more traditional music; Mommy Kissing Santa Clause and Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer aren’t in my collection.

This past week I began to bring in my CDs and (as always) I said to all the folks who sit around me that if the music bothered them to let me know. In fact, just this morning, two of the folks who sit on either side of me chimed in on what to play next.  So it was shocking to me when my boss emailed me in the early afternoon that someone had come to her and complained about the music.

I’m broken hearted. Not because I have to use headphones or ear buds to listen to my music.  I’m broken hearted because someone who sits nears me, someone who has worked besides me for YEARS (we haven’t changed seating arrangements in about 4 years) thought it was better to complain to our boss than to stop by my cube and say “Hey, I’m having a bunch of calls today, can you turn your Christmas stuff down?” or “I’m having a really stressful day and your music is distracting – do you have ear buds?”  It’s completely disheartening to think that anybody who knows me even remotely would be able to imagine me getting pissed off about something like that.

I feel like a balloon that’s been stuck with a sharp pin – deflated and completely spiritless. I know it’s just one person, but I’m having trouble shaking my doldrums.  Nonny is coming next week and I have a serious list but right now I don’t feel like doing anything but sitting here feeling sorry for myself. I’m not even in the mood to go downstairs and make hot chocolate.

How would you cheer up an unwilling Scrooge?

Phishing

The deadline for renewing our State psychology licenses looms large this week. Husband and I sent in all our papers and fees for renewal a couple of weeks ago.  Imagine Husband’s surprise yesterday when he received two  notifications from “Google ” telling him that he had better renew his license immediately, along with a link to do so.

I am happy to report that Husband didn’t fall for this apparent phishing attempt.  He had already received confirmation from  our Psychology Board office that everything was in order, and that any communication from the Board was directly from the Board, not from Google.  I contacted the Board office to report this scam attempt.

It amazes me how clever scammers are. It also surprises me how easy it is to fool people. Our State Government IT office sends State employees fake emails at work to try to teach us to spot suspicious communications, and a special button to click to report an email as either fake or suspicious.  It is pretty easy to spot them, I think.  Our agency IT guy told me, though, that 50% of the fake emails are actually opened by staff who don’t suspect a thing or are too trusting.  That is a big concern given how devastating it would be to have our system, with all our clients’ confidential information hacked or compromised.

I hope none of my fellow psychologists are duped by these phishers.  It is an anxious time around the renewal period, and anxiety makes it hard to be wise sometimes.

What are your experiences with scammers or hackers?  How do you keep yourself safe?

Confusion

I have mentioned before that I serve on a regulatory board that ensures that the members of a certain profession practice ethically and are appropriately licensed.   My job on the board is to approve continuing education requests. The licensees need a certain number of continuing education hours every two years to  keep their licenses to practice. Trainings have to meet certain requirements for  content and presenter qualification. I am the one who has to make recommendations to the entire board whether such requests are approved.

We have reached the month of license renewal , and I am amazed how slapdash some of the licensees are in submitting their continuing education requests for approval.  Some wait until the last minute before submitting the requests, blissfully unaware that they have missed the deadline for final Board approval.  Others send in approval requests with insufficient detail of their trainings,  and then don’t respond to my entreaties for more information.

It amazes me that the quite well-educated people who we license don’t pay attention to important details that, if ignored, could mean the loss of their licence to practice, or a else hefty fine for all the bother they have caused the Board.  Who acts like this?  Perhaps I am naive, but really, this make no sense!

When have you been flabbergasted?