Sunday, August 10, 2008

Wiping a smile off someone's face.

It's a funny thing, how we deal with stress at work.

Some people rant and rave, while others go quiet.
Some give up on their tasks, and others just get more determined.
Some will seek counseling, and others have more 'individual' approaches to coping...

I know quite a few people who vent their cube-rage on innocent fitness training equipment, clocking up countless miles in the air conditioned splendour of a building virtually next door to the office that causes the angst in the first place. (Hint, buy a bike, fellas, and get away from the damned place)...

One gentleman of my acquaintance who shall remain nameless (we shall, for convenience, refer to him as 'C' - this isnt a give away clue, my having referred to him as a 'gentleman' will already have put many people off the scent...) has a positively bizarre practice of rapidly clapping his hands together or against his crossed forearms. The rhythmic, fleshy slapping noises which result have caused many a raised eyebrow as unenlightened folk walk past his closed office door. Now, I don't know what it does for him, but watching the expressions on peoples' faces as they wonder what on earth he's up to makes the rest of us laugh and thus, this is actually a very effective stress reduction technique.

And then there's a lady I know who's office wall bears scars gouged by ricocheting staplers, paperweights and computer peripherals. Once again, there's an unintended positive side to this behaviour. If you want to know which track-ball pointing device can best survive instant deceleration from 70mph to 0, she can tell you. Show you, in fact. If you're going to wind her up, though, remember the rues of the golf range (and firearms range) - the safest place to be is behind her...

As you'd expect, I've got my own idiosyncratic approach to work related stress management. I like to imagine creative ways of freeing myself from the job which is causing the problem in the first place. Some are constructive, others less so, but all have remained (to date) mere exercises in thought, and therefore nothing to get me in to trouble (and come on, do you really want me to believe that you've never considered drowning your boss in a vat of Malmsey?)

Recent flights of imagination had me stocking the rest-rooms of our headquarters building (well, just the boys' ones, I'm not allowed in the girls' ones) with rolls of lavatory paper - every sheet of which bore the image of some individual (or indeed manager) who has caused me angst in recent times. Of course, this isn't a completely original idea... it was (maybe still is?) possible in the late '90s to obtain 'bog roll' with the face of Maggie Thatcher on every sheet. Utter genius.

Clearly this idea was too good to keep to myself, so I excitedly took myself off to chat to one of my good friends in the office. Conscious of the fact that this particular lady is no fan of the current president of the USA, I asked her to imagine this product with the grinning chimp-like fizzog of G-dubya proudly stamped between the perforations. To my surprise and disappointment, she frowned, and told me it was a terrible idea.

"Are you nuts?" she said in what I (correctly) took to be a rhetorical question "Shrubbie makes any mess he's involved in a lot worse than it was in the first place, and you want to put him on toilet paper?"

She was right, as it happens. and when I think about some of he other faces I'd imagined having printed up, well, nothing sticks to them either...

Back to the drawing board - I'm sure there'll be another daft happening to inspire me soon!