Thursday, November 15, 2007

Mirth at Work

What is the most fun job you’ve ever had? I realize the inclusion of “fun” and “job” in the same sentence may be perceived as an oxymoron, but sometimes jobs ARE fun. I had my most fun job when I was 18, working for a bank. I was a part-time teller, using the money I earned to pay my way through college.

I remember some bad times, of course, because being a teller meant getting told off by customers who wanted their $10,000 check available NOW (even though their average monthly balance was $3) and by people who wanted to cash a check written by one of our customers – which was fine, except they either didn’t have proper identification (Blockbuster cards DO NOT count as proper ID) or didn’t want to wait until we compared the signature on the check to the signature card on file (this was way before computer imaging was popular). When I first started working there, bank was severely short-staffed and the lines were almost out the door every time I came to work. Eventually, the bank did hire additional tellers to keep the line to a minimum, but not before I got daily tongue lashings from people who have been standing in line 30-45 minutes. I really wanted to blurt out, “then use the goddamn ATM next time!” but I’d let the bad comments go in one ear and out the other. I mean, I was sorry that they had so spend so much time in line at a bank, but why dwell over something I couldn’t control? I could only do my job as fast as I was able and I’d have to be fine with that, nasty comments aside. Over time I developed a tougher skin.

Anyway, after I’d been working there for about six months, we got a new manager. Unlike our old manager, who was a very nice lady but wasn’t very personable, new manager was a young dude that liked to work hard but keep things fun. After closing out our registers and preparing for the next day, we’d have rubber band fights and stupid contests. One of our favorites was shooting rubber bands into garbage cans, with the winner being the one who could shoot the furthest. The cleaning staff was not thrilled with our antics.

The other thing the new manager liked to do was pull pranks on people. These were not pranks meant to make fun of or embarrass people, so it was fun. I remember pulling a prank on another teller by smearing ink all over his black pen so that when he picked it up his fingers would be covered in ink. I also remember pulling another prank where I switched out the numbers on another teller’s keypad so it read 4-5-6 instead of 1-2-3 on the bottom row. Of course, these people pulled pranks on me too, so it was all good. The pranks made work fun because you never knew what to expect when you came in. It was also fun plotting and devising ways to get the person back. Childish, I know. But those were good times.

We were all devastated when this manager left us for a better opportunity at another bank. I didn’t blame him for taking the job: he was very smart and his current job didn’t provide him with enough opportunities to advance. A few months later, I left the bank to work for a credit union where the pay was better but the people weren’t nearly as much fun.

I look back on those times fondly and sometimes wish I still had that fun work atmosphere from long ago. I’m not saying that we should have rubber band shoot-outs at work but it would be fun to pull harmless pranks once in a while. Because who doesn’t like a good laugh to blow off the stress of working?

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