Why I Lock My Wife Out of the House
I intentionally lock my wife out of the house.
I lock her out because I love her.
She isn’t a wild-eyed drunk. She doesn’t need time to cool off after losing her temper.
Going for the deadbolt:
I can hear the front door open when she takes out the mail. It’s twenty steps to the deadbolt from my office. Or maybe she walks out the backdoor to tend her bird feeders. That’s when I unexpectedly strike.
Hiding in waiting is awesome.
The more unlikely the timing, the better the experience. It might be August or January. There could be rain or snow.
From the outside, she taps on the glass and peeks in. Usually I quickly unlock the door. Occasionally I stand with crossed arms and smile. She gives me a dirty look.
There’s no mystery. She’s never spent a night in the car.
Occasionally, through the windows in our family room, she sees me creeping toward the door. We both run. Sometimes she wins.
Sometimes she sees me heading for the door and doesn’t bother to run. I lock the door anyway.
Lessons from locking my wife out of the house:
#1. Silly mischief energizes environments. It doesn’t harm. It doesn’t cost money.
#2. Noticing someone says they matter. Locking the door requires attention. She’s on my mind.
Tip: Silly mischief is dangerous in distrustful environments. It only works when people know you care.
- Add gas to a colleague’s car once a week for a month. Then stop. (Especially fun if they buy a new car.)
- Gradually remove the office supplies and pens from a team member’s desk.
- Gradually rearrange bookshelves.
- Put an item on their desk two or three times a week. (Sticky notes, a penny, a book on etiquette, or breath mints.)
What makes silly mischief work? Not work?
What silly mischief might you suggest for work environments?
You had me a little worried there.
Me too. 😂
It’s all fun.
I think for this to work, you would both need to agree to it, If someone carried out the silly mischief examples on me without telling me, I would be very annoyed – it wouldn’t be fun for me at all! And, although I’m not a killjoy, I think it’s worth remembering that enforced ‘fun’ at work isn’t fun for everyone.
I agree. This kind of behavior can destroy what little professionalism still remains in the work place.
Thanks Chloe, Enforced fun sucks. Just like enforced gift exchanges. 🙂
your most controversial post yet, I think Dan! Good one though. I agree the other comment that this can backfire wildly if not in a conducive environment where people already share a high level of trust.
Thanks Shubhra. Humor is dangerous in some environments. You have to have a supportive environment or fun can be offensive.
I do see where you are coming from but I think it really does depend also on the person initiating the fun. I love being humorous and “silly” at work even when I am the manager, but I do pick my targets. If I see someone who is clearly against it, I don’t push, but there are also some who are just shy but with a little coaxing really enjoy the fun and transforms their working environment.
Yes be careful but that is no reason to not enjoy your workplace…… we spend too much time here not to.
I agree with #1 and #4. Doing small acts of kindness to someone is always appropriate. However, I don’t appreciate if someone removes stuff from my desk without asking as it hinders my work. Therefore I don’t really consider that ‘harmless’ and while I do think it can be funny sometimes, it’s only funny in a high trust environment. Without a high level of trust it will appear that you’re having fun at their expense. With that said, I heartily agree with locking the spouse out! But, I can say that as there’s a high level of trust there and she would see it as funny. However, I’d better not start that as the children would take that up in a heartbeat! And it would not be mom gettin locked out, either!! Then they’d all be laughing 😂
This is one of the funniest pranks I have ever heard. THe level of thought and planning that went into it was also remarkable – all in the name of a bit of harmless mischief.
Hopefully executives had a good laugh.
THe reply above was meant for this comment.
There is a tradition at the Australian College of General Practitioners for the Presidents to have their portraits in academic dress painted before leaving office. The paintings adorn the walls of the boardroom and executive areas of the College. They have become quite numerous over the years. The night before April Fools Day I hid a few of the paintings and replaced them with elaborately framed colour photocopies, however the photocopies had different heads; the original heads being replaced with the heads of Mr Bean, Kramer from Seinfeld, Alexei Sayle etc.
The next day I kept mute. The fake portraits were gradually discovered and the Executive team had great fun tracking down the paintings of the grinning comedians with silly expressions; wondering who may have perpetrated such an outrage.
Got the biggest kick out of this one today. Thanks Dan. Silly mischief reminds me of the creative fun kid I once was. It is energizing. Like you said it only works with trust and when it is a positive. If you have to ponder if they will take it positive, don’t do it.
I think I may have misjudged where the dividing line between “energizing” and “potentially lethal” lies. Similarly, that subtle distinction between noticing somebody and being tired of life…
Life shouldn’t always be serious, wrapped around work and dull. Life must also be fun! Great post, Dan!
I tried to throw out a pair of sneakers once. (I worked and lived in an industrial campus.) But a colleague, my senior, kept rescuing them and returning them to me The Cat Came Back style, at my desk, under my table, etc. Hilarious and the longer it went on the funnier it got. Dan already mentioned you have to have trust to pull this off, lest cheeky turns sour and annoying. Me, I’m all for little shenanigans
Off to replace someone’s family portrait with a portrait of Prince Charles.
I always enjoy a good prank. In my family the prankster is my youngest son. You never know what to expect. Makes life fun!
Here are my favorite harmless office pranks: tape a funny picture on a co-worker’s keyboard tray so when they pull it out they’ll get a laugh (waiting to hear their reaction is the best!). Hide those little plastic army guys in the fake office plants or peaking over the top edge of a cubicle and see how long it takes for someone to notice. A little laughter eases work relationships!
We do this…we have a ceramic squirrel that we got after Up! the movie came out. It used to be for people who are spaced out and distracted in meetings. If you were spaced during a team discussion, the squirrel could appear on your desk! Now that we’ve conquered that with our Be Here Now principle, the squirrel is just a sign of caring…of me, paying attention to you, my colleague.
Your post is a reminder that I haven’t moved the squirrel lately. Shame on me!
I leave post its with funny notes in unusual places for my significant other. Its lots of fun. I’ll have to try locking him out one of these days. Awesome post. Life should be fun. Thanks for sharing.
Standard response, I only torment people I like.
This is great…. because of the relationship! At work, I take the kindness and generosity approach leaving notes and treats with co-workers for no reason at all.
This is great!!!! When I was in sales, our team members would do this kind of stuff to each other all the time and we were the best and strongest team I’ve ever been a part of!
What makes silly mischief work? Not work? Don’t think so, Maybe 15 years ago I would encounter and do so, these days just don’t know how anyone will respond at any time. Way too many snowflake moments. People are bent enough already that I am a conservative. Plus I just don’t have the time. Maybe in a different setting or time or place.
Great post. I used to be early into work and very slightly adjust one of our IT tech’s desk top zen garden, changing statues positions, different currents in the sand etc….
I am the holder of the “googly eyes.” You never know where the googly eyes will show up. On your telephone handle, your coffee cup, the CEO’s face on a brochure…
You definitely need to know your audience on this one. When I was a kid, my siblings used to lock me out of the house until I was crying and screaming. That sort of prank would absolutely be a trigger for me now. That said, I have used pranks for years to foster fun and camaraderie at work. Here are two examples:
1) When I first started at my previous job, there was one co-worker I really didn’t know how to talk to. One day we were working side by side, not talking to each other. After a while she turned her head away and I shoved her pile of paperwork over into her workspace (appearing to give myself more room). When she turned back around, she saw what I had done and me smiling at her. She looked at me like I was crazy, then she started laughing. After that we were talking and she became a good friend of mine.
2) In that same job, I started the habit of pranking the entire office every April Fools Day. I was usually one of the last to leave the office the night before, anyway, so my co-workers would come back the next day to silly little pranks. Some were more obvious than others. Some were meant for whomever stumbled upon it, others targeted specific individuals. I did things like stack empty boxes in front of the managers’ doors, put fake bugs on the print buttons of the copiers, I once shrink wrapped a co-worker’s desk. He laughed for 10 solid minutes when he came to work and saw it. My rules (and the reason I got away with it year after year) were never to do anything mean, never to mess with anyone’s work, and only prank individuals I know would not be offended. I also fully embraced the revenge my coworkers delighted in planning for me. I looked forward to coming in the day after to see what they did to my desk. Because I don’t did it once a year, the office wasn’t a constant war zone and work was not significantly disrupted.
A colleague once switched a couple of letters on my keyboard. I was puzzled and only slightly annoyed as the realization of what happened dawned on me. The same colleague and his partners in crime made name badges for the team and the played around with the picture of me. I wore a white and black stripped dress, that I would refer to as my zebra dress that summer. In the place where you would place a picture of yourself, they laminated a picture of a zebra. It took me a while to notice….I laughed so hard when I realized what they had done. The thought, the planning and effort to do this was not lost on me. I still have that name badge, it makes me laugh out loud at the memory!
In our office we have this huge stuffed horse that shows up in people’s offices when they are out of town or on vacation. He’s usually posed doing something – sitting in the chair typing, dressed in different outfits, with a headset on, etc. He brings a lot of laughter and is a nice way to welcome someone back to the office. 🙂
On a similar but different note, I heard a story recently of a company that was introducing ID cards many years ago. There was great emphasis put on wearing the ID cards ( they weren’t pass or access cards). One fellow was very resistant ad thought it quite stupid. He changed his photo and inserted his dog’s photo for a week or two and nobody noticed.
When he recounted the story to management they said he shouldn’t have done it but didn’t even laugh or get the slightest amusement out of it. That said it all to me. How sad were they not able to see the fun in it and also how it highlighted the inadequacy of the initiative.
I know one person’s “fun” can be another person’s harassment and I love a good bit of silliness at work. I usually make sure the silliness is aimed squarely at me and not others and others only join in as they see fit. I’m naturally introverted so it takes a bit of gumption to get me going and I think that’s why others see it as fun and often join in. Timing, understanding your audience and a sensible approach to silliness are all essential… go forth and be silly… thoughtfully!!
I used to tape cut out magazine add phrases to coworkers name plates, like “best in class”, “number one rated”, etc. No one ever took them off…
Most important is to know your partner as you certainly do.
“Humor” and “Tom Foolery “can such a double edged sword! Just watch how you slice it.
I think this is fantastic! I think the world in general could use some silly fun! We all take ourselves entirely too serious, and to spend so much of our life at work, and not have fun? I think that’s a recipe for dread.
My husband and I will enter our favorite bagel shop, and suddenly break into a run, racing each other towards the counter, pushing each other out of the way, laughing the whole time. Gives us a jolt of fun and energy, and makes the people working and eating there smile.
I think this is a great post! It’s an interesting way to invigorate an environment. It’s like a reward for good behavior or performance. I agree that it’s a must that it has to be with people that are trusted. If not, it will possibly make a hostile environment. However, looking back I think that even you trust can be offended by this tactic or choice of fun!
I may choose to do a “fun or training” afternoon at work and take my people out to play sports or games. This builds camaraderie in the perfect environment. Letting the steam out over a game of basketball, kickball or even dodgeball. Who wouldn’t love to hit their coworker with a ball that annoys them?
Our principal loved deer hunting. We scattered chocolate covered raisins all over his office during deer hunting season😅.
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My team play good-natured pranks on each other and it is fun, brings the team closer together and we can have a laugh. One of my team leaders had an extra dongle for another team members mouse and would take over controlling it sporadically, she was so confused, but we all had a good laugh about it when she finally found out that it wasn’t her going crazy! Laughter and enjoyment are a big part of keeping work fun and keeping the team engaged, especially during stressful times.
I appreciate the laughter in our office a LOT – especially these days, when they’re all working from home and only two of us are here physically. We cleaned out a desk and found an old wedding picture of former employees, and put it in a picture frame already in someone’s office. Once someone finally noticed it, they had to move it to someone else’s office. It went on for WEEKS because people didn’t notice it. We also have a stuffed badger that appears under desks on occasion, which freaks people out. and the last one – our boss ‘fell’ out of his chair once. He went on leave a short time later, and while he was gone, we installed safety belts to his chair. He loved it! We hire very intentionally here; our culture is very important, and laughter is a huge part of that culture. Not mean-spirited at all. I love my office.