I have been having such a good time at work the last few days. You see, last week I was clearing out one of our older storage rooms at work. This is the one with the boxes of files going back years and years, plus the mountains of some of the most random stuff you ever saw. Boxes of tumblers with the hospital logo from about three takeovers back. Dusty Christmas decorations shedding glitter over everything. Racetrack flags from when (so I’m told) they used to have go-kart races in the cafeteria as a way of boosting employee morale. Three electronic massage mats that, when draped over a chair, transform it into a massage chair. A box of invitations and envelopes for the 2007 employee recognition banquet. It’s fabulous, like an archaeological dig for contemporary corporate culture. The pack rat, amateur sociologist in me is just thrilled. No, really. I’m sincere about that. Not a scrap of sarcasm.
One of the better finds was an entire box full of silver coins imprinted with things like “Great Job!” on one side and “Thanks for going above and beyond!” on the other. Another one has a ladybug with “Lucky us!” on one side, and “You’ve been ‘spotted’ doing a great job!” on the other. At first I took only a handful downstairs to show my boss, more for the WTF factor than anything else. She said she had never seen them before, and had no idea when we’d acquired them, or what they were doing in our storage room. Since she had no use for them, I asked her if she minded if I played around with them. She said to go on ahead.
Since then, I’ve been keeping a few in my pocket, and when I’m out doing things in the hospital, I give them to the employees I run into. “Name, “ I say, handing them the coin, “You’re doing a great job.” And, wow, people seem to really, really like it. A lot of them laugh, but most of them seem genuinely touched. One guy almost seemed like he was about to cry. That’s not what I’m going for at all, of course (contrary to occasional appearances, it is not the mission of HR to make employees cry), so for the most part I try to strike a lighthearted (cuz seriously, it’s a slightly cheesy fake plastic coin) but sincere note (since I wouldn’t be giving it to them if I didn’t genuinely believe that they are doing a great job, and most of them will never get the recognition they deserve). But I’ve seen some of the people tucking it into their badge holder to keep, or saying that they want to keep it in their pocket as a reminder. It’s a win-win: they get encouraged, and I walk away feeling like the good-feelings superhero.
I think there is nothing I love so much in the world as a little benevolent mischief. I mean, plotting and scheming to embarrass someone or cause them pain is just mean, and no good at all. But if it’s for something they’ll like? Something that will surprise and possibly delight them? Then all bets are off. It’s like doing good with a delicious side of tasty, tasty adventure. Having these coins to pass out feels like going around all day with a pocket full of sneaky fun surprises, just waiting for the opportunity to pounce on someone and make them happy. It makes me want to giggle all the time, except pretty soon the giggle starts morphing into a mad genius/super-villain laugh, and then it gets a little disturbing. But still. So much fun.