My Daughter Thinks I Get Paid To Have Fun

She may not be far from the truth

Photo by KT on Unsplash

At the dinner table:

Me: “The funniest thing happened at work today.”

My mom, kid, and husband look at me expectantly.

Me: “You know how fast Yukta walks, right? Today, she had gone to the 7th floor to discuss something with someone. She finished and had to get back to her desk on the 6th floor.”

I stop to chew and relish the yummy chapathi and bitter gourd subzi mom has made. I love my mom’s bitter gourd subzi. I can feel the eyes of my audience boring into my bent head! I like to tease my audience 🙂

Kid: “Maaaaa…continue with the story.”

Me: “Haanh. Where was I? Yukta told us she started on the 7th floor and headed down. She entered the office and could not find her desk. After looking around frantically for a bit, she realized she was on the wrong floor. At her speed, she had completely bypassed the 6th floor, where she belongs, and reached the 5th!”

By now, I am crying with laughter as I imagine the scene once again. My family has joined the laughter party. I remember how I had to run to catch up with her when we went to Shanghai on a business trip.

I recall other tales surrounding Yukta’s speed and we laugh some more.

And then my daughter declares:

“Ma — I think you get paid to have fun at office!”

I am instantly indignant. What? Does she think I don’t do any work? I work so hard. More than the requisite 8 hours per day, in fact!

My mom rescues the moment.

She says, “Both you and your husband work at software companies. But only you have such strange tales to narrate.”

I felt better at once. I saw myself in a new light. I understood what my daughter saw and articulated in a simple way as only a child can.

I have fun at work!

No, really, I do! In fact, my motto in life is to have fun regardless of what I do. Whatever task I take up needs to have a fun element in it. If not, I will introduce one into the task. That’s how I operate.

Little wonder then, that I’ve had a lot of fun throughout my two and something decades of corporate life.

As I think back and analyze how I operate, it is clear to me that my choices are driven at the core by the need to have fun!

When I volunteer to take on anything extra at work or otherwise, at the subconscious level, I have already figured out how much excitement I can milk out of that experience.

I once volunteered to be part of a task force to evaluate why people were unhappy at work. Now, you would think that would be a dreadful task force to be a part of, right? Not for me, it wasn’t. I looked forward to it because it gave me a chance to talk to so many people across the organization; people I would not cross paths with on an ordinary day! What better way to network and make friends than under the guise of a task force?

At the end of three months, several interviews with employees, billions of spreadsheets of data (it sure seemed like that), and meetings with top management, I had two major takeaways.

I made several new friends and I laughed a lot in all the meetings. In short, my core goal of having fun was met. As for the drudgery of the task force? Never noticed! I was probably the only member who looked forward to those meetings. Call me a laughter junkie!

The biggest testimony that I am all for joy at the workplace is this — when I quit my most recent job to become a stay-at-home-mom, my colleagues told me:

We will miss your positive presence in the office.

That’s way more important to me than any reward or other clichéd forms of recognition. The fact that I spread positivity while chasing after my selfish need to have fun is a double bonus.

For years, I’ve heard colleagues complain about the boring hamster wheel of work life. I’ve heard rants about the tedium of it all. Truth be told — I’ve almost never felt that way. Of course, there are bad days at work. Sure, there is stress. Who likes being rapped on the knuckles by the boss, or the boss’s boss? But there is no need to dwell on it and spoil the rest of the day, week, or month, is there?

I can state confidently that hardly anyone has heard me whine about my work or workplace.

Kid: “Ma, you don’t complain because you are doing something fun.”

Me: “No, silly! I am having fun with whatever I do.”

People crave ‘work-life balance’ because they treat both as separate entities. What if we treated everything that happens in a day as just life? What if we did not draw a thick separator line between household chores and office chores?

And what if we approached each task or activity with the goal of having fun?

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