These Nerf Guns Really Liven Up The Office

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Vol 37 Issue 15

Antarctic Observational Comic Running Out Of Ideas

BYRD, ANTARCTICA–Brad Swithers, three-time winner of the Molson Ice/Edge Gel South Pole Laff-Off, said Monday that he is running out of ideas for observational humor about life in Antarctica. "I've already made tons of 'What's the deal with those ice chunks that form between the huskies' toes?' jokes," Swithers said. "And, of course, I've done the whole penguins-and-smelt thing to death." Swithers added that he's currently working on a bit about the differences between Amundsen Bay and Voyeykov Ice Shelf women.

Restaurant, Staff Patronized

BOSTON–Attorney Derrick Carlisle patronized the Riverside Café and five members of its staff Monday. "Excuse me, but I've always been under the impression that Manhattan Clam Chowder is red, not white," Carlisle told server Diane Ptacek. "And, when you get a second, please tell the bartender that a proper old-fashioned is made with a dash of bitters, not a whole ounce. Thanks so much."

Grimacing Congressman Quickly Drafts Legislation For Charley-Horse Research

WASHINGTON, DC–Grimacing in considerable pain Monday, Rep. William Delahunt (D-MA) quickly drafted and introduced the 2001 Charley Horse Research Appropriations Act, which would allocate $100 million for "immediate research" to find a charley-horse cure. "Charley horses are a serious–oh, Jesus–medical condition that afflicts millions of Americans every day," Delahunt told House colleagues. "And so let us–Christ, this kills–pass this bill as soon as possible." When informed that the earliest the bill could be passed and signed into law is next Monday, Delahunt moaned and pounded the podium.

Depressed NRA Member Half-Hoping Son Will Accidentally Shoot Him

ROUND ROCK, TX–Despondent from the loss of his job and his recent divorce, National Rifle Association lifetime member Patrick Schramm is half-hoping for an accidental shooting death at the hands of his 10-year-old son. "I don't know what the point is anymore," Schramm said Monday. "Sometimes, I find myself wishing that Jeffrey would mistake me for a robber late at night and put me out of my misery." Schramm then absent-mindedly released the safety on his Browning 10 gauge and left it on the kitchen counter a foot from the cookie jar.

The Organ-Donor Crisis

The U.S. is critically low on organ donations. What is the nation's medical community doing to address the shortage?

All Women Don't Know What They're Missing

It's a situation we've all been in before: You see a pretty woman in a bar, mall, grocery store, restaurant, library, laundromat, bowling alley, car dealership, post office, student union, tattoo parlor, or hospital. Smiling suavely, you move in and strike up a conversation using whatever means you have at hand. But every time, you somehow wind up striking out. It's happened to me, and I'm as eligible a bachelor as they come. These ladies would be lucky to land a guy like yours truly, but still they say no. I'm telling you, all women don't know what they're missing.

Bananas Again Sweep Primates' Choice Awards

LOS ANGELES–In a gala, chimp-studded affair at the Shrine Auditorium, bananas swept the Primates' Choice Awards for the 42nd year in a row Monday, winning such categories as Best Food, Best Fruit, and Best Dessert. "This year, as in so many years past, bananas delighted and nourished the primate world," said Dole CEO David Murdock, who accepted the award for Best Potassium Source on behalf of bananas. "It is only fitting that we pay tribute in kind." The fruit's sweep proved popular with the 3,200 simians in attendance, who shrieked and jumped up and down in their seats each time it was announced as the winner while a photo of bananas was projected onto a giant screen.

The Cincinnati Riots

Riots erupted in Cincinnati last week following the shooting death of an unarmed black man by police officers. What do you think about the latest such incident?
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These Nerf Guns Really Liven Up The Office

When you're a manager at a software company, boosting employee morale is a full-time job. The best way to keep everyone focused and productive, I believe, is to strike a careful balance between hard work and whimsy. That's why, last Thursday, I ran over to KB Toys on my lunch break and bought a dozen Nerf guns. And, boy, let me tell you, those Nerf guns really liven up the office!

Upon returning from KB, I called my team into the conference room for an "emergency meeting." You should have seen the look on their faces when they walked in and found a large particle-board sign with a big red bullseye and the words, "Take Aim... At Productivity!" For the next eight or nine minutes, the only thing on anyone's mind was having fun. I handed out the Nerf guns and everyone took a shot at the bullseye. For added enjoyment, I encouraged everybody to cheer the shooter on.

I had faith that my people would use the Nerf guns to keep the office from getting too uptight and stifling. And you know what? I was right! Before long, they were shooting up each other's cubicles and having a grand old time. Then, after letting off a sufficient amount of steam, they returned to their cubicles, batteries recharged. Those Nerf guns sure did the trick.

You might think boosting morale is an easy task–a kind word here, a pat on the back there. But if that were the case, anyone could be a manager. No, a good manager is constantly finding new ways to keep his or her folks happy. And sometimes, that means thinking outside the proverbial box.

The Nerf guns were hardly the first initiative I'd enacted to improve morale and stimulate creativity. But it was the most successful. Take the foosball table I brought in last September. I thought it might bring a little competitive spirit to the office, but Greg and Andrew were such ace players, they completely hogged the table. Not a great way to encourage teamwork.

Then there was my idea for a bi-weekly mid-afternoon ice-cream break. Everybody likes ice cream, I figured, and it might provide a nice, relaxed forum for people to exchange ideas on their current projects without calling a formal meeting. But because we were so busy eating ice cream–and I could still kick myself for this–a bunch of customer calls went unanswered. Well, the head office got wind of that, and you can bet I got a first-class butt-kicking. To make matters worse, it turned out that a lot of my workers were lactose-intolerant. How was I to know?

One of the great things about the guns is that my team can have their Nerf battles and get a little crazy without getting too carried away. After a few Nerf-gun volleys, the tension is broken and the monotony of staring at humming computer screens for hours on end is broken. Then my troops can go back to work refreshed. And it sure beats a cup of stale afternoon coffee and a dried-out bagel!

Granted, the guns cost $19 each, for a grand total of $228. That may seem like a lot of money, but you really can't put a price on employee morale. In the end, those guns will more than pay for themselves in new energy and ideas, believe you me.

I'm sure the higher-ups will be pleased with my efforts. One of the memos from the head office specifically instructed us to tailor morale-boosting to our individual teams. If Nerf isn't my tech-support team all over, then, by golly, I don't know my team. I just know that when the district manager comes by and notices the high spirits in the office, I'll be in line for a promotion. Maybe I'll even get a corner office, or at least something farther away from that noisy paper shredder.

As big a success as the guns have been, though, I can't sit back and rest on my laurels. Morale doesn't stay up on its own. Sure, nominal raises and attractive new business cards help some, but it's the little things a manager does that keep an office fresh and vibrant. But the big question is: Are the Super Soakers I ordered going a little too far?

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