Do Not Bring Children To Work Day

My humor imp first showed itself very early in my career. It embarrasses me to admit this but ‘back in the day’ not only was I young, but I was quite dumb as well. Dumb in that I was still trying find my relevance in the world. And what better way to find one’s relevance than by trying to impress random strangers with one’s knowledge and professional accomplishments, right? [Did I mention that I was young and dumb?] Good grief.

Mounting The High Horse

I was in that ‘I think I’m a bag of chips and all that‘ phase of my career that many people go through. I’d just landed myself a cush job with a health care CPA firm that had 650 physician clients; I viewed myself as an up-and-coming practice management consultant with a captive client base. In my arrogant state, this made me as happy as a pig in poo. In other words, I had lots of places to play [read: lots of places to get my ego stroked AND rack up a bunch of billable hours to boot]. You consultant-types know what I mean, so don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about [wink wink].

Yes, ma’am … I considered myself to be a Mary Poppins of practice management … drifting down with my umbrella … going from assignment to assignment … wowing everyone with how much I could get done …  and of course, collecting kudos and praise on how efficient I’d made their practices. Oh puhleeze!

Oops, I almost forgot … before we go any further … there’s a housekeeping item I forgot to mention. If you’d be so kind, please hold all commentary until the end of the post if at all possible. We’ll be having a restroom break and we can all vomit together then—myself included.

The Train(er) Gets Off Track

La-di-flippin’-da! Mary Poppins here landed an engagement to train a number client practices on the newest version of the most popular medical billing software at the time. A choice assignment for sure. I was stoked.

I was unaware of it at the time, but apparently my inner child was running amok and my humor was somehow finding it’s way into the contents and delivery of my training sessions. I learned of this was when I was leaning over and was pointing to something on a trainee’s monitor. She looked up at me and quizzically asked if I’d ever done stand up comedy, because if I hadn’t then I certainly had missed my calling.

Hearing this, other trainees spoke up—saying that they hoped I’d be the one doing all their training sessions because

: “You’re such a hoot! and you make it so easy to learn. ”

Insert the sudden sound effect of a phonograph needle making that harsh scratching sound or the irritating sound of fingernails scraping on blackboard.

Hmpfffff … Cough …. Cough

Well, upon hearing those words, I bristled and stood up ramrod straight! Deep in thought, I then turned my head up and raised my chin slightly to the right as I proudly began stroking the lapels of my all-black designer-label business suit jacket. [Eye roll.] All I was missing was the red ‘power tie’ to further send the message that I was trying prove I was a man, eh? I gritted my teeth. Oh. No. She. Didn’t! I thought.

My jaws clenched tightly as I raised obe eyebrow and pondered: “Excuuuuuuse me! Had she just call me ‘moi‘ a “hoot”?!”

911 Course Correction

Yep! She certainly had! It was then that I realized that if I planned on being taken seriously—and be given the respect that I just knew I was entitled to as a health care consultant—[I’m rolling my eyes and doing that finger-down-the-throat-gagging-gesture], I was going to have to disown my humor. Or at least find a way to silence it during work hours.

So, that’s exactly what I did. Light a bolt of lightning, I slid over and commandingly took possession of the chair marked “D” in the Dominant sector of my DISC personality profile. And I did it so fast that I got friction burns on the right side of my thighs.

Hitting The Mute Button

And from that point forward—with one hand clamped firmly over my humor imp’s mouth—I functioned as a stoic [ahem] ‘pro-fess-ion-al’ for extended periods of time. Able to work unencumbered without unexpected interruptions and bleed-through from my raucous funny side, I consistently made tangible improvement in practice metrics and physician revenue. From there, I easily parlayed each practice success into another one—garnering a name for myself—and enjoying a pristine reputation. A series increasingly higher paid opportunities followed.

That’s not to say that I was 100% carefree during this time. No, I still had quite a battle on my hands. I was forever having to slap that sassy little SNL skit writer inside me back into subjection so as not to blow my cover. But, even then, she was forever trying to rise up.

Drastic Measures Required

As the [$$$] stakes got higher, I worked harder and longer each day. My work hours expanded to include most evenings, nights, and weekends. I soon found myself without the time, energy, or will to continue my wrestling match with her.

Please note that I am very ashamed of what I about to tell you. We all have regrets and many of them stick with us throughout our life. What I am about to tell you is one of those things.

I did something terrible to someone who as it turned out, had always been my very best friend in life. Deep inside, I didn’t want to do what I did, but—blinded by self-centered ambition and the drive to make my mark in a career—I did what I thought was best at the time.

I called ‘the men in white coats’ to handle my humor imp for me. Worse yet, I consented to the straightjacketing and restraining my dear, wonderful, playful inner child. I even signed the consent form giving them permission to duct-tape her mouth!

Nevertheless, She Still Got The Last Laugh

Bless her heart, as they were wrapping the long arms of the straight jacket around her torso and buckling them behind her back, she showed her never-say-die resiliency.

She knew that her influence was affecting my career. She knew that her snark wasn’t  inappropriate for where I was in my life. She wasn’t even the least bit offended by what was going down. Rather, it was at this stressful time that she modeled for me a very important example on the strategic advantage of having the last laugh.

She used her last minutes to verbalize something that she knew to be true—something that she also knew that I was too self-absorbed to openly admit at the time.  She knew that I secretly enjoyed her ‘interruptions’ all along. She knew that I was always entertained by her outburst.

So as they picked up the duct tape and started to tape her mouth, she blurted out: “You know you laughed … I heard you laugh … you laughed … you laughed … you laughed!”

A Very Cinematic Exit

Before they got the tape firmly in place and started wheeling her down the corridor, she gave me a knowing glance. She winked at me, and in her best silent Arnold Scwartznegger Terminator accent, she yelled back at me: “I’ll be baaaack …”