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Lunch time diversions

Face it, working in the shop can be tough. It's dusty, often repetitive work that, and unless you are fortunate to have a climate-controlled shop, must be performed in whatever heat or cold nature is offering up on that particular day. It's easy for your employees to become bored, tired and distracted. One of the ways we try to ameliorate this is to take breaks for coffee and lunch. Coffee breaks are usually pretty quick affairs lasting only 10 or 15 minutes. Lunch breaks tend to be longer and often provide a way to introduce a bit of fun to break up the workday.

When I had a lot of employees, we used to play games at lunch. We had a few favorite dice games that were fast and fun. Then, for a while, everyone in the shop got into playing chess. Now chess is not a game that is usually associated with fast play or short periods of time. But we were playing "blitz" – two-minute games with clocks – and if you don't think chess can be a good "spectator" game, you should try this. You get all the advantages of the mental exercise chess offers plus it's fast moving and exciting.

One day one of the guys was bouncing a golf ball during lunch and finally he went and got a stick out of the shop and used it like a bat to hit the golf ball. That was all it took. The next day there were three baseball bats and at least 50 old golf balls produced at lunchtime. The guys all took turns whacking the golf balls out into the field across the street from the shop. After all the balls had been hit, everyone went out into the field to find as many as they could for the next round. This particular pastime was the shop favorite all summer. The guys would hit all of the yard sales and garage sales in their neighborhoods and buy whatever golf balls they could find. At one point we had a full five-gallon pail of them. When winter returned we resumed our speed chess habit and by the next spring there was a Walmart store being built in the field across from the shop so we could not take up "bat-golf" again.

But I did learn one thing from it. There are few things that can make you feel as powerful as when you connect a baseball bat solidly with a golf ball! Somehow the guys always returned to work with their energies high after a good session of golf ball whacking.


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