“Everything is meaningless,” Solomon grumbled thousands of years before Rick and Morty became a hit show where characters scamper off to alternate universes to escape the devastation of their choices. The paradox of “everything matters” while “nothing matters” is uniquely compelling in the brittle social construct of today’s society (see Are you a Bullying Target or a Snowflake). We struggle to remember who we’re supposed to be mad at currently–McDonald’s, Dove, flag kneelers, or maybe the media for wasting our time with stories eventually revealed as fictional parables of our preferred narrative.
Enough abstract ramblings. On the show, Rick destroyed everything in his way to get a discontinued condiment from McDonald’s, just because he could. McDonald’s sensed a chance for cross promotion and quickly whipped up a batch, but ran out and had to turn away angry crowds of customers without Szechuan sauce at multiple locations. The gulf between a delightful idea and actually seeing it through usually takes care of these problems. We can all attest to that from fabulous events we promised we would attend on Facebook, but never left the house for when the moment came.
The relevance here is the haunting thirst for community in our culture. To the executives who’ve questioned the need for businesses like ours, this serves as an example for how badly people want to be on a team and share an experience with others. A fleeting moment of spontaneous joy is priceless, or at least the going price on eBay for one of those sauce packets.
On a side note, looks like eBay’s targeted ads want me to buy shampoo. Since no one’s actually offering $20,000, let’s get a more accurate picture and see current bids.
Wow, look how lucrative it can be to give someone a sense of belonging! That’s the message here, that whether out of sheer goodness or basic economics, fostering a sense of unity pays well.
Can you create that kind of culture at work? After all, when I was a traveling nurse, I noticed employees complained the same amount whether they were at a place with good teamwork or bad (I preferred the latter as the job security was unbeatable no matter how overpaid I was). Whether an employee or employer, tackle this problem in bite-sized chunks, inserting sauce packet sized pockets of joy and comradery where possible. High turnover? Plan fabulous parties for everyone who leaves. Loneliness and superficial relationships causing misunderstanding? No one will show up for events outside of work, so start by breaking the ice in the office, even if you have to buy Nerf guns from the dollar store.
I realize that many of the rubber band wars I started at various workplaces were unprofessional, but sometimes a polite, frigid work space is the enemy of teamwork. Yes, zero-tolerance policies against bullying may be necessary, but in an environment where people can relax and occasionally enjoy themselves, careless comments sting less. What do you think? Do you agree that, just like Rick, we can just live for a moment without scrutinizing how much it matters? Not all that time, I mean, and as long as we don’t destroy the universe.