When I was 17, I remember accompanying my father to check out some of the local garage sales. You see, in my hometown (and likely in other towns too), we had yearly garage sale “festivals”. This is what my father jokingly called them – there would always be plenty of people at these things. I would later wonder how effective these people would have been if they had actually used their numbers to support a cause, rather than their own personal desire to acquire material goods, at a bargain; however, on this particular day, I was just looking for cool stuff. On this day, I only bought one item. This item was a 3 foot tall, 3 foot wide – bear. A giant, stuffed bear.
So next thing you know, we’re heading back home – and every now and then, you see people looking at us weird. Picture this… a grown man was driving a car, my father, in fact – but seated next to him – was a giant bear. My idea. We were to pick up my mother, and I figured the bear would look pretty funny sitting in the front passenger seat. Just seeing people’s expressions, and ultimately, my mother’s reaction – made the price of 20$ all worthwhile.
So… let me just confirm what you’ve all been thinking. No. I’m not a regular guy – I’m a fan of weird and quirky things, especially if it ultimately will make me laugh. If others laugh, that’s just icing on the cake.
For example, I started working as a software developer, full-time, in February 2006. After about 4 months, I decided to spice up my desk a little bit. It was just so regular, so dull. It all started with a couple stress balls – you know, those squeezable, colorful balls with printed smiley faces on them? Something you’d see over at Google. Now, my buying these balls had nothing to do with stress – I didn’t need to take out my anger on small, smiling faces – I didn’t need to crush them to feel better. I just always appreciated the “Google culture”, to an extent. A few months later, I had enough stress balls to fill the majority of my desk’s filing drawer. My desk was packed with them, and I made sure to buy some for my co-workers. It reached a point where people were buying me stress balls of all sorts, to further my collection. Some of the weirder ones I was given were ones intended for use on Halloween. I’m talking balls meant to look like eyes, skulls, or worse.
At this point in time, since I moved to another office, most of my desk toys have been retired to my drawers, rather than remaining on my desk. I kept some around, though. They are true to my sense of humor, and my playful nature. Even so, these days, some of my co-workers will randomly find an foreign stress ball grinning at them when they arrive in the morning. I’ll just randomly do that… it makes people laugh, and laughter is a great thing. For now… I feel I’ve mastered the toy desk – my next goal is to master the plant desk – my new office has windows. I want to make myself a little jungle. Want to talk to me? Bring a machete. Unfortunately, I have yet to buy plants for work. This is mainly because I usually buy big, leafy plants – and I’m currently not too enthusiastic about exposing them this weather (during transport).
I’ve got other similar, smaller experiments going on in my apartment. First, I currently have a fake skull in one of my kitchen cupboards. If it detects motion, its eyes start to glow, and it talks. You can also turn off the motion detect, and have it only turn on manually. It usually says something really corny, and then it laughs all evil-like. It was meant to be used as a typical Halloween prop. My original idea was to keep it in the cupboard, and when people were over, act like nothing was strange about it. One time, after having it on motion detect for a while, I went to get a bowl, and I momentarily forgot it was there. It startled me – I jumped, had a good laugh, and turned off the motion detect. I have yet to get any more good laughs out of the skull, but I’ll think of something eventually.
My second apartment experiment involves my medicine cabinet. It goes something like this: when someone uses your bathroom, they technically have full access to your cabinet. You can’t really stop them – they’re using the bathroom – they have privacy. If you have any embarrassing diseases, conditions, etc – your medication and ointments – they are usually here. I’ve heard of a study that claims most people will, in fact, snoop in your medicine cabinet. Knowing this, I began to think about how I could exploit it. I thought: what if I were to put some really strange stuff in there? A rubber ducky. Binoculars. You know, just something completely out of place, or overwhelmingly embarrassing (by intention). I have yet to do anything for this one, but I have more ideas in mind.
This post was initially published on March 15, 2008.