Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Unorthodox Team-Building

Moral Booster Extraordinaire

For most of his career, my Husby was privileged to work for the Culture department of our province.
He built museums.
Big, beautiful, world-class museums.
Two were built at the same time.
The two best.
And biggest.
The Reynolds museum in Wetaskiwin.
Devoted to the telling of the story of the automobile.
And the Remington in Cardston.
Which beautifully describes the world of the horse-drawn . . . everything.
Building a single museum took teams of hundreds.
Building two?
The same hundreds.
Working twice as hard.
The stress levels reached, at times, unbelievable levels.
When that happened, morale slipped to compensate.
And everyone in the office seemed to walk around in a dark cloud.
My Husby, the project manager, felt he needed to do something.
A co-worker in an office at the opposite end of their suite, had a Playmobil Stagecoach.
Lovingly displayed behind glass in her office credenza.
It was driven by a little, whip-toting man-figure.
With a tiny, formally-dressed woman-figure and a second bowler-hatted man-figure tucked inside.
Strapped to the coach were an impressive array of cases, crates and barrels.
With a little strong box beneath the feet of the driver.
The coach was pulled by two horses, complete with tiny harnesses.
It was a cute set.
Totally in keeping with the theme of the museum its owner was currently engaged in building.
Husby studied it carefully.
And came up with a brilliant plan.
He would buy a little set of Playmobil figures of his own.
And 'stage' a little excitement.
He duly bought a set of Native American Indians.
War paint, war drums and all.
Which he then set up in his own book case.
Then, one evening after everyone had gone home, he stepped into his co-workers office.
Tied up the horses and the men with thread.
And kidnapped the little woman.
With the barrel.
And the strong box.
Leaving behind a ransom note demanding ‘Tahitum Treatum’.
Tahiti Treat.
 A soft drink that is no longer available but which was, then, my Husby's favourite.
He tied up the woman and sat her and her strong box in the centre of a circle of Braves.
Locked behind the glass doors of the top shelf of his bookcase.
Then he went home.
The next morning, he waited for . . . developments.
He didn't wait for long.
A loud shriek brought everyone from their offices.
Continued loud words drew them to the office at the end of the hall.
“Look! Look what someone did!”
There was much talk.
And, something that hadn't been heard in the office for some time.
Husby was conspicuous by his absence.
Everyone marched into his office.
“Grant, what do you know about . . .”
They got no further.
Every eye went immediately to his book case.
And the little 'kidnapping' scene displayed there.
“Aha! So it was you!”
Husby put on his most innocent expression and shook his head.
“I don't know what you're talking about,” he said.
He too walked over.
“Well, what do you know,” he said. “Look what those little guys have been up to! Imagine that!”
To say that the office buzzed for most of the rest of the day would be an understatement.
The next day, the ransom was paid and the woman, and her strong box, returned.
Then it was the co-worker's turn.
Retaliation is sweet.
Other Playmobil sets were purchased.
And the battle commenced in earnest.
Ranging over much of the office.
For the next few weeks, people arriving at the office would immediately head for one office or the other.
Just to see what had developed during the night.
It started out each day with laughter.
And the mood lifted perceptibly.
It got them through.
The museums, both of them, were completed.
And opened to world-wide acclaim.
Those responsible were given new assignments.
The group drifted apart.
But all of them remember those dark days.
When the work seemed insurmountable.
And morale was rock bottom.
When one man's ingenuity and 'joie de vivre' lifted everyone's spirits.
Who knew that all it took to improve morale was a 'little' kidnapping?


  1. Good for your hubby. Nothing like a little harmless fun. We had much the same thing at work. One girl had a plush mallard on her desk that kept mysteriously disappearing and little notes would give her clues. Once she came in and it was hanging by its feet with a note around its dinner at five....I guess that was going a bit far so she took it home.

  2. Excellant. Good fun goes a long way.

  3. I love it! Good for your husband. That is awesome. Now whenever I go to Cardston to see the museum, I will think of this story.

  4. Too cute, it's always good when someone can lighten things up:)

  5. Hee hee hee... and this story has inspired a novel idea...


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