Anyone in need of a little perspective on their overworked lives, get yourself to Luling, Texas this weekend, for the 54th annual Watermelon Thump. This is a four-day event, and among the highlights are a watermelon eating contest, and, even more freeing, a watermelon spitting contest, which takes place on, you guessed it, the “Spitway.” Why do I suggest we overachieving workaholics get our butts to Luling? Here’s why: every day, we live in a competitive world. On the highway, we are in competition with other drivers to get out ahead. On the job, we are in competition with co-workers, clients, and bosses to be the one who gets the most recognition. What we need is a different kind of competition. One where the consequences do not seem so life and death. One where it truly doesn’t matter if you win or lose, but it’s how you play the game. Really, you try seeing how far you can spit a watermelon seed and attach anything but fun to the outcome. Try forcing as much juicy watermelon down your gullet as possible without grinning. Granted, you may run into some people in Luling who compete in these events year after year, and perhaps take them a touch more seriously, but all the more reason for you to dive into the fray with abandon, and show them you aren’t there to claim their crown. Rather, you are there to revel in the fact that you, a harried, unbalanced, stressed-out American worker are putting your all into attempting to master distance, arc and smooth trajectory on a fruit seed p-tooey’d from your watermelon-moistened mouth.
A weekend of this kind of frolic could have you emotionally centered in no time. Soon, those other aggressive highway drivers will mean nothing to you. So what if you’re being tailgated? You got a watermelon seed to fly 50 feet off your tongue! So what if some unqualified hack gets promoted over you? You took your place on the Spitway last weekend! In fact, if you can’t make it to Luling on short notice, why not grab yourself a watermelon (or send someone to get one if you’re too busy), set the wastebasket some distance from your desk, and create your own Spitway, right there in your workspace? It’s like practicing your putt in the office, only much more messy…a.k.a. much more fun!
Before you know it, you’ll be setting up all sorts of carnival attractions in the office. Throw a softball at the target and dunk the boss into a bucket of water? Hit the bull’s eye and win an extra personal day? The possibilities are limitless. The Watermelon Thump has been going for 54 years. That’s longer than most businesses have lasted in this country, so they have to be doing something right. Maybe it’s the fact that everybody who participates gets great benefits. The kind that come from happily, unabashedly, spitting something as far as you can.
What other pointless activities can you devise to remind yourself that we should not take our jobs so seriously?