A few weeks ago, when one of my followers misunderstood a tweet, I received a curt reply of: ‘There’s nothing funny about workplace bullying’.
But as T S Eliot points out: ‘Humour is also a way of saying something serious’.
My own case proves this. My problems started because my boss thought he was a comedian. Even serious abuse can be shrugged off with the ‘I was just joking’ quip.
Further, a sense of humour was integral in helping me survive what turned out to be the darkest time of my life.
So it may not come as a complete surprise that the inspiration behind my workplace bullying book launch and my way of raising awareness come, not from some earnest role model, but the opening scene of a screwball comedy - Joe versus The Volcano. (http://youtu.be/ytS4yFM4Oxw)
Do you know the film? It’s the fable which opens with the dehumanization of Joe Bank's job and work environment. His dispirited trudge into work is overplayed with Sixteen Tons by Tennessee Ernie Ford.
So between 8am and 10am on Monday, 26th March 2012, we’ll be in the concourse of the Docklands Light Railway at Cabot Place, Canary Wharf, London where I’ve hired a barbershop quartet to sing Sixteen Tons as commuters trudge to work – perhaps wondering what they can expect from their own workplace bully this week. Promotional staff will be on hand to ask passers-by if they too have ever been affected by workplace bullying.
It’s very ‘now’, with the anti-capitalist demonstrations and Occupy St Pauls, but it’s a humorous take on it; as stressed and possibly harassed workers slope into the corporate machine for yet another week.
How can I afford all this, you might be wondering? Well, once again I’m using some of Howard’s settlement money. As I comedian, I expect him to see the funny side!
Do stop by and say hello if you’re in the area.