A big thank you to @Evil_Scot on Twitter who forwarded me the unusually titled Worchester News article:
“Man blames work stress after stealing condoms and octopus”.
As well as the condoms and a tin of octopus, Mark Brookes’ also stole a magazine, an ordinance survey map, a compass, light sticks, black bags and a shoe brush.
He admitted the thefts, of course, and agreed that he had been drinking after struggling to cope under the pressures of his job. It was, the defence asserted, out of character for a normally law abiding and hard working man.
I don’t know about you, but my first instinct was to grin. Not at Mr Brookes, of course, and I’m the first to admit that stealing isn’t a laughing matter. It’s the surreal nature of the crime. Why the tin of octopus? Why the ordinance survey map?
It was the same with my Betty Crocker pancake addiction. My family and I still laugh about it now – especially on Shrove Tuesday. They still laugh at the memory of all those pancake mixes monopolising the space in my sister’s car boot after a trip to the supermarket. You can’t get a more disconnected reaction to workplace bullying.
So the article got me thinking. There’s a fine line between laughing and crying. At the less extreme of the spectrum, when we’re stressed to the point of acting wildly out of character and our actions are a little surreal, does a cry for help often turn into a laugh for help?
I’m sure Mr Brookes is now getting the help he needs, but you can imagine his friends and family will never forget it. At some point, it would be nice to think Mr Brookes will, with hindsight, view his moment of madness with a touch of humour as I do.
We don’t talk about this enough. So I want to hear about your 'cry for help/laugh for help' experiences. Have your family or friends wiped away tears of laughter whilst performing an intervention? Have you ever reacted to work stress in an unconventional and inexplicable way?
Do let me know either here or on Twitter.
This should be interesting!