One summer evening several years ago, my wife asked me to grill out hamburgers for supper. Her hamburgers are a family favorite, seasoned to perfection. And with three teenage boys, it usually takes me two hands to flip the sizeable patties.
On this particular night, the burgers were so large that the boys and I were covering up left-over portions with our napkins. So, as not to hurt my wife’s feelings, I quickly gathered the boys’ chunks of burger onto my plate while she was getting water from the kitchen.
“Wooo…I am full!” I said with a slap to my belly. “Anyone want to give Dudley the left-overs?” Jack, the animal lover in the group, quickly volunteered. And that is when the night became memorable.
Dudley was our eight year old English bulldog. By this point, he resembled Helen Keller more than our family pet. He was nearly blind from cataracts and his hearing was pretty much nil. And to ease our guilt about his condition, we probably gave him way too many hamburger scraps. So besides being nearly blind and deaf, he was also overweight.
Jack and I went to the backyard and leaned over the gate to give Dudley his treats. As usual he was asleep, snoring loudly. Rousing a deaf and blind English bulldog from sleep is not an easy task, so Jack tossed a piece of hamburger near his nose so we could use the only functioning sense he had left. It worked perfectly.
Dudley quickly ate the piece and sniffed around for more. After much yelling and slapping the fence, he still struggled to locate us. Jack jumped over the fence and spelled h-a-m-b-u-r-g-e-r into his paw like Anne Sullivan. (I’m kidding, but isn’t that a funny line!) Finally, I threw a big chunk to him. In retrospect, it was too big.
You see, bulldogs can’t breathe that well to begin with, and with a ball of hamburger now obstructing his airway, Dudley was gulping for air. At first, Jack and I just laughed because that’s the way bulldogs always eat. But we soon realized that he was struggling. While he couldn’t make the universal sign for choking, we knew that he was in trouble.
Just as I put one foot on the fence to hop over, Dudley passed out. His massive frame went limp and he fell over on his side. The force generated from his weight hitting the ground propelled the bolus of beef a good foot and a half out of his mouth onto our patio. Dudley came to, and shaking his head, casually ambled over and finished his treat.
It kind of looked like this:
Now, Jack and I were the ones who couldn’t breathe. I’ve never laughed so hard in my life.
Dudley heard the commotion and walked over to the fence wagging his nub of a tail. Amazing! I just about killed him and he still thought I was the greatest master ever…
…do your employees feel the same way about you? Throw them some positive feedback instead of hamburger meat and watch what happens.