It was Monday morning and I had started my day in the usual way, driving my car in the same path and in the same manner, to the design studio, coffee in hand. But today, like more often than not, I am feeling “of the moment” and very present. I was admiring the blue skies and the wispy clouds on that particular summer day. Suddenly, a question popped into my head: “If this was my last day on earth, what would I do?” Hm. I was not, necessarily, prepared to answer that question. Are we ever? A quick set of answers immediately followed. Spend it with loved ones? Take a walk in the park? Play hooky? And then abruptly, in that same thought, a small, run-down, but open-for-business Amusement Fun Park, caught my attention across the highway. Now mind you, I have passed it a million times without any consideration. Unexpectedly, I am feeling very spontaneous and I grin ear to ear.
“UNEXPECTEDLY, I AM FEELING VERY SPONTANEOUS AND I GRIN EAR TO EAR”
— Michele Pelafas
So here’s how it goes. My employees, all 25 of them, are settled in, hard at work, coming off of their weekends. You know that Monday feeling. I have employees in the design studio, employees in manufacturing, and employees in management but I only share my secret with two operations directors for safety and logistical purposes. They are game.
At 10:30, I tell everyone to stop what they are doing. “Drop your pencils, save your work and stand up.” I command, smiling. “What about the phones?” I hear. “We’ve got voice mail.” I respond. My operations directors tell everyone in manufacturing to stop their labor and power down their tools. I request volunteer drivers and I tell everyone to grab their cell phones and sunglasses and then pile into the cars. You can imagine the buzz, the questions and the smiles! I’m still not giving away the surprise.
We completely shut down the company and everyone piles into the cars, there are 8 in total. It is a caravan and I am leading! I role down the windows, crank the music and start dancing as we move. Veronica, Valerie and Eve are with me. They start dancing too. At the same time, they have no idea where we are going. Anticipation and curiosity and its only Monday!
We cross the highway and turn left down the winding frontage road. We only have to traverse about a mile but I make it count. I’m driving slow, almost teasing, and in my rear view mirror, I see everyone that is committed to my company and this journey. They are following me and they trust me. I have a huge responsibility to uphold not just today but every day. I am humbled and I am grateful.
As we come around the bend and the Fun Park comes into view, I see the smiles, the laughter and the relief. I have steered them well. Literally. We are going Glam-Karting!
I need not go into the details of the fun we had there, if just for an hour or two. I won’t elaborate on the fact that almost all of my female employees in the design studio raced in their high heels (myself included). Won’t chat about what must have been going through the heads of the 10 year old boys and their mom’s at the Fun Park that summer day. I can tell you that there was plenty of adrenaline and comradery. I can also tell you that we were kids for just a while, that Ela and I were nick-named Thelma & Louise and that I didn’t know how to find the brake until after I started driving.
So here it is. We can’t play hooky every day, but we sure can try to live in the moment, laugh a lot and surround ourselves with the people that truly matter. I do know that some of my employees have gone back to the Fun Park, on their own, during their lunch break. This is what we do, right? Changing lives for the positive, one day at a time.
This was definitely one for the memory banks and a day in-the-life at MPI.
“WE CAN’T PLAY HOOKY EVERY DAY, BUT WE SURE CAN TRY TO LIVE IN THE MOMENT”
— Michele Pelafas