Over the past two weeks at work, I've seen five people melt down. To tears, all of them. A couple left the building for a few hours to de-compress and re-compose. The others retreated to the solitude of their closed-door offices.
Of the five meltdowns, two were people I hired since last year. During the interview process, I warned both of them of the pressures and stress of the job, and told them that they'd break down sometime before the festival. Both looked at me and smiled, one warily, the other with bravado.
Both broke over the past two weeks.
Now I'm not making fun of the situation, nor of my colleagues. Every one of us at Just For Laughs has--at least once--broken down messily. That includes founder Gilbert Rozon, and yours truly (whose complete trashing of an office with a baseball bat is still legendary in the company's lore). No shame.
It ain't pretty.
But chez nous, it's a rite of passage.
And despite its outward unpleasantness, it may be helpful--perhaps even necessary--on the inside. Of both the company and the individual.
I don't know of too many jobs these days that don't put an undo amount of pressure on those holding them. Never mind jobs, but the day-to-day travails we all go through can bring us to the boiling point. And at that point, one can either hold things in, or let them out.
So with apologies to Neil Sedaka, I think Breaking Down is Good To Do.
I'm no mental health professional, but I find a good meltdown cathartic. It's a release, a diffusion of a pressure cooker before the carnage of a more damaging explosion (says he who wielded a bat and tossed it through a glass door). Nothing to be embarrassed about, especially chez nous, where only once you lose it are you truly "one of us."
Over the years, I've seen two ultimate reactions by those who have cracked:
1) They have left the company, saying "This is too much for me."
2) Or they have come back stronger than ever, rhino-skin toughened, ready for battle.
Either reaction is good, depending on the reactor.
There will be more meltdowns, crack-ups and breakdowns at Just For Laughs between now and July 29, when we put the 30th Anniversary edition to bed.
And to those about to crack, I salute you.
Welcome to the club.
And to close it out, in your honor, this little ditty from Tom Petty...