Humor Therapy

Humor Therapy

by Danny Summers

It's time for some Humor Therapy. If you do any kind of search for Humor Therapy you will quickly find lots of resources. For instance, the University of Michigan Health System says, "Humor therapy (sometimes called therapeutic humor) uses the power of smiles and laughter to aid healing. Humor Therapy helps you find ways to make yourself (or others) smile and laugh more. When you think of Humor Therapy, you may picture clowns in the children's ward of a hospital cheering up sick children. Some hospitals now have humor carts that provide funny materials for people of any age. Many nurses have learned the value of providing a good laugh to those for whom they are nursing.

Scientists have been researching the relation between the mind and the body, especially in connection with the body's ability to heal (a field called psychoneuroimmunology). Laughter appears to change brain chemistry and may boost the immune system.

Humor may allow a person to feel in control of a situation and make it seem more manageable. It allows people to release fears, anger, and stress, all of which can harm the body over time. Humor improves the quality of life."

Sounds a lot like the therapeutic benefits of gardening, doesn't it?

You are Servants to Your Community

Garden Centers are a critical part of the supply chain for home gardens and landscape. The ability to interact with plants and the activity of gardening is an important option for everyone's health and well being. Add a little humor and you may provide double the therapeutic benefits! Let's all try to add a little humor to the plant mix and spread more joy to our customers, and our communities while serving them!

Keeping Our Wits About Us

In one of our recent QUICKtalks, Sid Raisch said, "It is very important to keep our wits about us during this stressful time." I remember hearing Sid say this and thinking at the time it could be more important soon (that was about mid March). But today, after more than a LONG month of challenging times, keeping our wits about us seems to be right on target and one of the very things we need most. Sid has much more to share about this subject. Watch for his blog article "It's a Laughing Matter", later this week. He even shares details about discovering the National Comedy Center and the Lucy Desi Museum, and much more.

Sharing Experiences from the Garden Center

Last week, as I was beginning to think about this Blog message, I received a timely email from Ryan Covington, of Covington's Nursery, Rowlett, Texas. Upon reading Ryan's "rant" I knew I had to share this with all of you. When you read this, I know so many of you will be sitting there nodding, thinking about all the similar situations you have had over the past weeks. So, as Ryan's "vents" and you laugh along with him, be sure to take some time and laugh about some of the experiences you and your staff have had at your store. And, of course, if you have some funny (or simply real human) stories to share, please do so back to GroupEs eList this week.


I also know this... What you are about to read has probably happened at your center. You just haven't taken the time to write it down, share it, and laugh about it. Now is a great time to laugh (just by yourself and also with your staff) and experience the healing power of humor!

Here's Ryan's shared story:

Warning, in advance, There’s No Question Here, I’m Just Venting!!! lol

So I almost never post on here, but I feel like you guys are probably some of the only people that understand what it’s like to work retail at this crazy time, especially at a place that’s been declared an “Essential Business,” but that also happens to sell other, non-essential things.

Vegetables and herbs make us essential; that cute little concrete garden bench and glass gazing ball that the customer is buying along with their three 4” veggies.... maybe not so essential. People are just excited to be out of their homes and able to shop somewhere other than Target or Walmart.

But we are open, and waiting on people, at a time when almost all other businesses are not, and for that, I am grateful.  We operate a huge, sprawling 18-acre retail nursery in a small town just outside of Dallas, Texas, and have about 100 employees.

For a lot of the townsfolk, we are now the only place left in our city to go to for entertainment.

And our nursery, presently, is actually a very entertaining place, especially ever since Dallas issued a mandatory wearing of facial coverings at all essential businesses.  Many of our employees don’t have medical facial masks, so they are wearing bandannas around the bottom half of their faces.  Well, combine that with the fact that we are in Texas, and that most of our employees already regularly wear cowboy boots and/or cowboy hats to work… add the bandanna, and now everyone looks like a comical Outlaw Bandit. 

It doesn’t look like Covid19 is happening up here, it looks more like we are running some kind of Western-themed, shoot-em-up, Nursery Amusement Park.

Another unique thing about Covington’s Nursery, is that when customers try to Google us, they are inevitably going to get Covid19.  Who else’s nursery shares the first 4 letters of our current nightmare disease? C’mon! Really?

Maybe when our customers started typing in Covi… they were thinking about landscaping and buying plants, but NOW they sure aren’t, once Google has prompted them towards Covid19 websites and dire warnings about our current pandemic — FANTASTIC.  lol!

I’ll be honest, I haven’t worked retail for almost 10 years.  I do our website, and Public Relations, and advertising — mostly all this happens from my office. Or it used to.  But currently, rustily, I’m back out with customers, because we’re short-staffed.  And I now feel that we are a nursery, in both senses of the word: because we are also clearly babysitting our customers in this Covid19 era.

“Can’t I go around this line?  Cuz all I need is one flat of begonias!”

"Yeah, sir, that’s all this guy in line needs too.  And her and him and her and her… So no sir, you can’t.  You have to wait in line with everyone else.  I don’t know how else to explain it to you."  [I'm thinking to myself...Maybe with puppets?]

The funny thing about trying to work retail in this Covid time, is that no one can hear what the other person is saying. When you’re standing the required 6-8 feet away from someone, outside in the Texas wind, and both of you have something around your face covering your Speaking Hole, it results in just a bunch of incomprehensible, back-and-forth, Mumbled Yellings:

“What Ma’am?  You want something on sale? I said SALE?!? Oh, you’re saying Soil?  Or both?  You want Soil that’s on Sale?  Who’s On First? I'm sorry but I simply can’t hear what you’re saying!”

And at that point, it’s just human nature for the customer to do the EXACT two things they’re not supposed to do— which is move closer to me while simultaneously removing their face mask.

It happens all day, everyday.

I’ll watch someone pull up in their car, wearing their face mask.

Which means they drove all the way to Covington’s Nursery, alone in their car, unnecessarily wearing their face mask, only to PROMPTLY REMOVE IT the second they arrive at our store, to talk to a sales person!; because neither one of them can understand a word of what the other is saying. "Are you saying Hydrangea? Or hypothermia?  Or Hi, Hello?"
And now we both have our face masks off, because this is ridiculous. 

Then, there are just the people that apparently have emerged from a No-News bunker, and driven to our nursery, and are just going to do whatever the hell they want.

"Ma’am, (her face mask is on top of her head) I don’t think you understand how these face masks are supposed to work, also, do you realize the whole time we’ve been talking, I have been walking backwards away from you?"
[I'm thinking...You’re about to have me cornered up against this stack of mulch sacks.  Put your leopard-patterned face mask back around your mouth!]

“Oh! This? Yeah my sweet granddaughter made it for me. Here, let me take it off and show it to you.”  And possibly even try to hand it to you to show you how well sewn it is. “My granddaughter has really become quite the seamstress.”

I’d say about 80% of our customers at Covington’s are elderly.  And we love them.

But the tragic irony is that the demographic of people MOST AT RISK for Covid19 is also the age of people LEAST LIKELY to remember to follow the current set of rules. Or just disregard them entirely. Or follow them, albeit briefly:

"Ma’am, please put your face mask back on..."

“Oh, this thing? It’s itchy, I don’t want to wear it anymore.
Also, stop backing away from me. Didn’t anyone teach you manners, Young Man?!”

In conclusion, I have learned a lot these past few weeks about human beings, and have decided we are doomed, as a species.

We have all these “Social Distancing” measures in place at the nursery, but I have watched people:

- Move orange cones.
- Hit orange cones with their car.
- Have their children get out and move an orange cone so they could park there.
- Completely ignore our huge EXIT ONLY signs.
- Simply MOVE a huge Exit Only sign out of their way, so they could Enter through there.
- Hop over Yellow Caution Tape or bright pink tape
- Untie Yellow Caution Tape or bright pink tape
- Sneak in through Closed entrances
- Argue with us when they snuck in through a Closed Entrance; "no Ma’am, we watched you, we all know what you just did"

The list goes on.

We are Doomed, I tell you, Doomed as a species.

My job in advertising went from kindly inviting people to attend our gardening classes, to now having to all but beat back plant junkies with a whip.

“I just need one begonia, Man, just a little taste to get me through…”

I would love to hear ya'lls stories about what it’s like to work retail in this crazy time.

Don’t lie, I know you all have some good ones!! :-)

Addendum: I am not trivializing our current situation, it’s just that almost all of my friends are in the Film Industry, and ALL of their/our gigs have been cancelled for the time being, so they have no clue what I’m talking about.  

"Working?  Shut up!?! You’re working?  Like, PAID WORKING??"

Also, I’m super dead-pan and sarcastic, but I usually follow it up with a smile, so people know I’m not being a jerk. 
The problem is, currently, with a bandanna around my mouth, no one can see me smile, so I just come off as a jerk.  I’ve resorted to winking, but often I have sunglasses on too. So…

But in all fairness, I was probably just being a jerk. 

However, I can only talk for so long on a phone order about the Yellow flowering begonias. “My neighbor has them!” Yeah, but we simply don’t have them. I don’t know what to tell you.

Have a great week you guys and gals!! [and thanks for reading]


Ryan Covington
Covington’s Nursery and Landscape
5518 President George Bush Tollway
Rowlett, TX 75089

Make Time to Laugh Today!

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