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The Story of Pumpkin Man

Another story from a previous job. I joined the company in August, in October they started prepping for Halloween - it was a really big deal at that time (1998) and each department fought hard to be the winner of the overall decorating contest. I reluctantly joined the planning team for our department (what was I getting into?) and we had a meeting with one of the developers at his home (and strangely to me, had a pet rabbit...somewhat surreal when you've been there a couple months).

They decide on a jungle theme. Everyone dress up in a jungle related costume, ok, but also decorate the entire IT hallway to make it look and sound like a jungle - coordinated CD's playing everywhere, and more tree limbs, ivy, and other stuff than you'd think possible in an office hallway. I'm not a huge Halloween fan, so between that and being new...wow. Though I still have my jungle JuJu stick from that event propped behind the office door complete with a couple tiny skulls nailed to it.

That's the intro. It got bigger over the next couple years, and then as the company grew/changed/acquired the culture changed as well, where it more of a dress in costume day and not the real focus on departmental competition. I hated to see the culture change because so many enjoyed Halloween, but it wasn't something I was really invested in, and not mine to save anyway.

Fast forward a little and I take over managing a team. At that point I still am ambivalent at best about Halloween, but interested in team building, and of course using my team as test subjects for that. For Halloween there were some prizes still being awarded to departments, I supplemented that with a prize or two of my own to incent them, plus some spending money and time at work to innovate.

What resulted was the idea for Pumpkin Man. They assembled in the break room with a guard on the door, and then began figuring out what would go where, and of course hollowing out and carving up the pumpkins to fit. It went from mildly fun to outright hysterical as it progressed. The frame is PVC and he needed a tripod/third leg (that did invoke other comments by the way) to stand up solo, and was about 5 feet tall (that's my friend Kevin in the picture to give you sense of scale) and even has the corporate logo - if you squint - on the front.

Strangely enough the team won, barely beating out Spongebob on the Toilet and some strange head on a platter with a complete cows tongue for decoration. The team enjoyed some Starbucks, the thrill of winning, and probably a little satisfaction at playing my game in their own way. And Pumpkin Man? Well, he eventually went out of his gourd, broke down, and dove head first into a dumpster. So much for happy endings!




I'm Andy Warren, currently a SQL Server trainer with End to End Training. Over the past few years I've been a developer, DBA, and IT Director. I was one of the original founders of SQLServerCentral.com and helped grow that community from zero to about 300k members before deciding to move on to other ventures.


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