Joke of the Day: WMC security guard uses dad jokes to coax smiles from patients and employees

By Kristy Bleizeffer Oct 12, 2016

Security guard Peter McDaniels is known for his Joke of the Day - a short, corney zinger told to cheer up patients, families and employees.

Whenever Peter McDaniels wears his uniform, he tucks a small worn notebook into his left breast pocket. On one page, hand printed in blue ink, is a quote he once read on Facebook and doesn’t want to forget:

“Sometimes we don’t know what we are capable of until someone comes along and shows us. Positive thought enables us to shape our world. A smile everyday spreads joy like wildfire. Laughter is contagious. Spread joy wherever you go.”

People often talk about words to live by. McDaniels actually follows through. The Wyoming Medical Center security guard with the sculpted mustache is known for his “joke of the day,” a zingy one- or two-liner lobbed at patients and coworkers as they pass him in the halls during his rounds.

If you’ve heard one, you already know: His punch lines are groaners. The kind you should have figured out before he told you, and then make you roll your eyes once you “get” the joke. He admits they "can get pretty corny.” 

Peter McDaniels jotted this quote down in a small notebook several years ago so that he wouldn't forget. He carries the notebook in his breast pocket.

He’s a dad; He tells dad jokes.

     Have you ever seen an elephant hiding in a tree? Me neither. They’re really good at it.

     An Irishman walks out of a pub … Get it? Irishmen never walk OUT of pubs.

     Eagles may soar … But weasels don’t get sucked up into jet engines.

He writes them each night before his shift, thinking about what would make his own three children laugh. Each joke must follow three rules:

  • It must make him chuckle.
  • It must be clean.
  • It must be short. 

 “If it makes me chuckle, I figure it will make other people chuckle. I know it’s got to be clean, ‘cause this is a hospital. And I just think of short little quips that are easy enough to say as I’m walking by,” he said. “That way, I can do my job, but I can still get people to smile just a little.”

He got the idea from making rounds in the Emergency Department and the third floor, home to the Intensive Care Unit.  There, we treat our sickest patients: Those who came in unexpectedly or who are hanging by a thread. As someone who is not in the clinical side of medicine, isn’t used to seeing families and friends solemnly waiting for news, any news, about their loved ones in the hospital beds. He felt sad for those waiting for whatever came next, and he remembered the quote he carries in his breast pocket.

“My whole thought is if I can make people laugh, if I can get them to smile just a little, I’ve made their day that much better,” he said.

Some patients and families, especially if they’ve been in the hospital for a few days, start to look for him so they can get the joke of the day. McDaniels swears a few ladies in the Conwell Building across the street get disappointed if he doesn’t swing by. Some people groan. Most smile.

“That’s all I want to do,” he said. “Try it. See what happens. Because, seriously, it changes your entire day.”

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