The Power of Yahtzee

“Rianna, you don’t know how to play Yahtzee?! Oh my goodness,” I remember Dawn saying to me exasperatedly a few months ago. It was one of my first Wednesdays in the building. My building times used to be Mondays and Thursdays, but management decided to move things around so that I could bring my goofy energy to Wednesday Game Day in hopes of getting more people excited and engaged.

I had never played Yahtzee before in my life, and was pretty nervous about playing a game with people dealing with the life circumstances and situations that many of my friends here at OCP are dealing with. I remember thinking, “how would any of these folks ever muster up the desire to play a board game?!”

Boy was I wrong.

Dawn taught me everything I know about Yahtzee, and it’s become a Wednesday expectation – dare I say, necessity. Just as she taught me, I’ve been able to teach other people, and we’ll often times have five or six people playing. The laughter and giggles often draw a crowd, so we’ll have a few other folks hanging around in addition to the ones actually at the table!

I had a wonderful breakthrough moment with Ina last Wednesday. At the beginning of the day, Ron reminded us to be intentional about pulling folks into games that we don’t normally interact or engage with. This is always a nervous spot for me; if I see a person in the corner that doesn’t really talk often or smile, and a person that seems fairly approachable and enthusiastic, I’ll go to the ladder individual because it’s comfortable. But, after seven months here at OCP, I am learning every day that this job is all about stepping out of your comfort zone. So I did.

“Hey Ina! Wanna play some Yahtzee?” I said enthusiastically, hiding my wringing hands behind my back. “Oh, no no…I don’t…I’ve never played before.” I dramatically dropped my mouth open and said, “What? Never played Yahtzee?” She chuckled a bit, and shook her head. “No, no…you all already know how to play, I don’t know how to.” I put both hands my hips, remembering Dawn roping me in the first time I learned to play Yahtzee. “Come on over, Ina,” I said, “we’ll teach you how to play.” I hollered back over to the table, “Hey guys! We have to teach Ina how to play Yahtzee!” There was a chorus of “come on over!” and “it’s really easy!”

Soon enough, Ina was all into the game in her subtle, quiet way. It was so exciting to catch her grinning, and getting excited when she had a good roll. The classic moment of the day was when she actually scored a Yahtzee! You get “Yahtzee”, which is 50 points and the highest score, when you roll the die and get all five of the same kind. She was over the moon, and kept giggling and smiling to herself all through the rest of the game.

Ina taught me an invaluable lesson that day. Never pre-judge individuals to the point where you miss out on an opportunity to share their inner Light. Everyone has a special something. Some people’s somethings are more apparent, or more visible. Some are more open to share their somethings, and some aren’t. But everyone has it. You just have to step out of your comfort zone and squeeze yourself into theirs. And trust me; making a new friend that way is worth 50 points, and then some.