This story ends with two people crying.

Whenever I plan a Social Nonsense workshop I have Portkey right there in the lineup, and, for a long time, I would always find a reason not to do it. Not that I was scared, no no no, it was just THIS crowd, or THIS day, or something was running long, or or or or or… (I was scared)

I don’t know why facilitating Portkey made me nervous. I think it was fear of rejection – I’m asking people to turn to strangers and talk to them. What if they said “no?” Or worse, what if they said, “No, and you are a loser, Doug Shaw.” I knew Portkey was great, I’ve played it and seen it played, but something about the idea of introducing it to strangers caused the fear reaction.

So one day, I was presenting to the audience that frightens me most – high school students. Younger kids can be intimidated, and older people have learned to follow along, but if a high school student doesn’t wanna’, the high school student ain’t gonna’. And I thought, “If I do Portkey with these students now, I will never be afraid of it again.” And so I did. And it worked wonderfully. And then I looked at the counselor table, and there was distress.

The counselors’ jobs were to keep the kids in line during my workshop, and it became clear that they weren’t needed – the kids were enjoying themselves and into it. So they sat at a table in back and participated along with their charges. And at that back table, someone was crying, and someone else was tearing up. I got there as soon as I can, and didn’t get a chance to speak. The crying one said, “We’ve been working together for so many years, and we never really knew each other.” And then the tearing up one cried, just a bit. And I, erudite as always, said, “Wow.”

And another counselor – a big tough guy, made eye contact with me. Not smiling. Serious. “Wow,” he stated. And that really was all there was to say.

Since then, I include Portkey whenever I can. Yes, it is fun. Yes, it can get intense. But it is magical how it brings a table of people together, which is appropriate given its name.

Facilitating Tip: At least as of this writing, if you ask the audience, “Can anyone tell us what a ‘Portkey’ is?” at least one Harry Potter fan will supply that information, and be thrilled to do so.