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It’s a tough time to be in Houston right now. Ninety-degree weather, bumper-to-bumper traffic, and the oil and gas sector has been stagnating for the last 18 months. Eighty thousand people have gotten laid off, including Shawn Baker.
“I didn’t see it coming at all, not one bit, and I was very devastated, and I’m still very bitter about it, very bitter,” Baker said.
She took that frustration and decided after 25 years in the oil industry to finally become her own boss. She started a company called Tantrums LLC.
She bought a warehouse and converted it into five small rooms she fills with defunct electronics, glass bottles and anything that will break. For close to $3 a minute, she’ll help you pick out a tool, like a sledgehammer, a baseball bat or a lead pipe, and let you destroy everything in the room.
Television sets are available for trashing.
“Everybody’s had enough at some point of their day or their life or whatever, and so when you come in here, you can be as aggressive as you want in the privacy of your own room. You can let it out or whatever it is you’re in here for, and you don’t have to clean up,” Baker said.
Baker got the idea for the business a few years ago when she saw a few guys beating up some furniture behind a bar.
“I just thought it was genius,” Baker said. “I could see me doing it.”
There’s not much Baker can do about the downturn in oil and gas, but she feels she can help people cope.
“There’s a lot of stress in this city because we’re the energy capital, and there are lot of layoffs happening,” Baker said.
One of her customers, Lance Nolan, is a mid-level manager at a drilling chemical company outside of Houston. Work’s been tough lately.
“We actually had a fracking division and we had to shut it down, had to lay off 35 people the other day,” Nolan said.
That’s why Nolan’s wife, Holly McClellan, decided to bring him to Tantrums LLC as a surprise. They both work in oil and gas, and they care for Porter, their 10-month-old daughter.
Before Nolan starts smashing his room, Baker leads him to the safety equipment.
“The face masks are optional, but you have to wear safety glasses and you have to protect your hands, and [wear] closed-toe shoes and long pants,” Baker said.
Lance Nolan smashes into a TV. When he’s not pulverizing electronics with a sledgehammer, Lance Nolan is a mid-level manager at a drilling chemical company.
Pulverizing electronics and glass objects is relatively safe, Baker said. Every so often customers walk out with cuts and scrapes, which they wear as badges of honor.
Entire offices, as well as couples and friends, come in here for team-bonding activities. If you give her some advance notice, Baker will even set up a themed room for you. A few weeks ago she had a teacher who wanted a replica of his classroom. When he walked out, Baker was surprised to find the room intact.
It turns out the teacher just wanted to scream.
Sledgehammer in hand, Lance Nolan has 15 minutes to smash a room full of glass bottles, an orange schoolroom chair, a bunch of porcelain knick-knacks and a giant TV.
When his session is over, Nolan comes out drenched in sweat, with a big smile on his face. He’s out of breath, but he feels good.
His wife tells him next time, it’s his turn to watch the baby. She wants a turn with the sledgehammer.