When I was young I was very serious. One of the gifts of aging is that I have grown so much more comfortable with my own humor.
I like laughter. I am known for my indulgence in gigglefests. Last year the people in another office could set their watches by my 2:30pm laughter echoing down the hall.
A few years ago I was note taker for a series of meetings that always went on for far too long. Always at 9:15pm some little thing would strike me as hysterically funny, and the members of the group knew that it was time to adjourn.
Last week there was another one of those long and frustrating meetings at which I recorded every word. Immediately after adjournment I melted down into a gigglefest. I took off my glasses to wipe tears from my eyes. Somehow during my hysteria I slapped my hand on the table and mashed my glasses. I got them straightened out yesterday, a little screw replaced. They had been wearable, but cockeyed on my face: It could rightly be said that I had had a screw loose.
I like banter. A little injection of personality can go a long way in making life pleasant.
Peter is a contractor. Every project application he brings us is well prepared and presented in the proper number of copies. He is articulate and witty and smart, and he makes my work life easier. A couple of weeks ago a client of his called me. “Peter suggested I call June ‘because June knows everything.’”
Dryly, I responded, “Mmm-hm. And just how well do you know Peter?”
We chuckled together, and I told him what he needed and emailed him some additional information.
Mike is a carpenter, a true craftsman. He recently bought two buildings that badly need his skills. He came in last week for an application to start renovating one of them. It was while I was doing my Morning Job, where I don’t handle those things. I invited him to come with me and I’d get the paperwork he needed. “I don’t have to wait until this afternoon?” he asked. I got up from my chair, grabbed my keys. “Well, you would . . . except I want more coffee, and the coffee’s in that office.”
A man called last week to find out what amount of tax he owed. I gave him the figure and as soon as I hung up, realized I’d given him the wrong information. I called him back and he said his wife was “looking through the papers on the counter here…”
“What would we all do without kitchen counters?” I asked him, and we laughed wryly.
I gave him the right information, he repeated it, and I could hear his wife saying in the background, “That’s right.”
“She says that’s right. She’s got the paper here,” he said.
"See? She’s on top of it!” I said, and we laughed together again.
An old woman called to get a new handicapped parking permit. I told her she’d need an application from her doctor. “Oh?” she asked, “It’s been so long since I got the first one, I can’t remember how it goes.”
I got an application form and told her its title and the form number to ask for at her doctor’s office. She repeated all of it, and I said, “Are you sure you need one of these? You don’t sound handicapped to me!”
Her aide, listening on an extension, piped up, “If her legs worked as well as her mouth, she wouldn’t!” We all laughed.
The old woman asked me, “What was your name again?”
Last Friday afternoon a woman phoned me to ask me who she should contact about a problem. She knew, she said, that it wasn’t something that involved me, “but you’re always so helpful.” I thanked her and told her how to reach the person who might be able to provide a solution. I told her it might be somebody else but it would be good to let the first man know what had happened, and he would be the place to start.
She told me my ears must have been ringing the day before. She had been in a group of people who were all talking about their good experiences with me.
“You don’t know how grateful I am to you for telling me that. It’s been a tough year,” I said.
“I know,” she said. “I just wanted you to know that you have a fan club out there.”
I shop in a local supermarket where the music is always from My Era. I sing along and do little dance steps to Chicago’s Make Me Smile or Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl as I shop.
A local shop sells a little slate plaque with imprinted: “You know you’re getting old when the music in the supermarket sounds good.”
When I was checking out I told the cashier both of those things and she recalled that in her youth her father had remarked about her choice of music, “That isn’t music!” and years later she had said the very same thing to her son.
Something happened during our transaction that required the store manager. He did whatever he needed to do and, teasing, said he was glad it was the computer and not the cashier, because he’d have had to fire her. I exclaimed, “You can’t fire her! She’s too valuable!” A quick look of surprise like a passing sunbeam crossed the cashier’s face. “Thank you!” she said.
It’s good to pass along this stuff.
It costs nothing, and is such a gift to a fellow human.
8 hours ago