Just like everyone, I have a temper. I get upset, I don’t understand how others could err so egregiously, and I feel my jaw clench. Happily, my anger only comes out once in a while. On any typical day, I can take life’s disappointments and surprises with a grain of salt. Normally I can keep my perspective on what really matters and what are simply life’s pithy inconveniences.
That comes in handy when you are receiving deliveries. Drivers can have a rough day before they get to you. It can be that the warehouse made things interesting for them. They can fight with other cars, traffic, and weather. Finding a parking spot can be the toughest part of their day and they have to go through that struggle dozens of times.
Or, they can simply be pushing a hand-truck full of my wares, hit a bumpy patch in the concrete, and watch as, in slow motion, the entire load falls off, crashes, and breaks up on the street. Even from inside the store, I could hear his vocal reactions. Even if I hadn’t, his storming in, slamming his hand-truck down, and stomping back outside was a rather clear indicator.
What’s done is done. Getting mad wasn’t going to put the spilled drinks back into the broken bottles. And if you let it, that sort of thing can wreck your day. I decided to try a different track.
The driver is one of my favorite vendors. We understand each other. When we were all done, I asked, “Is my telling you terrible jokes going to make this situation better, or worse?”
“Oh, I’m always up for terrible jokes.”
Thus, our mutual exchange began.
“A man in Mexico knew that he was being chased. He knew he had to disappear or he would be caught. So, he turned around and declared that he would be gone by the count of three. He turned around and started to count off one, two, and then, just like that, he disappeared—”
“Without a tres,” the driver offered. I was a bit irked that he guessed it, but it only proved that we are in synch. He replied with his own joke. “What do you call an Irishman that sits around on your back porch?”
I was hoping that we weren’t venturing into racist territory. “I’m afraid to answer, so you better tell me.”
I groaned, and stepped back up to the plate. “Why were the two melons lovers so distraught?”
“Because they cant-elope,” he said with a smile. He tried to say that such a situation would make them melon-choly. I corrected him, saying that their dog, in point of fact, was the one that was a melon-collie.
By then, I knew I had him back. His stormy attitude had moved on. But I had to add one of my oldest jokes for good measure. I walked him to the end of the dock, thanked him for his delivery (it didn’t all break, just the last load), and delivered one last “goodie.”
“A pilot and a co-pilot are flying together for the first time. They start to come in for an approach when they see the landing strip ahead of them. They confer with each other, they share their misgivings, but then decided to try. They push the plane down, aim carefully; but they pull up and call it a missed approach.
“They call down to the tower and ask if planes their size often landed there. Had this sort of thing come up before? They were met with disbelief. The tower told them that they were crazy. Hundreds of planes landed there every day. Not feeling any better, they aimed towards the ground, pulled up, and called it another missed approach.
“By this time, the tower is getting irate. ‘What are you doing? Stop goofing around and land!’ The pilots felt chagrined. They were running out of fuel. They took some deep breaths, clutched onto the stick, and pushed the plane towards the ground. Their landing gear hit the runway, they watched the pavement pass under them, and they ran right off it, and crashed into a barn hundreds of yards away.
“The pilot and co-pilot looked at each other. They were shaken, but glad that the peril was over and that they survived their landing. They both maintained that the landing strip was far too short.”
“Yeah,” the pilot remarked, “but did you see how wide it was?”
Stupid jokes have their place. Humor can save lives (or at least blood pressure levels.) I still get upset. I don’t have a perfect life. But sometimes I’m smart enough to know that you have to laugh at life. If you take it all too seriously, then the joke really is on you.