Today the head of my company was in town from the UK. It’s always a little nerve-wracking when she is in town. I mean, she’s my top boss. And the fact that she is based in the UK and only around the office about once a month only raises the stakes. You have limited time to show her how smart, talented, likable, hardworking and endlessly employable you are–and how you are the last person that should be considered during the next round of layoffs. It’s exhausting.
So, when I headed to the bathroom from my office the other day and turned the corner to discover her standing in the narrow hallway talking to another person, I hesitated for just a moment. The only way to get to the bathroom would be to squeeze between them. I mean, my bathroom break wasn’t an emergency. Maybe I could hold it another ten minutes or so until they moved on? But no. I’m an adult. I decided to make my way through.
“Keith, have you seen Bohemian Rhapsody yet?” she asked as I was in mid-squeeze. I hadn’t but didn’t want to seem impolite so I told her it was on my list. I was smart enough not to go into how my husband Saul and I have a hat with scraps of paper in it with names of movies that we pick from. We call it our Pick From the Hat Movie Night. That seemed like more information than she probably wanted. So she and I started talking about Queen and Queen concerts. Now, I have never been to any Queen concert, but, again, I didn’t want to seem rude or disinterested so I held forth on the topic as much as I could and nodded thoughtfully at what seemed like the correct times. When she said that Freddie Mercury was one of a kind and impossible to really be captured by even a great actor, I thought about telling her that I thought Princess Diana was also one of a kind and that she was so hard to capture that she was the only character not played by an actor in the movie The Queen, but only appeared as herself in news footage. Even though there was a chance to connect the group Queen with movie The Queen, I stopped myself again. What if my boss was an anti-monarchist or even worse, a monarchist who thought Princess Diana had almost toppled the monarchy? That was all too dicey so I wrapped up the discussion with something like, “That Freddy Mercury. Gone too soon huh? AIDS is awful!” and made my way to the bathroom pretty satisfied with my performance.
I waked in the restroom practically whistling with self-satisfaction when I glanced in the mirror and discovered that the entire time I was talking to her my shirt had been unbuttoned down to my navel. I looked like Richard, the sleazy upstairs womanizing neighbor in reruns of Threes Company.
The only thing that saved me from drowning myself in the sink is that I could hardly wait to tell other people in the office what I fool I had made of myself because I knew it would make them laugh.
The story doesn’t end there. When I was in the middle of telling my coworker, Sarah, the story–my boss came around the corner again.
“Why didn’t you tell me my shirt was buttoned down to my navel?” I asked. (I find it best to call out one’s humiliating mistake before someone else does.)
“Oh, I didn’t notice,” she replied.
“Well,” I said. “That’s even worse.”
Here’s another thing that happened this week:
A few days before open-chest incident, we got a company-wide email looking for “searchers” for the floor of my office building. A “searcher” is a person who looks for people in case of a fire, and makes sure they get safely to the exit. A man is assigned to look for the men, and a woman assigned to look for the women. I assume this is to ensure someone doesn’t break into the restroom of the opposite sex during a fire just to sneak a peek. That fact I’m gay kind of ruins this rule, but who am I to make waves?
I have been a searcher before. I resent the responsibility, but like the attention. I replied all to the email saying. “I have always enjoyed being a male searcher and would love to do it again.” A few minutes later my direct supervisor sent me an email: “Are you SURE you took that sexual harassment course??”
Luckily, she was joking or I might be hiring Matt Lauer right now instead of writing this blog.
I guess my point is: MY GOD! WE NEED HUMOR!
I’m blessed that finding the humor is one of things that comes naturally to me. It seems it doesn’t to everyone. Our president seems to have zero sense of humor. Well, he does joke about “blood coming out of her whatever” and makes hilarious fun of disabled people so I guess he is funny. Just not laugh-out-loud funny. Or even really laugh-quietly-to-yourself funny. Actually, he’s just a humorless, sexist, racist, narcissist. But I digress.
Facebook, as we all know, is challenging. I do my BEST to only post funny political things now that I finally understand that those people who LOVE Trump will never be talked out of it. Ever. I have had to accept they those diehard people will go to their grave not realizing they have been conned by this man. So, I try not to post angry, humorless, political rants, but sometimes I fail and then I usually delete them when I wake up the next morning feeling remorseful.
But the good thing about Facebook is connecting with people. I found a girl on Facebook named Melisa who i had had a high school crush on, and told her that I once called her my Junior year, but when she came to the phone I hung up. (You kids can’t’ do that today. You have to be much cleverer to ghost people.) Melissa and I have since connected on Facebook and she even sent me a handmade Welcome Sign for the front of my house. What I adore about her even from afar is her kindness and especially her sense of humor. I don’t know if we will ever actually meet, but I can tell by reading about her life one funny Facebook post at a time that the world is a better place because of her.
And that’s true for the all the people in my life. My friends near and far are people I can laugh with. My relationship with my husband, Saul, is like one long shared joke. Okay, that didn’t come out quite right, but hopefully you understand.
So, my challenge for everyone is to end your day before you go to sleep each night by thinking about something that made you laugh. Obviously, I am trusting anyone reading this to understand I don’t mean laughing in a mocking, mean way. Think about something you read, or something someone said or a moment you made a fool of yourself. (I have coffee every workday with my friend Sara and there is always one laugh to be found in that). Think of that moment and be grateful We are sure seeing that anger hasn’t been really accomplishing things, so maybe focusing on the humor of being alive is worth a shot. We can at least try, right?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Keith Hoffman has been known to dress provocatively and hunt for men in the restroom. He has written a book entitled The Weird Thing Is…. There are some funny parts in it.