My wife, who works for the Presentence Unit, was in the Courthouse one afternoon when she was approached by a well-known local defense attorney. He said that she was going to be considering the case of one of his clients and he wanted to explain something before she actually got the paperwork. His client had been on the highway when his car had suddenly stopped running. He rolled over to the side of the road, lifted the hood and proceeded to jiggle with the internal organs of the engine. In the process he got some gasoline on his left sleeve. After his car was running again, he drove away. All was going well until he lit a cigarette and his left sleeve suddenly ignited.
“My god,” exclaimed my wife. “What did he do?”
“Well,” replied the defense attorney, “He rolled the window down and stuck his arm out and tried to let the wind extinguish the flames. He was wildly shaking his arm when he was arrested by the State Troopers.”
“What was he charged with?” my wife asked incredulously.
“Illegal use of a firearm,” the defense attorney replied in a flat tone.
There is no rule that says you have to give up your sense of humor when you get a job. Being professional on the job may be a serious matter but it doesn’t mean that you have to give up your natural human right to have an enjoyable time. Being a curmudgeon is a choice; not a requirement. A certain lightness is required to stay sane.
Every profession has its own unique brand of humor. Cops, plumbers, teachers and cooks all encounter humor in their daily chores. These are the occupational chuckles that add a moment of lightness to the day.
Pilots, for instance, live in a world where death is a palpable concern. It takes a lot of moving parts to stay aloft but only one nut in the cockpit to bring it down. Pilots know that flying is not inherently dangerous. It’s the crashing that’s dangerous. While every takeoff is optional, every landing is mandatory. No matter how experienced a pilot is, he/she can always learn from the mistakes of other pilots. The pilot better learn because no one is going to live long enough to make all of them themselves.
Flying is not the only profession where death is a companion. In the medical field everyone knows a certain number of patients do not ‘get better.’ Humor can be a way of psychological release. A surgeon once told me about two carrots who had been in a bad car wreck and were taken to the emergency room. The first was released a short time later, but the other was kept for hours. When the doctor came out of the operating room he said to the first carrot, “Well, the good news is your friend is going to live. The bad news is he’s going to be a vegetable the rest of his life.”
Journalists are more prone to humor then any other profession because the more words that are typed, the greater the chance of something slipping by the copy editor. While typos are a dime and dozen, they are not intentional. They appear as if by magic, to the consternation of the publisher and for the entertainment of the reader. Headlines, however, are specifically written for the story at hand. Sometimes the hand that does the choosing allows some humor to slip into print.
§ Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says
§ Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers
§ Iraqi Head Seeks Arms
The world of computer servicing has its share of humor as well. Tech support people get some calls that stagger the imagination. One woman called to complain that her mouse was hard to operate in its “dustcover;” the “dustcover” being the plastic bag in which the mouse was shipped. Another customer who was having problems was asked to send a copy of her disks in for examination. A few days later, a photograph of the disks arrived. The stories go on and on.
Hard as it is to believe, even some engineers have a sense of humor — though it is somewhat restrained. Here, for example, are some engineering conversion terms:
Ratio of an igloo’s circumference to its diameter: Eskimo Pi
2000 pounds of Chinese soup: Won ton
Time between slipping on a peel and smacking the pavement: 1 bananosecond
No matter where you work, no matter what you do, occupational humor should be a requirement of the job. It’s a long way from Monday to Friday and even longer if you believe that being a professional is not the same as being a human. God gave you a sense of humor. Us it. Remember, even the most austere of professions has a sense of humor. Next time you think humor is not a part of your workplace, remember the two priests who opened up a fish and chips establishment. One proclaimed himself to be the fish friar and the other, of course, was the chip monk.
Steve Levi has more than 80 books in print or on Kindle. He specializes in books on the Alaska Gold Rush and impossible crimes. An impossible crime is one in which the detective has to solve HOW the crime was committed before he can go after the perpetrators. In the MATTER OF THE DESERTED AIRLINER, an airplane with no pilot, crew or passengers lands at Anchorage International Airport. As the authorities are pondering the circumstances of the arrival, a ransom demand is made for $25 million in diamonds and precious stones. Chief of Detectives for the Sandersonville, North Carolina, Police Department, Captain Heinz Noonan, is visiting his in-laws in Anchorage when he is called onto the case. For the next 36 hours, he pieces together the puzzle of how the crime was committed. But can he solve the crime, free the hostages and locate the perpetrators before the ransom is paid? https://www.authormasterminds.com/steve-levi