Laughing From The Floor!
Many years ago I had a job that one of the responsibilities each semester was mailing out the hundreds of refund checks to students. It was a massive job as back then I had to hand stuff every check. The students were always in a hurry to get their checks so they would have money to spend. We tried our best not to tell them when the checks arrived so that we would not be delayed in mailing them out. Sometimes a student would find out and come by the office to pick their check up. When they did I’d have to search the checks to find their individual one. This particular day a student got wind of the fact that I had the checks. He walked up to my window and demanded his check. The checks were all on my desk and there were hundreds of them. I took his name down and started my search. I decided to sit in my chair as it might take awhile. As I was attempting to sit down I must have kicked the chair just slightly. I ended up missing the chair and landed right on my bottom on the floor! The student determined to get his check showed no emotion. He didn’t laugh or ask me if I was hurt or anything. He just stood there patiently, probably wishing I would hurry up and get his check and quit sitting on the floor. Well the story goes that I picked myself up and carefully sat in my chair and searched for his check one by one until I found it. He signed a form and took his check and that was the end of the story. Well as far as that student was concerned it was. My co-workers were concerned and asked me if I was alright. When I said I was one of them started laughing. All of the sudden they explained that they looked up only to see me disappear behind the desk. We all got a good laugh out of the situation and we got a laugh out of the students reaction too. It was amazing that he stood there with a straight face as though my falling to the floor was normal procedure.
I know from experience that there are times that life hits us so hard in the stomach that it is impossible to laugh. It is in these times that we definitely need support from caring people to get us back on our feet again. However there are also punches life gives us that if we can find a way to laugh it is very helpful to the situation. Let’s face it, there are times when we are our worst enemy. We linger in our bad fortune and hope the world cares. We make a bad situation worse because we can’t laugh about it and move on. Laughing at ourselves can be very hard, especially in bad circumstances, but it can be the remedy to getting us off of the floor.
We see it on TV and radio advertisements all of the time. They are trying to make us laugh. Sometimes I do laugh at the advertisements because they are cute and funny! Other times I just shake my head because to me it is more on the stupid side. Years ago Wendy’s came up with an ad called “Where’s The Beef?” where three older ladies went to a competing fast food place and ordered their hamburgers. When they received them and the bun was lifted a very small burger was hidden in there. The discovery prompted one of them to turn to the worker and yell out “Where’s the Beef?” It was funny and the campaign really lifted Wendy’s in the fast food world! People like to laugh and they like to be around people who make them laugh because it feels good. There are so many problems in life that to be constantly dragged down drains a persons energy. Laughter seems to refill our energy and gives us a good feeling!
I guess the reason we have a hard time laughing at ourselves is that we don’t want to be embarrassed. I guess it is almost like swimming though. The more we embrace it the more we are able to stay afloat. Let’s say someone finds out about an embarrassing thing that happened to us. It is our reaction that makes a difference. If we laugh about it and make someone else laugh their ammunition is suddenly gone. The appeal that people have of telling someone else and casting us in a bad light has diminished. After all we are laughing about the incident!
Let’s face it news is everywhere and word of mouth gets it quickly around. If we are going through a tough time one person will tell another until it seems the whole world knows. Yet if we can have the positive laughing attitude about a trial it turns a different light on the situation. Instead of sorrow or disrespect there comes a feeling of admiration. People start saying things like “I don’t know how that person can laugh with all of the problems they are going through!” Instead of one person spreading the word of a message of doom to another it becomes a message of hope! Our attitudes and the ability to laugh at ourselves goes a long way in determining how people talk about us!
My son and I were going out to eat a couple of weeks ago and it was very cold. I grabbed a coat I hadn’t worn for a long time because it seemed to be just a little warmer. When we got to the restaurant I discovered I was in an awful situation. That warm coat I had on wouldn’t come off. The zipper was stuck and I pulled and pulled and it just stayed stuck. I told my son about it as the restaurant was very warm. He came over and thought that if he pulled the zipper up and got it moving it would then slide down. Well He was successful moving it up but then it stuck in it’s new place. Now I’m sitting there with the coat all the way up over my neck and I’m getting hotter. Not only am I sweating from the coat, but also from the struggle I’m having as I’m working myself up trying to get free. The waitress tried to help my situation and went in the back to find some scissors. She couldn’t find any and came back with a knife. She was attempting to cut the zipper, but as she had the sharp point of the knife next to my throat I decided that maybe going to the restroom and attempting it myself would be safer! At least I would be in control of the cutting! Finally I was able to cut the coat off, come back and enjoy my meal! I threw the coat away when we got home, but I didn’t throw away the memory. I had escaped the nightmare of a coat doing it’s job only too well and a potential knife to the throat! We all go through a variety of things in life and if this story made you laugh it was worth my suffering!
Ella Wheeler Wilcox wrote the famous words in a poem many years ago “laugh and the world laughs with you, weep and you weep alone.” These lines are so often portrayed in their negative connotation. I’d like to concentrate on the first part. If we learn to laugh at ourselves and our situation we in turn get the support of the world. You might think that this is a small thing, but it is very huge. By giving people a reason for hope and a reason to laugh they in turn rally to our side in the bad times. They spread the word of our legacy and our attitude over and over!
Sometimes I can think of the best lines after a situation is over! If I could relive that floor moment here is how it would go. After missing the chair and finding myself on the floor nothing would have changed. I would have got up like I did and found his check. When I was handing him his check I would have said “you know I did a thorough search for your check, checking both the floor and the box and I can happily report that I found it!” That correction would not have changed the students actions but maybe you will remember my story better when you find yourself on the floor!