Thursday, September 25, 2008

Time for Humor?

With the stock market sliding downward like a flushed toilet and the Chicken Littles crying financial Armageddon if the US Congress fails to enact a $700 billion “rescue” package, this might be an excellent time to try to find something to chuckle about. Herewith a few tales to try to cheer you up.

"How Do You Know He's a King?"
In one of my early trips into the Bahamas as a deckhand aboard the Brigantine Yankee, we had one guest who set a new standard for obnoxiousness. Nothing pleased him and he complained in a loud voice about everything. He refused to follow any instructions from either the Captain or crew.

The “heads” on Yankee were about the size of a telephone booth and the marine toilets operated by a long pump handle that flushed the bowl out to sea. We had carefully instructed the passengers on the use of this balky equipment and warned them of their tendency to clog. We cautioned them not to throw anything into them, not to over pump and to contact a crewmember if they had a problem.

One afternoon as I strolled down the passageway I heard someone in one of the heads furiously pumping the toilet. It took only a few pumps to do the job and this guy (I could hear him muttering inside the tiny space) was levering the handle with determination. Uh oh, I thought.

Sure enough. Just as I was about to shout to the guy to stop pumping it backfired with a resounding blast. It sounded like a hand grenade had gone off in the enclosed space.

All went quiet and I became concerned. Then the door swung open slowly and, like a scene from a “Roadrunner” cartoon, out stepped our resident asshole. He was covered from head to toe with little bits of shit and toilet paper. He had it on all sides and even the top of his head, as the force of the blast had ricocheted off the walls and ceiling. Only the soles of his shoes were spared. With his appearance and the stunned look on his face, I had only one possible reaction—I fell down laughing.


A Bunch of Blarney

In the 80s when our company represented the POS equipment manufacturer, VeriFone, I traveled frequently to San Francisco for meetings. On one trip after meeting with the sales managers we all headed out for dinner together. Maybe we had a few cocktails. It was a balmy evening so we all decided to walk back to the hotel. On the way I paused at the many beautiful buildings, put my nose up next to the granite facades and announced to my friends the identity of that particular granite. They all knew that I had been in the marble and granite business for 15 years before getting into the credit card market. I would sniff a wall of granite and announce, “Ah yes, this is Carnelian granite from South Dakota," or "this is Balmoral from South America.”

This supposed skill in identifying the source of granites from their smell particularly impressed one of the young woman sales managers. “You can actually tell the difference from the smell?” she asked.

“Yes,” I replied, “It’s like wine taking the minerals and characteristics of the soil in which it’s grown.” We proceed down the street with her sniffing the walls along with me. She was not having much luck in discerning the difference, but I assured her it was an acquired skill.

We all headed home and I forgot about the whole thing. Then several months later, I happened to be talking on the phone to same gal early one morning. She was describing her vacation to Mexico and I only half listening as I sipped my morning coffee. She said, “I bought one of those marble chess boards down there—you know, with the green and white marble squares? You’ll have to sniff it for me and tell me what kind of marble it is.”

Well, had I been more alert that morning I might not have given away the game. As it was, I did a spit gag with my coffee and tried to choke back my laugh. Didn’t work. “You son-of-a-bitch”, she said and hung up. At the next sales meeting she tried to get someone else to fall for it by asking me to sniff the granite coffee table. Sadly for her, they were skeptical.


Orange You Glad I Asked?

For my 50th birthday I got an unwelcome gift…. Adult Onset Diabetes. The tiny islet cells in my pancreas suddenly decided to quit making insulin. I had to go directly to the needle and injecting insulin. My doctor, a morose and humorless guy, sent me off to the hospital where a plus sized diabetes nurse trained me on how to properly load a needle and inject it. The latter skill we perfected by sticking the needle in and pumping it into an orange.

Insulin can be dangerous if you take too much, so when starting out doctors are naturally cautious in working you up to the appropriate dosage. I had been going along for several weeks taking the prescribed amount and plotting the results of my blood sugars on a graph on my computer. (No doubt this comes as a surprise for many--- that I could actually do that on a computer, I mean). My blood sugars were still running way too high and it was obvious that I needed to take more insulin. I decided to fax my graph to my trusty doctor.

As I mentioned, my doc had zero sense of humor and later retired from medicine because of severe depression. I had never seen the poor man smile. I faxed the blood sugar results to him with a note attached. It went like this:

Dear Dr. Imsey,

Things do not seem to be working out as you can see by the attached graph. I have been injecting the insulin into the orange for the last couple of weeks with poor results. Should I eat the orange?


He called me for an immediate appointment and when I walked in he actually had a smile on his face.

I hope you do too.


Heide said...

I just read Karen's post regarding your dissappointing writing workshop. Maybe you should have left a post-it note with your blog address on the instructor's desk as you walked out the door. Your writing is funny and insightful... although the lack of flowery adjectives (descriptions of being covered in shit would probably not count)might be all that partictular reader would notice.

ps did the doctor tell you to eat the orange or switch to apples?

Heide said...

pps I love this quote written by an unknown student at MIT (I think it was MIT).

'Political Correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end.'

I work in a public school, where of course I'm surrounded by extremely liberal and over-educated idiots. I've considered having this printed on a shirt to wear while working, but right now I need the job. There are many times in the staff lunchroom when I really need a Twix (reference to the commercial about keeping your mouth shut). I often wonder how someone like my dear old Mum or you would fare in such an environment. The fireworks could be entertaining.

RodNEY FREED said...

Dr. Draper, you are a blessing. Just what I needed to get me out of this funk. Thanks Dick.