Laughing on Command…

October 3, 2009

Back in my young and “I’m Ready to Conquer the World” days, I did what most guys of my generation had been taught was the path to Nirvana and got myself a job with a big corporation where I had to wear a pinstriped suit, wingtip shoes, and a conservative necktie. At sales meetings, everyone sat at attention when the Boss entered the room. There would be an audible shuffling of feet and instant silence, as if a switch had been activated.

The Junior Boss sat at the head table with the Senior Boss. I think his primary function was to open his eyes real wide, as though he’d just been given a prostate exam with an icicle, throw his hands up in the air, and laugh loudly while glaring around the room. That was our signal that the Senior Boss had just said something interpreted by the Junior Boss as “funny”.

Anyone who failed to laugh in unison with the rest of the sales force would be duly noted and written up. Laughing prematurely, not laughing at all, or laughing at something that wasn’t supposed to be funny, such as the previous quarter’s dismal numbers, was tantamount to mooning the Pope.

I knew almost as soon as I tied my first Windsor knot that I was the wrong man in the wrong place doing the wrong thing at the wrong time.

Eventually, I was fired for laughing at the wrong time, or for not showing up to laugh at all, I don’t recall which, and I spent the ensuing forty years pretty much laughing, belching, farting, scratching, spitting, cleaning my ears with paper clips, nose-mining, sitting down, standing up, speaking up, shutting up, or yawning, when and where I damn well pleased.

I didn’t get a gold watch, an ulcer, or a quadruple bypass like the others, but I did manage to walk away from my last job on my last day of work knowing that I had been in charge of my life, had not sacrificed myself to be a robot for some team of plastic yes-men who really didn’t give a flying shit whether I fished or cut bait as long as I laughed on command and gave them nice numbers to crunch. I patted myself on the back.

Well done,” I said, in a fatherly tone….

“Kiss my ass,” I replied, laughing…


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