fredag, april 22, 2005

Employee Satisfaction Tests and Improbable Suggestions

I made the Home Depot paint mixer man laugh the other night. He lifted the lid of the just mixed paint to ask me if the color was good. I opened up my jacket and compared it against the paint splattered on my t-shirt.

I made the intellectual book store helpers laugh the other day. I asked them to see if Genius was out in books on tape yet. When it wasn't showing up, one of them said they would try "Bloom's Genius." I said that it seemed unlikely that even Harold would use the possessive in the title. The two assistants looked at each other and snickered, "Bloom? Don't count on it." (Okay, I was the straight person in that one, but I was way out of my element, so the fact that I could set one up with the brainiacs counts.)

At Ikea's home storage area, my youngest asked while running around the garbage can displays, "What do you need most Mom?" and I deadpan, "A babysitter." A worker off to the side laughs, suprising even himself.

The serious, home economics-type lady at the local fabric store, I got her to chuckle. Something I said about tying up my kids in gross-grain ribbon. The quiet receptionist at the physical therapist's office, I got her smiling by attacking her boss for making her sit at her computer all day without a lumbar support pad.

I have never gotten anyone who works at Office Max to brighten up. Ever.

I am not sure what this tells me. Maybe it tells me something about Office Max. Maybe it is just something about the kind of person who is willing to sell pens and paperclips all day. Maybe they are under surveillance. Maybe, kanske, my material isn't that good. Who knows.

Humor takes a lot of practice, but also a lot of listening and observation. Then, after you do all that, you try to put it into life's perspectives. This weekend my four year old suggested to her older sister that if the latter would allow the former to help her on a project, then it would get done sooner.

Well, we know that this is not true on so many levels. Four year olds are incapable of helping. But forget the kid angle. When was the last time someone offered to help you on something that you know how to do, and, gosh darn it, it didn't take longer? So, this genre of remark, the Improbable Suggestion, like every other genre, zings into my ears and turns on a different circuit in my head. After hearing her offer of assistance, I choked back, "Sure. Like the time you helped your older sister build the popsicle stick Brownstone for New York History class and the cat ended up stuck to your father's recliner," firstly because it was not true and would have confused them both, and secondly because it at best onlyfourth rate sitcom-type humor. So I will store that situation away, and find some other, funnier way to use it. Then I will test it on the toughest crowd I know.