Mother’s Day is Sunday, a day to appreciate those who raised us, mentored us. It’s a time to appreciate the mothers still with us and to appreciate what carries on inside us from mothers since departed.
In my case, Mother instilled a gentleness and sense of forgiveness I have found invaluable over the years. I was always amazed at how she would not speak ill of anyone, even if it was well-documented they deserved it. I was always amazed at how she put others first. And I’m thankful I inherited her love of humor – a trait that ran even stronger in Grandmother Deitz.
I was a wee lad when Grandma passed on, but remember her fondly, and have been told by several people that I inherited her sense of humor – an ability to laugh at pretty much anything.
That’s a dandy trait to have these days. Have you seen the news lately?
Go look, I’ll wait.
Pretty loopy out there, right?
I’ve sort of lost track in recent months of the times someone has talked to me about a particular news story regarding current events and ending with “it just seems crazy to me.”
I generally respond that it doesn’t seem crazy. It flat-out IS crazy.
So, a sense of absurdity is a nice thing to have. But it can be perilous out there in the world of fantasy adult make-believe.
I’m talking the world of Corporate America.
Now, during my years in Corporate America, I saw a lot of silly things. You can start with the fact that a corporate CEO makes about a zillion times more than a typical corporate drone who actually, y’know, works. My rule of thumb was that when I couldn’t tell if someone were on vacation by the increase on my workload, they probably weren’t serving much of a function in the first place.
The silliest stuff, in general, involved the corporate training sessions. We had training on leadership. There was some merit in that session, in that you could tell when someone was trying to pull some leadership on you.
We had training on this and that. Some was useful. Some was clearly being held so the corporation wouldn’t be sued for this or that, because hey, we’d had training not to do that, right?
We had one session on how to sit in a chair.
It was difficult, but I eventually mastered it. I’m even sitting as I write this today.
The training that nearly sank me was sensitivity training.
It was the early 1990s, and special attention was being paid on how not to offend anyone. A large number of us were gathered in a room, where we listened to solemn speeches about the evils of insensitivity. After the windup, we were presented with the “money shot,” a vivid example of real-life insensitivity in action.
It was a clip from “The Simpsons.”
Now, having worked nights for years, I’d never seen an episode, or even a clip, of “The Simpsons.” As we all sat there soaking up the insensitivity of the particular skit that was supposed to send us to our respective fainting couches, a thought occurred to me.
“This,” the little voice in my head said, “may be the funniest thing I have ever seen.”
The voice added, “We may be in real trouble here.”
I bit my lip. I held my breath. Tears were beginning to trail down my cheeks.
Then it happened.
Like, repeatedly and really loud. The humor of the skit, and the absurdity of a bunch of grownups who couldn’t laugh at a cartoon, well, it all sort of came crashing down and totally smashed the vibe of the workshop.
People gave me that cold stare that said, “This guy is clearly not getting with the program.”
Fortunately, the event wrapped up, and I think the organizers were too embarrassed to try to pull off another one.
I’m not insensitive. But I did pick up from Mother and Grandma the common sense to, when you see something funny, go ahead and laugh.
My supervisor didn’t see it that way, and had a talk with me. That brought out something I didn’t get from Mother: My temper.
Not sure who I got that from.
Jim Buchanan is editor of The Sylva Herald.