Monday, February 16, 2009

A Time to Laugh

So, we’ve had a rough time of it lately folks. The economy is in the crapper and our illustrious political leaders can’t even agree on what color it is we see in the toilet. The stock market plunge not only cost people their jobs, but for some it has pushed out that all too righteous reward for 50 years of hard work called “retirement.” If you aren’t yourself laid off you certainly know more than a handful of people who have been. Around our offices we’ve lost not just co-workers, but friends and mentors. At home, families sit around the kitchen table deciding on whether to cut little Jimmy’s baseball league or little Sally’s dance lessons; and sometimes both. Vacations are postponed and cancelled, the little fixes around the home have to wait, and for some, the local food pantry provides a vital pathway, if not an embarrassing one for some, to continue to put food on the table. We are in a recession and it sucks all around.

I’ve thought a lot about this as many of you have. What should I be doing differently? What is the answer for America? Am I the next one to be tossed out into the cold, fighting for the few open positions out there? Amidst all this and the echoes of “biggest recession since the 30s” resonating in my head, I asked a pretty simple question. Why the hell don’t we ask our grandparents what they did in the 30s? Too obvious for our government to do, I know, but for our own personal situations why not? Unfortunately, I am no longer blessed with any of my grandparents, but I know exactly what my grandmother (may her memory be a blessing) would say. How? Because we talked about it, the tough times, what it was like and what she did. What would she say now? You need to laugh. Every single day, no matter how bad it is, she said there was always something you could find to give you a good laugh. And she lived this. Even at the end when things were bad, I have a great memory, my last of her, of the family in the living room laughing. She had moments of clarity, and what shone through was her humor. So there, with her sick and unable to even stand, the family was momentarily whisked away on the wings of simple laughter. The family squabbles were set aside, the warmth pushed through the cold chill of eminent death in the air, and the giddiness of laughing like children overtook a group of adults in their 30s, 50s, 60s and one in her 90s. What we laughed about is irrelevant, and honestly, my memory to keep locked away for those tough days when I need it.

Laughter won’t cure illness, it won’t restart a seemingly lifeless economy and no, it can’t prevent wars. But what it can do is to rekindle a spark of hope. It can magically take us away from our troubles, if only for a fleeting moment. It can, in the end, renew the spirit to give it enough for just one more day. And day by day and laugh by laugh we get by. It isn’t the endgame we should relish, but rather, the little moments that get us there one day at a time.

So in this spirit, and that of George Carlin and Lenny Bruce, let’s laugh at what we shouldn’t. I’ve lost employees, mentors, and good friends from my job to layoffs as most of you have. But hey, there’s always a brighter side to it. Or at the very least, something to give us a spark of laughter, if only for a moment or two.

Top 5 reasons work is better since the layoffs

1) Three words, “front row parking.”
2) You now have at least 6 months to blame everything on someone who was laid off. “Yeah, that report… uhh… Jack was working on it. Boy, he must’ve screwed it up before he left.”
3) More coffee for the rest of us.
4) Lines in the cafeteria are shorter, and the servers are much nicer now too!
5) Not only are your chances of winning Buzzword Bingo greater now, but you have a full list of new words to use (RIF- reduction in force, right sizing, rethinking the paradigm, doing more with less, resource reallocation).

Keep smiling folks. And don’t be afraid to put up your list of things I missed above.


Anonymous said...

I agree.

Jenn said...

This was an enjoyable read...and you are so right!