|This week Jinny’s article will be written by her daughter, Adele Anderson.
Stress is a funny thing. Right now, as I write this, I am feeling enough stress to crush a planet, and in truth, it isn’t very funny.
I hate stress. I hate the way it makes me feel. I hate the fact that I feel it at all. I struggle valiantly to avoid it as often as possible. On the whole, I feel that I am pretty successful.
Personally, I find that the best antidote for stress is humor. In my mind, humor is the great equalizer and capable of reducing even the most horrible, monstrous moments to a size small enough with which to contend. So, when I am feeling the way that I do now, I strive to discover humor wherever I can.
On the job, I occasionally must deal with irate, frustrated, or downright hysterical people. One day, I had a fellow staff person in my office who was hopping mad about something. They stormed into my office and demanded to see my then boss. I knew, with the certainty of someone with considerable experience in these matters that things were not going to go well.
The person in question began to rant, rage, and pace when I told them that my boss was not available at the moment. He stomped about in my office, complaining loudly and gesturing crazily. It would have been entertaining if he had been doing it in someone else’s office. I just let him go.
Finally, after several minutes of being the poster child for bad behavior, the individual in question ceased carrying on and planted himself in front of my desk.
“Why are you just sitting there?” he demanded. “I find it hard to believe you don’t have something to say.”
“How about those Red Sox?” I asked cheerfully.
It took him a minute to digest what I had said. I can’t say I blame him. It wasn’t like it made sense or anything. He looked terribly confused.
“I don’t care about the Red Sox!” he shouted indignantly.
“Are you a Yankees fan?” I asked him.
“What are you talking about? No, I am not a Yankees fan” he told me hotly.
“Do you even like baseball?” I asked.
“What does baseball have to do with anything?” he demanded.
“Some people might say that baseball is a kind of metaphor for life” I told him seriously.
He sat down and put his head in his hands. “Baseball? A metaphor? What are you going on about?” He had stopped shouting. He sounded kind of depressed.
“Well,” I said chirpily, “you know, you are the batter, the pitcher is life throwing things at you, the bases are the milestones and goals, your team is your support system…like that.”
He took his face out of his hands and looked at me wearily. “Life is not baseball.”
“Of course not.” I agreed. “It’s a metaphor.”
“Why are we talking about metaphors?” he sighed.
“The only reason we are talking about metaphors is because you refused to talk about the Red Sox.” I pointed out reasonably.
“Didn’t you say the Red Sox were a metaphor?” He sounded really tired now.
“No, I said some people might say baseball is a metaphor.” I reminded him.
“Although, I believe that the Red Sox could be a metaphor also, but it might depress you.”
“Too late” he said sadly. “I’m already depressed.”
“That’s too bad. But on the bright side, you are not angry and ugly and shouting and stomping and generally behaving like an idiot.” I said brightly.
He looked at me with suspicion. “You played me” he said simply.
“Pretty much” I agreed. “But all things considered, I did you a favor.”
By the time he saw my boss, he was calm and pretty much under control. The situation had not changed, but his attitude had. I may have saved him his job.
The moral of the story is that almost any situation, no matter how dire it may seem, can be made simpler and easier with the injection of a little humor. The other moral is that the best way to slow down an angry, out of control person in your office is to say something so outrageously nonsensical that they become too confused to think. It always works for me.