By Laura Moore
The radio blathered on about good pranks and kitschy corporate marketing efforts, and I felt the urge to unfold my own little fib until I began flipping through the stations and heard a pair of radio personalities discuss April Fools jokes gone wrong.
The female voice mentioned her favorite blunder, which occurred in 2002 when a Hooters waitress won a beer sales contest and instead of getting the Toyota she was promised, the restaurant gave her a "toy Yoda." The waitress wasn't amused. Enraged that she didn't get what was "earned," she headed straight for nearest law office. In the end, the franchise had to issue her enough cash to buy the vehicle, and sadly, that's probably the last time they did anything "funny" at work.
Oddly enough, I couldn't shake this silly, insignificant story from my mind. I couldn't get over how bothered I was by the woman's actions. It seemed absurd to me that someone would feel so entitled to a prize--which seemed, at the outset, like a comically impossible incentive--that she would actually sue her employer. While a car might be a perfectly reasonable prize for businessmen who get rewarded with Caribbean vacations and other flashy things, I've never heard of a restaurant being so generous.
A free dinner: yes.
A car: Ha. Something sounds fishy.
I'm fairly sure most of my peers from the serving days would agree that such an announcement would have warranted a "yeah right" the minute our manager offered it. Nevertheless, even if it the incentive was realistic, it shouldn't have been the sole reason she was busting her tail to sell beer. She should have been working hard; it was her job. She was being paid to be on her game. Besides, the more beer she sold the more money she made anyway. The prize was just a bonus.
My blood pressure rose as I sat in my car thinking about the woman, hypothetically lecturing her about hard work, pride and humor. When I actually began talking aloud, I stopped myself. Then I decided, instead, it would be much healthier to sing along with Adam Levine, Mumford & Sons, and who ever else managed to creep up on the playlist. All along though, my mind was elsewhere, stuck on the Hooters waitress, stuck on our self-serving, litigious society, stuck on the fear that we're taking ourselves too seriously, fear that we're becoming so thin-skinned we're losing our backbone for practical jokes, fear that we're so overworked and exhausted, we no longer pause to laugh.
Yes, for a few minutes--during the walk to the parking lot--that woman thought she won a car. But when they handed her the Yoda, she didn't lose anything. She never possessed the vehicle; she possessed a stack of tips. When the hoax was revealed, she still had everything she had before. They didn't hurt her. They didn't steal from her. They just made a joke. Though it might have been over-the-top and ill conceived, I'm sure the efforts were birthed with good intentions; I'm sure they just wanted to make their employees laugh.
And in my opinion, that's not a bad thing.
I don't want jokes--even the dumb ones--to go away. I don't want us to grow so entranced with the seriousness of life that we forget to giggle at our stumbles. I don't want us to be so fearful of misstepping that we neglect to step at all. Despite our hyper-seriousness, I want us to hold on to our capacity for joy; I don't want us to evolve it away.
In the midst of my worrying though--in the midst of my fearing that the whole human race was turing into stoic robots--little Z squealed from the backseat for no apparent reason. He started laughing and babbling and carrying on like everything in the world was utterly hilarious. As I listened to him amuse himself, my worries dissipated, and I realized laughter was still in tact with the newest generation. It's still ingrained into the most basic aspects of our humanity. It's still very much stitched into our souls.
And while that realization didn't make me laugh, I must admit, it certainly made me smile.