Um, You Need To Tuck That Back In — Your Humor Is Showing

Naive Little Girl with Pig Tails ho looks like she's saying 'Oops"
From my Carside Commentaries Collection, written in 2013

Afflicted From The Start

My humor first showed itself very early in my working life. Seeing as we’re all friends here, I’ll be brutally honest. Back in the day, not only was I young, but I was also pretty dumb.

Dumb in that I was trying to find my relevance in the world. And hey, what better way to find one’s relevance and validation than by trying to impress random strangers in the working world? I did mention that I was young and dumb, didn’t I?

Good grief …

Mounting My High Horse

I was still in that ‘I-think-I’m-a-bag-of-chips-and-all-that’ career phase that some people go through. (Okay, the phase I went through.)

As a medical practice consultant, I had many ‘projects’ and ‘challenges’ to keep me from getting bored. This made me as happy as a pig in a mud pen.

Little did I know that my humor was influencing the content and delivery of my very serious medical billing training sessions. I accidentally learned of this one day while doing software training in an OB/GYN office.

As I was leaning over, pointing to something on a trainee’s monitor, she inquired if I’d ever done stand-up comedy–adding that if I hadn’t, she felt I’d certainly missed my calling.

Several other staff members said, “You’re such a hoot! You make it so easy to learn.”

Insert the sudden sound effect of a phonograph needle, making that harsh scratching sound or the irritating sound of fingernails scraping on a blackboard.

Hmpfffff … Cough …. Cough

Upon hearing those words, I bristled and stood up — ramrod straight! Talk about ego! All I was missing was the red ‘power tie.’ (I am rolling my eyes in self-mockery as I write this.)

I raised my chin slightly as I proudly began stroking the lapel of my black designer-label business suit jacket.

“Oh … No … She … Didn’t!” I said to myself as I thought about what had been said about me, The Grand Pooh-Bah of practice management. I raised one eyebrow and pondered the disrespect of someone calling ‘moi’ a “hoot.”

Yep, she certainly had done that! I needed to deal with it.

911 Course Correction

An epiphany hit me like a ton of bricks. I knew that if I ever planned to be given the respect that I was sure I was entitled to as a healthcare professional, I would have to disown my humor or at least find a way to silence it during work hours.

So, that’s precisely what I did.

Light a bolt of lightning [!] I slid over and commandingly took possession of the chair marked ‘D’ in the Dominant sector of my DISC personality profile. I did it so fast that I got friction burns on the right side of my thighs.

Hitting The Mute Button

I decided to clamp my hand firmly over my humor imp’s mouth and use all my energy to function as a stoic [ahem] ‘pro-fess-ion-al’ at all times.

My efforts were successful. I was able to work unencumbered without interruptions or bleed-throughs from my funny side. As a result, I consistently improved performance metrics and physician revenue for client practices.

I parlayed each practice assignment into another. A series of increasingly higher-paid opportunities followed.

That’s not to say I was 100% carefree during this time. No, I still had quite a battle on my hands at times. The cheerful comedy writer inside me was always trying to rise. I had to slap her back into subjection to keep from blowing my cover.

As the [$$$] stakes got higher, I worked harder and longer each day. My workweek expanded to include slaving away most evenings, nights, and weekends. Soon, I found myself without the time, energy, or will to continue wrestling with my humor.

Living With The Guilt

We all have regrets, many of which plague us throughout our lifetime. I am about to tell you one of those things, and I am very ashamed of it.

Regrettably, I did something terrible to someone who, as it turns out, has always had my back—someone who has been my closest friend.

Deep inside, I didn’t want to do what I did. But, blinded by self-centered ambition and the drive to make my mark in my career, I did what I thought was best–at the time.

I called the men in white coats to handle my pesky humor imp. I consented to let them restrain and straitjacket my dear, playful inner child. Furthermore, I even signed the form permitting them to duct tape her mouth!

Nevertheless, She Still Got The Last Laugh

Bless her heart. She showed her never-say-die resiliency as they wrapped the long arms of the straight jacket around her torso and buckled them behind her back.

She knew that her influence was affecting my career and that her snark was inappropriate for where I was at the time. Most endearing was that she wasn’t even slightly offended by my decision to have her taken away.

Instead, she modeled a vital object lesson for me. She demonstrated the value and strategic advantage of having a healthy sense of humor and using it in times of stress.

Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow

She used her last minutes to verbalize what she knew was true — something she knew I was too self-absorbed to admit.

She understood that I secretly enjoyed her pesky interruptions and was aware that her outburst always entertained me.

So, as they picked up the duct tape and began to tape her mouth, she blurted out: “You know you laughed … I heard you laugh! … You laughed … You laughed … You laughed!”

A Very Cinematic Exit

She gave me an unforgettable farewell glance and quickly wiggled her mouth back and forth to see if she could loosen the edges of the tape.

The tight side began pulling away from the skin at the corner of her mouth. When this happened, she quickly clenched her jaws and thrust her tongue through–finishing the job.

By this time, she was being wheeled down the hallway backward.

With her mouth free, she winked at me and yelled back at me using her best Arnold Schwarzenegger Terminator accent, “I’ll be back….”

 

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