On Subjective Humor

Sure, of course, it hardly needs to be said. But I have in my head an idea of minimum word count, so let’s say it: humor is a very personal thing.

How you choose to spend your day plays a large part in this. Medical professionals have a famously dark sense of humor, as a result of seeing such otherwise unbearable things every day.

I, on the other hand, regularly get a genuine laugh in publishing circles with variations on the “indexers do it in alphabetical order” line. Really. People are weird.

But still. When you’re confronted with certain workplace humor, it can pass you by. For instance?

For instance …

It’s that time of year again. I have to take Blanche in for her state inspection. Off I go, as early as I can on a Saturday morning.

The Jiffy Lube I go to is a little out of the way, so there’s no line. I’m straight in. The old guy who runs the joint is like the David Lynch FBI guy in Twin Peaks: he has no conception of his own volume.


The tiny waiting room could not be less like my home; there is golf on a very tiny TV in the corner. But I appreciated the offer.

I open up a new app, choose a story about a TV star because real, actual news is making me a coward who cannot fact the realities of life right now, and I get maybe halfway through it when one of the mechanics calls me over. “You the Nissan Versa?”

“I am,” I say. “Her name is Blanche,” I somehow forget to add.

The mechanic is smiling like it’s his birthday. Occasionally he’s chuckling.

“Everything OK?” I ask. I’m not sure if I’m asking about the results of Blanche’s physical or the guy’s mental health.

“You don’t drive it much, do you?” he responds. He’s smiling and shaking his head.

“No,” I agree.

Then he’s laughing. “You brought it here last year for the inspection. You’ve only driven 700 miles since then.”

This is the funniest thing he’s heard all morning.

I start to explain – then I start to make up something about having a fleet of cars…and then I start just smiling and chuckling myself.

“700 miles?” like I can’t believe it.

“700 miles,” he says, like he’s pleased I’m now in on the joke.

‘That’s not far.”

“Not far at all.”

I’d rather drive them than walked them, I think.

But this guy got a chuckle from it, and isn’t that all we ask for on any given day?

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