I have come to the conclusion that working is good for my mental health. In other words, having a job keeps one sane, and spares a body from hanging around the house watching junk on Daytime TV.
That sounds like stating the obvious, but let's break it down. Where I work, the people all have a great sense of humor, and possess a very dry wit.
Not everyone understands the jaded sense of humor in the newspaper business, but it's the best around. One definition of humor, in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, describes it as "the mental faculty of discovering, expressing or appreciating the ludicrous or absurdly incongruous."
Maybe, it's just the nature of the business. I have worked in other professions, and have found the sense of humor other employees have, virtually nonexistent. I would crack a joke, and it would fly right over their heads. They just didn't get it.
Their jokes seemed stale and silly to me, and it became quite apparent, after a while, I just didn't fit in. Their chatter was about topics that totally bored me.
By comparison, my line of work attracts the most unusual types of individuals, with a sense of humor on the cutting edge. Many a time, everyone would be hard at work, typing away, the room quiet except for the TV, on low, in one corner. One person would make an innocent remark, which would strike everyone as hilarious.
Sometimes, that person is me. I actually don't try to be funny, it just comes out and everyone laughs uproariously. Other times, someone else would make an observation, and the others would pick up on it, run with it, and it would turn into the best-running joke we'd heard this side of the Mason-Dixon line.
Like the time we had a birthday celebration in the office, cut into the cake, and the knife broke. Lesson learned: never try to slice through a semi-frozen cake with a plastic knife.
I remember one assignment I went on, where I ended up hiking through muddy swampland and trying not to fall in the water, just to get the story. I was wearing dress shoes, which was probably not the best choice of footwear. When I finished, I went back to the office to write the story, and noticed my pants and shoes were splattered with mud. I made some remark to the effect that it was obvious I had been in the field, literally, and was told I should have received hazard pay for what I had to endure. No one could keep a straight face.
Another time, I went on a routine assignment and ended up going on a four-mile hike, again wearing dress shoes. I finally learned to keep a pair of sneakers in the trunk of my car, for whenever I may need them.
Maybe, it's the stress level in the newsroom sometimes, but a good laugh always cuts the tension. And it's real laughter, not fake or phony. It is said that laughter is the best medicine, and I truly believe that. It's therapeutic, and helps put everyone at ease. Humor makes the regularly scheduled daily meetings bearable.
Sometimes, I catch myself thinking, the comedy here in the newsroom is better than the TV sitcoms. By far, vastly superior. I would go so far as to say that, compared to other jobs I've held, this one is the least like work I've ever had. I hope that makes sense. Sometimes, I just have to say to myself, "I can hardly believe I'm actually getting paid to do this."
It's wonderful thinking like that about a job. No job is perfect, and they all have their ups and downs. But it's refreshing to have a good chuckle sometimes, and even better to have a belly laugh.
When things begin to drag, I know there will always be something to laugh at, to make the day go more smoothly.
Valerie Baldowski covers government and politics for the Henry Daily Herald. She can be reached via e-mail at Vbaldowski@henryherald.com.