Towards Better Democracy

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Telling Jokes in Public in the USA


If I am not smiling I’m in trouble. A side of me is so serious, more serious than a Hanging Judge. So I have to be light hearted from time to time. All work and no play maketh Jack a dull boy.

Two days ago, here at the cafe where office daily, a young woman came to sit next to me.

“Is this place taken.”

The table and bench place were clearly vacant and Americans are on occasion polite.

“Yes,” I said, “Ten dollars.”

After sitting down she replied quickly.

“At the other … (name of the coffee chain) its twenty dollars.”

I looked at her.

“It’s a joke.”

Americans don’t joke any more. Everything is so serious. The lawyers get called in when some celeb is offended some other well known public figure in public. So touchy. Pain in the a….

Shortly after that I called my printer in Los Angeles. I know the woman who answers his phone. She does admin or something.

We do our business and we chat. I tell her about my thoughts and the conversation I had just had, reported above.

“Oh, I love jokes,” she says. “I watch comedy central all the time.”

See. That’s not public.

Some time ago I reported the thought spoken of above and he said,

“They are all on the Web.”

……

Well, that’s dreadful. Deplorable. Life without humour is not life. It is an existence. Dull. Dull as ditchwater. I joke. Not all the time, of course. But often.

I have to be careful, though. I am given to teasing. It is the British way. Well, English anyway. I am not sure the Scots tease. I am careful not to tease Americans. They do not take it well. You get long faces of disappoval. I tell you, be warned. You do not voluntarily wish to be the recipient of an American long face. It is, to use their terminology, a put down.

In any case. Either way. I have to go to the bank. I am busy and use the Drive In. I hate Drive Ins and avoid them like the Medieval Black Plague. Whether for coffee or prescriptions pills or whatever else. Fast foods I don’t buy so you want see me at the BIG Mac.

I’m peckish so off I go to a supermarket which was local but has been bought by a VERY large Amerian chain – as much else – and purchase a ready cooked chicken thigh. $1.49. I’s saving every penny. Funds are low. At critical level. Shows red on the tank. Looking for a means of income. A job.

The chicken thigh, dear readers, is smaller than the size of a large egg. Not Extra Large mind you.

I say nothing to the person behind the counter. I had, after all, bought four pieces of fried fish at the same store from her four or five days previously. $4.00. Delicious. Yum, yum.

Off I go in search of some store person to vent in the politest way possible my disgruntledness. I was grumpy. I hate being grumpy.

I find a very large, tall black man, towers above me. He is wearing a black shirt and black pair of pants. The not mandatory uniform of the store. He is clearly is in charge of something – sweeping the floor, maybe. I’m not joking. I saw him doing it outside later.

I tell him my story. Of the minuscule piece of chicken thigh. The US used to such a generous place where food is concerned. And still is in some places. You can buy a New York sandwich that is so large and so generous that you cannot eat it all in one go no matter how hungry you are. You have to take half of it away. They will give you a To Go back if you ask – Americans never to used to do this – do TakeAway at restaurants.

incomplete and not yet edited

Malcolm D B Munro
Saturday 26 May, 2018

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Filed under: Arts, Current Events, Media, Music, poetry, songs, stories

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