strange mirth

It struck me yesterday, forcibly, that strange things make me laugh.

Often, these strange things make me laugh in public places when I am on errands of some natural seriousness. It’s as though I have an endless supply of inside jokes with myself (or with people who aren’t there with me) that pop up at curious times to disturb my usual placid air.

Most of the time, I am pretty good at holding back the laughter. What wants to be a loud giggle is repressed to a bemused smile. My self-control doesn’t always work, though.

Yesterday I had to go downtown to fill out some paperwork for a new job. Finding my way to the fifteenth floor of a building full of government offices smack in the middle of my city became a feat fraught with miniature faux pax (is that plural? If not, I have no idea how to make it so). First, I drove around downtown for about ten minutes, unsure of the best place to park and repeatedly making wrong turns in the process of looking for that elusive Free Space. I did not find a free space, but I found a conveniently located garage that would house my stellar auto for a mere “$1 for 20 Minutes.” There I parked, and rode up the elevator with a few smartly-dressed bank workers. I felt out of place in my jeans, but at least I was wearing my (albeit very dirty) pea coat.

Next, I trundled out of the bank building and around the corner to the tower where the office is located. I went inside and looked for the elevators. There was a woman behind a desk in one corner, shuffling papers. She saw me wandering in circles like a caged animal, and finally said, “How may I help you?”

She helped me. The elevators were hidden because I had to show a picture ID before I was allowed to ride them. Okay, everything made sense now. Up I went, and filled out my paperwork quite uneventfully.

It was on the way out that the strange mirth attacked me. I’d found my way back out of the office building with no trouble. Once on the sidewalk, I turned and walked purposefully toward the bank building, clutching the signed papers and thinking what fun it was to try looking professional like all the other business-suited people bustling around me.

I entered the bank building and walked through the foyer to the elevators. But something was wrong. These were not the elevators I was looking for.

In fact, I was not in the correct bank building. Already starting to laugh a little, I left the first bank building and went in the other, which is next door. Again I approached the elevators. Again I realized, These are not the elevators I rode in before. (But this time, I got in one and rode a few floors before realizing they were the wrong elevators.)

The mirth was really bubbling up now. It was as if there was a pile of laughter inside me, like dry baking soda, and someone had just poured lemon juice over it. I wandered around a little more and found the elevators to the parking garage. As I hurried toward the double doors, a young businessman in a suit approached the other side and held the door for me, smiling. I said “Thank you,” and smiled back. Then I hurried into the nearest elevator and let the baking soda and lemon juice out. I laughed all the way down to my floor of the parking garage. Then, I composed myself and feigned a confident stride back to my car.

Rethinking this incident, I’m not sure what was so funny. Even while I was laughing in the elevator, I wasn’t sure what was so amusing. Somehow, not knowing what I was laughing at made me laugh all the harder. What can I say? Sometimes, I enjoy the strangeness of my mind.

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One Response

  1. This is really funny Jessica. I’ve definitely had days like this! It’s great to be able to laugh through those times.

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