|If you laugh at yourself first, people will laugh with you instead of at you.
Sometimes in life you find yourself in a strange and weird situation, or you do something clumsy in a situation where clumsiness doesn’t belong. How do you handle those situations? You laugh at it and you laugh at yourself.
I am going to tell you a true story out of my life as an example on how to handle a situation like that. A few years ago I was sitting in my favourite bar with a few people I knew vaguely, I was waiting for a friend of mine to come and pick up some money from me, and I was also waiting for another friend to come and join me for a drink. This was a Thursday night and I had been to visit my son’s school earlier that evening. In Sweden we have a kind of tobacco that is called “snus” that you put under your lip. It comes in little round boxes that look a little bit like ice hockey pucks. The type I was using comes in small portion bags. Anyway, the three other people at the table also used “snus” and since I was the only one that had any, I shared mine. After a while my friend who was picking up the money called to tell me that she was outside, but she had her daughter with her so she didn’t want to come inside. I went outside to give her the money and I came back in after about 10 minutes. A while later we saw a police car pull up outside, which wasn’t that unusual since they dropped in from time to time to see that everything was alright. Except that this time they didn’t come inside. There were maybe 10 other people sitting in the bar, of which I didn’t know four. Two women sitting in the bar and a couple of men sitting at a table.
About ten minutes later the two cops came in, looked around and came straight up to our table. They asked me if they could talk to me and I said, in surprise and fear, that of course they could. Had something happened to my son? Was the thought that went through my head. They then asked if I would come outside with them, and I said yes. They asked me if it was my bag on the table and I said yes. They closed it and took it with us. They asked me to sit in the police car and one of them got in at the front and the other one next to me in the back and then they started to ask me all sorts of different questions. Name and address and such things, had I been at the bar long, how much I had to drink, what did I do earlier that evening, how well did I know the people I was sitting with and so on. By then I was sure it had nothing to do with my son, but probably with one of the other people at the table. My mobile kept ringing in my bag but they wouldn’t let me answer it and after a while one of them got out and went into the bar and came out with the people at my table and talked to them. By this time I’ve given up trying to figure out what it was all about. The police woman in the car with me, asked me if I was nervous and I answered her that I wasn’t because I didn’t know what I was supposed to be nervous about. She asked me if I had done anything illegal and I said, not unless it’s illegal to have a couple of beer on a Thursday night. She laughed and said that it wasn’t. I asked what it was all about, and she said that she couldn’t tell me until they spoken to “the woman”. I had no idea who she was talking about. After about half an hour they let me out, and gave me my bag back and they told me that one of the women sitting in the bar had called in to say that I was dealing drugs in the bar and that she’s seen me go outside to give someone money. I started to laugh when I realised that what she had seen was me sharing my “snus” with the others. I offered the cops to go through my coat and my bag, but they just laughed and said that it’s ok; they didn’t think I was a drug dealer.
Funniest thing is that I have never, ever tried a drug in my life, except for alcohol and tobacco and everybody who knows me knows that. When I came back in, everybody wanted to know what it was all about and when I told them they all had a good laugh. By then 10 more people was in the bar, all people I knew. The woman that called it in stayed and didn’t even come up to me to apologize. Unfortunately I didn’t have any “snus” left; otherwise I would have walked up to her and in a suspicious way asked her if she wanted to buy some.
Now, this is a small town where everybody gossips about everybody and I knew that this story would be out in a heart beat. To avoid the worst of it I just laughed at it and I made it a point to tell everybody I met about it myself, I also made it into a joke and offered people to buy some “snus” off me, since apparently I was the big “snus” dealer in town. People still talked about it, but they did it in a humourus kind of way instead of a gossipy way. Why? Because I was the first one to laugh about it!!
As a waitress I have use of this method too, whenever I make a mistake with a guest I admit my mistake, apologize for it and then I laugh and joke about it. Who can be mad at someone that handles a mistake that way? Not a lot of people.
Laugh at yourself first; it makes life more fun and a lot easier. And it makes others think more highly of you. Don’t take yourself too seriously, if you do, other people will find it hard to take you seriously.
If you want to learn more about Elsa Maxwell, follow this link.