Wednesday, March 16, 2016

"A Momentary Connection"

Here’s a nice thing that happened.

Let me start out by saying that I really dislike the colloquialism:  

“I made them laugh.”

I know it sounds nitpicky, but “I made them laugh” has a ring of authoritarianism to it.  Like (ARYAN ACCENT),  “Zey did not want to laugh but I made zem!” 

“I made them cry” is hardly commendable.  Why then is “I made them laugh”?

“Point taken.  Can we move on?”

I have one left. 

The “coercion element” of “I made them laugh” is SVU-reminiscent.

“That’s him, Olivia.  That’s the animal who made me laugh.  I hope he rots in hell for what he did to me.”

I’m finished now.  I am sure you get the idea.

“You do not like, ‘I made them laugh.’”


“What would you say instead?”

I honestly don’t know.  Maybe it’ll come to me along the way.  What I do know is that I had an encounter yesterday expressing the spirit of “I made them laugh” without the insinuated arm-twisting. 

And it was a truly gratifying experience.

You may recall my mentioning that I got my prized 24-year-old Lexus smashed into driving into the dealership.  That’s a little funny.  But also shocking and devastating.

In the aftermath of this misfortune, I got a call from Vanessa representing the Lexus dealership’s insurance company’s “Total Loss Department”, informing me that, since my car was so extremely ancient, the price of repairing it was greater than its current market value.  As a result, as I expected, the insurance company, instead of fixing it, would be buying my car, paying me what they determined the car was worth. 

Her next call, Vanessa explained, would be to tell me how much I would be receiving.  The only ray of sunshine in our conversation was that Vanessa referred to my impeccably maintained SC400 as “an exceptional vehicle.”  (The implication being, “So we will not be cheating you quite as much.”)

It has been precisely seven weeks since the accident.  And I have yet to receive Vanessa’s follow-up phone call.  In the interim, the Lexus dealership, feeling demonstrably guilty that their “car jockey” demolished my beloved automobile, has provided me with a “Courtesy Vehicle”, which I have been driving for seven weeks, although it stays mostly in the garage, as I am afraid – because of the great story it would make – to demolish the “Courtesy Vehicle” as well.

“That’s really nutso, you know?”

It’s the “Writer’s Curse” – keeping a story from becoming a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Before Vanessa’s phone call – which itself arrived over a month after the accident – I was contacted by the insurance company’s “on record” claims adjuster for my case, John Minter, who had a deep telephone voice and was situated, as was Vanessa, in Kansas City.  (I live and was smashed into in Los Angeles, but apparently “Zurich” is a national insurance company, conducting its business out of Missouri.)

Between Vanessa’s original call and her yet-to-be-received second call, I have spoken to John Minter three times, attempting, as best I could, to expedite the situation.  Our communications were as cordial as they could be, considering that John Minter represented the company that was about to criminally “lowball” me on the value of my automobile.

In the course of our third phone conversation,. I asked John Minter if, as a professional insurance adjuster, he believed that seven weeks was a unusually long time for this “claims resolution” process to have continued, adding that I had been driving the “Courtesy Vehicle” so long neighbors were asking if I had bought a new car. 

The line, which I purloined from an earlier blog post, was met with a surprising burst of laughter.  Natural, spontaneous laughter, not “‘Ha-ha’ – I know you expected me to laugh at that so I did.”  You could distinguish the difference.  John Minter really thought that was funny.

When I asked him to remind me of the name of Vanessa’s division at the insurance company and he replied the “Total Loss Department”, I shot back,

“That sounds like something you would say about a relative.”

And there was another burst of laughter, entirely voluntary, and bubbling with vitality. 

That’s what I’m talking about.

John Minter was an adversary (representing “the other side”), a self-acknowledged Midwesterner, whose cultural background was imaginably nothing like my own.

And yet…

I said two things, and he laughed enthusiastically at both of them.

To me, that’s the opposite of “making” someone laugh.

That’s forging a genuine connection between strangers.

I did not come up with the word for it.

But it certainly feels good.


If I can only hear from Vanessa.
Loose Ends Followups (which I too infrequently neglect to provide)...

Our new pomegranate tree that lost all its leaves under my stewardship turns out to be a deciduous tree and its leaves have now all come back.

It's a good day when you did not annihilate a tree.

Specifically to JED, I did not get into "Question Period."  I did, however, watch a broadcast of proceedings that night on television, which, not surprisingly,  is not in any way the same.  Though I went to the bathroom in the middle of it, which I would not have been able to do if I had actually attended.  So there's that.

1 comment:

JED said...

Well, I have to admit that I'd forgotten all about the "Question Period" comment but I looked back at that post and enjoyed it all over again. That's one of the joys of getting old - you get to appreciate things again that you've experienced before. It may be time to read The Lord of the Rings again.