Monday, March 14, 2011


The highlight of last week, insofar as the time I spent at work goes, revolved around a fairly dumb joke. My co-worker and workspacemate Mr. Voluble was grumbling to no one in particular (or possibly to the entire world within range of his voice) about a case he was working that involved training and helicopters and the Swedish armed forces and so on. I pointed out to him that I was going to start using the phrase “Swedish Helicopter Training” in conversation whenever I found myself inclined but unable to say “shit”. Mr. Voluble actually thought that was pretty hilarious and suggested expanding it further to “Swedish Helicopter In-country Training” which is a real thing but also fulfills the acronym requirements that much more completely. Out third counterpart Normal-ish Dude thought this was a handy phrase to have at the ready as well, so it got repeated a lot over the course of the following days.

And now I'm all out of helicopter jokes
I did find it somewhat interesting to watch my two colleagues proceed to beat the joke to death as the week went along. Do not get me wrong, I enjoy a good running joke, as well as (maybe even especially) one with a little bit of backstory to it. And I admit I’ve been known to take this a little too far, making private jokes in mixed company which only tends to negatively reinforce senses of insiders and outsiders and so on. The problem with private jokes is that opening them up to anyone who wasn’t there when they started involves, inescapably, explaining the joke, and man nothing kills humor deader than belabored diagramming. (I’ve been known to try to mine humor from the diagramming itself by stretching it to ridiculous extremes, but that’s neither here nor there.) So whereas my inclination would be to use “Swedish Helicopter In-country Training” sparingly, and probably pare it down to just “helicopter” eventually so that it wouldn’t be so obtrusive in conversation and could just function properly as a minor, immature amusement … my co-workers, not so much. Normal-ish Dude, in particular, managed to shoehorn into almost every conversation running for a couple of days, and then of course felt compelled to ask people if they caught what the initials spelled out. I’d like to be able to parse all that by calling it a generational difference, not even necessarily a Gen X versus Boomer thing but maybe just a temperamental difference between the old needing to know they’re being attended to and the young being more content to simply do their own thing, but that really doesn’t hang together. I’m not that young, and while Mr. V. is a Boomer, N.D. is within a few years of my age. And I know people of my parents’ age cohort who can take a joke and run with it but not drive the thing into the ground. Maybe N.D. is just a dullard.

The really important thing, though, is that I couldn’t imagine that kind of joke being made, let along taking on an obnoxious life of its own, if Ms. A. were still in the office. Between the profanity and the stupidity I’m sure she would have been appalled and disgusted, and we all would have known that and never even tried it out in her presence. So, yup, still glad she’s gone!

I held off on posting this until the afternoon because I was expecting an announcement about the office relocation, and sure enough, it came through about a half an hour ago. The move has been delayed until mid-to-late May. Ah, well. The upside of that is I probably won’t miss it due to paternity leave; instead of getting the move done and then taking FMLA for the new baby’s homecoming, I’ll take FMLA and come back with time to spare before the move happens. I’m not thrilled about the extra time I’ll be spending riding the Metro, of course, but I can roll with it.

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