This past Monday morning after a nice long week of spring break, fellow humor student Ange and I went on a mission to get fingerprinted for our service learning with Higher Achievement. After weeks of trying to figure out how to get to the Baltimore Public School System offices during their hours of business, Ange and I had finally secured a motor pool vehicle for the crack of dawn (8 AM) in order to finally get our official badges and become legitimate mentors at the Ashburton School. Everything was planned out: Meet at 7:40 to print confirmation number and Mapquest directions, catch a shuttle to motor pool by 8, and get fingerprinted all in time to be back for Ange’s 10 o’clock class.
Ange and I convened by the elevator on our floor at exactly 7:41, and headed down to the Newman computer lab to do our printing, only to discover that, similar to our own conditions, none of the printers were functioning so early in the morning. So we fast-walked to the Knott Hall computer labs, successfully printed what we needed, and hurried to catch a shuttle. With no shuttle in sight we decided it best to start walking, and ended up making the trek all the way to motor pool, arriving over twenty minutes late. Once we received the binder filled with intimidatingly official paperwork, we went to the allotted space in the lot, where we found a car that was not the one assigned to us. I began clicking the unlock button in the hopes of finding our car amongst the sea of sedans, and it was Ange’s keen ears that heard the doors unlock of a little black car one isle away. And so we were off.
The Mapquest directions were easy enough to follow, until we came to a “make a u-turn” direction in front of a “no u-turn” sign. Despite Mapquest’s instruction to make an illegal turn, we navigated our own route and found our way back to the large unnumbered building we assumed to be our destination. By now it was 9AM, and though the female workers were antsy for their morning coffee, everyone was much friendlier than I had expected, making the tedious process more endurable. Ange and I filled out paperwork and waited for our turn. Forty-five minutes later it was clear that Ange would not be making it to her 10AM class. But we left the building excited, albeit slightly delirious, and relieved to finally have our badges made and fingerprinting taken care of. We were in such high spirits, we even decided to highjack the motor pool vehicle and take a little joyride to Dunkin Donuts for some well-deserved iced coffee.
Ange and I returned to the motor pool parking lot triumphant, badges and bagels in tow, and I went into the main office to return the vehicle. When I emerged, Ange was not in sight. I found her slightly breathless between two rows of cars, and she explained to me her attempt to flag down a shuttle with her box of 25 munchkins, to no avail. Luckily, another shuttle pulled up and we hopped in. Although this one was not heading to Newman and could only take us as far as Sellinger, we made the sacrifice of a little extra walking because the driver was none other than “Crazy Ted,” the infamous Loyola shuttle driver with his own Facebook fan page. As if our morning had not been absurd enough, Ted proceeded to tell us all about his family, photo album and all, as well as his marijuana plant that he claimed was growing on campus.
“When I was in ‘Nam,” Ted began, “you could get a whole pound of weed for only $10-15!”
Giggling uncontrollably, Ange and I left the shuttle and reentered the real world, where students were going about their normal routines on what to them was just an average day.
On this morning adventure, Ange and I would often make eye contact and shake our heads in disgust, lamenting the laborious task we had no choice but to complete. But in addition to exclamations of, “This is the worst day EVER,” Ange and I found ourselves laughing at the absurdity and unavoidable misery of the morning. As Madea says in her introduction, “life is sometimes hard, and you have to laugh your way through it” (xiv). She explains that a little bit of suffering is a good thing, and while our experience was far from actual misery, laughing together made the experience much more bearable. Perry concludes in his epilogue, “laughter is the anesthetic I use to get to everything else” (253). Laughter did indeed numb my exhaustion and annoyance that morning, and helped keep Ange and I going until our mission was completed (though, ironically enough, no one even asked to see our badges that night at service). In my opinion, Madea’s words on the power of laughter were her most useful and applicable piece of advice, alluding to the cathartic quality of humor that Freud described and Sedaris exemplified, that is universal to everyone who laughs their way through a bad day.