Saturday, February 8, 2014

Week Six – LOL! (laughing out loud)

They say the best cure for anything is laughter, and laughing gets us through all sorts of tough situations and moments in our lives.

This week I went to Israel; this is my fifth trip to this amazing country. And it is exactly a year ago I first landed in Ben Gurion Airport for my first visit. Anyone who has been to Israel will know that to get into the country can be a difficult affair especially if you have any Middle East stamps in your passport. And being the well travel person that I am, of course I had a stamp from the Middle East, and non other than Libya. There was also confusion as I have two British Passports (for this very same reason) and so they kept me at the airport for 3 hours until about 4 am when they finally decided that it would be ok to let me into the country.

Ever since then, each visit has got better and the time I spend at the immigration booth is shorter, and on this last visit I actually went through in less than 1 minute! And I want to attribute this to good humour and laughter! As I approached the immigration officer she looked at my passport and asked me a couple of routine questions; what are you doing here? How long for? Is this your first time in Israel? And what is your name… yes they do ask you that! The fifth question she looked at me and said “do you have any friends in Israel?” to which I replied without bating an eyelid “All Israelis are my friends!”  Now this answer could go two ways… she can think that’s not funny and send me to the naughty room like last time and be there for 3 hours, or think it’s funny and laugh. By the way I did a similar joke some time ago to an airport security guard as I went through the metal detector and I biped, he said as he set to search me “do you have anything sharp on you?” to which I replied with a straight face “nothing, just my sense of humour!” – He didn’t laugh and gave me a good searching which I even thought had reach places no one else had! Luckily for me the immigration officer at Tel Aviv found my remark funny and with a smile on her face she handed over my passport and said “welcome to Israel” and I was through, in what I believe is the shortest time yet!

I think that humour and laughter is a very powerful thing and we don’t do it enough! We take ourselves way to seriously and this makes out lives harder. This experience made me observe people this week, I wanted to find out how we behave in public and how many of us laugh or at least smile when we are travelling or interacting with others. I often find myself as I read my faceBook and see funny postings LOL! Yes laughing out loud! And I am sure some people think I am mad, sitting there by myself LOL!

Often in airports you see people rushing to get to their plane, so it is hard to interact with others, but I saw how people react to a smile when you give them one, even if they are in a rush. Every person I interacted with, whether it was the checking in person at the counter, the man behind the boarding pass scanner, the lady at the executive lounge or the person who checks your boarding card before you get on the plane, all of them see thousands of people every day who don’t smile or interact with them and so it’s only natural they do the same! So my mission; to gave them all a smile, a greeting and tried to crack a joke with them.

“Good morning” I said with a smile to the man who was processing my bags at the security control at 3 am in the morning. His reply was not of my greeting but a serious of scripted responses he has to do with every person he comes in contact with, “any liquids, laptops, please take them out”. So I looked at him and again with a smile I said “shall I jump on the belt to be scanned?” and he looked at me as if I was mad and said “sorry?” I repeated my statement with a smile and he just looked at me and said, “have a good flight” I don’t think he meant that but it was part of his script, his job. What was interesting about this experience is that I think he is so used to not having a laugh with his customers that he didn’t know how to react to me. I think a bit of humour would make his job better and more enjoyable.

But the most interesting moment this week on my quest to make people laugh was when I was on the transfer bus from the airport to the airplane at Frankfurt, it seemed we were being dropped off miles away from the actual terminal, I am sure this was the longest bus journey of my life. We stood there, I reckon 100 people in a bus, no one taking to anyone, everyone just looking at their smart phones and trying to hold onto the rails. I looked around and a man looked at me and smiled and I thought this is my chance! So I smiled back at him and I said “this is going to be a long journey back to London on a bus, I thought we were flying!” and the magic happen, the man laugh and said “Yes, I hope they give us more than a sandwich” and then a woman standing next to us chucked and said “I wish I had reserved a seat now” and we all laugh. For a moment we had interacted and made each other feel better in an unpleasant long journey to the airplane. It then started a polite conversation, each of us telling something about each other. We got to the plane, boarded and never saw each other again. That’s ok, I was not expecting to become the best of “bus” friends, but at least we made each other laugh!

I think the world would be a better place if we all took the time to make each other smile. It is a contagious thing, smiling; try it. If you see someone and smile, most of the time they can’t help it and smile back at you. It is a normal reaction, it just happens, I urge you to try it it’s fascinating.

And you know what they say about smiling?, it take 36 muscles of your face to frown and only 18 to smile, so it is less hard work to be happy! Try to crack a joke when you can, and if you think you are not good at telling jokes, buy yourself a book! Seriously it’s not that hard, try it; there is always a gag waiting to happen. And if you can’t think of anything then just smile and make that person’s moment a pleasant one!

To close off this week’s blog I will share one of my many favourite jokes:

What do you call a Spanish man when he comes out of hospital?

(if you don’t get it, try saying Man Well… J) LOL!

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