By Dwayne Wilder
Special to the Herald Democrat

As I grow older, it is one of the best parts to see other generations "come of age."

We don’t think or even remember when we discover or figure out the things we know, we just ‘know’ them as time goes on. This is not something you understand as you are ‘learning’ them. It takes years and decades to see what happened to you as you leave home, marry and have children of your own.

And we quickly learn office politics, so we can survive the daily grind of our jobs! We know who to avoid, who to ask and who is not dependable within a week of being at any job. I remember my first ‘real’ job in the early 1980s. I discovered all of this and who was the funniest, too.

It was an older woman who was retiring within a month of me starting in that office. She was hilarious, a smoker and about a zillion years old to me. (I was 23 at the time.) I don’t remember her name, but she had a ready laugh and always seemed to be cracking jokes. We had to take ‘smoke breaks,’ but I know she smoked right at her desk in the early years of her career in the 1950s! She was that type of worker.

And you know the best part? Within a week, she thought I was the one to take over her position as unofficial ‘funniest person’ in the office! I don’t know how she came to this conclusion; we had only met 5-7 days earlier (and that’s counting weekends!). She just smiled and anointed me ‘the one.’ Of course, I accepted—what could I do?! And this was between us only. She made a simple gesture and made a one- minute speech to me one day about a week before her retirement.

That gesture included passing on the ‘folder.’ This was a collection of funny jokes, sayings and pictures that I was to dole out at my leisure during my career at this office. Of course, I was expected to add to it over time as I found humorous material that would lighten up the place. It was my job now…

After she left my desk, I took a look at the folder. This was something I had no idea existed or if any other offices had them. I opened the flap and took a look at the first cartoon, which was suppose to be funny. It was, but in the most nasty, gross way! I couldn’t believe that this happy, smiley woman had this type of humor in the ‘folder.’ I turned the page; and there was another one! I read some of the jokes; and even in the progressive 1980s, I was shocked. I couldn’t use these jokes or make copies of these cartoons to put on people’s desks! I would have been fired on the spot.

And if it were done today, I would have been jobless and in court being sued for sexual harassment or worse!

And yet, I was laughing at them all – to myself, of course! They were funny; in an insensitive way. Of course, I kept them to myself over the three years I was at that office. I did add to the folder, but never told any of the jokes or used any of the other ‘material.’ I took that folder with me when I left; I have it somewhere packed away. I haven’t looked at it over the years, but I know there is funny stuff in there.

Amazingly enough, I did become the ‘funniest’ person in the office. Who knows? Perhaps, it was because she appointed me as such or maybe it was because I was ‘funny’ as a person. She knew something I didn’t know; and she was right. I have taken that personality to all my jobs over the years and occasionally, I will recall that woman and her ‘folder.’ I will make a particularly good joke or pun; and will think that it should be put in that file.

People will laugh and go about their work with a smile on their faces. Now, that is priceless. I am not the funniest guy in the world—far from it, but I do well enough to keep spirits up during the day. Perhaps, that is what my co-worker of all those years ago was aiming for all along.

She knew; and now, so do I…

Dwayne Wilder

Dwayne Wilder is a Sherman native who currently lives in Denison. Wilder’s Whole World is his commentary about life in Texoma and the world. Wilder can be reached at cmandad17@gmail.com. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Texoma Marketing and Media Group.