David Trinko: It really is a laughing matter

By David Trinko - [email protected]

If they’re not laughing with you, they’re laughing at you. And I’d much rather have them laughing with me.

Most of us have had a moment when it could’ve gone either way. You’ve done or said something slightly embarrassing. Your choices are to get really angry or just laugh at yourself.

A few weeks ago at church, I somehow lost track of where we were at the service. We’re Catholic, so there’s a fair amount of standing up, sitting down and kneeling at various times. Perhaps the visiting priest’s pace at Mass threw me off. Perhaps I lost myself in my own thoughts.

Whatever the reason, I stood up about a minute and a half earlier than I really should have. My wife looked at me with pleading eyes, subliminally asking me to let my knees buckle so I wasn’t the only one standing aside from the priest.

To my embarrassment and hers, other people around me started standing prematurely too, apparently assuming I must’ve known something they didn’t. By the time I got past my own pride and decided I should return to sitting like I should’ve been, the majority of the church was up too. It was too late.

My wife teased me after Mass about being a trendsetter, making my own rituals up as I went along. I could’ve gotten defensive and angry. Instead, I laughed along with her, joking the Holy Spirit made me do it.

Her turn to laugh along came soon enough. On Tuesday, she came home from a long day working at an area nursing home. She informed me it was “Talk Like a Pirate Day,” something she learned while visiting the dementia wing.

In case you thought you missed it, Tuesday wasn’t “Talk Like a Pirate Day,” which is actually Sept. 19. After I looked it up for her, I started teasing her, saying perhaps the dementia wing of a nursing home wasn’t the best place to follow current events.

In that moment, she could’ve gotten defensive. Instead, she began laughing along with me.

I think of these stories in light of a front-page photograph The Lima News decided to run Thursday. Our photo editor caught workers putting a sign up near the new roundabout at Shawnee and Fort Amanda roads. On it, there was a spelling mistake, with the T and the Y transposed. We started joking around the office about the “Real American Strength” motto on it, saying it was a “real American typo.”

The workers got the mistake corrected quickly. There wasn’t any large cost to taxpayers, aside from a little personal pride for a few employees.

Some people I’ve heard from thought it was mean-spirited to point this out to the world. They didn’t think we should be laughing at the workers who made the mistake, especially in light of the various assaults on the English language we inevitably make among the thousands of words appearing in your daily newspaper.

I’ve never seen the value in getting overly defensive about a mistake. I don’t mean to say you should take them lightly. No, you should own your mistakes, correct them and learn from them so they don’t happen again. I’ve preached that to reporters for years.

To err is human. To laugh is divine.

If everyone else is laughing but you, that’s a real travesty. It takes all of the power away from you when you let someone else’s actions make you feel badly. We could all benefit from not taking ourselves so seriously.


By David Trinko

[email protected]

David Trinko is managing editor of The Lima News. Reach him at 567-242-0467 or on Twitter @Lima_Trinko.

David Trinko is managing editor of The Lima News. Reach him at 567-242-0467 or on Twitter @Lima_Trinko.

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