Be prepared, long rant ahead.
Joking. I’m all for it.
I love being silly with Alun and my friends.
Dad used to tell the worst “Dad jokes”. I wanted so badly to have no reaction, so I didn’t encourage him, but I couldn’t help but smile, which would make Dad cheer and then we’d both be laughing. Loved those moments.
To be able to share jokes and laughter with people is kind of magical. Laughter diffuses tough situations and brings people together ❤️ I love a good joke, me.
What I don’t like – is a “joke” that’s hurtful.
When someone says something insulting like: “Haha great choice of clothing today – NOT! Hahaha!” I don’t like that. That’s not a joke. I don’t like people joking about sexuality, gender, disabilities, poverty – none of that is funny to me.
What gets me the most angry, in fact – are the “jokes” people play on each other that make no fucking sense.
I’ve had 2 instances of such “Jokes” and this morning heard from my friend “Alex” that she did a similar thing to a really nice guy. It wound me up so much that I have to write about it and get this anger off my chest.
The first time someone played a joke on me which wasn’t funny was when Jill (a co worker) and I went to lunch. As we were paying the bill and picking up our handbags, Jill casually “joked”: “Haha thanks for the belated birthday lunch, Janet”.
Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I was too sensitive about it. Maybe a lifetime of having my parents forget my birthday but making a big deal of my brother’s birthdays guided my response; which might have been totally different if I hadn’t had the past I have, but when Jill said that, I paused and frowned.
I was worried.
Concerned, I asked “Oh no – when was your birthday?”
Jill looked everywhere but at me. That should have been a dead give away, but I was so busy wrapped up in the past pain of having my birthday forgotten that I was already mentally berating myself for forgetting Jill’s birthday (I didn’t know when it was, but at the time that didn’t come to mind…I was convinced I was a bad friend who had forgotten) and was desperately trying to make amends.
“Forget it, Janet – it’s no big deal” Jill replied; suddenly in a hurry to get back to work. She was in so much of a race, in fact, that Jill said “I’ve gotta go – I’ll see you back at the office” and took off at great speed without me. We usually walked back together. There was more than enough time to be back within our lunch hour.
I blame myself immediately when things go wrong. It’s my default. So I took Jill’s haste to get away as a sign I had really stuffed things up and had hurt my co worker.
So, on my way back to the office, I messaged all the girls in a group chat about putting on a birthday afternoon tea for Jill that very afternoon. All the girls were on board, and each offered to contribute food, bless them.
“Thank you all so much!” I messaged. “I’ll get the cake and decorations”
I stopped at a few stores and a florist on the way back to my desk, spent $100 all up on the cake, flowers, ballons, banners and gifts (!!!) and gleefully invited Jill to the kitchen at 3:30pm that afternoon.
Jill walked in, we all yelled “Surprise!” and staff blew party poppers.
Jill laughed and laughed “Haha guys, it’s not my birthday until the end of the year! What is all this for?”
Everyone looked at me.
“You said at lunch that I forgot your birthday” already the lie and betrayal was setting in and tears had sprung to my eyes. I had to swallow hard past the lump in my throat to continue taking “I felt so bad I’d missed your birthday – so I organised this birthday afternoon tea for you”
The room had fallen silent. You could have heard a pin drop.
“Ahahaha you silly thing!” Jill said – overly brightly “Come on, let’s just enjoy. The cake looks awesome. Bet it’s someone’s birthday somewhere, am I right? Hahaha”
Thankfully, that broke the tension, and the kitchen came alive with staff getting plates, sharing meals and talking…all ok.
But inside, I was so fucking embarrassed and so deeply hurt.
How was this a joke?
I’d spent my time and money – and been made a fool of – in front of the whole office – for a joke?!? Really???
A similar situation happened again a few years later when a colleague said over instant messaging that it was “his last day at work” and he was “going back to Uni tomorrow”. I had no idea. I immediately congratulated Adam and said how I’d miss him at work because I considered him a friend.
“Shall we go out for drinks after work to see you off, man?” I messaged.
“Nah, I just want to leave quietly” he messaged back.
So that afternoon, I spent $50 on a gift voucher for Adam, bought a huge “farewell” card, got everyone in the call centre to sign it (this meant I got over 100 staff to cooperate which is a pretty huge feat in itself!) and presented Adam with both just as the work day was ending.
“Oh wow. Um…thanks Janet” Adam looked as if he wasn’t sure what to do.
It’s ok, dude. I get uncomfortable too when given gifts. I get it.
But this was different. Adam looked…uneasy.
Finally, he said “I’m not leaving the job, Janet – I was just joking“.
I felt like a tonne of rocks had landed on me.
You fucking WHAT?!?
“But you said…quite a few times (I’d asked him to confirm about 3 times because of the previous Jill episode years earlier and he had confirmed “yes, I’m really leaving” each time) that you were leaving?”
By now, curious little heads were popping up over the Covid barriers all across the office.
Again, I felt so ashamed.
“Can’t you take a joke?” Adam seemed to be addressing the room and not me – getting people onto his side and making me feel isolated and stupid.
“I don’t understand that joke” again, tears. I felt so angry and hurt.
Those 2 events will forever stay with me. I don’t know if I’m over dramatic and read too much into these “jokes” but each time, it really hurt me. It damaged and scarred me and each time, I lost out financially AND emotionally 💔
Which leads to this morning.
My friend Alex is “sort of” seeing a guy. We’ll call him “Todd”. Apparently, they’re “friends with benefits.” Todd sounds like a decent bloke. He takes Alex on dates, pays for meals, plays games with her for hours, is there for Alex when she’s had a tough day, and is a polite, sweet guy.
Alex was laughing in her messages to me earlier this morning – that she’d played a joke on Todd and told him she had a boyfriend.
Alex sent screenshots of text messages back and forth between her and Todd after her dropping the “I have a boyfriend” bomb. Todd was surprised and hurt. He voiced it politely. He asked how long Alex had had this boyfriend for. She said a few months. Todd said he was hurt by that and would have preferred to know sooner. Alex said it was no big deal. Todd said it “kind of is, though” and about 20 messages later, when it’s clear Todd is in distress, Alex sends a line of laughing emojis and says “Haha fooled you, you dick!”
At this point in the screenshots she’s sent, Alex asks me to validate her. She wants me to comfort and support her in winding poor Todd up.
I can’t, guys. I can’t do it. I don’t want to support Alex in this utter bullshit, I in fact want to strangle her.
Poor Todd. My heart goes out to you.
“He’s such a dickhead, I was just joking” Alex texted me.
I haven’t texted back.
I’m too angry and anything I say now will come from that anger, so I’m blogging about it instead.
Honestly? I’m absolutely appalled.
How is it ok to “joke” like this with each other??? To someone’s detriment??? What about that is funny to people???
How are people like Todd and I supposed to move on from being made fools of for someone’s entertainment?!? How is it funny to put someone in a place of confusion and distress???
I’m not ok with this and wish I had the balls to tell Alex what I really felt without cursing or being hurtful… but no. The people pleaser in me wants to say, “Sure. Haha. Funny joke, Alex. You showed him.”
…while inside I’m seething.
I’m disgusted with Alex’s behaviour to be honest.
But I don’t have the courage to tell Alex, so instead I’ll rant to my online blogging community:
Jokes that hurt someone are not jokes at all.
They are a cowardly way of having a dig at someone without taking any responsibility for the outcome. That’s what I really think.
If you play pranks or “jokes” like that on the people in your life who care about you, then I will lose a lot of respect for you because personally, I think “jokes” like that…are scum – and so are you for telling them.
Grow up. Honestly.
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