If there’s any one thing I’ve tried to instill in my kids, it’s a sense of humor and the importance of being able to not only take a joke, but to laugh at yourself.  I’ve told them repeatedly, “If you can’t learn to laugh at yourself, then you’ll be the only one not laughing while the rest of the world laughs at you.”

For some reason, people – even complete strangers – intuitively seem to know that I’m not afraid to laugh at myself and that I love a good joke, even if it is directed at me.  Take for example, 15 year old Chase – a good friend of my daughter’s – who one day stopped in the Guidance Office at his school to collect copies of pamphlets on abstinence, safe sex and mental illness.  “Here, Mrs. A – don’t ever say I’m not looking out for you or that I don’t care,” he said as he handed me the pamphlets.  Ahhh…to be so loved!

Recently my kids talked me into stopping by our local McDonald’s drive-thru to pick up some burgers and drinks.  I really hate going through the drive-thru because (1) my kids are so specific in their orders (burgers must be plain; no pickles or catsup) and (2) McDonald’s workers get it wrong about half the time and I have to go back in and explain how the order was wrong.  But, on this particular day I was feeling adventurous.

As I drove up to the drive-thru speaker, I geared myself up to be clear and concise so that – maybe – I could get this mission accomplished on the first try.

“Welcome to McDonald’s, can I take your order please?” came the voice from the speaker.

“Hi.  I need a large ice tea, half sweet and half regular, two small cokes, two small fries and two cheeseburgers plain with no catsup or pickles.”  I said nicely in my best sing-song voice.

“Will that be all?” the voice asked.

“I believe so.  Would you please repeat the order back to me?”

“That’s a large ice tea, half sweet half not, two small cokes, two small fries and two plain cheeseburgers. Is that right?”  he asked.

“Yes. Thank you,” I responded with noticeable pleasure in my voice.  Maybe I can get through here in one visit, I thought to myself.

The voice from the box gave me a total of something like $7.49, and I proceeded to first window as instructed.  As I approached the window, the teenage boy looked out at me and again confirmed my order.

“That was a large tea, half sweet half water, two small sprites, two medium fries and two cheeseburgers with with extra catsup and pickles?” he said with a smile on his face.

If I’d have been in a better mood, I might’ve known instantly that he was teasing me.  As it was, I figured it was McDonald’s goofing up yet again.

“No,” I said as calmly and politely as I could but I’m sure my irritation was evident, “I need a large tea, half sweet half not sweet, two small cokes, two small fries and two plain cheeseburgers with no catsup or pickles.”

“Gotcha!” said the kid at the window!  “I was just giving you a hard time!  I got your order right!”

“Oh!” I laughed!  Good one!  Ya got me!” I said laughing with him at my own expense, and then handed him exact change for my order.

“I thought so,” he said.  “You looked like you could take a joke,” he remarked as he put the money in the drawer.  “Thanks and have a nice day.”

I gave him a quizzical look and then responded, “Ummm…my change?  I gave you a $20 and change.”

The poor kid looked at me with that proverbial panicked expression often referred to as a “deer in the headlights” and responded all flustered, “Oh!  Oh!  Gosh!  I’m sorry!  Wait…umm…gosh, I’m so sorry!  I need to get a manager to open the drawer.”

Before he could flag down the manager, I turned to him with a sweet smile and said “Gotcha!”

At the young man’s confused look, I explained “I was just teasing you!  I gave you the exact amount so I don’t need change.  Have a nice day!” I said as I drove forward to the next window to pick up my order.

Yes, it’s good to have a sense of humor and it’s good to be able to laugh at yourself.  But it’s oh-so-much sweeter to think fast on your feet and dish it right back before the other person has a chance to expect retribution!  Life is good!