You know when irony just presents itself to you all shiny and dripping with yumminess and you just can’t help but snatch it from its dangly perch?
A coworker had been standing behind me, talking about the guns he owns, and the stores and shows where he has bought them. This particular coworker is a pretty jovial guy generally. He laughs a lot, but he’s one of those guys with a voice like a garbage disposal, a stature reminiscent of Napoleon and a humor that’s only good when you haven’t pissed him off. So, when I posted a status update on Facebook that said I’d overheard a (nameless) coworker talking about all his guns and all the stores and shows where he’s bought them… and that I hoped I never made him mad… I thought it was funny.
Now, I’m very careful about what I post on Facebook with regard to work or coworkers. I never mention any names and I never complain about work. Ever. But sometimes I do make jokes. (You’re shocked, I know.) This coworker and I are not Facebook friends, but I knew he might hear about it. I wasn’t worried about that. Sure enough, another couple of coworkers said something to him about the post. They had figured out who I was talking about without description or name of any kind, and without having been in the room at the time of the conversation I overheard.
But he was very defensive. He sent me a message. “Did you miss the part I ran into two other employees in the store? Don’t worry about me I follow the law and will use my gun to protect you, or anyone else from the guy that doesn’t respect life or law and order. No apology necessary and all is forgiven…” And then he offered to take me shooting, said he was used to this kind of attitude from our coworkers.
Well, I hadn’t missed any parts. Did you miss the part where you own like four times as many guns as the coworkers own? Did I miss the part where we’d talked about whether I’d ever gone shooting or what my general attitude is as compared to our coworkers?
For me, logic dictates that guns exist to kill animals and to kill people, and most of us don’t have to hunt for our food anymore – but if you do, I understand that. And I recognize that the Constitution gives Americans the right to own guns, and I don’t concern myself with taking that right away. I do, however, think there’s such a thing as overkill. That said, I acknowledge that people collect guns for reasons other than madly building a cache of weapons for the impending burst of anger and/or separatist movement. And I know that different guns have different uses, and that sometimes collections are a matter of heritage, and while I might not fully appreciate that, I do respect it.
So I replied to this coworker not with the snarky responses I’d come up with, but rather with four words. “It was just a joke.” And a smiley face for good measure (because apparently we’ve lost the ability to write without using an emoticon to communicate intention. Or is that just me?) And I apologized if he’d felt that I implied he was unstable, and said I would happily remove the post. Which I did. Because I can understand why that would be a concern for him, even though I didn’t name him.
It was at that point that he asked me if I liked shoes or handbags.
Well, now I just had no idea what the hell was going on.
Then I realized he was saying that guns serve different purposes like handbags and shoes serve different purposes. Albeit in a really sexist way.
And I told him I could understand that point.
And you know what he said?
“The offer (to go shooting) still stands even though I had to drag the apology out of you.”
You know when you huff out a humorless, smileless laugh in a single syllable? The kind that means, “Oh, now I’m pissed”? I did that.
The apology from three messages ago that he did not, in fact, have to drag out of me, that was offered out of respect, and that he had said previously was unnecessary? That one? Because that’s the only one I’m offering. I’ve done nothing else to warrant one.
“You know I can’t read your posts because we are not friends, right?” he wrote. “Two people picked up on it and they were not in the room privy to the conversation. We both know that ‘angry’ was similar to ‘postal’ in that context… I am not mad! Your embarrassed you were gossiping with the fb world and I caught you… all the rest is just good fun and a teachable moment as our lecturer in chief would say.”
That last bit was a reference to the president. You’ll not be surprised to learn my coworker does not like the president.
Of course I knew we weren’t Facebook friends. And I wasn’t the slightest bit embarrassed. In fact, at this point I was seriously considering reposting my comment with the addendum that I find it deliciously ironic that those who have attitude problems and collect lots of guns don’t seem to understand that it’s the attitude problem that leads people to joke about them collecting so many guns.
Guns don’t annoy people. People annoy people. People who can’t punctuate or find the proper spelling of “you’re” happen to annoy me. I suppose that makes me an elitist. Guilty. It also makes him fit that much better into the stereotype for which he has already set himself up so well that others can identify him in a comment devoid of his name or any description of his professional position or physical appearance.
Clearly, he is his own worst enemy, here.
Why is it that people who own lots of guns get so worked up about their right to own those guns? It doesn’t happen with the folks who only have one or two. Just the ones who have, like, eight. And who also have tempers. I never said you can’t have them. I never said you shouldn’t have the right. I merely commented that I thought it was funny to hear an unnamed coworker talk about how many he had, and the personalities of the employees at the number of places from which he’s bought them, and so I remarked humorously that I hoped I didn’t ever make him angry. Because we work together. And he has a lot of guns. Work… guns… anger…
It’s a sort of pop culture reference. Commonly understood.
And now you’ve gone and made me explain the joke, and everybody knows that jokes aren’t funny if they’re explained.
Ultimately, he backed down. He said he was just trying to be funny, that all was well, really.
But I admit, I was still a little nervous when I passed him in the parking lot on the way to my car late that night.