Flying by the Seat of His Pants

Jim had a job at a mortgage company running their call center. His department was responsible for setting appointments for the loan officers. He had great people skills and was loved and respected by his coworkers.

One morning for work Jim dressed in a coat and tie. This wasn’t his usual attire. He asked me if I had an extra notebook. Sure, I have one, why do you need it? He told me there was a company wide meeting scheduled for that day and every department had to give a report. He needed it for his presentation.

In order to accommodate all the employees the meeting was held at a local hotel. There was a small stage with a podium and microphone and rows of chairs. Jim and the other department heads sat in the front row and waited their turn to be introduced by the owner.

When Jim was called he walked up with his notebook in hand. He said a few words about his department and then pointed out his notebook for his report. He opened it and revealed that it contained only one piece of paper with a few scribbled notes. Everyone laughed. They knew him not to be strong in paper work. He then proceeded to give his report by talking about the past year and mentioning many people from the company in funny and amusing stories.

Well, the owner wasn’t so impressed, but his coworkers loved it. Some even wanted to know why they weren’t mentioned.

Each year the company had sales competitions. The winners would go to Las Vegas for a weekend. Jim wasn’t in sales so he didn’t qualify. But his coworkers assumed he’d be going and they were disappointed.

Part of the trip included a fancy dinner with a comedian for entertainment. Word got out that the owner was going to pay the comedian quite a bit of money. Jim’s coworkers campaigned to have Jim instead. They convinced the owner to save his money and so it was done.

Months went by and there wasn’t much talk about the trip. The time came to fly out to Las Vegas. We arrived and got set up in our room. First thing I did was order room service. Why not?

Still Jim hadn’t said much about the meeting.

The night of the big dinner we got dressed up and made our way to the banquet hall. We were greeted outside the room by several people. They were all good-looking young men dressed in black suits who wanted to be Italian. Each one came up to Jim and kissed both his cheeks.

We stood in a circle talking and laughing. Then someone asked Jim about his routine tonight. Was he going to mention them? Jim looked bewildered and said, “What are you talking about?” You know, the comedy stuff, your presentation during dinner. Jim was clueless, like he had forgotten completely why he was there. He then went on to explain how he hadn’t prepared anything and couldn’t possibly perform. He turned to me looking for support. Me, being the ever-supportive wife said, you can do it. I know you. You can fly by the seat of your pants.

Oh that was it. He was mad. All through dinner he would hardly look at me. I, by myself, had to make polite small talk with his coworkers and their spouses. What I didn’t know was that Jim was putting together his routine. It was all very serious looking.

Before dessert was served, the owner introduced Jim. He walked up very solemnly. I looked around the room and at the people at my table. What I saw were questioning faces. Where was Jim’s fan club? Everyone looked worried.

Jim started by explaining how he was not really prepared but he would “shoot from the seat of his pants.”

I broke out laughing so loud the room’s attention turned to me. The people at my table looked at me like I was a nut. I caught the mixed metaphor and they didn’t. There was a moment of awkwardness but as Jim proceeded he captured his audience. He even got the attention of the wait staff. They stopped and pulled other staff to the doors to stand and listen.

When I told Jim how funny I thought his line was, “I’ll shoot by the seat of my pants,” he told me he wasn’t aware he had said that. It wasn’t planned and he had wondered why I had laughed then. Yeah, so did everybody else.

Jim was a very funny guy, but funny people’s funny isn’t always funny. Especially when you live with one, because you’ve already heard most of their funny. And repeats generally aren’t funny. But sometimes that guy could catch me off guard. When he did, nothing was funnier.

By the way, Jim did get paid for his Las Vegas performance.



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