Stuff Happens

Conference Room.

Busting Up

When people entrust you to manage their money, a certain level of genuine credibility is necessary. And so, at my work for a registered  investment advisory firm, we maintain a professional atmosphere in our office.
Friday, though, I completely lost that demeaner. In a private meeting. With my boss.
I swore. 
We’d been working, with other staff, all week, on an analysis of a specific alternative investment for a client. I love projects like this one, where my role is to weave together contributions from other staff who are expert on the topic. I write, edit, and polish until we’ve created a comprehensive, concise, clear report. It’s engaging, sometimes intense, even draining work–but it’s also my favorite kind of challenge. 
She and I had painstakingly reviewed the 14-page document and were meeting, again, to discuss any final revisions. We’d met twice before, earlier in the week, for this same purpose. The project was nearly finished; it was Friday afternoon. We were both a bit punchy.
She and I were dissatisfied with a sentence, so we tossed possible revisions back and forth. 
“Even after thorough due diligence, fund failure, or even fraud, is possible.” 
“Even after thorough due diligence, investors cannot be assured that the fund will succeed and be safe from fraudulent losses.”
“Even the most thorough due diligence does not guarantee that the fund is safe from the prospect of fraud or failure.”
“Even after thorough due diligence…..stuff happens.” Except I didn’t say “stuff.” 
My boss looked at me, stunned. I sat in my chair, stunned right back. We were respectable, godly women. How had I managed to blurt that word out? 
Then she giggled. I chuckled. Clearing my throat, businesslike, I looked back down to our draft. “I’m sorry,” I said. 
And then laughter–sweet, musical laughter–billowed forth from my boss. I joined her, and before I knew it we were both guffawing, tears streaming, gasping. 
Finally I could speak. “I can’t believe I said that.” 
“It’s okay,” she said. “It’s been a long week. We needed that.” 
I was grateful, so grateful, that she’d offered me grace instead of a rebuke. 
And then I told her, “You know, at lunch today, I read that The High Calling is doing a community writing project on laughter as therapy. Now I have something to write about!” She smiled, wiping her eyes. 
“You should,” she said. “That was definitely therapeutic.” 

3 Sing to Him a new song; Play skillfully with a shout of joy. 

Psalm 33:3 (NASB) 

Deidra Rigg is hosting all the laughter as therapy posts over at Jumping Tandem. I hope you’ll enjoy the collection. 


  1. A great story!

    Long ago, my wife and I were driving my mother to the airport in Houston, and a driver cut us off, almost causing an accident. I hinked; my wife made a hand gesture (something totally out of character for her to do). I froze, no one said anything for a moment, and then my mother said from the back seat, "That man was bad. Janet shot him the bird."

    We dissolved in laughter.

  2. Oh, Glynn. It happens, doesn't it?

    Christmas 1982: My grandmother had died suddenly in August and we gathered for the holidays with that loss fresh.

    Mom visited Grandpa's punchbowl a bit more than she normally would. And later, at dinner, when she dropped her fork, she exclaimed: "oh,f&#$!"

    Now my mother was a lady and I'd never heard her let the f-bomb fly. Her own grandmother, sitting beside her, and somewhat deaf, croaked "whaaaaaaaaaat?" And my sister and I laughed and snorted until we had to leave the room.

  3. Oh, how I loved this! AND the two comments thus far. There's just something delightfully liberating about letting a profanity fly in an unexpected moment from an unexpected person.

    My husband seldom swore for the first …. let's say 40 years? … of our marriage. But since retirement, I've heart the s…word at several most appropriate moments from him. And it always makes me guffaw – I just don't expect it and the startle response is to laugh loudly.

    By the way, he was in your industry for those 40 years – that's his gift, managing money well and he did it for a whole lot of folks/churches/ pension funds, etc. for a very long time. Now he serves on our denomination Board of Benevolence on the finance committee, helping them invest pension money for several thousand employees and he manages what he so carefully saved for us, and our mom's funds, our daughter whose husband died – her stuff. It's just enough of a finger-in-the-pie to keep his skills sharp.

    And when I do pre-marital or marital counseling, we do the financial piece together. In the midst of a dog-eat-dog industry, it's good to know there are believers working to be salt and light. So I thank you for your good work, Sheila. And I gotta say – laughter is one of the best ways I know to do all of that – salt/light/good work.

  4. Diana,
    Thank you for your kind words.

    I must say, I am not a money manager. I'm the operations manager, handling all the other stuff so our people who DO manage money are freed to do it.

    I couldn't work in this industry without a boss like the one I have, whose integrity is beyond reproach.

    And yes, the unexpectedness of those little exclamations are something, aren't they?

  5. I know you're not the investment person at your firm – but I also know that a good operations manager makes everything else possible and enjoyable.

    When I was pregnant with our 3rd, Dick got the opportunity to join a 2-man firm – both men of integrity, though not of faith. They hired my husband because he was a man of faith and because of some providential people connections. It was scary to go without medical insurance for the rest of my pregnancy in order to make that job switch, but we are so glad we made it.

    As the company grew, not all hires were as wisely made and he learned an awful lot about the ugly side of the industry, so I do hear you when you describe the difference it makes to have someone at the top who is honest!

    And I really, really love this story!

  6. What an unexpected guffaw that turned into a good bit of laughter. I have a Christian friend who occasionally sends me a bit of an off color joke (that I do not forward) but the two of us enjoy a bit of funny sleaze. Between husbands and wives there are also words passed that you prefer the public not to be a part of, but this exchange with your Boss had its place and it did break up the day.

  7. That is a big step in faith…I'm so glad it worked out well.


  8. Hazel, I know just what you mean.

  9. That phrase is such an integral part of our language now, I don't think it is even considered cursing any more. The benefit derived from it's use, under these circumstances, far outweighs other considerations.
    I believe God sees intent, along with actions. Sometimes, only sometimes, the end(laughter) justifies the means(expletive not deleted).
    As always, you have hit the center of the bullseye.
    Thank you.

  10. I hope you're right about that, Red…the intention part.

    Because usually my intentions are good 🙂

    Thanks for your kind words.

  11. Oh, my. I can't stop laughing. I needed a laugh like that today. As an older, non-traditional student working on my MSW, I'm concerned that will happen to me in class discussion some day. Some days my frustration level gets fairly high. Oh, well…hopefully everyone will laugh. Thanks for sharing.

  12. My mother-in-law is one of the most poised women I know. She is always dressed to the nines, with hankie in her purse, nails perfectly manicured, lipstick always in place. And she loves Jesus.

    One day, I had breakfast at a restaurant with my MIL and two other people. One of the people just got on my nerves. Irritating and annoying were the words I turned around in my head as we sat together at the table.

    When the time came to leave, my MIL motioned to me to stay at the table as the others walked toward the door. My MIL looked at me and said, "You know, I love Chris* – don't get me wrong. But sometimes," she said and then lowered her voice, "sometimes Chris just bugs the he## out of me." There was a moment of silence before she started to giggle. And then I started to giggle. And the two of us dissolved in to laughter right there at the table. It was wonderful!

    *not Chris' real name…

  13. Love that, Deidra! Everyone has her limits, hmmm?

  14. Sheila, timing is everything, and you nailed it. A great story!

  15. Thanks for your kind words, Sam!

  16. Nothing cuts through the professional language faster than calling it what it is! Funny! What a great story Sheila! What great benefits we receive from laughter… relieving stress, and bonding with laughter memories…

  17. It's definitely good for the soul.

  18. Great story. I have seen you a lot around The High Calling and I have been looking forward to reading your writing. I was not disappointed. I admire your desire to stay on the high road in all of your dealings.

  19. Kathy,
    Thank you for your kind words. Blessings to you, too!

  20. Kimberlee Conway Ireton

    I'm forwarding the link to this post to a friend, who swears more than she thinks she should but always manages to make me laugh when she lets an obscenity fly.

    In the spirit of several other comments, I wanted to share a quick story.

    Before my husband and I were married, he lived in a Christian community with the friend I mentioned above. She and another of their housemates were watching "Good Will Hunting" in the living room. My husband, who never, ever uses profane language and prefers not to listen to it, either, came into the room. He sat down and watched with them for about 15 minutes.

    After one too many f-bombs, he pushed himself out of his chair. "That's it," he said, "I'm f*&%ing out of here."

    They were both so startled they fell over laughing. To this day, fifteen years later, they still laugh when they tell this story.