Leadership with a Whoopee Cushion -or- Meet My Old Man

Two guys are golfing and they get to a green right along side of the road.

Just as the one guy is about to put, he notices a funeral coming down the road. He stops, removes his hat and waits for the funeral procession to pass by. Once the last car passes, he completes his putt.

His friend says, “Wow, Charlie! You are so compassionate. I have never seen that side of you.”

“Oh, it is the least I could do,” Charlie replies just a little saddened, “We were married for 35 years.”

After the above joke was told, my father said goodbye and hung up the phone. This was not an unusual event until his death in 1995.

It was also not unusual for Big Al to carry around a kazoo, Groucho Marx glasses and a whoopee cushion. He was always ready to lead a song, put on the glasses and well, would resort to flatulence as a last effort. Anything for a laugh.

My father was a consummated New Yorker. He was loud and fun to be around, but could also be quick-tempered and gruff if pushed. But mostly he enjoyed jokes and laughter.

I spent the last two days in New York at a conference. Memories of my dad hit me as I traveled through the city.

Of all the things in New York that remind me most of my father, the Sabrett hot dog vendor carts top the list.

These carts contain hot water reservoir where the hot dogs float while waiting for the vendor to pinch them with tongs onto a roll for customers. For the cart to be deemed an authentic New York City Sabrett hot dog cart, the water must not have been changed since 1969 when The Amazing Mets won the World Series.

Almost everyone has a special talent. Take your pick from the talent list.

I bet this talent didn’t come to mind: Crossing four lanes of New York City traffic to stick five bucks out the window of your orange VW Bug to buy a dog and a cola from a Sabrett vendor. It was random. The old man could pass fifty of the metal boxes with wheels and suddenly need to bring cabs to a screeching halt to make it to the chosen cart.

Lest you say this does not a talent make, I hereby defend the honor of my late father. Pick a street or an avenue in New York and I challenge you to repeat the feat. It also includes consuming a hot dog or two at the curb while making gestures to the honking that surrounds you. You then slam the VW into gear and pull back into traffic yelling at no one specific.

If you can do all of this in less than three minutes without a dented fender or being rattled by the ruckus you just caused, then I tip my Mets cap to you Sir or Madame. You do my father proud. But the test isn’t over.

Tell me a joke, play a song on the kazoo and wear a set of Groucho glasses…just because. If you can pull this off with pride, you have my immediate and lasting respect.

The old man was a character.

As you can see at the top of the page, the title of this blog is, “Laughing and Learning About Leadership”. So what does memory of my father have to do with the subject of this blog?

The story will unfold as you learn about the old man. He was a community leader, a volunteer fire captain and the mayor of our New Jersey town.

Leaders come in all shapes and sizes. As it turns out, one or two of them are armed with whoopee cushions.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.