Can I interest you in a bum steer?

I donned my pretty dress and pearl earrings. I splashed on some mascara and chucked on a pair of thongs – you never want to look like you’re trying too hard – and caught the bus into the city. A trip into town is almost a glamour adventure for a girl that works in the suburbs.

The $5.20 one-way bus fare was a bit steep, I thought. But that’s how it is in the Big City.

Not to be waylaid by the delightful pie shop and other Big City treats, I headed straight to the visa office. I walked in the door of the Chinese conslate with confidence. The man at the door took one look at me and a juicy grin emerged from his bushy beard.

“You look happy today,” the security guard says. “But I’ve got bad news for you,” he adds, clearly delighted with himself and his bad news.

The consulate is not the visa office, I soon find out. This guy reckons he’s already told about 30 people that this morning. He’s not bothered in the slightest. Clearly, watching all these people get it so wrong is good fun for Mr Security Guard.

As he pulls out the mud map of where the actual visa office is, he indulges in a few stories. One sucker, he tells me, came in looking for a visa. The guy was from Adelaide and “he thought he’d just get it done while he was here in Brisbane.”

“I told him, mate you’re going to have to go back to Adelaide. They don’t do them here.”

“And they don’t even have a visa office OR a consulate in Adelaide.” He is almost rolling on the floor in rapture at his own wit. Am I really at a consulate, I begin to wonder. I’ll admit, it’s a great yarn and a great attitude to the constant barrage of visa queries this guy must face. I wonder what the guy from Adelaide thought?

The joke reminded me of a similar piece of mischief I indulged in a few weeks ago at my brother’s engagement party.

I was dutifully preparing lunch for the whole crew. I had eight chicken and salad wraps layed out on the bench and I was feeling just  a little too virtuous. Always dangerous for me, feeling too virtuous. So I chopped up a few hot chillis and distributed them amongst the wraps, giving a few of them that extra bit of spice. “That should liven things up,” I thought and rubbed my hands together, just like Mr Burns would.

The wraps were divvied and the crew thanked me profusely. “No worries guys, it’s my pleasure.”

Oh and it was such a pleasure to watch the entire party struggle through their lunch. One poor bloke had to lean up against the fence for a good few minutes to get the feeling back in his tongue. Another emerged from the house spluttering and complaining about his lips. They were on fire.

“Geez, you really did a number on us there, Pen,” my dad commented, his voice reeking of pride. Even as he reached for the milk, I could just tell Dad was revelling in the trick.

“You’re a legend, Pen,” he would have said, if he had any feeling left in his mouth.

It was a fine moment, but not because of my lousy trick and everyone losing their sense of taste for the rest of the weekend. They appreciated the gesture of my practical joke. That I had somehow made lunch time interesting. How thoughtful of me!

It’s just like the man at the consulate who found a funny side to his job. His enthusiasm brightened my day.

More jokes are needed, I say.

Let’s bring back the whooppee cushion. Spend less time on sports and other sideline pusuits, such as work. Our creativity should be put to use thinking up good tricks.

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