I recently heard an interview with the actor Anthony Hopkins on NPR radio, during which he said, "Whatever God is has a great sense of humor." I totally agree!

Despite its tragedies, my life has been–to a large extent–very funny. For instance, when I met up with an angel a few years ago, it wasn’t in a church and he didn’t wear wings. Nope, he was waiting for me in a Kinko’s copy shop (and he was a great Xerox-er!)

One of the humorous incidents that seems to happen to people with regularity might be described as "the switcheroo."

I recently heard a story about this from our chiropractor. I lay down on his heated massage table with the usual "Ahhh!" and said, "I’d love to have one of these at home."

He replied, "If I only had a dollar for everyone who says that," then he told me this story.

He has two massage tables in his office and one of them was on the blink. He called in a repairman, who said it needed a new motor and gave him a quote of $800 to repair it. He said, "I don’t know–they cost $2,000, so maybe I’ll just buy a new one." The repairman then lowered his estimate to $700, but the doctor was still undecided.

He had one functioning table left, and when another patient came in, lay down, and made the same remark, the doctor said, "I know where you can get one for $700," then offered him the broken table, as well as the phone number of the repairman. The patient soon returned with another man, and they took the table away.

When this patient returned in a week, our chiropractor asked him if he’d gotten the table fixed. "It didn’t need a new motor," he said, "It was just a loose screw. I tightened it, and now it works fine!"

(This reminds me of the time an auto dealership quoted us a price of several thousand dollars to fix a part on our car that ANOTHER repair shop told us didn’t exist).

A few months later, the man who had taken away the table came into the doctor’s office with his daughter, who had a bad case of scoliosis. "How much will it cost to fix her, doc?" he asked. When he was quoted a price, he said, "I can’t afford that–can’t you do it for less?"

The kind of light bulb you see in cartoons turned on above our chiropractor’s head–he offered to treat the daughter in exchange for the return of the massage table.

I learned about another funny "switcheroo" in Texas, where (a few years ago, at least) people often left the keys in their cars when they parked them. A woman I knew told me about a time her car was in the shop and she needed transportation, so she called up her uncle and asked if she could borrow one of his cars. "Sure," he said, "Take the black Caddy that’s parked at the country club."

She got a ride to the club, found the Cadillac with the keys in the ignition, and drove away. A week later, she got a call from her uncle: "You didn’t take the Caddy." That was when she realized that she’d borrowed the wrong car, so she drove the one she’d taken back to the club, found her uncle’s car, and drove that one away.

One of my other favorite "switcheroo" stories also comes from Texas. Another woman told me she had checked her favorite jacket at a restaurant and found, upon returning for it, that they’d had two identical jackets and had given away my friend’s jacket to someone else. She could tell the one they wanted her to take wasn’t hers because there were different items in the pockets.

She didn’t know what to do, so she took the substitute jacket home. A few weeks later, she wore the black jacket to a charity event, where she noticed an identical jacket hanging on the back of a chair. No one was at the table, so she crept over and surreptitiously felt in the pockets and yep, it was her jacket all right, so she quietly switched it for the one she’d worn to the event and sneaked back to her own table.

We almost had a "switcheroo" of our own a week ago, when we went to one of the wonderful farmers’ markets in our area. We hauled our bags over to a blue Prius and popped the trunk. We were about to stow our shopping inside, when we noticed that there were different items in the trunk than the ones we keep there–then we checked the license plate and realized we had the wrong (identical) car. The owners must have left it unlocked. I’ve since wondered if we could have started it up and driven it away (are Prius keys interchangeable?), but I’m glad I didn’t get the chance to find out.

Prius keys are "remotes" (meaning you can start the car with the key in your pocket) and sometimes remote car remotes ARE alike, as a friend of ours discovered when he went to a parking lot to pick up his Ford. As he was walking to his car, he pressed the remote to unlock it, and every Ford in the lot started honking and some of them even raised up the doors of their trunks.

"What did you do?" I asked him.

"I got the hell out of there!" he said.

I’m sure whatever God is got a kick out of that one.

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  1. Anne, by the way if the Kinko
    Anne, by the way if the Kinko was the one in WLA south of Olympic Blvd. near Santa Monica, the building has been razed. I rode by it on Saturday afternoon and I immediately thought of you and your story. I just thought you might like to know. I always think about you every time I pass a Kinko’s now!

  2. It’s the one near 6th Street
    It’s the one near 6th Street on Wilshire, now a Fedex Shop. Interestingly, Anne’s angel talked to me. I could see him talking but not hear him! She had to tell me what he’d said. It was a very wonderful, very odd experience. He was a kindly looking man, middle aged. Nothing unusual about him that I could see. Of course, I was mystified to see him talking but not hear it! I could hear everything else perfectly normally.

  3. I don’t know if you would
    I don’t know if you would call this a switcheroo, but over 30 years ago I was at a concert with my then-girlfriend. She went to place her arm around me and rub the far side of my butt. Unknowingly, she overextended her arm and was rubbing the butt of the guy next to me. This pretty much happened throughout the whole concert. After the concert, she confronted me about why I hadn’t reacted to her affection. After a few moments we both realized what had happened and couldn’t stop laughing. But, I was a little annoyed that the guy sitting next to me didn’t say one word throughout the whole concert.

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