Carlos, who used to work here, had a really distinctive laugh – a loud, prolonged, quite maniacal laugh. Interesting in a way, when you think about what happened to him. Carlos’ laugh was so distinctive that one day, a couple of weeks after he left, I started imitating it. Rex heard me and he started imitating it too. We competed with each other to see who could do the best Carlos laugh. Then Fergus got in on the act, and before long there were about ten of us, including one of the supervisors.
Hardly a day went by without at least two of us laughing like Carlos. Naturally, this made us think about what happened to him – but we tried to focus on the laugh. Most people have different ways of laughing, depending on the situation, but Carlos laughed the same way every time, even if the situation wasn’t funny at all.
Some customers overheard us imitating Carlos’ laugh. We weren’t aware of that at the time, but the manager told us later in a staff meeting. He said that not only was our behaviour unprofessional, it was also insulting to Carlos in light of what happened to him.
So now we do it in the store-room. It’s developed into a proper competition. We meet at lunch time every Thursday. Each person presents their laugh in turn: there are rules concerning duration and so on. Fergus has drawn up a scoreboard and pinned it to the side of one of the metal shelves. We each put in a dollar; whoever has the most points by December will get some wine, or possibly a gift voucher. Right now I’m third and Fergus is second. Rex used to be first, but then Sonia came along and outdid us all – pretty impressive, considering she’s a woman and has naturally high-pitched voice.
Even so, I think that if I keep practising I’ll end up on top. I work on my laugh in my own time and I assume the others do too, because the overall standard is much higher than it was in the early days.
But no matter how proficient any of us becomes at doing the laugh, none of us will ever be able to do it exactly like Carlos, which makes sense really because, when you get right down to it, only Carlos can laugh exactly like Carlos. It’s a pity that he’s no longer around to do the laugh. Because of what happened, we won’t be hearing it again.