DRACUT — The weekly jokes are first shared within the walls of Coco, Early & Associates on Aiken Avenue. Russell Ozana, a Realtor, often comes up with them. Sometimes it's up to broker Lisa Benoit. Whoever is in on Mondays is usually tasked with piecing it together.
If you have ever driven on Pleasant Street, you may have spotted it before you pass the real estate agency on your right: a large changeable letter board with a question-answer joke in bold black letters. One side has the question with the office number below it, the other side the answer. What you see depends on which way you're headed.
"This is a longer joke this week," Benoit said brightly one recent day. She flipped over the sign with her pink manicured hands, to review the question once more. She wanted to check for any spelling errors.
What do you call it when it rains chickens & ducks?
The answer: Fowl weather.
Benoit, 49, of Dracut, picked up the weathered board and stepped out of the office, down the steps and onto the grass. The sun was bright out and the traffic light at the corner of Pleasant and Bridge streets had just turned red. A woman in a car smiled as she watched Benoit place the sign onto its base.
Benoit came up with the idea for the public joke about two years ago. From her seat in the real estate office's training room, she observed expressionless motorists waiting at the light. Benoit wanted to make them smile.
"'Let's just put a joke out there and see what happens,'" Benoit recalled thinking. "It actually has taken off. It's all over Dracut right now."
Ozana admitted he didn't like the idea at first.
"'How am I going to come up with jokes?'" the Realtor remembered asking himself.
Ozana, 66, eventually warmed up to it. He's now the number one jokester.
"I usually do Monday afternoons in the office," he said. "I look up jokes and riddles for kids. I don't want anything too deep, and I want to be able to appeal to more people."
Google is the office's friend. Though Ozana said he's found many of the same riddles across different websites, he hasn't had to repeat a joke.
"My favorite one was, 'Mike's dad has three children: Snap, Crackle and _____,'" Ozana said.
It's not Pop. It's Mike.
Both Benoit and Ozana said some people call the office for the answer to the weekly riddle because they drive away too quickly to read the answer. In case you ever want to know, call 978-957-8282.
How do you weigh a millennial? That was the previous week's question. The answer? In Instagrams.
As expected, many motorists noticed the new joke on Monday afternoon: a bearded man in a rusted magenta and grey pickup truck. Two women in a white SUV, who peered at the sign and leaned forward to read the answer. A few students in a yellow Lowell Catholic High School bus.
"By making someone smile, maybe they'll remember us someday," Benoit said. "It was a marketing tool, no doubt. But, it morphed into something more because we've got such a great following for it."