• A riverboat pilot named Stephen was out of money and in New Orleans. Aware of Stephen’s plight, a steamboat captain offered him the job of piloting a steamboat up the Mississippi — but at a salary of $125 instead of Stephen’s usual salary of $250. Having no choice, Stephen accepted the offer, but he piloted the boat up the middle of the river so that it had to fight the current instead of seeking the easier water nearer the shore. Much slower boats sped past the steamboat that Stephen was piloting. When the captain remonstrated with Stephen, he replied, “I know as much as any man can afford to know for $125.” On hearing this, the captain raised Stephen’s salary to $250, and Stephen began to seek easy water and make that steamboat fly upstream.
• In my opinion, even people who believe in the one true God should be allowed to poke fun at Him. (I hope that God has a sense of humor.) Once a man went to a tailor and ordered a pair of pants. Week after week, the man came back, but the tailor said the pants weren’t ready. After a month had gone by, the tailor finally said the pants were ready. The man put on the pants and was very pleased because they fit perfectly. However, as he paid for the pants, he said, “God made the World in only six days, yet you took an entire month to make these pants.” “That’s true,” replied the tailor. “But look at the quality of those pants, and compare them to the shape the World’s in.”
• Thomas Edison used to test the quality of job applicants by giving them a curiously shaped glass with lots of curves and asking them to figure out its volume, adding that the job applicants could use anything they found in his laboratory. One mathematician spent three hours measuring the cup and figuring out its volume. Mr. Edison listened to the mathematician’s answer, then said, “Your answer is correct, but I can’t hire you because your methods are too slow.” He then walked over to the laboratory sink, filled the glass with water, then poured the water into a measuring cup, which told him the volume of the glass.
• In the early days of radio, songs lasted only two or three minutes, and there were no long-playing records — most records were 78 rpm quickies. This meant that a radio announcer who had to visit the restroom had a problem. Early radio announcer James Kendrick of San Francisco was fortunate to have a huge disk, 16 inches in diameter, that played at 33 1/3 rpm for 15 minutes. To the amusement of his fellow broadcasters, he put a label in large letters on the disk: “CRAPPING RECORD.”
• Comedienne Tracey Ullman uses many wigs to transform herself into the characters she portrays in her TV shows. Once, after her Fox show The Tracey Ullman Showwent off the air, she pulled out her box of wigs and started talking to them, addressing them as characters she had played on her show. Her daughter Mabel overheard and advised, “Go back to work — this is pathetic!” Shortly afterward, Ms. Ullman began her HBO series, Tracey Takes On.
• Tracey Ullman is a comedienne who is known for her ability to create characters with her incredible acting talent and the aid of costumes, wigs, rubber masks, etc. While filming The Tracey Ullman Showfor the Fox network, she changed characters so often that she once passed out in her dressing room from accidentally excessively inhaling the chemicals used to remove her makeup.
• Phil Baker was both a comedian and an accordion player. Even though he was not a very good accordion player, a manufacturer of accordions once asked him to endorse its products. Mr. Baker asked, “How come you selected me? There are a lot of better accordion players.” The answer came back, “I know, but you’re the only one who’s working steadily.”
• Sylvester “Pat” Weaver was such a busy radio broadcaster that he often came in to work on his day off, but he was frequently embarrassed when his boss would see him going to work at 10 a.m. because he was worried that the boss would think that he was arriving at work late. Finally, he solved his problem by putting a sign in his car’s rear window: “GOING TO WORK ON DAY OFF.”
• Like everyone else, early in his life world-renowned women’s gymnastics coach Bela Karolyi had to decide which career to pursue. Once, his mother gave him an appliance to repair. He did his best, but the appliance blew up in his face. Therefore, he decided not to be an engineer, but instead to pursue his interest in gymnastics.
• James McNeill Whistler, the famous painter, held several jobs early in his career, at which he was always late — in the opinion of his co-workers. Mr. Whistler’s opinion was different: “I was not too late; the office opened too early.”
• Canadian figure skater Kurt Browning performed a version of Gene Kelly’s classic dance “Singing in the Rain” in his 1994 TV special, You Must Remember This. The four-minute program took 10 hours to film.
• Pope John XXIII was once asked how many people worked at the Vatican. He replied, “No more than half of them.”
• Early in his career, Oscar Levant played piano at a little girls’ ballet school. He later told his friends, “My work was child’s play.”
• Robert Benchley’s business motto, which he hung in a prominent position above his desk, was “The Work Can Wait.”
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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