DETERMINED to cut the budget,
the former governor directed that all government jobs remain unfilled once vacated. There
were many complaints, one concerning the retirement of a drawbridge operator. When
Personnel refused to fill the position, the highway-division manager called the governor's
office. "Ask the governor," he told an aide, "whether he wants the bridge
left down so the cars can go over or up so the ships can go through."
As A six-foot-six-inch foreign-service officer and the new American consul in Porto
Alegre, Brazil, I was delighted with the friendliness of the Brazilians. By the end of the
obligatory receptions and cocktail parties, I was always surrounded by an animated group.
I was devastated, however, once I learned the key to my popularity. Apparently, at the
beginning of these large gatherings, spouses would say to one another, "When it's
time to go, I'll meet you next to the American consul."
THE politician for whom I work received a letter from a Grade 5 pupil thanking him for
his hospitality during her class visit to the provincial capital. The letter concluded
with, "P.S. You have been exposed to chicken pox."
NEW YORK CITY'S Mayor Ed Koch is rarely caught off guard. But
during a televised ceremony marking the opening of the New York Taxi Drivers Institute,
Koch was out-Koched. Chatting with 80-year-old Reuben Cohen, probably the city's oldest
working cabdriver, Koch said he regretted that he had never had the opportunity to ride
with Cohen. "Oh, but you did!" declared the cabby, reminding the mayor of the
time and circumstances. Without a pause, Hizzoner smiled broadly and said, "Now I
remember the trip!" "And I remember the tip!" cracked Cohen.
I RETURNED to my hotel in Scotland as a dinner for visiting
Members of Parliament from London was ending. I asked my friend, the town clerk, how the
evening had gone. He said the town's officials had been impressed with the scope of
knowledge exhibited by all the visitors, and with one person in particular, on whom
questions gradually focused. Not recognizing this oracle, my friend introduced himself and
said, "You seem extraordinarily well informed, sir. What constituency do you
represent?" "Oh," replied the visitor, "I am not one of the
am the bus driver who brought them."
ONE of the burdens of office of the small town mayor was his
brother in-law, a fellow who liked to throw his or, rather, his in-law's political weight
around. The mayor had instructed his policemen and other city officials to treat him just
like they would any other taxpayer. The brother-in-law got a ticket for overtime parking.
He immediately descended in fury on police headquarters, waving the ticket and sputtering,
"Hey, do you know who I am?" The desk sergeant surveyed him calmly, picked
up his telephone and dialed the mayor's office. "Tell the mayor," he said to the
secretary, "that his brother-in-law is down here and can't remember his name."
IT BEGAN to pour as two of the candidates for Maine's
gubernatorial nomination arrived at the Bath Iron Works to talk to workers as they came
through the gates. Both candidates stuck to their posts, getting soaking wet as they
passed out campaign leaflets and shook hands. They were hoping to impress the workers with
their dedication and perseverance, but one man walked past them, shaking his head. "I
wouldn't vote for anybody," he said, "who doesn't know enough to come in out of
A STORY about Russia's former premier Leonid Brezhnev tells
of the time he wanted to impress his mother. First he showed her through his sumptuous
apartment in Moscow. Then they traveled by chauffeur-driven limousine to his dacha in
Usovo, where he showed her the marble reception rooms and gave her a fine lunch of caviar
and crab. She still appeared unimpressed. So he flew her in his private helicopter to his
hunting lodge in Zavidovo, where a fire crackled in the huge fireplace of the banquet
room. Through the day the old woman seemed increasingly ill at ease. Not being able
to stand her lack of comment any longer, Brezhnev burst out, "Well, Mother, what do
you think?" "It's nice, Leonid," she said hesitatingly. "But
what if the communists come back?"
A TROUBLED American communist wrote to his superiors: "I
thought my job as a party recruiter would be easy. But I can't get through to my
neighbours. In the spring they're polishing their cars. They're vacationing all over the
world during summer. In the fall they're rooting for a World Series winner, and you can't
get them away from their VCRs during winter. Please tell me what I can do to make them
aware of how really oppressed they are."
MY COUSIN, whose parents are both officers in the Indian
Administrative Services, received a phone call late one night from someone who wanted a
favor. The caller asked for my cousin's father and was told that he had retired, meaning
that he had gone to sleep. "May I speak to your mother, then?" the caller
persisted. "She's also retired," said my cousin. "But can I give them
a message in the morning?" "No, don't bother," he replied. "If
they're no longer in service, they won't be able to help me."
I WAS campaigning in my third re-election bid for local
council. At one house the owner reluctantly listened to my campaign pitch while he looked
at the brochure I had thrust into his hand. After a few minutes, recognition dawned.
"I remember you now," he said. "I voted for you once. What happened?"
ELECTION results in the Regional Municipality of Sudbury,
Ont., had a bit of a twist. Among the council members were two new faces Charlie
White, a retired welder and mayor of the town of Walden, Ont., and Peter Wong, a civil
engineer and the mayor of the city of Sudbury. Since the two newcomers had often
been at opposite poles of the political spectrum, pundits predicted that regional
councilors would have to decide between White and Wong.
A FEW years ago in Peterborough, Ont., the old bridge over
Jackson's Creek had been damaged by flooding, and a one-lane Bailey bridge was erected
temporarily in its place. This "temporary" measure lasted for more than a year,
much to the chagrin of a service station owner whose business suffered drastically.
Following a municipal election in which a dentist was voted into the office of mayor, the
service station owner posted a notice which wryly proclaimed: "Oh, good. Our new
mayor specializes in bridge work."