THE chief clerk was kneeling in front of the safe, stowing
his ledgers, as I left the office for lunch. When I returned he was still in the same
position, his hands clasped in apparent supplication. "Whatever are you doing down
there?" I asked, completely mystified. "Praying for your return," he
replied acidly. The safe's self-locking door had slammed shut and caught both ends of his
tie. The keys were on the desk behind him - just out of reach.
AT THE office we were discussing Christmas gift giving. One
of my co-workers told us that she was planning to buy her husband a 29-inch colour
television. Several of us commented on her generous choice. "Yes," she
continued, "he doesn't have to make the first payment till February."
MY BOSS dreads staff meetings. After a few of them, I noticed
that his secretary would interrupt from time to time to give him a message. Usually he'd
read the note and nod, crumple it and put it in an ashtray. Occasionally he would
himself from the meeting. The pressures on him seemed intense. I was gathering up my
things after one meeting and saw he had left a pile of notes behind. Curious, I opened
one. It was blank. They all were!
OUR business practice is to send letters in duplicate, requesting the recipient to
acknowledge receipt by signing and returning one copy. Once we sent our office-rental
check attached to the usual duplicated letter but, due to a typographical error, asked our
landlord to acknowledge it by "singing and returning" a copy of the letter. The
duplicate was duly returned with the following acknowledgment: "TRA-LA-LA-LA-LA!"
MY SISTER'S work consists of conducting opinion polls and she
obtains information by telephone. If the person who answers the phone refuses to answer
the questions, she asks if the spouse would be agreeable to do so. One woman who answered
said, "I'm sorry. I don't have time. I'm in the middle of stuffing a chicken."
My sister asked, "Well, can your husband do it?" "Oh, no," replied the
woman. "He doesn't know anything about chickens."
FOR my fourth, and what I hoped would be final, interview for a job, I was invited to
lunch with the director of marketing. Because I wanted to present myself in the best
possible light, I sought the advice of my daughter, who had taken a business interviewing
class in college. After she had gone on at some length about stressing good points,
management potential, five-year goals, etc., I asked if she could sum it all up. She
thought for a moment and then replied, "Don't order spaghetti."
A VERY inventive public-relations man told me that some of his best ideas come to him
in his sleep, rousing him enough to scribble them down. Sometimes, he said, he maps out a
whole PR campaign before dawn. Later, he goes over the idea at breakfast, and if it still
appeals to him he uses it. Not all of his night time ideas work out, however. "Some
of them," he told me, "are real vampires." "Vampires?" I asked.
"Yes. They work in the middle of the night, but they can't stand the light of
A FRIEND of mine went into work very excited about her birthday present: earrings that
were big, round, working clocks! She proudly showed them to everyone. At lunchtime, she
was alone in the office when a man entered and asked what time it was. A big grin spread
across her face. She stepped close to the man, looked him in the eye and shook her head so
he would notice her new time pieces. The man's eyes grew large, he stammered a thank-you
and quickly left. My friend then saw her new earrings Iaying in the middle of her desk. She
had taken them off while talking on the phone.
A FRIEND of mine had breezed through two preliminary
interviews for an executive position on Wall Street when she learned that the third
meeting would be with the president. She would be reporting to him if she got the job.
Having prepared herself thoroughly, she spoke confidently of her accomplishments abilities
and desire for more responsibility. All went well until the president noted that my
friend's requested salary was at the extreme upper end of the range. He asked her to
comment on this. Undaunted, she replied, "Just think of me as a quality, blue chip
stock - and not some speculative issue." She got the Job.
I ONCE worked in a company where I was responsible for hiring temporary staff. The
agencies I dealt with were very competitive, and they'd often send me pens or key chains
imprinted with their names, hoping that I would call them first. One week a few of the
agencies sent me flowers. On Monday I got carnations, on Tuesday a fern, on Wednesday a
spring bouquet. Then on Friday I was surprised by a bunch of daisies with this card
enclosed: "Whatever you're doing, keep it up!" It was from the flower shop.
I DIDN'T realize how much I had pampered my former boss over the years until one day he
put a stack of work on my desk and at the same time asked for a cup of coffee. I was
extremely busy, I pointed out, and anyway he passed the coffeepot on his way to his
office. Seeing my point, he started towards the coffee and his office. But my typing was
interrupted when he asked, "How do I take my coffee?"
I WAS amused when an office-supply company sent me this note along with my order:
"If we've goofed lately, please let us know. You'll get it out of your system, and
we'll get it out of ours."
OUR company sent out a form letter asking delinquent customers to please keep their
accounts "currant." The form was returned by one customer with the spelling
error underlined and this note appended: "A remittance will be coming as soon as I
get out of my financial jam. Grapefully yours."
A FURNITURE company sent this letter about an outstanding
"Dear Mr. Jones,
What would your neighbors think if we had to send a truck out
to your house to repossess your furniture because you have not met your payments?"
The company received this reply:
I have discussed the matter you wrote about with my neighbors
to see what they would think. They all think it would be a mean, low down, dirty
I WAS working at an employment centre and a man asked me how to fill in the
employment-history section on the application form. I explained that he should start with
his present job and work backward. Noting the puzzled look on his face, I made up some
examples. "You might write that from February 1985 to present you have been
unemployed. And from January 1982 to February 1985 you were a baker's assistant. From
January 1980 to January 1982, you were a messenger. And so on." Minutes later he was
at my desk again. "Where did you say I was in 1 980?"
As A member of the internal-audit division of a large organization, I had to study
various departments to make sure that employees were following proper procedures.
Depending on the size of the department, this could be very time consuming. I hadn't
realized how much so until I placed a call to the section I was currently reviewing and
heard the receptionist tell her supervisor, "It's that guy from eternal audit."
MY FATHER always enjoyed working late, claiming he could get more work done without the
usual office bustle to distract him. However, while working in Japan, he found this
practice impossible. He was in charge of a large office, and because of the Japanese
respect for hierarchy, none of his staff would leave before he did. Finally an idea hit
him. One afternoon at five, he donned his coat, said his good-byes in a loud voice and
took a leisurely stroll around the block. When he returned to the office, it was empty.
In the men's room at work, the
Boss had placed a sign directly above the sink. It had a single word on it --
The next day, when he went to the men's room, he looked at the sign and right below, immediately above the soap dispenser, someone had carefully lettered another
sign which read -- "Thoap!"
The manager of a large office noticed a new man one day and
told him to come into his office.
"What's your name?" he asked the new guy.
"John," the new guy replied.
The manager scowled, "Look... I don't know what kind of a
namby-pamby place you worked before, but I don't call anyone
by their first name. It breeds familiarity and that leads to
a breakdown in authority. I refer to my employees by their
last name only ... Smith, Jones, Baker ... That's all. I am
to be referred to only as Mr. Robertson. Now that we got that
straight, what is your last name?"
The new guy sighed, "Darling. My name is John Darling.
I called a company and asked to speak to Bob. The person who answered said, "Bob
is on vacation. Would you like to hold?"