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On the Job


I WORK as a maid in homes where everyone is usually at work or attending school, so I check with my clients the night before to find out my assignments. One evening I telephoned a woman who rattled off a particularly long, detailed list of chores. "Why don't I just clean everything that doesn't move?" I asked jokingly. "Oh, no," the woman replied. "That will never do. My husband will be home."

WHILE drilling for water at a site in east Texas, I was checking the washings from 90 meters down in the hole. A local resident walked up and wanted to know what I was looking at. I showed him the pieces of rock and shell. "Many years ago this area was all under water," I told him. He looked at the shells, and then he looked at me. "Mister," he said, "I've lived in this town all my life and I don't remember any beach around here."

WORKING for a multinational company, I am often asked to arrange for technical assistance to foreign industries, even behind the Iron Curtain. One day a delegation of Russians arrived, requesting an electronic component to repair equipment we had sold them. Unfortunately, I found that the item happened to fit into a rather broad classification of parts we were not allowed to export. I had no choice but to face the Russians with the news that they could not have the part. The government simply would not permit it. To my surprise, their somber composure gave way to smiles and nodding heads. "Oh, yes," said the spokesman. "The government will not permit. We understand perfectly."

THE power of imagination that Disney World produces became apparent to me while I was working there. As we were setting up for a parade one day, a storm suddenly hit. Thunder boomed, lightning flashed, and people dashed for cover. Through the downpour, however, one woman stood alone in the middle of the street, gazing at the sky. I walked over to ask if I could be of some assistance.  Thoroughly drenched by now, she looked at me and asked in a puzzled tone, "Is this for real?"

   A LARGE, well established, Canadian lumber camp advertised that they were looking for a good lumberjack.
   The very next day, a skinny little man showed up at the camp with his axe, and knocked on the head lumberjacks' door. The head lumberjack took one look at the little man and told him to leave.
   "Just give me a chance to show you what I can do," said the skinny man.
   "Okay, see that giant redwood over there?" said the lumberjack. "Take your axe and go cut it down."
   The skinny man headed for the tree, and in five minutes he was back knocking on the lumberjack's door. "I cut the tree down," said the man.
   The lumberjack couldn't believe his eyes and said, "Where did you get the skill to chop down trees like that?"
   "In the Sahara Forest," replied the puny man.
   "You mean the Sahara Desert," said the lumberjack.
   The little man laughed and answered back, "Oh sure, that's what they call it now!

   Angus Broon of Glasgow comes to the little lady of the hoose exclaiming "Maggie, cud ya be sewin on a wee button thats come off of me fly I canny button me pants. "
   "Oh Angus...I've got me hands in the dishpan, go up the stairs and see if Mrs. MacDonald could be helpin ya with it"
   About 5 minutes later there's a terrible crash, a bang, a bit of yelling and the sound of a body falling doon the stairs. Walking back in the door with a blackend eye and a bloody nose comes Angus. The little lady looks at him and says "My god, what in hells name happened to you? Did you ask her like I told you?"
   "Aye" says Angus.. "I asked her to sew on the wee button an she did, everything was goin fine but when she bent doon to bite off the wee thread...Mr. MacDonald walked in..

A CUSTOMER phoned our transport company and asked how much it would cost to take a tractor-trailer by sea from Port-aux-Basques, Nfld., to North Sydney, N.S., a six-hour cruise. "A dollar fifty per lineal foot," she was told. "Oh," the customer replied. "How far is it?"

AN ACQUAINTANCE of mine met a man who once procured scrap iron and junk for avant-garde sculptors. The man said a sculptor once ordered half a Volkswagen for an epic work she was creating. The procurer tracked down a decrepit Volkswagen, cut it in half with a torch, loaded the remains on his flatbed truck and drove to the artist's lair. The sculptor took one look at the bisected car, and smote her brow. "That's not right," she cried, "I wanted it cut in the other direction."

MY FATHER, foreman for a construction firm building a local TV tower, was able to get work for my older brother. Dad was known to be a hardworking boss and expected as much from his men. You can imagine his chagrin when, returning after a short absence from the job site, he found my brother, with others, sitting down for what they thought was a well-deserved break. After a tongue-lashing, my brother was finally able to assert, "Aw, Dad, Rome wasn't built in a day." My father's firm reply: "I wasn't on that job."

ONE hot summer day, my husband began a new job operating a pay-loader for a construction company. He was to operate the machine by following the hand signals given by a labourer on the ground. After repeatedly lowering and raising the loader's bucket, my husband finally got the signal that everything was correct. His signaller then proceeded to sit down and enjoy the shade provided by the carefully positioned bucket.

AS A "secret shopper" for a specialty shop, my sister made purchases through out the store and then reported back to supervisors on the clerks' performance. Soon after she had begun, my mother asked her if she was enjoying her new job. "I love it!" my sister replied. "I'm getting paid for doing two of my favourite things in life — shopping and criticizing people."

CO-WORKERS on my first job often commented on the scrumptious lunches my mother packed for me: big BLT's with toothpicks to hold them together, thick egg-salad sandwiches, and roast beef on huge onion rolls. One day Mom was busy, so my sister made my lunch. At noon I unwrapped my sandwich, only to find two pieces of white bread and one thin slice of bologna. A mechanic sitting opposite me stared in disbelief. "Gee," he finally said, "when did you get married?"

MY NEW employer was showing me around her lovely home, which I had been hired to clean. I was impressed by the elaborate display of home-entertainment equipment, including a large-screen TV. When I wondered aloud why the previous worker had left, my employer said with a hint of annoyance "We couldn't afford him. He was a commercial cleaner." "Oh," I said. "One of those expensive professionals." "No," she replied. "He only cleaned during the commercials."

As DISPATCHER for a garbage-collection company, I've found that the most difficult thing to get the men to throw on the truck is an old trash can. One customer called to say he had put a note on his decrepit barrel reading: PLEASE TAKE THIS. "So what's the problem?" I asked. "They took the note and left the can!"

A CLOTHING STORE proprietor came into my auto-body shop to have a bent fender fixed. I repaired it and delivered the car to his place of business. At his suggestion, I traded the cost of my labor for four shirts. Two months later he came charging into my shop. "Come look at my car!" he exclaimed. "I've bent it at least fifteen shirts' and eight pairs of pants' worth."

Two months after opening my secondhand clothing boutique, I still hadn't had business cards printed. Customers often asked for my card, but I felt I couldn't afford them. While cleaning out drawers at home, I came across a box of my husband's obsolete business cards. Inking out the name and address I typed in: A GOOD QUALITY SECONDHAND CARD FROM A GOOD QUALITY SECONDHAND STORE, adding the name and address of my boutique. My customers seemed impressed.

MY BROTHER once had a job in which he dressed as a polar bear to promote soft drinks at shopping malls. One day a man strolled past him and asked, "Don't you feel stupid dressed up in that thing?" "I should feel stupid?" answered my brother. "You're the one talking to a bear.

IT WAS almost closing time at the auto-body repair shop, where I work as a secretary, when an elderly woman came in with a small electric food-mixer. "May I help you?" I offered, expecting her to ask if one of our men could fix her appliance. "I was wondering if I could use your electricity for a few moments," she replied. "We're camped across the street in the city park, but we don't have electrical hookups. Today is my husband's birthday, and I want to bake him a cake." Producing a bowl and cake mix she said, "If you don't mind, I'd like to mix it here."

ON A bright sunny day off the coast of British Columbia, a fishing boat was returning to harbor after its first trip of the season.  The captain went below leaving his new deckhand at the wheel.  Tired after a long day, the young fellow quickly fell asleep.   Without warning, the skipper was knocked to his knees when the vessel ran into a rock bluff on a small island.  The force of the blow was so great that the boat bounced straight back.  As the skipper clambered into the wheelhouse, the boat struck the bluff again.  Picking himself up for the second time, he saw the panic-stricken face of his deckhand and calmly said, "It's no use, son. It won't work.  You'll just have to go around."

A truck driver hauling a tractor-trailer load of computers stops for a beer. As he approaches the bar he sees a big sign on the door saying


He goes in and sits down.  The bartender comes over to him, sniffs, says he smells kind of nerdy, asks him what he does for a living.  The truck driver says he drives a truck, and the smell is just from the computers he is hauling.  The bartender says OK, truck drivers are not nerds, and serves him a beer.   As he is sipping his beer, a skinny guy walks in with tape around his glasses, a pocket protector with twelve kinds of pens and pencils, and belt at least a foot too long. The bartender, without saying a word, pulls out a shotgun and blows the guy away.   The truck driver asks him why he did that.  The bartender said not to worry, the nerds are over-populating the Silicon Valley, and are in season now.  You don't even need a license, he said.  So the truck driver finishes his beer, gets back in his truck, and heads back onto the freeway.  Suddenly he veers to avoid an accident, and the load shifts.  The back door breaks open and computers spill out all over the freeway.  He jumps out and sees a crowd already forming, grabbing up the computers.   They are all engineers, accountants and programmers wearing the nerdiest clothes he has ever seen.  He can't let them steal his whole load.  So remembering what happened in the bar, he pulls out his gun and starts blasting away, felling several of them instantly.  A highway patrol officer comes zooming up and jumps out of the car screaming at him to stop.  The truck driver said, "What's wrong?  I thought nerds were in season."  "Well, sure." said the patrolman, "But you can't bait 'em."

One day a man was waking along the beach when he tripped over a lamp. He turned around and kicked the lamp out of anger. A few seconds later, a genie popped out of the lamp, but the genie was angry that the man had kicked his lamp.  Reluctantly, the genie said, "Even though you kicked me, I still have to give you three wishes. However because of what you did, I will also give twice what you wish for to the person you hate the most: your boss."  So the man agreed and made his first wish. "I want lots of money", he said. Instantly 22 million dollars appear in the man's bank account and 44 million appeared in his boss' account.  For his second wish, the man wished for a couple of sports cars.  Instantly a Lambergini, Ferrari and a Porsche appeared, but at the same time outside his boss' house appeared two of each car.  Finally the genie said, "This is your last wish, you should choose carefully", and so the man replied, "I've always wanted to donate a kidney."

IN COLD weather, customs inspectors working highway border crossings sometimes have problems with sore throats and hoarseness caused by shouting through partially opened car windows-often over the noise of revving motors, defroster fans and blaring radios. I found a solution, however. Whenever I encounter such a situation I simply mouth the first question soundlessly. The motorist invariably shuts off the radio and ignition, rolls down the window and asks me to repeat.

ONE of my relatives is the service manager for a car dealership. One day a vehicle was brought in because the trunk was leaking. Two workers were assigned to locate the leak and repair it. One climbed into the trunk with a flashlight and the other poured water over the closed trunk. A few minutes later, the man inside reported that he had spotted the leak and was ready to come out. "Where did you put the keys?" asked the worker who had been pouring the water. Replied the man inside the trunk, "They're in my pocket."

ON THE way to the office one morning, I stopped at a service station to leave off a flat tire. It was only a few days before I gave birth to my 8 1/2-pound daughter, and I was incredibly rotund. After the service attendant took the tire out of my car, I told him I would return that evening and asked if he needed to take down my name. He looked me straight in my huge midsection, smiled, and said, "Oh, no, I'll remember your face."

AS PROMOTIONS director for a vending company, I went to all kinds of locations to test projects. Occasionally I was met with cat-calls and macho ribbing from some of the men who resented a woman "invading their turf." Once, while at an auto dealership querying customers about service, selection and so on, I began to feel uneasy. Every time the door connecting the service and parts departments opened, I was conscious of a mechanic staring in my direction. This guy kept leering at me until finally I realized I would have to meet the creep head-on. I mustered my iciest glare. The door opened. I stepped forward-and saw that I was about to lecture a life-size cardboard cut-out of Mr. Goodwrench.

MY FRIEND and I were discussing the ups and downs of small businesses in today's economy. He told me he had discovered a foolproof success formula for the small-business man. "The key to the whole thing," he said, "is to work only half-days." My mouth dropped. Could it be so simple? "The real beauty of the system," he continued, "is that it doesn't even matter which twelve hours you work."

AS MY boss prepared to go on vacation, I kiddingly asked him to leave a telephone number where we could reach him at least once a day. After he left, I found a note from him with a number we could call in case of problems. The number was local and unfamiliar to me so I dialed it at once. It turned out to be Dial-a-Prayer.

IT WAS my friend's first night working at the nursing home run by an order of Catholic nuns. She was assigned Mr. Jones, a patient known for being difficult. No amount of persuasion could convince him that it was time to go to bed. In desperation, my friend sought the night sister's help.  "Now, now, Mr. Jones," the sister began as she bustled into the room. "It's time for us to go to bed."  Without hesitating, Mr. Jones answered, "Sure as we do, we'll get caught."

AN EFFICIENCY expert, making the rounds in an office, asked a clerk, "What are you working on?"  "Nothing at the moment," was the reply.  The expert moved on to an adjacent desk. "And what are you doing?" he asked.  "Nothing."  "Aha!" exclaimed the expert, making a note on his pad. "Duplication."

"OSBORNE," said the duchess to a household employee, "how long have you been with us?  According to my records, you were employed to look after the dog."  "Yes, ma'am."  "Mrs. Bellamy tells me the dog died twenty-seven years ago."  "Yes, ma'am. What would you like me to do now?"

ONE of our temporary drivers, a college student, was on his way to pick up a load of dairy products, when, at a particularly sharp curve he rolled the truck into the woods, dented the roof and wounded his pride. The truck was rescued, the roof pounded out and the cab given a bright new paint job. The paint was barely dry when the boss decided to make the "milk run" himself and promptly flipped the truck into the woods on the same curve.  But it landed neatly upright and without a scratch. As we gathered at the scene, he paused and then announced, "If you're going to roll one of my trucks, that 's how I want it done "

THE branch office of Alaska Employment Security suddenly seemed too small when the 'bronzed, muscled man, clearly a logger, walked through the doorway. He was a cutter, among the elite of his profession, and it was odd for him to be unemployed during the logging season. But his application for unemployment benefits solved the mystery in a fashion that only a true king of the woods would have dared. In the space reserved for "Reason for Leaving Last Employment," he had written: "Camp cook started cutting pie in smaller pieces."

MY COMPANY announced that our picnic would be held on the lawn outside our building. When I told my husband about the event, I mentioned that it would include games such as horse-shoes and tug-of- war. As Fred and I are competition dancers, he reminded me that we had an event coming up in a week and this was no time to risk a pulled muscle playing games. "Stay away from the tug-of-war," he advised. "Stick to something safe like horse-shoes."  At the picnic I played it safe, preferring to observe. But I observed a little too closely. As I wandered about taking pictures, a stray horseshoe suddenly bounced off my right foot and caught my left shin. The chipped shinbone kept me from dancing for the next three weeks.

WE OWNED a small, unsupervised, coin-operated laundry that was vandalized frequently. In an attempt to deter those responsible, I built and installed a fake video camera. Made from scrap metal with a lens from a discarded pair of binoculars, the camera worked wonders: Vandalism in the laundry declined sharply. After several months I took pride in how effectively the camera worked. As it turned out, it worked too well: One day I noticed it was gone.

IN THE summer of 1982 I was hired by a construction company. I was in the office filling out an employee form and came to the question:
Single ______ , Married ______ , Divorced ______ ?
Being single, I checked the first blank. I glanced at the man next to me who was also filling out his form and saw that he hadn't marked any of the blanks. Instead, he'd written, "Yes, in that order."

IN MY job, I have a grueling schedule and a lot of pressure, so when I was offered the opportunity to attend a stress-reduction seminar, I did not hesitate to accept.  However, I realized the seminar was not the answer when the instructor arrived late, out of breath, and announced,  "In order to accommodate everyone's busy schedule, this five-day seminar will be speeded up and completed in two days."

A RAILROAD employee in India was reprimanded for taking an initiative not provided for in the regulations. Two days later he sent this telegram to the management in Bombay: "Tiger jumped onto engine. Devoured driver and mechanic. Then went into carriage and ate six passengers. Awaiting instructions."

MY HUSBAND, who runs his contracting business from our home, installed a cellular phone in his car so he could make calls while on the road. Enchanted with his new "toy," he called me for the fifth time one afternoon to ask, "Any messages?"  "No, dear, not since last time you called twenty minutes ago," I replied wearily, wondering when the novelty would wear off. I hung up and to my surprise, he walked in the door  He had called me from the driveway.

As CO-PROPRIETOR of an art and picture-framing shop, my wife hired an assistant to learn picture framing. The young woman had the habit of cutting many of her words off short, such as "ridick" for ridiculous, "imposs" for impossible, "fab" for fabulous. My wife and other staff members soon picked up the habit.  One Sunday dinner as my wife handed our son-in-law some apple pie a la mode, she was surprised to hear herself say, "Now if this doesn't satisfy you, come back for secs!"

HAVING borrowed his car many times, I knew my boss would understand the message I left when the transmission developed fatal problems. However, I neglected to calculate the effect on the corporate directors when he was told during a meeting that his secretary had called in with an urgent message: "The Rabbit died."

AS I was walking along a busy city street, a parked automobile caught my eye. Eight balloons rose above the car, and pink paper streamers were draped across the roof. When I got close enough to read the sign attached to the trunk, I saw written in large, hand-printed letters the message: JUST EMPLOYED.

HAVING obtained last-minute tickets to a dance, I had only my lunch hour to buy an outfit to wear.  With fifteen minutes left to shop, I came across a rack of assorted clothing not yet placed where they belonged in the store.   I hastily picked out a red dress with black polka dots and stripes, made my purchase and rushed back to work.  I wasn't sure if I should wear the short dress alone or with a pair of slacks so I asked my co-workers how they would wear it.   "I'd wear it to bed," said a friend.  "They're pajamas."

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Last updated October 02, 2015 by Becquet Enterprises