Saturday, May 26, 2012

Two Great Stories

During the late 1980s, when I traveled a good deal for work, the travel and the solitary meals led to a lot of enforced eavesdropping. The spectacular aside, I noticed some patterns, and came to conclude that there are two stories that American men tell, a lot:
  1. I could've, and probably should've, kicked his ass, but it would have been unbecoming.
  2. My boss is an idiot.
An admirable example of the first story appeared in the newspapers in 1986, when Congressman Henry Gonzales punched one of his constituents at a San Antonio restaurant. The man he punched had been referring to Gonzales as a communist, speaking to be overheard. Gonzales, at the time 70, allowed that he gone easy on the man; after all, he had been a boxing champion of his college. The man punched, a flourishing youth of 50 or so, told the reporters that he could have thrashed Gonzales, but who could hit an old man?

As for the second, Scott Adams has made a fortune out of it with Dilbert. As a staple of conversation, it is almost up there with talk of the weather. Yet it leaves me with the uncomfortable feeling that it is mostly we have not found a vocation, who are putting in an honest day's work at any one of several jobs we might have held, who tell it. I don't think the members of the technical staff at the old Bell Labs were telling this story, or the engineers at Intel or Google.

Have I told these stories? Yes, you bet. Have I told them as often as I did before about 1987? I hope not.

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