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2/13/2008 – Editorials

By Richard Peterson


I think we’ve run these witty put-downs before, but they’re pretty good, so let’s run through them again.

The exchange between Churchill and Lady Astor: She said, "If you were my husband I’d give you poison." He said, "If you were my wife, I’d drink it."

A member of Parliament to Disraeli: "Sir, you will either die on the gallows or of some unspeakable disease." "That depends, Sir," said Disraeli, "on whether I embrace your policies or your mistress."

"He had delusions of adequacy." Walter Kerr "He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire."

Winston Churchill

"A modest little person, with much to be modest about." Winston Churchill "I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure." Clarence Darrow "He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary." William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway).

"Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?" Ernest Hemingway (about William Faulkner).

"Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I’ll waste no time reading it." Moses Hadas "He can compress the most words into the smallest idea of any man I know." Abraham Lincoln "I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it." Mark Twain "He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends." Oscar Wilde "I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend . . . if you have one." George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill. "Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second .

. . if there is one." Winston Churchill, in response.

"I feel so miserable without you; it’s almost like having you here."

Stephen Bishop

"He is a self-made man and worships his creator." John Bright "I’ve just learned about his illness. Let’s hope it’s nothing trivial." Irvin S. Cobb "He is not only dull himself, he is the cause of dullness in others."

Samuel Johnson

"He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up." Paul Keating "There’s nothing wrong with you that reincarnation won’t cure." Jack E. Leonard "He has the attention span of a lightning bolt." Robert Redford "They never open their mouths without subtracting from the sum of human knowledge." Thomas Brackett Reed "In order to avoid being called a flirt, she always yielded easily."

Charles, Count Talleyrand

"He loves nature in spite of what it did to him." Forrest Tucker "Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without an address on it?" Mark Twain "His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork." Mae West "Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go." Oscar Wilde "He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts . . . for support rather than illumination." Andrew Lang (1844-1912).

"He has van Gogh’s ear for music." Billy Wilder "I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it." Groucho Marx


For all of you who frequent restaurants and understand the need for the service to be faster, this short story is a timeless lesson on how consultants can make a difference for an organization.

Last week, we took some friends out to a new restaurant and noticed that the waiter who took our order carried a spoon in his shirt pocket.

It seemed a little strange. When another waiter brought our water and utensils I noticed he also had a spoon in his shirt pocket. Then I looked around and saw that all the staff had spoons in their pockets.

When the waiter came back to serve our soup I asked, "Why the spoon?"

"Well, he explained, "the restaurant’s owners hired Andersen Consulting to revamp all our processes. After several months of analysis, they concluded that the spoon was the most frequently dropped utensil. It represents a drop frequency of approximately three spoons per table per hour. If our personnel are better prepared, we can reduce the number of trips back to the kitchen and save 15 man-hours per shift."

As luck would have it, I dropped my spoon and he was able to replace it with his spare. "I’ll get another spoon next time I go to the kitchen, instead of making an extra trip to get it right now."

I was impressed. I also noticed that there was a string hanging out of the waiter’s fly. Looking around, I noticed that all the waiters had the same string hanging from their flies. So before he walked off, I asked the waiter "Excuse me, but can you tell me why you have that string right there?"

"Oh, certainly!" Then he lowered his voice. "Not everyone is so observant. That consulting firm I mentioned also found out that we can save time in the restroom. By tying this string to the tip of you know what, we can pull it out without touching it and eliminate the need to wash our hands, shortening the time spent in the restroom by

76.39 percent."

I asked "But, after you get it out, how do you put it back?"

"Well," he whispered, "I don’t know about the others, but I use the spoon."


A recent study found the average American walks about 900 miles a year. Another study found Americans drink, on average, 22 gallons of alcohol a year. That means, on average, Americans get about 41 miles to the gallon.

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