Tuesday, April 26, 2016

You Said What?

At one or more times in your life you will hear something that stops your tracks and you question “They said what?!”. At other times you’re the source and others stare at you. Sometimes you’re unaware and innocent. For me, it’s usually because my brain runs faster than whatever mechanism is responsible for closing my mouth. So I offer a collection of three of my favorite stories. I hope they they give you a chuckle or three.

Back in the 1980’s we used IBM impact printers to create multiple-part forms, for example, pack lists and shipping documents. In order to save money, the Mead Products division bought a number of used printers and had all sorts of problems with getting the correct lineup. But the worst problem was wasting forms when printers would just skip a form in between without apparent cause. We all got in a big meeting to understand the problem and get a team working on finding the root cause and see if anything could be done. I summed up the problem concisely with the statement “So what we have here is a case of premature page ejection”. He said what?! But they had to agree, as I tried to stifle my own laughter.

The second is nothing of my doing and I hope to accurately tell the story as told to me. First, let me set the stage with a definition. In IT, a pilot is as short project to validate a design before doing a full implementation. Got that, ‘cause it’s important. The Mead Corporation was blessed with two awesome 7-seat corporate jets and an equally awesome group of pilots. The Aviation department met with IT to discuss a project that would automate one of their functions and IT thought that would be a great idea. The leader of that IT group, Grace, who has been a friend forever and is a beautiful, tall redhead, wanted the project to go well and declared “First we have to do a pilot”. The Aviation leader, Fred, eye’s widened with a “She said what?!” look. “Doing a pilot” meant something completely different to Fred and wasn’t proper business discussion. It was all sorted out and all was good. I never heard exactly what shade of red Grace’s face turned. But I’m sure it complemented her hair.

The last story developed over a 4-day, 4th of July holiday. It rained for 3 straight days and then into a fourth, and my wife was getting bummed out. Finally on the fourth day the rain started letting up a little, so I suggested we just get in car and go somewhere. We decided to go to a farmers market about 20 minutes away, look around and maybe buy a few vegetables. Then I suggested we head over to a bar named Chammp’s and have a beer, which we did. My wife started feeling better. We drove home and took a nap. Later on she said she was very appreciative for getting out of the house and in less than a split second my reply was “I just did what you did with your kids when they young and restless. I drove you around, gave you a bottle and put you to bed.” He said what?! But before she could get mad she realized that accurately described our afternoon adventure.

And could only laugh.

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