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The other day I was visiting a school as part of Maine Storytellers' “Stories in the Schools” program and in between sessions, a teacher would usher me into the teachers' room. As I was sitting in this teachers room having a cup of coffee you could seal your driveway with I was listening to the teachers gossip about some local character who had gone away to school and had recently come home. The story reminded me of one folks used to tell back home.
In my town there was a large wood products company where hundreds of people worked. Whenever a new worker arrived on the scene the older workers liked to tell the story of how the company president got his job.
He was a young guy who went off to the university and got himself a good education. When he finally graduated, the economy was pretty slow, so he came home and took a lowly job at the wood products company working in the warehouse. Now, not only was this fella pretty smart, but it's said he was also hard working and conscientious. Within six months, management took him out of the warehouse and gave him a job as a salesman. Six months later he was made sales manager and before anyone realized it, this young fella was appointed general manager of the whole operation.
Well, it couldn't have been more than a few days after his latest promotion when the company president called this young dynamo into his fancy, wood-paneled office. After exchanging a few pleasantries, the older man got right to the point of the meeting.
"As you can probably tell, I'm not getting any younger, and I've made plans to retire soon. After thinking it over for quite a while, now, I've decided to make you president of the company, upon my retirement at the end of the month."
Overwhelmed, the young man jumped to his feet and said, "Gee, thanks."
"Gee, thanks?" said the president, in a mocking tone. "You've been with the company barely a year, I'm about to make you president and all you can think to say is 'Gee, thanks?' "
"I'm sorry," said the young man. "I mean - Gee, thanks Dad."
Then all the veteran employees in the break room would roar laughing at the clever punch line as the new employee sat there smiling. But the story doesn't end there. Nor does the small town gossip. There was more.
Before another year went by this same young executive started thinking about getting married. He had been dating an attractive young teacher at the high school and the young couple decided they wanted to have a May wedding. You see, they planned to honeymoon in Bermuda and anyone who knows will tell you that May is the best time of the year to be in Bermuda.
To give you an idea of how influential this young man was, the local school committee agreed to let his bride-to-be have time off for the marriage and honeymoon. They then authorized the hiring of a friend of the bride's, Donna, to serve as a substitute teacher during her absence. The couple had their beautiful May wedding and went off to Bermuda for their perfect honeymoon.
A few weeks later, while the new bride was off visiting an ailing relative, the groom was invited to a party. The hostess was introducing the new groom to the guests and eventually she came to Donna, the bride's friend. As the hostess began introducing them the young husband stopped her, and managed to raise a few eyebrows among the guests when he said, "Oh, Donna and I know each other very well. She did a fabulous job of substituting for my wife during our honeymoon."
John McDonald is a humorist and storyteller who performs regularly
throughout New England. John’s e-mail address is
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