There is a story about a monastery in Europe perched high on a cliff several hundred feet in the air. The only way to reach the monastery was to be suspended in a basket, which was pulled to the top by several monks who had to pull and tug with all their strength.
Obviously the ride up the steep cliff in that basket was terrifying. On his way up, one tourist noticed that the rope by which he was suspended was old and frayed. With a
trembling voice he asked the monk who was riding with him in the basket how often they changed the rope.
The monk thought for a moment, shrugged, and answered, “Whenever it breaks.”
A well-meaning customer of the famed Neiman-Marcus department store felt prompted to send Stanley Marcus this letter:
Dear Mr. Marcus:
I have been receiving beautiful and expensive brochures from you at regular intervals. It occurs to me that you might divert a little of the fortune you must be spending for this advertising matter to raise the salaries of your more faithful employees. For instance, there’s an unassuming, plainly-dressed little man on the second floor who always treats me with extreme courtesy when I visit your store and generally persuades me to buy something I don’t really want. Why don’t you pay him a little more? He looks as though he could use it.
Mrs. W. S.
By return mail came Marcus’ reply:
Your letter impressed us so deeply that we called a directors’ meeting immediately, and thanks solely to your own solicitude, voted my father a twenty-dollar-a-week raise.
Fred Watkins, the local barber, is the most negative person in our town. John Jordan, the president of the Rotary Club, was sitting in his chair one day, extremely excited.
“Guess what, Fred,” he said.
Fred muttered, “What?”
“My wife and I are going to Italy for a month.”
“I’ve heard all about Italy,” Fred replied. “The people are rude. The food is terrible. The countryside is ugly.”
John paid no attention and continued, “And I’m going to spend a week in Rome.”
“Big deal,” said Fred. “Bunch of broken down old buildings.”
Undeterred, John went on. “And I’m going to visit the Vatican. I’m even going to have an audience with the Pope.”
“Oh, yeah,” said Fred, “I know about those so-called papal audiences. You’ll be packed into the square with a million other dopes and the Pope will wave from the balcony. Big deal.”
A month went by and John was once again in the barber chair. “So how was your trip to Italy?” asked Fred. “As bad as I thought it would be, right?”
“Not at all,” John responded. “The people were warm and friendly. The food was wonderful. The countryside was gorgeous.”
“But Rome is a dump. Am I right?” the barber persisted.
“No,” John answered, “Rome was delightful. We could have stayed a year and not run out of fascinating places to see.”
“And how about your visit with the Pope?” asked the barber, expecting his prediction to be fulfilled.
John answered, “Well, I have to admit, you were half-right about that. The Pope was up there on the balcony and I was back in the crowd with thousands of people, but two uniformed Swiss Guards came over and told me the Pope wanted to talk to me. They escorted me right up onto the balcony with him.”
“What did he tell you?”
“He didn’t tell me anything. In fact, he had a question for me.”
“Well, what did he ask?” queried the incredulous barber.
John took a minute to allow the suspense to mount. “The Pope said to me, ‘Tell me, my son, where did you get that terrible haircut?’”