The Scientist and the Chauffeur

[I first heard this story in a speech by Jerry Clower.]

A famous scientist was often called upon to give his signature lecture, and he had a chauffeur who drove him to his engagements. The chauffeur would always come in, sit at the back, and listen.

One day, the scientist was speaking at a place where no one had ever seen him before, so the chauffeur proposed a switch. “Why don’t we trade clothing,” the chauffeur said, “and I’ll deliver your lecture?  I’ve heard it enough times I feel pretty confident that I can give it as well as you can!”  The scientist agreed to the switch.

The chauffeur did a brilliant job while the scientist sat in the back of the room in the chauffeur’s uniform. After he concluded, however, there was time for questions and answers. The first question was highly technical, and, of course, the chauffeur had no idea what to say. Without missing a beat, however, he simply said, “That question is so elementary I think I’ll allow my chauffeur to answer it.”

Thinking on Your Feet

A skill that does not come easily for me is the ability to think on my feet. I usually think of the right words ten minutes later. One teenager certainly perfected this special knack.

When working in the produce department of a grocery store, he is asked by a customer, “Do you have a half head of lettuce?” 

He says, “Ma’am, we don’t sell half heads of lettuce.” 

“Would you be sure?  Please check in the back.” 

So he goes to the back as the manager comes out. The young man does not realize that the woman is following him.

He says to the manager, “Some idiot out there wants a half head of lettuce.” 

Then, when he sees the horror on the manager’s face, he turns around and sees her right behind him.

His quick response: “And this fine lady wants the other half. Would that be okay?”