I was teaching my 3-year-old granddaughter, Taylor, how to shoot baskets on her child-sized basketball hoop. After missing three shots in a row, she gave me the ball and said, “Grandma, this thing doesn’t work!”
I was teaching my 3-year-old granddaughter, Taylor, how to shoot baskets on her child-sized basketball hoop. After missing three shots in a row, she gave me the ball and said, “Grandma, this thing doesn’t work!”
When our son was young, his grandma joked about the Sandman and how he put kids to sleep by sprinkling “sleepy sand” in their eyes. Later that day I found Chico napping with his head in a cardboard box. When I asked him why, he said he wasn’t going to let anyone put sand in his eyes. I couldn’t convince him it was a fairy tale, because Grandma wouldn’t lie!
When my grandson Gavin was 4 years old, he loved to “play” the piano. Once, when he was done, we forgot to close the lid to the keys. As we walked by later he said, “I better close the piano or the boogeyman will play some scary songs.”
Some time ago, my daughter Nori was writing an essay she called, “It Takes Two to Tangle.” I tried explaining to her that the saying is actually about the tango, a very intricate dance. But I guess it is true that the two dancers may tangle if they don’t watch their steps.
My son Ryan was 2 years old when his daddy took him out to the little trout pond we built in our backyard. His dad spent a few minutes showing Ryan how to throw the line in the water to catch a fish. Then he said, “OK, son, throw it in.” Ryan threw the entire pole into the water.
Living on a farm all his life, my dad was used to climbing over fences. The quickest way was to place both hands on the top rail and bound over it. He learned to always look before leaping when, one day, a five-foot snake, sunning itself along the top rail, rose up to meet him as he used his climbing method!
A passenger in a taxi tapped the driver on the shoulder to ask him something. The driver screamed and lost control of the cab, nearly hit a bus and drove up over the curb, stopping inches from a large window. For a few moments everything was silent in the cab. Then the driver quietly said, “Please don’t do that! You scared the daylights out of me.” The passenger, who was also frightened, apologized and said he didn’t realize a tap on the shoulder could startle someone so much—to which the driver replied, “It’s really not your fault. Today is my first day driving a cab. I’ve been driving a hearse for 25 years.”
When I was teaching kindergarten and had a cold, I would often get laryngitis with it. One day a student asked me, “Do you have a frog in your nose?”
Marrying into an established farm family has provided quite the education. I anticipated the long hours. I anticipated the hard work. I even anticipated the laundry room piled with mountains of farm clothes that, based on the stench, I didn’t know if I could salvage. What caught me completely off guard was how to speak the language.
Take, for example, field names. If I had a degree in agriculture, it still wouldn’t help me figure out what field is what. It took years not to get sweaty palms every time I needed to deliver parts, lunch or coffee to a field! In Green House field, it turns out the green house was painted blue decades ago. And it’s not even close to the local flower nursery, much to my surprise—and borne out by my excess
mileage. Big Oak field hasn’t had an oak since who knows when, but it’s still remembered by it! “Must have been some oak tree,” I’ve mumbled under my breath.
One day I was walking the dog down our country road and stopped to shoot the breeze with one of the farmers I hadn’t met before. But when I said “Hello, Mr. Strippy,” I soon found out his nickname has nothing to do with his given name, but everything to do with planting crops in strips. Who knew?
Getting two young children and myself dressed and ready for church was challenging. As we rushed out the door, I knew it was going to be a close call getting there on time. The usher greeted me and quickly guided me toward the front row. Once seated, I immediately felt like I was being watched.
After what felt like eternity but was only a few minutes, a lady tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Do you realize you have curlers in your hair?” I had rushed out so fast I forgot about the curlers. Needless to say, I was so embarrassed I felt like crawling under the seat.
Now I check the back of my head before leaving home, and I sit in the back of the church.
As I was driving the other day, I saw a sign on a business that read “Whistlepig Alley Antiques.” It reminded me of an event that happened many years ago when I was living in the community of Granny Squirrel, near Andrews, North Carolina.
While watching TV one day,
I heard strange sounds. I tried to not overreact, but in my mind I thought it could be ghosts, or that maybe I was hearing things.
The noise was the craziest high-pitched whistling sound.
That went on for a week; then one day my landlord told me three groundhogs had crawled under the home. Now I know why Appalachian folks call them whistle pigs. Once you hear groundhogs “speaking,” you will never forget it.
Mom and Dad told Julia, our granddaughter, that she was going to have a baby sister or brother. “It’s a secret and we don’t tell secrets,” they said.
In Sunday school class, Julia’s teacher asked if anyone had a prayer request. Julia said, “I don’t tell secrets, but it’s going to be born next summer.”
While our great-granddaughters were getting ready for bed on Christmas Eve, Molly had a loose tooth that she wanted to pull.
Addison said, “Don’t you dare pull that tooth out tonight because the Tooth Fairy wants to be with her family.”
Molly waited until Christmas to pull her tooth.
My grandson picked up his son, Graham, after work and asked him what he had for lunch.
Graham said, “Cold.” Turns out, they had chili.
When my son, William, was young, we belonged to a small country church. On Communion day, deacons would pass around the “bread and juice.”
One Sunday, we attended
a church out of town that was more formal. What our church called bread and juice, this one referred to as elements, a word William didn’t understand.
As Communion began, the pastor said, “If the deacons will come forward, the elements will pass among us.”
William was suddenly excited and I didn’t know why. Then he leaned toward me, whispering something that caused me to burst out laughing. With all eyes on us, I took him by the hand and we made a hasty exit.
All the way to the car, he protested. “Mom, we’re going to miss the circus. The pastor said the elephants were going to pass among us!”
Pollen and allergies got the best of Liam, my 9-year-old son, so he stayed home from school with his grandma. When I got home from work, he said he had brushed our dog, Abby.
Knowing that I kept the dog’s brush up out of reach so she couldn’t chew on it, I asked, “How did you know where I keep Abby’s brush?”
He gave me a puzzled look and said matter-of-factly, “I didn’t. I used your brush.”
Several years ago we headed to a nearby town to visit some relatives. I had a new car and was having fun driving fast on the twisty country roads.
As we zoomed along, I noticed a three-legged chicken keeping pace with me. I slowed to get a better look at the speedster when it turned and went down a dirt road. I stopped, turned around and followed it.
After a short ride, we came upon a house with an older couple sitting on the porch and dozens of three-legged chickens in the yard.
I asked them, “Are these your chickens? They’re the fastest I’ve ever seen.” The old man said, “Yep.” So I asked him where they came from, and he replied, “When the kids were younger, they always fought over the chicken legs, so we decided to breed a three-legged chicken.”
I nodded and said, “Well, they are fast, but what do they taste like?” He admitted, “Not rightly sure; we never could catch one.”
While walking along a trail, my 7-year-old grandson, Ryan, commented, “There’s a fork in the road back there.”
“Really?” I asked, imagining someone’s missing silverware. But then a thought occurred to me. “Oh, was it a plastic one?”
Laughing hysterically, Ryan said, “No, Grandma, it’s where the road splits in two!”
My 7-year-old, Ethan, was excited about his turn for show-and-tell coming up. He asked if he could bring our dog. Ethan has a classmate who has severe allergies to nuts, and I wanted to be sure his friend wasn’t affected by nonfood allergies. “Is your classmate allergic to dogs?” I asked. Ethan replied, “I don’t know. Do dogs have nuts in them?”
Last year my youngest granddaughter, Samantha Grace, started kindergarten. After a few days, she came home and said, “Grandpa, I learned the slide rule today.” I was happy to hear that she was learning something new and really pleased it was about math. I asked her to explain it, and she said, “Only one kid on the slide at a time.”
So much for math!
After a long Thanksgiving Day of eating and playing, my 3-year-old granddaughter asked her mother to carry her. When I asked if her legs were broken, Aislin said, “Yes, they’re out of batteries.”
One fall day my daughter, Mia, and her boys were walking in the garden so she could show them the autumn harvest. Making sure they looked where they
were stepping, she said, “Watch out for the butternut squash.” My 4-year-old grandson, Sawyer, asked, “Better not squash what?”
Our 8-year-old granddaughter Raven, a city girl, asked to help me cook. “Get some potatoes out of that red basket,” I said. The potatoes were starting to sprout but were still usable. She hurried over to the basket but didn’t come back. I looked that way and saw that she was just standing there. “Raven, are you going to get those potatoes?” I asked.
Looking a bit bewildered, she replied, “Grandma, did you know your potatoes have thorns?”
A grandpa told his grandson that ballpoint pens hadn’t yet been invented when he was a boy. “Was that back when they used feathers?” the child asked.
My sister is a teacher in our rural district. During afternoon class, she had a flyswatter hanging out of her back pocket. One of her students said “she looked like she was fixin’ to show a hog”!
“I would like vitamins for my son,” a mother said. “Vitamin A, B or C?” the pharmacist asked. “It doesn’t matter,” the mother replied. “He can’t read yet.”
My wife noticed an interesting home advertised in the local paper and decided to visit the open house. Upon arrival she thought it strange that there was no “for sale” sign, but the front door was unlocked, so she walked in. A man was sleeping on the living room couch, and a woman stepped around the corner with a dishtowel in her hands. The man awoke and the three of them stared at each other with surprise. My wife, realizing her mistake, blurted out, “I guess this isn’t the open house,” and retreated to her car as the man and woman watched her through a window. Looking over her notes, she realized she was on 12th Place instead of 12th Street. Embarrassed and rattled, she drove home without viewing the open house.
A couple was expecting a baby. On the way to the hospital, the parents-to-be realized they were not going to make it in time, so the man called 911 for an ambulance to meet them. The operator asked if this was the woman’s first child, and the man said, “No, this is her husband.”
At his birthday party, my grandson said, “I love you,” and I replied, “I love you, too.” Then he said, “I wish you were 5 years old like me so you would be around longer.”
Asked by the teacher to give the definition of a yard sale, my niece Melissa, then 14, said, “It’s stuff you sell to neighbors and friends because they don’t have enough junk of their own.”
When we saw a mare nursing her colt, my daughter Jennifer asked me what the horse was doing. I explained that the mare was giving the colt some milk. After thinking for a moment, Jennifer said, “What does she do if he wants juice?”
I was picking up my letters at the post office when I heard a boy ask his mother if they had gotten any mail. She said, “No, just bills.” Then he asked, “Why do we always get his mail?”
Years ago, my dad started first grade in a one-room country school. When he returned home after that first day of class, his mother asked him if he liked it.
Dad answered, “I don’t see any reason to go back to that school, because the teacher had to ask me how to spell cat.”
Analyst: I can give you the numbers, but you can’t go public with it.
Marketing Manager: I’m not going to go public with it. I’ll just present it at a meeting.
Analyst: Who’s going to be at the meeting?
Marketing Manager: It’s a stakeholder meeting. So whoever wants to come. You know, it’s open to the public.
When the sergeant told our new commander that his driver could not participate in an upcoming field maneuver because she was pregnant, the enraged commander demanded to know just how pregnant she was.
The sergeant’s reply: “Completely, sir.”
SCENE: My teenage daughter and me in the car.
Lauren: Dad, do you know what the most commonly used letter in a girl’s name is?
Me: Hmm, is it a consonant or a vowel? (Silence.) Please tell me you know what consonants and vowels are.
Lauren: You’re no fun, Dad. Forget it.
Me: What is a vowel?
Lauren: OK, OK. A vowel is … ahh … eh … well, oh … uh …
Me: Close enough.
—by Robert Alvarez, author of Blonde Moments: Life with a Blonde Teenage Daughter
My husband was waterskiing when he fell into the river. As the boat circled to pick him up, he noticed a hunter sitting in a duck boat in the reeds. My husband put his hands in the air and joked, “Don’t shoot!”
The hunter responded, “Don’t quack.”
Katie O’Connell, Warrenville, Illinois
I’d never had surgery, and I was nervous. “This is a very simple, noninvasive procedure,” the anesthesiologist reassured me. I felt better, until … “Heck,” he continued, “you have a better chance of dying from the anesthesia than the surgery itself.”
T. f., via Internet
After sitting her down to finish her pickle, I asked, with a touch of awe, “How did you kill that fly all by yourself?”
Between bites, she said, “I hit it with my pickle.”
Cindy Yates, Mill Valley, California
The average age of people living in our military retirement community is 85. Recently, a neighbor turned 100, and a big birthday party was thrown. Even his son turned up.
“How old are you?” a tenant asked.
“I’m 81 years old,” he answered.
The tenant shook her head. “They sure grow up fast, don’t they?”
Thomas Clements, Catonsville, Maryland
From the police blotter, or, what a beat cop deals with every day:
• A deputy responded to a report of a vehicle stopping at mailboxes. It was the mail carrier.
• A woman said her son was attacked by a cat, and the cat would not allow her to take her son to the hospital.
• A resident said someone had entered his home at night and taken five pounds of bacon. Upon further investigation, police discovered his wife had gotten up for a late-night snack.
• A man reported that a squirrel was running in circles on Davis Drive, and he wasn’t sure if it was sick or had been hit by a car. An officer responded, and as he drove on the street, he ran over the squirrel.
Six months later, she invited me to her home. There she showed off her newly designed family room, complete with a single-plank, three-hole picture frame featuring her three grandchildren.
d. r., via mail
Have you ever been a victim of a JIB (job interview breakdown)? These men and women have:
• “I was so nervous at a job interview, when he asked me what I wanted to be in five years, I said, ‘Race car driver.’”
• “The guy asked me to tell him a little about myself, and I literally forgot who I was.”
• “I got asked about punctuality. I went on about how it was good to speak clearly and politely, and it was nice to use proper grammar in speech and writing.”
My friend, an intern, was given $50 to get the chairman of the bank some lunch. Told to get himself something, he bought a shirt.
When my three-year-old was told to pee in a cup at the doctor’s office, he unexpectedly got nervous. With a shaking voice, he asked, “Do I have to drink it?”
Janet Frenyea, Walkersville, Maryland
The photographer was positioning my new husband and me for our wedding photos when he asked, “Have you ever modeled?”
My cheeks instantly turned red. “No, I haven’t,” I said. “But I always thought …”
The photographer interrupted me: “I meant him.”
Joanne Noffke, Oak Forest, Illinois
My high school assignment was to ask a veteran about World War II. Since my father had served in the Philippines during the war, I chose him. After a few basic questions, I very gingerly asked, “Did you ever kill anyone?”
Dad got quiet. Then, in a soft voice, he said, “Probably. I was the cook.”
Marian Babula, Penn Run, Pennsylvania
My wife, a phlebotomist at the Denver VA hospital, entered a patient’s room to draw blood. Noticing an apple on his nightstand, she remarked, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away, right?”
“That’s true,” he agreed. “I haven’t seen a doctor in three days.”
Larry Jensen, Englewood, Colorado
My colleague has been living in this country only a few months, and although normally chipper, he recently looked sad. When I asked what was wrong, he responded glumly, “Today, everything wrong is going in my favor.”
Bacchus Johnson, Charlotte, North Carolina
“Patient in to ER at 0400 with no complaints: ‘I have been having chest pain for 4 months but I am not having chest pain now. The reason I’m here now is because I heard that 4am is the best time to come cause there are not that many people.’ ”
“Had a woman call 911 because she ‘had déjà vu in the shower and got nervous.’”
“Got a frantic call from a woman who claimed she had overdosed and needed help immediately. We arrive on scene, and she hands us an empty mint container, saying she took them all. That night she learned that you cannot overdose on mints.”
Source: Overheard in the ER
My boss and I took a job applicant to lunch, where we tried, with little success, to get him to open up about his experience and qualifications. Frustrated, my boss set his salad aside and proposed a specific and complex situation to the young man, then asked, “What would you do?”
The applicant hesitated, then, looking my boss straight in the eye, said, “Are you going to eat all those tomatoes?”
John Richman, Webster, New York
The party’s host paid me a great compliment. “You are a good-looking woman,” he said. “Honest—I’ve had only one beer.”
My glow was only slightly dimmed when my husband interjected, “Imagine how great she’ll look after two.”
Rosemary Tomy, Tucson, Arizona
I was at the customer-service desk, returning a pair of jeans that was too tight.
“Was anything wrong with them?” the clerk asked.
“Yes,” I said. “They hurt my feelings.”
A. P., via e-mail
During basic training at Fort Leavenworth, our sergeant asked if anyone had “artistic” abilities. Having been an architectural draftsman in civilian life, I raised my hand. Then the sergeant announced that everyone would get a three-day pass … except me. I would stay behind and neatly print each soldier’s name onto his Army-issued underwear.
Steven Silver, Scarsdale, New York
The steaming jungles of Vietnam were not my husband’s first choice of places to spend his 21st birthday. However, the mood was brightened when he received a birthday cake from his sister. It was carefully encased in a Tupperware container and came with this note: “Dick, when you’re finished, can you mail back my container?”
Kathy Wilson, Chaska, Minnesota
As a Speech therapist, I was working with a preschooler on body-part identification and the k sound. To that end, I had him use Play-Doh to make a sculpture of me.
“Is that my neck?” I asked, trying to get him to repeat the word.
“No, that’s your chin,” he said.
He added more Play-Doh. “Is that my neck?” I asked.
“No, that’s your other chin.”
Ilene Smith, Milan, Michigan
Girl: Ick! Why does this sandwich have bacon on it?
Friend: You ordered a BLT.
Girl: Whaaaat? I thought the B stood for bread.
Alyssa Hoover, Dillsburg, Pennsylvania
A salesman talked my uncle into buying 10,000 personalized pens for his business with the promise that he would be eligible to win a 32-foot yacht. A born gambler, my uncle agreed.
Well, he won, and a few weeks after the pens arrived, his prize showed up: a 12-inch plastic yacht with 32 plastic feet glued to the bottom.
Eddie Edwards, Ripley, Tennessee
While I was out to lunch, my coworker answered my phone and told the caller that I would be back in 20 minutes. The woman asked, “Is that 20 minutes Central Standard Time?”
Jamie Hindman, Lewisville, Texas
It’s amazing how a person can compliment and insult you at the same time. Recently, when I greeted my coworker, she said, “You look so gorgeous, I didn’t recognize you.”
Elaine Schyve, Cohocton, New York
At an art gallery, a woman and her ten-year-old son were having a tough time choosing between one of my paintings and another artist’s work. They finally went with mine.
“I guess you decided you prefer an autumn scene to a floral,” I said.
“No,” said the boy. “Your painting’s wider, so it’ll cover three holes in our wall.”
Betty Tenney, Sterling Heights, Michigan
When asked for his name by the coffee shop clerk, my brother-in-law answered, “Marc, with a C.” Minutes later, he was handed his coffee with his name written on the side: Cark.
Paul Neelon, Pembroke, Massachusetts
At the mall, my five-year-old grandson joined the other children in line waiting to sit on the Easter Bunny’s lap. When it was his turn, Jake didn’t move; he just stared.
“Don’t you want to sit on the bunny’s lap?” I asked.
“No!” he shouted. “There’s a man in his mouth!”
C. S., via mail
The black lacquer stand holding his prized samurai swords was dusty, so my husband left our cleaning lady a note, reading, “Check out my swords.” That evening, he found the stand just as dirty as before but with this appended to his note: “Nice swords.”
Eleonore Bode-Lemming, Salem, Oregon
While hosting a garage sale, I asked a man if he was looking for anything in particular. “Yes,” he said. “Place mats the color of grape jelly.”
H. T. Gibbons, Santa Fe, New Mexico
As the hostess at the casino buffet showed me to my table, I asked her to keep an eye out for my husband, who would be joining me momentarily. I started to describe him: “He has gray hair, wears glasses, has a potbelly …”
She stopped me there. “Honey,” she said, “today is senior day. They all look like that.”
Rosalie Daria, Cincinnati, Ohio
We were inspecting several lots of grenades. While everyone was concentrating on the task at hand, I held up a spare pin and asked, “Has anyone seen my grenade?”
SMSgt. Dan Powell, from rallypoint.com
The military has a long, proud tradition of pranking recruits. Here are some favorites from rallypoint.com:
• Instructed a private in the mess hall to look for left-handed spatulas
• Sent a recruit to medical-supplies office in search of fallopian tubes
• Had a new guy conduct a “boom test” on a howitzer by yelling “Boom!” down the tube in order to “calibrate” it
• Ordered a private to bring back a five-gallon can of dehydrated water (in fact, the sergeant just wanted an empty water can)
I’ve been working on my PhD
in engineering for the past five years, but my kids don’t necessarily see that as work.
As we were driving past Walmart one day, my son spotted a Now Hiring sign and suggested that I could get a job there.
Hoping to make a point, I asked, “Do you think they’re looking for an engineer?”
“Oh, sure,” he said. “They’ll hire anybody.”
Christopher Fields, Fort Collins, Colorado
An insurance agent called our medical office. One of our doctors had filled out a medically necessary leave-of-absence form for a patient, but, the agent said, the patient had altered it. The giveaway? The return-to-work date had been changed to February 30.
J. L., via e-mail
I supervised an employee who had a negative view of everything I did. If I took a vacation day, I was “never there.” If I praised someone’s work, it was “too little, too late.”
He eventually took another job but was fired six months later. Shortly thereafter, he contacted me, hoping to return to his old job.
“Have you learned anything from this experience?” I asked.
“Yes, I should have stayed here,” he admitted. “You’re too indecisive to have ever fired me.”
Terry O’Connor, Chantilly, Virginia
I guess this is what happens after you’ve worked at the same place for a while. I was eating at a fast-food restaurant when an employee began his shift by walking into the kitchen area and calling out, “Honey, I’m home!”
G. M., via e-mail
My sister-in-law was teaching Sunday school class. The topic for the day: Easter Sunday and the resurrection of Christ.
“What did Jesus do on this day?” she asked. There was no response, so she gave her students a hint: “It starts with the letter R.”
One boy blurted, “Recycle!”
Mari-Lynn Finley, Los Angeles, California
Just before the final exam in my college finance class, a less-than-stellar student approached me.
“Can you tell me what grade I would need to get on the exam to pass the course?” he asked.
I gave him the bad news. “The exam is worth 100 points. You would need 113 points to earn a D.”
“OK,” he said. “And how many points would I need to get a C?”
Aimee Prawitz, Sycamore, Illinois
A woman called our airline customer-service desk asking if she could take her dog on board.
“Sure,” I said, “as long as you provide your own kennel.” I further explained that the kennel needed to be large enough for the dog to stand up, sit down, turn around, and roll over.
The customer was flummoxed: “I’ll never be able to teach him all of that by tomorrow!”
My 90-year-old dad was giving a talk at our local library about his World War II experiences. During the question-and-answer period, he was asked, “How did you know the war was over?”
He replied, “When they stopped shooting at me.”
Lynette Combs, Norfolk, Virginia
In college, my freshman-year roommate was in ROTC and came from a long line of military men. Trask (his last name) used that heritage to lord it over me. But I had the last laugh.
One night, he returned to the dorm in his perfectly pressed uniform, his newly acquired name tag in his hand. Reluctantly, he showed it to me. In large gold letters was printed: TRASH.
Gary Severson, Nooksack, Washington
A defendant isn’t happy with how things are going in court, so he gives the judge a hard time.
Judge: “Where do you work?”
Defendant: “Here and there.”
Judge: “What do you do for a living?”
Defendant: “This and that.”
Judge: “Take him away.”
Defendant: “Wait; when will I get out?”
Judge: “Sooner or later.”
Submitted by Pate Ferry, Mesa, Arizona
“Poor Old fool,” thought the well-dressed gentleman as he watched an old man fish in a puddle outside a pub. So he invited the old man inside for a drink. As they sipped their whiskeys, the gentleman thought he’d humor the old man and asked, “So how many have you caught today?”
The old man replied, “You’re the eighth.”
From A Prairie Home Companion
My five-year-old son is crazy about cars, so I took him to his first car show. He loved seeing all the different models and brands and gushed over the big engines, the colors, and even the wheels. But the car he was most impressed with was a hearse. “Mom!” he shouted. “Look at all this storage!”
Sara Simeral, New London, Connecticut
While volunteering in a soup kitchen, I hit it off with a very attractive single man. It was a relief, since my mother and I always laughed because the men to whom I was drawn were inevitably married. So, optimistic about my chances, I asked my new friend what he did for a living. He replied, “I’m a priest.”
Lisa Shasha, Norwich, Connecticut
My mother was rushed to the hospital following a serious tumble. There the staff placed a band around her wrist with large letters warning: Fall Risk.
Unimpressed, Mom said to me, “I’ll have them know I’m a winter, spring, and summer risk too.”
Betty Heim-Campbell, Fairhope, Alabama
For Martin Luther King Day, I asked my fifth graders how they’d make the world a better place. One said, “I’d make potato skins a main dish rather than an appetizer.”
Jessica Castronovo, Manalapan, New Jersey
Scene: A radio newsroom.
Caller: I just wanted to let you know you’re off the air.
Host: Yes, we know. The engineers are working on it.
Caller: It would be nice if you put something on the air that says that.
Source: Overheard in the RADIO Newsroom
When my coworker answered his phone, the confused woman on the other end asked, “Who is this?”
“This is Steve. With whom did you wish to speak?”
After a pause: “Did you just say whom?”
“Yes, I did.”
The woman replied, “I have the wrong number,” and hung up.
Most of our music store customers have a story about their old vinyl collection. Once, a man asked how much a record cost. My coworker quoted him the price, then added, “But there’s a surcharge if we have to listen to how your mother made you throw out all your old vinyl records.”
Linda Neukrug, Walnut Creek, California
While on patrol, I arrested a burglar who’d injured himself running from a home. He told me he’d broken in and unhooked the phone before searching for valuables. But he’d panicked when he heard a woman’s voice. I entered the house and heard the same voice: “If you’d like to make a call, please hang up and try your call again.”
Wilson Hsia, Temple City, California
Gilding the lily is a job seeker’s birthright. Here are a few doozies, where the applicant claimed …
… to be a former CEO of the company to which he was applying.
… to be fluent in two languages—one of which was pig Latin.
… to be a Nobel Prize winner.
… to have worked in a jail when he was really in there serving time.
… he was fired “on accident.”
While I was working as a store Santa, a boy asked me for an electric train set. “If you get your train,” I told him, “your dad is going to want to play with it too. Is that all right?”
The boy became very quiet. So, moving the conversation along, I asked, “What else would you like Santa to bring you?”
He promptly replied, “Another train.”
Scene: A conversation with my friend’s father, who knows I do Web design.
Father: I have a business idea. How hard is it to make a Facebook?
Me: Oh, very easy.
Friend: He doesn’t mean to make a Facebook profile. He means to remake all of Facebook.
Me: Oh. Very hard.
Father: Oh, OK.
After my niece returned from her second tour in Iraq, I remarked how beautiful her complexion looked. “What do you use on your face to keep it so smooth?” I asked.
“Nothing,” she said. “I’ve been sandblasted.”
Wanda kaltreider, Wrightsville, Pennsylvania
During orientation at Fort Sill, in Oklahoma, our first sergeant stated that if anyone lost his locker key to see him, as he kept a master key in his office. Sure enough, a few weeks later, I lost my key. I walked into the orderly’s room and asked Sarge if I could borrow his master key.
“Why, certainly, young man,” he said, as he reached under his desk and handed me a large pair of bolt cutters.
John Dannar, Pasadena, Texas
After i-messaging back and forth with my wife, I jokingly commanded Siri to pass along this message: “You need to get back to work now; you have a husband to support.”
Here’s what Siri sent: “You need to get back to work now; you have a has-been to support.”
John Brown, Jenks, Oklahoma
My niece was dragged into court by a neighbor who complained about her barking dogs. At one point, the judge asked the neighbor a question. The neighbor didn’t reply. “Sir, are you going to answer me?”
The neighbor leaped to his feet. “Are you talking to me?” he asked. “Sorry; I can’t hear a darn thing.”
The case was dismissed.
Helen Reynolds, Missoula, Montana
A Twitter exchange between an angry customer and an apologetic Domino’s Pizza:
Customer: Yoooo I ordered a Pizza & Came with no Toppings on it or anything, Its Just Bread
Domino’s: We’re sorry to hear about this!
Customer (minutes later): Never mind, I opened the pizza upside down :/
The last time we changed from daylight saving time, a preacher friend posted, “For those who habitually show up 15 minutes late to church, allow me to remind you that tonight is the night you set your clock back 45 minutes.”
Michael Stephens, Ontario, Canada
My friend at the singles club was blithely chatting away, oblivious to the fact that her name tag had slipped down over her breast. I asked another friend if I should say something to her. “Like what?” she asked. “What she named the other one?”
Marcy Snaza, Richfield, Minnesota
The food at the sandwich shop I frequent is good, but any deviation from the norm throws the staff. I once told a clerk that I wanted only half a sandwich. His reply: “What am I going to do with the other half?” A week later, when I told another clerk the same thing, she responded, “Do you want the top or the bottom?”
Carole Holder, Norman, Oklahoma
My five-year-old, Matt, worked with a speech therapist on the ch sound, which came out k. The therapist asked him to say chicken. He responded with kitchen. They tried again and again, but it always came out kitchen. Undeterred, she pushed him for one more try. Matt sighed and said, “Why don’t we just call it a duck?”
Pamela Spinney, Enosburg Falls, Vermont
• We made a private sweep all the sunshine off the sidewalks. It took the poor guy all day. —benSavageGardenState
• Our squad leader was yelling at a soldier when he abruptly stopped and said, “I’m done yelling at you. It doesn’t work.” He stormed off and returned carrying a small potted tree. “You will carry this tree with you wherever you go. If anyone asks you why you’re carrying this tree, you will say, ‘It’s to replace the oxygen I stole from everyone else.’” —Tain01
• A recruit thought he was special because he was an Eagle Scout. The drill instructor picked up on this and took him into the woods and made him build a nest. Then he had him squat over it in order to keep his eggs warm. —V_E_R_S_E
An ad for a hedge clipper that I had to read twice: “A built-in safety switch prevents accidental starting, and blades will stop when you take one hand off.”
Michael Goldstone, Manchester, England
I sent a reminder to a client that it was time to visit the eye doctor. He called back to inform me that he would not be coming in because, as he put it, “I have a new obstetrician.”
Sarah Parchert, Hoschton, Georgia
A man called, furious about an Orlando, Florida, vacation package we had booked for him: He was expecting an ocean-view hotel room. I explained that was not possible, since Orlando is in the middle of the state. “Don’t lie to me,” he said. “I looked on the map, and Florida is a very thin state.”
My ESL students try so hard and are so appreciative. One student paid me the ultimate compliment when she said, “You teach English good.” Another assured me, “I will always forget you.” And a third insisted, “I thank you from the heart of my bottom.”
Ellen Israel, Alamo, California
So what if I can’t spell Armageddon? It’s not the end of the world.
When a soldier came to the clinic where I work for an MRI, he was put into the machine by an attractive, young technician. Sometime later, when the examination was over, he was helped out of the machine by a far older woman. The soldier remarked, “How long was I in there for?”
Joanne Korman, Bedford, Nova Scotia
While in Kuwait, shortly before we deployed to Iraq, a major general told our meeting that we should expect to cross “into Iraq in less than 24 hours.” He then opened the floor to questions.
A lieutenant stood up and asked, “Is that 24 hours our time or 24 hours their time?”
Jesse Kane, Iowa City, Iowa
I spotted several pairs of men’s Levi’s at a garage sale. They were sizes 30, 31, and 32, but I was looking for size 33. So I asked the owner if he had a pair. He shook his head.
“I’m still wearing the 33s,” he said. “Come back next year.”
Sally Thorinson, Ferndale, Washington
Jimmy Fallon asked his viewers to tweet #IGotBusted and share the most embarrassing times they got caught.
“I was on Facebook at work, and my boss walked up. I slammed down what I thought was my laptop screen, but it was actually my desktop monitor.”
“I lied and told my dad school was canceled. He said, ‘Let’s go see a movie.’ We got in the car, and he dropped me off at school.”
“I was Facebooking in church, and the usher passed by and whispered, ‘You better be texting Jesus.’”
Source: The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon
Try as she might, our granddaughter couldn’t grasp the concept of potty training. Then one day … Success! Jumping up and down, she threw her arms in the air and yelled in excitement, “I went potty all by myself, and now I can go to Harvard!”
Jan and Jack McCloskey, San Francisco, California
My friend called me in hysterics. “I just saw a mouse in my kitchen!” she yelled. “I’m so grossed out! It’s so disgusting!”
“What are you going to do?” I asked.
“I’m not sure. But you can bet I’ll never eat the stuff I drop on the floor anymore.”
Kirsten Lauth, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio
Scene: Horseback-riding stable.
Mom: Those horses are awfully big for my daughter.
Me: Our horses are very sweet …
Mom: Don’t you have something smaller? What about that one over there? It’s the perfect size for her!
Me: Um … that’s a goat.
Gauging from these exam excerpts, my college dance students had better stick with pliés.
“The costumes were vindictive of the style of dance.”
“I commend Bill T. Jones for his acts of true kindness and selfishness.”
“Dancers must have long limps.”
“At first, I had a hard time understanding and interrupting his movement.”
“Savion Glover’s purpose is to cross all racial and ethical barriers with his dance.”
Kathy Dubois, Onalaska, Wisconsin
During college, I worked on
a conveyor belt. One day, I was
on a blind date, and she asked me about my job.
“I work at the end of a belt,” I said.
With an ebullient smile, she asked, “Are you the buckle?”
Skip Parker, Reno, Nevada
My gunnery sergeant and I were inspecting a Marine training exercise when we spotted a second lieutenant ambling about. “Where is your foxhole, Lieutenant?” I asked.
He snapped off a salute and responded, “I don’t know, sir!” Turning to the sergeant, he asked, “Gunnery, where is my foxhole?”
“You’re standing in it, sir,” said the sergeant. “All you have to do is remove the dirt.”
Ret. Lt. Col. Joseph Como, Greenwood, South Carolina
I phoned a local restaurant to ask if it was on the north or south side of Main Street. The person on the other end answered, “That depends on which direction you’re coming from.”
Patricia Thompson, Shawnee, Kansas
Spotted in the classifieds: “For sale: cemetery plot, $200, so I don’t have to spend all eternity beside my ex!”
Anthony Cialella, New Castle, Pennsylvania
For serving as flower girl for her aunt, three-year-old Sydney received a doll and bridal-themed gifts. Sydney was so thrilled, she ran to her aunt and announced, “I want this for all your weddings!”
Helen Thoen, Manly, Iowa
Delta Airlines is infusing its cabins with a lavender-and-chamomile scent called Calm. The Week asked its readers to come up with a better name to match “the ambience of the packed economy cabin.”
“Eau the Humanity” —Serena Meyer
“Giorgio’s Arm-on-me” —Wade Etheredge
“Chanel No. 5 Inches of Legroom” —Austin King
“Claustrophobique” —Cynthia Pocali
“Mist Connection” —Cary Berkowitz
“The 99 Per-scent” —Julia Flagg
I had food poisoning and woke up early in the morning to vomit. My mom e-mailed all my teachers saying that I would be late to school because of “morning sickness.” Thanks, Mom.
Wandering inside a pet store, I stopped in front of a birdcage to admire a parakeet. We watched each other for a few minutes before it asked, “Can’t you talk?”
Shirley Brown, Richardson, Texas
My son and I were checking out a house he was interested in buying. When the owner came to the door, she looked at me and said, “Larry? I know you. We went to school together. I’m Elaine. Don’t you recognize me?”
I drew a complete blank.
She took out our old yearbook and showed me her graduation picture—still nothing. “Let’s look at your
picture,” she said.
She flipped the pages until she came to me. Under my photo I had written, “Elaine, I will never forget you.”
Lawrence I. Brant, Delray Beach, Florida
“Halt!” shouted our drill instructor. He had noticed that, for the umpteenth time, a recruit kept going to his right on a left command. Our instructor approached the directionally challenged Marine and stomped on his left foot. “Now,” he said, “when I say ‘left,’ it’s the one that hurts.”
Wayne Schroeder, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
My son was born while I was serving abroad, so he was three before we met. When I got home, I decided it was time for a little father-son bonding time. I bought him a toy razor and invited him to “shave” with me. In the bathroom, I took up my razor and started shaving. I looked around to see how my son was doing. His foot was up on the side of the bathtub, and he was running the razor up and down his leg. So much for male bonding.
James F. Day, Prichard, West Virginia
One of the most popular questions asked at our family restaurant is “What’s good tonight?”
Now, we would never serve anything we didn’t think was good. So I braced myself one Saturday night when I heard the dreaded question posed to my husband.
He calmly replied, “Anything over $17.95.”
I’m a dog trainer. Before I met with a new client, I had her fill out a questionnaire. One question asked, “Why did you choose this breed?”
My client responded, “I often ask myself this very same question.”
Cindy Mauro, West Milford, New Jersey
What are the wildest things national park guides contend with? Questions from tourists, like these:
• How much does Mount McKinley weigh?
• Would the lightning be faster if it didn’t zigzag?
• What do you do with the snow when it melts?
I was in a couple’s home trying to fix their Internet connection. The husband called out to his wife in the other room for the computer password. “Start with a capital S, then 123,” she shouted back.
We tried S123 several times, but it didn’t work. So we called the wife in. As she input the password, she muttered, “I really don’t know what’s so difficult about typing Start123.”
A. R., via Internet
My daughter Amy was holding down two jobs: The first was as a manicurist at a salon; the other was raking leaves for a housing development. One day, she came back from lunch at the raking job to find a note. Her boss, who didn’t know about her other job, had taken down this phone message: “Amy, you have a man to cure on Thursday at three.”
Nancy Billings, Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts
My granddaughter was graduating from college, so I asked about any plans she had for the future. She hadn’t any, but she did know this much: “I certainly don’t want to sit in one of those cubicles and think all day.”
B. O., via Internet
We were making leaflets for a local church, and the client wanted a logo designed with Earth being shielded by the hand of God. I sent the client a proof. Shortly thereafter, I got a call.
Client: The hand looks too human. Please use a hand that looks more like God’s.
It was sheer brilliance. The ship’s operations officer entered the messdeck, his eyes bleary and at half-mast. He grabbed a bagel and took a seat. Unfortunately, the sun was shining through a porthole right onto his face. Rather than move, he called the bridge: “Hey,” he said, “can you shift the ship 15 degrees? Thanks.”
Students are great about sending our troops letters, and the troops love ’em. You can see why:
“Dear Soldier, If you’re having a rough day, remember the most important thing in life is to be yourself. Unless you can be Batman.”
“Dear Veterans, You rock more than AC/DC or Metallica or Red Hot Chili Peppers.”
“I am so happy you are risking your life for the USA! My grandpa Bob was in the Navy. Now he likes peanuts.”
As he got his diaper changed, Daniel looked down and said, “I have a wee-wee. Daddy has a wee-wee.”
“That’s right,” said his mother. “That’s because you’re both boys. Do you know what mommies have?
Daniel did: “Earrings.”
From I Am So Full of Happy Today by Martin Nedergaard Anderson and Moira Tuffy (Borgen Publishers)
After catching her five-year-old son Lucas trying to pull a fast one, his mother demanded, “Do you think I have idiot written on my forehead?”
Lucas answered, “I don’t know. I can’t read.”
From I Am So Full of Happy Today by Martin Nedergaard Anderson and Moira Tuffy (Borgen Publishers)
During a Pilates class, our thin teacher apologized to one of her larger students for blocking her view of herself in the mirror.
“Don’t worry,” the woman said. “I can see myself on either side of you.”
Amanda Barton, Derby, England
During a visit with my grandmother, my husband noticed a birthday card from a local funeral parlor.
“That was nice of them,” he said.
She was unimpressed. “They only want me for my body,” she grumbled.
Carmen Schmeiser, Normal, Illinois
After an impromptu song, our pastor asked the church pianist, “What key did I sing that in?”
The pianist replied, “Most of them.”
Judy Scheffel, Alpharetta, Georgia
My 11-year-old grandson spent a beautiful Saturday playing video games. His older sister tried coaxing him outside by warning, “Someday, you’re going to be 30 years old, single, and living in Mom’s basement playing video games all day!”
His reply: “I can only dream.”
Sylvia Cardenas, Hacienda Heights, California
As I waited for my luggage at the airport, a man lifted my suitcase off the baggage carousel.
“Excuse me,” I shouted. “That’s my suitcase.”
The man shot back defensively, “Well, somebody took mine!”
C. S., via Internet
My sister didn’t do as well on her driver’s-ed test as she’d hoped. It might have had something to do with how she completed this sentence: “When the ______ is dead, the car won’t start.”
She wrote: “Driver.”
Nathan Hellman, Brooklyn, New York
Student: I don’t understand why my grade was so low. How did I do on my research paper?
Teacher: Actually, you didn’t turn in a research paper. You turned in a random assemblage of sentences. In fact, the sentences you apparently kidnapped in the dead of night and forced into this violent and arbitrary plan of yours clearly seemed to be placed on the pages against their will. Reading your paper was like watching unfamiliar, uncomfortable people interacting at a cocktail party that no one wanted to attend in the first place. You didn’t submit a research paper. You submitted a hostage situation.
My husband was at a dinner with colleagues, and one of them had too much to drink. Feeling drowsy, the poor man sank back into his chair and said, “I don’t feel good. I’m going into screen saver mode.”
L. Y., via Internet
While teaching at a veterinary college, I ordered a few books for our library. One was George Orwell’s Animal Farm. When I went to take it out, I discovered that the librarian had placed the book in the section for dairy and poultry.
Jacob Cheeran, Thrissur, India
A friend of mine works at a tattoo shop. A client walked in and got a sentence tattooed on his back. A few hours later, the customer called, demanding a refund.
Client: You did my tattoo backward!
Tattoo artist: It’s backward?
Client: Yes! I’m looking at it in the mirror right now!
A last-minute filer walked into our state income tax office and handed me his returns. Just as he did, a peal of laughter could be heard in another room. Glaring at me, he grumbled, “What are they doing back there, counting the money?”
William Umberson, San Diego, California
My fiancé and I went to a counselor to work on our communication issues. Using herself as an example, the counselor crossed her legs and her arms and exhaled loudly. I was about to say she was showing signs of frustration, but my fiancé beat me to it, yelling, “I’ve got it! You’re constipated!”
Tracy Vance, Ocala, Florida
As if the declining health of my grandmother weren’t enough, my parents suddenly had to contend with an ant infestation. So I was glad to get a text from Mom updating me: “Exterminator was here; thinks she got the nest behind the microwave. She sprayed, and hundreds came out—dead and woozy. Grandma Marie the same.”
Jennifer Shafer, Durham, North Carolina
Scene: My cousin Matt and his daughter at Chick-fil-A.
Matt: Can I please get a four-piece kids’ meal with white milk. [Pause] Oh, and gimme an extra white milk.
Clerk: Um … We only have one kind of milk, and it’s pretty white.
Paul Silverman, Mohegan Lake, New York
My ten-month-old was sitting in her high chair, twisting and moving all over the place. My wife said to me, “Straighten her up.”
I looked at my daughter and said, “What are you doing with your life? Do you want to be this way forever? It’s time to grow up.”
My wife hasn’t asked me to do anything since.
@trmiller1326, from reddit.com
After finishing our Chinese food, my husband and I cracked open our fortune cookies. Mine read, “Be quiet for a little while.” His read, “Talk while you have a chance.”
Carol Burks, Providence, Rhode Island
A friend knew that she’d overdone it with the gifts and candy last Easter when her six-year-old woke up to all the booty and shouted, “This is the best Christmas ever!”
Chris McDonough, Wilmington, Delaware
Hanging up with my 90-year-old mother, I sighed, then said to my 96-year-old uncle, “She’s so stubborn.”
He shook his head sympathetically and warned, “You’re going to have trouble with her when she gets old.”
Angie Kiem, Irwin, Iowa
“Has your diet changed?” I asked an 87-year-old woman I was admitting into the hospital.
“Yes,” she said. “For Lent, I gave up whipped cream on my Jell-O, hard candy, and my two beers a night. [Pause] And look where it’s gotten me.”
L.K., via Internet
Religion is generally a verboten topic for everyone at work, except for Larry. Recently, after he steered yet another conversation toward the subject, a coworker whispered to me, “That Larry—he always has to put his two saints in.”
Mark Latessa, Brownstown, Michigan
Scene: Inside a Best Buy store.
Customer: Can you help me? I’m looking for a shredder.
Coworker: We have all types of shredders. What will you be shredding primarily?
Customer: Collard greens.
Jessica Smith, Peachtree City, Georgia
Colonoscopies are important medical procedures that have saved lives. And yet they’re as popular as, well, a colonoscopy. Here are comments purportedly made by patients to physicians during their procedures.
“Now I know how a Muppet feels!”
“Could you write a note for my wife saying that my head is not up there?”
“Any sign of the trapped miners, chief?”
Source: Dave Barry, in the Miami Herald
Request from a client: “For the ad, use a stock photo of a woman or a person.”
Looking for a job? Here’s one posted on Craigslist:
“$40K a Year to Attend Harvard University as Me.” Requirements include a 4.0 GPA in high school or a 3.5 GPA in college. Only males need apply, since, as the listing tells us, “I have a male name.” The lucky person tapped for the gig doesn’t have to do much other than “attend all classes, pass all tests, and finish all assigned work while pretending you are me.” Don’t worry about having to actually get into the Ivy League school: “I’ve already taken care of that,” he says.
While taking stock of our products, I read aloud the final numbers to my boss. As he entered each one into a calculator, I deleted it off my mobile device. Only after I’d finished did we realize that he had entered the numbers on his desk phone’s keypad.
David Marland, on quora.com
While on maneuvers in the Mojave Desert, our convoy got lost, forcing our lieutenant to radio for help.
“Are you near any landmarks that might help us locate you?” the base operator asked him.
“Yes,” said the lieutenant. “We are directly under the moon.”
Jesse Joe Wingo, Gaylord, Michigan
During that first roll call in the Army, I waited in dread as the sergeant got to my name: DiFeliciantonio. There was bound to be trouble, and I was right, because suddenly, he fell silent—eyebrows arched, brain overloaded. After a long pause, he thundered, “The alphabet?!”
John DiFeliciantonio, Ventnor City, New Jersey
After my three-year-old begged and begged, I gave in and let her attend a concert with her older sister and brother. As we took our seats, I handed programs to the kids. Following the lead of her siblings, my three-year-old opened her program and announced, “I’ll have the chicken.”
A commercial boasted that its product could help people live pain-free in their golden years.
“Am I in my golden years?” my wife, 63, asked.
“Not at all,” I assured her. “But you are yellowing fast.”
Dennis McClanahan, Buckner, Missouri
I was cuddling with my girlfriend, and she said, “I love lying here with you.”
“I once caught a fish, and it was five feet long and spoke Hebrew,” I replied. She stared at me, confused. “That was my lie,” I said.
“Oh, right. I see. Very funny,” she said. She paused a moment before rolling over. “That was my lie.”
From @ab1kenobe on reddit.com
I’m at the library, and for some reason, when I plug my flash drive into the computer, it doesn’t show up. I keep trying, but nothing happens. As an IT major, I know I can figure this out. So I spend 15 minutes changing settings and inserting and removing the flash drive. Then a girl sitting next to me taps my shoulder and says, “You’re plugging into my computer, not yours.”
When I spotted a Navy captain on the street, I saluted and bellowed, “LST 395,” which was the designation and number of the ship I served on during World War II.
The captain returned my salute and responded, “LMD 67.”
“What’s an LMD?” I asked.
“Large mahogany desk.”
Michael Ciavolino, Bel Air, Maryland
A military base commander called to complain that the weather-forecasting software our company created for them kept reporting unexplainable wind shifts.
“Do you know where the sensor is located?” my coworker asked.
“Of course,” he responded. “It’s where we park the helicopters.”
Angelo Giordano, Bellevue, Nebraska
Texting acronyms can stump even the best parents:
Mom: Your great-aunt just passed away. LOL.
Son: Why is that funny?
Mom: It’s not funny, David! What do you mean?
Son: Mom, LOL means Laughing Out Loud.
Mom: I thought it meant Lots of Love. I have to call everyone back.
Daughter: I got an A in Chemistry.
Daughter: Mom, what do you think WTF means?
Mom: Well That’s Fantastic.
Mom: What do IDK, LY & TTYL mean?
Son: I don’t know, love you, talk to you later.
Mom: OK, I will ask your sister.
A long line leading to the ladies’ room greeted my friend’s wife. Since desperate times call for desperate measures, my friend took her into the empty men’s room, then stood guard. When she exited a few minutes later, a man waiting his turn called out, “I hope you remembered to put up the toilet seat.”
Raymond V. Packouz, Lake Oswego, Oregon
When I bought beer at the grocery store, the clerk asked for my birthdate.
I said, “10-3-60.”
Her next question: “Is that ‘19’ 60?”
David Phenix, Columbia, South Carolina
The water I was heating for pasta refused to boil, and if my 12-year-old son was right, I wasn’t helping by constantly checking on it.
“It’s like that old saying,” he said. “ ‘A watched website never loads.’ ”
Helen Russ, Medford, Oregon
Ah, marriage. I was standing in front of the bathroom mirror one evening admiring my reflection, when I posed this question to my wife of 30 years: “Will you still love me when I’m old, fat, and balding?”
She answered, “I do.”
Michael Jordan, Moss Point, Mississippi
My young son ran to me, crying. “Daddy, I stubbed my toe,” he sobbed.
“Let me kiss it and make it better,” I said. “Which toe was it?”
“The one that has no roast beef.”
Gary Neal, Clearwater, Florida
Scene: Me using the Siri app on my iPhone.
Me: Siri, call my wife.
Siri: Samantha McLaughlin is not in your contacts.
Me: Samantha Gibbs is my wife.
Siri: I’ve added Samantha Gibbs as your wife.
Me: Call my wife.
Siri: Which wife?
Taylor Gibbs, Visalia, California
My teenage patient’s mother was concerned. “He must have a temperature,” she said. “He hasn’t taken our motorcycle out all day.”
“Let me ask you,” I said. “Do you have a thermometer?”
“No,” she said. “A Kawasaki.”
Craig Ray, Johns Creek, Georgia
“Why did you choose a college so far from home?” I asked my British student.
She explained that she’d fallen in love with the American West by watching Westerns. So when it came time to apply for colleges, she Googled “Western universities.”
And that’s how she ended up here, at Western Carolina University.
Bill Spencer, Cullowhee, North Carolina
I tried to explain to a client why I couldn’t help him with a project that was written in a program code that I didn’t know.
“Let’s say you’re asking me to write something in a specific language. Now, I’m fluent in English and Spanish, but your project is in Chinese. Since I don’t understand Chinese, I’m not your best option. You need someone who is fluent in this specific language. See?”
He said he did and thanked me.
The next morning, I got a call from another developer asking, “Why is So-and-So asking us if we’re fluent in Chinese?”
At the age of 55, I finally got my bachelor’s degree and set out to become a substitute teacher. One day, a seventh grader asked if I’d been teaching long.
“Actually, I’m brand-new,” I told him. “I just graduated.”
Looking me up and down, he asked, “How long were you in college?”
Debi Brim, Indianapolis, Indiana
We were an Air Force family, but our son could not grasp that fact. Anytime someone asked what his father did, he’d say, “He’s in the Army.” I told him umpteen times, “Stop telling people I’m in the Army!” It finally seemed to hit home because on the admittance form for kindergarten, under “father’s profession,” the teacher wrote, “He doesn’t know what his father does, but he’s not in the Army.”
R. Wayne Edwards, Somerville, Texas
As we waited for a bus in the frosty weather, the woman next to me mentioned that she makes a lot of mistakes when texting in the cold.
I nodded knowingly. “It’s the early signs of typothermia.”
Phil Noyes, Yakima, Washington
A friend was ordering her meal at a drive-through when she noticed she could get a side dish gratis.
“And I’ll take the free wiffie also,” she said.
“What?” asked the clerk.
“The free wiffie,” she said, pointing to the sign.
“Ma’am, that’s ‘Free Wi-Fi.’ ”
Christie Peldo, Yacolt, Washington
Recently, I woke up to find that two of my car’s tires had been stolen. When the police officer arrived, he asked, “When were you last driving the car?”
“Last night at 11:00,” I said.
“And the tires were on it then?”
Jeremy Rice, Englewood, Florida
Scene: A secondhand movie exchange …
Me: Do you have the DVD of Sharknado?
Clerk: Is that a documentary?
Lynette Combs, Norfolk, Virginia
My husband and I were relaxing on lounge chairs on a Jamaica beach, half listening to a couple walking ankle deep in the clear water. The woman was extolling the beauty of the island when suddenly she let out a scream.
“Oh!” she shrieked. “There are fish in here!”
Janet Davis, Quakertown, Pennsylvania
After Thanksgiving dinner, the adults gathered in the living room to exchange reminiscences, while the children went into the family room to play. Suddenly our hostess noticed that an elderly relative was missing. “Where’s Aunt Florence?” she asked.
From across the room came a masculine drawl, “Oh, she’s with the kids, bridging the generation gap.”
Contributed by Florence M. Mortimer
I worked on a toll road, answering the phone, collecting money and issuing toll tickets. One Thanksgiving Day, a woman called to ask about road conditions on the turnpike. After I said everything was A-okay, she told me a friend was coming for dinner. Then came the stumper. “If my friend just left from exit twelve,” she asked, “what time should I put the turkey in?”
Contributed by Sandra Shields
Our eldest daughter, Ann, invited her college roommate to join our large family for Thanksgiving dinner. As families sometimes do, we got into a lively argument over a trivial subject until we remembered we had a guest in our midst. There was an immediate, embarrassed silence.
“Please don’t worry about me,” she said. “I was brought up in a family too.”
Contributed by Garrison H. McClure
The checkout clerk at the supermarket was unusually cheerful even though it was near closing time. “You must have picked up a ton of groceries today,” a customer said to the checker. “How can you stay so pleasant?”
“We can all count our blessings,” the clerk replied. “The hardest part of this job is the turkeys and the watermelons. I just thank God that Thanksgiving doesn’t come in July.”
Contributed by L. Proctor
When a music student brought his French horn to my shop for repair, he complained that the instrument “felt stuffy” and he couldn’t blow air through it. It’s not unusual to find partial blockages in brass instruments if small items get lodged in the tubing, but when I tested the instrument, the horn was completely blocked. After much probing and prodding, a small tangerine dropped out of the bell.
“Oh,” said the musician when I handed him the fruit. Seeing the bewildered look on my face, he explained, “My mom used the horn for a cornucopia in a Thanksgiving centerpiece.”
Contributed by Mark L. Madden
As I entered the elevator at our hospital, a disheveled- looking man rushed in behind me carrying a ceramic blue baby bootie filled with carnations.
I smiled knowingly and asked, “Does he look like you?”
“I hope not,” he said. “I just deliver flowers.”
S. M. K., via mail
A student seeking a job at our university was handed an application. He dutifully filled out his name and address. When it came to the entry “length of residence,” he wrote: “Approximately 30 feet.”
Fred Karn, Kearney, Missouri
Recently I heard the former mayor of Reading, Pennsylvania, recount some funny stories about his time in office. One happened while he was running for reelection; he was in a bar and paid for a woman’s drink. She thanked him but wondered why a stranger had bought her a beer.
“I’m running for mayor,” he told her, “and I want your vote.”
“You got it,” she said, grabbing her glass. “Anyone’s better than the jerk who’s in there now.”
James Landis, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
A woman called the Colorado State Division of Wildlife regarding a snake in her backyard. “Can you tell me what kind it is?” she asked.
“Can you describe it?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said. “It’s long and thin.”
Charles Loeffler, Monument, Colorado
One of our interns asked another if she was planning to sign up for the company’s 401(k).
“I’m considering it,” replied the second intern.
Later, the first intern approached me looking concerned.
“I did the math,” she said, “and 401K is almost 250 miles. She’ll never make it!”
Rebekah Shue, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Just because the items in these classified ads are free doesn’t mean they’re worth it:
• Free: Piano with matching bench seat, very good condition, all keys work probably
Source: Gettysburg Area Merchandiser
• Free: 5 kitchen drawers, all matching naughty pine fronts
Source: Topeka Capital-Journal
• Free Vain Screening
Source: Boston Globe
• Free rent in exchange for elderly woman
Submitted by James Hutchinson, Carroll Valley, Pennsylvania; Faith Adams, Topeka, Kansas; Annetta Boisselle, Melrose, Massachusetts
The first time my mother flew, she was a nervous wreck. During takeoff, the roar from the engines proved reassuring—it meant they were working, she reasoned. But when the plane leveled off, so did the engines. Grabbing the armrests, she asked aloud, “Did we stop?”
Samantha Earls, Wister, Oklahoma
I’m now in high school, so when I ran into my third-grade teacher, I doubted she would remember me.
“Hi, Miss Butcher,” I said.
“Hi, Eddie,” she replied.
“So you do remember me?” I asked.
“Sure. You don’t always leave a good impression, but it is a lasting one.”
Edward McMurray, Wayne, Michigan
My three-year-old sat in the bathroom with me, watching as I removed my dentures and brushed them. After a few minutes, he asked, “Can you take your ears off too?”
S. W., via mail
We were stocking up on green beans at the farmers’ market when we asked the young girl helping us for 15 pounds’ worth.
“I can only sell you ten pounds of beans,” she said.
“Why?” I asked.
“Because my scale only goes up to ten pounds.”
Kerri Ingle, Shelby, Ohio
The DMV was as crowded and noisy as ever. When I finally got to the
window, I asked the clerk, “Does the never-ending line of loud people ever drive you crazy?”
She shook her head. “We call it job security.”
Alan Cliburn, Van Nuys, California
Dad rarely dresses up, so when he left the bedroom decked out in a suit and tie, he wanted to commemorate the moment. Handing me a camera, he asked, “Mind taking a selfie of me?”
Rachel Hester, Clover, South Carolina
Scene: Me driving by a Taco Bell.
Sign: Now Hiring Managers.
[Two weeks later …]
Sign: Now Hiring Managers. Background Checks Required.
Our boss asked the new mail-room guy to make three copies of an office key. The guy returned ten minutes later with the copies … which he’d made on the Xerox machine.
Gordon Knight, Stamford, Connecticut
Shane works in the deli department of a large supermarket chain, where he often finds himself in trouble. Just look at the notes management has supposedly written to him:
“Shane, stop putting Some Assembly Required stickers on the eight-piece chickens.”
“Shane, any free samples you give must come from the deli, not electronics.”
“Shane, when a customer asks where to find a product, give them an aisle number, not directions to Albertsons.”
I was in the bathroom brushing my teeth when my squad leader barged in. He was holding a toothbrush, which he proceeded to use to scrub underneath the rim of a toilet.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“Hazing the new guy,” he said with a grin.
“You do know that he could get ill from the bacteria on the toilet.”
His reply was quick and to the point: “You didn’t.”
Jeffrey S. Carr, Jacksonville, North Carolina
A Briton flies into Australia and is asked by the immigration officer, “Do you have any felony convictions?”
The Briton replies, “Sorry. I didn’t realize that was still a requirement.”
We were at a red light when a car pulled up, its music blasting. “He’ll be deaf before he’s 25,” I said.
“It won’t help us,” my wife replied. “He’ll only turn it up.”
Kenneth Skaught, Lakewood, Washington
Before beginning the service, our pastor read aloud a note he’d been handed moments earlier. “It says here that I should announce that there will be no B.S. tomorrow morning,” he said. He tucked the piece of paper into a pocket and added, “I’m hoping they mean ‘Bible Study.’”
Barbara Geerts, Davenport, Iowa
While he was visiting, my father asked for the password to our Wi-Fi.
“It’s taped under the modem,” I told him.
After three failed attempts to log on, he asked, “Am I spelling this right? T-A-P-E-D-U-N-D-E-R-T-H-E-M-O-D-E-M?”
Sharon McGinley, Talbott, Tennessee
We’ve been over this before:
Stupid doesn’t play well on job interviews. Hiring managers wish these
job seekers had gotten the memo.
• Applicant acted out a Star Trek role.
• Applicant asked for a hug.
• Applicant popped out his teeth when discussing dental benefits.
• Applicant crashed her car into the building.
From CareerBuilder’s 2014 Interview Blunders Survey
The topic of my student’s essay was the importance of trust, camaraderie, and toughness among football
players. “After all,” he wrote, “you don’t want a bunch of pre-Madonnas out there on the field.”
Michele Metcalf, Louisville, Kentucky
It’s important that soldiers
learn from their mistakes; otherwise, they’re bound to repeat them at
inopportune moments. Here soldiers share what they’ve gleaned from
• “I was cold” is not a sufficient reason for being caught in the female barracks.
• Do not communicate with officers using only Madonna lyrics.
• Do not conduct live fire exercises at the general’s (unattended) jeep, even if it’s parked in an area clearly marked Live Fire Zone.
• Do not attempt to shave with fire.
• Do not use 27 packs of sticky notes to label everything in the barracks so the general won’t have any questions during the inspection.
On Facebook, the English language has few friends. Three examples:
Post: I can’t stand people
that don’t know the difference between your and you’re. There so dumb.
Response: Their, their, calm down.
Post: Is it me or does nobody have manors these days?
Response: I just have a normal house.
Post: I do not have patients for stupid today.
Source: studentbeans.com, lamebook.com
Events had left my son-in- law’s sister feeling sad, and she started tearing up. Luckily, our two-year-old grandson was nearby to dispense words of wisdom. “Don’t cry,” he said. “Sometimes batteries die and toys break.”
Perry Finkelman, West Hempstead, New York
While serving jury duty,
I noticed that the defense attorney seemed a bit nervous. At one
point, he picked up a piece of
evidence and asked his client, who was on the witness stand, “I see
an acronym on this receipt. What
would CAR stand for?”
The defendant replied, “Car.”
Kristi Boerner, Fleming, Colorado
The note left on the office refrigerator was addressed to “The culprit who ate what you thought were two peanut butter ice cream bars.”
We’ll skip over the details and go straight to the signature: “Love, Constipated-Dog Owner.”
Scene: Our break room. Coworker #1 pulls out a bottle of vitamins.
Coworker #2: What’s that?
Coworker #1: Vitamin D.
Coworker #2: Why do you take that?
Coworker #1: Because we live in Ohio, and we never see the sun.
Coworker #2: Wait a minute … they make a vitamin that gives you a tan?
Sally Churley, Cortland, Ohio
The bean soup I’d ordered was mostly water. I decided to tell the waitress.
“This soup is awful,” I said.
“I know,” she said. “I don’t like bean soup either.”
submitted by reader J. M.
To get my cousin to write to her even once, my aunt resorted to sending him a check with this note: “Do not cash until you write me a thank-you.” A few weeks later, the check had cleared, yet no message had arrived. So she called him.
“I told you not to cash the check until you’d written to thank me,” she complained.
“I didn’t cash the check,” he said. “I deposited it.”
Mark Forman, Berkeley Heights, New Jersey
I recently stumbled upon
my favorite new sports team. It’s
a woman’s bowling squad called
I Can’t Believe It’s Not Gutter.
Jacqueline Tessman, Benton Harbor, Michigan
The barbershop was crowded,
so the woman at the cash register
offered to put my name on the
waiting list. “What is it?” she asked.
“Stephen, with a P-H,” I said.
Minutes later, a chair opened up, and my name was called: “Pheven?”
Stephen Hudson, Falmouth, Maine
Working for a news organization is a tough job, as these world-weary tweets suggest:
• News reporter: “The computer erased all the apostrophes in my story. Apparently I’m too possessive.”
• Copy editor, as group of Cub Scouts gets a tour: “There it is, ‘Scared Straight: Newsroom Edition.’”
• Producer: “Free food in the newsroom is like oxygen masks on an airplane. You get yours first, then you inform others.”
The flight attendant on our trip was handing out plastic pilot wings to some kids. As I stepped forward, she jokingly offered me one, but I passed. Pointing to the Airborne wings on my Army uniform, I explained, “The last time someone gave me wings, I had to jump out of the airplane.”
Col. David Jessop (Ret.), Rineyville, Kentucky
Today, my 808 area code phone number has yet again been mistaken for a 1-800 number. I’ve been getting phone calls at three in the morning from people on the East Coast trying to return their shoes. Even worse, they end up wanting to speak to my supervisor because I “don’t sound professional enough.”
“So what’s that brush for?” the new hire asked.
“It’s used to clean toilet bowls in the lobby,” said the first manager.
“Actually, it’s for scrubbing deep fryers,” said the second manager.
“Well, I’ve been cleaning toilets with it,” said the first manager.
“Um, I’m putting in for a new brush,” said the second manager.
I bragged to my boss that I didn’t need painkillers after a major surgery. His response: “This time, your evil superpowers came in handy.”
Patricia Speilburg, Port Huron, Michigan
I discovered that I’d spent an hour walking around a mall with a shoe store’s “Feel the Comfort” sticker stuck to my body. More humiliating? It was attached to my left breast.
Debbie Skolnik, Scarsdale, New York
We were reading The Wisdom of King Solomon in my Sunday school class. An illustration showed King Solomon ordering a child to be cut in half, as one woman sobbed and another watched uncaringly.
Pointing to the heartless woman, a young boy said, “I hope she ends up with the part that has the butt on it.”
Evelyn Wieland, Bay City, Michigan
I once got a text from my mom where “You’re amazing” autocorrected to “You’re adopted.”
On Valentine’s Day last year, my mom texted me, “Enjoy your VD.” Not the best time to
My mom once texted me “can you come over, I want you to take a selfie of me.”
“What’s a hipster?” asked my four-year-old cousin.
“Someone who will wear something just to look different,” I said. “They’ll often buy clothes in thrift shops and wear thick glasses.”
“Is Grandma a hipster?” he asked.
—Eyesha Sadiq, Woodland, California
Scene: Sunday mass. I turned to greet an older woman.
Woman: My! You have the most beautiful skin.
Me: Oh, thank you.
Woman: If I were younger, I’d hate you.
At the supermarket checkout, the cashier was having trouble finding the price for my cucumber.
“Maybe the list is alphabetical,” I offered.
So he started searching from the bottom of the list: “Q … Q … Q …”
Charity McTarsney, Deltona, Florida
My husband was driving home from work when he was pulled over for not wearing a seat belt. Two days later—same ticket, same cop.
“So,” the officer said, “have you learned anything?”
“Yes, I have,” said my husband. “I’ve learned I need to take a different way home from work.”
Kimberly Owen, Paoli, Indiana
Faculty at our university had to file an explanation when they gave a grade of Incomplete. One semester, a professor’s report read “Student #1 contracted mononucleosis. Student #2 contracted pregnancy.”
Bill Spencer, Cullowhee, North Carolina
A customer walked up to my bank window and asked me to cash a check.
“Of course,” I said. “But I’ll need to see ID.”
She dug though her purse and handed me a snapshot.
“That’s me in the middle,” she said.
Deborah Berkley, Yakima, Washington
One of my insurance customers faxed over the police report from an auto accident. Several weeks later, she called asking for information from that report.
“Didn’t you keep the original copy?” I asked.
“No,” she said. “I faxed it to you.”
Sherri Smith, Carrollton, Texas
I asked my brother-in-law, the father of four boys, “If you had to do it all over again, would you still have kids?”
“Yes,” he said. “Just not these four.”
Sheila Lee, Lorain, Ohio
Asked to pick the worst year ever, film director Peter Segal chose 1848, “the year gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill. Until then, you could find a nice piece of land in California, pitch your tent, and call it home. The housing market here has been a living hell ever since.”
Source: The Atlantic
I was nine months pregnant and browsing at a garage sale when the homeowner asked me if I knew whether I was having a boy or a girl.
I told her I didn’t.
As I left a few minutes later, she yelled after me, “I hope you get the sex you want!”
Melanie Riley, Lakemoor, Illinois
When I announced that I was getting married, my excited mother said, “You have to have the rehearsal dinner someplace opulent, where there’s dancing.”
My father, seeing where this was heading, said, “I’ll pay you a thousand dollars to elope.”
“And you have to have a breakfast, for the people who are coming from out of town.”
“We’ll need a photographer. Oh, and what colors do you want for the reception?”
We eloped to Spain.
Mary Nichols, Arlington, Virginia
Here is the best-ever backhanded compliment from a kid about a present: “Dear Genie, thanks for the toy. I’ll play with it when I’m bored.”
Debbie Skolnik, Scarsdale, New York
My young son declared, “When I grow up, I’m going to marry you, Mommy.”
“You can’t marry your own mother,” said his older sister.
“Then I’ll marry you.”
“You can’t marry me either.”
He looked confused, so I explained, “You can’t marry someone in your own family.”
“You mean I have to marry a total stranger?!” he cried.
Phlylis Showers, San Diego, California
One spring day I was taking the roll in my secretarial class at our local technical college. One of the sun worshipers was absent. “Cindy won’t be here this afternoon?” I asked.
“She went home to lay in the sun,” a young woman in the front row answered.
Trying to correct her grammar without embarrassing her before the class, I whispered, “Lie.”
“Okay,” she replied in astonishment. “Cindy got sick and went home.” Contributed by
Mary T. Upton
Every Easter our church stages an elaborate pageant. Last year the man who played Pontius Pilate had to work on the night of the dress rehearsal, and a chorus member substituted for him.
As we began rehearsing Pilate’s solo, the conductor stopped the orchestra. “Pilate, I don’t hear you,” he called out. “You’re not loud enough.”
“Pilate is at work,” a voice on the stage shouted back. “We’ve got our co-Pilate tonight.”
Contributed by Bill Dyson
I had spent the late winter months waiting impatiently for signs of spring. When the first warm, sunny Saturday arrived, I eagerly unlocked the storm door and stepped onto our patio deck. I was pleased by the sight of green sprouts and the sounds of singing birds. More than anything else, I delighted in the sweet aroma of the spring air.
Knocking on the kitchen window, I beckoned to my wife to join me in enjoying the pleasures of the season. She quietly brought me back to earth when she reminded me that I was standing over the dryer vent, inhaling the scent of fabric softener.
Contributed by George G. Busher
My father was completely lost in the kitchen and never ate unless someone prepared a meal for him. When Mother was ill, however, he volunteered to go to the supermarket for her. She sent him off with a carefully numbered list of seven items.
Dad returned shortly, very proud of himself, and proceeded to unpack the grocery bags. He had one bag of sugar, two dozen eggs, three hams, four boxes of detergent, five boxes of crackers, six eggplants, and seven green peppers.
Submitted by Joan Flood
On the day I received my learner’s permit, my father agreed to take me out for a driving lesson. With a big grin, he hopped in behind the driver’s seat. “Why aren’t you sitting up front on the passenger’s side?” I asked.
“Kirsten, I’ve been waiting for this ever since you were a little girl,” Dad replied. “Now it’s my turn to sit back here and kick the seat.”
Submitted by Kirsten Wiley
While flying from Denver to Kansas City, Kansas, my mother was sitting across the aisle from a woman and her eight-year-old son. Mom couldn’t help laughing as they neared their destination and she heard the mother say to the boy, “Now remember — run to Dad first, then the dog.”
Submitted by Karla J. Kasper
My husband’s cousin married a former Marine who now works for United Parcel Service. They bought their four-year-old son two stuffed bears — one in a UPS uniform and the other in Marine garb. When the boy seemed confused, his father brought out a picture of himself in full Marine dress. “See, Connor?” he explained, pointing to the photo and then to the bear. “That’s Daddy.”
Connor’s eyes went from one to the other, and then he asked in a puzzled voice, “You used to be a bear?”
Submitted by Robin Yedlock
Father’s Day was near when I brought my three-year-old son, Tyler, to the card store. Inside, I showed him the cards for dads and told him to pick one.
When I looked back, Tyler was picking up one card after another, opening them up and quickly shoving them back into slots, every which way. “Tyler, what are you doing?” I asked.
“Haven’t you found a nice card for Daddy yet?”
“No,” he replied. “I’m looking for one with money in it.”
Submitted by Terri Cook
I decided to make myself useful and do a load of the family laundry. When I took the clothes out of the machine, I discovered — to my dismay — that I had also washed the watch my wife had given me while we were dating. “Don’t expect me to replace it,” she said later with an obvious lack of sympathy. By the time Father’s Day rolled around, however, she had relented and gave me a beautiful new watch. Attached was a note with this stipulation: “DRY-CLEAN ONLY!”
Submitted by Paul Diblasi
Our Gen-X daughter, Cristie, made my husband a Father’s Day card entitled “Things My Dad Would Never Say.” Such as:
“Can you turn up that music?”
“Go ahead and take my truck. Here’s 50 bucks for gas.”
“I LOVE your tattoo. We should both get new ones.”
“Here, you take the remote.”
Submitted by Deanna Schneider
Before I took the old family car to college, my father loaded the trunk with soft-drink bottles filled with oil, coolant and transmission fluid. Sure enough, my car overheated. Scolding myself for not listening to my father’s instructions, I looked at the engine and saw how well he knew me. The oil cap was labeled Dr Pepper, the transmission stick, Coke, and the empty coolant container, Diet Pepsi. I finished the trip safely.
Submitted by Charlotte G. Alexander
My 16-year-old brother, Ryan, was out late with friends one night. Suddenly he realized it was Father’s Day and he had neglected to buy a card for our dad. After much searching, Ryan located an open store, but was disappointed to find only two cards left on a picked-over rack. Selecting one, he brought it home and, somewhat sheepishly, presented it to our father.
Upon opening it, Dad read this message: “You’ve been like a father to me.” He looked at Ryan, puzzled.
“Well, Dad,” Ryan tried to explain, “it was either that or the card that said, ‘Now that I’m a father too!’”
Submitted by Anne Carlson
We were marching to the chow hall when we spotted a pathetic- looking recruit standing at attention by a mailbox, a whole book of stamps plastered to his forehead. When our drill instructor demanded an explanation, the man bellowed, “This recruit has proved himself worthless and weak and is being mailed home to his mother!”
Mark Jones, Glendale, Arizona
My mother was standing on the bus when she noticed that a man holding on to the same pole was staring at her. Finally, he said, “Excuse me. This is my stop.”
“Well,” she said, “go ahead.”
“This is my pole,” he said.
My mother was confused until he added, “I just bought it at a store to hold up my shower curtain.”
I think I’ve finally decoded the language of sale-a-day websites:
Statement jewelry = large and ugly
Lots of personality = odd and ugly
Cutting-edge = disturbing and ugly
Debbie Skolnik, Scarsdale, New York
A headline in my local newspaper: “Appleton Airport May Soon Be Known as Appleton Airport.”
Allison Nastoff, Brookfield, Wisconsin
When I stepped on the scale at my doctor’s office, I was surprised to see that I weighed 144 pounds.
“Why don’t you just take off that last four?” I joked to the nurse’s aide as she made a notation on my chart.
A few moments later, my doctor came in and flipped through the chart.
“I see you’ve lost weight,” he said. “You’re down to 14 pounds.”
Rachel Wagner, Bixby, Oklahoma
I was alone in an elevator when a girl stepped in with a phone pressed to her ear. “I have to go,” she told the person on the other end. “There’s a cute guy standing here.” Before I could react, she turned to me and said, “Sorry for lying. I just wanted to end that conversation.”
Question: Now, to the best of your knowledge, did your internal bleeding stop?
Answer: I hope so.
Diane McElwee, Norfolk, Massachusetts
• I work in IT. A customer asked me if a string of numbers I’d read off was upper- or lowercase.
• Someone once asked, “Is this the museum?” I work at a pool.
• A few of the things customers have asked for at our art-supply store include disco balls, trees, and crucifixion wood.
• I’m a butcher. A woman asked if she could sleep in our freezer to test out a heavy-duty sleeping bag before a trip to the Himalayas.
A mother complained to my wife, a schoolteacher, that other students were stealing her daughter’s pencils.
“It’s not the money—it’s the principle,” she insisted. “My husband took those pencils from work.”
Roger Prengel, Lacey, Washington
My client buys many rental properties, not always with the enthusiastic support of his wife. Recently, I was showing him a home when his wife called. I could hear her ask what he was doing. “The real estate agent and I are having an affair,” he answered.
“Oh, thank God,” she said. “I thought she was selling you another house.”
Patti Simkins, Columbus, Georgia
Heard over the plant’s paging system: “Will John Porter please return to where you were before you went where you are.”
Irene Onorato, Plymouth, Massachusetts
Scene: A man applying for credit
at a department store.
Clerk: What do you do for a living?
Man: I’m a tree trimmer.
Clerk: What do you do after Christmas?
Ruth Sadeckas, Joelton, Tennessee
Recently, a man stopped at my desk at the library asking for help: A woman had breast-fed her infant and forgotten to “tuck herself back in.” I walked over to Lady Godiva and said, “Ma’am, I’m very sorry, but we don’t allow open drink containers in the library.”
When I enlisted in my teens, I took up smoking cigars to make myself look more mature.
Did it work? Well, one time, as I proudly puffed away at our NCO club, an older sergeant growled, “Hey, kid, your candy bar’s on fire.”
James Bushart, Cassville, Missouri
While at a convention, Bill, Jim, and Scott shared a hotel suite
on the 75th floor. After a long day of meetings, they were shocked to find that the hotel elevators were broken and that they’d have to climb all the way up to their room.
“I have a way to break the monotony,” said Bill. “I’ll tell jokes for 25 flights, Jim can sing songs for the next 25, and Scott can tell sad stories the rest of the way.”
As they started walking up, Bill told his first joke. At the 26th floor, Jim began to sing. At the 51st floor, it was Scott’s turn.
“I will tell my saddest story first,” he said. “Once there was a man who left the room key in the car.”
Noah Jorgensen, Silsbee, Texas
“Give me a sentence about a public servant,” the teacher instructed her second-grade student.
“The fireman came down the ladder pregnant,” he answered.
“Umm … Do you know what pregnant means?”
“Yes,” said the boy. “It means carrying a child.”
Earl B. Child, Roy, Utah
My daughter-in-law was driving on the freeway when the sight of flashing lights in her rearview mirror made her pull over.
“Do you know why I stopped you?” asked the state trooper. “You were going 85 miles per hour.”
“Impossible,” she argued. “I had my cruise control set at 82!”
Pat Goetzinger, Lincoln, California
We had just finished tucking our five kids into bed when three-year-old Billy began to wail. Turns out, he had accidentally swallowed a penny and was sure he was going to die. Desperate to calm him, my husband palmed a penny that he had in his pocket and pretended to pull it from Billy’s ear. Billy was delighted. In a flash, he snatched it from my husband’s hand, swallowed it, and demanded, “Do it again!”
Me: I have a Roundup Multi Purpose Sprayer that is defective.
Customer Rep: Ma’am, we’ll need the exact name of the item. Do you have the box?
Me: No, but it’s the Roundup Multi Purpose Sprayer.
Customer Rep: Ma’am, we’ll need the box so we can have the exact name of the product.
Me: Hold on. I’ll run out to my garage and get the box. [Long pause … ] OK … [huff … puff] I have it. It says … Roundup Multi Purpose Sprayer.
Customer Rep: Thank you for that information, ma’am.
—Linda Mowry, Midlothian, Virginia
First woman: Look at me—I have a muffin top.
Second woman: You’re complaining? I have the whole muffin!
—Cora McGrath, New Windsor, New York
When a family friend passed away, my granddaughter took her three-year-old son to visit the widow. As they approached the front door, she whispered to the boy, “Make sure to tell her how sorry you are.”
He whispered back, “Why? I didn’t kill him.”
—Charles Gildersleeve, Hohenwald, Tennessee
I mentioned to my sons that some teens used Facebook to plan a robbery at a local mall.
“How did the NSA miss that?” my 21-year-old asked.
“I told you guys,” said my 17-year-old. “No one uses Facebook anymore.”
—Mary-Heather Reynolds, Prattville, Alabama
Who wouldn’t be inspired to hire this young man? If his cover letter is to be believed, he’s eager to light a fire under the most recalcitrant colleague:
“I am a motivated, self-igniting person.”
Scene: The office
Me: We have to submit a form to every state.
Coworker: All 51?
Coworker: Whatever. I’m not good at geometry.
—Jill Lloyd, Bexley, Ohio
Scene: office cafeteria line
Friend: May I have pepper and salt?
(Counter guy looks confused.)
Friend: Sir? Pepper and salt?
(Counter guy grabs a bell pepper.)
Friend: No! Not that pepper. The pepper and salt …
Me: You know, like you shake it on?
(Coworker looks over.)
Coworker: Dude! She means the salt and pepper!
Counter guy: Oh! Why didn’t you just say that?
After interviewing a candidate for an open position, I got a thank-you e-mail, stating, “It was a pressure meeting you.”
—Michele Davis, Onsted, Michigan
Phlebotomist: I’m here to draw some blood.
Patient: But I just received blood yesterday.
Phlebotomist: You didn’t think you’d get to keep it, did you?
—Rebecca Shafer, Springfield, Missouri
There was a period when our company’s ownership was constantly changing hands, resulting in a new name for the business each time. After the latest regime and name change, I said, “We’re going to need a new company sign out front.”
A colleague said, “We don’t need a new sign; we need a blackboard.”
—Gary Schneider, St. Cloud, Minnesota
As a flight attendant, I wear a watch with two faces: one set for the time in our departure city, and the other set for our destination city. One day, a passenger asked me for the time. Looking at my watch, I told her, “It’s 9:41 in Chicago and 5:41 in Honolulu.”
Intrigued, she asked, “Is the watch available for other cities?”
—Pam Tatreau, Hermosa Beach, California
A client walked into my design studio with a black-and-white flyer.
Client: Can you make a color copy?
Me: Do you have the original?
Client: No. Just this one.
Me: Sorry, I can’t make color copies unless I have the original color version.
Client (confused): Why can’t you just run it through the color copier?
My husband and I couldn’t decide which jacket to buy our granddaughter, so we asked the young salesman.
“If you were buying a jacket for your girlfriend,” I said, “what would you get?”
“A bulletproof one,” he said. “I’m married.”
—John Canuteson, Liberty, Missouri
My seatmate on a flight was a woman. Ever the charmer, I asked, “Does the airline charge you extra for sitting next to good-looking men?”
“Yes,” she said, “but I wasn’t willing to pay.”
—Glen Phenix, Apex, North Carolina
As the music swelled during a recent wedding reception, my hopelessly romantic husband squeezed my hand, leaned in, and said, “You are better looking than half the women here.”
—Marlene Bambrick, Cleveland Heights, Ohio
A man walks into a barbershop and asks, “How much for a haircut?”
“Twelve dollars,” says the barber.
“And for a shave?”
“All right,” says the man, settling into the barber chair. “Shave my head.”
—Helen Russ, Medford, Oregon
A doctor sent this note to our medical clinic: “Patient needs a referral for your office from me. I saw her for her ankle and would like you to run over it.”
—M. P., via e-mail
These office drones know exactly what you’re thinking at work:
• No one likes hearing “agree to disagree.” Why don’t we just say, “You’re wrong, but I don’t feel like fighting about it right now”?
• Sorry, I don’t listen to lectures on being organized from people with 60 icons on their laptop’s desktop.
• Answers to questions asked on the way to the bathroom are not legally binding. People will agree to anything in that situation.
Supervisor: This project isn’t something we can finish off quickly. It’s like an onion. It has layers that we have to peel away, one by one.
Coworker: And it will make us cry a lot.
It’s Winter break time, and a lot of people will be traveling. Which means it’s also a great time to be the person who gets to approve visa requests, like these handed in by travelers to England.
• “I want to be closer to Elton John. He doesn’t come to Togo. Do you see him much in Britain?”
• “Do you know if it’s easier to find a wife in England? I’m struggling here [in Peru].”
• “Is everybody friends with the queen?”
My cousin once called in sick to work because of a “death in the family.”
I was her boss.
For much of her bartending shift, my wife had to contend with a rowdy customer. At the end of the night, he demanded, “Where’s the bathroom!?”
“Go down the hallway, and you’ll see a door marked gentlemen,” she said. “But don’t let that deter you.”
—Jason David, Hertfordshire, England
From a church bulletin: “The new parking area looks great. Thanks to the men who turned out Saturday to help with the groveling.”
Our neighbor brought over a delicious homemade meal, eliciting this comment from my daughter: “No offense, Mom, but Kristi’s dinner makes you look like a really bad mother.”
My older daughter quickly jumped to my defense.
“Parker, that’s absolutely not true,” she said. “Kristi just makes Mom look like a really bad cook.”
—Melissa Maiorano, Cary, North Carolina
Have a date for Valentine’s Day? Hope it doesn’t end up like these @FirstDateHell dates.
• He couldn’t remember my name, so he asked if I would mind if he just called me Amy instead.
• In a restaurant, she said she did a great impression of a fax machine. Then she beeped loudly while unraveling a napkin from her mouth.
• He said, “From your photo, I thought you were too good for me. I’m glad to see you’ve got flaws.” Then he listed them.
It’s easy to get disoriented when visiting New York City. One befuddled tourist asked his hotel concierge, “The last time we were in NYC, we got out of a subway, and we saw some water and some boats. Do you know where that is?”
I was visiting my mother one day, when she passed the candy dish full of chocolates and took one for herself.
“I thought your doctor told you to stop eating candy,” I said.
“Oh, I don’t have to listen to him anymore,” she replied.
Robert Orton, Highlands Ranch, Colorado
My daughter said something to me that I didn’t think was very polite. I told her she needed to say it again in a nicer way—so she repeated it with a British accent.
I was showing my kids an old rotary phone when my nine-year-old asked, “How did you text on it?”
My 15-year-old daughter roared with laughter, until a thought occurred to her: “Wait, where did you store your contacts?”
Tara Price, Leesburg, Georgia
My grandmother called to tell me she’d gotten an e-mail account. “Great,” I said. “Send me a message so I’ll have your e-mail address.” I waited and waited, but she never sent it. Several days later, an envelope arrived—Grandma had written her info on a piece of paper and mailed it to me.
Meagan Lundgren, Calgary, Ontario
Whoever said not to cry over spilled milk has obviously never had to pump before.
Vanessa Marchal, Marion, Illinois
“Those frames are so flattering,” I assured my sister. She’d just gotten new glasses after 25 years and wasn’t happy with them.
“They’re OK,” she said, staring gloomily at herself in the mirror.
“Can you see better?”
“Yeah, I can see better.”
“So what’s wrong?”
“Well, for one thing,” she said, “I thought I was still cute.”
Judee Norton, Show Low, Arizona
My nine-year-old and I passed a store with a sign that read “Watch Batteries Installed—$5.”
He seemed confused: “Who would pay to watch batteries installed?”
Deb Morris, North Creek, New York
Shortly after my grandmother passed away, I took my daughter to her grave site, which was located beside a row of pine trees.
“How nice,” I said. “Grandma has a great spot here in the shade.”
My daughter replied, “Mom, they’re all in the shade.”
Sandra Shea-Crabbe, Tolland, Connecticut
A neighbor’s 44-year-old sister was pregnant with twins. When her niece asked if she knew the genders, she said, “No. I want it to be a surprise.”
“You’re 44 and having twins,” said her niece. “How much more surprise do you need in your life?”
Jim Grant, Twinsburg, Ohio
When my husband’s friend gave his order at a fast-food restaurant, the cashier asked for his name.
“It’s Stephen, with a ph,” he said.
Soon after, he was handed his order and a receipt, which had his name on it: Phteven.
Wendy Dewberry, Pell City, Alabama
Our business relies heavily on abbreviations. For example, I called a customer the other day. Reading from my printout, I asked, “Are you still a fun director?”
After a pause, he replied, “I’m a funeral director.”
Susan Ladd, Coatesville, Pennsylvania
One of my fourth-grade students told me he had trouble with math. His explanation summed it up well: “The guy next to me always gets ten out of ten on his quizzes, and I get only ten out of four.”
Noelle Bidwell, North Battleford, Canada
From an ad for an acting job: “When we finish the commercial, it will be shown on screens in over 200 supermarkets. It’s a great opportunity for you to expose yourself in front of everyone!”
Yvonne Mikalopas, North Brunswick, New Jersey
My grandfather is a meat and potatoes guy. Once, while getting dinner ready, I asked how he liked his vegetables prepared. He said, “Fed to a cow, so they’ll turn into steak.”
Hayley Rosenbaugh, Houston, Texas
At an all-you-can-eat buffet, my nine-year-old was excited to find a chocolate milk machine. But her aunt did not approve. “Chocolate milk for dinner?” she asked.
“It’s delicious!” said my daughter.
Her aunt shrugged. “Well, its 8 a.m. somewhere.”
Nichole Vikdal, Yucca Valley, California
Our Grand Canyon guide was asked if people ever get too close to the edge and fall over.
“Some do,” he said. “I call that natural selection.”
Allison Johnson, Ventura, California
The traffic light near my street buzzes when it’s safe to cross the road. Recently, a friend of mine asked what the buzzer was for.
“It tells blind people when the light is red,” I said.
She was appalled: “What are blind people doing driving?”
Gloria Wilding, Great Britain
“That’s a nice plant,” said a woman at the florist’s shop, pointing to the flower I was buying.
“Yeah, my wife and I had an argument,” I admitted. “I was going to buy her a dozen roses, but I don’t think she’s that mad at me.”
Art Flagel, Benton Harbor, Michigan
In New York City, if you have a complaint or a question, dial the city’s 311 hotline and you might get it solved. We doubt these callers did.
“Who won American Idol?”
“Can you check to see if my boyfriend is married?”
“Can I claim my dog on my income tax?”
Source: New York Magazine
I recently ran into an old student of mine, who said, “I always liked you. You never had favorites. You were mean to everyone.”
Lois Henry, Farmington, Maine
Scene: Me at our auto dealership, cold-calling customers.
Me: Hi, I’m calling on behalf of…
Customer: Is this a recording?
Me: No, I am not a recording, sir. May I please speak to…
Customer: I don’t believe you!
Going in for a job interview? Don’t mess it up with questions like these from real candidates:
“Can my husband finish the test for me?”
“Would you consider going on a date with me?”
“Can I place my desk near the cafeteria?”
“Do I have to be at work every day?”
From a study by the staffing firm OfficeTeam
My first day on the job at an IKEA store, I was told by my boss that employees needed to go to the meeting room before every shift.
I asked why. He said, “Assembly required.”
Jim Mercer, Delta, Canada
A woman went into my father’s insurance office with her newborn twins. Dad asked her if she’d ever had any trouble telling them apart.
She gave him an odd look and said, “No, I haven’t had any problem. This is Benjamin, and this is Elizabeth.”
During graduate school, I tutored a football player in Psychology 101. After the session, my supervising professor asked me if I was interested in the student, since he was a good-looking athlete.
“No, I’m not,” I assured him.
“Yeah, you probably prefer men who eat quiche,” he joked.
“Actually, I prefer men who can spell quiche.”
Lynn Ahlgrim-Delzell,Mount Holly, North Carolina
Eight fellow accountants and I got into the elevator at work, never stopping our discussions about an upcoming meeting. After a minute, a voice from the back interrupted us.
“So,” a man said, “how many accountants does it take to press the elevator button?”
Anahita Hashemi, Stamford, Connecticut
After cleaning my five-year-old patient’s teeth, I accompanied him to the reception area, only to see him struggle with the oak door.
“It’s heavy, isn’t it?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said. “Is that so children can’t escape?”
Jennifer Sloetjes, Fort McMurray, Canada
As I headed into a liquor store, a colonel came out carrying two bags. I snapped to attention and saluted. The colonel responded in kind. The result: the soul-crunching sound of both bags crashing to the sidewalk. As liquor seeped into the gutter, he choked out, “Don’t ever salute me again!”
Chuck Munroe, Chesterfield, Missouri
Sign above the toilet in a women’s latrine at Camp Ripley in Minnesota: “If you are reading this sign while using this latrine, you are in the wrong one.”
Mike Lins, Savage, Minnesota
After leaving the Army, I applied for a hunting permit but was told I would first need to take a hunter’s safety course. “I’m a veteran, trained in handling firearms,” I said. “Why wouldn’t I get a waiver?”
The clerk replied, “Because we teach you not to shoot people.”
Fred Jarrett, Norfolk, New York
I could barely understand my client due to a lousy phone connection.
“Sorry,” he said. “I have the AT&T every-other-word plan.”
Sam Cohen, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
I recently learned a valuable lesson regarding what not to say to patients. At our large hospital, I watched as a nursing assistant pushed an elderly woman in a wheelchair. As he opened the door leading from the clinic into the hospital wing, the patient looked confused. “Where are we?” she asked.
The nursing assistant gently explained, “We’ve gone over to the other side.”
Cheryl McCormick, Roanoke, Virginia
I eavesdropped on two of my language arts students. The first one asked, “Did you warsh your hands?”
“It’s not warsh, it’s wash,” said the other. “The r is silent.”
Tiffany Brown, Blue Springs, Missouri
When I interviewed for a job six months after my 70th birthday, I was asked my age. With nothing to hide, I replied, “I’m halfway to my 71st birthday.”
The interviewer looked skeptical. “No offense,” he said, “but you look older than 35.”
Michael E. Hunt, Woodacre, California
Hannu wants everything to be perfect for his anniversary trip to the hotel where he and his wife honeymooned 30 years earlier. So he gets there a day early to make all the arrangements. That night, he e-mails her but misspells the address, and the message goes to a recent widow.
The next day, the widow’s son finds his mother passed out in front of her computer. On the screen is this e-mail: “My darling wife, I’ve just gotten here and everything’s set for your arrival tomorrow. I hope your trip down here will be as pleasant as mine.
“P.S. It’s really hot!”
My cousin always “borrows” money from her older brother’s piggy bank, which drives him crazy. One day, she found the piggy in, of all places, the freezer. Inside was this note: “Dear sister, I hope you’ll understand, but my capital has been frozen.”
—Source: Funny in China Survey
Our professor had run through some of philosophy’s heaviest hitters: Xenophanes, Anaxagoras, Descartes, Schleiermacher, and Nietzsche. He had just started in on Pierre Teilhard de Chardin when a voice begged, “Did anyone named Smith ever write anything?”
Rev. Russell Wisehart, Harlan, Iowa
“What are you doing?” asked my mother after I pressed several buttons on her microwave.
“Reheating these leftovers for two minutes at 80 percent.”
“I didn’t know you could do that.”
“Sure. How do you reheat bacon?”
“Oh,” she said, “that’s two biscuits and a popcorn.”
Robin Roberson, Sandy, Utah
Leafing through Madison, Wisconsin’s Capital Times, I noticed this classified ad: “For sale: one used tombstone. Splendid opportunity for family named Dingle.”
Allen Klein, San Francisco, California
I asked my pastor, “If I don’t quit smoking, will I go to hell?”
“No,” he said. “You’ll just smell like it.”
Carolyn Owens, Minneapolis, Minnesota
A few weeks back, I went to the hardware store and bought an ax to use on an overgrown shrub. I put the ax in a bag and went a few doors down to the grocery store, where I bought two bottles of wine. As the clerk placed the wine in the bag, he spotted the ax.
“This,” he said, “has all the makings of a very interesting weekend.”
Lyle Brewer, Palm Springs, California
Our normally sweet Great Dane has one quirk: She hates United Parcel Service drivers. While walking her one day, we came upon a guy delivering a package. Struggling to keep hold of her, I joked, “As you can see, she just loves UPS men.”
Circumnavigating us, he muttered, “Don’t you feed her anything else?”
Donald Dawson, Gilbert, Arizona
Wife: “Honey, did you notice? I bought a new toilet brush.”
Husband: “Yes, I did. But I still prefer the paper.”
—Source: Funny in Switzerland
Think it’s easy being a landlord? Check out these tenant complaints:
“The toilet is blocked, and we cannot bathe the children until it is cleared.”
“Fifty percent of the walls are damp, 50 percent have crumbling plaster, and 50 percent are just plain filthy.”
“My wife tripped and fell on it yesterday, and now she is pregnant.”
“I request permission to remove my drawers in the kitchen.”
“I wish to report that tiles are missing from the outside toilet roof. I think it was bad wind the other day that blew them off.”
“It’s the dog’s mess that I find hard to swallow.”
My father-in-law asked his wife what he should name his new boat. She said, “Name it after me.” The next time she saw the boat, it had After Me on the back of it.
—Perce Cox, on gcfl.net
My wife is a very adventurous cook. “How does this sound?” she called out from the kitchen. “Bonito, surimi, and anchovies in a decadent, silky broth.”
“Sounds delicious,” I hollered back. “Is that what we’re having tonight?”
“No. I’m reading from this packet of cat food.”
—David Wellings, India
On my way home from my mother’s, I realized I’d left my cell phone at her house. So I went back to get it. Upon retrieving it, I noticed I had a message from Mom. She’d texted, “You left your phone.”
—David Obando, Houston, Texas
My sister got a call from her son’s kindergarten teacher. When he’d gone in to check on Little James in the bathroom, he noticed the boy was using a urinal.
“That’s odd,” my sister said. “We never taught him how to use a urinal.”
“I could tell,” said the teacher. “He was sitting in it.”
—Esther Olchewski, West Valley City, Utah
When my lifelong-bachelor uncle turned 78, he traveled across the country to visit a dozen or so old girlfriends.
“How’d it go?” I asked when he returned.
“Thank God I never married any of them,” he said. “They’re all widows.”
—Bill Notchman, Montclair, New Jersey
A customer’s request to the general store in his vacation town:
“I would like to reserve a New York Times, Star-Ledger, and Post for every Saturday, Sunday, and Monday from June 22 till Labor Day.
However, we will be in Greece from July 1 to July 8. My son may or may not pick up the papers then, we don’t know. We will be in Spain for two weeks in August. Not sure which two, though. We’ll try to let you know.
Oh, and we don’t need the Times on any Mondays in July, except the 8th of July.”
The store’s response: “Effective July … we will no longer be reserving newspapers.”
From the news: “Bob” was considered a star at the computer company where he worked. He made a six-figure salary and routinely received excellent performance reviews.
And now we know why: Without his boss’s knowledge, “Bob” had outsourced his entire job to a company in China—for a fifth of his salary. He then spent his days at his desk playing games, shopping on eBay, and watching cat videos.
My friend, a flight attendant, asked a businessman what he would like to drink. After thinking about it, he replied, “Coffee … to go.”
—Angela McEntee, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Two women came to my photo studio to have their portrait taken. My very young and very naïve assistant asked, “Are you two sisters?”
“No,” said one of the women. “We’re partners.”
“Ohhhh …,” said my assistant.
“So how long have you ladies been cops?”
—Jennifer Cordova, Glendale, Arizona
Bookstore owners share their customers’ oddest requests.
“Where’s your true fiction section?”
Holding an autographed book: “I want to buy this book but not this copy because someone’s written in it.”
“Do you have Pride and Produce?”
My neighbor, a police officer, pulled someone over for texting while driving, a big no-no in our state. The driver was having none of it.
“I was not texting!” she insisted indignantly. “I was on Facebook.”
—Brenda Morales, Crown Point, Indiana
Overheard: a mother bragging about her daughter. “She’s very articulate. She can draw anything.”
Rhonda Turnbow, Cunningham, Kentucky
I went with a friend to the country to look at a house he was thinking of buying. We found the town but not the road. We drove over to city hall, but no one there had heard of the road, not even the police or firefighters we asked. Finally, a young guy came to our aid. Pulling out a map, he showed us exactly how to get there.
“Thanks,” I said. “Are you with the police or fire department?”
“Neither,” he said. “I deliver pizzas.”
—Thomas Ellsworth, on gcfl.net
My sister got a call from a telemarketer who was selling replacement windows. “I can’t use them,” she said. “I’m renting an apartment.”
“No problem,” he said. “You can take the windows with you when you move.”
— Laura O’Neal, Euclid, Ohio
In the British documentary 56 Up, a man shared that he had earned a law degree at Oxford. Then, in his thick English accent, he proudly proclaimed that he was now a “barrister.” My 13-year-old daughter wasn’t impressed.
“So,” she said, “he spent all that effort getting an Oxford law degree, and now he works at Starbucks?”
Lauren Joyce, San Rafael, California
While phoning a friend, my grandmother dialed the wrong number. She apologized and tried again, but she got the same number. Once more she hung up and redialed—same result. Now Grandma was frustrated. “Look,” she told the person on the other end, “I’m going to call my friend again. This time, don’t answer her phone!”
—Danielle Gilleland, Louisburg, North Carolina
On a trip to Sweden, I asked a few people where I could find some good local cuisine.
“This is a pretty cosmopolitan city, so you can find just about any kind of international food that you’d like,” said one man. “But if you want truly local cuisine, get the meatballs at IKEA.”
Patrick Klever, Richmond, Kentucky
I’m not the easiest guy in the world to get along with. So when our anniversary rolled around, I wanted my wife to know how much I appreciated her tolerating me for the past 20 years. I ordered flowers and told the florist to enclose a card that read, “Thanks for putting up with me so long.”
When my wife got the delivery, she called me at work.
“Where are you going?” she asked.
“What do you mean?” I said.
She read the card aloud as the florist had written it: “Thanks for putting up with me. So long.”
—George Arnold, Melbourne, Florida
A wife asks her husband, “Could you please go shopping for me and buy one carton of milk and, if they have avocados, get six.”
A short time later, the husband returns with six cartons of milk.
“Why did you buy six cartons of milk?” his wife asks.
He replies, “They had avocados.”
Submitted by Tom Buoye, Manchester, New Jersey
Our minister announced that admission to a church social event would cost $6 per person.
“However,” he said, “if you’re over 65, the price will be $5.50.”
From the back of the congregation, a woman shouted, “Do you really think I’d give you that information for only 50 cents?”
—Thomas Ellsworth, gcfl.net
Ad from a printer I will not be doing business with: “We offer a full line of pricing options that will meet or exceed your printing budget.”
—Rachel Wagner, Bixby, Oklahoma
I ordered a foot-long sandwich from a take-out restaurant and asked the clerk to cut it into fourths. “I’m sorry, I can’t,” she said. “I already cut it in half.”
—Christine Smart, Dayton, Ohio
Needing to look up a phone number at a friend’s house, my teenage daughter asked for a phone book. She might as well have asked for a papyrus scroll.
“A phone book?” asked her friend.
“You know,” said my daughter. “A book with numbers in it.”
“Oh,” said her friend as it dawned on her. “You mean a math book.”
—Karen Eccles, La Mesa, California
My friend forgot his laptop on the floor of my room. My grandma thought it was a scale. Conclusion: My grandma weighs $950.
A month ago, my friend announced on Facebook that she was no longer ordering the large Coke at McDonald’s and would order only the small size. But the other day, looking to satisfy a craving, she drove up to the intercom at the drive-through and ordered a large soft drink. A disembodied voice replied, “I thought you were cutting back.”
—Julie Engelhardt, Hollister, California
During a science lesson, my sister-in-law picked up a magnet and said to her second-grade class, “My name begins with the letter M, and I pick things up. What am I?”
A little boy answered, “You’re a mommy.”
—Robert Boyer, Marion, Indiana
Customer: Pardon me, I’m lost.
Me: What are you looking for?
Customer: I’m looking for Milkjer Boulevard.
Me: I’ve never heard of it. Can I see your directions?
Customer: Sure. See, it’s spelled M-L-K-J-R Boulevard.
Take heed, scientists: Not every scientific advancement is Nobel Prize worthy. Some must lay claim to an Ig Nobel Prize, awarded by the Annals of Improbable Research magazine:
The Prize for Physiology went to the report “No Evidence of Contagious Yawning in the Red-Footed Tortoise.”
The Prize for Medicine went to a study that demonstrates that people make better decisions about some kinds of things — but worse decisions about other kinds of things — when they have a strong urge to urinate.
The Prize for Biology went to the discovery that a particular kind of beetle mates with a particular kind of Australian beer bottle.
The topic for my third-grade class was genetics. Smiling broadly, I pointed to my dimples and asked, “What trait do you think I passed on to my children?”
One student called out, “Wrinkles!”
Needing to escape her hectic office, my friend fled to the mall, bought a candy bar, and then relaxed on a bench next to a businessman. Soon, she heard the sound of a crumpling wrapper and realized that he was eating her candy bar. When he went to work on an ice cream cone, she leaned over and took a huge lick.
“There!” she declared. She then stormed off to her car, reached into her purse for her keys, and pulled out the candy bar she thought he’d eaten.
As I shopped, the following announcement came over the department store’s PA system: “If someone here has a convertible with the top down, it just started raining. Towels are located in aisle five.”
In an attempt to balance work and motherhood, I delegated the grocery shopping to my young babysitter. But the job proved a tad daunting. One day while I was at work, she texted me from the supermarket. “Can’t find Brillo pads,” she wrote. “All they have are Tampax and Kotex.”
My friend reviewed her young son’s fill-in-the-blank homework. One line: “At Christmas, we exchange gifts with ____.”
His response: “Receipts.”
You’d die of embarrassment if these phrases appeared in your obituary:
“She leaves behind a brother and 117 cats.”
“Passed away in a failed stunt that has already been viewed more than 40 million times on YouTube.”
“Was always quick to point out others’ grammatical errors.”
“Survived by his parents and his animatronic wife, Elizabot.”
There are people who have green thumbs. And then there’s me, Ms. Black Thumb.
I didn’t think anyone else noticed until the day my sister visited. “I found this in the yard,” she said, handing me a potted plant as she came in the door. “I think the wind blew it off your deck.”
“It wasn’t the wind,” my husband joked. “It jumped.”
Shortly after the FAA announced the ban on fluids, my husband was stopped by airport security because they found a bottle of water in one of his carry-on bags.
“Sorry,” the officer said, tossing the bottle into a bin of confiscated items, “but water is now considered a liquid.”
“I’ll never find the right guy,” I heard the young guest at the wedding shower sigh.
“Don’t give up,” urged an older woman. “Every pot has a lid.”
“Or,” a cynical voice behind her offered, “you could just be a skillet.”
You didn’t have to be a brain surgeon to figure out that a customer at our post office was an off-duty mail clerk from another plant. He’d written on his package, “Fragile: Toss Underhand.”
Few people know what a quartermaster does. So during my aircraft carrier’s Family Day, I demonstrated a procedure called semaphore—I grabbed my flags and signaled an imaginary boat.
When finished, I pointed to a little girl in front and asked, “Now do you know what I do?”
“Yes,” she said. “You’re a cheerleader.”
She’s only in her 40s, but my friend Mary has bounced back from cancer, heart problems, even a stroke. Through it all, she and her husband, Mark, have kept their sense of humor. One day she said, “You know what kills me … ?”
Smiling, Mark teased, “Apparently nothing.”
My mom moved into a new condo, and I went to visit for a couple of days. Searching for a coffee cup one morning, I sighed, “It seems like I’m always looking for something in your kitchen.”
“That’s good,” Mom said. When I looked confused, she explained, “Because when you know where to look, it’s time to go home.”
When I put on my new chef uniform — a pair of very baggy, loud-striped pants — I was mildly horrified. But my wife was philosophical.
“It’s okay, honey,” she said in her soothing way. “You’re just a victim of circus pants.”
When our client’s dog lapped up anti-freeze, the veterinarian I work for ordered a unique treatment: an IV drip mixing fluids with vodka. “Go buy the cheapest bottle you can find,” he told me.
At the liquor store, I was uneasy buying cheap booze so early in the day, and I felt compelled to explain things to the clerk.
“Believe it or not,” I said, “this is for a sick dog.”
As I was leaving, the next customer plunked down two bottles of muscatel and announced, “These are for my cats.”
Dating is complicated. You don’t believe us? Here are some examples:
Right after we broke up, my ex-girlfriend called to ask how to change her relationship status on Facebook.
I got into a 90-minute argument with my girlfriend because she was adamant that Moby Dick was a true story. I finally let her win so I could go to sleep.
My now ex-girlfriend and I were in my room one day, and the Internet was particularly slow. After I complained, she suggested that I untangle my Ethernet cord so that more Internet could get through.
I recently joined an online dating site, and one of my matches was my first cousin.
When a neighbor’s home was burglarized, I decided to be more safety conscious. But my measly front-door lock wasn’t going to stop anyone, so I hung this sign outside: “Nancy, don’t come in. The snake is loose. Mom.”
I can’t tell the difference between a rose and a dandelion. So when it came time to fix up my garden, I had no clue which plants to keep and which ones to remove. Until, that is, my mother gave me this handy tip: “Pull them all up. If it comes back, it’s a weed.”
After my ten-year-old daughter declared her disgust with cosmetic surgery, I dropped a bomb on her. “Don’t be too quick to judge,” I told her. “Before college, I had a nose job.”
She was completely thrown. “You mean,” she said, “it was bigger?”
It’s tough enough selling a home nowadays. Don’t make the mistakes that turned off these readers on the City Room blog of The New York Times:
• “It was a good house, well-maintained. But the bed with the person in it was off-putting.”
• “The family dog, long departed, was stuffed and standing next to the fireplace. RIP Sparky.”
• “The main distraction was dirt. Although there was the tiny child who proudly showed us the refrigerator full of ‘Daddy’s beer’ just outside an upstairs bedroom.”
My mother cast one of her students as the innkeeper for the Christmas pageant. All the third grader had to do was tell Joseph, “There is no room at the inn.”
But during the performance—after Joseph begged for a room for his pregnant wife—the boy didn’t have the heart to turn him down.
“Well,” he said, “if it’s so urgent, come on in.”
I always thought my friend was disorganized, but after helping her move, I stand corrected. The label on a box I carried read “Stuff off the floor.”
Dad passed away recently, and among the messages received by my mother was this e-mail from a great-niece: “Our thoughts are with you, Lucy. You and Chas are the last of an error.”
I arrived home from work to find all the windows and doors wide open. Apparently our puppy had had an accident.
“Yeah, it really stank,” my daughter told me. “In fact, when we first walked in, I thought you had come home early and were cooking dinner.”
Our 25-year-old son moved back home with an eye toward socking away money to buy a condo. We never bothered asking how long he’d planned to stay, but I got a pretty good idea when I walked into his room recently. In the corner was a milk jug with a few coins in it and a label that read “Condo down payment.”
My wife is a by-the-recipe baker. But that attention to detail still hasn’t made her chocolate chip cookies taste any better. One day, after the cookies had been in the oven a while, I smelled a familiar odor. “They’re burning,” I shouted.
“I know,” she said nonchalantly.
“Aren’t you going to take them out?”
“No. They still have six minutes.”
“What’s the difference between an optimist and a pessimist?” I asked my husband. He thought for a minute before responding, “An optimist is the guy who created the airplane. A pessimist is the guy who created the parachute.”
I was not thrilled with the idea of letting my clueless 13-year-old son babysit his younger sisters, even though he begged me to.
“What about a fire?” I asked, referring to my No. 1 concern.
“Mom,” he said, rolling his eyes, “I’m a Boy Scout. I know how to start a fire.”
At age 70, my grandfather bought his first riding lawn mower.
“This thing is great,” he bragged to my brother. “It took me only an hour and a half to mow the lawn. It used to take your grandmother two days to do it all!”
When my father ran out of gas, he called my mother to pick him up in her car. They went to a gas station, filled a gas can, and returned to his car. After a few minutes, he got into her car again. “We need to go back to the gas station,” he said.
“One gallon wasn’t enough?” she asked.
“It would have been if I’d put it in the right car.”
Anyone can eavesdrop, but not everyone thinks to record conversations for posterity. We thank those snoopers who alerted overheardinnewyork.com to these:
Guy: Your glasses can’t be bad—you just got them!
Girl: Yeah, but I cheated on the eye exam, so it’s really my own fault.
Guy: That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.
Girl: I’m very competitive.
Girl: Why would he say that I was not educated?
Friend: Well, that’s not exactly what he said, now, was it?
Girl: No. He said I was tapid and voided of thought.
Friend: Vapid and devoid of thought.
Girl: Same thing.
Girl #1 (picking up box of baking soda): I didn’t know soda was baked.
Girl #2: Thank God it’s not fried! Do you know how many extra calories that would be?!
My mother asked me to hand out invitations for my brother’s surprise birthday party. That’s when I realized he was her favorite twin.
Brevity is next to confusion in the insurance business. When a client died, her daughter told our agency that she would cancel the home policy the following week, once her mother’s belongings were removed. Simple, right? Here’s the note that was placed in the client’s file: “Deceased will call next week to cancel moving her things out.”
Overheard in a ladies’ fitting room: “Honestly, do these pants make my rear end look big?”
“Honestly? Your rear end makes the pants look big.”
Once I’d finished reviewing my daughter’s homework, I gave her an impromptu quiz. “What is a group of whales called?” I asked. “I’ll give you a hint—it sounds like something you use to listen to music.”
“An iPod?” she guessed.
“Close,” I said. “But what I’m thinking of is a little smaller.”
Just as I began my Christmas Eve service, the electricity in the church failed. The ushers and I found some candles and placed them around the sanctuary. Then I reentered the pulpit, shuffled my notes, and muttered, “Now, where was I?”
A tired voice called out, “Right near the end!”
After giving birth, I quit my job. The exit questionnaire asked, “What steps would have prevented you from leaving?” My answer: “Birth control.”
During a conference, I was pleasantly surprised to be seated next to a very handsome man. We flirted casually through dinner, then grew restless as the dignitaries gave speeches. During one particularly long-winded lecture, my new friend drew a # sign on a cocktail napkin. Elated, I wrote down my phone number.
Looking startled for a moment, he drew another # sign, this time adding an X to the upper-left-hand corner.
1. Past Lives
On a family vacation one summer, we crossed Wyoming and noted several historical points of interest. The children were especially interested because they enjoyed the computer game “Oregon Trail,” which gives players a taste of the hardships the pioneers endured. We stopped at the famous South Pass to look at the wagon tracks still visible in the dirt. Squinting out over the desolate, wind-swept landscape, my daughter nodded and said grimly, “This is where my oxen always die.”
— Quin Gilbert
2. Mr. Summertime
We all grew up in a town on the New Jersey shore and spent our summers at the beach, swimming, surfing, hanging out with friends. One of my friends loved the season so much, we began calling him Mr. Summertime. “What happens when summer is over?” someone asked.
I thought for a minute, then said, “In September he becomes the Fall Guy.”
— J. Cummings
3. Wishful Thinking
My two-year-old cousin scared us one summer by disappearing during our lakeside vacation. More than a dozen relatives searched the forest and shoreline, and everyone was relieved when we found Matthew playing calmly in the woods.
“Listen to me, Matthew,” his mother said sharply. “From now on when you want to go someplace, you tell Mommy first, okay?”
Matthew thought about that for a moment and said, “Okay. Disney World.”
— Leah Hallenbeck
4. Moving Forward
The summer after college graduation, I was living at home, fishing in the daytime, spending nights with my friends—generally just hanging out. One afternoon my grandfather, who never went to college, stopped by.
Concerned with how I was spending my time, he asked about my future plans. I told him I was in no hurry to tie myself down to a career.
“Well,” he replied, “you better start thinking about it. You’ll be thirty before you know it.”
“But I’m closer to twenty than to thirty,” I protested. “I won’t be thirty for eight more years.”
“I see,” he said, smiling. “And when will you be twenty again?”
— Marshall K. Essig
5. Sounding Off
I was with a friend in a café when a noisy car alarm interrupted our conversation. “What good are car alarms when no one pays any attention to them?” I wondered aloud.
“Some are quite effective,” my friend corrected me. “Last summer, my teenager spent a lot of time at the neighbors’. Whenever I wanted him home, I’d go out to our driveway and jostle his car.”
— Sheila Moore
6. A Perfect Fit
For her summer job, my 18-year-old daughter arranged interviews at several day-care centers. At one meeting, she sat down on one of the kiddie seats, no simple task for most people. The interview went well, and at the end, the day-care center director asked the standard question, “Can you give me one good reason we should hire you?”
“Because I fit in the chairs.” She got the job.
— Judith L. McKay
7. Tag Sale Special
I was getting ready for a tag sale one summer day. Since it was so humid out, I decided to stay inside my air-conditioned house and mark the special stickers I had bought for the sale. Then I slapped them on my blouse, ran outside, stuck them on the appropriate items and rushed back inside. I did this until every item was labeled. Later that day a UPS man came by the house with a delivery. I noticed that as I was signing for the package, he seemed ill at ease. It was only after he left that I noticed there was one sticker still attached to the front of my blouse. It read “Make me an offer.”
— Mary E. Koppelmann
8. Clowning Around
Before heading on vacation, I went to a tanning salon. I was under the lights so long the protective eye shades I wore left a big white circle around each eye. Gazing at myself in the mirror the next day, I thought, “Man, I look like a clown.” I had almost convinced myself I was overreacting — until I was in line at the grocery store. I felt a tug at my shirt and looked down to see a toddler staring up at me, “Are you giving out balloons?” he asked.
— Nina Secviar, Hammond, Ind.
9. Hotter Cooler
On a recent vacation at a resort with my in-laws, we planned to spend an afternoon at the pool with our kids. We wanted to bring our own drinks, but were unsure of the hotel’s policy. My brother-in-law called the front desk, and assuming everyone was familiar with the brand of ice chest he had, asked if it was all right if he brought a Playmate to the pool. After a pause the clerk asked, “Does she have her own towel?”
— Tina M. Digiovanna
Vacationing in Vermont, I picked up the local paper to check out the forecast. It read: Today: Sunny, 76. Tonight: Not so sunny, 55.
— Norrine Trono
11. Beach Date
Our first day at a resort my wife and I decided to hit the beach. When I went back to our room to get something to drink, one of the hotel maids was making our bed. I grabbed my cooler and was on my way out when I paused and asked, “Can we drink beer on the beach?”
“Sure,” she said, “but I have to finish the rest of the rooms first.”
— Louis Allard
12. Familiar Faces
Vacationing in Hawaii, two priests decide to wear casual clothes so they won’t be identified as clergy. They buy Hawaiian shirts and sandals, and soon hit the beach. They notice a gorgeous blonde in a tiny bikini. “Good afternoon, Fathers,” she says as she strolls by.
The men are stunned. How does she know they’re clergy? Later they buy even wilder attire: surfer shorts, tie-dyed T-shirts, and dark glasses. The next day, they return to the beach. The same fabulous blonde, now wearing a string bikini, passes by, nods politely at them, and says, “Good morning, Fathers.”
“Just a minute, young lady,” says one of the priests. “We are priests and proud of it, but how in the world did you know?”
“Don’t you recognize me? I’m Sister Kathryn from the convent.”
— Michael Rana
13. Noisy by Nature
Some people just aren’t happy unless they have something to complain about. I stayed in a beautiful hotel right on the beach in California — an idyllic spot, you would think. But while I was waiting to check out, I heard the manager ask another guest, “Did you enjoy your stay?”
“Not really,” the man said grimly.
“I’m sorry to hear that,” the manager apologized.
“What was the problem?”
“The surf was too loud.”
— Daniel Vargas
14. Something’s Fishy
While in the men’s room at a beach park in Florida, I noticed they had a plastic baby-changing table installed on the wall. Apparently, some sportsmen had co-opted this politically correct amenity for their own use. Above the table was a sign saying: “It is unlawful to clean fish on this table.”
— Cliff Revell
15. Out of Breath
While editing announcements for a newspaper, I came across an item promoting a camp for children with asthma. Aside from all the wonderful activities the kids could enjoy, such as canoeing, swimming, crafts and more, it promised that its lakefront property offered something the kids probably did not expect: “breathtaking views.”
— Christy Nichols
16. Young Man
Visiting his parents’ retirement village in Florida, my middle-aged friend, Tim, went for a swim in the community pool while his elderly father took a walk. Tim struck up a conversation with the only other person in the pool, a five-year-old boy. After a while, Tim’s father returned from his walk and called out, “I’m ready to leave.”
Tim then turned to his new friend and announced that he had to leave because his father was calling. Astonished, the wide-eyed little boy cried, “You’re a kid?”
— Janice Palko
17. Fast Swimmer
I was talking on the phone with my son, who was stationed in Hawaii with the Air Force. He was explaining how the troops were learning to scuba-dive. They used the buddy system, he said, and occasionally dived into shark-infested waters. Listening on the extension, my daughter asked, “What do you do when you see a shark?”
Said my son, “Swim faster than my buddy.”
— Joan Nozkowski
A middle school in New Ipswich, New Hampshire, encourages freethinking. A sign outside the school reads, “You are unique—just like everyone else.”
Driving along a country road, I ignored a Bridge Out sign and continued on. But in a few miles I came to a stop: The road was completely barricaded. So I turned around and retraced my route. That’s when I saw this sign on the back of the first: “It was, wasn’t it?”