Whenever I have an appointment with a doctor, I try to remember to bring along my own magazine or (better yet) the current writing project with which I’m wrestling. Unfortunately, I’m often in a hurry, and sometimes forget . . . which means I need to rely on that odd potpourri of dated magazines that typically migrate to medical waiting rooms.
This week found me in precisely this precarious predicament. I arrived rather early in my dentist’s office, and it turned out that he was slightly behind schedule. Not the best of circumstances. I approached the magazine rack with trepidation.
To my delight I saw a Reader’s Digest with a cover article about “Fifty Dumb Boss Stories.” Having worked for my share of dullards, I thought this should be entertaining. The fact that it included comments from Dwight Schrute of The Office made it just that much more promising.
I wasn’t disappointed. Among the many silly acts recorded in the article were a collection of malaprops voiced by witless bosses. Here are a few:
The Greek pyramids weren’t built in a day.
Spurt me out an email.
Let’s not put the horse before the cart.
We’re not preparing the report because it would be an exercise in fertility.
And my personal favorite, the elegantly mixed metaphor: “It’s not rocket surgery!” Nor is it, I suspect, brain science.
Most of us appreciate humor—even when it’s unintended. C.S. Lewis, in Reflections on the Psalms, wrote: “A little comic relief in a discussion does no harm, however serious the topic may be. (In my own experience the funniest things have occurred in the gravest and most sincere conversations.)”
Now, before ending this post, I need to point out one more truth. Dimwitted bosses aren’t the only people who stumble over words and meld images better left autonomous. Every one of us has occasionally experienced the proverbial “slip of the tongue,” and sometimes with quite entertaining results. Jokes—whether intentional or accidental—can all be appreciated. As the newly created Talking Animals of Narnia are told by Aslan:
“Laugh and fear not, creatures. Now that you are no longer dumb and witless, you need not always be grave. For jokes as well as justice come in with speech.” (The Magician’s Nephew).