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    THINKING, quick

    Back in 1934, when the Cunard line was getting ready to name its greatest ocean liner, the consensus was that it should be named after Queen Elizabeth I. A high official is reported to have had an audience with King George V. "We would like to name the ship after England's greatest queen," he told the king. "Well," said King George, "I shall have to ask her." The ship was promptly named Queen Mary. 

    Bits and Pieces, Oct 17, 1991.


    A man working in the produce department was asked by a lady if she could buy half a head of lettuce. He replied, "Half a head? Are you serious? God grows these in whole heads and that's how we sell them!" 

    "You mean," she persisted, "that after all the years I've shopped here, you won't sell me half-a-head of lettuce?" 

    "Look," he said, "If you like I'll ask the manager."

    She indicated that would be appreciated, so the young man marched to the front of the store. "You won't believe this, but there's a lame-braided idiot of a lady back there who wants to know if she can buy half-a-head of lettuce." He noticed the manager gesturing, and turned around to see the lady standing behind him, obviously having followed him to the front of the store. "And this nice lady was wondering if she could buy the other half" he concluded. 

    Later in the day the manager cornered the young man and said, "That was the finest example of thinking on your feet I've ever seen! Where did you learn that?" 

    "I grew up in Grand Rapids, and if you know anything about Grand Rapids, you know that it's known for its great hockey teams and its ugly women."

    The manager's face flushed, and he interrupted, "My wife is from Grand Rapids!"

    "And which hockey team did she play for?"

    Source Unknown.


    Test pilots have a litmus test for evaluating problems. When something goes wrong, they ask, "Is this thing still flying?" If the answer is yes, then there's no immediate danger, no need to overreact. When Apollo 12 took off, the spacecraft was hit by lightning. The entire console began to glow with orange and red trouble lights. There was a temptation to "Do Something!" But the pilots asked themselves, "Is this thing still flying in the right direction?" The answer was yes--it was headed for the moon. They let the lights glow as they addressed the individual problems, and watched orange and red lights blink out, one by one. That's something to think about in any pressure situation. If your thing is still flying, think first, and then act.  

    Capt. Alan Bean, USN, Apollo Astronaut, in Reader's Digest.