Bus Stopper

Bob Elliott of the Bob and Ray comedy team tells of an extraordinary ride he took on a bus in New York City:

The driver greeted all the riders by saying, “No smiling, please!”  The passengers, some of them shoppers hefting packages up the steps, looked at the driver in amazement. Then they smiled. Even the sourest-looking people would smile.

As each of new group boarded, the announcement was repeated. “We don’t allow smiling on this bus,” the driver would say. “No smiling while bus in motion, please,” he might add, as the bus got under way.

The reaction to this psychology was infectious. After half a dozen blocks nearly everyone aboard was indeed smiling —even discussing the phenomenon with the passenger in the next seat. All the while they enjoyed the reaction of new riders as they got the same treatment.

When they reached their stops, many passengers exited by the forward door to thank the driver for the experience. They said, “Have a nice day.” Of course everybody says that; it’s kind of cornball to say it. But I really do believe it made everybody’s day.

—Glen Collins in New York Times

Labor Charges

My feisty 70-year-old neighbor Frances had to call a furnace repairman. After a quick inspection the man put some oil into the motor and handed her a $70 bill for labor. “Labor charges!” Frances exclaimed. “It only took you five minutes.”

The repairman explained that his company had a minimum one-hour charge on every house call. “Well, I want my remaining 55 minutes of labor,” my neighbor responded and she handed him a rake. He spent the next 55 minutes in her back yard cleaning up the fallen leaves.

~Lisa Miller

Steam Room

My husband, Robert, repeatedly told me how relaxing he found the steam room in the YMCA. Since I had never used one before, I decided to give it a try. I opened the door, went into the empty room and sat down. It was warm and comfortable, and I thought: Robert’s right. This is great! Then the door opened, and a woman walked in. “Do you mind if I turn it on?” she asked.

-Loretta Whitehorn

In Other Words

TOURIST: One who travels to see things that are different and then complains when they aren’t the same.

-Dublin Opinion

EDUCATION: What’s left when you’ve forgotten everything you ever learned.

-Quoted by George Plimpton in Esquire

JOURNALIST: A person with nothing on his mind and the power to express it.

-Russell Baker, There’s a Country in My Cellar

ECONOMIST: Someone who doesn’t have the personality to be an accountant.

-Robert Reich

FOOTBALL FAN: A guy who yells at the quarterback for missing a receiver 46 yards down field and then can’t find his own car in the parking lot after the game.

-Quoted by Ann Landers, Creators Syndicate

EXPERT: A person who may not have all the answers but is sure he could get them with the proper funding.

-Ivern Ball in The Wall Street Journal