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Breaking In the Greenies

Every organization has pranks they play on the newcomers. At least, if they're human. I remember when I worked at the State of Washington's Office of Financial Management, back in 1980, we programmed on teletype terminals. (Sounds primitive, I know... but at least we were using OS/VS2 JCL and PL/1. Another section was still running card punch programs on a Harris.)

Well, under ORVYL, when you logged in there was a sort of .ini file which your terminal accessed, and the office wags had modified mine so that my terminal just looped on BEL and FF (bell and form feed) and ejected page after page, ringing like a madman. Of course, I knew nothing about the operating system yet, and could only sit there like a deer in the headlights until a colleague had mercy on me and shut off the insanity. (Later I learned how to do even worse things to my successors, but that's another story.)

On my mission in Austria, newcomers were greeted on occasion with the following little scenarios. Remember, the newcomers were barely proficient in German when they arrived...

1) Your new companion is looking a bit shaggy. It's time for a haircut. Take him to the local Frisör and say, "The most stylish cut these days is a Caesar Cut - very noble. Be sure to ask for that. In German, it's 'Kaiserschnitt.'" After the fellow has embarrassed himself beyond measure, and the barber is mopping up his spit-take, you can explain that "Kaiserschnitt" means "C-section" in German...

2) It's time for grocery shopping. You take your companion into a bakery, and tell him you'd like him to get half a kilo of "Davon." (Doesn't matter what they're selling, the gag works just as well anywhere. "But," you tell him, "watch out for these people. They'll try to get you to buy "Wovon." It's not as good. Insist upon 'Davon.'"

What follows is a dialogue similar to the following, with translation:

Greenie: Ich möchte ein halbes Kilo Davon, bitte. (I'd like half a kilo of that, please)

Clerk: "Wovon?" (Of what?)

Greenie (feeling rather clever): "Nein, Davon." (No, of that.)

Clerk: "Aber Wovon?!? (But of what?)

... continua la commedia ...

3) Your companion runs out of toothpaste. He asks to borrow yours. You hand him a tube of "Scharfes Senf" (hot mustard)...

These are just a few of the joys of being new in the field. I'm grateful none of these were ever pulled on me...

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Feb. 10th, 2011 05:21 pm (UTC)
Kaiserschnitt O_O
Feb. 10th, 2011 11:19 pm (UTC)
Geh' bitte ins Lager und hole Ersatzbirnen für die Vergaserinnnebeleuchtung.
Feb. 11th, 2011 02:54 am (UTC)


The Old Wolf

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