Memo From the Wonderful Wizard

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Ribbon, the new managing editor in charge of thinking outside the box, wrote an inspirational e-mail every day.

The big guy upstairs encouraged him in this, having noticed that since Ribbon came on, staff downsizing had become a problem that took care of itself.

Ribbon’s motto was, “There’s no wisdom you can’t make a little wiser.” Today this aphorism held his attention: “A lie travels halfway around the world before the truth has got its boots on.” It sounded like something an old-fashioned copy editor, back in the day when newspapers had them, might have said when explaining the world to a copy boy. But that was yesterday’s world. Nobody understood the new one quite like Ribbon.

“So what does this old saw have to do with us in this busy election season?” his e-mail asked. “Are we in the lie business? Others, maybe, but not this shop. Are we in the truth business? Well, I sure hope so. But are we mainly in the transportation business? Bingo! Facts and ideas—we ship ’em in, add some value, and ship ’em out. It’s what we do and we think we’re pretty good at it.

“But when the other guy’s product travels halfway around the world while the goods we’re shipping are just pulling on their boots—maybe we’re putting ourselves at a competitive disadvantage.

“In fact, I know we are. And something needs to be done. But what?

“No way to slow down the lie. Gotta speed up the truth. But how? Remember RULE NUMBER ONE—Question everything! Well then . . .

“What’s with those boots anyway? Allow me to throw out an idea so crazy it makes damn good sense—what if we put the truth in boots that aren’t so damn hard to pull on! What about boots with Velcro straps? Or gosh, what about galoshes?

“Or, HOLD THE PRESSES! Where’s it written the truth has to wear boots at all? What do we think we’re doing around here—sending the truth forth by horseback?

“PAUL REVERE IS DEAD LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! So, why think boots when we could think sneakers? I’m putting a sign on my desk that says, ‘The truth here wears Adidas!’

“No. On second thought, I’m not.

“Because I just got an even better idea about the proper footwear for today’s truth.

“RUBY SLIPPERS.

“The ultimate in multimedia transportation. Truth you can click on.

”OK, back to work everybody. And think about ruby slippers.” 

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