Volume 40, Issue 2 February 2005
Any Who Will Do
by Lyle R. Hill
“Good morning, Mr. Hill. My name is Linda and I’m calling on behalf of Who’s Who in the Galaxy. As the result of our studies of millions of professionals, you have been selected as a possible candidate for inclusion in our upcoming edition of Who’s Who in the Galaxy.”
This wasn’t the first time I’d received a call or letter like this. Usually I’d take the Groucho Marx approach to these things. Wasn’t it Groucho who said he wanted nothing to do with any organization that would want him as a member? Perhaps my ego got the better of me because I decided to pursue the matter a little further.
“OK, Linda,” I said. “What is this going to cost me?”
“Absolutely nothing,” she responded, “although you may want to take advantage of some of the items we offer exclusively to our members.”
“Like what?” I asked.
“Well, you can order the official Who’s Who in the Galaxy plaque with your name engraved on it for $129.95 or the official membership certificate for only $99.95. And we have all kinds of things in our catalog like mugs, pens, even neat stuff for your car like magnetic signs and bumper stickers,” she replied.
“You’ve got to be kidding. Do people actually order magnetic signs for their cars telling the world that they’re in the Who’s Who in the Galaxy?”
“Yes, mostly lawyers,” she answered. “The bumper stickers are quite popular, too: the architects like them. Our three most popular ones are ‘HONK, IF YOU’RE A WHO,’ ‘I’M A WHO, ARE YOU?’ and ‘MY SON’S AN HONOR MEMBER OF WHO’S WHO.’”
Now, I’ve always been envious of those parents who had the bumper stickers on their cars proclaiming that their kids were honor students at a particular school. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got three of the finest kids on earth, but I’d never gotten a whiff of one of those stickers. I was hooked and wanted in—badly.
“OK,” I said. “What do you need to know?”
“We have quite a bit of data, Mr. Hill, but we need to know about any unique accomplishments or honors you’ve received.”
Now I was in trouble. But hey, I can be as creative as the next guy—and how closely are they going to check this stuff anyway?
“Well, Linda,” I started. “I’ve received my Ph.D. in glassology and was recently nominated for an international award for my research into the origins of glassmaking. You see, I’m the one who uncovered the truth that the O’Plate brothers, Patrick and Michael, were the first to actually discover glass. You may have read about it in USGlass.”
From there it only got worse. By the time we were done talking, I’d listed two more Ph.D.s, several inventions and a Nobel Prize nomination for my work in economic forecasting. Finally, she asked what I did for a living.
“I manage a highly efficient, professionally run, profitable contract glazing company.”
“Thank you,” she responded. “We just need to do some formal fact-checking and the like, and I’ll get back to you in a few days.”
I didn’t think I’d ever hear from her again. After all, I’d really gone overboard with the fictitious Ph.D.s and all the other garbage. To my surprise, she called exactly five days later.
“I have some bad news, Mr. Hill. Our researchers have rejected you because of an inconsistency in the information you provided.”
Rats, I thought, they caught me. It was that last Ph.D. in corner key metallurgy that probably got me.”
“OK, Linda, why was I rejected?”
Well,” she responded. “Our researchers kicked back your form. They could find no record of any dynamic, highly efficient, professionally run contract glazing company having existed anywhere in the galaxy at any time in recorded history. Are you sure that’s what you do for a living?”
“I was only kidding about that,” I quickly answered. “I’m actually a salesman for used aluminum siding.”
“Ah … how many bumper stickers would you like, Mr. Hill?”
Lyle R. Hill is president of MTH Industries of Chicago. firstname.lastname@example.org
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