Friday, October 16, 2009

A Week Away From the Office

Here's another bit I pulled out of the Chronicle-Gazette's archives. I've run into the story a few times. I've tracked one version of it back to Nat M. Wills' 1909 "No News, or What Killed the Dog" – But I suspect that it's a tale that's been revised and retold since before Plato's time.

I edited this version to fit the column's space requirements.

A busy executive's doctor told him that he had a choice: a week completely away from the stress of work, or a heart attack. So, the executive gave his staff instructions and told his family he was going to a place in northern Minnesota that didn't have telephone or telegraph service.

A week later, refreshed and feeling better than he had in years, the executive stopped at a gas station and called his office. After giving a summary of the week's business, the secretary said:

"There's one more thing. You dog died."

"He was healthy when I left, but he was getting old: what happened?"

"The vet says it was from eating burnt horse meat."

"Where'd he get that?"

"Well, after the stables burned down-"

"How did they catch fire?"

"The fire marshal says it was sparks from the house."

"The house is gone, right?"

"Yes, sir. But they got your mother's coffin out in time."

"My mother?! How did she die?"

"The doctor says it was stress from the news."

"What news?"

"Oh, of course: You haven't heard. Your wife ran off with the cable guy."

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