My favorite line of all time was delivered by my mentor, in 1974. His name was Charles Barnes, and he was my boss, in an advertising agency. As we sat there side by side, at our respective drawing boards, way past the day's quitting time, a young executive from down the hall had wandered into our domain. I guess the light from our doorway attracted him. I was only 24 at the time, and had only been on the job for about 3 months, so I always sat up a little taller in my seat, when any person from the management team, was in my proximity. And I was usually eager to hear what they had to say. He spoke to my boss, and offered his suggestions on what he thought would be improvements to the campaign, on which we were working. Mr. Barnes, slowly turned on his stool, looked up at the man, and reached towards his neck... but only to straighten the young man's necktie. He then uttered the words: "Woodrow, you can rest assured, I will give your suggestions the attention they deserve.". With that, the intruder left our office, and Mr. Barnes turned to me, and said: "that dumbass will be halfway down the hall before he realizes what I actually said to him!". I laughed, Mr. Barnes laughed, and that began what was to be the single most important relationship I was to have in my many years on this earth.
Aside: I'm not sure if that line was original to Mr. Barnes or not. It doesn't matter too much, because the genius of it is really the way in which it was delivered. Charles Edward Barnes... RIP, sir.
Once, as a student in college at New Mexico State, I was dutifully sitting in a class that was supposed to be about a certain discipline ... when the professor took it upon himself to digress and to begin to criticize the Bible. After listening to his diatribe for several minutes, I held up my hand and asked, "Have you read the Bible?" He replied, "I've read parts of it." I countered, "With all due respect, sir ... I don't believe you would criticize any other book, even a dime novel, before you had read it through ... would you?" The protracted silence that followed was palpable.
My best friends' 15 year old walks into the room. The family dog is laying on the living room floor, one leg cocked up into the air, and the dog is engaged one of the more socially unpleasant grooming behaviors that dogs are famous for doing. Jackson, (The 15 year old) gets a slight twinkle in his eye (Having thought of something that passes for terribly witty among the 15 year old boys of the world) and says aloud, "Michaeldenny (Everyone calls me by my full name), I wish I could do that." To which I replied, "You better not, Jackson. That dog is liable to bite you."
" I have withstood your meanness as long as I intend to. You have played the part of a damned scoundrel, and are a coward, and if you were any part of a man I would slap your jowls and dare you to resent it. I will hold you personally responsible for any further indignities you endeavor to inflict upon me. You have threatened to arrest me for not obeying your orders promptly. I dare you to do it, and I say to you that if you ever again try to interfere with me or cross my path it will be at the peril of your life." General Nathan B. Forrest to General Braxton Bragg.
Q: "Officer -- did you see my client fleeing the scene?"
A: "No sir. But I subsequently observed a person matching the description of the offender, running several blocks away."
Q: "Officer -- who provided this description?"
A: "The officer who responded to the scene."
Q: "A fellow officer provided the description of this so-called offender. Do you trust your fellow officers?"
A: " Yes, sir. With my life."
Q: "With your life? Let me ask you this then officer. Do you have a room where you change your clothes in preparation for your daily duties?"
A: "Yes sir, we do!"
Q: "And do you have a locker in the room?"
A: "Yes sir, I do."
Q: "And do you have a lock on your locker?"
A: "Yes sir."
Q: "Now why is it, officer, if you trust your fellow officers with your life, you find it necessary to lock your locker in a room you share with these same officers?"
A: "You see, sir, we share the building with the court complex, and sometimes lawyers have been known to walk through that room."