'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
TOO TIRED FOR TRUTHFUL COURAGE
There’s an old expression: “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” I looked up the origin of this quote on the Internet, and some websites claim it was first said by Gen. George Patton during World War II. Other websites attribute this quotation to Vince Lombardi, the famous football coach of the Green Bay Packers.
Well, whoever was the first person to think up this quotation, he probably was too tired to bother fighting to take credit for it.
There’s another old expression: “In vino veritas.” This is Latin for “in wine there is truth,” meaning when people are drunk they are less inhibited and more likely to say exactly what’s on their mind. Some websites claim this quote comes from Pliny the Elder, a first-century Roman military commander and author. (Pliny’s first memorable quotation occurred in the second grade, when he asked his mother, “Hey Ma, how come you named me Pliny the Elder? The other kids make fun of me.”)
Other websites attribute this quotation (the vino quote, not the Hey Ma quote) to Alcaeus, a Greek poet from the 6th century B.C. (Regrettably, history does not record what he said to his mother while in the second grade.)
There is a connection between these two quotations. In many ways fatigue is a lot like being drunk. Over the years I’ve witnessed people say things while tired—often quite truthful—that they never would have said otherwise. Maybe we should call it, “In exhausto veritas.”
The most memorable occasion was during an evening business meeting that was supposed to end by 9 p.m. However, at 11:30 p.m. the meeting was still going strong, with a lot of endless wrangling over rather minor details. Finally, one mid-level manager stood up, looked the company president right in the eye, and said (I’ll try to paraphrase since this a family newspaper): “Look pal, I’m too [stinkin’] tired to give a [poop] anymore. This [gosh darn] project is a total waste of time anyway, so do whatever the [heck] you want. I’m going home!”
Often a bold display of honesty such as this, once the initial shock has subsided, will be viewed as quite courageous. Often the mid-level manager will be seen by upper management as a no-nonsense guy who can get things done. Often such a shocking outburst eventually will result in a promotion and greater responsibilities for the mid-level manager.
Maybe. But not this time. The next morning, when the mid-level manager arrived for work, everything from his office had already been shoved into cardboard boxes and left out on the sidewalk. Pinned to one of the boxes was his pink slip.
Studies show that Americans nowadays are getting about 25-percent less sleep compared to a century ago. Maybe that’s why people seem so quick these days to blurt out whatever is on their minds.
So, I’m really not sure if fatigue makes us cowards or if it makes us bold and truthful. We are now heading into the home stretch of the presidential race. Who knows, we might get to see this in action. After all, the candidates are exhausted, and of course the voters are tired to death of the whole process, too. Maybe Obama or McCain will do what politicians rarely do: speak frankly and honestly.
Imagine if one of the candidates blurted this to a reporter: “Look pal, I’m too [stinkin’] tired to give a [poop] anymore. This [gosh darn] election is a total waste of time anyway, so vote for whoever the [heck] you want. I’m going home!”
You know, I think I’d vote for whichever guy had the courage to say that.
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