Saturday, March 14, 2009

All About Mac

I have a friend where I work who I will call "Mac". Actually, Mac is his real name, so this worked out pretty well. Mac is fast approaching an old-timer. He has been working here for about 25 years and pretty much everyone knows who he is and has a humorous story to share about him. Mac, besides being a pretty smart guy and straight shooter, also knows more good jokes than just about anyone else that I can think of. Mac also has the ability to recall jokes instantaneously for exactly the right moment. I can't tell you how many times a situation has come when the right joke was needed, and I came up empty. It wasn't until hours, or perhaps weeks later, when it would occur to me what I should have said. Then I whack myself in the forehead in a kind of "I could have had a V-8"-manner, kicking myself for the missed opportunity.

Apart from an immaculate joke library and retrieval system, Mac also has a number of pithy sayings that he has used from time to time. Two really stand out to me. They are such a part of me now that I actually bring them up fairly regularly in polite conversation. The first is "You don't have to know what you are doing to be in charge". This one is great because nearly everyone I have come across who has heard Mac utter this gem has thought he was a boob for saying this. Then, upon just a little bit of reflection, you realize that he is 100% correct. You certainly don't have to understand nitty gritty details to manage a project. The second pity saying from Mac (that he claims he did not originate) goes as follows, "Never say anything irrelevant and untrue". This is a trap that I fall into from time to time. In my writing, I, at times, when trying to explain some technical point that I really don't fully understand, will state something that is just plain wrong. However, the wrong point that I have stated is also completely irrelevant to the central discussion, even if I had made a factual statement in the first place.

I have been working with Mac for nearly 15 years, first as a postdoctoral researcher, and now as a colleague. He and I have been through the trenches together and typically share at least several laughs each day. I have a notebook at the ready, standing by, in case Mac should come up with any more pithy sayings for my readership. I will also be sure to note any particularly funny jokes that he relates to me. In closing, I leave you with a joke that Mac told me many years ago. What is the difference between Mick Jagger and a Scotsman? Mick says "Hey you get off of my cloud". The Scotsman says "Hey McCloud get off of my ewe". Yes, good times, good times.