May 2008

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« Who Will Kill all the Senior Citizens? | Main | Creative Question »


Margie E.

To the guy who wrote "I Hear Deaf People". I have a suggestion as to why these construction workers were still going at it with their jackhammers -- all of the guests had to be deaf if you could hear them. Well, this may be weird, but what fun would it be if everything was expected.

Website Development

great story.. I'll love to read your next story. Scott, you are really a good writer.
Website Development

Emily Thomas

Love this blog and your point about good stories gave me major inspiration. So many of life's stories go untold or become forgotten. So I started a blog with the intent of telling the stories that happen in my life. You can read my first one (not my best, just my most recent) at


Thank you, Hammertyme!

By cutting and pasting my entire post, you increased the number of times my story was read, while simultaneously illustrating that you had nothing to say.

That's win-win, right there! Thanks again!


a scary (for me) story for a Brit friend

Brit friend: Q. What's the difference between the Vietnam War and the Iraq War?

ME: sand instead of jungles

Brit friend: A. George W. Bush had a plan to get out of the Vietnam War.

Brit friend: hehehe

ME: heh

ME: i didn't. damn i was lucky. probably screwed up my chances of being President, though.

Brit friend: didn't go or?

Brit friend: you too young surely?

ME: didn't go.

ME: no, i graduated from college in 72 --height of the war

Brit friend: I can tell you one thing with 169% certainty, neither would I have gone

ME: body bags coming home by the plane load

ME: but i didn't have a plan.

ME: had always thought the war would end

ME: we had a lottery system for the draft.

Brit friend: wow!

ME: it was selected by the month/day of the year.

ME: my lottery number came up only #26 --they went through number 120 or so that year.

ME: in short, i was screwed.

Brit friend: then.....

ME: I haven't told you this story? It's a GREAT story ...but unbelievable.

Brit friend: I am on the edge of my seat, I love this stuff

ME: we graduate in early May over here

ME: as a footnote, I was married at the time to my first wife

ME: anyway, I got my "Notice to Report" in Feb or March

ME: that meant I was definitely in the "cattle call"

ME: the first step was to get a physical exam.

ME: by the Selective Service Bureau (the draft)

ME: every word i'm telling you is the truth, always is, but I want to assure you before I go on.

ME: anyway, my college was some distance from home

ME: the draft board is "local" --based on your home address. So they set your physical to be made in their jurisdiction.

ME: My physical was slated to be in Norfolk VA --HOME OF THE MID-ATLANTIC FLEET. One of the largest military cities (actually a ring of military cities) in the country.

ME: Not good.

ME: Very, very bad in fact. Their doctors were agressive ...known to take men with impairments that would easily get one off in other jurisdictions.

Brit friend: ouch

ME: Yeah.

ME: But, I couldn't leave classes yet, not until May.

ME: I should inject here that some jurisdictions and some members of the local draft boards were -I hate to use the word- liberal on their views of Viet Nam by now.

ME: Anyway, I went to the draft board in Lexington Virginia where my college was.

ME: Lexington was VERY small at the time, probably only 3000 residents.

ME: the whole county probably had only 15,000 residents.

Brit friend: big civil war town?

ME: uh yeah, General Lee is buried there.

Brit friend: ah

ME: Search on "Shrine of The South"

ME: Lee Chapel is on my college campus

ME: anyway, there are two colleges in Lexington. One, Washington & Lee, where I went.

ME: and the other is the huge, formidable.....

ME: VMI --Virginia Military Instute

ME: ouch again, from the looks of it, i'm expecting to be in a VERY conservative draft board.

ME: i mean, this is the South and the home of military legends like Stonewall Jackson and R.E. Lee, to name a few.

ME: Follow so far?

Brit friend: yeah!

ME: OK. I go to the draft board office in the basement of the small-ish US Post Office

ME: usually, the post office is crowded --but it was mid-afternoon and I now feel like it was eerily empty upstairs --but that may be a

ME: misrecollection.

ME: anyway, when i did go downstairs I *KNOW* that the draft board was empty ---perhaps not unusual, but it did feel odd at the time, given the number of students in town and draft-age men around the county.

ME: The office only had one person in it ...a VERY elderly lady.

ME: Very small, petite.

ME: I had never seen the woman before, nor did she indicate that she had ever seen me.

ME: I asked for some help.

ME: "Is there any way I can get my physical postponed or get a more convenient date?"

ME: Now the next bit is fuzzy, I'm sure we must have chatted at least a minute or two --but no more than that.

ME: Her name was Mrs. Brown

ME: Then she pops the question that changed --and may have saved-- my life.....

ME: "You look like a nice boy. Do you really want to go to Viet Nam?"

Brit friend: for one second I thought you were going to say she said "fancy a screw?"

Brit friend: :)

ME: heh. reading this, I was thinking that too, evil twin.

ME: but not at the time.

ME: I am stunned, is this some sort of trick? But I blurted out a shocked, emphatic "NO MA'AM!"

ME: Remember, there is not a soul around. To this day, I think if someone else had been there she would have just given me some paperwork.

ME: And I'd have gone to Viet Nam.

ME: So, she looks at me and says....

ME: Well, do you mind if I help you to try and get out of going?


ME: Being ever-so-sharp, I once again blurt out "NO MA'AM!"

Brit friend: and then she said "fancy a screw?"

ME: no, evil twin

ME: though I would have

Brit friend: lol

ME: trust me, you would have too

ME: those were raw times.

Brit friend: hehehehehehehe

ME: the country had been on the brink of student revolution.

ME: search on "Kent State"

ME: students were shot by the National Guard

ME: raw, raw, times

ME: So, back to Mrs. Brown.

ME: She then says...

ME: Well, the first thing I have to do is to get you moved to my jurisdiction.

ME: I do not want you going to Norfolk for a physical.

ME: YES MA'AM! Whatever you say, MA'AM!

ME: Then I'll have your physical done in Roanoke VA, I'll pick a date when some of the more liberal doctors are going to be there.

ME: In the meantime, you need to go home and talk to your doctors. Anything and everything in your medical records will be of help.

ME: Yes MA'AM!

ME: So I drove home that day or the next --then about a 5 hour drive.

ME: And went to our family doctor, the only doctor I had ever used.


ME: Some years prior, Elizabeth CIty had a major downtown fire.

ME: It took out a city block.

ME: Took a week to quit smoldering.

ME: Guess what had happened to my medical records?

ME: Ashes.

ME: Oh crap.

ME: The doctor was my next door neighbor. Knew the family very well.

ME: His nurse, Mrs. Ames, knew my mom & dad very well.

ME: The doc couldn't do much except write some sort of lame note --an obvious draft dodge at the time

ME: But Mrs. Ames said, "you know, while the building was burning the firemen threw whatever records they could get their hands on out the windows into the streets.

ME: Some of those were ours.

ME: I'll see what I can find.

ME: I do not recall how many hours or days went by.

ME: But, she FOUND something.

ME: you still awake? there are more wild convergences of luck and blessings coming up.

Brit friend: I'm not going to bed until the end!

ME: ok.

ME: Seems that when I was 14 they had a mandatory tubercolosis test in the middle school.

ME: they had given us a shot, then lined us up a few days later to see if the shot area was red & puffy.

ME: So, as we were standing in line, just a few minutes before I went in to see the nurse

ME: a mischief-making friend of mine asked if i had had a reaction.

ME: i looked at my arm, it was pale.

ME: then that SOB pinched my arm where I had looked.

ME: Damn, by the time I got in before the nurse it was flaming red.

ME: Obviously, I had tubercolosis! heh!

ME: I told the nurse, but these mandatory public health things don't allow for much explaining. OFF I WENT TO THE HEALTH DEPT FOR XRAYS.

ME: Now, these were torso xrays, going for the lungs. quite a few of them

ME: Guess what, NO tuberculosis.


Brit friend: ......

ME: They did think they saw an odd overlap in my vertebrae and sent a memo of that to my family doctor.

ME: So

ME: He ended sending me out to the hospital for more xrays and an evaluation.

ME: This had generated quite a bit of xrays and papers that said, basically, "this might become a problem in the future."

ME: What Mrs. Ames found ~courtesy of our local firemen~ was a SINGLE, legal-sized xray evaluation.

ME: I wish I could say it was burned on the edges ...but I don't think it was.

ME: Would make for a better story.

Brit friend: I am imagining it burnt at the edges if that helps

ME: Still the street had been piled high with these files, mixed in with the debris and literally millions of gallons of water, so it was a miracle to just have that piece of paper in our hands.

ME: This prompted the good doctor's memory, and he was able to write a decent-sounding excuse based upon it. Not great, but decent.

ME: I made the rounds to the optometrist, too, claiming double-vision (truthfully, I had been really plagued by this in the first 2 years of college).

ME: But it had been mostly resolved. Still, I had the eye doctor to whip up an excuse note.

ME: The above was all I had. I had been too healthy for my own good, it seemed.

ME: So, I took it back to Mrs. Brown (I think a week or two had gone by)

ME: She says, basically, "This isn't much, but it'll have to do."

ME: I can't recall if it was then or later, but she eventually said "I've postponed your physical twice, I didn't like the current doctors. But, you'll have to go this time, hopefully you'll get a good doctor."

ME: Jump forward a few weeks. On a Saturday morning we, the damned, have to meet at the Post Office to take an Army bus to Roanoke.

ME: When I get on the bus, Mrs. Brown gives me a big manilla clasp envelope and says "Give these to the first doctor you see." I assume that it's all my records and her related paperwork for me.

ME: Wrong assumption.

ME: It was for everybody on the bus ...but I didn't know that. Truthfully, I'm not thinking too clearly at the time --nervous.

ME: It was about a 90-minute bus ride, and the bus finally pulls up to the place. It had been built originally as......

ME: A MEAT PROCESSING PLANT!!! BWWWWAHAHAHAHA! God has a nasty sense of humor.

ME: So, they tell us to strip to our shorts and queue us up in a long, serpentine line to be -well- processed.

ME: But, the guys doing the different little checkpoints are obviously not doctors, just corpmen.

ME: I have this envelope. I'm at least a third, maybe half way, through the checkpoints. I'd probably been in line 30 minutes at this point, maybe more.

ME: I'm getting really, really nervous now. Damn, I'm going to get through this whole thing and some doctor's going to say "Well, I wish I seen that. Sorry, too late now."

ME: So, I come around a screen (much of it was a large, open room --this was a meat plant, remember) and what do I see? A guy with a starched shirt and a stethescope.

ME: "Are you a Doctor??!"

ME: Yes.

ME: Well, Mrs. Brown said give you this. (hands envelope)

ME: He sits down at the desk and pulls out the stack.

ME: I'm standing beside the desk, still in the queue for the most part.

ME: He reads for a minute, then turns to me....

Brit friend: .........

ME: "So, Mr. Gribble, how long ago did you hurt your knee?"

Brit friend: ?

ME: MR GRIBBLE??? WTF is he talking about

ME: oh, yeah, i knew another student name Gribble, he was on the bus

ME: it dawns on me, that was everybody's paperwork

ME: "No. No! I'm Jones."

ME: More shuffling of paper.

ME: He reads for a minute, then without saying JACK to me ...reaches for a stamp and stamps something on the paperwork

ME: At that time in the US, there was a 2-character code that people would bribe to get it on their records. "4F" --medical exemption

ME: He hands me the paper.

ME: I'm still in line.

ME: Down on the paper is 4F.


Once upon a time my wife and I were attending an outdoor summertime event. We arrived a day early and not everything was set up yet. After strolling through the park-like setting we happened upon a row of porta-potties. They were on pallets lined up single file across the lawn. There must've easily been a hundred of them. A lot of potties by any measure. My wife had to pee so she picked one at random. The sun was hot so I wandered off to a nearby tree for some shade. It was quiet but as I was standing there daydreaming I heard a faint industrial whirring sound in the background. After a while I casually turned around and off in the distance I see a guy on a fork lift (Hyster if you prefer) positioning himself to carry away the very porta-potty I'm pretty sure my wife is in! I rub my eyes in disbelief, then start running, arms waving, yelling, STOP! The guy glared at me for a second until my wife quizzically poked her head out of the door. Then we all had a good laugh. If I had been a tad slower she would have been an unwilling participant in a bumpy ride to the other side of the park. She could not have opened the door to signal the driver because it was facing the gate on the fork lift. And I would have ventured across a grassy hillside muttering, "Gee, I wonder what's taking her so long."

Billy B

The good stories are on my blog.
Billy B


I suspect that the reason you have more stories than most is at least in part because you are the "Dilbert Guy." In your two most recent stories, that fact seemed to play a key role. I'd be interested to hear some of your stories from before the Dilbert era.


Scott, you're a good storyteller because you look for things that go wrong in a story, knowing that these "wrong" things are what makes it interesting. Most people only tell about the things that went right with them (i.e. "I flew in a plane yesterday") and gloss over the things that went wrong ("the aisle of the plane was filled with human excrement from an overflowing toilet"). It's this bit of schadenfreude that makes you a good cartoonist (hopefully, it will someday make me a good cartoonist, too--see ).

Will Von Wizzlepig

ah, my story.

I grew up near Seattle. I used to go rollerskating a lot as a kid- through high school, even.

One night I met a cute girl, and her friend. We hung out that evening and decided to go to the movies the next day- the three of us.

I met them at the friend's house, and we just sat in the living room- cute girl, me, friend's sister and mom. On the wall was one of those clocks, the carved-from-a-section-of-tree-in-the-shape-of-a-state kind.

It was in the shape of Alaska. I said "Oh, Alaska. I'm from Alaska."

And they said, "oh, really? Where?"


"Well gee, we're from there too! What were your parent's names?"

So I told them.

And then they told me something surprising...

The older sister sitting in the livingroom with us used to babysit me when I was little, and they lived across the street from us.

Will Von Wizzlepig

That patent story makes me remember this family here in Oregon- two brothers inherited all of their father's patents and have made a fine living suing the daylights out of people who infringe them... for decades now.

The father, unfortunately, submitted many, many, many patents- and apparently back in the day when they were either not reviewed particularly stringently or where allowed to be vague and delivered without proof of concept.

I think international patent law needs some nit-pickers to go through and un-pantent a whole ton of stuff. Not so I can make some money, but to keep people from doing that kind of nonsense.

The IP-phone lawsuit, for example. "We patent the process of making a phone call over the internet."

It seems to me to be semantics more than anything else. The vehicle for sound over the internet, and the internet, all existed before they 'invented' their phone system.

Patenting genes, too. What a joke.


If you talk to a housepainter (plumber, cable guy, roofer, etc.) at 7 pm Monday, and he says he'll be at your house at 9 am Tuesday, there's only a 20% chance he'll be there by 9:15. There's a 40% chance he'll be there by 10, and a 60% chance he'll be there at all on Tuesday. There's a 40% chance he won't show, and you'll never hear from him again.

What makes you think that housepainters keep calendars?


you want stories? I got stories out the ying yang..


Your rejected patent application means that you didn't have a good enough attorney.

The jargon used by patent attorneys is that the idea must not be "obvious to those skilled in the art".

I've read patents that were intuitively obvious.

I also have a couple of patents that are "obvious to those skilled in the art". hehehehe...


Okay, here's one.

Once, I was driving home with my wife after a night out. We soon arrived at a familiar intersection. This happens to be an exceedingly confusing intersection--six roads of different sizes meet, with a confusing array of stop signs, traffic lights, yield signs, etc.

On this particular night, there was a police cruiser in the middle of the intersection, with it's lights flashing. There was also a police officer standing next to his car.

As we slowly approached the intersection, I wasn't sure what to do. My wife, sensing my indecision, jumped in with, "Go ahead, you've got the green light!" So I sped up a bit and entered the intersection.

Well, the cop comes running toward my car, waving his arms and yelling. As we get close, I slowed down and rolled down my window. "What the hell are you doing?!?!", he sprayed at me.

I calmly pointed at my lovely bride, and said, "she told me to go." Apparently a married man himself, the cop instantly calmed down, smiled, and waved us through with an "okay, go ahead."


I can come up with a good story from time to time, but I am not a natural story teller. My sister is, though. She will come up with stories from our childhood, events at which I was present, and make it into a really good story. I lived the same events, but never thought to make a story out of them. Of course we often get into arguments over her stories, which I claim are highly exaggerated to make the story better. My stories have to be 100% true, or I won't feel good about telling them. Do you exaggerate your stories?

Joshua Jacobsen

Most people have no interesting stories, since most people just watch TV, do mundane jobs, and have the most common of experiences to try and relate to other people. It seems like these people like to dress up their mundane happenstances with religion and spirituality.

Agreeing with Ralph Wood, though... I hate it when people try to patent things BEFORE they invent them. It's a major failing of our patent system that vague "ideas" can be patented (process patents, especially).

Your intentions might be pure, but it's pretty obvious to me that the majority of people who file process patents intend to entangle an honest inventor in litigation when a good idea actually materializes.

Thankfully, process patents are weak patents and rarely enforced by courts.


When someone just walks up to me and asks me to tell him a joke I used to get stuck and not have anything. I keep three handy for those occasions. I know a lot more than three but I only remember them when the context is right.
Similarly, if you just ask me for a story I'll just give you a funny look. That doesn't mean I don't have any. I just left them in my other pants. But when the conversation moves into certain areas I have plenty of stories to tell.

You're probably right about the failure to categorize the stories properly. It's like how, as a cartoonist, part of your mind is always looking for ideas. Something happens and part of you goes "Possible Dilbert idea? (yes/no)". Where the rest of the world comes to a similar point laughs or cusses and moves on. So when you ask for a story most people freeze.


Ron Hardin,

Ummmm, what? Just a heads up, I'm not sure that story makes a lot of sense.

Real Live Girl

I look at my life as a series of stories with a regular cast, guest stars, cameos, various locations, interesting situations, and meaningful episodes. It helps to have a sense of humor about it - more interesting and enjoyable that way.


I feel the same way. I have a ton of interesting stories and everyone around me seems to have none.

I've had more jobs than anyone I know, for example. This alone gives me lots of stories because I've had a lot of different kinds of experiences.

Ron Hardin

In the 90s I got the special phone number interior to the power company that got somebody to come out and fix a radio-noisy power pole (you normally have to report an actual fire on a power pole to get somebody interested). So I call this number and get the secretary of the department.

She says just a minute I'll page him, and puts me on hold.

The music on hold, I recognize from its single note at a time and odd temperament, is generated by the overworked processor in their phone system. It's playing Beethoven's ``Fur Eliza,'' a piano piece given to early piano students.

When the secretary comes back on, I tell her : ``Do you know your music on hold is Beethoven?''

``There's nothing we can do about it,'' she replied.


I'm amused that had an abstract idea with no actual implementation and tried to patent that, and then found that someone had beaten you to the punch with an even more abstract idea.

So, anyway - you think it's such a great idea but made no effort to buy or licence the patent and implement the idea.


This one band camp...

Aashish Gupta

>> Now I suppose I owe you a story. Fair enough. I’ll pull one from the bag.

Hey, whats with the phrase "fair enough"? I'm suddenly hearing it a lot more often than I used to. Everyone is saying "fair enough" all the time.

Why can't people say "Yes", "I agree", "Correct", "That's reasonable", anymore?

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