Bore Me With How Clever You Are: The Story Of Clever Carl

There is no way to make building a pole barn interesting or seem clever, but Carl sure tried.
There is no way to make building a pole barn interesting or seem clever, but Carl sure tried.

Daily Prompt: Brainwave

What’s the best idea you’ve ever had? Regale us with every detail of the idea — the idea itself, where it came to you, and the problem it solved.

This is difficult because I’ve never thought of myself as particularly bright or clever.

Ideas are always subjective and only become successful if carried out properly. So the idea may be good but the implementation terrible.

Perhaps the best idea I ever had in a technical and industrial sense was clustering machines into cells. One part could move from a raw forging to a machined product ready for the next operation in less than 15 minutes rather than several days.

That’s about it. I really don’t think we like hearing about how smart another person is, especially if it comes from that person.

Clever Carl

Years ago in the shop I worked with Stan. Stan and I would go get a coffee every morning at about 8:00. Carl tagged along.

Every morning it was the same old thing. Carl was building a pole barn; not a particularly challenging undertaking, but he made it sound like the construction of a nuclear power plant.

Every morning he told us in great length and detail about the previous night’s work. There was always a problem and he cleverly solved it.

We tried avoiding Carl. We didn’t want to hear how clever he was.

One morning as he started to regale us with his cleverness I said matter of fact to Stan, “Did you hear Bob is going to build a pole barn”

Stan was confused, but played along. “Yeah, I overheard him talking about it to someone the other day.”

Well, Carl, upon hearing that, had to find Bob right away and tell him how clever he was and pass on his cleverness to Bob on how to properly build a pole barn. Such knowledge can’t be kept from humanity.

There was only one problem; Bob was not building a pole barn.

Later that day Bob found me. I smiled at him.

“You turned Carl loose on me, didn‘t you?” Bob said. “I told him I wasn‘t building a pole barn, but that didn‘t phase him the least, he had to tell me in great detail how to get started. That was clever.”

A week later Stan, Carl, and two other guys car-poled.

The second morning Stan was late and furious. Everyone else in their car arrived for work on time.

“Stan,” I said. “Why are you late.”

Stan turned red. “Last night, all the way home, all Carl talks about is that pole barn and how smart he is. I get out of the car. The car goes on. The next morning I get picked up and Carl starts with the same inch and half metal screws he left off with. We drove for a mile and I said, “‘That’s it! I can’t take it anymore. Let me out.’” I got out walked back home, got my car, and drove to work in peace.”

Nobody really wants to hear how clever you are.



Blather away, if you like.

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