By Rodney Hays
In order to better serve the millions of readers of "In Perspective" each week, I have hired a humor column consultant to help me make this column the best it can be.
This column, in one form or another, has been in existence since 1925. It was originally called "What Do You Have to Say About It" but that title seemed a little too long and pretentious. "In Perspective" stuck about 1999 -- mostly at the request of another humor column consultant, also my mom.
At the end of the year a lot of working people have to go through a review process. This review helps the employee evaluate the past year and see where he has surpassed all expectation (he hasn't) and see where he might need improvement (basically from 8 to 5).
I used to work in a corporate environment and had to go through such evaluations of my job performance many times. It was during these times of personal reflection and public ridicule that I realized the importance of taking time out and looking at how I might improve this column and make it better for the reader.
Thus, I hired Morton F. Klingsetter, a world renowned humor column specialist and taxidermist, to help me improve this space each week. He has already offered valuable insight, such as "remove your mug shot photo" and "try letting Dave Barry write your column" but he is only just beginning to get into the meat and potatoes of my work. He also spilled said meat and potatoes on this week's column and that's why there's a stain on Page 4.
Anyway, Morton and I sat down for a quick interview to find out how I've been doing over the past year and to see if there would be any way --- at all -- to improve this award-winning column.
Here's a partial transcript of our conversation.
Me: Morton, thanks so much for sitting down with me to help me improve.
Morton: When I'm done, your column will be read by millions of people all across the globe.
Me: Actually, Morton, I like to tell people that "In Perspective" is already being read by millions of people.
Morton: And that brings me to my first point. You have to stop exaggerating in your column. It's really confusing to the readers.
Me: What on earth are you talking about?
Morton: Is this column really being read by millions?
Me: I don't know, some of that stuff is really hard to count. I mean my column is printed on the Internet -- The Source of All Truth.
Morton: And that statement. The Internet is not the "Source of All Truth."
Me: Now that I can prove. It's always in my columns, which is published on the Internet -- The Source of All Truth. See?
Morton: Anyway. Let's move along. How do you feel you did in 2009. What grade would you give yourself?
Me: Probably an A-minus, plus a U-minus-minus in citizenship.
Morton: Nobody gets an A. There's always room for improvement.
Me: But can't I get an A-minus, and still have room for improvement. Are you saying that kids who make A's in high school have learned everything? Don't they still have "room to improve."
Morton: Let's just say that nobody is perfect.
Me: Are you just looking for negative things, because I hired a consultant?
Morton: Yes. That's my job.
Me: But what if things really aren't that bad.
Morton: Trust me. They are. Or there wouldn't be any consultants.
Me: You are probably right. What grade would you give yourself during the last year?
Me: But I thought you said ...
Morton: No. I said "nobody's perfect." I'm not a nobody. I am a consultant.
Me: But that doesn't make any sense.
Morton: Let's get back to you right now. I have this list of things you need to do in 2010.
You'll need to facilitate this action plan by COB (close of business). This will be a complete paradigm shift to keep repurposing, resourcing and right-sizing. You should probably try to use your skill sets to keep this column synergistic. I'm just throwing this all against the wall to see what sticks. Reach out to me if you have any questions or clarifications.
Me: Ahmmmm. I think I'll just stick with what I have. I'll take an A-minus anytime.
Hope you have a great 2010.