Let's set the record straight, please

source-image
Apr 01, 2001

Recently, I ran across a newspaper article that shook me to the marrow.

I would have shared its contents with you sooner, but it has taken awhile for the shock to wear off.

The headline was, "Did They Really Say It?", and according to the article, many of my favorite quotations are counterfeit.

I find it hard to believe, but P.T. Barnum never said, "There's a sucker born every minute." Furthermore, Leo Durocher never said, "Nice guys finish last," nor did President Abraham Lincoln utter the phrase, "You can fool all the people some of the time, you can even fool some of the people all of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time." (No comment will be inserted here about recent White House residents.)

At any rate, I was shocked at seeing these astounding facts in print! Now, before you even consider disputing any of these things, please note that I did not see this in just any newspaper. It was none other than the Allentown Morning Call, so, naturally, there can be no doubt as to the validity of the information.

As I read through the article, I could hardly believe my eyes. It seems that W.C. Fields is not the originator of the phrases, "Never give a sucker an even break." And "Any man who hates dogs and children can't be all bad." Nor does Harry Truman get the credit for "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen."

Then I remembered that you and I have discussed counterfeit quotations before. In previous columns I have pointed out to you that some of history's most famous sayings actually came from veterinarians.

Let me refresh your memory with an example from the year 1775.

Bill Prescott was taking his dog, Musket, to the veterinarian for vaccinations. He had a lot on his mind that day. Among other things, he had to prepare a speech on battle tactics to be delivered to his troops the next morning. While his veterinarian, Dr. Colonial, was treating the pooch, Bill jokingly asked how the vet knew where to give the shots.

"After all," he said, "Musket is so shaggy you can hardly tell which is his front end and which is his back."

Dr. Colonial had an answer.

"Colonel Prescott," he said. "I never shoot until I see the whites of their eyes."

The saying is, of course, famous. The veterinarian, unfortunately, never got the credit.

And so, I have come to an important decision. I should help to set the record straight for future generations by recording some of our profession's most quotable phrases. Naturally, this would include giving the proper credit to the originator.

For example, on the subject of clinic neatness, it was my hospital manager who said, "Everything belongs in one of two places; either where it belongs or in the trash."

On the subject of taking a clinical history, I am the one who said, "There is no correlation between the amount of talking that a client does and the amount of useful information that you are going to get out of it."

Finally, concerning techniques for handling problem clients, my friend, Abe, likes to tell them, "If you don't like our policies, there's the door. Don't let it hit you in the butt on the way out."

(Actually, instead of the word, "butt," Abe uses a more colorful anatomical term.)

However, when it comes to handling our clients, I go by our hospital motto: "You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar, but you can catch the most flies with a shovel of manure."

(Actually, in place of the word, "manure" we use a more colorful term, also.)