Early in the eighteenth century, Leningrad was laid out. A number of large rocks, brought by a glacier from Finland, had to be removed. A particularly large piece of granite was lying in the way of the principal avenue, and bids were advertised for its removal. All of the proposals submitted by contractors were exorbitantly high because there were no mechanical means for removal, no hard steel for drilling or cracking the stone, and no explosives except inferior black powder.
Before the contract was awarded to the lowest bidder, an insignificant-looking peasant appeared and offered to remove the boulder for a small fraction of the sum quoted by the other bidders. Since the government ran no risks, the moujik was authorized to try his luck.
He got together a lot of other peasants with spades and timbers, and they began digging a deep hole next to the rock. The rock was propped up to prevent its rolling into the hole When the hole was deep enough, the props were knocked out and the boulder peacefully dropped into its grave, where it rests to this day, below the street level. The rock was covered with dirt, and the rest of the earth was carted away.
Moral to the story: The contractors thought in two dimensions, planning to remove the rock to some other place on the surface of the earth. The peasant thought of the third dimension as well, namely, up and down. Since he could not remove the rock upward, he put it underground.—Adapted from Vladimir Karapetoff in The Clarkson Letter, Sunshine Magazine
According to one story Chinese ingenuity makes up for any lack of technical know-how. One oriental engineer described the building of a tunnel this way: Put 10,000 Chinese on one side of a mountain and 10,000 on the other. Then start digging—if they meet, there is a tunnel—if they don't meet, there are two tunnels.
Little Mary insisted that she be allowed to serve the tea when her mother was entertaining one afternoon. Mother, with crossed fingers, consented. However, she became annoyed by the long day and asked, "Why did you take so long, child?"
"I couldn't find the tea strainer," answered Mary.
"Then, how did you strain it so well?"
"I used the fly-swatter."—Iowa State Green Gander
Damon Runyon used to tell this story of how he got his first newspaper job. It happened in Denver. He sat in the outer office patiently waiting while an office boy carried in his request to be seen to the busy editor.
In about ten minutes the boy came back and said, "He wants you to send in a card." Runyon had no card, but being resourceful, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a deck of cards. From the deck he carefully extracted an ace and said, "Give him this."
He got in and he got the job.—Journal of the American Medical Association
My grandmother used to remark about one of her sons: "I kind of admire Wayne. He's hard to squelch—just like a gopher. If you stop his usual exits, he digs another tunnel and goes out of another hole."—Maureen Applegate, Childhood Education