the schmooze
Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
Syosset, New York

The word "perspective" means a mental view of the relative importance of things. (Ex. "Keep the right perspective.")

I grew up hearing these expressions:

. "The most difficult thing for a mother to remember is that other people have perfect children too."

. Getting a husband is like buying a house. You don't see it the way it is, but the way you think it's going to be after marriage."

. Look on the world as a big "frukht lekekh" (fruit cake). It wouldn't be complete without a few nuts in it.

. The relative values of health and wealth ("raykhkayt") depend on which you have left.

I was reading The New Yorker (9/20/10), Letters to the Editor, when I came across a letter from a Philip Barnett of Scottsdale, Arizona. He was responding to an article from James Suroweicki about customer ("koyne") service. He wrote:

"Many years ago, I owned a small business. Two members of my staff handled customer-service calls. They were told they didn't have to listen to customers screaming at them but that, instead of hanging up, I preferred they give the really tough calls to me. I would begin every conversation the same way:

"Mr. Jones, I understand there's a problem, and I'm here to solve it. But, before we get to that, there are a few things I'd like you to know. On the way to work today, I got two flat tires. When I finally got to my desk, I found a letter from the I.R.S. telling me that I'm being audited for the past three years. And, as if that weren't enough, I just got a call from my son's school. I was told that he has been suspended indefinitely. But enough about me, Mr. Jones. How can I help you?"

At that point, I could hear the wind go out of Mr. Jones's sails, and a calm discussion would ensue. If you can get people to take a deep breath, AND PUT THINGS IN PERSPECTIVE, customer service can work more effectively for those on both sides of the divide."

A second story is titled, "Putting First Things First." This is the Yiddish version. The author is unknown.

A man came "heym" (home) from work late, "farmatert" (tired) and irritated, to find his ten-year-old "zun" (son) waiting for him at the door.

SON: "Daddy, may I ask you a question?"

DAD: "Yeah, sure, what is it?"

SON: "Daddy, how much do you make an hour?"

DAD: "That's none of your business. Why do you ask such a thing?"

SON: "I just want to know. Please tell me how much do you make an hour?"

DAD: "If you must know, I make a 'hundert' ($100) dollars an hour."

SON: "Oh!" (with his head down)

SON: "Daddy, may I please borrow $50?"

The father was "oyfgekokht" (furious).

DAD: "If the only reason you asked that is so you can borrow some money to buy a silly toy or some other nonsense, then you march yourself straight to your room and go to "bet" (bed). Think about why you are being so 'egoistish' (selfish). I work hard everyday for such childish behavior."

The little boy went quietly to his room and shut the door. The man sat down and started to get even angrier about the little boy's questions. How dare he ask such questions only to get some money?

After about an hour or so, the man had calmed down, and started to think:

Maybe there was something he really needed to buy with that $50 and he really didn't ask for money very often. The man went to the door of the little boy's room and entered the room.

DAD: "Are you asleep, son?"

SON: "No, daddy, I'm awake."

DAD: "I've been thinking, maybe I was too hard on you 'frier'(earlier). It has been a long day and I took out my aggravation on you. Here's the $50 you asked for." The little boy sat straight up, and gave a big "shmeykhl" (smile).

SON: "Oh, thank you, daddy!"

Then, reaching under his "kishn" (pillow), he pulled out some crumpled up bills.

The man saw that the boy already had money, and started to get angry again. The little boy slowly counted out his money, and then looked up at his father.

DAD: "Why do you want more money if you already have some?"

SON: "Because I didn't have enough, but now I do. Daddy, I have $100 now. Can I buy an hour of your time? Please come home early tomorrow. I would ike to have dinner with you."

The father was crushed. He put his arms around his little son, and he begged for his "makhile" (forgiveness).


Search for Stories Beginning with the Letter
N O P Q R S T U V W   Y Z
Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe is the author of
two books:
yiddish for dog and cat loversbook
"Yiddish for Dog & Cat Lovers" and
"Are Yentas, Kibitzers, & Tummlers Weapons of Mass Instruction?  Yiddish
Trivia."  To order a copy, go to her

NU, what are you waiting for?  Order the book!

Yiddish Stuff
Jewish Humor
Schmooze News
More Majorie Wolfe
Jewish Stories
All Things Jewish
Jewish Communities of the World
Site Designed and Maintained by
Haruth Communications