Outswimming the Sharks
newspaper column by
Harvey MacKay

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Outswimming the Sharks


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Outswimming the Sharks
“Company’s holiday party can be death for a career”

published in the
Star Tribune,
December 7, 2006

There is a story of a man who woke up with a huge hangover after his company’s holiday party. Jack was not normally a drinker, but the drinks didn’t taste like alcohol. After forcing himself to open his eyes, the first thing he saw was a couple of aspirin next to a glass of water on the side table. And, next to them, a single red rose.

Jack saw that the room was in perfect order, spotless. On the corner of the mirror was a note saying breakfast was on the stove. Jack stumbled to the kitchen and sure enough, there was his breakfast, coffee, the morning newspaper and his son. He asked what happened last night.

“Well, you came home after 3 a.m., drunk and out of your mind,” the son said. “You fell over the coffee table and broke it, and then you got sick.”

Confused, the man asked: “So, why is everything so nice? Isn’t Mom furious with me?”

His son replied, “Mom dragged you to the bedroom, and when she tried to take off your clothes, you screamed, ‘Leave me alone, lady, I’m married!’ ”




“There’s good reason to act as if your mom is watching”

published in the
Star Tribune,
December 6, 2007

Reading his mom’s thoughts, Brian volunteered, “I know what you must be thinking, but I assure you Jennifer and I are just roommates.”

About a week later, Jennifer came to Brian saying, “Ever since your mother came to dinner, I’ve been unable to find the beautiful silver gravy ladle. You don’t suppose she took it, do you?” Brian said, “I doubt it, but I’ll send her an e-mail just to be sure.”

He wrote: “Dear Mom: I’m not saying that you ‘did’ take the gravy ladle from the house, I’m not saying that you ‘did not’ take the gravy ladle. But the fact remains that one has been missing ever since you were here for dinner. Love, Brian.”

Brian received a reply from his mother that read: “Dear Son: I’m not saying that you ‘do’ sleep with Jennifer, I’m not saying that you ‘do not’ sleep with Jennifer. But the fact remains that if Jennifer were sleeping in her own bed, she would have found the ladle by now. Love, Mom.”

Mackay’s Moral: Never lie to your mother ... or anyone else.



“Good things happen to those who can imagine”

published in the
Star Tribune,
October 12, 2009

A mother once asked Albert Einstein how to raise a child to become a genius. Einstein advised her to read fairy tales to the child.

“And after that?” the mother asked.

“Read the child more fairy tales,” Einstein replied, adding that what a scientist needs most is a curious imagination.



“When it comes to business, it is OK to have a little fun”

published in the
Star Tribune,
May 24, 2021

A father decided his daughter was old enough to learn about helping others, so he took her to help an older neighbor — raking the leaves, organizing his garage, putting the trash out and performing other small jobs around his house. The child had not really seen the elderly neighbor up close, but on this day she was going to meet him for the first time.

She asked him how old he was. The father was flabbergasted by his child’s question and attempted to apologize. The neighbor laughed and said he was 92 years old.

The child had a look of disbelief and asked the neighbor, “Did you start at No. 1?”



“Avoid cheating in life, business”

published in the
Star Tribune,
January 23, 2023

After some time, the baker began to suspect that he wasn’t receiving full-pound bricks of butter from the farmer.

For several days, he weighed the butter after it was delivered. His suspicions proved correct. So he turned to the law to settle the matter.

The farmer was brought to court to answer for his act of fraud. “What kind of scale do you use?” the judge asked.

“I don’t have a scale, your honor,” replied the farmer.

“Then how can you weigh the butter that you sell?”

“It’s pretty simple,” the farmer said. “I have balances, and I use the one-pound loaf of bread I buy from the baker as a weight.”

Case dismissed.

“Know a customer, not just a product”

published in the
Star Tribune,
November 27, 2023

A persistent salesperson refused to leave when the boss’ assistant said he was not in the office. An hour passed, then two. Finally, weary of being a prisoner in his own office, the boss let in the salesperson, asking, “How did you know I was in?”

“Easy,” the salesperson said. “Your assistant was working.”

“Tips to develop a presence of mind”

published in the
Star Tribune,
April 22, 2024

During Navy maneuvers, a captain was pushing his destroyer to the limit when a sailor came to the bridge with a message from the admiral.

“Read it aloud,” beamed the captain.

He read: “Of all the blundering idiots. You nearly rammed the flagship.”

The captain pursed his lips and snapped, “Very well, sailor, go below and have it decoded.”

text checked (see note) Dec 2006; Dec 2007; Oct 2009; May 2021; Jan, Nov 2023; Apr 2024

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