Pessimism and Perspective

It seemed like every two to three years the company sent a bright and enthusiastic up and comer their way to make his mark in the company and pad his résumé. More than four supervisors with big ideas of change had been sent packing.

Larry, a bright young man, just received a promotion to supervisor of the manufacturing division of his company. He met with the machine operators to spur them on to greater quality and productivity. They were grizzled veterans of twenty years or more.

Larry was at the very end of his presentation to the manufacturing employees when he said, “For those who want to slow things down and not move along with the way things will be, step aside and let us through. We have to be the kind of people who see the glass of water half full rather than half empty.”

It was Larry’s moment. It was as if his entire life led to that moment before those men. His mind raced fast-forward like a video of events in his life. It sped to a blur and suddenly stopped with him in the future making the same speech to the corporate staff just after being named CEO.

“Hey, Larry!” Bert Hacker said waving his hand that slowed down the video in his mind and brought him to the present.

“Yes, Bert,” Larry said.

“I have a philosophic question for you,” Bert said. “It’s about the glass of water being half full or half empty.”

“Sure,” Larry said confidently.

“If ya start with a glass that’s full,” Bert said, “and ya drink it down to half, is it half full or half empty?”

“It’s still half full if you are an optimist,” Larry said.

“Last summer my wife and I were driving home from vacation,” Bert said, “she was driving and ask me if we should stop and get some gas. I asked her how much gas was in the car and she said it was half full. Well one hundred and twenty miles later we was getting a ride with a pig farmer in a pickup takin’ his sow to get inseminated and my wife was straddling’ a five speed gear shift swearin’ like a Baptist in a windstorm. If she’d had said we was half empty we could have stopped fifty miles back.”

Larry chuckled. “Well either way you were going to run out of gas.”

“My point exactly,“ Bert said. “I don‘t see what optimism has to do with it.”

Bert breathed heavy through his nostril. “I’m illustrating a point,  it‘s about optimism.”

“Well than do it right,” Bert said.

“What do you suggest?” Larry said. He had learned in college if someone in a group is being difficult outwit them by putting them on the spot.

“It’s what’s in the glass,” Bert said. “Some people see a glass half full or half empty of water, either way that’s depressin’. But a glass half full or half empty of vodka that’s a good time no matter. And above all you give them hope.”

It was time for Larry to shine. He smiled confidently. “Bert, what if what you think is vodka turns out to be water?”

Bert smiled confidently. “Now look who’s bein’ the pessimist?”


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