Bluff The Listener

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Our panelists tell us three stories of a worker taking a stand, only one of which is true.


From NPR and WBEZ-Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!, the NPR news quiz. I'm Carl Kasell. We're playing this week with Roy Blount, Jr., Faith Salie and Adam Felder. And here again is your host at the Straz Center in Tampa, Florida, Peter Sagal.


Thank you, Carl.


SAGAL: Thanks everybody. I very much appreciate it. Right now, it is time for the WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME! Bluff the Listener game. Call 1-888-Wait-Wait to play our game on the air. Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!

CORKY CUSTER: Hi, this is Corky Custer in Madison, Wisconsin.

SAGAL: Corky Custer?


SAGAL: The Corky Custer?


SAGAL: I like that. I think Corky's a great name. Although, I think if you're named Corky, you're kind of obligated to be cheerful all the time, aren't you?

CUSTER: We do our best.

SAGAL: Nobody could deal with a dour Corky.

ADAM FELBER: Nobody's ever said "Lighten up, Corky."

SAGAL: Exactly.


SAGAL: Hey, Corky, why so glum?


SAGAL: Corky, put down the gun. Everything will be all right.


SAGAL: It doesn't happen.


SAGAL: OK, we went to a dark place, but that's OK.


SAGAL: We've come back.

FELBER: What do you mean we?

SAGAL: Corky, welcome to our show. You're going to play our game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Carl, what is Corky's topic?

KASELL: Workers of the world, unite.

SAGAL: Sure, the economy is terrible and jobs are scarce, but there comes a time when workplace oppression becomes just too much. You need to take a stand. We're going to tell you three stories about a person who just refused to work under these conditions another moment longer. Pick that real story, you'll win Carl's voice on your home answering machine. Ready to play?

CUSTER: All set.

SAGAL: All right, well first, let us hear from Roy Blount, Jr.

ROY BLOUNT: Sacramento State psychology professor George Parrott knows what he requires in order to educate. He requires classroom snacks, provided by his students. On the first day of every course, students are informed that if they fail to get it together among themselves to provide fresh, healthy snacks for any given class session, Parrott and his teaching assistant will walk.

This, Parrott says, is not a case of nibblophelia, if I may coin a psychological term, on his part, but rather a well considered pedagogical tool. It encourages students to work collectively and makes things less formal and rigid.

Ah, but last week, whoever was supposed to bring the cupcakes, forgot. So, talk about rigid, Parrott and his T.A. were out of there, to breakfast somewhere else, perhaps chuckling, "That'll teach them."


BLOUNT: Students, however, had expected that class to cover what was to be on an imminent midterm. So, they felt cheated. One student was quoted by the Sacrament Bee as follows. "Our education isn't worth food, it's for us." I'm not sure what that means.


BLOUNT: "That reaction," said Dr. Parrott "speaks to a lack of understanding of higher education."



SAGAL: A professor who refused, refused I tell you, to teach without snacks as provided by his students. Your next story of somebody not taking it anymore in the workplace come from Faith Salie.

FAITH SALIE: Meteorologist Daisy Fenwick knows it's not easy being green, that's why the weather woman, at a Terre Haute, Indiana news station stormed off the set, after her demand to change the color of the green screen went unheeded.

The mechanics of green screens dictate that news presenters must not wear green or else their body will appear to be replaced by the background.


SALIE: Daisy tells the AP, "We've always used a blue screen, which allowed me to wear my signature color, green. Terry Haute trusts me in chartreuse, emerald and teal. I'm a redhead, appearing in flattering shades is my way of giving the Wabash Valley a warm front."


SALIE: When a new station manager upgraded to a fresh green screen, Daisy was told she had to retire her wardrobe. She protested by wearing a floor length moss colored gown, which turned her into a disembodied head with arms floating above a high pressure system.


SALIE: Daisy says she's not returning to work until this storm front passes.



SAGAL: A weather woman in Terre Haute will not work in front of a green screen. Your last story of office oppression comes from Adam Felber.

FELBER: New York police thought they were doing everyone a favor when they arrested Mike "Jangles" Larson for attempting to shake spare change out of people who beg for spare change.


FELBER: But the shakedownees themselves soon rose up in protest, saying that Mr. Larson was just trying to collect dues in his capacity as the president of the new burgeoning Panhandlers Union.


FELBER: The informal organization guarantees territories, mediates disputes and even pays daily benefits to members when they are too sick to make their appointed rounds. Last week, more than fifty coffee cup rattling protestors filled Tompkins Square Park to demand the release of Mr. Larson, and the legal establishment of Panhandlers Local 101.

Quote, "There are barriers to legalizing the union," admits Larson, "including the legalization of the profession itself. But we just want a fair shake. We're not looking for a handout just, you know, a handout."



SAGAL: Let us review your choices. From Roy Blount, Jr., the story of a college professor who will not teach if his students don't bring snacks and show that that was true. From Faith Salie, a weather woman who wants to wear green and cant if there's a green screen. And from Adam Felber, the story of some panhandlers who want to work with dignity, handling their pans, panning their handles? Which of these is the real story of workers protesting their conditions?

CUSTER: It's a tough call, but I believe I'm going to go with the professor.


SAGAL: All right, your choice then is Roy's story of the Sacramento State professor who wouldn't teach without snacks. We actually spoke to the person who took this stand.

GEORGE PARROTT: The students are supposed to be bringing some sort of snacks to share for the class time that can last up to three hours.


SAGAL: That was Professor George L. Parrott, who refused to teach without snacks and was willing to admit that to us. Congratulations, Corky, you got it right.


SAGAL: You earned a point for Roy Blount, Jr., and you have won our prize. Carl Kasell will record the greeting on your home voicemail or your cell phone or whatever you want. Thank you so much, Corky. Thanks for playing with us today.


SAGAL: Bye-bye.

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