Bluff The Listener Our panelists tell us three stories of employees going to great lengths to keep their jobs.
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Bluff The Listener

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Bluff The Listener

Bluff The Listener

Bluff The Listener

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Our panelists tell us three stories of employees going to great lengths to keep their jobs.

CARL KASELL, Host:

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., Roxanne Roberts and Brian Babylon. And here again is your host, at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.

PETER SAGAL, Host:

Thank you, Carl.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Thank you so much everybody. 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!

JOHN MARTIN: Hi Peter, this is John Martin in Nevada City, California.

SAGAL: Hey John, how are you?

MARTIN: I'm doing fine. It's like a never-ending party.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: There you go. Nevada City, is that up near Tahoe? Where is that?

MARTIN: It is. You're right. Halfway between Reno and Sacramento.

SAGAL: Welcome to the show, John. You are going to play the game in which you have to tell truth from fiction, of course. Carl, what is John's topic?

KASELL: Without me, this whole place falls apart.

SAGAL: It's not enough to be employed in this economy. You have to be constantly working to keep the job you've got. This week, we came across a story about somebody making sure they were absolutely indispensable to their employer. Each of our panelists are going to tell you a story about such a proactive employee. Only one of them is real. Choose that true story, you will, of course, win Carl's voice on your voicemail. Ready to go?

MARTIN: Yes, I am.

SAGAL: All right, let's play. First, let's hear from Roy Blount, Jr.

ROY BLOUNT: Who doesn't love the arcade game Whac-A-Mole? Computerized moles popping up from holes to be whacked with a mallet before they pop back down. To arcades, those moles mean big dough. They've got to be kept up and popping.

What if one man could hold control over the whole world of Whac-A-Mole? Whac-A- Moles are made by a company in Holly Hill, North Carolina, where Marvin Wimberly was a programmer. Wimberly's pay was about to be docked. That struck him as whack.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

BLOUNT: So, Wimberly programmed a virus into Whac-A-Moles that kept knocking them out of whack. After a certain number of games, the moles would stop popping and the only one who could whack the virus was Wimberly. He was dug in pretty good there. But note, this week he got popped. Police got hip to his scheme and slapped him with a charge of offense against intellectual property. He could be holed up in the slammer for up to fifteen years.

SAGAL: A Whac-A-Mole engineer engineering the Whac-A-Moles that only he could whack the moles.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Your next story of a defense against getting the ax comes from Roxanne Roberts.

ROXANNE ROBERTS: Gracie Thompson worked for Jean and Tom Scott for 35 years, cooking and baking her famous cherry pie for truckers, who put the Chesterton, Indiana diner on the map. When the Scott's sold the business to an out of town restaurateur in January, Gracie and the other four employees were given pink slips and two weeks' pay. That's when Gracie got mad and even.

The night before the new owner took possession she broke into the diner after hours and destroyed every copy of her pie recipe, then left a note confessing the crime. When the new owner and sheriff showed up on her doorstop the next morning, she gave them a choice: jail or pie.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

ROBERTS: Press charges and her pies and the truckers would disappear. Or, rehire back her coworkers and they'd keep coming. The verdict was pretty quick. The sheriff is a daily customer at the diner.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

ROBERTS: And the owner quickly backed down. Gracie is still baking pies at home where no one can figure out her secret ingredients.

SAGAL: A secret pie recipe guarantees employment in Indiana. Your last story of someone employing great measures to stay employed comes from Brian Babylon.

BRIAN BABYLON: All right. Like many other municipalities, Lake Worth, Florida is making cutbacks to the workforce, and that includes down at the water treatment plant. But Jackie Washington isn't worried, despite her lack of seniority, her ignorance of waste management and her habit of rolling into work around noon. Why, you may ask, because Jackie's the only person who can handle the alligators.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

BABYLON: We get about three per month, she says. "Sometimes it's the classic: oh pet too big, down the toilet it goes. And sometimes they're the big ones who just crawl in the sewers and end up in here. Don't matter to me as long as they got a tail that I can grab them by."

Her ability to wrangle gators was noticed one day as a ten-footer jumped into the collection pool. Everyone else ran away streaking, but Jackie put on some rubber gloves and wrestled the animal until Animal Control came. Quote, "She's lazy and pretty much useless for anything else," her boss says.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

BABYLON: "But we need her. It's like: break glass in case of gator."

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: All right. Here are your choices. From Roy Blount, Jr., the story of the guy who programs the Whac-A-Mole machines putting in a virus so they break and only he could fix them. From Roxanne Roberts, a pie baker in Indiana who holds the pie hostage to make sure that she and her friends still have a job. Or from Brian Babylon, a sewage treatment worker who is the only one who can handle the gators. Which of these is a real story of guaranteed job security?

MARTIN: I'm going to go with Roy Blount.

SAGAL: You're going to go with Roy's story of the Whac-A-Mole. Any particular reason?

MARTIN: I can't figure it out and I like Roy a lot.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Yeah, that's good enough. Lord knows, that's inspired a lot of people to do a lot less sensible things. All right. So your choice is Roy's story. Well, we spoke to a reporter who covered this real story.

ANDREW GANT: The company that makes Whac-A-Mole has one guy who knows how to prepare the games, who programs the chips, and he was sabotaging the game.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: That was Andrew Gant. He's the reporter who broke the Whac-A-Mole sabotage story for the Daytona Beach News Journal. Congratulations, John, you got it right.

MARTIN: Okay.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Well done. You earned a point for Roy Blount, Jr. You've won our prize. Carl Kasell will record the greeting on your home answering machine. Well done.

MARTIN: Thank you.

SAGAL: Bye-bye.

MARTIN: Bye.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

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