Plucking the Pigeon
Once upon a time Working Joe was outdoors, hammering nails, though the air was freezing cold. Big Boss was driving by in his stretch limo just then; he ordered the driver to stop, and rolled down a window.
Big Boss said, “Isn’t seven more than five?”
Working Joe said, “Isn’t thirty-two more than twelve?”
Big Boss said, “Have you ever had a fire in your house?”
Working Joe said, “Not yet, but she’ll set one in five years and he’ll set one in ten.”
Big Boss said, “Can you pluck a pigeon?”
Working Joe said, “Send me one and you’ll see.”
Big Boss rolled up his window and ordered the driver to go. He then turned to Suxel, sitting next to him, and said, “Did you understand any of that?”
Suxel said, “How could I? You spoke in riddles.”
Big Boss said, “And you call yourself a super-lawyer! You, supposedly the cleverest man in town, but this working man understood me and you didn’t! I give you three days to figure out what we said. If you don’t, then you’re fired!”
Suxel was stunned. He hurried to his office, and called an emergency meeting of all his subordinates, but none could figure out the riddles. Suxel then summoned Working Joe, and he asked Working Joe what that conversation meant.
Working Joe said, “I’ll tell you if you pay me five hundred thousand dollars.”
Suxel said, “How dare you! Five hundred thousand dollars for some wretched riddles?”
Working Joe retorted, “If it’s not worth the money then don’t pay,” and he left.
On the third day Suxel knocked on Working Joe’s door. He said, “All right, I’ll pay!”
Working Joe said, “The price has gone up to a million.”
Suxel said, “All right, all right! Here’s a check! Now tell me, quickly!”
Working Joe said, “When Big Boss saw me working in the cold he asked if seven isn’t more than five. He meant to ask whether I did not earn enough in the seven warm months to make unnecessary my work in the five cold months. I answered that thirty-two is more than twelve. I meant that with my thirty-two teeth I could eat up more than I could earn in all twelve months.
“Big Boss then asked if I have had a fire in the house. By this he meant to ask if I have sent any children off to college, for that costs as much as a fire in the house. I replied that my daughter will go in five years and my son in ten.
“Big Boss then asked me if I could pluck a pigeon. I replied, send me one and you’ll see. As you can see, he sent me you. So now go back to Big Boss and tell him if I have done so or not.”
Moral: If you can’t tell who’s the pigeon, then you’re it.