Date: Mon, 1 May 95 14:03:32 PDT
From: Peter Langston <psl>
Subject: Shotgun Surveys
From: "The Life of the Party" by Bennett Cerf, Doubleday, 1956
The late H. T. Webster had completed a dozen cartoons in a single day and
decided he needed a bit of relaxation. He chose twenty friends at random and
sent them a one-word telegram: "Congratulations!"
Only two phoned to ask what he was talking about. The other eighteen sent
notes of thanks. Each had recently completed some minor achievement he deemed
entirely worthy of Webster's congratulatory wire!
[I am reminded...
A few years ago I moved to Los Angeles. On the little bus from the air
terminal to the car rental place the driver struck up a conversation. When I
said that I was just moving to L.A. his response was: "Oh. You a musician or
Several times, when I recounted this incident to native Angelinos I was
told the story of the "recent" survey taken on the streets of North Hollywood.
100 randomly-chosen people were asked this question in a neutral tone:
"So, how's the screenplay coming?"
Of the 100, 53 answered "Just great!" or its equivalent, 24 answered "I've
figured out what it needs." (or equiv), 15 answered "I think I've sold it." (or
equiv), and the remaining 8 all answered "Who told you? Nobody was supposed to
© 1995 Peter Langston