The Morning News has a great page with tips of the trade for a variety of occupations. Helpful rules of thumb. Favorites excerpted below.
Every actor eventually is called upon to act drunk. Most do this by slurring their speech, stumbling around, and perhaps drooling a bit. This is what a freshman drama teacher calls “indicating.” A better way to appear drunk is to act very, very sober. Walk very carefully, and try not to let anyone see that you’re inebriated. This is much more subtle and will register on a level the audience won’t immediately recognize.
Do whatever it takes to fit your contracts onto a single page: Format with single-spacing, use a 10- or 9-point font, and reduce the margins to less than an inch. Most people assume any contract that fits on one page will be simple and straightforward, and even sophisticated negotiators can be charmed by the lack of a staple.
When you’re twisting balloons for children, never tell them what you’re making. The majority of the finished products—despite your best attempts—almost always look like a dog, a blastula, or something vaguely phallic. If you identify what you’re actually attempting to make, the children will respond to your finished product with, “That doesn’t look like a [insert animal name]…” But if you make the animals and then ask, “What does it look like to you?” the child’s imagination will take over, turning the blue, four-legged balloon into Blue from Blue’s Clues, the blastula into a Pokemon, and the phallic object into an elephant.
Mapmakers will often use “copyright traps,” bits of information in their maps that are purposefully wrong. They might label a body of water “Lake Strongbad,” for instance, and then examine the next editions of competitors’ maps to see if the incorrect information makes an appearance.
When desktop support technicians resolve a ticket, they are usually required to document the cause and solution to the problem. Supervisors see these records, so you have to be professional, but can usually get away with using the acronym “PEBKAC” in situations where the user caused the initial problem. PEBKAC stands for “Problem Exists Between Keyboard and Chair.”
Never walk behind another person in the woods, because yellow jackets build their nests underground. The first person in line will disturb the nest when they walk over it, but it’s the poor suckers trailing behind who catch the wrath of the stirred-up bees. You can generally tell the more experienced forester in the group because he’ll be the one in the lead.
If you have a client who is unable to approve a proposed design without putting her stamp on it, just put an obvious error in the proposal: a logo that’s too large, a font that’s too small, or a few judiciously seeded typos. The client requests the change and feels she’s done her part—and your design, which was perfect all along, sails through to approval.
With any routine under seven minutes (which is almost all of them), you only really need one thing: a good closer. And there are only two things you really need to know about a great closer. First, it needs to be impressive. That sounds obvious, but most beginning jugglers think “difficult” and “impressive” are synonymous. Your closer must look hard, but there’s no real reason it has to be hard. Secondly, you should intentionally blow your closer on the first two tries. If you get it on the first try it looks too easy, but if you “miss” it a few times it looks harder and builds tension.
When paramedics arrive at a car crash or similar accident, they very, very rarely announce any casualties at the scene—almost all deceased will be pronounced “dead on arrival” at the hospital. This is because it involves about 10 times more paperwork to announce someone dead right in situ than it does to say they expired in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.
When helping someone fix their computer over the phone, and you want them to see if all the cables are plugged in correctly, don’t ask, “Have you checked to see if the cable is plugged in?” because the customer will always say, “Of course I did, do you think I’m a moron?” Instead say, “Remove the cable, blow the dust out of the connector, and plug it back in.” The customer will most likely reply, “Hey, it’s working now—I guess that dust really builds up in there!”
When you realize you have forgotten to submit an order to the kitchen, go to the table and mournfully say, “Did you just hear that crash?” Nine times out of 10, the customers not only will say “yes,” but actually will believe they just heard a noise of some sort. You can then sigh sadly, and say, “Unfortunately, that was the chef dropping your food,” and then scurry back to the kitchen to hand in the neglected order.
(hat tip: Ramit Sethi)