The Tale Spinner

Vol. XXIII, No. 11

March 18, 2017


  • This Heroic Story is a reminder to hospital staff that patients come first
  • Burke Dykes forwards a poem on how to be happy
  • It's always a good idea to get a second opinion
  • Tom Telfer warns about the mystery shopper scam
  • Marilyn Magid sends the story of two drops of water
  • Here are some book recommendations
  • Gerrit deLeeuw wonders whose job it is to do something
  • Tom Telfer writes about their apartment's pot-luck dinners
  • Sites are suggested by Barbara Wear, Betty Audet, Irene Harvalias, Shirley Coutts, and Tom Telfer

Annginette Anderson Moos from Vermont, USA, writes about


In 1992 I was a graduate student majoring in health care management. We were preparing for careers like hospital administration or pharmaceutical marketing. Our department arranged a weekly "shadowing" opportunity, where students spent the day with a physician, nurse, or health professional in a clinical setting.

With no clinical background, I took every shadowing opportunity I could. My first was observing surgery at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. I was nervous; I'd heard stories of students fainting and causing a big disruption.

It was absolutely fascinating. In hospital scrubs, I was shown how to wash to enter the OR (operating room). Nurses and techs prepared the room, then sprang into action when the first patient was wheeled in. The surgery - a biopsy of tissue from a woman's breast - began.

As I sorted out everybody's job and understood how they meshed together, I became awed by the efficient and elegant way these eight people coordinated their concentration and skills around this complex procedure.

In a breast biopsy like this one, there is a period where everybody must wait. The removed breast tissue was sent to the lab, where a pathologist would examine a frozen section for cancer. If found, the operation would resume as a lumpectomy or full mastectomy. While the lab created and analyzed the frozen section, the surgeons, anesthesiologist, and nurses watched the unconscious patient, relaxed, and chatted. Then the phone rang.

The pathologist informed us that the tissue was benign. Suddenly everyone sprang into action again. Surgeons closed the incision. Nurses assisted the surgeons, or prepared the room for the next surgery.

Then the anesthesiologist started to wake the patient, talking to her in a loud voice. As she groggily came back to consciousness, she seemed like a minor character in the drama that had just taken place. Everyone's back was turned to her as they worked busily.

The anesthesiologist said "We will transfer you onto a stretcher, and you'll go back to your room."

"I don't understand," she said. "Why am I going back to my room? What happened?"

The anesthesiologist, concentrating on his equipment's readings, simply repeated that she'd go back to her room.

Finally, the patient clearly asked the room in general, "Does this mean I don't have cancer?"

Everyone stopped moving.

They all turned to her, smiling. The chief resident came over, touched her shoulder, and said kindly, "That's right: you don't have cancer. The lump was benign. You can go back to your room and sleep, then go home."

With her simple question, the patient reminded everyone of the worry and fear in the anonymous, unconscious patient they had just operated on. Of the purpose of their activity. Of our common humanity. Not only did the patient wake up, she woke up the rest of the room.

Today, as a staff member of a hospital system, I carry her lesson with me always.

ED. NOTE: To comment on this story, or tell your own story of someone's heroic action, or for a free subscription to the site, click on

Burke Dykes forwards this poem:


        Are you almost disgusted with life, little man?
        I'll tell you a wonderful trick
        that will bring you contentment, if anything can.
        Do something for somebody, quick!

        Are you awfully tired with play, little girl?
        Wearied, discouraged, and sick -
        I'll tell you the loveliest game in the world,
        Do something for somebody, quick!

        Though it rains like the rain of the flood, little man,
        and the clouds are forbidding and thick,
        You can make the sun shine in your soul, little man.
        Do something for somebody, quick!

        Though the stars are like brass overhead, little girl,
        and the walks like a well-heated brick,
        and our earthly affairs in a terrible whirl,
        Do something for somebody, quick!

        - Author Unknown


Ever since I was a child, I've always had a fear of someone under my bed at night.

So I went to a shrink and told him: “I've got problems. Every time I go to bed I think there's somebody under it. I'm scared. I think I'm going crazy.”

“Just put yourself in my hands for one year," said the shrink. "Come talk to me three times a week and we should be able to get rid of those fears.”

“How much do you charge?”

“Eighty dollars per visit,” replied the doctor.

“I'll sleep on it,” I said.

Six months later the doctor met me on the street. “Why didn't you come to see me about those fears you were having?” he asked.

“Well, eighty bucks a visit, three times a week for a year, is $12,480.00. A bartender cured me for $10.00. I was so happy to have saved all that money that I went and bought me a new pickup truck.”

“Is that so?” With a bit of an attitude he said, “And how, may I ask, did a bartender cure you?”

“He told me to cut the legs off the bed. Ain't nobody under there now.”


The Rolex watch company is run by not-for-profit charitable trusts. After a certain amount of money goes to Rolex employees and the founding Rolex family, what remains is donated to charities. Some of those charities focus on watchmaking and some on Health and Safety education. The Rolex founder was an orphan.

Tom Telfer writes about


Canadians have lost millions of dollars over the years to scams. Last night I received a text message asking me to be a Mystery Shopper. I quickly deleted it. The police give the following advice: don't do business with mystery shopping promoters who

    • Advertise for mystery shoppers in a newspaper’s “help
    wanted” section or by e-mail.
    • Require that you pay for “certification.”
    • Guarantee a job as a mystery shopper.
    • Charge a fee for access to mystery shopping opportunities.
    • Sell directories of companies that hire mystery shoppers.
    • Ask you to deposit a cheque or wire some or all of the money to someone.

Marilyn Magid sends this story


A lady goes to the bar on a cruise ship and orders a Scotch with two drops of water. As the bartender gives her the drink, she says, "I'm on this cruise to celebrate my 80th birthday, and it's today."

The bartender says, "Well, since it's your birthday, I'll buy you a drink. In fact, this one is on me."

As the woman finishes her drink, the woman to her right says, "I would like to buy you a drink, too."

The old woman says, "Thank you. Bartender, I want a Scotch with two drops of water."

"Coming up," says the bartender.

As she finishes that drink, the man to her left says, "I would like to buy you one, too."

The old woman says, "Thank you. Bartender, I want another Scotch with two drops of water."

"Coming right up," the bartender says.

As he gives her the drink, he says, "Ma'am, I'm dying of curiosity. Why the Scotch with only two drops of water?"

The old woman replies, "Sonny, when you're my age, you've learned how to hold your liquor…. Holding your water, however, is a whole other issue."

These books were recommended to me by someone whose name I have forgotten (my short-term memory is getting shorter every day!)


"Tapestry of Fortunes," a novel by Elizabeth Berg

"Chestnut Street" by Maeve Binchy

"The Weird Sisters" by Eleanor Brown

"Walking across Egypt," a novel by Clyde Edgerton

"The Bookshop" by Penelope Fitzgerald

"The Hurricane Sisters" by Dorothea Benton Frank

"Charms for the Easy Life" by Kaye Gibbons

"The Widower's Tale" by Julia Glass

"Mrs. Queen Takes the Train," a novel by William M. Kuhn

"At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances" by Alexander McCall Smith

"Calling Invisible Women," a novel by Jeanne Ray

"Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind," a novel by Ann B. Ross

"The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" by Mary Ann Shaffer

"Friday Nights," a novel by Joanna Trollope

"The Paradise Valley Mysteries," Books 1–3, by Debra Burroughs. "Emily Parker acquires her late husband’s private investigation agency - and her first case is his murder! With the help of her friends and a handsome police detective, she struggles to uncover the secret life of the man she thought she knew. A riveting box set."

Gerrit deLeeuw forwards this short story:


This is a story about four people named Everybody, Anybody, Somebody, and Nobody.

There was a very important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.

Somebody got angry about it because it was Everybody’s job.

Everybody thought that Nobody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.

So it ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.

Tom Telfer writes about


We live in an apartment building with six floors. Every second month, a pot luck dinner is planned. Sign-up lists are posted and folks prepare their favourite dishes.

As a retired educator, I am usually asked to be the MC. So I dig up a few jokes and prepare my notes, but with the Internet and television in full force, folks stare with blank faces when I present "corn."

Years ago, at school concerts and lodge meetings, we would have them rolling in the aisles. Unfortunately, now we are bombarded with so much information that folks want to hear something new and fresh. Sadly, we long for Jack Benny, Bob Hope, and Red Skelton. As seniors, we have many fond memories of true humour. Now, we are met with folks staring at their phones and yawning.

During the evening, one can mingle and check on what is new with your friends, and hear about their upcoming trips or their newest aches and pains.

When I encountered someone new, I have a stock question that helps me to break the ice. My wife has ordered me stop asking it! I thought it was harmless, but not so.

Gently, I asked: "Where did you go to high school?"

The lady's face turned a bright crimson and she told me that she didn't go to high school!

Slowly, I slipped away, looking for a table to crawl under.


Barbara Wear forwards this link to a speeded-up video of Boeing producing one of the forty-plus 737 airplanes a month:

Betty Audet sends the URL for a clever idea for hanging a picture:

Irene Harvalias shares the untold story of the world's most famous photograph here:

Shirley Coutts forwards this link to a video of Jeanne Robertson talking about bungee jumping in Nanaimo:

Tom Telfer forwards this link to a video of a car that turns into an airplane - perhaps the way of the future. Imagine trying to regulate traffic in the sky!

Tom also sends  the URL for a site that explains how "tech support" scam calls bilk victims out of millions:

For more on scams, click on this CARP site for information on how to avoid common scams:

The Beaver Lake Cree Nation just completed its first-ever solar energy project - harnessing the power of the sun to show their resistance to tar sands expansion:

This restaurant in Portland participates in a city-wide program recycling its food waste into reusable garden compost. Why don't they all do this?

The incomparable Victor Borge and Marilyn Mulvey present "the funniest night at the opera" you could get:

The CBC's program on the TD Bank revealed that employees are signing customers up for lines of credit, upgrading accounts, and adding products they don't need - without customers' knowledge. To call on the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada to investigate these practices, click on

Click on this site for 18 astonishing images of China's massive population:

"I never think of the future. It comes soon enough."

- Albert Einstein

The following from The Free Dictionary

Word of the Day

Article of the Day

This Day in History

Today's Birthday

In the News

Quote of the Day

Match Up
Match each word in the left column with its synonym on the right. When finished, click Answer to see the results. Good luck!



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