It Happened in Pisa

We've created this area in the hope of seeing material ranging from some well-told (or well retold) jokes to original writing with a humorous slant, or anything else that might appeal to the kind of person who enjoys playing with words more than people. That probably means someone like yourself. N.B. -- Postings preceded by ** contain some sexual or risqué content. (Makes them easier to find.)
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It Happened in Pisa

Post by Bobinwales » Mon Sep 20, 2021 12:06 pm

Have you ever been to Pisa?
Many years ago, I was touring Italy with a friend and we went there. That was in the days when you could still go up the tower.
The place was seething with tourists going "Oh, my God, it really leans. No, I mean it reeeally leans!".
We stood at the end of a queue and shuffled patiently forwards to go up the tower, only to find out, an hour later when we got to the front, that you first had to queue at the kiosk to get a ticket to join the queue to go up the tower.
A true, if not scintillating story, but it does remind one that one has to watch one's Pisan queues.
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Re: It Happened in Pisa

Post by Phil White » Wed Sep 22, 2021 8:13 am

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Re: It Happened in Pisa

Post by Bobinwales » Wed Sep 22, 2021 2:22 pm

Sorry Phil.
I "remembered" it from an old file of mine. I actually checked to see if it had been used before.
I obviously didn't search correctly!
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Re: It Happened in Pisa

Post by Erik_Kowal » Wed Sep 22, 2021 2:27 pm

The chances are that if the person posting the joke doesn't remember reading it on the site, nor will almost anyone else. Phil probably remembers this one only because it was him who posted it the last time.
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Re: It Happened in Pisa

Post by Phil White » Wed Sep 22, 2021 3:56 pm

Erik_Kowal wrote: Wed Sep 22, 2021 2:27 pm The chances are that if the person posting the joke doesn't remember reading it on the site, nor will almost anyone else. Phil probably remembers this one only because it was him who posted it the last time.
And because it is, quite genuinely, a true story about my first visit to Pisa.
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Re: It Happened in Pisa

Post by tony h » Wed Sep 22, 2021 5:05 pm

Jokes are meant to be repeated. I think it is sad that we don't here. There are some of Ken's that I remember enjoying but nothing of their substance. I have looked but can't find them.
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Re: It Happened in Pisa

Post by Erik_Kowal » Wed Sep 22, 2021 5:06 pm

Bob, a web search for "one has to watch one's Pisan queues" brought up Phil's previous posting on Wordwizard as the sole hit, which corroborates his statement that he was recounting an actual event.

So it looks like that's where the entry in your file must have come from.

It's a shame that it hasn't circulated more widely, because it's quite a good joke.
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Re: It Happened in Pisa

Post by Bobinwales » Wed Sep 22, 2021 11:29 pm

It is a little beauty.
Knowing my usual train of thoughts, I probably searched for "Pisa". But that should have shown up as well.
Anyway. Lesson learned!
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Re: It Happened in Pisa

Post by Erik_Kowal » Thu Sep 23, 2021 1:52 am

Speaking of queuing...

In March/April 1979, during the tail end of the Brezhnev era, I went to Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) on a student exchange visit with a bunch of other British students.

One day, not very long before we were due to return to the UK, I went with some of the others to the Dom Knigi ("House of the book") on Nevsky Prospekt, the chief thoroughfare that runs roughly west to east through the historic centre of the city.

Our plan was to buy books, records and posters to take home with the help of the augmented purchasing power of our black market-acquired roubles.

To buy anything at Dom Knigi turned out to be surprisingly complicated, because they made you queue three times:
  • The first time at the ordering counter to tell the assistant standing behind it what you wanted to buy. (It was impossible to browse and examine the goods beforehand, because all the stock was kept behind the counter.) The assistant then hand-wrote the list of the items you wanted on a chit bearing the shop's logo.
  • The second time at the cash register to pay for the items. The assistant there calculated the total amount due with impressive speed using an abacus, took your money, and stamped the chit to confirm you had paid for the items.
  • The third time at the collection counter to pick up the paid-for items. The assistant there took your stamped chit, assembled the items on it, wrapped them with paper and string, and handed you the resulting package.
I hate to think of the complications (and extra queuing) that must presumably have ensued if it turned out that some of the items you had paid for had actually run out before you collected them.

From the customer's point of view this kind of set-up wasn't very efficient, but no doubt it helped to depress the unemployment rate.
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Re: It Happened in Pisa

Post by tony h » Fri Sep 24, 2021 9:43 pm

A different queuing experience. In China , before they embraced their version of capitalism, arriving unexpectedly at a hotel somewhat to the east of Qiemo there was need to book three rooms. "no rooms", was the greeting. Actually it took a lot longer to get to that point, Simon's Chinese which we knew to be good was in full flow. The hotel looked empty, The room keys were hanging behind the counter. The conversation started to get a bit heated. Simon now said we should make our way to the stairs and prepare to run to the rooms on the first floor. Once duly positioned, he suddenly sprang over the reception counter, grabbed three keys and shouted "Run!" The party ran up the stairs chased by the irate staff but managed to get into the three rooms for which the keys had been purloined. As instructed the bedding was disturbed as soon as entry had been made.
At this point the staff realised that this bunch of westerners meant business and were staying. They now turned into quite good hosts.

Apparently the effect of the communist diktat was that the hotel staff got paid the same irrespective of how many customers. Customers just meant you had to work for a living and therefore must be repelled.
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Re: It Happened in Pisa

Post by Erik_Kowal » Fri Sep 24, 2021 10:52 pm

I would have paid good money for a ringside seat there, Tony. 😂

Simon clearly had what the Danes call ben i næsen ("bone in the nose"), meaning something like "courage, initiative and resilience in the face of authority or opposition".

So did you and your other companion, inasmuch as you both followed his lead. 🙂
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