Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Check Your Check Lists

Originally posted on December 31, 2011

In preparation for one of our projects this last year—in this case, the visit of both of my adult kids and their families, I remembered this joke:

Moses is at the Red Sea shore. Behind him are 10,000 of the Hebrew liberated slaves, plus their families and what little they can carry with them. They know Pharaoh may well change his mind again. Moses has been working on this project for months! Pleas! Threats! Plagues! Go! Wait? No go! Another plague!
Okay, okay, go, already. Prepare. Change mind! Abort liberation! More threats. God is getting seriously annoyed. Bigger plagues. Oy! Finally, they’re out of there! Scene opens, Moses on the Red Sea Shore:
Moses: Max!
Little fat guy runs up: This is Max, Moses’ logistics officer: "Yeah boss?"
Moses, snapping his fingers: "The boats, Max!"
Max: "Boats?????"
Moses: "Yes, Max, the Boats. B O T Z (Hebrew orthography "correct" spelling had not yet been
Max (sweating and visibly distressed, squirming): Uh, I forgot the boats, Boss.
Max: I got the camels. Water. Food for a month. Fly swatters. Blankets, mumble.. Looking at his list…and… oh, sh… boats. Boss, I forgot the boats.
Moses, getting hysterical: Whaddaya mean, you forgot the boats??!!  (Almost jumping out of his skin with vexation) Pharaoh’s gonna change his mind again! Gonna send chariots! Gonna slaughter us! We’re between a rock and a hard place. I mean between the city and the riverbank!
Whaddaya want me to do, Max?! Hit the water with a stick and go across on dry land???!

Max, with renewed hope: Oh, Boss, can you do that? I’ll get you 40 pages in the Bible if you can!"
      Moral:  Code phrase for times like these: "The boats, Max, the boats."  p.s., see Atul Gawande’s recent book, The Checklist Manifesto.

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