A Porter’s Tale

I read an old train porter’s tale the other day about an incident from the early years of railroading. It seems that this new engine was being tried out with a longer-than-usual line of cars on a very steep grade. When the train finally crested the mountain, the engineer confessed to the brakeman that he hadn’t been altogether certain they were going to make it.

“About half-way up,” he said, “I was afraid we were going to slide all the way back down!”

The brakeman told him, “I feared as much, which is why I set the brakes before we started.”

Anyone in publishing who has ever tried to get approval for anything from the company’s legal team knows the feeling. Consider this recent article about the gap between drug company brand managers and legal staff concerning customer message boards and such. I particularly enjoyed the following sentence:

Dori Stowe, chief digital strategist at Grey Healthcare Group, New York, recalls speaking with a pharma company’s legal team about a campaign, “and somebody raised their hand and asked, ‘What’s Google?'”

From my experience, the person asking “What’s Google?” usually has the most clout. *sigh*

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