Skip to main content


A single-engine plane was out of fuel. On board were a pilot, a doctor, a lawyer, and a vender of papermaking chemicals....

Q: How many paper machine operators does it take to screw in a light-bulb?
A: Usually at least three.
Q: Why?
A: The day-shift operator first screws in the light bulb. The evening shift operator repeats the process so that the tightness of the bulb in the socket will be the way “they like to run.” And so on for the graveyard shift.

A single-engine plane was carrying a pilot, a doctor, a lawyer, and a vendor of papermaking chemicals. The pilot announced that the plane did not have enough fuel to make it to the airport. “Watch me,” he said, “so that you will know how to put on your parachute and jump out of the plane.” With that, the pilot jumped out of the plane and floated down to safety. The passengers soon discovered that there were only two remaining parachutes. The doctor said, “Certainly I should be one of the two to get a parachute. Just consider the number of lives that I save every year.” The lawyer said, “In this particular case it is even more important that I be a survivor, because someone has to be able to bring a lawsuit against the air service for being so negligent as to run out of fuel. As a result of my work I will be preventing hundreds of accidents just like this one.” The wet-end chemical vendor said “Relax, there’s no need for any of us to jump. I spend half my life in planes, so I’m sure that I can fly this thing. Also, I just put a 4-ounce sample in the fuel tank and I can promise you that the efficiency of this plane has increased by a factor of two and we will land with fuel to spare.”

Just by coincidence there was another single-engined plane carrying a pilot and three passengers. Only this time the pilot was accompanied by a brain surgeon, a rocket scientist, and a professor of papermaking technology. The plane was carrying plenty of fuel. But the pilot announced that there was a total system failure and that the plane would crash in ten minutes. She demonstrated how to put on a parachute and how to jump from the plane. The passengers then discovered that there were two remaining parachutes. The brain surgeon said “My skills are so badly needed by society that certainly I should be allowed to survive.” The rocket scientist said “The future of mankind depends on the progress of my research; we are on the verge of finding a way to transport people to a planet that will become a new home for the human race, and we must finish our work before we have worn out the planet Earth.” The professor of papermaking chemistry thanked the other two for their great contributions to mankind. “But, he said, I have a plan based on the research findings of my own studies. I will jump first with both parachutes and I will open both of them. When you two jump, you will be retained on the tops of the two open chutes.”

A wet-end starch vendor noticed that a particular paper machine superintendent liked to nap in his office. When asked, the machine superintendent pointed out that he was busy watching the video monitor. He was able to clearly see the monitor from the couch in the office. “How did you manage to get a couch in your office, asked the starch vendor? Until today the only ‘couch’ I had seen in a paper mill was pronounced ‘cooch,’ and it was a vacuum roll at the end of the forming section on a paper machine.” Pretty soon everyone in the mill had heard the story. The next morning the mill manager said, “From now on I want you to get off the couch in your office and pay attention to what is happening at the couch.” The starch vendor raised his hand. “Please don’t be critical of your machine superintendent. The reason that he doesn’t have to come out of his office to check the solids at the couch is that you have been getting such fantastic drainage and process efficiency with the new cationic potato starch. Besides, this mill has helped my company to select a new brand name for this product. It will be called ‘Couch Potato’.”