Friday, August 10, 2012

Got Any Grapes?

My younger brother Brendan likes to tell this one.

A mallard duck waddles into a crowded bar. Now this is no ordinary duck. By appearance it looked normal. But it's what happened next that made him stand out. The mallard walked up to the burly bartender, opened his beak and said, "You got any grapes?"

A woman in a black cocktail dress knocked over her drink. The crowd at the bar went silent.

Frank the bartender was astonished by what he had just heard. He stammered, "Ww-w-what did you say duck?"

"You got any grapes?" the mallard shot back.

The bar erupted in laughter.

The duck stood patiently until the din settled. He repeated, "You got any grapes?

Another uproar.  The bartender waved his meaty arms to have everyone settle down.

"No duck, I don't have any grapes. How 'bout a PBR?"

More laughter. In the chaos, nobody seemed to notice that the mallard had waddled out the door.

The next day, and for several days following, the duck returned to ask the bartender if he had any grapes.

Word spread about the mallard. People came by the droves to see it for themselves. Times were good. Frank was selling lots of PBR.

But after a few weeks, the crowds became complacent.  They only came to Frank's place to eat his free peanuts while the duck did his grapes routine. Beer sales were flat, and Frank grew resentful of the mess that was left behind.

Frank's resentment built up. One day, when the mallard came in and asked for his grapes, Frank snapped, "Do you see any grapes here, duck? No? Well that's because we don't serve grapes here. Got it, beak face? Just peanuts, beer and the hard stuff. So next time you come in, ask for one of those or you'll regret it!"

The duck flinched slightly as Frank yelled at him.  Aside from Frank's yelling, the bar was eerily quiet. The party was over. After Frank finished his tirade, the duck turned and waddled back out the door.  Frank thought he had seen the last of him.

But the next day the duck was back. He waddled up to the bar and proudly asked, "You got any grapes?"


The duck turned and waddled out the door.

Again the next day, the duck waddled right up to the bar and opened his beak...

But before he could say anything, Frank interrupted, "Dammit duck, you'd better watch it. You'd better not ask for any grap--

"You got any nails?" the mallard asked.

"No I don't have any nails," Frank retorted.

"You got any grapes?"


That duck is my hero.

Some of you know that one of my favorite novels is Joseph Heller's Catch-22. It's a confusing story, but a theme that pervades is the idea that we tend to get caught in cyclical ruts. In these ruts, we can become complacent and even somewhat comforted to the patterns we subject ourselves and are subjected to.  In Catch-22, the protagonist Yossarian discovers how he has become stuck in one such maddening loop, and then decides to make a leap of faith to free himself of it once and for all.

For a while now, I've become complacent with my career. I don't exactly know when it happened, but over this period, I plateaued and my skills began to stagnate. That, plus the additional stresses in the work environment, and a demanding schedule finally led me to look at making a leap from the trap I allowed myself to fall into.

It took a few months of dusting off the resume and going through interviews, but I am excited to say that after nearly six years in my current role, I've accepted a new position within the company that will shake off the complacency and challenge me. I'm thrilled and can't wait to start.

Granted some of this euphoria is a common reaction to closing one chapter and beginning something new.  But still, I can't help but have a sense of hope that something else has begun.

It's good stuff. Indeed, it's wholesome, steel-cut goodness stuff.

You got any grapes?


  1. Atta baby! Humans (and ducks for that matter) thrive on change and new challenges. We aren't meant to sit around.....



  3. Great joke. Great work on busting out of the complacency.

    What's the gig?

  4. That settles it, Charlie McCarthy is totally asking for grapes when he gets into Chico's.

  5. you know what i don't get difference between Brendan and Brandon but that is neither here or there ... analyze that for me :D

  6. Thanks for sharing the video Tim. Next time, I'll have to ask Brendan where he sourced his joke.

    EOB: I'm taking a job at UP as a Business Analyst on a project to rewrite the train control system.

    Fred, I was this close to choosing Chico over Frank, but that's your gig. I can picture Charlie asking for grapes when he goes to Chico's.

    Rafal: the wiki says: the English Brendan is an Anglicised form of the Irish Breandán

    Plus, Brendan looks right.

    Analyze this: how would you like to be called Rafol?