Don’t ask me how but I recently found myself at a socially distanced cocktail gathering with some very self-absorbed high-flatulents. Notice I didn’t say ‘party’ because that would infer a festive time, which this was definitely not. One glance around and you could just tell that everyone in the room had all the answers to all of the world’s problems. If only someone would ask.
I spotted a man standing by himself, hugging a folded Wall Street Journal in his armpit, sporting a fire engine red bowtie with matching red socks and holding his martini glass with pinky fully extended. I guess that would explain why nobody wanted to chat with him. I went over to him and said, “I see Red people.” It was an attempt at humor on my part that fell far short of its mark. He still managed to force a fake laugh and we had a nice elbow bump.
Then, for some inexplicable reason, he immediately dove into a huge diatribe about political polling. My brain shifted into overdrive. He was definitely a challenge but I was up to the task. He needed to be brought down a few pegs and I was just the man to do it. Please know that the subject of polling rarely enters my mind. I give that about as much thought as I do thinking about changing my sheets. But, what the heck, it was time to go to work.
After listening to him drone on for what seemed like three lifetimes, about how he hasn’t trusted the science of polling since 1948 when it was predicted that Dewey beat Truman. I nodded in agreement when, truth be told, I’ve heard of Dewey before but I thought he was the shortstop for the Brooklyn Dodgers. I kept that one to myself.
I informed Mr. Red that I had spent the last few months studying the various measures used in collecting data (this is what is known as bullshit!). I decided to dive right in the deep end saying, “Obviously, you’ve heard of The Gallagher Measurement, the gold standard of all polling devices.” His response: “Of course I have.” Bingo, baby!I went on to explain that The Gallagher Measurement states that all facets involved in the inquiry into public opinion must be run through a figurative colander and what leaks out the bottom might possibly reach an accuracy level of 40%. e nThe gentleman nodded in the affirmative. I was pleased. I also threw in for good measure, ‘We can’t forget about the breakoff rate.” What came out of his mouth next was pure gold: “Yes, but you can’t talk about any of this without factoring in oversampling.’ I think the Gallagher Measurement makes that pretty clear.” Oh my God, I think I just wet my pants! He just mentioned the Gallagher Measurement!
I really needed to get the Hell out of there. My luck was going to run out sooner or later. It was going so well and my point had been made…in spades. He thanked me for the inspiring conversation and I was off to the bar where I high-fived the wall and ordered a well-deserved Bud Light.
As you might have guessed by now, there is no such thing as The Gallagher Measurement but some people just need to be knocked off their pedestal once in a while. I chose this particular chap because anyone who wears a bright red bowtie with matching socks and extends a pinkie while holding a Martini, was clearly ripe for the picking! Sir, you’re going down!
The lesson: The more people want to appear that they know it all, the less likely they are to actually make the final cut for Jeopardy. Wheel of Fortune, maybe. Don’t be afraid to give it a try some time when the opportunity presents itself. You’ll be smiling for a week! Just make sure you’ve got a spare pair of shorts!