As a rule, shooters don’t think engineers are funny, especially when they write instructions. In fact, in my whole life I’ve heard only one joke about engineers, and since Phil has brought up the subject, I take this opportunity to share it with you.

It was the best of times and the worst of times, the French Revolution, when the Committee for Public Safety* was lopping off the heads of nobles just as fast as said nobles could be hustled up the scaffold to meet the marvelous invention of Dr. Guillotin.

Things were going swimmingly until one noble, who had more than his share of guts, confronted M. Robespierre, who was head of the Committee of Public Safety.

“Your father was a hamster, and your mother smelled of elderberries,” said the noble. “I fart in your general direction.** Just to show you what I think of you, I will lie facing up to watch the blade as it approaches.”

Robespierre, being an amiable fanatic as fanatics go, said all right, and the noble lay on his back and never flinched as the lever was pulled and the blade descended toward his throat. But then there was a dull whunk and the blade, in its carrier, came to a dead stop halfway down the tracks.

Pandemonium reigned. The Committee for Public Safety consulted its guidebook, The Handbook for Decapitation, and found that if the guillotine failed to function, it was considered an Act of God, and the person whose head had not been lopped could not be subjected to the same ordeal twice.

Amidst deafening boos, the lucky noble strode through the crowd to freedom, and his place was taken by another blueblood who, inspired by his predecessor’s bravery, also demanded to face the blade on its way down.

He did, and to everyone’s complete horror, the same thing happened. The blade made it halfway and stopped dead. This noble, too, was released.

A third noble, an engineer, was led up the scaffold and he, too, requested to lie on his back. He did, and gazed upward where a couple of pounds of chilly steel waited to take his life.

Then he shouted: “Hold it! I see the problem!”

Anyway, that’s the only engineer joke I’ve ever heard.

*The Committee For Public Safety had nothing to do with public safety, any more than Moms Demand Action has to do with mothers. The CPS was a collection of disgruntled peasants and bourgeoisie who wanted to cut off the heads of royals and nobles. MDA is Michael Bloomberg and his billions.

**This noble had obviously seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail, although how is a mystery, since the film didn’t come out until 1975.