Recently I was walking through a department store. A father and his small son, about 5 years old, were a few yards ahead of me near one of those displays in the middle of the aisle. The boy was fascinated by a shelf full of those little sparkling melted glass creations in the shape of soldiers and started playing war with them. The man was a few feet from him looking at some shirts on the other side of the aisle. Predictably the boy got excited and, in his energetic exuberance, knocked a number of the fragile pieces off the shelf and they shattered with a light tinkling sound. The father turned at the sound of the breaking glass and the boy then did a very strange thing. In spite of clear evidence to the contrary the boy insisted that he did nothing to cause the shattered glass on the shelf and floor and in fact that the soldiers were already broken when he got there. The father tried to get the boy to fess up, but to no avail and in the end took responsibility himself, found a clerk, apologized and offered to pay for the broken pieces (probably not more than $100). The clerk refused and said that the store would absorb the cost.
Bob is a retired engineer and lives in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. He contributed significantly to the post-Challenger redesign of the solid rocket boosters for the space shuttle.
He has taught engineering at several universities and was (more...
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