Check the New York Times on page A2 for what should be a very entertaining Editor's Note tomorrow…

The Metropolitan Diary Column in today’s New York Times apparently has been fooled by an Internet con artist.

The lead item in today’s column, allegedly by a reader named Dorothy Seeber, recounts her experience in a public rest room answering questions posed by the occupant of the adjoining stall. At the end of the conversation, the other person supposedly says: “Listen, I’ll have to call you back. There’s an idiot in the next stall who keeps answering all my questions.”

The only problem is, this isn’t a first-person story. It’s a joke that’s been circulating on the Internet for years!

A simple Google search of the words “idiot next stall answer questions” brought up several references to this joke, and it’s frankly surprising that the editors of the Metropolitan Diary column never received an email from a friend including this joke (look at Joke #2 under September 30). I’ve gotten it several times over the last several years, including from my Mom (sorry Mom, but your friends sent it to you)!

Some other references to the same joke:

University of California, Berkeley Commencement Convocation: Faculty Address by Professor Alan Dundes, Professor of Anthropology and Folklore, 17 May 2002, where Professor Dundes claims it happened to him.

Bathroom Conversation at JokesEveryDay.Com

It really makes you wonder who is vetting what gets sanctified as real life by the New York Times these days.

1 Comment

  1. This is pretty sad. I have a couple of thoughts:* Perhaps it’s a sign that editorial resources are stretched so thin that the Times has put Metropolitan Diary on some kind of unthinking auto-pilot. That’s probably the most charitable explanation.* Or, maybe the editor responsible for Metropolitan Diary moves in such lofty circles that she/he receives a totally different class of joke spam from the the rest of us.

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