"You Want It When?"

James Landau jjjrlandau at EARTHLINK.NET
Sat Apr 15 00:19:29 UTC 2006

I can antedate that.  The cartoon you describe was quite popular in the
Pentagon when I worked there (November 1969 through January 1986).  So
popular that I assumed it was commercially produced---it simply would not
have gotten that much circulation had it been passed from Xerox to Xerox.

The second most popular cartoon/motto in the Pentagon was the "up to your
ass in alligators" which occurred in several different typefaces and in two
different versions, the shorter one being trimmed down to the last sentence
"When you are up to your ass in alligators, it is difficult to remember
that your objective was to drain the swamp."  Due to the variations, I
assumed that this one was indeed passed from Xerox to Xerox.

Two other slightly less popular cartoons/mottos were "No job is complete
until the paperwork is done" and "I must be a mushroom.  They keep me in
the dark and feed me shit".

Date: Thu, 13 Apr 2006 15:36:51 -0200
From: Charles Doyle <cdoyle at UGA.EDU>
Subject: Re: "You Want It When?"

Alan Dundes and Carl Pragter, in their book When You're Up
to Your Ass in Alligators: More Urban Folklore from the
Paperwork Empire (Wayne State UP, 1987), pp. 167-68, print a
version of the "classic" cartoon--four humanoid figures
rolling in laughter, with the caption "You want it WHEN?"--
collected in 1976. Dundes and Pragter cite versions from
Great Britain (1981) and Germany (1982).

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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