by Jesús Vallejo Fernández de la Reguera
“Have you noticed that the waiter stutters?” asked Julia when we were sitting down for dinner in that tiny, charming restaurant. “Poor fellow…! He’s a lucky man, anyway. If his wages depended only on his way of speaking, he wouldn’t be able to save his job”, she added. “Who knows”, I said; “my grandfather once told me that a friend of his, who had a stutter like our waiter’s, made up his mind to be a broadcaster… and he achieved it!” “How did he manage?” she inquired. “It’s a real mystery”, I replied, “but in fact, when he had the microphone close to his mouth he was the best of the newsreaders. He had the gift of the gab. Surprising, isn’t it?” “Definitely. Your story reminds me of something somebody told me years ago. It’s a case even stranger than yours”.
She gave me a sweet smile and continued: “In your story the surprising event would have been the dismissal of your grandfather’s friend, don’t you agree? He broadcast wonderfully, didn’t he? Why shouldn’t he be hired?” She paused to light a cigarette and went on speaking: “Two years ago, in Italy, three lecturers applied for a chair at the university. Two of them belonged to rival groups, both having defenders in the tribunal; the third one was almost dumb. The members of the tribunal couldn’t agree on one of the two real candidates. Therefore, they voted for the dumb, who is teaching right now, to his students’ despair, in an Italian university. That is what I was told. I had never been so surprised in all my life”. When she pronounced this last sentence, it was me who smiled: “Oh, come on…, surprised? We both work at the university!”