A Captain calls in the Sergeant. “Sarge, I just got a telegram that Private Jones’ mother has died. Better go tell him and send him to see me.”
The Sergeant calls for his morning formation and lines up all the troops.
“Listen up, men!” he says. “Johnson, step out and report to the mess hall for KP. Hoskins, step out and report for guard duty. Jones, step out and report to personnel, your mother is dead. The rest of you, report to the Motor Pool for maintenance.”
Later that day, the Captain calls the Sergeant into his office.
“Sergeant, that was a pretty cold way to inform Jones his mother had died. Could you be a bit more tactful next time, please?”
“Yes sir,” answers the Sergeant.
A few months later, the Captain calls the Sergeant in again.
“Sarge, I just received a telegram that Private McGrath’s mother has died. You’d better tell him, and then send him to see me. This time, be more tactful.”
So the Sergeant calls for his morning formation. “Okay men, fall in and listen up. Everybody with a mother take two steps forward… Not so fast McGrath.”