In 1885 Nikola Tesla, who had recently immigrated to the U.S. from Serbia, told his employer Thomas Edison that he could redesign Edison’s direct current generators, greatly improving both their service and cost. Hearing this, Edison remarked: “There’s fifty thousand dollars in it for you – if you can do it.”
Even though Edison’s company had a reputation for being tightfisted, Tesla took him at his word, and after he completed the task, Edison refused to pay him the money. Instead, Edison told Tesla that he was only joking, and offered him a $10 per week raise for his current $18 per week salary. Insulted, Tesla immediately resigned.
bane: death, destruction; woe; a source of harm or ruin, a curse. Middle English, from Old English bana; akin to Old High German bano death. First Known Use: before 12th century.
Tightfisted – parsimonious; stingy; tight; mean; miserly. Origin from 1835-45.
“Certainly I can!”
“Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell ’em, ‘Certainly I can!’ Then get busy and find out how to do it.”
This quote is attributed to Theodore Roosevelt. Would a German say something like this? Should anyone say something like this?
A Coach’s Yes
In 2015, following the Penn State University wrestling team’s duel with the University of Minnesota, coach Cael Sanderson answered ‘yes’ when asked if Jimmy Lawson instead of Jon Gingrich would be the Penn State heavyweight in the critical time nearing the end of the season.
When asked to comment on this, Lawson clearly took his coach’s ‘yes’ as conditional, and responded: “In my mind it’s not really over. We’re both seniors, we both want to be the guy out there, we both want to do well at nationals, so I’ve just got to keep competing.”
As it turned out, Sanderson’s ‘yes’ was conditional, and he later qualified his yes, saying “It can never be done … (the wrestlers) are always pushing and trying to get to the top. You want to help the team by being the best you can be and if that’s pushing the guy ahead of you or even taking the spot, that’s what you need.”