Business 1.0 November/December 2019

August 6th, 2021 by Nathan Hobbs

How Many Does It Take?

By Lyle R. Hill

I answered the phone on its third ring, the caller had a pleasant voice.

“Mr. Hill,” she began, “my name is Susan and I’m calling on behalf of the Minnesota Institute of Political Science. If you could spare a few minutes, I would like to get your opinions for a research project for a doctoral thesis program.”

I was impressed. Here I was in Chicago and a doctoral thesis research person was calling me to ask for my help.

“I would be honored,” I replied.

“Thank you, Mr. Hill. Now here’s how this will work … you have to answer the questions with the first coherent thought that comes to mind. Further, you cannot ask me any questions. Do you understand?”

“Yes, I do,” I answered, hoping I would be up to the challenge.

“Okay,” she continued. “How many governors does it take to change a light bulb?”

“What did you say? Could you please repeat that?”

“I am not supposed to repeat any question twice, but you’re from Chicago, so I’ll make one exception. So here it is again. How many governors does it take to change a light bulb?”

To my surprise, I had heard the question correctly the first time.

“Susan, is this some kind of a joke?” I asked.

“Mr. Hill please, you are not supposed to be asking me any questions,” she replied with agitation in her voice.

I summoned up my most professional voice and replied, “Is the governor a Republican or a Democrat?”

“Mr. Hill,” she snapped, “I have told you three times you are not allowed to ask me any questions! And besides, what difference does it make?”

If the governor is a Democrat he might change the light bulb, but not until he has blamed the Republicans. He will then seek a federal grant for the new bulb, promise everyone free light bulbs and, if he doesn’t get the grant, he’ll push for a tax increase. If he’s a Republican governor, he will immediately blame the Democrats and put in a call to a couple of fundraising lobbyists to consult with him on the problem with hopes of steering the work toward one of his corporate donors.”

“Mr. Hill. It’s a Republican governor. Now please, answer the question!”

“Is it an election year?” I asked.

“WHO CARES?” she shouted.

“I care,” I responded.

“YES, it’s an election year and I am supposed to be asking the questions, not you!” she screamed.

“You’re not really from Minnesota, and this is not a real doctoral research project, is it?”

“NO. I’m from New Jersey. I’m being paid to do these surveys and if I could get my hands around your neck, I would wring it until you turned purple!”

“And, could you tell me how long the Republican governor, who is now in an election year, has been in office?”


We apparently got disconnected and she couldn’t find my number to call back.

Within a week I had forgotten about Susan, but one day I was listening to a radio show discussing a recent study and the announcer said maybe the question should be asked: “How many City of Chicago workers does it take to change a light bulb?”

After a few minutes I decided to do my own doctoral project. So, for 48 hours, I asked every person who called me: “How many people of your profession would it take to change a light bulb?” Some of the responses were:

Teamster truck driver: We only deliver ‘em, we don’t change ‘em.

Lawyer: I’ll gladly advise you on how, when, and why to change the bulb as soon as you tell me where I am to send my bill.

Film distributor: Four. The first guy we send out will forget to bring the bulb. The second guy will bring a bulb, but it will be the wrong color. The third guy will have the right color but the wrong type. However, I’m pretty sure that by the fourth time, we’ll get it right … maybe!

Landmark preservationist: Don’t change it … let’s rebuild it!

Johnny “The Mooch” Rago: Change your own #!+%*&(^? light bulb, you idiot.

So there you have it. And by the way, from this point on, I would appreciate being referred to as Doctor Hill … especially by those of you from Minnesota.

Lyle R. Hill is the former owner of a window film company in the Midwest. He also serves as president of, an information portal and job generation company for the auto glass industry, and provides film-related advice. Hill has more than 40 years of experience in glass-related industries and can be reached at

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