Mediocrity of blonde joke a disservice to Hagerstown residents

December 03, 2012

So this Public Works engineer is walking down a country lane and he comes across a young boy shepherding a flock of sheep across the road. The Public Works engineer steps out of his pickup and tells the kid, “I bet you one of your sheep I can tell exactly how many you have in your flock.”

Kid takes the bet and the Public Works engineer calculates some angles, crunches some numbers and announces, “238 sheep.”

“Wow, mister,” says the kid, “That’s awesome. You win.”

Smugly, the Public Works engineer surveys the flock, shoulders an animal and starts to take it back to his truck. All of a sudden the shepherd boy says “Wait, double or nothing I can guess your profession.” Puzzled, the man takes the bet.

“You’re a Public Works engineer,” said the kid.

“Why yes, yes I am — but how did you know?”

“Well,” says the kid, “Put down my dog and I’ll tell you.”

I don’t endorse the quality of this joke; I am only providing it as a public service to blondes everywhere who might want to post it to their websites.

Really, it’s only fair, after citizens discovered a downloadable blonde joke in the official City of Hagerstown government’s Public Works folder. Yup, right there next to the “Request For Street Tree Maintenance” form. Which is fitting, since the city’s street maintenance program is pretty much a joke as well.

But seriously.

First of all, I want to say loudly and clearly that I am taking the blondes’ side in this; I know better than to alienate any female subgroup. I would rather take on the NRA at high noon in the middle of Idaho than make some snarky comment about, say, Oprah Winfrey fans.

In fact, I agree completely with the City of Hagerstown’s official position: “We certainly apologize to anyone who saw it, because it’s absolutely not in line with the city’s values at all,” said city spokeswoman Erin Wolfe.

But boy, I hate to condemn any government bureaucrat for trying to bring a little levity to the dismal world of municipal government.

I only wish it had been a better blonde joke than the one that was posted, which involves painting yellow lines on the highway and ends with the mediocre punchline, “Every day I get further and further from the can.”

If you’re going to risk promotion, or even your job, you want to go with something a little more clever, in my view — like the two blondes on the motorcycle arguing over a window seat.

The other person you have to feel for is incoming Mayor David Gysberts, who basically got hit with this on his first day on the job. He’s rolling up his sleeves ready to tackle the serious and immediate problems of economic development, inner-city crime and blighted neighborhoods, and his first official task as mayor is to try to explain away a blonde joke. (Helpful hint: Blame it on Bruchey. Hey, it worked for Obama when he blamed Bush.)

And perhaps this brings to light a more serious, discriminatory problem: Has there ever been an elected blonde office holder in the history of Washington County government? We were discussing the issue at work when we realized that answering this question would require some difficult value judgments (concerning blonde versus, let’s call it, blondishness) that caused us to immediately drop the whole line of inquiry. We might be dumb, but we’re no Public Works department.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 6997, or via email at

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