Tom is steaming with outrage. He has poured heart and soul into the writing assignment that he was given and now the editing committee is picking his work apart, little by little.
Ever been there? Seeing Tom’s frustration, Ben says, “Tom, I once knew a hatmaker who, needing a sign for his shop, drew a little sketch of a hat and wrote above it the words, ‘John Thompson, Hatmaker, Fashionable Hats Sold Inside for Ready Money.’
As he was taking his sketch to the sign maker, his wife said, ‘Who would sell a hat for anything but ready money? Delete that part.’ And so he did.
Then a friend said, ‘And no one cares who made the hats as long as they’re good. You should also delete John Thompson, Hatmaker.’ And so he did, which left only his picture of a hat with the words, ‘Fashionable Hats Sold Inside.’
John hadn’t gone far before someone looked at the sketch and chuckled ‘Who would sell unfashionable hats?’ so John removed the word ‘Fashionable.’
And then another said, ‘Who sells hats on the sidewalk? Of course they’re sold inside! All you really need is the picture of a hat and above it, the word, ‘Hats.’”
Satisfied that he now had the perfect sign, John showed his sketch to just one more friend. Looking quizzically at it, the friend said, ‘You surely don’t need the word ‘Hats’ above the picture
, John. All that’s needed is the picture itself.’
So when he finally arrived at the sign maker’s shop, JohnThompson had nothing to show him but his little drawing of a hat.
Seeing it, the sign maker said, ‘Hmmm, this needs something more. Might I suggest that we add your name and occupation, John Thompson, Hatmaker, and perhaps beneath it the words, ‘Fashionable Hats Sold Inside for Ready Money?’”
Roy H. Williams
You will find the original story of the hatmaker’s sign in the congressional archives, preceded by this notation: “Dr. Franklin perceived that I was not insensitive to Congress’ mutilation of my document, (the Declaration of Independence,) and tried to reassure me by whispering a parable…” – Thomas Jefferson