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Bluff The Listener

BILL KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR news quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis. We're playing this week with Negin Farsad, P.J. O'Rourke and Josh Gondelman. And here again is your host at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.


Thank you, Bill.


SAGAL: Right now, it's time for the WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME Bluff the Listener game. Call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT to play our game on the air.

Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.

LANCE EVANS: Hi, Peter. This is Lance Evans (ph) from Telluride, Colo.

SAGAL: Telluride, Colo. - that happens to be one of the most beautiful places there is in this world. What do you do there?

EVANS: I'm a ski instructor and a substitute teacher.

SAGAL: Really?

EVANS: Yeah.

SAGAL: Have you always done that, or is that a new thing?

EVANS: No. I'm retired military. I was 24 years active duty, took two years off...


EVANS: ...And decided to (inaudible) my first year.

SAGAL: Right. So which is more stressful, being in the military or teaching rich people how to ski?

EVANS: I think the latter.

SAGAL: Yeah.


SAGAL: Well, it's very nice to have you with us, Lance. You're going to play our game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Bill, what is Lance's topic?

KURTIS: If you want something done right, do it yourself.

EVANS: They say that the key to being a successful person is to learn how to delegate. You can't do everything yourself. But the trick is other people often do it worse. Our panelists are going to tell you three stories of people who should have just done the damn thing themselves. Guess which one is telling the truth, and you'll win our prize - the WAIT WAITer of your choice on your voicemail. You ready to play?

EVANS: I'm ready.

SAGAL: All right. First, let's hear from Negin Farsad.

NEGIN FARSAD: In October, 2013, Chinese developer Tan Youhu was pissed. A rival real estate developer in China sued him over a project, and he couldn't handle it. So he thought the best solution was murder. Now, murder sounds extreme, but to be fair, he probably wasn't loved enough as a child. And, you know, he'll just have to sort that out with China's famous therapy culture. Anyway...


FARSAD: ...Back to murder. He decided to hire a hitman, and he paid that hit man about $283,000 to murder his rival developer. The hitman took half the money for himself, and he used the other half to hire another hitman. Then the second hitman subcontracted to a third hitman...


FARSAD: ...Paying only $38,000 upfront and another 71 Gs when the murder was done. But then the third hitman subcontracted to a fourth hitman paying even less. Then this hitman went to a fifth hitman, at which point they really just should've formed a boy band.


FARSAD: And he was only offered $14,000 for the job. At that point, I'm just, like, you might as well do the murder for free. You know what I mean? Who's with me, fellow assassins?


FARSAD: OK. But the fifth hitman is struck with, like, a pang of morality and actually tells the developer that there's a hit out on him. Then and only then did someone call the police. All five hitmen were charged with intentional homicide - intentional but really lazy homicide...


FARSAD: ...And sentenced to between two and four years at a Chinese iPhone factory. No, I'm sorry.


FARSAD: I mean prison - prison.


SAGAL: An angry businessman hires a hitman who hires a hitman who hires a hitman who hires a hitman who hires a hitman who hires a hitman, and nobody gets hit. That's Negin's story. Your next story of delegating irresponsibly comes from P.J. O'Rourke.

PJ O'ROURKE: Well, there was a grave diplomatic incident in France recently. The Ministry of Trade was hosting a state dinner for the American Association of Beef Exporters. The French minister of trade who, quelle surprise (ph), detests Americans, told the ministry's chef to - boeuf bourguinon - c'est merde (ph), but it's good enough for them. The chef, who's from Burgundy, was deeply offended and turned the dinner over to his sous chef. But the French sous chef union was on strike, so the menu was left to the state dinner's maitre d'.

His mistress owns a business called Le Roi Berger (ph). The mistress sent a ministry driver to pick up the entree, but the driver, a recent immigrant from Estonia, misunderstood Le Roi Berger and went to a wrong restaurant instead where his order was taken by a young lady who had just become a militant vegan.


O'ROURKE: And that is how the American Association of Beef Exporters ended up with Impossible Whoppers.


SAGAL: A group of American beef exporters get served Impossible Whoppers because of a chain of failure in France. And your last story of a delegator disappointed comes from Josh Gondelman.

JOSH GONDELMAN: Last week, a Greek fisherman named Kostas Asimos (ph) went to the dentist complaining of an infected tooth. The dentist told him the condition wasn't urgent, and the next available appointment to get the tooth removed wasn't for three weeks. Asimos posted on Facebook that in protest, he intended to tie the offending tooth to a buoy with twine while a friend drove his octopus fishing boat away from the shore to extract it from his mouth.

Unfortunately, Asimos' acquaintance, a novice sailor, was a timid pilot and didn't reach a sufficient speed to yank the tooth out. Consequently, Asimos was dragged from the craft when the tooth stayed firmly affixed to his gums, and the boat sped into the harbor, its driver too anxious to notice what had happened. Asimos, still tethered by string to the buoy, treaded water for three hours until a member of the Coast Guard picked him up after receiving several reports of a mermaid bobbing in the waters...


GONDELMAN: I bear no ill will towards my friend, said Asimos after being rescued. However, I still do not trust my unreasonable dentist.


SAGAL: All right


SAGAL: Here are your choices. From Negin Farsad, a story from China about a man who hired a hitman who hired a hitman who hired a hitman who hired a hitman who hired a hitman. And a total of five hitmen get hired, but no one got murdered. From P.J. O'Rourke, how a group of American beef exporters got served Impossible Whoppers in France because of a series of buck-passing among them. Or, from Josh Gondelman, the simple story of how a man's tooth extraction failed when he delegated the important job of driving the boat. Which of these is a real story of delegation gone wrong?

EVANS: Well, I'm going to go with the Chinese subcontractors.

SAGAL: You're going to go with the Chinese subcontractors. That's Negin's story about the completely failed hit in China. Well, to bring you somebody, we talked to a journalist who covered this remarkable story.


NATALIE O'NEILL: A hitman in China got cold feet, so he hired another man...


O'NEILL: ...Five-man chain of murder subcontractors.

SAGAL: That was Natalie O'Neill - she writes for The New York Post - talking about the hitman who hired the hitman, hired - who hired the hitman who hired the hitman who hired the hitman who hired the hitman...


SAGAL: ...In China. Congratulations, Lance. You got it right.


SAGAL: You picked the right story. That was Negin's. She was telling the truth. You've earned a point for her. You've won our prize. Thanks for calling. Thanks for playing our games. Take care.

EVANS: Thank you.

SAGAL: Bye-bye.


GRATEFUL DEAD: (Singing) I'm begging you, don't murder me. Please don't murder me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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