An ambitious, young clerk’s responsibilities included bringing the judge a hot cup of coffee every morning. And, every morning, the judge became infuriated when the coffee cup was brought to him just 2/3 full.
With his back to the corner, the young clerk explained that he had to rush to get the coffee delivered while it was still hot, which caused him to spill much of it along the way. After weeks of yelling and insults, nothing the judge said to the young clerk produced a full cup of coffee – until he threatened to cut the clerk’s pay by 1/3 if he continued to produce 1/3 less than the judge wanted.
The following morning, the judge was greeted with a cup of coffee that was full to the brim, and the next morning and the morning after that. The judge couldn’t resist gloating over his success and smugly complimented the clerk on his new technique.
“Oh, there’s not much to it,” admitted the clerk happily, “I take some coffee in my mouth right outside the coffee room, and spit it back in when I get outside your office.”