Three warnings

A farmer is taking his new bride home in his mule-drawn cart. The mule stumbles, and the farmer says sternly, ‘That’s once.’ After an interval the mule stumbles again. ‘That’s twice,’ says the farmer. The mule stumbles a third time. The farmer says, ‘That’s three,’ and takes out a gun and kills the mule. The farmer’s new bride is horrified and shocked. She exclaims, ‘What are you doing? You just shot that poor animal! How could you?’ The farmer looks at her and says sternly, ‘That’s once.’

In this tale, the mule committed three ‘infractions’. But he was only warned twice before he was punished. Assuming that we generally allow three infractions before we take action, do people usually give only two warnings? Or do they allow four infractions and give three warnings before taking action?

Three strikes and you’re out.

One of the best intros to an IMHO question that I can recall.

I haven’t noticed any hard-and-fast rule, Johnny. Some people seem to give warning after warning and never actually lower the boom. Others don’t give any warning at all.

I heard the joke as “one” “two” and “three”.

Aw, shucks!

I did too, but I didn’t think of it until well after I posted.

Nothing to add here, except to say that when I was in college, my vertebrate zoology teacher would look at you, hold up a finger and say “that’s one” if you answered a question wrong or said something smart-alecky in class. After much harassing about what it meant, he told us that joke.

He was cool. I always smile when I hear that joke.

(Hi Dr. Smith!)

Growing up, my stepfather would discipline (read: strike) you immediately upon committing the infraction. His thinking was probably “fix it quick so the lesson is learned”.

My mother’s method was more usually “I’m going to count to Three. One…Two…” God in Heaven help you if she ever got to three. She didn’t do the half numbers either. It was a classic case of “the implication of the threat is enough to fear the actual punishment”. Most of the time us kids bought into this.

These days, I tend to belong in the “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me” school of thought. So I guess I’m a two-strike kind of guy. I’ll give you the first one because you might have gotten the best of me for a good laugh. But please don’t do it twice.

I never thought of it until I read your OP. Interesting! But for me, engineer_comp_geek’s post answers the question satisfactorily.

In baseball, the batter gets just 2 infractions/strikes. When the batter hears ‘steeeeeeerike twooooo!’ that’s his last infraction that goes unpunished. He doesn’t get a third infraction before action is taken–his final infraction puts him right on top of Mr. Mule.

And here is the crux of it. What is the basis of this assumption? It’s certainly not universal.

I would think two warnings and the third time has consequences is more common than three warnings/fourth has consequences. Are you conflating third = consequence with three warnings?

Three times proves it.

Don’t know if it’s the same in the States, but in the UK when dealing with employee disciplinary issues, it’s usual to issue a first written warning for a first offence, then a final, and a third infraction will result in dismissal.

Though of course you can go straight to final written warning or dismissal if the issue is serious enough to warrant it.

At my primary job, it goes 1)Verbal (with written documentation), 2)Written, 3)Dismissal.

That’s not the way I understand it. You know ahead of time that a strike is a bad thing, so you’ve already got the first warning before you even start. And that’s the problem I have with the OP. Neither the mule nor the woman are given warnings before the first infraction is counted against them. They are being blamed for doing something they weren’t told they weren’t allowed to do.

I do think that is unusual. There’s a reason why we have the phrase “ignorance of the law is no excuse,” as that is contrary to what is expected. People expect those in authority to make their expectations known before punishing, even when that punishment is just the partial removal of the barrier between you and a more serious punishment.

In the story above I didn’t take “That’s once…” as warnings so much as the farmer counting infractions so he would know when to take action. When he said “That’s once” to the bride, that basically counts as her fourth warning that the farmer is a psycho who will kill her.

In my preschool class I’m flexible based on the seriousness of the infraction, the ability of the child to comply, and how long it’s been since the last warning. Ideally if I expect a child will be tempted to do something I give a reminder/warning before the situation occurs. However, whenever we are at the last warning I try to be clear, “This is the last warning and then I am putting that toy away.” Fewer warnings are better because the kids’ lives are often filled with permissive people who don’t follow through with consequences so they are conditioned to not take warnings seriously.

I just repeated the joke to my fiancee. I then received an airborne pocketbook to the back of the head. So apparently, I don’t get any warnings.

Yes, you did.
She was counting to three while the pocketbook was airborne.:smiley:

It’s not two warnings by the punisher, it’s three infractions by the punishee.

(From the Tooth Fairy movie, as I dimly remember it…)

Strike two, huh? What comes after strike three?

Strike Four.

zero sense of humor. zero.

It’s like the old joke “What did you tell the woman who had two black eyes?”

Nothing! You told her TWICE already!

That’s an example of the sort of joke I disapprove of.