The San Francisco Chronicle’s Jon Carroll, whose column is one of the first places I go in the morning, relayed this joke from a reader in his column today.

Realizing he was lost, a balloonist dropped down to ask directions. “Excuse me, but I’m a little off course,” he shouted. “I promised to meet a friend an hour ago. I don’t know where I am.”

A woman yelled back, “You’re in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You’re at exactly 40 degrees, 22 minutes and 21 seconds north latitude and 70 degrees, 30 minutes and 33 seconds west longitude.”

“Amazing,” the balloonist replied. “You must be an engineer!”

“I am,” she replied. “How did you know?”

“Well, everything you told me is technically correct, but I can’t use your information. I’m still lost, and you haven’t been much help at all. If anything, you’ve delayed my trip.”

The woman thought for a moment, then replied, “You must be in management.”

“I am,” replied the balloonist, “but how did you know?”

“Well, you don’t know where you are or where you’re going. You’ve risen to your position due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise that you have no idea how to keep, and you expect people beneath you to solve your problems. In fact, you’re in exactly the same position you were before we met, but somehow it’s now my fault.”