The everybody somebody anybody nobody story

The everybody somebody anybody nobody story (or poem)

The ‘everybody somebody…’ story (also referred to as a poem) appears in a wide variety of forms – often with the title – ‘That’s Not My Job’ or ‘Who’s To Blame?’ The sequence of the words (everybody, somebody, anybody, nobody) also varies in the headings of different versions.

The order shown here seems most popular and logical, although I’m open to better suggestions. Most common first lines are either: ‘This is a story about four people..’ or ‘There were four people named.. (everybody somebody anybody nobody…)’

The story, or poem, is probably a shortened simplified version of the longer ‘A Poem About Responsibility’ (below), which is popularly, although not wholly reliably, attributed to Charles Osgood (the American CBS News anchorman and writer).

Perhaps it’s the other way around and the ‘Osgood version’ of the poem is an extended version of the shorter one, although this seems less likely.

I reckon the following is closest to a definitive sensible short version. Adapt it to suit your situation.

(Most versions seem to include the words in parentheses [brackets] although personally I think the verse is improved by taking these words out.)

That’s Not My Job (aka Who’s To Blame? Whose Responsibility? and The Everybody Somebody Anybody Nobody Story – take your pick…)

This is a story about four people: Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was asked to do it. Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did. Somebody got angry (about that) because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody knew that Anybody could do it, but Nobody realised that Somebody wouldn’t do it. And (/It ended up that) Everybody blamed Somebody because (/when) Nobody did what Anybody could have done.

or the alternative last line:

And (/It ended up that) Everybody blamed Somebody because Nobody actually asked Anybody.

(The alternative last line is more appropriate for illustrating principles of responsibility and delegation, whereas the one above it is more appropriate for principles of individuals taking personal responsibility, irrespective of delegation):




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