A State Selective Service Headquarters in the South was being inspected by a brassy young officer from Washington.
The officer, eager to find anything inefficient in that office, had hardly stepped into it when he noticed many unoccupied desks with a typewriter on each of them, too many compared with the number of typists. Wasn’t that a waste of money on excessive equipment, or did it just so happen that many typists had coincidentally played hooky on that day, he wondered. So, he asked one of the girls, “What is the normal complement of this office?”
“Well, sir,” she replied, “I think the most usual compliment is ‘Hey, honey, you look really gorgeous this morning.’ ”
She had misunderstood “complement” for “compliment” and thought the officer had asked her, “What compliment do you use to keep everyone in the office comfortable?” So, she told him the one she had gotten used to hearing and for which she herself had come to feel kind of comforting.