During the French Revolution, 3 noblemen – a priest, a lawyer and an engineer – were condemned to die on the guillotine. As noblemen, they were afforded one final courtesy of rank. That of choosing whether to die face up – or face down – on the guillotine.
The priest was led up the steps where the black-hooded executioner stood. “How do you wish to die, face up or face down,” said the executioner. The priest thought, looked up and said “I wish to die face up – so I may see the heavens one last time and meet my maker face to face.” With that the priest was placed into the guillotine and the executioner pulled the rope. The heavy blade fell swiftly – but an inch above the priest’s throat, the blade screeched to a stop. It was jammed. Under French law, if someone was spared death on the guillotine, he was a free man. So the blade was raised and the priest walked away — free.
Then the lawyer was led up the wooden steps. “How do you wish to die – face up or face down?” The lawyer quickly looked up and said “Ohhhh I too want to die face up to see the heavens one last time and meet my maker face to face.” The lawyer was put into the guillotine and the executioner pulled the cord. Whoosh! The thick blade sped downward — but just over the lawyer’s throat, the blade came to a halt. And of course under French law, being spared death on the guillotine meant the lawyer was a free man. He hopped up and walked away.
Then the engineer was led up and the executioner asked — “How do you wish to die, face up or face down.” The engineer looked up and said “I too. . . want. . . to die . . . .face up to . . .” He stopped and pointed. “HEEEY! I think I see your problem up there!”