Source: Computer Networking First-Step by Wendell Odom (2004)


Often, learning something new can be a chore, particularly with computer technology. In fact, because you've obviously been searching for a book long enough to at least have opened up this one, you've probably looked at a few other books as well. There's no problem finding networking books. There are tons of them but almost all of them are geared toward people who want to be networking geeks, and the books frequently get deep and technical in a hurry. They're like the old joke where one guy walks through a door with an unseen long drop to the ground below, and his buddy shouts out, "Watch out for that first step. It's a doozy!"

Could you please explain that joke to me?

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    The "joke", such as it is, is that the buddy uses the word step to reference perhaps a 10-metre drop (i.e. - a much greater distance than anyone could reasonably move up or down in a single step). People can often lose their balance even with a height change of just a few centimetres if they're not expecting it, and that kind of distance is what we normally mean when we say something like Mind the step!. Effectively, the buddy's warning is something of a gross understatement. A doozy = humdinger = extreme example. Commented Nov 21, 2016 at 16:45
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    The joke regarding the "first step" is thought to have been originated by a famous comedian (Joe E. Brown is sometimes cited) whose persona was redolent of alcohol. In its first iteration, the joke involved the speaker relating a conversation with another drunk who, mistaking it for a door, exits through a second floor window. He re-enters the house to warn the speaker: "Watch out for that first step, it's a doozy." Doozy, of course, abbreviates Duesenberg, whose automobiles were the nec plus ultra of luxury in their day; over time doozy evolved to mean an extreme example of its kind. Commented Nov 21, 2016 at 22:40

1 Answer 1


The point of the joke is that the warning comes too late - the first person has already fallen before his friend tells him to watch out ("it's a doozy" simply means "it's a big one" or "it's a deep one"). There are several variations on the joke, such as when someone bangs their head on a low door frame and the person behind them says "watch your head" after the fact.

In the context of the quote, it simply means that many people will buy a book on networking without first making sure it's at a level they understand - they've taken a step without realizing how deep it really is.

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