Volume 3. Issue 7.
What was said? We need a printer in Chicago… Johnny on the spot. You got it?
Did someone really say that? Yes, when working on a proposal and we needed to make sure we had a print house ready to meet our oddest and slightly unrealistic demands.
What does it mean? A person who is on hand and ready to perform a service or respond to an emergency (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
Origin: The phrase dates back to 1896 and was the subject of an article in the New York Sun titled “Johnny on the Spot: A New Phrase Which Has Become Popular in New York.” The article details the expression that had become very popular in NYC. According to the writer, the phrase is from a slightly longer version, ‘Johnny is always on the spot when wanted.’ … where Johnny refers to a general male (like John Doe). Although, the author does venture to provide a little more detail on who Johnny is: “a man or youth who may be relied upon to be at a certain stated place when wanted… an individual who is prompt and farseeing, alive to his own interests and keenly sensible of means for promoting his own advantage is a ‘Johnny on the spot.’”
Side Note: There are few companies appropriately named “Johnny on the Spot” in the US. They are suppliers of portable restrooms / bathrooms and are on-hand and ready to preform a service / respond to an emergency!
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