Monday, July 13, 2009

Me? Misunderstood?

I like to consider myself a pretty good communicator. In fact it’s one of the things I do best. I guess that’s part of being a teacher at heart. I’m much better at communicating in person; lots of hand movements, facial expressions and the occasional total body gesture. It keeps the audience, whether it is children or adults, on their toes and interested, but I also love to write. The written word lets the reader have some ownership of the story, interpreting and accenting thoughts as they see fit. Having bragged about my skills at communicating, you can imagine my surprise when I am totally misinterpreted. It happens more often than I’d like to admit.
Each summer our camp has a theme. Last summer we were cruising and with each new week, we stopped in a different port of call, integrating cultural information into the camp activities. It was lots of fun and the campers enjoyed it. In an effort to bring our good news to the public we built wooden cruise ships and put them around our property. Each week we put another sign on the ships telling about our plans for the summer. After a few weeks I received a call from a woman who sounded like a very sweet senior citizen. She explained that she promised her neighbor boy she would send him on a church trip during the summer. Lo and behold, the church trip was cancelled for reasons unknown. The woman and her young friend were very disappointed – that is until she saw our signs. Her prayers were answered. She was going to send her neighbor on a cruise. Our conversation went like this:
“Now tell me, what cruise line are you using?”
“No,no,” I answered. “It’s not a real cruise, it’s just our theme for the summer.”
“Well, I think the theme is an excellent one. Do you leave from Galveston?”
“No, no. We don’t leave the campus. We just pretend to stop in different ports of call.”
“Oh my! I’ll have to tell his mother to get him a passport, post haste!”
“No, no. . . . We only go in our own minds.”
“This is marvelous . . . expanding the mind is icing on the cake, isn’t it?”
It was at this point I realized that my own personal cruise ship was sinking. My sweet woman had her mind set on a cruise; a real cruise on a real boat with a real skipper going to foreign places. I didn’t want to be abrupt or rude so I had to think quickly. I had no problem trying to take the easy way out so I said, “I think it would be best for me to talk directly to the boy’s mother. When she gets all the information, she’ll be able to help you decide if this is the right program for the young man.” She didn’t let me off the hook that easily.
“Oh no, this is a surprise! And when he hears he’s going on a cruise, he’s going to be about as excited as a tick on a skinny dog.”
I was not about to ask what a dog’s weight had to do with a tick’s happiness, but it did give me some insight. “You know. . . This cruise is the best thing since sliced bread and I’m sure your young friend will really enjoy sailing with us. We set sail on June 7th and we come back to port each afternoon. That way the children will be able to sleep in their own beds and have the best of both worlds.”
“Well, goodness gracious sakes alive. . . You can’t get to India and back in one day!”
“Of course we can. . . We’ll be using our imaginations and when you imagine, everything is possible.”
That was the end of our conversation. She said a sweet good-bye and I haven’t heard from her since. I’m sure her neighbor had a wonderful summer adventure.
I can't help but wonder. . . . What did she think about the signs we put up this year? They said, "GALAXY QUEST: Explore the far reaches of Outer Space!"


  1. Its amazing how the colors of the blogs are the same, don't you think?

  2. I think the really nice old lady has already beat you there! Very cute.

  3. How funny is that. It's like I have a twin!