Monday, December 12, 2005

The Jaw Dropper

Ever have a situation where something you said completely undid another person's world view? Or maybe it didn't fit in with anything they ever knew about reality. Were they so incredulous as to stand motionless with their mouth wide open? Maybe they even changed a word in your speech, hearing something different than what you said. Here are three of my all time best.

1) My mom took me down to the bank so I could open my very first checking account. We met with an officer at the bank to help me out. I filled out some paperwork, then he asked for three pieces of ID. I thumbed through my wallet to find only a driver's license and Social Security card. I had a library card, too, but I didn't think that could work. I asked him what would quilify as a third piece of ID. His reply was a fairly snobbish, "oh, anything'll work... just a major credit card will do." Uhm, excuse me? Here I am trying to get my first checking account and he thinks I should already have a major credit card? I replied that I didn't have one. He froze. He was completely astonished that an American youngster living in the 80's didn't have the ol' Visa. His lips were fighting to find something, anything, to say. "Well, I'm not sure what I can do here. Uh, I'll need to talk to a manager." He went away only to come back several minutes later, "well, let's just turn these papers in and see if it'll work."

2) I was solicited once by a major TV ratings firm (one of the top two, and I was sworn to secrecy as to who they were) to have my TV viewing habits monitored. All in exchange for discounts on cable subscription, and numerous other goodies. A well dressed woman in business attire showed up at the door. She spent about a half hour describing their business and how the monitoring would occur. She also described in detail the equipment they would hook up to the TV, where it would be hidden, and what would be expected from monitorees. Lastly, she gave a farily complex questionaire on viewing habits, writing down all my answers. During the Q&A session, she asked how many hours per week, on the average, I spent watching TV, and for me to be fairly precise and to take my time figuring it out. I started counting on my fingers, tongue hanging out the side of my mouth, in deep thought, reviewing all the shows I watched during the week. "Five" was my answer. She jotted this down while audibly repeating what her pencil was writing. "Okay, five times seven is... thirty-five. Next question. Blah, blah, blah...." "Excuse, me" I interrupted, "my answer was five." "Yes," she replied, "five hours times 7 days is 35 hours per week. Next question, blah, blah..." "No, no, no. You asked me how many hours per week I watched. I watch five hours per week, not per day." She was paralized, completely speechless. It was clear that she had no clue as to how to handle such an answer. She fiddled through some papers, only to reply, "I've never heard an answer so low. We have a minimum number of hours per week that our viewers need to meet. I'm terribly sorry, but we're unable to use you in our service."

3) I spent a week visiting a church missionary friend in the country of Haiti, and I took a week and a half vacation from work. A number of people asked me what I was going to do for my vacation that year. Now Haiti is that small nation in the Caribbean famous for military coups, voodoo, witch doctors, rampant AIDS, raft refugees drowning in the sea and the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. One woman asked me about any vacation that I would be taking. I told her that I was going to spend a week in Haiti. "Oh, you'll just love Tahiti! I've been there, and it's soooo beautiful. My cousin took her honeymoon there and she had a great time. What hotel will you be staying at?" "No, no, no, I said Haiti, not Tahiti." Her mouth dropped open, her eyes bulged out and her face started to quiver. She was horrified because she knew about Haiti and was petrified that anybody could ever go there.


At 9:19 AM, February 15, 2006 , Blogger Dr. Lenny said...

danger - danger. I had a very similar experience with the 'TV set' and the fact that our TV is really just a movie projector.

i am a die-hard baseball fan - so we should have some fun at your other site. caught up to you from independent county. be careful - you can catch lemming stupidity as easily as you can catch the common cold.


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