Maybe it's old age or excessive ear wax, but I'm constantly mishearing things.
I like to think of it as Ramona's Donzer Lee Light Syndrome, named after the delightful character Beverly Cleary created years ago in a series of children's books.
Ramona was a first-grader whose teacher had the class sing "The Star Spangled Banner" each morning. Ramona dutifully sang the national anthem each day but for the life of her could not figure out what a Donzer Lee Light was. You know, "Oh say can you see, by the Donzer Lee Light."
That sort of miscue happens to me all the time, particularly in a wide open newsroom where people's voices are competing with phones, police scanners, beeping computers, laughter and occasional shouting. There is a colleague at my office named Carl and someone on the other end of the room asked a question about that person's car antenna one day.
"What about Carlos Santana?" I asked. Of course the topic was Carl's antenna.
My daughter had a revelation the first time she saw the name of the laundry product "Spray & Wash" spelled out. All her short life she had thought the product we we spraying on her dirty jeans was named "Sprain Wash," and wondered what it had to do with sprains.
Writing things out for me doesn't always solve the problem.
One time a grocery store employee and I spent several minutes analyzing my wife's handwriting before we came up with the name of the spice she was requesting. They didn't have it.
It's going to happen one day.
I'm going to report to work promptly at the appointed hour one Monday morning and start retrieving and responding to my messages. I'll take notes on my voice mail and return those calls. I'll download my e-mail messages and respond to them. I'll check the Open Forum e-mail address for letters to the editors and convert them to the appropriate format for my computer. I'll answer all the yellow sticky notes that make my desk look like a paper cornfield. I'll sort through my snail mail from the post office. I'll scan the faxes that are on my desk. I'll read the folder full of interdepartmental memos, initial them and pass them on to some unsuspecting colleague.
I'll then look up at the clock and see that it's time to go home.
Technology has freed us of many mundane tasks but it's multiplied the number of ways those time-consuming, unneccesary messages can reach us too.
The new technology has gotten way out of hand when employees whose desks are next to each other send e-mail messages to each other rather than talk. We are in the age of instant gratification when it comes to business communication. Every thing must be done now!
It's important to remember, not every problem requires immediate attention or an immediate response. Back when mail was the primary way businesses communicated, Party A would write Party B about a problem. Very often, the problem would be solved before Party B even got the letter. Sometimes, at least in the old days, things took care of themselves.
What are journalists going to do for quotes on a slow news day when Brainerd Police Chief Frank Ball steps down this month?
The north Brainerd kid who went from selling underwear at J.C. Penney to heading the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Department and later the city's police department, was a virtual quote machine. Quips and one-liners were as much a part of his uniform as the badge and gun. And some of the quotes we could even use in the newspaper.
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