Listening Too Carefully
I What A Lot
Not just because I didn't hear what someone said (although often enough I don't), but also because I did hear what someone said and didn't believe my ears. For whatever reason — possibly my background in radio communications — I'm perpetually asking people to disambiguate their remarks. "Which him"? "How do you spell that"? Likewise, when I have to read someone a number or spell a name over the telephone, I pester him to read it back to me. Normal behavior for me, sometimes exasperating to others. I'm OK with exasperating others; I've prevented a lot of errors, some of which could have been exasperating to me. Occasionally, though, I hear something and do believe my ears. Examples:
"You May Hear a Moment of Silence"
I had to call the registrar to renew some expiring domains. After the usual "This call may be recorded for 'quality and training' reasons," it continued "You might hear a moment of silence." And indeed, I would have heard a moment of silence if such were possible. I would have asked about this, but I was too exercised about having to make a telephone call at all. This particular registrar has one price for online renewal, and a lower price if you call them. What are they thinking?
And, for that matter, why are they charging? Doesn't it take more effort to remove information from a database than to just leave it alone? I suspect that if that were a real question instead of a rhetorical one, the answer would be "greed." This domain renewal business has become quite the cash cow, has it not?
And speaking of cash,
"How Would You Like Your Cash?"
I was in the bank the other day, depositing a check. I overheard the nearby drive-through teller asking "how would you like your cash?".* Many thoughts raced through my alleged mind. I'm sure if you were asked that question, you would have thoughts, too—some similar, some just as odd as mine. Why spoil your fun?
Unlawful Ice Activity
Two youths have been charged in New York City after falling through thin ice on a pond in Central Park. They and the fireman and policeman who rescued them spent some time in the hospital but apparently suffered no lasting damage. If I were a lawyer representing the youths, I might challenge the summons for "unlawful ice activity" as being unconstitutionally vague.
And speaking of New York City,
Congressman Ed Koch
is now life-free, as you will have learned. His death was lamented nationwide, although he was better known as Mayor Ed Koch, in which position he served three terms in New York City. Although I was one of his subjects for a portion of his mayoralty, I also lived in his congressional district during his earlier tenure in the House. I had occasion to be in Washington DC one night in 1970, and, in a spasm of patriotism, decided to see whatever portion I might of how a bill becomes law.
I went to the House of Representatives and asked one of the guards if I could watch the congresscritters in action from the gallery. (In those days, and even more so in earlier days, there actually was "action." I know many will find that hard to believe in today's political environment.) The guard inquired if I had a visitor pass. Mine being a spontaneous notion to attend, I had none. He looked at me skeptically and asked who my representative was. Ed Koch, I told him, dredging up the name in just seconds. He told me to wait. A minute or so later, the guard and Ed Koch emerged from the floor of the House, and Rep. Koch introduced himself to me. Given the hour and the paucity of representatives on the floor, I didn't feel enormous guilt at staying his yea or nay from whatever momentous vote was coming up. But I was a bit surprised that he would go to the trouble to meet me.
Of course, he directed the guard to let me into the gallery, where I remained long enough to absorb a bit of ambience. From what I've read about Koch in the recent obituaries, I suspect he would have emerged just as happily if I told the guard I was an admirer from Petaluma. This isn't much of a Koch story since I have no subsequent personal contact to relate. I've always appreciated him for being what I believe to be an honest politician** in the good sense of the term. I was sad to hear of his demise.
* Until I added the asterisk, I had three punctuation symbols at the end of that sentence. Now there are four. Can anyone verify that they all belong there and are in the correct order?
** The other definition of an honest politician is "one who stays bought." Thank you, Robert A. Heinlein.