Friday, July 16, 2010

731 Out of Context

731 Out of Context

Sometimes this can be embarrassing. You run into someone you know and you don't remember why you know them.

Happened just the other day. Sitting in a saloon awaiting a friend -- we're meeting for dinner -- and up bounces this woman with a big smile and a hearty hello. This is not a pickup bar, it's just off a golf course patronized mainly by greyheads. So she's invited to take a seat and declines saying she's on her way out but wanted to stop by and say hi. Turns out she was the pharmacist, until then unseen from the waist down and without a white coat. Embarrassing.

Then there's the guy who waves as you drive by in the parking lot. Uh oh. Who's that? "Was he waving at me, or at someone beyond me I couldn't see? And if it was me, how do I know him?"

Walt the exterminator is friendly guy and we talk alot. But when we met in the pasta aisle the other day, he couldn't quite place me.

This isn't senior moment stuff. It can happen with anyone of any age. If you're in middle school and meet your fifth grade teacher on the street, will he or she recognize you? Chances are yes, but maybe not by name.

Context. How we rely on context. Especially with people we know, but not "that" well or don't see that often or whom we've never previously seen out of context, like the druggist. It doesn't happen with people with really really distinguishing physical characteristics. Someone who is exceptionally tall, or exceptionally short or wears an eye patch or is missing a limb will stick with you. Unless he's seated, or the eye patch is missing or the limb has been replaced.

The best way to avoid this in a random conversation is to let the other guy talk until something clicks in your head. But sometimes it's necessary to say: "I'm sorry, I know we know each other, but I can't attach a name..." Embarrassing.


--A reader has corrected me on Ralph Houk's age, saying it's more than 90 rather than less. This likely is so, since my correspondent is far more familiar with baseball than I. But when you get near 100, a few years here and there don't mean much, and yes, I know Yogi ain't dead yet.

--They're hunting down illegal immigrants in Utah after someone supplied a list of the undocumented including addresses, phone numbers, maybe social security numbers and expected due dates for those who are pregnant. Here's a shock: most or all of whom have Spanish-sounding names. So take some guesses: where'd this list come from and how'd it get public?

--Heard an interesting suggestion the other day, one that echoes a concept mentioned here years ago: Before a congressional vote, someone should read the bill out loud. If no one laughs, THEN you vote.

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you're welcome to them.®
©WJR 2010

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