Monday, January 18, 2010


There is a proverb that goes something like this: "Answer a fool according to his folly. Answer not a fool according to his folly." In other words you have creative flexibility when someone asks you a dumb question or makes a statement that is either none of their business or should be kept from being their business. Telephone sales calls top the list.

I am not rude to tele-marketers. They are humans trying to make a living, however, I am humorous. Recently one called and asked if I had a few minutes to answer some questions. I answered, "Yes, the police have surrounded the building and the shooting has not started yet - so I think I have a few minutes." She was undaunted and continued her sales drone. If nothing else, my responses tend to inhibit repeat calls. AT&T has started hanging up on me (since they cannot get a consistent answer from me - Karma I think).

Lately, my favorite thing to do is in the grocery check-out line. When the cashier asks if I have my card (Kroger, Harvey's, Piggly Wiggly, Publix, etc.), I say, "I don't use those cards anymore, and if you notice I always use cash because the police are following me and I don't want to leave a trail." I look so conservative and I speak with such a deadpan look when saying these things that for the first second they think I am telling the truth...then the smile comes to their faces - which why I do these things. An old guy with a kid's sense of humor...have not seen one of those for a long while.

At hotels, when I am asked how I am paying for the room, I say, "With this card that I found on the sidewalk..." That always breaks the trance. When asked for my driver's license, I pull out the license and say, "Look a picture of my grandfather." Yes, at 57 I look a bit like my grandfather when he was 57 - at least that is how I seem to remember him.

I match the routines of life with the nonsensical in a way that invites people to stop for a moment and enjoy some humor and reflection. I can tell when I have gotten the same cashier for the second time. He or she begins the conversation with a smile. I never fail to deliver a bit of positive humor. Humor and flexibility are indications of a high IQ and a child-like heart.

People appreciate communication as a life-enhancing art. I wish salaries were based on attitude. Some of the minimum wage folks would make a million and some "professionals" would be making minimum wage. Life is about attitude. It is about fellowship and compassion. The cashier may be another Mozart in the making. Treat him or her as such and see if the world does not benefit. Add a dash of humor on yourself (never at their expense) and bring some happiness into an overly serious world.

Dale Andrews

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