Ability to communicate effectively and efficiently
It’s Awfully Hot Down Here
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To college students, I emphasize constantly my conviction that the number one asset they will gain from their studies is the ability to communicate effectively and efficiently.
Rachel, an excellent student in my creative writing course, asked, “Shouldn’t you include ‘correctly’ and ‘accurately’ too? We have all heard of instances in which ambiguous communications led to unintended — and sometimes disastrous — consequences. In fact, you explained recently how double entendres, gaffes, and mixed metaphors sometimes communicate the opposite of an intended message.”
“Well, Rachel, since you profess to be the most creative person in the class (which she was), I want you to come to our next meeting with a piece of communication that does just that. In fact, I want all of you to do the same thing.”
Whether Rachel’s story was her own creation or not, I will never know, but of all the submissions in the next meeting, it won, hands-down. Following is what she wrote:
Dreading another winter season of snow, blizzards, and freezing temperatures, Fred and Alice, a retired couple in the hinterlands of North Dakota, discussed spending the winter strolling the beaches of Florida, the Sunshine State.
“We’ve been frugal all our lives and have accumulated a huge savings account, so we can certainly afford the trip,” Alice said.
“I agree,” Fred responded. “Here’s a great idea: Let’s rent the same little bungalow we stayed in when we honeymooned in Florida many years ago.”
“What a great idea!” Alice exclaimed. “I love you, dearest. In all these many years together, you’ve never lost your romantic nature.”
Unfortunately, their only daughter became seriously ill, and because she had no one to care for her, Alice urged Fred to leave for Florida and make all the necessary arrangements for their stay. As soon as the daughter recovered, she would join him.
Thankfully, the bungalow was available, and had been well maintained. On the outside, it was the same, just as Fred remembered it, but its owners had modernized the interior. One accessory not available during the honeymoon was a computer.
Wanting to assure his wife that he had arrived safely, Fred decided to send her an email. Inadvertently, he omitted a letter in the address, and pressed the send button. The message flew through cyberspace … not to his wife, but to a woman in Nebraska.
She was a widow, whose loving husband’s earthly race ended abruptly following a heart attack, and had just returned home from the funeral. Expecting messages of condolence, she checked her email. Upon reading the miss-sent message from Florida, she collapsed in a swoon.
At that very moment, her son came by to comfort his bereaved mother, and found her sprawled on the floor. Checking the computer, he read the email that had rendered the poor woman unconscious:
Sweetheart, I made the trip safely. Everything is prepared for your arrival. I hope you join me soon. With all my love, I am your faithful husband, Fred.
P.S.: It’s awfully hot down here.