Saturday, February 24, 2007


Two ladies were seated close together by the square table in the center of the sun-lighted visitors room. The one in the straight back chair had scooted her chair up next to her friend in the wheelchair and could be heard to say, as she patted her friend's arm reassuringly, "Now that you're receiving a little pill, that should help." Her friend replied, "That's what I've been saying, if I had a small pillow..."

The above snatch of conversation was overheard as I passed through the room where these two ladies were seated. This is a small example of how misperceptions, misunderstandings do occur between people for a variety of reasons. Sometimes the results are modestly amusing, sometimes they are rip roaring funny, sometimes they can create problems, even be disastrous in a relationship. I find that clarification by asking about intent, or asking for a repeat is always better than risking assumption, when in doubt as to what has been said.

I think equally important is not becoming angry with the person seeking the clarification, which they may even need to do more than once. I feel glad that they cared enough about what I've said to want to understand me.

When I overheard the above conversation, or hear others from time to time, I invariably think of Rana over at "Notes From An Eclectic Mind" where I first happened on some of her brief quotes from bits of conversations she overheard in various situations. Often as I go about my daily activities, in and out of various locations, I hear only part of what is said between others, sometimes out of context. Then, sometimes, I hear a mini-story, as I note Rana wrote about on 2/23/07 here.

Reading some of these bits and pieces she has posted from time to time, I concluded I shared her same wave length. Reminded me of when I was young and thought it was funny to switch from station to station on the old dial radios, resulting in formulating a phrase or sentence from quite unrelated words at each station. The result sometimes made my friends and I laugh uproariously. But then, guess I've always had a weird warped sense of humor and find something to laugh about in the most unusual places at times.

Of course, we also enjoyed reading road signs, a habit I sometimes find myself doing even today. Yes, many of the so-called funny ones, are really corny -- and that's not even describing the old Burma Shave road signs. Some signs are written intentionally to be funny, other's inadvertently so. Perhaps, I'm not alone and others can identify with unusual sources where they, too, find humor when least expected.


  1. When I was in high school, a funny thing was going around called "split billboards". Back then, there was a billboard on every corner and all along the highways (I am so glad they've been outlawed). Anyway, you had part of a billboard on the left and part of another on the right - as if it had been done accidentally - and the result was often very funny. I wish I could remember some of them.

  2. Very interesting, funny story. It was written in a way that I felt next to you observing the scene.

  3. Kenju: I've never seen any "Split Billboards" that I can recall. Interesting idea, but if you're talking about half on the left side of the road and the other half on the right side of the road, sure sounds like a distracting driver's hazard at the speeds traffic moves now. Wonder if other parts of the country had them?

    Bob: Thanks for stopping by, and your kind comment.

  4. jo anne, thanks for trying to see the Retirement Living interview we did. your comment helped me update my blog.

    in a playwriting class i'm taking, we've had a great time using overheard conversations (starbucks, theatre lobbies) to write short scenes. yours, naomi

  5. How true. Real communication is never easy. It takes time. Good post.

    Thanks for the link to Rana... the tabbed browsing post there was interesting....

  6. I've heard many a strange conversation...or parts of conversations....sitting in restaurants, waiting in check-out lines or just walking down the street. I think it's just human nature to try to mentally put the pieces of what we hear together to form a a puzzle. Many people don't realize that their very personal conversations are often overheard....I find that the funniest thing of all.

    When I was a kid one of the things I remember so well was the signs on the side of the road with crazy sayings of one sort or another. A lot of them didn't make sense to me at the time, but being a kid...I thought they were funny and often conjured up pictures in my head of what they could possibly mean. It made for an interesting road trip if nothing else.