March 21 • 06:19 AM

Some things can get lost in the translation

June 20, 2007
"A rumor is like a checknever endorse it 'til you're sure it's genuine."

Someone named Will Henry said that. I've no idea who Will Henry is, but somehow the saying found its way onto the marker board in Dr. Clendenan's office.

I jotted it down on a scrap of paper and saved it in my purse, and a column all but wrote itself in my head; and then, wouldn't you know it, when I wanted it, the paper had disappeared. So I had had to come up with another column in short order and save this 'til my next visit to Clif's so I could re-copy it rather than risk getting the quote wrong.

Consequently, the fire story which fit with the quote is no longer news—the fire story I told Bernie at the post office was going on just up the road from my house and hers. I was sure someone at school had told me that, and that the quick little power outages at school quite possibly had something to do with the fire at or near the corner of Blacks Corners and Armstrong roads.

I left the post office, anxious to get home and turn on the air conditioning unit that makes this end of the house quite comfortable. I reached our corner, mildly surprised to see not a hint of smoke, or flames, or unusual activity.

One indicator after another let me know that we, too, were having power problems. No water. No lights. No clock or electronic ignition on my gas stove. No flushing. No…air-conditioner unit! All systems said the problem wasn't just a little flicker here and there. It was a full-blown outage. I wondered what about that fire had cut power.

Somewhere along the way I figured out there wasn't a fire—at least I've never heard one officially reported. I'm guessing there was a wire down instead of a fire. But I've never really heard for sure. That would be an easy mis-quote, either by me or maybe even someone who passed on the story ahead of me. Sounds a little like the game of 'Post Office' we played as kids.

Fortunately, this particular incident didn't, to my knowledge, cause anyone any harm. Unfortunately, it isn't always that way, and this was just a little reminder to me to use my words carefully. Sometimes we mess up unintentionally, like I do every so often in this column. And yes…I did read, along with all the rest of you, about the idiot in the pocket. (It did sound that way, didn't it?) And that little bit I had quoted directly from the article which I'm sure was trying to tell new dads-to-be about a pocket manual which would introduce them to their new role, kind of like 'Word Perfect for Dummies' in a pocket edition. Besides that, there were at least two other mess-ups in the column—unintentional, and fairly benign. ( I do know a hyphen from a dash. I don't know a wireless from a regular high speed Internet connection—we have neither, but I do know Daily Grind has wireless.) Worse are the times we twist or stretch facts intentionally, or pass on things meant to defame.

Castle Creek
03 - 21 - 19
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