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Say What You Mean

Monday - 05/24/2021 — One of the hardest adjustments I had to make when I moved from Vermont to Georgia back in the early 90s was to understand that so many questions in conversation here in Georgia weren’t questions at all.

Take, for instance, “How are you?” or more frequently, “How ya doin”?”

I used to answer these opening conversational gambits. It took me a long time to realize that what was expected was the rote reply, “Fine. How are you?” Nobody, you see, really wanted to know how I was doing. Those words were just the opening gambit of a verbal game.

Another instance was the time I met a woman, much older than I was at the time (but probably younger than I am now!) who was from a town that was, at that time of year, getting ready to burst into full spring bloom. When I expressed a wish to see it some day, she said, “You’ll have to come down to visit me then.”

So, I whipped out my calendar. “How about next Saturday?”

When she recoiled, I realized I’d made a mistake in assuming that an invitation to visit was an invitation to visit. It wasn’t.

Never made that mistake again.

“I’ll be praying for you,” “I’d love to help you out,” and the almost universal, “We’ll have to get together for lunch.”

Empty words so often. Don’t invite me to lunch unless you’re willing to look at your calendar. Because, you see, I mean what I say and I say what I mean.

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