Still learning even after all
By Jack Runninger, O.D.
Among the things humorist Dave
Barry says it took him 50 years to learn are the following:
- "The main accomplishment
of almost all organized protests is to annoy people who
aren't in them."
- "People who want to
share their religious views with you almost never want
you to share yours with them."
- "Never lick a steak
- "Never under any
circumstances take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the
If you're as unobservant as I am,
you may not have noticed that the title of these epistles I
compose is "Lessons Learned." In 45 years of practice,
like Barry, I learned many lessons, most of them from making
almost every possible mistake known to mankind.
From these mistakes I (usually)
learned what not to do next time. Hopefully, I can help you learn
from my goofs.
Recently, I went on an elder
hostel trip to England, to study English gardens (not my idea).
Elder hostels are learning experiences for "senior citizens,"
the politically correct term for "old geezers."
The lesson I learned (or re-learned)
over there is, "Don't prejudge people." I'd always
thought of the English as rather a humorless and stuffy bunch of
people. As witnessed by an old riddle:
"Why should you not tell an
Englishman a joke on Saturday night?"
"Because he'll finally
understand the point on Sunday morning and laugh out loud in
An early experience in England
convinced me that English gardens were probably not going to be
"my cup of tea," and also reinforced my misconception
that all Englishmen are a bit stuffy.
"If you put it in a nice clay
pawt (pot), it would look rah-ther lovely, I think," I heard
an Englishman say to his wife at the first garden we visited as
he stared at a plant that didn't look all that gorgeous to me.
But the balance of the trip proved
that my preconception was entirely wrong. I discovered that most
English folks have delightful senses of humor. For example:
- Driving through the
countryside, we passed a fertilizer truck. A large sign
on its side read, "Compost Happens."
- We visited the white cliffs
of Dover on the English Channel. If you're sufficiently
old, you'll remember the popular World War II song,
"There'll Be Bluebirds Over The White Cliffs of
"The funny thing is," an Englishman told me,
"we don't have any bluebirds in England -- and we
never have either."
"Like what I see"
I discovered also that the English
have their share of practical jokers. Our bus driver had a cell
phone that recorded messages in print.
One such message he received said,
"Have seen you around, like what I see. If you're interested,
phone the following number."
Curiosity got the best of him, so
he called. The phone was answered by his wife (it was a neighbor's
phone, which is why he hadn't recognized the number). "So
this is what you do when you're away from home, phone strange
women?" kidded his wife.
When we visited Winston Churchill's
birthplace, it reminded me that I really should've remembered him
as an example that Englishmen aren't humorless. Some of his
remarks are classic, such as this one:
- "If you were my husband,
I'd give you poison," Lady Astor said after a
"If you were my wife," he replied, "I
would gladly take it."
"Women's Pleasant Hour Every
Other Thursday 10:00 to 11:00," we read on the bulletin
board on the front of the small Methodist church when we visited
the village of Wye.
"Good idea," I unwisely
commented to my bride. "Two hours a month of women being
pleasant is certainly better than none at all."
The blow I received in reply
resulted in just one more "lesson learned."
Jack Runninger, our consulting
editor, lives in Rome, Ga. He's a past editor of Optometric
Optometric Management, Issue: February 2001