Article Date: 2/1/2001

Wrong Again
Still learning even after all these years.
By Jack Runninger, O.D.

Among the things humorist Dave Barry says it took him 50 years to learn are the following:

Still learning

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."

Not stuffy

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 church."

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:

"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:

Bad idea

"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 Management.

Optometric Management, Issue: February 2001