Watch What You Say
Before you open your mouth to speak, make
sure no bricks are poised to fall.
Jack Runniger, O.D.
In Book of Bricks, British actor Robert Morley
tells of a program chairman who introduced a distinguished cleric about to
address a conference as "the venereal archdeacon."
This is one of the many "bricks" he
relates in the book. He defines a brick as a blooper, gaffe or faux pas. Reading
them reminded me of how careful you must be in communicating with your patients,
your employees and your community. Otherwise you may find yourself
"dropping a brick" and putting yourself in an embarrassing situation.
Dropping a brick of my own
Being at times something of a big mouth, I've
dropped a few bricks of my own. Probably the most embarrassing, however,
occurred when I was examining a young lady patient.
Having worked the previous night, she said that
she was going straight home to bed as soon as we were through with the exam. I
was pretty tired myself and the idea of taking a morning nap sounded appealing.
So I fervently declared, "I sure wish I could join you!"
She never returned to my office, despite my
sputtering and blushing attempts to explain.
BY AMY WUMMER
Retelling classic bricks
There were two classic bricks during the era of
During the presidency of Herbert Hoover, a
prominent radio announcer made the introduction, "And now, the president of
the United States, Hoobert Heever."
During this same era, there was a kindly Uncle
Charlie on radio Station WGN in Chicago who, in a syrupy voice, would read the
Sunday morning Chicago Tribune comics to the small fries who listened in.
One morning after he'd finished his reading, he turned to the engineer and said,
"That ought to hold the little &?$%&*s until next week."
Unbeknownst to him, the microphone was still on, and he broadcast this message
to the tender ears of his audience. Needless to say, he was replaced the
following week by kindly Uncle Dave.
Involving the family
Dr. Dick Hopping, former president of Southern
California College of Optometry, can readily agree that what you mean to convey
isn't always what the recipient(s) hears. A few years ago at the American
Optometric Association Congress, he was presented the Distinguished Service
Award before a crowd of more than 1,000. In accepting, he introduced his family.
"I'd always hoped that my daughter would
also study optometry," he said as he introduced her. "But instead she
had to get married." Upon realizing what he'd said, with red face he
hastened to explain that what he'd meant to say was that she'd wanted to
get married, rather than had to get married.
Another brick I witnessed occurred at a local
United Givers luncheon. The emcee was introducing one of the speakers, a man
named Johnny Beane, a recovering alcoholic who'd accomplished tremendous good in
the community. Unfortunately, the emcee introduced him as "Jim Beam,"
which of course is a brand of whiskey.
Dropping the intentional bricks
Some bricks are intentional. For example, a few
years ago my friend Bob Bieber was lecturing to 150 paraoptometrics at a Vision
Expo West conference. I snuck into the back of the room to listen.
"My friend Jack Runninger has just come into
the back of the room," he announced to the class. "I understand he's a
prominent citizen back in Rome, Georgia. In fact, I'm told that he's started a
Halfway House there for girls who won't go all the way."
Jack Runniger, our consulting editor, lives in
Rome, GA. He's also a past editor of OM.
Optometric Management, Issue: March 2003