Niagara Gazette

Columns

December 15, 2013

HAMILTON: Bathing in the toilet?

Niagara Gazette — Communications is the art of helping a listener to see in their mind what it is that the speaker sees in theirs. But what makes for the clearest communications is commonality of experiences. That is in both parties having substantially the same values in life.

But do we have all of these common experiences?

The following three short and humorous stories will indicate that we don’t, so it is important that we ask each other some questions of clarity when we are told things, so that we may more accurately “see” what the other is saying.

Shore Patrol, Philadelphia Pa., 1974: Upon my stunned partner and I parking the Shore Patrol van at our headquarters, we gazed at a thin young sailor sitting on the front steps. He repeatedly sprayed something from an aerosol can into a small paper bag, placed it over his nose and mouth, inhaling and then collapsed the bag over his face. Neither of us had ever seen anything like this.

We approached the sailor and he again repeated his inhalations and grinned into our faces. By then, I had figured out what he was doing. I took his belongings from him, grabbed him up by his skinny arm, and walked him into the office. He floated alongside of me like a helium-filled party balloon.

When we entered, the Shore Patrol Chief sat at his desk, elbows flapping in the air, and nose only inches away from the piles of papers that he was feverishly reading and signing. He was unaware that we had entered the room. I called to him. he stopped what he was doing, gave me a stern and disturbed look, and then asked me, “What do you want, Hamilton?”

“Chief,” I said. “I just caught this guy sniffing PAM on the steps of Shore Patrol.”

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