Pat Piper has made a career learning something new. As a journalist in the news business, “something new” occurs every hour so he’s becoming an expert at understanding stuff he never thought about. Learning became a common word in “Future Talk: Conversations About Tomorrow” (Warner Books), the popular book he ghostwrote with Larry King as […]

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By on February 12, 2014 in See It Here, The Way I See It, Writing

I was talking to a guy on a flight from Chicago to Washington DC last week who worked in “Mobile Access” and, of course, I had to ask what that means?

“I keep the firewalls working,” he said and even though his words used just a few syllables, each was filled with exasperation at the fact I had no idea what “mobile access” happened to be. Now that I write about it, I’m getting a little angry too.

I mentioned how so much had changed since September 11 while noting it’s made us more proactive than reactive.

There was a silence as I waited for a response.

“What happened September 11th?” he asked.

There was another silence, this one from me.

“The twin towers were destroyed,” I explained and was about to add that’s why things are so different now when his hand went up.

“Oh, you mean ‘9-11.’”

“No, I mean September 11,” I said. “That was the date.”

“Yeah, I know,” he interrupted, “but everyone I know calls it 9-11.”

Sometimes, it becomes clear that more words are a waste of time. This was one of those moments.

“OK,” I said and went back to reading a Kurt Vonnegut book.

When we landed, I got up to get a carry on bag and said to him. “I hope you have a good 7-4.”

He shook his head, grimaced and asked, “A what?”

“Fourth of July,” I said.

“Nobody calls it that. I’ve never heard that.” He was looking right at me.

“My mistake,” I said, and headed for the doorway, with this single thought:

When words don’t matter, that’s the moment they really matter.

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