Dan and I got into the car this morning to drive to our son’s house.
As he started the engine, Dan looked through the windshield at his workshop that sat directly in front of the car.
“Hmmm,” he said. “That light always looks like it’s on even when it’s off.”
I looked toward the workshop.
“I don’t see a light on,” I said. “The only light I see is a little red indicator light on one of your tools.”
“What are you talking about?” he asked.
“I just said the light in your shop doesn’t appear to me to be on.”
Dan shook his head.
“It never fails to amaze me how often you misunderstand me,” he said.
I braced for the next line.
“What are you talking about?” I asked.
“Well, I looked at my shop, at the exterior light above the door of my shop to be exact, and said it appeared to be on.”
“Oh,” I said.
“Then,” he continued, “instead of looking at the prominent exterior light above the door, you looked all the way through the window of the shop, all the way to my work table in the back of the shop and saw a tiny red light.”
“Wait a minute,” I said. “The way you said I looked ‘all the way through the window’ and ‘all the way to the back of the shop’ sounds accusatory, as if I should have known better.”
“Well,” he said, “Why wouldn’t you have looked at the closest light, the exterior one above the door of the shop?”
“I don’t know why,” I said. “Why didn’t you specify ‘the exterior light above the door of the shop’ when you made your first statement?”
“Because I thought you would know what I was talking about.”
“Well, I didn’t. Obviously, we miscommunicated, but my point is the way you said I looked ‘all the way through the window of the shop’ and ‘all the way to the back of the shop’ indicated to me that you think I was stupid to misunderstand you.”
“For crying out loud! I didn’t mean to indicate I think you are stupid. I don’t think you’re stupid. I simply don’t understand why when I said, ‘the light appears to be on even when it’s off,’ you wouldn’t assume I was talking about the light closest to us. Let’s not talk any more about it.”
“Yes,” I said. “Let’s talk about it a bit more.”
Dan groaned and laid his head on the steering wheel.
“You think this miscommunication is entirely my fault,” I said.
“No, I don’t. It just seems to me you should have understood what I was talking about without me having to explain it.”
“Well, when you realized I had misunderstood, you could have simply said, ‘No, I don’t mean the light inside the shop. I mean the exterior light.’”
“I wish to high heavens I had said that.”
“I wish you had too, but you didn’t. Instead, you emphasized that I missed the obvious and very unreasonably looked all the way into the shop and all the way to the back of the shop.”
“I wish I had never even mentioned that light,” he said, backing out of the drive.
“I wish you hadn’t either,” I said.
Please understand, readers, that I don’t always push my point as hard as I pushed this one, but occasionally I feel I must.
Especially when we are discussing important things. Like workshop lights.