The SCN Encourager – Monday, December 10, 2012

Hopefully MSPRA’s Crisis Communications Session Can Help Me . . .

But I have my doubts. First of all, the MSPRA presenter at Monday’s workshop hosted by Clarkston Community Schools (MI) most likely will not even bring up a situation like mine. And secondly, I may be beyond help, anyway.

You see, I went Christmas shopping with my wife, Cindy, over the weekend. Our three girls are in their 20’s so this should’ve been easy. Purchasing clothes for them back when they were teenagers was brutal. Hormones and peers were the big-time influencers then – theirs, not mine, you wise guys!  So gift buying for them with my wife now should be a breeze. Plus, as a more mature and experienced husband myself, all of my clothes buying miss-statements are over and done with. Really. It’s been 17.34 years since I’ve I was last victimized by that inevitable trick question that every wife asks, “Does this blouse make me look fat?”

So I was one confident shopping partner this trip. Whatever potential entanglements existed within the “sale-sale-sale” spaces of Forever 21, American Eagle, or J. Crew, they only existed to entrap those unsuspecting goofy-grinned boyfriends and blinded-by-the-light tenderfoot husbands, not a grizzled marriage veteran like me. But by now, if you’ve read this far, you’ve already guessed the nature of my shopping trip crisis. It only took me about 10 minutes to blow it (yet again).

Here’s what happened inside the store: Cindy picked up a blouse, held it out and asked, “What do you think? Do you think this looks too old for Katie?” This seemed like safe territory, so I answered bravely, “A little bit.”  Cindy kept looking at the blouse. “I kind of like it, though. Katie and I are the same size. Does it look too young for me?”  My previous answer seemed to work out well so I repeated, “A little bit.”

This was the wrong answer to give, right? Well, I found that out within micro-seconds of saying it. And then I as I tried to explain how “a little bit” means something in one case but not quite the same thing in another case – I was reminded how skilled I was at making a bad situation worse.

What saved me? You’re a school communicator, so I bet you’ve got a good idea. An honest-to-goodness school related  event saved me! While I was literally digging my hole deeper and deeper inside the store, I received a text on my phone. It was from the high school theater director. He was upset because the time of the afternoon matinee performance was posted wrong on our district website. People with tickets were confused. He demanded an immediate correction. “Will do!” I texted back, and then I quickly headed out the door after apologizing to Cindy. “Let’s meet in the food court in 30 minutes. I’ve got a big school emergency to deal with.”  (A lucky break, I know. But I took it.)

Tom Page, SCN managing editor


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