English is Dead

The other day, I used my World’s First Digital Finger to tap the “Reply” button to an instant message from my best friend. I have about 10 000 friends, actually, but only around 1 273 qualify for “best” status. This one was complaining about the weather. “When it rains, it pours,” he said. I replied, “I like that – I go out in it, because to feel – to really feel – is a rare thing, these days.” Of course, when I go out to really feel the rain, I’m wearing my Polar Perfect Protection jacket, but I manage to really feel wet, all the same. My best friend – sorry, I can’t remember his name just now – was worried about global warming. “Everything in its own time,” I told him. “Don’t like the weather? Wait a while.”   He wasn’t real happy with that answer. “My world class weather station software tells me that the times, they are a-changin'” was his quip.”The more things change, the more they stay the same,” I replied.

That was the end of my exchange with him, as I had to go to a very special party for very special people. I got invited because I get along with everyone – I’m an expert in mixing. So I got ready to go out into the world. First, I took out my shaving system, and made sure I didn’t look like a used car salesman who’d slept in his clothes. Then I used my manual hygiene and skin care system to clean, disinfect, and humidify my hands – you can never be too careful, these days. Then I changed into an outfit that was casual, yet making a statement, and put on my big shoes for small steps. They feel so good I hardly know I’m wearing them.

Very special

I went down to the street and hailed a cab. When I got in, the driver said, “Hi, my name is Jerold, and I’ll be your driver today. Where would you like to go today?” Just for fun, I was tempted to tell him I wanted to go to the dogs, but instead I gave him the address for the special party. “We have a special on that neighbourhood today,” said Jerold. He said that if I went there twice, I could get 40% off the second trip. So once we got to the neighbourhood, I asked Jerold to drop me off – before we got to the address. I then told him to meet me at another address in half an hour – one out of the neighbourhood. I walked there, eager to take advantage of his special. Jerold was waiting, when I arrived, and he obligingly took me to the party address at 40% discount. “By the way,” he added, “There’s a service charge for picking you up, and you need to pay for the waiting time. It’s all explained in our taxi company electronic license agreement (TCELA) which I can send you by email if you like. When you get into my cab and plunk your butt on the seat, you are stating that you have read the TCELA and agree to all the terms and conditions of this license.” He was so courteous, as I paid him a small fortune, grateful that at least I had gotten the 40% discount on the second visit to the neighbourhood. A penny saved is a penny earned, after all.

Life of the party

When I rang the bell, my host said, “you’re late.” “Better late than never,” said I, smiling, and entering his abode with my usual charm. Then I noticed his hairdo. “Gads, man, how much gunk have you put in your hair? Don’t you know a little dab will do ya?” He made some comment about a “wet look.” But then we didn’t have time to talk about his hair, because so many good friends descended on me. I was the instant life of the party. The secret of my popularity? I’m a flexible friend…

Well, I suppose you’d like to know more about what I did at the party – after all, everyone who’s anyone was there. But I’m not going to tell you – discretion is the greater part of valour. I could be the number one source of information about the glitterati, but hey – you can’t be all things to all people, right? It’s my unique way of viewing the world, anyway.

I will tell you, though, that they had a sort of punch there that was indescribably delicious. There was a very pretty young woman serving it out. “Betcha can’t drink just one,” she smiled. She was right, and it was good to the last drop. I must get the recipe.

You learn something new every day

So, though I wasn’t really drunk, I was a bit unsteady on my feet (despite the big shoes for small steps) when I left, and bumped into a man. We almost fell to the ground, and as I apologised profusely, he graciously did not take offence. In fact, he offered me his business card. “World’s most prominent thought leader,” it said. I knew right away this one was someone to be reckoned with, and wanted to get friendly, despite the inauspicious beginning to our encounter. We went for a coffee, and he told me about his consulting activities. As we were leaving, he gave me a flyer, with information about his exclusive online webinar, coming soon. I was really glad to be included in his exclusive group – because I’m worth it!

This was a great life lesson for me. So many times, fear gets the best of us. I could have run off from this man, never made his acquaintance, but when I saw his business card, I thought, “just do it – impossible is nothing.” And so, now I’m included in an elite group, receiving privileges reserved just for me. And I know that when I call him next, my call will be important to him.

Come under the umbrella

The next day, my doorbell rang. It was someone from the telephone company, and a man who said he was a government agent. They said they had come to put a listening device on my phone. For them, it was the next best thing to being there. I asked why they needed this, and they replied, “the war on terrorism.” I said that I was only too glad to let them listen to my phone calls, in order to protect my precious liberties and our values. After all, I have nothing to hide – and maybe they’d be impressed by my participation in an exclusive webinar with the world’s most prominent thought leader. That could get me points. They explained a lot of clear and present dangers from foreign substances and people, that really made me think different. I understood that I was in good hands.

And speaking of good hands, I did another pass with the manual hygiene and skin care system –  they mentioned anthrax, and I knew it would be best to do this before reaching out and touching someone. I was so glad to have it – it was reassuringly expensive to buy, and I wouldn’t leave home without it. It helps me to be all that I can be.

Well, dear readers, it’s time for a pause that refreshes, so I’m going to leave you breathless, and come back another day with more of the real thing. My advice as we move forward into this brave new world – don’t be caught half-safe!

Author: Ray

Ray Gallon is president and co-founder of The Transformation Society (www.transformationsociety.net), a research, training and consulting company focusing on building learning organisations that can manage complexity and the digital transformation. He has over 40 years as a communicator, first as an award-winning radio producer and journalist, then in the technical content industries. His management experience includes a stint as program manager of WNYC-FM, New York City’s public radio station. Ray is a self-described "humanist nerd," and has always been interested in the meeting point between technology and culture, and has used his broad experience to advantage with companies such as IBM, General Electric Health Care, Alcatel, 3M, and the OECD, as well as in smaller companies and startup enterprises. Ray recently helped co-found the Information 4.0 Consortium (www.information4zero.org) and serves as its current president. Ray is a university lecturer and a keynote speaker at events throughout the world. He has contributed articles and chapters to many books and periodicals and is the editor of the recently published “Language of Technical Communication” (XML Press).

3 thoughts on “English is Dead”

  1. I almost hesitate to comment, because the very presence of comments will imply that this blog’s author is an influencer, a person of substance, a very special person.

    I’ll risk it nevertheless. Rather than English is Dead, a truer title might be Communication is Dead or Connection is Dead. When we cease being people and instead become personal brands that interact with each other, a great deal is lost. Thanks for an insightful story.

      1. Hey Lar, Hey Zen, regret the inconvenience of this late reply, your comments are important to us as valued readers.

        English, Communicatíon, Connection? They all dead. I’m sorry for your loss.

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