ASSOCIATES (2010, November, v. 17, no. 2)


Be It Ever So Humble…

Sue Knoche
Medical Library Assistant
ETSU Quillen College of Medicine Library, Johnson City, TN

Ever wonder why people without hesitation can either say something that defies explanation or conduct an unbelievable action, while insisting it was the right thing to do at the moment?

I observed what should have turned out, but fortunately did not, to be a horrible auto accident by a driver in a truck that looked like it belonged in a mini-monster truck rally rather than on the road. The vehicle in the left lane ahead of him was traveling at the stated speed limit parallel to another truck in front of me, so there was no way to pass. To my surprise this driver maneuvered around on the left side without the aid of a shoulder and conquered a steep embankment that surely would have upended any other car. He seemed to think this was just another required driving skill. Ironically, we all ended up at the same place and time by the stoplight about a half mile down the road. We have all experienced a character of this caliber or one who is even more astonishing in nature. For example, we may have observed individuals who get angry in a store or restaurant when something is not exactly the way they want it. It has been my experience almost each time when I visit a large department or discount store that a child will be screaming or making loud noises that defy reason or logic, with the parents oblivious to the obvious discomfort of those around them.

So I thought, what if everyone was born without any vocal cords at all or an ability to make a sound of any kind. Without the ability to talk or make any sounds perhaps our early ancestors would not have reasoned there would not be a need to create an alphabet or any other early form of language or communication as we know it. On the other hand, without a written alphabet or language base, perhaps we could have developed telepathic abilities to convey our feelings, needs/wants or desires instead of by voice. Thinking along those lines, what if all the philosophy, wisdom, religion within the ancient books and scrolls would not have been done; if music were created it would be instrumental only; no particular language to learn without an alphabet or the need to sound out meanings; no signs; would there be a need for education; no cheering at sporting events; no TV or electronic devices; no singers or entertainment as we know it today. It definitely would be a more simplistic world without communications.

Another form of communication can be through actions or in particular an event like a picnic, sporting event or whatever else brings people together for fun. I had the opportunity to participate in a “corn hole tournament” that was set up at our University by the pharmacy and medical students, with all entry fees, gifts, games and food collected donated to our local hospital children’s charity. You’ve never heard of a “corn hole tournament”? Well, it is similar to the old fashion bean bag throw game you may have played as a child, except the targets are set at a 45 degree angle, and bags are filled with dried field corn or what resembles large pieces of un-popped popcorn. The bags are larger/heavier and tend to be slightly uncomfortable to hold than standard bean bags and require more effort to reach the target 33 feet away. The skill and stamina required is substantial, and although we gave it our all with a game winning attitude, we were eliminated on the first round. It was nice to see the admiration the students gave us for participating, but I was actually relieved to bow out because I’m not sure my arthritis would have allowed more rounds. We did leave with our dignity intact and enjoyed the experience.

Perhaps at times I think we may try to take on too much with multitasking duties or activities and tend to forget the simple more common sense approach to life that our ancestors believed in. We are all unique human beings who make mistakes or create challenges along the way that keeps life interesting. A new year is on the horizon and through communication could bring us new opportunities, challenges, places or things to explore as well as meeting new or old colleagues and friends, so let’s make it the best year ever.