In college I enjoyed exploring the workings of real life interpersonal communication. Inescapable messages, verbal and nonverbal. Irreversible utterances whose effects remain even after the judge has told the jury to "disregard the last statement a witness has made." And the complexities - the fact that no two people use the same words exactly alike, combined with the influences of perception, e.g. W.E.B. DuBois theory of Double Consciousness (Google digitized version of The Souls of Black Folk).
Research observes that: If communication can fail, it will. If a message can be understood in different ways, it will be understood in just the way it does the most harm.
I wrote about the near death of our vanpool back in September 2009. We managed to keep it going, but since then we have lost riders, due to job loss. Now only four remain. Our small group of survivors have developed, quite naturally a kinship born out of the desire to maintain the expeditious, stress-free means of getting to and from work. Together with that kinship, there has developed a familiarity with one another, that has become oppressive. That is my perception. I wonder how sensitive the rest are to the energy that circulates in our close confines for two hours a day?
Every day, the riders engage in what begins as palsy-walsy chat then distorts into rude intrusive innuendo. More often than not, there is one who does not know what’s kosher and what’s not. Alluding to sex at every opportunity is adolescent at best. But why is it that certain topics, e.g. football, engenders carefully chosen words: show. pass. score. Politics and weather more of the same: mundane. affairs. galore. But then, sex sneaks in and out: teeny, tiny, bait. The culprit casts a weathered net: hard-nosed and in bad taste.
In Kiswahili we say, heri kujikwa kidole kuliko ulimi: better to stumble with toe than tongue.
So, co-riders (time will tell if you do read this blog) when next we pass that billboard, the one with the pretty young lady's face, her smile right above the bold lettering STROKERS, a clever balance to what she is selling, keep your running commentary to yourself. Please.
In the meantime, when I am not driving the van, I am thankful for my music and my headphones.