The following is a story I like to tell from time to time to illustrate the problem of communicating when the sender and receiver are not working from the same worldview or when the same vocabulary is used but a different lexicon.
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There was a rather old fashioned lady, always quite delicate in her use of language. She and her husband were planning a weeks vacation to Florida, so she wrote to a particular campground asking for a reservation.
She wanted to make sure the campground was fully equipped, but didn’t quite know how to ask about the toilet facilities. She just couldn’t bring herself to write the word “toilet” in her letter. After much deliberation, she finally came up with the old fashioned term “Bathroom Commode”, but when she wrote that down, she thought she was being too forward. So she started all over again, rewrote the entire letter and referred to the bathroom commode merely as the “BC”. “Does the campground have its own BC?” is what she actually wrote.
Well, the campground owner wasn’t old-fashioned at all and when he received the letter he just couldn’t figure out what the woman was talking about. That “BC” business really stumped him.
After worrying about it for awhile he showed the letter to several campers, one of whom indicated that he belonged to a BC — a Baptist Church. So, the campground owner finally coming to the conclusion that the lady must be asking about the local Baptist Church, sat down and wrote the following response to her question:
Dear Madam, I regret very much the delay in answering your letter, but I now take great pleasure in informing you that a BC is located nine miles north of the campground and is capable of seating 250 people at one time. I admit it is quite a distance away, if you are in the habit of going regularly, but no doubt you will be pleased to know that a great number of people take their lunches along and make a day of it. They usually arrive early and stay late.
I would like to say it pains me very much not being able to go more regularly, but it is surely no lack of desire on my part. As we grow older it seems to be more of an effort, particularly in cold weather. The last time my wife and I went was six years ago, and it was so crowded we had to stand up the whole time we were there. It may interest you to know that right now there is a supper planned to raise money to buy more seats. They are going to hold it in the basement of the BC.
If you decide to come down to our campground, perhaps I could go with you the first time you go, sit with you, and introduce you to all the other folks (remember, this is a friendly community).