Which Way – This Way, or That Way?
Greetings from North Mexico! This is my first newsletter from the magical land of Texas, where I shall be spending the next six months of my life. And everything here IS bigger! The people are all twelve feet tall, and the pizza bagels are actually just two pizzas mashed together. I think everyone knows that I’m not a native Texan, mostly because they say, “You’re not from around here” a lot. But I’m slowly learnin’ to stop sayin’ my g’s, so I’m hopin’ I’ll fit right in soon enough. (Silent g’s are acceptable.)
In all honesty, living here has been lovely, and everyone we’ve met has been perfectly delightful. But that isn’t going to stop me from making fun of the dumbest civic decision to which I have ever borne witness. My wife and I live just outside of Lake Jackson, and occasionally we pop into town for nails and sackcloth and all the other sundries a frontier family needs. So imagine our surprise when we find that two of the major roads in town are named This Way and That Way. I am 100% not making that up, and you can confirm it for yourself online if you don’t believe me. Apparently, sometime in the misty past, some ornery mayor decided to play a joke on everyone who wasn’t born in Lake Jackson.
Which means it’s possible to have the following conversation, which I have actually had:
Me: Hello, nameless local! Can you recommend a good Mexican restaurant?
Local: Sure thing. La Casona, my wife and I love it.
Me: Great. Where is it?
Local: From here, go down This Way about a mile.
Me: Which way?
Local (pointing): That way.
Me: So I go down that way?
Local: No, This Way.
Me: You said that way.
Local: I said that way on This Way.
Me (bewildered): Is this a joke?
Local: Look, it’s not complicated. Go that way on This Way. If you reach That Way, you’ve gone too far.
Me (remembering I have a GPS): Thanks.
Congratulations, Lake Jackson! Your street signs would confuse Abbott and Costello. And in honor of having successfully made me think that I’ve accidentally entered the Twilight Zone, here are a few things you can do to make others wonder if they’re on some kind of candid camera prank show:
Use Industry Acronyms In Normal Conversation!
People do this all the time without realizing that not everybody knows what a BOOP or a CRI or a TAC report is. Most of the time the rest of us smile and pretend to understand what you’re saying, but that’s only because we’re too polite to shake you very hard and shout, “Use words, you jerk!!!!”
Institute New Policies Without Explaining Them To Anyone!
Depressingly common, this almost always leads to some loss of morale. People generally don’t mind doing new things, but they definitely mind doing them without having any idea why they are. Sometimes as little as a single sentence of explanation can be the difference between enthusiastic support and the polar opposite of that.
Send Conflicting Messages!
This is really easy to do if you can’t decide whether or not a given idea is a good one. The longer you remain uncertain, the more likely you are to tell some people that it’s great and others that it’s risky. Sometimes leadership is really more about making a decision than it is about making the best possible decision.
So there you are! I hope you have a wonderful October, and I hope you’ll consider coming down this way to visit us in Texas! Or that way, you can come down that way too. Just don’t go that way on this way, or this way on that way, or maybe I’ve got that backwards.