Back in the day, there were these two brothers, Tom & Andy, who I really looked up to – the eldest especially. I remember they lived in my neighborhood, both drove motorcycles, and worked on old cars and motorcycles in their yard, where I got to be the wrench monkey. Tom played keyboard in a band and had that awesome 70’s hair, perfectly parted in the middle with wings. When they fixed up a bike, they would power up and down the street while I would sit under a tree and watch, dreaming I was on the bike.
One glorious day, Andy invited me on. It must have been forbidden by his brother, because he waited until Tom wasn’t home. We went around the block then onto the dirt ball field of the school yard where he told me to hold on. Only I didn’t hear him. So when he popped up on one wheel, I flew off the bike onto my backside. Surprisingly, it didn’t hurt much. I was up and dusted off by the time he circled back. I remember distinctly Andy asking me if I was okay, then swearing me to secrecy as we walked back to his house. I’ve not ridden a motorcycle since. I don’t think I’m afraid of them, just never had an opportunity or desire (I haven’t climbed in a shark cage or run with bulls, either). As a driver, I do watch out for motorcycles. I respect the signs and stickers that say, “Save a Life, Look Twice, Motorcyles are Everywhere.”
My Lovely Wife has had a tough year leading an organization at our kids’ school. I won’t bore you with details, suffice it to say, the children have been delightful. A few days ago, she received a rather curt text related to her office and read me her reply. I asked her to read it again. When she did, she decided it was a little harsh and we talked about how to change it. Look Twice, Save a Life. Or maybe a relationship – even if it is precariously dangling off the back of a speeding motorcycle.
I’ve gotten pretty good at this over the years, which would come as a shock to some. If you could see my elementary and middle school report cards, the comments would almost all say: “Mark needs to think before he speaks”. It’s like there was a conspiracy between them – or possibly a pattern of behavior. I’m voting conspiracy. Now that I’ve matured (some), I actually have a pretty good verbal filter. I also often type replies to texts and emails and reread them before I send them. You can type what you really want to say as long as you don’t push send. I have now learned to not put a name in the email header just in case you push send out of routine before deleting the anger. Yeah, I did that once and it was kinda ugly.
6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
A modern day application of this is our non-verbal speech: text, email, IM, and others. It is actually easier to saltify than speech since we have the chance to preview before sending. Has your first draft ever needed some grace salted in? Did you send or type twice?