This is an original creative writing post I wrote a few years ago, and I am posting today because the joke of me taking everything “literal” has surfaced several times recently. I don’t know why I struggle with it so much, but I do, and in my personal life it is funny and I can sit and laugh about it (ha, ha (not really)), but in my professional life I struggle with it. I think people in the business world need to try and understand that people who take things in a “literal” sense aren’t “unintelligent” or “dull” we just have our own way of thinking about things! Me, I like to call it “creative thinking!”
Anyone who knows me is probably chuckling right now because I seem to take whatever is said verbatim. I find myself staring straight ahead or see people laughing at/with me because I take most things said as exact. Period. People mention something, or I read a book, or take a class and listen to the instructor, and I think well that’s what they said or that’s what was written; it has to mean that.
What made me start thinking about this is my sister and I were talking during a short trip. She is the principal of a small Catholic school and she was telling me a story about disciplining two young girls and she asked one of them to come over to her and the little girl’s lip was quivering and my sister said, “I didn’t even do anything to her.” I said, “You didn’t have to do anything to her, you’re the principal. Everyone is scared of the principal.” (Well, 40 years ago when I was in grade school you were afraid of the principal – today, not so much).
This conversation reminded me of one of those times in my life when taking things so literal cost me in more ways than one – embarrassment and money. I was in 7th grade and there was an incident regarding the word “softball” and my literal meaning of a “softball.” I loved to play sports. I was a tomboy of all tomboys. I played kickball, soccer, softball, volleyball, and basketball (all 5 feet 2 inches of me). You name it, I played it. It was springtime and softball practice had started so I threw the ball around as much as possible and whenever possible because I had to be the best (I’m also very competitive)… There was a rule on the school playground that you were only allowed to throw soft balls on the playground. Well, a softball is a soft ball right? My friend and I were tossing a softball and it ricocheted off of her glove and broke the cafeteria window. Whoops.
Now, the cafeteria window was at the basement level of the school and there were at least 12 steps to even reach the cafeteria door and that area was surrounded by a railing. How did the ball lob that far away? My heart started beating one million beats per minute. I looked at my friend and along comes the principal, Sister LM. Her face was red and creased and there was no smile, and she had the softball in her hand and came up to me and asked what happened. I told her my friend and I were tossing the ball and the ball hit my friend’s glove and bounced off the glove and soared into the window and the window broke. Sister took the ball and bounced it on the ground so hard I jumped, and she asked is this a soft ball? I said yes Sister, it’s a softball. She said, “This is not a soft ball for the playground; a soft ball means a tennis ball, a rubber ball, or a ping pong ball.” Lesson learned. Oh, a soft ball…
Being literal that time cost me $78 for the window to be fixed. I had to work after school washing blackboards, emptying trash cans, and sweeping the floors until I paid that money back, and talk about humiliation.
What does being so literal say about me? Am I naive, a critical thinker? I’d never describe myself as a critical thinker; maybe naive as a not-so-nice person once told me I was, but what is it about me that makes me think “verbatim.” You would think I would have learned a lesson from that 7th grade incident – well, I did learn that a softball for playing softball isn’t considered a soft ball! Although sometimes embarrassing, I guess there are literally worse things in life than thinking this way, as I have had some of my fondest memories from doing the same.
I hope you can look back and think of a time in your life when you took things “verbatim” and are able to have a chuckle. I’d love to hear some of your stories about taking things in the “literal” sense.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://yourliteraryprose.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Colleen-use.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Colleen Wietmarschen has owned and operated her own business since 1996. She is a published author and an award-winning writer and loves working with authors, coaches, speakers, website designers, etc. Colleen believes the written word is still important when conveying your professional image; no matter what.[/author_info] [/author]