Before You Open Your Mouth -- Jumpstart Your Brain

I am at the drive-through speaker at my most convenient fast-food joint. It is 6 a.m.

“Would you like to try our two-for-one special today?” (This is a recording.)

No, thank you.

(Different voice) Go ‘head wichyerorder.

May I have the number one please with a small black coffee?

You say number one?


Something to drink?

A small black coffee.

What size?


Cream or sugar?



NO! (louder)


Did you say no?


You want it just black?

Sigh. Yes.

Mmmm‘K pull around for yer total.

How I wish I were kidding or dramatizing, but that is an exact conversation. I know it by heart because it occurs over and over all year. Why do I keep trying? I should just wait--let her ask--stay on script.

Just Getting Started

The speaker steps to the microphone to the sound of applause. The crowd quiets down. He says, “Before we get started, I’d like to introduce my staff,” and he begins to list them by name as they stand to be acknowledged.  Now folks, call me ignorant, but it appears to me we have gotten started, right? The speech is ensuing, people are listening--it is pretty official that we have STARTED. WHY DO PEOPLE HAVE TO SAY “BEFORE” WE GET STARTED? It has begun! Or how about this one? When the speaker is droning on and on and then says, “Well, we’ll get back to more of that topic a little later.”  I immediately think, “You mean there’s going to be MORE of this tranquilizer speech? So much more that I have to now look for you getting through that crap material to this point all over again?” I swear in that moment I could lose my mind.

Endless Chatter

But it’s everywhere. My wife hears a glass shatter in the kitchen and she yells to the kids, “Did something break?”

I fall asleep on the couch after big Sunday meal. My daughter stands above me and says, “Dad, are you awake?

My son goes to drop his brother off at rugby practice. He says, “I’ll be back.” We hope so. It’s five minutes away.

My mom calls my home phone--the LAN line--and when I pick up she says, “Are you home?”

The other day my wife asked me to call and cancel our son’s appointment at the orthodontist.  She is sitting next to me at the dining room table. I dial the number. “It’s ringing,” I assure her.  The answering machine picks up. I whisper to her, “I’m getting the machine.” She asks, “The answering machine?” I say, “No, the hedge clippers--they have the phone hooked up to the hedge clippers.” She says, “They do not.”

Here’s the best of the best. My granddaughter asks if I have any spare shoelaces. I say that I do and I come back with a new pair that still has the tape wrapped around the middle of the bundle. She pulls them apart and sees the two laces. “Where are the other two?” she asks.  “Other two?” I respond. She picks up her tennis shoes and shows me the four untied ends of the current laces. “1, 2, 3, 4,” she says. I smile patiently and explain that each shoe requires one lace that is strung all the way through. She turns to her mother and says, “You explain it to him, Mom. Papa is losing it.”

“I’ll have that coffee black,” I think.

Ron Ciancutti has worked in the parks and recreation industry since he was 16 years old, covering everything from maintenance, operations, engineering, surveying, park management, design, planning, recreation, and finance. He holds a BS in Business from Bowling Green State University and an MBA from Baldwin Wallace University and has held his current position as Director of Procurement since 1990.