Monday, October 04, 2010


I had an interesting discussion with a coworker last week. He had just driven back from out west and was relating his trip details to a few of us. Having driven across the country more times than I can count I threw my two cents into the conversation. I was curious as to which route he had taken. It turns out that he had taken one of the same stretches of road that I always take. He commented on how much he liked the road and I remarked about how annoying the road is.
Hwy-78 from Birmingham to Memphis will someday be incorporated into the interstate system. But currently the road is incomplete. The divided hwy part of it starts about 12 miles north of Birmingham and ends a few miles south of Memphis. Consequently if you hit either section at rush hour it can be miserable. Even if you miss rush hour your average speed is severally limited due to the miles of traffic lights.
Well this coworker commented that he just loved the road and I said it was moderately annoying because of the incomplete sections.

Him, “I just drove it yesterday. They’ve completed it.”

Me, “Well they must have completed it since I drove it in July”

Him, “It’s complete all the way except for those 12 miles in Birmingham and a few miles in Memphis.”

At this point he threw his elbows back and was waiting for me to respond.

Me, “I don’t know what else to say. You’ve just completely conceded my only point and you act like we still have something to disagree over.”

This was just a recent dramatic example, but I see people attaching qualifiers to statements and not realizing that the qualifier removes most if not all of the original meaning from the statement. A generic example would be something like, “All psychic predictions come true except those that don’t.” Okay? The statement would seem to be rather powerful, at first. Then the qualifier removed all of the bite. Such was the discussion with my coworker. The road is complete except for the parts that aren't. Once he had qualified the statement to exclude all the annoying parts of hwy-78 we were left with only the nice parts to discuss.

What I find frustrating is that in these types of situations I always feel like the other party walks away feeling like we still have some disagreement when we don’t. In this case we both enjoy the completed sections of hwy-78 and find the traffic lights through both big cities rather annoying.

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