I Missed the Memo
I don’t know about you, but I’ve missed a few memos that, apparently, everyone else got.  They’re the kind of things which make us wonder where the heck we were when the message was issued.

The first memo I remember missing was when I was in the third grade.  My mother made a visit to my teacher who informed her that I refused to write in my daily journal.  What daily journal?  Apparently my teacher, bless her heart, had informed the class that we were to write in a  journal each day at a certain time of the day.  I have no idea what I thought everyone else was doing during journal time, but it was just down time to me.  When Mother informed me, I was totally at a loss.

The next thing I missed was the memo on the little bumps on the f and j home keys of typewriters and computer keyboards.  I was into my forties when my wife, a typewriter/keyboard teacher, informed me of this jewel of information after I complained to her about having to regularly check the keyboard to be certain my fingers were placed properly.  The little bumps are obviously a helpful innovation.  I know ding-dang well these little bumps weren’t available when I was taking high school typing in the late 50s.  Oh well, now I know and life is better.

I was a grown man in my fifties when I discovered another fact of which I alone seemed not to be aware:  roadmap distances are measured from post office to post office, not edge of town to edge of town.  Crapola, this explains why the mileage recorded on my odometer never matched the mileage indicated on the maps.  I was speaking with my sister on the telephone one day when I revealed my lack of this knowledge.  I can still hear her laughing at me.  I suspect she still wakes in the night with laughter at the thought of my ignorance.

Of course, being a high school teacher means I ran into a number of cases of kids missing out on information shared by everyone else.  The last few years of my education life were spent as a librarian.  One day there was a kid who was apparently doing research on Julius Caesar.  I heard him laughing and inquired as to the source of the humor.  With great glee he pointed out a “mistake” he had found in a book he was perusing: Julius Caesar’s life dates were listed as 100 BC to 44 BC.  He said to me giggling, “They got the dates backward.”   Where was this high school senior the day the origin and workings of the Gregorian calendar were explained?  Of course, I patiently explained why the dates were correct.  After all, I had missed a few memos myself.

Probably the most embarrassing missing of a memo was when a fellow teacher couldn’t understand why the balloons she had filled with air, not helium, didn’t rise as they were released at a school function of which she was in charge.  This goes beyond just missing a memo.  That’s just plain stupid.

Speaking of teachers, how many times have I had to explain to first year teachers upon receiving their first payroll checks that the check seems a little smaller than promised because of income tax and and TRS retirement withholding.  Give me a break; I know darn well they were at some point taught this in school or at least their parents mentioned this to them.

My brother, bless his heart, missed more than one memo.  One day I received a telephone call from him.  He had been given a ticket by a game warden for fishing without a license.  Apparently he had missed the memo which told everyone not to mess with game wardens: they’re the most powerful law enforcement officers in Texas.  My brother, having missed the memo, laughed the ticket off and threw it away.  He wasn’t laughing when he received a registered letter informing him that because of his failure to pay the fine in a timely fashion, he owed over $500.  He was outraged: I was amused.

On another occasion my brother called me to ask how much I had to pay for health insurance.  I don’t remember the amount, but it was several hundred dollars each month.  He apparently had been working for a company that provided insurance, but had quit the job, and had made inquiries with a number of insurance companies discovering that health insurance ain’t cheap.  He was outraged: I was amused.  Obviously, he had missed the memo that stated that health insurance is expensive and if you have a job which provides it, don’t give that job up lightly.  He apparently missed the memo.

Twice each year, our military services change from winter to summer and from summer to winter uniforms.  In the army this means a change from dark army green to khaki and back again to army green.  It just so happened that the magic changing moment came on a day of formations and a parade at our military base.  There we were: 500 men who had gotten the memo and were standing tall in their spring khakis.  There he was, the sergeant major, standing there in his winter greens.  How the heck did the number one noncommissioned officer in the battalion miss the memo.  Well, actually, in his case it was understandable: he was an idiot.

There are classic widely known cases of public folks missing memos.  Gerald Ford in 1976, while running for President, responded to a question about Eastern Europe,  “There is no Soviet dominance of Eastern Europe.”  He went on to specifically mention Poland.  Oops.  He must have missed the memo.

During President Obama’s campaign for the Presidency, he stated that he had visited 57 states.  Well, he either missed the memo or he really misspoke.  But we’ll chalk that up to a mental lapse like President Bush’s, “There's an old saying in Tennessee - I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee - that says, fool me once, shame on... shame on you. Fool me - you can't get fooled again.”  I’m sure each got the memo, but they plainly didn’t remember it.

We’ve all been present when someone mispronounces a word which everyone else got the standard pronunciation of in a memo which went out to all.  President Obama mispronounced “corpsman” as “corpse-man,” twice.  Apparently President Bush missed the memo on the pronunciation of “nuclear” which he pronounced “nu-cu-lar.”  Where the Hell was he the day everyone else got the memo on this word.  I think we’ve all heard February pronounced as Febuary.  Come on folks, you gotta read the memos.

While we’re on the subject, I’d like to point out to a great number of folks that you missed the pronunciation memo of a whole bunch of words.  For the illiterate, I’d like to point out that many of you mispronounce the following words: “athlete”: there’s only two syllables in this word--ath-lete not ath-uh-lete; “dilate”: again only two syllables--di-late not di-a-late; for the really illiterate: “drowned”--one syllable-drownd not drown-ded; “irregardless” is not a standard word--it’s “regardless,” you bumpkin; “picture” is pronounced pik-ture not pitch-er; the word “library” has two r’s in it and is pronounced li-brar-y not li-ber-ry.  For the semiliterate, like myself, don’t think that you’re getting off scott free.  I know darn well many of you have mispronounced the word “forte”: there are two different words spelled this way.  For-tay is a musical term meaning loud: when it’s pronounced fort it means strong point.  Confess, you’ve pronounced it incorrectly.  One more for you smart alecks: “niche”--it’s pronounced neesh not nitch.

And while I’m on a rant about missing the memos on pronunciations, I can’t leave out news people who while broadcasting live on television from a location in the field, mispronounce the name of the piece of ground he or she is standing on.  Take a moment to get a memo from a local on how the town or county or street is pronounced rather than mangling it by simply misinterpreting what you read on a road sign.  Duh.

Even animals sometimes miss memos.  Our dog Joe when I was growing up, first missed the memo that  he had grown much taller.  I realized that he’d missed the memo when he almost knocked himself out while trying to run under a coffee table that he had easily run under just a week or two before.  Further evidence of his missing a memo occurred later.  When he was a puppy, he would lie on the dashboard of our Oldsmobile when we went for a ride.  Joe grew from a little puppy to a dog of considerable size.  Everyone, except Joe, got the memo on how large he had gotten.  Apparently it had been some time between car rides because when he jumped onto the dashboard he stuck for a moment, then he, looking puzzled, slid off the dashboard like a sack of potatoes.

I guess in a world that is rapidly changing, missing memos are more common today than ever before.  We will, undoubtedly, have ample opportunities in the future to laugh at our brothers and sisters...and ourselves for missing memos. 
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