Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Post No. 178: 7 Seconds is not a Huge Chunk out of Your Day

© 2012, the Institute for Applied Common Sense

While we typically eat in at our desks, yesterday proved to be such a spectacular day we decided to take a walk to a Mexican taco truck.

Shortly after starting our walk and as we turned the corner, a woman approached us. She was walking very briskly, with an upbeat, energetic attitude, apart from being rather attractive. Her opening salvo was simply, “Gentlemen, would you care to take one of my cards? I am a two – time cancer survivor.”

Despite her use of the salutation "gentlemen," we quickly concluded that she was speaking to us, since there were no other males in the immediate vicinity. Inspector Clouseau took the card and held it up so that we all could read it. On the front appeared the letters BBN, a radio dial number, and an invitation to listen to ALL CHRISTIAN RADIO. We promptly thanked her and kept walking anticipating the consumption of some barbacoa tacos. Our entire exchange lasted only 7 seconds.

However, within the next 7 seconds and while we were still reading the card, a businessman in his mid-40s overtook us. Although he had a brisk stride, he did not appear to be in a hurry. Our cancer survivor approached him and asked whether he would take a card, and before she could say anything further, he passed her saying, “No thanks. I’m not interested.”

The Inspector, having completed his exam of the card, stopped, turned around, and addressed our new friend with, “Young lady!” Several members of our group reminded him that we had a client coming in shortly, and that the taco truck might run out of tacos. “This won’t take long,” he said.

During the ensuing 25 minute conversation, we learned quite a bit about Eva, and her survival despite going through two marriages and having cancer. She went on to expound about how materially and spiritually blessed she was now.

While we watched the Inspector with a slight bit of irritation, he began by saying what struck him was that the man had neither the time nor the interest to even take the card. Eva did not ask for money, or additional time. More importantly, she did not proselytize. The Inspector reminded us all that she simply asked if we would take a card. Right after he said, “It occurred to me that...” she completed his sentence for him noting, “ not taking the card, he might have missed out on something life-changing, or an opportunity of a life-time." The Inspector went on, “Who knows. He might have cancer one day and may benefit from a 7 second exchange with you.”

Eva matter-of-factly noted that she was 66 years of age, and had done some amazing things in her life. By now, the Laughingman and other members of our staff were more interested in what this lady had to say than the Inspector. One receptionist whispered under her breadth that Eva's hair, skin, and eyes looked so healthy, and that she was so vibrant and energetic, despite having dealt with cancer - twice.

Meanwhile, the Inspector asked the Optimizer to look at the flip side of her card. It read, “If I die tonight my soul will be in H_________ tomorrow morning.” The message on the card suggested that if the reader was unsure as to how to fill in the blank, they tune into the radio station. BBN stands for Bible Broadcasting Network.

The Optimizer went on to note that the businessman’s resistance to the mere receipt of Eva’s card was “unfortunate” and perhaps short-sighted since he stood to lose nothing, and potentially gain something. It reminded him of folks who discourage solicitors, purported junk mail, or ask to take their names off e-mail distribution lists. He exclaimed, “What if you get an extra e-mail here or there? Is it such a big imposition to simply delete it if you’re not interested?!”

The Inspector opined that on another level, it reminded him of the point he tried to make in civic organization meetings here in the South, about the reluctance of blacks and whites to actively and affirmatively engage their new Hispanic and Asian citizens, along with any other ethnic or cultural newcomers. “Or anyone who has a different point of view,” chimed in the Optimizer.

As we walked toward the taco truck, we saw Eva dash to engage another passerby. A member of our staff remarked that we just had an inspirational experience and met a remarkable woman. Someone observed that despite what appeared on the card, there was no mention of Jesus or God, and definitely no proselytization.

It’s amazing what can result from 7 seconds of engagement.


  1. Great comeback Janice. We never made it to the taco truck that day. However, should you ever have the opportunity to try them in any city, we'd recommend that you do so. They are not your run of the mill, "Taco Bell" grade tacos. They are pretty special.

    Visit us again.


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