Jun. 2, 2020

Truth is much-more entertaining---than fiction.

Another Memorable Moment from my book: THE BEAUTY QUEEN.

I think you'll like this one:

In 1992, I accepted an invitation to share my Great Wall adventure with eight hundred professional engineers in Houston, Texas. The Ritz Carleton’s largest ballroom featured theatre-size screens, projecting multiple images of the Great Wall of China, accompanied by authentic Chinese music. More than two thousand photos of the Great Wall continuously flashed across the multiple screens, officially documenting my seven-month journey.

Following my presentation, I invited audience members to ask questions. One after another, engineers from every state in America stepped forward to ask such various questions like: what I ate, what I thought, who I met, the language barrier, even questions about Chinese spiders and snakes. Just when I thought I had answered every question, an attractive gentleman-- probably mid-forties-- walked to a microphone near the back of the ballroom. Smiling, he began speaking:

“Honey, I found your presentation quite impressive. You are a great speaker and I really enjoyed the photographs but.....I have a major concern.” Surprised, I held my breath, not knowing what to expect. “How can you claim to have traveled that Wall in 1990? It’s been officially documented that several years before 1990, President Ronald Reagan ordered Gorbachev to tear down that Wall and he did!!!”

At that moment, had a pin dropped, it would have crashed to the floor like a crow bar. Hardly breathing, the audience waited for my response. Wearing my best beauty queen smile, I leaned into the microphone and, in true Southern-Belle style, delivered these words:  “Honey, I’m really glad you enjoyed the slide show. I truly appreciate your concern and I’m so-very impressed with your attention to detail.

Unfortunately my dear, you are talking about the wrong Wall in the wrong country. In fact--"Honey"--you are talking about the Berlin Wall in Germany!” As the room echoed with thunderous applause, the well-dressed gentleman, like a hound dog with his tail tucked between his legs, quickly left the Ballroom.

The following year, the National Engineers Association sent me a Christmas Card. Adding a postscript, the Association's  President said: “You might like to know that the Engineer who appeared “geographically challenged” last year.... resigned from our Association.  As the classic old saying says: “It is better to remain silent and thought a fool, then to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt”.

 

Sally Miller