Apr. 28, 2022

NEVER OPEN YOUR MOUTH--UNLESS YOU KNOW WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT!!!

Memorable Moments (from my book). 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 various questions like: what I ate, what I thought, where I bathed, 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 could you 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 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 style, delivered these words:  “Honey, I’m really glad you enjoyed the slide show. I truly appreciate your concern and I’m so impressed with your attention to details-- BUT- bless your heart, sweet thing-- you're talking about the wrong Wall--in the wrong country!  Honey, you are talking about the Berlin Wall--over there in Germany!” As the room echoed with thunderous applause, the well-dressed gentleman turned around and--- like a hound dog with his tail stuck between his legs---quickly left the Ballroom.

Later that year,  the National Engineers Association sent me a Christmas card. As a postscript, the association president added a personal touch: “You might like knowing that the engineer who appeared “geographically-challenged” the day you spoke to our yearly convention-- lost no time in resigning from our association.”

 The president closed by adding: “It is better to remain silent and thought a fool, than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.”

I agree.

SALLY MILLER