Monday, August 26, 2013

Make sure brain is engaged

One of the pleasures of my twilight years is hearing from old friends, colleagues and customers. Chet Jelinski from New Jersey is all of the above and has been a regular correspondent since long before the days of e-mail. For some unexplained reason a recent note from him about baseball made me think of a snail mail that I got from him many years ago. I remember it every time I think about writing something provocative or controversial.

Ed York was a supplier, publisher and creative personality back in the day. In the early '80s, Ed had gone on one of his editorial tangents about operating costs of a new restoration group he had organized. We sparred editorially about it and in one article I even predicted it would fail. But in trying to be cute or perhaps a little cutting, I suggested that he name his new organization the "Society of Hot Injection Technicians" and use the initials for an acronym.

Oka Negley, my secretary who is now retired, brought Chet's letter into my office and laid it gingerly on my desk. Chet politely said he felt it was beneath me to use such crude material, or words to that effect. I knew Oka agreed with him because she had expressed her concern before I ever published it. I told Oka I should have listened to her and I wrote a letter of apology to Chet whom I believe helped make me a better person and a better writer.

The rest of that old adage in the headline is, "Make sure brain is engaged before putting mouth into gear." Maybe it should be changed to read, "Make sure brain is engaged before hitting the send button." With the instantaneous communications of today it's easier than ever to offend people even when that may not be our intention.

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