In preparation for my trip to Tulsa, I spent many hours running around looking for snake boots or snake chaps. Before the ice hit in Tulsa, which is when I was scheduled to go, my contact was worried about the possibility of snakes and recommended I bring something to protect myself from them.
Well, in Missouri in December we don’t really have to worry about snakes. After several visits to many sporting goods and hunting stores I was beginning to lose hope. One of the workers at a hunting store recommended a boot store that was not too far of a drive. Having learned my lesson and identified a pattern of no snake boots for women in Missouri in December, I called ahead before I made the drive.
Me: “Hi. I’m looking for women’s snake boots or snake gators. Do you have any in stock?”
Store clerk: “I’ve never heard of boots with both snake and gator, but we have snake boots, I think python, and gator boots.”
Me: “Great. I’ll be right over.”
There were several things in her answer that should have triggered doubt. First, no boots with both snake and gator? I wasn’t looking for gator boots; I was looking for snake gators. Next, pythons don’t bite so why would I care if they had python boots? And, if a gator wanted to bite you, some little boot wasn’t going to stop him. None of these things deterred me, so I headed to the store.
When I got there the woman I spoke to walked me to the women’s boot aisle and showed me the snake boots. I’m sure you’ve figured out by now what I was not able to – the woman pointed me to boots made out of snake skin and not boots that were snake proof. I had a little laugh at myself and left the store to continue on my frenetic search.
This whole adventure got me thinking about myself and the way I communicate. My boys often misunderstand my requests to them. I’m ignored a lot, which could be a product of my confusing way of communicating. What I want to say makes perfect sense to me in my head, but may be less clear when the request or statement leaves my mouth. I may only communicate a portion of my request, thinking that the rest of my intent will be evident or known to my boys sense it is perfectly obvious to me. Examples:
What I said: Spit out your gum.
Do as I mean: Spit your gum out in the trash can
Not as I say: Luke spit his gum out. Right there on the ground in the middle of the parking lot.
What I said: Don’t stand like that on the back of the couch.
Do as I mean: Get down off of the back of the couch and don’t stand on the furniture.
Not as I say: Jack changed his position from both feet on the back of the couch with his hands on the nearby brick column to one foot on the back of the couch with his hands pressed against the ceiling.
What I said: Will you find a place for this?
Do as I mean: Find a permanent home for this where we will be able to remember its location and find it, but I won’t have to look at it everyday.
Not as I say: The paper is still sitting in a stack on John’s desk, which is his place for it.
This just goes to show you that you can learn something productive about yourself in doing the most mundane and frustrating of tasks. What I learned while looking for snake boots is that I need to be clearer in my requests and explanations and I will save myself a whole lot of time and frustration.
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