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Are We There Yet? vol. 225 Thumbnail

Are We There Yet? vol. 225

Do you remember the game called Telephone from when you were a child? Each person whispers to the person next to them, with the idea that they have to say exactly what they heard from the person before them. It generally ends with the last person stating a word or phrase that is nowhere near what the first person said.

A few weeks ago, my wife, Jen, had a “telephone” experience. She was talking to a cousin, and the cousin mentioned that in a few years, she might take a trip to Poland. Jen replied that if the cousin actually planned a trip, she would consider going with her. About a week later, my mother-in-law was speaking to Jen and asked her about the trip she was taking to Poland this year with her cousin. My mother-in-law had heard from another cousin about the original conversation, but one of them didn’t get the facts exactly correct. Often, the misinformation occurs because someone was not listening carefully enough, or they jump to a conclusion before hearing all of the facts.

Many times, when this happens, it’s just a funny story to be repeated, like I just did. But sometimes, the consequences can be more serious. I can recall any number of instances over the course of my life where friendships or business relationships were irreparably damaged. Sometimes those involved only find out later that the judgment or disagreement was based on faulty information provided by someone who heard it from someone else.

I think we all take shortcuts in trying to understand the message when someone is talking to us. I’m trying to be better about listening all the way through before I jump ahead to my judgments.

Take care and stay safe.


Long Island by Colm Toibin

Eilis Lacey is Irish, married to Tony Fiorello, a plumber and one of four Italian American brothers, all of whom live in neighboring houses on a cul-de-sac in Lindenhurst, Long Island, with their wives and children and Tony’s parents, a huge extended family. It is the spring of 1976 and Eilis is now forty with two teenage children. Though her ties to Ireland remain stronger than those that hold her to her new land and home, she has not returned in decades.

One day, when Tony is at work an Irishman comes to the door asking for Eilis by name. He tells her that his wife is pregnant with Tony’s child and that when the baby is born, he will not raise it but instead deposit it on Eilis’s doorstep. It is what Eilis does—and what she refuses to do—in response to this stunning news that makes Tóibín’s novel so riveting and suspenseful.

Learn more about Bob Len here.

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