Imagine there’s no dictionaries

Imagine there's no dictionaries

The other day I was at Starbucks and I noticed the above sign tacked to the bulletin board. I took a (bad) picture (above). If the sign is too small to read, allow me to interpret.

Cary is the name of the town where the Starbucks is located, and apparently the local town government is having (or had — the last one was June 12th) a series of “area conversations” under the banner “Imagine YOUR Cary”.

Not sure what an “area conversation” is? Not to worry, the Town of Cary (its official name) has helpfully provided an explanation:

A-re-a (noun): A region or part of a town, country or the world.
Con-ver-sa-tion (noun): The informal exchange of ideas by spoken words.

Got it? We’re going to exchange ideas about a subset of the universe, using the marvel of the spoken word.

What kind of ideas? The text at the bottom is most clear:

At the Area Conversations you will:
– Express your vision and hopes for Cary’s future.
– Share what you like and don’t like about Cary.
– Exchange ideas and opinions with your fellow Cary citizens.

Note: It does not say you “can” share your opinions. It says you “will” share them. Using spoken words. Got it?

I wish I had seen the sign in time to attend a session. I imagine it went something like this:

Moderator: Welcome to this Area Conversation. Before we get started, I just want to get a sense of the room. Is everybody here from an Area? If you’re not sure, check the definition of “area” on your handouts.

Man: I’m here from France. I was just looking for directions to Garner.

Moderator: Hang on. (tapping iPhone) Yes, France has an Area of 260,558 square miles. You may stay.

Man: But I don’t want to stay. I want to go to Garner.

Moderator: I’m sorry, but you have not shared your vision and hopes for Cary’s future.

French man: But… I…

Moderator: Sir, please sit down until you have an idea or opinion to exchange. And would the woman in the blue dress please stop communicating with your neighbor in sign language. This meeting is for spoken words only. Now, you, sir, with the beard! Tell us something you like and don’t like about Cary! Now!

Bearded Man: I like that this conversation twists the meaning of “informal” beyond any definition I have ever heard. I don’t like the fact that this new definition of “informal” is not on our handout. I can’t even tell how many syllables it’s supposed to have!

Moderator: Excellent, sir! Your views are stupid and irrelevant, but you did express them aloud. You may go.

(commotion in back of room)

Moderator: Would security please escort the protestors with the semaphore flags from the room immediately. Thank you.

(French man raises hand)

Moderator: Sir, please stop using non-verbal signals to get my attention.

French Man: I would just like to point out that as I am a French national, these people may not be considered my “fellow” Cary citizens, and I am therefore not required to exchange anything with them beyond mutual contempt.

Moderator: A mere technicality, but if you can express your contempt using spoken words, I’ll allow it.

French man: Aaaarrrghhh! I hate you all. Your meeting is insane! Have you never heard of Robert’s Rules of Order?

Moderator: Very well. “Aaaarrrghhh” is not a word, but I’ll allow it. You are dismissed. However, I will leave you with a word of warning: when you get to Garner, do NOT pronounce it “Ro-BAIR”. Now, let’s move along…

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