Saturday, May 4, 2013

A Different Kind of Science Class Volcano

In eighth grade science class, I once made a disparaging comment about the company 3M. For the life of me, I cannot recall what the comment was or why I was such a corporate expert. It's possible that 13-year-old me was a know-it-all. More like, it's probable I was.

After class, my dear friend Mark got up in a huff and left the room at light speed. I chased him down, asking if he was okay and why he seemed so rattled. Yes, our teacher was pretty strung out and of course, the rotating schedule made our young lives difficult. But what was the problem?

He whirled around to face me, all six feet of him, and said, "3M is a great company because my dad had a heart attack, and they helped him out. I can't believe you said that about something so important to my family."

The remark I made did not cause a permanent rift in our friendship. I barely remember if it made a dent in our general congeniality towards one another. But the brief few minutes of this exchange is ground into my brain. Saying something so seemingly benign and having it affect someone on such a personal level taught me an insanely important lesson: Words can mean everything.

No particular event caused me to share this story, not even a particular person. We actually bought some Scotch tape today for Jacko's Star Wars Angry Birds character list; 3M's logo is etched on the back of the package. Today's remarks were brought to you by the fact that I read the packaging on the items I purchase.

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