While having dinner with a friend a few weeks ago, I ordered fajitas. Just before delivery, my friend dropped in that she’d never actually had a fajita. What was it about a fajita,
she asked, that made it special?
As the tortillas, toppings and sizzling meat came to my table, I told her and myself, “I think a fajita is a taco you pay more to build yourself.”
Between that, and a friend of mine asking the difference between a coat and a jacket (about $20 and 20 degrees), it got me thinking about perceptions.
Now everything I read, everything I watch, becomes centered on perception. I read a book about marketing and found the key was appealing to emotional perceptions more than logical ones. I watched the movie “Drinking Buddies” for the second time, and I get hung up on the Ron Livingston line that he wishes 15 years ago he had met a girl like the one he was currently talking to. “You know what? I probably did. I probably did meet somebody like that, and I probably wasn’t paying attention.”
It makes me question what I perceive, and what we perceive in the collective:
• When I returned that marketing book to the library and made a quick joke to the desk person, was the laugh a silence breaker, or was I genuinely funny?
• When a girl emails me about having dinner to discuss some business, does she want to have dinner with me, or does she want to discuss business and get free food in the process?
• I had an opportunity a few weekends ago to talk with professional speaker Lance Miller. He told us about one day he was giving a speech to a professional group, and he couldn’t shake the guy who constantly checked his watch, then stormed out with exasperation on his face.
Miller thought he wasn’t getting through to the guy, and it was frustrating him. Or maybe the guy was just a jerk, and that idea irritated him too. Later, he asked about that guy. “He had a prior engagement, and he was checking his watch because he wanted to stay until the last possible minute. He was really upset that he didn’t get to see your full presentation.”
• I got to thinking about how we perceived the poisoned water supply in West Virginia. If that had been the work of a terrorist cell, it would be on the news 24-7. Every chain store would sell water purification kits, even the ones thousands of miles from West Virginia. We’d form a blue ribbon panel to find out what went wrong and how we can prevent this from ever happening again. Somebody would draw up impeachment charges, because of course they would.
But it happened as a result of a for-profit company, so we perceive it as something that happens. And we say nothing when it spent years fighting government regulations that might have kept the water clean, then uses federal bankruptcy protection so it doesn’t have to pay for the mistake. And we shrug it off and move on to Justin Bieber. Or Richard Sherman.
I don’t even know what to perceive anymore. What do you perceive? How do you know if that’s the right perception? Maybe we can discuss it over tacos sometime; I’ll let the restaurant build them for me.
Kevin Wilson is a columnist for Clovis Media Inc. He can be contacted at 763-3431, ext. 313, or by email: