Monday, February 11, 2008

A Bit of Long-Distance Conversation

I did an interview with a fellow in commercial real estate elsewhere in the country a few days ago. From a few of the things he said, I determined he was roughly my age. At one point he mentioned a bit of real estate terminology I'd never heard, which is unusual, and when on to explain it at some length. Good to learn something each day; trouble is, I probably forget something every day too.

After he'd explained the term, we had the following conversation:

"You learned a new word today," the source said.

"I did. I got out of bed for a reason," I said.

"My grandfather used to say, 'The day you don't learn something new is the day you start to die.' He was an engineer for Penn Railroad."

"Was he?" I asked, still in interviewer mode, though we'd left real estate behind.

"He was a decorated World War I veteran," the source continued. "He joined the Army as an orphan, and was in France in the trenches."

"How about that," I said. "My grandfather was in the Army Corps of Engineers in France."

"Really? How do you like that. That must have been misery, too."

"Must have been. I know he was there after the Armistice. My grandmother told me that he said that a lot of people died touching things they weren't supposed to, after the shooting stopped." [Actually, my mother probably told me that, relating something he'd said to her.]

He agreed that it must have been dangerous work, and then we went back to the subject I'd called about, not nearly as interesting as forefathers Over There. Of course, a lot of men who now have living grandchildren went off to the Great War, but it isn't something that comes up often in a run-of-the-mill phone interview.

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