Shades of Grey: Tying Up Loose Ends

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My writing folder seems to collect a lot of fragments - things that don't quite fit any particular place. I suppose it's something like the odd pieces of cloth a tailor is left with after he gets through making a suit. I don't know what he does with his, but I keep mine and eventually wind up with a whole pile of unmatching ideas. Sometimes I feel like the line in the country song: "I've got both ends meeting in the middle, but I can't seem to get 'em tied." But unlike the tailor who can't put his leftovers into a new garment, I tie mine together into a column of unrelated parts - which is what you're getting today.

After a column about TV commercials, I got a call from my friend, Dick Jordon. Dick wanted to add a point on how to get people to watch TV commercials instead of going to the bathroom. His answer: Use puppies. He said, "Everybody loves puppies and will watch puppies and, therefore, watch the commercial. Even if I were doing a commercial for a funeral home, I would use puppies." Of course, Dick's right, and I can just see his funeral home commercial with a couple of puppies playing among the flower arrangements near the casket. And I can visualize the final shot: The casket is lowered. A puppy walks up and drops his bone into the open grave and sits sad-faced as the dirt is shoveled in. Fade to black. It couldn't miss attracting millions of sympathetic viewers.

* * *

For some reason I've been looking at a lot of photos lately in books, in stores, and craft fairs. Sunrises and sunsets are very popular. No two are the same. On the face of it, it would seem that getting a picture of a special sunrise takes considerable effort: getting out of bed long before dawn, getting to the location, setting up equipment, and maybe doing this for a number of days before getting a good picture. It makes one appreciate the dedication of the photographer. But the more I look at these photos the more I realize that, unless the caption says so, I cannot tell the difference between a sunrise and a sunset. There's no compass direction on the picture. It makes me wonder if there are not some lazy photographers out there who don't get up early but just do sunsets and pass some off as sunrises. I don't know how you'd check for sure, but it's something to think about.

* * *

One day my son, who lives in Franklin, called me and said that he'd come in from work and found the following message on his answering machine: "Please have Lucas call Shirley at (phone number)." I couldn't imagine why anyone would call me at his house. I'm in the phonebook. The number wasn't familiar, and I surely didn't know any Shirley. I looked up the area code and discovered that it was in the Atlanta area. Thinking that maybe some long-lost relative had died and left me a windfall of money or property, I called. The phone answer person said I'd reached some supply company. I asked for Shirley and soon this bubbly female voice came on the line. I identified myself as Lucas, and the following conversation ensued:

Her: "I sure appreciate your calling, Lucas. We need to talk about your cabinet order."

Me: "What cabinet order?"

Her: "The cabinets for your new store."

Me: "I don't have a new store."

Her: (pause) "Who is this? Aren't you Lucas Jones in Dalton?"

Me: "No. I'm Lucas Boyd in Franklin, Tennessee."

Her: (pause followed by a peal of laughter) "I'd been wondering why Jones hadn't called me. I must have dialed the wrong area code."

She went on to thank me profusely for calling and putting her on the right track so that she could now get in touch with the real Lucas and get his order straightened out.

Now, I ask you, what are the odds of something like that happening? A woman dials the wrong area code and leaves a message for Lucas (not John, Bob, or Bill) and gets someone who knows a Lucas who helps her get her foul-up straightened out?

I may get some of my math friends to try to figure out the probability on that. And again, it's something to think about.

Lucas G. "Luke" Boyd's career spans 48 years in the field of education, retiring after serving as principal of Battle Ground Academy in Franklin for 19 years. He has published two books, eight short stories and an article in "Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture." He may be contacted at

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Luke Boyd, Shades of Grey
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