Clear Intentions Leaves no Room for Mistakes

I was waiting at the train station the other day. It was a Saturday afternoon, and there were a many people. Mostly out shopping, a few kids that had to go to school on Saturday, as that is fairly common here. I started talking to this woman sitting next to me. She had an interesting book that was about baseball. It turns out her son is in university and plays baseball for the university baseball team, and she because she never really knew anything about the game, she decide to buy a book to figure it out. It turns out that her son had always been interested in baseball before, but he never felt comfortable expressing an interesting, because when he was a kid his parents had always placed so much importance on studying, getting good grades, and getting into a good university. Only when he went away to university did he find the persona l freedom to explore his desires. And he found out he was really good.

The funny thing was that his mom told me that had he said something about baseball earlier, like in junior high school, she would have loved to help him explore that option. So there she was, reading this book about baseball. The particular chapter she was reading was all about signals and signs and secret messages inside other pieces of random communication. In baseball strategy is very important, but sometimes communicating changes in strategy to players on the field is difficult. So they devised a complex set of signals and hidden messages. And because both teams are doing this, it can become very complicated to send signals that the other team can’t understand. Otherwise they would intercept their strategy and know what they are planning to do. They go to great lengths to conceal the intention behind their communication.

While I was talking to her this guy started walking behind us, mumbling something incoherently. He was holding some map of some sort, which looked to be a local train map. A few people looked like they wanted to help him, but he wasn’t really making any sense, so people just kind backed off. He stopped a few times, looked at his map, and then looked at the large map they have of all the different lines and their stops and intersections and times. They have it written in three different languages, so that all travelers can understand the sign.

When I asked the woman if she had ever talked to her son about why he didn’t express his interest in baseball earlier, it turned out that he had, she just didn’t understand, or maybe he didn’t communicate it very clearly. He would always watch baseball on TV, and when his parents asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up, a couple of times he said a baseball player. His parents, of course, didn’t know that he was serious, as he never showed any interest in signing up for the local team. Of course, when he went to find out about it, they required a form signed by his parents, and the very day he brought the form home for his parents to sign, his father had decided that was the time to give him a lecture about choosing a career path, as he was soon entering high school. His father, of course, didn’t know anything about his desire to play baseball, and the son didn’t know that it would have been allright had he of asked.

When he finally told his parents how much he was enjoying playing on the University Team, they were both very happy. I asked the lady what she thought was interesting about reading about baseball signs, and she said she never realized that before the games they spend a considerable amount of time going over the signals so there is no miscommunication. Not communicating properly can lose a game. And when the lady went over and asked the man where he was going, it turned out he was going where most everybody else was. The reason nobody could understand him was because he was from a prefecture that is out in the countryside where they speak a different dialect. When the lady figured out what dialect he was speaking, everybody could understand what he wanted. It turns out he was a visiting professor that was going to give a lecture on communication.