While waiting in the emergency room for the results of my husband's blood tests and x- rays, I read William Safire's book Watching My Language. The doctor noticed the author's name on the cover and inquired about the title. Then he asked why I was reading it, which I thought was an odd question since no one ever asked me why I was reading Thoreau's Walden or The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book.
I explained that I was the editor of a magazine for the painting and plating industry. This presumptuous doctor quipped, "Well you don't really need a book about words and grammar to write for the people reading your magazine, do you?"
Stunned by his arrogance and stupidity, I did not react immediately. Later, during the ride home from the hospital, my woozy husband at least pretended to listen to my tirade. "Just because some people that read my magazine may not know that computerized axial tomography is a CAT scan or how to set a broken bone, does not mean they do not care about our language. My readers are purists. They want their information in plain English. Have a doctor try writing or speaking in that!"
About that time, I was ready to turn back and explain to that doctor that the scalpels, stethoscopes, x-ray equipment, computers and just about everything in that hospital have been touched by the finishing industry. I righteously proclaimed, "Does that doctor realize he could not function without my readers?" (As I arrogantly and fondly call you.)
That point being made, my tired, ailing husband reminded me that I was tired and probably overreacting to the doctor's comment. "Well," I retorted, "you did not like it very much when he made a derogatory comment about your NASCAR T-shirt."
"You're right," he sighed. "He was a jerk."
This episode is an example of something our industry needs to dedicate more time to, educating the people outside of the finishing industry about finishing. The steel, plastic and chemical industries have sponsored campaigns to educate the public about their products. However, they do have bigger budgets, which allow them to buy advertising time on television or space in national consumer publications. But because of their efforts, we now have plastic mailboxes and park benches; we know that the carpet is better because of a certain company's chemicals. And we are not so scared as we were before. And we are more accepting the products. It does not have to be a national advertising campaign. It can start in your school or community. I think I'll start with a certain emergency room doctor in Cincinnati.