As a child I dreamed of owning a horse, a raccoon and a rabbit in that order of preference. When I was about four years old my parents skipped over my first two requests and brought home a rabbit.
The story of the rabbit, as I remember it, starts with the fact that we owned our rabbit for a very short time. In fact she lived with us for such a short period of time that we never named her. Whether or not it was a she or he is still up for debate. She was black and white and obviously very feminine. My brother Kevin believed the rabbit was a he and this controversy played major role in her remaining nameless. The debate was short lived because one day we came home and found her dead in the backyard. And so it was that our nameless rabbit was put to rest in our backyard.
My brother wanted to share the news of our family tragedy with all the neighbors. We were in mourning after all. Kevin made a sign to place in our front yard so that all those that knew and loved our nameless rabbit would have the opportunity to mourn with us. He painstakingly wrote, “The rabit is dead” on a sign and placed it by the mailbox, after all, the mailman might have wanted to offer his condolences too.
My parents were unaware of the sign out front until a neighbor congratulated my mother for being pregnant, which thoroughly confused her since she wasn’t pregnant. She asked the neighbor what had given her that idea. The neighbor pointed out the sign out front which stated that the rabbit was dead. At the time the reference, “the rabbit is dead” was often used in movies and TV shows announce that a character was pregnant. The neighbor assumed that my mother was announcing her pregnancy to the world. Thankfully, my mother had a great sense of humor.
Have you ever lost sight of the perspective that people use to translate your demeanor, body language, and verbal messaging? Or if you are a business owner take the time to step back and look at what message your website, social media and marketing is perceived by your potential customers. It is a worthwhile exercise and even more effective with the input from a trusted friend or mentor.
My brother knew that he was announcing that our rabbit had unexpectedly and tragically died, the neighbor translated the message to mean that my mother was pregnant. As you can see a second set of eyes can be very helpful to ensure that your message matches your intent.
If you enjoy the show M*A*S*H look up the episode “What’s Up, Doc” from season 6, Ep19 to watch a TV story based on the old practice.