How I Learned the Difference Between Expectation and Reality
I could have called this "One of My Most Humbling Moments." It's about the time that I learned the difference between expected results and the reality of what actually happened. It was a valuable and somewhat funny lesson.
Years ago, I worked for a jazz station in Austin, Texas. Now, you'd think that in a town the size of Austin,there would be plenty of people who want to listen to jazz. After all, Austin has a very intelligent, slightly weird population. Still, according to the ratings, we were not exactly the top station in the market.
Part of my goal for that station was to really build up the ratings and put the station on the map, so to speak. My morning partner and were constantly thinking of ways to promote the station in the community and we would accept any chance to emcee an event even if there were only going to be a few people there. Our big chance came one morning when we got a call from a local politician.
I don't remember the lady's name or what office she was seeking, but she called us up and asked if we would be the emcees for a fundraising dinner at one of the more popular watering holes in town. She told us she expected several hundred people so we were really pumped at the prospect. Visions of a bunch of new listeners danced in our heads.
We sat down right then and started writing down just what we were going to say. Even if I do say so, we came up with some pretty funny jokes and routines and we were all ready to steal the show. We worked for days on the routines and, finally, the big day came.
We showed up about an hour early and rehearsed until almost time for the event. WE had the routines nailed down, man, we were smokin' that night, During rehearsal, we could do no wrong and we thought about just how funny all the material was. Look out Austin, here we come.
We were so rehearsed that, when the politician introduced us, we weren't even nervous. WE confidently walked up to the stage and went right into our routine. Neither of us missed a cue and our timing was perfect. It was about a minute into that routine that I noticed something strange about the crowd.
the people weren't looking at us. the were all focused on something on the side of the stage. Every head in the crowd was looking to that left hand side of the stage. At first, I thought that, perhaps, there was a TV screen over there so that everyone could see us. I sneaked a peek over and saw what everyone was watching so intently.
In the corner of the stage stood a woman and she was very busy signing to the crowd, It was then that I realized that there would not be hundreds of new listeners. There would, in fact, be no new listeners at all since the entire crowd was deaf.
It turned out that the politicians parents were deaf and she was very popular in the deaf community. It also didn't help that most of our material didn't really translate all that well to sign language. Even when we managed to get a laugh, it was a little unsettling. We would deliver the punch line and about five seconds later, the crowd would give us a polite chuckle.
That's the day I learned the difference between reality and expectation, On the way home, we talked abut what had happened and the more we thought about it, the funnier it got. It went from amusing to hilarious and we couldn't stop laughing about it.
I've come to realize that, if you can learn a lesson and laugh about it, you're way ahead of the game. I wish every lesson I've learned could have been so funny.