The Old Coot regrets losing his ‘mumble’

When I was in 2nd grade I had to leave the classroom for one hour each week, climb two flights of stairs to the library on the third floor and attend mumble class. They called it speech therapy, but not me. I knew the goal was to get me to stop mumbling. It only took a month or two, an eternity for a seven-year-old, but people no longer said to me, “Stop mumbling!” 

I didn’t know it then, but that mumble-correcting therapy prevented me from a slew of employment opportunities. Mumblers rule the world. At least, the loud speaker world. 

Been on a plane lately? One with a chatty pilot who makes announcements that sound like, “We will be flying over Graphello Suniuite Deusourtto. Look out the siduaule windowen.” I have no idea what was said, what was mumbled, so I ask my wife, who has better listening skill. She says she has no idea either. We’re left to wonder, “Did an engine fail? Are we are going to make an emergency landing?” 

It’s even worse in the terminal. The loudspeaker blares a mumbled message. All I get is the tail end, “At gate 16.” Should I go to gate 16? Has our gate changed? What?” I’m nervous enough as it is, having surrendered my one-inch, miniature Swiss Army Knife to a TSA (Nazi) agent.

Now, even more nervous, because the flight might be delayed or cancelled. It added to my list of flying concerns, getting stuck three seats from the aisle and hit with a leg cramp, forcing me to swim over my seat mates to get to a place where I could “kick” it out. 

Or, that the guy next to me, hogging the arm rest, should have, but didn’t, pay for two seats to enclose his oversize frame, and worse than sitting next to Mister Humongous is that the plane will have to make an emergency landing. There are so many thoughts swamping my muddled brain that it cannot translate the mumble-speak coming through the PA system. It seems to me that most of the people on public address systems, never had to go to mumble class on the third floor in their elementary schools.

These mumblers are all over the place – in train stations – on subways, coming to life when the train stops, and the lights go out – at a charity event when the winning raffle ticket numbers are announced – on the phone, when talking to a call center rep. Maybe they didn’t skip speech therapy, maybe they weren’t mumblers and instead, learned their craft at mumbling college, where they learned the fine points of effective mumbling. It has to be. There are just too many of them out there.

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