Sew to Speak

A company in Tennessee supplies the Small Office with certain proprietary technologies. A group of their technical people, including their CTO, came to visit us the other day.

The CTO is a shortish, somewhat roundish, white-haired gentleman with a broad smile. He wore grey pinstriped pants held up by bright red suspenders. With his matching red bowtie, he looked a bit like Tweedledee come of age.

“There was a table set out under a tree in front of the house, and the March Hare and the Hatter were having tea at it: a Dormouse was sitting between them, fast asleep, and the other two were using it as a cushion, resting their elbows on it, and the talking over its head. `Very uncomfortable for the Dormouse,’ thought Alice; `only, as it’s asleep, I suppose it doesn’t mind.’” (from Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll)

We brought them to a conference room. On a side table, coffee, tea, water, muffins, cookies. With their in-flight service meager, they were more than happy to sample our wares. We then made our way to the large, glass-covered table for discussions on extending their contract for another two years.

“The table was a large one, but the three were all crowded together at one corner of it: `No room! No room!’ they cried out when they saw Alice coming. `There’s PLENTY of room!’ said Alice indignantly, and she sat down in a large arm-chair at one end of the table.”

The CTO calmly removed his pants right there and then and began sewing.

Before we started, the CTO pointed to a tear in his pants that he sustained in his travels and wondered if we had a sewing needle and thread. It was a very odd business, but I went along. I spoke to Sue O., my assistant, and she was able to produce both a needle and an assortment of threads from her purse. I returned to the conference room and handed over the tools of the tailoring trade. The CTO calmly removed his pants right there and then and began sewing.

We picked up the discussion on the contract, settling everything quickly since both sides were happy with a straight extension. The CTO put his pants back on, slung the suspenders over his shoulder, and handed back the needle and thread. I guess I must have scratched my head and opined that nobody here would have done that. And most probably can’t. He, however, found it not the least bit strange, a simple repair and on with business. “’Caint’ never could do nothing, “ he said matter-of-factly.

“Alice felt dreadfully puzzled. The Hatter’s remark seemed to have no sort of meaning in it, and yet it was certainly English. `I don’t quite understand you,’ she said, as politely as she could.”

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