I’m So Confused!

By Lyle Hill

I answered the phone as it started its third ring and offered up the salutation I had been using for over 47 years.

“Hill,” the caller began, “I’m glad I caught you. I am a little confused about something, and I know you will be able to help clear it up.”

I thought I recognized the voice, and the fact that he called me by my last name instantly confirmed it. There are two people in the world who never use my first name when they talk to me. One is the infamous Johnny “The Mooch” Rago, and the other is Robert Hiller, owner of Commercial Glass & Plastic in Lynchburg, Va. And because he never uses my first name, I have taken to not using his either.

“Hiller,” I responded, “I would be honored to try to help you however I can. Of all the people I know from the great state of Virginia, you are one of my favorites.”

“So tell me, Hill, exactly how many people from Virginia do you know?”

“Not that many now that you ask, but that doesn’t matter because you would still be one of my favorites. Now, what is it you want from me?”

I met Robert Hiller a couple of years ago, and it didn’t take long for a friendship to develop. He has a terrific sense of humor, a great outlook on life in general, and he’s a solid operator of a long-term successful business. His quick wit can be disarming, and his calm demeanor is contagious. He’s one of those people I wish I had met earlier in life, unlike some others I wish I had never met at all. Everybody has a few of those, too.

“Well, Hill, the other day, a very wise and learned friend of mine told me that he enjoyed my paraprosdokians, and I’m not sure if he was complimenting me or making fun of me. So I called you because you’re kind of a word guy, and it also gave me an excuse to make contact.”

“Hiller, you never need an excuse to make contact. As for your friend’s comment, I think you can take it as a compliment. And indeed, I, too, have noticed that you are both quick and good with parapros-dokians which are very similar to, and often called, aphorisms, clichés or axioms.”

“Do you think I use these things a lot? Maybe even too much?”

“I don’t think so, Hiller. I would say they are usually appropriate when you use them.”

“Okay. I get it, so I guess you are never too old to learn something new.”

“Hiller, you just used one … the never-too-old-to-learn thing.”

“You know, Hill, I guess I do use a lot of those little sayings.”

“We all do, Hiller, because they are very descriptive and understandable. But you gotta be careful because sometimes those cliché things contradict themselves.”

“You got any quick examples of that, Hill?”

“So glad you asked, Hiller. I’ll give you a couple:

The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese;
Better to be safe than sorry, but nothing ventured, nothing gained;
Many hands make for light work, but too many cooks spoil the broth;
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again, but don’t beat your head against a brick wall;

A word to the wise is sufficient, but talk is cheap;
You can’t judge a book by its cover, but it’s the clothes that make the man; and Don’t put off to tomorrow what you can do today, but haste makes waste.”

“Okay, Hill. I get what you’re saying, and I truly appreciate your help. However, apparently, I’ve got a customer on another line with a problem, so I better take the call.”

“Well, Hiller, a problem well stated is a problem half solved.”

“I think it might be a complaining customer, Hill.”

“Just remember the customer is always right.”

“Okay, Hill, so I’m going to have to handle this now.”

“The squeaky wheel gets the grease, Hiller.”

“I’d like to talk to you some more, Hill, but my job is to handle these customers.”

“Choose a job you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”

“Time to go now, Hill.”

“Time waits for no man, Hiller. Is that a dial tone I hear? Hiller? Are you there? Oh well, as they say, all good things have to come to an end.”

Lyle R. Hill is president of Glass.com®, an information portal and job generation company for the glass industry. Hill has more than 50 years’ experience in the glass and metal industry and can be reached at lhill@glass.com

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