Knowing when to be quiet...

Those of you who do not know me personally have probably already figured out from reading these lines that I like to talk. A lot. In the spirit of objectivity I must confess that not being informed about a particular subject has never really kept me from having an opinion about it; and furthermore, I have been fearlessly expressing these opinions for most of my life. Confession may be good for the soul but bad it’s for the reputation.


Last week I very nearly let my alligator mouth get me into a scrape again. I was in Auburn, Alabama for the International Plant Production Society meeting (more on this group later) and a few of us, maybe 6 or 7, walked up the street to get some lunch. We were waiting in line at Moe’s Southwestern Grill and I was the last one in our group shuffling along, picking out the stuff I wanted on my burrito, or whatever it was that I’d ordered. From the corner of my eye I saw someone walk up behind me in line and when I turned my head to look I was looking straight at the midsection of a very, very tall gentleman.


Now, I wasn’t born yesterday and despite my remarks in the first paragraph above, I have learned a few things along the way. I know not to ask a woman when her baby is due no matter how pregnant she looks, unless I know her and know for a fact that she is indeed expecting. I know not to ask a fat person how much they weigh. I may be a little more talkative than is necessary, but I am not rude. I wouldn’t ask a very short person how tall they are, because some of us are a little touchy about that. But I never knew very tall people were sensitive about it. I have said before, on a number of occasions, that I hope to be tall in my next life. If this particular subject wasn’t 7 feet tall he wasn’t an inch.


Having never met a stranger in my life I spoke to the individual and said “Now, I know you must get asked this all the time...”, at which time he answered, “Then don’t.” Well, I thought he was kidding and I continued, “but how tall are you”? This obviously greatly displeased Captain Highpockets and he scowled and said “are you deaf”? I said “no, I’m just curious”, but I realized he was NOT kidding. He just scowled some more and looked away. Maybe he’d already been asked 28 times that day how tall he was. Maybe he’d cracked his head on the top of the door coming in, I don’t know. But I’m of the opinion that people like that ought to wear a badge or a T-shirt that says “I’m 7’2”, and don’t ask”. I can file this one as another of those good-times-to-keep-your-mouth-shut-categories.


I mentioned earlier the I.P.P.S. I am involved in a number of civic and industry organizations but I’d like to briefly mention two of them that you might want to consider yourself. The I.P.P.S. is an outstanding educational society that focuses on improving all aspects of the nursery industry. At our annual meeting we have interesting (mostly) speakers and very informative nursery tours. You can learn an awful lot about what to do and what NOT to do if you’re paying attention when you look around somebody else’s operation. If you’re interested in learning more about our industry, especially if you like doing things the right way, you ought to go online and check out the International Plant Production Society (it was formerly known as the International Plant Propagation Society).


The other organization I want to mention is the resurrected Southern Nursery Association. I serve on the board of this venerable trade association, which, like just about everybody else in our industry, has had to overcome some difficulties in the last few years. It is an ongoing struggle but we are gaining momentum.


I believe there is a need for a regional trade organization like SNA to help deal with things like labor, environmental and governmental regulatory issues. If you enjoy not only growing plants, but also selling them, there is additional benefit of networking with other industry professionals who just might be like-minded.

I would strongly encourage you to go online and find the Southern Nursery Association’s website and take a look at it. I think you’ll be impressed!

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