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17 Star Lit CD3 cr –1 Michael Erard, Dagoberto Gilb, Don Graham, Dick Holland, Pai LittleDog, Lucius Lomax, Naomi Shihab Nye… on Texas Books and Culture. Read them in The Texas Observer. I want to subscribe to The Texas Observer. e Check enclosed _ Bill me . Name Address . Arr.’ . 1 1 City/State/Zip , . Where did you find this issue of the Observer? 00 O 1L , C.3 her red nails were perfect, and her skin positively glowed. Narrow tables were arrayed in rows for the seminar participants, who had all been given a spiral-bound volume, “20 Dozen Tips for Better Communication and Leadership Skills,” by Judith Zaffirini, Ph.D., and a stapled handout, “Better Communication is Better Customer Service,” by , Judith Zaffirini, Ph.D. Also distributed were sample ‘office forms,’ including a “ZAFFAX” fax cover page \(with the “To” line blank but the “From” line Completed: “JuWhen the break was over and the secretaries had returned -with their pastries and cut fruit and china coffee cups to their seats, Zaffirini, Ph.D., began to speak. Her speech was zaffluid; her eXpression beatific. She posed the thought-provoking question: “Did you know that all of you who are alive in ten years ‘may live to be 100?” \(The audience seemed somewhat fathat? Well, start thinking about it.” Zaffirini went on to recommend Management Challenges for the Twenty-First Century as one means of getting ready, and admonished, “Don’t even think about retiring when you’re sixty-five. Its not going to happen:. The fact is’, today in Laredo, today in Texas, today ‘in the .United States, our population is aging. Did you know:that -the single year of age. whose number, the number of people that ‘age, is ‘increasing’. ‘the fastest, is the year 100?” The Senator added’ A that her own ‘Fla Bebe \(who, she noted, , tlo nated some land to a. ‘Laredo ‘school kidto be 105: As I ‘lost track of the ‘argument, some of her words started to elude. me. I recorded the following zaffragmehts in my notebook: 65 year’old of the past, 65’jwar old of , the future, the first generation that is ‘not exhausted. Today; y’ou’re taking care of yourself Message seitt message received, When you improve risk management for Webb County, you help the community, you help the state, you help . yourself .Cada cabeza es un mUndo. , . But if I’ began; . briefly, to doubt Zat: firini’s legendary communicative prowess; my faith, was soon restored: “It’s not .what you say, but how you ‘say it!.” ‘she . announced; and , promptly demonstrated her point. “If somebody from Austin heard me say I’d eaten two mariachis last week, they’d think I was crazy,” Zaffirini said. She pointed at me. “She’s from Austin. Do you know what mariachi means?” I shook my head, and the Senator then explained that in Laredo, anything eaten in a flour tortilla is called a mariachi. “How many people have eaten a raspa [snow cone]?” she asked. The seminar participants raised their hands. “Who’s never eaten a raspa?” As I raised my hand, it was as if Zaffirini had willed it into the air. “One person,” she said.’ She ‘proceeded to relate a courtroom story about a Spanish-speaking witness and an out-of-town translator; when the witness had been asked why he’d had to take his wife to the hospital, the witness had answered, and the translator had interpreted: “for a snow cone.” Everyone laughed except for this reporter. “See, she didn’t laugh!” said Zaffirini. “A raspa also means D&C,” she said to me, then addressed the rest of the room. “She didn’t laugh because she didn’t know what that meant.” Zaffirini told another joke involving a Spanish-Janguage ‘,double entendre, ‘again noted that I wasthe only person not laugh ing because I didn’t get it, and promised to explain the joke to me later. The Senator was in full command, luminous, never missing a beat. She exacted her revenge on me, the unwelcome intruder, in the only way she could, and did so brilliantly: her three quick digs blended seamlessly into her presentation, and weren’t so vindictive as to make her look bad in front of the voters. Now this was effective communication! A message had been sent and received! If only this could be taught, it might even be worth $10,000! Alas, soon enough it was back to customers, Tia Bebe, and the importance of maintaining a complete, up-to-date phone directory. And of course, the age 100. Finally the Senator advised her listeners that by adhering to the principles of better communication, “you are not only improving your own lives. You are helping our community, and helping our great state.” “And get ready,” she was saying as I capped my pen, “because you may live to be 100!” Observer contributing writer Karen Olsson is working diligently on her Spanish regionalisms. MARCH 2000 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 31