The men’s lacrosse team at my college published its annual roster in a glossy magazine, which included tough-looking headshots and the physical stats of the guys on the team.
One day, while circling some of those photos and drawing X’s through the others — never you mind what for — my friends and I noticed a mathematical anomaly that could be expressed in a simple equation: real height of the lacrosse player = height listed on the roster - 2 full inches.
What a bunch of exaggerators.
But also what a great lesson. At work, I use the Exaggeration Equation quite regularly.
▪ “Everybody’s been talking about it” = (population of the Earth - population of the Earth) + 2 Facebook friends at most
▪ “I know for a FACT” = (assumption x someone said so once) desire to be right - actual concrete proof
▪ Distance between Hilton Head Island and Bluffton = (whatever Google says + ew, Bluffton or ugh, the island + time of day + 2 bridges + why can’t we just stay here? + fine, where’s my passport?) - 1,755 miles
Feel free to check my math on that last equation, but I think it’s right, even without factoring in end-of-the-journey incentives.
Modernity might have shrunk the world but it sure did increase the psycho-geographical distance between neighbors while doing so.
I knew this the first time someone from Hilton Head used the word Bluffghanistan to describe where I live.
“It’s just so far.”
“But … but, I didn’t even make it through one chapter in my Audible book on the drive over here.”
I’ve heard of people forgoing relationships because one person lives on the island and the other in Bluffton. I’ve heard of friends losing touch after a move over the bridges. I’ve heard of people dropping doctors because their office relocated.
I was reminded of all this recently when some island residents learned that the Sam’s Club on Hilton Head will close permanently this month two days before the new Sam’s Club opens in Bluffton. They immediately threw in the towel. Nope. Not going all the way to Bluffton for my apocalypse supplies. Not enough camels and tents for me to make that westward trek safely.
On Facebook, Bluffton residents countered this sentiment with “Now you know how we’ve felt driving to Sam’s Club on Hilton Head.” To which Hilton Head responded “Then YOU know how WE’LL feel.”
It was a real baton hand-off of retail tragedy.
Sometimes we don’t take enough time in life to reflect on the sacrifices people make for a steady supply of paper towels.
The two Sam’s Clubs are 10 miles apart, but like I said that’s 1,765 miles on the mental odometer for anyone who prefers to (or who has no choice but to) keep that daily radius tight.
Not that this is 100 percent about driving.
It’s also about change. And perhaps the increasing realization that the big arrow doesn’t always point to Hilton Head these days.
Sometimes it points to little old drive-by Bluffton with its enlivened Old Town and its rim of appalling but useful, I guess, megastores and chains.
And sometimes the big arrow points to my couch ... because “Ugh, the island?” is among my very favorite excuses to turn down dinner invites.
Unless I’m really close to finishing an Audible book.