Two Communication Lessons to be Learned from the Late “Sonny the Hampster”

HamsterThis is a hilarious true story that happened to my friend Paige. Have fun reading it, but see if you can pick up two communication lessons that can be learned from it’s telling. The names of the people have not been changed to protect we who are truly innocent???

Jake, an eight-year-old boy, went to his bedroom to play with his hamster, Sonny, only to find the little creature lying on the bottom of its cage, all four feet straight up in the air. He raced down the stairs where his mother, Janet, was preparing a cake for his brothers birthday.

“Mommy, mommy,” Jake squalled, catching his breath. “Sonny’s not breathing.”

“What is it, Honey?” mom asked, half listening. Jake spun in circles around the kitchen trying to get his mother to understand. “I said, he’s not breathing, mommy! You’ve got to come RIGHT NOW . . . or he’ll D-I-E!!”

Still too busy to really focus on Jake’s emergency, she said, “Listen, sweetie. Call Daddy. See what he thinks you should do, okay?”

Jake dialed his dad, pressed the phone to his ear and staggered into the next room.

Across town, his dad, Paige answered on the third ring, but the connection wasn’t good.

Jake blurted out, “Dad, it’s Sonny– he’s not breathing, I think Sonny’s dead.” Paige thought he heard his son say, “Dad, it’s Mommy–I think Mommy’s dead. I . . . I don’t think Mommy’s breathing.” Stunned, Paige told his son as calmly as he could, “Listen to me, Jake. Go back and shake her. Hurry.”

The eight-year-old ran past his mom, back to the hamster’s cage and shook the cage back and forth throwing the limp lump of fur that was once “Sonny” from side to side, then he tore back to the phone and reported to his dad. “I still think he’s dead.”

Still thinking Jake was talking about his wife, Paige said, “Listen, son, stay calm and stay right there. I’m going to call 911. Don’t worry, I’ll be home in a few minutes.” Paige hung up, dialed 911 and reported the emergency–his wife was not breathing and might just be dead.

Back at the house, with the cake frosting blended to perfection, Janet decided to check on Jake. She found the boy, cradling the dead hamster in his lap. “What did your dad tell you to do?” she asked, taking a seat next to her son.

Jake didn’t look up. With a sniffle, he said, “Dad’s on the way home . . . I think he called 911.”

Janet wondered why her husband would call 911 over the death of a hamster. She figured Jake must have heard the message wrong from his dad. An instant later, the distinct, wail of an approaching siren provided evidence to the contrary. It suddenly dawned on Janet what had happened.

She grabbed the phone, called the 911 dispatcher and explained the communication error. Her next call was to Paige, who rejoiced she was alive–and the hamster dead, not the other way around.

Later that evening, the hamster was lain to rest. (This is my favorite part of the story.)

That night, as any responsible parent would want to do, Paige and Janet decided to help their son cope with the loss of his pet hamster. Paige broke the silence. He asked Jake, “Son, aren’t you at least glad it was the hamster who died and not your mom?”

Jake considered that for a long minute. He folded his arms together, lips curled into a pout, then said to his mom, “I love you both the same.”

Just in case Paige and Janet thought that they had become the ultimate parents, their son had reminded them that they were not the top squirrels in the tree. They had a special place in their son’s heart… Right next to the hamster!

[reminder]What two communications lessons can be learned from this story? What miscommunication stories do you have to tell?[/reminder] ———————————————————
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  1. Can’t honestly think of any “miscommunications” stories … I just tend to be too clear when I should just SHUT UP!

  2. One of my favorite miscommunications was with my ex husband when we were still together. We used to have all these fun names for each other and one day as I was making my way out of bed to get ready for work, He smiled at me, picked up his detective novel and said ,”See you later Belinda Dare.” We both were big into mystery crime stories and often called each other by the character name for fun, so I thought belinda was the new name of the heroine of his latest story. I went to work on a bit of an ego boost thinking he felt I was as smart and as beautiful as the woman on the cover of his book. When I got home I gave him a big hug and said, “That’s from me, Belinda Dare.” He looked at me confused.
    “Belinda Dare?”
    I looked back at him and said, “Didn’t you say that to me this morning. You called me Belinda Dare, like in those detective novels.” Again I got a blank look but then suddenly he started laughing. “I didnt call you Belinda Dare, I called you Blender Hair because your hair was all over the place this morning.” Needless to say that is just one of the reasons he is an ex husband…lol

  3. Good story . . . miscommunications are frustrating. Here’s my story:

    Traveling from Alabama my wife and I got lost in St. Louis. We had been given directions from her sister directing us to her daughter’s house. We were to take exit 49-C out of St.
    Louis. We passed 49-A then 49-B then we passed 38-A then 38-B. We couldn’t believe
    we missed 49-C. We had to travel several miles to turn around and come back in
    an effort to find 49-C. Coming back we passed 38- B, 39-A . We knew 49-C would
    be next. Just then we came to 49-B. How had we missed 49-C?

    After another long ride we finally found an off ramp where we thought we could turn around.
    But we couldn’t get back on the interstate. After miles of driving through undesirable areas we knew we were lost. My wife wanted me to stop at one establishment and ask directions. I could tell by the wheels on the cars I wasn’t going to stop. After about another half hour we found the

    football stadium. This looked like a safe place to me. I started running red lights
    and doing illegal U-turns in hope a cop would stop me. No such luck.

    My son had given me a GPS that I brought with us but I forgot the power cable. My wife
    got it out and turned it on someway but I knew it wouldn’t work. (she wanted me
    to try it but I knew I could solve this). She just laid it down in the seat. We
    have ON-Star but it had expired a week ago so I finally called them and told them
    I didn’t care how much it cost but I needed the Navigation System turned on. I
    want to get out of St. Louis. The lady said no problem Mr. White, that will be
    $9.99. I was ready to strangle myself.

    The lady set the Navigation for our desired route and we were on our way. ON-Star told
    us to go forward and make a U-Turn when it was safe. We go about 50 yards and
    it said to turn right on 5th St. A little confused I turned right.
    Then I heard re-route, re-route , make a safe U-turn. So I did. Then It said after
    76 yards turn right on College St. So, I turned right on College street and
    then I heard . . . re-rout, re-rout make a safe and legal U-turn. This went on
    for another turn or two and I just pulled over in frustration . . . why can’t
    these people make up their mind. I was so mad!!!

    I was about to call ON-Star with a few choice words when my wife realize the GPS that
    our son gave us was working and talking to us too. . . directing us to an address
    in Birmingham, Alabama. We had that GPS and ON-Star
    both directing us in totally different directions. Why me Lord?

    By the way . . . there was no exit 49-C.

  4. I’ve learned two communication lessons from these stories. Number one: never tell my children to call their dad to see what he thinks, and two: Never trust GPS! 😀
    Thanks for the giggles everyone!

  5. That is what my 4 sonnys would say about their dog also. We seriously did call 911 for another emergency when my youngest fell from the roof of our barn. Lord have mercy. Aaron survived and I just want to say…..God’s blessings on all the 1st responders who came to our farm and God bless the Paramedics who eventually found our country home. Thanks for the story and I love your Blog Ken!

  6. Wow! Wish I’d read this a month ago! My story was not an emergency, but a good chuckle.

    We were on our way to a famiy reunion in the small town of Republic, Missouri from Kansas City. I used to always pack a small cooler with fruits, Kool-Aid, and sliced pre-package meats for us to fix a sandwich on the way when we got hungry. Well, it was nearing noon, and my husband had just decided that we would stop in Carthage for lunch, instead of using the food brought from home. Both girls (about 4 and 6) asked me if they could have something to eat. Over my shoulder, and the noise of the highway, I said “We’re going to stop in Carthage to eat.” About 5 minutes later, the kids asked the same question, again. I gave them the same reply, “We’re going to stop in Carthage to eat.” Then, after about another 10 minutes, the girls asked once more. I was becoming perturbed at their apparent lack of patience, so I turned a quarter turn in my seat and said sternly, “We’re going to stop in Carthage to get lunch, so stop asking!!!”
    The girls looked at each other, then at me and said “OOOH, we thought you said ‘only the garbage meat’, and we didn’t want only meat”!
    My husband and I burst out laughing as he turned into the Pizza Hut parking lot. Henceforth, all Carl Buddig-type meat became known as “Garbage Meat” in our household! (And I still pack it when we travel.)

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