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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

An Exercise In Logic and Summary (with vocabulary building thrown in for fun and profit)

I saw the car key on the black asphalt of the walking trail in the park where I exercise most mornings.  Stooping, I picked it up, knowing ahead before I actually touched the lone large key that it would be a recent loss for someone.  No rust; no caked mud--none of the other elements of the weather attached to it.  Besides, it was my second lap around the park, and I would have seen it the first time around.  I pay attention to my surroundings.

A novice about cars I let my forefinger graze over the car maker's insignia on the rubbery tip of the key, wondering which make and model of car it represented.  It looked familiar--thought it was a Chevrolet, but a Honda owner, I wasn't sure. I thought about circling the cars parked in the lot looking for a match, but chose a different option instead.  I walked over to a man who was getting into his car and about to crank it up--he had his key!--waved to him and asked, "Do you know what kind of car this key would fit?"

"Chevrolet," he said, eyeing me as if surely I couldn't be that ignorant.  Could be, too.  Was.  I am not embarrassed by my ignorance, however.  I'm too old to assign value to myself in terms of what I know or don't know.  I am old enough to ask questions, and find answers:  this is what this blog entry is about, and it's an exercise in logic and it's for my business and professional writing students, so if you are a different reader, just ignore us or jump in.

You have just seen me use two essential characteristics of logic: an admission of ignorance; a request for help.  (I didn't know if he could help me. I was prepared to ask the next person who came along.  I am not shy about asking for help.  This park is pretty public, and I sort of knew the man I asked--we pass each other often in the park-- and I am aware of the faces and schedules of other people. The danger felt minimal.)

Now, how did I find owner of the Chevrolet without handing the key over to a stranger who would not be loathe to steal someone's car, because that could have happened?

I did find the owner and without making a whole lap around the walking path.  How did I know that I would find the owner?  I walked counterclockwise holding the key in the air.  She recognized it and said, looking angry, "You found that key?  My son is supposed to have that key. That's him over there--he's probably looking for it right now."

Job done, I waved good bye.

Still walking counterclockwise, I encountered the son next.   He was walking with headphones and didn't hear me when I spoke.  I greeted him two more times.  He scowled.  Took off his head phones. 

"Whaddya want?" he asked irritably.

I didn't say, "Your mama's going to let you have it shortly."  Instead, I inquired brightly, "Looking for a key?" 

He shook his head abruptly, no and put his head phones back on.

"I just returned a lost car key to that woman over there. She said it was yours and that you lost it."

He jammed a fist inside his pant pocket--came up empty.  He looked at me as if I were a pickpocket.

"You must have a hole in your pocket," I explained, as I saw that he irrationally wanted to blame anyone nearby for the loss of the key, including me.

"Your mother's waiting for you," I said, and started back on my walk.

By the time I made the next lap they were having a pretty loud conversation.

I avoided hearing it.   Then, I saw the mama hand the key back to her son and walk off. 

He looked at the key, looked at the car, didn't see me--and then ran after his mother and gave her the key back.

She pocketed the key, barely slowing down, and he returned in a relieved lope to the car and waited for his mother to finish her walk.

Now, the logic assignment for today: Which one of these people is the more logical?  The mother or the son?
Explain your reasoning in a comment on this blog.  Summarize as much of the story as you need to in order to make your point.  You might even want to imagine that the mother is the equivalent of a manager and the son, an employee who needs direction and mentoring.

Then, for vocabulary's sake, choose one of the following words as the right word that associates itself logically with this event:  delegate, logical, illogical, inconsequential, unavoidable mistake, avoidable mistake, trust, mistake, understandable mistake, or busybody.  If none of these words associates itself in your mind as a logical connection, add your own word at the end of your comment.  Just write:  Word of the day: your word.

So, today I am looking for a summary that asserts a thesis that the mother or the son was the more logical, followed by your explanation for your rationale, and culminating in the word for the day that attaches to this event.


  1. Based on the events that occurred, it appears that the son is more logical than his mother. The son seems more logical for a number of reasons. First, he seems more logical simply because his mother’s actions are illogical. Why would she give the key back to him after he lost it? Another reason that the son seems to be more logical is because he had the sense to give the key back to his mother, rather than risking losing it again.

    Word of the day: logical

  2. It seems to me that the mother is the more logical person in this particular situation. She naturally trusts her son to be able to keep up with a key while they enjoy the park. He is most likely holding the key in the first place because he is of legal driving age. The mother is right to assume her son can be responsible for a small key for a short period of time because he will soon be responsible for a car, etc.

    word of the day:avoidable mistake

  3. In this situation, I believe that both the son and mother as logical and illogical. When the mother saw the key is was logical for her to assume that it belong to her son, but illogical to give it back to him because of the previous event. The was illogical for the son to blame you or anyone else for taking the key due to the fact of the circumstances of his attitude and lack of attetion, but logical to give the key back to his mom so that he would not lose it again.

    Word of the day:trust

  4. I see this situation from both angles. The mother comes off as a indivdual who is trying to teach her son the importance of being responsible. The woman probably gave the son the key because she was testing to see if he would be responsible enough to keep up with the it. Of course, he failed this task, but she was willing to give him another chance to try again. The actions of the mother seem logical to me, every parent needs to instill certain attributes in their children. Now focusing on the son, he was acting in a illogical way when he tried to take blame off himself and place it on anyone who passed by. The son somewhat redeems himself by returning the key back to his mom after she insisted he take it back. I believe in his mind he was acknowledging that he was not responsible enough to keep up with the key.

    Word of the day: delegate

  5. By analyzing not only the words of the mother and son but also the body language,it can be deduced that the mother portrays far more logic than her son. Although the "loud conversation" was not overheard, it seems that the heated discussion was most likely about the son wanting to hold the key and the mother not trusting him anymore. The fact that she pocketed the key without slowing down implies that she knew very well that he would be returning it to her, yet she makes no further argument for him to keep it. Hence, she logically used reversed psychology to make a point to her son. It would be counterproductive to tell the apathetic youth that he is no longer worthy of the responsibility, so although she scorned her son she also returned his duty. With this burden back on him, the son feels that he is still trusted and respected and yet feels that returning the key is his own idea. The fact that he appears to seem relieved hints towards a lesson learned. The mother, therefore, uses logic to teach her son a lesson while allowing him to keep his self-respect.

    Word of the day: delegate

  6. I believe both the mother and son acted in a logical manner. The son shook his head to show that he was not looking for a lost key; indeed, he did not realize the key must have fallen out of his pocket. The mother then presumably lectured her son on the importance of keeping track of the key. The son comes to the logical conclusion that if he cannot keep track of the key, he would rather not be held responsible for the key. The son hands the key back to his mother who "barely slows down" as if she expected this action from her son. The mother trusted her son to be responsible enough to keep track of the key or to return the key should he not be able to bear the responsibility.

    Word of the day: logical.

  7. After reading about the incident, I believe the mother and the son are both logical in their decisions. Like any mother, this mother built up trust to allow her son to hold on to a key of value. When the son looses the key, the mother does the logical thing by having a discusion with her son and then showing that she still trusts him for his honest mistake and gives him back the key. The son is logical when he thinks for a moment and gives the key back to his mother so he is sure to not make the mistake again whether is was irresponsible or not the first time.

    Word of the day: logical

  8. Given the situation, I believe that the mother is the most logical character. She gave her son a task with the assumption that he would be responsible enough to handle it. When the key was suddenly presented to her, she reassured herself and the key finder that he was "probably looking for it right now." However, her son had not given the key a second thought since the moment he pocketed it. He seemed very nonchalant about his keeping up with the key, dismissing it's importance. Self absorbed in his music, he was annoyed when reality interrupted him. When he realized the key was missing, his first thought was to "pass the buck" and to blame and accuse someone else. The mother fussed at him and probably reiterated the importance of keeping up with the key. Trusting him again, she gave him a second chance at responsibility. Her son ultimately decided that he didn't want the responsibility and returned the key to her. Though it can be argued that the son wanted to ensure the key's safety by giving it back, it seems as though he wanted to wash his hands of the burden so he couldn't be accused of losing it again.

    Word of the day: trust