Good, Bad, and Just Plain Dumb

What do you say when you answer the phone?  “Hello”, by any chance?  If so, the commissioners of Kleberg County, Texas, would say, “Shame on you!”

Why, you ask?

Take a good look at the word “hello.”

Don’t you see a problem with it?

Look again.


Still don’t see it?

Okay, I’ll tell you.

It contains the word “hell.”

And you know, “hell” is a bad word.  Or it least it can be.  At the very least, it carries a negative connotation.  That’s why those clever Kleberg County Commissioners decided to have all county employees stop saying “Hello” when they answered the phone.  They were instructed to say “Heaven-o” instead.*

There are 3 kinds of ideas: good, bad, and just plain dumb.  This one falls into the latter category.  I can only imagine how many times a caller to the Kleberg County offices was greeted with a cheerful “Heaven-o!” and said, “Huh?” or “Excuse me?”  Then, of course, an explanation would be required, which no doubt made the poor receptionist feel like an idiot and the caller think the world had finally gone certifiably nuts.

You know what really scares me?  It’s that those county commissioners probably shook hands and congratulated themselves on a job well done after they passed that resolution.


We often glorify innovation and those who help to bring it about, as well we should.  (I certainly prefer my iPhone to the first clunky cell phone I ever owned.)  But come on, there are some things that do not need to be tampered with, like saying “hello” when you answer the phone.

Here’s a piece of advice, and one that churches as well as individuals need to heed.  When you come to the place where you feel like you need to make some changes, go slow and be careful.  It might even be good to seek counsel because that idea that looks so good on paper might be just plain dumb.  And if it is, you’ll suffer for it.  You’ll lose the respect of people, and maybe even their support.  And you’ll find yourself running back to those old ways of doing things that you were so desperate to change.

For further reflection, read Proverbs 14:16, 15:21, James 1:5

Paul Grobman, Vital Statistics (New York: Plume, 2005), 163

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2 Responses to Good, Bad, and Just Plain Dumb

  1. Steve Jones says:

    Along those lines, Mark, have you ever heard the phrase “The road to Abilene”?

  2. Marg says:

    That puts a different spin on the usage of “hello”. Never quiet looked at it that way. I am sure you are correct thinking of having to explain that one all the time.

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