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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Re: Missing Data

I got an envelope the other day in the mail from the credit union that holds our car loan. The outside of the envelope was marked "RE: MISSING DATA." When I took out the letter inside, bold print at the top said it was important that I "send the missing data indicated below before September 15." Then when I read the rest of the letter, it turned out the "missing data" was the name of a beneficiary and my authorization to activate a $1,500 accidental death insurance policy that the credit union had paid for and that was mine at no cost to me. I also had the option, of course, of increasing the amount of coverage "(see chart on back)." The envelope and the request for missing data looked and sounded official.

Have you ever had a conversation you thought you were paying attention to only to find out after you say "yes" to something that you have no idea exactly what you agreed to or realize that you just agreed to something totally opposite of what you think. It's the old three penny game. You're sitting at the bar and the guy next to you lays three pennies on the bar. "How many pennies do you see there?" he asks. You answer three. He says, "Are you sure?"


He moves the pennies around as if they are part of the old shell game. He asks you again how many and whether you are sure. He does this several times, and then says "I say there's two pennies there."

You know it's a trick, but you don't know what it is. You look puzzled and you concentrate very hard on the pennies to see what he's done because you don't want to be taken in. He asks again how many you see.


He takes his hands from the bar and says. "I'm not going to touch them. I say there's two. So how many do you see?"

He asks the question one or two more times and then he says, "Look. I'm not going to touch them. I say there's two. Now if I'm wrong will you give me a dollar?"

"I guess. Sure."


  1. So the rest of the story is the missing data? I'm missing something