I was listening to the radio the other day (as opposed to watching the radio which is really, really boring) and they had an interview with a former diplomat who was sharing his experiences. He commented on how "nuanced" he had to be when communicating with other diplomats. Every word, every verb, every pause must be thought through and analyzed because each moment will mean something. It got me thinking about how formal a life a diplomat or ambassador must lead. They can't take a walk without someone wondering what that means and how it's an insult to an entire foreign country that he was walking too fast or on the right side of the street instead of the left.
Later that night, I caught one of the hockey games on TV and as I watched an interview at the end of the game, I realized that most hockey players are diplomats as well -- just waaaaaaay more informally. No matter how tough the question, their answers are amazingly diplomatic, nuanced and skirt around the issue like any true politician would. I have no idea how they do it. I'm amazed that somehow with a limited vocabulary, they can take a loaded question and turn it into a non-answer.
Interviewer: "So what do you think of player X who bashed in your head last week?"
Player: "Well, you know, like, it's a game and you know things happen sometimes. You want to, you know, avoid accidents, and everything should be fine."
Interviewer: "The goal you scored last week that critics say you deliberately redirected with your arm -- is that what you did?"
Player: "Well, the ref, you know, like he calls the game as he sees it. Sometimes you get the calls and you know, sometimes you don't. This one went in my favour."
So it got me thinking (unfortunately), what it would be like if we used hockey players as ambassadors. A Russian hockey player represents Russia. A Canadian hockey player represents Canada, and so on. Can you imagine what U.N. debates would be like? Can you imagine what summits and negotiations would be like?
John, the Canadian player (munching on a doughnut): "Yo, Mikey. Did you catch the game last night?"
Mike, the US player: "Nah, I couldn't. I was out hunting with the kids. You know, the deer season and stuff."
John (after chugging a Blue): "Yeah, Mike, you know those guns are, like, you know, getting into Canada, eh? You know, I know you guys like to shoot and stuff, and I'm all for that, but can you, you know, keep it down there in your country?
Mike: "Yeah, you know, sorry, John. I go by what the boss Bushy says, you know. He's all for the hunting thing and, you know, it's not really anyone's fault. I mean, there's the whole border thing where, you know, the guards are there, but it's a big border. I mean the guys are trying hard, right."
John (offers Mike a Timbit): "Yeah, I mean my boss, Stevey-H, wants the best for everyone, eh? I mean you have your deer and I mean we have cars that we build for you guys and stuff. Hey want to come by for a BBQ later?"
Mike: "Nah, I have to meet with that Boralov guy from Russia. Get this, his boss is peeved about these missiles we built and you know, they're just around the corner from his country. I mean the wind is against his back right now, you know, and I just think that, you know, there won't be accidents in an accidental way because of this, right?"
John (looks up from staring at the Sunshine Girl): "Huh? Oh yeah, Bory's a good guy. You know, he's got a mouth, but you know, he's trying and he's good at what he does, you know. I mean, I he's shown he's got the goods in the past, and I think his respect goes a long way. Ok, I gotta grab a two-four, so I'll see ya tomorrow sometime, eh?"
Mike: "Shoot, no I can't. That whole Middle East thing is really tricky, you know, with the two teams really staring each other down. I mean they're both really good and you know they're strong. I mean I met them both before and, you know, even with their injuries you have to watch them closely, you know, because even when they're down, they're up."
John (throwing on his Roots toque): "Alright, Mikey. I'm outta here. Take it easy and say hi to Georgey for me. I mean he's a good guy too, eh, and I only want the best, but you know, we still have to kick your ass, but I mean we're all good sports, eh?"