Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Meaning of Service

Once again, good ol' Bob comes to my intellectual rescue on a morning all my neurons aren't connecting with each other to produce my usual top-quality post. Let's talk about "service."

Consider the various "services" with which we interact every day:

The Internal Revenue Service;

The US Postal Service;

Your Telephone Service;

Your Cable TV Service;

The Civil Service;

Various State, City, County, and Public Services;

Any company's Customer Service;

Congressional efforts to service the national debt;

Given how all these various organizations tend to treat you, you might reasonably be confused over the meaning of the word service. It all became clear the other day, though, when I was visiting a local dairy farm and overheard two farmers discussing their respective herds. One of the farmers told the other that he had arranged for a bull to service his cows.

Now, I understand.

There's another take on service, too.

One day the parish priest came into the church and found a little boy staring intently at a large brass plaque with a long list of names that hung on the wall of the vestibule.

"Can I help you, son?" the priest asked.

"What are all these names? the boy asked him.

"Those are the names of the members of our parish who have died in the service," the priest patiently explained.

The little boy turned to the priest and looked at him with wide eyes.

"Would that have been the nine o'clock service, or the eleven o'clock service?" he asked.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


P.S. - I found this interesting historical tidbit this morning: today is the anniversary of the birth in 1766 of English economist Thomas Robert Malthus. In 1798, Malthus published his famous pamphlet "An Essay on the Principle of Population," in which he argued that the human population of the earth was growing at a faster rate than the food supply, and that war, disease, and famine were necessary in order to prevent overpopulation. He is remembered today in the adjective malthusian, popular in gloom-and-doom analysis. Because of his dark predictions about humanity's future, Malthus was often accused of being cold-hearted and inhuman...but he actually had a passionate love affair in his youth, and at the age of 38 he married a woman ten years his junior. He wrote in his diary: "Perhaps there is scarcely a man who has once experienced the genuine delight of virtuous love...that does not look back to the period, as the sunny spot of his whole life, where his imagination loves to bask ... which he would most wish to live over again."



Amanda said...

The one about the little boy was cute! I just just imagine a little face with huge eyes questioning ....

Mike said...

My name would be on the 9am service death list.

KathyA said...

Maybe the word 'service' is being confused with 'servitude' -- except in the area of husbandry, of course.