Even in the year 2023, the telephone game is a classic icebreaker and party game, but it’s also famous for providing a lesson about miscommunication. Scroll down to learn more.
The lesson is that when a simple sentence is shared with one person, and that person is tasked to share it with another (and they, in turn, with yet another person, and so on), by the time the message reaches the last person in the “phone tree,” the sentence is pretty different from the one shared at the beginning.
We offer a variation on that theme, a scenario in which two people meet at a party and discover they have something in common. Only they really don’t. Meet Joe and Phil.
Joe: Great to meet you, Phil. What do you do?
Phil: I work with Great Dane.
Joe: That’s AMAZING, I do too! Where do you work, and what exactly do you do?
Phil: I go all over and train newbies How about you?
Joe: I’m working with a newbie too, and we travel a fair amount from show to show.
Phil: Oh, you’re a sales rep?
And here is where Joe and Phil realize they aren’t on the same page. The words “Great Dane” is the common thread, but for each of these men, it means something very different.
Joe shows his adolescent Great Dane at dog shows. Not surprisingly, Joe is from West Virginia, which (as of 2021, and according to GreatDane.com), was first in the nation for having Great Dane fanciers. Some think this is because of the large number of German immigrants who settled there in the 1800s. According to them, the breed was named Germany’s national dog in 1876. The next states to have the most Great Dane fanatics in descending order are Kentucky, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Mississippi.
But we digress. We’re forgotten about Phil.
Phil is also keen on Great Dane (note the lack of an article of speech), but for him, Great Dane is his employer, a truck transportation company that employs some 10,000 people. The Chicago based manufacturer of dry vans, refrigerated vans, and flatbed semi-trailers got its start in 1900 by fabricating sheet metal systems to move sawdust and woodchips in saw mills and woodwork plants.
By 1916, the company manufactured steel plate and structural steel products, and in the 30s, the company responded to President Roosevelt’s New Deal calling for highways to be modified by designing and manufacturing trailers for over-the-road freight hauling. To improve their road trailers, the company hired experienced trailer builders, and the trailers they designed were called Great Danes, and yes, it was after the breed.
The best trailer man the company could find had been building truck trailers in Greenville, South Carolina, and calling them by the name of Great Dane. The chap, whose name remains unknown to us, had been familiar with the use of Great Dane dogs in Belgium as work animals known for their strength and stamina. Reasonably, he thought these were the outstanding qualities of the product he made, as well. Not for the first time, a product was named for the admired qualities of a dog breed.
Great Dane. Admired for the same reasons, but in different applications.