We have long said that what people don’t know they make up, often in the most extreme and dramatic way possible. That’s we humans do as sense-making beings. This truism applies to parent, teachers, alumni and anyone with a stake or interest in your school, and it underscores the importance of clear and timely communication.
The advertising and media world, to say nothing of the New York food scene, was briefly in an uproar about the meaning of a pristine, wrapped In-N-Out burger found at a busy Queens intersection. The nearest In-N-Out store is at least 2000 miles (3200+ km) away, so the burger’s presence in a NYC borough must have some significance, mustn’t it? Well, not really. Despite breathless conjecture on various ad blogs that this was really a clever ploy by which the chain would announce their arrival in the city, it turns out to merely have been dropped by a teenager who purchased it in California, flew to JFK, and then lost it from her luggage on the way home.
Just a great illustration of the sense-making phenomenon and the power of rumor to take hold in a community. On the other hand, anyone with So Cal connections probably understands how desperate a New Yorker could be to have easy access to In-N-Out. [Full disclosure: I am a trustee at Wildwood School in Los Angeles, and an occasional In-N-Out patron despite not living in the area.]