Neal loves analogies....like I love a chilled glass of pinot grigio and a sunset. He uses them in practically every situation where he must explain something. Most of the time, it is an effective way to clarify one of his explanations (which, admittedly, are hard to follow sometimes...with all of the unfinished sentences and chuckling in the middle...). So, I'm used to them. And it's not like they just sprang (or is it "sprung") onto the American grammar scene...I'm pretty sure they were on the SAT's. But on the way home from KY a few weeks ago, Neal struck an all-time weird with his analogy of the $400 hammer (and let me say that until then, I had never heard of the $400 hammer analogy, which, according to Neal, was "all over the news a few years ago".... On our 8-hour drive to home #2, the following conversation took place:
Me: So, when are they going to decide if our Yellow Ribbon (pre-deployment workshop) is going to be in Macon or Orlando?
Neal: I don't know. Soon, I guess. It depends on where the other units have theirs.
Me: Oh, so our unit won't be the only one at the Yellow Ribbon?
Neal: No, we will be the only one for that weekend, but if they can have several units per month in the same hotel, then they may get a discounted rate so then they may pick a hotel that's more convenient to all the regions.
Me: OK...so wouldn't it be cheaper for everyone to have their conference in their area rather than fly everyone to a different state in order to save money on the conference room? (Let me stop here and say that I'm certainly not opposed to spending the weekend in Orlando. I would actually prefer it. I am just always baffled by wasteful spending).
Neal: Well, it's like the $400 hammer. Have you ever heard of the $400 hammer?
Neal: If you have a hammer that cost $20, it doesn't really cost $20 because a guy had to make the hammer and he makes $25 an hour. Then it had to be shipped and that's x amount of money....
Me: What does this have to do with how the Army books hotel rooms?
Neal: I'm trying to tell you! It's like the $400 hammer. Then this hammer has to be unloaded by the truck driver, who makes $50 an hour...
Me: Can we please kill the $400 hammer analogy? It's only confusing me. Who is the hammer and who is the truck driver in this scenario? Am I the hammer? Is the Army the hammer?
Neal: This is what I'm trying to tell you! The $400 hammer does not cost $20! It actually, in the end, costs $400!
Me: OK...I am not an idiot...I understand the analogy. I do not understand how that relates to the Army or the Yellow Ribbon or us flying to Orlando. (I think, at this point, there may have been some banging on the dash involved. Also, probably, some fairly negative body language).
Neal: I can't believe you've never heard of the $400 hammer....
Me: STOP!!! How does this, in ANY way, relate to the Army and our workshop??
Neal: Well, if I make $25 an hour and it takes me an hour to book the hotel room, then that's $25 right there, on top of the hotel room....
Me: Seriously, was that so hard?? Why does there have to be an analogy? And y'know what? Analogies only work if you understand the initial concept. Having no idea how the Army chooses Yellow Ribbon destinations or how they book hotel rooms, the analogy is useless. Why couldn't you have just said that 5 minutes ago?
Neal: Because it's just like the $400 hammer....
I think I may have blacked out at this point. Arguing with a 5-year old sometimes does that to me.