Magic Word

Magic Word puzzle boxIn the summer of 2019, while out for an afternoon stroll, I passed a van in my neighbor’s driveway. The van bore the name of a national solar installation company. The van’s engine was idling. I kept walking.

When I returned, maybe a half hour later, the van’s engine was still in full gear. The driver was texting. I had run operations for a solar company and knew there was no reason to keep a van idling when checking a meter. I knocked on the driver’s window.

“Excuse me,” I began, gesturing toward the van’s logo, “you’re working for a renewable energy company – maybe you want to turn off your engine…”

The driver looked at me blankly. Then looked back at his phone. Then at me again.

“Lady, do you live here?” he asked.

You can be sure he did not turn off his engine.

What magic word (s) could I have used?

I contacted a bevy of scientists and researchers who have devoted their lives to communication, linguistics, fierce conversations, and relational psychodynamics. I pored my findings into the design of this puzzle – a puzzle I will use during my Peace by Piece with Pie workshops.

Dr. Xiaomeng “Mona” Xu at Idaho State University schooled me on dopamine cycles; University of Texas/Austin linguistics expert Dr, Zenzi Griffiths schooled me on the power of linguistic ambiguity and her colleague Dr. Caryn Carlson helped me understand shared flow; Dr. Gregory Elliott taught me about mattering; and my research director at Bradley Hospital, Dr. Beverly Rich, even showed up in person for the assembly of this puzzle at Richards Memorial Library!

Special thanks to Manny Leite at Boyden Library and Whitney Karen Brown at Mansfield Public Library – the first two libraries to see the prototype assembled at my Peace by Piece with Pie Workshop. Some images below…

Finally, I offer huge gratitude also to my Patreons whose monthly support help manifest new puzzle designs like this one! Thanks for being my missing piece!


© Sarah Jane Lapp, 2023