Some educators call them a "teachable moment."
They are those short opportune slices of time that give way to a lesson that was not on the day's agenda.
Then again, some may call it just a plain old setup.
On Friday, when Gov. Bill Richardson visited Tucumcari, he and his two staffers were seated at the table in the chambers used by the Quay County Commission for its meetings at the Quay County Courthouse.
Franklin McCasland, chairman of the Quay County Commission, started off the local comments by acknowledging that conversations among the commissioners often focused on prioritizing the county's needs.
"Our No. 1 need is upgrades in our courthouse," McCasland said.
"Right here?" the governor said.
"If you'll turn around, you'll see that that's our air conditioner and heater," said McCasland, pointing to the window unit.
"That's why you put me here, right," Richardson said, laughing.
"We almost turned it off," said Comissioner Robert Lopez.
After a few minutes for comic relief, McCasland said the courthouse needed a new heating boiler, an air-conditioning system, energy-efficient windows, electrical upgrades and other updates.
"Ultimately, the teachable moment could evolve into a full-blown lesson plan," according to a childhood education citation on the about.com Web site.
Or, as the commissioners may hope, a fully-funded stimulus package for the courthouse.