Wednesday, December 28, 2011

It's Only Words ....

I'm not generally given to rants -- at least publicly. But something has started to bug me lately and I'm finding it as irritating as that little pebble that keeps shifting around in your shoe. You never know when you're going to step on it, and when you do it makes you cringe.


No, not the pebble, the word. It's become the short-hand substitute for "okay," "I heard you, but have nothing to say in response," "thank you for your order," and other phrases that would be more appropriate to the situation.

When I go to a restaurant and place an order, I do not want to hear, "Perfect" unless I've managed to pronounce a difficult French or Italian word well. I did NOT tell the waiter/waitress what I wanted to eat in order to get an evaluation of my verbal rendition of the menu. And to be perfectly honest, I doubt they care and would probably say the same thing if I asked for a glass of water and a cracker. What I want to hear is, "I'll be back right away with your drinks." Is that too much to ask?

When I go to the bank to make a deposit I do NOT want to hear the word "perfect" when I respond "yes" to the teller's "just one deposit for you today?" question. First of all, we both know it's not perfect. It's a deposit. If it was perfect I'd own the damn bank, and not be depositing my measly check into my sad little account. Is he really saying, "What a relief. I was afraid you'd try and make a withdrawal"? Or, perhaps "What a relief, I was afraid I'd have to spend more time being nice to you when what I really want to do is a) flirt with the other teller at the drive-up, b) eat my lunch, c) go back to pretending all this money is mine"?

You can't even make the case that "perfect" is this decade's substitute for "groovy" or "far out" or something else from our murky verbal past. Those words/phrases carry a connotation of approval, of being on-board with the situation. Even the f-bomb carries connotation depending on context. And NO you cannot substitute the f-bomb for "perfect." Try it, it simply doesn't work.

Waitress: What would you like?
Me: I'll have the turkey sandwich and salad.
Waitress: F___.

Bank Teller: Just one deposit for you today?
Me: Yes.
Bank Teller: F___.

See, doesn't work.

So, to all of you who have fallen into the annoying habit of using "perfect" when you should say something else, I give you a line from The Princess Bride.

You keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means.