Spelling it out really doesn’t help me.

I haven’t really put pen to paper – or fingers to keyboard – recently and this is due to two simple factors:

  1. I have recently started a new job at the company I work for and have therefore been preoccupied with not fucking it up.
  2. I procrastinate more than (note – come back and add example here)

This isn’t to say I haven’t been making notes of life events; I have.  It’s just a case of sitting my arse down and actually writing something.

The irony is, I actually started drafting this post…got sidetracked…and in the meantime posted something else entirely.  Well, now I’ve decided to sit down and at least attempt to finish this entry.

To manage your expectations, this isn’t a big amusing moment in my life, but more of a mini-rant about a gripe that I never realised was a gripe until it began rearing its ugly gripey head.

And this isn’t the only gripe.  To be honest, there are a few small issues here in America that I simply wasn’t prepared for.  For example, America doesn’t seem to have a word for ‘peckish’.

I’m sorry….what?

I used it in a sentence the other day at work and was met with lot of blank faces.

No word for peckish?  Really?

That evening I went home and asked my wife if there was an American word for ‘peckish’ and all she could come up with was ‘a little bit hungry?’.  This astounds me in a nation that is known for being in a constant state of graze.

Saying ‘I could eat’ isn’t quite the same.

Also, another unexpected gripe is the fact that most people I’ve met can’t read the 24hr clock (or ‘Military Time’ as they call it here).  I’ve lost track of the amount of times I’ve seen them deducting 12 on their fingers and quitely mouthing the words.

“So, 17:00 is…(counting on fingers, under breath) 16:00, 15:00, 14:00, 13:00, 12:00, 11:00, 10:00, 09:00, 08:00, 07:00, 06:00, 5:00.  it’s 5pm, right?”

Amazing.

Admittedly I do remember struggling with this myself, when I was SEVEN.

Anyway, back to the case in point.

I speak to a lot of Americans on a daily basis at work and, more often than not, I need to take their email address.  This isn’t anything out of the unusual, except for the way they read out their email address.  It simply baffles me.

Me – “What’s your email address?”

Them – “D as in Dog, A as in Apple, V as in, erm, Van, E as in Everyday, S as in Sam, M as in, erm, Mary, I as in Insulin, T as in Tommy, H as in Happy”

 

Small pause.

 

Me – Sorry, you said that so quickly, so it was D for Delta, A for Alpha…”

Them – “No, A like Apple”.

Me – “What’s the diff….er, I mean, can you repeat it for me?”

Them – “D as in Dog, A as in Ask, V as in Vanessa, E as in Egg, S as in Sam, M as in Mary, I as in, erm, (Inbred? Idiot? Imbecile?) Illinois, T as in Tree, H as in Hello”

 

(Usually always completely different words from the first attempt).

 

Another pause.

 

Me – “So, ‘DaveSmith’ then?”

Them – “Yes”

Me – “Ok….?”

 

There usually follows an unnecessary pause while the customer assumes I magically know their email domain name.

 

Me – “And the rest of it?”

Them – “What?”

Me – “Davesmith…..at?

 

Longer pause whilst they try and understand that I’m not a fucking mind reader.

 

Them – “@gmail”

You’ll notice the lack of “.com”.  In the US, if they don’t say ‘.org’ or ‘.net’, then it’s an assumed ‘.com’.

This has caused me no end of problems when I give out my email as I still use my ‘.co.uk’ address.  This usually takes some explaining and is met with a blank, open mouthed stare.

Drool optional.

So this is my issue, why don’t the majority of Americans actually say their email as it’s written?  I could understand if it’s something like 15t8f725d54it4@blah.com, but it rarely is.

It’s usually something that can be read out like ‘davesmith’, ‘rockdude’ or something laughably awkward like ‘sexxychick’ or ‘hotmama’.

These last two are particularly interesting when you can hear little kids in the background.

Seriously love, have a different email address when you’re shopping; your poor husband must hate calling on your behalf and being asked for it.

At least I understand why HE prefers to spell it out rather than say it.

I was talking to my wife about this and she said a customer had given her “K for Knife”.  What next;  ‘P for Pneumonia’ or ‘J for Juan’?

Sometimes I try and help them out and they disagree with my suggestion.

Them – “P as in, erm…P as in….”

Me – “P for Peter?”

Them – “No, P as in….erm, Psalm!”

double facepalm

F as in Facepalm

You may have noticed, from the examples I’ve given, there appears to be no grasp of the phonetic alphabet here; at least the official one.

How do I know this?  Because it confuses the shit out of them when I use it.

For the uninitiated, the phonetic alphabet is:

A – Alpha
B – Bravo
C – Charlie
D – Delta
E – Echo
F – Foxtrot
G – Golf
H – Hotel
I – India
J – Juliet
K – Kilo
L – Lima
M – Mike
N – November
O – Oscar
P – Papa
Q – Quebec
R – Romeo
S – Sierra
T – Tango
U – Uniform
V – Victor
W – Whiskey
X – X-ray
Y – Yankee
Z – Zulu

Admittedly, I have spoken to a few people who have used the phonetic alphabet correctly and I’ve openly commended them for it.  It’s a nice refreshing change from the random selection of words I’ve heard.

Mind you, there are a few unofficial phonetics that seem to have become the standard, even thought they’re not.

These are:

B – Boy
M – Mary
N – Nancy
D – Dog

I hear these every time.

And yet, oddly, they don’t use C for Cat.

Hmm.

I have a C word they can use.

types of cat

Can I make it any clearer?

I had an interesting telephone conversation with a lady customer that went like this:

 

Customer – “Hi.  I need a new shipping label. The one you sent before couldn’t be scanned by UPS.”

 

Me – “Really?  I’m sorry to hear that.”

 

Customer – “We need another one to print off.”

 

Me – “Actually, you can just reprint the same label.”

 

Customer – “No, we’ve already printed that one, and it was no good.  It was all distorted.”

 

Me – “Distorted?  in what way?”

 

Customer – “Well, you know how it looks when a typewriter ribbon is old?  That’s how it looked”

 

It’s worth noting here that she used the words ‘typewriter’ and ‘ribbon’.

I had a feeling this conversation was not going to get easier.

 

Me – “Oh, I see, so the ink was faded?”

 

Customer  – “Yes and UPS said they couldn’t scan it properly, so could you send me another label that’s not so faded please?”

 

I felt myself drowning.

 

Me  – “Actually, if the ink was faded it’s likely to be your printer.”

 

Customer  – “No, it’s not our printer, it’s the label.”

 

Me – “I’m happy to resend you the label, but you will encounter the same problem as it’s a digital image.  I suspect it will still come out all faded and distorted.”

 

Customer – “No, it won’t this time.”

 

Me – “How do you know?”

 

Customer – “This time I want you to email it to my husband’s computer as it’s clearer on his screen than on mine, so it will print better.”

 

picard palm

It’s a question of stupidity, right?

Today at work I received an email. Well, to be honest, I received a whole boatload of emails, but this one in particular stood out from the rest.

It was from one of the ladies I work with and it read:

‘Dan, can you do something for me please?’

That was it. No follow up. No elaboration. Just that one, simple, pointless question.

I thought long and hard about it for almost a whole millisecond before typing this reply to her:

‘How am I supposed to answer that?

If I say yes and you ask me to kill a man, then I would feel committed to an act I may not be entirely comfortable with.

If I say no and you ask me to help you cheer up a terminally ill child in hospital, then I would be a heartless bastard.

So I’m going to sit here and soon enough you’ll ask me to do whatever it is you need me to do :-D’

I won’t lie, it wasn’t well received.

But when you think about it, it’s a pretty redundant question. I mean, social etiquette forces me into a corner with this one. The only possible answer I could realistically give is ‘yes’, otherwise I’m just a bit of a cock.

And what then? All she would know is that I am CAPABLE of doing something for her, but with no clue if I would actually DO it. After all, I didn’t know myself IF I’d do it, only that I COULD.

If so inclined.

Which I wasn’t.

Probably.

If a genie were to appear in a puff of smoke and, instead of granting wishes, offered her the answer to any question of her choosing, she would probably reply “what, I can ask any question I want?”

“yes”

> Poof <

This got me thinking of all the redundant questions I’ve been asked in my life. The ones that simply don’t satisfy the basic purpose of a question, which is to gain information or clarity.

I don’t include rhetorical questions in all this because they don’t really require an answer. What would be the point in that?

No, I’m talking about genuine questions I’ve heard in my lifetime that serve no purpose other than to use up more oxygen than brain cells.

For example; “Can I ask you a question?”

It’s a lot like “Dan, can you do something for me please?” in the fact that after the socially required answer of “yes”, you STILL need to ask the question you actually wanted to ask in the first place.

Some picky grammar nazis might say that the question in itself is a paradox because you’re asking someone if you can ask them a question, in a question; therefore leaving the recipent without a choice.

But not me, I would never do that.

And what about; “Are you still reading that book?” when I’m sat there, book in hand, reading it.

No mate, i’m deep frying a chicken.

The same goes for “why are you watching this?” or “how can you eat that?”; both of these can be answered with “because I like it”, or “fuck off”.

Take your pick. Both are effective and surprisingly relevant.

And there’s the multifaceted irritant that is, “Do you know what I mean?”, or “Do you know what i’m saying?”, or “Do you see what i’m getting at?”, or “Does that make sense?”, or “Do you get me?” at the end of practically every sentence.

I can appreciate using it from time to time when speaking to someone at great length. In fact, my job as a trainer requires me to check throughout the day if the content is making sense, but I don’t use it at the end of practically every sentence.

If you’re that unsure the person you’re speaking to knows what you’re saying, either communicate more effectively or shut up.

The latter would be preferable.

Know what I mean?

Stupid Questions

Grammar: The difference between knowing your shit and knowing you’re shit.

This afternoon I read a group email sent out by one of the girls in the office asking for assistance with her clients as she is going to be absent over the next few days.

Fair enough.

She then ended the email with, “If you guys could keep an eye out on these and process them for me I would be internally great full”.

Too easy.

(pun intended)

train tunnel

Remember to use your ‘inside voice’, ok?

A couple of mornings ago the guy sat next to me on the train uttered loudly “for fuck’s sake!” whilst reading an email on his phone.

Sigh.

What was the point in that?  Hmm?  What did that achieve?

Nothing. 

Well, I say nothing; it DID achieve a certain sense of awkwardness which was nice.

What EXACTLY was the reaction he expected from me?

I have no idea what the correct etiquette should be when all I really wanted to do was tell him to shut the fuck up because it’s early and no-one was interested in his tedious bid for attention.

But seriously, what do you say in a situation like that?

I suppose I could have turned to him with a face of deep concern and said “Oh my god friend, what’s wrong?  What’s happened?  Are you ok?  Do you need me to do anything?  Oh god it must be terrible whatever it is!”, whilst gently stroking his face and sporting a quivering bottom lip.

I suppose I also could have tutted, rolled my eyes and said “bad news eh?” in a knowing ‘we’ve all been there mate’ kind of way.

But I was wearing headphones so I opted instead to ignore him because he was a prick.

shout at phone