or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Sunday, June 05, 2005


I still haven't gotten my "G" pin, thank goodness, though it's only a matter of time: the "U" pins are coming soon, and someone above me is going to notice that I haven't been "G"ed. I'm damned if I'm going to treat customers as guests, whatever the pins might say. I'll treat them with all the respect they deserve, but they're not guests.

I mention this only because I'm also severely annoyed by the generic job title used in the store in which I work: "associate" (which you may have heard in Wal-Mart, which probably started the usage). The word has a number of meanings, not one of which is legitimately "clerk" or "employee" or "staff member". What's wrong with using "staff" as a singular noun? At least it's not impossibly pretentious. I'll be damned if I'm going to use "associate" in this manner, ever. (The store has also replaced the expected phrase "customer service" with the ghastly "customer care", as if shoppers were patients in a hospital; that's another usage that will never pass my lips.)

I mention this only because of a story in today's News of the Weird, which you ought to be reading every Sunday. The newest installment can always be found here, so you should bookmark it, and the perma-link for the story I'm referring to will be here after June 11th. Here's the story in full:

Among official job-title changes implemented by the Scottsdale, Ariz., school district this year, according to a February Arizona Republic report, were those for receptionist (now, "director of first impressions") and school bus driver (now, "transporter of learners"). Said Superintendent John Baracy, "This is to make a statement about what we value in the district. We value learning." Said the new first-impressions director, "I think it's classy. Everyone wants to be important."

Horrible. "Classy"? It's embarrassing, that's what it is. "Everyone wants to be important"? Everyone can't be important, and people who want to be important ought to do their jobs well and not rely on pompous, empty job titles to substitute for well-earned respect.


Blogger Tony Pius said...

I have long held that there is no way to use "classy" in a way that connotes class. For instance: next time you're at a bar, try picking up a woman by telling her she's a "classy lady." Ideally, do this while holding a mostly-full beer, so you can hold it against the part of your face that she hits.

I think George Carlin is the leading prophet about the neutering of language, but he's been ranting about it for decades with no perceptible effect. If he can't effect change, I think the most that any of us can hope for is to point and laugh, in lieu of screaming.

"Everyone wants to be important." And that is why people do this to the language: because it works. She's not a receptionist any more! She's important now! And although I guarantee you that there is no increase in pay commensurate with the new title, she gets extra job satisfaction, and is likely to be a happier and more productive worker -- at no cost to the school district. I'd admire it if it weren't so awful.

"Classy." Jesus.

Monday, June 06, 2005 3:32:00 PM  

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