Language Is Fluid

, , , , , | | Healthy | August 20, 2019

Some years ago I had gastric bypass surgery. During the aftercare, I had appointments with a dietician at the hospital where I had the surgery. As a preparation for these visits, I had to fill out an inquiry. One of the questions regarded alcohol.

Did I drink less alcohol than before the surgery, the same or more?

Well, that looks like a straightforward question, but I couldn’t answer it truthfully. Because I do not drink, and is no alcohol the same or less? It can’t be more, but is it the same or less? The same implies some alcohol consumption, as does less. 

I added an extra line to the inquiry and simply stated that I do not drink alcohol. Ever.

The dietician went nuts. She berated me for 50 minutes for “my excessive alcohol consumption” as I hadn’t picked the only acceptable answer — less. “None” wasn’t a viable answer as it wasn’t included in the inquiry. I asked her to add to my chart that I do not drink. I asked if we could please continue with discussing my diet as I do not drink. She had worked herself into a frenzy and just kept screaming. Wonderful to travel six hours for a useless meeting with someone not listening at all.

Anyway, the next meeting was six months later, with another dietician. And the same inquiry to prepare. Once again, I answered that I never drink.

This dietician was even more aggressive. She rushed out during the meeting to get a colleague so they could scream at me together. While she was out I grabbed a paper and wrote on it in big letters, “I NEVER DRINK ALCOHOL.”

It didn’t help. They still couldn’t grasp that it is possible to not consume alcohol. I asked them to test my blood alcohol level and do whatever testing they wanted as my liver should be in prime condition. Because I did not f****** drink alcohol. And I still don’t. 

Maybe I just should have picked the option of “drinking less” on the inquiry, but… I’m a language teacher. Nuances are important. “Less” is not the same as “none” or “nothing.”


It’s The Wrong Item, Grommet!

, , , , | | Right | August 19, 2019

Customer: “Do you have those plastic things that go in the holes in desks?”

Me: “Oh, grommets? Unfortunately, we don’t sell them in the store anymore, but you can get them online.”

Customer: “No, I know it’s not a grommet. It’s just a black plastic bit that makes the hole in your desk look nice. You know, where you feed your wires through and stuff.”

Me: “Yes, that’s a grommet. We used to have them in the store, but we don’t anymore.”

Customer: “No, no, it’s not a grommet. It’s for the hole in your desk where you feed your wires. I know you can also get some that have a little flap on them so they can close the hole up completely.”

Me: “Yes, I know exactly what you’re talking about. We don’t have them in the store.”

Customer: “Okay, but what would you call that?”

Me: “A grommet.”

Customer: “No, not a grommet. I can’t think of what it would be called. What would you call it?”

Me: “I would call it a grommet.”

Customer: “But that’s not what it is!”

Me: “I’m sorry, I don’t know any other name for them, so I have no idea what I would search if that’s not the name you want to give it. But I know what you’re talking about and we don’t have them. If you need it today, maybe they have them at [Store]?”

Customer: “Okay, I’ll go look. So, if I go there and I need help, what should I tell them I’m looking for?”

Me: *regretfully* “A grommet.”

This Should Be Cimple

, , , , | | Right | August 19, 2019

(An older, Asian-American woman approaches me. She speaks with a thick accent.)

Customer: “Excuse me. Could you help me?”

Me: “Of course. What are you looking for?”

Customer: “Cimin.”

Me: “Sorry, what?”

Customer: “Cimin?”

Me: “Cinnamon?”

Customer: “Yes…”

Me: “Okay, we have a small grocery area, so we could go check…Let me show you.”

(I lead her there.)

Customer: *looks bewildered at the spices* “No… Cimin!” *gestures to floor*

Me: “Oh, do you mean cement?”

Customer: *smiling* “Yes!”

Me: “That will be right over here! I’m sorry for the misunderstanding!”

(I then showed her what we had and helped her find the right crack filler, which was what she was looking for.)

Customer: “Oh, thank you! You’re so helpful!… I’m so glad God made you!”

We Hope Player Six Shouted “Q”

, , , , | | Learning | August 19, 2019

(I’m at a winter youth retreat for middle-schoolers. We’ve started playing a simple word game; the first person says a word, the second person says whatever word first pops into their head in relation to the first, the third repeats the pattern, and so on. We’re on our second time around the circle.)

Player #1: “Star.”

Player #2: “Astronaut.”

Player #3: “Space.”

Player #4: “Time.”

Player #5: “Continuum!”

(Everyone stopped to laugh. By far the most memorable combination I’ve heard while playing that game!)

Physics-ally Wearing A Shirt

, , , , | | Working | August 19, 2019

(My boyfriend works as a researcher at a physics lab. As such, he works with people from all over the world. Most of his coworkers have met me and know we’ve been dating for several years. One of those coworkers is a very sweet woman from the UK who loves to compliment people. Another aspect of his work is that the dress code is very lax, of which my boyfriend takes full advantage by wearing graphic T-shirts and shorts to work pretty much every day of the year. On this occasion, however, he is at a conference giving a talk about his findings and so is in a nice dress shirt.)

British Coworker: “Oh, [Boyfriend], you look so nice! I like it when you wear a shirt!”

(Other coworkers give them weird looks.)

Boyfriend: “I… I think I usually wear a shirt.”

British Coworker: “Oh, does that mean something different here?”

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