24 June 2015

Stupid Mustard! Observations, Complaints, Comments and Memories

I just discovered a mustard stain on my shirt. One that only just came back from the cleaners last week. Mustard stains are unforgiving. Others you can wash right out with some cold water but mustard just sits there mocking you. It is upsetting but I will recover from this. Although right now the pain is barely bearable. (Barely bearable?) The missus will take matters into her own hands and smite the stain. I love her and not just for her capacity to make food/clothing disasters disappear. She is a wonder of nature. I am more a blunder of nature. But there it is.

Ya know what I'm getting sick of? (Besides mustard stains.) The following questions and its variations: "will there be anything else?" No. No, there will not be anything else. If there was going to be anything else I would have brought it up here with my other purchases or already ordered it. When I'm getting ready to pay I never think, wait, there's something else I want. And if I did, I would say it. Why this question? Who decided that people working counters and check outs should ask it? I totally get: "can I help you find something?" I get it and sometimes appreciate it. Although truth be told that question rarely is asked when in fact I do need help finding something. Usually when I need help there isn't a sole for miles. When I don't need help I tend to be surrounded by armies of store employees begging to help.

Some people tell you that they are "more than happy" to help. You're ecstatic about helping me? C'mon no one is buying that. Glad to help is plausible. Happy to help, well maybe. But more than happy? Please.

This statement is often proffered by the same folks who say: "don't hesitate to ask." Why? What the hell is so wrong with hesitating? I may hesitate because I'm wondering if this is the right person to ask or if this is the right time or if its really that important. I could be doing you a big favor by hesitating to ask. No harm is ever done by hesitating to ask. Harm can be done by not hesitating and asking.

I know, I notice a lot of silly stuff that people say and make a big frickin' deal out of it. Whattaya want I've been around for awhile, I'm sensitive and I have an enduring romance with language and its abuse.  Like it drives me crazy when people say: "these ones." How about just saying "these." (I know I've brought this up before.) I also wonder how "often times" is any different than just "often." I used to try to get my dad to stop saying "noon time" and just say "noon" but to no avail. That's rather odd because he was pretty good about heeding my suggestions about language. He realized that he was born in rural Finland and came to English as an adult and that I was born here and got myself an education. He was already fluent by the time I was a little kid. Self taught. Was quite literate too. He was really annoyed by his fellow Finns who would come over here and not be able to or not even try to pick up the lingo. (Now there's a word you don't hear much anymore: lingo.)

A memory of my dad that has always stayed with me was when as a kid I once mentioned his accent to him. He angrily, and with a thick accent, said, "I don't have an accent." This was strange for two reasons. My father had a really long slow fuse, especially when I was a tyke. I could count the number of times I saw him angry. The other reason is, of course, that he didn't recognize his own accent. Today I teach a class called Pronunciation and Conversation and accent reduction has become something of a speciality of mine in the ESL world. My father could have used my class. (Just sayin' Dad, relax).

My poor children have had to put up with me and crankiness and melancholia their whole lives yet somehow seem to think I've been a good father. Who am I to argue? They even gave me the iPhone 6 for Father's Day. I love my daughters and being a dad has been one of the great joys of my life. If not the greatest. I recently heard two childless adult co-workers talk about how they'd never want children, they both agreed that raising children was "a lot of work." Wow. Humans must be the only species that think of bringing up their offspring as "work." I have no problem with people who do not want to have children. Such people should definitely refrain from doing so. But to call it "work" is missing the experience entirely. I've found it to be a pure pleasure, even when it wasn't. This reminds me of something I sometimes said when teaching middle school: "I like all my students, even the ones I don't like." Other teachers knew what the hell I was saying. I sometimes do make sense. Even to myself.

Can I get you anything else?

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