When I was working in business, I remember a particular conversation with my boss. His name was just initials, and to protect his identity (because I may say not so nice things about him in later posts) I will call him BK. Not as a reference to Burger King, but to Butt Kisser which he was legendary for.
One afternoon, when the leaves had just started falling (I remember this because I absolutely was in no mood for BK and instead wanted to stay home and play in the leaves with my dog), BK wandered over to my desk. For some reason he liked to have my desk planted in the most awkward areas of the office. It was right by the men’s restroom. I could seriously hear the flushing, zipping and washing hands (or not washing hands) happening. Yikes. But, once again, I digress. Here is the conversation:
He cleared his throat (think Office Space) and said, “Do you want to know what words you say a lot?”
I replied, “Hmmm. Not really. Why?”
“You say ‘cool’ and ‘awesome’ and ‘like’ a lot.”
I sat there are stared at him thinking what in the world was he talking about? “Oh,” I sheepishly stated.
“Why do you think you say those words so much?” BK inquired.
“I don’t know,” I answered, confused. “Maybe it is because I lived in New Jersey in the mid 80s,” I responded as if this was the end all be all statement to end this super strange dialogue.
“No, I don’t think that has anything to do with it,” he stated matter of fact like and turned on his heels and walked away.
Stumped, I sat there at my desk. Was I supposed to follow him? Hmm. Of course, my semi-ADD and paranoid self couldn’t get back to work. So I turned on my Flying Toaster screen saver and walked to his office (which had a great view of the county jail and the parking lot and was not awkwardly placed at all).
“BK, what was that conversation all about? Is there anything I need to work on?” I asked, innocently, trying not to sound neurotic or annoyed.
“Nope. Just thought you needed to know your faults,” he said.
“Cool,” I replied while some of the confidence began to seep back into my body, “Awesome. So, like, it was just to let me know my faults but I, like, don’t need to fix anything?”
“Yeah. Something like that,” he curtly said and turned back to his paperwork.
“Awesome. See you in a few,” I said as I backed out of the office.
And so it goes. I believe there are words in our speech we use often. I still overuse “cool” to this day. But, I don’t see that there is really much harm in it as long as the audience is OK with it.
As a high school English teacher, students always catch words, phrases and even non-verbals that I use. Sometimes, they just catch the mix of accents I have inherited from the wide range of places I have lived, but this is for another post.
This past week, my word was “sweet.” Every time someone said something I agreed with, I would say, “sweet!” I used it to replace awesome, cool and other words my long ago boss from hell told me I overused. Let’s just say the students didn’t like “sweet” and by 8th period, they were teasing me about it. So I changed it back to “cool.”
My friend, who has a great blog http://brainvomit40.wordpress.com, told me that her word of the week has been fabulous. When I asked her if she noticed me saying any particular words a lot, she replied, “No. You’re fabulous.” Love her.
Being a teacher is like being on stage where the audience can interact, and even critique, on a regular basis. I have an audience of over 148 students I see daily. Yes, 148. It was an even 150, but two kids moved. Sometimes my stand-up routine is good, other times it is not. But the most interesting part about it is that it is always different. Except for some of the words I use, of course.
Besides the words awesome, cool and like I “overused” in my old job (BT – before teaching), here are some things I say a lot.
To express shock: “Really?!” or “No way!”
To express compassion: “Oh, Sugar”
To call someone when I can’t recall their name (which happens frequently): “Honey” or “Sweetheart”
To describe almost anything: “Cute”
And here are some of the sayings I use frequently:
To students when they aren’t working on their own: “It’s time to start paddling your own canoe.”
To a group of students who can’t stop looking out the window at the rain: “It’s raining so much the frogs are drowning.”
To a student who was making fun of me writing on the white board: “I’ve been spelling a lot longer than you’ve been pooping.”
When a student wasn’t being honest: “And I just pulled a Christmas tree out of my butt.” (Not the nicest or most tactful saying, but one I have had to pull out now and then!)
And when a student seems overly cranky, I pull one of my brother’s standards: “Did you fall off the fuss bus and hit a grump bump?”
So, as I repeat directions to my class of 30, send someone on a bathroom pass and write the name “Sweetheart” on the top, and tell one kid that his shoes are cool, I once again think of my old boss BK and remind myself that I am pretty awesome no matter what he said. 🙂