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Setting phrases to stun

July 29, 2010

Out in the wide blue English yonder, there are a number of phrases that cause me to grind my teeth in rage. In fact, if it were up to me, I would find a way to remove them from the English language. For one reason or another, they manage to aggrevate me to the point of committing crimes of bodily harm. I thus present ‘Five phrases that cause my ears to metaphorically bleed’.

1. “Do you know what I mean?”

This is the ultimate in sheer fuck-you-for-saying-that value. Firstly there is an implied condescending attitude that the speaker holds over the listener. It’s as if the speaker acknowledges that whatever they are talking about is simply beyond the listener’s realm of understanding. What’s worse is when this phrase is wielded in situations where it is clearly not required. I was working a job once where I had to pick up some boxes and stack them on a shelf: a straightforward operation. Yet the guy telling me what to do felt it necessary to confirm that I did in fact understand the concept by repeatedly unloading this godawful phrase. Or more likely, it is used by the speaker because they are simply terrible at explaining anything and thus require confirmation that their message is correctly being interpreted.

2. “Don’t you know who I am?”

Continuing with the theme of questioning the listener’s ability to comprehend situations is this pearler. Flying directly in the face of the social equality I value so dearly, the speaker clearly believes that they are above the treatment meted out to the hoi polloi. And even if they were a person of such standing that somehow they do deserve special favours, you would assume that such a question need not be asked.

3. “You’re not on the list.”

The cop out justification for why I cannot enter a bar and have a drink. Never mind the fact that in the time I’ve been standing here arguing with you, Mr. Bouncer, and calling my friend to come down and get us let in, 30 people have left, resulting in copious space for all. I don’t know whether you’re trying to create a sense of exclusivity or something but frankly, your bar isn’t good enough to deserve it. Really.

4. “I just need to confirm who I’m speaking to.”

A favourite among banks, insurance companies and so on, this is the result of being paranoid that they might get sued for actually doing something. If you have my mobile number and I say “Hello, Tim speaking” when you call me, I would say you are in fact speaking to me. I am not going to sit there and recite my date of birth, home address, mother’s maiden name and t-shirt colour preference when my identity has already been confirmed. Go away.

5. “I want to see to the manager.”

Working in retail has largely destroyed my faith in humanity. On the plus side, it has taught me how to be a good parent by observing the ineptitude of other parents. From time to time, when a particular fuckbag of a customer is around, they will often use this line to try and get their own way. However, the manager will often reiterate what I just said, albeit in terms that might be classed as part of “conflict resolution” as opposed to my “shut up and go away” approach. Therein lies my problem with this phrase: the empty threat of going above the head of a casual worker is a waste of time and makes you look like a tool. Stop it.

So there we have it. Use these in my presence at your own peril.

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