Hey, Mom! The Explanation.

Here's the permanent dedicated link to my first Hey, Mom! post and the explanation of the feature it contains.

Friday, December 3, 2010

THINGS THAT SUCK #2: “Please PrePay in Advance”

THINGS THAT SUCK #2: “Please PrePay in Advance”

Continuing my series on things that suck, we revisit the problem with gas pump signs, though at a different station. What is it about signs? I see more language mistakes–or at least, the odd choices like THINGS THAT SUCK #1–in signs and displays than elsewhere. The gas pumps in Richland, MI, at a station dispensing BP–everyone’s favorite “we can’t plug our leak in the Gulf of Mexico” brand of petrol–feature a sign that reads: “PLEASE PREPAY IN ADVANCE.”

How is this possible? How does one pay before one pays? Because if one prepays in advance of paying, then one has already paid, so why would that person pay again?
This makes my head hurt in the same way as the fatherhood of John Connor in the Terminator movies but much, much more painfully. The time conundrum of the Terminator films had some gaps: why send only one person/Terminator back in time? If one has all the time in the world to accumulate resources, why not send a whole squadron to protect Sarah and/or John Connor? But the paradox is the bigger gap: How did the first John Connor exist to send Kyle Reese back in time to be his father if he had not yet sent Reese back in time because that’s in the future?

The Terminator puzzle can be explained away by arguing alternate time lines or even that the first John Connor’s father was not Kyle Reese.

However, paying in advance of paying is a much more annoying cycle of confusion. Why pay in advance of being in advance? If one pays in advance, one has paid. Haven’t I written this already? I have prewritten this idea in advance of writing it.

Of course, the solution for this sign is much simpler than the solution of the John Connor paradox.

Either one creates a sign that reads “please pay in advance”

or one creates a sign that reads “please prepay.”

I do prefer the former. “Prepay” is one of those words that has snuck into the dictionary from our modern mangling of the English language, much the same as using “Google” as a verb. My Spell Check does not regonize “prepay” as a word anyway, and, thus, it does not exist, unless John Connor sends it back to us from the future to father himself after defeating Skynet.

~ chris of suckage reporting - 1012.03-15:00

Friday, November 26, 2010

THINGS THAT SUCK #1: “Receipt Desired?”

THINGS THAT SUCK #1: “Receipt Desired?”

Okay, the series begins. Our first entry comes with a picture, but if I have my druthers (and need gasoline), I will take a better picture, as I could easily create a “Things That Suck” entry for this picture because it sucks.

But today’s entry on observing suckage in the world features a language choice that I find very puzzling. Brace yourself. Most of my “Things That Suck”–or if you prefer “Stuff That Bugs Me” or “Things That Piss Me Off”–will consist of language stuff. After all, I am a writer and an English teacher hence my personal bent.

For out-of-towners, those not indigenous to southwest Michigan, I need to explain “Meijer” ; for the locals, you know. “Meijer” (as opposed to “Meijers,” which will surely be a future “Things That Suck” blog) is a local department store and grocery with its own gasoline station out front of its “hypermart.”

After pumping one’s own gasoline at the Meijer station, using the pay-at-the-pump option, the screen on the pump console displays the following message: “receipt desired?” Now, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I reserve the word “desire” for things that, well, I actually desire, such as fine foods (sushi), good wine (Malbec), and sex (ahem!) among other things. I do not “desire” receipts. I simply want one.

By the strictest definition of the word, yes, I do “desire” receipts as a desire can be a request or petition in both verb and noun form. However, more commonly, one uses the verb “desire” for wishes and longings. The definition of “desire” does utilize the word “longing” explicitly.

And so, “desire” is just not the right word in this situation.

Why use “receipt desired?” ?

Why not simply use: “do you want a receipt?” ?

Or even, the far more simple: “receipt?” ?

After all, the screen provides the yes and no choices with corresponding buttons. A simple display of the question with the one word–“receipt?”–would suffice.

Though this abuse of the English language bothers me, I am also very curious about who made the decision to use the word “desire” and if any discussion ensued. Did the Meijer braintrust perform a brainstorming exercise and selected the phrase from a list of possible choices? Or did one enterprising person decide that we gasoline tank fillers “desire” our receipts?

In any case, it sucks. It bugs me. Though, really, it does not PISS ME OFF, so I will not tag it with the latter. Humph.

~chris of suckage reporting - 1011.26-14:50

PS: The double-question marks may look odd, but since I am not only questioning a quote, but questioning a quote that is a question, then I am pretty sure that they are correct. :-)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Return of doubt: Things that suck

Hi bloggy world. It's been a while. Why have I been away? Lots of reasons. Work. I got married. More work. Devoting what little free time I have to fiction. And the ever lingering "sense of doubt," for which this blog is named: thanks yous and shouts out to Misters Bowie and Eno.

Anywho, this is the RETURN OF DOUBT with a new purpose to drive me: I need exercise. My writing muscle has gone flabby. I need to work the muscle. Please, no sexual innuendoes. I am being serious.

So here we go, peeps. We're flying into a new series of short blogitions that will keep me limber and lithe.

I will tag the forthcoming posts twice as both THINGS THAT SUCK and THINGS THAT PISS ME OFF as long as both conditions exist simultaneously. Because sometimes those things that suck, do not piss me off, they just make me sigh heavily (as Joss Whedon just wrote in response to WB taking on and rebooting HIS property, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Read about that HERE.)

And so in the spirit of other great blogentrepeneurs, such as the original THINGS THAT SUCK, which seems defunct, and one of my faves, STUFF THAT BUGS ME, which is active, I launch my own series of aggravations, annoyances, and general bugfoolery. Feel free to leave comments with your own stuff that gets under the skin and burrows a nest in your dermal layer.

And I am happy about this... Happy Thanksgiving for a world of people who do annoying crap!

- the tower of christopher 1011.24 (and now to work, which bugs me...)