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, 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. :-)
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