Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Convenience Charge

The telemarketer on the other end of the line asks me if “Mrs. Dixon” is at home.

“There is no Mrs. Dixon living here,” I point out, affably, especially for someone who has had to run up the steps and tear around the living room trying to find the missing phone before it stopped ringing.

“Are you Mr. Dixon?”

“There is no Mr. Dixon here, either.”

“When do you expect Jennifer to be home?” asks the solicitor, trying another tack.

“May I ask what this call is in reference to?” I inquire, shifting the conversation myself.

“It’s just a courtesy call,” comes the response.

But, of course, it’s not. If anything, it’s a rudeness call, interrupting my life and evening as it has.

Later, I’m trying to buy six tickets to the upcoming Decemberists show at the Paramount Theater. Seats are $25.00 a piece, with a $2.50 facility fee each. On top of that Ticketmaster wants to tack on $8.50 per for a “Convenience Charge.”

Convenient for them maybe, certainly not for me.

How is it that language has gotten so perverted that rudeness can be called “courtesy” and inconvenience “convenience?”

I suppose it’s just symptomatic of a culture in which torture is referred to as “persuasion” and where simply repeating a lie over and over makes it true.

Now, I don’t mean to sound all traditionalist here; I’m all for neology as a rule, but I do think we need to be somewhat careful about making words mean things they were never intended to.

“Star,” for instance, was never meant to refer to anyone voted for by national cellphone poll.

I am glad, however, that language is living. We were playing Scrabble last night and on my last turn, I was left with an “F,” an “A,” and a “Q,” but no “U.”

Thanks to courteously fluid nature of English, I was able to win the game by spelling “FAQ.”

That’s what I would call convenient.


Anonymous Paul said...

1984? Doublespeak? Of course it's not just the government like in 1984, it's corporations, the media, and the government.

The Decemberists rock, by the way. I saw them at the Sasquatch festival this summer, and I love them. Unfortunately I have an intense dislike of the paramount, so I won't be going,but I hope you have a good time.

9:09 AM  

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