My God, the way we tiptoe around words and titles! Almost afraid to say what it is we mean, we instead substitute cute little names rather than coming out and just saying it. I’m not sure why we do this, but in some cases, we think the names we come up with are absolutely adorable or highly clever, even if in many cases, they make little sense.
For example, let’s talk about theater programs, golf tournaments, or any kind of high-level capital campaign that publishes a program with a section recognizing their donors. What is wrong with simply saying Joe Schmo gave $100, or $1,000, or $10,000, or the Bogus Corporation is our Primary Sponsor with a $50,000 donation? Why are we so obsessed with grouping people together under the most ridiculous monikers by “those who think they know marketing” and think they are being oh-so-witty? Here’s an actual example from a regional theater program that perfectly illustrates my point.
Artistic Director: (those who gave $150,000 and above)
Associate Producer: ($15,000 to $24,999)
Investor: ($10,000 to $14,999)
Designer: ($5000 to $9,999)
Insider: ($2,500 to $4,999)
Leader: ($1500 to $2,499)
Advocate: ($1000 to $1,499)
Ensemble: ($500. to $999)
Supporter: ($250 to $499)
Audience Member: ($100. to $249)
Now, here’s my version of how I would redesign the above, the one we could all relate to, the one that’s real life and not a bunch of silly, made up euphemisms:
Member of the Lucky Sperm Club: (those who gave $150,000 and above)
Comes From Old Money: ($25,000-$149,999)
Trust Fund Baby: ($15,000-$24,999)
Got Lucky at the Casino and Doesn’t Want to Pay Taxes On It: ($10,000-$14,999)
About to be Divorced and Damned if She’ll Get a Penny: ($5,000-$9,999)
Cooking the Books and Looking to Hide It: ($2,500-$4,999)
Played a “Num-buh:” ($1,500-$2,499)
Knows a Guy: ($1,000-$1,499)
Wife’s Father Bought the Farm: ($500-$999)
Hoping to Get It On With a Member of the Supporting Cast: ($250-$499)
Cheap Bastard: ($100-$249)
Same goes for golf tournament programs. Instead of:
The Eagle Has Landed
A Little Birdie Told Us You Donated
Par for the Course
$5,000 and up: Par for the Course Since You’re Loaded
$2,500-$4,999: You’ll Never Get an Eagle, But You’ve Got Money
$1,000-$2,499: Bye, Bye Birdie
$100 to $999: Sub Par
Less than $100: Sell Your Clubs, Take Up Bowling
Moving on, here’s another adorable term to which we can all relate: customer service. Isn’t that the lousiest misnomer on the planet these days? Sometimes they really want to give you a big ole hug so they call it “customer care.” That’s when I really want to throw up. Now, I’m not talking about the live bodies in the stores, most of whom are pleasant, willing, and helpful. No, no, no, I’m referring to the ones on the phone or the ones behind those toothy smiling photos of the live-chat “customer service” folks online, the ones you call when you have a question about a bill, when a charge isn’t correct, or in my recent case, when you want to cancel forever a credit card because of the lack of customer service
The ultimate euphemism here is “customer service.” You’re the customer, they’re supposed to supply the service, but they can’t when they aren’t real people to begin with or when they’re nameless, faceless automatons thousands of miles away around the globe.
It is not — and I repeat — not customer service when you get an automated menu with nine options and not one of them addresses why you called in the first place, or when you leave your number so they can call you back when waiting time is 137 minutes ... except then they don’t!
The more appropriate job titles I therefore propose are: Being Paid Minimum Wage and Could Care Less if You Get Disconnected or perhaps most accurate, Some Guy in India You Can’t Understand and He Can’t Understand You.
Once again, this all comes down to what I’ve harped on before ... communication. Just say what you mean, rather than wrapping it in thinly veiled words and phrases. Listen to one another. Be there to give service if that’s what they call your department and job title, and do it well. And if you choose to donate to a theater, a golf tournament, or charity event, let’s hope they don’t call you “Angel,” or “Sweet Butt.”
Let’s hope they just say, “thank you.”
Rona Mann has been a freelance writer for The Sun for 19 years, including her “In Their Shoes” features. She can be reached at email@example.com or 401-539-7762.