Friday, September 30, 2011

Work & Euphemisms - by George Carlin

Euphemisms: Write If You Get Work
by George Carlin


These days, people who have jobs are called members of the workforce. But I can’t help thinking the Russian Revolution would have been a lot less fun if the Communists had been running through the streets yelling, “Members of the workforces of the world, unite!”
And I’m sure Marx and Lenin would not be pleased to know that, today, employees who refuse to work no longer go on strikes. They engage in job actions that result in work stoppages. And if a work stoppage lasts long enough, the company doesn’t hire scabs, it brings in replacement workers.


When it comes to firing people, companies try desperately to depersonalize the process so that no human being is ever seen to fire another. The language is extremely neutral, and whatever blame there is goes to something called global market forces. Frikkin’ foreigners!
And these companies go through some truly exotic verbal gymnastics to describe what’s taking place – although I’m not sure it makes the individuals in question feel any better. After all, being fired, released or terminated would seem a lot easier to accept than being non-retained, dehired, or selected out.
Nor would I be thrilled to be told that, because the company was downsizing, rightsizing, or scaling down, I was part of an involuntary force-reduction. I really don’t care that my company is reshaping and streamlining, and that, in order to manage staff resources, a focused reduction is taking place, and I’m one of the workers being transitioned out. Just fire me, please!
I read somewhere that apparently one company’s senior management didn’t understand the fuss about the issue. After all, they said, all they were doing was eliminating the company’s employment security policy by engaging in a deselection process in order to reduce duplications.
P.S. By the way, when those deselected people begin to look for new jobs, they won’t have to be bothered reading the want ads. Those listings are now called employment opportunities. Makes you feel a lot better, doesn’t it?

Euphamisms: What Do You Do for a Living?
by George Carlin

American companies now put a great deal of effort into boosting their employee’s self-esteem by handing out inflated job titles. Most likely, they think it also helps compensate for the longer hours, unpaid overtime, and stagnant wages that have become standard. It doesn’t.
However, such titles do allow an ordinary store clerk to tell some girl he’s picking up at a bar that he’s a product specialist. Or a retail consultant. If it turns out she’s a store clerk, too, but her store uses different euphemisms, then she may be able to inform him that she’s a sales counselor. Or a customer service associate. And, for a while there, they’re under the impression that they actually have different jobs.
These are real job titles, currently in use to describe employees whose work essentially consists of telling customers, “We’re all out of medium.” Nothing wrong with that, but it’s called store clerk, not retail consultant, and not customer service associate. Apparently, stores feel they can charge more for merchandise sold by a customer service associate than they can for the same junk sold by a clerk. By the way, if a clerk should be unhappy with his title, he can always move to a different store, where he may have a chance of being called a product service representative, a sales representative, or a sales associate.
And I hope you took note of that word associate. That’s a hot word with companies now. I saw a fast-food employee mopping the floor at an In-N-Out Burger and – I swear this is true – his name tag said “associate.” Okay? It’s the truth. Apparently, instead of money, they now give out these bogus titles.
At another fast-food place, Au Bon Pain, I noticed the cashier’s name tag said hospitality representative. The cashier. The name tag was pinned to her uniform. The people who sell these uniforms now refer to them as career apparel. Or – even worse – team wear. I had to sit down when I heard that. Team wear.
Teams are also big in business; almost as big as associates. In Los Angeles’s KooKooRoo restaurants the employee name tags say “team member.” At the Whole Foods supermarket, I talked to the head of the meat department about ordering a special item; I figured he was the head butcher. But his name tag identified him as the meat team leader. Throw that on your résumé. I guess the people under him would have been meat team associates. I didn’t stick around to ask.
So it’s all about employee morale. And in a lot of companies, as part of morale-building, the employees are called staff. But it’s all right, because most customers are now called clients. With those designations, I guess the companies can pay the staff less and charge the clients more.
I’m not sure when all this job-title inflation began, but it’s been building for a while. At some point in the past thirty years secretaries became personal assistants or executive assistants. Many of them now consider those terms too common, so they call themselves administrative aides.
Everyone wants to sound more important these days:

Teachers became educators,
drummers became percussionists,
movie directors became filmmakers,
company presidents became chief executive officers,
family doctors became primary-care providers,
manicurists became nail technicians,
magazine photographers became photojournalists,
weightlifters became bodybuilders,
and bounty hunters now prefer to be called recovery agents.

And speaking of lifting, those retail-store security people who keep an eye on shoplifters are known as loss-prevention managers. Still more to come. Later.

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