I hate when people say, “Huh?” via text message. So much so, that I’ve come pretty close to cutting ties with one of my best friends over it. To be clear, I don’t much care for “huh?” in a face-to-face chat either, but it’s a quicker exchange. I don’t have to waste my time trying to figure out what he or she doesn’t understand, I can just quickly ask. Texting draws out the entire discussion and 90% of the time, I find myself explaining a statement I made about something as menial as an idiomatic expression that someone hasn’t heard of. Maybe I should just stop using idioms? Or maybe I should just complain via blog because I can get it out, without it being too public so as to piss anyone off.
I hate the ambiguity of “huh?” I also think it sounds a little condescending. I used to have this awful second grade teacher, Mrs. Obrien. Every time someone answered a question wrong, she’d go, “huh?” and get the entire class to chime in. It was absolutely mortifying and discouraged me from even trying to answer a question. She’d call on me and I’d tell her that I didn’t know. Looking back on it, this isn’t aggravating because it completely killed my motivation to participate in class (until college); rather, it’s aggravating because in the time she spent berating me and getting the class to join in, she could have explained to me why my answer was wrong or explain the correct answer. Isn’t that what a teacher is supposed to do? Apparently Mrs. Obrien’s version of teaching involved telling us we were going to live in boxes when we grew up (as if she could have predicted that when we were in second grade) and encourage her “smart” students to make fun of her “dumb” students.
I hadn’t thought of Mrs. Obrien in a long time, but I was reminded of her when I was writing a story about my old boss, Catharine. Again, I don’t care about including her name because this woman used to give me articles she wanted me to read and have me give her the bullet points. In addition to the many, many things that I hated about Catharine, I think the worst was when she would say, “I don’t understand.” It was always followed up with, “This really scares me.” I will dedicate an entire post, maybe even a page, to the awful that is Catharine (dying to write her last name because it rhymes). When I worked for Catharine, I would write blogs for her or at least that’s what she wanted. Writing blogs for a business sucks for someone my age. I’m not in the business enough to be able to just free-write and give my thoughts and ideas, yet it’s considered to be such a simple task. I digress.
My blog-writing process, per Catharine’s request – like I had a choice – was to read an article someone else had written, pull the bullet points and rewrite it. So that’s what I did and being the millennial that I am, I also looked for more related articles and compiled a mini research paper (no more than a page long). I sent it to Catharine and the next day I went into her office for our sporadic weekly meeting. She’d already been yelling at me because the guy who shovels didn’t shovel, apparently as the person who sits closest to the door, I should have taken the initiative. Alright. So I go into her office and ask her what she thinks.
“Well, I can only see it on the computer so how am I supposed to know?” She spits.
“So you want me to print it out?”
“Oh my god!” she yells followed by incomprehensible statements about how she needs to read things on paper, not a machine. My bad. I guess I was under the impression that a when the document is less than a page, you were capable of reading it off of your laptop. Because this is the 21st century and you’re a business owner. I digress.
I sit on the other side of her desk while she “reads it.” She read the first sentence and her already stinky expression got stinkier. The expression on her face was as if I’d written, “I’ve slaughtered three-year-olds, and I’m happiest when my boyfriend ties me up” in bold letters. Only the latter is true. Just kidding. So Catharine looked pissed. I’m used to criticism on a rough draft. In fact, I encourage criticism because I’m never fully satisfied with an initial draft. Catharine did not have criticism. She threw the paper at me. It just missed the edge of her desk, landing on her mountain of invoices and other documents labeled “URGENT” that she’s probably never glanced at.
“Did you plagiarize this?!” She shouted so that everyone in the hall could hear. I said no, though I was very taken aback, because honestly I felt that rewriting and condensing an article that was written by someone else was a lot closer to plagiarism than researching and reading a bunch of articles and writing a completely new piece, in your own words. She told me that she “didn’t understand” and that my piece “makes no sense.” How can you accuse someone of plagiarizing something and then say it doesn’t make sense? Wouldn’t blatant “plagiarism” make sense? Why would it have been published by Forbers in the first place. I asked her which part, specifically. The whole thing. So I asked her if she could at least give me notes on a specific section, so I have a better idea of what she’s looking for. “No it’s all just terrible. Did you even read the article I sent you?” Yes, did you, Catharine? I felt like asking.
Catharine felt confident because she’d successfully reduced one of her 23-year-old employees to tears, and made her feel like a complete idiot, but that wasn’t an effective business practice at all. Instead of going back to my desk and rewriting it to fit her expectations, I went back to my desk and stared at my computer screen – filled with anxiety. Then I contemplated going postal. Then I remembered that I loved all of the people I worked with, Catharine was just all of the swear words combined, and filled with filthy, trashy sludge. So I didn’t go postal. I did remove her Botox injection appointment from her calendar, which lead to her missing the appointment. Point – Kellie.