Saturday, August 28, 2010

Wait...Wait...I Didn't Mean That!: 3 Stupid Things I've Said On The Job

#1) "I'm just a sucker for anything miniature."

I said this to an elderly customer who was eyeballing the row of neatly lined-up tiny salt and pepper shakers on the wooden shelving in our kitchen department. I even tossed my head back, held my hand up in a traffic director's "STOP!" and then flung it down at the wrist. Before the sentence escaped my lips, I knew I was talking crazy talk. What the hell does it mean? Being a "sucker for anything miniature." That I am an avid collector of miniature things? I am not.  Worse, I didn't merely suggest that I like miniature things. I'm a sucker for them. I implied that I get all goo-goo ga-ga over all things represented in tiny form.

It was like I had become momentarily possessed by a scrap booking, kitten loving, sweatshirt bedazzling, country craft-making, miniature things-collecting lady, and was so overcome with joy and love for those tiny salt and pepper shakers that I just had to tell someone. I couldn't have been any more shocked by my utterance than if I'd said, "I'm a HUGE collector or precious moments figurines!" or "Hey, try out this papasan chair. And by the way, I hate the gays!"

I'm not sure why I said it.  And as the lady smiled at me in that, " and I have something in common with our love of normal things squished down into their miniature version," I felt a little guilty. When she dumped a dozen sets of the salt and pepper shakers into her shopping basket, I felt even worse.

#2) "How's it going, Sweat Pea-ness?"
This was, perhaps, one of the most traumatizing things I've ever said on the job. I was teaching kindergarten at the time, and had developed a habit of adding cutsie little suffixes to words that really didn't need them. (Refer to the "sie" just added to the word "cute" when "cute" would have sufficed.) "Hang your little bagsies over here on these hooksies. Good job, cuteness!" I wasn't awaresies of the change in my language, as I was surrounded by 5-year-olds and occasionally another kindergarten teacher who was on her own word kick by calling everyone "baby." I, however, randomly tossed out names like "Cutie Pie" and "Sweat Pea." The addition of a suffix to the later was just an accident waiting to happen.

No one likes to be called a "penis" by their teacher, even if I was legitimately saying "pea-ness." A "sweet penis," or "sweet pea-ness," to be fair, is even worse. Luckily, I've since abandoned both the need to suffixize everything I say and to use names for students other than what they were given at birth, a nickname derived from their original name, or occasionally "chicken" (meant in a loving way.)

Except for that one time, when I said to a group of middle schoolers,  (#3) "We'll go outside as soon as you're done with your test-ies."

It was, no doubt, a momentary lapse into an old speech pattern. The "ies" snuck their way in and attached themselvesies to the end of the word "test." I happened to be giving a short vocabulary quiz and had promised some time outside when everyone completed it. "Can we go out yet?" was met with my accidental suggestion that "testes" had anything to do with literacy class. A kindergartner might miss the mention of "sweet penis," but let me tell you, middle schoolers don't let a word like "test-ies" go by without giving you hell. I was sure that was the utterance that would land me in my principal's office, parent and scarred child sitting at the table opposite me, waiting to hear of an explanation. I made a silent promise right then and there not to cute-ify any words in the future. Ever. Except for when I water my planties or feed my dog her foodies.


  1. Were you demanding the children somehow exhaust their testes? I am not of understand.

  2. Perhaps you are of understand after all, Handy, as that does appear to be what I was doing. Unintentionally, mind you.