Oh boy. Some days it’s almost too hard. Sitting here at Panera, trying to get the day going. Laying out my tasks: update blog, answer emails, set appointments for week, go to …. But across the room, just threetables away, some poor dear child is struggling with this new language she is learning. OK, she looks like she’s about 24 and her accent is completely American. But the way she’s falling all over herself to make a statement is, like, well, she’s all >face<. You know?
I’m sorry, but I have such a difficult time not walking across the room, sitting down with her, looking deeply into her eyes and saying, “Now … honey … what … is … it … you … are … trying …
to … say? Can … I … help … you … form … a … simple … sentence … my … poor … simple … child?”
To paraphrase Professor Henry Higgins, who taught her to say “and he was all like,” instead of “and he said”? Who taught her to place the burden of translation on her listener (“you know?”) instead of on herself by actually describing what she means? And who in the world taught her to say, “I was like >faceshrug<" instead of saying, "And it made me feel uncomfortable, so I couldn't think of what to say to her"?
I really want to know! WHO is teaching people to non-talk like this? Surely there has not been some rebellion by the teachers of America who have decided to pay back their insolent students by teaching them to speak in a way that virtually guarantees them to be rejected by any hiring manager at any job for which they might apply? Except McDonalds or Taco Bell, that is. Do they actually walk into an office, hand over their resumes, and say, “Hey! I’d like to, you know, like, really work for you guys! I think it it would be, like, you know, totally, you know >face
And watching her talk to her similarly disabled friend was as painful as listening to them. The eye rolls, shrugs, and exaggerated faces that accompanied their frequent “you knows” reminded me of nervous ticks or mini-seizures. What are they, Italian?
And so I say, on behalf of cognizant humans throughout the free world: parents, please teach your children to speak and express themselves. Otherwise, someday they may need help and only be able to say, “Hey! I’m like totally, like, you know, like … ” before passing out. Or, if that’s not incentive enough, imagine yourself at 75, sitting in your nursing home room, unable to get up and run away from their twitching, babbling attempts at communication every time they visit.
Nurse! Isn’t it time for my sleeping pill?!!
Bob Collins, CDM
Certified Domestic Mediator
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