There was a skit about 10 years ago on Saturday Night Live in which a spoof of a time-saver infomercial told viewers that they'd be more productive if they chopped off the last syllable of each word. Unfortunately, I'd save no time with the sentence, "we've gone too far, so kill me now."
I walked by a FedEx Express store yesterday. If you were able to read that last sentence without lapsing into a coma, maybe our minds work differently. Let me rephrase it so that you can't possibly miss my outrage. I walked by a Federal Express Express.
That's right. FedEx is now pumping their express service, which confuses the hell out of me since I thought everything they did was supposed to be express. That's why they called themselves Federal EXPRESS. And then spent millions of dollars re-branding themselves as FedEx. And now that we all got to know FedEx, they have added an extra "Express." I'll pause a minute while you come out of your coma.
Back with me? Good. It was ironic enough that they were allowed to use the word "express" in the first place. The only thing expressed in a FedEx warehouse is the customer's disdain for their slow and spotty service. But now the word "express" is in the title twice. Someone at corporate must have no longer been content to lie about our packages being expressed once. Nay, they needed to lie twice.
Perhaps the two lies diffuse each other, leaving the company known simply as "Federal." Which makes sense because the US Government is the only thing with less speed an accuracy than the manner in which FedEx delivers our packages.
I'm not picking on FedEx's service specifically. I've used this space to mock UPS and the USPS before. And I'm sure if I knew where or how to send a package DHL, I'd hate them, too. But right now, It's FedEx Express' fault I am so PO-ed off.
I ventured into the FedEx Express store looking for answers, or perhaps a blunt object with which I could bludgeon myself. Finding only empty poster tubes, I asked the man behind the desk how much extra it would be to send something express.
"Everything we send is express," the man answered.
"I know," I said before walking out. "That's my freaking point."
I may not have phrased it that nicely, but this column does run in family newspapers.
Is this how stupid we've become? That we need to unabbreviate our abbreviations? We've spent so much time trying to save ourselves time that we now have to spend time unsaving that time, which we never really saved to begin with. Sorry, let me say that the Saturday Night Live way: which we nev real saved to beg with.
Should I have said "SNL?"
There are many one syllable words I would like to use now, but again, the family newspaper thing. If I did use those words, I'm sure I'd get lots of angry feedback, some of which would be sent using the local USPS service. Or maybe an IM message. How many times have you gone to an ATM machine? And put in your PIN number? Maybe you needed the money to eat some KFC chicken.
Would it be too much to ask that we think before we speak? Would it be too much to ask that FedEx thinks before they spend millions of dollars re-branding themselves? And would it be too much to ask that people realize the best way to save time is not to change our language, but to get better and more concise with the language we already have?
It is up to you to help fix this. Because I want this fixed, and I want it fixed ASAP possible.
Sorry, that's "ASAP possib."
Steve Hofstetter is the author of the Student Body Shots books, which are available at SteveHofstetter.com. He can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.