Confusing Phraseology

Ever wonder why, in baseball, it’s called a foul pole even though it’s in fair territory, and if a player hits it with a batted ball it’s a home run? Do you sometimes wonder how something can be pretty ugly, or how someone can do something accidentally on purpose, or how something/someone can be awfully good? Ever get confused when someone says “same difference?” These oxymoron phrases are used often in discussions and conversations; we’ve become accustomed to hearing them and knowing what the person using them usually means by them. There are others used today that I don’t really think come close to the meaning of their words, which allow them to fit the qualifications of being a true oxymoron, and that’s the topic of today.

About seven years ago, a few of my buddies and I spent a couple of hours on a Saturday or a Sunday, on a weekly basis, visiting a close friend of ours who had cancer and didn’t have a lot of time left on this Earth. Unfortunately, he passed away, and in his memory, a few of us still get together weekly to have coffee and talk about our week, share some sports talk, or political talk, and a few laughs with each other, and remember John and, as of two weeks ago, “Bullet.” We usually meet at a local “fast food” establishment in our community, and that’s the first “oxymoronical” phrase I wish to discuss in today’s edition of the “Voice from the Bullpen.”

I’ve witnessed, on numerous occasions, people coming into this establishment, which has a number of employees working, and standing (the customers, not the employees) for what would be considered a significant period of time, to have their order taken, processed and their food presented to them.

I’ve waited in line, at times, for as many as 10 minutes to get my usual weekly order of a small regular coffee with two Splendas. (I’m a creature of habit, I admit it.) I’ve watched as one person working the counter had to take the orders of as many as 10 people, and then try to begin filling parts of those orders. I guess what amazes me is that it happens this way almost weekly, so if there’s a large crowd who comes in around the same time each week, why not have ample numbers of employees on active staff to accommodate these customers, to live up to your claim of being a “fast food” establishment, and avoid having to utter the words, “Sorry for the wait,” which seem to be said more now than the ever popular, “Would you like fries with that?”

During the times we’ve met at this establishment, they’ve gone from two registers and employees taking orders (and there were waiting lines for both registers then) down to one, and then add in days when the person at the register is being trained (and I have no problem with the training of new employees) which adds more time to the wait for your order being taken and/or your order arriving.

I realize we can go to another place if we aren’t satisfied with this establishment, but I will say, to their credit, that at this place you can get a cup of coffee, with refills, for as little as 85 cents. Now, I don’t consider myself a cheapskate, but I have this thing about ordering a $3 to $5 cup of coffee which, as I’ve mentioned in the past, is usually so strong it’ll grow hair on your head, which again, it doesn’t by the way. (Trust me, I know.) Whatever happened to the 50-cent cup of coffee that usually tasted like coffee? (You know, that good old cup of Maxwell House which I’ve spoken of before?)

Anyway, the location of the establishment we patronize is convenient for us, which plays into our decision to meet there. I know, it’s like most things, there are good points and bad points in almost everything, and this place does have positives. The staff is always very cordial. (And I don’t blame the staff for the wait, as the one person working does her/his best to accommodate the customers.) I just think the phrase “fast food,” as things are experienced by many who patronize this particular establishment, needs to be considered for addition to the list of commonly used oxymoron phrases used in daily conversations. Unless the food is served within a few minutes of the taking of the order, then “fast food” might be a contradiction of terms here.

This isn’t the only establishment I’ve patronized where “fast food” is contradictory. I’ve been to other similar restaurants and waited in “drive thrus” of other places where the breakfast hour has often turned into lunchtime, if your timing isn’t just right. My point of discussion is, don’t overuse the billing of “fast food” if you can’t consistently live up to the correctness of that phrase.

Another confusing interpretation of words comes from places that advertise themselves as emergency care facilities, but keep people waiting for emergency care for as many as two or three hours. One definition of the word emergency is, “an unforeseen combination of circumstances, or the resulting state that calls for immediate action.”

We know a fairly recent situation where someone we knew suffered a very deep cut, one eventually resulting in numerous stitches, and when taken to an institution which claimed to offer emergency care, this person was registered (after about a half hour), and then sat for about another hour and a half before being seen by anyone, bleeding the entire time. Maybe I just don’t understand the meaning of the term “immediate action,” or maybe in this case the words “emergency care,” used by the institution is just another confusing phrase.

Enough said … what’s next?