Making a thing out of some bollocks

September 2012

I was having a conversation with one of my friends a few weeks ago. He got married around the same time as me and we were exchanging notes on married life. I was explaining how I trip over my wife’s shoes on a daily basis. He was telling me how he gets told off for resting his head on decorative pillows. We both agreed - as all men do – that cushions are a waste of time. Neither of us could fathom how women manage to fit so many clothes into a wardrobe and we both questioned the purpose of Pot Puree. I suggested it would be cheaper and just as effective to spray the wife’s perfume in a wicker basket full of Alpen.

Having been married for nearly a year now, I think I have settled well into life as a husband. I have mastered saying “yes dear” whilst not actually listening to what beloved is telling me and I don’t leave the toilet seat up. Ever.

However, I’ve yet to fully master the language of woman. She phoned me up in a blind panic the other day and said she had forgotten to put the things in the freezer and asked if I could do it. When I asked her to elaborate on what this thing might be, I was informed they were the things she bought that morning. After more detective work, I eventually managed to establish the thing she was referring to was some ice cream. So after pointing out that I am not psychic and, because she had purchased them some 5 hours earlier, they would almost certainly be beyond saving, I then asked where these mystical ice creams were. She then helpfully informed me they were in the thing in front of the thing.

To cut a long and very boring story short, I finally managed to establish the thing she was referring to was a bag and the thing they were in front of was the freezer. The real thing here is that if this conversation had been between her and, say, my mum, they would have completely understood each other. Seriously, the conversation would have gone “I didn’t put the things in the thing can you get the things out of the thing and put them in the thing?” And my mum would have answered “Oh my god the ice cream! I’ll take them out of the bag and put them in the freezer now, dear.”

Of course I should be fluent in this bizarre language because I did spend the first 20 years of my life living with my parents and hearing my mum refer to everything as thingies, doobries, hoojimy wot-nots and various other non-words should have taught me the meaning of a generic thing.

It’s not just women who do this. It is a problem often experienced in the business world. People who work in the same environment understand the jargon and will talk to their colleagues in that very bizarre language. What they don’t realise is the customers they are selling to don’t understand a word they are saying. Sometimes people use this jargon to deliberately confuse customers with bollocks and make themselves sound cleverer than they are.

I’ve experienced this numerous times with customers of my own. I pride myself on my straight-talking, no-nonsense approach. Admittedly it has got me into trouble on a few occasions but at least people know where they stand with me. I am fully aware that customers, as a general rule, are idiots and don’t understand even the most basic things so I have learnt to speak like a caveman when communicating with them and have, on more than one occasion, resorted to drawing crude diagrams to explain how simple things work – like switching a computer on.

However, sometimes I have to be given instructions by customers who want me to do work for them. Sometimes these customers fall into the “let’s confuse everyone with bollocks” category and so they insist on trying to over-complicate everything. It’s difficult to explain to these people that trying to confuse me with internal jargon and general nonsense is counter-productive because if I don’t understand what they are asking me to do, how the hell do they expect me to do the job? Often what they are asking for is actually quite simple but they like to sugar coat it in false complexity. This leaves me with a moral dilemma; do I maintain my policy of honesty and quote them the teeny weeny amount it’s actually worth, or do I fight bullshit with bullshit and tell them what they are waffling on about is so complicated it will cost them a hundred and eleventy million pounds?

Seriously, in a sort of perverse way, I can see the logic in confusing a naive moron with nonsense to try and get more money out of them but I can’t see why a customer would take that approach with a supplier because they are effectively making things more expensive for themselves. Also, if I can’t understand what they are banging on about, I’m unlikely to be able to do what they want and that will just make me look bad.

It really comes down to the classic case of idiots trying to justify their own existence. Some people feel they need to use big words and come up with over-complicated and often unnecessary ideas to make it look like they are not a complete waste of space and are actually an asset to the company, which of course they are not. The thing is, with companies having to make cut-backs because the banks and Greece have lost all our money, more and more people now have to justify their worth and this is leading to an increase in the amount of bollocks being spouted. This is a bad thing. It was bollocks that got us into this mess and now people are trying to escape the repercussions of this bollocks with more bollocks. Bollocks cannot beat bollocks. What we need is an end to this bollocks. Only by speaking clearly in a bollocks-free language that everybody understands can we begin to recover from this mess. I therefore suggest that we start with the bankers and chop off their bollocks.