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Not so much, right?

A sample of headlines in Craigslist’s job feed:

and my favourite:

  • NANNY NOW!!! (the ad is all in caps too. Easy on the coffee there, Mommy.)

Dear, dear employers: I understand that you’re urgent, you’re busy, you want hardworking, reliable employees, preferably sober. But the combination of ALL CAPS and multiple exclamation points does not really make people want to work for you. As it has been said time and time again, using either in writing is like shouting at the reader. And for some reason, many of you like to deploy them together.

If a job seeker is reading one of these ads, do you think they want to be shouted at by someone they don’t even work for yet? Duh, no. Next. Ease up and sweeten up.

If you’re having trouble finding good staff, perhaps reflect on your netiquette and punctuation habits. Better yet, hire a professional who knows how to turn off the caps lock key. They teach us that, y’know. In writer school.

This has been a public service announcement brought to you by the ampersand.


Have you ever worked in an office with a filthy kitchen and a fridge with all of last year’s lunches oozing out of it? Was there a sign above the sink reading “Your mother doesn’t work here” or “BYO Maid” and suchlike? Then check out the Passive-Aggressive Notes blog – especially if you hate people who resort to passive-aggressive behaviours instead of saving everyone time and aggravation by coming out and saying what they want. I love all the notes – and responses – from people for whom directness is NOT a way of life.

If punctuation abuse is more what gets your blood boiling – i.e. you nodded in sympathy on every page of Eats, Shoots & Leaves – there are two blogs that feel your pain (both found via the aforementioned P-A blog):

I especially liked the post on picking apart the unnecessary use of quotation marks by Truamn Capote (!) in In Cold Blood. I myself am a recovering quotation mark and unnecessary brackets abuser.

As an afterthought, I wonder if I am being passive-aggressive about my issues with passive-aggressiveness by writing this post to encourage others to recognize it and stop doing it. Man, do I ever hate indirectness and veiled commands. So just don’t do that, please.

My sister thinks that using the phrase “former Woodlands grounds” is too formal. She suggests, “Old Loony Bin Lawns.” It’s good to have family who can understand what it is you’re really trying to say.

While filing some papers this morning, I ran across a new verb: “to incent”. Ah geez, not another one of these trendy little business words. Hello Google, bring me back something. I discovered that not only has “incent” been kicking around the cubicles for a couple of decades, it is also the abbreviation of an even worse abomination: “incentivize”.
In a mighty coincidence, this morning’s Globe and Mail ran a biting commentary piece on the long history of “verbifying”. They wrote “I am tired of yelling at my TV and shaking the newspaper at the dog.” Amen.

We all know someone who just can’t seem to shut up about themselves. My parents had to get call display to avoid being trapped in three-hour conversations/monologues with the neighbour going through a drawn-out divorce. At a gallery night, I got trapped by a stranger who took the opening of “How are you doing?” to launch into a twenty-minute description of his family history with alcohol. I told him, “I need a drink,” and took my leave.
Selfish and inconsiderate persons who insist on going on and on and on about their damn selves deserve no gentle politeness from you. When you get cornered by such a boob, remind them that a conversation involves two with this barbed question, courtesy of Ms. Lara: “Can we turn this diatribe* into a dialogue?”

*Diatribe N. A forceful verbal attack. From the Illustrated Oxford Dictionary c1998.

You might recall that the assignment I took didn’t start out so well. I am still here and thought I ought to provide an update on the situation.

Bad: On three separate days, I went home and cried from the boredom and frustration of this place.
Good: Sometimes I have time to blog. And my desk faces away from the cubicle opening so there is opportunity for concealment of whatever illicit Craigslist-surfing or blog reading I happen to be doing.

Bad: I spend much of my time ordering food for overfed executives and their thousands of meetings.
Good: If I haven’t had a chance to pack a lunch, there are usually goodies laying (lying?) around. I have also been taken out for lunch twice.

Bad: I cringe at the MBA-porn business-speak that permeates many of the (ooh, top secret!) documents I handle.
I have no upside for this one. Abuse of language is such a crime and”operationalize” is not a real word. Look it up.

Bad: While I feel that I am making good money for the idiot labour I am performing, I also see how much all the consultants in the department charge, and they’re getting hefty cheques for dodgy work. “Change Management”? Leeches.
Good: I’ve saved some money for school in September.
Bad: Who knows how long this will go on?

Bad: They are starting to put on this not-so-subtle pressure to stay in the office at lunch and linger beyond 4:30. “Hey it’s 4:31, you’re still here? Oh, you’re putting on your jacket – getting slow! Haha!” Good: Fuck that – if you get an hour for lunch, you take an hour. This temp stands firm on working the hours paid for and establishes that from the very beginning. I’m not lingering in my little padded cell (oops, cubicle) for form’s sake.

Bad: People eating cafeteria sandwiches at their desks on a sunny day? Why?
Good: One lovely co-worker has latched onto the idea that I am actually a food writer. We talk at length about local restaurants and he tells everyone “Hey! Did you know she’s a food writer?” One day, he got a whole group of people to go to a cafe around the corner for amazing cabbage rolls and perogies. On a rainy day, no less.

Bad: People say “Hello”, but in these crazy low whispers. One consultant stares at me every time he walks past my cube and does the Hello whisper thing. Huh? Speak up!
Good: The passive-aggressive bitchy woman who was there the first few days is long gone, and the woman I work with is really quite friendly and lovely. Compared to my fire-breathing, sinus-clearing, water-please eating habits, she likes everything plain, plain, plain. I am keeping a list of “Foods ______ Eats” as a joke because its so limited. She’s the kind of person who can laugh about things like that.

Bad: Some days I feel like I am just there to take care of all these other people’s needs and all their tedious details.
Good: If I need it, I have people who take care of me.

Bad: I start caring too much and obsess about those minor details and slights.
Good: I slog away at my own projects and try to make some things that are good for me start happening now.

I was just wondering – when you think out loud or tell yourself you want to remember something, is it your habit to say:

a) Mental Note…

b) Note to Self…

or c) something else entirely?

I use “Mental Note” – what’s your style?

From “That’s Canada…with a ‘u’!” by Robyn Matthew in West Coast Editor, February 2005:

Whether they like it or not, Canadian publishers are being forced to tailor the spelling of their books to an American audience, which is 10 times the size of Canada’s, simply to remain financially viable. “We are doing more American spelling because we are selling into the states,” admits Nancy Flight, editor at local Canadian publisher Greystone Books. And she adds, “some authors are really upset about it.”
The sacrificing of Canadian spelling has also saddened many Canadian editors, even though they understand the economic reasons behind the decision. “Americans,” states Liv Fredricksen, “typically like things to be placed within their own frame of reference, and they have the buying power to demand that the rest of the world comply.”

The newsletter containing the entire article should be posted soon on the EAC website,

Tra la la. Another day I am confusing Word with my habit of spelling the Canadian way. I stick u’s between my o’s and r’s, but use z’s rather than s’s in all my -ize’s. That’s about it, really.
I am also mad for properly hyphenated adjectival phrases. In the long term, I’d like to achieve my short-term goals.
Men who read are mad sexy. A man propping up with book with one hand and looking all rapt is just so inviting.
According to a study, which I don’t happen to have handy, but will post later, Canadian spelling is falling out of favour with Canadian book publishers. Because of concerns about sales of co-editions to American publishers and booksellers, we don’t want to distinguish and oft-put with a display of vibrant Canadian colour. I can attest that I wrote press releases and sales copy for our American distributor with proper attention to words like “center” and “neighbor”. It did feel a bit strange; it’s not as though the Americans insisted, its that we wanted to please.
By the way, poutine is vile. Pass the sushi.

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