Out of town, delayed, exhausted, and weary from what the airlines had foisted upon me in the name of their twisted, loose definition of “customer service,” I sought energy in the airport coffee bar, hoping to remain awake long enough to arrive at my destination.
“What would you like?” asked the young woman behind the counter.
“Sugar and cream?”
“No thanks. But where do you keep the Sweet ‘n’ Low?”
“On the counter behind you. Regular or decaf?”
I wanted to say, “Look at me. Don’t I look like someone who desperately needs caffeine?” Instead, I chose politeness, “Regular.”
“Small,” I answered, maintaining a delicate balance between staying alert long enough to arrive at my destination but not so amped that sleep avoids me.
Pointing to the plastic menu behind and above her, she explained, “We don’t have ‘smalls;’ only medium, large, or extra large.” For reference, she directed me to three sample Styrofoam cups emblazoned with felt marker: “M,” “L,” and “XL”.
Understand please, I am a writer and a speaker.
Words are my tools; their correct usage is vital. In the same fashion a carpenter handles a saw or an artist strokes with brush, each word has a specific function. Labeling a “small” a “medium” does not make it so anymore than naming a “rabbit” a “chicken” will cause it to lay eggs. Now then, I became launched upon a mission to correct this contrived corruption of communication.