Friday, April 25, 2008


Standing at the counter today to pick up my spicy buffalo chicken wrap, I asked for pickles. As usual. Those who know us know that I eat pickles nearly every day and that M thinks I eat too many pickles while simultaneously bemoaning not purchasing stock in Heifetz Pickles a long, long time ago.

Anyway, I asked for pickles, and the woman behind the counter told me (egad!) they had no pickles (gasp!). She commiserated, being a fellow pickle-lover herself apparently, and said, "I know! It's a tragesty!"

I nodded in agreement, picked up my tray and walked away. Then it hit me. Wait a minute...that's not really a word.

I'm assuming she meant to say either "travesty" or "tragedy," but they got all mish-mashed up together in her mouth and came out "tragesty." Which, on the whole, isn't a bad description of a food place that doesn't have pickles. Having no pickles is, after all, is both a tragedy and a travesty. Might as well exercise some brevity and smoosh them together.

I work with a woman who doesn't know the difference between idea and ideal. We'll be meeting on something and she'll say, "I have an ideal..." I'm always so tempted to say, "I have many ideals." This is different from "tragesty," somehow. Maybe it's because the girl at the samich shop is just a girl at samich shop and therefore making one nonword out of two real words is somewhat endearing, and maybe because the two real words combined into one word sorta makes sense. Even to a grammar grump like me.

The girl at the office, though, wears business suits every day and has some type of post-high school education and is expected to do much more than fry up some chicken and wrap it up in a tortilla, and therefore should know the difference between an idea and an ideal.

Nobody has figured out a way to let her know that she's saying it incorrectly, so we all just shoot little glances at each other whenever "ideal" gets trotted out. Of course, we also haven't figured out a way to let a member of management know that an "anecdote" is so not the same as an "antidote."

But maybe I'm just picky. Consistently using the wrong word isn't really a tragesty in the grand scheme of things.


Post a Comment

<< Home