Turn of a Phrase

Day 92

When I started working for my current company, I came to the company first as a freelance consultant and was later asked to join the staff.  After my boss and I had come to an agreement on all of the conditions, he walked me around the office building and introduced me as his  “Director of New Business Development”.

About a week later, my business cards showed up on my desk.  There I was:

Kerry Reifel, Manager of New Business Development

Apparently I got demoted my first week on the job.

My point? Well, my somewhat weak point, is that words matter.   Except at Starbucks, where  the very act of walking through the front door erases the words small, medium and large from the English language.    I have always been aware of language nuances, but the Simple Year has made me aware of some other subtleties.    There are loads of words out there that mean NOT NEW, but there seems to be a distinct line of demarcation between those that fall on the tolerable side  and those that are distasteful.

For example these seem to be acceptable, eco-righteous if you will:

  • Upcycled
  • Repurposed
  • Vintage
  • Consigned
  • Previously Owned
  • Reclaimed

And the undesirables:

  • Used
  • Second Hand
  • Hand-me-down
  • Not New
  • Passed Down

There is a little consignment store, I have stopped in a couple of times down on the “stately mansion” side of town.  The staff there seem to have adopted a high brow attitude usually reserved for Real Wives on reality TV shows.  For instance, recently, I overheard an employee pointedly telling a woman who brought in some items, that her clothes were “Not up to our standards”.  That is a quote.  Once again, I point out that words matter and there were probably a thousand other kinder words she could have used to the same end.

It annoyed me, so I chose my words carefully.

While I was checking out, I said to the same woman.  “I love your store. You know, I buy only USED things.”  I said it with gusto and emphasis on the USED.

She visibly winced and furtively looked around and just like she was offering positive language reinforcement to a toddler said in a voice full of condescension, “Oh, yes we have THE best selection of pre-owned items in the city.”   I agreed,  “Yes I love your selection of USED clothes, of all the SECOND HAND stores in the city, this is the best.”  And then I went in for the kill, “I just think it is so much better to shop at THRIFT STORES than retail, don’t you?”  At this point, she pursed her lips and abandoned all pretext of humoring me and said, “We are really more of a Resale Boutique.”