A Piece of Advice: Be Accurately Specific

I’m a strong advocate for specificity. (Wow, that word is a mouthful. Spesss-if-issss-ity. Did I even use it correctly? I hope so. Good thing I don’t have a lisp.)

I learned the phrase “be more specific” from years of watching my favorite game show. I mean, you can’t just respond to a clue about British royalty without telling Alex Trebek the king’s name and number, after all. (Do you know how many Georges and Edwards ruled back in the day? Neither do I, but I’ll bet it was a lot.)

alex trebek GIF
Specifics make Alex happy.

Being vague leaves lots of room for misinterpretation. There are times, however, when being too specific can cause problems. (Like, for instance, my predisposition to being too specific with observations. Side effects can include mental anguish and brain implosions.)

This is NOT a hair dryer. This is a BAG. The hair dryer is in the bag, yes, but it’s a BAG. The bag should be labeled “BAG.” Oh, you say I need a vacation? I saw this IN A HOTEL. (Okay, okay…I’ll stop thinking now.)

However, I still believe it’s better to be overly and accurately specific. Never underestimate someone’s ability to misinterpret vague requests.

For example…

Do you like a good BLT? I know I do, but I’m not crazy about mayonnaise. In fact, I’m not crazy about putting much of anything extra on my burgers, sandwiches, or BLTs, and I’m always met with skepticism by the person on the other side of the restaurant window when I request NO mustard or NO ketchup. (I like what I like, so I’ve learned to deal with it.)

space GIF
Looks good, but I’d like mine without mayonnaise.

So, when I tried to order a BLT without mayonnaise once at a fast food restaurant, I expected questions, but I wasn’t really in the mood to deal with them. I was in a hurry, so instead of being accurately specific, I ordered with brevity and simplicity in mind.

I used the word “plain.”

Server: Can I take your order?

Me: Yes, I’d like a plain BLT, please.

Server: One PLAIN BLT? Plain?

Me: Yes, please.

Server: O…kay. That’ll be right out.

Well, they did indeed leave off the mayonnaise…and the L, and the T. It was a good bacon sandwich, although it was…missing a few other key components.

confused laura dern GIF

I learned a little something that day about being accurately specific. The sandwich was okay, but it needed a little TLC…or, more specifically, L and T.

Be more specific.

An Observation: Non-Labor Day

We’ve arrived at the unofficial end of summer. Let us observe a moment of silence.

(Umm…I said a moment. But, okay. Whatever floats your boat.)

Sure, it’ll still be hotter than a flamethrower on the equator until mid-October here in good old Arkansas, but all the carefree summer fun is magically exchanged for hoodies and pumpkin-spice oxygen once Labor Day concludes.

Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1894. I don’t suppose I know anyone who was around for the first one to interview them for a first-hand perspective, but I’m sure the first one wasn’t like our modern celebration. (And judging by the Labor Day sales offered by most retailers, it doesn’t seem to be universally observed in this here country. But I digress…)

In my family, we used to celebrate the three-day weekend with a trip to the river or by watching television in the air conditioning as a family. When I was in college, a very close relative threw a great Labor Day party he didn’t even know about until he came home to find my brother, myself, and about a dozen of our closest friends enjoying his swimming pool.

I applaud the efforts of those who created a holiday to celebrate the hard working men and women of this country, but I have a problem with it.

More specifically, the wording of it.

As the self-proclaimed Meticulously Observant Observer, I live for details. I feel like calling this holiday “Labor Day” means that one is expected to do just that–labor–on their “holiday.”

Why didn’t they call it “Non-Labor Day” instead?

I understand the intent–honor those who labor–but, let’s say you are the type to take things very literally. You see a day on the calendar marked “Labor Day.” You might think that you have to put in some serious overtime on the first Monday in September. Meanwhile, everyone around you has filled up their cars with camping gear and tells you they’ll “see you Tuesday.” (Maybe you do have to work overtime. I don’t know. I’m not your boss. Again, I digress…)

Oh, well. I’m overthinking things again. It happens.

Have a Happy (Non) Labor Day. And remember…Tuesday is the new Monday this week. Order that extra shot of espresso.

You deserve it.
You deserve it.