Christopher tm Herdt (cherdt) wrote,
Christopher tm Herdt

Master of Malapropisms

I keep thinking back to 1996, when I worked at National TechTeam in Harper Woods. Next cube over from me was Rob Baulsch, an intelligent but laid-back plaid-clad skater kid with a propensity for malapropism.

We'd all seen Pulp Fiction about a thousand times, of course, and everyone knew that The Wolf was a total badass. The Wolf knew how to get things done, even when people were somewhat less-than-cooperative.

It should have come as no surprise, then, when during a rapidly-escalating exchange with a technical support customer, I heard Rob say, in his best The Wolf impression, "Sir, I don't mean to sound coy with you, but if you follow these steps we can get your Lexmark printer working again."

Naturally he meant curt. I don't think he was making passes at the frustrated fellow on the other end of the phone line. I can't help but think, though, that maybe the customer was one of those people that, not knowing curt from coy, simply understood the tone in which it was voiced and started listening to the true master of Lexmark troubleshooting do his job.

I wish I could remember some of Rob's other wonderful vocabulary mishaps. He was never at a loss for words because he could always bend one to suit his meaning. He was never misunderstood; his intent transcended mere words.

Malapropism was nominated, but did not make the cut, for Merriam-Webster's Top Ten Favorite Words of 2004.

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