Wednesday, February 22, 2017

I’ll Give You A Driveway Moment

You want a driveway moment? I’ll give you a driveway moment. No, it’s not some sad, uplifting, or enlightening story I’m listening to on NPR. And it’s not a favorite golden oldie on WWAM. Nor am I out here in the car contemplating the theory of relativity.

I’m sitting in the car that is parked in my driveway because I don’t want to go inside my house – at least not yet. Because when I walk through that door I have to be an adult who worries about my spouse (who thinks I take our marriage for granted), about my grown children (who won’t leave home), and about my parents (who may soon need to go into a home), and about planning for retirement (a train that has long since left the station).

Driving home from work I was able to find respite from all these wonderful topics, but now that I’m in the driveway, the only thing between me and the boogey man is the sanctity of my car. It may be old and have over 150,000 miles on it, but the seats still smell leathery and I am comfortable behind the wheel. I know everything about this car. The new tires on the back, each of the disc brake rotors I’ve had replaced, the new radiator hoses, it’s all documented in my mind. Really, when I think about it, I realize I have replaced 50-60% of the car by now. But the sound system is still A-1 so I can listen to some soothing classical music while working up the courage to leave the comfort of my “cabin.” Might as well put the seat in the reclining position to see if that will lessen the throbbing sensation in my frontal lobe. That’s working. I can already feel my heart rate slowing down, my hands have stopped clenching, and the damp brow is drying off.

I feel transported to a better place – a place where no demands are made of me. When I’m hungry, food appears. When I’m drowsy, a soft bed is there for me. Everyone speaks softly and we are gentle with one another. The sense is that everyone is solicitous without verging on obsequious. This is good – very good.

A loud rapping noise on my window shatters the reverie into a thousand tiny pieces. My son is staring at me through the fogged up window and mouthing some words. I’m confused – I don’t know what he’s trying to tell me. He makes a motion that I should lower the window, and I comply.

“Can you move your car so I can get mine out?”

No hello. No how are you. Doesn’t ask if I’m okay. Just stands there looking idiotic wearing a backward ballcap, waiting for me to move on, so that he can move on.

Fine. Until tomorrow then. This driveway moment is over.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

I Know Right?

Not really sure how to punctuate that title but I do know that it seems to be the millennial phrase of the moment. And it won’t last long, so you better catch it while you can.

I first noticed the phrase being used profusely by wait staff in restaurants. You would order a particular dish and when the waiter asked you if you enjoyed your meal you might respond that it was very good and spicy. To which the waiter would respond, “I know right?” I find this response very endearing, because the intent is right there on the surface. She is agreeing with you that it’s spicy and not in a condescending way, as though you’re an idiot baby boomer and you just figured out the green chile is going to be hot. Rather, the objective is to convey camaraderie. She has eaten the same dish and also thought it was very spicy. You two are now simpatico.

I’m not suggesting that millennials are intentionally using this phrase to establish a connection with customers or older adults. At least the different speakers that I’ve heard using it come across as very genuine. I put a question mark at the end of the phrase and no comma after the word “know” because there is no pause but there is a slight upward inflection at the end of the sentence (technically known as HRT….high-rise terminals). It’s also called “uptalk” and is generally popular with teenagers and millennials, but I’ve heard uptalkers all my life, so it’s been around a long time. I find that it conveys a shyness or unassertiveness, but some people think it conveys a lack of conviction. The speaker is agreeing with you but the upward inflection gives them a way out if you don’t agree.

Too technical? OK, that was a real question. The answer is maybe, but baby boomers better get used to millennial speech patterns because they are going to be talking to us everywhere we go for many more years to come. Linguists suggest that younger speakers will grow out of uptalk over time.

To which I say, I know right?

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.