Friday, February 22, 2008


“It’s gonna be a day tomorrow,” says trader #1 in the elevator yesterday morning.

“Why?” says trader #2. “Is it a number?”

Four months ago I would’ve had no clue what those two guys were talking about.

And amidst all the unbelievable bullshit I’ve dealt with in this new job, learning a new language has definitely been the bright spot.

Every business has WorkSpeak – a special language used by employees comprised of buzzwords, jargon, and cryptic phrases built from years of doing the same thing over and over and over again.

I love it.

People figuring out better and easier ways to communicate with each other to get things done.

“6 and 12 down, 6 cheese please!” yells the Crew Chief from up front between the warming bin and the registers.

“6 and 12, 6 cheese!” the Grill person replies.

6 Big Macs. 12 hamburgers. Make 6 of them with cheese.

That was the first language I learned at the first job I ever worked.

At McDonald’s.

Six Big Macs actually meant 12 patties so you had to do a tinybit of thinking to add up the total frozen solid burgers to smack down on the grill.

“Four quarters, two cheese!”

That was four Quarter Pounders, two with cheese.

Quarter Pounders (obviously) used different patties from the burgers so they had to be called out separately.

With those fancy schmancy computer screens relaying orders to the kitchen now, I'm guessing the language of McDonald's is dead. Sad.
Trader #1: It’s gonna be a day tomorrow.
Translation: It will be an extremely busy day on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade tomorrow.

Trader #2: Why, is it a number?
Translation: Will there be an economic announcement that could affect the markets like unemployment or interest rates or housing starts or retail stats?
The information technology business is without question the worst when it comes to WorkSpeak.

Every year or two the geeks get together and develop a whole new language so they can charge clients more per hour explaining it to them.

First it was client/server. Then it was middleware. Then it was e-Business or E-Business or eBusiness, depending on if you worked for IBM or Microsoft or Oracle. Then it was business intelligence – an oxymoron if ever one existed – and data warehousing, which sounds vaguely cool but is poke-your-eyes-out-with-a-pencil boring. Then it was portals and dashboards and who knows what the fuck they’ve invented in the four months since I left that infernal industry.

You wanna know the first really nice thing my future husband ever did for me? Back in 1990, he created a cheat sheet of acronyms to make it easier for me to update resumes for the IT consulting firm where we met.

He helped me understand the language of our industry. And if that ain't romantic, I don't know what the hell is.
So. Tell us about the language where you work. Tell us about the first day you heard it. Tell us how it’s changed over the years.

And put it on a rail.
I am listening to: Gromit snoring
I am reading: Neil at the Sun-Times
And I am: Sleepy


Susan said...

The latest buzzword I have heard around the law firm (and I am sure this isn't just for lawyers) is "I am out of pocket" - when they are unavailable.

I think it sounds dumb - but that is coming from me, the woman, who for years use to say "tough titty said the kitty!" when talking to someone that didn't like what was going to occur.


phatdoggy said...

Our WorkSpeak is so cryptic, we recently had a spot in our vast array of databases set aside to put in a n official key. Yes, there is a document that lists all the acronyms this company uses (and I've NEVER heard so many) and decodes them for the newbs, and those like me who, after tens years, is STILL hearing new ones. Last I looked, it was ten pages long, and there were plenty that I could still add to it.

Dave said...

Susan, "out of pocket" has been around for years, and I've always hated it. I always heard it used for out of town, not just unavailable.

An example of lawyerspeak that comes to mind: "The witness went south at the dep." Translation: "the witness gave untrue/harmful/stupid answers when being deposed."

the dilf said...

i work on a trading desk..
translation....go sell some stock..NOW
-"Take it...TAKE IT!
means..go buy some stock
means...quiet down
-"Hmmm, your kid kinda looks like me"
means...i banged your wife
-"MILES" many miles of ck has she taken
-"Take the DCK outta ur mouth"
means...stop mumbling
-when the boss says.."Gotta minute?"
means...your fired

Susan said...

dilf - you are definitely in the wrong business!

I hear that there is a hugely lucrative industry waiting for a star just like you to be born...


Posolxstvo said...

In addition to the annoying acronym soup that a web development firm has to deal with (how many different things can ASP mean, anyway?), we have a few slang terms that are somewhat internal to us.

"Windex" - v. transitive - to destroy, annihilate, render completely useless. "Joe just windexed the entire dev site!" Origin - a co-worker once used Windex to clean a photographic slide. Not good.

"Jig" - v. transitive - to carve up into smaller chunks. Especially used in reference to taking a design file and creating individual web graphics from it. Derived from the concept of taking a jigsaw to the design.

"At my other office" - working oustide the office, using a public wireless connection, such as at Starbucks or Panera.

Anonymous said...

When I worked for the Mt. Clemens Credit Bureau some 42 years ago, if you saw a capitol M written in red on a file it meant that that person was in the mafia, and we were not allowed to read the file to our client, we had to turn it over to our supervisor, and she would read it.