Don't Say This While Doing That

There are certain words and phrases that you never want to say in public, it is impolite, rude, and at times illegal. Most of us know the proper setting to use improper words, and rely on our discretion and common sense when in public situations.

For instance, I call my friends idiots all of the time, it’s just how we talk to one another. If one of us makes a funny joke we may respond by calling that person an idiot. However if I turn to the person behind me at the grocery store, looked them in the face and called them and idiot, they might not appreciate it.

Not only are the words we say dangerous, the tone in which we say them may get us in trouble as well. As a smart alec kid growing up, I learned this the hard way. A smart mouth is no way to go through life, although it can be fun at times.

With that in mind, here are a few examples of things that be misconstrued in certain situations:

Alright everybody listen up – Teachers say this all the time to get the class’s attention. If all eyes are needed front in center, the teacher will address the class with Alright everybody listen up. No problems there. Maybe a police officer needs to explain something to a group of people. Also fine.

But let’s change the circumstances, as I did one night long ago after having some drinks with friends. Entering a convenience store I thought it would be funny to say Alright everybody listen up! But before I could say I’m only kidding, there were some gasps and the store manager came running out to tell me I had to leave--now-- before they called the authorities. It was a stupid prank to pull, but I was young and dumb.. Alright everybody listen up, is acceptable at times, yet highly inappropriate at others.

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Can I help you? – What could be wrong with Can I help you? It is offering assistance or help. This is true, if you pull up to the drive-through, usually (almost never), the person working will say Can I help you? But, if you are say, on a subway and notice a shady, not afraid of confrontation type staring at you, Can I help you? may get you served, just not the service you want. This also goes for Do you have a problem?

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Do you understand? You may be confused, having trouble comprehending that complex equation. Try as you might, you just don’t understand. Your professor comes over to help, explaining in detail until the light bulb turns on inside of that brain of yours. Do you understand? Yes, thanks!

Now add a me to the end of the sentence and it conjures up summer road trips to the beach with the family. I’m seven years old and starting to get restless, so I do what all bored and restless children do, I become an annoying brat. Everyone is fine with it for the first few miles before my antics quickly get old. My dad turns around and tells me to cut it out in that deep fatherly-I-mean-business voice. He finishes with a stern Do you understand me? Oh yeah, loud and clear dad! I then sulk in silence until I’m brave enough to speak again.

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Who wants some of this?
Who wants some of this? | Source

Who wants some of this? – This delicious cheesecake that is, my mother made it the other night and it is to die for! This is a harmless question asking someone if they would like a piece of cheesecake. The results could be quite different if you asked this question upon entering a dive bar just before closing on a Saturday night.

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That’s what I thought – Just as I surmised, Mr. Brown, the results have come back negative. Oh great, thanks Doc, that’s what I thought, I just wanted a second opinion. In that scenario there was no reason for anyone to take offense.

Now go back to your childhood school days at the bus stop. You and Johnny have exchanged insults all week, culminating in you using your absolute best crack on his mother. Now things have really heated up as Johnny has just asked you to say it to my face. Gulp…..you freeze as your classmates watch gleefully, wanting bloodshed. Johnny looks at you pathetically and says the dreaded That’s what I thought. Thoroughly defeated, you have to ride with mom to school the rest of the week.

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It’s all about circumstance and tone, as using the wrong one at the wrong time can be disastrous. A simple question can turn into a challenge at the drop of a hat; a statement becomes a fight provoking invitation in some areas and a compliment in others. Choose wisely, knowing your surroundings can make all the difference. Do you understand me?

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Comments 27 comments

carol7777 profile image

carol7777 4 years ago from Arizona

Interesting concept. You said it all and it would be nice if everyone was polite and said the right thing. Well maybe some day..Very interesting hub.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

Great hub Pete! We would have gotten along fine as kids; I was such a smart ass and I had to pay for it quite often with bruises. We live and learn, don't we?


KathyH profile image

KathyH 4 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

You know, even girls can be a smart ass! Ha!!! When I worked in retail, we had to ask "Can I Help You Find Something" Management, somewhat unwisely, decided to abbreviate it to CIHYFS... which, being a "smart ass" I changed to "Can I Hurt You Fairly Severely"... management didn't like it but co-workers thought it was hilarious! :) Things can have different meanings! :) By the way, I never asked anyone that... I was just trying to put a little humor into our day! :)


weestro profile image

weestro 4 years ago from Virginia Author

Yes it would Carol, thanks!

Yes sir billybuc, some easier than others huh?

I like it Kathy, and I'm sure you provided some comic relief!


Curiad profile image

Curiad 4 years ago from Lake Charles, LA.

Great tips Pete, timing and location are everything!


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 4 years ago from Baltimore, MD

This is so true. Something that is seen as hilarious outside of work can certainly be a bummer if I mention it at work. Party poopers!


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

That is so funny and makes perfect sense. Great job on this. Loved it! I love language and how words can mean so many different things!


Janine Huldie profile image

Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

Pete, this was great and totally made sense. I was so not a smart ass,until I reached high school and then most of my remarks were more towards rebelling then anything. As an adult I try very hard to make sure what I say doesn't get misconstrued, so as to hurt or upset someone else. That said you are right that if you say something the wrong way it can totally be taken to mean something that you didn't quite mean. Voted up and shared too.


Angelo52 profile image

Angelo52 4 years ago from Central Florida

"What are you looking at" is another that can be taken one way. At home it can be just a question, on the streets it could lead to a fight - well it did when I was growing up. Good article. Voted up +


weestro profile image

weestro 4 years ago from Virginia Author

Yes they are Curiad, thanks!

I have a feeling you've had issues with this before Jeanie!

Thanks Janine, it can be difficult to say the correct thing at the right time, at least for me!

That's a great one Angelo, not sure how I missed it! Thanks for reading!


Ruth Pieterse 4 years ago

Enjoyed the hub! Voted up.


A K Turner profile image

A K Turner 4 years ago from West Yorkshire

nice hub, awesomed it


weestro profile image

weestro 4 years ago from Virginia Author

Thanks for reading Ruth!

Haha, glad you enjoyed it AK, thanks!


annerivendell profile image

annerivendell 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

Great Hub. Enjoyed reading it-you're right about the tone of voice thing, it really does make a difference. Voted up.


weestro profile image

weestro 4 years ago from Virginia Author

Thanks Anne, it's amazing what a tone will do!


KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 4 years ago from Sunny Florida

How true. You have to be careful with the tone when you say that buddy. I've told my students many times tone is one of those things you can control. It can get you into or out of trouble.


weestro profile image

weestro 4 years ago from Virginia Author

As I've learned the hard way over the years! Thanks for reading KoffeeKlatch Gals!


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

Enjoyed this hub. Had never given saying the right thing in the right place much thought but I will now :o)


midget38 profile image

midget38 4 years ago from Singapore

I enjoyed it too. Very true how the words we say can get us into lots of trouble!


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

I like the way you think Pete. Haha!


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida

You are SO right. It's the tone of voice that is so important.

I voted this UP, etc.


weestro profile image

weestro 4 years ago from Virginia Author

Thanks jools, I've always been quiet adept at putting my foot in my mouth!

Thanks midget, yes they can!

Thanks Sunshine, I apprectiate it!

Thanks a lot for the vote Mary, that could be another one....thanks a lot!


TycoonSam profile image

TycoonSam 4 years ago from Washington, MI

Thanks for the laugh!

Voted Funny


weestro profile image

weestro 4 years ago from Virginia Author

Thanks for reading and voting Sam!


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Pete.....You're just so smart! This is all true stuff. One of the reasons it can be a nice experience to "age," is that people give "Senior Citizens" a whole lot of leeway. All the things we wanted to say that common courtesy would not allow.....we can now say whenever to whomever we choose. Never thought I'd enjoy being dismissed so casually, by so many, so often............UP+++


weestro profile image

weestro 4 years ago from Virginia Author

I can't wait Paula, lol!


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Keep notes!! You do not want to forget one single S.O.B who pi$$ed you off! ever!

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