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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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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?