Thursday, January 17, 2008

As Well

I learned long ago to never argue with members of the public. If they're wrong, they'll never admit it. I also found sometimes, they're RIGHT!

I guess it was around a year ago I was enjoying one of my favorite passions. I was enjoying a Fat Moe Burger while killing time between getting off work and playing a gig at Moe's that night. There were a few people in the joint that night. There was a table full of middle aged folks having an after work office get together. There were some 20-somethings at the bar trying to "see and BE seen." Across the room from me, against the wall, was a middle aged married couple. Mid-Fat-Moe-Burger-bite, a booming voice rang out. "AS WELL!"

I looked up and surveyed the room, and it came again. "AS WELL!" It was coming from across the room, from the middle aged couple's table, from the man. He stared straight at me, with a very disdainful look and yelled, "AS WELL!"

I nodded and smiled. His wife looked embarrassed. He said, "I watch the news and I've counted you saying AS WELL 15 times in just a few minutes time!." "Why do you say that over and over? It's not just you. It's ALL OVER the national news too. You guys keep saying it and it REALLY irritates me!"

Was the guy a jerk? Yes, BUT, did he have a point? After thinking about it for a minute, I concluded that yes, he did. I had been using that as a "crutch phrase." It was a kind of time killer while I was ad-libbing and moving to the next thought. If it bothered him to that point, that it made him a real jerk about it, then maybe he DID have a point. I told him, "You know what? You've got a point. I'm really going to try to express that differently, and I'm really going to try to NOT make that a "crutch phrase" and communicate BETTER.

He smiled. He had gotten his point across. His wife was relieved, although still somewhat embarrassed, I think. I ate my Fat Moe Burger (awesome!), played my gig (awesome!) and went about my business.

Over the next week or so, on the air, every time those words escaped my lips, I cringed a little. I substituted other words. I would say "too" or "in addition to" instead of "as well." Over the next few weeks, I broke the habit and threw away the crutch. I NEVER realized how much I leaned on it, until the guy called me out.

A few months later, a call came to me at work. I answered. It was an elderly gentleman. He only had one question. "I've been watching for a long time and am a big fan of yours, but I just wonder. Did they make a policy or change a rule, to where you weren't supposed to say "as well" as much?"

I told him the story. We shared a laugh. We both agreed the end result was better. I know I'm not right all the time. Sometimes, the customer is well.

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