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Adventures in Pedantry

I ordered something called a Hero Burger. The nice lady asked if I would you like to supersize?
‘Isn’t it already heroic?’ I inquired.
‘It is, but you get more of everything on the next one up.’
‘What’s that one called?’
‘We don’t have a name for that one yet sir.’
‘Shouldn’t that one be called the Hero Burger?’
The nice lady gave me the special look she reserves for vermin. ‘I guess so!’
With shades of my father I added ‘Might I suggest The Super-Fluous?’
Where on earth did that mustard fart of indignation come from? On ninety-nine days out of a hundred I would have let something so inconsequential go by the by, but today my Hero (now demoted to Side-kick) Burger was presumably going to arrive laced with various bodily fluids and interfered with beyond words. Such is the price of perfection.
Back at Castle Cororan (still surprising peckish) I found a package waiting for me. I opened it. It contained three bottles of peroxide. I am a bald man. As such I was perplexed. The invoice revealed that I share my address (different postcode) with a hairdresser across town. Ah, irony abounds. When I contacted them to arrange a pick up their manager was so impressed with my honesty that he left a gift on the doorstep – two bottles of luxury exfoliant. How delightful. I used one and the skin proceeded to melt from my face. Picture the bald man running around in just his pants, howling like a child who has touched a nettle. By Jove I demanded satisfaction.
But what’s the protocol for complaining about free stuff? There isn’t one is there? I’ve found a gaping hole in British (and possibly world) etiquette. I must write to someone. This is marvellous / unacceptable (delete as appropriate).
Scarred for life, but ebullient with my newfound revelation I set off for a corporate shindig. There an old colleague reminded me of an incident that completes the triumvirate of pedantry.
We both worked with a young man for whom English was not his first language (For the sake of anonymity we’ll call him Tim). Tim would’ve spoken perfectly good English had he paid attention in the lessons that had been paid for by the company (i.e. he’s fair game).
As well a possessing poor grammar Tim was also a prolific skiver – both in the amount of days took as sick-leave and in the amount of time he spent asleep in the toilets. Every two weeks or so his line manager and I would get an email explaining why he was absent. Because his English was terrible he would make attempts to describe the symptoms rather than succinctly state the ailment – the most memorable of which was: ‘I not be work now – big stomach – much pooh – also puke.’
A few days after his various misdemeanours had been tackled in a performance review he took me aside and asked for my help. ‘You tell me how to say this?’ he asked, and then proceeded to graphically described diarrhoea. Even in the midst of a bollocking you could see the cogs turning; setting up the next bout of absence. I told him he was giving too much information and provided a shorter syntax for the condition. He thanked me.
Sure enough – a few weeks later the glorious email arrived: ‘I cannot come to work today as I have Ass Mayhem.’
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Epic Fail 2 – Fail Harder

…We left our hero coming to the aid of a damsel in distress. The evil double-glazing empire had dispatched an army of horny, if slightly retarded, window fitters to steal her virtue, but had been cunningly repelled by the use of reverse psychology (essentially pretending to be gay). A great victory had been won, but not without cost. One of the windows had fallen at the hands on some conniving chipboard and now lay vulnerable to attack. The testosterone-filled rascals had vowed to return and finish what they’d started. Our saga continues….
The phone was ringing. The sun glistened across my muscular arm as I answered masterfully. ‘Hello?’
‘Hello Mr. Cororan?’
A lesser man would have used many words at this point, but brevity was the key. ‘Speaking.’
Reeling from my duo-syllabic response (etc) my adversary replied: ‘This is Alex from [INSERT COMPANY NAME HERE]. We’re standing outside your house with a window.’
‘OK…Is this the beginning of a joke?’
‘I’m sorry?’
‘There’s no need to be.’
‘Where are you?’
‘I’m at work.’
‘But we’re here with a window.’
‘…Nobody told me you were coming.’
‘Is there any way you could get back?’
‘Not any time soon I’m afraid. I can do Wednesday.’
‘We’re fully booked for the rest of the week. Could anyone else let us in?’
On reflection it was probably the wrong thing to say, but I couldn’t help myself. ‘There’s a flimsy piece of plywood boarding up the bathroom. You could climb up on the roof and punch your way in?’
There was a moment’s silence where the man seemed to be weighing up whether or not to use colourful language. Finally he erred on the side of caution. ‘…OK sir. I’ll get back to you.’
‘OK, speak soon.’
I rang off, putting the whole thing down to simple miscommunication, but ohhhh noooo, larger calamities were afoot. An hour or so later the phone was ringing once more.
‘Alex here…again…when will you be…home from…work?’
‘Why?’
‘…We appear to be locked in your house.’
‘How on earth did you get in?’
‘We did what you suggested and climbed onto the roof.’
‘You’re joking?’
‘Weren’t you being serious…oh…I can see now that you weren’t!’
‘Explain to me what has happened.’
‘Well, we fitted the window, but then realised that all the doors and frames on the ground floor need a key.’
‘So what you’re saying is that you are calling to inform me that you have broken into my house?’
‘…erm…well…no, you suggested it.’
‘AS A JOKE! OK, can you wait there while I phone the police, or are you planning to break back out again?’
‘…’
‘Is Jason there?’ (see previous post)
‘Yes.’
‘Can you put him on the phone?’
There was a brief muffled conversation. ‘He doesn’t want to come to the phone.’
‘I bet he doesn’t!’
‘Do you mind if we climb out of a bedroom window and leave it open till you get home?’
I began to consider the possibility that I was dealing with one of mankind’s more primitive ancestors. An idea for testing this hypothesis occurred to me.
‘Don’t do that. You might set off the Halon system.’
‘The what?’
‘In the event of a fire halon gas drops from the ceiling. This sucks all the oxygen out of the room and extinguishes the flames.’
‘I can’t tell if you’re being serious or not.’
‘Deadly serious. There’s one in the kitchen and one on the stairs…they look like smoke alarms…Look, just stay relatively still and get your boss to phone me.’
I rang off. Moments later their boss was on the line. ‘I take it you’re joking about the halon system.’
‘Of course.’
‘What a couple of clowns. Is there any way they can get out?’
‘Yes, there’s a spare key in [INSERT MEANS OF BURGLARISING ME HERE]’
‘Thanks.’
‘I hope this won’t affect their employment.’
‘I was thinking of having them both killed. Does that qualify?’
‘How would I notice any difference?’
‘Quite. Sorry about this Mr. Cororan. Rest assured they’ll both be flogged.’
‘I would expect nothing less. Oh and one more thing…last time your guys came over Jason left me a rather saucy note. Could you let him know that, whilst flattered, I’m not interested?’

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