Tag Archives: obliviousness

Wherefore, Winter, Water

OK, now my rant against some crimes of context being committed against oft-used (but, apparently, little-understood) quotes from literature.

Sorry for the elementary Shakespeare lesson, here, but apparently it’s necessary: First and foremost, “Wherefore are thou Romeo?” means “WHY are you Romeo?” not “WHERE are you, Romeo?” I’d like to think this is common knowledge at this point, but alas, it’s still used as “where”—usually in car commercial parodies and jokes that aren’t funny.

It’s not tricky Shakespearean code-breaking, either. Shakespeare or no, it’s just what the damn word means.

(Although the worst experience I ever had with this phrase involved someone knowing the meaning but still not getting the point. It was during a community library lecture about subtext in Shakespeare. After a long talk regarding the interpretation of things not said outright, a woman in the audience raised her hand to contribute, obnoxiously, “It’s just like in Romeo and Juliet, when she says, ‘Wherefore art thou Romeo?’ She’s not saying, ‘Where are you, Romeo?’ She’s saying ‘WHY are you Romeo?’” LADY. That’s not SUBTEXT. THAT’S ACTUALLY WHAT THE LINE MEANS. ARGH.)

For clarification, I like the contemporary example, “how come”—as in, “How come that lady so stupid, yo?” It doesn’t mean, “How do you come?” (hee), it, too, means “Why?” (Or, really, “How did she come to be so stupid?”)

(On another side note: Shakespeare is not “Old English.” It’s not even Middle English. People, Shakespeare wrote in modern English. It’s why we can understand him. Old English is a completely different language, and it sounds like this: “Tunwini settæ æfter Torohtrēdæ bēcun æfter bæurnæ: gebiddæs þēr sāulæ.” I say “sounds like” because what it actually looks like is the engraving on the One Ring to Rule Them All.)

Secondly, “Now is the winter of our discontent” IS NOT THE COMPLETE SENTENCE. There’s not even a comma there, just a line break. It’s “Now is the winter of our discontent / made glorious summer by this son of York.” It’s a happy line. Sure, the hunchback asshole’s going to come ruin everything, but still: happy happy.

And along those lines (but straying from Shakespeare), “Water water everywhere” is not a cheerful tagline for a tourism campaign. It’s about people DYING of THIRST in the middle of the OCEAN: “Water, water, every where / nor any drop to drink.Coleridge was not writing for the convention and visitor’s bureau, what with the killing of wildlife and getting stranded at sea and all. I mean, you’re allowed to yank partial quotes, but don’t ignore the context. Every time I see that as a headline, I think about taking a big swig of saltwater.


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So, Tuesday we went to MoE (Michael’s On East, for you uninitiated Sarasotans) for their Savor Sarasota deal.

Fancy stuff gets a bad rap, I think, for being snooty. And there’s a fine line, to be sure: The point to a fancy night out is to embrace the formality, including certain standards for appearance and behavior. On the other hand, if you feel as though you’re not meeting those standards—and other people judge you for it—then it’s no fun, and frankly, that’s really not a fanciness to be admired. And I think that’s where great service sets itself apart from good (or just well-heeled) service.

So at the restaurant, we’re seated by a young hostess. I sit down by the clean, all-white linens, and she hands me a menu; CCB sits down, and she snatches his napkin away before setting down the menu. It just barely caught my attention—I thought for whatever reason she realized she wasn’t supposed to set the menu on the napkin or something.

A little while later, in between courses, CCB wipes his mouth and sets his napkin down—and it’s black. My brain struggles to compute why he has a black napkin when everything else seems to be white. Are there other black napkins I didn’t notice? Is this some uncharacteristic MoE linen oversight? Did he win a drawing?

He catches me staring and notices the napkin discontinuity. “Oooooh,” he says. “That’s what she was doing.”

I’m like, “What? Why did they give you a black napkin?”

“Because I have black pants on,” he says matter-of-factly.

DUDE. I have never seen that before and it Makes. So. Much. Sense.

(OK, I’m sure many of you are well aware of this little linen ceremony, and you’re thinking, Oh PLEASE, of course that’s what it is. How have you never seen that before? Poppycock. And I could get all defensive and start correcting your grammar and reciting the English monarchs in chronological order, but no: I’m secure enough to know that I’m plenty fancy in many other ways, and yes, the napkin thing totally blew my mind.)

So yeah, MoE has that next-level service going on, but here’s the real touchstone: Our waiter was awesome. He was almost excessively friendly, but laid back and jokey. There was not a moment where we felt judged—not when we chose our wine because it was the cheapest; not when I panicked because I couldn’t identify the colorful mesh-wrapped, ribbon-tied mound on my plate of oysters. (It was a lemon; the mesh kept the seeds in. I know, right? So clever!)

And most of all, we didn’t feel judged for going there specifically to have the $25 Savor Sarasota menu, which is a major discount for that restaurant. The menu was right there up front, and the waiter told us about it, too. (It is a shared pet peeve that some restaurants don’t give you Savor Sarasota menu when you sit down, so you have to request it specially—like a penance for your cheapness.)

I mean, it’s not like we’re not trying. The fun of fancy is to try–not to flaunt your flip-flops in “their” snooty faces, but to make an effort to be a part of something different.

So that’s the thing, I think. I mean, I’m a theater-going, hockey-playing, Shakespeare-reciting, sailor-swearing lover of language, and I think there’s no reason flip-flops and foie gras should be mutually exclusive. But I do sometimes like a fancy experience to go with my fancy food, and I know I’m no cotillion all-star, but you can’t learn good wine unless you get to try it, and you won’t know upscale dining unless you get to experience it.

I have a feeling that all real fancy restaurants understand that this kind of comfort–and not condescension–is the goal of their service. But I want to give a shout-out to their awesomeness anyway: Kudos to the servers who give you full points just for trying.

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A Delicate Balance

[I’m fairly certain I just don’t have the mental capacity to comprehend convoluted banking practices. Still, I thought this was amusing. This is the actual transcript of my customer service online chat.]

Thank you for choosing Bank of America. You are now being connected to a Chat Specialist. For security purposes, please remember to close your chat window when completed.

JASON: Hi! Thank you for being a valued Bank of America customer! My name is Jason. How may I assist you with your personal accounts today?

ME: I just had a question regarding overdraft protection for my checking account.

JASON: I truly understand your concern regarding overdraft protection on your account and I will definitely check that for you.

JASON: To begin with, may I have your complete name and the last four digits of the account number you are referring to please?

ME: Hannah ******, ****

JASON: Thank you for that information. Would you mind if I will address you with your first name during our chat conversation?

ME: Certainly, that’s fine.

JASON: That’s great, thank you Hannah!

JASON: What about our overdraft protection please?

ME: This week, overdraft protection kicked in, transferring $100 from my credit account—but according to my account, I had sufficient funds to cover all my transactions.

ME: Having made no deposits beyond overdraft protection, I still have $123 in my account—that means I still had a $23 cushion.

ME: (er, $128)

JASON: I do get your point and allow me to check it for you.

JASON: Please click on Account Details Sub tab. On the left hand corner, please click on Available Balance History.

JASON: Are you in the page please Hannah?

ME: yes

JASON: Perfect!

JASON: No, if we are going to compute the transaction posted on your account last 6th of February, from Bay Area Sleep as Tampa to Checkcard **** Starbucks, the total debit transaction was at $935.57

ME: ok

JASON: And if you can see your accounting ending balance on the 3rd of February, prior to the overdraft protection transfer of $100 took place, your balance was at $922.84.

JASON: With that note, to protect your account from being overdrawn, the overdraft protection has to take place.

JASON: This will you for your account not to be assessed of $35.00 overdraft fee.

ME: Ok, I understand that expenditures for that period are more…than the balance for that period? I guess? What I don’t understand is, if I were going to be overdrawn otherwise, and I only received $100, then how do I have more than $100 now?

JASON: I certainly do get your point and allow me to address it for you.

JASON: Please have a look on the following transactions Bay Area Sleep in the amount of $50.00 and Sahara Café in the amount of $8.82.

ME: Ok

JASON: And Bar B Q in the amount of $6.37.

JASON: As you can see, since it is still in the processing status, the amount has been credited back on your account until such time the merchants claim the payment on your account.

ME: I don’t see that, no—the account balance appears to reflect the total after those figures have been subtracted.

JASON: Are you still in the available balance history page please?

ME: yes

JASON: Okey, let go for the transactions mentioned above.

ME: Ok

JASON: First the Bay Area Sleep Processing on the 6th of February, and dated 7th of February in the amount of $50.00

ME: Ok

JASON: The first one dated 6th, we deducted it and we credit back again on your account on the 7th.

ME: Ok, I can sort of see that—I just have trouble following the information on this page

JASON: Perfect!

JASON: Our endeavor is always to provide world class service to our customers and I hope I have made an attempt for the same today.

ME: You have certainly made an attempt, yes.

JASON: You are most welcome! And have a lovely day ahead of you!


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