Thursday, January 10, 2008

P is for Plankton

Do you ever have those moments on the phone when someone asks you to spell back to them your name, address, etc. at which point you have to implement the "A as in Apple," "B as in Bob," etc. technique? Since I spend my days on the phone making appointments for people, I do this all the time. And more often then not, I suffer from something I fondly refer to as "brain freeze". It's when my brain turns into mush, rendering my speech completely useless.

Try as I might, when pressed to use this technique, mishaps abound. Usually I can't think of any words at all, leaving me to stutter about sounding a fool, but on the rare occasion that I find a word, it's usually so obscure as to be laughable.

"Um...that's..."E as in Esophagus", "R as in Retch", "I as in Impertinent", "K as in Kartoffel (German for potato)", "A as in Aspartame"...

And so on.

Or worse, I think of a word only to crack myself up at the inappropriateness of it. There's just never a point in which saying "V as in Vagina" or "B as in Blow job" to your mechanic over the phone is acceptable.

It was especially problematic in Hong Kong, as there was already a bit of a language barrier to begin with. Try as I might to choose simple, easily recognizable words, I usually came up with things like "T as in Tallahassee" or "L as in Lollipop." It never went well.

Surely I'm not the only dingbat who suffers from this right...?

PS It's good to be back.


Linden said...

You are most definitely not the only person who suffers from this! And as a teacher, it can be quite awkward: You're standing in front of 10 to 40 students who think that you are stupid because you can't produce an example.

But the truth is that you can't think of an appropriate example--you have a perfectly good example, but it just isn't *ahem* appropriate for the classroom.

Jane said...

Some guy just called at work (to complain, of course). I asked him his last name and he said, "Valli." I said, "Is that V, as in, uh...uh...uh..." I couldn't think of a thing! He quickly interrupted me to say, "V, as in victory." OF COURSE....victory! Why couldn't I think of that?!?

(It's great to have you back!)

Andi said...

welcome back crabby!

i can only ever think of totally inappropriate words when asked to do this.

Dorothy said...

Working in a call center for four in a half years I have learned to do that every time someone asks me to spell my name. I have a lot of vowels and M and Ns and people thing they all sound the same. So I am

D as in Dog, O as in Ostrich (seriously), R as in Ragu (I just came up with that one), O as in Ostrich, T as in Tom, H as in Hat, Y as in Umbrella (and that was the first thing that came to my head...but I would have said Yellow. Then I as in igloo, N as in Nancy, M as in Mary, N as in Nancy, A as in apple, N as in nancy.

I talk to a lot of people overseas and sometimes it would be better if they picked up this technique.

LauraLunch said...

I find myself using examples that are equally confusing such as "N" as in Nother or "M" as in Moon, "C" as in Cent, "S" as in Sent, oops.

So glad you're back! It makes checking this sight everyday much more rewarding.


michelle said...

reading your post made me very grateful that i don't often have to spell things over the phone... because i'm sure i'd be completely and utterly useless!

Dorothy said...

I have found the best thing to do when I say S as in Cent is to laugh at myself. Usually the person on the other line with laugh with you.

Emily said...

I worked in a call center too. I had a lot of people do the (what is it? Army? Correct?) version of the spelling: A as in Alpha, V as in Victor (or whatever). But then they'd ask me to say it back to them and I'd fail completely. I like to blame it on "Dysnomia". It's a problem when you can't find the word your thinking of. I don't know if it extends to finding examples for letters, but I'll say it does. I often can't find the words I'm looking for but for some reason, I never forget the word: Dysnomia...