Volume 47, Issue 7 - July 2012


So To Speak
by Lyle R. Hill

I picked the phone up as it finished its third ring and immediately recognized the gravely voice on the other end of the line. He has a voice that is incredibly distinct and, once you have heard it, you will never forget it. And for that matter, once you have had an encounter of any kind with Johnny “The Mooch” Rago, you will never forget him either.

“Mooch,” I began, “it’s been awhile since I have heard from you and I was starting to worry. Is everything okay?”

This of course was not true … at least not the worrying part. Johnny “The Mooch” Rago did not acquire the nickname that he has now carried for the past 40 years by accident. And worry about him? I am much more worried about the people with whom “The Mooch” comes into contact than I would ever be about him.

“Well, Hill, I’ve been kinda pre-occupied, so to speak, and I haven’t always had a phone available so that’s why I haven’t called.”

“Okay, Mooch. I think I understand, but what can I do for you today?”

“I need your help with something, Hill.”

“Let me hear it, Mooch.”

“Here’s the deal, Hill. I now have a life coach and he is working with me to make me more marketable, so to speak, and he is really riding me hard to improve myself but sometimes, I get lost in the process, so to speak.”

“Slow down, Mooch. I’m still back on the part about you have a life coach who is trying to make you marketable. You’re not actually looking for a job, are you?”

“Yes, I am, so to speak, and my life coach thinks I can actually find one if I dress a little better and can learn to talk better. And that’s where you come in, Hill.”

“My clothes won’t fit you, Mooch. Not even close.”

“It’s the talking better part I need your help on, Hill. You see, words don’t always seem to mean what I think they mean anymore, so to speak. I just get a little confused is all.”

“Alright, Mooch. Give me an example of what you’re talking about here and let’s see if I can help.”

“Okay, Hill, take the word robust for example. My life coach says I need to become a robust advocate for my life situation. I always thought the word robust had to do with how strong you made your coffee, so to speak, but now I hear it used all the time by all kinds of people. Everyone seems to do everything with robustness. What’s up with that?”

“I know what you mean, Mooch. I hear that one a lot too. It seems to be the hot word of the day but what they really mean is that you gotta be assertive, strong, energetic and maybe even a bit aggressive in your approach.”

“So why don’t they use those words and leave robust to the coffee people, so to speak?”

“I don’t know, Mooch. That’s a good question, but it is what it is. What else you got?”

“Well, my life coach says I need to look for something in my wheelhouse and this one really confuses me. I don’t own a boat and, if I did, what kind of a job would I find there?”

“Yeah, I know, Mooch. I’m not sure where it got started but I think it means something that you should be good at … like when a batter gets a pitch that is in his wheelhouse, he should be able to hit it.”

“That one makes no sense to me, Hill, but another one that is kinda crazy is how everybody says at the end of the day this or at the end of the day that. What’s the end of the day, so to speak, got to do with anything?”

“This one’s kinda easy Mooch. It’s just the same as saying when all is said and done or when all the votes are counted or something like that. These are all just commonly used expressions that are currently trendy. That’s all.”

“But I still don’t understand why people can’t just use words that get straight to the point. What is to be gained by playing cutesy, so to speak, with words when you are talking to someone? Who gains from that? Why can’t people just say what they mean and be done with it?”

“Not sure how to answer that, Mooch. I guess it is just human nature for people to want to feel like they are trendy … or at least to feel that they are giving others that impression. But listen, Mooch, I’ve gotta run so I’ll answer one more of these, but then I’m outta here.”

“Okay, Hill. My life coach says I need to form strategic alliances with the right people and this one really baffles me. I mean, to me, a strategic alliance is when the guy you gotta go up against is tougher than you, so to speak, so you bring in some extra muscle. You know what I mean?”

“Listen, Mooch, let’s say I have a can of soup but no can opener, and you have an opener but no soup. Well, we could form a strategic alliance whereby we share our resources and thereby both of us can have a meal. Get it?”

“What kind of soup is it?” “It doesn’t matter what kind of soup it is. The idea is that we would need each other if we were going to both have something to eat.”

“You know, Hill, you’re sometimes as confusing as my life coach. If I don’t like whatever soup you got, why would I share my can opener? In fact, why shouldn’t I just sell you my can opener, so to speak, and then get something to eat that I really wanted?”

“Mooch, you called me and asked for help so if you don’t want to share my soup or appreciate my answers that’s okay with me.”

“I called you because my life coach told me that his goal is to be robust in building a strategic alliance with me so that at the end of the day he can help me find my wheelhouse, so to speak.”

“Okay, enough. But let me ask you just one question if I can, Mooch. Specifically, at the end of the day, is it possible that this robust guy with whom you are building a strategic alliance in an effort to find your wheelhouse and to whom you refer as your life coach is in actuality … your parole officer?”

“Well, Hill … maybe, so to speak.”

Lyle R. Hill is the managing director of Keytech North America, a company providing research and technical services for the glass and metal industry. Hill has more than 40 years experience in the glass and metal industry and can be reached at lhill@glass.com. You can read his blog on Wednesdays at lyleblog.usglassmag.com.

© Copyright 2012 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved.
No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.