Jewish World Review Oct. 5, 1999 /25 Tishrei, 5760
http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- LOOKING AT A MAGAZINE the other day, I came across an ad for a prescription medicine -- Iím sure youíve seen these ads-- you know, where half the page is filled with this teeny fine print which lists all the possible side effects (including death) that could possibly happen to you if you take this drug that they have just spent the OTHER half of the page telling you is so wonderful. (By the way, I donít consider DEATH a side effect --this is a MAJOR EFFECT, in my book!) Anyway, towards the bottom of the ad, there was this statement:
ďAsk your healthcare provider if you could benefit from a prescription of Zotarkameacin.Ē I made up the drug name, but the rest of the statement is true.
Ask my healthcare provider? It actually took me a second or so before I understood who they were taking about. Ohhh! They mean my DOCTOR! Unless they mean my insurance company. But that wouldnít make sense. Why would I ask an assistant clerk who answers the telephone at the insurance company about whether a specific prescription medicine would be beneficial to whatever condition I might be suffering from?
No. Healthcare provider is the new name for doctor. And why do we need a new name for doctor, you might ask. Good Question. After all, the name doctor has been around for a long time, hasnít it? And we all know what a doctor is, donít we? Why complicate things NOW? One answer might be: well, better late than never. But I have my own theory on it. I believe there is a group of people who have nothing else to do all day but sit around in a room and come up with new, contrived terms for everyday words -- and giggle about it.
Thatís right. Iím absolutely convinced that there must be a government organization in Washington probably called something like, The Office Of Convoluted Lexicon Management (OCLM), whose mission it is, is to bring about a new world order of words.
How else can you explain some of these ďnew, improvedĒ terms we keep hearing like wellness instead of that stupid, old-fashioned word, health? It certainly makes for interesting dialog. Example:
New way: ďSo, I understand Dave saw his healthcare provider the other day. Howís his wellness?Ē
Thanks to the OCLM schools are now called learning centers and teachers are no longer teachers, they are educators (although if we are to be consistent, then teachers should actually be referred to as learning center providers).
I was in a department store recently looking for ties and shoes so I asked a wearing apparel provider (clothing sales clerk) where I might find them. They donít exist. Wait, let me explain. The ITEMS still exist, but now they are referred to as neckwear and footwear. What we used to call hats are now headgear. I suppose if Iíd needed a shirt I would have had to ask for the chestwear department. And I guess belts are hanging on the rack marked waistwear -- right next to the counter that used to sell watches but now displays time-keeping wristwear. Need a pair of reading glasses? Ask for them by name -- visual magnifying devises.
Just like station wagons got a little bigger and became sport utility vehicles (SUV), Iím sure itís only a matter of time before refrigerators become edible product storage units (EPSU), and washing machines are called wearing apparel cleaning containers (WACC).
Right now, this whole subject is making me feel nauseous, so if youíll excuse me, Iím
going to call my healthcare provider and ask him if zotarkameacin will improve my
(SPECIAL NOTE OF THANKS: The response Iíve received to my column, ďThe Getting Away With It DecadeĒ has been overwelming to say the least! Thereís no way I could respond to each and every e-mail personally, but I want to thank all of you who wrote to me. Itís gratifying to read so many passionate, heartwarming letters. Your opinions and comments mean a great deal to this columnist.)
JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. You may contact him by clicking here.
09/24/99: The Getting Away With It Decade