Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Code Words

Once when I was a kid, a neighbor used a code word with her kids to tell them to shape up without causing a big scene. This is subtle and classy. I prefer screaming or the evil eye, but I dabble in subtle.

The evil eye is a successful behavior management tool but it works mainly with children and spouses. Coworkers tend to think you have a bug in your eye or that you're hitting on them because you're winking or otherwise contorting your face. Regardless, the eye is a unique opportunity to practice telepathy. This is not working out well for me at all. I postulate people are saying in their heads...
Hey! Let's get 4 pounds of chocolate and speed eat it before noon!
She's really thinking: This is the dumbest looking spreadsheet I've ever seen.
Or with my kids: Wow, we have the best Mom ever!
The kid is really thinking: Wow, my Mom is the meanest Mom ever because I am the only kid in 6th grade without an unlimited text messaging plan.

Back to the code words, the neighbor's word was banana. Subtle? Yes. Odd enough that the kid will figure it out and get his feet off of Aunt Mildred's coffee table? Certainly. So if it works with a kid, why not adults?
For a special highly confidential project, I came up with a code word for referencing it. (I'll tell you the code, but I may have to kill you.) It was Medicare. Odd, but workable. We used the code without incident for several months until one day, it completely left my head. Vamoose. Asta la vista, Baby...
Cohort: Hey, how's the Medicare project coming?
Me: What on Earth are you talking about?
Cohort: (Nudging me, and winking emphatically) You know MEDICARE. What's the latest?
Me: Are you insane? I have no project for this. My Grandma is on Medicare, does that count?
Cohort: (Slapping head, repeatedly) No, MEDICARE. Come one, MEDICARE!
Me: (Getting really annoyed) No really, nothing.
Cohort: (Shocked, dismayed, likewise annoyed, in a whisper says) You know... (The Project)
It was my own word and I completely spaced it out. Easy come, easy go.
Case in point, I tried a code word in a meeting with another cohort who does not often attend meetings. He has strong opinions (a strength) but sometimes lacks the appropriate filter (an opportunity for skill enhancement). So before the meeting I said "Hey, our code word is EGGPLANT. If I mention EGGPLANT, you need to put a sock in your kisser."
Off we went with our Eggplant in tow. As expected, my cohort was voraciously expressing his opinions so I say under my breath "Hey, Eggplant." He looked at me like I was an organic vegetarian produce farmer holding a plateful of cheeseburgers and continued his discussion. I tried again "Eggplant" and I kind of kicked his chair.
Nothing. No reaction.
"BANANA!" I exclaim in the middle of this meeting. He was so shocked that he stopped talking. Of course, everyone was now staring at me. Using my telepathic powers I know exactly what they were thinking "She is AWESOME!"


Anonymous said...

You KILL me! Way too funny (voice in my head: EGGPLANT!)
No, seriously, you are histarical (voice in my head: BANANA)
Man..I could read this like, I don't know, 100 times (MEDICARE. MEDICARE. MEDICARE)

Hugs to you...keep posting...I love it!

JBA said...

Thanks Audrey, you are very sweet. Before we decided on Eggplant we thought about using rootabega, but decided it was exceedingly obscure. Anyone who knows me should be fearful of any produce utterances I make.

Thanks for reading and for being supportive- it means a lot!

Anonymous said...

Oh man...I SERIOUSLY think that you have one of the best blogs that I have come across. I love your wit and your ability to find humor in everything. I look forward to your post each day!

Rising from my Ashes said...

Jen, do you know what President Obama's secret service code name is?

JBA said...

Seriously??? It's not banana is it?

D.K.Fisher said...


Cynthia said...

Wow... Medicare! Eggplant! Banana! You know...!!? Okay try another, code word (whispered emphatically) YOGURT! No?

The evil eye comes more naturally when trying to control behavior...also a little kick under the table!

Cute post JBA <3