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Binded for Glory (Classic Back-To-School Repost)

5 Sep

September 5, 2012

Back to school time is here, a parent’s happiest time of the year! I experienced this last year and though I like to post older reposts, this is too sad and/or funny to ignore.

from September 15, 2011

This may come as a surprise to longtime readers of this blog, but I am a professional writer.

I will wait a few seconds for the laughter to die down.

But it is true. It is in my official job description at The Company, which shall remain unnamed. And please, for security, it is central that you don’t use your intelligence and google the agency I work for.

Of course, I suppose the guy who makes the “out of order” signs for gas station rest rooms calls himself a writer too. But he doesn’t have to wear a suit and tie to work like I do. In fact, seeing as how he has to spend part of his day unclogging toilets he probably shouldn’t wear a suit and tie to work.

At any rate, as a professional writer and former English teacher, I tend to notice bad grammar, especially when I hear it coming at me out of the mouths of a couple of loudmouth illiterates at Staples.

I was on line at Staples the other day to have something faxed. Surprisingly, the place I was faxing some documents to would not accept scans sent to their email. They insisted on faxes. Faxing is increasingly becoming useless with everyone and their dog owning a scanner. And if someone does not own a scanner, I guess they should upgrade to a push-button phone first. BTW- I know an otherwise normal man who still has a beat-up rotary phone for no other reason than “it still works.” Not that it works very well when customer service tells him to push “1” for English.

Anyway, I was at Staples (who charged me over a dollar a page to send eight pages, plus tax. What a rip off.) waiting for my faxes to go through. The place was packed because I was there less than a week before school began and it was full of adults, but fuller of kids, buying school supplies. And surprisingly, a lot of kids seem to need Staples Easy Buttons.

While I was waiting at the business counter a couple of people needed an old book bound. I saw it, the thing was almost falling apart. They told the woman behind the counter to be very careful with it, it was very important. I judged the book to be about twenty years old, and when I got a glimpse of the cover I saw that it was more like forty.

The important book? Secrets of Success in the Modern Technological Office. And below the title? “New 1974 Edition.”

And not only was it being bound, they were having a copy made, which I am sure is a violation of copyright.

But had you seen the people you would not be surprised. I don’t think they were prepared to work in any office, certainly not the modern technological office of 1974. Let it be sufficient to say that they appeared almost, but not quite, totally unemployable.

However, what drove me nuts was that while they were technically having the book bound, they said they were having it “binded.” As in “my spell check keeps telling me that binded isn’t a word.” You’re on a computer, try it and see for yourself.

They must have used “binded” a thousand times in a ten minute span. And in a variety of ways, more ways than you’d expect a non-existent past tense verb to be used.

“I need this book binded.”
“The binded on here is bad.”
“I hope you do a strong bindeding on this shit.”
“I tried to get it bindeded a couple of months ago but they machine was broke.”

For the record:It is an easy mistake to make. I used to tell my students that when in doubt, the ear always knows. Which sounds right, “I runned to the store” or “I ran to the store?”

Say it out loud. “I swimmed at the beach” or “I swam at the beach”?

“I need this book binded” or “I need this book bound“?

Before you ask (not that I could hear you anyway) these people were not foreign. They sounded like they lived here all their lives, and they seemed to be from forty to fifty years old.

So I stood there a little while longer and listened to how their book was getting binded by the bindeder, and how the bindeding better be damn strong “or else there’s gonna be some shit at that.”

My fax had gone through but I was still waiting on the confirmation. Good thing too, or I would have missed the big debate about if red bindeding looks good on a blue book, and if they change their minds could they get it rebinded?

When I finally left they were looking at the receipt and one was asking the other “why the government was charging taxes on their personal books.”

Thank God I am educated.

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