Monday, November 2, 2015

Currently Listening 11/2

I've always picked up languages fairly quickly, and now I can honestly say I speak the language of bagels.

This photo is called "baroque fashion blonde woman eating bagel with flowers hat"

I'm full of dumb pocket theories, little ideas and suppositions that aren't backed by science or any hard evidence, and one of these theories is that there exists micro-cultures in every workplace. By "micro-culture," I mean the same manner as the way families tend to invent their own traditions or friend groups will use their own unique slang. If you work everyday with the same people in the same place, essentially a culture will form. And as with many cultures, language will develop.

This masterpiece is: "woman with necklace made from bagels face close up perfect make up"

I noticed this at old jobs I've held - certain ways of speaking emerge that would make no sense to outsiders - but nothing close to what I've adopted at the bagel shop I work at. While there's still the usual restaurant jargon - "goodfella on a roll times two," for example - there's also a written language established that's so clever it hurts. It's hard to remember when four different people shout over the counter four different orders, and these are people in a rush during a commute and ready to rip out everyone's throat because they haven't had their coffee or horse tranquilizers yet. So it's best not to mess up.

My coworkers learned this, and invented a system to combat customers' wrath. On each bagel, there'll be a design cut into it; one notch in the side signifies a buttered bagel, three for scallion cream cheese, an 'X' for lox spread, etc. One of the marks of a culture is that it communicates ideas through language, particularly written language. But it's so much more than that.

"Bagel on wooden background close-up" AKA "wtf is happening"

My coworkers legitimately care for one another, and for me. When I open in the morning, I'll pour out some cups of coffee and everyone will drink together until the customers start flowing in. Jaime will tell me about the village he came from, and Anna will ask me for input on nutrition, and John will tell me dirty jokes about his grandmother in Mexico. Then at night, when my boss is safely gone, sometimes they'll make traditional mole enchiladas on the stove or knock back a beer or two. I can't call it a family, because I like to think we all handle ourselves independently, but it's definitely something.

"Hey Courtney, how does this translate into 'Currently Listening' at all?" Well, good reader, I'm glad you asked. Language is one of the most important parts of our lives, and this includes written language. But most verbal language hardly ever actually says what it seems to say, if that makes sense. For instance, when a person says, "it's okay," after being wronged, it usually just means: "drop it." Another example: one of the best things to hear when we close is: "Gotta go, gotta go!"

Let me explain.

When the minutes are creeping towards closing time, it's been twelve or thirteen hours that I've been in the store and almost as long for everyone else. But Jaime is the unofficial leader of we closers, and until he says it's time to go we're stuck in that store. And then he'll call: "Gotta go!" The rest of us will scramble together, relieved and aching, to get the hell out of that place - till the next day.

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