Seize and Assist

I don't think I agree with this one, but it's an interesting thought.

I don’t think I agree with this one, but it’s an interesting thought.

Before I decided to go back to school, I worked at a call centre. I spent my days trying to keep my sanity, and attempting to assist angry people. Sometimes, you would have a good call and a customer would praise you, most days you had bad calls.

To add some humour to the monotony, I used to keep a folder of “funny things”. This included everything from comics to notes on hilarious letters from clients. On the bad days, I would take a moment and look through the folder while on a break to relax and it would always leave me laughing. I looked through it almost every day.

I have talked about how reading a word does not mean you know how to say it before, but this time I would like to talk about how hearing things does not mean that you can spell them. We are all guilty, but even while I was facing a life of constant irritation and mediocrity, I still found joy in words.

One of my favourites was a note left on an account that said “Please place seize and assist on account”. This was meant to stop calls to the customer. Obviously, they meant “cease and desist”, but I am assuming that they had only ever heard the term and had never actually seen it. Whenever I think about it, I imagine actually seizing the customer and providing aggressive assistance.

A friend recently shared with me that while at work, a co-worker exclaimed that something was the “vein” of their existence. The correct term would be the “bane” of their existence, as you probably know. I believe that the vein of existence has a very different meaning.

Another was a complaint letter about the product which said, “I find this product to be substantial!” Of course, this is not exactly the same thing, however, it is possible that this customer had always misheard the “in” part of “insubstantial”. I suppose they also could have meant substandard. It wasn’t a typo, either, it was a handwritten note. I really wanted to send a letter back saying that I was glad that they found the product to be so notable.

I am also guilty, for during my first and only venture into the world of a writers forum, I was trying to think of the word “warrant”, as in “a post like this warrants a response”. I accidentally used “warden”, and as a result, I left the world of online writing forums never to return. Not because I was so embarrassed that I couldn’t show my virtual face again, but because it was so harshly and quickly pointed out and torn apart that I felt unwelcome. But, that is a post for another day.

Just as when we see a word in writing and it comes out incorrectly when we say it, we also have the ability to hear something and write it down incorrectly. The English language is a strange beast and I don’t think that any of us can claim that we have never made a mistake. I find it amusing when I see things written incorrectly, but more in the sense that seeing it in a new spelling makes me think of the term differently. It shows me that there is a subtle yet considerable difference between the spoken and written word. It makes me aware that I cannot claim to be omnipotent in regards to the English language (or anything else, really).

Still, I enjoy these findings in the same way that I love to say words over and over again until they lose meaning and I can no longer remember how to say them properly.

Do you have anything to admit to? Do you have any that you specifically enjoyed in your own experiences? I’d love to hear them, I still have days where I could use a laugh!


11 thoughts on “Seize and Assist

  1. Well actually I probably had a dozen examples until you put me on the spot and asked for them! LOL! This was a great post… I’ll think of the examples and hopefully get back to you so you can laugh at someone else’s expense. LOL! 😀

    • That’s excellent, I would love to hear them! Of course, we’ll be laughing together..right?! If I think of any others that I use, I’ll be sure to post them as well!

  2. I think I’m going to enjoy your new blog! I too started another for the same reason – I enjoy reading and writing. Alas, I haven’t posted much on there lately but would appreciate the thoughts of a wordsmith! It’s called South bound, will send the link shortly.

  3. This kind of thing happens a lot for many reasons. Often when people are writing, they know exactly what it is they want to say and therefor image that is just what they’ve written. That’s why as a writer it’s important to have an editor- just hope they are good at their job. I can relate to you not wanting to return to that forum. It seems to me that some people, but mostly writers, are just sitting back itching for an opportunity to critique someone else in the least helpful way possible. I still don’t understand what that’s about.

    • I agree, we all make mistakes—even editors! It’s just important to accept, correct, and remember the error.

      I found the forum that I visited to have some ruthless and aggressive people, but I’m sure not all of them are like that. I prefer blogging, as you seem to connect with more people without so much judgement, since each site is its own entity.

  4. While I’d like to believe that I don’t say words incorrectly, I play it off as my latent southern accent when I do say something funny.

    In terms of other people’s gaffes, in the worst screenplay I’ve ever read was a reference to “channel colon.” I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what the knucklehead writer was aiming for with that mistake. Someone else had to decipher it as “Chanel cologne.”

    Back in high school there was an epidemic of people using “crucial” incorrectly. They would use it as a way of saying, “That sucks.” “Dude that’s so crucial.” It made me insane, but all the cool kids were doing it so I never bothered correcting them.

    • Oh man, the crucial thing would drive me mad! I don’t know how you could stand it. Also, channel colon is pretty hilarious. Thanks for the laughs and for reading the post!

  5. Ha, my life is full of words I’ve read but can’t pronounce. I remember reading “The Subtle Knife” in middle school and telling my dad all about “The Sub-till Knife.” Nowadays, reading aloud with my husband has provided many good laughs and an extensive education on how to say these words I’ve been reading silently for so many years.

    • Oh, I love that book! English is tricky, so I’ve decided it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Take almost any word and it could potentially have a different pronunciation based on the rules of the language.

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