Absolution through profanity.

I’m at Ohare airport, my favorite place in the world.  I decided the grab a tuna sandwich before my next flight.  The chipper lady behind the counter kept messing up putting my credit card in and at one point laughed and said “I keep fucking up.”  Realizing what she said, she looked up at me in horror.

“Well you need to fucking try harder then, don’t you?” I said.  And we shared a laugh.

  • Glodson

    You fucking absolved her?! Fuck, man, that was a fucking bad call. Think of those fucking children who could have heard her say fuck. It would have corrupted the little fuckers.

  • http://peternothnagle.com Peter N

    O’Hare is your favorite place in the world? Really? That tunnel between the B and C concourses is like a near-death experience, only with rolling suitcases. Nice dinosaur, though!

    • Andrew Kohler

      Is this the one with the pretty lights and the bastardization of Gershwin playing? My favorite as a child :-D I’d go through it with my dad and sister even if we didn’t have to change terminals. I’ve not been there in years, but I hope it’s still there. There has to be something to redeem that airport.

  • Mike

    I usually just ask people to please watch their fucking language!

  • b00ger

    I once read an article that showed that use of profanity (at least in moderation) when used like this as a sort of shared taboo experience helps to engender people to each other. It was talking about workplace relations, but it appears it is also helpful in shitty airports.

    • Constance Reader

      I think it also serves the useful function of being a relatively benign way of blowing off steam, instead of letting frustration build because you are forbidden from saying what you really mean or expressing genuine emotion in the workplace. When I was still office based, we cussed like sailors.

    • invivoMark

      Studies also show* that it helps increase pain tolerance, too!

      And more so in females than males. Sorry JT, it looks like it was better for her than it was for you! ;-)

      *http://freethoughtblogs.com/singham/2012/05/16/swearing-and-pain/

  • Constance Reader

    Good call, JT. As a frequent business traveler I try to be as cool as possible with the people who work at airports, even for food service and retail their jobs must especially suck.

    OT, but I noticed something hanging out with you and the crowd at the Austin Hyatt last Saturday night – when enjoying the company of those for whom “God”, “Lord” and “Jesus Christ” are not effective cuss words, I say ‘fuck’ even more often than usual. And usually I say it a LOT.

  • http://faehnri.ch/ eric

    While you’re at the fucking airport, here’s some good fucking news. Ohio school takes down Jesus picture.

    “It’s not fair to take those resources from our kids’ education.” That’s nice of them. How about it’s also not fair to favor a particular religion either?

    • Glodson

      At least they aren’t wasting money on a dead case.

      • http://smingleigh.wordpress.com Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

        Law < Principle < Money.

        Glad they've cleared that up.

        • Glodson

          Hey, as long as they don’t waste the money that should be used on education to defend their stupid principles, I’m good with the outcome.

          • http://smingleigh.wordpress.com Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

            You know, you’re right. I’m going to see the good side of this too. Lets not lose sight of the victory for law, education, and sanity here.

    • baal

      I know too much about insurance defense work (this type of case). It was actually pretty brave of the insurance company to deny coverage. More often than not, regardless of the likely legal outcome, they bend over backwards to avoid upsetting christians. It’s bad for business. That often means paying for these frivolous (on the part of the xtians in the leadership at the school) law suits.

  • Art Vandelay

    I normally automatically assume that people who get offended by a few letters strung together to make a sound regardless of it’s context have more skeletons in their closet than I could possibly imagine and choose not to associate with them because of it.

    That’s totally fair, right?

    • baal

      eh, I keep seeing a dichotomy in our community between speech we like (ex swearing, popeish fucking muther fuckers) and speech we don’t (ex bigoted speech, ‘atheists don’t really not believe’ (Ii very nearly blowed a fucking gasket on this one yesterday)). The later is often met with a chorus of ‘fire that bastard!’ while the former gets ‘it’s just letters in a row’.

      I’d be happier (fucking breezy whistle) if our messaging about language were more consistent. Words have meaning and more impact on listeners (readers) than a few random photons or a few random sounds that convey less meaning.

      • Loqi

        I don’t really see any inconsistency there. I’m not really sure where the objection lies. One is an objection to a certain word for seemingly no reason. The other is objection to an idea.
        For example, take the phrases “you’re an asshole” and “you’re a bad person.” Those mean essentially the same thing, and objecting to the former is silly. It’s an objection to a specific word just because. Does “ass” have some kind of special significance? Are butts an oppressed minority and the use of “ass” has historically been used as a slur to keep them down?
        On the other hand, “atheists don’t really not believe” is an ignorant idea. The words are not problematic. The idea they are being used to present is.

      • Nate Frein

        To expand on what Loqi said, the issue with bigoted speech isn’t that it’s vulgar or uncouth. The issue isn’t the particular arrangement of letters.

        The issue is the foundation upon which those words lie. Calling a person a faggot derogatorily is saying “you are a bad person because you are gay”. You aren’t simply saying that the person you are insulting is bad, you’re saying they’re bad because gayness is bad. The insult cannot work without the implication that gayness is bad.

        The same applies to any gendered language or racist language.

      • baal

        i agree iwth both of you that the real issue is the meaning of the words and we should work towards reducing actually harmful expressions rather than coddling those who use language policing to enforce largely conservative, christian and hateful expressions.

        My point here is limited and narrow. Even though swearing is far down the list of thing-people-should-be-bothered-about ™ the mere fact that some folks are honestly offended means we should consider that empirical fact of their offense and not pretend that it doesn’t happen. I don’t think their offense is merited in swearing cases (or heaven forbid a wardrobe malfunction) but in ridiculing the merit, it can come across as ridiculing their hurt.
        I see comments, however, that belittle their targets feelings rather than the meanings of the offensive words.

        hrm, saying the same idea another way, I take it as a norm that person’s feelings are theirs and they are entitled to them regardless of anything (thought crimes are orwellian). The blowback should focus on the harm of someone’s expression. It registers on my conscious more often than I’m comfortable with that there seems to be two standards of analysis applied. When we’re offended, the focus is on the harm to the person (rightly so! as you both point out). When the authoritarians or christians are offended, we’re more likely to take a “sooo sad, too bad, you’re upset” focus on the offender. It’s a flipping on the presumptions and on the focus of the normalizing comments. I think this gives rise to an appearance of inconsistency and the xtians then go whole hog on the tribalistic argument (usually wrongly but with merit at times).

        • Nate Frein

          And, where, exactly, are you seeing this “dichotomy” in our “community”?

      • John Horstman

        Hmm, I know people like absolutes that can be universally applied, but there just aren’t any. Trying to reason through appropriate vs. inappropriate language use in ever case is exhausting, but necessary if one is really concerned about human well-being. The simplest tactic is to ask two questions: “Who benefits?” and “Who is harmed?” This should at least help one to take a step back and judge possible impacts of language use. Typically, if a systemically marginalized group is going to be harmed for my own personal gain or that of a privileged group, I’d say the language is probably inappropriate. If the privileged are harmed, I tend to worry a lot less. “Fuck” doesn’t really have a connection to a long history of oppression and marginalization for any groups (of which I know), the way language we deem NOT OKAY does.

        I do think that attempts to establish absolute ethical dictates are problematic, as rules just can’t be applied in a way that’s actually fair and equitable without accounting for context. Because of that, equal treatment is almost never the same thing as identical treatment, though identical treatment is usually easier to carry out.

  • otrame

    Reminds me of a sort of opposite story. The first day I arrived on a construction site where some of my co-workers had been working for several weeks, the site supervisor, upon discovering that there was ANOTHER water line that wasn’t on the city maps, said, “Shit!”

    Then he looked at me, little old lady (well, late middle age, anyway) and said, “Pardon my French.” One of my co-workers laughed at him and said, “Don’t worry, man. She speaks pretty good French herself”.


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