‘Does he get paid for that?’ - Elgin Courier: Lifestyles

‘Does he get paid for that?’

David Phillips | The McDade Stringer | Posted: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 1:44 pm

The Library Lady was recently cajoling her blue-haired, card-playing friends with all the details of the Kleenex Caper Column: the original column, samples to share of some of the massive shipment sent to me, and the photos we took here at the newspaper office. 

A young friend of ours happened onto the scene and asked what all the merriment was about. After TLL read our friend into the adventure, the lady asked: “Does he get paid for that?”

An apt question, indeed. What I write is hardly thigh-slapping, guffaw-producing caliber. Every week, I toe the line between clever and cutesy/coy. Ken Herman of The Austin American-Statesman is incredibly clever, as well as a wordsmith role-model. He has a Pulitzer and I don’t even have my own parking place.

However, this raises the question: where do I get my stuff? (“Stuff” is a technical term in journalism referring to, well, the stuff we write). Many preachers I have known have a “Sermon Barrel” in which they keep useful anecdotes, meaningful quotes, and Scripture references. The most useful item is complete sermons they have stolen from more successful preachers: those with bigger congregations and larger paychecks.

Being a constant reader of several daily newspapers and all that “stuff” online, I don’t have to steal anything from anybody (except perhaps a colorful metaphor).

I keep a “fodder file” in which I keep sentences and newspaper postings which raise numerous questions in my mind.  

For example:

From USA Today, 12/21/17: Coeur d’Alene Idaho: “The Kootenai County jail is reducing the time inmates can spend in the shower to cut costs.” (How? By setting hot and/or cold water faucets on random timers, or perhaps switching from bar soap to wall-dispenser liquid soap?)

USA Today: Hawaii: “The police chief said medical marijuana patients should never have been asked to give up their guns.” (Huh?)

USA Today; (A town whose name I forgot) council rescinded its ordinance denying site occupancy to people with mobile homes valued at less than $25,000. (This IS Arkansas).

Sign seen on new business in Bastrop: “Self Dog Wash.” I went in there, but didn’t see any dogs bathing. 

Other thoughts: Before people started eating chicken, what did people say other meats tasted like?

Before the invention of the golf ball, what form of measurement was used to measure hail stones?

Why do we say, “Hot water heater?” That suggests the device is heating water which is already hot.

Why do we say, “Let me reiterate again”? “Reiterate” means to repeat, so we would be repeating again.

An 8-oz package of Provolone cheese at HEB is labeled: “Approximately 10 slices per tray.” Now, if we are told linens have a thread count of x-hundreds per inch, why can’t 10 slices of fairly thick cheese be inserted in a 10-slice package?

During Harvey, this report came at 2:15 p.m. on August 28 on KTRH radio (Houston): “11 trillion gallons of rain have fallen on Houston.” Did weather people actually get out there with gallon buckets? And where did they pour the water they gathered?

A little more helpful fashion marketing euphemism at Walmart says: “Extended sizes.” (That’s men’s “big and tall sizes.”)

Finally, before I go to my ATM machine (get it?), I’ll agree with the consternation of our young friend who wondered if I really get paid for this stuff. 

TLL occasionally suggests that I have too much time on my hands. I agree, but I also think of sharing these peculiarities of our parlance as a public service. 

If I don’t tell you, who will?