What Would Mark Do?
     - Musings on design, opinions on business and discoveries to be shared. 
              by Mark Bendickson.

'The Euphemism-ing of America'

This afternoon it was nice out, so I took a little break to sit out in the sun, drink a Caribou Dulce DeLeche , and read Dry: A Memoir  (I love reading Augesten Burroughs).  While I was sitting there I saw an armored car service pull up to the curb, but it wasn't the normal American Security Armored Car truck (apparently they were acquired)  but one from  Garda  Cash Logistics.  Cash logistics?  Are you F''n kidding me?  Euphemism aside, what about the branding aspect.  When I think of logistics, I think of actuaries with spreadsheets and big Gantt charts that cover an entire wall.  I don't know about you, but when the guard is carrying a big canvas bag full of my hard earned cash out to the curb I want him to have a damn 12 gauge in his other hand, not a flow chart. 

What is it with this euphemism epidemic?  I know it''s been around for quite some time, but it is beginning to get ridiculous.  Give me a break.  Oh, I can understand the puffery and job title inflation that resume writers engage in.  If I were a hostess at Olive Garden I might refer to myself as an social nourishment facilitator or some such.  And I suppose being a WalMart "Associate" might make you forget you are an underpaid clerk with no benefits and give the old self esteem a mighty boost.  And I can understand the motives of a group of employees that seek to bump up a paycheck with a title change.  But are we all so immune to this "title creep" that we don''t even notice it anymore? There is even a term for it. The Ridiculous Business Jargon Dictionary describes it this way;  Uptitling; The practice of changing an employee''s job title to something impressive (and often ridiculous) sounding in place of an actual promotion. 

Case in point; Stewardesses became flight attendants for this reason, even though the job responsibilities didn't change much.  Back in the day it was one of those jobs a young woman took to travel and meet a husband (pardon my sexism, but it was) and now it has become a "career".  The justification for this was that they were responsible for your safety.  This wasn't really much of a change.  In the beginning all stewardesses were required to be nurses, so obviously the safety thing has always been a consideration,  but by creating the public opinion that they were less waitresses and more lifeguards (and we were, by extension, really poor swimmers) they were able to justify this transition to "professional career" and give their union all the ammo it needed to assure that they were paid commensurate with their heavy responsibilities.  Does anyone really fall for this?  Does anyone really think that that surly, menopausal woman (I usually fly NWA) who glares at me when I ask her to leave the can of Pepsi after my glass is filled is going to stay on a burning plane to make sure I get safely off before they have a single thought of self preservation?  Good heavens, it''s hard enough to get them to stop complaining about their job with their fellow flight attendants in the galley when you need something.  Would not a rose, by any other name, take just as long to bring you a second bag of tiny pretzels? 

The same goes for  lines of business.  What once was trucking became transportation, and is now logistics.  From a sales standpoint I suppose that makes sense.  A friend in the trucking transportation logistics business told me how sales has evolved from calling on the shipping manager to discuss shipping, to calling the VP of Ops to discuss a total logistics solution.  I suppose after a few power point filled meetings with management and a value proposition analysis or two it's easy for that VP of Ops to send a memo to the shipping manager (cc'ing his boss) explaining the exciting new capabilities this paradigm shift will bring to the company, fulfillment-wise.  Plus, we all know how less carved-in-stone budgets get the closer you get to the top of the management food chain.  And, I imagine it's easier to get buy-in from the shipping manager when their boss', boss', boss thinks it's a good idea.

So, I guess I can see why Garda does it.  I suppose it makes it easier to get past a gatekeeper, or an initial objection.  If the prospect says "no, we already have an armored car service, I''m not interested", it can be countered with "no sir, we aren't an armored car service, we are a cash logistics specialist".  "Well damn", the impressed prospect says "that''s different, tell me more".  If I were them I think my job (and myself) might feel more important if I were tasked with the selection of our cash logistics provider.  "How was work today dear?"   "Not bad, I spent all afternoon reviewing responses to my RFP from prospective cash logistics providers.  It''s always a demanding chore when I am tasked with implementing any changes in our mission critical business infrastructure".  It would be funny if we all weren't surrounded by people all day that talk like this.

Maybe it is just me, but I liked it in the old days when you could just say something and not feel compelled to spin it.  What do you think?

Oh well, only a week and a half until Gravity Free.  Then all will be right with the world...for three days at least.