Thursday, December 10, 2009

Holding the Line: Verbose Is Gross

Chunky did a book report this month.

He got a check minus on it because he didn't write enough sentences on the "summary" portion of the book.

Here's what he wrote for the summary:

"The Curse of the Cheese Pyramid was about how Geronimo Stilton and how he had to travel to Egypt, ride on a camel, and solve the mystery of the Cheese Pyramid."

Apparently his teacher told them that if she had never read the book before, she wanted to be able to know what the book was about just by reading their book summaries.

I don't know about you, but I've never read The Curse of the Cheese Pyramid and I think I know what it's about after reading that sentence.

Never mind that he had to illustrate the summary and fit it on a piece of paper that was a smidge bit smaller than the size of a square Kleenex box (because that's what they put their book reports on--they wrapped the Kleenex boxes like's some kind of holiday theme I'm not getting...but whatever).

I told him not to sweat the check minus.

I gave him a lecture about how brevity and succinctness is a beautiful thing and if you can get your point across in a few words, you are truly a wonderful person.

Which brings me to the post title today.

Holding the line.

This was one of the tired phrases thrown out there yesterday at the staff meeting we were given four minutes notice was going to be happening before it happened.

Thirty minutes of my life wherein one of the partners (hereinafter "Chester") prattled on about:

  • Law firms as fraternities;
  • His sleeping habits;
  • The evolution of legal staffing;
  • How many of us have never experienced a recession in our adult life and in the 20+ year life of the firm(Really Chester? Seriously? Shit, I think my childhood counts too.);
  • How we're pretty lean on staff;
  • How they're looking to possibly hire a couple of new attorneys (see bullet above this one--joy.); and
  • Holding the line.

Basically what he said without saying it, which annoys me to no end: No one (attorneys included) is getting bonuses this year and no one is getting raises.

Thirty minutes it took him to say this when he could have said it in five at the most and the other 25 minutes I could have been back at my desk earning HIM more money.

While I realize this isn't the most succinct post, bush beating and tiptoeing around crappy news pisses me off even more than the crappy news does.

I'm glad I have my men of few words. Or any real words at all.


Hee hee!

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Blogger Melissa said...

I've never read the book, but totally get the point. His teacher is proven by a kleenex box book report.

8:30 AM  
Blogger knottygnome said...

i feel chunky's pain. i got knocked down a grade once b/c we had a quiz and the teacher told us to be brief. all of my answers were one sentence. i got a note that said, "brief, not telegraphic." i was angry b/c i'd followed instructions and it was actually a lot harder to compose only one sentence answers than if i'd dragged on forever.

sorry bout the no raise thing. i'm sure your boss thought he was softening the blow by belaboring the point. it probably made him feel better anyway.

8:36 AM  
Blogger Erin said...

Poor Chunky. An undeserved check minus. I don't understand teachers sometimes. Sorry about the lack of raise and bonus too. That sucks. I agree though, it's better for someone to just spit out the bad news than to stammer on.

9:05 AM  
Blogger Donna Lee said...

We've gotten the no raise announcement (we rarely get bonuses) but they just do it in an email sent with high importance!. My husband isn't getting a bonus (they get them twice a year in good years)this year and they're trying to get people to take buyouts. I keep reminding myself we're lucky to have jobs and insurance.

9:30 AM  
Blogger Wendy said...

Man, that sucks! Poor Chunky. Grading can be so subjective, and what one teacher likes, another will assign a check-minus. What's most disturbing, however, is the emphasis that's placed on grades given how subjectively they are assigned.

Sorry to hear you're not getting that much deserved bonus.

10:24 AM  
Blogger Coco, not as in Chanel :) said...

Is that brief enough ;)

10:35 AM  
Blogger Karen said...

Danny would have been shorter in his summary. I'm always telling him to elaborate and write more sentences, because I *know* the teacher will not be happy with one sentence.

And it truly sucks about no raises/bonuses. But, lean on staff and hiring new attorneys? WHY do they do this?!?!? It's not the first time I've seen/heard of a company doing this. Ugh.

1:14 PM  
Blogger Crafty Christina said...

Piper's summaries are just about that long and that is after lots of coaxing from me. She also won't color in her illustrations unless told too, which will earn a check minus. I think its long as the kid clearly understands the book, its all good.

No bonuses stinks! I think it is a lawyer thing. It takes 3 times as long and 4 tangents before getting to the point.

6:24 PM  
Blogger Alli Kat said...

(this is marimbachick, from Knitty, BTW)

Once in a college English class, I got an exam question wrong because I went deeper than the prof wanted. Her question was, "Is the movie version of [X play] a recreation of the story or an interpretation of the story?" (I know, crap question in general.)

My answer was that every performance of [X play] is an interpretation, so of course it was an interpretation - there's no such thing as a "recreation" of a play. She said I didn't understand the question and gave me no points.

Some people just don't recognize talent. Chunky will probably be a professional Tweeter when he grows up, with such succinctness!

8:59 PM  
Blogger Kathy Kathy Kathy said...

Less is more. Brevity is the soul of wit, etc.

9:05 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Some of those school projects really are pretty dumb! Nothing wrong with a book report, but illustrating a wrapper to go around a Kleenex box?

Sorry about the bad work news. At this point I'd be thrilled just to be making what I was earning 3 years ago back in the good old days when my husband and I were both employed, and at fairly decent paying jobs...sigh.

That Moochie takes some very cute pictures, by the way!

9:22 PM  
Blogger DPUTiger said...

Better to vent here, to us, than to get cranky with with Chester. Just think. Holiday long weekends are just around the corner!

11:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I can say I have never read any of the Geronimo books but what Chunky wrote tells me exactly what the book is about and lets me decide if I want to read the book or not. I never read the description of a book on the cover flaps. I do like to read about the authors though.
Nice pic of Moochie looks like he is ready for Christmas and HoHoHo!
Love, Mom

1:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Chunky's report is just fine..short & hitting the highlights. Erin still has to do book reports in 8th grade. She doesn't write much but with her teachers it's all about the number of pages the students read.

I feel with you about the bonus & raise. We didn't get raises(which are based on our yearly evaluations) this year at the hospital, but did get a quarterly bonus(3rd quarter) because we met dept. goals. We have heard we might get raises after the first of the year. Who knows? I am thankful that your Uncle & I have jobs.

Moochie looks like he is ready for the holidays. Big hug to him from his Great-Aunt.

Love, Aunt Susan

8:03 AM  
Blogger Kim said...

What is wrong with that teacher! Being succinct & to the point is not easy. Chunky mastered it. A-hole teacher needs to give him a Check Plus.

1:45 PM  

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