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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

I'll have 'the usual' please

The penultimate sentence in yesterday's post was written as follows:

"I work in relative obscurity... and my secretary can't be bothered to remember how I drink my coffee."

Now why in the world do you think I linked those two statements in one extended sentence instead of separating them into two distinct thoughts?

Many of you immediately disregarded the significance of the first statement and jumped to the conclusion from the second that part of her job description (or at very least my expectation) was that she prepare my coffee.

Now be honest... is that really implied anywhere in that sentence?  Couldn't it just as easily have been a simple statement of regret that one of two people who work closely together for nine hours a day doesn't know how the other takes his coffee?

Quite honestly, I've made coffee for her at least as frequently as she has made coffee for me.  The difference is that I always remember how she takes hers... but she invariably has to ask for instructions/clarification when she is preparing mine.  And to be clear, she has an incredible memory for details in all other aspects of our working relationship.

The way many of you interpreted my statement would constitute an insult (albeit an anachronistic one at best)... and I'm quite sure she doesn't mean to be insulting. 

What I was trying to relate was simply a certain regret that someone who spends more waking hours with me than my wife can't be bothered to remember something as basic as how I drink my coffee... thus my use of an ellipse to join the thought about my working in 'obscurity' to the act of making coffee.

And yes, that was a deliberate trap I set... just to see how many people would fall in.  There seem to be a fair number of you down there.  :-)


Posted by David Bogner on September 19, 2006 | Permalink


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ah, but why set a trap when you could have just been clear? You could have written, "I always remember how my secretary likes her coffee but she can't be bothered to remember how I like mine". Deliberately setting bait for your readers... really, David, how unsportsman-like... :-)

PS notice I didn't take the bait...

Posted by: nrg | Sep 19, 2006 3:09:00 PM

Perhaps it was because you were reflecting on your being so old and when you threw that in, I couldn't help but think that you were a holdover from a largely gone era. You know, the one were secretaries were expected to bring the boss coffee.

Growing up when the majority of women had to fight those stereotypes does leave an imprint.

But I'm glad that you were just talking about being ancient. :)

From one ancient to another.

Posted by: seawitch | Sep 19, 2006 3:20:48 PM

nrg... Frankly I'm shocked that you didn't take the bait. :-) As to my reasons, all I can say is that as the sentence was being formed in my mind I realized how anachronistic it would sound. Rather than fix it in a fashion similar to what you've suggested I decided to leave it alone and see who would leap before looking. Guilty as charged.

Seawitch... I've actually done this (perhaps more subtly) in a few previous posts (think Ibrahim's mirror). By mentioning 'Leave it to Beaver' I knew many people's minds would be stranded in the 50s and very early 60s. Mention the words 'secretary' and 'coffee' in the same sentence close on the heels of that and a lot of people are going to make an incorrect inductive leap. The mind is funny that way.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Sep 19, 2006 3:22:51 PM

I ignored that last bit because all my attention was on the previous paragraph, and I was thinking you might have not done something as great as Herzl but atleast you’d have left a ‘blogprint’ read across the world. Must have missed that mine, it’s getting tricky reading your trap-ridden blog, Trep. :-)

Posted by: pk | Sep 19, 2006 3:36:13 PM

Hi David,

Hope you are well.
Still loving your blog, although unfortunatly not reading it as regularly as before.

The photos of Herzl you posted yesterday, remind me so much of my father (lehavdil ben hayyim lehayyim) who used to sport a very similar look some years ago, when he was in his 30s and 40s.

People tell of him being chased by children down streets to chants of 'Herzl-Herzl!'.

I am in my 30s now and don't feel as accomplished as my father seems at the same age - I just feel these moments are wake-up calls to keep on plugging away at what we feel is important...

(BTW, maybe I am just 'switched off', but I did get what you meant about the coffee...)

Hope you and your family have a shana tova umetuka!

Tizku leshanim rabot!


Posted by: NN | Sep 19, 2006 4:43:52 PM

So what your trying to say Dave is beware of the traps you set on your blog? Are you saying "beware" traps ahead? hmmmm....

Posted by: Jewish Blogmeister | Sep 19, 2006 4:55:43 PM

what's so wrong with getting your boss coffee anyway? (hmmm, could this question be a trap?)

Posted by: cruisin-mom | Sep 19, 2006 5:10:44 PM

I don't know about the rest of you, but ever since I received my handy dandy notepad and Treppenwitz Decoder Ring I never walk into these traps.

Not only that, but I received an 8x10 glossy of our illustrious leader in all of his beekeeping glory and a book that is chock full of tips and insights.

Now if only I can be included in the infomercial my day will be complete.

Posted by: Jack | Sep 19, 2006 6:19:48 PM

I second what Seawitch said.

Posted by: val | Sep 19, 2006 7:11:09 PM

Actually, this raises a number of interesting questions. If she remembers all the other details of your working relationgship... what is it about coffee that makes her forget? Hmm... Prshaps there's a Freudian trap hidden somewhere there as well! : )

Posted by: Irina | Sep 19, 2006 7:22:25 PM

For what it's worth, I prefer triple-shot, skim, dry cappuccinos. There ... now y'all know. :-)

Posted by: Yaron | Sep 19, 2006 7:37:41 PM

Aside from your intent here:

Perhaps it is you that has missed what SHE has been trying to tell you all these years. Surprisingly enough it is what I believe as well. People who drink coffee any way other than black and hot .... are silly. :-)

Posted by: Scott | Sep 20, 2006 3:34:13 AM

Coffee-making arrangements be as they may--you HAVE A SECRETARY.

Posted by: uberimma | Sep 20, 2006 5:59:34 AM

"What I was trying to relate was simply a certain regret that someone who spends more waking hours with me than my wife can't be bothered to remember something as basic as how I drink my coffee... thus my use of an ellipse to join the thought about my working in 'obscurity' to the act of making coffee."

Your wife doesn't remember how you take your coffee because she spends a lot of time with you, (I'm guessing) she remembers because she wants to show you that she cares about you enough to remember the little details that make you happy. Your secretary doesn't remember because she's not your wife. She's concerned about remembering the details that make your professional life go smoothly.

Posted by: FernR | Sep 20, 2006 9:27:58 AM

pk... say that last line three times fast. :-)

NN... Thanks. No pressure. Stop by when you can.

Jewish Blogmeister... I don't do it very often... give me a break! :-)

Cruisin' Mom... Unfortunately, in many parts of Israeli culture this task is still very much part of a secretary's job. I don't ask for it though.

Jack... I can't tell if I'm having an L. Ron Hubbard or a Ron Popeil (sp) moment. :-)

Val... You sure caved pretty quickly. ;-)

Irina... I thought you were in law school... not psych.

Yaron... OK, I've been away for three years now but I still speak Starbucks pretty fluently. But what the heck is a 'dry' cappuccino?

Scott... You big tough Texan you! I can picture you making cowboy coffee over a wood fire. Am I close?

Uberima... You say it like it's a bad thing. :-)

FernR... Boy do you not have this woman's number. :-)

Posted by: treppenwitz | Sep 20, 2006 8:52:27 PM

Actually I prefer a (horrors) French press. My wife bought this obscenely expensive "swiss" machine (though it runs like a northern Itallian machine) that grinds, presses and gives up three kinds of coffee in three different quantities in three different strengths. It will steam milk too. It's quite nice ... when it's not back at the factory for servicing or it has not emtied its water tank all over the counter during the night. Every time I want a cup of joe from it it needs either to be filled with with water ... or beans .... or it needs its grounds emptied. Does make good coffee though when all the planets are alligned.

Posted by: Scott | Sep 21, 2006 2:03:08 AM

Given that the term secretary does still conjure connotations of coffee-bringers, I think the implication WAS there. But nice trap regardless. It is good to keep your readers on their toes. How much for the decoder ring?

Posted by: mcaryeh | Sep 28, 2006 8:22:31 AM

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