Can't We Just Get Along...Without These? At the end of the day, net/net, less is more. But there you go.
By Stanley Bing

(FORTUNE Magazine) – I was with this guy in an elevator the other day. It's not easy to get a laugh in an elevator anymore. People aren't even trying. I forget what I said. At the end of the day, net/net, it wasn't important. I was just trying to create something value-added. I delivered my nugget and he kind of looked at me wanly, you know, with three-quarter focus, and he said, "There you go."

Readers of this column will know that there are few things I hate worse than "There you go." It's on a list that now includes those little headsets executives wear at their desks to create the impression that they've become their own receptionists and sandwiches made not in bread but in microscopically thin cold burrito wraps. "There you go," the guy said. I wanted to punch him. Okay, the market was down 530 points that day, but that's the way I felt. Hey. Been there, done that, huh?

I'm sick of our buzzwords. It's time to retire them. I'm not sure how we're going to get along without them, but I think we should try. It's not a semantic issue. We're draining our discourse of color, emotion, meaning. And at the end of the day, I believe it's important that we all end up on the same page.

It can be done. There are precedents. When I came into American business, you couldn't get away from excellence. Now armies of corporate soldiers have all but killed excellence, mostly through ridicule, and believe me, excellence is not missed.

Similarly, there was Quality. Of course, there was quality before there was Quality. But Quality killed quality, until by the early '90s it was impossible to create or manage anything of quality if you wished to use the word. Now Quality is dead. In a couple of decades, if we keep it dead, it may be possible to achieve some sort of quality again. But only if we shut up about Quality.

So let's get to work right now. It won't be easy. Where previous generations had just a few egregious examples, our world is flush with verbal slag. Why? One: communications vehicles, from print to video to the Internet, continue to spawn, boggling what remains of our minds. And two: nobody really wants to talk about anything but the stock market and oral sex. At the end of the day, there you go.

Let's start right there--with the "go" derivatives. They are: "There you go," "Don't go there," and most recently the cloying and deeply embarrassing "You go, girl," which I now hear addressed to balding, paunchy executives in beer halls after the day is done. The problem with the entire go-based genre is that nobody's going anyplace, okay? Most of the time, for example, I'm sitting. Sitting is not going. Even standing in a line waiting for a spinach wrap is not going. In the second instance, instructing the speaker to avoid "going there" is even worse, if that's possible. If after all that sitting and waiting and, at times, leaning, I'm already up and going somewhere, why should I want to stop? What if I want to go there? Who are you to tell me not to? And as far as girls going, if she's already going, why do we have to exhort her to go further? Maybe she's gone far enough. At the end of the day, it's annoying.

Let's put that one to sleep as well. During one six-hour period, I heard it from people in New York, Los Angeles, and Washington in a series of unrelated phone calls. "At the end of the day blah blah blah," says this guy. I want to ask him: Why at the end of the day? Why not the end of the hour? A lot can happen in an hour, particularly at lunch, when people are at their best. Conversely, why not at the end of the week? Many things seem to take place then, most often on Friday afternoons, for some reason.

At the same time, let's stop revisiting stuff. "At the end of the day, we're going to have to revisit that issue," says this L.A. guy I'm talking to. Pfui. Can we have some real, solid verbs please? We won't revisit anything, okay? We'll talk about it, maybe, but we won't revisit it. We can also stop reengineering, I think, and start firing people like in the days when we knew what was going on. We should also completely refrain from repurposing, and resume picking through the garbage to see if anything edible is left.

I also want to stop being on the same page. What does it mean, anyhow, being on the same page? Nothing. People can be on the same page simply because their names are next to each other in the alphabet. How about Karl and Chico Marx? Were they on the same page? In some books, they are. Does that tell you anything about either one? At the end of the day, no.

We could also work hard on keeping our ducks out of a row. Everybody around my place is always working to get their ducks in a row. Personally, I don't want my ducks in a row. I want them on a plate, under some kind of fruit sauce and next to a pile of rice. That's a meaningful arrangement for a duck, not in a row coming out of a business meeting.

Likewise, I don't need any more sound effects to accompany me when I talk. I say something critical of another senior officer. "Ka-ching!" says Armbruster. What does that mean? Nothing! Who needs it? Nobody! I tell a joke. "Bada-boom," says Borgo, implying my joke is nothing more than some lousy shtick worthy of a rim shot. Shut up! I mean it!

And don't tell me "You de man" when I know I'm not, because I've "been there, done that." And how about those little faces you can make with type that people use on the Internet! Ech! I don't have time for it all! I've looked at it every which way, and net/net, it stinks, which means that at the end of the day, there you go, here we are, it's a bad thing for both you and me, even if our ducks are in a row and we're ready to put the pedal to the metal--bada bing, bada boom--I don't want to hear about "convergence" anymore (until somebody proves it exists), and I'm willing to pay $100,000 (of this magazine's money) to anyone who can come up with an alternative word for "synergy." There isn't one! Know why?

Because at the end of the day, net/net, bottom line, when all the ducks are in a row and we've all been there and done that, we need all these things because without them we just might get stuck and say what we mean. So...never mind! Fuggedaboutit!

Say, have you seen this one?

[|]:- )...

It's a guy in a fez, drooling? Get it? No? Well...there you go!

By day, STANLEY BING is a real executive at a real FORTUNE 500 company he'd rather not name.