When I was a kid ” swipe ” meant one thing : to steal .
” Why’s he crying ? ”
” Because a teenager swiped his pencil case . ”
Now , these days , the meaning of the word swipe is changed . I don’t hear the word used , ever , how we kids used it . Now I hear : ” Go ahead and swipe your card ,” or ” go ahead and swipe it again “. But I don’t swipe . My mother brought me up better than that . ” Swipe it one more time “, the store clerks say .
Swipe , meaning to steal , changed to ” jacked ” at some point in time , I guess . I used to hear my students use that word . ” I’d like to hand in my homework , Mister , but he jacked it .”
” Who jacked it ? ”
” He did “.
” Who ? ”
” I dunno , but she told me he jacked it “.
——- Sorry . I got a little carried away with flashbacks of teaching days . I used to have student messengers arrive at my classroom door with a message such as : ” She says you have to send her right away because they’re waiting for her . ” Yeah . Informative , eh !
I used to , when I was young and naive , ask the student messenger — you should understand that many of these were honors students — to identify the nouns to which those pronouns referred . I originally expressed my question just like that : give me nouns . Confusion , only , in response . ” The names . Give me the names .”
“What names ?”
” Who are you talking about ? ”
” Huh ? ” Consternation . They had no idea who they were talking about . ” I’m just giving you the message , ” they would say . What’s that teacher’s problem ? they were , no doubt , thinking .
Over the years I changed my approach . ” I don’t have to do anything except die and pay taxes ,” I would say , ” so go away “. Usually they did . Oh , they’d repeat the meaningless message again , trying their level best to carry out their messenger duties . And then they’d go away . Gruffly , usually . What’s that teacher’s problem , they were no doubt thinking . Once in a long while one might shout an obscenity over his or her shoulder on his or her way out , a pride-saving Parthian shot , I suppose .
I was at a retirement party a few days ago . A woman was talking about her continuing smoking habit . Her husband won’t allow smoking in or near the house , she said , so she goes out on the street to smoke . ” You wouldn’t believe the looks I get , ” she says . ” People waving their arms around as if they’re chasing the smoke away ! Dirty looks you wouldn’t believe ! Things didn’t used to be like that . ”
At the party we talked about picking up dog poop with plastic bags . When we were kids things didn’t used to be like that . One guy , a very friendly man , he seemed , related his intense anger at a neighbor whose dog pees on the friendly man’s lawn . ” I turn the sprinklers on him ! ” he said . I could see his heart rate racing as he spoke . A doctor in the group said he’d scoop up stray dog poop and drop it on the owner’s doorstep . He told me that he would have put it on my doorstep in a heartbeat . These party participants were fired up .
I quickly informed the group that I don’t have a dog . Why are you looking at me ? I don’t even have a dog . Calm down , people . Chill . It’ll be alright .
Well , in fairness , I did start that dog poop discussion by relating a personal experience of mine when I was walking my sister’s dog and had forgotten to bring along plastic bags ………. I shouldn’t go into the gory details about that damn dog taking a huge poo when I had no bag . It was on a dirt field , not near anyone’s lawn , on public land . I felt helpless not being able to do what could have been done had I remembered to take along the bag .
But there was some guy with his dog about fifty feet away who considered it his sworn civic duty to yell at me for my disgusting behavior leaving the poop to sit on the dirt . I , being a natural free-range chicken , didn’t stick around to try to entice this loud enraged guy into a profound discussion of modern dog walking habits , dog poo responsibilities , perhaps more appropriate response alternatives to my particular predicament , etc. More likely it would have been a one-sided shouting exhibition . He would have felt better afterward , though , I’m sure .
I would have probably kept quiet as he shouted . I would have tried my best to comprehend his anger , somewhat justified anger indeed , tried to calm him down perhaps , to reassure him in the uprightness of his righteousness , to promise him that I would immediately repent and reform , that he had , thankfully , saved me from a rotten dog poo-neglecting existence , that he had , in his passionate albeit venomous venting, actually changed my entire miserable life forever .
Or I might have said : ” I don’t have to do anything except die and pay taxes . ” I could have presented him with a perfectly good explanation such as : ” She said I had to take him over there because they’re waiting for him . ” And then I would have considered shouting an anonymous profanity over my shoulder as I walked away . What’s that guy’s problem , anyhow ?
Times change .
I don’t smoke , so I don’t have to take the glares and the antagonistic anti-smoker gestures . I don’t have a dog , so I don’t carry poo bags around with me [ okay , okay, one lousy mistake , one doggie -poo faux paux ! It won’t happen again . Get over it , people ! ] So , some things that change don’t affect me . But some do . I will admit , I swipe things , mostly credit cards , all the time nowadays . I never used to swipe things .