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AWADmail Issue 548A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Tidbits about Words and Language
From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Forging Airline Tickets for Fun and Public Service
After a week in India attending a wedding, I was ready to head home to
Seattle. As I approached the entrance to the Indira Gandhi International
Airport, New Delhi, I had my passport and my travel cheat-sheet out. I knew
you need a passport and a copy of your itinerary even to enter an airport
in India. The security guard at the entrance inquired, "Passport and
The security man ignored the passport and pored through the flight info
on the sheet and asked, "Where's the passenger name on the ticket?"
I told him that it had the flight info, but no need to add my name to the
sheet as I already knew my name.
I tried to reason with him that he needed to focus on the passport, not on some random printout that anyone can make up, but the security guard wasn't ready to budge.
I pushed my luggage trolley away and decided to try my luck with the security
guard at the next entrance, about ten feet away. The second guard was as
insistent that that piece of paper have my name.
He pointed to a counter that had the sign at one end: "E-Ticket Printout Rs 30" (about half a US dollar).
This station had a printer and a computer managed by an employee.
"Do you have your e-ticket in your email?" he asked. "You can log in here
and print your e-ticket."
Meanwhile a Russian passenger behind me was getting impatient. It appeared
his itinerary was printed in the Russian language and the airport security
wasn't trained in Russian.
"Look, anyone can print any itinerary with any name on a sheet of paper. They
really need to focus on verifying the ID," I said to the printing clerk.
To my surprise he agreed to my proposal. I reached behind the counter and
fired up Notepad on the computer. With my cheat-sheet next to me I typed
I felt this three-line long "e-ticket" wasn't going to cut it with the security guards back at various doors. It had to have a whole page's worth of jargon. I brought up an airline website on the computer and copied and pasted random information from their web page on my "e-ticket" on Notepad, filling the page.
"How does it look?" I asked the printing clerk.
I hit the print button, the printing clerk fed a single sheet of paper to the printer, and out came my shiny new "e-ticket" complete with "Untitled" at the top and "Page 1" at the bottom as Notepad is wont to do. I paid the printing clerk Rs 30 and he made an entry in his logbook.
As I got up to leave the printing counter the Russian passenger's downcast face came into my frame. I figured a little public service might be in order. Besides, it never hurt to foster international relations between a former superpower and what's touted to be the next superpower.
"What's your name?" I asked the Russian. He handed his itinerary to me. As it turned out, his name and airline name were in English even though the rest of the paper was in Russian. I replaced my name with his and my flight info with his in Notepad. Anatoly's "e-ticket" was ready.
Hit the print button again. The printing clerk fed a single sheet of paper into the printer and out came the ticket to Moscow.
"Thirty rupees, sir," the printing clerk asked Anatoly.
I knew the economy is down, but didn't know things were quite so bad in Russia.
I reached into my pocket to pay the balance of Russian debt, but then pulled my hand out on second thoughts. I was beginning to get perverse pleasure in these Kafkaesque rules of Indian bureaucracy. I really wanted to see how this situation would unfold if left to its own devices. Perhaps the ever-helpful printing clerk would just let it go. What's a single sheet of paper worth, after all?
"I have to account for every single sheet of paper they give me," he said
as he showed me his print log that had the following columns:
The printing clerk had a big heart and a sharp mind though. He thought for
a few moments and then asked "Have you saved the ticket on the disk?"
"We can print his e-ticket on the back of this sheet," the printing clerk
said as he removed some random memo from one of the files on the desk.
I have saved the printout of my "e-ticket" as a souvenir of this trip. The back of the sheet has a stamped seal, a signature, and a hastily scribbled number: 18561. When the printing clerk said that every single sheet of paper was accounted for, he wasn't bluffing.
From: Peter J. Maas (pjmaas sbcglobal.net)
Was it a coincidence that "behoove" was featured on Dec. 24, the very day that reindeer would behoove rooftops over large parts of the world?
Peter J. Maas, Kalamazoo, Michigan
From: Elizabeth E. Vaughn (elonvon hotmail.com)
This is a word which strikes terror in my heart. I've never seen it in print. During "lectures" from my father, he would often begin with, "It would behoove you..." In that context it would get my serious attention and had far deeper meaning than the word a day definition! I think it meant, you had better listen to me and do what I say or else.
Elizabeth E. Vaughn, Henderson, Kentucky
From: Dave Ridings (dridings73 gmail.com)
Just add an extra G for the perfect comment about everyone's favourite boots.
Dave Ridings, London, UK
From: Mary Massirer (mary_massirer baylor.edu)
Your use of the word purlieu reminded me of a Browning course many years ago when we read his poem, A Grammarian's Funeral. The grammarian has died and is being buried on a high mountain top. The speaker says, "Well, here's the platform, here's the proper place: / Hail to your purlieus, / All ye highfliers of the feathered race, / Swallows and curlews!" If you're near Waco, Texas, visit the Armstrong-Browning Library to see the beautiful stained glass windows, one of which is inspired by this poem.
Mary Massirer, Crawford, Texas
From: Tim O'Hearn (tjohearn aol.com)
In the US Navy we had an alternate (though probably related) meaning for cumshaw. Whenever we needed supplies but could not get them through normal channels, we would rely on cumshaw. This was the practice of trading favors for whatever was needed, under the table. If the Navy runs on paper, it survives on cumshaw.
Tim O'Hearn, Albuquerque, New Mexico
From: Thomas Koehler (tvkoehler frontiernet.net)
When I was in the US Navy, back in the late '60s, I spent time in two different shipyards, either for overhaul or new construction. In both instances, cumshaw was a standard way of getting certain bits of outfitting which were not in the blueprints -- usually small lockers or other minor bits of outfitting. We would trade tins of coffee or canned sardines or other food items to the yardbirds in return for the wanted item for the ship. This was more of a trading process rather than one of gifting, I guess, but all involved called it cumshaw.
Thomas Koehler, Two Harbors, Minnesota
From: Barbara Daingerfield (daingerfield hotmail.com)
This word reminds me of one I learned as a child in Saudi Arabia: baksheesh, which can mean a tip given for service but also a handout given to a beggar. As a child, I could never resist the child beggars who looked at me with their beautiful, sad eyes and cried, "baksheesh, baksheesh" at the seemingly rich little white girl. I would empty my little plastic pocketbook of its contents into their eager palms and count myself blessed.
Barbara Daingerfield, Woodbury, Tennessee
From: (sophos.postmaster northtyneside.gov.uk)
Inappropriate language has been detected within this email. Please review your email and remove any suspect wording. The offending word is kum
This email has been scanned for viruses, spam and inappropriate content by Mimecast Unified Email Management Services.
As we send out approximately a million emails every day, we receive all kinds of responses: out-of-office, mailbox-full, email-has-naughty-words, and so on. Above is an example.
What's ludicrous is that the word "kum" didn't occur at all in our email.
Perhaps the email filter is too prudish to write the usual spelling "cum".
Besides its slang meaning, the word cum has a perfectly innocuous
everyday meaning, from Latin cum (with) as in sofa-cum-bed or cum laude,
but why let facts stand in the way if you are a mindless email filtering
service bent on protecting the morals of a government employee?
A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:The words of some men are thrown forcibly against you and adhere like burrs. -Henry David Thoreau, naturalist and author (1817-1862)