What if we spoke at home the way we speak at work? Introducing ‘work jargon spill syndrome’, the bright new way for families to interface around their core mission, vision and values

I am nothing if not Capetonian, and for those of us from the Mother City… winter is hibernation season. We go from home to work and back and that’s about it. Every now and again, an adult will reluctantly get supplies on the way home. It is a time of reflection, firewood and food delivery.

In this season of few distractions, one finds oneself working pretty hard and spending a lot of time with your family. It’s also halfway through the year, and you’re kinda tired. Which can lead to my current affliction: Work Jargon Spill.

I work in digital marketing for a large retailer. My kind invented jargon. Try as I might to speak like a normal person, it’s a battle I often lose. Never more so that during winter.

‘I am not sure we’re all aligned as to the weekend deliverables,’ I said to my family over Saturday breakfast two weeks ago. ‘There may be conflicting agendas and I just want to make sure we are all on the same page and expectations are being managed.’

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My husband and sons looked at each other ruefully.

The way I speak when my brain is full

‘Do you think she actually speaks like that all day?’ my son asked my husband.

‘I really hope not,’ he replied. ‘I think it’s just the way she speaks when her brain is full. Well, I tell myself she only speaks this way when her brain is full.’

‘Are you sure you married her on purpose?’ dead-panned Son1.

‘We married straight out of university, when she was still very into poetry and stuff. But there were already signs that something like this might happen. Marrying early is a real gamble, boys. It’s basically a crap shoot: you win some, others frighten the hell out of you.’

I was a trifle miffed.

‘I think you should put a pin in that discussion and revert when I am not around,’ I responded tersely.

My younger son interjected. ‘Rewind. Are we discussing what are we doing this weekend? That’s easy. For starters, Mom’s washing her mouth out with soap. Shame on you, Mother. You are lowering the entire social tone of our home.’

I kept up my umbrage, until later that afternoon when I found myself referring to Christmas as ‘the end of H1’. The boys were right. Something had to give if I were to be allowed to remain in my own home.

I have written before about how swearing is perfectly acceptable in my house. We have, however, now introduced a ‘corporate jargon’ jar, and I am the sole benefactor. We were hoping to get enough R10 notes together for a dinner out, but it seems like we may actually hit a weekend away.

The problem is, just as I am recovering from my jargon spillage and managing to keep it from hearth and home… the boys, sensitive to the financial gains inherent in the exercise, have started goading me into reverting to my embarrassing ways.

“Mom?” My son asked a few days ago, as I was stirring pasta distractedly. “What’s your opinion on the performance of the rand?”

“Well,” I responded happily. “There are a number of macro and micro variables at play… aargh! You’re a mean, mean person Josef.”

What if the pendulum swings the other way?

My biggest concern at this point? What if the pendulum swings the other way?

What if I find myself in a meeting saying: “No one really knows how to do this bit yet, right? I am especially confused. Also, my brain is full and I need a little squint and a lie down before I can talk about this any more. That cool with everyone?”

Life. So fraught with potential disaster.