Common phrases and descriptors evolve over time. “High-tech” used to describe the guy who could use The Morse Code, without looking at their dot / dash cheat notes. A bully once was the mean boy at school who stole your lunch money, not the psychopath who cowardly hides in social media to methodically destroy the vulnerabilities of the ex friend because that friend didn’t like a recent post. Words and phrases do evolve over periods of time, though some question if people ever do?
English is a language alive with change, and has earned the right to grow with new words and phrases with very different meanings. Latin is a dead language, which is why there is not a proper word to describe Kardashians in that long forgotten tongue. In fairness the English language continues to struggle with finding the appropriate word to describe that much welcomed phenomena.
Sometimes words have a shelf life. Groovy was the only word to describe the hip people in the sixties. It didn’t last. For a while Bad meant Good, Michael Jackson released an album with that word to celebrate the confusion. Fonzie said “Sit on It” and this was all people could say for a year. Thankfully time tends to discern the stupid phrases from the very stupid ones. If I am wondering where the beef is these days, I kind of quietly keep that question to myself.
This brings us to today’s phrase. One of the challenges as new phrases emerge, is the tendency for a new phrase to be very undefined. It becomes a trendy, catchall term that can describe almost anything. High Maintenance is now suffering from this issue as we are now labelling any person who doesn’t meet your efficiency standards with this two word definition.
What I am suggesting is that we need to add a little more specificity to this phrase. In the same way some describe their cousin as psychotic because they leave their tea bag in too long based on your steeping standard, we really must lighten up with over defining the labels we give.
High Maintenance seems to now describe, busy bodies, tattle tales, drama queens, drama kings, gossipers, rumour mongers, tall people, short people, ne’er do wells, princes, princesses, blowhards, and of course the Belgians. This all consuming description is so unfair to the real high maintenance ones who, through years of deflected work, have achieved a level of such codependency, mid maintenance people just look up at them and stare lovingly in awe.
Before I move on with my duty to clarify a more accurate definition of this phrase, once again I have found an opportunity to dazzle you with my vast inventory of useless trivia. Princes is the only word in the language that, by adding the letter “S”, changes it’s meaning from masculine plural, to feminine singular. There, now you know something that your smart ass brother doesn’t even know. Oh and let’s add smart ass to the previous catchall definition for High maintenance.
We have reached the moment, where I will remove the clutter and accurately define that phrase that you use way too often after a six hour phone call with a friend in need.
I once worked with a very smart lady. When I was struggling with work issues, or people management issues I would approach her desk far too often. I tend to gravitate to people smarter than I, whenever I need to whine about my personal problems.
This hard working lady, would glance away from her computer screen to give me her attention. After listening to my unending diatribe of random complaints about my world, she would take a deep breath. After absorbing a little oxygen, she would look me straight in the eyes and simply say this. “Don’t make your problems, my problems.”
I learned two important things right there. I am little more high maintenance than I care to admit and more importantly, she nailed its definition. People who attempt to offload their problems without one inference of a possible solution are high maintenance people.
If this definition confuses, there are other ways to help you with your detection of this trendy definer. If you see someone coming down the hall at work and you bolt into the storage closet to hide, that person is most probably high maintenance. As you stand there cramped in that tiny room, with a mop handle banging against your temple, you organically make that conclusion, right before you step into the pail filled with dirty, soapy water. More often than not, when you come out of the closet, that person is waiting for you at your desk. This is why a lot of people refuse to come out of the closet.
The truth is many have already clearly defined this issue. When using the call display feature on our phone, to determine acceptance of a call, we have subconsciously defined the incoming caller high maintenance, as we let the call go to voicemail, because we know that telephone conversation will take more energy than we currently possess.
So that is my noble effort to give meaning to a phrase. This is only a start, of what I hope will be highly emotional debates on this subject. Each of us will create a much more detailed description peppered with personal history that will curiously define this as anyone but you.
As the late Prince sang, you may be so excited by this week’s blog, you might want to party like it’s 1999. Upon reflection that phrase too, might have lost its relevance and meaning over time.
Cue the Blong: Remember people to play nice out there.