Word of the Day: Opportunity
Usage: I have been provided with this wonderful opportunity to deliver a SMITING to people who over-use the word “opportunity.”
A few months back I had the opportunity to rant at length about what I then called “Montessori-speak,” particularly in regard to NASA, an organization that refers to astronaut training as an “opportunity” being provided for the crew, rather than something that is (one would think) mandatory.
As I work in a job that requires me to view NASA broadcasts regularly, my blood pressure has developed some interesting peaks and spikes, as has my consumption of alcohol. (The SmiterTini: take 12 ounces of gin, a splash of Vermouth, 1 pail of olives, shake over ice, and enjoy with a jumbo bag of chips while watching Family Guy.)
CBC Radio One is another repeat offender near the top of my Smiting List, with its gleeful babbling of “providing opportunities for [group] to participate in [activity].” Seriously — every five minutes. Listen and count, if you dare.
Last week, however, Oppportunity Over-Use sank to a new low while I was watching footage of an otherwise interesting man describing how he re-designed the gorilla enclosure at a large American zoo. (Seriously, I would love that job, seeing as I already work in a gorilla enclosure, really.)
As he walked around the amazing new digs, he pointed out new features such as a two-foot-deep floor consisting of wood chips in which the inmates could dig, trees for them to climb and a new “hide and seek” feeding system that let the gorillas hunt for their food the way they would in the wild. (They should do this at my office. But I digress.)
And then… he went over to a wall that had a metal ring screwed into it. Pointing to the ring, he intoned gravely, “This ring provides us with an opportunity to loop a piece of rope through it…”.
At which point my blood pressure did something medically unsound and I fell frothing to the floor, shrilly gurgling “An OPPORTUNITY?! An OPPORTUNITY??? What the hell is wrong with saying ‘we can loop a rope through this ring’?! What sort of stupid choice is being made here? ‘Oh look, Bruce, here’s a ring! And I have some rope! What a fabulous opportunity is being provided for me!'”
Seriously, this makes about as much sense as saying a Stop sign “provides drivers with an opportunity to choose whether or not to apply pressure to their brake pedal, which in turn provides an opportunity for their conveyance to slow to a halt and thus reduce the opportunity for a messy, drippy shard-laden death in oncoming traffic.”
Shortly after this outburst, the paramedics were provided with an opportunity to encase my twitching body in a nice Long-Armed Dinner Jacket, and … OK, I exaggerate. But safe to say, I took the opportunity for a very long time-out, during which I engulfed a number of SmiterTinis before returning to my task in a much more mellow frame of mind.
(And while I’m on a roll here [what the hell, my blood pressure is already in the stratosphere] let me put on my Editing Hat for a moment and remind all the Opportunity Users and Over-Users that the word “provide” requires a preposition. As in “provide someone WITH an opportunity,” or “provide an opportunity TO someone.” The next time I see “the boss provided us lunch” my editing instrument of choice will be a blow-torch. Thank you.) (And if you find a boss that provides lunch, do give me his number.)
So, fellow readers, I am issuing you a challenge: send me your most egregious examples of “‘Opportunity’ Over-Use” and I will post them here. Winners will receive an invitation to the next SmiterTini party, which will take place in the visitors’ lounge at the rest home to which I will likely be carted off after my next outburst.
Thank you for providing me with the opportunity to speak my (rapidly disintegrating) mind.