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“and again” August 8, 2008

Posted by That Guy in Definition.
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and again
(and uh-GEN)

This is one of my personal favorites. I don’t mean to brag, but I’m a pretty smart person. I usually get things first-go; second-go at the most. Except for layer masks in Photoshop; that took me a while. But when you’re on a conference call with dozens of attendees, you have to lower your expectations.

And I do. But it’s difficult. Especially when the same question is asked multiple times.

Now, if the conference organizer has an answer, great. S/he will just repeat it more and more exasperatedly until everyone has their phones muted and is cursing loudly at the idiot in Westchester, NY, who just can’t get it through his thick head.

But more often, the conference organizers won’t have the answers you need (or any answers at all, honestly). In that case, they’ll hem and haw until finally they say they don’t know with that little two-word phrase, “and again”.

“And again” has a very simple meaning: “we can’t answer your question, and we’re going to move on in the hopes that you forget your problem and we don’t have to solve it.” The moment “and again” is said in a meeting, the person who asked the question begins drafting an e-mail, typing furiously, and then sending it before the call is even over. The question will never be answered, not until after implementation across the entire network and that one person is forced to put a band-aid on it that hurts more coming off than fixing the problem would have in the first place.

You’ll also hear “and again” when a question is asked that is so hyper-local that you personally will never encounter anything like it, but the person asking it thinks it’s relevant to everybody. Those people — that is, the ones asking the hyper-local questions — are the ones who bring actual productive conference calls to a screeching halt. If the I.T. guy is holding a meeting to teach everyone how to use the new phone system, and the one office dinosaur who bought a $2000 laptop but uses an ordinary phone line to connect to the internet through a dial-up modem and wants to know where his jack will be.

Of course, I.T. guys are more likely to say “Fred, shut the hell up” instead of “and again, we’ll address that later,” but that’s beside the point.

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