Monday, November 9, 2015

The Flora Technician and the Family Assistant

Language evolves to reflect shifts in culture. The hi-tech age has infused our zeitgeist with euphemistic labels to "spin" occupations. After all, if you are a red-blooded American boy/man, it wouldn’t be cool to reveal at cocktail parties that you babysit for a living wage or take care of houseplants.

Recently, a young man told me that he was “a family assistant” a.k.a. baby sitter with a driver’s license. A day job while he hones his skills as a filmmaker, the title gives him some semblance of dignity. When asked to give the details of “the family assistant,” it turns out to be something us women have done with our eyes half-closed for millennia. Formerly the domain of housewives and spinsters, this fellow of the brave new world must dignify his work with a quasi-technological ringtone.

And then, meet “the flora technician.” Low and behold, this gentleman explains that he tends to potted plants in the corporate environment. Now this is impressive! Keeping great big plants in an oxygen-deprived environment does require a certain je ne sais quoi. After he fumbles around to define his work more accurately, I interject, “I know! You are a plant whisperer.” He nods in agreement, apparently relieved that unmasking his role as “the flora technician” does not diminish him.

In fact, tending to children or plants with consciousness and care is nothing to sniff at. These are noble endeavors indeed. Yet, in this fast-paced modern world, one must find a new language to legitimize existence. How sad. How amusing. How evolutionary.

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