It Isn't, It Wasn't, Oh No You Didn't
Call me a bitch. Go ahead. Call me a fucking bitch. Call me a mommyblogger, a housewife, workforce dropout, soccer mom, Betty Crocker, Donna Reed, carpool Cathy, narcissist, petty, neurotic, a pearl-clutcher, a baby maker, a whiner, a wino. Call me fat. Call me (gasp!) the c word. I don't care. I probably won't flinch. Heck, plead a good case and I'll probably agree with you.
Just do not, under any circumstances, hand me a large bill and then tell me
"It is what it is."
If you do, I'll cut you.
Before I get into why I loathe this word combination, let me just state that the phrase "It is what it is" (IIWII) is so over. All that could ever be said about the linguistic emptiness of those five words has been said again and again on NPR, in the New York Times, throughout the Internet by journalists and bloggers far more eloquent than me. Al Gore famously used it when he conceded the 2000 election to George W. Bush...over two Presidential terms ago. IIWII seems like a passive aggressive way to say "fuck it" and it's hopelessly tired.
But a lot of dudes I've encountered lately have not received this message.
The guy that hinged my kitchen cabinet incorrectly so that the heavy maple door came crashing on my head at 7am and barely missed my kid? One guess as to how he replied when I called him to complain and to see if he would re-install the perpetrator of the giant blue goose-egg on my forehead.
The washing machine repair tech who charged me $200 for sticking a new piece of cardboard in the door latch?
The painter who painted windows shut and gouged my dining room table with his tools?
The radon remediator guy used it on me twice: firstly when he left the pricey fan he just talked me into in my driveway directly behind my car, and secondly when his bill was $750 more than his estimate.
Sadly, I'm not exaggerating this for blog fodder. Every single one of these guys dropped the IIWII bomb. They all work for different companies and do not know each other. I got to hear my favorite phrase in four different accents or regional dialects. And after uttering it, every single dude handed me a bill.
I didn't think there existed more annoying phrases in customer service than "It's all good" or "No problem" - strings of words used when there definitely is a problem. But at least those phrases are optimistic and calming. IIWII is disaffected and surly. If this is the macho man's version of "I'm sorry," I just don't get it. I worked in customer and client service for years and fell all over myself to apologize for every real or imagined error in order to keep the customer happy. Nary once did I drop an IIWII.
I understand that financial times are tough and work is scarce, especially in the licensed contractor businesses. And I'll concede that dealing with a high-strung suburban mom is not at the top of anyone's happy fun time list. Maybe admitting mistakes makes service industry members fear customers will not pay for services rendered or that the customer will try to negotiate less payment. Maybe these men were just taking care of their families and needed to stay strong to bring home the bacon.
So guys, if this means you're exerting masculine power with simple monosyllabic words to get your bill paid, I get it. But please be aware, "It is what it is" can sound a whole lot like "Shut up and pay me, bitch."
Don't worry. I'll write you your check and nicely request in my My Little Pony voice that you fix things that new poltergeist in my house randomly damaged. What it was will no longer be and now what it is will be somewhere near the agreed upon 'is.' Or something.
But if my kids overhear you using your apathetic "It is what it is"
on me and pick it up themselves, I swear to all that is holy that I
will personally cross stitch that slogan directly onto your ass.
Jessica usually writes cheerily about family activities with infrequent profanity at A Parent in Silver Spring.com and elsewhere. This is her first rant.
Original DC Metro Moms Blog post.