On the drive home this afternoon, I was listening to Mandalit DelBarco on NPR. I generally appreciate her stories, which seem to have the corner on insight into the Latino community. One of the coolest parts of her stories is hearing her pronounce her name at the end—but that’s a thought for another day.
Today’s story takes us to Southern California, or SoCal to the locals. We’ve already heard about the downturn’s effect on house cleaners, and now Mandalit is talking to a Latino who has a lawn care service and she’s talking to him about the impact the economy has had on his business. The gentleman—we’ll call him “Manuel” for the sake of privacy—sounds as if he is in his 30’s—at most, his 40’s. As they talk about the economic downturn, Mandalit provides a gem of overstatement: Manuel, she tells us, has never seen the economy this bad before.
No-one under the age of 80 has ever seen the economy this bad before, and those who are under the age of 81 have little if any recall of the last time things were this bad. The statement is essentially meaningless anymore—becoming as trite as “Change” and “Hope” over the past several months.
I really enjoy NPR and for the most part, their stories are great—leading to driveway moments. For any listeners out there, those are the moments you’ve arrived at your destination, but you linger in the car until the story is finished. My only other pet-peeve with NPR is the general us of an adjective when an adverb should be used. I heard an example of this on Friday morning when the correspondent said that no-one had expected the situation to grow “so big, so fast”. The statement should have used the word “quickly” instead of “fast”. Perhaps once the economy turns around again, NPR will be able to afford to send its staff to brush-up courses on the English language.
For the average listener, it can’t happen fast enough.
For the rest of us, it can’t happen quickly enough either!