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Overheard at the Water Cooler (in Cube-Speak)

A very bad play in (mercifully) one act, otherwise known as a crash course in cube-speak. Two colleagues in an office somewhere in America take a water-cooler break.

In a chapter from his book Slang: The Topical Dictionary of AmericanismsPaul Dickson collects and defines key phrases from modern America's office culture, such as those used below. (Already confused? Click here to read with translations.)

Britney: Boy, I needed a break from the cube farm.

Kevin: No kidding! Did you catch the prairie-dogging when Caitlin's coffee-maker exploded?

Britney: At least it provided a little drama to a morning when I was definitely glazing. Although did you get that weird e-mail that was being forwarded around?

Kevin: No, I think the digital hygienist struck again.

Britney: What are you working on?

Kevin: Oh man, I need to get granular on the latest fire drill.

Britney: Yeah, Irving is such a seagull manager. It's like, you gotta have triorities with that guy. I can't believe how long the obfun lasted yesterday, as if we didn't already have enough to do.

Kevin: At least they served lunch. Did you see Tiffany's canfusion?

Britney: Yeah, and the catering vultures lurking in the hallway? Don't those people have any shame?

Kevin: Anyway, there was a cloud of bozone in that room. Where are all our idea hamsters?

Britney: I think they realized working here was a big fat wombat.

Kevin: Amen to that. Well, I guess I better get back to my cube. Nice facemailing with you.

Britney: Excuse me, my cell is vibrating.

Kevin: Shhhh! Don't go all yellular.

Britney and Kevin exit, stage left. Irving emerges from the shadows by the water cooler. He is their boss.

Irving: Darn those young people. I didn't understand a word they said!

Confused like Irving? Click for a translation.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Marc Silver
Marc Silver, who edits NPR's global health blog, has been a reporter and editor for the Baltimore Jewish Times, U.S. News & World Report and National Geographic. He is the author of Breast Cancer Husband: How to Help Your Wife (and Yourself) During Diagnosis, Treatment and Beyond and co-author, with his daughter, Maya Silver, of My Parent Has Cancer and It Really Sucks: Real-Life Advice From Real-Life Teens. The NPR story he co-wrote with Rebecca Davis and Viola Kosome -- 'No Sex For Fish' — won a Sigma Delta Chi award for online reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists.
Maureen Pao is an editor, producer and reporter on NPR's Digital News team. In her current role, she is lead digital editor and producer for All Things Considered. Her primary responsibility is coordinating, producing and editing high-impact online components for complex, multipart show projects and host field reporting.