Up your rhubarb

(Editor’s note: To stay within the confines of language permissible in a family newspaper -- and spam filters -- all profanities in the column below were replaced with the word “rhubarb.”)

Profanity has become as common as rhubarb in workplaces and throughout society, and I’ve recently been informed that it proliferates in the home office as well.

For a decade, I worked alone at home, my only coworker our dog Elvis (who didn’t give a good rhubarb what people said as long as he regularly got scratched behind the ears). In the past two years, however, my wife has worked at home with me, and I now have an audience for my bad habits.

Turns out that I mutter curses all day long. Who knew?

Apparently, I cuss like a rhubarb when things go wrong, which, as any writer will tell you, is most of the rhubarbing time. I swear after hanging up the phone. I curse my computer. I say “rhubarb” when the words don’t fit together right. And I bray “rhubarb” in amazement when things go well.

I recognize this is a bad habit. Many people, especially those in the older generations, feel that profanity is only for rhubarbs who don’t know any better. I rarely use such language in public, if you don’t count the time I spend behind the wheel of a car. But at home, at my desk, I spew rhubarbs all day long.

(Driving time doesn’t count. I feel it is my duty to advise those rhubarbing motorists who don’t know how to drive any better than rhubarb. Plus, it contains my road rage to the spoken word, which is better than ramming every rhubarbing one of them with my minivan.)

A new study has found swearing in the workplace can actually boost morale. I know, I know. It sounded like rhubarb to me, too, at first, but the researchers found bad language creates a sort of solidarity among coworkers.

The study, reported in the British publication “Leadership and Organizational Development Journal” and at Marketwatch.com, found that men used cursing to jokingly insult each other, while women used it to assert themselves. But overdoing it can create an unpleasant work environment, the study warned. You know what a bunch of priggish rhubarbs those Brits can be.

Here in the United States, 44 percent of those polled reported hearing profanity “often” in daily life, according to a 2002 study by the research group Public Agenda. No doubt it’s only gotten worse in the past five years. Television taboos have been loosened, so we now hear words on TV that would’ve made earlier generations rhubarb all over themselves. Today’s youth seems unable to communicate without sprinkling every sentence with rhubarbs. And rap music? Holy rhubarb.

I, personally, am trying to clean up my act. My wife (who’s been known to unleash the occasional rhubarb herself) doesn’t buy the whole “coworker solidarity” rhubarb.

She’s sick of listening to me mutter rhubarbs all day. When she gets like that, you’d better cover your rhubarb, if you know what’s good for you.

I’m sure I will be a better, happier person if I eliminate profanity from my home workplace. And if you don’t believe me, you can go rhubarb yourself.

Whoops, there I go again. Sorry. I get so rhubarbing mad at myself when I slip. Whoops. Aw, rhubarb.

This may be more difficult that I anticipated. I may need help. Anyone know the address of a Rhubarbers Anonymous meeting?

1 comment:

poodleland said...

I was wondering why the rhubarb no one wants to be in the car with me, when I'm driving. Well, the rhubarb with them!