When making a request, it’s difficult to know how much information to give people. If I give too much, they think I’m calling them ignorant, and get offended. If I give too little, they won’t know what I’m talking about. Here are two made-up examples.
Scene 1 – A shop.
ME: Do you sell squollocks? I need two – a harbinger squollock and a self-triangulating one.
ASSISTANT: [looks blank]
ME: A squollock is a device for modulating a curlew extemporisor.
ASSISTANT: I know what they are, you patronising tit! I studied Sauvage Extemporisation at Wigan for five years! I JUST DON’T STOCK THEM!
[throws a handy Trumpton Retardation Array at me]
Scene 2 – Same shop. Different assistant.
ME: My Prudhoe-counter has ossified.
ME: Well, I’ll need a replacement spasm analyser.
ASSISTANT: Yes, obviously. But do you want the Spong type or the Uckington release?
ME: Actually, neither. It’s a reverse spasm analyser.
ASSISTANT: [throws a pile of pig-rectifiers in the air] Arrggh!
– SCENE ENDS –
You get the picture.