Terms of Employment

The secret lingo of the workplace

Slang and jargon from different jobs and professions

Terms of Employment

The secret lingo of the workplace

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Bit of an eye-opener, the research for this one. A friend who works in car sales told me they refer to air conditioning and leather upholstery as ‘wind and skin'. I also learned that US airline staff call the plastic bin bags in which some passengers carry their hand luggage ‘Nashville Samsonites'. That professional cyclists refer to scars as ‘gravity tattoos'. That the fashion industry has ‘vanity sizing' (labelling garments with a smaller size than their real one to make customers feel good about themselves). That when techy-types send a signal up to a satellite they say they're ‘squirting the bird'. Few worlds stranger than the world of work ...


 


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Content

Rubik's Cube

A Rubik’s cube has more combinations than light travels inches in a century. This is my favourite illustration of how a very small number of factors can produce an absurdly complicated situation. A silly little toy, with only three squares in each of its three dimensions. How can that get complicated? Well, as anyone who's ever tried to solve one just by guessing will tell you, it gets very complicated. The number of possible combinations is 43,252,003,274,489,856,000. Forget billions - that's 43 quintillion and change. (In fact the cube's manufacturers just said ‘billions' in their advertising, figuring that no one would know what a quintillion was. It's a billion billion.) The number of inches light travels in a century, meanwhile, is a mere 37,165,049,856,000,000,000. Or thereabouts.