Say What You Mean
By: John Wilson
Several years ago I moved to the Hill Country. I drove back and forth to Houston to work. Coming in on Monday, going home on Friday. The drive in to town was always timed for an early evening arrival where dinner would be eaten when I got there. The drive home, however, always entailed a stop on the road for sustenance. There were several spots along Highway 71 that were favorites. One in particular was at the top of the list because they made a good BLT.
On one occasion, however, after I placed my order, I was asked very seriously if I wanted lettuce and tomato on the sandwich. I said, “wouldn’t that make it just a bacon sandwich?” The blank stare led me quickly to add, “yes, I’d like lettuce and tomato.” It happened again several months later. This time, I simply replied, “yes, I want a bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich.” Apparently, the meaning of the acronym BLT had faded into obscurity and meant simply bacon to the wait staff.
I thought of those folks this past Monday. After a round of golf, we stopped in at the club house for lunch. My brother placed my order for a BLT while I went to wash up. When it arrived, I took a bite and realized there were no tomatoes. Expecting the all-inclusive BLT, I got the slimmed down, BL. Maybe she was out of tomatoes or simply forgot. My brother wanted me to go tell her, but I demurred. I had no idea how someone could mess up a BLT, but they did, and I wasn’t sure I really wanted to discuss it with them. Better to let sleeping dogs lie, and bacon by itself is pretty good.
It also got me to thinking about acronyms in general. In all the procedures I’ve edited there’s been a heavy reliance on them. At one point I thought it was done just to cut down on the amount of typing that needed doing. But, over time, it was obvious that they served a useful purpose and could communicate a great deal of information.