Monday, February 1, 2016

The American Office

So you’ve decided to move to America, get a job and live your life in the sun. Fine, but what about when you actually start work? [I’m talking about in an office here]  Do you really know what you’re getting yourself into? I thought so too, I mean, how hard can it possibly be? Americans speak English, so there’s absolutely no problem.  How wrong I was.  

I have commented a little on this before in this post HERE.

Computer keyboards and spelling were the very least of my problems, I quickly found out. Walking into an American office is like being in a whole new world. They’ve got their own words for absolutely everything. Here are a few:

CV aka Curriculum Vitae:    You won’t be providing your CV at a job interview, you will have to have a Resumé. Of course, it’s basically the same thing, but you know those crazy Americans!  In my experience, the only people who have a Curriculum Vitae are doctors, because apparently they are special.

Pay Rise:    It might take you a while to get one, but if you are going to ask for one, don’t forget to ask for a Raise.  I’m sure you will be understood, but you really don’t want to chance it, do you?

Make Redundant:    There’s always the possibility that if you ask for too many raises, you will be Laid Off, which I don’t actually think is a reason you can be sacked (Fired or Dismissed), but you never know.
Square Brackets:    Sounds simple enough, but not in the good old USA.  Square brackets are known as Brackets. Somewhat confusing,  but what makes it worse is to us Brits, [these] are "square brackets," and (these) are “brackets” - to Americans [these] are “brackets” and (these) are “parentheses”.  I was once very confused about all this. I was working as a medical transcriptionist the first time I ever heard anyone say 'parentheses.' I had to ask what he was saying because I thought it was some terrible disease.  [true story]

Curly Braces:    Yes, of course there’s a different name for {these} too.  They are just Braces.

Sellotape:    Although this is the largest manufacturer of sticky tape in the UK, apparently they haven’t reached America.  Scotch Tape is the biggest seller here, so that’s what it’s called.  

Tippex:    The same can be said about Tippex.  Try asking for it here and you will get a blank stare. Probably the same kind of stare you would get from someone who’s been sniffing the stuff. [It does smell nice though, doesn’t it?]  It’s called Liquid Paper here (a bit obvious, if you ask me) Apparently, so the rumour goes, it was invented by the mum of one of the Monkees.  Ask anyone here and they will tell you so.
The original 'old school' bottle
Tick:    You know, the thing you use when you’re taking a multiple choice test and you have to a tick the right answer.  If someone in America asks you to check the box, don’t be looking around the room for the box they want you to check.  A check or check-mark is really a tick.

Drawing-Pin:    This one actually makes a bit of sense.  Thumb-tack does actually describe it a bit better, after all you don’t actually draw with a drawing pin, do you?
Bank Holiday:    Those days that you count down to on the calendar because you get a day off work and can drink.  In America, it’s just called a holiday even though the banks are, actually, closed too. Mind you, just because it’s on the calendar, doesn’t mean you will be lucky enough to have the day off.  A lot of holidays are not recognized by everyone.

Holiday:    You know, the fortnight in the summer that you also count down to.  It’s a vacation here and it never seems to be two weeks.  It is quite frowned upon to actually take a whole two weeks off at the same time. You seem to have to take a week here and there or a Monday or Friday for a long weekend.

Guillotine:    This has to be the best sounding piece of office equipment ever, doesn’t it?  Just makes you think of all those heads falling into baskets.  The first time I asked for one here, I got looked at like I could be an axe murderer. You want a what?? What are you going to do, are you angry at someone? Nope, I just need to cut some paper, please.  Oh, the disappointment when I found out it was called a Paper Cutter.  How dreadfully boring! (but also a bit obvious)
Not exactly what I was looking for
Oh, and just so you know, all offices look like this - the cubicle nightmare:

No, I am not kidding. (Okay, maybe I might be).

Let me know if you have heard any other weird/different names for everyday office stuff .


  1. I've just started working in a school here as a teacher and I don't know about the students, but every day is a school day for me! Communication issues daily ☺

    1. Well done you! Not sure I could handle all those 'whiney' voices that american children seem to have. (That sounds a bit harsh as I'm sure there's a few English kids I couldn't stand to be around either lol).

  2. I didn't even know what curly braces were in British English. You're so punctuation aware!