Acronyms! They are the new language. With the explosion of social media and cell phone texting, an old guy like me really needs to consult a dictionary to see what it all means. I’m a NOOB (newbie) and I easily get confused with all the Instant Message and texting shortcuts. I did not grow up with cell phones and being a self‑proclaimed curmudgeon, I find this new language a bit 2F4M (too fast for me). Unfortunately, the written word keeps evolving, and soon our spoken language will depreciate to nothing but a bunch of letters and numbers that only one generation removed would not comprehend. There are even numbers and symbols representing words 4COL (for crying out loud). For instance, *$ means “Starbucks”. MMA*$ means “meet me at Starbucks”. But **// means “wink‑wink, nudge‑nudge.” I’ve not discovered what three asterisks in a row means yet. 404, I haven’t a clue! Yes, 404 does stand for “haven’t a clue”, but I 404 why. And there is an AAAAA (American Association Against Acronym Abuse). That one had me ROTFL (rolling on the floor laughing). There are even acronyms I’ve used my entire life and didn’t know their true meaning. RSVP has been used on invitations and memos long before texting was around. I knew it meant “Please Respond”. But I did not realize it’s the French equivalent and translates to “Repondez S’il Vous Plait.” Maybe the French were more progressive with their acronyms then we were.
But there are some acronyms that are not wise to use, and I learned the hard way to avoid them. Back in the early years of my career, things were not so different than they are today. Clients would wait until the last minute to place orders or had emergencies because they forgot to order something. Then delivery became critical. They’d say they needed their widget ASAP. So, I enter the order with a deliver date ASAP. And because of the customer’s critical time requirement, I also hand carried the order out and personally give it to the shop foreman, assured this action stressed the critical importance of a rush delivery. When the foreman asked me about the delivery date I said “ASAP.” He said “fine.” That is when I learned ASAP had different connotation depending on your viewpoint. Everyone knows ASAP means “as soon as possible” and, in my NOOB naivety, I assumed the foreman would rush it through the shop that very day. A few weeks went by and B4UKI (before you knew it) my client is calling about the delivery for his widgets. Being a little surprised he had not received them yet, I made another visit out to the foreman to inquire about the order. The foreman starts shuffling through a large pile of paperwork on his desk. Near the bottom of the stack he pulls out my order and says, “Here it is.” A little exasperated by this I ask, “They’ve not even been fabricated yet?” The foreman calmly replies that my delivery was “ASAP.” I said, “Exactly. Why hasn’t the order shipped yet?” His answer was simple. All the other orders in the stack had an actual delivery date. He had to meet those dates first before it was “possible” to get my order out. But he assured me he would do it ASAP. That was the last time I put ASAP as a date on a rush order. I still have clients who put ASAP on their orders and I cringe whenever I see it. ASAP also has a few cousins to avoid. AFAP (as fast as possible), NIY (need it yesterday), and ALAP (as late as possible). There is one more danger to avoid. A real word can sometimes be made into an acronym. In my discussion with the foreman I assumed he knew ASAP meant I needed the order rushed through. He said, “ASSUME makes an ass of you and me.”
If you are as confused as I am with this new acronym language, or if you want to get a handle on the secret code your kids are texting (did you know PIR means “parent in room”), you’re in luck. There are many acronym dictionaries on the internet free to download. That is where I got all the acronyms used in this short essay. But if you think this old curmudgeon is going to start texting acronyms to everyone I know, well, GLWT!