The things I do instead of Big Work That Matters often involve focusing on small details that I’ve been slow to learn the world at large cares much about. A case in point:
In the course of my freelance toils for the high-end household goods retailer that shall remain nameless, I came across this phrase, and variations thereon, used to describe a line of outdoor furniture: “rustproof aluminum.” I pointed out to the catalog editor that since aluminum doesn’t rust, and since most of the upper-income people expected to buy the furniture probably know that, it actually sounds kind of dumb to say “rustproof aluminum.” But it was explained to me that being rustproof is a selling point; thus it’s not enough to say something is aluminum — you need to say rustproof, too.
Another case: Asked to do a little historical research on the design antecedents for a reproduction lamp carried “exclusively” by the company in question, I quickly discovered at least a half-dozen other places carrying a lamp of identical design and so close in execution to the “exclusive” one that you’d almost need a forensic scientist to tell the difference. I wondered aloud whether, since so many examples of the lamp were so readily discoverable whether it really qualified as an exclusive. The answer, in a nutshell, is that the product is exclusive if the company says it is.
No lesson or moral, I guess. Just watching more words go the way of “new” and “improved” and “97.4 percent pure.”