My Whac-A-Mole Life: The Power of One Word   

The Power of One Word

"When words are scarce they are seldom spent in vain."

So said William Shakespeare....and channeled by many a hopeful job interviewer, when they ask: "If you had only one word to describe yourself, what would it be?"

Follow-up question: Do you hate that question as much as I do? I mean, how COULD any one word sum up the complexities of an individual? 
And yet, ABC News listed it as one of the top 25 "great" interview questions.

I think, on the contrary, that one-word descriptions often do the opposite of describing a person accurately - they represent a stereotype, or a preconceived picture of attributes associated with that word.

Autistic * Jewish * Gay * Blonde * Russian

Each of these words likely will conjure a set of characteristics in your mind...characteristics that may not apply to the next person you meet who self-identifies with one of these terms. Okay, I know, in a job interview you're supposed to pick words like "resilient," "innovative" or "diligent." But still, why just one word? WHERE ARE THE OTHER WORDS, DAMMIT?

Photo courtesy of ABC's The Middle - "Dollar Days"
So this ubiquitous question came up on that show The Middle the other night. Yes, we watch The Middle. Lots of people do, according to TV viewer ratings, but I've never heard anyone talking about it around the virtual watercoolor...or anywhere, really. In fact, I might be the first person ever to hashtag it on Twitter.

But you know what? It's a really good show. I think it's the one sitcom where BOTH my husband and I consistently laugh through every episode. The characters are so true-to-life, and each endearing in their own busy-family, neighborhoody, bill-paying, working-parent ways. Perhaps we relate a little TOO much.

There's even this kid, Brick, who's TV-style Aspie. So you get gems like this, when the Dad brings him to a Boy Scouts event:

Dad: Aren’t all these kids in your Social Skills group?
Brick: Yeah. We went to a regular Scout meeting before, but after a few weeks they decided to give us our own troop. Wasn’t that nice?

Okay, so there's this episode called "Dollar Days," where Jack McBrayer guest stars as a pediatric dentist interviewing the mom of the show (Patricia Heaton) who recently went back to school to become a dental assistant. She's kind of stressed about the interview, as she (correctly) predicts the one-word-to-describe-you question will come up, and her self-awareness seems to have faded along with the laundry over the years. 

As she prepares for the interview, her super-helpful kids suggest these one-word answers: "lazy," "angry" and "tired." Her husband inadvertently comes up with "irritable." 

So she heads into the interview with little to go on, and when the question is asked, she blurts out:
You know what I don’t know. I JUST DON'T KNOW. You want one word to describe me? ‘Mom.’ There. That’s it.
I can get dressed in under 30 seconds. I can pull anything out of my bag without looking. You need a quarter? Got it. Protein bar? How about a pen? Blue or black? I can hold off creditors for months, I can listen to five conversations at the same time. Oh, and apparently, I’m a delight in a carpool.”
So there you have it.

(By the way, I wholeheartedly support the idea of "mom" offering transferable skills, but I probably would have stated it differently. Still, she got the job...because, you know, it's TV.)
Congratulations, Niksmom. Hope your mom enjoys the bouquet!

P.S. I have selected a winner of the Teleflora flower bouquet giveaway.

Since I couldn't pick all of you, I turned to for help. I COULDN'T BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENED, so I took a screen shot for you.

Not only was this winner first to enter and earnestly campaigned to win on Twitter and Facebook (for her mom), she's one of my loyal readers and close Internet friends. And.... #1, like ONE WORD? Perfect, right?

Happy Mother's Day, Moms!
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