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    October 07, 2006



    I cringe when I her this expression, except when I'm filling out my travel claim for "out of pocket" expenses;-)

    Jason V

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
    This is the most annoying and idiotic phrase ever. And if you work with or for HP, you will hear it ten times a day. Two issues: 1. Uniqueness. The phrase already existed to refer to a type of expenses, you can't start using it to refer to something completely different!! How confusing is that? What if the phrase "over the hill" started to mean that someone had overcome an obstacle? Think how confusing and offense that could be. Hey Bob, congratulations, how does it feel to be over the hill? So we have another expression, "over the hump" to deal with that scenario. Both expressions are necessary, but there had to be something to distinguish them. In the case of "out of pocket," there's no distinguishing factor outside of context, and sometimes not even then! 2. Necessity. Let's look at the true and correct usage. "I incurred a lot of out of pocket expenses due to all the bridge tolls." vs. "I had to pay bridge tolls with my own cash that I had, so even though the company will reimburse me, I have to fill out paperwork and I won't see that money for quite some time" Clearly the phrase "out of pocket" makes this sentence a lot easier to communicate and everyone in the office will know exactly what you mean. It's a necessary expression. Now think of the second, recently popular, and grossly incorrect usage: "I won't be on the call, I'm unavailable this afternoon." vs. "I won't be on the call, I'm out of pocket this afternoon." The expression actually makes the statement longer and more confusing!! The English language already has a word 'unavailable' we don't need a three word expression that means the same thing and provides no level of detail. The only reason that people would use it is because somehow it is more innocuous than 'unavailable.' Maybe unavailable sounds like the person is slacking in their work duties. If people are misusing some expression, just to gloss over the fact that they are in fact unavailable to perform some duty, then that is cowardly and it confuses everyone who hears it. And if you're anything like me, you lose all respect for that person's intelligence.

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