What they say, and what they really mean

Have you ever noticed that when famous people issue statements, or answer difficult interview questions, that they often say the same things? It’s almost as if there is a rule book somewhere, filled with excuses.  Even in our everyday lives, people don’t often say what they really mean. As a public service, I would like to list a few of the more common falsehoods, followed by the truth.

When an embattled politician or business owner says, “I am resigning to spend more time with my family,” he really means, “I’m jumping out before I get pushed.”

Six months later, when the same guy hurriedly accepts the first job offer that comes his way, he says, “It was a difficult decision to make, but after talking it over with my family, we agreed that I should accept this wonderful opportunity.”  What he really means is, “Thank goodness, I’m finally out of the house! I got a job offer!”

When a prospective politician tells the press, “People are urging me to run for this office, but I’m still exploring the possibility of a race,” he really means, “I wish some people would urge me to run, and better yet, send me some money!”

When the company memo says, “He has left the company to pursue other interests,” it often means, “We caught him in the act, and he has probably crossed the state line by now.”

When someone begins their statement to you by saying, “With all due respect…” you are probably about to get very little respect.  Same goes with, “No offense, but.…”  You can count on this: you are about to be offended.

Once you reach a certain age (so I hear), someone you haven’t seen in years will walk up and say, “My goodness, for your age, you sure are looking good!” What they really mean is, “Wow! You’re still alive?”

When the company press release says, “We are reorganizing to better serve our customers,” it usually means, “We are laying off a lot of employees, and the ones who remain will have to do twice as much work.”

When the recorded voice on the phone says, “Your call is very important to us, please stay on the line,” it really means, “If you were truly that important, a human would be speaking to you now.”

When the receptionist tells you the doctor can see you at 9 a.m. Thursday, it means you’d better pack a lunch, because thirteen other people are also scheduled to see him at 9 a.m. Thursday.

When the sign says, “Pain-free dentist!” it is actually true.  The dentist won’t feel a thing.

When the waitress hands you the menu and says, “Everybody’s raving about our oven-roasted chicken,” she means, “We bought WAY too much chicken.  Will you please order some?”

When a wife says, “We really need all-new living room furniture,” the husband often replies, “Let me think about it.”  What he really means is, “If I stall her long enough, she will forget about it.”  (Spoiler alert:  she will never forget.)

When the road construction project manager says, “We expect to have this widening project complete in a year, weather permitting,” that means you can add a month for each day it rains.

When the real estate ad describes an old house as “stunning,” that could mean many things.  Often I am stunned it is still standing.

When a political candidate says, “I will vote to raise taxes only as a last resort,” he really means, “I will definitely vote to raise taxes.”

When a baseball announcer says, “What a day for Jones!  He really brought his A-game today,” he really means, “Most days, he just shows up to pick up his paycheck.”

When the online hotel ad says, “Our rooms have a rustic flavor, with classic décor,” it really means, “We haven’t changed the carpet or the curtains since 1966.”

When the big oil companies say, “We must raise gas prices immediately because we’ve heard there are strong winds in the Gulf,” they really mean, “We’ve been looking for an excuse to jack up gas prices, and now we’ve found it. We’re gonna keep ‘em jacked up as long as we can get away with it.

When the store ad says, “Buy this refrigerator, and get a $100 rebate by mail,” what they really mean is, “Hey, if we really wanted to give you $100, we’d hand it over now.  We’re hoping you’ll forget to mail in the rebate!”

And in all fairness, I must tell one on myself.  When I check that little box that says, “I have read and agreed to all terms and conditions,” I really mean, “There’s no way I’m going to read all that fine-print gobbledy-gook.  Let’s get on with this!”






About David Carroll

David Carroll is a longtime Chattanooga radio and TV broadcaster, and has anchored the evening news on WRCB-TV since 1987. He is the author of "Chattanooga Radio & Television" published by Arcadia.

4 thoughts on “What they say, and what they really mean

  1. Jack

    Yes & not the same thing but who picks the awful looped on hold music while you wait sometimes interminably? Sounds like 70’s elevator music most of the time… and why are companies too cheap to hire someone to just answer the phone & then get you to the right person? I hate automated menus. Drives me up a tree!!!


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