Top 10 inappropriate pop-culture quotes for on-the job use

When replying to the accusation against me, my first instinct was to scribble a John McClane-esque, "Yippie-ki-yay, motherf**ker," but instead I penned a more subtle Princess Bride quote: "As you wish"


Updated July 8, 2014

March 2013 marked my 20th anniversary in EMS. That's 20 years of continuous EMS employment, for agencies big and small, including a stint as an EMS bureaucrat. And in that time, I've had 19 annual performance evaluations.

That's 19 wasted hours of my life I'll never get back.

Long ago, I began entertaining subversive thoughts during each one of those performance evaluations. Between companies placing undue emphasis on what could be measured instead of what should be measured, and the all-too-frequent supervisors who were the living embodiment of the Peter Principle, let's just say that, during these annual meetings, my attention may have … wandered.

It first began during a disciplinary meeting many years ago. I was being written up because I told an obese patient who was profusely apologetic about us having to lift her, "Don't worry, Ma'am. You're a minnow compared to some of the whales we've had to carry."

Unbeknownst to me, her much larger sister was standing right behind me … and we had transported that particular woman not a week before.

Odd as it may seem, the sister was somewhat offended by my witty banter, and called my employer to complain.

Since it was my first offense, and especially since the patient herself found it quite amusing, I expected little more than a written reprimand in my personnel file. When informed that not only would I be suspended, but that the suspension would be deferred until my first day off so that my disciplinary action would not leave them short-staffed, I was incensed.

Adding insult to injury, my supervisor patronizingly told me, "This is not about you being a good medic, Kelly. This is about you being a good employee." I manfully resisted the urge to wonder aloud why those two things seemed to be mutually exclusive terms at this particular agency.

When given the opportunity to reply in writing to the accusation against me and the disciplinary action administered, my first instinct was to scribble a John McClane-esque, "Yippie-ki-yay, motherf**ker," but instead I penned a more subtle Princess Bride quote: "As you wish."

And since that day, I've entertained myself immensely by salting my annual performance evaluations and the rare disciplinary action with pop culture quotes and lines cribbed from classic literature.

Some lines, though, while immensely tempting and even contextually appropriate, still fall under the category of "If it felt good to say, it was probably the wrong time to say it." Among these are the Top Ten Inappropriate Quotes for On-The-Job Use:

 "I feel the need… the need for speed." While it may be satisfying to channel your inner Maverick, the time to do it is not when you're explaining why you were caught exceeding the posted speed limit on a BLS interfacility transfer.

"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." I know we've all had that supervisor whose interpersonal skills were on a par with Vizzini's, but when they keep using the word "accountability," perhaps this is not the way to point out that it only seems to apply to everyone but him.

"You use your tongue purtier than a twenty-dollar whore." While it violates my deeply held belief that there is no inappropriate time for a Blazing Saddles quote, saying it right after a managerial pep talk liberally salted with meaningless corporate buzzwords like "synergy" and "interoperability" would not be well-received… even if his mind actually is a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives.

"Rush a miracle man, you get rotten miracles." I so want to use this quote every time I get gigged for scene time compliance. I may use it yet.

And when I do, would you mind me using y'all as references on my next employment application?

"He's pinin' for the fjords, he is." When triaging patients at an MCI, it's probably not appropriate to refer to your black-tagged patients this way. Unless, of course, your patient actually is a dead parrot. Then it's awesome.

"I must have killed more men than Cecil B. DeMille." As tempting as it might be to indulge your inner Cisco Kid, it probably wouldn't do to answer this way when asked in a job interview to name your greatest weakness as a medic.

"Cry 'Havoc!', and let slip the dogs of war!" Shakespeare probably doesn't set the right tone for a friendly Dispatchers vs Ambulance Crews flag football game during EMS Week, so… no, wait. On second thought, that sets the tone perfectly. Use that one with my blessing.

 "Be respectful to your superiors, if you have any." You probably shouldn't espouse this Mark Twain quote as your personal philosophy when you're defending yourself against a charge of insubordination.

 "It just so happens that your friend here is only MOSTLY dead. There's a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive. With all dead, well, with all dead there's usually only one thing you can do… go through his clothes and look for loose change." We've all been called to that drunken party where someone called an ambulance for a cardiac arrest that turned out to be only drunk. And aside from pointing out that the victim constantly pushing the chest compressor's hands away is a reliable sign of life, it's best not to use this Miracle Max quote, no matter how tempting. Because as quick as you can say "designated driver," there will be someone at the party who is sober, and they're going to get all pissy about your perceived lack of professionalism.

 "To crush my enemies, to see them driven before me, and hear the lamentations of their women." When asked to express your plans for professional growth on your next performance evaluation, it's probably not appropriate to quote Conan the Barbarian.

Unless, of course, you're planning on quitting and starting up your own rival service. Then it's perfect.

What about you? Any memorable quotes you'd love to slip into work conversation?
 

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