Friday, October 28, 2016

"Look! Up in the sky!"

Yes, it’s Superman, strange visitor from another planet who came to earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. Superman, who can change the course of mighty rivers, bend steel in his bare hands. And who, disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, fights a never ending battle for truth, justice and the American way.
Introduction to Superman TV series, 1952–1958
As previously, there have been times when I've been underwhelmed by the level of Star Trek knowledge displayed by our front desk administrative staff.  Well, I'm sorry to say that things have hit a surprising new low regarding what I would consider to be the acceptable threshold of geek savviness required for the position.

Every now and then, our admin team* will get together on Friday morning and share a breakfast of McDonald's takeout food - McMuffins and McGriddles and so on.  When a request for orders arrived from the front desk via e-mail yesterday, I requested a Sausage McMuffin and went on with my life.

When I next passed her desk, our front desk person said, "I got yur Maccy D's e-mail - do ya not want a hash broown?" **

"Thank you, but no.  I'm trying to lose some weight, and potatoes are sort of my Kryptonite when it comes to that."

"Wot's tha', then?"

"Kryptonite?  You've never heard of Kryptonite?  The green stuff that makes Superman weak?"

"Noo, I don't know wha' tha' is."

"Well, you know that Superman is from Krypton..."

"Noo - where's tha', then?"


I can maybe make a case for not knowing the connection between Krypton and Superman, but I'd like to think that the concept of Kryptonite as a metaphor for fatal weakness is solidly embedded into popular culture.

Or perhaps it's a question of geography, and Superman is just more American than I thought. I suspect that very few people at my workplace would recognize any of the characters from 2000AD, Britain's long-running weekly comics magazine, or any of its competitors, but even so, distinctively British characters such as Judge Dredd and V have achieved some degree of international recognition. I suspect that Superman, regardless of his American origin, has a level of iconic recognition in the First World that he shares with only a few others, such as Mickey Mouse - and perhaps Snoopy.

That being said, the situation may be worse than I thought.  After all, I never actually asked if she knew who Superman was...

- Sid

* My job as designer/photographer/technical writer doesn't really classify as administrative, but since it's not really a field position either, I have honourary membership.

** The incumbent at our front desk is from England, and sounds a bit like a Dickensian street urchin.  I'll do my best to accurately depict the idiosyncratic nature of her conversational voice.

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