Note from Uncle Dale: Mean Rules

Hi! Uncle Dale here!

So, I was chatting with a reader from the U.K. and I mentioned what I call Mean Rules.  He said I should post some. I aim to please!

A little background, like I said, some Rules just come to me fully formed and I send them on to you relatively unvarnished, because that’s how my brain works (for example it’s 1:14 AM and I woke up feeling hungry.  I thought “you know what would taste good? An orange.”  Then I started thinking “when is the last time I ate an orange? It’s been a long time…” Then I thought, “it’s been a long time since I ate a grapefruit too.”  And then, the more I thought about it, I realized that I can’t remember the last time I ate any citrus fruit.  And you know what? I have been feeling like I have a cold coming on the past few days, maybe in need vitamin C? Then, BOOM, I realized I don’t know the symptoms of scurvy. I know it comes from a lack of vitamin C and I know at least three colloquial names for it-Moeller’s Disease, Barlow’s Scourge and Cheadle’s Complaint-but I have no idea why I know those names! I’m guessing it’s “interpreter knowledge” -see Rule 14- but if I know the names then why don’t I know the symptoms?  I could, in fact HAVE scurvy right now, and die from it, while knowing nothing more about the sickness save it be four names for it; three regional monikers, and scurvy.

So I got right up and made microwave popcorn.

Annnd tangent done. Hi. You may want to go back to the last word before this parenthetical. Remember? It’s a parenthetical, see>) other Rules are only half formed when they arrive and I have to ruminate like a Guernsey cow to make them workable.  Some Rules I write as a reaction to what is happening at the moment.  Because of this somewhat unpredictable process I often find Rules I’ve written long ago, hidden in files and boxes, preserved on whatever paper I had with me when the humor hit.

There are Rules I don’t post for various reasons, for example, some I  no longer understand what they mean.  Seriously, I wrote them long ago and I read them now and… no idea.  They were attached to a specific event I can’t remember and the context is gone.

Sometimes… the Rule is just too mean. Funny but mean! But mainly funny.

Mean Rule 001

It probably doesn’t matter that your Client might not know when to use ‘less’ and when to use ‘fewer’ in English, because your TEAM absolutely doesn’t.

(Written on the back of a parking pass from a hotel dated 2012).

Mean Rule 002

Vocabulary will not save you if you refuse to listen or think.

(This was written under the word “Rule” on a paper with feedback for a person named “Meg.”  I have no memory of this event nor of a mentee named Meg- it’s true but it’s not encouraging)

Mean Rule 003

(Maybe this isn’t a Rule… it’s more like a mean Note but it makes me laugh.  I was the head mentor for Interpreters in mainstream classrooms when I wrote this. Emphasis indicates underlining)

“Contrary to your letter, no, you do not use SEE sign at this school. No one else does either. SEE has strict production Rules and Structure. The staff I saw just produced ASLish signs in a mostly English word order, sometimes, and randomly- but not consistently- initialized stuff, and crammed ‘to-be’ English handshapes in whenever they noticed you looking at them.  No one here uses SEE.  They use conceptually inaccurate ASL, and most quite badly.”

(This is my first response to a ‘Letter of Concern’ written to the Superintendent of the school by an “educator” (quotes required) who observed one of my mentoring sessions with an interpreter, and did not believe I was abiding by the school’s “language guide.”  

The Superintendent told me to rewrite it).

The actual written response I submitted:

“Thank you for your concern.  Please forward me all the records of any trainings provided to the teachers, staff and interpreters in the proper use, grammar and structure of SEE.  Please include any certifications that you, or any school personnel possess in SEE instruction or interpretation.  I request this because I observed no actual SEE, or even a reasonable approximation thereof, used at any time during my time at this school. I did observe pervasive poorly executed ASL with initialization shoehorned in.  I has observed this- without exception, from everyone.  Everyone.  Every one.”

Want another one? Same players?

(The educator told me that if I truly understood Oral education I would support it-so she arranged for me to observe the schools “best Oral education teacher” for a day. She wanted my written evaluation of the experience). Here it is:

While observing [the instructor’s] class I saw that at least two students were very proficient in lip-reading as well as, it turns out, interpreting.  The teacher would talk and these students would discretely “interpret” for the other students around them. Though I saw no augmentation devices, at one point the instructor turned out the lights and showed a video, (without captions) and then the teacher stood behind the students making spoken observations on the film.  It is my opinion that [the teacher] is the most devoutly religious person I have ever encountered; spending each day talking to no one but ***self and trusting God to put knowledge in the students’ heads.

(The educator and I did not get along)

Mean Rule 004

(Sometimes Mean versions of Rules get a charm school makeover)

If it “unthawed” that just means it froze again!!!!”

(Written six times in a row under the words New Rule 2011. If it was feedback, that was the only feedback that poor mentee got) In the end that was the start of Rule 9.

Mean Rule 005

You get praise for doing more than expected.  You don’t get praise for not screwing up. Not screwing up is expected.

(The papers around it were from 2005 and 2007.  That actually became an essay I wrote about Pres. Trump after the State of the Union-that’s my other blog)

Mean Rule 006

(Some Rules are written to me)

New Rule! TelePrompters are for looking at!  Its likely the names you are struggling to spell are written right there on it!!! (With three exclamation points. I deserved it).

Mean Rule 007

ELK matters. Don’t show up at an appointment Tabula Rasa, and if you don’t know what “tabula rasa” means you have made my point! (That has been reworked into a more useful version)

Mean Rule 008

Black shirt black pants black socks black shoes? You can’t… (hey, you know what. I like this one!  I’m using it! It will pop up sometime next week)

I promise I’m a nice guy.  Promise!  Right,  Um Hum God of Snark?


Yeah… thanks God of Snark.

Rule 139

The audience will be distracted by the interpreters, for about 3 minutes. Then they will all realize they don’t understand Sign Language, mutter “pretty,” and just watch the rest of the performance.

Rule 51

When a hearing person says “if you will not volunteer to interpret, you will leave this client without an interpreter,” the proper answer is:

No. You will.

I’m not refusing to interpret. I am ready, willing and able to interpret, but you are not willing to hire me.

The moment you are ready to pay for my services, I will provide them.