Office Folk Speech for Being Busy


Leighton Lord is my father. Given this relation to me, I was interested in procuring some folklore that both of us participated in, but obviously from his perspective as he and my mother were the ones who set the traditions that we followed. Another unique perspective he has is being instilled in Southern traditions after twenty two years spent in Columbia, South Carolina following his marriage to my mother, a native South Carolinian. He grew up in Delaware, and was fascinated upon arriving in the South and witnessing the obsession with tradition and particularly talk about ancestors. I collected several pieces of folklore from him during a recent trip he made to Los Angeles. He currently practices law.


Owen: Can you give me some lawyer folklore? Like some water cooler kind of talk? Lingo, that kind of thing.

Leighton: Well there’s kind of this competition to always be the busiest. Like it’s embarrassing to not have anything to do. So you run into someone, elevator, whatever, and you ask how they’re day’s going. And in the office it’s usually something like “I can’t breathe with all this work” or “client’s got me in the weeds.” Stuff like that. Just complaining about how busy you are all the time. But I think most lawyers would go crazy if they weren’t. I think it’s American.


I have also noticed this folk speech in college. Often, even if I am having an enjoyable week, I’ll catch my self complaining about work to someone merely to relate to them. It sort of feels like a ‘we’re in this together’ sort of mentality. Also, I find it interesting that my father included the bit about his particular work experience being a more general American thing. There could be truth to this, as laziness is looked down upon in the US.