Ask the Re-form Person:

Dear Re-form Person;

NeoCon is back and I just got a ridiculous postcard that advertises “Benching Solutions”.  Seriously? I don’t have any known “benching” problems, I‘m not sure what “benching” is, and can’t believe it’s even a real word. My husband says it is slang for bench pressing weights, and he says the word “benching” in that context is a gerund. Can I get a jargon check here Re-form Person?

–          Aggravated in Arlington

Jargon Indeed,  Aggravated !

According to Wikipedia, jargon is used to, “exclude non-group members from conversations” and also to allow insiders to, ”talk precisely about the technical issues in a given field”.  I suggest that promoting “benching solutions” is not how real insiders talk among themselves at all (with a straight face anyway), but is intended to make the postcard recipients think they are missing out on the technical and competitive advantages of a bench.

“Benching” in this context is, in fact, a deverbal noun and not a gerund. Deverbal nouns are merely common nouns that lend excitement and vitality to a piece of office furniture. For example, I have a Herman Miller binder on my shelf that is labeled “Desking”. While “desk” has always been a garden variety noun, “desking” is a 4G Sexy Noun. We can infer that a person working a shift at a desk would be neither as desirable nor productive as a person who spent the day “desking”. They would not be as fit either.

Alternatively, Steelcase catalogs advertise ”Mousing Surfaces”. Mousing is a gerund in this case as it defines the act of manipulating an instrument that resembles a rodent.

The words “desking”, “mousing” and ”benching” are not found in standard dictionaries. Further, their proprietary nature is actually mandated. The 655 page “Grand Rapids Office Furniture Protocol of 1997” states that among others,  “Office Furniture Remanufacturers and Used Office Furniture Types may not use

[deverbal nouns] for marketing purposes”, and must rely on 1st Gen, schlubby common noun variants such as “desk” and “bench”. Per Article 4, sec B 1.2, “the right to [use deverbal nouns] does not convey past the original purchaser”, which is similar to language found in most office furniture product warranties.

Researching this 1997 Protocol clarifies why no one in the last 25 years has come to Re-form looking for “workstationing”.

–          Re-form Person