Oct 23, 2011

Three Fatal Words

Also Known As Quitting When You're Ahead

By Wendy A. Jones

I got an ad in the mail this week. It was for a cleaning company, and it made me mad.

I don't generally get mad at the junk mail. I figure it's just one of those annoying things a person has to deal with on occasion, like unperforated toilet paper. Just as I don't curse the businesses that put giant rolls in their restrooms, I don't curse the businesses who send me advertisements in my mailbox. Junk mail is a part of life.

I was shaken from my laissez-faire approach when a particular ad caught my eye. Its slogan?

Life's too short to clean your own home.

This, I thought to myself, is what's wrong with America today! 
We feel too good to clean our own homes! Don't we realize that to even have a home is an amazing blessing? How many people in the world don't have anywhere warm and dry to sleep?

My brain continued on this thread for awhile, looping through words like "entitled" and "stewardship."

I took a step back and asked myself why I was acting so crazy over junk mail.

It's not like I'm some great housekeeper. (I'm so totally not.) It's not like I have anything against hiring a housekeeper. (Also, so totally not. I've considered it on occasion, although have never felt I could justify the expense.) I don't mind cleaning companies in general. (Thinking about Merry Maids doesn't get the bile up at all.) So why was this ad unbalancing me?

I realized the message the ad sent me was not the message the company intended to send. I got hooked on the last bit, the part where it says "your own home." Now,

Life's too short to clean

is a slogan I can get behind. But my sense of responsibility balks when I add the last three words. Even though the "your own home" is implied in "Life's too short to clean," it doesn't make me cringe. It's pleasing.

Our writing is sometimes like this--we say too much. Often, less really is more. The difficult part is drawing the line.

*Photo taken from the Internet. If you like the house, it's for sale. Somewhere.


  1. Wendy - the ad bothers me as well. Take responsibility. I agree a home is a blessing and show stewardship. Interesting connection to wordiness of writing. Interesting how the written words versus implied have a more profound effect. It also minimizes the creative outlook of the statement. (I would see "Life is too short to clean...your car) :-)

    Love the end note!

  2. I heartily agree with you Wendy. As a copy writer, I totally get what the intent was...but the message screams at me too. our society has become so anti-work...not recognizing the value of work to our lives and wanting everything right now without any effort. Thanks for sharing your insight on this pertaining to our own writing. hugs~

  3. I agree. I am not your Susie Homemaker poster child, more like her disliked cousin that raises dust bunnies. That said understand their sales pitch but the last three words grate on my nerves too. Less is definitely more.


Thank you for visiting. Feel free to comment on our blogger's posts.*

*We do not allow commercial links, however. If that's not clear, we mean "don't spam us with a link to your totally unrelated-to-writing site." We delete those comments.