Saturday, June 4, 2016

Let’s Book #socs

Most of us are readers and/or writers and we’re all familiar with a book, so I’m not going to talk about that. Instead, let’s talk about the verb “book.”

The travel industry is all about booking. There’s even a website called, where you can book hotels. In this case it means to schedule. When I was traveling 80% of the time, I would call my travel agent and ask her to book me a flight, car, and room at a hotel. I normally had all the details, I’d just feed them to her and she’d do all the paperwork, and if something wasn’t available, she’d tell me, and I’d give her alternates. Most of the time, it’d come out right, though occasionally we had a failure to communicate, and I’d end up staying in a hotel the other side of town. But that was pretty rare.

Speaking of schedules, we spent a lot of time discussing what we had scheduled. Lee, my manager at the time, had about seven of us who did software installations onsite, and he would get requests all the time, or maybe we should call them “demands.” This was back in the days when PC’s were pretty rare and what scheduling software they had was expensive, so we all carried planning calendars where we’d keep all the details of where we were going and who we were going to see. We’d be out of town somewhere and get a call from Lee. “John, are you open the week of June 14?” and I’d check my calendar. “No, Lee, I’m booked at ABC.” “Ah shit. What about the next week?” He never knew our schedules unless he asked us. An hour later, he might call back. “John, give Steve all the stuff about ABC. I need you to go to XYZ because [the idiot salesman] said you’d be there.” “Oh-kay,” I’d say, and pull out my trusty artgum eraser (we NEVER kept our schedules in pen), take the ABC install off my book and put the XYZ one in its place, and call Steve and give him the details about ABC, then call the guy at XYZ and get information about where he was, best airport to fly into, and a hotel nearby (preferably one where XYZ had a discount). Later I’d book the trip to XYZ and cancel the ABC trip. That was in the days when the airlines were pretty fluid about cancellations. We all know what a mess that is these days.

“Book” might also mean arrest, as in “Book him, Danno!” from the old Hawaii Five-O

In this case, it’s not Danno doing the booking, but Chin Ho. Jack Lord’s Steve McGarrett said “book him!” all the time. Not so Alex O’Loughlin’s on the reboot, which is totally different from the original and probably shouldn’t even be called Hawaii Five-O. Notice Steve and Chin Ho on the original show: suits, white shirts, ties. Not running around half-naked or looking like they’re on Survivor. Steve McGarrett was a cop, not a commando.

We used to say “I’m gonna book” when we were getting set to leave somewhere. It was synonymous with “split.” “Let’s book!” meant “Let’s go, and be quick about it!” Or we’d see someone on the expressway going twenty miles an hour over the speed limit, and say “He’s really booking!” I looked into it: that’s based on the Dutch word boeken which means “leave in a hurry,” as in we boeken ‘m. They say the usage in the US is related to the word “boogie,” as in “Let’s boogie!”

And since we’re on the subject of boogie, here’s A Taste of Honey from 1978, “Boogie Oogie Oogie.”

Time to book…


Stream of Consciousness Saturday is hosted by Linda Hill. Why not book over to her site and see the rules and links to the other participants?

from The Sound of One Hand Typing

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