You Have to Know the Code

When I worked as “Christmas help” at the local Disney Store one holiday season, I learned that calling someone a “customer” wasn’t a compliment. Our patrons were our “guests” and “customer” was a code word for a suspected shoplifter.

I was reminded of this after reading”14 Secret Code Words You Might Want to Know” by Jane Alexander ( Codes such as these are surprisingly common and used in many situations.

For example, cruise ships use codes that are occasionally heard in public announcements. Each company has its own jargon, but colors make good alert terms, like saying “red parties” when there is a fire. Names also work well; on some ships, repeating the name Oscar three times means someone has gone overboard.

Hospitals need code words to alert staff without alarming patients. “Code Blue,” is a popular term when there is a medical emergency like cardiac arrest. Words like  “Code Green” can refer to an external event like a threatening tornado.

Finally (for this article) are useful words to be used in threatening situations.  In the UK, anyone can “ask for Angela” in a bar to let staff know they’re in trouble.  Also, asking for an “angel shot” in bars in the U.S., some European countries, and South Africa really is a cry for help.

For more practical information on code words, just follow the above link, and thank Jane Alexander.

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