WAITT, Are We Really All in This Together?
Acronyms—LOL, PIN, ASAP, CAPTCHA, RADAR, LASAR, SCUBA, and others that combine the initial letters of other words, the whole being pronounced as a single word—have become part of the English language. Let’s coin another one: WAITT (no, that’s not a misspelling of WAIT), an acronym for “We’re All in This Together.”
The five-word phrase itself appeared in the early weeks of the pandemic that began in early 2020. Although the pandemic has officially ended—at least until the next contagious bug may arrive on our shores—some Americans still behave as if it continues, and WAITT may lurk somewhere in the weeds awaiting its resurgence. If you have never seen or heard it before, just wait as it may reappear at some point.
As a double-edged relic that may appear appealing at first blush, the WAITT phrase joins the lexicon as a first cousin to Ronald Reagan’s warning that the nine most dangerous words in the English language are “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” Or perhaps WAITT is a closer relative to Ben Franklin’s “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately,” a play on words calling for unity among the signers of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Neither of these quotations, however, lend themselves to an acronym.
I first spotted the WAITT phrase on signs posted in early 2020 at my local Trader Joe’s shop, as employees at the door requested every entering customer be masked and to “socially distance” six feet apart. The store’s use of the phrase seemed ever so in keeping with the cozy community-oriented image that Trader Joe’s hopes to project. The signs were attractively hand-lettered in Trader Joe’s usual calligraphic font, as if the retailer were saying, “We want to allay everyone’s virus fears, assuring that you will be safe in our store if everyone wears a mask and distances because we’re all in this together.”
At my first awareness of the sentiment, I was at once insulted and offended yet couldn’t immediately determine why. Later, upon reflection, I recognized at least four reasons.
First, the phrase sounds vaguely related to the “inclusiven
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