Friday Rant: "Out of Pocket"

July 2008

Someone just walked by my desk and I overheard them say “out of pocket.” A few months ago I heard this phrase in its new context, and have since deduced that people are now using it NOT to describe when they are paying for something themselves, but rather to indicate that they are or will be “unreachable,” specifically if they will be in transit.

This drives me absolutely crazy. It doesn’t even make any sense. My best guess is that it is somehow derived from the fact that people can now be in contact and reachable by phone, text, AND email etc. on their smartphones in their ‘pockets’. But then, if someone says that they are “out of pocket,” it should be an indication that they are reachable, but just not at their desk. The other (completely unfounded and not probable) explanation is that it is a twisted version of “out of socket,” in the sense that if your phone is turned off and you are unreachable, you are not “plugged in” to the network.

Either way, whenever someone says it, I want to punch them in the face and/or gargle Drano. I also tend to make the assumption that the speaker is someone who cuts up buzzword bingo sheets and uses them as flashcards for vocabulary.