Wednesday, March 03, 2010


One does not expect to find snark or even dry humor in the Washington Post, yet that is just what I found in this article by-lined by Dan Zak. Mr. Zak announced the coining of a new word for an old annoyance: the slamming shut of the elevator doors just as one reaches the threshold:

The American people have been waiting for a word that neatly describes the act of shutting elevator doors in someone's face. That term has arrived: "bunning." As in, "You got bunninged!" or "Hold the doors, don't bunning me!" or "That guy's always bunning at work."

Sometimes the offender feigns deafness. Sometimes he pretends to press the "open" button while pushing "close." And sometimes he plays the senator card, as Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) did when ABC News correspondent Jonathan Karl trailed him to an elevator in the Hart Senate Office Building Monday.

"Excuse me," Bunning said sternly when Karl breached the elevator threshold. "This is a senator-only elevator."

"Can I come on the elevator?" asked Karl, who had questions about Bunning's opposition to a bill that would extend unemployment benefits.

"No, you may not," said Bunning, with the tone of a headmaster.

The doors shut. The interview was over. Karl got bunninged.

Now there are probably some good reasons for the rule on senators-only elevators, among them the need for speed to the Senate Chambers when a vote is announced. The senators only have 15 minutes to get from their offices to the floor in order to cast their vote. I suspect, however, that the reason for the exclusivity of the elevators uppermost in the minds of most members of this very exclusive country club is that it is a handy way to avoid those pesky questions being asked by a member of the lower class, e.g. the press. It's ever so much more pleasant to literally slam the door shut on the riff-raff, just as Sen. Bunning slammed the door shut for over a week on the unemployed.

Mr. Zak does not claim that he was the coiner of this neologism. He was very gracious in pointing out the earliest use of the term he could find:

"I'm not trying to pull a Bunning or anything," said Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), joking as he took one last question and retreated to the elevator, the doors closing on reporters' noses. (Bunninged!) [Emphasis added]

Well said, Sen. Corker.

And nicely done, Dan Zaks.

You both provided me with an early morning chuckle.



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