[Originally published May 8, 2014.]

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“Just a sec” = 5 minutes

“Just a minute” = 10 minutes

“Pick your brain” = 17 minutes or, in rare cases, 90 seconds

“Quick chat” = 48 minutes

“No more than five minutes” = 1 hour

“End of day” = 2 hours after the delivery guy brings dinner

“Quick meeting” = 3 hours

“Deep dive” = in the time it takes to eat half a bag of baby carrots

“Exploratory” = only the intern knows for sure

“Brainstorming session” = the entire afternoon, but everyone involved gets to sneak out early

“Could use a hand” = 1 week

“Could really use a hand” = 1 week + the weekend

“Onboarding” = 3 weeks that felt 3 three years

“Stint” = 2-3 weeks

“Gig” = 3-4 weeks

“Boondoggle” = 1 month of hotel food and daydreaming at strange buildings

“Pitch in” = 1 month here and there

“Help out” = 1 month + 2 harrowing weeks

“Assist on” = 3 months + 1 month plotting an escape

“Build-out” = why those tech people make shitloads of money

“Ramping up” = must happen before the end of the fiscal quarter

“Gearing up” = really should happen before the end of the quarter, but don’t hold your breath

“Strategize” = don’t ask, don’t tell

“Cool little project” = 6 endless months

“Wonderful opportunity” = 8 months

“Interesting opportunity” = 2 years

“Immediate need” = still hasn’t been resolved

“Got my start at” = too long or too short to fully explain

“Job” = holy shit, has it really been X years?

“Current job” = 1 more year and then I’m out

“Career” = 15 years trying + 5 years coasting + 15 years wondering if all that trying was worth it + 5 years just sitting there, collecting a paycheck, fondly reminiscing about the coasting

“Let’s revisit this later” = never shall we speak of this again

“Loop back” = 50/50 chance we shall speak of this again

“ASAP” = unquantifiable