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 Texas : Features : Columns : N. Ray Maxie :

Dropping Off

by N. Ray Maxie
N. Ray Maxie
The other day as I was busy taking inventory, a delivery man stopped by the office. I heard the company shipping clerk ask him, "Are you dropping off or picking up?"

Occasionally I have heard someone ask if another person, like the baby for instance, was asleep. The response might be, "No, but they are dropping off."

Other scenarios might be when a person is missing or their whereabouts are unknown. We might say, "It seems 'Ole Joe' just dropped off the face of the earth." Or, driving along the highway, we might say, "The shoulder just dropped off."

Then some people, while driving, get very sleepy and "just drop off", later wishing they hadn't. The consequences are most often very serious and irretractable.

All of these various usages are still fairly common vernacular today. But one not quite so common came to mind the day when I heard our shipping clerk ask that question. You may well know how there are certain things people say or perhaps what you've seen can cause a flash back to a "previous life", often unpleasant.

Many times growing up in the Ark-La-Tex during the "dark ages", where I lived around Atlanta and Bloomberg, the old timers used the phrase differently. My grandfather might say, "Looks like ole Jack Sprat is dropping off."

Or when Uncle Willie came by the farm for a visit, mother might ask, "Hon. Are you dropping off? I'm afraid you aren't eating very well."

On occasion, I have heard my dad say, "The milk cow is dropping off. We need to move her to a better pasture."

Now you can see their usage of "dropping off" referred to losing weight. Someone looked thinner; their clothes were a loose fit and they no longer looked as "fleshy" and robust as they once did. They had been "dropping off", which is not always a bad thing. I need to "drop off" a little myself. Don't you?

Hope to see you on down the road a piece and hopefully a bit thinner.

N. Ray Maxie
"Ramblin' Ray"
December 1, 2008 Column
piddlinacres@consolidated.net
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