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Thread: Expect vs Expect

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    Expect vs Expect

    Understanding when to use “expect” versus “anticipate” is one thing, and understanding things by how they contrast with other words is often helpful, but I’m stuck between the idea that “expect” itself is ambiguous and the idea there is a substantive difference in expectations.

    Getting to the heart of my question is problematic. I’ll take some potshots and see if anything falls from the nest.

    I may say something along the lines of “When I shop at Walmart, I don’t expect great customer service.” Well gee, if you do, our difference might be explained by us having different expectations, but (and here’s the thing) something else might be the reason. We might actually not be using the word the same way.

    What if you go to a shit hole run down ragged gas station on the outskirts of some no-name town notorious for vandalism and crime. You decide that you want to wade through the trash enroute to the bathroom with a door hanging on by a single rusted out hinge. Do you expect the bathroom to be clean and tidy? After all, you are going to an established business operating legally in the county of that state.

    I tend to base my expectations not on what I want or wish for—not what I think would ordinarily be sufficiently acceptable. Instead, my experience and notions play a bigger role. If I go to a fancy restaurant where people are Johnny on the spot and everyone seems to be intuitive of events as they transpire, I would expect the bathrooms to be clean. As far as the delapidated gas station goes, my expectations are lowered by whatever bar someone else might set higher.

    See, I have no bar per se. I may prefer certain bars to be reached, but that isn’t what drives my expectations.

    If I open up a business and customers are to be attended to immediately upon sight, then NO MATTER WHAT, I expect the employees to STOP whatever it is they’re doing (even if they can reasonably be done with whatever they’re doing in 10 seconds) and attend to the customer. Period.

    But, is that truly an expectation? Suppose it’s a new hire. I don’t truly expect them to get onboard that quickly. So, either I have high expectations and someone needs to work a little harder to ensure they can meet my expectations (which is one way I’ve gleaned “expectations” to be used.) ... or expectations are not as they are reported; moreover, if expectations are not simply a desire as if adjustable on some platonic bar, then maybe expectations are what I truly think based on my knowledge and experience.

    To that end, I would love not just good service but adequate and friendly service from Walmart employees, but I would not ordinarily expect even acceptable customer service skills to be demonstrated. Want it, prefer it, hell might even suggest it, but the judgmental side of me cannot bring myself to place any bets that it will be forthcoming for the next 20 customers. Even a manager of Walmart might say aloud that he expects certain things, but clearly he cannot be using the term in the same way as I. If the manager truly expects for employees not to steal, I have some not so good news for him.

    As far as the old gas station goes, I expect to see shit in the toilet. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not going to be disappointed if it’s clean; instead, this would be an instance where my low expectations are exceeded. See, I don’t move the bar. People speak about raising the bar, (and herein lies the difference), there is the sense of expectations that reflect what is felt and believed (and so the bar moves in accordance to your very own expectations1), yet there is also the sense where we have control of the bar and can raise the stand for our expectations2.

    Anybody wanna set me straight on this mess?

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    Eh, stop using the word "expect". Start using the words "predict" and "standard."

    Compare:

    I predict that the gas station toilet will be below my personal standards of cleanliness.

    I expect the gas station toilet to be dirtier than I expect gas station toilets to be.

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    Lol, problem avoidance vs problem solution. But hey, that helps too!

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    Quote Originally Posted by zorq View Post
    Eh, stop using the word "expect". Start using the words "predict" and "standard."

    Compare:

    I predict that the gas station toilet will be below my personal standards of cleanliness.

    I expect the gas station toilet to be dirtier than I expect gas station toilets to be.
    Bingo.

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