The Homophones Got Me! A Record of a Recent Firing.

A Woodger Bird -- should have been extinct long ago.

A Woodger Bird — should have been extinct long ago.



A homophone, in case you do not know, is a word that has a different meaning for each different spelling, but always sounds the same; such as “be”, “bee”, and “Bea”.  There are hundreds of these in the English language, and it is one of the first subjects tackled when teaching ESL.  It is a subject that has been taught and discussed with absolutely no controversy for well over a hundred years.

Until now . . .

This week I was fired for writing a blog about homophones for an educational website.

“I’m letting you go because I can’t trust you” said Clarke Woodger, my boss and the owner of Nomen Global Language Center.  “This blog about homophones was the last straw.  Now our school is going to be associated with homosexuality.”

I said nothing, stunned into silence.

“I had to look up the word” he continued, “because I didn’t know what the hell you were talking about.  We don’t teach this kind of advanced stuff to our students, and it’s extremely inappropriate.  Can you have your desk cleaned out by eleven this morning?  I’ll have your check ready.”

I nodded, mute.

“Good.  You’ve done a good job on most things, but you’re just not reliable enough.  I never have any idea what you’re going to do next.  I can’t run my business that way. You’d probably make a great college professor, but since you don’t have a degree you’ll never get that kind of work.  I would advise you to try something clerical, where you’ll be closely supervised and have immediate goals at all times.  That’s the only kind of job you’ll ever succeed at.  I’ll be happy to give you a good reference.  Good-bye, and good luck.”

He rose, shook my hand, and left the conference room where we had been sitting.

I was out the door, at the bus stop, by 11:05.

After depositing my check at the bank I walked home along the Provo River Path.  It was warm, but isolated thunderheads kept the sun in check.  The river is low and smells of sewers.  Trout are frantically leaping up the spillway by the Columbia Lane Bridge.  Dozens of swallows have built their nests under the bridge; they describe wide, frantic circles and give high peeps when they land at their mud-daubed nests. It was pleasant to stop there – now that I have all the time in the world again.

Further along the path is a wild cherry tree growing up from the bank of the river.  Underneath the cherry tree is a green wire bench installed by the Parks and Recreation Department.  I sat down to rest there. The cherries are dead ripe and falling onto the pathway, where they are mashed by pedestrians and bicyclists. Wasps stay busy feeding on the sweet pulp.  A homeless man, shouldering a towering backpack, his white beard stained brown with tobacco juice, came striding by, stepping right into the pulp and riling the wasps.  One of them stung him. He turned to me, holding up a tree branch he was using as a walking stick, and cried “You bit me!”

I did not try to defend myself.  Somehow, it seemed just about right – done in by a crazy old bum with a tree branch.  But he lowered it slowly and turned back to his odyssey, mumbling obscenities.  I continued to sit there another ten minutes, then slowly got up and went back to my room underneath the basement steps of a friend’s house, where I am writing this.  I promised him I would be out of his house by the end of August.  Maybe I should have followed the bum; he seemed to know where he was going.

When one door closes, it’s usually right on your fingers.

Please visit my site at GoFundMe!


TORKILDSON’S BLOGGING LAW OF DIMINISHING RETURNS:  Once a blog post has garnered a dozen comments any further comments always degenerate into slurs, trolling and cretinism.


About iwritetheblogggs

This started out as a conservative political blog, and we still feature news releases from Capitol Hill and timely articles about politics; but over the months it has also morphed into a more humorous, less serious website, featuring our personal memories of childhood, school, marriage, careers, hobbies and travels. As the poet said: The world is too much with us; late and soon, Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;— We hope you’ll take time to enjoy our musings, and don’t take ANY of it too seriously!
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146 Responses to The Homophones Got Me! A Record of a Recent Firing.

  1. I am so sorry this happened to you. I always knew stupidity would end up taking over and all the intellectuals would be put in zoos for drooling idiots to poke with sticks… this is only the beginning.
    Reminds me of a Yahoo Answers question, “I wonder if homo sapiens were really homo… that would explain why they died out.”
    I would suggest running far and fast from Happy Valley. Come here to California; we value intelligence here.
    Also, there’s incredible incentives for instructors in the LAUSD and IUSD. We not only need capable and dedicated teachers… we value them.

  2. Pingback: Blogger Fired for Writing About Homophones - K International

  3. Reuben says:

    So the ceo of an english language school had to look up the word “homophone” to know what it was? Sounds like he should be the one that’s fired.

  4. Pingback: Anti-Gay Hysteria: ESL Teacher Fired for Blogging on "Homophones" - Christian Forums

  5. Pingback: On Tolerance, Critical Thinking, and Etymology | Mom Beats World

  6. Please check your “other” folder on facebook for a radio interview request. thank you.

  7. Pingback: Hold the “-phone” – a teacher really got fired for this? | aiaConnect

  8. karenbluebonnet says:

    I was so appalled I posted this on Facebook along with links to this blog and the Gawker article:
    “Eye rarely resort two name calling sew I apologize hear, but I due feel compelled two riposte this article too expose Clarke Woodger, owner of Nomen Global Language Center, four the pourly educated homophone he seams two bee. Woodger fired Torkildson believing Torkildson’s blog about homophones wood halve people associating there Center with homosap . . . homoge . . . homony . . . gay people. Now that Torkildson has bin fired four boldly addressing the homophone issue, Eye am farely certain Woodger’s educational sight will bee moor closely associated with idiocy. What a waist . . .”

  9. Chai says:

    Does Nomen Global Language Center forbid its students and/or staff from singing Christmas carols such as “Goodnight and Christmas Prayer” or “Deck the Halls” ?

  10. Beth says:

    I just read the blog from that link–thanks for providing it! I can’t believe that even after reading the blog, Mr. Woodger could not figure out what a homophone is. The whole blog was a list of some! (Not to mention that it is common sense, with homo=1 and phone = sound.) I definitely would not want my children enrolled in that school!

  11. VM Gautier says:

    Left link above in reply to another.

  12. Kris says:

    Hi Tim, this story is a classic example of ignorance at its worst. Would you be willing to proofread and edit a collection of short stories written by my husband? This would be a freelance gig if you are interested which can probably support you until you find your next job. BTW if it matters…..we are a recently married gay couple. :)

  13. 5redherrings says:

    I am so not surprised anymore…

  14. How very kind of you, and what a well-written exposition of the differences between employers in the USA and Great Britain! This is the kind of social discourse and dialogue I was hoping to start with my original blog post here — sadly, very few people are up to the challenge. Thanks for reminding me again that there are decent and smart and kind human beings everywhere!

  15. I really hope it’s fake.

  16. Intrinsic says:

    Sadly, not fake.

  17. Intrinsic says:

    Homophobes are not the majority.
    While heterosexual people are not attracted to the same sex, most do not necessarily feel disgust at the idea of other people doing it, nor are they afraid of it.
    Most straight people can simply say, “No thank you, I’m straight,” and be done with it. Some are even flattered to be noticed.

    And while you took the literal meanings of the Latin roots of “homophobe,” it – like many English words – has more to the definition than what its roots suggest.
    A homophobe is someone who fears, hates, reviles, or otherwise feels intense prejudice against homosexuals (who, by the way, are also “sane and normal,” or at least sane & naturally-occurring). It’s one thing to be turned off by the idea of having sex with someone of the same sex, and another entirely to view or treat homosexuals as inferior or “bad” for simply being who they are. The former is simply a matter of orientation & personal preference; the latter is prejudice (which is not “sane and normal,” no matter how one tries to justify it).

  18. koldobika2020 says:

    He’s trolling. Trying to get angry responses from people. You should have ignored him.

  19. You’re wrong; I don’t want anger. I want money:

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