Program Knowledge

When I was a kid, we used to visit my grandmother’s cottage in Deer Lake, PA. One day my cousins were visiting and one of them asked my father about the inscription on his lighter. He asked “what does zero defects mean”. My father replied that it referred to a high level of quality control in manufacturing. Years later I coined the phrase “zero defects program” to describe a rigorous physical fitness regime paired with clean food and no alcohol.

You will notice that we added the word “program” to the quality control description. My use of the word program has entertained and amused friends and acquaintances for years and their subsequent adoption of it has always pleased me. I must admit that the usage was borrowed from an executive of a wholesale distributor in Minneapolis with whom I worked in my mid-20’s. We were preparing for a company meeting and planned to address the lack of product knowledge among a group of newly-hired sales and customer service employees. The executive decided that we should focus on “program knowledge” to remedy that deficiency and to equip them with the knowledge they needed to drive revenues.

Since then, I’ve used the word program in a number of ways. For example, when considering refreshments we speak of a “Bordeaux program”, or an “Amaro program”. Adding program to a noun underscores its prominence and adds a humorous touch. There’s a high-end men’s store that we refer to as a “Haymakers program”. When exercising, we describe a “gravel biking program” or a “hiking program”. Why simply enjoy cheese and salami when you could be indulging in a “charcuterie program”? Program is truly a marvelous modifier and possessing “program knowledge” gives any enthusiast a certain edge.

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