Bridgetender [sic]

Recently someone quoted my WordPress blog tag line like so: “The random musings of a bridgetender [sic] with entirely too much time on her hands.” For the uninitiated, “sic” is basically latin for “Okay, I’m writing it this way because it’s a direct quote, dude, but it’s WRONG.” I wanted to scream when I saw that sic. I’ve been fighting this battle for over a decade.

It’s true, bridgetender cannot be found in any dictionary. But neither can bridge tender. I’ve brought that up to the people at Oxford English Dictionary and gotten no response. Because most people don’t think about us. We don’t exist, except when we cause a delay in your commute. Then we’re reviled.

It’s time that this situation be rectified, so I’m going to do it right here and now. It’s bridgetender. One word. No hyphen. Just like bartender. For that matter, just like drawbridge. Historically, words make it into the Oxford English Dictionary, and then on to other general usage dictionaries, because they’ve been used. Words don’t get used because they’re in the dictionary. Well this is me using the word bridgetender, just as I have for the past 13 years.

And now let’s put it in the proper emotional context, shall we? In the Western US, people who do my line of work call themselves bridge operators, and scoff at the term bridgetender as if that would make them some sort of second class citizen. I find this to be absurd. On any given shift, I may only actually “operate” the bridge for 15 minutes. What would that make me the rest of the time?

Oh, and the building we sit in? That’s the tenderhouse. Again, no space, no hyphen. These silly Westerners call it the tower. But then how do you explain the fact that some “towers” are at ground level? Whatever.

I’m a bridgetender, and I work in a tenderhouse. I’m proud of it, and it’s high time we got some grammatical recognition for the work that we do. Can you hear me, OED? We’ve been around since at least the Middle Ages, for Pete’s sake! Recognize us!

A drawbridge over a moat to a castle.

[Image credit:]


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