Frankly I wasn't at all surprised when I read Stefan Beck's post on Armavirumque about the fate of Jeeves. Saddened, yes...but not surprised. After all, I saw it coming. A few weeks before, in a "brain storming" meeting, a senior account person, intending to write down the name of said search engine, put big fat marker to big fat pad of meeting paper and came up with "Ask Geeves". A few days after that I told a traffic person that they were taking up space in my office that I required for other purposes. Instead of recognizing the Woosterism and giving it the chuckle it deserved, I think they may have been offended.
That "brain storming" incident was a moment of severe internal agony. To let the misspelling go would be a slap at that supreme, number-nine-hatted wonder man. But if I pointed it out I ran the risk of being seen as a toffy-nosed snoot who read books no one had ever heard of and took every opportunity to rub it in. In the end, I let it go. After all, to say something would be to help my career go the way of Jeeves'.
And that, of course, is the rub. As Stefan pointed out, no one took the time to use the search engine to find out why the search engine was called "Ask Jeeves". It is yet another example of the profound lack of intellectual curiosity I've noticed in people my age and younger. Any book, painting, film, president or war that wasn't written, painted, made, elected or fought after the day they were born is of no consequence. And as I said, to point out this lack of curiosity is to risk being seen as a killjoy, a snob, a bore or a know-it-all. From that to being left out of lunch invitations--the source of the all-important office gossip--is, as Bertie would say, but a step.
The added danger with Wodehouse is that his style is so infectious. Read a couple of the Bertie & Jeeves chronicles or, as I have done, make book-on-tape versions of these gems your constant companion while washing dishes, painting garages or drinking and you end up, as I did with the traffic person, giving offense. The Wodehousisms creep in and they have a tendency to rouse the fiend that sleeps in anyone who lacks the finer feelings. And as Bertie once said, when you're up against someone without the finer feelings, you've had it.