I once heard someone begin a speech with something like this: "We all know the three biggest lies. Number three is, of course, 'I'll respect you in the morning.' Number two is, 'The check is in the mail.' And the number one biggest lie is those three little words: 'I'll be brief.'"
Worse, however, is a phrase I've begun hearing a lot and seeing even more as the subject of emails. "Quick question," they write. Are they being hopeful? Evasive? Or is it simply like knocking on a door, a generic sound that indicates they want to talk to you? What I've found is that, yes, the question is indeed always quick. Providing the answer, however, is typically epic in scope. I imagine a White House email:
From: Da Prez [email@example.com]In the rare cases where the "quick question" has an answer at all, the answer is undoubtedly so complex and nuanced that it would make for a good PhD dissertation subject. Or two.
To: Bernanke [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Subject: Quick question
Ben, quick question for ya: How should we fix this thing with the economy?
But neither "I'll make this quick" nor "quick question," nor, for that matter, any other phrase uttered in English, can generate the kind of visceral terror resulting from these four words: Dude, you're on speaker!