OK. Let's get this straight. Before arriving in Qatar, the only time I'd heard the term 'needful' was in reference to Stephen King's "Needful Things".
And even then, it was a weird word. Because it came from Stephen King. And let's just face it ... Stephen King is decidedly weird. But because he is who he is, and because I devoured his books shamelessly as a teen, I accepted 'needful' as an adjective.
But in reality, it is a word that insinuates desperation. As in: "She is very needful." Or "That is one 'needful' dude". I'd just never heard this word in any positive, 'normal', 'day-to-day' conversation.
Flash forward to Qatar. The term 'needful' is used in the workplace at least 26 times a day.
My first experience at work with 'needful' was after sending a complaint to the maintenance department. I had sent an e-mail explaining that we had a problem with a tree that had grown to the point where it was blocking our facility's extraction system.
They wrote me back the following: "Thank you for expressing your concerns. Kindly do the needful and we will be happy to follow up."
Being extremely naive, I thought long and hard about this. I didn't actually know what needful meant. I thought they might have some strange insight into my character flaws. Perhaps the Maintenance Department had recently hired on some psychotherapist to more fully understand the tormented demands of 'needful' individuals such as myself. So I turned to my ever faithful, ever erroneous friend 'Wikipedia'. (Let it be known that I turn to Wikipedia daily for unreliable information.)
Here is what I found:
Do the needful" is an expression (considered archaic in some regions) which means "do that which is necessary", with the respectful implication that the other party is trusted to understand what needs doing without being given detailed instruction.
The expression is currently used mainly in South Asian English particularly (Indian English). The expression was current in both British and American English well into the early 20th century. In later years it was sometimes used as a parody example of contemporary South Asian English.
So there are a few fundamental flaws with this expression, particularly if you are applying it to me.
First of all, you are assuming that I will be trusted. Ummmhummm.
Secondly, you are assuming that I will take on whatever responsibility I have asked you to assume in the first place. Ummmmhummm.
Ok, just for the record, even if I only have the nerve to say it in my blog, which NOBODY actually reads, but I don't care because I actually get to vent: "NEEDFUL is NOT an actual WORD!" "Got it?" "NOT a WORD." It is a weird alien concept concocted by Brits living in India who were thinking "Let me invent a word to totally screw these guys up while actually sounding like I know what I am talking about."
But seriously folks, NEEDFUL is NOT a WORD!!!!!! And take it from me, if you ever want to advance in your career, do NOT use "Do the needful" when responding to your boss or to any colleague who has half a brain.
I have studied languages. Don't get me wrong ... often I have to look a word up. But trust me when I say that if I don't get it, I don't use it. Or at the very least, I look it up... in depth. Believe me, when your google search turns up only "Indianisms" or "Wikidictionary" as your source, chances are the term had not gone viral or been popularly accepted in the Oxford English Dictionary.
I Hate ('hate' is the 'h' word in our house ... technically, as a mom, I'm not supposed to use it ... if I do, I'm supposed to put a coin in the jar ... but let's assume that only applies to verbal utterings and not the written word ...) ... where was I?
Oh, yes. I Hate "Doing the Needful". Because It Means Doing NOTHING!!!!!!!!! Or doing something that I may assume is required without actually understanding what is required. Or doing something that is not required when it actually wasn't, but I assumed it was so I did it anyways. Most often, it ends up being doing something which no one else was willing to understand or be accountable for. And I will end up being crapped on for it. Really, no matter what, I avoid doing the "needful" because it is most certainly going to end up being the wrong thing, something which was none of my business to begin with. But mostly, when I end up doing the needful it is because neither the author of this request or me truly understand what needs to be done.
Case in point: I tell you the tree is blocking our ventilation system. You tell me to "do the needful". So what exactly am I supposed to do? Pull my chainsaw out of my handbag and chop it down? Spray it with the handy weed killer I carry around with me 'just in case' I encounter tangle weed on my commute to work? Zap it with my Zombie spray? Call the gardner and tell him to stop watering the damned thing and just let if f&()ing die? Get staff to pee on it as a show of ultimate disrespect? Host an annual office picnic under its shaded branches? Dance Gangham style outside our building, holding up a poster warning visitors of poor air quality in our building?
Don't go there, don't ask me to 'do the needful'. I'll most definitely go postal if you push it.
Most days I simply reply the following: "Thank you for your insightful direction; it made all the difference. I have done the needful on my end. Kindly reciprocate so that we can consider the matter closed."
More crap, but you're dealin' with the best here. I will not be left dangling and needful in the ME ...