I was telling a story at roll call and used the word "literally" about a dozen times. The good Sargent then made note of that and told me my story was stupid (we are outside of work friends). Later on when I was speaking with him about another matter, he used the word "literally" and I pointed that out. Throughout the day we both noticed that everyone uses the word "literally" often.
A couple of days later, we were playing the hot or not, name game. This game revolves around picking a name, going to Google images and betting if the first page features hot people or not. Then it became a game to find the ugliest name. I said, "Bertha! That is literally my grandmothers name!" The Sargent then replied, "what instead of figuratively being named Bertha?" (For the record I won the ugly name game).
We realized that no one was using the word for its meaning, rather it was a cue in the sentence that the punch line was coming up in the story. Further, no one was just saying the word, but rather pausing, emphasizing it, pausing and then getting on to the good part of the sentence. So it became a game on the shift to not use the word for any reason or it costs you a quarter. The money will be used for pizza and beer at the end of the year. It is much harder than you think to stop using this one word.
A couple of weeks later the Sargent and I were on a domestic trouble call. It is a common family tragedy. It is a older single mom, with an eighteen year old daughter in the home and a twenty year old heroin addicted son that had been kicked out of the home a few months ago. On this day, the mother was out of the home at her workplace and her daughter was taking a shower. While in the shower, the daughter heard a window open and the sounds of someone in the house. She slowly, and quietly, gets out of the shower and tries to get to her cell phone. At this time, she can see the living room couch and there is the son passed out on it. Daughter calls mother, mother calls us, and we all meet at the house. We wake the son up. He starts to rise of the couch with his hands curled in fists, decides against going for it and we walking him out of the home with a bag full of clothing and a trespass warning.
I am now providing the mother and daughter with a bunch of legal and civil advice on how to handle their current situation when I say, "We literally pulled him off your front lawn two days ago and shipped him to the local hospital". The Sargent then points and me and yells, "Ahhhhhhhhh, you said literally!!!" I, chagrined, look at him and say, "Ah dammit!" Now we both realize that the mother and daughter are now just staring at us, clearly wondering if we had lost our minds. So I explained the literally game and how I didn't have to say "literally two days ago" because I never would have meant, figuratively, two days ago. So the mother then says, "but you used the word correctly" and I tell her that it is not the point of the game, the point is that we can not use the word at all. I said that one of the problems is that there is not a good synonym for that word. The daughter then starts rattling off a number of words but we all agree that none how the feeling of the L-word.
So all of us walking back to each of our cars, us to our squads, them to their mini-van, with the son walking northbound in the distance, finished the call debating the L-word game.