Maybe today’s column should be retitled You Shouldn’t Ask.
I was reminded about a very old custom that has become part of almost every greeting. That is to ask after someone’s health or activities when Hi, Hello or Good to see you will be more than adequate.
‘Hi, How are you doing?’ or, ‘Hi, How are you?’
What do you do if you get an answer?
‘Well, I’m just getting over shingles and my television is broken and blah blah blah.’
Did you really want to know? Do you care? Well, you asked!
It sort of goes hand in hand with the heartfelt wish that someone live long and prosper, as Spock would have it. However “Have a good day” has become a very tired over-done meaningless phrase having more in common with ‘I couldn’t care less – go away’ than a wish from servers clerks and others to have a wonderful experience going forward. Most amusing/annoying is when you receive wish regardless of circumstances.
Last night at eleven o’clock, I was instructed to “have a nice day” so I decided not to ignore it. I asked how that would be possible as the day was long gone.
Struck dumb the poor creature didn’t know how to respond to that. I guess there was no programmed response in the buffer should one ever be required.
It would be nice if people wanted, or were instructed, to offer something beyond thanks. They could feel free to be creative. How about ‘thanks for your business’ ‘see you next time’ or get mischievous and warn people about the alligator in the parking lot (unless you’re in Florida). Anything different, or nothing. But if you can’t put your heart into it, please leave it at ‘thanks’ or ‘thank you.’
The original object was to make the customer feel appreciated and valued, and even a ‘have a good day’ meaningfully delivered can still work. But my advice is don’t risk it. If you can deliver even just a ‘thank you’ with strong eye contact, you’ve scored. But ‘have a nice day’ mumbled while the eyes are focused on the ceiling at the back of the store won’t do it.
Now, how about me, myself and I? Many people can’t figure out which one to use and when. Most have little difficulty using the words properly when they stand alone, but when they team up with others, it gets a little more confused. Linked with ‘you’ the most likely result will be ‘you and I.’ But why not ‘you and me?’ The quick solution is to go back to the stand-alone word and that would be the right one to hook up with ‘you.’ If you would normally say ‘I’ then that’s the one. I will go / Shelly and I will go/we will go. With ‘me’ the same principle applies. Bring the ice cream to me / bring the ice cream to Shelly and me/ to us. And for myself, let’s get technical. It’s what’s called a reflexive pronoun and can only be used when you are both subject and object of a sentence. First, how it’s used incorrectly:
‘For more information call Sally, George or myself.’ To be correct, replace ‘myself’ with ‘me.’ Now used correctly: ‘I (the subject) can’t see myself (the object) doing anything like that.’
Finally, contemplate how the word ‘pretty’ became a modifier. It can result in some interesting phrases, foremost among them “pretty ugly” not only a strange arrangement but an oxymoron. Also: “pretty horrendous” “pretty stupid” using the word in place of ‘very’ and ‘really.’
And that’s pretty well it for this week. Have a nice day (now that’s better!)
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