Hi folks.  Happy New Year!  This is the last time I shall say “Happy New Year” in 2023.  It’s the middle of January.  It’s enough already!   There should be a National “Say By” date when it is no longer appropriate to utter those three words.  Much like a “Use by” or a “Sell by” date on a product.  I think I will write to Congress.  Perhaps after they’ve finished impeaching everyone and decoding Hunter Biden’s laptop, they will consider addressing the above.

Have I started the New Year on a cranky note? Not really.  I thought if I could get some petty annoyances off my chest straight away, I will be able to face the rest of the year with a smile on my face.  Maybe.

I don’t know about you, but there are certain expressions one hears on an almost-daily basis that I find particularly irksome.  Things people say that robotically pop out of their mouths.  As if they really cared!  In fact, I just might be at the end of my tether.  I mean, I try to be polite but it’s getting more difficult to stop myself from blurting “Don’t tell me what kind of day to have!!!!”  So, I might as well begin with the catalyst(s) for that reaction: “Have a great day,” and its derivatives “Have a good day,” and “Have a good evening.”

If a relative stranger tells me to “Have a great day,” how am I supposed to respond to that? Do I simply say “You, too.”  But that’s ridiculous.  I know perfectly well that the guy who parked my car is not going to have a great day.  It’s Florida; he’s sweating.  He’s running around in the heat parking and fetching cars for impatient people and cursing under his breath when they give him a stingy tip.

Instructing one to have a “great day” places an onus on the recipient.  Now one must ponder about what extraordinary thing to do to make this day grander than the days before when there was no mandate.  It’s less of a burden to have a “good day,” I suppose.

Similarly, I’m leaving a restaurant at 10:00 PM and the hostess at the door smiles sweetly and says “Have a good evening.”  Do I look twenty years old and about to go dancing? I’ve had my “good evening” in your restaurant and it’s already past my bedtime.  Do I bother to tell her it’s no longer evening, and a simple “Good Night” would be more appropriate? I really want to, but behind my smile I am gritting my teeth.

I find restaurants the source of another teeth-gritting experience.  I’m sure this has happened to you.  (If not, tell me where you dine because I want to go there.)  A wait person comes to your table to take your order.  You tell her (or him, but it’s mostly a “her”) what you want, and she responds with an enthusiastic “Great!!!”  You can almost see the exclamation points coming out of her mouth.  Was the menu a quiz and I made the correction selection? Is she complimenting me on achieving a good score?  And can you tell me why ordering a Caesar Salad and a plate of pasta is a wonderous thing?  I find the response of “Great” in this context highly grating.

Then, there’s “Hi, how are you?” frequently uttered when you walk into a shop.  Why not cut off the utterance at “Hi?”  Do you really care how I am?  And do I really care to tell you? “Well, if you must know, my husband and I had a terrible argument last night, and I was so upset I didn’t sleep a wink.  Then I spilled tomato juice all over the dog and had to bathe him three times before his coat wasn’t red anymore.  Then I slipped on the kitchen floor because it was wet from bathing the dog three time, and later I found out that my best friend has an incurable illness, and….”  But the truth is not what’s expected.  So, you smile, and lie, and simply say “fine.”

And how do you feel about political cliches? If you’re like me, you tend to ignore them as just a lot of wind.  “Watch what they do, not what they say” is the advice I try to follow.  However, there is one expression that I simply cannot disregard.  Whether a politician is stomping about gun control, abortion, taxes, or impeaching his rival, he (because it’s almost always a “he”) will  rationalize his position by emphatically concluding: “because that’s what the American people want!”   Hey, how do you know what the American people want?  Did you waste my taxpayer dollars on a sweeping survey of every American?  Funny, because I don’t remember being asked.  Arg!

In closing I’d like to award honorable mention to “Follow your dream,” and its cousin, “Do what you love,” both of which, to my mind, have about as much substance as a fortune cookie.

So, let’s raise a glass to a formula-free 2023.  And until we meet again, promise me you’ll at least try to have a great day!

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