22 September 2020
How do you respond when people say to you on the telephone or the shop, ‘Have a nice day!’ Despite my American connections, I think that’s where the greeting originates. ‘You’re welcome!’ and ‘Have a nice day!’ are all part of the training programme, programming people to be polite!
It is one stage better than people ignoring you or showing no concern for your welfare or enquiring about your health or wishing you all the best for the day that lies ahead. But it lacks spontaneity and originality and therefore sincerity. Are people really on my side wishing that I will have a nice day?
‘Fine day!’ say I. ‘We’ll pay for it yet!’ say they. Is that any better. Stock phrases but a bit more down to earth – and realistic. Having a nice day sounds at best optimistic and at worst bland. And the greeting comes with a caveat.
There are surely some people who are the beneficiaries of this greeting who have just lost their mother after suffering a terminal cancer or whose daughter has gone missing or whose husband has just been made redundant. The greeting trivialises their lives, our life, all life.
When I contacted the Royal Bank of Scotland about a new initiative they had taken, I got a very garrulous Welshman. The first frustration was what the bank had done, the second was that their assistant had not learned the trick of listening. But the third was the worst of all.
At the end of a very frustrating conversation in which I did manage to retain a calm sooch, the Welshman finished off not by saying, ‘Have a nice day!’ which given the above would have been bad enough. Instead, he said, ‘Try and a have a nice day!’ Patronising or what? St. Paul says, ‘Give thanks in all circumstances!’ So I’ll try, maybe!