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Forced thanks seems phony

POSTED: September 22, 2013 1:00 a.m.

Somewhere in corporate America, someone decided we needed to show some degree of pleasantness, whether it is genuine or not.

The tired and worn-out phrase of “Have a nice day” is almost painful. It is so often delivered as a part of some kind of mantra workers repeat to every customer.

The newest wrinkle is the semi-sincere “Have a blessed day.” I hear that more and more.

First of all, it is delivered as a command. You can add the element of moderating the imperative by adding something as simple as “I hope.”

Second, when you add to the equation that most people have little command of the English language, the attempt at kindness just rubs me the wrong way.

“Have a bless day,” a woman at a drive-through window said to me.

She lost her “ed” somewhere along the way. That’s “ed” as in “blessed” or “education.”

Trying to be nice, I said, “Likewise to you.”

She looked puzzled — or in her case, “puzzle” — and said “What ’at mean?”

She also lost her “th” somewhere as well.

“It means that I wish the same for you,” I said.

She smiled and I took my combo meal and left.

What if the person to whom you’re speaking is an atheist, is there any hope of them having a blessed day? What if they belong to a religious outfit that believes everything is predetermined. Wishing them a blessed day doesn’t serve much purpose; it either happens or it doesn’t.

I can remember when Kmart stores had a decal on their cash registers that read, “Remember, TYFSAK.” This was a not-so-subtle reminder for the cashier to say “Thank you for shopping at Kmart.”

Today, if you use a credit card, the computer cash register pops up a reminder, “Remember to thank customer by name.”

That’s got so much sincerity, it just stinks.

A friend of mine who works for the state government in a nearby state has to answer his phone by saying, “It’s a great day in (state name).”

That’s a nice idea, but what if you’re the person who answers the phone at the vital records office where they hand out death certificates? If you’re calling to get a document that confirms the death of a loved one, is that a great day? Probably not.

The new tedious phrase of the faux kindness world is “my pleasure.” I went through a drive-thru window at a popular fast-food place. After placing my order, I was told, “It will be my pleasure to serve you at the window.”

When I got my food, I said “thank you.” The person responded with “My pleasure.”

Webster defines pleasure as an activity that is done for enjoyment. The pleasure, in this case, is mine because I’m going to eat this stuff.

The person would be better to say, “My job.” It is their job, or duty, to serve you at the window. No one gets that much pleasure out of handing bags of food through a window.

The proliferation of faux thanks is everywhere. From weary airline employees who attempt to thank you for flying when the plane is four hours late, to a proliferation of changing message boards that flash up a mechanical thanks.

If you can’t say it from the heart, saying it from memory is time wasted.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on gainesvilletimes.com/harris.


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