Not Long to Go

Everyone is familiar with the American phrase “Have a Nice Day”.

It is generally used by retail assistants as you are leaving their store, and for some reason drives some people mad. They seem to think that it is false, that they don’t really mean it, some even say they’re only doing it to make you buy stuff.

I’ve never thought was true. I’ve always found US sales staff to be absolutely charming, and have no problem with them saying “Have a Nice Day” (you can almost hear the capitals). Since they say it as you’re leaving the store it’s hard to see how they’re only doing it to make you buy anything. Besides, it’s only a longer version of “Good Day”, or even “Goodbye”. It may by now have become a cliché, uttered automatically without any thought as to its meaning, but is it any different to putting “Kind Regards” at the end of an email?

When I’m leaving my local the barman invariably says “good night, safe home”. It would never occur to me to think “bet he doesn’t mean that, he probably wouldn’t care if I got knocked down on the way home, he’s only saying it so I’ll come back another time (in which case he needn’t bother, I’d come back even if he told me to Get Stuffed as I was leaving)”.

The reason I bring this up today is that I’ve just returned to the office from Tie Rack (don’t ask), and when I finished my transaction I said “thank you, goodbye,” and the lovely Eastern European girl replied “have a nice life”.

I hadn’t ever heard this before, but it  is also pleasant. Sometimes Irish speakers will say “fáilte romhat” (welcome) and sometimes they will say “céad míle fáilte”, which means “ten thousand welcomes”. Have a Nice Life works on the same principle, sometimes wishing someone has one Nice Day is just not enough.

The only problem is that if you’ve had as many heart problems, mental problems, blackout problems as I’ve had, you start to get a bit paranoid. Perhaps she looked at me and felt “Have a Nice Day” and “Have a Nice Life” in my case meant pretty much the same thing. Does she know something I don’t?

That’s it. Post over.

Yours faithfully (huh?),



5 thoughts on “Not Long to Go

  1. A Frend

    English people in particular have a problem with sort of manners, which they see as ‘hypocritical’. I once heard the boyfriend of a friend of mine spitting with rage because one of his colleagues asked him how his weekend was. “She doesn’t care how my weekend was? What does she want? I don’t care about her weekend! Why is she pretending?”
    Isn’t that weird?

  2. laughykate

    When someone says ‘Have a nice life’, I always think, like you, that they have some sort of foresight.And that what they’d actually like to say, ‘Have a nice life, cause it ain’t gonna be a long one’.

  3. vdog

    I’m torn on this one – it’s a nice thing to wish for someone, but it seems kind of… final. Like wishing you a good day isn’t enough, because this is the last time you’ll meet. You know?

    Never mind me though, I’m just a cynical bastard!

  4. Jo

    Oh no! HAve a nice life is meant to be sarcastic! She got it wrong. It’s what you say, for examble, as you bid fare well to the ex you hope you’ll never see again!


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