Maybe I just get irritated easily, but I find myself gritting my teeth and forcing a polite smile almost every time I venture out into the public domain. Far too many bland, annoying, contemporary phrases have become acceptable norms for social interaction. For me, most of them are cringe-worthy.
Let’s start the list with one of the worst offenders: Free Gift. These two words together make me want to strangle the marketing pros who came up with this idiotic combination of words. Isn’t a gift, by its very definition, free? How many of you give or receive gifts? Do you expect to be paid or billed for said gifts? Do the Wall Street advertising guys really assume we can’t grasp the concept of gift? Maybe they figure the double whammy of free and gift will work the way low, low, low price is supposed to trick us into believing we’re getting a triple whammy of a deal. Marketing lingo. Pure feel-good manipulation.
Here's number two on my list: Guest. If, when I enter a store, I’m to be considered a guest, I want a cup of tea and decent bit of cake. Guest? Why are they taking my money if I’m an honored guest? To quote the phrase we hear too much in politics these days, please, just please, tell it like it is. I am a customer, or maybe a client, but under no reasonable definition of a commercial exchange am I a guest. Marketing spins. They diminish us.
And while we’re out and about, let’s touch on that most annoying of directives, Have a nice day. For all the smiling clerk knows, the flowers I purchased are for the friend who just lost her mother. Or, I might be buying that bottle of wine because I received a life-changing diagnosis from my doctor. Or maybe I’m just hanging on to life by my toenails, and being told that I must have a nice day is way more pressure than I can handle. Please, stop. A simple thank you for your business is more than sufficient.
And folks, I really dislike the word, folks. I immediately envision ladies in aprons canning beans in an overheated cabin with a dirt floor. Unless you are referring to your parents, folks is a term designed to make us all one, to pull us in and embrace us with bland commonality, to simplify our complexity. Nope. Not for me. People, citizens, constituents, peeps, friends, members of the community, fellow Americans, fellow parishioners—there are many excellent word choices besides “folks.”
And gentlemen, please, for the love of God stop saying “We’re pregnant.” You cannot, absolutely cannot steal the limelight all the time, especially this time. You are NOT carrying that baby. When you start puking every morning, getting stretch marks, and have to push a bowling ball out of your privates, then maybe you get to say “we.” Until then, let your wife enjoy the glow and the glory, and step back out of the spot light for once!
By the way, just for the record, when you say whatever in response to a statement, I assume you know, that I know, that you are being rudely dismissive. Why not just own it and say “fuck off.” You might just pull it off if you say it with a smile.
And with that, I’ll step off the soap box, put it away, and blame everything I’ve said on the heat. Walking away to crank up the A/C. Have a nice day!
Lynn Nicholas - AUTHOR oF Dancing Between The Beats
My blog is a window into my world. My rambling posts tend to be slice-of-life narratives, inspired by