“Have a nice day!”

The old me would have immediately hung up the phone and fired off an instructive, detailed complaint telling that company their customer service sucks.  However, the current me, the old me receding ever deeper into the past, repented for my total disregard for kindness toward that woman on the phone, just doing her job.  I decided to let it go.

Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t completely transformed.  I mulled over and over in my thoughts, the precise words I could write, persuading that company into changing their policy to always close every phone call with, Is there anything else we can do for you today?

It’s meant to sound helpful and welcoming, but it couldn’t be more impersonal and nonspecific.  After all I called them in the first place regarding a precise issue I had with them – specifically, their product, service, etc.

I mean, is there anything more infuriating, after you’ve given your detailed spiel, problem, and plea for help to fix a problem than for the person on the other end of the phone-line to say some version of, I’m sorry, we can’t help you with that, is there anything else we can do for you today?

“I didn’t call you for something else, I called you for this.  Why would I want you to help me with something else when you failed miserably to help me with what might have been in your power to help me with?” – This is what you want to say.

Scream – helpless, now-silent scream.

Yes, sir or ma’am, you can help me with something else.  Will you pick up some milk for me?  Oh, and the tires need rotating on the car.  The light bulb, one of those fancy ones with the smaller twisty insert just blew in the bathroom chandelier.  The recycling needs taken to the bin, and my desk drawer – the one with the keyboard, needs totally rebuilt – it gets stuck every time I try to shut it.  Since I need to take an hour and $36 to fix the problem you were unable to help me with, maybe you could do these other things on my list for today.

This reminds me a bit of a quote attributed to Mark Wahlberg that went around on FB about Hollywood celebrities – actors and musicians, who live in a bubble but feel free to counsel and instruct us ordinary humans how to think and how to live our best lives.  He went on to say that just because we buy their music or go to their movies gives them no insight into what we have to do to put food on the table or make a living.

I believe this same kind of celebrity-thinking goes into the customer service policy I described above.  The presumption is that I will continue to feel good about their company when they don’t help me solve a problem with their product or service, if they offer something in return.  They hope to appear like they’re doing everything they can to serve us.

In reality, however, what they’re doing is marketing, not a service nor a kindness.  They’re attempting to sell us more of their product and service, all the while, trying to make us feel good about buying it.

Then there’s the bastardization of the once pleasant but long-ago trite farewell, “have a nice day.”  Have you noticed how similar to: “how ya doing?” “how are you?” and “what’s up?” – the “have a nice day” greeting, often lacks sincerity?

Most people don’t really expect a response to these, once sincere, salutations or questions.  They ask, how ya doing (no longer a question requiring an answer) and keep walking and conducting their business.  They don’t want to hear a litany of ailments, a story about your stack of bills, a line by line account of your mistreatment by a customer service agent or anything other than, “fine, how are you,” as you both move on with your day.

But, with “have a nice day,” it’s gotten twisted to the point that the whole phrase is an antonym, used to insult someone after assaulting them with a social-verbal slap in the face.  For example, “Here’s your speeding citation.  You have yourself a nice day.  Hasn’t that ship already sailed?

Or, this $3,000 dental procedure isn’t covered by your insurance, have a nice day.”  Or, “I’m sorry your $5,000 appliance completely failed on day 366 from your purchase date and we cannot cover it under the warranty, but for $79.99 we can set you up with a protection plan.  Have a nice day.”

“No thank you,” you reply – holding back tears and your flailing arms – perched to punch her/him in the face; and he/she closes the encounter with – “Is there anything else we can do for you today?”  To which, you meekly whisper in defeat, “No, thank you” (thanking them for nothing, but trying with all that’s in you to be kind).  And they say, “Have a nice day.”

Now here’s a greeting one can be proud of uttering.  “Happy Birthday!”  Who doesn’t feel at least a little bit happier for the notice paid by acquaintances and friends who took a few seconds from their busy lives to wish them happiness for being born?  Or, “Happy Anniversary!”  A greeting to celebrate those who’ve stayed together through thick and thin.  Then, there’s “Congratulations!” for marking some awesome accomplishment.

I’m guessing we all handle birthdays, anniversaries and accomplishments a little differently.  Some of us look forward to a special day marking our birth, our marriage, or our accomplishments, full-out with fireworks, champagne, and gift wrap.  Others of us would rather not bear the spotlight and call it another day, preferring a snooze-fest over an extravaganza.

A few years ago, I can be quoted as saying, “There is no better example of human strength and resilience than a birthday.”  I like wishing my Facebook friends a happy birthday or a happy anniversary when FB reminds me it’s their day.  I mean, how hard is it when you’re reminded that it’s someone’s anniversary or birthday, to type a few words of good will which are probably half filled out for you on auto-fill anyway?

So, to those of you who are poised to accept another birthday, anniversary, or accomplishment, and we don’t meet up on Facebook, sincerely and truly, from me to you, please “have a nice day.”

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