Friday, April 30, 2004 · posted at 1:52 AM
...and another one. I didn't always have a disdain for pleasantries. I think it grew my freshman year after I my friend had an unbelievable suitemate who would complain about people blowdrying their hair and talking at 11 o'clock... in the morning! She'd leave us my friend and her suitemates little gripe notes and then sign them with a nicety. Those little notes with "Have a nice day!" and a smiley face guaranteed anything but.

Thursday, April 29, 2004 · posted at 8:44 PM
A good one is hard to find. Karen recently revealed to me her distaste for the phrase "Have a good one!" "One what?!" she's dying to shout.

"Have a good one!" is a phrase often heard while leaving the office, exiting the grocer checkstand, or running away from annoying roommates. Although its origins are unclear, that's not going to stop me from speculating and making gross assumptions.

Why do people say “Have a good one?” Have a good morning…a good afternoon... good evening...night. These are phrases we are accustomed to, each with its own distinction denoting time of day. I think the “one” evolved from a lack of knowing the time of day. Imagine a haggard coworker sitting under fluorescent lighting all day in a little cube and no window who may have no concept of what time it is simply because there has been no readjustment from the sun in the body's circadian rhythm. Else imagine the disgruntled Ralph’s employee bagging groceries like eggs, breads, deli meats, pot roasts, corn who has seen so many other people’s meals, yet may have no recollection of what meal time it actually is. And lastly, the annoying roommate who has probably been sitting and drooling in front of the tv all day and would have no knowledge of what time it is because thanks to the Soap channel, Days of Our Lives and Passions is on at all times of day and not only during the midday slot (this is a pure hypothetical because I love my roommate and would more likely be the annoying one). In any case, “Have a good one” is a good catch-all phrase, because due to the nondescript nature of the phrase, you will always be correct.

So why do people say “Have a good one!” and other small talk-y phrases in general? I'm not a huge fan of chit chat (a "Ban Small Talk" button is in the works). I also find humor in expressions like “Have a safe trip!” and “Feel better” because it’s not like someone will actually be able to be avert disaster on the road or become healthy because of my words. So I always try to adapt these sayings to “I hope you have a safe trip” and “I hope you feel better soon” but as anyone who’s reading these words, pointing at the screen and screaming, “Hypocrite! Hypocrite!” will tell you, I don’t always succeed and do sometimes fall back to the less proper version. But that’s another subject...

I think it’s just automatic to say "Have a good" anything, to fill empty air with words. Ever sat in a quiet office or car and the silence was so deafening that you felt obligued to tell your officemate or friend intimate details about your digestive systems distaste for gluten products or the strange rash that appeared out of no where? These are more extreme examples of things said to break silence, but saying simply “bye” can seem inadequate at times. Think of how many times you say, "Bye" and then feel pressure to add on the "I had a nice time" or "I'll call you." And while you may not feel such pressure from the person servicing your groceries, no one likes chirping crickets. These small talk phrases often have a transitionary purpose and allow even the socially inept to gracefully(somewhat) end a conversation.

So. Have a good one!


Friday, April 23, 2004 · posted at 7:43 PM
"I have nothing to say of my working life, only that a tie is a noose, and inverted though it is, it will hang a man nonetheless if he's not careful."

"To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation."

        - Yann Martel, Life of Pi

Tuesday, April 20, 2004 · posted at 11:53 PM
Ban altruism. On my way out of the office today, I happened to pass the pregnant woman who has the office next to me waddling up to the elevator, arms full of stuff. Automatically, I asked her if she needed a hand (my parents raised me well), but not really expecting or wanting to help her out (...but not that well). To my shock and dismay she replied, “Why actually yes.”

See, I’m the type of person who doesn’t really ask for help, especially from strangers (I usually only ask favors from people who I know love me or who have little tolerance for my inevitable whining), so I expect that’s how other people feel as well. It’s the whole “everybody boards the banshee train of thought” idea. Usually I feel like if a person wants help (and I mean this in the “can you hold the elevator” kind of way not the “I’m acting out as a cry for help” way), they will ask for it, and by not asking for it, they forgo any expectation for a helping hand. A sad, little world I live in... I blame society. I’m extremely passive, but I know that I won’t be spoon-fed all my life, and if I don’t get what I want because I am not a “take initiative, be active” person... hey, I brought it upon myself.

Long story short, on your average day, I probably would not stop to make small talk with a co-worker, much less go a step further and volunteer myself to a menial task that one does not find arduous enough to cross the “ask for help” threshold... but hey, she’s pregnant and she did give everyone on the floor jam for Christmas (I’m not totally without heart… just mostly).

My co-worker, let’s call her Phoebe, is dragging a rolling suitcase... which I automatically reach for, as it’s the bulkier item. I outstretch my hand... and Phoebe puts clothes and hangers into it. And then… she hands me shoes... NewBalance... grimy, sweaty, athletic shoes. And no, not by the laces. She puts the shoes in my hands, “Do you mind?” Do I mind? Do I mind?! I don’t even like touching my own shoes... and you want me to hold your shoes… by the sweat-soaked part? Lady, you have got to be kidding me – I don’t even know your last name... I don’t think you even know my first one! But what do you do? I can’t really just “hot potato” them. In life you have one second to react to situation... after that little buffer, it’s over. Five second comeback? Not gonna fly. Laugh a little late? Extremely perceptible. Get a person’s nasty-ass gym shoes shoved in your hands? If you don’t come up with a non-offensive excuse (Carpal tunnel? Fungus allergies? I don’t know!) in a second... it’s over and there’s no turning back. So there I am, holding onto the damn shoes, fingers burning more than if I stuck them in holy water, in an elevator making small talk about the woes of pregnancy when Phoebe mentions that she’s on her way to a birthing class - I’m holding birthing clothes!

Words cannot express the absolute horror from the overall situation. There is nothing so sweet as the sound of an elevator dinging your arrival. And whoever invented Clorox wipes (which I keep in my car) needs to be thoroughly commended.

Lesson to be learned? Keep your mouth shut. Protective asocial bubble at all times. And never, ever volunteer yourself for anything. Selfish Bastards: 1; Good Samaritans: -10

Saturday, April 10, 2004 · posted at 1:02 PM
On animals, men, and evolution.

“and nowhere in the animal kingdom does the "little guy" ever win out. females don't pick out the little squirty male lion just because he's "nice and has personality." they want a kick ass mane and an effective, yet freshly minty, roar.”
      -anachronic


Actually, according to the handicap hypothesis, the "little guy" does win out sometimes. This hypothesis maintains that females are attracted to glaring abnormalities because there is a belief that to have survived for so long with such a handicap (such as bright plumage or extraordinarily long and nonfunctional tail feathers) that organism must have superior genes that allow it to survive, even with that increased risk (think running faster or being smarter in order to outlast the predator) . I think there are even birds that pick mates with parasites because the idea that they have superior anti-parasite DNA that will enable their progeny to live longer and be more successful.

There also exists the "sexy son hypothesis" which says that females choose traits they know are attractive to other females, thus trying to make their son "sexy" to others as well.

What does this all mean? There exists hope. Ladies, fellas, look at your most hated attribute: beer gut, thinning hair, too much hair, height, weight, beak of a nose, flat chest, oversized rack, anything and everything… and tell yourself that you are the product of years of evolution, you are primed by the “handicap hypothesis,” and that your survival today is due to compensation of all your other extraordinary attributes (even be it coping skills to deal with beer gut, thinning hair, too much hair, height, weight, beak of a nose, flat chest, oversized rack, anything and everything…).

And guys? Look at your mom, look at your dad... your mom thought that your dad’s genes would contribute to your reproductive success. Hey, Mother’s Day is coming up... and she did it all for you, son.

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