For the third time in a week, I experienced a newly popular faux-polite farewell, finally decided on the appropriate rejoinder, and executed it.
The offending statement is “You have a wonderful day!” and its many variations, uttered by someone who has behaved jerkishly, has been told so, and who doesn’t have the guts or integrity to apologize or acknowledge that he or she might have been wrong. It’s a sarcastic comment that means the exact opposite of what its literal words convey, deliberately contrived so that the speaker can feign innocence if he or she gets a harsh response, and can smirk inwardly for pinching off an adversarial encounter with a coded “Up yours!”
I don’t know when this trick became a fad, but it has. For some reason, everyone who has used it on me has been female. It is a passive-aggressive device. I first became aware of the “You have a wonderful day!” ploy when the staff at a doctor’s office informed me as I went in for scheduled treatment that I would have to pay many thousands of dollars on the spot though they never notified me of this in advance. After pointing out that I found their conduct unacceptable and unprofessional, that their explanation was dishonest, and that I would no longer be using their employer’s services, the snottiest of the desk staff fake-smiled and chirped, “You have a wonderful day!”
Just now I was completing an emergency walk for Spuds, as a rainstorm loomed. I usually don’t try our walks before 1 pm, because the elementary school is next door, and virtually any route risks running into kids of all ages, many of whom are prone to run up to, at or around my friendly but large and often over-exuberant dog. I thought I was literally home free when a path that leads between the church across the parking lot by our home and the adjacent elementary school playground next to the church looked and sounded clear. Then a small boy, masked for some damn reason, strolled right at us, so I Ied Spuds over to the grass on the right so the child could pass. Then two adults and a group of about ten kids, running all over the place, followed the boy, so I continued on the grass to the playground’s basketball court, and started to give the kids a wide berth.
This wasn’t enough for the woman in the group, who confronted me with, “Sir, in the future, would you please use the perimeter?,” as she vaguely pointed to the other side of her group. I answered, “At this moment, I am giving your kids as wide and safe passage as I can. Usually I take this route when school is out or when no children are in evidence, and I’ve been doing that for 40 years. If you are telling me that I should walk an extra 200 yards (around the school and the church), yes, I often do that, but it’s starting to rain, so I’m trying to get home the most direct way possible.”
“Are you trying to go that way?” the officious intermeddler asked as she pointed off to the right, not that it was any of her business.
No, I said, sharply, as I pointed to the left ahead of me. “I’m trying to go that way, to my home, which you can see directly past the picnic area and the cul-de-sac there. So I will now circle around your group, as planned, then head to the left, where there appear to be no impediments whatsoever, and then over the remaining 30 yards to my property. That was what I had planned to do, and that is what I’m going to do.”
Whereupon she turned away and issued her “You have a wonderful day!”
“Bite me” I replied.
This is ideal because,
- It expresses contempt for that which deserves contempt.
- Unlike her comment, it is direct, honest, non-ironic, and unequivocal.
- It makes it clear that I am not fooled by the deceitful words that pretend to express good will when they do not.
- “Fuck you” would be excessive, and
- If this response catches on, perhaps the sarcastic kiss-off of “You have a wonderful day!” will join “Peace!” and “Right on!” in the ash-heap of history.