Have a Good One

When I was young, clerks were taught to tell customers, “Thank you.” As a representative of the business, it was the clerk’s responsibility to let people know their patronage was appreciated. Somewhere along the way, it became the customer’s responsibility to thank the clerk for helping, though why this should be, I don’t know except that perhaps the clerks were young and had no manners, while those who shopped were a bit older and still under the influence of the etiquette they were taught.

Now, though the culture at large seems to talk more about being grateful — practicing an attitude of gratitude, as they say — people still don’t say thank you. In fact, customers have even stopped saying “thank you.”

For a while, the standard replacement for “thank you” was “have a nice day.” Then, apparently, even those trite words became too obsequious for that particular generation of clerks, and the best a customer could hope for was a pleasant rather than surly, “There you go.”

Now the standard exit comment seems to be, “Have a good one,” which irks me with its ambiguity. Have a good one what? Being too kind for my own good, I keep my mouth shut, offer a smile and say, “Same to you.” (That’s why I used to like self-checkout — I was at least guaranteed a pleasant checkout experience. Now, though, I am too lazy and too rebellious to use the self-checkout, so even when they are available, I don’t use those lanes.)

I’d worry about becoming a curmudgeonly old woman, ranting about the bad manners of the youth today, but the truth is, I am already a curmudgeon. Another truth is there is no reason to rail against the unmannerly young because few people of any age have manners.

I just googled “why don’t people have manners anymore,” and got over 200,000,000 results. Apparently, I’m not the only one noticing the lack of simple manners.

If I had to pick one of those numerous responses to explain this lack, I’d have to say it has more to do with a growing sense of entitlement rather than the decline of the family or the rise of electronic communication devices. People seem to think they don’t have to apologize to those they consider inferior to them, nor do they have to thank them, and in an entitled society, everyone thinks they are superior. (It’s one of the reasons many Americans supposedly will never penalize the rich, even the robber-baron rich, because they assume they too will be rich one day.)

Truthfully, I don’t care what the reasons for unmannerliness are. And as long as people treat me well, I don’t really care what words they use to acknowledge me. Mentioning the evolution from “thank you” to “have a good one” is more of a curiosity than a curmudgeonly outcry.

But, whatever.

Have a good one.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

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Mélange

Yesterday I mentioned I hadn’t lived anyplace where fireworks were legal, and it shocked me to hear and see the neighbors’ almost incessant firework displays, especially the huge falls of sparks over my house and garage. I found out today that I still haven’t lived anyplace where fireworks are legal — all fireworks that leave the ground are illegal everywhere in Colorado. Surprisingly, no one issued citations for the firework setter-offers — it’s not as if they were hiding their crime.

But then, the one thing that I don’t like about living here is that the code enforcer only works during the day on weekdays, so the rest of the time, too many people feel free to break the laws they find inconvenient, such as leash laws and firework laws and trespassing laws.

I lucked out on the fourth because there was rain that night, so any sparks that landed would have immediately fizzled out, but I doubt the thought of rain being a safety measure played any part in the wrongdoers’ decisions to shoot off the fireworks because they would have had to stock up long before any rain was in sight. And until the rain, this whole area was so dry and desiccated that any spark could have set the whole town on fire.

People are still setting off fireworks — it’s been a nightly thing since the end of June — but eventually, they will have to run out of the blasted things, so I won’t have to worry until next year. I have no idea what I will do. Even if I spent the night in the yard, looking for fires, chances are any fire that was sparked would be slow to start and I’d miss it until the damage was done.

It makes me wonder — don’t other people think of these things? I’d blame my concern on my growing curmudgeonliness, but the truth is, fireworks are dangerous in ultra-dry climates. That’s why there are laws against them.

Oh, well, I’d be better off turning my thoughts to more important issues, such as what sort of climbing vine to plant along a portion of my fence. Climbing roses don’t do well here because of the frequent hot/cold temperature changes. (They do well as low bushes, not as climbing plants.)  I’d love some wisteria, but it needs to be pruned every year, and in more feeble times, I won’t want to deal with that. Though I might not have to — apparently, wisteria grows slowly in Colorado. And anyway, so far I haven’t done well with purchased plants, so perhaps I should try to transplant a trumpet vine or two. One of the vines I would transplant is riddled with ants, so I wonder if the ants would come with it, or if they would stay in the original area. I guess I’ll find out.

Meantime, the work on the garage is progressing — today they insulated and walled one side of the inside of the building. Yay!

As for Dune — I spent several hours online yesterday looking at books that were published around the same time trying to find one that I might have confused with Dune, but I didn’t have any luck. The lists did remind me of some I liked, such as Malevil by Robert Merle, On the Beach by Nevil Shute, and Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank. I thought of rereading these books, but decided, after the Dune fiasco, that I better not.

I read a mystery yesterday that takes place in a not-so-distant future, and the book itself mystified me. The future as the author had envisioned played absolutely no part in the story. The story could have been set in any age, any place, and it wouldn’t have mattered. It seems to me that if one is making a big deal about the time frame in a story, that time frame needs to play a part. Like a gun showing up in the first chapter of a book and then never mentioned again.

I’ve been picking a tarot card every day, asking the cards what I need to know that day, and so far, all the cards are telling me is that I need to learn what the day’s card means. It doesn’t seem to have any correlation to my life. I am keeping a sort of diary about my excursions into the tarot because I’m interested in knowing if they will show a pattern for the month. I did say I wanted to learn the tarot by osmosis rather than an in-depth study, and that seems to be the case. I am learning some cards — though mostly what I’m learning is that while some decks are based on a certain tradition, others eschew that tradition and make up their own meanings. I wonder if I were to create my own deck of cards, using whatever symbols I want, and giving those symbols any meaning I want, if it would work like a tarot deck.

I think that brings me up to date. If not, I’ll be here again tomorrow with another mélange of ideas and events.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

Becoming a Curmudgeon

Are writers as a group less willing to read rules and follow directions than the rest of the populace, or is it that I am mostly connected to writers online who don’t know how to follow directions?

I have a book blog, Dragon My Feet, where I post excerpts from books to help authors with a bit of promotion. I thought it was a good idea, but I’m getting exhausted having to explain over and over again that I cannot post what I do not have. For example, in the instructions for Dragon My Feet, I say:

“Please include a short synopsis (blurb) of the story, short bio, a link where I can find a photo of you and one of your book cover, and whatever links you would like me to add. Post the excerpt along with the rest of the information/links as a comment/reply on this page.”

Despite those clear instuctions. I get bios with no information about the book and no excerpt. I get blurbs without any other information, not even the title. I get excerpts without a title letting me know what book it’s an excerpt from. I get dozens of comments/replies by people who say they can’t figure out how to get their excerpt to me since I didn’t leave an email address.

When I’ve mentioned this lack of communication, I’ve had writers tell me flat out, “I don’t follow directions.” Is this part of the creative process? Make up your own rules and expect the world to follow along? Quite frankly, I don’t care if people follow my instructions or not, but as I said, I cannot post what I do not have.

I’m not the only one with such problems. My publishing company sponsored a short story contest with the winner to be published in an upcoming anthology. Some writers mistook the contest for a call for submissions, though the rules clearly stated it was a contest. Others were upset that their submissions were “published” on the site, though the rules clearly stated the submissions would be posted. (According to the vagaries of the internet, once a story has been posted it’s considered published. It doesn’t make sense to me that just because something was posted for a month and then deleted, it’s considered published for all time, but then, I don’t get to make those particular rules.) There was nothing underhanded about the contest — everything was stated up front — and if people didn’t like the way the contest was run, they didn’t have to submit a story.

Maybe I have it all wrong. Maybe writers can follow directions. Maybe they just can’t read.

(Do I sound curmudgeonly? There is a good reason for that — I’m rapidly turning into a curmudgeon. I no longer have the desire to embrace the absurdities of humanity, and I see no reason why I should, especially if it causes more work for me.)