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.


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