Sunday, August 06, 2006

"Have an Above-Average Day"

(not Charlton related)

Visitors to the USA will know that one is regularly told to 'Have a Nice Day'. Although it is an easy trait to satirise, I'd tended up until now to see at as a harmless linguistic tic, similar say to 'cheerio'.

However, I have begun to notice an extremely worryingly trend, which might be termed 'day inflation'. In New York, one is now far more likely to be urged to 'Have a Great Day' than merely a nice one. And then on Friday I received an email from a client hoping I would 'Have an Outstanding Day', an extremely disturbing observation which might be the first sign of 'day hyper-inflation.'

My dictionary defines 'nice' as 'pleasant or pleasing or agreeable in nature or appearance.' As someone who is happy to be termed a realist, and thus fairly easily pleased, being implored to 'Have a Nice Day' is a fairly achievable goal. I'm pretty happy with my life right now and most days are indeed nice, so I am able to genuinely say to the nice girl in Starbucks, "thanks, I will" without fear of agreeing to the impossible.

However I have very few 'great' days. Indeed if I'm honest, I can probably count on two hands the number of genuinely 'great' days I've had. One or two have revolved around Charlton (the 1998 play-off final for instance), my wedding day was another, as was my graduation day I guess. I think 'great' is a misused term anyhow; when people phone the host of a dinner party to thank them for their hospitality for example, when they say they had a 'great time', in truth I think they actually just had a 'nice time' (unless the host happened to be Gordon Ramsay.)

I'm inclined to reply to my client's email meanwhile, and ask how exactly he expects me to have an 'outstanding day'; I genuinely don't think I've ever had one. I wonder if he signs off other emails with "Win the Lottery," "Marry Miss World" or "Hope Charlton win the Premiership." Perhaps he meant 'outstanding' in terms of a debt or the like? "Thank you," I might reply, "...I successfully increased my overdraft limit by $5,000, and my library book is now over a week overdue."

Hence in order to reinject a dose of realism back into American society, I intend to begin asking people I interact with to 'Have an Above-Average Day' since they have proven they cannot deal with mere 'nice' without looking for something more. In short, they need to be brought back down a peg or two.

The word 'average' tends to have an unfair negative connotation - for example, numerous surveys have shown a large majority of Internet daters describe themselves as 'above average-looking', yet all other things being equal, only half will indeed be so. Similarly, I believe days are typically distributed like the graph above ie. grouped tightly around the average (a leptokurtic distribution for those statisticians amongst you). Urging someone to have an 'above average' day is thus not only a kind gesture, it is an obtainable target too. Moreover, because the definition of average will be assessed on an individualised basis, it is more all-encompassing than 'nice' and is applicable even for a manic depressive for example.

It's a glorious sunny day in New York today, and without any of the oppressive heat that ruined the early part of the week. I'm about to log-off and go for a walk in Central Park, and then perhaps have a quiet drink at home with the Sunday papers. Work is quiet lately, so I'm in a relaxed state of mind. I hope your day is as above average as mine. Cheers.


At 4:07 AM, Blogger Ken J said...

Nice one, NYA.

At 4:27 AM, Blogger Chicago Addick said...

Yeh, like it NYA and the match categories and tipping stories. Tipping is a very confusing part of life in the US. I hate feeling pressurised into tipping, and I never know the etiquette. I don't mind paying for good service, in most cases it is hands down better than in the UK but a bit like your "have a totally awesome day" issue, the tipping % expectation can also be very extravagent and unnecessary.

At 11:27 AM, Blogger UrbanTulip said...

Run into your blog through MSN ( congrats by the way). And I just clicked on it! And I have just discovered now that it wasn't by accident! As I am coming to NY for the first time in my life, in September, I will keep visiting your blog to get some of the NY-vibe!!
p.s I agree about the "nice day". We are grateful if we have an average day without any unpleasant things bothering us (isn't it bit sad though?)


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