When Have A Great Day Doesn’t Really Mean Have A Great Day.

My mother-in-law takes issue with people here in the south. I especially notice her discomfort in the grocery store.

“Why was he talking to you? ” she says, speaking of the bagger, “Was he one of your former students?”

“Ewwww. They’re so syrupy sweet here. You know they don’t really mean it, don’t you?”

(Disclaimer: These are my mother-in-law’s stereotypes. Not mine.)

My Mother-in-law’s Theory: People in the north may be rude and keep to themselves but you can trust what comes out of their mouths. People in the south are phony and fake and have ulterior motives when they speak to you.

Of course, I disagree. I love the friendliness here. I find it real and reassuring that there are people trying to spread cheer in the world. I love the smiling hello greetings and the “thank-yews” when I leave the store. I take the friendliness at face value. Maybe because I’m right. Maybe because I’m just happier that way. But quite honestly? I don’t care. I’ll take my theory over hers any day of the week.

I’ve lived in both places, north and south. In the north for 21 years and the south for 27 years. And I’ve found phoniness in both parts of the country.

Our neighborhood has a Facebook page. And on this page, fellow residents (we have over 500) post their comments about upcoming activities, a heads-up about school fundraisers or about neighborhood amenities. My friend was fed up with some complaints about issues with the pool. So, she provided a disgruntled resident with a very fact based response, hoping to calm the resident down with what could be a highly charged issue.

It didn’t help. The resident responded with a snotty, juvenile comment and then concluded it with “Have a Great Day!”

Okay. We all know she didn’t really mean for anyone to have a great day. She was putting on her best syrupy, sweet, phony, sing-songy voice to say something she didn’t mean. She wanted to say, at best, “screw you” and at worst, “f-off.”

Throwing a “Have a nice/good/great day” at the end of a response when it’s clear you don’t mean it? So unnecessary. You aren’t fooling anyone. When you insist you really meant “Have a great day!”? No one believes you. We can see the snot through your sing-songy voice no matter if we’re from the north or the south.

Say what you mean and mean what you say.


How about say nothing at all?


Filed under How We Roll, Observations, People

7 responses to “When Have A Great Day Doesn’t Really Mean Have A Great Day.

  1. Yeah…I think I’ve told you before, my personal pet peeve is when someone says, “Bless her heart…” and then proceeds to say the meanest, cattiest stuff about that person. Ugh!

  2. I have lived in the North (born and raised) and the South (and both coasts – that’s another post). Southerners are outwardly friendlier than Northerners. I was suspect at first, but there is some truth about Southern hospitality. Most of the neighbors waved, asked about your family, and made at least a minimal effort to be socially polite and courteous. I am currently in a Northern neighborhood, where only a few neighbors even acknowledge our presence. Even the big city was nicer than my current neighborhood. I think I prefer a little superficial politeness to inhospitable people.

    As you point out, there are phony people everywhere.

  3. I agree. And point out that being friendly and courteous happens as we make it a habit. The more we make ourselves be so even when we don’t feel like it, the more we’ll feel like it. And then we’ll find ourselves realizing that we ARE smiling more. IMO. The problem is that when someone IS phony, it’s a bit harder to take when it’s done underneath a superficial sweetness. THAT annoys me. But generally, I think people want to be nice–it has just been developed more in the southern culture, and that’s a good thing!

  4. I grew up in CT & moved to FL right after college (I know…not a good example of the South). I had a horrible time there!! If I said hello to someone on the sidewalk, they would stare blankly back; my neighbors never once came to say hello, let alone wave, once we moved in; I even had “damn yank” scribbled in the dust on my car before I had the plates changed. I moved back to CT three years later & got some minor flack for FL plates!!! I’m not sure why there’s such a north vs south thing going on, but it’s sad & unnecessary. Even my mom, who grew up in AL, plays the game. She “hates” the south & said it was fake too…but I think it may have been an outcast feeling for her as well (her family moved there fromm the mid west, which can be quite stoic & “cold”).

  5. I found your blog very interesting. I was born and raised in the Bronx and on Long Island, and also lived in Rhode Island for a few years. When my husband and I decided to leave Long Island after 30 years of living up north, we moved to Florida. We have been here for about 15 years now. For the first 12 years or so, the syrupy sweetness of the the ” south” drove me crazy. Annoyance and distain were my basic attitudes for years. Recently, we went back up north, as we do once a year or so. Up until this last time, each time we went back, I told myself how refreshing I found the “in your face” attitude that I remembered so well. Sure they were rude, but hey, they knew what was what and were on the ball. Well, this time, after a week of people shoving past , eyes downturned, and total silence during any type of interaction, we came back home and one of the first things I did was go to Publix to restock. I was so delighted by the smiles and “How are you doings?”, that I amazed myself. The people here actually look you in the eye, and at least make the attempt to offer you a nice day. It was a pleasant suprise to find that after all these years, I was finally glad I was home.

  6. I live in the north. My parents lived in Alabama for 25 years. I have to say most of what the Southerners said was true. And they truly are that nice. It’s not fake.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s