God always has the time

Tales from the front pew

I hope nobody takes this the wrong way, but … Have a nice day!

Oh, I know that seems like an innocent sentiment, but you might recall a time when people became infuriated by what was widely considered a thoughtless and meaningless phrase.

Yep, “have a nice day” raised rancor and incurred wrath for a couple of reasons.

One, people resented what they perceived as being told what to do. I guess the thought process was something along the lines of, “How dare you tell me to have a nice day? What if I don’t want to? Maybe I’m hoping for a really lousy one.”

I think the primary reason for the “have a nice day” debacle, however, was the fact that it just didn’t seem very sincere. All-in-all, this was pretty understandable. I mean when everyone from the grocery store check-out person to the receptionist at the Rent-a-Car desk says it to each individual who walks through the door, it just seems a bit hollow.

Today, while people tend to be a little more sensitive to the “have a nice day” spiel, they still manage to say a lot of things that border on the generic.

I imagine this happens a great deal in the workplace, which isn’t too surprising.

It’s perfectly understandable that an environment with multitudes of people naturally lends itself to automatic responses. Let’s face it, most folks you pass hurrying by in the hallway aren’t going to ask for your life story or instigate a rousing discussion concerning the “nature versus nurture” debate regarding the psychosocial aspects of human development — unless, of course, the hallway is inhabited by clinical psychologists.

Still, there’s a great deal to be said for paying attention to people around us.

For example, the other day I stepped off the elevator after a particularly long ride that stopped on nearly every floor. Turning to a woman who’d been riding along with me, I smiled and said, “Wow! That took forever!” At which point she looked up from studying her cell phone and said, “Thanks. You, too.”

Um … OK.

A little later, I ran into an acquaintance who casually inquired about my grandchildren.

“Well, actually I haven’t seen them in over a year,” I told her, appreciating the chance to unburden myself a little. “They both live over a thousand miles away. I miss them terribly.”

“Why, that’s just wonderful. We find our grandkids to be such a huge blessing, too,” she said, patting me on the arm before heading out the door.

Since, to the best of my knowledge, she isn’t a sadist, I could only assume that my friend (?) hadn’t been paying the slightest bit of attention to what I was saying. Maybe she was preoccupied with a situation in her own life. Perhaps she had someplace to be and was running late. It wasn’t a big deal, really, but somehow it still hurt.

It’s human nature to want to be heard. And while other people might not always have time for us in today’s busy world, isn’t it amazing that the God who created the universe does?