Much worse than conceit – phrases like “have a nice day”

Monday 30 May 1664

Pepys – Lay long, the bells ringing, it being holiday, and then up and all the day long in my study at home studying of shipmaking with great content till the evening, and then came Mr. Howe and sat and then supped with me. He is a little conceited, but will make a discreet man. He being gone, a little to my office, and then home to bed, being in much pain from yesterday’s being abroad, which is a consideration of mighty sorrow to me.

Give me conceit any day rather than false modesty so beloved of the Brits. Most people don’t have enough of the quality of self love or should I say self regard and go around beating themselves up and apologising to table legs for bumping into them, apologising for people they might have bumped into and sometimes apologising for their very existence. Don’t try that in Mexico or Germany. Ronnie Corbett did a TV series called “Sorry”  which just about sums it up.

so I pop in to my local surgery and there sits a very young lady receptionist who looks like a trainee, alas unsupervised, doing her best to deal with a queue of customers.  Here is the conversation as well as I can remember it including embellishments of what I would like to have said:

Brian: on the booking system for prescriptions it tells you to go to the wrong address.

Receptionist: so you want it delivered somewhere else.

Brian: no, I’ve already picked it up. I had it in my hand (shows her).

Receptionist: what was your name?

Brian: to my knowledge I’ve always had the same name throughout my life and I have not recently changed it.  Brian Snellgrove.

Receptionist: I cannot find it in the system. How am I spelling that?

Brian: I have no idea how you are spelling it. I cannot see the keyboard. You may be typing in ‘Godzilla’ for all I know.

receptionist: can you spell it for me

Brian:  I’m actually quite good at spelling especially when it comes to my own name. It is   S N E L L G R O V E.

Receptionist: what was your date of birth then

Brian: (tells her). <thinks> Listen my dear, dates of birth normally remain the same unless something catastrophic has happened. Any idea what might have changed my date of birth? Why do you use the past participle?

Receptionist: let me just double check something

Brian: No I will not let you so what are you going to do.
Why not say “I’m going to check something” and by the way since you haven’t checked in the first place how can you double check something you haven’t checked at all
. It’s a bit tautologous and redundant wouldn’t you say?

Receptionist: so you want me to change the pickup place then?

Brian: no, I came in to waste my time and your own, making up a problem which does not exist in order to cause the NHS to grind further into the ground. Of course I want it changed.  Actual –  Yes if you wouldn’t mind (see how my Britishness shines through with a  stiff upper lip and biting the tongue.

Receptionist: have a good day

Brian: I was actually doing quite well until I came in to see you. Having a good day is something I decide to do, it’s a policy or a principle or an existential belief system or whatever you care to name it. Can you give me one single example of someone who was having a bad day and who transformed it into a good day by being admonished or instructed? People decide their own destiny and that includes you or me. There is no cure for self-pity or escaping from the results of your own actions. Geddit yeah?

While we are on the subject, people who say will you do this for me as if it were some personal favour apart from unnecessary procedure of a professional transaction.

Also, I have a ‘quick’ question really gets me grinding my teeth. Is this a question asked quickly or is it a brief question or is is a simple question.

Finally, horror of horrors, will you just do this or even worse, this is just £40 Sir. In other words, this is overpriced cheap junk that I’m trying to convince you is a bargain for the price. If someone uses the term just to me they have lost me completely and I don’t bother to continue.

So as you see that I’m quite a curmudgeon or can be when something annoys me. It amazes me that I can be quite nice to people most of the time but that is only possible because I spend the majority of time on my own. I’m quite happy to spend 70% of time on my own because I’m busy busy busy all the time. I can switch my head on to being a 24 hour entertainment centre just by doing it. that is the characteristic of the Enneagram Five typology – the thinker. I’m actually Five with Four, thinker with artist, which is why this type of activity, diary writing, suits me very well. You can never come to the end of thinking because each thought will generate the energy for a new thought and so on ad infinitum

With regard to the above case it was quite clear that she was struggling to find her way around the system so I didn’t want to give her a harder time than she was already having. I ended with a smile, or was it a grimace?



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