Are You Okay? and Other Distressing Expressions

by Catherine Breese

Catherine Mirror 2Once someone during your day has said the words, “You look tired,” well, there’s not very much that can make you feel great after that, especially if you’re not particularly tired or you’re feeling just fine. But today an even worse sentiment was uttered to me. A colleague gripped the top of my forearm and inquired, “Are you okay?” Uh, yah. I’m fine. I went into the ladies room to look into the mirror–it wasn’t my very best effort, true, but it wasn’t that bad. I mean you can’t be a ten every day.

In general, I recommend compliments over inquiries for most occasions. You look great! Nice tie! Cute shoes! These expressions at first may seem banal, even disingenuous; nonetheless, compliments generally serve the purpose of making others happy and spreading positivity in the world.

May I see your ID, please?

When I was younger, yet past the age of 21, I thought it was cool to be carded. I no longer feel an ounce of flattery, however. These days, the only time anyone wants to see my ID is to fulfill some misguided attempt to keep America safe from terrorists, to track my purchasing of cold tablets, or to keep less fortunate citizens out of the voting booth. While we’re on the subject of identification, let me say that the last time a store clerk asked me to see ID in order for me to use a credit card was… never. Apparently, we are not too worried about that kind of theft. Meanwhile, Target stores clerks insist on scanning the barcode on the back of my driver’s license whenever I purchase a six-dollar bottle of Sauvignon blanc. Sorry, Target, but you’re not going to get my middling booze money anymore. I can buy crappy wine almost anywhere.

Please call to confirm your appointment.

Listen, I already made the appointment and now you want me to wade through your labyrinthine automated answering system to “confirm” an appointment I successfully made previously. Some time ago, I tried to just-say-no to this bureaucratic nuisance. I refused to play my dentist’s silly little phone call game. When I showed up, he had summarily given away my appointment to someone else and his receptionist, somehow offended at my appearance in their office, sent me away with little more than a dirty look. How dare I just show up on the agreed upon day and time and expect to be seen?

This endless appointment confirming has become standard practice at oodles of places I go and I have been forced to succumb. I do have a doctor who does it by text message. This is entirely tolerable and should be the industry standard.

May I have your phone number?

No, for goodness sakes, no. I don’t want you to call me and I don’t want you to track my purchases and I have a name, which would be a great mode of identification, in case you felt the need to label me. But really, I just don’t like talking on the phone, and we don’t know each other, so, no!

Welcome to ____________. Would you like to try our all beef double bacon jumbo whole-wheat artery blocker?

Nope. And I am terribly sorry that your employer forces you to articulate such utterances.

The doctor will be right with you.

No he/she won’t, and you know it! You’re going to leave me sitting on this table in this cold room without so much as an old magazine to occupy myself. I will gaze off for a while, and spend time guessing what is in the locked cupboards. Then, I will entertain myself by imagining the horrible disease that I may have that has brought me here. I will go over and over my hypothetical conversation that we will have when the doctor finally does come in here. Then I will devise a treatment plan, and finally I will start mentally shopping for rehab centers and/or wigs. Isn’t there a way to wait to see the doctor in the comfort of, say, my own car in the parking lot? You could text me when the doctor is actually ready.

Have a blessed day!

Okay, I know someone is going to take offense at this one, but I just cannot endure this expression. It makes my toes curl. Beneath the word “blessed” there is an irritating little connotative message that goes something like…”I am a fanatical and narcissistic Christian whose feelings of spiritual superiority towards others compel me to suggest with my every syllable that I am one chosen by God to ascend to heaven at the Rapture.” Hey, it’s not that I don’t want blessings. I just don’t think the convenience store coffee lady has the power and authority to grant them.

Ahhh, got that off my chest. I feel better now. Thanks for reading. By the way, you look fabulous!