Q. Is there a proper reply to the increasingly used parting words of grocery clerkds, etc., who are otherwise pleasant, well-meaning and, I'm sure well-mannered: the dreadful "There you go," hereafter called TYG.
I am very distressed at this late development of the English language. How does one cope with it? How does one explain it to one's nephew from Norway? How does one effectively combat this outgrowth of store conversation? Is there a proper reply or has one really to "go" obediently, as suggested by said clerk?
I know that not all TYGs are offensive. There is the cheerful TYG which follows "How are you this beautiful morning?" But there are other TYGs: the one that sounds like "Run along now and don't come back," or "You should feel so lucky that I'm helping you" or "I helped you because I feel sorry for you."
I'm sure these people must be having an awful day, so how can I help them feel better?
A. Do not, repeat not, tell them to "Have a nice day." They'll all get furious and write Miss Manners letters about the deterioration of the English language, the insincerity of the speakers and the need for a crushing way of answering such an affront.
Poor Miss Manners is still exhausted from the protests of people who disagree with her decree that "May I help you?" is an acceptably polite way for a clerk to register the desire to be of service. So what if it does not bear logical analysis because it is obvious that customers want to be helped?
Conventional phrases exist precisely to save people the trouble of thinking out something original for each situation, and to spread a kind of easy and generalized good will.
Unfortunately, there is no such phrase to convey the idea of "There; I hope that takes care of your request satisfactorily." Actually, you, the customer, should be saying a conventional "Thank you" (yes, yes, we know you paid for the service, but it won't kill you to say something pleasant), in which case the clerk need only say, "You're welcome" or (you won't like this one, because you'll suspect it of being insincere) "It is a pleasure to serve you."
"There you go" is an attempt to fill that blank. You can probably head it off by saying "Thank you," or you can make that your response.
During a visit with my brothers and sister at my parents' house, the subject came up of what would happen if we died prematurely.
Two couples said that their children would all go to the same other couple. My husband and I are basically like this couple in life style and we all get along pretty well. We have no children and show our love to all our nieces and nephews.
I was offended that the other couples would make this announcement in front of me with no recognition of how I might feel. Could I have let them know that my feelings were hurt by their not wanting us to care for the children and by their openly announcing it in front of me? Was I better off doing what I did -- saying nothing except to my husband?
A. Did it occur to you to say to each couple, "We also want you to know that we love the children dearly and would be only too ready to do everything we could for them if anything should happen to you"?
No? Why not?
Bequeathing the care of one's children is a bit more than a popularity contest, which is the way you are treating it. The emotional and financial responsibility of rearing orphans is an incredible commitment, and any parent would want to know that it would be undertaken gladly, with no reservations whatsoever.
Miss Manners does not know (or ask) why you are childless and does not know whether your siblings know either. It may be that they skipped you because they believe that you do not want children or, even if you do, that you are not aware of the commitment having children entails.
But she can promise you that, whether or not they might consider making you guardians -- and, for that matter, whether or not they die before you -- it would be a tremendous joy to them to hear that you are seriously devoted to the welfare of their children and can be depended upon to help them if they need it.
That, Miss Manners believes, is what families are for -- not for scrutinizing one another for possible slights.