Cliché Moratorium?

By: Patrick Maguire

Book Chapter: Personal Pet Peeves

Posted: 12/23/2010

Just for the fun of it.

As I’ve previously noted, in addition to facilitating a discussion, writing this blog is therapeutic. After breakfast this morning, perhaps my therapy should include a brief respite to the proverbial deserted island away from all humans…

I should have seen it coming. The holidays always have a way of bringing out the painful, washed and worn clichés. While waiting for my breakfast, I was enjoying my tea and newspaper at the counter of Charlie’s Sandwich Shoppe, a Boston institution. A well-dressed gentleman in his sixties stood up and prepared to leave with his wife and 3 children in tow.

In a voice loud enough to let everyone in the joint know that he was a least a semi-regular, the guy said goodbye to the staff, then bellowed the requisite, “I’ll see you next year.”, that the uninitiated still use at the end of December, knowing they’ll see you in a week. His tone indicated that he actually thought his comment was original, clever and funny. It was none of those.

The staff didn’t have much of a choice but to respond with the perfunctory laughs and good wishes that servers are often expected to emit. (Imagine how many times they hear the same comments over and over?)

I could see the looks and feel the silent, collective, groan permeating the air from the other patrons. I caught eyes with a few kindred spirits who shook their heads as if to ask, Did he REALLY just say that? The guy added insult to injury with, “I hope Santa Clause is good to you.” on his way out the door.

Why don’t people who say those things ever get the clues (or social cues) that they’re not funny? I wonder what his wife and kids think.

I get it that silence without small talk, filler or inane banter might be awkward, but wouldn’t it be great if we could ban or escape all of the tacky, cutesy, repetitive chatter that we all endure during the holidays???

What drives you nuts this time of year?

PS- I’m not as grouchy as I sound.

PSS- Thanks to all of you who voted, the blog won the A-List contest for best local blog in Boston. Thank you very much.

21 Responses to “Cliché Moratorium?”

  1. MC Slim JB says:

    It makes me feel a bit of a humbug to say so, but “Happy Holidays” and “Merry Christmas” from people who obviously don’t give a damn what kind of a Christmas I have (or know me well enough to know whether I might celebrate some other tradition) are wearisome to me. If they’re not close enough that we might actually get together for a drink over the Yuletide, it feels about as heartfelt as “Have a nice day.” Bah!

  2. rebs says:

    Not just this time of year, but any time of year…

    “Are you sure that’s decaf? Because I’ll be calling you at 3 in the morning if it’s not..har har har…”

  3. Mike R says:

    People seem happier at Xmas and that makes my job easier. I’ll take the inane chatter over the stressed out self importance any day.

  4. feefifoto says:

    My fifth grader thinks that comment is hilarious but, yeah, she’s in fifth grade.

  5. “Where are you spending the holiday?”

    Do you really care?

    Another one that several readers have emailed me about are the people who walk right past the, “Sorry, we are closed for a private party” sign on the front door and ask, “Can we just have a drink?” or, “What are we supposed to do?” when you tell them no. You are supposed to go somewhere else.

  6. Marsha says:

    “Where are you spending the holiday?”

    I get this ALL of the time. I own a little coffee shop in a small town. They DO mean well, but I’m tempted to say, “In my own personal hell, thank you.”

    I’m not REALLY spending Christmas in my own personal hell, it would just be fun to say it.


  7. Brian Poe says:

    This season was a good one so far with people in general being quite pleasant but if I hear another group table doing Yankee Swap yell “regift!!!!” followed by fake chuckles I may have to leave the country for the holidays.

    (and funny enough- MC I was just about to type a note on Facebook to say happy holidays to you and Patrick- Now I think I’ll just buy you guys a beer at the Pub when we open!) Keep up the good honest writing- both of you.

  8. Dava says:

    Something doesn’t scan, so the customer says “oh, it must be free.” I swear I’ll vomit blood if I hear it again.

  9. Drew says:

    The one that gets me is, funnily, charity events in bars. Odd, I know, and maybe I just hate everyone(I’m not going to rule this possibility out completely), but the people at charity anythings are the most tight-fisted, obnoxious, self-centered and rude people I’ve ever met in a bar. As if giving money to a cause that helps people you’ll never see makes you such an untouchable godly person that any amount of boorish behavior towards the staff is acceptable. Because nothing says “good person” like flaunting your charitable contributions.

  10. Drew says:

    But if we’re getting into cliches, the people who force “MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!1!one” like they’re a striking a blow for freedom. You’re not wishing me well, and you’re a rebel like a 40 year old at a basement show.

  11. Lou says:

    When people ask, “So what are your plans for Christmas?” I really just want to reply, “Have a long deserved day off, with my feet up and a cocktail in my hand.” But it’s easier to say cooking or spending time doing something that is far more approved of in their world. But everyone who has the day off…have a great time…for those that don’t, make a zillion bucks…and remember we are all in this together. So PEACE to all.

  12. John says:

    Generally this time of year brings out the bad comedian in every group, and it seems like the larger the group the bigger the idiot. When you are trying to take an order at a large table and some moron is joking around trying to be cool bothers me a lot, it holds up the ordering process and takes valuable time away from everyone else. Joking around about a servers gratuity is not cool, yet many people seem to really think that’s funny. Not that I think everyone should be somber and serious, but is usually those people that are TRYING to be funny turn out to be the most annoying.

  13. Jim L. says:

    “See you next year!”

    Yes, you’ve hit upon the one cliche that bothers me the most. It’s only a matter of time until I hear it. This year it was from my barber, on Dec. 17th (knowing that I wouldn’t need another haircut this year).

    It was funny in elementary school the first couple of times. As an annual saying this many years later, not.

  14. pytski says:

    Why is it any more annoying than the constant blather and inanities we all are required to hear and speak the rest of the year round. I don’t think the holidays have cornered the market on insincerity.

  15. Justin says:

    Congrats on winning the A-List contest, it is a well-deserved honor.

    The holiday cliche that always gets to me is when people say “Happy Cha-Nu-Kah” and really stress that “CHA”. Yes, we all know there are many spellings, and one of them starts with a “ch”.

  16. Mike Q says:

    Patrick … congratulations on your #1 ranking on the A-List! Good job … great site!

  17. Mike Q- Thank you for your kind comments. The credit goes to everyone who reads, comments and supports the mission of this blog. I am grateful to all of you.

  18. Ronny "The Whip" says:

    It’s unfortunate that people feel the need to speak in cliches. It shows that they have nothing original to say. All these holiday cliches are mouthed perfunctorily (did I spell that right?). There’s obviously no meaning behind them when thay are said. I’m an atheist so when someone says to me “Merry Christmas” I respond with “Thanks, I’ll enjoy my day off.” As a waiter, I have to mouth these obscene ritualistic comments to my guests as they leave but in reality I’m laughing (on the inside) at how delusional some people are.

  19. Amanda says:

    I don’t necessarily think that the holidays bring out cliches more than any other time (I’m sure not everyone who has wished me a nice day has meant it) but it feels that way because of the sheer volume of people that are out and about at this time of year. Having more customers in a day means dealing with more personalities. I work at a Customer Service counter on a military base, and every time I do a transaction for a customer I am required to verify that they have a valid military ID. At least once a day one of us will hear “Oh, you need an id? I don’t have one of those…” or “What if I don’t want to show it to you?” They think they are being funny but it’s just taking more time for me to finish their transaction and get to the next person. There have been times when I have responded with “Oh, then you can just keep that, let me put it back in the bag for you!” We laugh it off but everyone thinks they’re funny and we have heard it a million times before.

  20. Dana says:

    I hate the “see you next year” cliche more than almost anything. I dread hearing it (repeatedly) every year and would love to come up with a good response … something witty and original, that doesn’t involve punching the person in the nose (although I’m not discounting that idea either).

  21. nana says:

    The music. The Christmas music makes me want to vomit, I don’t care who it’s covered by or what tune it is. It all blows.

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