The young lass behind the counter at the baker’s expertly wraps my two jam doughnuts (naughty but nice) in a white paper bag and asks, solicitously: “How’s your day been so far?”
It quite takes me aback. I was expecting the usual, cheery “Have a nice day!” which doesn’t make any demands of me apart from a cheery grin in return. But I have
been asked a specific question and it would seem rude not to provide a considered response.
What shall I say? Should I explain that I have puddled my way from
home, getting wetter and wetter, on my way to the doctors where I have just submitted my arm to the phlebotomist (aka The Vampire) who has been charged with extracting blood from me? Okay, I accept that I lost most of you at the beginning of that last sentence
when I used the word “puddled” to explain my progress along the road from there to here. You are querying whether there is such a verb as “to puddle” aren’t you?
I think it has been waiting for me to invent it - it means to wade, wetly, from puddle to puddle on the very stormiest of days such as we have experienced this week. I will be interested to see if it catches on...
Anyway, back to the question I have been posed. I give a slightly pared down version of “my day so far” and then ask (because it would be rude not to, don’t
you agree?) about her day so far. She gestures to the coffee machine on the shelf behind it, on which is attached a large notice proclaiming “Coffee machine out of order - engineer called.”
“Oh, dear, not so good then?” I say. “Could be better!” she agrees, with a cheerful grin which belies the seriousness of the Lack of Coffee Situation. We have a short, but interesting, discussion about
the unpredictability of coffee machines, then part like old friends, me with my doughnuts, her with ready excuses for the next customer demanding their caffeine fix.
It starts me thinking about the way we greet each other. If we are really, really interested in finding how somebody is, rather than simply going through the motions, maybe we should all move from “How are you?” to “How has your
day been so far?” I decide to try it out on a few people I meet along the way.
I start, obviously, with Mr B. “How has your day been so far?”
I ask him when I get home, while divesting myself of my soaking wet coat and soggy shoes. Mr B eyes me, suspiciously: “Why do you want to know?” he asks. Well, I wasn’t expecting that. He clearly believes that I have an Ulterior Motive.
Next, I think I will look out for the postman who will surely have some interesting tales to tell of Deliveries He Has Made. But it isn’t Lloyd, our usual postman,
heading along the garden path and his replacement looks thoroughly fed up and very, very bedraggled. I decide to give him a miss. I think it’s called “the better part of valour”. Discretion, that is.
It’s too wet to go out again and even when a weak sun breaks through I’m not sure I trust it. I stay indoors with Mr B until it is time to drive down to KFC for his weekly treat of a three
piece meal for one with a Diet Pepsi (there are other takeaways selling all manner of fast food, if you care to look for them.) “How has your day been so far?” I ask the lad taking orders at the counter. He regards me as if I am quite, quite mad
and ignores my question, raising an eyebrow while repeating his request for me to state my order.
I decide to give up for the time being but, feeling a little
guilty that I may have placed him at a disadvantage I rummage in my purse to find some odd change. The bill comes to £5.19 so as well as handing over a twenty pound note, I give him three 5p pieces and two 2p pieces. He looks at me with something like
sheer alarm. Not only am I a Mad Old Bat, his expression clearly indicates, but I am dangerous with it, due to Profligate Use of Small Change.
He does work it
out in the end - but I have learnt my lesson.
Have a nice day!