Posted on May 26, 2005 in Life in England by Andy @ Yellow SwordfishComments Off

Yesterday, as the young girl behind the counter of my local pharmacy handed me my change, she said ‘Have a nice day!’ This is not something you hear said in the UK very much at all and it took me by surprise. I was reminded that many years ago I travelled to the USA with a colleague who had never been there before. At the end of the trip he complained about the false friendliness and pretence of shop assistants and waitresses. My take on this was the opposite to him – that the American public demanded a certain level of basic courtesy and politeness that was refreshing. This, I felt, was a good thing and it didn’t matter if the assistant really meant it or not.

England – especially at that time – had rather lost this basic politeness and it was – and sometimes still is – quite possible to make a purchase in a shop without a word being uttered. Given the choice I prefer the American way.
So the girl in the pharmacy was trying to get it right. Sadly she failed as she knew the slogan but not the etiquette behind using it. Nobody had told her that when wishing a customer to have a nice day, she is supposed to look at them and not the floor – and a smile would have helped.