It's not you, it's me.

Posted by September Blue Thursday, 6 December 2007

A student ambles up to the lending desk with a book. I check out the book and hand it back to him. He nods, puts his card back in his wallet, and then, looking as if he's suddenly remembered something, beams broadly at me. "Have a nice life!" he says.

Some questions come to mind.

1. Was it... was it something I said, O mysterious student? I mean, I know it was just a 24-hour loan, but I thought you knew that, too. Maybe you wanted something more? Were you hoping for a semester-long thing? Um. Gosh. Well, this is awkward.

2. While I have, I think, used the 'have a nice life' line myself a few times in my not-entirely-praiseworthy past, it typically comes with a more dramatic buildup. Shouldn't there be some kind of argument here? Hurling of crockery? Throwing of wedding ring into river while country rock chords crescendo in the background? All I did was smile and tell him when the book was due back. I feel a little wronged.

3. We're never going to see that book again, are we?


  1. francofou Says:
  2. Boy, are you suspicious! Could it be he was being friendly?

    Have a nice, uh, no, wait...

  3. 'Life', though? 'Life'?

    (Although I like the idea that any one of the people I've told to have a nice life in the past might have thought I was just being friendly. Yes, indeed.)

  4. francofou Says:
  5. I have at times said it to people I liked, but whom I was unlikely to see again. A doctor in another city, a visiting colleague, my uncle Bruno. Sounds like a nice thing to say to stranger working in a library.

    Did you reply:
    A. Same to you.
    B. Same to you, Buddy!
    C. Stony silence.

  6. Ah. You are American, I suspect? This might explain much. In my experience, 'have a nice life' is exclusively reserved in situations for which 'goodbye' is too kind and 'fuck off' too direct.

    (I smiled and said 'You too!' before even hearing what he said. I used to work in retail.)

  7. francofou Says:
  8. Yup.
    Well, it *can* mean that here, too. It would depend on the context, the tone of voice.
    I hope your neighbor is OK, too.

    If a woman is crying alone in the back of the bus, I feel sympathetic and want to help.

    If a woman is laughing alone in the back of the bus, I get off at the next stop.