“Let me be completely honest with you,” is one of those phrases that gets my goat. It’s not that I fear that people normally lie to me; that’s a given. My fear is that people will actually be “completely honest with me,” and I’m not sure I can take it. If someone is completely honest, he’ll tell me that I’m overweight and losing more hair than I can afford. And, he’ll probably tell me that he hasn’t washed his hands all day long, even though he’s been to the bathroom three times since noon. I don’t want anyone to shake my hand and say, “Let me be completely honest with you.” Just tell me how trim I look, and please tell me that your hands are clean enough to go into surgery at the Mayo Clinic. I’m really interested in hearing that bit about the clean hands, okay? I mean, we did just shake, and all.
Another thing I don’t need to hear is, “My bad.” Unless the speaker is two years old and wearing rubberized pants, I expect a bit more grammar. If someone makes a mistake, it’s perfectly acceptable to say, “Jeepers! I’ve really botched that up, Sir.” If someone is willing to settle for a terse “My bad,” I’ll bet they’re also willing to say, “Ain’t no big thang,” Now, personally I love to hear people say, “Ain’t no big thang,” if they can pull off the “thang” part with style. But most folks can’t do it justice, and it just comes out sounding pathetic. So, unless someone can belt out a solid, ”Ain’t no big thang,” they should just stick with a heartfelt, “Jeepers, sir!” That’s good enough for me.
Finally, I really don’t want to hear anyone say, “We aim to exceed your expectations.” If someone tells me she wants to “exceed my expectations,” then that very statement sets up higher expectations in my mind. So, just by telling me this, she has to work that much harder just to break even. I don’t think that’s a productive use of time. it’s almost like a game of chicken, and I’ve seen how that movie ends. I’d rather someone make a good product or deliver a good service. If they do, they’ll exceed my expectations. And if they don’t? Hey, ain’t no big thang! See? That’s how you do it, if I’m being completely honest with you.
David McCoy, a notorious storyteller and proud Yellow Jacket, lives in Conyers, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.