Santa Cruz Good Times

Nov 28th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Have A Nice Day

smiley_facePerhaps This Rock Will Help
I was just a kid when the smiley face fad broke out. It was plastered on everything, along with its slogan “Have A Nice Day,” and it was the first time I remember being irritated by a well-intentioned sentiment. From the back of mom’s car, I spotted yet another ponytailed fat man sporting the T-shirt.

“Who are all these people to tell me how to feel?” I said. Nine is a little young to start rolling your eyes at things, and my mother tried to straighten me out before it was too late. “They’re just trying to be nice,” she said.

“I don’t want to think about it.”

“About what, honey?”

“About whether my day is nice. If it’s not nice, it seems even less nice after having the patch on some hippie’s backpack remind me of it. It’s not like I’m going to see it and think, ‘Oh right, thanks for the reminder. My day is nice now.’  Besides, there is no point in defining it. The day is what it is. We must accept it and find an inner harmony.” We were on our way to my karate class and I was getting in the groove.

“OK, hon, we’re here. Have a ... class.”

Even now that phrase bothers me. Years ago there was a guy on Pacific Avenue who would say “Have a nice day” from inside a sort of plastic cocoon gathered about him on a bench. He later emerged from his pupal stage as a beautiful pink butterfly, and replaced the phrase with a wan smile, which I liked much better. I hear he’s retired his umbrella and for all I know he’s now working in some boxy office festooned with motivational posters.

You know the posters—they’ve been selling them in SkyMall forever—with their large inspirational photos of eagles or mountain tops above a profit-enhancing concept word, like OBEDIENCE or OVERTIME. I worked at a place that had one with the word LEADERSHIP beneath a photo of an old steamship in heavy seas. Everybody hated that poster, mostly because the leadership in that company was elitist and rude. The poster was placed in our break room, where the bosses rarely ventured. Who was it meant to impress? Was it supposed to spur on us to be like them one day, if only we could learn how to shovel workers into the boiler for more steam?

That entire line of posters struck me as insincere and arrogant, so I was thrilled when somebody realized just how ripe for parody they were and created, with a line of similarly styled posters like:

SYNERGY: A code word lazy people use when they want you to do all the work.

PROCRASTINATION: Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now.

DYSFUNCTION: The only consistent feature in all of your dissatisfying relationships is you.

Not long ago, I found myself at a philosophical crossroads, depressed and rudderless, and spent most of an evening sharing my angst-ridden thoughts with a friend who texted me the next morning to say she’s left a present on my porch that might help in my quest. I was expecting to find a bottle of wine, since she’d helped me wipe out my supply, but it was a rock. It was a rock with a word carved into it: Serenity.

You have got to be kidding me, I thought. Don’t you know me? In my book, a rock that says Serenity on it is just begging to be thrown through somebody’s window. Hmm, maybe that’s where she was going with it. I had mentioned being angry at people driving too fast down my street. I walked out to the curb, tossing serenity from hand to hand. Surely she didn’t expect me to throw this thing through somebody’s windshield. It was much too small for that.

An older Volvo sped by with a bumper sticker that read, “If you’re not outraged you’re not paying attention.” I thought, if you’re so outraged all the time maybe you shouldn’t be driving. You need this rock more than me.

But I didn’t throw it. I decided the thing to do was to return the rock to its own kind. Reverse shoplifting is easy and sometimes fun; consider the Barbie Liberation Organization, an organization that in 1993 purchased a bunch of talking GI Joe and Barbie dolls, switched the voice chips, and smuggled them back onto store shelves. “Math is hard!” said GI Joes. “Let’s go shopping!” Barbie went to new mean-girl lengths with, “Vengeance is mine!”

I found a store that sold platitudinous rocks, which wasn’t hard around these parts, and though the font didn’t match I added mine to the pile. “Serenity, I’d like you to meet your new friends: Peace, Tranquility, Friendship, Wisdom, Wish, Believe, Create, Smile, Hope, Potential, Breathe, Inspire and Meditate. I think you’ll find you have a lot in common, such as a bright future in the doorstop business.” The ironic Potential of the collection made me take a deep Breath and Smile; I was Inspired to Meditate on the Wisdom of Creating Tranquility through something used for stonings, but where there is Belief there is always Hope.

Looking around the store, there were longer but no less trite sentiments on other objects, particularly Asian-looking soft goods. “You are not alone,” said a pillow, which sounds to me like just about the loneliest thing you could ever embroider on a pillow. “This is for you, Granny. Buck up.” Good lord, get her a cat.

I guess I’m just not wired to respond positively to the kind of sincerity offered up by inanimate objects. Inspired by the posters and the dolls, I’ve found a website that will carve whatever you want onto rocks, so if you’d rather have one that says SUCK IT UP or DENIAL or JUGGLE (set of three) or FIRST STONE (only sold to those without sin) or I’LL GIVE YOU FIVE DOLLARS TO PUT ME BACK IN THE RIVER, I can hook you up.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger


Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share


Santa Cruz Gives

A look at the organizations we’re asking you to support in our new holiday giving campaign


Gratitude—For Each New Morning With its Light

The full moon of Wednesday brings light to Thanksgiving (Thursday) under the Sagittarius Sun and Mercury. Mercury in Sag offers humanity the message (Mercury) of thankfulness and joy (Jupiter). No other sign represents food, music and joy better than Sagittarius (only Pisces, when not in despair). Beginning on Thanksgiving, we can list what we’re grateful for. Then we can continue the list, creating a daily Gratitude Journal. What we are grateful for always increases in our lives. On Thanksgiving Saturn/Neptune square (challenging) is in full effect. This can manifest as traditions not being honored, disappearing, falling away. It can also create a sense of sadness, confusion, of things not working out as planned. It’s best to be as simple as possible. And to focus on gratitude instead. Gratitude is a service to others. It is scientifically and occultly a releasing agent. Releasing us from the past, allowing our future—the new culture and civilization, the new Aquarian laws and principles, the rising light of Aquarius, the Age of Friendship and Equality—to come forth. Gratitude and goodwill create the “thought-form of solution for humanity and the world’s problems.” The hierarchy lays great emphasis upon expressing gratitude. Gratitude illuminates all that is in darkness. Let us be grateful during this season together. Being, for others, the light that illuminates the darkness. A Poem by R.W. Emerson: We are grateful … “For each new morning with its light/For rest and shelter of the night/For health and food/For love and friends/For everything thy goodness sends.” (poem by R.W. Emerson). I am grateful for my family of readers.


The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program


Pluck of the Irish

Mid-century immigrant tale engagingly told in ‘Brooklyn’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments


Second Street Café

Pies and tarts for all tastes—from traditional to adventurous


How are you preparing for El Niño?

Getting ready to buy some rain gear. Cory Pickering, Santa Cruz, Teaching Assistant


Fortino Winery

Cabernet and superb fruit wine from Fortino Winery


Tap Dance

West End Tap & Kitchen’s impressive menu to expand to Eastside location