“When anybody asks, 'What are you writing about now?' if I try to reply, the book-in-the-works sounds so idiotic to me that I think, 'Why am I trying to write that puerile junk?' So now I give up; if I could talk about it, I wouldn't have to write it."
- Madeleine L'Engle, A Circle of Quiet


Good What?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sometimes I wonder about strange things - not necessarily things that are actually strange, but rather things that are strange to wonder about. It's a quirk, I suppose, and hopefully one that is endearing rather than off-putting.

Lately I've been wondering about greetings that are specifically time-based, like good night or good day. It started when I realized that as I left work at 2:30 in the afternoon, I say to my co-workers, "good night," even though it's only mid-afternoon. They say the same back to me and no one seems to think it strange that we are saying "good night" in the middle of the afternoon.

Then I started wondering about people who work night shifts and what greetings they use. For instance, if a person starts their workday at 10:00 pm, they would not say "good night" to greet their co-workers as they arrived. Similarly, as they left the next morning, they would not say "good morning". It seems that good night is synonymous with good bye and good morning is synonymous with hello, except that you can not use good night in the morning or good morning at night.

And then there is the phrase, good afternoon. Pure common sense would dictate that I could use this phrase when leaving work at 2:30 pm, and yet it would sound horribly strange to say "good afternoon" when I leave. Good afternoon seems to be another phrase that means the same as hello.

So there you have it – just one of the many weird things that occupies my mind in quiet moments. I suppose there might be a perfectly good explanation for this phenomenon, but I doubt it. More than likely it just is what it is and isn't worth wondering about. And yet, I still wonder.

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