Date: Wed, 22 Oct 1997 08:58:15 -0700
From: Peter McGraw pmcgraw[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]LINFIELD.EDU
Subject: Re: "Bless you" (was "Good morning")
Gosh, Ron! Spoil my party, will you?! I found this custom one of the few
redeeming social values of living in New York City. In most respects it's
the capital of incivility, where you're apt to get your head bit off for
asking an innocent question in a shop or asking a cab driver to wait for
you, or having the temerity to want to withdraw your own money from the
bank, and where cashiers will slam the change down on the counter to avoid
touching your outstretched hand. Nonetheless, I don't think I ever
sneezed on the street without having some passing stranger say, "Bless
you!" I'm from "Gesundheit!" country, and it never ceased to amaze me.
In the first place, the phrase taken literally seems somehow more actively
kind and caring than "Gesundheit," and even taken as an empty formula, it
still struck me as a conscious gesture of making human contact with a
stranger in a city which otherwise does a poor job at interpersonal
relations. Oregon is a much friendlier place than New York City in all
other respects, but you rarely have strangers on the street say
"Gesundheit!" (or anything else) when you sneeze.
On Wed, 22 Oct 1997, Ron Butters wrote:
I don't mind saying "Good morning," but I hate being told "Bless you" after a
sneeze! Talk about mindless speech customs!!!!!!