05/22/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Why Have A Good One?

Retail clerks, recovering accountants, and others who hold me in low esteem have begun to wish me "a good one." They say, "Have a good one" instead of "Have a good day."

Perhaps they ceased wishing me a "good day" to avoid my devastating rejoinders:

  • Great idea. Why didn't I think of it first?
  • I've already had mine this month.
  • Not today, but Friday might work.
  • Thanks, but I'm married.
  • I have other plans.

I am befuddled by "have a good one." Exactly what are they suggesting: A good day? A good quadruple bypass? A good soup and salad lunch? A good religious epiphany? A good tea party? A good bowel movement? A good Zen koan? The possibilities are endless.

I could reply politely with, "Have a good one yourself." But what if the recovering accountant meant, "Have a good attack of shingles?" I would not wish shingles on anyone other than a Yankee fan.

I am currently testing five responses to "have a good one":

  1. The probing: "One What?"
  2. The confrontational: "And then what?"
  3. The non-committal: "I will consider it."
  4. The avaricious: "What not a good two, or even a good eight?"
  5. The retributive: "The same to you if you're a Yankee fan."

Thus far, the above rejoinders have elicited remarkably similar responses -- "asshole," "jerk," and "I discern that you are not a native Seattleite."

Results of my research will be published in Tenure: The Journal of Academic Academics.