Spicing Up Your Cliches

There’s a guy at work that I see on a daily basis.  He’s not a co-worker in the sense that I work alongside of him, but he is a fellow employee.  Anyway, this guy–while being very nice and seemingly sincere–has always rubbed me the wrong way.

For a while I couldn’t put my finger on what it was that bothered me about him.  He always lingers longer than necessary at my cubicle, but it’s not necessarily in a creepy sort of way.  He also seems to repeat his questions in various ways; like asking “How you doin?” and in the next breath “Are you doing okay?”  But that’s also not so irksome that it would fully explain my aversion to the guy.

It actually bothered me for quite a while that I seemed to feel the need to steel myself whenever I saw this guy approach me.  Since there was no obvious reason for my reaction, I just put it down to that “X” factor thing where you inherently don’t like someone, but can’t explain why; kind of like how I can’t stand Hugh Jackman, even though, by all accounts, he seems to be a nice, decent, down-to-earth family man.

I do believe in reincarnation, so there’s also the possibility that this guy at work was someone I clashed with in a prior life.  But every now and then I couldn’t just accept that thought and “move on.”  I knew he was married, and seemed very devoted to his wife, so I doubted he was trying to flirt with me, even though I know there are married people out there who cheat on their spouses, in spite of “loving” them and being “devoted” to them.  Besides, I’ve seen him interact in this same way with other men in the company.

For a while, I thought it was because he seems to be a very religious man, always citing things like “God works in mysterious ways,” or “Aren’t God’s gifts wonderful?”  Since I’m not into Christianity, I thought it might have just been my natural aversion to people who are so OUT THERE with their relationship with God, thinking that they’re somehow trying to convert me in subliminal ways.

But just the other day, I FINALLY figured out what it was that bothered me most about him.  He speaks almost entirely in cliches!

He had come over to my cube and was asking about how our recent move went (we’re in the process of moving to a new, larger apartment).  When I told him things were put on hold to the end of August (renovations aren’t yet complete at our new place), he proceeded to spout all manner of cliches, some of which only barely pertained to the subject.  Among them were: “The best laid plans . . .” “Keep a stiff upper lip,” and “Good things come to those who wait.”

There are some famous sayings that I don’t mind.  Yes, they get used WAY too often sometimes, but many of them are true: Patience IS a virtue, and What goes around DOES come around.  However, when someone uses cliches as much as this man does, it speaks to me of someone who doesn’t know exactly what to say, but feels he has to say SOMETHING, so out comes the idle chit chat that ends up being nothing more than verbal noise.

Whenever I encounter people whose speech includes over 75% of cliches, I find myself uncomfortable around them; much like I am around this guy.  Not only do these people strike me as having nothing “new” or “interesting” to add to a conversation, they also seem very false to me.  And they might be very nice people, but they’re not really giving of themselves in a conversation, when they repeat old, worn-out phrases.  It’s one of the reasons that groups like Train–who write unusual lyrics that get the same points across, but in unique ways–quickly become favorites for me.

I even like it when someone takes a cliche and puts a new spin on it.  For instance; “Dumber than a pile of sand (rather than box of rocks, etc),” or “What’s that got to do with the price of bloomers (instead of tea in China, etc)?”  When people give a different twist to cliches, they sound less . . . cliche-ish.

So go ahead, spice up your cliches a little bit.  Doing so can help prove once and for all that you CAN teach an “old dog” new tricks.  😉


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Craig
    Aug 09, 2013 @ 04:40:47

    Well, that was one for the ages.


  2. David Fitzgerald
    Aug 09, 2013 @ 11:16:08

    Oh man, I can totally see how that would drive you spare! It’s like you’re not even talking with a person, but a friendly robotic collection of trite pithy sayings! (Insert lame cliche here) Makes you wonder what his inner life is like…


    • Alyx Morgan
      Aug 09, 2013 @ 16:47:26

      Yes, David, it does make me wonder. I can’t imagine it’s filled with anything terribly deep, though that is a shallow judgement, since I don’t really know him.


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