Dear Miriam | Christian Blessing Vexes Reader

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Dear Miriam,

Now that I’m back to my regular morning commute, I stop at the same coffee shop at the same time every day, and I’m served by the same barista. She is over-the-top, effusively kind and she always ends our interactions with “have a blessed day.” The last thing I want is to be rude to this lovely individual, but it’s also awkward to have every morning start with this vaguely Christian greeting. Do I have any way around this?


Balking at your blessings

Dear Balking,

You have three options: 1) find a new coffee shop, 2) accept this greeting and go about your day or 3) say something to the barista that will make the blessings stop. I’ll cut to the chase and say that No. 2 is your own realistic and viable option, but for the sake of this column and playing out your possibilities, I’ll entertain what the others might look like.

If you like the coffee shop, enjoy the coffee and it’s conveniently on your way to work, changing your routine to avoid a really nice person would be an intense choice. If, instead of a kind barista, there were a leering or offensive customer, for example, changing your route might be an option I’d urge you to consider.

I have a feeling, though, that even if you intentionally avoided this person, doing so would be a daily reminder of an awkwardness that you couldn’t manage to face, and in terms of overall health and well-being, I can’t recommend that. If, say, one day a week you just can’t handle the effusiveness, you could try another coffee shop on occasion, but I don’t think the interaction is awkward enough to warrant a daily switch.

If, every day, the barista said “Jesus loves you,” with your coffee, you also might have recourse either to avoid the experience or say, “I would really appreciate it if you didn’t say that.” While “have a blessed day” isn’t a Jewish expression, Jews like blessings — a lot — to the tune of aiming to say 100 blessings a day. Even if you said to the barista, “Actually I’m Jewish, so that makes me uncomfortable,” it would be hard to explain why that feels like an exclusively Christian thing to say. In fact, without coming across as a truly miserly individual, I don’t know how you could ask someone not to say this to you.

If part of the problem is not knowing how to respond and you can’t bear to say “thank you,” or “you too,” then try “have a great day” or “take care.” You’re not agreeing to her blessings, but you’re not throwing them in her face either.

This reminds me of questions I get in December about what to do when someone says “Merry Christmas” to someone who doesn’t celebrate Christmas and, in both cases, the answer is not to overthink a very short interaction with someone who’s a stranger.

I know there’s Christian hegemony at play here, and I know that can be hard to face every day. But ultimately, there are so many worse things than someone who is trying to be nice to you. I hope you can find a way to enjoy your coffee with a side of blessings and not waste any more energy on this could-be-pleasant-if-you-let-it-be interaction.

Be well,



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