Nice. That’s a nice word, isn’t it? When things are nice, they’re, well, nice. Nice people are nice, for sure.

And yet…

Nice is beginning to make me uneasy. A banker called me up a few days ago and, boy was she nice. She asked me if it was a good time to talk. She apologized for having gotten back in touch with me a day later than she had originally thought she’d call.

Waiters and waitresses are really nice these days, greeting you with great warmth and taking your order with an endorsement of what you ordered. We have all clearly gotten quite advanced in our ability to make the right menu choices.

Those who offer help over the phones – in my recent experience this has included an Apple computer problem solver and someone helping me buy a couple of pairs of pants –  they, too, are really nice. Sometimes you can stay on the phone after the nice person has hung up and answer questions about whether the person you have just spoken with was nice.

Back in the 1960s and 70s, I clearly was not as nice as I am now. Salespeople, receptionists, and even doctors were less nice to me then than they now are. They would be nice if I was a good boy, but I had to be a good boy on their terms. Buying pants back then was not as positive an experience as it has become.

These days most salespeople reflect back on me that I’m nice. And astute. It’s nice being astute!

Yeah, there is a lot of niceness going ’round. And the epidemic is making me uneasy.

This uneasiness was not relieved by doing a google search on what “nice” means. What “nice” means now is what you would expect: pleasing; agreeable; delightful; amiably pleasant; kind.

What “nice” used to mean is more disconcerting: from Wiktionary: From Middle English nice, nyce, nys, a borrowing from Old French nice, niche, nisc(simple, foolish, ignorant), and from Latin nescius (ignorant, not knowing)

Consider this a head’s up: we need to be careful about niceness.

And another head’s up, this from former Texas state senator and 2014 gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis in a vox.com interview on March 16:

“When Hillary Clinton lost that election,…  the fact that it happened in such a misogynistic climate against a candidate who had exhibited tremendous sexism and misogyny was, I think, like a big cold splash of water in all of our faces… We decided, “No more being nice.”

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