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God Bless You



Being from Alabama, I am used to phrases like, “Bless his/her heart,” or “Bless you child” in casual conversation. That is just good churchin’. As a member of the civilized world I am used to having someone say “God bless you” or just “Bless you” after I sneeze. That is just good manners.

What I am not used to is having complete strangers stop me and offer a hearty, “God Bless You,” for absolutely no reason other than because they felt like it. The first time this happened I had wondered if I had sneezed or, heaven forbid, passed gas and not realized. The second time I had an urge to run for my life. The third time I just gave a rather puzzled “Thank you… Bless you too?” And the fourth time I sent my friend who is native to NYC and the Bronx a text message asking the following:

“When strangers stop me on the street and say “God bless you” for no apparent reason what is the proper response – A. bless them back. B. Run like hell. C. Say thank you and chat about the weather.”

Low-and-behold it is quite normal and not at all alarming to have a complete stranger bless you in NYC. The proper response is to just say thank you and go about your day. No need to run. No need to re bless and no need to worry that you had perhaps sneezedĀ on the subway without even knowing it.



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  1. October 29, 2014

    This made me laugh! Regional religious differences fascinate me.

    Where I grew up (most western edge of Iowa), religion was private. You only knew where someone went to church because maybe you went with them one Sunday after a sleep over. In Chicago, no one gave a crap what religion you were or where you went to church. Here, in central Iowa? Not only was “where do you go to church?” the third question people always asked when they met you, but they insist on inviting you to their church. Over and over again. Because obviously their church is the best. IT’S SO WEIRD! After almost 12 years of being here, it still makes me shake my head.

    I would be perplexed by random “bless you’s” too. I’d think, “how nice. But how weird!”

  2. October 29, 2014

    I am severely annoyed by “God Bless You” coming from strangers for no reason. I want to respond “No Thank You.”

  3. October 29, 2014

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked ‘can I pray for/with you?’ A few at customers’ front doors when I was delivering pizza, some like yours, just out and about, and *tons* now that I work next door to one of the biggest Baptist churches in the area. I generally smile and accept; it doesn’t hurt anything, and it makes them happy.

  4. October 29, 2014

    That is hilarious! It has never happened to me without first an awkward conversation about the kids. Maybe it’s in reference to that?

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