After the Pandemic: Our Grand Reopening and New and Improved Selves

By Steven Joseph, Author of A Grownup Guide to Effective Crankiness: The CrankaTsuris Method

There are two phrases that I have understood, but what I could never understand was why they have been used so much.

“Grand Reopening”

“New and Improved”

I looked up the word “grand” in the dictionary, and the synonym for “grand” is “magnificent.” I cannot speak for anyone else, but for me, to get to “magnificent” is a pretty high bar to reach. Just because a restaurant finally got rid of all the cockroaches in the bathroom, this does not make the reopening of the restaurant magnificent. Just because the restaurant finally got rid of the mice in the kitchen, this does not make the reopening of the restaurant magnificent. Just because the toilet finally flushes properly, this does not make the reopening of the restaurant magnificent. And just because the restaurant finally got the sign “Condemned by the Department of Health” removed, that definitely does not make the reopening of the restaurant magnificent.

I lived in Nyack, New York for many years, and at least once a week I went to the local Chinese take-out place to get Chinese food for dinner. This tiny whole in the wall was in Nyack forever. However, they always had a huge “Grand Reopening” banner in front that you could not miss when you walked in.

Finally, one day, I had to ask the owner why he kept the “Grand Reopening” sign up for so many years. Surely, at some point, you should not be able to advertise “Grand Reopening.”

The owner pointed to the sign that said “Hours of Operation.”

“What time does restaurant close?”, he asked me.

“Twelve AM”, I replied.

“What time does restaurant open?, he then asked.

“Twelve PM”, I answered.

He then said to me, “Twelve PM. This is the Grand Reopening.”

I guess he had a point.

The other phrase “New and Improved” is a phrase that I have even more problems with. First, we are all getting “Old and Slowly Decaying” so it only makes sense that when I go to the store to make my purchases, I should just be sent to the “Old and Slowly Decaying” section.

Of course, the bigger problem is that they never really tell you exactly what is new and improved. I bought the “New and Improved” toothpaste, and took it home with me. I looked on the box to see what the “Active Ingredient” is. That is another term that gives me trouble, “Active Ingredient.” As we all know, the “Active Ingredient” for toothpaste is fluoride. I took a look at my old tube of toothpaste, and read that this is the active ingredient. Of course, when I looked at the “New and Improved” toothpaste, it had the same one “Active Ingredient”: fluoride.

So, if the “New and Improved” toothpaste is “New and Improved” because they may have only improved all their “Inactive Ingredients,” please explain to me how this toothpaste is now “New and Improved.” I certainly can understand if they would explain to me, “You know that ingredient that was inactive for so many years? Well, we finally figured out to turn that inactive ingredient into an active one!”

Why should any product have so many inactive ingredients put in there in the first place? I think that some marketing genius should put a big label on their packaging “Made with only Active Ingredients.”

Those “100% Active Ingredients” products would just fly off the shelf.

While I do think the both the phrases “Grand Reopening” and “New and Improved” are quite overused, I do believe that these phrases can be perfectly appropriate when we try to think of how we want to improve ourselves.

Also, if we want to get to “Grand Reopening” and “New and Improved,” we should focus on changing our “normals”, and avoid using another overused word: “habit”. “Habit” is a word that is more temporary. You could develop a good habit, and then slowly revert to your old bad habits. It sounds like a diet, and it is why diets rarely works.

“Normals” are permanent. If someone came into work naked, do not be too surprised if there is someone that will tell you that this can be characterized as “abnormal.” There may even be somebody to take you off to the Funny Farm.

When we become mindful to adopt our better normals, we can then finally have our “Grand Reopening”, and declare that we are both “New” and “Improved.”

And you may be even able to turn an “inactive” ingredient into an “active” one!

PS. By the way, when the pandemic is finally over, all those restaurants should put up the “Magnificent Reopening” signs. We will even need to invite the roaches and mice to the party!


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