I hate the expression “At the end of the day …”
I think it’s dumb, but it is what it is.
Oh, and I hate the expression “It is what it is” too. Sports guys say “It is what it is” all the time, and I don’t like that.
The thing is, saying “It is what it is” sounds like you’re actually saying something, but really you’re not. Saying “It is what it is” is like saying nothing. It’s language-light, is what it is.
OK, I will admit that saying “is what it is” is probably language-light too. But this is my column, is what it is.
I think the next time a sports guy finds himself about ready to say “It is what it is,” he just shouldn’t say anything. He would be accomplishing the same thing. The other day I, was reading a story about Jim Edmonds, the great center fielder for the St. Louis Cardinals. Jim was talking about an injury he suffered a week or so ago, and he actually took “It is what it is” and used it in the past tense. Jim, talking about the injury, said, “Whatever it was, it was.” When I read that, I had to agree with Jim. I said to myself: “Yes, Jim, I can’t argue with you. I guess whatever it was, it was.” But I’m not sure the thought actually needed to be verbalized to be true. It sort to goes without saying, is what I’m saying.
OK, I guess saying “is what I’m saying” is pretty dumb too. But again, it’s my column, is what it is.
But at least sports guys have an excuse for saying “It is what it is.” Sports guys have to talk to sports reporters. Most sports guys hate most sports reporters because they think the sports reporters will screw up whatever they say and make them look bad. That’s why most sports guys like to say things that don’t mean anything. You know what I mean. Things like “Well, I was just looking for something to hit,” or “We came to play,” or ” Hey, the better team won today.”
Most sports guys figure that most sports reporters can’t screw statements like those up. But most sports guys figure wrong. I need to make it clear here that when I’m talking about “most sports reporters,” I mean the sports reporters in big cities. Not the sports reporters at, say, The Joplin Globe. See – and this may be a gross generalization – most sports reporters in big cities are – to use a sports term – jerks.
That’s why sports guys say things like “It is what it is.”
Now, if you can explain why politicians, TV talking heads and business people say “At the end of the day, …” then you are smarter than I am. Actually, even if you can’t explain that to me, you’re probably smarter than I am. I’m not projecting false modesty here. I’m just being realistic.
Like “It is what it is,” the expression “At the end of the day …” really doesn’t say much. And besides, when people say “At the end of the day, …” they don’t actually mean at the end of the day. What they mean is at the end of whatever it is they are talking about. Say a Congress creature is taking time between bribes to talk about an upcoming legislative session. He might say something like, “The important thing to remember is that, at the end of the day, we will do the right thing.”
The Congress creature doesn’t mean at the end of the day on the day he is talking. He means at the end of the legislature session. So why doesn’t he say “at the end of the legislature session. …”?
Sometimes people really get the whole “end of the day” expression all screwed up. They’ll say something like “At the end of the day, I think we’ll find out that we had a pretty good month.”
I think that’s dumb.
But you know what? It really doesn’t matter what I think because, at the end of the day, people are going to say whatever they want to say.
I mean, it is what it is.
Originally published in the Joplin Globe on Jun 11, 2006.