I first heard this expression when I arrived in Sydney in 1985 and was speaking with the woman from whom I rented a room – she said it in a travel context of having been to a destination and not being impressed, so she was never returning. Subsequently I have heard this with the addition of “and got the t-shirt.” But, I guess we all have our perspectives and it is hard for me to think of many places or been there experiences that I’d list as done that, not doing it again. There some experiences I’d rather not repeat, like scuba diving in a cavern and having the water become so cloudy with silt that I had to follow my air bubbles to know which way was up. I have “done that” in terms of small caverns – now a big one, with plenty of waterflow – ok. And, that is how it is for me on most things. I may have been there, but there is probably more to see, do or experience. One bad, or for that matter, one good, experience does not make the place. Others, including my co-writer, feel differently. In a work environment, it is important to know that the been there, done that, attitude can be poison as well. It can be said in the context of commiseration (for example, “yes, I’ve had to deal with ‘tech support’ for hours online also”) – and that is acceptable. But, it is less acceptable in the context of refusing to do something because you have done it 1000 times already. For example, it never gets less frustrating to answer the same questions from prospective new clients. Even with our website FAQs, we always are going to be asked certain things. And, while it gets frustrating, the answer can’t be a “been there, done that, not going to do it again” answer.
David is right. I have “been there, done that, got the t-shirt, got the coffee mug” and I am not going back to many, many places. I have also “been there and done that” when it comes to spending my valuable time with certain people; in other words, I have moved on, I am over it, and I am not looking back. Some of these experiences resulting in this “been there, done that” attitude have been negative (and usually involve mean people encountered during a vacation). Other experiences are more neutral than negative, such that it just isn’t worth my time to repeat them. There are so many interesting places to go and people to see; why waste time in boring places and with people I dislike when I could be doing something enjoyable? On the other hand, if I like something or someone, I am always eager for the opportunity to experience the event, visit the place, or see the person again and again. For example, I have had the pleasure, indeed, the honor, of seeing Jimmy Buffett in concert many times. I am ready to attend one of his concerts anytime, anywhere. The more I see and hear Jimmy Buffett perform, the more I look forward to seeing him next time! For me, the ultimate determination of whether I have “been there, done that” or whether I excitedly await another opportunity (the encore, in musical terminology) is if I had a good time last time. So, with credit to Jimmy Buffett, I am looking forward to my next “changes in attitudes, changes in latitudes” in all facets of my life!