How often does someone ask you how you are? And of those incidents, how many times do you respond with anything other than “fine” or if you’re feeling polite, “fine, thank you.” Or if you’re feeling polite and you’ve turned your hearing aid off “fine, thank you. And how are you?”
Admit it. You don’t care. And neither does the other person. And most of the time neither of you should.
Yet, we need a way to open a conversation or transaction. “Hello” or its variations seems too abrupt. “Good day” sounds stuffy and old fashioned and heaven knows, old fashioned is so… well… out of date.
Radio talk show hosts have learned to gloss over the greetings of callers. Most of them respond to the how are you by asking a question like “So what do you think of Jeb Bush finally admitting he’s a candidate?”
But you can’t waltz up to the cash register and expect the clerk to ask you what you think of the war in Ukraine. And anyway, you probably don’t know what you think. Why should you be any different? No one knows what to think about that. Or at least no one not on the battlefield.
Some sharp minded pilots of cash registers don’t ask how you are. They ask “did you find everything ok?”
If this conversation takes place in a supermarket, and you answer “I was looking for valve gaskets and couldn’t find the automotive aisle” they’ll think you’re nuts.
Ditto if you’re at AutoZone or Pep Boys and ask for the vegetable aisle.
And “how are you today” anywhere with “I am because I shop” you will draw either a blank stare or a call to security to escort you from the building. Either would be a suitable response. But the latter is better because you probably shouldn’t be on the street alone.
All of which brings us back to choosing a new inanity to replace “how are you today?”
Hot enough for you?
Cold enough for you?
At last the rain has stopped.
Hope you have an umbrella with you.
All of the above are better than “how are you?” (And better than “how about those Mets” or “Do you know the way to San Jose?”)
But maybe a smile and a nod or saying “mmmm” would do the trick.
--Since our most recent look at political BS (sorry, that’s redundant) Trump has declared for the white house. He sounds a little like Perot and a little like Reagan. And if you forget who they are and who he is, he sounds almost ok.
I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2015