Archive | February, 2012


21 Feb

We ask the question, “How are you?” probably several times a day. Coworkers, colleagues, cashiers, clerks, cab drivers, etc. But what do we really mean by this? Are we just being polite and showing how well-mannered we are by asking how the other person is feeling for the day?

Most of the time we expect the answer to be, “Good, fine, OK, alright, pretty good, great, awesome, fantastic” or some other vague adjective that can describe our mood. If the person actually unloaded how they really felt, we would probably try to cut the conversation short so we could move onto the next thing we had to do in our busy day. If we took the time to hear truly how the other person was feeling or doing that day, we’d probably end up having hour-long conversations with each person we ran into or asked.

Or how about, “What’s up?” This expression is frustrating, because I feel as if when I answer I need to explain to the person what I am currently doing at that moment. How can you ask someone what is up and expect a one word answer? “What’s up?” to me prods for more explanation. You are asking about more than a person’s mood, you are asking about an action, what they are doing.

Then there’s also, “How’s it going?” which is similar to how are you but maybe more casual. The word “going” is an action word, so we are referring to some type of movement, almost like asking where are you going or how are you going. I guess I’m a little confused by this phrase.

“How have you been?” is usually when you haven’t heard from the person for a while, and you are asking how they have been or what they have been up to in the past week or month. This could have a range of answers, from short to lengthy descriptions of what I have been doing since all that time has passed.

Depending on who is asking, my answer varies from vague to descriptive. If it’s one of my best friends or a family member, and they ask “How’s it going?” and let’s say I’m having a terrible day, I will probably unload on them and tell them all of the horrible things that have happened to me. It’s it’s an acquaintance or a friend I only see once in awhile, I might sum things up in a few words, and act like everything is pretty good.

Our American greetings seem strange. There is such a wide array of how you can greet someone, and there isn’t necessarily a standard as how to answer each. There are generally accepted ways of answering, which is usually the one word, vague descriptor. But what if we stopped asking how everyone was feeling or doing, and asked them what the best part of their day was so far? Or were more specific in our targeted answer?

If it’s someone we know, sometimes we want to know about a specific thing going on in their life. But would it be inappropriate or rude to ask a friend, “Are you still dating that loser?” But we can’t be that straight forward, because we might catch the other person off guard if that is the first thing we ask about. But, this would make the conversation more efficient.

So next time someone asks me how I’m doing or what I’m doing, maybe I’ll just say, “I don’t really know, that’s kind of a loaded question. How’s about you today?”


17 Feb

Accidents are really just absent minded incidents.