Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Oy! My aching bones!

You know those people who, when you politely say "Hi, how are you?" have to tell you exactly how they are? And every little thing that's wrong with them? Well, we have one of those working here. Usually I just smile nicely and say hi, and leave off the "how are you", so I don't have to hear about the latest stomach ailment, or gall bladder problem, or trouble with his adult daughter who is messed up in the head. I slipped today though. When I saw this gentleman today, I noticed he was walking with a pronounced limp and matching pained expression. I ignored this the first time I saw him, and just said hello, but the second time I saw him today, he was making such a production that I felt rude not saying something.

Me: Hi Sam. Hey, you look like you're gimping around, what's wrong?

Him: Well... (big dramatic sigh) when you get to be my age...

...and he was off. I was treated to a ten minute monologue about gout and the buildup of uric acid. Mmmm, tasty. If he was about ten years younger, he and Nutjob would make the perfect couple. Actually, 20 years younger... since she only dates guys 10 years younger than her.

Uric acid lecture notwithstanding, I figured I'd bring this up because of a continued debate between Silent Husband and I. (Aren't you lucky, you get to play marriage mediator!) He sometimes responds truthfully to the casual "how are you", to make a point. I say no one really wants to know how you are, the question is asked as part of a greeting and doesn't really mean anything. His angle is that if someone asks, he's going to act as though they genuinely care, even though he knows they don't. According to him, if you don't care, you shouldn't ask, and so his truthful answer is a punishment of sorts to the person who asked without caring.

I guess I'm a follower... I find it a lot easier to just say "Hi, how are you" because it's expected of me, than to make a big deal about it. But in instances like the one related above, if I know it's going to result in a litany of complaints, I tactfully leave it out of my greeting.


Blogger darth said...

lol...i think its a case by case thing-some people i definitely have learned to avoid asking the dreaded how are you..others i honestly am interested in how they are really doing...really.

so, how are you, silent witness?

3:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm worse than S.H. - when people ask how am I, I ask them "As compared to what?" This usually stops a person in his/her tracks. It doesn't really garner friends, but it at least keeps the populace on their toes.

Mr. Ring of Fire

4:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm with Silent Husband on this one. If you don't want to know, don't ask. ;)

Not that I'd ever be so rude to respond with anything other than "pretty good, thanks!" of course. :-P

4:33 PM  
Blogger Craig said...

Though I use it as part of a greeting, when it comes to friends I really would want to know how they're doing, so even if I use it reflexively, for them it's genuine; for aquaintances, not as much.

But the best/worst time this happened was back in college and I bumped into my friend Sean F on the elevator. I said hey, how ya doin'" and he replied "not so good, my aunt just died." And so used to hearing answers of "all right", I replied: "oh, that's good."

Needless to say, copious apologizing ensued.

Tell Silent Husband I said hi. And ask how's he doin for me. :)

7:27 PM  
Blogger SilentWitness said...

Oh definitely, with friends I always mean it. I was talking about the professional/polite "Hi, how are you?".

And Darth... take your pick. 1) I'm well, thank you, and how are you? or 2) I'm a little emotional today, because I went to a funeral this morning and watched a kid read a poem to his dead grandmother. Wasn't a dry eye in the house. But that's probably a hell of a lot more than you wanted to know. ;)

1:21 PM  
Blogger darth said...

awww..sorry to hear that...the poem sounds sweet tho. :)

and..i'm fine, thanks ;)

4:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is Silent Husband putting his two cents in:

There are times when a person asks you "How are you doing?" and you know they do not give a flying fuck what your answer is. It is to those people that you reply, "Do you care or are you just saying that?"

Mostly the reaction you get is either shock, "What?"; or no reaction at all as they continue on what ever inane topic they were going on to anyway; or the person will fess(sp?)up to not caring, "AH, I was just saying that." At least you know where each person is coming from.

Do I do this with my friends ... no ... they all know I do not give a shit!!!! :)hahaha



8:53 PM  

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