How Are You?

Years ago, I was at a family gathering.  You know those events we go to a couple times of year in order to take a roll count of who is  breathing and if they still have their own teeth?  It was here I found one of my greatest pet peeves. Because, when they’re special, you should take your peeves out and pet them once in a while, just so they know you care.

It was sometime between the roasting of the turkey and the devouring of the cheesecake, when Aunt Schnitzel turned to Uncle Doorstop and asked, “What is happening with your new job, Doorstop?”  This led to an enlightening ten minute conversation about rattlesnake milking and the joys of  roasting chestnuts over the heads of feverish squirrels. 

  Halfway through, Cousin Sniffles saw the opportunity to sneak in and, hopefully, get a small taste of the  cheesecake, without getting caught.  Aunt Schnitzel, wanting Sniffles to feel included, smiled and asked, “How are you, Sniffles?”

In response, Sniffles grabbed a hunk of cheesecake, shoved it into his mouth, and grunted something that sounded like, “Fine.”

One family gathering, I really tried to count, but soon lost track of how many times I was asked how I was doing, without anyone taking the time to find out the answer.  When did the phrase, “How are you?” lose its meaning and become a standard greeting, along with, “Hello”, “Good Morning”, and “That stick in your ear really brings out the color in your eyes.”

Can you imagine how different the world would be if  people  took the time to find out how others  really are?  You thought the supermarket and banking lines were long now.  How long would they take with even the  quickest explanation about the excitement of a customer’s new hairpiece or complaints about the car breaking down  and the goldfish mysteriously found swimming in the cat’s water dish, again.

It may be a good way to slow down telemarketers:

TELEMARKETER:  “Hello, Mrs. Smith.  My name is Stella, from the See Through Glass Company. How are you today?”

WORN-OUT HOUSEWIFE:  Thank you for asking, Stella.  It’s seven o’ clock in the morning . I’ve been up all night, because the baby’s sick, the toddler wiped his diaper on the antique loveseat, and the dog  has been burping green gases, so I am thinking of evacuating.”

Of course, you’re thinking my example is highly unrealistic.  After all, what young mother, in her right mind, would have an antique loveseat?  

Wouldn’t  it save us a little extra breath and others a bit of energy to say, “Hello” rather than “How are you?”  This causes the other person to momentarily consider how they are.   As you walk off to spread “how are yous” to others, they are left standing with their mouths hanging open, looking a whole lot like one of those bottle openers that used to be found on pop machines.

Perhaps it’s a habit that’s not going to be easy to get over. Or, perhaps, you really do want to know the details of how someone is.  In which case, drop me a note, and I’d be happy to tell you  all the minute to minute details of my day.  For everyone else, just don’t be surprised if my answer is, “Something about that cheesecake smells rotten.”

Published in: on April 21, 2011 at 2:00 am  Comments (1)  
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  1. […] Sadly, the judges did not see that brilliance, so the piece sat, until I pawned  it off onto my alter ego,who didn’t have nearly the word limit constraint I […]

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