Here’s a question….
When you ask someone “How are you?” or “How are things going?”, do you expect someone to answer truthfully? Or are you just asking out of form?
Are you taken aback when they answer “Things have not been so good…” or “I’ve been sick all summer”… or “I have cancer…”
I had the experience this weekend of being asked repeatedly “How was your summer?” and “How’s it going?” and then a glassy stare, and an uncomfortable “Oh dear… Well, gotta run.” when I answered truthfully…
In one case, I received a quizzical look and “Welll… Um… thanks for your honesty.” and then they looked for a quick exit. Now, I am not telling them that I have been abducted by aliens or that I have decided to become a sex-worker to support my crack-habit… I am simply explaining how things have been with my Mom sick and how Mom’s memory is. And these people were all members of our congregation, who I have known for years and, more importantly, have known Mom for years.
The “thanks for your honesty” one was from our minister.
Now, it isn’t as though I am going around unloading on everyone I meet… I’m talking about the people who supposedly “care”.
I sometimes feel like I am from some other planet. When I ask someone how are you? I certainly hope that they are going to say fine because they are. But when they tell me they haven’t “been fine” or that things have gone terribly wrong in their lives, I don’t take this as a personal affront. I stop and listen and offer my sincere wishes for improvement… Even offer to help, if I can.
On the very rare occasion when I encounter someone who I know just complains for the sake of complaining, I probably won’t ask “How are you?” because I know the answer. But why bother asking, especially someone you know well and supposedly care about if all you want to hear is “Great!”?
How about actually caring how someone is? How about that, for a change?
Or maybe I should just hand out a card that allows them to check off the answer they want to hear….
___ Absolutely peachy-keen
___ My life is complete, now that you asked me
___ If I was any happier, my head would fall off
___ Short of shitting bricks of gold, I couldn’t be happier
___ These are tears of pure, unadulterated, fucking joy….
And, while we are at it… Why the fuck is no one using their damn turn signals this week? Did I miss the memo?