Tuesday, June 14, 2016

"How are you?"

It's a normal greeting in many languages to say "How are you?" or the like. (Locally here it's often "are you okay?".)  Since I have the odd tendency to believe that people mean what they say, and to not lie if avoidable, I've been long confused as how to answer that. The answer may be complex, or it may be negative on a bad day. And do people really want to hear about it?

I think not, generally. What they want, I think, is to show that they care (which is surely true to some degree or other) and to reassure themself that you are one less thing for them to worry about.

And of course they usually can't help you anyway if you're having a bad day. So in that case I've developed a kind-of solution which does not involve any lies. I simply nod and smile and say: "And you!" That seems to be perfectly acceptable.

I'm reminded, it seems a common idea that "Good morning" means "it is a good morning." But it seems obvious to me that it means "I wish you a good morning."


Joe Dick said...

From The Hobbit:

"Good morning!" said Bilbo, and he meant it. The sun was shining, and the grass was very green. But Gandalf looked at him from under long bushy eyebrows that stuck out further than the brim of his shady hat.

"What do you mean?" he said. "Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?"
"All of them at once," said Bilbo.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

That is good, thank you.

Bru said...

I think a wry, "I'm hanging in there," with a smile, is OK as a response.

For a while, in my youth, people would say, "Have a nice day!" at the end of a conversation. Often it was said by someone working in a shop or restaurant, and sometimes in a sickly sweet, not quite sincere tone. My friends would joke about replying with a very loud, very angry, "Don't you tell ME what kind of a day to have!!!"

I was at a nightclub, waiting for a blues show to start. Bluesman Albert King walked by, and my female friend, said, "Hey Albert, how's it goin.'" His reply was something like, "It's hard as hell sometimes, but were' getting by." A good blues response.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Those are good, thank you. :-)

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Once in the hospital, all vulnerable, I was briefly interviewed by a psych. He was a huge, scary-looking bloke with a deep voice and skinhead. He ended saying: "don't worry, you're as sane as myself." I said "thank you.", and he said: "You don't know me!"