When I am asked the question, “How are you?” I respond with “Well”, even if I am not well. I never respond differently so as not to convert small talk into large talk. No further inquiry should be needed. I will only reply differently when I have asked the question first and the other’s response is “Good”. When the question is reciprocated, I will also reply with a grammatically incorrect answer; “Good”. This is so I don’t appear elitist.*ª
You should never hear:
A: “How are you?”
B: “I’m well. How are you?”
A: “Not so well, actually. Life has been proverbially sucking.”
B: “Okay, have a great day.”
A: “Thanks, you too!”
The above conversation has never happened. I wish it had, and that I had played the part of person A. I don’t need people prying themselves into my personal life. Conversations occurring in passing, while walking down a hallway or in an uncomfortable environment such as an elevator or airplane bathroom queue, should be as curt as possible.
A week ago, I was walking down a hallway, debating whether or not to address the person walking towards me. Clearly, she was thinking the same thing because she hesitantly said, “Hi.” mere steps in front of me. Under pressure, instead of “Hello” I responded with, “How are you?” My question was tardy, we had already physically passed each other in the hallway, I knew it. She answered my question while already behind me and to my horror, returned my belated pleasantries. “Good. How are you?” Shoot! A simple ‘good’ would have sufficed. Now I’m stuck and time is scarce. Should I turn around and politely answer back, or answer very loudly without even turning or should I ignore her question and move quickly on? Well, I chose the latter option, and ducked into my office.
The next time I saw her, neither of us engaged in eye contact, let alone any other form of verbal communication. For the last week, I have focused on avoiding this woman in the hallway. Sometimes I even pretend to be on my cell phone when I walk past her office. I am immature, I know, but I put a lot of time and energy into being this way.
I suppose the point that I should be taking from my own reasoning is this: life’s insipid tea leaves forecast very little, so it is necessary to spice up the bland. I may just add a little more flavour into my next conversation and if I leave a bad taste in the back of your throat, suck it up.
*ª I am elitist.