Saturday, February 09, 2008

Effing Snow...

We live in the White Mountains. Here's a couple pictures. We have more snow on the way tomorrow. Soon we will be sub-arctic.

Last night as I was wandering around the supermarket, very excited about their phenomenal yogurt sale, I ran into a guy I know. This happens often, we all joke that we keep track of everyone we know by running into them in the supermarket (I actually ran into about three people last night, which isn't many, when you get down to it). Anyway, I ran into a guy I know, and I did my usual "Hi! How are ya?" like I do all day long--at work, or around town. He responded, rather tensely, I thought "I'm doing very well" and scooted past. I responded with a passing "Glad to hear it, hey, good to see ya!" and it occurred to me that his tone had been, well, rather unlike his usual friendly self. I thought that was odd, especially since I thought he looked especially well. Especially well for someone who's been fighting a rare and persistent form of cancer for some time.

Then it occurred to me: well-meaning though I meant it, "How are ya?" is probably something he hears all day long, from people who expect either a "very well" or "poor today," both of which have to be followed with explanation about good days and bad days, and even if he's having a totally crappy day, people want to hear "very well" even when he's not, and then, do you go into it with everyone in the supermarket, or the convenience store, or that you run into at work?? What a pain. Are they asking because they really WANT to know, are genuinely concerned, or are they just being friendly? How do you answer that when you know you have more bad days than good days?

What an idiotic greeting... "Hi! How are ya!" when I don't really expect to listen... if everyone did tell me the truth, I'd be stopped for hours a day. I'd be the region's "well, let me tell you how I'm REALLY doing..." person. I wouldn't ask "how are ya?" if I didn't CARE... or don't I? Do I go into MY litany of personal problems, financial stress, hip bursitis, allergies, etc. when someone asks me, casually "how are ya?" No, I don't. Then why do they ask? If someone says "I'm good! How are you?" the automatic reply is "great! Nice to see ya!" and then you move on by. But that's all crap.

A few years back, I went to a very busy, very crowded sheep and wool festival with a friend. It was one of those places that had a lot of displays, and booths, and you're always winding around people and bumping into them... I was saying "sorry, oops, sorry!" all day long, as I usually did. My friend, however, never said "sorry!" she said a very polite and sincere "excuse me..." I watched her do this all day. Wow, I thought, was I really SORRY--was I really apologizing to people in this situation? "Excuse me" seemed so much more proper... "sorry" should be saved for when you do someone a genuine WRONG. Since then, I say "excuse me..." if I need to reach past them at the supermarket to get the tomato sauce, and, oddly, most people reply "oh, sorry!" and I want to say "don't be sorry, just say, 'oh, of course!" and shift out of my way a little. No apologies needed. Unless you run over my foot with your cart, or drop a soup can on my head... feel free then!"

So what would be a better casual greeting than "how are ya?" I've been thinking about this long and hard since last night. "Hi, nice to see ya!" "Hi, great yogurt sale, isn't it?" "Hi, hope your doing great, but if you're not, I hope things improve...can't chat, gotta go..."

I think I'll try to go with "nice to see ya!" Thoughts, anyone?