Tuesday, May 03, 2005

I'm super! Thanks for asking! All things considered I couldn't be better I must say. *

It's one of those automatic things to ask someone you sort-of-know 'How are you?' or 'How's it going?' as you pass them in the hall at work. But does any one really care what the answer is? I'm thinking that with the majority of people... well, they're just being polite. Cordial. Heaven forbid if you ever unloaded on them the truth about how you are really doing.

Bill : Good morning Bob.
Bob : Good morning Bill.
Bill : How's it going?

Expected Answer:
Bob : Good. And you?

Unwanted Answer:
Bob : Not so good. IRS called again last night. Wife's on another bender. Kid was on television last night. Mug shot really doesn't do him justice. And I think my hemorrhoids are flaring up again.

See? This is how its really going for poor Bob, but Bill doesn't care. He was just being polite. Giving Bob the ol' verbal morning handshake. Now poor Bill is going to be stuck thinking about Bob's hemorrhoids all day long.

So should you lie and say everything's fine? Should you spare Bill your grocery list of problems? No. Not if he's dumb nice enough to ask you about them. Unload on him and he'll learn not to ask you a stupid, trivial question again unless he means it.

Easier said than done my friends.

You see, there's this guy at work. Well, there are many guys actually, but this particular on is very friendly. Jovial. Full of the happy beans. The life of the party. The Guy Who Wears A Gilligan Hat to Hawaiian Shirt Day. And most mornings he walks by my desk and says, "Good morning Lisa!" all bright and cheery like.

I start to reply with a 'good morning' of my own when he quickly adds, "How are you?"

Now mind you, he hasn't stopped at my desk to say hi. He's doing the office equivalent of a drive-by shooting: a walk-by greeting. He doesn't slow down. He does not pass go and he does not collect 200 dollars.

Reward for seeing my brilliantly smiling face...

= $200 dollars.

Hearing me try and talk in coherent sentences ("good m-... oh, I'm fining. Uh. I mean fine. Good morning I'm fine. Uh huh.)

= priceless.

He asks me how I'm doing as he walks past my desk. I reply with the generic standard, 'Fine'. Then, to be polite, and to play my part in this game of Impersonal Communication, I ask him how he's doing. By then, though, he's already moving on to the next desk, the next office, the next pretty face (heh) he can say good morning to.

And you know what? He's never replied back to me!!! Not once.

How effin' rude. I take the time to ask him how he's doing and he never says anything! He's always too busy, too 'on the go' to stick around for further office talk. I bet he doesn't even hear my 'fine' status. I bet he just breezes by my desk on autopilot. His brain registers that there's some office person to his right so it sends a message to the speech part of his brain to play Office Greeting File 001, and then the autopilot sends him right along to his final destination.

Sometimes, I don't even say I'm fine. Sometimes, when he squishes the 'good morning' and the 'how's it going' parts together, I've already started to say 'good morning'. So I say that and nothing else. Then I feel awkward. I didn't say I was fine. Is he really expecting an answer? If I don't answer, will he think I'm rude? Too late now, I've double paused! One pause would be okay, but two pauses is too long an intermission between question and answer. Crap. Now he's gone.

Now, all this is thought really fast. Nanoseconds fast. It's not like I dwell on this or anything. I don't. Really, I don't! It's just... awkward.

Sometimes, I'll answer his 'how's it going' question and not repeat the question back to him. And sometimes, I feel a bit rude for not being as fake inquisitive as him. Should I ask him how he's doing? Do I even have time to spit it out before he passes my desk? I guess if he really wanted me to ask him he'd stick around longer. I'm not exactly the fastest talker in the west. You got to give me a second or two to get the words out.

So yeah, just some weird impersonal office shit. I'm thinking of making a sign to hang from my cubicle that reads...

Yes, it's a beautiful morning.
I'm fine.
Yes, I got your messages.
Yes, all of them.
That one too.
I'm working on it.
Down the hall, first door on you left after the coffee maker.
At 2 o'clock.

Any other questions? Want better answers? Inquire within.

On second thought, that's a little too impersonal. Heh. I am, after all, Friendly Girl! (When I'm not being Hard Ass Administrator Gal, that is.) Besides, how boring would my day be if I kept all the silly people from asking me face to face their silly questions? Pretty boring, my friends. Pret-ty boring!

* title courtesy of the wonderful South Park song I'm Super.

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