The people who want to hear about your medical aches and pains are few and far between. This is an important thing to remember when you are asked, “How are you?” Unless of course it is your doctor asking the question. But in reality, “How are you?”, “How ya doing?” or any other reference is just a formality that has become a part of out culture. Those who know me know my train runs on its own track. So I don’t usually ask how are you, I usually say, “How goes your war?” Here is a glimpse into the answers I have gotten to that question and the basic how ya doing, over the years.
While in a restaurant the waitress introduced herself to those gathered around our booth and related that she would be our server. Whew, I thought she was just passing by and thought we needed to know her name. Of course she was going to be out waitress, we were in a restaurant, she was dressed in the formal waitress attire, did she think we were dork like? Moving on…
So at the introduction stage of the game I asked her, how her day was. “Well,” she said grabbing at her pen that was nestled in her hair bun gathered on the back of her head, “I could sure use a day off, a raise and a good meal at a good restaurant.” Wait. What? I thought we were at a good restaurant!
That simple “how are you” to our server was topic for conversation throughout the meal. Not only did we wonder where she ate when she went out to eat, and why she didn’t eat at this particular eatery, but we also discussed that little question asked to, and by, us all. “How are you?”
From the hair dresser telling one woman that she was so tired she couldn’t even concentrate on what she was doing–this you do not want to hear when someone is working close to your ears with sharp scissors. To the receptionist in the doctor’s office that said she was going to have to take a day off and go out of town to see a good doctor. Again, wait, wasn’t the doctor I was going to see at the office where she worked a good doctor?
The “How goes your war?” question that I ask has also gotten some memorable quips. Sometimes I just get this look, a blank stare and a period of silence while the question sinks in. After all we are accustomed to hearing how you are, not how goes your war. Then it sinks in and usually I get a smile and a response like, “The battle rages on and on and on.” I had a Vietnam Vet say, “Just like I was back in my Huey,” and grin at me.
I bet the question is asked like a zillion times a day throughout the world. How many times is it answered with a just a “Fine,” or “Great,” or “Top of the world,” and those are really true? My pat answer is sometimes, “I’m fin’er than frog’s hair, thanks for asking.” I don’t like talking about aches and pains. I come from a line of hypochondriacs. If you tell me your little toe on your right foot is as big as a peach, I am just as apt to run to the nearest computer and make sure whatever you have isn’t able to jump from your shoe covered toe to mine. Not that I don’t care how my friends and family are doing. I do. But polite conversations about ones infirmities is a conundrum. There is polite conversation and there are conversations about an oozing weeping this or a huge reddish that, upon ones’ person.
Lastly there are those who, no matter when they are asked are just out of sorts. I feel the worst for these people. When do they ever get to have fun? How in the world can they function daily, live to the hilt, have a ball, get into and out of life’s funny unpredictable troubles?
So next time you open your mouth to answer this overt question, and rest assured you will be asked, ask yourself this, do you want to be remembered as the sick and tired, overworked and underpaid? Or as the non-descript good, okay. Or better yet try saying, just peachy, or if I were any better there would be a law against it… I hope you come up with an answer that each person that asks you will remember you by. If you get a chance, let me know, “How goes your war?” Me? I’m just peachy.
Trina Machacek lives in Eureka. Her book ITY BITS can be found on Kindle. Share your thoughts and opinions with her at firstname.lastname@example.org.