Sometimes, I have a clear and direct idea of where I’m going before I start these columns.
I can see the way visibly laid out in front of me. Alas, those days are rare. Mostly, I stare at a blank screen until my muse makes herself known. Sadly, she might not stay. Other times, the column takes on a mind of its own. I start out going one way but end up somewhere else. Today is one of those days. We will commence in one direction, but — fair warning — will take a sharp turn. Fret not, however, I will bring you home.
That said when did answering the phone become an invitation for someone to sell you a car warranty, lie about an arrest warrant out for you, or threaten you because your computer was “messing up the internet”? We don’t pick up anymore unless it’s a number we sure-fire recognize.
Not paying attention, I made the mistake of sliding “accept the call.”
“How are you?” asked a heavily-accented man.
Yanked back into awareness, irritated by what I judged was going to be a scam, I indignantly replied. “I died last night.”
Waited long enough to hear his reply before hanging up; I heard him say, flummoxed. “I’m sorry to hear that.”
I find the delivered-without-thought question, “How are you?” to be disingenuous. Don’t get me wrong; when asked by someone who knows and cares about your actual well-being, it’s a sincere, kind query. Yet typically, we say it because, well, I’m not sure. I guess we don’t want to appear rude. However, asking a personal question when, in reality, you don’t want to take the time to hear the honest answer is indeed rude. Just sayin’…
Oft times, I’ll respond with an expression I learned from talk show host Thom Hartmann, “I’m great – but I’ll get better.” Some laugh, finding the retort clever, shattering the mold of what they expected to hear. Others have said, “Oh no! I hope you get better soon,” obviously not listening to the reply, but wanting to move on to their real agenda and avoid the unpleasantness of listening to someone’s ailments.
Yep, you guessed it; I’m a little cranky today. Shields up.