How are you?

I was walking up a flight of stairs when I passed by one of my old teachers. She greeted me with a “Hello!”

“Hi! How are you?”

“Good! How are you?”

“Good! How are you?”

My fate was sealed. Realizing my mistake, I took advantage of the distance that had grown between us on the stairs. I scurried higher and around a corner, hopefully before she stopped to think about what I had just asked, again.

Let’s face it. Almost all of our casual interactions begin this way. We genuinely care for the other person’s well being, so we naturally ask how they are, yet when offered the same curiosity, we customarily respond with the classic, meaningless “good”. Why do we even ask, if we know what the answer will be? Because we’re supposed to?

These greetings have become so accepted that any out of the ordinary response is odd enough to cause attention. What if we casually asked “How are you?” only to hear a truthful “Awful”. Then what would we do?

The conversation is too innocent, too lighthearted, for us to tell the truth. How does this affect other areas of our lives?

I decided to test the legitimacy of the stereotypical greeting. I asked one friend how he was every day for an entire week. Not noticing the trend, he replied with a simple “Good.” every time.

I asked a teacher how he was. “Excellent!”. I was pleasantly shocked. Never before had I heard this response! The adventurous delight in discovering an exception was short-lived, however. I went back to the same teacher twice that day, asking how he was. Both times he responded “Excellent!”. So then, this was his ever-unchanging reaction. I sighed and continued my experiment.

I spoke with a friend for the first time in months. Customarily, she was “good”. Without warning, she asked how I was. Suddenly, time simultaneously froze and accelerated. At a loss for words, I gave the only word I could think of. I was good.

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3 comments on “How are you?

  1. ryan's friend says:

    is this mr. l’etoile, by chance?

  2. inkwell5 says:

    If you are referring to the teacher who responded “Excellent!”, you are incorrect, unfortunately.

  3. Trey says:

    This is so true bro

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