You got a greeting, it starts with an ‘H,’ how’s 20 bucks sound?

The title of this blog is taken from an episode of Seinfeld[1] wherein Kramer goes into Home Federal Savings Bank, who have a policy that if you aren’t greeted “Hello,” they’ll give you $100.

Kramer argues that “Hey” is not the same as “Hello.”

Anyway, he gets 20 bucks out of the deal.

I commonly greet people with a “How’s it going?” or “How are you doing?”

I shouldn’t do this.

Because, I can’t legitimately give answers these questions without sounding like an asshole.

Generally when people use these greetings, they don’t really care about the answer to the question. They aren’t really asking how I’m doing. They are just saying “Hello.” It’s a greeting, it starts with an “H.”

When I hear a question, I can’t help but try to answer it. I’m also honest to a fault.

The common response to “How’s it going?’ is something along the lines of “Fine, thanks. How are you?”  But, that’s not my automatic response. I can’t do it. It’s a lie. When I try, I come across as sounding phony.

So, I’ve started shrugging and saying “meh” or when I’m feeling particularly cheerful, “Oh, I’m all right.” But, I get the feeling that a lot of people see this as rude.  I’m pretty sure that some of my colleagues have just stopped greeting me with these questions for that reason. Which is fine by me, I can’t come across as an asshole if I just wave.

The underlying problem, I think, other than my inability to engage in normal, social, human interactions, is that people are uncomfortable around people who are unhappy.  I think it’s partly a reflex, being around people who are stressed or in duress tend to have a way of bringing you down too.  I obviously don’t mean to bring anyone down, but I can understand why my response can be off-putting.  On the other hand, it has become my goal in life to convince the world that there’s nothing wrong with not having a particularly happy disposition.  Although I’m finding out that apparently honesty doesn’t count for much.

Once, just once, I wish that someone could respond to my “meh” and say, “I appreciate your honesty. I’m not doing particularly great either.”

As they say, misery loves company.


[1] From Season 7, the episode entitled “The Invitations.”

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You Know, We’re Living in a Society!

There is one thing that sets us apart from animals. No, it’s not our ability to reason, or laugh, or use tools.

It’s our ability to make and obey traffic laws.

Most people fail at obeying traffic laws.  In every city I’ve ever driven, I have heard someone say that this particular city has the worst drivers.  And the funny thing is, they’re probably all correct.

I was on foot attempting to cross a street with no crosswalk yesterday, and there was a car approaching from my left who slowed and waved for me to go ahead.  They thought they were being courteous to me, and grew annoyed when I waved them on and refused to cross the street.  You see, there was a car coming from the opposite direction. So waving me across would have meant that I would have had to stop in the middle of the road and wait for the second car to pass.

This demonstrates the problem quite nicely.

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