I Was Only Being Polite

Small, meaningless banter: it is the foundation of American society.

The following questions do not require detailed answers:

  • What’s up?
  • How’s it goin?
  • How’s your day?
  • How you doin?

Should someone approach you and present you with one of the above questions, chances are they don’t actually want to know the answer but are simply being cordial. In my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with this; It’s just simply part of our culture.

I feel myself somewhat an expert on this cultural routine as I ask hundreds of people these questions at work every week. Today a fellow exited the restroom and headed toward my register. After a small struggle with the menu, he settled on a Mocha Frappucino. As he paid up I took my opportunity to ask “How’s your morning been?” He stepped back, grimacing, and said “HORRIBLE.”

What do you say to that?

Well, I told him I was sorry and then shut my mouth, not wanting to probe any further. Turns out he didn’t need any prompting as moments later he clarified “I’ve been trying to pass a kidney stone ALL MORNING.”

Well, really, what do you say to that?

I took a gamble and told him the bright side was that this too shall pass. He laughed, so then I felt okay laughing too, but on the inside I was shocked at this revelation to a total stranger. It was almost as awkward as the time a couple years ago when I asked the same question to another customer only to learn that she’d just had lipo that morning. Well, isn’t that lovely. I’m glad I asked.


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