I looked up to see a young man enter the room. He smiled and said “how you doing”, to which I dutifully replied “fine.”. The irony of this exchange is that it took place in the waiting room of my local eye clinic, where I had come because of a series of recent headaches. So, if I really were fine, I wouldn't have been there.
In retrospect, I know his greeting was just a courtesy, but it got me to thinking about how much or our verbal conversations today have been reduced to sound bites. Like when someone inadvertently bumps into you and says “I'm sorry” when they are not and you say “no problem” when it is. Sound bites. Probably not at all what we are thinking, but said anyway in an effort to be politically correct.
It seems we are hesitant to scratch the surface of sincerity and still communicate. Like “hello” or “hi” are pretty non threatening, but would probably be met with a “hi, how are you?” One of my favorites is “I haven't seen you in a long time, how have you been?” Whatever you do, don't attempt to tell them. They don't care.
Soon it was my turn to see the doctor. As I entered the examining room, he said “good morning, how are you.” Every fiber of my body wanted to say “I don't know, that's why I'm here.” But of course, instead I said “fine”. But I meant it in the sincerest way. Or not.