“how are you’s?”

I am sure all of us have at least once been subjected to this question, only to find that it was uttered as a robotic pretense, rather than a heartfelt inquiry. When we are introduced to someone, there is the usual “Hello” followed by the conventional “How are you?” and the even more basic “I’m fine.”

Once, I was sitting at a friends house and her relatives whom I had not seen for several years walked into the room. Upon entering, they spotted me and, with exaggerated smiles and in tones best suited to converse with a baby in the middle of a noisy concert, said: “Helllooo!”

I returned the greeting, at which point, they asked “How are you?” But before I could even open my mouth to utter a single word, whether it be the meaningless “I’m fine” or something greater, they simply turned away and asked the same thing to someone else. The question was just a string of words issued from their mouth without thinking, an act of second nature that had lost all its meaning, as if I was conversing with a robot configured to relay automated messages.

Say “Hello”, say “Goodbye”, just don’t ask me “How am I?”  After all, why ask a question, when you have no interest in the answer. Period.

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