Many times when I’m out in public, I’ll give or receive either a few friendly words or a hello gesture, whether it be a nod or a smile, to a complete stranger. If I’m on the receiving end of such an occurrence, often times it’s because I’ve already made eye contact and offered a grin; I can’t help it. Not only am I an incredibly friendly (and extremely modest) person, but I’ve been trained to be friendly as well, thanks to the many customer-oriented jobs I’ve held throughout my life. “Thank you, pull around!”
I can tell you with certainty that if you’ve ever asked a stock boy at a grocery store “Are you working hard, or hardly working?”, you’re not nearly as original and funny as you think you are. In fact, chances are good that he’s probably been asked that question over a hundred times and he’s probably sick of having to laugh and pretend that he finds it amusing, especially if he’s having a bad day and is working very hard. Same goes for the person who tells him “Don’t work too hard!” He knows that you don’t really care how hard he works, and actually, you secretly figure that if he was working harder, maybe the Preparation H you planned this particular shopping trip around would be in stock so you wouldn’t have to make another stop on the way home. Besides, people in general will continue to work at the same pace no matter what wannabe-witty saying you “come up” with.
The worst thing that happens is when you ask someone a generic question, out of a desire to simply be friendly and acknowledge his or her presence, and you get an answer that has nothing to do with the question you’ve just asked. People who do this are total dorks, and I encountered one such dork in a grocery story this afternoon. The gentleman worked there, I figured out that much by the name tag stuck to his shirt, a name tag that had become clearer with each step we took toward each other. I noticed him noticing me noticing his name tag, so I offered a mere “How’s it going?” as I nodded my head in his direction. As we passed each other, he responded with “Not much.”
Not much? What the hell does that mean? It’s not going much? There’s not much going? Or, did he size me up before I had neared him, ultimately deciding that I was a What-have-you-been-up-to type of asker? I’m sure that’s what happened – when I opened my mouth and began speaking, all he probably heard was Charlie Brown’s teacher. Of course, once I was five strides beyond this exchange, I muttered “what a dork” under my breath. Then I laughed.
Why was it funny? I’m not sure, but I snickered about it a couple more times as it replayed through my mind. Maybe I’m too easily amused. Whatever the case, I finished up what I was doing and continued on with my day. Later in the afternoon, I shared a pleasant conversation with a liquor store manager during one of my last stops. He explained that he couldn’t wait to go fishing this coming weekend, and I promptly retorted with information regarding my upcoming family vacation that is taking place next week, a week which I am impatiently looking forward to.
“OK Luke, have a good vacation,” he encouraged as I gathered my belongings and prepared to leave.
“Thanks, you too.”