Another day another dollar...
I heard that statement while growing up. I heard it often from adults. Usually in response to the question, "How's it going?" or "Working hard?"
I always assumed if the were only making a dollar a day then they must not like their job very much.
Now that I am old (41 years as of last Sunday) I understand that this was an easy answer to a question. An answer like, "Fine, and you?" that we all use when we assume the the person asking does not care, and the we answer with a question that we do not care to hear the answer too.
I should not say that. There are people who care, and truly want to know the answer to, "How are you today." The answer is why? Are do they really care? Or do they just want to hear good news? Or are they the other side of that coin and are hoping to hear bad news, so they can feel better about their life not being what they want it to be.
As I get older I find that I less and less want to answer questions like, "How are you?"
There are people I will answer. My wife, my best friends, some relatives. The problem is, we rarely know if people want to hear the answer or if they are just being polite.
How many time have you asked someone, "How are you?" and then regretted when they actually answered? You know the person. You ask, and then they let you know. They let you know and know and know and know....
I fear being that person. So I usually say, "Fair to good here, I could complain but no one really wants to hear it!" (this is said with a smile). The response is more often than now, "That is true!"
So how do we know when someone is polite and when they really mean it?
I think it is shown by the circumstance.
If the "How are you?" is said standing up, they are being polite. They are in a posture that is temporary and easy to exit from.
If it is said sitting down, they are more likely to mean it. Also if think if there is a table between you and the other person it means less than if there is no table. If you are sitting over a meal and someone asks you "How are you?" then they probably do not want to hear about your child sticking an uncooked pinto bean up their nose, or your grandmothers polyp situation. if you are both in chairs with a small table or no table then I believe that the subject is open to wider use. At this time who they person is that you are talking to comes into play. Your spouse or best friend is open season, they know your warts and have smelled your farts. Parents are a a bit different, in my case this is a smaller scope than that with spouse/best friend (others will have a different view here). From this point on I think the rules are judged by each participant. You go where you feel is comfortable. I usually use the others conversation to decide where I can go. If they talk cooking, I can speak about cooking and perhaps what my kids will and won't eat. They talk cooking and reactions to different food, I can speak about cooking and what I am allergic to but no references to what the allergic reaction is. They speak of allergic reactions, I can speak in vague references to what mine are. For example if it causes diarrhea, I say , "That tears me up, and I regret eating it." Unless it is a good friend or a friend in the medical field, they can usually take the truth.
I find that my lines of acceptance are a bit more defined than others. It always amazes me when someone I do not know all that well shares very intimate bedroom details. I may joke and cross the line of good taste now and then, but rarely do I get detailed. Somethings are best left to the imagination.
With new means of communication and privacy getting harder and harder to come by, perhaps some feel that nothing is taboo to discuss. I feel there still are certain things that are, depending upon the person I am speaking to.
Some say that is changing who you are depending upon who you are with. I think it is adjusting the conversation to suit the comfort level of all involved. You may not have a problem sharing every detail, but the person you are speaking to may have an issue hearing it. I can hear details and be unfazed, while my wife may hear the same details and be grossed out. So does that mean that people who are sharing more than the person then are speaking to are rude, or merely more comfortable with the conversation so the listener should adjust?
Personally I think the person sharing should adjust for their audience. If for no other reason than to stick with the beliefe, "Better to be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt."