How You Doing?

The most useless phrase in North American culture may also be the one most uttered, “How are you doing?” Or any of its similar forms like “Wassup?” “Howzit going?” Unless you're sitting down on a comfy couch surrounded by close family members and friends that caught whiff that your life was barrelling towards shambles after your spouse rode away on your prized ostrich and took your collector's edition Ernest Hemingway Pez dispenser, then the phrase's utterance is usually just a really verbose way to say “Hi.”

I’m clueless to when a simple hello became dated and got replaced with a catchphrase that should be a door to deeper conversation but is often uttered when someone is already in the frozen food aisle before you reply with a simple ‘good.’ Of course, ‘good, and you’ is the expected response so in case one hasn't already slammed the car door in your face then they can fire back the equally expected, ‘good, thanks.” A person’s head may go all Scanners and explode if someone actually dared to take the person up on the empty greeting and reveal they're rather anxious about downsizing at work and been spending free time convincing their child that bonfires don't happen in the living room. The world may actually open up and swallow us all whole if someone dared to say 'bad.'

The other night I was walking Summit with the blanket of darkness upon us and from the shadows I heard a “How’s it going?” I didn’t recognize the voice or the driveway that it came from and hardly was sure it was even a person except for the moonlight shining off his bald cranium (maybe that is also how he saw me?). Somehow this perfect stranger that could have easily let me just continue trotting on the sidewalk wanted to know all about my hopes, dreams, passions, and fears. Should I tell him about my current stress over my writing career that has crashed into a wall after two years of feeling the wind in my hair and a belief I’d continue uphill? Should I delve into my plans for that week or start sharing photos of my beautiful children? I opted for “good, you?” And I was rewarded with, “good, thanks.” Then I was out of talking distance to never hear that voice again.