When Did "How Are You?" Turn Into a Loaded Question
It's funny how each country/area has those local colloquialisms that might not translate to an outsider. When I lived in London after college for about a year, I noticed that everyone would say "you alright?" to me, like co-workers or people in stores. I thought that this meant that I looked crappy and/or as if something was wrong with me. It took me a couple weeks or months to realize it was like the British equivalent to the American "how are you?" or "how are you doing?" The question shouldn't be taken literally. It's just a courtesy.
So it always boggles my mind when you ask someone (particularly someone who is more of an acquaintance, like a co-worker, or a complete stranger), "how are you?" and they respond with every ailment or problem in their life or general TMI. Real life examples:
"I'm good but looks like I'll need that surgery on my back."
"My doctor increased my pain medications so, you know, I'm still in a lot of pain."
"My boyfriend and I just had a fight and he came after me with a knife." (literally heard this from a girl in my college dorm who I barely knew.)
"Good, my anorexia isn't as bad as it was last year." (from a girl in high school who I barely knew.)
"Well my mom is in the hospital again..." (acquaintance.)
And my fave - "Great! I met my soul mate last week! I was at my friend's cousin's house and he's their neighbor and, it's like, we were never supposed to even meet since I live in *insert random town* and he lives in *insert crappier random town*. But we have talked every night for the last week and I just love him so much." (from the girl at the grocery store by my house as she was ringing up my items. I also heard her tell the exact same story to the people in front of and behind me in line.)
I guess people didn't get the memo that these questions don't require a real answer. And now I sound like a huge bitch. But I'm just not into TMI, I guess? What's the best/worst random unsolicited thing someone told you?