Thursday, March 24, 2011

"Fine" and "Good"

‎"I think it's important that we don't all have to hold our heads high all the time saying everything's fine." ~Nicole Kidman

I'm a regular at the Tim Horton's drive-thru. I admit it. It's my addiction, even if it's gone from regular to decaf. It's the habit and the comfort of the cup of coffee each morning more than the caffiene. Here is the exchange of words each time I'm at the window, usually with the same girl:

Girl: "Good morning! How are you?"
Me: "Good, thank you."

This morning it occurred to me that I'm not "good". Why do we, as a society, more realistically those of us with chronic illness, have such an aversion to admitting that we are not doing "fine" or "good"?

I think it's a habit that gets instilled in us from a very young age. It's a matter of being polite, but it's not real. It's a very masked response for many people. However, the question itself is a very fake form of concern. If only people really DID want to know how I am everytime they asked. I'm sure most of them don't though. I'm sure that most people, especially those in customer service, are simply attempting to be cordial and provide a pleasant experience at that given moment.

In a more realistic world, the girl at the window wouldn't even ask me how I'm doing because quite frankly, she doesn't really care how I'm doing. I'm just the lady that comes through every morning at 6:10 a.m. and buys a large coffee with 3 sugar and 2 cream. Though she recognizes my car and can have that coffee ready before I even get to the speaker, she really doesn't concern herself much with "how I'm doing".

Of course, a more "real" version of my response probably would have looked more like this:

Girl: "Good morning! How are you?"
Me: "Oh, I'm up and moving, which is a considerable acheivement this morning considering I can't bend over or put on a pair of jeans due to the pain in my back and legs. And I can't put on my regular shoes because my feet are too swollen. I skipped a shower all together because I didn't have enough energy, so I just stuck my head under the water to fix my hair. But then again, it took me twice as long to blow dry my hair because I can't bend down and hold my neck for very long and I can't hold my arms up for very long thanks to the inflammation in my shoulders. My eyes burn, so I can't put in my contacts and I just remembered that I forgot to pack myself a lunch. Darn it. Oh well, I didn't have time anyway if I wanted to make it to work on time."

And that, my friends, is the reason that no one answers honestly, because nobody really wants to hear that kind of long-winded response. I can't say I blame them.

However, the next time you see a friend, acquaintance, co-worker, or family member, before you ask "How are you?", ask yourself...."Do I really mean that, do I really want to know?" At the same time, when they answer "fine" or "good", remember that there's more to everyone's story, it's just a matter if you're taking the time to really listen. And if you choose to really listen, remember that whatever is going on in their lives is real to them, and care that their circumstances are making and molding them into the people they are today.