Don’t ask me how I am.

Don’t ask me how I am in front of customers.

It’s not for no reason that I avoid asking customers that dreaded question.  Any of its variations – “How you doin’?” “How’s it going?” “How’s everything?” “Are you having a good day?” – tend to yield generic, bullshit responses. When a customer asks me the question, I do say the obligatory “Fine”, but then immediately blow past that to a way more juicy question, “What has been a highlight of your day?” Yeah, it’s still tilted towards the positive, but it leaves lots of room for you to be not having such a good day. And it encourages a discipline, which I am trying to find in my life, of noticing the little positive things that I might otherwise miss – even when I’m having a tough day.

Let's  do ourselves both a favor and minimize the need for bullshit.

Let’s do ourselves both a favor and minimize the need for bullshit.

When I see you, my co-worker, anywhere else in the store, in our front end office/counting room, or by the cash registers during a brief lull with no customers, there’s a reasonable chance that I will give you a relatively honest answer  (I typically leave out any reference to depression) – and you to me.  When customers are around, I’m going to lie to you for the same reason that I’m going to lie to them – unless this is a customer that I know pretty well.  They don’t expect a negative answer and many of them do not want one.  . They’re not paying to hear us gripe about our day.  And you’ll probably lie too, even if we otherwise usually do tell the truth to each other.

So I’ll be grateful if you spare both of us the bullshit by saving this potentially juicy question for contexts where we can give it some juice.