Most people do it at the start of every day, with a loved one or a friend or a co-worker or sometimes even with a complete stranger; in fact, usually with all of the above: I speak of the old “Good morning” salutation.
There are those who, for whatever reason, shorten the experience by simply saying, “Morning,” suggesting that preempting the “Good” saves them some (insignificant) measure of time in the process of morning chatter. Or maybe they really don’t think that it’s a “good” morning for them personally, or they are just acknowledging that it is, in fact, morning, good or bad. Or maybe it’s just an automatic, meaningless response to be gotten out of the way, beset by obligation. (Is this starting to sound like a Seinfeld monologue?)
You almost never hear someone say, “Night,” except for the cutsie version, “Nighty-night.” But have you ever noticed that you never get the compatibly twisted version of Good morning? -“Morny-morn. (Too early for that sort of fancy digression.)
I have a colleague who is wrapped so tight, that he greets people with “M…” and walks away. (On his worst day, he just grunts.)
On the other end, there are those who feel obliged to follow up “Good morning” with “How are you?” I’m not big on that adjunct. (Clearly, I am not one who leaps out of bed and offers the sun a big hug.)
Personally speaking, after having said my obligatory “Good morning,” I would prefer to end it there. But if I am asked, I will always answer without even thinking, “Fine, thank you.” (How-are-you’s are best asked in the afternoon, really, when people have had time to digest the day’s events.)
Being asked How are you obliges you to ask the other person how they are, when what you really want is to get at the coffee machine before you are the one who has to make a fresh batch. Thankfully, most people wrap it up by telling you that they are “fine” also.
But then there are the troublemakers: People who assume that your question has weight and will answer you with things like, “Oh, I’m hanging in there.” Or, “Surviving.” Or, “Don’t ask.” Or (my favourite) “50/50.” (An added sigh is optional.) By then, I have usually left the room already.
My father was the worst. He always answered with “60/40.” I never found out whether the 60 was good or bad. And when I inquired, he would just sigh.
I don’t mean to labour the point – yes, I do – but maybe it’s time for a new approach to greeting people in the morning when all you can think of is having needed another three hours of sleep that day. Here are some new answers to robotic morning greetings, to get the brain flexing:
- · “Your fly’s open.”
- · “No hablo ingles, por favor.”
- · “Morning? Rats, I forgot to go to bed!”
- · (Simply) “Why?”
- · “I just saw them tow your car away.”
- · “Define good.”
Have a nice day. (No response required.)