American Pleasantries

Jenny and Dave Prager brought us First Impressions of the USA last month. Some of the response they received from global visitors to the USA concerned the common greeting, "How are you?" Lakshmi says:
“When I set foot at the Dulles airport in DC, the immigration/customs guy asked me how I was doing — and I was taken aback. Am I supposed to know this guy? Does this guy know my cousin? And so, is that how he knows that I would be here at the airport today? Did my cousin ask him to take care of me until he could pick me up at the airport? If so why didn’t my cousin tell me? I looked like a deer facing headlights.”

She wasn't the only one who was confused by the phrase, as well as "thank you", "you're welcome", and the constant smiles of Americans. Read more at Our Delhi Struggle. Link -Thanks, Dave!

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I'm autistic. I've never understood so-called "small talk" either. When people ask me what's up, I tell them "the sky" or "the ceiling". They think that's funny; I think it's obvious.

I'm about two meters tall. When people ask me how the weather is up here, sometimes I start to lecture them on the diffusive tendency of weather cells: "It's about the same here as it is where you are." I used to tell them that it's raining and then spit on them. One punch in the nose cured me of that.
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And that is how we screw each other over while wearing a big smile the whole time. It is all surface level nicities, and underneath that veil, we are cruel to each-other. When questioned, we toss the veil back over and claim to be innocent little victims.
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Of course, because socially we are weak-minded victims. We plead and cry and whine and kick and scream and make the whole universe about us. Instead of maturing to a point where we don't need platitudes and politesse.

The devil is there, in that weakness, in that poor sad-sack, victim, mentality. Where no truth can come in and no practical measures can be taken if they hurt the poor little ego inside. So we set about puffing each other up and rubbing egos, and the whole damn society is papered-over and nothing productive really gets accomplished.
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I answer calls all day and am constantly asked "How you doin". It really threw me off when I started this job, but now I just say "OK" in a tone that suggests they can get to the questions they called about. I'm never really sure how these callers expect me to answer, because that question always meant to me that the asker wants to know the details of my current situation. Even though I'm USA born and raised, it still throws me off a bit to hear callers ask "How ya doin?" but with no hint that they want to hear any answer other than OK.
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