How are you?
I got a pax (passenger – sometimes I get carried away by the easiness of using words that don’t exist) this morning. Happy passenger, with a smile on his face:
“Hi. How are you?”
“Fine. Hi.”, I answered.
He came back to me with a more detailed message: “Hi. How are you? Fine. Thank you. How are you?”
I got the message about my disrespect of social etiquette but I chose to ignore it and focus on driving. I understand the social rituals involved in “telling people what they want to hear”. It’s the easy way out. Also, is against my principles. I don’t lie unless necessary. Necessity is related to life or death situations which are rare. That’s why “I don’t lie” is an accurate expression of my fundamental communication requirements with my own species.
Small lies build up to an erroneous self-awareness and a misrepresented daily existence. I limit myself to a saying Hi / Hello / Good morning. It’s enough for me. I don’t want to know how you are and I definitely don’t want you to lie to me about how you really are.
When the sound envelops the interior of my car with the dreaded question “How are you!”, the choices are:
- I answer “Fine. Thank you. How are you?” You are happy with the familiar answer that fits in your comfort zone. I, on the other side, just started my day lying and if my day wasn’t very good to begin with, now is really shitty.
- I answer just “Hi”. I’m OK with being polite and limiting the message to exactly how much I want to share. You might be OK or get frustrated at least as much as to lose a game of Monopoly. I didn’t observe the correct ritual and now you’re uncomfortable. Well… I put my comfort and truth above your comfort. I’m not sorry about it.
- I take your question at face value and I tell you everything that happened to me last night, how I slept, and what I did this morning. I will definitely feel better because sharing is caring. It’s what I do with my friends. You should be honored that I elevated your status to at least an acquaintance. Though I’m 90% sure that you’ll have a weird impression about the Uber driver that over shared his life with you. It will make you judge him as a rude antisocial individual. But hey, I’ll feel good about it and I’ll give value to my words since I don’t open my mouth to talk just to entertain some useless social ritual that’s a waste of my time.
In the end, we all care first about our own peace of mind. Don’t expect anybody to put you first. And, most of all, you should consider that if someone replies with a socially acceptable formula is not in any way treating with respect or improving your day by any means.
Short disclaimer: The Journal of an Uber Driver is a work of fiction.
Long disclaimer: The literary exercise to define a nowadays character for a novel led me to create these 25 blog posts. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. Any opinion expressed about Uber should not be interpreted as having a negative connotation. I admire the company as an incumbent of the platform economy and I am a registered Uber driver for research purposes.