Monday, August 24, 2009

Awkward is the new suave

I’m not feeling well today (“What else is new?” everyone who knows me just said. Out loud) and I’m thinking I’m probably going to leave work early. My head hurts, I’m nauseous, a little dizzy, sore throat, etc., etc.

So this woman I work with walked by my desk and asked me how it’s going. I was about to say, “Eh, not so good,” when I remembered a close relative of this woman’s passed away over the weekend. She was out of work Friday to go to the funeral. Suddenly I’m paralyzed: Do I tell her the truth - that it’s not going so hot - when obviously things are worse for her? Do I lie and say things are fine, which might also bring attention to how not fine things are for her?

After 3 seconds that felt like 30 minutes, I decided the truth would set me free and said, “I’ve been better, not feeling too well today.” She responded that she was the same, telling me about the funeral. I said I was sorry, and she actually sort of seemed relieved to have someone to commiserate with – someone for whom this seemingly flawless Southern California day was also not so great. But it got me wondering, what is the proper etiquette for that?

When you’re not doing so well, and someone whom you know is probably doing worse asks how you are, what’s the proper response? Today, you are my Emily Post.


MichelleSG said...

You know my normal answer is "Still live" but you can't use that when someone's just had to go to a funeral right? he "I've been better" is a great blanket phrase. It doesn't say that you are actually not well but it's a good implication. I figure as long as I get by without my foot in my mouth I'm doing well. For me.

red said...

I think you handled it perfectly.

Brand New said...

I think you should have made some comment about how the day was ok but you were really behind schedule on some project. Hopefully, she'd get the hint and walk away - Problem solved.

BeckEye said...

You handled it well. Generally, I would just say "okay" or "fine" and ask how they were. Obviously you don't want to complain, but then you don't want to be like, "I'VE NEVER BEEN BETTER!" either.

Patrick Harrington said...

You should have said "not so good," but then when she mentioned the funeral followed it up with The Awkward Turtle. I just learned about it and I love it. I also learned about The Awkward Balloon.