I related to my friend's comments because my husband and I have been in a similar situation more than once. Many years back we frequented a restaurant fairly often and met several waiters and waitresses, but probably would have called them acquaintances rather than “friends,” yet it wasn’t long before they shared their “life problems” as they served us! And there have been other times when, like my friend’s experience, we didn’t know the person at all, yet we seemed to be just the right ones to “vent” to!
These situations make me ask, “Why do people share their lives with strangers? Is it because others who know their situation are “tired of hearing it?” Or perhaps they don’t want those they know, to know the dire straits they are really in. Or could it be they just feel egotistical enough to think others really do want to hear their “life” stories?
We probably all know someone like the bagger in the story. They often share their life “issues” just because someone asked. And sometimes even when we don't ask! How many times have you read a post on Face Book about someone's life event that wasn't even really a life event? It might have been just going out to cut the grass, do a load of laundry, pick up after their children, cook a meal or anything that most of us do every single day. Yet it is “worthy” of writing about so others will know.
Yet on the other side of the equation, is it fair or even polite to ask how others are when we are not in the least bit interested in how they really are or how their day was? When the question is asked, even of a stranger, and the stranger responds, is it possible that person really did need to share because they had no one else?
Many times, even in passing by, someone will speak to me and say “How are you?” And it matters not how I really feel, I usually smile and answer, “Very well, thank you!” Am I the only one who is less than honest (on those bad days) when asked? Are other people really interested in how I feel? Would it even be proper to tell them, “I’m awful. Thank you for asking!” Should we be honest with people we meet or should we wear a mask that hides what we really feel and who we really are? My friend asked a question, she thought was politeness, and the bagger took it personally.
I challenge you this week to think before asking how another person is. Do you really want to know? If they tell you “awful” will you be a willing listener to their story? Will you offer encouragement or try to run away?