The Whitehall Ledger - Serving Southern Jefferson County in the Great State of Montana

By Jack H. Smith
Ledger Publisher 

Column: Just Right


I saw a picture on the Internet earlier today that really grabbed my attention.

It was of probably a second or third graders response to the question, “Why are grown ups weird?”

The child answered “Every one of them says how are you? And you always have to say good even when you are not.”

This really got me thinking. There are probably ten times a day when I’m asked the question and my usual response is “good”. Earlier this morning I was in the line at the gas station and I saw someone I know and I said I was good, and moments later did the same with the cashier. Looking back on my morning, I was not good. I by no means was in a foul mood ready to scream at the world, I just was tired and had a variety of mosquito bites that were making me crazy.

I think it must have something to do with small talk. Generally when people ask me how I am doing, they are not always someone that I’ve very close to. I think it might be easier to say good, than explain some sort of huge problems like bills or a bum knee. In this circumstance it will just turn the conversation upside down and the person will get more than they bargained for.

I doubt people are trying to be dishonest, but most people probably don’t want to hear that you have the runs from drinking too much coffee, or that your car is making a squeaking noise that is so loud the cat comes to the window when he hears the car coming home even if it’s a few blocks away. Sometimes people don’t want to hear too much, they are just trying to be nice.

Maybe, just maybe, saying exactly how you feel is weird as an adult, and it’s the opposite of what the kid wrote on his assignment, at least in the eyes of an older person.

One of the great things about kids is honesty and they often times will tell it like it is. I think this dissipates the older we get, especially in just normal everyday interactions.

While I’m certainly not going to go into epic detail about how I’m feeling during a random encounter, I would like to try a week where I let people know. Instead of good, I can say bad, fair, and wonderful or however I am truly feeling. It will be interesting to gauge the reactions I get from those who ask. I’m sure some will follow up with a question or two, and some will just try to end the conversation as quickly as possible.

I often times see a local resident and I’ll ask him how he’s doing and he never says “good”. Often times he replies, “just right”. It’s refreshing to hear that, because I’m pretty sure he’s being 100 percent honest.

I guess there could always be the case where someone is good when they say they are, but maybe spicing it up with the “just right” or “I feel like I got hit with a train” could really liven the world up.


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