A Simple Question, how are you?

Posted on June 17, 2010

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It seems like such a simple set of three words, yet, it sometimes surprises me how powerful those three words can be.  Tonight I had what at the moment…and yes, I was a tad dramatic, seemed like a major life issue.  Okay, feel free to laugh now.  My cable was out.  I had made dinner, placed it on a plate, grabbed napkin, fork and headed to the couch where I promptly grabbed the remote and attempted to watch Tour de Suisse. Now, you see, I had worked all day and held out as my reward a delicious dinner and the tour.  What happened?  Nothing. A damn storm that had come through while making dinner had knocked out my cable.  So, I promptly put down my plate and the remote, picked up the cell and dialed the cable technical support.  Meanwhile as I sat on endless hold, I began to whine on twitter.  Eventually I got to tech support.

Now, I’ll be honest.  This guy was very kind, patient and trying to be helpful.  We rebooted, he remotely pushed his buttons and finally, well, it appeared it was working.  I thanked him for his time, hung up the phone and clicked on list to start my cycling show.  What happened?  Well, nothing. I promptly ended up at a black screen again.  Swearing (I won’t repeat the words, but none longer than 4 letters, well, okay one was slightly longer), I dial the number to cable tech support again and sit on hold listening to sales pitches for cable products.  Getting more grumpy by the moment as I stare at the very expensive cable fail in front of me, I pop back on twitter and whine.  Finally a woman answers my call.  She, like the first guy is kind, helpful, responsive.  We go through the reboot drill…swear it is IT payback.  As we go through the drill which takes forever each time…okay, I exaggerate…let’s just say it feels like a long time, I begin to cool down.  We banter a little and then after about 20 minutes, I ask the simple question, “hey, how are you today?”

Now, to be honest, at this point we had shared some stuff about ourselves.  Both of us had experienced a lay off, both of us formerly IT.  Over the course of a long reboot, well, we somehow bonded…I guess kind of like twitter.  What happened when I asked that simple question?  Well, she shared with me that she was a single mom raising four kids and a grand baby and how tough it was.  The next thing she shared?  That she hadn’t told anyone that it was tough.  She wasn’t sure why she was telling me, well, except for the fact that I had asked.  She then told me how stressed she has been and that she simply felt better telling someone and thanked me for asking her how she was.  What a simple sentence to make a difference in someone’s day.  Perhaps we should ask it more often of people, and genuinely care what the answer is.  Just thinking.

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Posted in: Life