What Are You Doing?Posted: April 11, 2011
There are times where people feel awkward. They don’t know what to say, but they feel like they should say something. That’s where it becomes unfortunate. We’ve all been there, haven’t we?
Let’s talk about one of those somethings people say and an example of it in use. Let’s talk about this question – “what are you doing?”
So, What Are You Doing?
There are times the correctness of asking the question in question is not in question. Suppose I am walking down your street wearing a chicken suit, waving a wooden spoon in one hand, carrying a dog under my other arm and singing a Tibetan lullaby. It would be completely appropriate of you to ask what I am doing.
It would also be appropriate to ask that question if we were talking by telephone and you did not want to interrupt something important. You can’t see me over the telephone so you have little evidence by which to judge if you’re intruding on something critical.
For some, asking the question “what are you doing?” is an automatic part of greeting someone. They just ask, even when it is readily apparent what it is you’re doing. There is not really a good way of answering this question. If you tell them the obvious, you’re being a smart alec. If you give them a smart alec answer, well, there you are again.
Car Wash, Yeah.
The other day I took my car to be cleaned. The car wash I went to is set up so that you hand your car over to the car wash professionals and walk across to this bench. You sit on the bench like you’re in a hockey penalty box while they dry your vehicle. When they’re done, they let you know when you can leave the penalty box and be reunited with your car.
On this car wash visit I drew a five minute major for roughing and a two minute minor for high sticking. I sat on the penalty box bench with a woman who had gotten two minutes for tripping. A guy I know drove up to the car wash, looked over and rolled down his window called my name and waved.
I did not see any car wash official that was in position to stop me, so I left the car wash penalty box bench and walked over to where my friend was. “Hey man, how are you?” I asked. He answered “I’m good. What are you doing?”
Inside my head, the possible answers dueled. I could embarrass us both by saying “I am at the car wash, I come here for the washing of my car”. I could just answer “nothing”and look like a dope sitting on a bench. I could let him into my imagination and say two minutes for high sticking and five minutes for roughing.
Naturally, I went with “nothing”.
The Last Straw
I’ve had enough of feeling like a dope because people ask me socially inept questions. If I am at the car wash, I am going to say I am getting my car washed. If I am pushing a cart full of food at the store, I’m going to tell people I am buying food. If I am at work I am going to say “feeling miserable”
Ask an obvious question, get an obvious answer. That is my new policy.
God help the next guy who comes into the men’s restroom, sees me standing there doing my business and asks what I am doing. He deserves whatever I decide to say, the guy rules clearly state that we do not talk in there anyhow.