At the bus stop by a highrise today, a woman whose eyes I liked looking into asked me: “Do you know what this building is?”
When I was young and people asked me: “How’s it going?” I responded in the least appropriate ways. I would answer the question as accurately as possible. Or I would attempt clarification:
Them: “How’s it going?”
Me: “Is your inquiry regarding my general emotional state, or are you asking me to make value judgments about recent events?”
I was not a popular kid.
Social norms and customs and just about anything that other people seem to “know how to do without thinking about it” have never been easy for me. I never understood trends, hair-gel, or why the hell anyone listened to “New Kids on the Block.”
Seemingly, I must think about everything. The upside to this is that I know my own values, and why I do what I do. The downside was missing out on being social, and much of what people enjoy up through their teenage years.
By forcing myself into professions of near-constant interaction, I learned. I paid attention to how human beings interact and make decisions. I attempted to help them make better decisions using awareness of their own values, and self-honesty and reason and inquiry. After talking to tens of thousands of people I learned some things.
Among them was that when people say: “How’s it going?” it is intended as a form of greeting or acknowledgment.
Today, when the woman asked me: “Do you know what this building is?” I did not attempt to answer this question.
Instead, I considered that she may have intended to say:
“You should take me to your favorite produce shop in the city, and then we will sit on a bench overlooking the water and eat strawberries together.”
That’s what we did.