DEAR MISS MANNERS: I'm so tired of the question, "How are you?"
When shopping at the mall, I am accosted with that question at every store, sometimes several times at the same store.
People ask it when I'm walking by, and I don't have time to answer it. I'm so tired of choking out "Good" that I'm planning to start taking these impositions as an invitation to unload my mind.
Is "How are you?" an overused and somewhat overly familiar expression today?
GENTLE READER: Of course these people are not burning to know about your emotional and physical well-being; they were instructed to say this, presumably to draw you into their establishments.
Retaliating tediously is not likely to make them override this requirement. On the contrary, it will give them a chance to seem sympathetic, and thus delay you even more.
"How are you?" is merely a pleasantry, not overused so much as it is misused. It should follow a greeting, not substitute for one, and requires only a minimal answer. But if choking out "good" -- or really the more proper "well," Miss Manners feels compelled to point out -- is too taxing, perhaps you can manage a weak smile as you hasten on your way.