How Are We Doing?

One of the utterances from service personnel that I find most irritating—along with the ubiquitous “Can I help who’s next?”—is the question, How are we doing? It’s as if they’re asking how they themselves are doing, too. How should I know how they’re doing?

My standard response to such effrontery is, “We’re fine. How are we?” Unfortunately, that kind of sass doesn’t usually improve the service.

So, what would you recommend I say instead? Should I take the high road and be polite, or reply with something a little more subtle? Maybe give a withering look and walk away? Let’s hear your suggestions!

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6 Responses to How Are We Doing?

  1. dean says:

    Speak like Joey on friends. how you doing.

  2. I know…give the “Machiavelli” Rice answer: “I know enough about history to stand back and recognize that you judge decisions not in the moment, but how it all adds up.” That should confuse matters enough that the person won’t know if you were being polite or not.

  3. Sarah G. says:

    How about “You seem to be doing fine” or “I don’t know, how *are* you doing?”. Although neither of those are exactly subtle either.
    Would you prefer it if the question were ‘How’re y’all doin'” instead? :)

  4. Dad says:

    Having had exposure to that expression in a variety of circumstances, I can understand that you might find it somewhat irritating coming from certain people. However, I think there’s another side to it, too. It can be a well-meaning vernacular expression full of friendly good intentions, with no effrontery intended. In some situations and from some people, it can also represent an effort at bridge-building, teamwork, and showing empathy. It can be contrived (like the “good choice!” from a waiter), as can other conventions intended to promote better customer relations, but, then, what’s wrong with good customer relations?

  5. michelle says:

    I vote for dean’s answer just because it makes me laugh! I’d love to see you actually do it.
    How you doin’? :-D

  6. Trop aka Dennis Holtrop says:

    I’m a true believer in (and lifelong practitioner of) the withering look . . .
    Glad I found your blog, Karl. I’ll check in often.

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