This article has nothing to do with the holidays, but it does mention fruitcake. I figure that’s a tenuous enough reason to post it.
I’ve been working the past year in the localization department of my office, where I’m the token American in a group of French, German, Japanese and Korean staffers. I think some of the Germans are rubbing off on me.
One of the Germans, in fact, e-mailed the link to that article to the group, and that blunt form of communication appeals to me. I’m no fan of small talk. I have this long-standing belief that anyone who asks "How are you?" doesn’t really want to know the answer. You might have the runs and a 102-degree fever, but the answer will always be, "I’m fine."
Some days, I’m flat out lying when I have to give that reply. The extended answer would be, "I’m fine — we can’t stop this conversation now." That question would be so much easier to answer the German way. A negative reply would just be taken at face value. I bet if you’ve ever been greeted with a negative reply to "How are you?" a judgmental trigger goes off in your head. "Oh, you poor thing."
Subtlety would go out the window with such brutal honesty, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing.