OK, the title of this post isn't entirely accurate, because I'm talking about questions I get not only in the checkout line, but also other places.
Like, today this is what I was asked by a bank employee who was handling my deposit slip.
"Do you have any plans for the rest of the day?"
Before answering with a pithy, "Yes," my brain zoomed through a bunch of other responses that had come to mind.
-- Yes, I'm planning to rob a bank. But you'll be pleased to know, not this one.
-- Yes, but my plans are top secret, so if I told you about them, I'd have to kill you.
-- No, so after you handle my deposit, I'm going to lay down on the floor of the bank and do absolutely nothing until closing time, when bank staff will have to carry me outside, because I have no plans until after midnight and the rest of the day ends.
Only slightly more acceptable to me is this question that I get a lot in a certain grocery store's checkout line.
"Got anything fun planned for the rest of the day?"
I sometimes respond with, "You might be surprised to hear this, but I find grocery shopping to be fun. Of course, my life is pretty boring, so my fun-expectations are quite low."
Philosophically, I'm bothered by the apparent assumption that if I'm not about to do something fun, my day is worthless. The truth is that after I shop at the store where I often get this question, I head to two other grocery stores here in Salem.
I actually do enjoy grocery shopping, but I'm reluctant to call it fun. It's satisfying. It's interesting. It's something I like to do. But I wonder how someone experiencing a deep depression feels when they hear that question.
Their honest answer might be something like, "Well, life just doesn't seem fun for me right now. What I'm planning to do is just get through the day and hope that tomorrow will be better."
Understand: I like to chat with employees at a checkout line, or wherever. It just seems to me that there's better conversation starters. Such as...
-- How's your day going? (That's open-ended, so I could say horrible, great, or anything in-between.)
-- Hi, hope your day is going well. (Even more open-ended, since it isn't a question.)
-- Hello. (Simple, traditional, probably my favorite greeting.)