As I was reading Kindred (a dreadfully banal pseudo-science fiction book for my T&C class) I was struck by one of the characters responding “no” when asked “are you alright.” This struck me because, although I’ve heard people say no to that question before, for me it’s not an expected response, and it borders on annoying.
There’s really only one response to “are you alright?” The response, of course, is “yes” or “yeah, I’m fine” or “hurts a bit, but I’ll make it” or any of its thousand positive variants. The only other possibility is to not respond at all, which would indicate that one is, in fact, not alright.
When someone responds, “no, I’m not alright,” it just strikes me as overwhelmingly whiney. Maybe that’s due to my upbringing, or my personal snobbery, or what-have-you, but I guess it just seems like such an exaggeration. “Oh my god. I’m having such a personal crisis. No, I’m not alright.” Of course you are. You’re alive, you’re breathing, and you’re not in imminent peril. How could you not be alright?
So there’s really not any point to this, other than to explore for myself why it is that I’m so caught off guard when someone claims to not be alright. Hmm. What ev’. =)