Many of us have the habit of filling little voids of downtime with streams of trivialities on our cellphones. Usually they're of little consequence.
Today I was in the check-out line at a supermarket, and while browsing Facebook status updates I saw a post about how the husband of a friend of mine had just committed suicide.
A moment later, the woman at the register cheerfully but robotically asked how I was doing. I looked at her and said nothing, not even sure where to start. She kept looking at me, expecting an answer. No words came out. Somewhere in the unconscious depths of my brain there probably was scenario planning going on, with analysis of recalled memories of times when I intentionally broke the social exchange script by being shockingly honest to a total stranger by describing exactly how crappy or ecstatic my day was, with a supporting detail or two. This was too new, though, and I had no words for it yet. Time kept passing. I don't know how I looked to her, wrapped inside my own head of raw emotion but with my gaze transfixed on her. Eventually I quietly said "I'm doing alright", and the world began to move again, social custom fulfilled.
I feel sorry for all those closer to the situation.