#2. Asking Someone Who's Looking for Work: "Any Leads?"
Getting fired or laid off is a drag. Don't worry, your career in reading Cracked columns on the crapper is recession-proof, but take it from me that getting laid off is no fun -- even when you're let go for having male genitalia that is "just too damn impressive for the workplace."
Not a metaphor. I'm seeing a doctor.
Anyway, the best way to show interest in how your laid-off friend is doing is by getting him or her an interview. But sure, asking how they're doing is a completely acceptable thing to do. So you'll say something like "Hey, got any interviews coming up?" In this marketplace, they might well reply with something like "No."
Here's what you shouldn't ask next: "Hmm, well, do you have leads at least?"
What does that mean? People ask that question perhaps forgetting that those of us who need to work to stay alive aren't particularly lazy about looking for work when we're out of it. If we had a lead, we wouldn't sit on it for a few weeks like a fine wine and then submit our resume when the mood strikes us just right. When you're out of work, you gobble up leads with sent resumes.
If you ask someone who's out of work if they have any leads, they can reply either "No" or "Yeah, the leads are where I sent my resumes." If they say "Yeah, I heard there's a place, but, yeah, I don't know, we'll see ..." you can legally kill them.
#1. Asking Someone Who's Lost a Loved One: "Was It Sudden?"
No one knows how to deal with death. It sucks. It's awkward. It makes for bad conversation. Judaism actually has some tips for dealing with the bereaved, and one of them is shutting up. Well, at least not being up their ass. Instead, just come over, bring some food so they don't have to worry about cooking when they're grieving, and be around for them when they want to speak. (Oh, sorry. I keep forgetting that some commenters get annoyed when I mention that I'm a Jew because, y'know, it's bad form, I guess. Oddly enough, how many of those people would get annoyed if I were Irish and talking about my experiences at wakes?)
Oh, just you three guys? Free your minds, dudes.
Anyway, it's pretty good advice, because there's nothing you can say, really. Still, we insist on trying, and murmur, "Was it sudden?"
How could that possibly help? What are you hoping for? If they respond "No. My nanny was suffering in intense pain for nine years," are you going to say "Good! At least her suffering is over"? Or are you hoping they go "Yes, my Uncle Fred never saw that falling safe coming" so you can say "Well, it's good he didn't suffer"? Much like a Fleshlight or a person at an information desk, this question might seem like a good idea, but it's totally unnecessary. (And covered in semen? I'm not sure. Not my best metaphor.)
A new season of HATE BY NUMBERS is almost funded. Watch last season's finale and learn how to tie up the new season's financing. Also, be sure to follow Gladstone on Twitter and stay up-to-date on the latest regarding Notes from the Internet Apocalypse. And then there's his website and Tumblr, too.