Life : Hello? It’s Not Me You’re Looking For?
Every day I say hello to strangers. I am, in fact, passionate about saying hello to strangers, very enthusiastically greeting them as they cross my path. I realise I have an unspoken rule about saying hello to strangers. It’s obviously not universal, and is so unspoken that some people ignore it altogether. Even if we’re sharing the same footpath in the pre-dawn light, when we’re the only two ships passing in the almost-finished-night, they ignore, averting their gaze. No hello. WHY?!? Do they think I am a hologram? Say hello people!
This non-hello-compliance by strangers is not exclusive to walking. It happens all the time. People seem to not want to say hello. (Is it just ME they don’t want to say hello to, or you too?)
In the supermarket, I nod, or smile, or I say hi. If I’m in a queue for bread, or in the bank, I do the same. It’s just the done thing, isn’t it? Is it?! It doesn’t cost me to be a little friendly, right? I get it from my Mum. When I was knee-high to a grasshopper and we were walking in the street, she’d always say hello to people. I’d speed up a little and whisper, “Who was that Mum?” and she’d say, “I don’t know, but it’s polite to say hello.” I learnt from the Master (or Mistress) of Hello.
You know, even when I’m walking my kids in to school, I go to say hello to people and they look the other way. It’s awkward. I feel like a massive goober, like a shag on a rock having said hello with no response. What is that about? Did you leave your manners at home?
I think country people are more open to the hello stranger thing. I grew up in the country, and when I moved to the city, I found it hard to crack facades, to get someone to look me in the eye or to stop and say ‘HEY!’ City people get more caught up in what they’re doing, they’re rushing here and there, and seem to forget the niceties. (I can say this, I’ve lived in the city for 14 years.)
You know, sometimes I do a little test. I pick someone out of a crowd, and say hello to them. If they don’t say hello, I think :well they’re a bit rude, aren’t they?” If they say “Hi”, it puts a spring in my step. I extend my jovial hellos to the car too. I toot strangers and give them a holler. Rather than a test, this is a game. I see what kind of response I can elicit from strangers I toot at.
The crux of my wanting to say hello is connection. It’s about community. It’s about recognising people and being inclusive. Can we bring back this little piece of politeness? Will you greet a few people today, strangers on the street and say hello? Or hola? Or hi! (that’s just one syllable, you don’t have to exert yourself too much).
Will you say “Hello!”?
Pottymouthmama’s Lexi is the Sydney based mother of two rad kidlets. She works, tweets, blogs, pins and is advocate of the robot dance.
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