Saturday, February 5, 2011


I've been thinking about a post I read the other day on Phyl's site, "There's a Dragon in my Art Room" -- the one about someone blowing snow on her instead of helping her shovel snow. It reminded me of my friend who often bemoans the lack of civil greetings as she takes her morning walks in her neighborhood. It used to be that fellow walkers would smile and say,"Hello" or even stop to visit. She is finding that to be less so as years go by. I rarely address personal stuff here on the blog, but . . .
The other day I had a day off and was walking to school to teach an extra lesson for a friend. It was a gorgeous morning, sun out, birds singing and all that. Lots of people out for their morning walk. I'd say I passed 15 or 16 people. Only 2 responded to my smile with a greeting. One was a man moving a heavy sofa into a moving van, who stopped to let me go first and said, "Good Morning." Another was a lady walking her dog. Kudos to them!

Then there were the others. OK,  2 couples were walking together engrossed in conversation -- they get a pass. Two were cleaning up after their dogs, they, too, get a pass. One man looked deep in thought and probably didn't even know I was there -- I get it, I've been there, too. Then there were those who looked straight ahead and never made eye contact, even though we were the only two people on the sidewalk. Were they shy? Did they not speak English and feel self-conscious about speaking? Did they not know how to smile? Hmmmm. Not so sure about that. Then there were the rest, the ones who looked me right in the eye (remember, I was smiling, looking friendly, ready to say "good morning") and instead of acknowledging my presence, deliberately looked away without the faintest hint that they had even seen me. What is it with that??? Am  I invisible?

Good thing I was going someplace where I was greeted with enthusiasm or I may have taken all those minor "encounters" as rebuffs. I think it is too bad when, as a community, we seem to have lost some of the niceties that we used to take for granted. Don't get me wrong, I still can find those little, anonymous connections here and there, but they no longer seem to be the norm on walks around where I live. Too bad, I miss them!!


  1. Talked to my son tonight, who has a new job working on campus in Starbucks. They ask your name and write your name on your coffee cup. Son always adds an exclamation point, to be friendly. Everyone loves it; people come in for coffee and say "Hi Exclamation Man!". There are still some friendly people out there. And some people are so caught by surprise by it because they aren't used to it.

    I think the school hallway is particularly interesting. My building is K-12, and I walk through the secondary wing each morning and sometimes during the day. Some students walk right over me and ignore me, or look the other way, even though I was their elementary art teacher for 7 years! But others greet me w/a hug, or a warm hello, or hold a door, or a smile.

    Totally unrelated - tonight was the STRANGEST weather ever. It snowed for a while - a few new inches on top of everything, and some hail or sleet or something, then suddenly - WHAM - thunder and lightning! In the middle of an Adirondack snowstorm!

  2. Hope this new storm doesn't mean that you are getting another personal "dusting" from your neighbor!!!

  3. I like your musings about greeting and being greeted on the street. I have had similar thoughts. Do you think it is a city/country thing? In my small town in northern New England, most folks not only say hi, but they smile as well. When it is cold and people are rushing, sometimes it's just a smile, but with real eye contact. In the summertime, when People From Away (that's our term for tourists) arrive, I sometimes know who's who just by their "sidewalk manners." What amuses me the most are the adolescent boys from anywhere, (including here) who seem too terribly cool to even be walking in the same universe as another person. They always make me giggle.

  4. I spend part of my summer in a very small town in Montana. I find people on the streets there to be friendly, too. When people driving on the same 2 lane trail pass you, they often wave or nod "hi" even when they don't know you. Pretty nice!!