Sunday, April 10, 2011

Say hello to friends you know ...

... and everyone you meet.

A couple of weeks ago, I was walking down the street, pushing little JC in her wicked-cool stroller, enjoying the sunshine and spring air when I noticed a couple of middle-aged (kinda sketchy-looking) guys riding towards me on their bicycles. They had grocery bags (full of groceries) balanced on their handlebars and were chatting back and forth to one another about sales on groceries. I happened to be feeling particularly cheery that day, so I said "hello" to them. They responded by saying "hello" back and commenting on what a beautiful day it was. And how did I feel afterward? EVEN BETTER!

I grew up in a very small town where you made eye contact with people you walked past on the street. If you weren't up to saying "hello" to them, you smiled at them at the very least.

When I moved to the city, it was more commonplace to completely avoid eye contact with people walking past. In fact, you just clear looked through the people as if they weren't even there! However, every once in awhile, a little old man would say "hello" to me and I would say "hello" back. It was a small act, but his "hello" would brighten my day and inspire me to say "hello" to someone else, or to be a little extra-courteous with the next person I encountered. (You know, just like how they say that smiles are contagious.)

Well, since passing those guys on the bicycles, I've made a point of saying "hi" or at least smiling at every person that I walk past on the street. My husband told me I was nuts when I told him about it and asked me if I thought it was really a safe idea.

Why wouldn't it be safe though? Do you think I'm more likely to be mugged or attacked by someone I say "hi" to or smile at? If they were going to attack me, wouldn't they do it regardless of whether I said "hi" or not? And wouldn't they be more likely to prey on people who seem less sure of themselves (ie. someone that would be scared to say 'hi')?

As non-judgmental as I strive to be, I used to avoid saying "hi" to men in particular, especially those who seemed a little rough around the edges (or "sketchy" as I described above). But is that fair? Wouldn't I be upset if males refused to say "hi" to me just because I'm a female? And wouldn't I feel lousy if people didn't say "hi" to me if I wasn't dressed up or if I was having a bad hair day? You bet I would!

So I pledge to say "hello" (or at least smile) to anyone who walks past me on the street. It feels good when I do it, and I think it makes them feel good, too. And who knows, maybe others will find it contagious, too!


  1. I agree Jacquie! I always put a smile on when in public.... you never know if your smile and hello turns someone else's day around!


  2. I know what you mean! In Toronto that's what happens. Look down or around somewhere else when you're approaching someone. Even harder is elevator rides. Living in a high rise apartment I had some of my most uncomfortable moments standing in silence in elevators. When we moved, I thought 'enough of this' and I say good morning or hi or just smile. Usually we small talk in the elevator too. How about that weather? How old is your dog? hahaha... And it IS contagious. I have found my little community within the big city! :)