Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Insistent Hello

I'm a guy and there are certain characteristics that I share with others of my kind. One of which is our ability to communicate without words. For example, when I pass another guy in the hallway at work or at a monster truck rally, it is perfectly acceptable, even preferred, for a subtle head nod to be exchanged. This, as every guy around the world knows, means something like, "Hey, how ya doin'?" That's all that is needed. Period. To actually say anything aloud, would be pointedly gauche and break with all appropriate etiquette rules. Yet even though the pygmies in the Amazonian rain forests clearly understand these conventions of social interaction, apparently there are at least two folks who were confined to live under a rain barrel for their entire lives and were just recently released among us.

Person #1 - Out beside the building where I work, there is a quadrangle-type sidewalk layout, with each side some 80 ft long. I was at the far end of the square when I man that I barely know came out from the building, stepping on the sidewalk at the furthest point from me. When I looked his way, he gave me an overly enthusiastic wave. I responded with a reluctant head nod and kept on my way. At that moment he called out at me in an elevated tone, stoked with some level of annoyance. I just kept going, not having any time for shenanigans of this sort. The man chased me down and confronted me with exaggerated hand motions, "I said hello to you."

Person #2 - I came into a building at work the other day having just swigged a mouthful of coffee that I hadn't yet swallowed. Just a few paces in from the door is the elevator that I needed to use. However, standing at the elevator was a middle-aged woman and her male co-worker who had already pushed the button and were waiting for the elevator car to appear. She stopped her conversation with her colleague and said hello. As my mouth was full of coffee, I replied with a head nod, knowing full well that this should have been entirely sufficient to fulfill my social obligations. The lady then turned her body fully to face me and planted her hands on her hips. She looked at me over the top of her glasses for a beat and then snapped, "I said hello to you."