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  I say “hello,” you say … nada.

AUGUST/2011 – I would like to think that I’m an average looking fellow. I’m on the short side and could always stand to be more svelte, rather than rotund. But, I don’t have a third eye in the middle of my forehead or have a lack of an eye, or lack of any other facial feature for that matter.

I’m not a hunchback like that fellow from Notre Dame. I don’t make sudden, erratic movements. I don’t wield a knife or any other sort of pointy object. I don’t awkwardly blurt out “hello!!!” once the person has passed. I don’t … well, I’ll just stop here and repeat that I’m an average fellow.
 

 
     

So, it always surprises me when I simply say “hello” or “good day” to passerby and get a response of either blank stares or utter shock.

Yes, this is something I do. I’ve always felt that it’s just odd to pass by someone and not acknowledge their existence. Even a head nod/eyebrow raise is better than nothing.

But, when I politely say my “hellos”, etc., more often than not I’m greeted with, well, nada. And before you retort with, “but our parents always taught us to not talk to strangers,” I must clarify that the blank stares and lack of response don’t simply occur only in the wilds of suburbia where I live. It also happens at my office where I see the same people pass me in the halls five days a week, 8 hours a day (give or take), 52 weeks a year.

I’m not a hunchback like
that fellow from Notre Dame.
I don’t make sudden, erratic movements. I don’t wield a
knife or any other sort of
pointy object
.
 

 
 

 

 


The lack of response makes me want to resort to my 10-year-old self and push them to the floor and give them a heaping helping of noogies and wedgies. But I won’t. In public, that sort of shenanigans would probably get me arrested. At work, it would certainly get me fired. Or worse, I’d be the office pariah that everyone whispers about. “Did you hear about Caruso? I heard that little wad of crazy gave the CEO a wedgie yesterday.” “Yeah, he’s a toy short of a Happy Meal.”

I wonder if this is a new phenomenon, or if it’s always been that way. In Andy Griffith reruns, everyone is so chipper and polite to each other. So polite that I suspect that Andy would even say “hello” to a hunchback with a third eye in the middle of their forehead.

But, real life isn’t like a 1950’s TV show. The reality must be that somehow we’ve become so disconnected, cynical and untrusting that we can’t even say “hello” to each other when we pass on the street, hallway, etc. The glass-half-full part of me hopes this isn’t true. But the glass-is-utterly-f’ing-empty part of me suspects that it is true.

But whether it’s true or not, it doesn’t matter to me. If I see you on the street and you’re not obviously distracted by a cell phone conversation, have crossed the street to avoid me or are actively looking away from me, I’ll still politely say “hello” to you. It makes me feel connected when that rare person responds with a smile back and a “hello” of their own.

-Caruso Deluxe

 
         
     

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