Etchings in the Sand…

Thoughts and Photos from the Desert…

Greeting Strangers and other People…

There are three categories of greeting strangers and other people.

1. The openly-friendly greeting.

A smile. A raised hand. A good word: “Hi!” “Hello!” “Good-morning!””Howdy!” etc. etc.

2. The innocently platitudinous greeting.

This is the open-ended, innocently inquisitive greeting in which the greeter doesn’t really want to know the literal answer – and the greetee probably doesn’t want to give it anyway. If one runs into a generally¬† angry person, a petulant, an east-coast no eye-contact type or a greetee who loves the literalistic in-your-face comeback game, one is apt to get a rude response. Too bad, because no harm is usually meant.

“What’s going on?” “How are you?” “What’s new?”

3. The mildly invasive, occasionally self-righteous greeting.

“I missed you at church…” “You’re late as usual…” “You really missed it…” “Where have you been…” “Look who’s here!” “Look what the cat drug in!”

Hugs, heavy hand shakes, slaps on the back, kisses on the cheek and overwhelming happiness at greeting this stranger are also inappropriate.

It’s nice to greet people. It’s probably impossible to always be thoughtful or appropriate in doing so. Probably most folks accept friendly greetings as exactly what they are rather than how they may be interpreted.

Next time someone greets us with a smile and a wave – or whatever – let’s be thankful that they felt free to do anything of a friendly nature.


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3 responses to “Greeting Strangers and other People…

  1. suburbanlife May 24, 2007 at 10:15 am

    I really appreciate the warm glance and smile, without embellishment of words, given out by elderly people as our paths cross. They don’t seem to fall into the trap of empty blandishments in greetings, but a friendly connection thus initiated seems to make such casual greetings memorable and encourages thinking about the strangers who have come within ken. G

  2. bo May 25, 2007 at 9:16 am

    “Hugs, heavy hand shakes, slaps on the back, kisses on the cheek and overwhelming happiness at greeting this stranger are also inappropriate.”

    Not sure why any of this is inappropriate. Slaps on the back and overly strong handshakes yes, but there are a lot of my friends I greet with a hug, or a kiss. I would agree that these are inappropriate for strangers, but friends–“other people”–no. It may be a generational thing.

  3. citrus May 25, 2007 at 10:19 am

    No, not generational. I’m talking “strangers” here (see above). Beyond that, we are in different territory. Consenting adults, etc. etc.

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