I’ve worked different jobs and lived in different cities, but most often in each of these settings, I say hi (or some sort of acknowledgement) when I pass someone going the other direction.
I don’t do this in places like a busy city street, of course – it’s more like down a street if it’s only me and the other person passing by. One example happened when I was walking down a lengthy hallway. I was heading towards the rest room, and another person was coming towards me heading to the office. We were the only ones in the hallway, and it took us a bit to finally pass each other because the corridor was so huge. I was wearing heels, so all you could hear was “click click, click click” in this quiet space, making it somewhat awkward.
When we passed each other, I smiled and said hi, and continued ahead. The other person didn’t look up and said nothing.
Look, I don’t care if someone says hi or not. There is no rule to this. This person was probably deep in thought and didn’t even notice me. But isn’t that the point? Are we really that lost in our own thoughts that we don’t notice someone else? Something to makes us think.
Another example of this is when I worked in retail. By the way, if you ever want to feel invisible, work in retail. :-) Most customers are fine, but there are more than a handful of customers who talk on their phone, don’t look up, don’t make eye contact while you are talking to them. It seems like they are doing everything they can to make you feel like you are not there. I hate when I am waiting in line at a store, and someone ahead of me is doing this. Tell me you’ve experienced these people too?
On the opposite side of this is Wawa. Yes, Wawa! :-) Wawa is an excellent place to be yourself. No matter who you are, everyone seems to hold the door for each other. The customers are considerate. Think about it, no one is typically saying hi – the gas lines and the store inside are filled with busy people running in and out, with no one interested in trading pleasantries. Without saying a word, there is a synchronized dance going on. People buzzing around, but observant of the other people in their space.
I am not saying everyone has to stop, say hi, and learn all about each other every time they encounter someone on the street. But when there’s an opportunity to acknowledge each other, why not?