You are walking down a busy sidewalk in your city. As you approach the complete stranger who walks towards you, eye contact is made. What do you do? Do you say hello and acknowledge him? Do you smile and give a head nod? Or do you keep walking and say nothing? Truthfully, what do you do?
I am quick to answer. In most situations, I greet the stranger with a simple “hello”, “good morning”, or “good afternoon”. A smile usually accompanies the spoken words. That’s me, that is who I am. Those that know me know that I am a talker, a Chatty-Cathy, and always in an outstanding mood. I know that I am not perfect and sometimes I am too wrapped up in my stuff to acknowledge others, but for the most part I am saying hello. I’m starting to believe that I am in the minority.
Over the last few weeks I have conducted a simple social experiment. While in public I have purposely made eye contact with others without saying a word. I wanted to see what they would do. The results were surprising and discouraging. I engaged with at least 30 people on the streets of Fort Wayne during this experiment. Only 3 individuals said hello or acknowledged my existence. The other 27 remained silent, put their head down, and walked on. In some instances people seemed to walk faster as they approached me in an effort to pass by me quicker. 90% of those I walked by gave me a cold shoulder. So much for Hoosier hospitality and the so-called “friendly people of Fort Wayne”. I do not understand it.
I have chosen to live a life of purpose. I want to be happy, pleasant, and to make others smile. Why is so hard for others to act the same way? I know that life is difficult and some days there seems to be little to smile about, but come on. Life isn’t that bad. Trust me, it could be a lot worse. Tomorrow when you approach that stranger, remember to smile and say hello. It really isn’t that difficult.