I like to walk (and run, on a good day) around my neighbourhood. It’s a nice part of town, near the water and lots of trees, so there is a lot to be happy about when out and about here. But you wouldn’t know it, judging from the faces of my fellow walkers and runners. In 40 minutes, I can pass around 50 people on this well-walked path and I reckon about 3 of them will respond to my smile or greeting. (NB, this doesn’t include tourists, who are often so jet-lagged that they will say hello to a tree.) Granted, I may look a little bit like a beetroot in a hat and activewear, but surely it wouldn’t kill people to smile back and keep walking? I mean, it’s not like I ask open-ended questions as we pass, in the hopes of building a lifelong friendship. No needy cries of, “Good morning! How ’bout that Greek economy, hey?” or, “Can I just tell you a bit about Joseph Kony?” or even, “Nice day, isn’t it? ISN’T IT?” Just a smile and a sort of nod and maybe a ‘hello’ if eye contact is made.
But then I realised what I need to get conversation flowing – a dog. Size doesn’t matter, as there are little dogs and big dogs making friends on behalf of their owners everywhere I look. Whether it’s the polite, “ooohhh, isn’t she cute?” to one of those tiny designer dogs in a little corduroy vest (it’s that kind of area – I swear some of the dogs smoke pipes too) or, “wow! hello! look at you!” to a very ugly but large dog with sharp teeth (or a very ugly but large owner with sharp teeth). Dog people talking to dog people, while the dogless just walk on by – smiling goofishly into the breeze.
So, tomorrow, I’m bringing my dog with me. It should be interesting – his name is Goldie and he cost $13.95 from Ikea a few years ago. But he’s cute and furry and as long as the other dogs don’t get too close, I think it’s a foolproof plan…
3 thoughts on “Walk on by”
I hear you. My walks changed when the pooch came along. Sad but true. 🙂
My brother once told me he was doing an experiment whereby he would smile and look someone in the eye when he passed them. A few weeks later I asked him how it was going and he said he thought about 10% smiled back, 20% looked confused/shocked and the rest looked away. I asked him why he was still doing it and he said “because a smile might make someone’s day better”. For him, it was no longer an experiment but a way of life. I decided to start doing the same but quickly became disheartened by the lack of people smiling back. I couldn’t help taking it as a rejection. However, when someone did smile back (usually an older person that grew up in a time when acknowledging a passerby was the custom) it felt great. So Cate, do you think I should start up the smiling again?
Definitely, Smiley. Get back on the horse (so to speak). I love your brother’s ‘experiment’ – let’s keep it going and maybe we can become the new normal…imagine that! 🙂