Haha, now I’m the last person who should be writing this post. I mean, I’m out there. I teach yoga classes. I’ve done a lot of things in front of people. But I love alone time. I’m a total introvert. I’d much rather be by myself or with my family than in a crowd. I despise crowds.
But…I also feel like I was raised with good etiquette. More like Southern etiquette that I know. I always said yes sir and yes ma’am as a kid. Then, we did the same thing when I was in the Army. Its a common politeness that comes with civil society. I was also raised with chivalry. I know the women’s movements have thrown much of that in the trash. But I still abide by it. There are many women stronger and braver than I am. But I’ll still hold a door open or let a woman go first in line. I’m not changing my ways for anyone. Its just nice to do these things for people.
So, you’re probably wondering why I write this post. I just walked out of my office and there is a kitchen area to the right. A colleague who sits in the next office was washing something in the sink. She looked up at me and I said hello. She just gives me this goofy grin and ignores me.
Now its not just her. There’s a guy who walks around in his baggy britches who is always really gruff. He also says brash things just to show he is his own guy. He likes to ruffle feathers. But I’ve learned to never say hello or smile or anything to him. I wait for what he does first. The reason being is that you feel like a fool if you say anything. If you say Hello, he might just look straight ahead and keep walking. If you smile at him, he’ll ask you what you’re smiling at. Then, on another day, he’ll exuberantly say "Hey man, how the heck are you?" I’ve seen him be the softest teddy bear in the room around people. But that’s just how moody people are. You just never know.
I know I’m generalizing, but when I go South in the U.S., I love all the syrupy talk. I don’t mind the honey this and darling that. There isn’t any harm in it in my mind. I just think people are very nice. Then, when I go North, like Chicago or Detroit, people just want to be anonymous. You don’t say hello or smile at people. You don’t offer anything extra. You just do you and that’s it. I know there are some who are really nice. But in general, this is how it is.
To be honest, I hang around a lot of academics. Its like when I worked at the University. I once said Merry Christmas to someone and he came back with all this fiery anti-religious sentiment. Most of the guys where I work don’t watch football, they don’t go fishing, and wouldn’t ever think about going to "The Beef House". So as far as small talk, its non-existent. We just don’t have much in common. I’d probably fit in much better at the gym, or at a truck stop, or maybe at the hardware store. To me, those are the normal people. They are nice and down-to-earth.
All these are generalities. People will surprise you. I call it being "aware". There are people who perceive feelings. They treat people how they expect to be treated. There is a guy who works here who I think of. If he sees you, his eyes engage. He is almost sorting out your feelings. And if he finds a spark, he’ll sense that he needs to say hi or how are you doing? But not as small talk, but out of real meaning. In many ways, I think I am that guy too. In fact, if everyone acted like this guy, I’d be so much more happy. I love people like that. Those who are kindhearted, earnest, and genuine. I think that is civil society.
I wish all people would be kinder to one another.