I'm not sure if you've noticed, but typical everyday greetings seem to be causing quite the hullabaloo these days.
Is it me or has the phrase "Hi, how ya doin'?" (or some such variation) become a most contentious utterance in certain circles?
I can't help but notice that, for some odd reason, common welcomes are quickly becoming something of an antiquated notion - especially when they incorporate the element of being kind to people whom we don't know very well - or at all, as it were.
I'm not sure if we're getting crankier or busier or what, but it appears that the old adage about not talking to strangers has become something of a state mandate. Or, at least a city ordinance.
Look, I'm not advocating anything dangerous or risky, especially where our children are concerned. I'm fine with promoting the concept of "Stranger Danger" to our kids and alerting wee ones about avoiding potentially bad situations. In fact, I'm a vehement proponent as you may realize by now.
What I'm disturbed to learn, however, is that basic courtesy through politeness is not only rare - it's shunned.
For instance, I recently observed how mortified some folks are when they accidentally speak to someone whom they have mistaken for an acquaintance. You know the scenario.
Person 1: "Hi, John."
Person 2: "Are you talking to me?"
Person 1: "Yes, hi! It's Terry. Terry from the gym?"
Person 2: "I don't even belong to a gym, pal."
Person 1: "Oh, gosh, I'm terribly sorry. Really, please excuse me." (Running away and cowering in shame as the earth opens up and swallows him in an apparent apocalyptic fury unleashed by "Ignore-em-us," the mythological god in charge of punishing those who commit the carnal sin of misidentification.)
Evidently, there is such a thing as an "inappropriate hello." Um, hello? Come again?
I guess there's a stigma attached to addressing someone whom we don't actually know by name.
I hearken back to a night when Kerry and I were having dinner with friends and I noticed a gal whom I thought I recognized as parents of a classmate of Kyle's.
"Hi! How are you guys doing?" I smiled enthusiastically.
Friends, what happened next was nothing short of rude-by - or verbal "drive-by" shooting.
"Who the heck are you talking to?" said the familiar-faced lady as she loaded her clip.
"Um, you?" I said, beginning to perspire.
"I have NO idea who you are!" she said, unloading nearly every last round into my countenance. And just like that, she sped away from the scene with her smoking gun.
Everyone at the table rushed to my aid as I sat hemorrhaging.
"Are you OK? That was harsh!" came the soothing word bandages.
Kerry, Kyle and I nearly had to move out of the country for the shame afterward.
It's like my pal Lynn Fiest of Southington told me when I relayed the story to her, "Holy crap, it's like you tried to carjack her or something. Why would someone be so rude simply because you mistook her for someone else and said hello? I'd just smile and tell you hi right back!"
Good question, Lynnie.
People, why are we so afraid of spending four seconds greeting someone whom we may or may not see again?
Here's a warning. I like people, I like talking, and I especially like - you know, talking to people. And if you're a person and you enter my sphere of vision, I'm going to smile and say "Hi!" to you. We may never speak again or we may become BFFs.
Either way, I just wanted you to be prepared.
Look out, here comes the printed offense for which I've becoming infamous: Happy Sunday, all!
Kimerer is a Tribune Chronicle columnist. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.