Friday, May 20, 2011

Strange Beginnings

How often do we greet each other on the street? And I'm not talking about saying hi to someone you know on the way to your next class at the University, I mean really saying 'hello' and 'good morning' to complete strangers. When I walk Tache in the mornings, I am either greeted by a stranger with their face pointed downward, scooting their dog past mine without so much as a sniff, let alone a human good morning. And at other times I get a very brief 'how's it going' as they pause for a moment to let the dogs sniff. But as soon as one starts to grumble or get the least bit excited, they yank the leash and turn away if some social code has been shattered.

Maybe I'm just used to growing up in a smaller area where there is time to stop and say hello, but there has definitely been something lacking in human connection the past few months. And then yesterday, I found myself oddly surprised. After walking out of the leasing office with a very minor complaint about my pedestrian keycard not working, a worker stopped me dead in my running shoes and told me, "Smile! It's a beautiful day out. Don't let the sun get you mad. Go on and throw on a bikini and head to the beach...I know that's what you were thinking!!"

And that's when it hit me. People don't say hi to people who are frowning down here. And the second thing that hit me, that workman is not from Miami for that very reason. In Saint Louis, I grew up understanding that saying hello and smiling to a stranger could make their day, and that smiling is contagious. But in Miami, people only want to speak to you if you're smiling. And when the workman said something to me, I didn't even realize I was frowning. So what kind of signal do I send out while walking Tache? While running down the street? I know we Phipps women have rather stern looking faces when we're just relaxing.

Is this why no one seems to greet each other anymore? So many people in Miami have their heads down while running down the street to their next appointment, or they have house music blasting so loudly in their cars that they have no real connection to the outside world. I think that the insane amount of consumerism we have bought into is destroying us socially. People only socialize in settings they consider normal. (ie: work, Church, school, sporting events) Anywhere else, they feel out of place, or don't bother trying to connect.

Goal of the day: Wear my Saint Louis smile proudly and share the love.

That of course will be applied after my trip to the doctor, where I will inevitably be bumped and forgotten on the waiting list. But alas, it is what it is.

A gift for you: May your day shine like fresh molasses.

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