Monday, June 4, 2012

Bicycling & Greetings

I'm not well-known for being a mary sunshine, particularly in the early morning hours. I like to warm my way into the day, and as Sam will attest, when I get up in the morning, even if it's later in the day, I tend to slowly move into things. That said, I try not to inflict my inability to immediately jump into the day on others, and as I pass people on my bike who are walking or riding their bicycles, I say good morning as I ride by, send out a quick hello, or offer a little nod in their direction. It could be that I was brought up in a small-ish city and was taught that it is impolite not to greet people, or maybe it's just the sheer glee of riding a bicycle, but any way around it, I find myself doing this 99% of the time. I will admit that the other 1% of the time I am spaced out in my own little world and sometimes simply am unaware of people around me.
This habit has now become a small game for me when riding, particularly on multi-use trails where one would think that nearly everyone there is either 1) transporting themselves using a less congested path, 2) exercising and releasing endorphins, or 3) letting off some steam by skating, walking the dog, riding, etc. I have noticed that about 75% of the time, I receive absolutely no response from a person when I greet them. No nod, no grunt, no "good morning" in reply. I'm even factoring out those wearing headphones, as I understand they're not going to hear me. The lack of response is causing me to think that I am the crazy person and perhaps I shouldn't be greeting people at all. Knowing that I'm not a morning person, maybe I am going out of my way, particularly in the early hours, to greet people? It's not as though I'm trying to stop them and carry on a 30 minute conversation (I do have places to go - usually), but I often get looks that seem to relay a message that I should absolutely not be greeting the individual.


The fact that the person looks at me causes me to believe that it's not that they are "spaced out," or that they haven't heard me, but rather that they are making a conscious effort not to respond. I also understand that sometimes the workout is intense and perhaps the person is simply focused, but I don't think this is the case for the majority of people I'm passing. So, what do you think? Does it bother you when someone says hello as you cross paths? Am I crazy for greeting people as I go by, or is this just the reality I need to get used to? Feel free to leave your thoughts, or take the poll.

8 comments:

  1. I usually just smile and/or give a little wave. Even if the other person doesn't respond, it makes ME happy to do so.

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    1. That makes sense. I should say that I don't say hello expecting that the other party must respond... like you, it is because I want to do so. I've just found it a bit odd lately (or noticed a trend) that so many are just staring blankly. So, I think it's more of a curiosity to know if it happens everywhere, or if there is just something in the water, etc in these parts.

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  2. i rarely say hi to people on a multi use trail other than to communicate that i need to pass them. especially now that it's summer and there's just too many people! sometimes when i'm following someone (jogger, cyclist) on a very narrow part of the trail i'll make small talk mostly to tell them i'm in no rush to pass them. in traffic, i almost never say hi to other cyclists. i feel awkward not saying hi or giving a head nod or some sign of acknowledgement. but the few times i give a smile, it's not returned. i don't take it as a slight. sometimes, the other person is taken aback and didn't have enough time to respond with a hello or is just too focused to even notice me.

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    1. This is a good point, too. When there are so many people on a trail it is really difficult to greet them all (I don't think I'd even try). Whether fortunate or unfortunate, we generally (though not always) don't have a ton of people on the trails at any given time. The weekends are far busier than the weekdays, but that changes during the summer months as well.

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  3. Are you saying "hi" to the people you're approaching from behind, or the ones who you pass going in the opposite direction? The people I approach from behind just get a "on your left!", but the ones I pass in the other direction get a smile, nod, wave, or "good morning". I get a response back about a third of the time. This is all on the MUP. On the surface street portion of my commute, I occasionally see another commuter on the other side of the street and he waves back when I initiate a greeting. I didn't get any kind of greetings or acknowledgements while tooling about DC a couple of weeks ago.

    I can count on one hand, and still have fingers left over, the number of passing cyclists who have initiated a greeting.

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    1. Interesting. Maybe people are more inclined to respond than to initiate greetings? I hadn't thought about it, but that's something to consider as well.

      I often do as Ridonkulus does when approaching someone I'm going to pass. I find they're startled if I just say "On your left" or "Passing," so I tend to say something like, "Good morning. I'm passing on your left." I'm not really concerned with these folks saying anything in return, but I've had too many of the people I'm passing with quick "passing" remarks kind of freak out and walk toward the left side. Then of course, I have to figure out how to maneuver my way around them without killing either of us. :O) If I have a brief chat with them as I'm approaching, I've found that they are less impulsive about movements (most of the time).

      Most of my casual good morning's are directed toward those coming in an opposite direction, and those are generally the individuals who seem not to respond.

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    2. oh man, i totally had a brain fart the other day where the other person totally startled me with a "on your right" and i drifted right as the light turned green. i'm just so used to doing that when the light changes AND most people pass on the left, i couldn't compute! i think your strategy works though, because i do appreciate the extra time it gives me to compute what is going on.

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    3. It always throws me off when someone passes on the right - I don't think you are at all alone in your reaction.

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