The gal at the counter that calls everyone Sweetie or Honey or the person in the parking lot that says, ‘Hey,’ out of the blue. These sort of things are unnerving to me. I don’t do them myself and I really do not know how to handle them. Perhaps it is an outgrowth of introversion and my inner need to shy away from people, especially strangers. They are after all, strangers.
I recognize the basic humanity of such greetings, but there is a cynicism in me that makes me wonder what their angle is. Why did they single me out? Is that guy about to show me a bunch of watches he has to sell? Is she buttering me up to ask for a buck? The casual greeting can be as much a foot in the door as it can be a genuine desire to share.
I’ve heard it said that it is a Southern thing but I do not think that is true. I do believe it is a rural thing. That folk in outlaying areas are more prone to greet every neighbor and every passer by. It is less common in urban areas where the hustle and bustle of everyday life does not allow the time for casual greetings and the risk that they may result in a lengthy conversation.
Moreover, why would you greet a stranger with, “Hey?” Hey is a shortened version of hello, but it is also associated with the beginning of a question, as in, ‘Hey, let me ask you something.’ If the desire is to pass along good tidings to a fellow human being, why not ‘Hello’ or ‘Good day to you?’ I am sure people use the shorter ‘hey’ or ‘hi’ to seem less intrusive, but that would suggest they understand they are being overly forward in the first place.
If I should walk past you in a mall, not really knowing you at all, do not be surprised if I do not throw out a rural ‘howdy.’ It just isn’t in my nature.