*To heighten your experience, please read the title of this post in the manner of the “J-E-L-L-O” jingle and then carry on.

The word “hello” is only two syllables.

If you’re really feeling put out, the word “hi” is simply just one.

This means there really isn’t any reason not to say either one of those minimally syllabic words when they are thrown directly your way—even if said by a stranger. At the very least, you can finagle your lips into something that resembles a smile or nod your head in acknowledgment of said greeting.


It’s not that difficult.

However, I have noticed that there are quite a few people in this world that find the concept of saying “hello,” “thank you” and the like tantamount to reciting the Chinese National Anthem through interpretive dance.

In fact, some will go as far as to deliberately avoid making eye contact so they don’t have to flash a smile or return a greeting.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not asking for extended chit-chat—there’s about a five minute window for that in my day—but rather just a polite “hi” if I actually made the effort myself. 

For example, there are a couple of routes I take when the weather permits me to go for my walks. Depending on when I go, there are others who are evidently also creatures of habit and walk the same general route. Some are really nice and we exchange general pleasantries — “Boy, it’s hot!” or “I think that those two squirrels are humping!”— as we pass.

If nothing else, we can smile and nod and pretend not to look at the squirrels.

However, then there are a couple people who I always walk by that refuse to acknowledge my “hi” and then my second-try smile. We pass within inches of each other on the sidewalk and they act like I’m not even there.

While I’m used to being ignored in social situations and sometimes actually prefer it, I deem this repeat behavior from strangers who haven’t had the opportunity to judge me highly unacceptable.

But I’m all about solutions, people, not excuses.

So instead of getting frustrated or disheartened at the declining congeniality of societal strangers as a whole, I’ve decided to up my game. The next time a repeat offender doesn’t say “hi” back or at least try and give me a smile, I’m going to  bust out my jazz hands and perform a bastardized version of “Rent” from Act 1 to the end.

All I want is one syllable or a freaking little smile, dammit.

Don’t make me bust out the jazz hands.

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42 responses to “H-E-L-L-O*

  1. Hi! *jazz hands* 🙂 Great post!

  2. I noticed the other day I sort of give everyone I pass in those situations a smile that may look like I’m constipated. More of a grimace, so I don’t come off like I’m simple. Not sure if that is better or worse.

    • I guess I should clarify a little bit. Not everyone has to be friendly. Just the same strangers I see every day that STILL refuse to say hi. They cannot be constipated every day, although I would argue they might have a stick up their ass.

  3. I have a HUGE problem with the folks who don’t smile back in hallways or say hi, but my biggest is the folks that don’t say “thank you” for little things like opening doors or holding the elevator. One lady got on the elevator after I’d held it and had the worst look on her face. I said, “Wow! If I could go back in time and let that door close I totally would.”

  4. Lately I’ve been doing this thing when something like that gets under my skin I stop what I’m doing. Is it that I’m upset about how they responded or about how I did? What societal standards have we created in our minds that create an expected reality? Tomorrow when you see them, go up to both and give them a giant hug. That would certainly warrant an acknowledgement. Also:

    *Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes*

    Just so you’re ready for that season of love too.

    • Oh yes. I don’t really let it get to me. There’s actually just two people that I ALWAYS pass that still refuse to say “hi.” It’s ridiculous. It’s become my personal quest, which is probably why I don’t have many friends and strangers think I’m a weirdo 😉

    • *Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes* Love it!

      I want to be there when you throw your arms around the attitudinal walkers.

  5. I overcompensate in this area. My social anxiety disorder dictates that I really don’t want to interact with 99% of the population. I oversmile, overwave, overgreet in hopes I’ll scare everyone. I don’t mind people misinterpreting my weirdness for creepiness, as long as the job gets done.

    Btw, you have to hear Bobina say Hello. She gets six syllables out of it with her syrupy southern drawl. Its cute as a bug’s belly button.

  6. Isn’t that the weirdest behavior? There is a woman who sits on my stoop everyday waiting for her child’s schoolbus. She never, and I mean never, says hi back to me. And she’s blocking my front door. What the hell? I’ve given up.

  7. I love the most when this happens at work in the bathroom. There’s nothing more awkward that seeing someone you don’t recognize washing their hands after they just heard you pee, and you say “hi”, and don’t get a response. Those two minutes are super uncomfortable.

  8. I love the idea of doing jazz hands! I wonder if it would actually get a reaction? The people that don’t say “thank you” aggravate me more though. I just ran into two of them yesterday at my daughter’s dance studio. I picked up a kid’s shoe for one parent and held the door TWICE for another….nothing but rude silence. It’s almost enough to make me stop being an ordinary, considerate person.

  9. If the jazz hands don’t get a response, next time shoot ’em the moon. If they can’t smile or laugh and appreciate someone else’s ass, they are truly miserable human beings and not worth your time.

  10. Girl, you’re striking a nerve here, but it’s a little different than you might expect. I am a motorcyclist. I ride every day. Motorcyclists wave at each other when passing. Every time. It’s like a law.

    HOWEVER! Lately I’ve been commuting on my wife’s scooter to keep it up, save a few extra mpg, and frankly, it’s fun.

    Motorcyclists usually don’t wave to scooters. At least the jerk ones don’t. So now I get enjoyment out of almost wrecking by waving at least one arm wildly in the air for a half mile, screaming inside my helmet “VALIDATE ME!!!” to hopefully make them feel bad for not waving.

    You have Issues. So do scooterists.

    Thanks for listening.

  11. Just after they pass you by, reach back and tap one of them on the shoulder and then pretend you didn’t do it.

  12. Please tell me someone’s going to videotape you giving the shunners your Jazz Hands?

  13. Dammit, where are my comments going?
    I wanted to say that I am like you, I want that interaction and will go out of my way to Say Hello to you. I smile, I wave, I will stop and wait for you to catch up to say Hi to you. I feel like being a good human being means that I have to do that, I want to do that. What good is life if I can’t share those moments with someone?
    plus you made me giggle, and that was worth it today (thinking of you doing the jazz hands!)

  14. When you do jazz hands, it’d be great if you could wear a top hat and glittery cape. Is this possible?

  15. Everyone always says ‘hi’ or some form of it in the South. We do it even when we are grumpy. It is just Southern hospitality. If someone doesnt say ‘hi’ back we automatically assume they are a Yankee

  16. I’m dying to hear how they react to that move! lol

  17. “I’m going to bust out my jazz hands and perform a bastardized version of “Rent” from Act 1 to the end.”


    OMG, Abby, that made me HOWL!

    And I SO hear ya because I live in city, and I can’t tell you how many times I say Hi to someone on the street while passing them, and I get NOTHING.


    I think I need to try the “jazz hands!”

    Fab post!

  18. That’s what I love about Mexico. Hola! Como esta? Buenas tardes! Is totally the norm among absolute strangers as they walk by each other. And people walk here, all the time. A short walk to the corner will have you going by a dozen people each greeting each other – with a smile and eye contact. Love it. But, what annoys me of the States is the answer to a “thank you”. Trust me, if you start being aware of the response it is always “uh-hun” or “yep”. That’s it. “You’re welcome” is dead in this country. I’ve been to every state, every class level and people just don’t say it anymore. But all will argue with me until they too start taking notice.

    You’re welcome.

    • p.s. have you ever tried sneezing on those who ignore you? or maybe do a slip and fall into their arms? a trust fall backwards into them? Not that I don’t like the jazz hands, but eventually you’ll need other ideas, I’m just watching your back.

  19. All. the. time. at my work. Walking in the halls or in between buildings. I usually smile and say, “hey” or some other version…my favorite is when people look at their watch or their phone to pretend like they at least have an excuse. I might have to copy you and try jazz hands and see what happens. Hope I don’t get fired! (j/k that would never happen, I work in HR) 🙂

  20. When I’m on my bike, I assume I’m in a club like the one for motorcycles or Jeeps where everyone else on bikes will wave at me. I try to make sure and keep an eye out so we can wave when we make contact. Sometimes, however, I wonder how long I should stare at them before it gets creepy.

    The only time people have a pass at not saying hi is when they’re running. In this case, I sympathize with the awfulness of your current activity, and assumed all you can manage is a grimace, and you don’t want to go around grimacing at people.

    In other news – it is rather awkward when you find yourself walking down a long hallway towards someone you only kind-of know. Again, how long to stare at them and smile before it gets creepy?

  21. Move to Nebraska. Not only will you get a hi, but you will also get acknowledgement from other drivers in the form of a friendly finger lift from the steering wheel.

  22. . I always nod and smile and wave. it’s just good manners, yes? and most of the time i say “morning.” that’s all it takes. am i right?

  23. Bad teeth. No teeth. Canker sores on their inner lips. Autistic. No time to stop memorizing Tom Robbins novels before the next book burning. I could go on…

  24. StoriesAndSweetPotatoes

    If I ignored you and you jazz handed me that might look like homicidal manic behavior. So they’ll maybe they’ll start being friendly to you just so you don’t kill them.

  25. Loved your post, as always! I’ve gotten to the point where I answer myself when my greetings are ignored. The way I look at it, I’m already talking to myself, so why not finish what I started and just MAYBE the no-return greeting/rude person learn a lesson in manners. I caught one of my crabby old neighbors crackin’ a grin the other day, when I walked past his yard, jabbering away to myself, the little stinker.
    Me: “Hello!” (pause)

    Me: “Hi, how are you?”
    Me: “Fine, thanks! Have a good one!”
    Me: “Thanks, you too!”

    Keep blasting your sunshine, Abby! Dazzle the crabbiness right out of those folks with your wonderful Jazz Hands. They obviously need it. =)

  26. THIS: “I’m going to bust out my jazz hands and perform a bastardized version of “Rent” from Act 1 to the end.” YES PLEASE!! Also, I think this has a lot to do with where you live. When I was in Seattle, nobody would meet your eye on the street EVER (unless they were pan handling and about to ask you for money) but out here in the Midwest everyone in their dog says hi (yes, I swear even the dogs are friendlier).

    • People are generally really friendly here, but there are just those couple I see everyday that need to just crack a damn smile… 😉

  27. It’s funny, I just read an artical written here about how rude the people are here. How bad is it when the people in the same town as you notice how mean you are?!?! I am a transplant too this little part of the world and have met friendlier more outgoing people in chicago and NY City. My biggest pet peve is no one seems to say thank you anymore and I am pretty sure no one knows how to actually write a thank you card anymore. 😦 Stopping by from the Not Mommy blog hop and as always I love reading your stuff! Have a great weekend….. Oh, and Thank you for making me smile today!

  28. I agree with you. I really noticed a difference once I moved from Texas. We Texans are notoriously friendly and growing up there I just assumed everyone was polite and courteous the way we were. Not true. When I moved to California I realized right away that simple manners and niceties are not a part of many people’s upbringing there. That’s not to say that everyone was mean or hateful, it’s just that they rarely seemed to make eye contact or smile when passing me on the sidewalk or even hold a door open for me if they got to it first and I was right behind them. It was so foreign to me. Now that I’m in the Midwest, I’ve noticed that people are definitely more friendly than in California, but not as friendly as in the South. When I visited the East Coast, people certainly weren’t very amiable when passing on the street. Interesting that it is different from region to region.

  29. Next time I pass someone in my day, I’m gonna use the line “I think those 2 squirrels are humping” regardless of where I am. I cannot wait to see what the other’s response will be…

  30. Actually, I think you need to step it up a notch. Stop directly in their path, stand with feet wide apart, use the jazz hands (of course) and belt out a dramatic rendition of Mamy!! I’m sure that every time they see you after that they most definitely won’t try to avoid eye contact. No way. Friend for life, right there! Do it.

  31. I have a lot of anxiety over these types of greetings. I always find myself over-staring at someone because I’m worried I’ll miss a “hi” or a smile but then I kind of seem like a creep because of it.

  32. I admit, I ignore people all.the.time. But if you’re walking around in Manhattan you kind of have to given the sheer volume of humanity. People you pass regularly are different.

    I double dog dare you to use jazz hands and report back!

    • Oh yes. I’m all about ignoring most people, especially strangers and big crowds. But if it’s just the two of us passing on the sidewalk day after day, dammit…give me a “hi” at least once!

  33. I hear you – I’ve gone so far as to practically dry hump some people’s legs, with no response whatsoever. Rude!

  34. “The next time a repeat offender doesn’t say “hi” back or at least try and give me a smile, I’m going to bust out my jazz hands and perform a bastardized version of “Rent” from Act 1 to the end.”

    I would actually PAY to see that, on video!

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