Which of the following statements are offensive/intimidating?
- “Gimme all your money”
- “Don’t scream.”
- “Is she about a size 14?”
- “Good morning”
- All of the above
Apparently, the correct answer is 5.
- probably has a rag over your mouth
- is only funny if you know who Clarice is
- the core of this post
Yes, you read that right, “Good morning” is apparently offensive and/or intimidating to some people.
Walking down the street to work at 8am, greeting morning runners and walkers is socially unacceptable to more people than not. Even later in the day, at the grocery store or Target, walking down an aisle, greeting a complete stranger is intrusive. Obviously, it depends on how the salutation is delivered, but assuming a welcoming/endearing greeting is offered, reciprocation isn’t always the response.
Why are people so afraid of people? Are different people really so scary that you put more effort into not acknowledging them than into regarding them like an actual human? I can only think of one, count it, one instance when I had engaged/been engaged in actual dialogue with another human and it not developed into pleasant conversation or a civil exchange.
In my beginning acting class, my teacher confessed to us that she is the type of person that walks around the grocery store with her head down and interacts as little as possible. (However, on stage, she was one of the most powerful, commanding women I’ve ever had the pleasure of working opposite.) During another session, she categorized me as one of those “across the quad” people—meaning I’d be the type to yell your name out across the central quad at school and coming running at you full speed to envelope you a huge bear hug. (She was right.)
On stage is obviously a different world, but how different is it really? It involves observing, connecting, listening, engaging, reacting, and everything else included in interpersonal communications, verbal and non-verbal. On stage, us actors acknowledge that we’re supposed to be present, engage, and react (among other things), but how is it that off stage, in department stores, walking to work, on public transportation, it’s almost taboo to engage someone you don’t know in civil dialogue. Yeah, I get it, “don’t talk to strangers,” but seriously, everything in moderation. If no one talked to strangers, our world would be much quieter; full of passive-aggressive beings with pent up emotions.
In any case…if you’ve seen Fight Club…consider this next part to be your assignment (but nowhere near as destructive as Project Mayhem):
Greet 5 people you don’t know and have more than a three-line exchange with them—past the “how’s it going?” and the “good, thanks. You?” and have an actual mini-conversation with them.
Alternative: Compliment 5 (or even 3) people as you walk by them…and watch as the expression on their face:
- doesn’t change
- visibly looks like they’re still processing what just happened
- calculates how to respond to the “rude/inappropriate pass” that they s/he was just subject to. (note: just because someone compliments you doesn’t mean they are trying to sleep with you. They might just be paying you a compliment.)
A few months ago I was outside the theatre building at CSULB, smoking a cigarette, and couple of people who I knew walked by, looking like they were in hurry. To the first I said, “hi, [Toni]” (name changed to protect the identities) and one responded, “good, thanks.” And sped off. I laughed because (if you’ll notice)…I didn’t even ask how [Toni] was doing…
Point being, if you hadn’t caught on…don’t be afraid of people. Engage and interact. Greet a stranger (please use a little discretion, and don’t go uncomfortably far out of your safety zone. I don’t take any responsibility for any confrontations this leads to.)
I don’t think there’s any other way to end this blog than with a simple…