Monday, August 29, 2011
Say What?! A Study in Greeting Etiquette
Since I moved my running routine from the Lakefront Path to the North Shore Channel of the Chicago River, I have noticed a difference in running etiquette. Since the Channel path is a lot less crowded than the Lakefront, there is more opportunity for friendly greetings between runners. This is not something I’m used to. But when, during my first semi-long run along the Channel path I was greeted by “Looking good!” “Great job!” and “Good work!” from complete strangers, I thought how wonderful that people are so open to giving each other encouragement on the path! Well, I thought I should pay it forward. In my own way. I thought that shouting out encouragement was a little much, so I decided to just greet everyone on my run with a smile and a “Good morning!” sometimes accompanied by a little wave. Who wouldn’t love that, right? Well, I soon discovered that not everyone is as receptive to a hearty greeting as others. And because I moved to an area of the city full of diverse cultures, I began to notice a difference in the way certain people responded to my greeting. It became a sort of experiment for me. And it wasn’t just different cultures that I studied, but different types of runners/walkers/bikers, as well.
Here are the results of my very scientific study thus far. Runners in a pack will almost always include one or two people to respond with a, “Good morning!” back at me. Single runners, if they are not wearing earphones, have given me about a 75 percent return on my greeting. Runners in pairs almost never respond. Elderly Asian women and men walkers (there are a lot along the path) stare directly into my face as I smile and greet them and give me the stoniest look you can imagine, then look away in silence. What’s that about?! Hispanic men and women have about a 60 percent return. Teenagers (whatever the culture)---forget it. I have actually passed a couple orthodox Jewish women running or speed walking in full body cover and long skirts---both returned my greeting with a smile and a likewise enthusiastic, “Good morning!” The orthodox men in their suits are not quite as friendly. Older bikers will usually return my greeting, but younger or “serious” bikers will speed by me so fast, it’s hard to tell. But I’m pretty sure they are smiling inside their helmets. The rooster said nothing.
Oh, and as I was thinking of this, it also got me thinking about the craziest things that people have said or shouted to me as I ran. The most offensive was the guy in my last blog post (I refuse to say it again here, so you’ll have to go back to read it). I’ve also gotten the very clever, “Run!” shouted at me many a times. Really people? One time, someone yelled from a passing vehicle, “You can stop running now. They’re not chasing you anymore!” Har dee har. Once I was wearing pig tails in my hair and got, “Handle bars!” shouted at me. The second most offensive, however, was not using words. It was a gesture. While running on a treadmill at the gym with the windows facing Lincoln Avenue, I was actually mooned by a vehicle stopped at the red light. Why is that funny? Oh, and speaking of not funny, I get a lot of people who mock run next to me or in front of me. Although I may laugh or smile, in my mind I am giving them the biggest elbow and sending them into a garbage can. And I keep on running.