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Saturday, March 3, 2012

I Don't Know Who That Is, But Maybe You Do

One of my favorite aspects of living in a city is the number of people you come to recognize on a daily basis.

Sure, we may not know each other, but hey! Don’t you ride my bus? Don’t we walk past each other, ride the same elevator?

I’m not saying we need to exchange holiday cards or bum cigarettes from each other, but I think it warrants a nod, don’t you?

I think a nod just says so much. “Hello there! I see you, and acknowledge your place in the world.”

I enjoy the cordial impersonality of the city.

But a little personality isn’t bad, either.

I was on the bus the other day when I recognized the head of the woman in front of me. (It’s one of my many talents, the ability to recognize the backs of heads, along with recognizing people by their gait and being able to open doors with my feet. But that’s probably best left for another post.)

Where was I?

Oh, yes. I was in the midst of recognizing the head of the woman in front of me on the bus.

It was my Aunt Joanne.

I leaned forward and tugged a bit of hair at the back of her neck. She swatted my hand away without turning around.

So I did it again.

She turned around somewhat indignantly, ready to give the freak bothering her the what-for.

“Hey, what do you think – why, Miss Pearl!”

She beamed at me. “I thought you were some sort of freak,” she exclaimed.

“There are people who would say you aren’t far off the mark,” I laughed.

We chatted for the 10 or so blocks before her stop, whereupon she de-bussed, as we say on the commuter-circuit, and I continued on.

Every day we run into people with varying relationships to ourselves, some of whom we know and some of whom we don’t.

When you run across my Aunt Joanne – and some day, you just might – nod at her for me, will ya?

Because I’m going to nod at yours.

34 comments:

Shelly said...

Always noddin', smilin', and wavin', as the situation warrants.

Pearl said...

Shell, we'll wave at each other's aunties. :-)

Silliyak said...

Imagine you're a guy, now imagine you INCORRECTLY identified a familiar back of the head...hilarity ensues, or an arrest...

vanilla said...

It's the civil thing to do. Besides, it helps maintain amity in the community. Wave on!

Pearl said...

Silliyak, I was actually grabbed and kissed at First Avenue years ago. He said he thought he knew me. And based on that kiss, I'd say he did. :-) I really should write about that sometime...

vanilla, I absolutely agree. As I've said before, we don't have to speak, but a smile and a nod goes a long way.

Chantel said...

Oh dear, was it you I grabbed and kissed? Wait, no--you said it was a "he." Whew, had me worried a bit there. I have indeed grabbed and hugged what turned out to be total strangers. Um....numerous times. I apparently have no ability to tell the difference between intimate old pals and guys who hit on me last year at the bar. Ah well, makes a bus ride much more interesting, eh?

esbboston said...

When I yank someone's hair I try to do so in Morse Code so that a proper sense of silent communication is established. Well, silent until someone screams and cries like a little girl, either the yanked-on person, or me being punched, usually in Norse Code, or Viking style. If the hair accidentally comes out, well, you just have to keep trying.

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

Nothing like recognition that you are indeed there and it is not a bad dream as you were hoping.

terlee said...

Just the other day I had this woman at the grocery store chase me down to say hello. When I told her I wasn't the person she thought, she got all upset, insisting I most certainly was!

Hmmm. Maybe I don't know who I am after all.

Joanne said...

Half the people in my town used a post office box. Every morning there are nods, hellos, hat tipping and even hat raising. All the men hold the door for me and half the women. It's a cross between feeling like a very old person and living in the 18th century.

Pearl said...

Chantel, I thought you looked familiar. :-)

esb, very funny! :-)

Delores, confirmation that I am real and present always brightens my day!

terlee, I had a woman pass me in the basement of Macy's (where they keep the lunches and the good chocolate) yell at me -- me! -- "There ARE trolls! There ARE trolls!" Dang-near broke into a run. I wonder, sometimes, if people see things I don't...

Joanne, I can see that. A combination of sweet and perplexing. I say, we take it all as "sweet".
Assume positive intent. That's my motto. :-)

Daisy said...

One of the things I like about living in a smaller town...everyone says "hello" and smiles ... well, most people smile.

Daisy's Barbara

jenny_o said...

Everybody is somebody's child, sister, brother, aunt, nephew, etc. We should all nod! It's like when you're driving behind someone who is doing way under the speed limit and you're in a hurry: pretend it's your elderly (dear) relative and don't get as impatient ... well, it's kind of like that, except the nodding is totally innocent of motive but the pretending is totally to talk yourself out of tailgating ... um... nodding is a good thing :)

jabblog said...

Oh dear - not in the UK! We don't even acknowledge another's existence unless we have been formally introduced . . . ;-)

ellen abbott said...

My son and DIL are returning to Texas after an attempt to relocate to Portland. People are nice, he said, but unfriendly. Down here, we may not always be nice, but we are always friendly.

Pearl said...

Daisy, it's easy to do!

jenny-o, I can't tell you how many times I've done just that.

jabblog, really? Are you playing with me? :-) Actually, I've noticed that amongst immigrants to MN. You can smile at them, or nod, and they stare right through you. We actually take that as a bit of an affront. I wonder if they know that? Really should be part of the citizenship test...

ellen, I can see that. I know that people from the South have a hard time relocating North. I hear we're hard to break into, friendship-wise. I wonder how I come off to people...

Crack You Whip said...

I smile at everyone whose path I cross. It may only make the difference in a few people's lives, but it is worth it, just for those few.

Life is sweet!

Beach Bum said...

Sure, we may not know each other, but hey! Don’t you ride my bus? Don’t we walk past each other, ride the same elevator?


I have an opposite situation in the small town I live now I call Redneckistan. Even now in my hometown of Georgetown I can drive down some street and wave at a total stranger and get a smile and a wave back.

In Redneckistan I have waved and said hello to people who know me and got a blank pod person-like stare.

mapstew said...

People (strangers) often nod, wink, say hello to me in public, and I always return the gesture, and usually add a "How are you?"
Mostly it's folk who have seen me at gigs or more likely at weddings. 'Fame' on a very small scale!

And I always wave at oncoming drivers in the countryside here, everybody does. It's just adone thing, part of our culture, it's nice.

I also nod to Aunties! :¬)

xxx

Mr. Charleston said...

Courtesy is contagious. I once had a situation where, everyday, I had to blend into crawling traffic. Every time someone let me in I would wave "thanks." And, I would also let anyone in line ahead of me and wave. Now, everyone does it. Well, maybe not everyone but it's become commonplace.

Pixel Peeper said...

I wave at total strangers if they drive the same car I drive. Or they have the same camera hanging from their neck as I do.

I'll wave at your Aunt Joanne, too.

Eva Gallant said...

I'm always smiling, nodding, and/or waving at familiar strangers. So far, I've managed to avoid arrest.

Linda O'Connell said...

I say never maintain eye contact for any length of time unless you want something to write about. Smile and nod.

Belle said...

It does give me a warm feeling when people smile and nod at me. I like it.

Leenie said...

I got in trouble for NOT smiling and waving in the farming community where I grew up. Got accused of "high hatting." Every driver is supposed to wave at approaching vehicles, tractors, spud combines, etc. with a couple of fingers while holding the steering wheel with the rest of the hand. That's how you do it--or ELSE.

The Elephant's Child said...

Buses are such social places. When we let them.

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

I like the idea of an acknowledging nod and wave, Pearl. I live in an "active adult" community in Arizona where at least half the people can't remember each other's names even if somewhat acquainted. An enthusiastic greeting without being required to produce a name with the greeting is the norm here!

Pat Tillett said...

I think nodding is good, but there still some a-wads out there who don't even acknowledge a simple nod or smile. Maybe it's just me... I don't know!

The Jules said...

If you see my Aunt, please don't nod at her. In fact, try and avoid maintaining eye contact at all and just back away slowly without making any big movements.

If you feel you simply have to look, can I suggest you do so using a mirror, or highly polished shield.

Roses said...

One of the things I love about living in Norwich, is that it's a friendly city. You can make eye contact, smile and wish the passerby a good morning/afternoon/evening without people calling the police.

I was brought up in a small island and I've not got over my small island ways.

Susan in the Boonies said...

I was completely prepared for that NOT to have been your Aunt Joanne.

Diane said...

Whenever we were driving into town and passed another vehicle, Dad would wave. I'd always say: Who was that? And he always knew. I miss those days. And if we're going to nod at each other's aunties, I'd better warn you I have about 47. Various shapes and sizes and degrees of friendliness. Are we still on?

kt said...

I did that once only when the person turned around it wasn't who I thought it was! It freaked both of us out!

Pat said...

'Why Miss Pearl!'
That sounds so Scarlet - as in Tara- I do declare!