Monday, October 08, 2007

live in New York City once in your life, but leave before it makes you hard...

in the famous words of Baz...

At the dog park on Saturday afternoon, I was sitting with my mother on one of the benches while the dogs ran around our feet in circles (as one does).

This guy, newly arrived to the park with his German shepherd, walked by us. He looked at me, nodded cordially, and said, "Hello." I did what I always do in these situations--hurriedly averted my eyes and turned my head away.

Then, of course, I felt terrible--that is NOT the correct response to behavior like that in Connecticut. While my default has been reprogrammed to assume that any stranger who says hi to me is either a creepy molester or a bum who wants money or an evangelical freak, in Connecticut it is antisocial, rude, and even creepy NOT to say hello to someone who comes within 15 feet of you.

Humm. This makes me sad.

10 comments:

angelle said...

hmm. it's just that i mostly avoid random men who say hi, wherever i am. unless he's incredibly cute. i assume they're all lecherous.

writtenwyrdd said...

That is one of the reasons I left San Francisco for Maine years ago. There is so much that's great about big city life, but it can harden you, too.

Church Lady said...

It's a tough call. I believe your first instincts are usually correct. If you didn't want to smile at a strange man while sitting there by yourself, then you shouldn't. Anywhere-- not just in the big city.

Precie said...

You weren't sitting by yourself, right? Your mom was there with you. What did she do/say? Did she greet him in response?

I know the feeling. I grew up in an urban environment. Don't beat yourself up about it. I suspect the time to move out of the city is when you start being just as suspicious of friends and acquaintances. :)

Alex P said...

Or the other option; he was saying 'hi' to someone stood behind you. I regularly greet total strangers who I'm convinced are hailing me, but actually it's their pal behind me. Can be tres embarassing, come to think of it.

pacatrue said...

This is something I haven't gotten used to still. In my small southern town, you say hi to anyone walking past, by and large. You don't expect them to stop and talk, but you recognize their existence. But you don't do that in many other parts of the world, even here in Hawaii. Others think I am rude for saying hello and I think they are rude for not.

jalexissmith said...

Ok, when I was in Japan I would smile at anyone and everyone who made eye contact with me on the streets. And as a foreigner, nearly everyone had to stop and have a good look so instead of doing the dreaded "gaijin stare" where you just stare right back hoping they will realize how weird it is (note: they don't!), I would give a big smile which would etiher embarass them into looking away or convince them that Americans are actually friendly.... either way, I win. So imagine my surprise upon returning to Boston when I was not met with the same embarassment or elation upon smiling toothily at a stranger but rather being met with looks of distain. Harrrumpf!

Alice Kildaire said...

haha...we still throw our hands up and shout our "good mornings" across the street...I'd probably be mistaken for an ax murderer in New York! lol

Ello said...

When I moved away from NY, it took me years to get used to random strangers saying hello to me on the street. Now I'm used to it. If they say hi, I say hi back. If they don't I don't.

Don't sweat it, it was perfectly ok what you did. People understand.

Bernita said...

When I left the city, took me years to get over it too.