Since August, I’ve made a point of saying hello to people on the street. When out walking, if I pass someone, I say, “Hello!” or, “Good afternoon, Sir!”. People hate it. They become uncomfortable, as if I’ve invaded their personal space. Moreover, they resent having to reply. At best, they mumble back the reciprocal greeting as if discharging an irritating obligation. Almost nobody looks pleased to do it.
A Chinese woman to whom I said “good afternoon” flinched and moved over to the extreme margin of the footpath. A Sikh family recited back “good… afternoon… sir” in unison, looking pained. A gent in a sleeveless shirt told me to bugger off, and then quickened his stride. A woman in a purple jumpsuit said “good afternoon to you too!”, but her dog pissed on me. A little, rolling fatman at the bus stop said, “hey now?” confused, and then eyed me until I rounded the corner. And a heroin dealer told me he’d found himself, “about to ask you the same thing, mate”, which I thought cause for concern.
I’ve seen people greet passersby in old movies. In those movies, the other person sings back, “Good morning!”, or waves over their head. But when I try it, the other person reacts as if I’ve pulled them over and demanded to see the receipt for their jacket.