Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Trail Etiquette

Last night wasn't what many would consider the ideal conditions for walking on a trail but we did.  It was cold and rainy.  It keeps children and would be abductors at bay.  The weatherman said it was going to be the only sunny day this week and since he blew it 3 days in a row now, I'm pretty sure he just throws a dart at different pictures and whatever it lands on is what he says it will be.  "Snow in September...sounds good to me!"

I digress.

There's this ritual the Mr. and I go through every time we walk.  When we see others passing, my small town Mr. likes to smile and say hello.  I'd love to smile and say hello too but I can tell 80% of people do not want to acknowledge you on the trail, I accept this and move on.  My Mr., longing for a society circa 1950's where everyone still smiled at one another when passing on the street without thinking there was an ulterior motive, takes snubs personally.  He'll wait for them to get out of earshot and then say "is it so hard to say hello to another human being?"  I just smile and keep walking because I know this will continue at least 3-8 more times depending on how many people we pass.  You've got all kinds of people on hilly trails.  High school runners training after school, hardcore runners that don't care its pouring down rain, creepy guys walking by themselves with shifty eyes and you feel the need to note their height, hair color and clothing in case you need to give the description to the cops, couples spending time together like us or couples in the form of 2 women gossiping about this and that.  I leave those in training and hardcore runners alone.  They're there to work and they don't have time in between grunts and gasps for idle chit chat.  Creepy guy does not want to know you noticed him which is exactly why you say hello and if you're feeling particularly ballsy, give them the ol "I'm watching you" finger gestures ala De Niro in Meet the Parents to let them know you've spotted them and can id them if necessary.  Matter of fact, I leave everyone alone.  I don't make eye contact because the Mr is usually ahead of me when we pass others so I don't see them first and I'll only acknowledge if I hear them say hello.  I don't really know why.  I suppose it's because I used to be the Mr. but I know times have changed and people rarely want to say hello unless they're about 40+ or are forced to because you're making uncomfortable eye contact with them.  (Like my honey does)

I admire it.  I'd love to have a society where we could all look each other in the eye and smile when we pass on the street or a trail.  I don't see that happening.  Who knows, maybe it's just in our neck of the woods.  Hmm, no, I know it isn't because even when we vacation if you smile at someone, you get a look like they're going to call the police, threaten to cut you or they run the opposite way.

Do you smile and say hello to people you pass when you're walking/running/hiking?  What about on the street?


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23 comments:

  1. I think about this all the time. It's a skilled person that can approach another on the trail, size them up in an instant and know if they are the "hi" type or not.

    I usually find that they are cautious just like me, and when I smile, they do too. (Mr. is right...it's not so hard)

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  2. I find about 90% of people on the path by me DO say hi. It's usually the bikers and runners that say hi (I'm a runner), not the walkers (although I do try to say hi to everyone), so maybe they feel like they are bothering YOU. Some will nod, though, but a genuine smile and a hi are never a bad idea.

    I'm in my late 20's but sometimes get nervous being a younger women on the bike/walk path alone. I was trained while working in a hospital to say hi and make eye contact with everyone, as it is not only friendly, but can dissuade someone from doing something bad as they think they can be recognized. But it can be bad as a woman to make eye contact with a guy as they may take it as an invitation. Gag. ;)

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  3. I'll say hello on occasion. Mostly, It's a genuine smile and a nod - and then, like the Mr., my feelings get hurt because it's not returned.

    Regarding weathermen, Eddie and I were just talking last night about how inaccurate they are. I told him, that (because he's a service manager and customer's are a real treat to deal with sometimes), he should make a shirt that says 'My other job is weatherman'...you know, since they're both apparently wrong all of the time.

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  4. I'm a hardcore introvert, so I simply do not initiate generic social pleasantries with others.

    But if someone does "hi" me, I'll try to acknowledge it with a nod or "hey". I'm not a naturally smiley person so that rarely happens (or I give a kind of "is she crapping her pants" type smile that I'm sure freaks folks out).

    Being around naturally social folks makes me feel like Jane Goodall studying the chimps.

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  5. HeyButt - I hear you with the Jane Goodall reference. When I'm around naturally social people, I am definitely an outsider looking in. In a social situation I do my absolute best to blend into the background and then do my best to be polite to people who initiate conversation.

    However - when I'm out walking I do try to make the effort to say hello. Or to at least nod, wave, make eye contact... something to acknowledge that I'm passing another human being. My etiquette quandary is slightly different. I usually walk several times in a loop around the park, and I pass other people doing the same going the opposite direction. How many times do I have to say hello to the same person? Just the first time or every time?

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  6. I'm generally an introvert, but when running or on the trail everyone gets a "hi" or a "good morning". Most of the time I get a response. If I'm running through the park or otherwise see someone twice I give a hello the first time and a nod the second, don't know why, just something I do. I still believe in the small town when I'm out running or hiking. Not so much when I'm driving or at the grocery store-lol!.

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  7. I live in a small town too. Most of the people I see walking do smile and say hi but there are a few who don't. Like you I have learned to accept that is how some people are.

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  8. I do try to but after my last run I got tired of smiling at people who didn't smile back. I have noticed that more and more but I always try to smile at them anyways especially if I'm just walking to work or whatever and pass someone. The other day though into my 11 mile run it just got annoying to not get it back and after running past the same people (the trail goes around a small body of water and I went around it 4 times to get my 11 miles in) I got really annoyed with it so I gave up.

    I understand the Mr's sentiment but I totally get yours too. People as a whole are much more in their own world and would rather just keep on going then to smile at you. It's totally not against him, I get it all the time. People can just be rude.

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  9. My fiance takes it personally too. Where he is from all the neighbors know each other. Everyone says hello and shakes hands. It is very Norman Rockwell idealistic. It makes him insane that people here don't do that. I am actually ok with it. I like being left alone.

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  10. I have to say I'm like Mr. I grew up in a town of less than 4,000 people and everyone waves when you pass in cars and always say hi when you meet them on the street/trail. I still say hi and smile--most times I get a response and sometimes not. I did notice when we moved here 10 years ago, neighbors don't come over to introduce themselves, etc. I always take a plate of cookies or something if someone new moves into the neighborhood. They initially look at me like I have 3 heads but then are thankful we said hello, etc. I also have always made goodie baskets at Christmas and take around to all the neighbors a block down on all sides of us. The first year they looked at us like we were nuts but after 10 years, if we're late getting there, we get an audible sigh of relief when we finally ring their doorbell! :-)

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  11. I fall somewhere in between you and the Mr., I'd say. When I'm on a trail, I'm usually there to run and have specific goals in mind. Most of the time I'll smile and nod or give a slight wave if someone makes eye contact with me, and I might say hi if I'm not completely breathless at that point. I don't take it personally if they don't respond, though, because there have been days when I was completely in another zone and wouldn't have responded even if someone I knew jumped up and down in front of me.

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  12. I usually smile and nod, sometimes I say hi if they are already smiling themselves, but then again, I am in that 40++ age bracket.

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  13. I am from the north so we usually don't say hi. Smile, nod maybe but verbal contact is strictly verboden LOL. But when we lived down south people waving, saying hi and striking up a conversation was the norm. Yeah, we came back up here asap! LOL

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  14. I was JUST mentioning this to my husband last night. I have a six mile walk that I do in the morning - on the street - not a path. So - if you're walking in a neighborhood - it's safe to assume that you live nearby. Of the 10 - 12 people I passed yesterday I got a "good morning" from about 2 and a head nod from another 1 or 2. What is wrong with people! I agree with your husband 100% Is it so hard to say a hello as you pass them by. I'd even take a wave or a nod.

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  15. Thanks so much for all of your responses everyone! I love seeing the varied opinions on this one. I would love to be able to smile and get one in return but sadly, it's just not the way most people work these days.

    I've also said I'd like to live in a neighborhood that has only technologies from the 80's which is about the last time I remember people being neighborly and smiling because it was the right thing to do.

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  16. When am I going to learn to write my reply in Notepad or Word? It ate my reply again, opting instead to try to get me to begin blogging here. *sigh* Anyhow, much shorter version: People here in the New Orleans area greet one another, strike up conversations, and often leave with a new friend wherever we are, at the pool for water aerobics, on a walking path at the park, at the grocery store or post office, in the doctor's waiting room, even at the ER. We've had a good number of online friends move here from Michigan, Maryland, Arizona, California, Pennsylvania and so on, and to a one they are blown away by the friendliness of folks down here. Maybe it's just a southern thing? Whatever it is, I would be very unhappy to live in a world where people avoided one another. That would be very foreign to me.

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  17. I run. On trails. In parks. In the city. On country roads. I'm out there to be fit and exercise not be social and make friends. A simple smile with eye contact is more than enough greeting.

    We're not out there to make others feel good. People need to get over themselves already.

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  18. A day late here . . . .

    I say hi to anyone I can make eye contact with as an acknowledgement of our good fortune to be physically able to be on the trail in the first place. (Sadly, some people are just too cool to acknowledge my presence.) When I am out running, I am proud of myself for my accomplishments and by my waving, saying hi or nodding to you, I'm simply thanking you for sharing in my happiness and wishing you well on your goals.

    WISLNDR

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  19. A lot of great responses here with a good mix. If I see a runner I don't typically expect them to even make eye contact and I am certainly not offended. But when I see a casual walker or a family strolling along and I offer up the hellos then I usually expect at least an acknowledgement or even just a smile or nod.

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  20. Sounds like me and the Mr. generally treat it the same way! I pretty much say Hi to everyone when I'm out on the trail or running. Usually it is early, so they get a good morning or a head nod at the least. Something to say - hey, we're in this together and I realize that. :-) LOL

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  21. We have a river walk here and people are very friendly! We're a small town, though, and maybe that helps? Don't know....

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  22. I am with the Mr a bit on this - in that I do a smile & a nod to everyone, I don't expect anything back from the ones actually working out, but they still get a smile & a nod

    If it is someone I have seen before - either on a different day, or on multiple laps they also get a hi

    it doesn't offend me if they don't answer - it could be as simple as they are surprised someone is acknowleding them or maybe they are shy/introverted

    I grew up in a small town and if you didn't say hello, likely someone would ask you what was wrong

    so - hi yáll from Friendly Manitoba

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  23. I will almost always smile and say hello to someone I'm passing by on a trail. Responses are varied. At the park where I walk with the dog, it's 1 1/2 miles around the lake, so you tend to run into the same person at least twice. Typically I'll say hi the first time and let it go after that unless that person says something like "fancy seeing you again" or something like that. The dog tends to bring out comments I've noticed. But I will say there there are some people I see almost every time I'm at the park and they will not acknowledge me for nothing. The soccer moms are usually the worse who get quite mean (like high school girls) and make snickering comments at the big girl huffing and puffing past them (and won't move their strollers to one side, thus taking up the entire walkway). There's one lady who walks with earphones, and she literally turns her head away when she sees you coming. My husband always comments on that one because it's so blatantly obvious she wants nothing to do with you. I agree with the old neighborhood mentality too--borrowing a cup of sugar or an egg is long gone. I couldn't tell you the names of more than 3 neighbors on my street now. Over half won't even wave at you when they drive by. Sad.

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