Thursday, May 28, 2009

If We Wore Hats, Maybe We Could Tip Them Or Something

There‘s a woman I always see in the morning when I walk my dog. I live on the easternmost side of our neighborhood and head west along the river. She begins somewhere at the far west end and walks east. She’s always in the same walking uniform: white sweater, black pants, black sneakers. No dog or anything – she’s up early every morning for exercise. Good for her. At some point every single morning, our paths cross.

She refuses to say hello.

What’s up with this? It always throws me. If we were walking down a crowded city street it would make sense. We could bustle by each other among throngs of strangers all wrapped up in their own business. On a wide open path, surrounded only by trees and birds and a chorus of bullfrogs, it feels awkward.

I’ve tried everything to make the exchange less uncomfortable. I’ve offered cheery good mornings day after day, thinking she might just need time to warm up to me and my galumphing dog. I’ve smiled. I’ve nodded. I’ve made eye contact, or tried, anyway.

I’ve resorted to talking to my dog, as if we were too absorbed in the subject of earthy smells to notice the only human for miles approaching us on an empty path.

Finally, I’ve resigned myself to staring straight ahead, not acknowledging her in any way. After all, I’m not sure whether it’s my quirk for needing that social convention, or hers for insisting on enjoying an uninterrupted stroll.

Now when I pass her I’m reminded of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, when the remaining humans have to keep their expressions to themselves to avoid being caught. My morning walk has been taken over by thoughts of pod people.

So, what’s a little offbeat in your neck of the woods?

19 comments:

Bish Denham said...

How sad...to be either so fearful or so intentionally isolated that a person can't even give a little nod or smile. A sorry state of affairs, an example, perhaps, of how messed up our society is.

Or do you look like an ax murderer? An extra terrestrial perhaps?:)

adrienne said...

Bish - We have some scary characters, but I don't think I'm one of them. Although now that you mention it, maybe I should brush my hair and put on a little make-up... :D

Kelly said...

I've been in situations like that. Why aren't people friendly? I can see once or twice if they are absorbed in their ipod or in a bad mood, but every time?! Luckily most in our neighborhood are friendly except...
I had a (stuck up) neighbor that took her daughter to the same preschool as mine went. I'd acknowledge her each time. 1/10 times she'd say hi back! I then made it a point to say, "Hi, DANA!" just to laugh at myself when she didn't say hi!

Keats The Sunshine Girl said...

A smile and a hullo does nor cost one anything. So I try to do that. And it works!
Our neightbourhood is pretty fine . We invite out neighbours for 'open house' during festivals and that helps to make a friendly neighbourhood.

Stacy Nyikos said...

I pass a woman like this every morning when I'm running! When my dog is with me, she refuses to say hello, even though I do every time. When my dog isn't with me, she sometimes does. I started to make an effort to say hi every time, no matter what. Finally, she gave in (after months and months and months of this) and now says hello. People can be quirky.

ICQB said...

We have a "Star Wars Man" on our walk. My kids call him that because he looks just like a person in one of the Star Wars movies.

The one in the movie isn't a prominent character. He looks human, but has headphone things atop his head - and doesn't ever talk.

Mr. Star Wars Man in the park could be his double - complete with headphone things.

I know he's listening to something, but I always try to smile and nod at least. Him - nothing. He'll look at you. That's all.

So to us he's the Star Wars guy.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

How odd--even a slight nod of the head would make the whole scene less...hostile, I guess.
Perhaps she's severely autistic?
I've had a similar situation with one of the boys' gym teachers. I decided to ignore him--rude jerk.

LW said...

We have a neighbor who doesn’t speak to anyone after 15 years we just gave up.

Louise

Suzie said...

There is man here who dies his dog to match is outfits. he also matches his beard as well.

PJ Hoover said...

It's kind of funny and sad. Maybe she doesn't want to have to say hi day after day?

Ara Burklund said...

I wonder if she doesn't speak English. Maybe it's a cultural thing. There's some old, gray-mustached dude in a turban I always see at Torrey Pines when I'm hiking, and same thing--never a response to my greetings. I've finally just resolved to ignore him back.

adrienne said...

Kelly - I've amused myself like that - as long as I know they are just being snobby...

Keats - I want to live in your neighborhood!

Stacy - That's funny! It's occurred to me it could just be a disdain for dogs.

ICQB - Ha! Star Wars Man. Maybe he's listening to messages from the galaxy.

Green Girl - Funny how sometimes you know they're being rude, but other times it's a mystery.

Louise - Fifteen years? I give up too easily.

Suzie - Now that's colorful!

PJ - Yep, I can hear her thinking...oh no, not again!

Ara - I've considered it could be a cultural thing. In which case pressing the issue would be just bugging her for no reason...

Anne Spollen said...

I don't get that behavior either. But maybe she's afraid you'll blog about her if you get to know her...

adrienne said...

Anne - Interesting logic. I like it. :)

Keri Mikulski said...

Weird..

Rena said...

Ask her what she did with your deer head. She sounds guilty.

adrienne said...

Rena - LOL! I knew if I posted the deer story after this, she'd come under suspicion...

Mary Witzl said...

Wow -- this is amazing: there is a woman just like that in our neighborhood! I have infinite respect for her: we see her every single morning on our way to work. It's eerie: she always has the same bottled water, the same pedal pushers, and we pass her at a certain spot every morning. But she won't say hello!

When you pass your lady, will you please think of me? I will think of you when I pass our lady, and that way, we'll feel less dissed...

adrienne said...

Mary - Great idea! It's a deal.