Kelly Dawes Smith

We all have been either the culprit or instigator of the awkward sidewalk dance. You know, when you are walking down Slantwalk to class and get stuck behind what feels like the slowest walking group of girls on the planet and you have to start to almost jog just so you can pass them. Or sometimes, you have to do a bit of “off-roading” onto the muddy grass to pass a student and teacher who are strolling in the exact center of the sidewalk while discussing today’s class. My personal favorite is the biker who has to quickly swerve around someone, nearly inches from hitting the edge of the sidewalk, and makes someone gasp from the abruptness. It’s all very frustrating when we have places to be, but let’s face it; we have all played a part in some rendition of this “sidewalk dance.” We almost need some sort of gauge hovering on top of our heads, displaying the mileage per hour at which we cruise. That would make life so much easier.

Still, awkward greetings are almost worse than the awkward sidewalk dance. Everyday, we greet friends, professors, roommates and probably the worst – ex-boyfriends and girlfriends. You always ask yourself, “Do I make eye contact? Should I pretend I just received the funniest text message from that special someone? Should I completely ignore them? Or should I gather up the courage to mutter hello?” And sometimes, when you do gather up the courage to shout hello, they completely ignore you, ouch. As a culture, we face the question of how to greet and interact with each other on a daily basis. It’s as if each part of our country has a different perspective on this. The South as a whole is much friendlier and encourages hugging and kissing on the cheek while East Coast tends toward the formal handshake. And the Midwest? We seem to be jumbled and confused about what our way of greeting one another should be. Do we hug it out or stick to the formal handshake?

The most entertaining interaction among students on campus is when you say good bye to someone. Girls are notorious for saying things about how rude someone is for not having said good bye. Guys seem to always be distressed about if they should hug a girl good bye if they are currently friends or on the line of wanting to be something more. The real question is what is considered respectful and polite with slow sidewalk walkers, friends you see on campus and acquaintances you say good bye to at a party? Many other cultures enjoy the invasion of others’ personal spaces and kiss each other on both cheeks, while some cultures even give a small bow whenever leaving a room. The United States seems to fall somewhere in the middle, a potpourri of greetings.  

Kelly Dawes