Growing up, my dad always made it a point to say hello to people. Not just any people, but people he knew, or had once known. Whether they had been great friends, or merely acquaintances, if he recognized them he said hello.
I’m in college now, only going home for holidays and summer vacations, but the last time I traveled back to where I grew up, I realized nothing had changed. My dad still says hello to people. To give you a little context, he has been living in good ol’ Almaden Valley since he was eight years old, so he’s been around the block a few times. He often tells me, “Sarah, I may forget names, but I never, ever, forget a face.” It’s true. My dad says hello to our old mailman, kids he used to coach in little league, familiar faces from church, mine and my brothers’ old friends, past neighbors, people who were in his elementary school class, and everyone in between. Once we were at the grocery store, and right after he said hello to a woman walking by, he turned to me and said, “ I made out with that girl in middle school.” Haha!
I’ve always noticed that my dad does this, and I’ve always admired it. Occasionally he gets on my brothers and I for not saying hello to people. Truthfully, sometimes I don’t even know why I let people from my past pass by me without greeting them. Maybe I feel like it’s been too long, or they wouldn’t remember me, or it’d be awkward. But those are all lame excuses, and I know it. Part of it is generational, nowadays someone will respond to your tweet on Twitter, and then blatantly ignore you when you see them on the shampoo aisle at Target. It’s ludicrous, it should not happen.
One of the most valuable things in life is being known by someone. On a large scale, this means knowing someone’s greatest fears, deepest desires, and what they had for breakfast last Wednesday morning. However, on a small scale, this means saying hello to someone you sat next to in geometry all those years ago. Being recognized feels good, and being acknowledged feels even better. By being bold and taking the initiative to say hello to someone, you might suffer a little bit of embarrassment if they don’t remember you, but you won’t be a coward. Instead, you’ll make someone’s day a little bit brighter, and make them feel known.
So be like my dad, say hello.