I’ve decided to start a campaign today. Where banners will hang in the front hall of our building instructing people to say “Hello”. Then I’m going to put individual leaflets in peoples mailboxes stating “A hello takes a second but the impact lasts a lifetime.” Or something cheesy like that.*
Why, am I going through all this trouble, you ask?!? Because the people who live in my building, my neighbours, are some of the rudest, non-hello saying people I have ever come across. You know when people say New Yorkers are rude? I laugh because some people in London could teach seminars on how to be rude.
Things is, we live in a massive converted building, which holds like 140 apartments. And in big city fashion, you hardly ever see anyone in it. My next door neighbours – couldn’t spot them out of a lineup. But what we do have, is a massive foyer. And on rare occasions, someone will be walking right toward you. Which is where you have to make a decision – say hello or don’t acknowledge them at all! I always go toward a smile and a nod. To wit, I get nothing in return.
Thing is, having lived in Harlem changed me. See in Harlem, people say hello to each other. The old men standing by the newsstand, wished me a good day everyday. Paid me decent compliments too. While others would (the people you’d see every now and then), would either say some sort of hello or at least nod and smile. But even people who passed you by on a street would say Hello (especially if it was on the Lords day).
I mean, a nod and a smile is really the least you can ask for.
Yet, in my big massive building you are lucky if they’ll even meet. your. eyes. I am not alone in this, Burs has the same complaints. Which then made us think Maybe it’s us?
Nah! That’s crazy talk. We’re delightful people. It’s them.
But I’ve been living with this – no Helloness – for ten months now and had simple just dealt with it. Until now.
We’re actually experiencing our week’s worth of summer. So I got up early, threw on a summer dress and danced around the apartment, giving Mother Nature her just due (it’s my personal thank you to her and I do it everyday that there’s sun, warmth and no rain). Then decided I’d like to go sit in the garden to do my writing. In a quick flourish of activeness, I grab my bag with my computer, take the trash out of the bin and head out the door. I hit the elevator button. And as the door opens, I’m faced with my own reflection and realise – I forgot to put on a bra. Apparently in my happy state, I’d lost my mind (I blame the sun) and decided to rest the trash outside the elevator, run back to the apartment and put the girls in their proper holding cell.
This took me no more than four seconds. I lock my door, turn around and see someone stepping into the elevator (the doors had never closed). I’ve only ever seen one person on my floor and that person has since moved out, so I was a bit delighted at the prospect of meeting a fellow neighbour. Until, she hit the button, turned around and watched me walking toward her, without making ONE MOVE TO HOLD THE DOOR.
Mind you, the elevator door was open and my trash was beneath the buttons because I had called it up to our floor. Then you see me coming and do nothing. That one action is what has launched the Say Hello campaign. I’m hoping it will make a difference. Not a we’ll all join hands and sing Kum Ba Yah sort of change but you know an acknowledge the people you live near one. Because some day there might be a fire or something and that woman who stole my elevator should know that I will take a moment’s pause before trying to say her. And she’s responsible for that. It’s all on her.
(I’m going to do all this just not today. Because we don’t have a banner sitting in our flat. And our printer is running low on toner. But as soon as it’s all sorted out, I’m getting right on it. Provided that there aren’t CCtv’s in our building too. I don’t want to be asked to leave. I really like living here.)