Here are a handful of amusing stories from my “good morning” campaign so far:
The first time I decided to try out the theory was last week when I was visiting my parents in Pennsylvania. It was one of those days that I was pretending to be a runner, so I decided that if I passed anyone on my jog, I would greet that person in an exceptionally friendly manner. I got about two blocks away when voila! a woman, a little boy, and a dog approached on the other side of the street. “Good morning!” I yelled. “Good morning,” came the reply. And then, as I looked a little bit closer, trying to decide if I should continue the conversation, both the woman and I realized at the same moment that we knew each other. Yes. She wasn’t a stranger at all, actually, but one of my stepmom’s closest friends. Apparently she works near there and happened to be out for a stroll.
Then, the next morning, I decided to be friendly as I went through airport security. “Good morning,” I said to the security guard as I handed him my ID and boarding pass. (No matter how many times I do this, I always have an irrational fear for a split second that airport security is not going to let me through.) “Good morning,” he replied. “How are you today?” I asked. “Fine. Happy to be here,” he said. “Really? That’s great,” I said. My first good morning success! I thought. Then, he looked at me.
“No, not really,” he said. I was so surprised that I laughed out loud, and when I did, he smiled. He even chuckled a little bit. So it wasn’t a complete failure.
(In case you were curious, I decided that conversations with airplane seatmates most of the time don’t count because there’s sort of an expectation that you will be superficially chatty, covering the basics of where you’re from, where you’re going, and why you’re going there.)
Out in Washington State, on a morning I again decided to pretend to be a runner, I meandered through the land of super flat, super dry, yes-that-was-a-tumbleweed suburbia, and I saw a figure approaching in the distance. He was short and Hispanic, wearing cowboy boots and a button-down shirt tucked into his jeans. “Good morning!” I said cheerily. “Morning,” he replied. This is my chance! I thought. “How are you doing this morning?” I asked, and waited for a response. Well, he looked at me and nodded and just said, “Yes.”
“Yes”? Really? Within the first three people I decided to greet, I managed to find someone who doesn’t speak English?
Of course I did.
But then finally, finally, it worked. I met a pilot on the flight home. I mean, he wasn’t flying the plane; he was “deadheading” (and I knew what that meant when he said it, since we own Catch Me If You Can). He was a young guy and we managed to keep a conversation going for the entire 2-hour flight. I learned all sorts of things about him and where he grew up, about San Diego and Colorado Springs, the Philippines, how one becomes a pilot, and about firearms in the cockpit (um, scary). We chatted about 10-year high school reunions, living away from our families, and why airline bathrooms feel like port-o-potties. I talked about writing, blogging, being married to someone who is super tall, and human trafficking (yes, I managed to squeeze that into conversation). So I will count that as a legitimate connection with a stranger. Maybe he would have been that friendly with anyone. Maybe. But I could have picked up my book and read instead of chatting, and I didn’t. So I’m counting it.
In sum, basically, I have not been successful in testing out the theory in any sort of systematic way. And since being back in my own air space, I have mostly been inside, trying to finish up a few freelance projects or, like today, huddled away in the library. Very few strangers were encountered. Still, I hope these stories amused you.
And you, my friends, so willingly joining the “good morning army,” as Craig said yesterday, are inspiring me. I’ll be sure to keep you posted.
Remember, your stories could make good guest posts. (Hint, hint.)