Do You Bother to Say Hi?

I workout six days a week.  I clip on my iPod Shuffle and off I go listening to my music as I walk at a brisk pace around the neighborhood, which includes a park the locals refer to as Payton’s Hill; this because the late, great Walter Payton used its steep incline for his backbreaking exercise regimen.  My grandson, Jack Payton Terson, is named after the Bears’ legend because my older son, Michael, in his youth, worked for Payton as a disc jockey in his nightclubs.  Michael revered Payton, was inconsolable when he died.

As I march along the pathway of Payton’s Hill, which encircles a golf course, I encounter numerous others doing the same thing.  I always greet these people with a “Hi,” or “Good morning,” or “Good afternoon,” or “Hi, how you doin’?”  I usually get a smile and a greeting back; however, not always—some choose to ignore me, as though I was speaking to the wind.  When I experiment and don’t issue a greeting, rarely does anyone assume the role of initiator; Nine times out of ten, it’s up to yours truly or it just isn’t going to happen.

Why, I ask you?  Why is everyone so wrapped up in their own little world that they can’t take a moment to be courteous to their fellow man?  Forget the ones oblivious because they’re on the damn telephone (I hate cellphones: they’re contributing mightily to the destruction of civilization as we know it); I’m not talking about those hopeless souls.  It’s all the other “normal” people I’m asking about.  What the hell is wrong with them?  When did simple courtesy go out of style?

It’s not just happening during my workouts, either.  I make it a practice to hold a door open when I see another human being approaching, man or woman, I don’t care if they’re 30 feet away.  I see others doing this, maybe, one out of five times; the other four out of five are completely oblivious, absolutely clueless.  On the other side of the door, I can be right behind someone, right behind him, and if I don’t stick my hand out to protect myself, I’d get the door slammed in my face.  What’s wrong with these people?  Why does looking out for others have such zero meaning to them?

Do you let people in traffic when you have the opportunity?  I do, often as I possibly can without causing a tie-up.  Do most of them wave thank you?  About half, which means the other half must think it’s their due and why should they be bothered to thank anyone for being courteous to them?  They’re probably the same ones who drive by me when it’s me that needs a break.  Again, let’s not include all those on the telephone, doing their oblivious best to kill someone.

Then there’s the guy I ran into at the Skokie Swift train station about a month ago, on my way to a Cubs game: he was having difficulty working the ticket machine, so I stopped to help, walked him through the process.  When the transaction was done, did he say thank you like any decent person would?  No, he just turned away and engaged the people he was with, said not a word to me, completely ignored me; I was stunned, couldn’t believe it.  I just couldn’t believe it!  Ignorance at its Zenith.

If I’m talking about you (God forbid, right?), please, wake up and smell the coffee.  Start treating your fellow man and woman with the modicum of respect and courtesy they deserve.  Start treating them the way you like to be treated.  Make the world a better place, and that starts with the little things.  Do your part, I implore you.

We’ll all be better off for it, especially you.