I am…almost to a fault. I feel like if you are going to be in close proximity to someone (on an elevator, on the subway, the law office, etc.,) what is the harm in saying, “How are you?” Even if I’m in no mood to speak, a simple “Hi” will do. Sometimes an acknowledgment of another human being with a nod of the head is such a delight. It says, “Hey, you’re another person in the world, I see and respect that.”
It’s also a way of disarming others, by showing that you “mean no harm.” Admittedly, people of color have been doing this for years from back to slavery days. Back then, you really wanted to show that you were not a threat to “White Society.” Even looking directly into the eyes of White folks, could send one to hang from trees. They would overt their eyes and say, “how do?” without even expecting a response back from Whites. Maybe I carried that with me from my ancestors. It’s called PTSS (Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome) and the phrase was coined by Dr.Joy DeGruy-Leary.
Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome (PTSS) suggest that slavery, followed by racism and oppression have resulted in multigenerational adaptive behaviors – positive and negative that people of color face. The stressors and the reactions to the stressors are similar to those who present Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – an emotional disorder that follows exposure to a severe helplessness or fear-inducing threat.
We’ll talk about PTSS at another time (I wrote a Thesis on it actually, and I would like to share it at some other date.)
In my earlier years, I use to get upset (within) when I would greet someone, and they will look, but not acknowledge me. It was so insulting, like I can greet you, but you cannot greet me? Then as I grew wiser (well, got older) I realized that not everyone speaks the same language. Maybe that Arabic-looking woman did not understand me? Perhaps that Russian-looking woman is deaf? Could it be that West African man is mute? It’s possible that the Puerto-Rican redhead thought I was hittin’ on her and did not want to encourage me? Maybe, they were not the social type, but rather shy and aloof? Whatever the reason, I should not expect a greeting just because I gave one. If I do – GREAT! If not, that’s fine too. To be quite honest, I rarely have to worry about it. It seems like people tend to talk to me (especially the elderly and little children) wherever I go.
Oh, and one more other thing: If your are (or aren’t) courteous to strangers, that’s your business and prerogative. However, please don’t go around saying “good morning,” “good afternoon,” ”how are you,” “hello,” and/or “hi there” to strangers, then with your family or with co-workers, you’re not courteous at all.
So now you tell me, “Are you courteous to strangers?”