Here’s the scenario- You realize you need groceries, so you decide to walk to the store. There aren’t many people out but it’s a nice, sunny day and you’re just taking a stroll through your neighborhood to get to the grocery store. All of a sudden, you notice someone walking your way (just a normal person, no one intimidating or scary).
B. Nod your head in acknowledgement that you see the person
C. Say “hi” (or “Howdy, how are you?” if you’re from Texas)
D. Put your head down/turn and look the other way, and walk by as fast as possible
E. Stare blankly at the person as you pass each other
This is just one part of what I call Sidewalk or Hallway Etiquette- and let’s be honest, we all know plenty of people in every part of the country with terrible Sidewalk/Hallway etiquette.
My personal answer to the question is any and/or all of the first three choices (A, B, and C). More often than not, I just smile. However, I have begun to notice that there are a lot of people that do not necessarily have the same answer. No offense to any specific states or regions of the country (cough- California), but I DO NOT get you. To me, it is a million times more difficult to pretend like you do not see the other person passing within 1 foot of you than it is just to nod your head, or give a little half smile! As my nephew Josh would say “AKWAAARD”.
After living in different parts of the world and getting to see different cultures interact, here is what I have found to be true in California, Chicago and Texas regarding sidewalk etiquette.
In Texas, the answer 98% percent of the time is at least one of the first three choices, and I’d say about 80% of the time it is A, B, AND C! Growing up, if I did not acknowledge someone by at least looking at them and smiling, I almost always got in trouble with my parents. Because, to be honest, in Texas it is not just weird, it is downright rude if you don’t acknowledge someone passing by! So, I got used to people being outgoingly friendly. Neighbors wave or stop to talk as they drive by in their car, people actually say “Hi, how are you?” and genuinely want to know how you’re doing that day. It seemed like the standard to me.
Then, I moved out to California. At first, I didn’t notice much of a difference. I was excited to be out in CA, and in Hermosa Beach, where I have spent the majority of my California time, people are decently friendly. However, over the last few months, I have started to notice that about 80% of the time, people in California choose answer D or E. It is by no means everyone in the state but the general attitude is that it’s not really a big deal to pass by someone and pretend not to see them. It’s not that people are being rude, they are just indifferent to the people around them. SO different to me! The scary part was, I actually started to think that was normal! Ahhh haha
And, the moment I realized that I had really forgotten how nice people in Texas are (holding doors open for you, letting women take seats when a place is crowded, helping you get your luggage off of the luggage thing at the airport, etc.) was when I started to think Chicagoans were the nicest people I’d ever met! I have never thought of Chicago (or the midwest in general) as a particularly friendly place. In fact, a lot of people from the south consider it a little bit rude. However, I came out a few weeks ago with Scott to help him find a place to live and to attend the Cubs Christmas party with him. While we were there, I felt like I had just landed in the friendliest place on earth! People smiled at me as they walked by (at least most), someone held the door open for me at one point, they acknowledged when I said thank you to them, AND the people at the Cubs Christmas party were SOO nice!! It was like I was living in an alternate universe where these people that I had always thought were supposed to be kind of rude seemed like the nicest people I’d ever met, haha I would say that people in Chicago are definitely a mixture of all answers A through E, but that at least 70-80% of the time their answer would be one of either A, B, or C. I can definitely handle that!!
So, no offense California, but you do not rank very high on the Sidewalk Etiquette scale! Chicago, thank you for reminding me what it’s like to pass by a friendly face! And, Texas, thank you for teaching me proper hallway etiquette!!!
*Disclaimer – I cannot be held responsible for people taking offense to my post. Sorry If I offended people from California, however, if you would be nicer to me and actually say hi, I would write a better review.