Walking with the dog every morning has become an anthropological experiment. Coming from a winter in Mexico where “Buenos Dias” is given and received with pleasurable abandonment, I became intrigued by the many responses, or lack thereof, to my solicitous “Good Mornings”.
The people I encounter on this morning ritual in my inner city neighborhood vary greatly, as do the responses to my hearty salutation. They come from all walks of life – twentysomethings, new Canadians, old timers, free spirits, fellow dog walkers, professional types, moms with kids, city workers, and some people I just can’t quite peg. One thing they have in common is their obvious surprise at being accosted by a 100 watt smile first thing in the morning. I enjoyed the exercise so much, I just had to write about my encounters.
The Gaze Averter 1
I like to think this one is shy vs rude – they just don’t know what to do with all that eye contact. So they look at their feet as if walking depended on it and hope I pass by without further incident.
The Gaze Averter 2
Much the same response as above, with the addition of a mumbled “Morning”. Their mums would be proud.
This one couldn’t be more startled looking if the dog had said good morning. Makes me wish I was a ventiloquist in a former life. Eyes go wide and any chance of response is trapped in their confusion about what just happened.
The Involuntary Half Grin
This guy (and it usually is), seems desperately trying not to respond but his facial muscles just aren’t on the same page. His head is saying, “who the hell is this person”, while his heart says, “this feels good”. Hence the involuntary half smile that pops up as we pass.
The Partially Committed
Now we’re getting somewhere. Although a verbal response is not forthcoming, I do get reciprocal eye contact and a big smile. And sometimes the dog gets a pat on the head.
The Kindred Spirits
My favorite kindred spirits are the new Canadians. They usually travel in groups and always look so happy to be given a friendly greeting that they break out in smiles and laughter and a chorus of good mornings. Next on the list are fellow dog walkers. Maybe its because we have something in common, like kids in the park, but dog walkers always have the time of day for each other, usually with the dogs following suit. And finally there are the ones who look like they get out of the right side of the bed every morning of their lives.
As I was saying hello, I realized I was also saying goodbye. To the neighborhood I’d lived in for the past 8 years, the city I grew up in and to a life I was mostly ready to let go of. Mostly.