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February 03, 2015

A Question Of Weird Social Etiquette

Let's say you're in a retail store. Either as a customer or an employee, doesn't matter.

And you interact with a total stranger for a while- let's say, again, either a customer or an employee. And you are helped by them, or you help them. Whichever.

OK, now: ten minutes later you're in another part of the store, doing something else or just walking through, and you see that same person again.

How do you handle this not-quite-social-but not-quite-nonsocial situation?

You can't just walk by like they're an invisible total stranger (though you might want to because it's quicker and more convenient), because you had a brief interaction with that person just a few minutes ago. It's sh*tty to pretend you don't see them. Don't be sh*tty. You're better than that.

Do you say 'hi' and smile? That's a bit much, isn't it? I mean, you just spoke about light bulbs for thirty seconds, let's not add to the Christmas card list, for God's sake.

Or do you do what most people around here do, apparently; we do a tight little no-teeth smile. Perhaps, a nod. More likely, just the no-teeth curve of lip, plus a slight turn of the head to the side, as if to be looking at something else away from that person and avoiding interaction, while also very slightly acknowledging them, as a mere technicality.

Seems like the way to go. But still feels slightly sh*tty in actual execution. Is there a better solution? Can we come up with some kind of better maneuver or greeting card for this?

Oh, I know half of you are from the South. You'd probably slap him on the back and ask about his Mom.

Maybe not. Is this just another of those Northeast things? We're afraid to be too nice to each other. Social enthusiasm = desperate loser.

I know. I know. We're all weird.
-----------------------------------

UPDATED. Commenter George Sobon comments:

10 I usually just say "I'm glad I could help you back there" or "Thanks for helping me back there" depending on the direction of the help. The other person acknowledges, nods, says a pleasantry or two and we move on.

DAMN. Really?? This is beyond me. I'd flame out and die. That's high-flying Evel Knievel skill level, there.
Kindness and pleasantries. You people are killing me. Where do you live, where these things happen?


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posted by Laura. at 08:55 AM

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