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Greetings in the cold make us warmer

Skylar Ruprecht

It’s around this time of year, when boots tread snow inside and leave the floors salt-stained, that winter turns me into an agoraphobic amnesiac.

I can’t remember the colors of autumn, and I can’t quite picture the blossoms of spring. Present days are cut short because I avoid going outside after dark. When I do, the wind whips at my ears, and my nose hairs freeze.

Like many people are prone to do when they encounter those rare, confounding life moments they don’t already know the answers to, I called up my dad for advice. He told me that during his college years at Grove City, the students were required to say something like “Hello” or “Good morning” to each other when passing in the halls or on the streets. He said it only takes a second, and it makes everybody feel better, especially during the winter doldrums.

I thought it sounded harmless and quaint but like it had no chance of working in the year 2015. However, it didn’t seem fair to just dismiss the idea because it might fail or make me uncomfortable, so recently, I’ve put it into practice.

First, though, I should note, I don’t know exactly how far they took the “required” greeting or if there were informants that turned people in for failing to say hello, but I’ve relaxed the rule because I only have ten minutes between classes and even less if one of those classes is taught by Professor Moskowitz.

For the past week or so, I’ve been waving to and greeting a few strangers as we pass. Measured by the ratio of greetings offered to greetings received, this has been a resounding failure. Most people ignore me, some glare, but a select few wave or say hello back.

However, I haven’t lost faith; those rare, successful interactions did make me feel a little better, if only for a moment or two.

It’s occurred to me that maybe people aren’t responding because they’re suspicious of one weird person roaming around campus offering periodic waves and hellos.

That’s why I propose we start a campus-wide effort to give greetings to strangers we might meet while coming or going to class. Even if it won’t make you feel better, it might make someone else’s day, and even if all you get in return is silence, at least you tried something new. So if you see me, feel free to wave and say hello. Hopefully, I won’t have given up on this by then, and I’ll say “hi” back.

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