ON a recent walk my husband and I had an argument. It centred around the fact that I smile at other walkers and say ‘hello’, while he remains grumpily silent.
He became annoyed when I mentioned this and, to prove a point, literally bellowed ‘HELLO!’ at one poor unsuspecting couple as they passed.
They didn’t look that friendly and hadn’t made eye contact, so I’d ignored them, which prompted a ‘pot calling the kettle black’ scenario.
This Wednesday is annual World Hello Day. Founded in the USA – where else? – to demonstrate the importance of communication to promote harmony over conflict, anyone can participate simply by greeting 10 people or more.
Most of us do that as a matter of course every day as we meet friends and colleagues. I wouldn’t do it to strangers – at least not in an urban area crawling with people. Walking in the country is different, as you’re sharing a pastime.
I probably go overboard with hellos. I know it irritates my husband like mad, particularly as ‘hello’ often leads to further chat.
“Please don’t stop and talk to anyone,” he will say when we pop for a walk around the village, but I always do, turning a 10-minute stroll into an hour-long outing.
Sometimes I’ll see the same person two or three times, and say hello each time. This REALLY irks my husband.
“You’ve already said hello to them,” he will grumble. He assumes that, like him, everyone wants to be left alone. Maybe they do, maybe people grimace when they spot me coming and whisper to each other: “Oh no, here comes that dreadful girl who always says hello, how can we get away?”
I say hello to a couple of people on the bus on a morning, even though I only know them by sight.
As greetings go, it is pretty inoffensive. At least I don’t go around kissing people on each cheek or hugging them or doing high-fives.
But my husband thinks my inoffensive hellos encourage all manner of people. True, there is one chap who wobbles up to me, on his way home after a day drinking White Lightning in the park, who I wish I hadn’t smiled at quite so often, and the passenger who sits by me and spends the whole journey explaining the inner workings of the housing benefit department.
But this is a small price to pay for all the jolly hellos, how are yous and other greetings I have received over the years.
So if you see me coming on World Hello Day and you don’t want to hear it, better run.