What do you do when you walk/run/ride/drive by a runner? I’m sure you give them space to get by and try to keep your dog from tripping them. But, do you smile and wave or do you avoid eye contact all together? As a friendly Southerner, I have some strong feelings about this: you should always smile and, if your hands are free, wave.

I probably got this “Southern charm” from my mother (who grew up in Ohio). She always waved at everyone in the neighborhood and was terribly offended if they didn’t return the gesture. She would often stop her car in the middle of a group of kids, blocking the street and their ball game, and wave at them until they finally waved back with confused (possibly scared) looks on their faces.

So I expect everyone to smile and wave too. I don’t go as out of my way as my mom did, but I do get super offended when I’m ignored. Usually I am running in a neighborhood so waving seems like the neighborly thing to do. I don’t always expect people in cars to wave – usually it’s hard to see in through the windshield with the reflection of sun and leaves plus I’d prefer that they focus on driving and not running me over while they drink their coffee, yell at their kids, and check their email – but I usually wave at them anyway.

However, humans who are out in the open, sharing the same air and concrete, mere feet from where I am, should certainly acknowledge my existence. 

Is it that hard to lift your arm a few inches? I forgive moms pushing a stroller while walking a dog and I’ll forgive cyclists but pretty much everyone else should be able to pull off this small task.

And there’s basically no excuse not to smile. In fact, choosing not to smile is actually working against you. Smiling releases all kinds of good chemicals in your brain and makes you feel good. I always appreciate a chance to smile at a passerby when I am struggling on a run. That smile gives me a nice energy boost and usually perks me up for at least a couple of blocks. Its better than any of those energy GUs or chews! A few times when I’ve been really desperate on a run, I’ve even smiled at no one.

So I don’t care if you’re pushing your baby who kept you up all night or walking off some anger from fighting with your computer or having a really terrible run. Smile at the other humans who are around you. It’ll make everyone better. 

I’d estimate about 50% of the people on my neighborhood runs actually do smile and/or wave. But it falls to a pretty miserable 15-20% when I run on the greenway. And I’m not even running at peak times or when it’s crowded. I probably pass one person or couple per half mile. And people in pairs are the worst offenders. It has gotten to the point that I think I might be invisible to groups of two or more people. Which would actually take some of the stress out of whether or not my clothes match or if I look like a weird drunken chicken when I run.

That’s my rant for the day. Smile and wave when you see me go by! Or else…

Today’s run on The Greenway of Unfriendliness was a pretty good one. The weather was nice, I felt good most of the way through and my foot didn’t even fall asleep! I think I’m as ready for Tobacco Road as I’ll ever be.

Run Details: 2/22/16

Time: 52:33

Distance: 5.52 miles

Average pace: 9’30”

Friendly/Unfriendly Passerby Ratio: 1/5