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Shot down

June 25, 2013

I was at Starbucks a few days ago and while waiting pleasantly in the sun I viewed a very odd encounter. An employee had walked outside to clean the tables; someone just doing their job. A woman was sitting at one of the tables doing something. He walked by her since she was using the table. He said “hey” and she immediately responded with “I have a boyfriend”. He kept doing his job.

I’m obviously not the social genius that others are, but what in gods name happened there? Was the guy really attempting to hit on her? Was she so repulsed by him she had to shoot him down immediately? Had she become so accustomed to men using ‘hey’ as an icebreaker only to then ask to get into her pants? Couldn’t she have said; “I’m waiting for someone”? Will she later complain to her friends about some creepy guy at Starbucks?

I grant that people have many unique but complimentary experiences that add to notions of stereotypical behaviors among our population, but I can’t help but wonder it this situation is what fuels the continued issues of perceptions that plague our inter gender relationships.

I don’t know what the man or woman in question felt during that encounter, but I highly doubt it was pleasant for either party. And for what? A misunderstanding surrounding a close proximity encounter? Merely acknowledging the existence of another human being around you? What makes this any more or less socially prudent than saying ‘bless you’ (or equivalent) when someone sneezes? Or ‘excuse me’ when you accidentally bump someone?

I believe that most social interactions are derived from a common courtesy for one another. Saying ‘hey’ seems courteous, even if in a casual and albeit almost juvenile way. Responding to such a greeting, even in passing, with a comment regarding an excuse from engaging in said greeting smacks of rudeness and narcissism.

Of course, can I expect any different from people today? I cannot, and I choose not to. Instead, I remain pleasantly surprised when people act with decency towards one another.

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