As part of its Service Standards, our company embraces the "Ten-Foot Rule." In other words, when finding oneself within 10 feet of another, we are expected to smile and offer a pleasant "Good morning/afternoon."
Having spent many years in West Texas, this mandate struck me as somewhat curious. Shouldn't such actions be instinctive?
I've fond memories of one elderly gentleman who lived on Barrow Street in Abilene during the 1970's: Steadying himself on an aluminum walker in his front yard, he would cheerfully wave to commuters each early morning. I'm ashamed to admit that I never took the time to stop and say, "thank you." Nor did I learn his story.
Family and careers forced our relocation more than 1,000 miles away, to an eastern metropolis where unsolicited greetings were viewed with surprise, then suspicion. In little time, I learned to stifle (or at least limit) my congeniality.
These days - blessedly settled in the Southwest -- I find it easier to smile at a stranger, or once in a while, wave at a pedestrian along my commute. I'm trying to accept that some startled glances or averted eyes does not make them awful human beings; that I shouldn't make judgments.
Still, more often than not, I wonder what ever became of Abilene's cheerful herald.