What’s the modus operandi for greeting? Is the onus on you to proffer the first salvo when you come into a place for the first time? What about when you’re in a place and others come there, do they proffer the first good day? Is it essential that the individual or people that greet first must be the younger, no matter the situation? I guess the first thing some of those reading this will tell me is that age before beauty; so the younger must greet the older. Hmmm, in times past maybe, but that rule is gradually being eroded and you’ll discover that some aspects of the social graces ‘usually’ left to the junior to initiate is fizzling out. The social graces have been vastly eroded and one can’t readily differentiate the left, from the right, from the centre too!
What happens when you’re older, when an elderly person enters a place where others have already congregated? Is it a taboo for them to initiate the first part of the social process? Does an older person utter the first salute? When the crowd is mostly younger, is the onus now on them to reverse the process and acknowledge the grey hair first? Must they? What are the dictates to be followed in these situations, especially when it’s not a case of familial community?
When you first make eye contact with a stranger must you utter the words that go with it? In some ways are you exempted from these rules because this person is unfamiliar? On the other hand if you happen to be a stranger seeking direction; you readily greet all and sundry in order to get the required assistance as fast as possible. Often times the response you elicit is wary, lukewarm and sometimes hostile at best, but you persevere because you must! Hint: you should also ensure that you ask more than two people so that the veracity of directions is confirmed, else you wander about aimlessly!
Is the reason that we’re social critters enough to perpetuate this current scheme of things? Must we exchange ‘pleasantries’? Despite the fact that one overlooks the modalities that age plays in our society and you issue the salute first, what happens when the grunt you receive for your efforts is not enough? Why do some people feel that a grunt suffices? Others believe that a stare without any other thing accompanying it can be interpreted as a response and that it communicates the same message. Not everybody is savvy in non-verbal communication (still studying this science myself!) and a stare or grunt could be termed as rude.
Pleasantries were thus named to make encounters with strangers (and the more familiar too) not as onerous as it might have been. They may also ensure that these meetings are also turned into opportunities with enormous prospects for the future. The ramifications of these exchanges in such chance encounters (often overlooked) have sealed opinions, attitudes and also modified behaviour that have ripple effects in the foreseeable and unforeseeable future.
A cheery good day goes some way in making life less dull, for those giving it and of course those on the receiving end. Although we are sometimes at sea with regards to the rules that actually govern this field, one thing is clear, courtesy and politeness in every situation certainly trumps rudeness and unpleasantness, anytime, any day no matter the age involved!