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The Split Second of Snub

So anyway, every morning I have the same routine. I get up. Make coffay. Do whatever whatever. Then some time between 8:30-9:30 I head out to walk Roscoe.

And every day there's a old lady a few doors down who is always out in front of her place. Either sitting on the stoop or standing behind her gate. Every day. (There's alot of stoop sitters in Brooklyn. Old school style). And every time I pass her with Roscoe by I say hello. And every time I say hello she doesn't say hello back. Never once. I either get a unimpressed look of acknowledgment, or a slight nod, but sometimes she just ignores me totally.

We walk by. I wave and say hello. I keep going. She stays silent. For years now. I've seen her talking to other people so I know she actually talks-- but for whatever reason she just never wants to say hello back to me! If I got a nod that's the furthest she's ever taken it! And every single day I feel slightly snubbed by this old lady. Like, WTF with the no hello back!?

So this morning I was in a mood or whatever and saw her out front and we made eye contact--- and I didn't say hello like usual. Today, I resented her never saying hello back to me for some reason. So I decided to snub her. I looked her right in the face-- didn't hello. I thought maybe I'd even force a hello out of her first time! How bout that?! No hello for you!

And I saw her expression change. I could see she knew I was doing a hello snub. And she looked scared and a little hurt. Like eyebrows down toward her ears puppy style. Heart break. I immediately said a big hello and she looked instantly relieved. She smiled and nodded like, 'There it is. There's my hello...' (She didn't say anything of course).

I could see in that split second of snub that my hellos were actually important to her. Important to her day and her morning routine. And even though she apparently has no interest in taking our friendship beyond me simply saying hello and her seemingly ignoring it-- I appreciate now knowing that my hellos mean something to her. It makes me feel less snubbed too.

And frankly, am completely comfortable in our hello/no hello back friendship of sorts...

ok bye!


Blogger Christian said...


8/28/2008 1:21 PM  
Anonymous Barry said...

I don't know tOdd. Sounds to me like she might be afraid of people she does not know well. She may be just afraid to say anything to you because she doesn't know you. When you did not say hello, it might have scared her even more.

8/28/2008 1:25 PM  
Anonymous kent said...

Whatever her reasons for not saying hello back Im glad you caught her expression and gave her, her morning hello from you two. Your a good egg Todd.

8/28/2008 2:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you're sweet t0dd. really.

8/28/2008 2:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, I just wanna go on the record as saying that I hate people who don't say hello after you say hello. I agree with Todd - it's like, WTF, you can't even say hello? You're gonna let my hello just drift off into outer space?? It's just a HELLO, for cryin' out loud - it doesn't cost anything!

It's very tempting for me to say "Well eff you then," because I feel like that's essentially what they've said to me! Know what I mean??

8/28/2008 4:14 PM  
Blogger Bad Dave K said...

I think that when you approach her you need to start tilting your head back, looking right down your nose at her, and saying "Salutations" in the worst British accent you can muster (and having heard your Pirates of the Caribbean review, I know you can muster some bad accent).

8/28/2008 4:19 PM  
Blogger Chaos Mom said...

sounds like she is your Boo Radley.

8/28/2008 6:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

beautiful story,todd

8/28/2008 8:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

dawwww you old softie.

You know though, it could be her inherent fear of 'Croc People'.

just sayin'


8/28/2008 9:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quit letting others live in your head for free!

8/29/2008 8:53 AM  
Anonymous gunlover said...

Maybe you can do her

8/29/2008 9:52 AM  
Anonymous Venessa said...

I find this especially funny because I've had a similar experience. There are a couple of old ladies who live in the house next door. One of them is so sweet. She always stops me to ask how I'm doing, where I'm going, she asks how my mom is and jokes around with me. I've lived in this apartment since 2002. Now if I had to guess I'd say the younger one is 65 and the older one, her mother is 85 pushing 90. I always assumed the older one was deaf or something because the same way I would say hello whenever I saw her daughter I would do the same and the older woman would just completely ignore me. This went on for about 5 years until one day out of the blue, long after I decided to ever stop saying hi to her she just stopped me and asked how I was doing. "I haven't seen your mother in a while is she okay, on vacation?" I was totally shocked I don't know what it is that happed that day about 6 months or so ago but ever since then whenever she sees me she chats up a storm. Part of me wonders if I prefer things the way they used to be back when I was getting snubbed by the elderly.

8/29/2008 10:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

been visiting your site for a while, but this is the best blog work, todd.


8/29/2008 1:41 PM  
Anonymous Shy Hobnobber said...

Good for you Todd - keep saying hello.

What's up with the NY no-eye-contact no-acknowledgement-of-existence thing?

Been here my whole life and I still don't get it. I'm certainly not a big small talker, wide open public person, but I think at least a nod and eye contact with others in close situations is important.

I'm moving to a Frank Capra movie as soon as I figure out that whole time travel, Purple Rose of Cairo thing.

8/29/2008 1:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the sweetest thing I've ever read in a blog.

8/29/2008 4:18 PM  
Blogger Regan said...

Dude. Maybe she is Albanian or from Zimbabwe(Zimbabwian?)...and can't speak English?

Maybe the head nod is all she's got because she doesn't want to be embarrassed if you start talking to her and she can't understand you.

I've lived in foreign countries, and the head nod is the universal symbol for PLEASE DON'T TALK TO ME CAUSE I WON'T BE ABLE TO ANSWER YOU.

I think just to be sure, you should break the ice next time and ask her a question. Either her head will explode from the social embarrassment...or she'll answer you in English or foreign gibberish.

At least then you'll know.

8/29/2008 5:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love you, Todd.

I really, truly do.

Going anon again ... but you know me.

8/29/2008 7:10 PM  
Blogger Tee said...

You know what would feel worse then the old lady snub? If you wrote a blog and nobody commented after. I think that would feel a trillion times worse.

I think we should test my hypothesis


8/30/2008 12:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

tOdd - What happened to the CSPAN thumbs up?


8/30/2008 4:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why did you take the thing down about the dog and his toy? Did something get done about the whole situation? Or what?

8/30/2008 10:39 AM  
Blogger Goose said...

This is a wonderful post. You are born to right, man. And I like your first name, since our mothers think alike. Sincerely, Todd Daniel

8/30/2008 2:40 PM  
Anonymous d00d said...

I hate it when complete strangers come up to you and say "hello". My response is usually "No I dont want to buy anything, and if you're not selling anything leave me alone becuase I dont talk to strangers"

8/31/2008 6:20 PM  
Anonymous freelancer said...

When I used to work for Ipsos-Reid, I was one of the last agents to leave the building. Everyday at around 10:50pm-11:00pm, there was this Asian couple, that didn't have the gull to say thank you, when I opened the door for them. So arrogant!! Years later, my friend from Hong Kong was telling be that the reason for that is because of Chinese culture. But still to this day, I find that very rude.

9/01/2008 8:56 PM  

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