Al Batt: How come you don’t say hi when you see me?

Published 7:50 pm Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Tales from Exit 22 by Al Batt



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That’s how an African grey parrot of my acquaintance greeted me each time I passed by its substantial cage.

I think that’s parrot for “Hello” — the extended version.

I raised chickens for many years. Sometimes a rooster crowed at night. Usually because it had been listening to “Sound of Silence” sung by Simon and Garfunkel. “Hello, darkness, my old friend. I’ve come to talk with you again. Because a vision softly creeping. Left its seeds while I was sleeping.”

That’s my theory. I suppose it could have been because the rooster thought the yard light or the moon was the dawn. A rooster crows to let the flock and predators know a superb rooster is on duty. He also crows to greet the new day.   

I’m not much for crowing, but I said, “Good morning,” to someone just this morning.

An innocuous comment if ever there were one. Mine was a wish not an inquiry as to how an early day was unfolding. What could possibly be wrong with saying that?

I’ll tell you what was wrong with uttering those words. I said them in the afternoon. Great! Now the person I greeted thought I’d just gotten out of bed. Maybe the older we get, the earlier it gets late. I’ve dreamed of sleeping until noon. It never happens, but it’s on my bucket list. I’ll make up for my morning in the afternoon later in the day by saying “Good afternoon” or the truncated “Afternoon” when it’s evening. Then people will think I’m a daylight saving time denier.

A guy I know drives a route, delivering auto parts. He’s always in a rush and is fond of saying, “Good morning, good afternoon, good evening, goodbye.”

“So, you’re here, too,” is how a friend greeted me recently. He had me pegged. There was no refuting the fact that I was there, too.

When I lived in the big city, I frequented a small, neighborhood grocery store. I went there to drool over foods while recalling fondly the days when I didn’t have to buy my own victuals. The proprietor was a curmudgeon who no one had ever accused of having a heart of gold. “So, this is where you are,” he’d greet me on each of my visits. It sounded more like an accusation than a welcome. It caused me to feel as if I were a butler who had done it in one of those whodunit detective stories.

Any teacher who isn’t a chemistry professor at MIT might enjoy hearing their students sing, “Good Morning, good morning to you. We’re all in our places with sunshiny faces, and this is the way to start a new day! Good morning to you. Good morning to you. Our day is beginning. There’s so much to do. So good morning, good morning, good morning to you!”

Say that to people you meet in the mall and they’ll remember you.

What is a greeting? A dictionary tells us that a greeting is a salutation upon meeting someone, an expression of good wishes or a polite word of welcome. It’s a verbal hug or a spoken handshake.

Formal greetings are used when meeting someone for the first time: “How do you do?” “It’s nice to meet you.” “It’s a pleasure to meet you.” “Who in the world are you?”

Informal greeting include: “How are things?” “How are you doing?” “What’s new?” “There you are.” “It’s good to see you.” “G’day.” “Salutations.” It’s always permissible to use your best John Wayne impersonation when saying, “Howdy,” or “Howdy, pardner.” “Hey.” “How have you been?” Warning: some people will tell you in excruciating detail how they have been. “What’s up?” “Greetings.” “Hey, there.” “Well, look at you.” “How’s it going?” “Sup?” “Ahoy.” “What’s up?” “Who’s a good boy?” “Hey, ya.” “How’s tricks?” “How you doing, eh?” It’s not unwise to add an “eh” to the end of a greeting as it demonstrates sincerity. “Top of the morning to you.” The latter phrase should prompt this response from the person greeted, “And the rest of the day to you.”

Here’s a tip from your Uncle Al: Never say “What’s new?” at a funeral.

Each culture has its way of greeting others. “Hola” is Spanish, “Guten tag” German, “Bonjour” French, “Ciao” Italian, “Namaste” Hindi, “Jamba” Swahili, “Aloha” Hawaiian and “Ello-hay” is Pig Latin.

You can’t go wrong with saying “Hello” or “Hi.”

Greetings are wonderful things for many reasons, not the least of which is that they are much easier to remember than names.

Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Saturday.