How rude!

11 May 2015 13:30

Let’s imagine you’re walking down a street. It’s a sunny day, you’re in a good mood, and you see me walking in the distance. I’ll probably seem a bit distracted, lost in thought, probably daydreaming, and I may or not be carrying a bag of groceries (a common occurrence during lunch breaks).

So you, being the friendly person you are, shout out to me, simply saying hello. In response, I narrow my eyes, and stare at you in confusion, not returning your greeting and continuing to walk in the direction I was heading. While this may appear to be rather rude, the explanation is quite simple: I didn’t recognize you.

I’d like to stress that you shouldn’t take this personally. Here’s why:

  • If you didn’t actually say my name, I’m probably still wondering if you were speaking to me or you might have been greeting someone else.
  • I’m rather bad at recognizing people at a distance. And by distance I mean anything over 5 feet. I’m slightly myopic, which means your face is mostly a blur if you’re too far away
  • Sunglasses have about the same effect as using a cloaking device for your face
  • While I am generally not that bad at recognizing voices, I generally need more than a greeting to figure out who you are, especially if my facial recognition is drawing a blanks
  • If, instead of a greeting, you say some other well-intentioned phrase like enjoy your meal, when I am not in fact carrying a meal (such as earlier today when I was carrying a grocery bag filled with energy drinks), this will only add to the confusion

So please, if I don’t return your greeting, don’t take it personally.