I Hate Saying “Hi”

by Amelia Diamond
December 16, 2013
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And I’m chalking it up to Larry David Syndrome.

ihatesayinghi21eememAs I’ve gotten older I find that there’s nothing quite so satisfying as the act of declaring that which I do not like and furthermore — avoiding it. For example, I can’t stand eating cauliflower, so I don’t. It was one of the most liberating things I’ve ever done, declaring that I, Amelia, actually do not like consuming creepy white plants that taste like library breath. And I realized that despite its festivity, I hate drinking champagne, so I stopped that as well. (One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind, am I right?) But my recent and perhaps most significant epiphany of that which I don’t like and therefore won’t do is a bit more tied in to the involvement of others: I hate saying “hi.” Hate it.

It’s not the word itself, because “hi” is fairly unassuming when it comes to syllables and requires the lowest level of intellect to get the point across. And I’m fine with its saluting cousins — the formal hello, the casual hey. I’ll type it in a text or an email just fine. What I can’t stand is the act of Saying Hi face to face while in transition from one point to another, no matter how leisurely I may appear to be walking.

Like many of the proverbial lightbulbs that eventually switch on above my head, this realization took a few documented occurrences before I was able to pinpoint my aversion. The first most notable times surround who else but my father. Aren’t parents always, according to therapists, the root from which all of our neurosis stem?

My dad loves saying hi. He is Mister Hello. At the bank, at the grocery story, on the sidewalk, at the movie theaters — there he is, addressing strangers like he’s in the running for Greeter of the Week at Home Depot. One time, while leaving a restaurant in downtown Manhattan my dad went rogue and shouted “Hello!” at a stranger coming in the door. I was mortified and so was said stranger who, as I pointed out to my dad, no doubt thought we were a father/daughter tag-team ready to steal wallets and take names.

Another scarring juncture includes the one time I thought I saw my ex-boyfriend on the corner of 57th and 6th avenue. Encouraged by my stupid roommate who said it would be rude of me to not say hi, I ran up and tapped my ex on the shoulder. As he wheeled around I stood there expectantly (waiting for some sort of, “OH MY GOD! NO WAY!,” I suppose), but instead he said, “Uh…do I know you?” It wasn’t my ex-boyfriend.

As if that’s not insane enough, I’ve realized that the people I avoid are those who I genuinely enjoy and would love to see, yet I cross the street due to my lame pretense of hating the ritual of hello: the stopping mid-walk, the waving in their face until I get their attention, tapping them on the solider or worse, having them see me first but due to my poor eyesight it takes me eight squinty beats longer to realize who the hell this person is. I mean saying hi is exhausting.

A few weeks ago I was walking past a restaurant and, fairly certain I spotted my friend named Maggie, I tucked my head down so I could become engrossed in an imaginary text. I got only a few steps past her when I heard, “Amelia?” Shit. Caught.

And then just last week, I was crossing the street holding Leandra’s arm like two old ladies on an icy sidewalk when I pointed out that my friend Jason was right in front of us. “That’s my friend Jason!,” I told her. “So go say hi,” she said back. “No way, that’s so much effort,” I responded. “I’ll just tell him later.”

And I do, which I’ve been told is even weirder: I admit to my avoidance of the “hi” later on. “I saw you last week!” I reported gleefully to Jason at a party that weekend. “Why didn’t you say hi?,” he asked.

Same with my friend Maggie at the restaurant — I admitted to her immediately that I recognized her but didn’t stop on purpose. “Why?”

“I just kind of hate saying hi,” I shrugged. To which they both replied, “I totally get it.”

And that, if you ask me, is precisely why I’m friends with them in the first place.

Champagne and cauliflower, anyone?

REPLIES
  • Priscilla Jill

    Im like this with “How are you?” It is a question that people are too busy to really want to listen to. Like If I were to reply “Not so well.” The person isn’t really expecting to sit there and want to listen to my problem. Therefore, It just annoys me that it is a dumb question to begin with.

    • Nenuphare24

      OMG YES.
      I have social anxiety so I’m happy if I get by with just a “hi” but if they continue with “how are you” it used to kill me. I can be quite clueless/robotic with my social interactions so my brain used to just process “this person asked you a question, give a perfunctory response” and I’d say “I’m good.” and leave it at that. Then I realize how rude that was and basically trained myself to say “good n’ you?” (the trick for me is to say it like it’s all one word, then I don’t have to think about it). One time, a boss told me I should try responding back with more “meaning” to which I responded in my head “FUCK DAT.”

      • Amelia Diamond

        In Australia they say “How ya goin’?” and that really threw me off for a while. I was like “Uh..left? What?” But I think they ask that instead of “how are you” so that no one can respond “Shitty, man. My cat died and then…”

        • sarah

          In the UK, “You all right?” is a common way of greeting someone while passing by. I always struggled to find a quick response whenever someone greeted me, prefering to keep my head down instead. I reckon, since then, a-social is my middle name.

          • Charlotte Fassler

            The “You all right” thing really threw me off for a bit because it seemed to imply I wasn’t alright and that I must be putting off some weird vibe that caused people to ask this.

        • Georgia

          I’m Australian and we say “How ya going’”? to everyone! It’s a bit of a mix between hey and how are you but more of how are you if that makes sense!!
          And I see people and just pretend not to all the time! It’s too hard, especially when you don’t know them at well! This makes me feel better now because my friends think I’m mean..

        • KH

          I literally just said ‘Hey guys, how are you going’ to customers that walked in. So aware now! A formal hello is going to happen from now.

        • Shulie

          Amelia can we go glasses shopping?

          • Amelia Diamond

            yes!!!

    • STAR

      I am posting as “guest.”

      Yes, I really understand you guys. I
      mean, I hateee when people ask: How are you? And, they are passing by. I
      just keep quite unless they stop until my respon. That I know they are
      really willing to hear what I have to say. You know what I mean?… As
      for, when I am asked how I am, and I sense that they will not listen, I
      do not want them to know my true feelings, or that they are waiting for a
      respon but, the timing or whatever is really not enough e.t.c. I’d just
      respond, good or great.

      The Hi part, kinda annoys me. I mean, it is good. Though, I like to skip to: How are you?

      In
      addition, I hate when people go into so much details about their
      weekends, or holidays, e.t.c. Seriously, I have no all day to listen to
      that… Say that it was great, …. I went traveling, … (If I am
      interested, I will ask where, and what you did), I.e. I went there and
      played sports/hockey. Done.

      Not I went here with
      Jakow, I ate this for lunch, I ate by the …. I took a walk, I
      ……………. (WAIT…!) You know what I am trying to say?…

      Anyways, have good life you all, :-) …!

  • CDJ

    Not to sound like your worst nightmare or anything, but last weekend I hid behind a section of champagne bottles at the liquor store to avoid saying hello to a formal fling. (he was also with his girlfriend if that adds more to the story).

  • mekeesha

    i have never agreed with a post on here more. i also HATE saying hi or initiating conversation at all, even with people i like (family members included). i would rather hide then message them later saying i saw them. my boyfriend is the exact opposite. he will go to someone he hasn’t seen in 15 years, not remembering their name even, and strike up a conversation. no thank you. but more importantly, i have never heard the term “library breath” and i think i will use it in my life now if that is alright. it is too funny and weird to not steal. :)

  • Kate

    I’m the exact same way. I hate saying hi, and have mastered the art of successfully avoiding. I don’t like the small talk… how are you, what are you up to, (and my personal favorite… I just graduated) how’s the real world? Gag! The real world kinda sucks what do you want from me.

  • GlamourGirl_bg

    well, I guess I still like to say hi to strangers.

    http://glamourgirl-bg.blogspot.com/

  • http://moonworms.blogspot.ca/ Luna B

    Hahahahaha – library breath. I join your ‘I hate cauliflower, and saying “hi”‘ team. Exhausting, yes. When required to do so – perpetually awkward comes to mind. I want to get one of those red hats now.

  • cassandra

    I can totally relate to this, both in finding it liberating to avoid things i don’t like but have at some point felt pressure to like (rice, tight clothes, cats), and in not wanting to say hi. I too have feigned absorption in my phone to avoid saying hello. I think I’m afraid of getting pulled into a conversation more than being spotted. Isn’t that why texting is so popular? Because people don’t actually want to talk to each other at length unless they’re prepared for it/have time to consider their responses?

    • Amelia Diamond

      I had a total vendetta against rice for a while! I’m okay with it now.

  • rhiarhia

    Totally totally totally. I hate the awkwardness of trying to determine (in a split second) if this is a person who I should just smile and say hi to and then keep walking, or do I need to say hi and/or hug, stop and chitchat? Getting that wrong is best to be avoided.

  • Margherita

    Hey Amelia. Did you go to NYU?

    • Amelia Diamond

      No! Why is library breath prevalent there? Or do I have a hair twin who avoids eye contact?

      • Margherita

        Then where did you go? Your writing is amazing

        • Amelia Diamond

          Oh! You’re very sweet. A small school called St. Bonaventure. I went for journalism. If you’re looking for colleges and can handle a long winter I highly suggest :)

  • Kiri Yanchenko

    I love champagne, but I don’t go out of my way to buy cauliflower – if it is served up to me I will eat it. And yes – I don’t really do the hi thing. If I am out for a walk and someone says hello I reply because it would be rude not to BUT I don’t start off saying hi to everyone! :-)
    X
    Kiri
    http://www.fashionblender.com.au
    http://www.facebook.com/FashionBlender

  • Joana Gomes

    This is so true for so many people. And the eyesight part used to be even truer for me, before I got contacts and I was too vain to wear my glasses outside. I hate bumping into people I know on the street. I guess we love being anonymous.

    Joana x
    When You Dream Big

  • carrotsandcandysticks

    I couldn’t relate to this post more. One of the most rewarding things about leaving teenagehood behind (besides not worrying about college un-acceptances due to underage drinking) is not only the confidence to say I don’t like that, but the balls to decide I won’t do that. I too hate saying Hi (I was incredibly relieved today when an elementary school classmate did not recognize me in my winter face mask thus skirting the awkward hello’s), along with returning snap chats, updating my status, and attending neighborhood Christmas parties where the alcohol sucks and the hors d’oeurves camp out on my inner thighs. Finally I’m confident enough to say no, I won’t do these major ass paining things. Great post.

  • kforkarli

    This year, a Chinese boy I taught explained how he hated the Australian way of saying Hello as it is always, “Hi/Hey How ya goin?” He felt that it was such a pointless use of a question as no one really cared what the response was going to be. I totally get it.

  • Hereshoping Themayanswereright

    My rule of thumb is if a stranger makes eye contact I always say hi, give a warm smile and nod while passing. If I see someone I know and like i will always say hi. if i see someone I know and either don’t like or feel awkward around, i will very carefully avoid them seeing me. Recently at Whole Foods, I literally walked right into a person from the awkward category – he was going out, I was going in, and there was no where to hide since we came face to face, so we had uncomfortable, polite conversation for a couple strained minutes. It was awful.

    • Amelia Diamond

      I think my new thing is going to be faking a sneezing attack!

  • http://madamecouture.blogspot.com/ Emma Hager

    I have this dilemma everyday on my walk to school. As I approach campus and walk up to the main quad, I always have the constant internal debate as to whether or not it would be best to slow down to avoid the “Hi” or give in, speed up, and engage in the aforementioned. I think what’s worst is that awkward discrepancy in walking pace, making the “hi” a quick, awkward neck jerk to either side and then proceeding on.
    However, if I ever see any of the MR girls on the streets of Manhattan or elsewhere, I am definitely going to speed up and say “hi” or “salutations” or just flat out embrace you(s). Just a warning. X

  • http://www.downtownhautefashion.blogspot.com/ Leslie

    I’ve gotten the same as I’ve gotten older and kinda feel like an anti-social weirdo because of it.. haha. Awesome post! I feel a little less weird now.

    http://downtownhautefashion.blogspot.com

  • http://Mysmallwardrobe.com/ Carelia

    Hi Leandra!

  • galaxyfreethinker

    It’s the same for me, i hate saying “hi” and “how are you”. It sounds so insincere and more than that, I hate responding “fine and you?” I know I am introverted and asocial, but still, I feel those words very superficial and meaningless. I am like screaming inside of me, when someone asks me, how am I. My family knows it is forbidden asking me that and I am thankful for that, but for other people it is like avoid them when you can.

  • Andrea P

    I totally agree. In the halls at school I never say hi to my friends.. I smile and make eye contact, but I don’t smile with my teeth so it ends up looking sarcastic and awkward.. oops.

  • s

    while mingling on champagne and cauliflower, let’s just throw in, “we should catch up”.A statement that typically concludes the smallest of small talk and means “see you never”
    xx

    http://spoonfulofdiamonds.com
    http://www.facebook.com/SpoonfulOfDiamonds

  • princessglee

    Isn’t it far less of a hassle and far less socially awkward to just say hi? It can be followed by a “good to see you” or a “you look great.” It is a kindness we give to a fellow human to acknowledge or validate existence. Such a small thing to give, relative to its payoff I believe. I’ve given tofu many a chance. I DO NOT like it. I DO NOT like it on my plate. It’s only a tasteless food like substance.

    • addy

      Perfect! I always say ‘Hi, nice to see you! and then keep on walking.

  • Jessica Beresford

    I think it’s easier to say a short hi rather than face the awkwardness of dodging.

    http://dearthere.com/2013/11/26/choosing-prada-over-necessities/

  • http://newbornfanatic.wordpress.com/ Newborn Fanatic

    Hah your friends are so awesome for getting you. :)

    http://newbornfanatic.wordpress.com

  • Dress To Cook

    LOL you made me laugh with your cauliflower confession :)

    Dress To Cook

  • http://www.blackwhitecolor.org/ MarineBWC

    +1. Funny though how everyone hates saying Hi but basically still does it!

  • Saving 5am Face

    LOVE THIS. Perfect thing I wanted to read today. I think the horror of it stems from the acknowledgement that you are both about to enter into mundane small talk that is even awkwarder to get out of than to start. I like to think that avoiding all together is kinder than purposefully entering into an exchange that will definitely make one (if not both) of you feel at best awkward, or at worst, question your conversational skills. Top marks for this article!!

  • Vladimir

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  • The Provoker

    Awww your dad sounds so cute, saying hi all over town slash greeter of the week at home depot. Hmm… I learned to just say hi and not think about it as much as I also dread these social conducts that not really add value within interactions between people, oh! But I hate obligatory smiles during small talk which is the cousin of Saying Hi I think, don’t you agree Amelia?

    • Amelia Diamond

      ” I hate obligatory smiles during small talk which is the cousin of Saying Hi” YES. I have the worst obligatory smile, people usually ask me if I’m okay after I attempt one.

  • Virginia

    Agreed, I usually look the other way or put my head down immediately in hopes they didn’t spot me first and have to say hi. It’s just so awkward to me.

  • dailyfashionmuse

    I thought I was the only one. Is it a shy thing? I don’t come across shy, but I really am. I fear the dead air of what to say after you say hi and then, how to break it off to continue on with my day.

  • http://www.fancyalterego.wordpress.com/ Heather P.

    I’m from the Midwest, where people will say hello, wave, honk their horn, and much more to total strangers. It’s something we’re mostly used to here.

    However, it doesn’t mean I personally like it all the time.

    I don’t mind if someone I know wants to say hi, but I rarely…if ever…initiate. I hate bothering people when they’re in the middle of something (even if it is just grocery shopping), so I usually just leave them to their groceries or whatever.

    My other problem is that I have been a teacher for the past 7 years, so odds are if a former student comes up to say hello, I don’t actually remember their name. Sounds terrible, until you consider I’ve taught roughly 1,000 students in this time frame – that’s a lot of names and faces! This is especially anxiety-inducing if my husband’s around because the other person usually expects to be introduced. I try to fumble my way through it, and most people are pretty understanding, but I always come out of it feeling like an asshole.

    So if you see me on the street and say hi, be a nice guy (or gal) and use your name – it’ll make me feel 1000% better!

  • Kandeel

    I hate when I’m engrossed in a conversation and someone just decides to say hi and i annoyingly say hi back and forget what I was saying. Or maybe thats just me oops

  • dp

    if you EVER try and not say hi to me, i will scalp you.

  • VT

    You must really hate being greeted by salespeople at Bloomingdales, then.

  • http://www.nouveauclassical.org/ Sugar Vendil

    HAHA library breath…how do you come up with this stuff?!

    I like saying hi because I don’t keep in touch with many people as it is, so it’s probably like, my only opportunity for the next 5 years to have any sort of contact. (Also, if I catch you on the street I’m gonna scream ‘OMG Amelia Diamond will you take a picture with me?!’ so that people start to stare cuz I know you’d love that :)

  • Kate Davies

    Despite how much I apparently talk to strangers, I do hate when you power walk into people and then have to say “hi” and do the little dance of taking out my earphones while hopping from foot to foot in order to stay warm and asking about their day when I’m running late. Or early. Or on time.
    I look down and pretend I’m picking the next song on my iPod; vibrantly coloured earphones and wires are really useful as people assume I might not have heard them.
    The most confusing ‘hello’ I ever had to get used to was from a friend originally from Ireland. Whenever she saw me she’d say: “What’s the craic?” or worse “Where’s the craic?”
    With ‘craic’ pronounced as ‘crack’, I don’t think it was unreasonable of me to answer:
    “I don’t have any crack”
    “I can’t see any cracks”
    “Has my bag broken?”
    “That building burnt down while you were in Canada”
    Thankfully I no longer look around me when asked and just repeat it as I’m meant to.

  • Carly

    whats worse then saying “hi” is when you have a delayed “hi”: you’re all the way down the hallway and realized someone cute says hi and you finally have the social adequacy to say hi… to their back! OR when the “hi” comes out like a half “hello” half “hi” because you couldn’t make up your mind fast enough. Its kind of a game, but i’ve realized that i love when people say “Hi Carly” and make it direct; it always makes me smile for the rest of the passing period and so i try to do it in the least awkward and obvious way.

    • Amelia Diamond

      or even WORSE is when you say BYE and then end up walking the same direction for like, 2 blocks.

      • Carly

        lol so true! and relevant every day

  • Bouds

    Not saying a simple “hi” or “hello” goes to show how lazy we have become with [human] face-to-face contact. We dont have any problem adding a random on facebook, but we have a problem saying hello to someone we know, and perhaps genially like? what….

  • http://www.erptraining9.com/ SAP Training

    Yes we now are really getting to be android.
    It seems no one is as prompt as one should be in saying Hi or hello.
    That is are we lazy or we are avoiding, it now in day to day life.
    What is it ???

  • April

    “How was your weekend?” This question always comes up on Monday morning when I get to work and it’s gotten to the point now that I feel like I have to do things every weekend and have my story together by the time I walk through the office doors…It’s like not doing your homework before you walk into a classroom. Can we just leave things at “Good morning”?! I don’t need this kinda stress so early in the week, if I wanna talk about my weekend then I’ll bring it up.

  • Cardinham Killigrew

    I simply say Bonjour

    Ultimate Bath Bombs and Lotions

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