No one knows for sure when singing was invented.
Maybe it happened during caveman days, when Trog said to Ogg: “Remember yesterday when you were discovering fire and you burned your hand and started screaming real high? Well I must tell you ya—it sounded real good! In fact, all the women in our tribe want to know if you can do it again—except this time, put words to it.”
Since then, the theme of saying “goodbye,” has been a constant in music, poetry, literature and movies. It is generally regarded as the hardest task in life, except for doing your own taxes—and changing a newborn.
However, getting far less attention is the difficulty of saying…“hello.” Especially when you have to say it more than once.
Now it may be true that it’s not so tough to say “hello” to someone you know well. A simple “Hey!” or “Yo!” will suffice. Maybe just a nod or a smiling grunt is good enough. You can do that all day with someone you really know.
Even a fist bump is generally OK, except for heads-of-state and the clergy.
But things get trickier when you encounter not-quite friends—like in the workplace.
For example, you might step into the elevator and run smack into Lou, the guy who works in another department down the hall. You know really nothing more about him—so you may go with: “Good morning, Lou. How ya doin?”
OK, that initial ‘hello’ was not difficult—and you even remembered his name. But maybe five minutes later, you head into the restroom—and there’s Lou again.
Now it gets more challenging.
“Hey Lou, long time, no see!” That’s a pretty good one—and nearly witty.
Or maybe: “Hey Lou, what ya been up to since the elevator?”
You might even use your mutual venue in the restroom as subject matter: “I guess we both had a little too much coffee this morning, eh Lou?”
Or perhaps, “Welcome to the loo, Lou.”
The third time you run into him though, it really starts getting awkward. After all, you don’t really know the guy—and it’s really risky trying to say more than you know for sure:
“Hey Lou, how’s your wife?”
“I’m not married.”
“Right. Talk to you later.”
So it’s safest to keep that third greeting a traditional one, even if lame: “We’ve got to stop meeting like this.”
Also available: “You don’t have a twin, do ya?”
“Getting to be a habit, eh Lou?”
Or, “I’m getting a powerful feeling of deja Lou.”
Let’s face it, by then you’re tapped out. Another encounter in the same day is out of the question, so you’ve got to do anything to avoid it.
If you have a desk, stay there the rest of the day.
If you do have to walk down a hallway, always carry a cell phone so you can pretend to be talking to someone. If Lou strolls by, you could wave slightly—but keep going.
Otherwise, keep a coin, pen or plastic comb at the ready. If you see Lou coming toward you, casually drop the object to the floor and stoop over to pick it up, thereby appearing not to notice as Lou approaches.
Of course, Lou could throw a wrench into the plan if he stops to say, “Dropped something, eh?”
Nuts! Now you’re just going to have to quit your job and move on to another company.
Meanwhile—to whoever (or is it whomever?) may read this initial writing (or is it righting?) …Or at least took the time to skip to the end: “Hello! Until we meet again.”