Friday, April 18, 2008

The Lost Art of "The Nod"

Growing up in rural Oregon taught me many things (the least of which being redneck behavior, so I don't even want to hear it). One thing I've missed most since moving away from Lebanon is The Nod. At home, when I'd walk through the grocery store or when I was washing my car, people would nod to me as if to say, "Hi, nice to see you." When waiting at a crosswalk, I'd nod to the other person to let them know I was waiting for them to proceed. Nodding was especially helpful when working with elderly people because it shows interest and communicates respect without making noise or moving quickly.

Now that I live in Corvallis, I don't see people nodding. They honk, they rush, and they ignore. I don't feel like part of this community. There's no waving, not even casual glances... as if people here are only worried about looking perfect and one-upping others. I want to bring back nods!

There are two kinds of nods: up and down. The "down" nod is almost like a bow from the neck. It demonstrates respect and deference in this culture. It can be formal (slower, generally), or informal and short, almost imperceptible. I do a medium-fast nod most of the time, slower to people I respect more though.

The "up" nod I see punk kids doing to their friends, raising their chins and look down their noses quickly... I call this the "bobblehead greeting" because when one kid does it, the rest follow suit. Everyone ends up looking like a bobblehead. My friend informed me that he uses the "up" nod when he sees someone higher than he is (in the air--like on a ladder). In this case, I suppose an "up" nod might be better than a "down" nod, but I'm still not a big fan of it.

Nodding helps people acknowledge and respect one another. To show the top of your head, to show you see someone... I say we bring it back. Try it and tell me what you find!

Bonus points for tipping your hat. Double bonus points for tipping a top hat.

1 comment:

Jeff W said...

I went to high school in Lakeview (pop. ~2500) and people do behave differently there. I think that it's more the size of the town though then the people in it. If you took the equivalent of a small town of people out of Corvallis and clumped them all together in some small area I think they'd start nodding and interacting more pretty quickly. I guess that's just human nature.