The Sisters Dauphin greet you as you enter Dauphin Island (AL). They are a pleasant, and (to me) unexpected welcome to a small resort community just offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. As I sat working on this image in the wee hours of the morning I got to thinking about greeters… the human kind.
Walmart has greeters. Sometimes I see them at Target and Home Depot. But wouldn’t it be interesting if greetings were a part of normal american life? I say that as a typical american; one who sometimes jumps straight for the jugular when encountering others.
In France it’s expected that you’ll open any encounter with Bonjour. It’s quite rude not to do so. It’s only one among many reasons americans are disliked when traveling abroad. We’re just plain rude.
I can’t begin to count the times I have heard, and have done this myself. You walk into a store. You are greeted by a smiling employee and the first words out of your/my mouth are: “Where do you keep….” as if whomever is being spoken to is nothing more than an information machine. I’m ashamed every time I catch myself doing it; but next time in the door I do it all over again.
The problem with being goal oriented is that you are…. duh… goal oriented. People get in the way. Especially if you aren’t naturally gregarious. (author raises hand sheepishly)
I sometimes wonder what life is like in a family with siblings. I had no siblings. Most of my parents friends had only one or two children, and as I was growing up I spent a lot of time with adults. Some of my friends had multiple siblings — the family down the block had 8 kids in the family but interestingly enough when I played with the boy my age in that family he always wanted to play at my house. When I was a scout I don’t know if I learned any manners or not. I don’t remember much about my interactions at that age — though to tell you the truth I don’t know how many guys pay attention to things like that.
A few years after we were married I had a job at Furnas Electric. I was a “sales correspondent” — meaning that I expedited production and deliveries for customers and distributors. One day I was expediting a particularly problematic production delay and walking through the factory lost in thoughts about how I might pull off the impossible. One of my co-workers came up and asked if anything was wrong because I looked sad. To tell the truth, I wasn’t sad at all — I was just focussed on what I was doing and it never dawned on me to smile at someone just because they were walking past… I was in another world. As I say, I can be pretty socially obtuse.
And yet when I was working; when I had clients or models in the studio we (client/model and myself) always had a good time. We laughed, we joked, we told each other stories — always a good thing to keep the mood light when you’ve got a nekkid woman right in front of you. I’m not unpleasant to be around — but I have to turn on my social skills for that to happen. I can shoot my camera instinctively but I have to think about being friendly.
It’s just not an unconscious, habitual thing for me. It’s also not something I react naturally to. There are times when being greeted isn’t a welcoming feeling at all. Don’t you ever have times when you don’t want to be noticed — when you just want to go about your business and get done what you want to get done? At the time we drove past the six Dauphin sisters I never thought of them as “greeters.” They were just six houses dockside. They were just six old houses, six skinny houses, six semi-dilapidated houses. Nothing special, nothing noteworthy. But the truth is that anything can be noteworthy — even six plain little shacks.