It would embarrass M that I said hello to everyone we passed on the trail, but then she started doing it too. My feeling is, this isn’t the grocery store. We aren’t in traffic. It’s not the library or the DMV. It’s the woods. We are better people here.

And to me, that means we are connected in some small way. I see you. You see me. We are here, because we know this is a better, less stressful, less conflicted space. I’m going to say hello. This seems like good, basic trail etiquette.

I vacillate, of course, between amused and annoyed by the people who resolutely refuse to acknowledge my greeting. 100% they owe me nothing. My expectations are garbage, and their state of mind is none of my business. I can even relate to the persistent feeling of just wanting to be left the hell alone. So, of course, I am wrong to feel entitled to a smile, wave, or nod.

It’s also wrong to be amused. It can be comical though to smile and say ‘good morning’ to someone and have them pretend you don’t exist. Again, I don’t know what’s going on with them. Maybe they’re afraid. Maybe they’re mordantly depressed (I have been there). Maybe they have just done a crime. Again, not my business.

It is only, actually, my business to be friendly. The natural reaction, I think, to being blown off by people would be to leave them the hell alone, but while I am entitled to nothing from other people, I am devoted to the idea of making the woods feel welcoming. For everybody. All the time.

And if my love is unrequited, well that’s ok, because what I really love is being out there.

2 thoughts on “Unrequited

Add yours

  1. As a library professional, it hurts my feelings that you’ve equated my work place to the DMV. Library users have a connection too. We’re better than society at large because we believe in words and movies and music. I rarely pass people in the woods and I can’t ever remember being snubbed by someone. It must be fairly awkward.


  2. Jeff, I love libraries, but they are places one might reasonably choose not to speak to someone, right? Because quiet.

    The DMV is like the Emergency Room. You all know why you’re there, and it’s not to socialize.


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