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Hesitating to Say “Hello”: An In-Depth Analysis

At a school like Bucknell, it is difficult to hide. Campus often seems smaller than it actually is, and for some reason, we’re always feeling like we see everyone everywhere. In fact, the multitude of everyday interactions we face has driven our student body to be selective with whom we say “hello” to. Sometimes, we find ourselves feeling uncomfortable during these situations for no substantial reason. Indeed, this is a strange cultural phenomenon. Why do we feel the need to overthink such a small action as greeting a peer? In an attempt to unearth the roots of this issue, we have categorized the different types of interactions a Bucknellian encounters on a daily basis. Although it can be tough to do so all of the time, when in doubt, it is always better to say “hello”.


Your Hallmate from Freshman Year

Phase 1: It’s 12:52, and the quad is bustling with busy Bucknellians heading to their next class. Suddenly, you spot a familiar face; it’s the kid that lived two doors down from you your freshman year. You don’t see him much anymore, but he’s a good kid. You remember him fondly for his comfortable bean bag chair and his generosity with late night Domino’s. Does he see you? Will you say “hello”?

Phase 2: You consciously decide you’ll only address him if he says something first. However, as you approach him, you make accidental eye contact and panic. You quickly avert your gaze and mumble a barely audible “hi”.

Phase 3: Shit. That was so awkward. Why did that have to be so awkward? You lived with the kid. As you walk away, you attempt to shake it off. You don’t look up from the ground for the remainder of your walk to class lest another hallmate lies ahead.


Your Hookup from Last Week

Phase 1: You’re getting off the treadmill, feeling proud you chose the gym over Netflix and those cookies your mom just sent.  But then, something breaks your focus.  As you are walking towards the towels you spot him heading the opposite direction, your hook up from last weekend.  You had never seen this boy before Saturday night, yet now it seems like he’s everywhere.  Since when does he go to the gym at this time?  This is my time!

Phase 2: You have to think quick.  Your phone is already out and your headphones are plugged in, so the texting route seems safe.  Looking down, you pound furiously at the keyboard, hoping the jumble of letters don’t send to whoever it is you’re pretending to converse with.  But then he calls you out and you have to look surprised, like you had no idea he was there

Phase 3: You are so immature.  If he could say “hi”, why couldn’t you?  Two letters.

Your Party Friend

Phase 1: You’re in mailroom, waiting in line to pick up the package of new underwear that you’ve been long awaiting. You’re finally almost to the front of the line, but the person right ahead of you is picking up what seems like dozens of packages and it’s taking forever. At once, you realize this person is your favorite party friend. You feel rather uncomfortable, because you’ve really only ever interacted with him in the setting of a dark, sweaty downtown house. In fact, until now, you weren’t fully sold on the fact that he even goes to Bucknell. What are you possibly supposed to say to this guy in a real life, academic setting?

Phase 2: He turns around, finally finished collecting his millions of packages. Promptly, loses control of the large pile and drops a box at his feet. You scramble to pick it up and hand it back to him, murmuring, “no problem!” even though he didn’t say thank you. He stares blankly at you for a second too long, grumbles “sup”, and walks away before you can respond.

Phase 3: Did he even recognize you? You’re disheartened; you really thought this friendship had potential.


Your Classmate from Last Year

Phase 1: You’re at 7th Street, ordering a much-needed caffeinated beverage, when you realize that you know your barista from somewhere. You stare at her for a bit too long before finally connecting the dots; she was your lab partner in physics a few semesters ago. You haven’t seen her since, but you remember her being very kind and amazingly proficient with Excel. She might remember you too, but probably as the needy lab partner that never quite understood Spacetime.

Phase 2: You decide to not overanalyze this one and you muster up the energy to give her a warm “hello”. She retorts with a rushed “hey” without looking to see who you are. Oh well.

Phase 3: You’re glad you said hello, but if only she had truly acknowledged you, you could have thanked her for all of the times her Excel skills saved you last year. You decide that, next time, you’ll tell her anyway.


Your Best Friend

Phase 1: You’re walking out of Coleman, questioning why Professors only give pop quizzes on the days you haven’t read, when you hear your name echoing through the empty quad.  Breathing a sigh of relief, you realize it’s your best friend.  Finally, you don’t have to worry about another awkward interaction. 

Phase 2: There’s no question of what you will do.  You run up to your friend to complain about the quiz you just “failed”, ask “are you going out tonight”, and finally separate once you realize the meeting you were headed to had started ten minutes ago. 

Phase 3: There is nothing like being at ease when your life often feels more awkward than Lizzie McGuire’s.  You realize that living on a campus where run-ins are inevitable may actually be a perk when all you need is a nice hello and a genuine smile. 

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