Thursday, November 13, 2008

Hello? Hello.

I'm still in my 20s and yes, I subscribe to Reader's Digest.

My mom and I used to fight over it when it came in the mail, usually I'd hide it until I had read it cover to cover. Now that I have my own household, I get my own subscription. My grandma subscribes too; I guess it runs in the Kleck family genes. And we all get other each gift subscriptions for Christmas so each of us probably has a few years piled up and we should stop responding to the holiday mail that lets you send 274 free gift subscriptions if you renew your own.

I never thought my love for RD was strange, until I started working in the magazine industry and confessed to my boss that I subscribed. He looked at me like I was joking. I had to convince him over several minutes that yes, I as a mid-20s single woman loved Reader's Digest. I'm apparently very much an outlier in their demographic. Which I came to understand after seeing how the magazines I marketed (fully knowing their target audiences) performed among the RD subscribers. It all makes sense to me now.

Yet I'm still reading, and this article caught my eye.
Hello. It's one of the first words we learn as babies, yet it's one of the last ones we think to use as adults. In our never-ending rush to get something or somewhere, it seems we don't have time anymore for this most basic of gestures. And that's unfortunate, because saying hello is more than just saying hello. It is an acknowledgment of existence. It is a pause, however brief, to affirm another's worth (and have yours affirmed in return). How might the world change -how might we change- if we mastered this word?

How startling the word truly is.

HELLO

It took a move across the country to realize it. Pulling up to In 'N Out burger, I'm always greeted with a "Hi, how are you?" I'm compelled to answer the question coming from the other side of the speakerbox. My first visit to Jamba Juice after a long time away, I ran in and barked my order, exactly how I'm accustomed to behaving at a quick-food joint in DC. I was interrupted with a "Hello, good morning, what can I get for you?" before I could finish. I had to take a step back and remember that we're all human and this sort of dialogue is completely appropriate and welcomed.

I hate to point fingers at the east coast for falling short on this word, but the difference is noticeable since I moved West. I lived 3 years in the same house, never once said hello to neighbors. Here, I go out running and everyone on the street (when there are people on the street) nods or smiles or says something to you. Grocery store clerks, gym staff, coworkers, security guards, you get it.

One goal I set after moving here was to be a little more open to humanity. Hello will do that to you.

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