Rambling Roads: To Wave or Not

By George A. Hancock runnergah@comcast.net

An intriguing question was asked recently on a Greater Johnstown radio morning program. Long-time Morning Guy Jack Michaels asked the interesting question. Jack invited radio listeners to phone in their comments.

Of course, I’m not shy about adding my words to any topical discussion. Jack and I have discussed numerous topics over the decades. I’m a steady listener and a local weather watcher due to my decades long morning run.

Jack asked a simple question. A question new runners frequently ask. Jack is an avid golfer. He also enjoys walking through his neighborhood on his non-golfing days. Jack’s question was this: what is the proper etiquette when encountering another individual on your walk. Jack felt comfortable waving and saying Hi! But, he was not certain if this was the correct response.

I started road running in 1973. Initially, runners and walkers were not a common sight in Greater Johnstown. So, when another runner approached, I always waved and said Hi! I did the same for walkers.

Later on, when the running boom embraced Johnstown, I continued this friendly practice. I even slowed and chatted with other runners before continuing my run. I never had an issue with this acknowledgment. 99% of the runners and walkers returned the amicable greeting.

I was the first caller. I explained my morning practice. I also stated for me these days, there were few roadside encounters. Occasionally, I ran into a neighbor walking or some of my fellow Johnstown Running Club team members. A JRC encounter is always a raucous affair. We exchange greetings and well wishes. Normally a JRC run-in involves me running into a group run. Many local female runners wisely run together. Many run with their dogs. These run encounters are always pleasant.

The other caller response surprised me. These callers stated their walk or run time was Me Time. These callers ignored other runners or walkers. Or, wore ear buds while listening to their favorite music. Some actually stated they did not want to be bothered by other individuals. These individuals just continued on their way.

These callers all had young sounding voices. Waving and responding Hi! must be a generational thing. Cell phones and all these technological devices were missing from the ’70s running generation. We communicated by saying Hi and waving.

Some people wonder about saying anything when the approaching runner is clearly running or working hard. I had hundreds of these hard-running encounters over the decades. I always responded with the universal thumbs-up signal.

Clearly this encounter is not the moment for a friendly chat. Interrupting a workout is in poor taste.  Just continue on allowing that runner to complete their workout. A thumbs-up is the perfect acknowledgment.

Once upon a time, things were so simple. Technology and 24/7 365 everything has changed our world. We are constantly bombarded by data, information, images, and everything else.

There is an anonymous connotation to this high-tech world. Keyboard warriors thrive in this environment. Virulent hateful comments are strewn across the digital landscape.  Accountability is never present. People will say and post anything.

Me, my run continues on. If we pass on the road I’ll wave and say Good Morning! It’s what I do. It’s a friendly gesture. I take no offense if there’s no response back. We may pass by again one day.

Run well, run smart. Remember waving Hi is OK.



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