Playing the “people” card

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One of the things my husband likes to do for fun is to say hello to people he doesn’t know.

We’ll be taking a drive and along the way, he’ll blow the horn at passers-by, shout out a hello and give a broad wave. If he happens to see a woman who’s advanced in years, he’ll greet her with a loud “Hello Mammy” giving the impression that he knows just who she is. The fun part of the exercise is to see the reactions.

Most people wave back, probably thinking that it’s somebody they know but can’t quite make out, or they acknowledge the greeting because it’s the polite thing to do. Some people do get a good look and know that they don’t know him from Adam, so the look of puzzlement on their faces is priceless.

It’s funny how something that we used to do without thinking, has some people today looking for the lost screws. This never used to be the case. Used to be that when you walked on the street, you had a salutation ready whether you knew the person or not. Nowadays, we pass each other “straight” concentrating on whatever’s fifty feet ahead.

I was reminded of that gentler time when I read a post by a fellow blogger last week, who told us what happened when she inquired of a patient where she was from. The response wasn’t exactly congenial. I was sure that it had something to do with her toothache because it was not until the patient realized that she knew the dentist’s “people” that she managed more than a smile.

It’s refreshing to realize that knowing somebody’s “people” still carries the same weight that it used to. It was the magic bullet for the prelude to courtship back in the day when most people knew everybody else. And if your parents knew his parents and they were “good people” to boot – well – he was ‘in like Flynn’.

But since when is knowing somebody’s “people” the only way to get good service – or a pleasant response?

My sister happened to be on the receiving end of some inexplicable “attitude” from an inherited customer of her business. Knowing the person myself, and realizing that she didn’t know my sister, I suggested to my sister that she use her “people” card and inform the customer who our mother was.

My sister rightfully suggested that she shouldn’t have to do that to get a better reaction, so the customer remained none the wiser. Until a few weeks ago that is, when my sister decided to show her hand. I wasn’t privy to the telephone conversation but I’m sure my sister “heard” the smile of immediate recognition.

The next order was larger than usual.

I guess it’s all in who you know.



8 thoughts on “Playing the “people” card

  1. My hubby likes to photograph random people while shouting you’re a stare like some crazed photo journalist. Some days we get looks, some days smiles. It is a wonder I am seen in public with him.

  2. Yes, we do tend to do the ignoring thing more these days. I come from a very small town, having lived her for 10 years, but still I don’t know everyone. I will often say hello, or good morning, if I’m out walking but I’m a pretty introverted person mostly.

    1. I’m with you on the introverted part – notice it’s my husband who’s doing the salutations.. But I have walked down the street and greeted someone I didn’t know; he responded but you could tell he wasn’t expecting it.

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