Starting in Fall 2020, I began saying hello or good morning to every person I passed while out on a run. This action includes fellow runners, walkers, people at bus stops, the homeless, people across the street, people with headphones on and even those who really looked like they didn’t want me to say anything to them. Normally, runners who pass each other tend to give a nod, wave or even say hello—kind of as a way to acknowledge “hey, we’re out here doing the same thing!”. It’s a bit of comradery that I’ve learned over my 30+ years of running just happens, but it’s usually exclusive to fellow runners. Why?
During the coronavirus pandemic, we are not only isolated but also keeping a wide distance from others and usually wearing a mask that prevents others from seeing our facial expressions. Before I started doing this, I felt like I lacked a connection to the general, unknown public who, just by being there, apparently gives me a lot of comfort. The amount of vitriol and hostility arising from the Trump presidency, public unrest over police brutality and politicization of the pandemic also was bringing everyone to a breaking point. We also are dealing with massive stress at home from homeschooling, job loss, family illness and death, self-isolation and lack of privacy. I felt that awareness of others and our struggles could be bridged simply by seeing each other—by acknowledging that one another exists. Despite my introverted self, I started saying “good morning” to literally everyone, whether they seemed welcome to it or not.