It probably already happened to you today — maybe on your way to class, or just walking to the bathroom. Regardless, everyone experiences it. I'm talking about the Sidewalk-By Greeting. In high school, you develop it. In college, you perfect it. In airports, you completely forget it.
You are walking down the sidewalk to class. It's cold, but you remembered to wear that neat Gryffindor scarf mom knitted. Suddenly, you are startled to find someone else walking down the very same sidewalk, but in the opposite direction! Why would someone dare to disturb an otherwise uninterrupted walk? The presence of this dark figure is both irritating and unsettling.
At this point, I've placed the different Sidewalk-By Greeters (SWB's) into six categories:
1) Friend: Relief settles throughout your body as you realize the figure is merely an old friend from your mentor group. Friendly "Hello"s and "What's up, buddy?"s are exchanged. After stating that nothing is "up" you are on your merry way to class.
2. A) Bro: After spotting you, a fellow fraternity brother greets you with a quote from "Anchorman." Further comments ensue on the large amount of liquid consumed last weekend. Following this happy banter, you continue walking as the phrases "Frat Star" and "Clean up your vomit on the 2nd floor" echo from behind.
B) Sis: You hear her screams before you recognize her. Dogs nearby bark as the screams reach an even higher pitch. Just as you put a face to the shriek, she has enclosed you in an overly exuberant hug. Finally, you heave her surprisingly powerful body off and run to make up for lost time.
3) Overly enthusiastic friend: This friend is merely an extension of Type-2 SWB greeter — on steroids. As if yelling your name for all of Greencastle to hear wasn't enough, this friendly acquaintance immediately tackles you and leaves you for dead. The tackle-crazy friend then moves on to its next victim, resulting in a path of human destruction.
4) New party friend: You know the face. You've seen her before. But where? Beta, probably. No… was it DU? Is she your bro's girlfriend/ex-girlfriend? There's an 80 percent chance this person is from a suburb of Chicago (a 2 percent chance they're actually from Chicago). Before a decision has been reached on the origin of this potential Facebook friend, she's walked on by and you're left with a hand wave that turned into a awkward salute.
5) Snuggle buddy: You woke up next to them last week. Knowing this, you produce a weak smile and call out "Heeeeey" unintentionally channeling Fonzie. The theme from "Happy Days" plays in your head as you shake it off.
6) Stranger danger: Until now, this person never existed in your life. Attempting to reshape your facial expression into something not resembling a living corpse, you smile and say, "hello." They duck their head down, avoid eye contact and speed past as if you were a particularly cold gust of wind.
Type-6 SWB greeter could be a professor, a Greencastle resident, a local cat or another student. I am consistently bothered by the immense amount of people I walk past that refuse to offer any sign of human life.
So locate the nearest mirror and look back at yourself. Not bad, huh? Easy there, let's not get too modest. Pretending you've never seen yourself before, raise one hand and wave. Don't forget to smile! Suddenly, the stranger in the mirror is smiling back at you, and you're no longer an unfriendly jerk.
With so much greek life at DePauw, we must remain friendly with everyone and promote campus unity. I'm not encouraging students to pull a SWB Type-3 and tackle strangers (laws prevent that), but at the very least, you could boost my ego and wave. I'm the tall goofy Norwegian wearing a Gryffindor scarf, except I'm not from Chicago.
— Jorgenson is a sophomore from Shawnee, Kan., majoring in English writing and film studies. firstname.lastname@example.org