April 22, 2024
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April 22, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile

My husband smiles a lot. Even when, in seventh grade while playing “Kill the kid with the ball” and he lost his two front permanent teeth, he still smiled; even when, in the middle of getting new teeth and he had no teeth and we were on our first date and he was attempting to eat Fettuccini Alfredo, he still smiled (you can imagine what I was doing, and it wasn’t smiling and I am grateful there was no Facebook back then). Even after almost 19 years of being married to me, he still smiles. He is a friendly fellow. This makes him a good role model (though not always effective) to our sons. It is important to smile and say hello. It is important to teach our children to smile and say hello. It makes others feel good.

Years ago, soon after I had moved to Teaneck, I was taking a Shabbos walk with a friend. Ahead of us she saw someone she knew and wished him a good Shabbos. He did not respond. As he got closer, and was able to see who it was, he responded, “Oh, hi, I didn’t see that it was you.”

Not knowing who this person was and having a big mouth with little editing mechanism, even back then I said, “Wait, you only say hi to people that you know? That isn’t very friendly.”

We joke about that story now, since we have become friends and I often refer to that story as my introduction to the general unfriendliness that is abundant in this community and other communities as well (just so we shouldn’t feel bad about being unfriendly.)

Why is it so hard for some people to smile and say hello? I can understand if you know me and don’t like me, give me a fake smile, no smile. Say hello, don’t say hello, at least I know where you are coming from (unless I don’t care where you are coming from and then you are just being obnoxious). But, if you don’t know me and have nothing against me, what is wrong with you? Were you raised in a barn? Did your parents forget to teach you to be polite? Do you have a physical ailment that prevents you from making a happy face? Are you worried about wrinkles? Did you just have botox or plastic surgery and your face no longer moves or shows emotion? Can you not speak and smile at the same time? If the two syllable hello is too difficult, can’t you muster just a “hi”?

I spend many hours walking around Votee Park. Round and round I go, making use of my tax dollars. I breathe in the clean air, get in touch with nature, admire the beautiful scenery. During the summer months, I get to smell the barbeques going on and watch the various families celebrate whatever milestones are written on the balloons. People often ask me if I ever get bored just walking around the same track, but I do not. There is always something new to see and sometimes I get so lost in the rambling thoughts in my head that I don’t even know what is going on around me.

My favorite part of walking is saying hello to the folks that pass me. I say hello and smile at everyone, whether I know them or not; whether I like them or not. I have made some very lovely “track friends.” But there is one couple in particular that I often see walking on Shabbos afternoons. They never say hello. Ever. I have witnesses. I will purposely try to be extra friendly to them just so I can get a reaction, and nothing. It is like I am not even there. Even when I pass them a second time, I will try again. Nothing. I am so thin they cannot even see me; that must be it! It simply amazes me. (When I pass them for a third time, I say hello again just to amuse myself.) And then, today (well, not really today, last week) I was walking behind a group of ladies and I saw someone say hello to them. They walked by her and I heard them say, “Did you know her?” Hey ladies, just say hello back! You aren’t going to melt! Being friendly is a good thing! I think…maybe it isn’t? Maybe we should all walk around with farbissine faces…is that better? No, silly, it isn’t better. Be a mensch. Give a smile, say hello, and if it really becomes so painful for you, then go see a doctor.

By Banji Latkin Ganchrow

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