The red pickup truck raised a cloud of dust as it hurtled down the dirt road toward us. “When he gets here, yell, ‘Howdy Neighbor’ as loud as you can.” said my friend. We were two boys camping out on Jerry’s grandfather’s farm in rural Missouri.
I thought this was crazy but I got ready to yell as the pickup reached us. But before I could, an arm waived out the window and yelled, “Howdy Neighbor!” I yelled the same back as it zoomed past.
Having grown up in a small town in the Midwest where everyone is your neighbor, it was cultural shock to move to Washington. DC. As I walked to my first day of work as a lawyer for the FCC, I naively said hello to everyone I passed on the sidewalk. Most of them looked at me like I was crazy or going to rob them. There are just too many people in a big city and life is too fast-paced to make small-town small talk to every passerby.
My law firm eventually moved to the suburbs and I walk to work at 7:00 am so there are not as many people on the sidewalks at that hour. I passed four of them this morning. I made sure to give them a smile and a warm Midwestern “hello” as I passed by. All of them reciprocated.
You also try this at home. Greet your spouse with an enthusiastic and energetic “hello” when you come home.
Small gestures have big consequences. You may not save the universe but you may just make it a better place. We can all use a “Howdy Neighbor.”