I said, “Good Morning!”

Thursday, September 27, 2012

I said, “Good Morning!”

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As you travel to different parts of the country, you’ll notice several culture differences among the various regions of the U.S. Some of the more obvious differences include fashion, food, and of course, accents.  One thing that’s always stood out to me is the general attitude differences of people towards strangers.   As a runner, I like to greet the people I pass with a simple “good morning”.  Since I moved to KC a year ago, I’ve noticed that I generally get no response to my morning greetings, leaving me to feel ashamed, downtrodden, and outcast (it really doesn’t bother me that much but it makes for a more dramatic story so just go with it).  This morning, I decided that I wasn’t going to take it anymore. I was going to get my revenge! I said to myself (since nobody would listen to me), “I’ll show them! I’m going to blog about this –then they’ll see!”

So this morning I conducted an informal study. I did a 10.5 mile run along the Trolley Trail (starting from the Plaza) and kept track of how many people returned my greeting. Just a few factors I should lay out before I proceed: a) I only greeted people that were coming towards me; b) I gave a mild “good morning” and a wave to each person (in case they were wearing headphones or were too tired to make a verbal response); c) I did not count people twice if I passed them multiple times; d) I only counted pedestrians (runners, walkers, and dog joggers)

I passed 57 people along the Trolley Trail this morning between 6:00 and 7:00 am. Out of the 57 people that I passed along the Trolley Trail, 15 people gave me a positive response (this includes “Good Mornings”, waves, and head nods). That means 42 people (74%) straight up ignored me. Perhaps they were too tired to generate a response. Perhaps it was the first time a stranger had ever greeted them. Whatever the reason may be, my study produced a 26% success rate.  Although I never recorded any data during the time I spent living in Kentucky, I would say that this Southern state had a success rate between 80-90% (even people in their cars would take time to wave to you and smile). In contrast, I spent a couple of days in New York City this summer. I would say their success rate is approx. 0%. In fact, you’d be more likely to receive a swear word in response than any sort of friendly gesture. Finally, and forgive me if I get too personal, I grew up in St. Louis and I would say that their success rate was at least 50%. (By the way, I still don’t understand why people here consider St. Louis an “East Coast” city …unless by “East Coast” you just mean that they’re good at baseball.)

Now this study is not to show how friendly or unfriendly runners are in Kansas City (by the way, you’re all jerks). It was not a study conducted to generate sympathy for me (I promise I have friends). It was simply a comparison of culture differences between different regions of the US.  Something else worthy of consideration is that I only passed 4 people on the trail in the 2 mile stretch from 75th to Holmes. Perhaps this is due to poor lighting? Or demographics? I think I’ll do more tests in this area and write about it next time. All 4 people greeted me though and one actually beat me to the punch. Without these 4 people, the success rate drops to 20%.

6 Responses to I said, “Good Morning!”

  1. Mike says:

    I run in downtown during lunch and along the little blue trace trail in independence on the evenings/mornings. There is quite a difference between the suburbs and downtown runners. Generally speaking along the little blue trace most return a greeting or even beat you to the punch. It may be a nod, wave, smile, or even a spoken greeting. Downtown I get less than a one in five response. The first time I ran downtown and greeted a fellow runner he looked startled. I still stubbornly greet other runners that pass me. Who knows, maybe I’ll start a trend.

  2. Tom says:

    Cameron,

    Several errors in your study. As I read this, I thought to myself, what an utterly flawed, ridiculous, nonsensical, absurd, Einstein-would-be-embarrassed study.

    First error: You are from STL or as it is more commonly referred to Smug Central. (Side note – I love STL, minus everyone that cheers for the Cardinals and MU Tigers. :D) The people of KC are finely tuned to sensing this inherent smugness. So that is huge error in conducting a study of friendliness in KC. Had you been a KC native, or anywhere other than STL, your response rate most likely would have been 136%. That is right. MORE than a 100%. People here are so friendly, some of them would have given you multiple responses.

    Second error. Stranger danger, is what I always say in the dark. Some STL loon, running towards me in the dark, waving and nodding and talking to me, I would have ran the other way. STL + running in the dark = 26% response rate.

    Third error. You conducted this study they day after the Chiefs AND the Royals both had humiliating losses. The 74% that didn’t respond were at a loss. Their mind was consumed with thoughts of wondering if they will see a national championship in their life time.

    I have submitted an official challenge to your study. Have a wonderful day.

  3. John says:

    I usually run or cycle on the Tomahawk Creek and Indian Creek paths in Johnson County. I’d say 1 in 4 people return your wave, nod, grunt, whatever. But here’s the thing: Ten years ago – 3 out of 4. Something’s going on. We’ve lost civility in public discourse. Same thing with waving to walkers I drive by in my neighborhood. You know, this is a big topic of discussion on motorcycle and scooter forums (fora?) Who returns your “two fingers down” signal. Personally, I got a cop to do it once. Most people do, except for kids on crotch rockets, but that’s to be expected. I keep doing it when cycling or hoofing it, though. Maybe I thrive on the rejection.

  4. Courtney says:

    haha i will say it must just be you downtown runners, out here in the country its rude not to acknowledge each other! The animals are here are always rude though, they never respond back!

  5. Bruce says:

    there are a lot of other factors, but in general, you’re in the wrong part of town for this. there’s a 4.5 mile loop I run in Lee’s Summit that kind of keeps out the newbies because of the minimum distance, and almost everyone will return a greeting. as mentioned above, on the trace trail you will also get a very high greeting rate, except for the few “serious” runners out there just putting in a couple fast miles. I ran indian creek tonight and had a pretty good response rate. I don’t run the trolley trail much, but from what I remember, I would expect the response you got. the worst response rate I can remember recently was running shawnee mission park leading up to and during corporate challenge. so I would urge you to try out some other locations in “KC” and compare.

  6. Dianna says:

    Well, I always get responses from runners downtown, on the Trolley Trail, in Lee’s Summit, in Leawood, Tiffany Springs & of course, Smithville. I even get unsolicited Beep! Beeps from passers by. I’m not quite sure if they’re beeping b/c they’re friendly, encouraging, or just wanting to scare the bajeeeeeeeesus outta me. I’ve even been offered rides by the local po-po, offered a beer @ the Smithville Legion & have even been given water by a state trooper. I agree with Courtney, the animals, especially on the trails are really quite ruuuuude. If I had to survey runners around the different places I run, well, they’d get at least a 74.937% success rate. On the other hand, animals & trucks are a low 30.014%. I guess some animals are just more friendly than others. ; )

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