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%.