- Mt Lebanon Magazine - https://lebomag.com -

home is where the smiles are

I’m a South Hills gal. After moving here nearly 15 years ago, I never wanted to leave. This area is truly such an awesome place to live and everything I need is within five miles of my house. Friends of mine have moved to the North Hills (gasp) and I don’t visit. I know that is probably rude but I just don’t. The arduous task of crossing a bridge or going through a tunnel means that something is too far away, in my opinion.

Because I am so strong in my opinions of the South Hills, my husband and friends were shocked when I recently declared that I wanted to move to the city when the kids got older. With my husband’s job at Pitt and the likelihood that the kids would attend the Catholic schools in Oakland, it just made sense.

I decided to familiarize myself with this area of Pittsburgh in a way that only a crazy runner would–on foot. I figured that I would do my own little social experiment. As I was running, I would say “hello” or “good morning” to every single person I passed. Easy enough, right? It was 9 a.m. and lots of people were out and about.

I ran through East Liberty, into Shadyside and then on to Oakland, with my positive attitude and big smile, calling out greetings to all. And I got NOTHING in return. Not a smile. Not a hello. Nada.

I passed about 200 people and only two returned my greetings. Both seemed to be homeless. The others were professors, doctors, nurses, students, business people…all too busy and too wrapped up in their own world to acknowledge the friendly runner. By the end of my run, I was feeling down. This is not what I was expecting at all.

The next week, as I was on my normal route through Mt Lebanon, I thought “Heck, let me try the same thing here.” I put that big smile back on my face and started issuing a “Good morning” to everyone I passed. First up was a crossing guard on the corner of Shady Drive East and Castle Shannon Boulevard. Got a return greeting. I proceeded toward the trolley stop, where there were lots of people beginning their morning commute. More friendly faces and greetings.group of smiling friends sitting on city street

As I ran down Washington Road, I felt happier and happier. I was being fueled by friendliness. Of course, there were a few grumpy people who looked the other way as I issued my salutations but the good definitely outweighed the bad.

You know how they always say “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence?” Well, it’s not true. I’ll be staying put in this area. Friendliness wins every time!

When you pass someone on the street today, say “Hello.” You never know; You might be helping them to make a life decision.