To Say Hi to Someone You Recognize On The Street, or Not?

You’re walking downtown when you spot your mother across the street. Should you say hi?

  • Yes, obviously, it’s your mother.
  • Maybe there’s a reason she’s on the other side of the street? Maybe mom’s a bit like, “I see my kid all the time. Can’t I escape in the city? Doesn’t my adult child have other people they can say hello to? If they say hello to me, I swear, I’ll take up smoking.” Just wait until the next time you go home to say hi to mom — you don’t want to accidentally call a stranger “mother,” and you definitely don’t want your frail mother to start smoking.


You round a city corner and accidentally bump into someone. When you look up, you recognize this person was your best friend in high school.

  • Apologize first, and then say hello. Your familiarity should make this accident a happy and easily forgivable one.
  • Bury your face in your coat collar so they don’t get a good look at you. Disguise yourself by using a gruff voice to say, “Stay down, mother fucker. I’m serious.” Leave quickly, and improvise a strange detail that suggests you are someone else, like, “Now I’m going to be late to my job. I’m the NFL’s Tom Brady!”


As you step out of a restaurant on your lunch break, you see your favorite coworker. They address you by name and wave to you.

  • You’re going to see them back at the office in a few minutes. Be normal and just say hi — especially since they addressed you by name and are still wearing their name tag from work.
  • But what do you even talk about outside of work? Not work? Don’t say hi: instead, widen your eyes and fearfully point to the sky behind them. Scream “Godzilla!” When they turn around, dive down the nearest manhole. Crawl through the sewer system back toward your office building. Slack your coworker that you are currently in the office and wondering where they went to get lunch to reinforce that it couldn’t have been you they saw at the restaurant.


You see your reflection in the mirror.

  • Aww, practice some self-love and say hello!
  • … But what if you wave and your reflection doesn’t wave back? Can you live with the sadness that your own reflection doesn’t want to say “hi” to you? What if you call yourself “mother” by mistake? It’s all too uncertain. Instead, close your eyes, walk towards the mirror, take out your pocket hammer, and destroy the mirror and murder your reflection while saying “I’m sorry” through your tears.


While walking your dog in the park, you swear you see a person from your weekly adult dance class walking her dog nearby.

  • Your dog is the perfect excuse to walk a little closer to see if it’s an acquaintance with whom you can share a polite greeting. If it is, great! Say “hi”! If it isn’t, just keep going! Again, there’s nothing to lose by just saying “hi.”
  • Now’s the perfect time to pop open your false tooth and bite into the cyanide pill you’ve been storing for this exact scenario. First, point to the sky behind your dance friend and scream “Godzilla!” After she turns, bite into your cyanide pill. Now it’s up to your dog to live up to his training and alert the police, scoop out the foaming poison, and get you out of this stressful situation.


Upon arriving in Heaven, you recognize your cousin Donnie standing in line up ahead of you, similarly waiting to be judged by St. Peter at the pearly gates. He waves at you to come and join him.

  • Wave to Donnie and politely tell him you’ll see him on the other side of the Pearly Gates with “the other good girls and boys.” St. Peter smiles at you and lets you in immediately as Donnie — who tried to let you cut the line in Heaven — is sent to Purgatory for 50 more Heaven Years.
  • This is a trap! Point at the real Godzilla who towers behind the gates of Heaven and scream his name. Use the distraction to dive through the clouds toward Earth. Of all the places you could have landed, you somehow arrive at your high school reunion, in the middle of a conversation of your best friend talking about how he accidentally ran into “the NHL’s Tom Grady” on the street the other day. Everyone immediately recognizes you, looking from your “In Memoriam” poster hanging on the wall of the gymnasium back to you. You realize there’s no escaping this one. To the entire assembly, you say “hi mom” by mistake. They all begin to laugh in unison as their skin melts off their body, revealing red demons. You realize you shouldn’t have said anything and now are in Hell.