I was in Collingwood, Ontario on Canada Day. It’s a small town about 2 hours north of my home in Toronto.
I love living in an urban centre. Small towns are perfect for little getaways though. One thing small towns do well, is fostering an atmosphere where people say Hello to strangers. Waiting in line for ice cream. Walking down the street. And runners say Hello to other runners.
I went for a run in the morning in Collingwood. One runner passing by said Hello. Then a group of runners said Good Morning, one by one. So nice.
It is not my experience that runners in Toronto say Hello or Good Morning (I rarely run in the evenings) to other runners. I tried for awhile. When I went to Victoria, early on in my running habit, I noticed this lovely practice. I also remember my Aunt Bev, who lives in Victoria, and who inspired me to start running, saying Good Morning to passersby on our jogs together in Toronto. She would look at them directly, give a big smile, and say Good Morning. Nice, I would think, but Toronto runners weren’t likely to say Hi back. But some would.
I have tried, here and there, to say Good Morning to fellow runners. But to no avail. Perhaps, it’s in my delivery. My Aunt expected a response. I don’t. Perhaps that shows?
To be fair, it’s not just Toronto. I don’t recall people saying Good Morning when I’d run by them in Guelph. Smaller than Toronto, but perhaps not really “small town”?
I understand why it’s not innate to Torontonians to say Hello or Good Morning to strangers. We learn to go about our business. Stay out of other people’s business.
I have found even saying Hi to neighbours, which I insist on doing regularly, is not always reciprocal.
In the beginning of the Covid lockdown, it felt funny to be outside. When we learned that we should stay 6 feet away from others, I noticed that people seemed reluctant to even look at each other on the street. Never mind stay physically separated. It was so nice if someone actually looked up and locked eyes, maybe nodded their head.
It is a treat when fellow runners acknowledge each other and wish them well. Especially in these uncertain, and sometimes stressful, times. Such gracious actions can go a long way to spread goodwill. I wholeheartedly endorse saying Hi, Good Morning, etc. to your fellow runners. Go for it. Give it a try. Even fellow Torontonians! Just don’t ask me to smile. That’s a whole other discussion.