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Wednesday, January 27, 2010


For all their gifts, Trinity students sometimes walk the campus in Zombie mode. I shouldn't criticize because I am guilty as well. Several years ago on an ASR retreat, a student named Laila suggested that students say "Howdy" to one another as they do at Texas A&M to change the culture around this. I appreciated the sentiment, but we can't copy the unique greeting of the Aggies. More recently, in an e-mail exchange with a student, I learned that she and her friends call this the Trinity Block-head Syndrome: That students walk around campus oblivious to others.

I have been in situations off-campus or out-of-town where students and I see one another and offer acknowledgements. Back on campus the same student or students will revert to Block-heading. I have no answers (though solicit your opinions from the poll at right).

In any case, I offer my own unofficial guide to campus sidewalk styles/personas.

1. The look-away
Occurs when you try to make eye-contact and the person approaching seems to intentionally avoid a connection. Probably nothing, maybe he just heard a bird over there.

2. The look-down
Similar to the look-away, this happens when the eye contact avoider looks down, in an apparent attempt to avoid acknowledgement.

3. The thinker
Looks down, deep in thought, clueless to others (guilty).

4. The smile/sneer-just-though-of-something-funny-or-so-you-think
This move causes anxiety... Is my fly open? Was I in an embarrassing video?, etc.

5. The crab
People have bad days, that's life. (See comments for further description.)

6. The stressor
Usually talking on the cell phone, explaining how he or she was treated unfairly by boyfriend/parent/professor/roommate. Accompanied by hand gestures and maybe a cigarette.

7. The head-nod
My personal favorite, especially with the guys.

8. The sympathizer
Nothing verbal, no head nod, just a pursed smile of pity...

9. The judge
Hard to explain unless you have ever been judged. You know it when you feel it.

10. The over-enthusiast
Cheerful people. You gotta love 'em, unless you are a 1., 2., 5., or 8.

11. The techno-voider
In his or her own world.

I will try to do better if you will. We have the friendliest and finest students anywhere. We should let it show. Leave comments on your favorite (or not) sidewalk behaviors. I need one more to make my list an even dozen, I will add the one I like best.

(Thanks to Ashley Hamner for posing in the photo!)


Ashley Hamner said...

I completely agree! People should say hello!

Shep McAllister said...

My personal favorite move is the sudden shoe-tie. During the warmer months this is easily replaced by the flip-flop slip-off.

Anonymous said...

can you please elaborate on the crab?

David Tuttle said...

Good question. You know - someone cranky, like they just got a bad grade, a parking ticket, or just watched a Russell Brand movie.

Heather Albee-Scott said...

When I worked there I was told of the fake cell phone call: person carries on pretend cell phone conversation to avoid interacting face-to-face with someone. I'm guilty of it, too.

Digital Subway said...

I agree too. Initially, when I came to the US for the first time and complete strangers nodded their heads as I passed by, it really surprised me. But I liked it than just passing by and choosing not to acknowledge the other person's existence.