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The Greeter

At Frankfurt airport last Monday, while waiting for my wife to return from the lavatory, I observed a man standing at the entrance of a duty free shop. He was in the 50ies or 60ies, grey-haired, wearing a livery suit and a bow tie. He was just welcoming customers saying “Good morning”.

He was saying it with full attention to the persons, who often reacted a bit irritated: They felt drawn out of their unconscious walk into the shop. Some smiled and greeted back. Here and there a person came with a question, not necessarily related to the business. He was greeting in a cordial, but distanced way. I wondered what he was paid for – he did not make any attempt to persuade people coming in or do anything related to motivating them to buy. He was not at all a salesperson, just a greeter, spreading a warm welcome full of attention.

It made me think of how we meet and greet – mostly in a superficial way. Especially in electronic contacts via e-mail the wording of greetings is often just a clichéd expression without any attention or deeper meaning. Particularly when I get e-mails from the States I feel the “Hi” or addressing just with the name without any greeting like opening the door into another one’s room without any knocking, very casual. The mainstream way of interacting is fearing any expression from the heart. In the word “Dear…” there is at least a reerberation of a heartfelt attention, like the greeter’s attention at the entrance of the shop. The attention creates a subtle bond, from human to human, from being to being, an expression of unity: “welcome brother”, “welcome sister”, “Welcome, soul”.

The greeter

P.S.: A Mexican friend sent me the following comment to this blog-post:

“As people mostly interact in fear, they don’t smile when they encounter other people’s eyes, or greet them in a friendly and cordial  way, even if not in words,  but with a nod of the head.  When my daughter studied in Bremen, she told me that she perceived Germans  as if they were angry, because they did’nt answer her smile.  In Mexico when we walk and find somebody, it is our habit, to search for their eyes, and greet him-her with some words or with the nod of the head, even if  they are not acquaintances.  I don’t remember a moment when I had’nt  received a smile together with the greeting.  Sometime ago, something happened in Germany to Gabriel,  my son.  He always walks with an ample and kind smile, and in a street, suddenly  a lady came and congratulated him for his smile, and gave him a beautiful present, a painting,  telling him to give another present, when he found someone that had that generous smile in his-her face. He and her wife laughed a lot about this incident. They are very friendly and have as you do, many friends from all over the world, from different colors, races, religions, nations.

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