I"ve been reading "the not so big life" by Sarah Susanka the past few weeks (more on this later). As I was riding my bike today through the open landscape north of town, I found myself following my usual behavior of saying hello to any creatures close enough to hear. "Hello cows", "Hello Meadowlark". You get the idea. Then I remembered an exercise in the book about not labeling things. Oops.
But then it occurred to me, that I've been deliberately working harder to catch and remember peoples' names. There's some reasoning behind this: first, I feel better if I don't let someone's name slip straight through my consciousness, and second, there's evidence that people like being called by their name.
I remember my parents being particularly fond of a restaurant. Yes, the food was good, but it wasn't going to win them acclaim, but the owner and the wait staff would recognize and greet my parents by name, and I know that made them feel welcome and appreciated. In talking with the owner once, after my parents had both died, he told me that they had come in originally because his parents were in their Sunday school class. When he met them, he really hadn't pegged them as the type to become regulars, but I believe they pretty much went weekly.
So, it seems some labels are good, useful and appreciated, but perhaps me saying "Hello" is enough for the cows.